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Title: Celebrated Travels and Travellers - Part I. The Exploration of the World
Author: Verne, Jules, 1828-1905
Language: English
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[_All rights reserved._]

Celebrated Travels and Travellers,

_In Three Vols., demy 8vo, each containing 400 pages and upwards of
100 Illustrations, price 12s. 6d. each; cloth extra, gilt edges,

Part I. The Exploration of the World.
Part II. The Great Navigators of the Eighteenth Century.
Part III. The Great Navigators of the Nineteenth Century.




Map of the World as known to the Ancients.

Approach to Constantinople. Anselmi Banduri Imperium orientale, tome
II., p. 448. 2 vols. folio. Parisiis, 1711.

Map of the World according to Marco Polo's ideas. Vol. I., p. 134 of
the edition of Marco Polo published in London by Colonel Yule, 2
vols. 8vo.

Plan of Pekin in 1290. Yule's edition. Vol. I., p. 332.

Portrait of Jean de Béthencourt. "The discovery and conquest of the
Canaries." Page 1, 12mo. Paris, 1630.

Plan of Jerusalem. "Narrative of the journey beyond seas to the Holy
Sepulchre of Jerusalem," by Antoine Régnant, p. 229, 4to. Lyons,

Prince Henry the Navigator. From a miniature engraved in "The
Discoveries of Prince Henry the Navigator," by H. Major. 8vo. London,

Christopher Columbus. Taken from "Vitæ illustrium virorum," by Paul
Jove. Folio. Basileæ, Perna.

Imaginary view of Seville. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, pl. I., part

Building of a caravel. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part IV.,
plate XIX.

Christopher Columbus on board his caravel. Th. de Bry. Grands
Voyages, Americæ, part IV., plate VI.

Embarkation of Christopher Columbus. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages,
Americæ, part IV., plate VIII.

Map of the Antilles and the Gulf of Mexico. Th. de Bry. Grands
Voyages, Americæ, part V.

Fishing for Pearl oysters. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part
IV., plate XII.

Gold-mines in Cuba. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part V.,
plate I.

Vasco da Gama. From an engraving in the Cabinet des Estampes of the
Bibl. Nat.

La Mina. "Histoire générale des Voyages," by the Abbé Prévost. Vol.
III., p. 461, 4to. 20 vols. An X. 1746.

Map of the East Coast of Africa, from the Cape of Good Hope to the
Cape del Gado. From the French map of the Eastern Ocean, published
in 1740 by order of the Comte de Maurepas.

Map of Mozambique. Bibl. Nat. Estampes.

Interview with the Zamorin. "Hist. Gén. des Voyages," by Prévost.
Vol. I., p. 39. 4to. An X. 20 vols. 1746.

View of Quiloa. From an engraving in the Cabinet des Estampes.
Topography. (Africa).

Map of the Coasts of Persia, Guzerat, and Malabar. From the French
Map of the Eastern Ocean, pub. in 1740 by order of the Comte de

The Island of Ormuz. "Hist. Gén. des Voyages." Prévost. Vol. II., p.


Americus Vespucius. From an engraving in the Cabinet des Estampes of
the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Indians devoured by dogs. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part
IV., plate XXII.

Punishment of Indians. Page 17 of Las Casas' "Narratio regionum
indicarum per Hispanos quosdam devastatarum," 4to. Francofurti,
sumptibus Th. de Bry, 1698.

Portrait of F. Cortès. From an engraving after Velasquez in the
Cabinet des Estampes of the Bibliothèque Nationale.

Plan of Mexico. From Clavigero and Bernal Diaz del Castillo.
Jourdanet's translation, 2nd Edition.

Portrait of Pizarro. From an engraving in the Cabinet des Estampes
of the Bib. Nat.

Map of Peru. From Garcilasso de la Vega. History of the Incas. 4to.
Bernard, Amsterdam, 1738.

Atahualpa taken prisoner. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part
VI., plate VII.

Assassination of Pizarro. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ, part
VI., plate XV.

Magellan on board his caravel. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Americæ,
part IV., plate XV.

Map of the Coast of Brazil. From the map called Henry 2nd's. Bibl.
Nat., Geographical collections.

The Ladrone Islands. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Occidentalis Indiæ,
pars VIII., p. 50.

Portrait of Sebastian Cabot. From a miniature engraved in "The
remarkable Life, adventures, and discoveries of Sebastian Cabot," by
Nicholls. 8vo. London, 1869.

Fragment of Cabot's map. Bibl. Nat., Geographical collections.

Map of Newfoundland and of the Mouth of the St. Lawrence. Lescarbot,
"Histoire de la Nouvelle France." 12mo. Perier, Paris, 1617.

Portrait of Jacques Cartier. After Charlevoix. "History and general
description of New France," translated by John Gilmary Shea, p. III.
6 vols. 4to. Shea, New York, 1866.

Barentz' ship fixed in the ice. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages. Tertia
pars Indiæ Orientales, plate XLIV.

Interior of Barentz' house. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages. Tertia pars
Indiæ Orientalis, plate XLVII.

Exterior view of Barentz' house. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages. Tertia
pars Indiæ Orientalis, plate XLVIII.

Map of Nova Zembla. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages. Tertia pars Indiæ
Orientalis, plate LIX.

A sea-lion hunt. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages, Occidentalis Indiæ,
pars VIII., p. 37.

A fight between the Dutch and the Spaniards. Th. de Bry. Grands
Voyages, "Historiarum novi orbis;" part IX., book II., page 87.

Portrait of Raleigh. From an engraving in the Cabinet des Estampes
of the Bibl. Nat.

Berreo seized by Raleigh. Th. de Bry. Grands Voyages. Occid. Indiæ,
part VIII., p. 64.

Portrait of Chardin. "Voyages de M. le Chevalier Chardin en Perse."
Vol. I. 10 vols. 12mo. Ferrand, Rouen, 1723.

Japanese Archer. From a Japanese print engraved by Yule, vol. II., p.

Attack upon an Indian Town. "Voyages du Sieur de Champlain," p. 44.
12mo. Collet, Paris, 1727.







This narrative will comprehend not only all the explorations made in
past ages, but also all the new discoveries which have of late years
so greatly interested the scientific world. In order to give to this
work--enlarged perforce by the recent labours of modern
travellers,--all the accuracy possible, I have called in the aid of
a man whom I with justice regard as one of the most competent
geographers of the present day: M. Gabriel Marcel, attached to the
Bibliothèque Nationale.

With the advantage of his acquaintance with several foreign
languages which are unknown to me, we have been able to go to the
fountain-head, and to derive all information from absolutely
original documents. Our readers will, therefore, render to M. Marcel
the credit due to him for his share in a work which will demonstrate
what manner of men the great travellers have been, from the time of
Hanno and Herodotus down to that of Livingstone and Stanley.





146; CÆSAR, 100; STRABO, 50.

Hanno, the Carthaginian--Herodotus visits Egypt, Lybia, Ethiopia,
Phoenicia, Arabia, Babylon, Persia, India, Media, Colchis, the
Caspian Sea, Scythia, Thrace, and Greece--Pytheas explores the
coasts of Iberia and Gaul, the English Channel, the Isle of
Albion, the Orkney Islands, and the land of Thule--Nearchus
visits the Asiatic coast, from the Indus to the Persian Gulf--
Eudoxus reconnoitres the West Coast of Africa--Cæsar conquers
Gaul and Great Britain--Strabo travels over the interior of
Asia, and Egypt, Greece, and Italy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3


700; WILLIBALD, 725; SOLEYMAN, 851.

Pliny, Hippalus, Arian, and Ptolemy--Pausanias visits Attica,
Corinth, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia, Arcadia, Boeotia, and
Phocis--Fa-Hian explores Kan-tcheou, Tartary, Northern India,
the Punjaub, Ceylon, and Java--Cosmos Indicopleustes, and the
Christian Topography of the Universe--Arculphe describes
Jerusalem, the valley of Jehoshaphat, the Mount of Olives,
Bethlehem, Jericho, the river Jordan, Libanus, the Dead Sea,
Capernaum, Nazareth, Mount Tabor, Damascus, Tyre, Alexandria,
and Constantinople--Willibald and the Holy Land--Soleyman
travels through Ceylon, and Sumatra, and crosses the Gulf of
Siam and the China Sea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15


1245-1247; RUBRUQUIS, 1253-1254.

The Scandinavians in the North, Iceland and Greenland--Benjamin
of Tudela visits Marseilles, Rome, Constantinople, the
Archipelago, Palestine, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Damascus, Baalbec,
Nineveh, Baghdad, Babylon, Bassorah, Ispahan, Shiraz, Samarcand,
Thibet, Malabar, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Egypt, Sicily, Italy,
Germany, and France--Carpini explores Turkestan--Manners and
customs of the Tartars--Rubruquis and the Sea of Azov, the
Volga, Karakorum, Astrakhan, and Derbend . . . . . . . . . . . .  26

MARCO POLO, 1253-1324.


The interest of the Genoese and Venetian merchants in
encouraging the exploration of Central Asia--The family of Polo,
and its position in Venice--Nicholas and Matteo Polo, the two
brothers--They go from Constantinople to the Court of the
Emperor of China--Their reception at the Court of Kublaï-Khan--
The Emperor appoints them his ambassadors to the Pope--Their
return to Venice--Marco Polo--He leaves his father Nicholas and
his uncle Matteo for the residence of the King of Tartary--The
new Pope Gregory X.--The narrative of Marco Polo is written in
French from his dictation, by Rusticien of Pisa  . . . . . . . .  43


Armenia Minor--Armenia--Mount Ararat--Georgia--Mosul, Baghdad,
Bussorah, Tauris--Persia--The Province of Kirman--Comadi--
Ormuz--The Old Man of the Mountain--Cheburgan--Balkh--Cashmir--
Kashgar--Samarcand--Kotan--The Desert--Tangun--Kara-Korum--
Signan-fu--The Great Wall--Chang-tou--The residence of
Kublaï-Khan--Cambaluc, now Pekin--The Emperor's fêtes--His
hunting--Description of Pekin--Chinese Mint and bank-notes--The
system of posts in the Empire  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  47


Tso-cheu--Tai-yen-fou--Pin-yang-fou--The Yellow River--
Yang-tcheu-fou--Towns on the coast--Quin-say or
Hang-tcheou-foo--Fo-kien . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  59


Japan--Departure of the three Venetians with the Emperor's
daughter and the Persian ambassadors--Sai-gon--Java--Condor--
Bintang--Sumatra--The Nicobar Islands--Ceylon--The Coromandel
coast--The Malabar coast--The Sea of Oman--The island of
Socotra--Madagascar--Zanzibar and the coast of Africa--
Abyssinia--Yemen--Hadramaut and Oman--Ormuz--The return to
Venice--A feast in the household of Polo--Marco Polo a Genoese
prisoner--Death of Marco Polo about 1323 . . . . . . . . . . . .  67

IBN BATUTA, 1328-1353.

Ibn Batuta--The Nile--Gaza, Tyre, Tiberias, Libanus, Baalbec,
Damascus, Meshid, Bussorah, Baghdad, Tabriz, Mecca and Medina--
Yemen--Abyssinia--The country of the Berbers--Zanguebar--Ormuz--
Syria--Anatolia--Asia Minor--Astrakhan--Constantinople--
Turkestan--Herat--The Indus--Delhi--Malabar--The Maldives--
Ceylon--The Coromandel coast--Bengal--The Nicobar Islands--
Sumatra--China--Africa--The Niger--Timbuctoo . . . . . . . . . .  77



The Norman cavalier--His ideas of conquest--What was known of
the Canary Islands--Cadiz--The Canary Archipelago--Graciosa--
Lancerota--Fortaventura--Jean de Béthencourt returns to Spain--
Revolt of Berneval--His interview with King Henry III.--Gadifer
visits the Canary Archipelago--Canary Island or "Gran Canaria"--
Ferro Island--Palma Island . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  84


The return of Jean de Béthencourt--Gadifer's jealousy--
Béthencourt visits his archipelago--Gadifer goes to conquer Gran
Canaria--Disagreement of the two commanders--Their return to
Spain--Gadifer blamed by the King--Return of Béthencourt--The
natives of Fortaventura are baptized--Béthencourt revisits
Caux--Returns to Lancerota--Lands on the African coast--Conquest
of Gran Canaria, Ferro, and Palma Islands--Maciot appointed
Governor of the archipelago--Béthencourt obtains the Pope's
consent to the Canary Islands being made an Episcopal See--His
return to his country and his death  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  92



Discovery of Madeira, Cape de Verd Islands, the Azores, Congo,
and Guinea--Bartholomew Diaz--Cabot and Labrador--The
geographical and commercial tendencies of the middle ages--The
erroneous idea of the distance between Europe and Asia--Birth of
Christopher Columbus--His first voyages--His plans rejected--His
sojourn at the Franciscan convent--His reception by Ferdinand
and Isabella--Treaty of the 17th of April, 1492--The brothers
Pinzon--Three armed caravels at the port of Palos--Departure on
the 3rd of August, 1492  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101


First voyage: The Great Canary--Gomera--Magnetic variation--
Symptoms of revolt--Land, land--San Salvador--Taking
possession--Conception--Fernandina or Great Exuma--Isabella, or
Long Island--The Mucaras--Cuba--Description of the island--
Archipelago of Notre-Dame--Hispaniola or San Domingo--Tortuga
Island--The cacique on board the _Santa-Maria_--The caravel of
Columbus goes aground and cannot be floated off--Island of
Monte-Christi--Return--Tempest--Arrival in Spain--Homage
rendered to Christopher Columbus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114


Second Voyage: Flotilla of seventeen vessels--Island of Ferro--
Dominica--Marie-Galante--Guadaloupe--The Cannibals--Montserrat--
Santa-Maria-la-Rodonda--St. Martin and Santa Cruz--Archipelago
of the Eleven Thousand Virgins--The island of St. John Baptist,
or Porto Rico--Hispaniola--The first Colonists massacred--
Foundation of the town of Isabella--Twelve ships laden with
treasure sent to Spain--Fort St. Thomas built in the Province of
Cibao--Don Diego, Columbus' brother, named Governor of the
Island--Jamaica--The Coast of Cuba--The Remora--Return to
Isabella--The Cacique made prisoner--Revolt of the Natives--
Famine--Columbus traduced in Spain--Juan Aguado sent as
Commissary to Isabella--Gold-mines--Departure of Columbus--His
arrival at Cadiz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131


Third Voyage: Madeira--Santiago in the Cape Verd Archipelago--
Trinidad--First sight of the American Coast in Venezuela, beyond
the Orinoco, now the Province of Cumana--Gulf of Paria--The
Gardens--Tobago--Grenada--Margarita--Cubaga--Hispaniola during
the absence of Columbus--Foundation of the town of San Domingo--
Arrival of Columbus--Insubordination in the Colony--Complaints
in Spain--Bovadilla sent by the king to inquire into the conduct
of Columbus--Columbus sent to Europe in fetters with his two
brothers--His appearance before Ferdinand and Isabella--Renewal
of royal favour  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143


Fourth Voyage: A Flotilla of four vessels--Canary Islands--
Jamaica--Cayman Island--Pinos Island--Island of Guanaja--Cape
Honduras--The American Coast of Truxillo on the Gulf of Darien--
The Limonare Islands--Huerta--The Coast of Veragua--Auriferous
Strata--Revolt of the Natives--The Dream of Columbus--
Porto-Bello--The Mulatas--Putting into port at Jamaica--
Distress--Revolt of the Spaniards against Columbus--Lunar
Eclipse--Arrival of Columbus at Hispaniola--Return of Columbus
to Spain--His death, on the 20th of March, 1506  . . . . . . . . 150



Covilham and Païva--Vasco da Gama--The Cape of Good Hope is
doubled--Escalès at Sam-Braz--Mozambique, Mombaz, and Melinda--
Arrival at Calicut--Treason of the Zamorin--Battles--Return to
Europe--The scurvy--Death of Paul da Gama--Arrival at Lisbon . . 164


Alvarès Cabral--Discovery of Brazil--The coast of Africa--
Arrival at Calicut, Cochin, Cananore--Joao da Nova--Gama's
second expedition--The King of Cochin--The early life of
Albuquerque--The taking of Goa--The siege and capture of
Malacca--Second expedition against Ormuz--Ceylon--The Moluccas--
Death of Albuquerque--Fate of the Portuguese empire of the
Indies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180




Hojeda--Americus Vespucius--The New World named after him--Juan
de la Cosa--Vincent Yañez Pinzon--Bastidas--Diego de Lepe--Diaz
de Solis--Ponce de Leon and Florida--Balboa discovers the
Pacific Ocean--Grijalva explores the coast of Mexico . . . . . . 207


Ferdinand Cortès--His character--His appointment--Preparations
for the expedition, and attempts of Velasquez to stop it--
Landing at Vera-Cruz--Mexico and the Emperor Montezuma--The
republic of Tlascala--March upon Mexico--The Emperor is made
prisoner--Narvaez defeated--The _Noche Triste_--Battle of
Otumba--The second siege and taking of Mexico--Expedition to
Honduras--Voyage to Spain--Expeditions on the Pacific Ocean--
Second Voyage of Cortès to Spain--His death  . . . . . . . . . . 224


The triple alliance--Francisco Pizarro and his brothers--Don
Diego d'Almagro--First attempts--Peru, its extent, people, and
kings--Capture of Atahualpa, his ransom and death--Pedro
d'Alvarado--Almagro in Chili--Strife among the conquerors--Trial
and execution of Almagro--Expeditions of Gonzalo Pizarro and
Orellana--Assassination of Francisco Pizarro--Rebellion and
execution of his brother Gonzalo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253


Magellan--His early history--His disappointment--His change of
nationality--Preparations for the expedition--Rio de Janeiro--
St. Julian's Bay--Revolt of a part of the squadron--Terrible
punishment of the guilty--Magellan's Strait--Patagonia--The
Pacific--The Ladrone Islands--Zebu and the Philippine Islands--
Death of Magellan--Borneo--The Moluccas and their Productions--
Separation of the _Trinidad_ and _Victoria_--Return to Europe by
the Cape of Good Hope--Last misadventures  . . . . . . . . . . . 279



The Northmen--Eric the Red--The Zenos--John Cabot--Cortereal--
Sebastian Cabot--Willoughby--Chancellor  . . . . . . . . . . . . 307


John Verrazzano--Jacques Cartier and his three voyages to
Canada--The town of Hochelaga--Tobacco--The scurvy--Voyage of
Roberval--Martin Frobisher and his voyages--John Davis--Barentz
and Heemskerke--Spitzbergen--Winter season at Nova Zembla--
Return to Europe--Relics of the Expedition . . . . . . . . . . . 334


Drake--Cavendish--De Noort--Walter Raleigh . . . . . . . . . . . 362



Distinguishing characteristics of the Seventeenth Century--The
more thorough exploration of regions previously discovered--To
the thirst for gold succeeds Apostolic zeal--Italian Missionaries
in Congo--Portuguese Missionaries in Abyssinia--Brue in Senegal
and Flacourt in Madagascar--The Apostles of India, of Indo-China,
and of Japan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381


The Dutch in the Spice Islands--Lemaire and Schouten--Tasman--
Mendana--Queiros and Torrès--Pyrard de Laval--Pietro della
Valle--Tavernier--Thévenot--Bernier--Robert Knox--Chardin--De
Bruyn--Kæmpfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387



William Dampier; or a Sea-King of the Seventeenth Century  . . . 409


Hudson and Baffin--Champlain and La Sale--The English upon the
coast of the Atlantic--The Spaniards in South America--Summary
of the information acquired at the close of the 17th century--
The measure of the terrestrial degree--Progress of cartography--
Inauguration of Mathematical Geography . . . . . . . . . . . . . 415



146; CÆSAR, 100; STRABO, 50.

Hanno, the Carthaginian--Herodotus visits Egypt, Lybia, Ethiopia,
Phoenicia, Arabia, Babylon, Persia, India, Media, Colchis, the
Caspian Sea, Scythia, Thrace, and Greece--Pytheas explores the
coasts of Iberia and Gaul, the English Channel, the Isle of Albion,
the Orkney Islands, and the land of Thule--Nearchus visits the
Asiatic coast, from the Indus to the Persian Gulf--Eudoxus
reconnoitres the West Coast of Africa--Cæsar conquers Gaul and Great
Britain--Strabo travels over the interior of Asia, and Egypt, Greece,
and Italy.

The first traveller of whom we have any account in history, is Hanno,
who was sent by the Carthaginian senate to colonize some parts of
the Western coast of Africa. The account of this expedition was
written in the Carthaginian language and afterwards translated into
Greek. It is known to us now by the name of the "Periplus of Hanno."
At what period this explorer lived, historians are not agreed, but
the most probable account assigns the date B.C. 505 to his
exploration of the African coast.

Hanno left Carthage with a fleet of sixty vessels of fifty oars each,
carrying 30,000 persons, and provisions for a long voyage. These
emigrants, for so we may call them, were destined to people the new
towns that the Carthaginians hoped to found on the west coast of
Libya, or as we now call it, Africa.

The fleet successfully passed the Pillars of Hercules, the rocks of
Gibraltar and Ceuta which command the Strait, and ventured on the
Atlantic, taking a southerly course. Two days after passing the
Straits, Hanno anchored on the coast, and laid the foundation of the
town of Thumiaterion.

Then he put to sea again, and doubling the cape of Soloïs, made
fresh discoveries, and advanced to the mouth of a large African
river, where he found a tribe of wandering shepherds camping on the
banks. He only waited to conclude a treaty of alliance with them,
before continuing his voyage southward. He next reached the Island
of Cerne, situated in a bay, and measuring five stadia in
circumference, or as we should say at the present day, nearly 925
yards. According to Hanno's own account, this island should be
placed, with regard to the Pillars of Hercules, at an equal distance
to that which separates these Pillars from Carthage.

They set sail again, and Hanno reached the mouth of the river
Chretes, which forms a sort of natural harbour, but as they
endeavoured to explore this river, they were assailed with showers
of stones from the native negro race, inhabiting the surrounding
country, and driven back, and after this inhospitable reception they
returned to Cerne. We must not omit to add that Hanno mentions
finding large numbers of crocodiles and hippopotami in this river.
Twelve days after this unsuccessful expedition, the fleet reached a
mountainous region, where fragrant trees and shrubs abounded, and it
then entered a vast gulf which terminated in a plain. This region
appeared quite calm during the day, but after nightfall it was
illumined by tongues of flame, which might have proceeded from fires
lighted by the natives, or from the natural ignition of the dry
grass when the rainy season was over.

In five days, Hanno doubled the Cape, known as the Hespera Keras,
there, according to his own account, "he heard the sound of fifes,
cymbals, and tambourines, and the clamour of a multitude of people."
The soothsayers, who accompanied the party of Carthaginian explorers,
counselled flight from this land of terrors, and, in obedience to
their advice, they set sail again, still taking a southerly course.
They arrived at a cape, which, stretching southwards, formed a gulf,
called Notu Keras, and, according to M. D'Avezac, this gulf must
have been the mouth of the river Ouro, which falls into the Atlantic
almost within the Tropic of Cancer. At the lower end of this gulf,
they found an island inhabited by a vast number of gorillas, which
the Carthaginians mistook for hairy savages. They contrived to get
possession of three female gorillas, but were obliged to kill them
on account of their great ferocity.

This Notu Keras must have been the extreme limit reached by the
Carthaginian explorers, and though some historians incline to the
belief that they only went to Bojador, which is two degrees North of
the tropics, it is more probable that the former account is the true
one, and that Hanno, finding himself short of provisions, returned
northwards to Carthage, where he had the account of his voyage
engraved in the temple of Baal Moloch.

After Hanno, the most illustrious of ancient travellers, was
Herodotus, who has been called the "Father of History," and who was
the nephew of the poet Panyasis, whose poems ranked with those of
Homer and Hesiod. It will serve our purpose better if we only speak
of Herodotus as a traveller, not an historian, as we wish to follow
him so far as possible through the countries that he traversed.

Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus, a town in Asia Minor, in the
year B.C. 484. His family were rich, and having large commercial
transactions they were able to encourage the taste for explorations
which he showed. At this time there were many different opinions as
to the shape of the earth: the Pythagorean school having even then
begun to teach that it must be round, but Herodotus took no part in
this discussion, which was of the deepest interest to learned men of
that time, and, still young, he left home with a view of exploring
with great care all the then known world, and especially those parts
of it of which there were but few and uncertain data.

He left Halicarnassus in 464, being then twenty years of age, and
probably directed his steps first to Egypt, visiting Memphis,
Heliopolis, and Thebes. He seems to have specially turned his
attention to the overflow of the banks of the Nile, and he gives an
account of the different opinions held as to the source of this
river, which the Egyptians worshipped as one of their deities. "When
the Nile overflows its banks," he says, "you can see nothing but the
towns rising out of the water, and they appear like the islands in
the Ægean Sea." He tells of the religious ceremonies among the
Egyptians, their sacrifices, their ardour in celebrating the feasts
in honour of their goddess Isis, which took place principally at
Busiris (whose ruins may still be seen near Bushir), and of the
veneration paid to both wild and tame animals, which were looked
upon almost as sacred, and to whom they even rendered funeral
honours at their death. He depicts in the most faithful colours, the
Nile crocodile, its form, habits, and the way in which it is caught,
and the hippopotamus, the momot, the phoenix, the ibis, and the
serpents that were consecrated to the god Jupiter. Nothing can be
more life-like than his accounts of Egyptian customs, and the
notices of their habits, their games, and their way of embalming the
dead, in which the chemists of that period seem to have excelled.
Then we have the history of the country from Menes, its first king,
downwards to Herodotus' time, and he describes the building of the
Pyramids under Cheops, the Labyrinth that was built a little above
the Lake Moeris (of which the remains were discovered in A.D. 1799),
Lake Moeris itself, whose origin he ascribes to the hand of man, and
the two Pyramids which are situated a little above the lake. He
seems to have admired many of the Egyptian temples, and especially
that of Minerva at Sais, and of Vulcan and Isis at Memphis, and the
colossal monolith that was three years in course of transportation
from Elephantina to Sais, though 2000 men were employed on the
gigantic work.

After having carefully inspected everything of interest in Egypt,
Herodotus went into Lybia, little thinking that the continent he was
exploring, extended thence to the tropic of Cancer. He made special
inquiries in Lybia as to the number of its inhabitants, who were a
simple nomadic race principally living near the sea-coast, and he
speaks of the Ammonians, who possessed the celebrated temple of
Jupiter Ammon, the remains of which have been discovered on the
north-east side of the Lybian desert, about 300 miles from Cairo.
Herodotus furnishes us with some very valuable information on Lybian
customs; he describes their habits; speaks of the animals that
infest the country, serpents of a prodigious size, lions, elephants,
bears, asps, horned asses (probably the rhinoceros of the present
day), and cynocephali, "animals with no heads, and whose eyes are
placed on their chest," to use his own expression; foxes, hyenas,
porcupines, wild zarus, panthers, etc. He winds up his description
by saying that the only two aboriginal nations that inhabit this
region are the Lybians and Ethiopians.

According to Herodotus the Ethiopians were at that time to be found
above Elephantina, but commentators are induced to doubt if this
learned explorer ever really visited Ethiopia, and if he did not, he
may easily have learnt from the Egyptians the details that he gives
of its capital, Meroe, of the worship of Jupiter and Bacchus, and
the longevity of the natives. There can be no doubt, however, that
he set sail for Tyre in Phoenicia, and that he was much struck with
the beauty of the two magnificent temples of Hercules. He next
visited Tarsus and took advantage of the information gathered on the
spot, to write a short history of Phoenicia, Syria, and Palestine.

We next find that he went southward to Arabia, and he calls it the
Ethiopia of Asia, for he thought the southern parts of Arabia were
the limits of human habitation. He tells us of the remarkable way in
which the Arabs kept any vow that they might have made; that their
two deities were Uranius and Bacchus, and of the abundant growth of
myrrh, cinnamon and other spices, and he gives a very interesting
account of their culture and preparation.

We cannot be quite sure which country he next visited, as he calls
it both Assyria and Babylonia, but he gives a most minute account of
the splendid city of Babylon (which was the home of the monarchs of
that country, after the destruction of Nineveh), and whose ruins are
now only in scattered heaps on either side of the Euphrates, which
flowed a broad, deep, rapid river, dividing the city into two parts.
On one side of the river the fortified palace of the king stood, and
on the other the temple of Jupiter Belus, which may have been built
on the site of the Tower of Babel. Herodotus next speaks of the two
queens, Semiramis and Nitocris, telling us of all the means taken by
the latter to increase the prosperity and safety of her capital, and
passing on to speak of the natural products of the country, the
wheat, barley, millet, sesame, the vine, fig-tree and palm-tree. He
winds up with a description of the costume of the Babylonians, and
their customs, especially that of celebrating their marriages by the
public crier.

[Illustration: The Marriage Ceremony.]

After exploring Babylonia he went to Persia, and as the express
purpose of his travels was to collect all the information he could
relating to the lengthy wars that had taken place between the
Persians and Grecians, he was most anxious to visit the spots where
the battles had been fought. He sets out by remarking upon the
custom prevalent in Persia, of not clothing their deities in any
human form, nor erecting temples nor altars where they might be
worshipped, but contenting themselves with adoring them on the tops
of the mountains. He notes their domestic habits, their disdain of
animal food, their taste for delicacies, their passion for wine, and
their custom of transacting business of the utmost importance when
they had been drinking to excess; their curiosity as to the habits
of other nations, their love of pleasure, their warlike qualities,
their anxiety for the education of their children, their respect for
the lives of all their fellow-creatures, even of their slaves, their
horror both of debt and lying, and their repugnance to the disease
of leprosy which they thought proved that the sufferer "had sinned
in some way against the sun." The India of Herodotus, according to M.
Vivien de St. Martin, only consisted of that part of the country
that is watered by the five rivers of the Punjaub, adjoining
Afghanistan, and this was the region where the young traveller
turned his steps on leaving Persia. He thought that the population
of India was larger than that of any other country, and he divided
it into two classes, the first having settled habitations, the
second leading a nomadic life. Those who lived in the eastern part
of the country killed their sick and aged people, and ate them,
while those in the north, who were a finer, braver, and more
industrious race, employed themselves in collecting the auriferous
sands. India was then the most easterly extremity of the inhabited
world, as he thought, and he observes, "that the two extremities of
the world seem to have shared nature's best gifts, as Greece enjoyed
the most agreeable temperature possible," and that was his idea of
the western limits of the world.

Media is the next country visited by this indefatigable traveller,
and he gives the history of the Medes, the nation which was the
first to shake off the Assyrian yoke. They founded the great city of
Ecbatana, and surrounded it with seven concentric walls. They became
a separate nation in the reign of Deioces. After crossing the
mountains that separate Media from Colchis, the Greek traveller
entered the country, made famous by the valour of Jason, and studied
its manners and customs with the care and attention that were among
his most striking characteristics.

Herodotus seems to have been well acquainted with the geography of
the Caspian Sea, for he speaks of it as a Sea "quite by itself" and
having no communication with any other. He considered that it was
bounded on the west by the Caucasian Mountains and on the east by a
great plain inhabited by the Massagetæ, who, both Arian and Diodorus
Siculus think, may have been Scythians. These Massagetæ worshipped
the Sun as their only deity, and sacrificed horses in its honour. He
speaks here of two large rivers, one of which, the Araxes, would be
the Volga, and the other, that he calls the Ista, must be the Danube.
The traveller then went into Scythia, and he thought that the
Scythians were the different tribes inhabiting the country that lay
between the Danube and the Don, in fact a considerable portion of
European Russia. He found the barbarous custom of putting out the
eyes of their prisoners was practised among them, and he notices
that they only wandered from place to place without caring to
cultivate their land. Herodotus relates many of the fables that make
the origin of the Scythian nation so obscure, and in which Hercules
plays a prominent part. He adds a list of the different tribes that
composed the Scythian nation, but he does not seem to have visited
the country lying to the north of the Euxine, or Black Sea. He gives
a minute description of the habits of these people, and expresses
his admiration for the Pontus Euxinus. The dimensions that he gives
of the Black Sea, the Bosphorus, of the Propontis, the Palus Mæotis
and of the Ægean Sea, are almost exactly the same as those given by
geographers of the present day. He also names the large rivers that
flow into these seas. The Ister or Danube, the Borysthenes or
Dnieper, the Tanais, or Don; and he finishes by relating how the
alliance, and afterwards the union between the Scythians and Amazons
took place, which explains the reason why the young women of that
country are not allowed to marry before they have killed an enemy
and established their character for valour.

After a short stay in Thrace, during which he was convinced that the
Getæ were the bravest portion of this race, Herodotus arrived in
Greece, which was to be the termination of his travels, to the
country where he hoped to collect the only documents still wanting
to complete his history, and he visited all the spots that had
become illustrious by the great battles fought between the Greeks
and Persians. He gives a minute description of the Pass of
Thermopylæ, and of his visit to the plain of Marathon, the
battlefield of Platæa, and his return to Asia Minor, whence he
passed along the coast on which the Greeks had established several
colonies. Herodotus can only have been twenty-eight years of age
when he returned to Halicarnassus in Caria, for it was in B.C. 456
that he read the history of his travels at the Olympic Games. His
country was at that time oppressed by Lygdamis, and he was exiled to
Samos; but though he soon after rose in arms to overthrow the tyrant,
the ingratitude of his fellow-citizens obliged him to return into
exile. In 444 he took part in the games at the Pantheon, and there
he read his completed work, which was received with enthusiasm, and
towards the end of his life he retired to Thurium in Italy, where he
died, B.C. 406, leaving behind him the reputation of being the
greatest traveller and the most celebrated historian of antiquity.

After Herodotus we must pass over a century and a half, and only
note, in passing, the Physician Ctesias, a contemporary of Xenophon,
who published the account of a voyage to India that he really never
made; and we shall come in chronological order to Pytheas, who was
at once a traveller, geographer, and historian, one of the most
celebrated men of his time. It was about the year B.C. 340 that
Pytheas set out from the columns of Hercules with a single vessel,
but instead of taking a southerly course like his Carthaginian
predecessors, he went northwards, passing by the coasts of Iberia
and Gaul to the furthest points which now form the Cape of
Finisterre, and then he entered the English Channel and came upon
the English coast--the British Isles--of which he was to be the
first explorer. He disembarked at various points on the coast and
made friends with the simple, honest, sober, industrious inhabitants,
who traded largely in tin.

Pytheas ventured still further north, and went beyond the Orcades
Islands to the furthest point of Scotland, and he must have reached
a very high latitude, for during the summer the night only lasted
two hours. After six days further sailing, he came to lands which he
calls Thule, probably the Jutland or Norway of the present day,
beyond which he could not pass, for he says, "there was neither land,
sea, nor air there." He retraced his course, and changing it
slightly, he came to the mouth of the Rhine, to the country of the
Ostians, and, further inland, to Germany. Thence he visited the
mouth of the Tanais, that is supposed to be the Elbe or the Oder,
and he retuned to Marseilles, just a year after leaving his native
town. Pytheas, besides being such a brave sailor, was a remarkably
scientific man: he was the first to discover the influence that the
moon exercises on the tides, and to notice that the polar star is
not situated at the exact spot at which the axis of the globe is
supposed to be. Some years after the time of Pytheas, about B.C. 326
a Greek traveller made his name famous. This was Nearchus, a native
of Crete, one of Alexander's admirals, and he was charged to visit
all the coast of Asia from the mouth of the Indus to that of the
Euphrates. When Alexander first resolved that this expedition should
take place, which had for its object the opening up of a
communication between India and Egypt, he was at the upper part of
the Indus. He furnished Nearchus with a fleet of thirty-three
galleys, of some vessels with two decks, and a great number of
transport ships, and 2000 men. Nearchus came down the Indus in about
four months, escorted on either bank of the river by Alexander's
armies, and after spending seven months in exploring the Delta, he
set sail and followed the west line of what we call Beloochistan in
the present day.

He put to sea on the second of October, a month before the winter
storms had taken a direction that was favourable to his purpose, so
that the commencement of his voyage was disastrous, and in forty
days he had scarcely made eighty miles in a westerly direction. He
touched first at Stura and at Corestis, which do not seem to answer
to any of the now-existing villages on the coast; then at the Island
of Crocala, which forms the bay of Caranthia. Beaten back by
contrary winds, after doubling the cape of Monze, the fleet took
refuge in a natural harbour that its commander thought that he could
fortify as a defence against the attacks of the barbarous natives,
who, even at the present day, keep up their character as pirates.

After spending twenty-four days in this harbour, Nearchus put to sea
again on the 3rd of November. Severe gales often obliged him to keep
very near the coast, and when this was the case he was obliged to
take all possible precautions to defend himself from the attacks of
the ferocious Beloochees, who are described by eastern historians
"as a barbarous nation, with long dishevelled hair, and long flowing
beards, who are more like bears or satyrs than human beings." Up to
this time, however, no serious disaster had happened to the fleet,
but on the 10th of November in a heavy gale two galleys and a ship
sank. Nearchus then anchored at Crocala, and there he was met by a
ship laden with corn that Alexander had sent out to him, and he was
able to supply each vessel with provisions for ten days.

After many disasters and a skirmish with some of the natives,
Nearchus reached the extreme point of the land of the Orites, which
is marked in modern geography by Cape Morant. Here, he states in his
narrative that the rays of the sun at mid-day are vertical, and
therefore there are no shadows of any kind; but this is surely a
mistake, for at this time in the Southern hemisphere the sun is in
the Tropic of Capricorn; and, beyond this, his vessels were always
some degrees distant from the Tropic of Cancer, therefore even in
the height of summer this phenomenon could not have taken place, and
we know that his voyage was in winter.

Circumstances seemed now rather more in his favour; for the time of
the eastern monsoon was over, when he sailed along the coast which
is inhabited by a tribe called Ichthyophagi, who subsist solely on
fish, and from the failure of all vegetation are obliged to feed
even their sheep upon the same food. The fleet was now becoming very
short of provisions; so after doubling Cape Posmi Nearchus took a
pilot from those shores on board his own vessel, and with the wind
in their favour they made rapid progress, finding the country less
bare as they advanced, a few scattered trees and shrubs being
visible from the shore. They reached a little town, of the name of
which we have no record, and as they were almost without food
Nearchus surprised and took possession of it, the inhabitants making
but little resistance. Canasida, or Churbar as we call it, was their
next resting-place, and at the present day the ruins of a town are
still visible in the bay. But their corn was now entirely exhausted,
and though they tried successively at Canate, Trois, and Dagasira
for further supplies, it was all in vain, these miserable little
towns not being able to furnish more than enough for their own
consumption. The fleet had neither corn nor meat, and they could not
make up their minds to feed upon the tortoises that abound in that
part of the coast.

Just as they entered the Persian Gulf they encountered an immense
number of whales, and the sailors were so terrified by their size
and number, that they wished to fly; it was not without much
difficulty that Nearchus at last prevailed upon them to advance
boldly, and they soon scattered their formidable enemies.

[Illustration: Nearchus leading on his followers against the
monsters of the deep.]

Having changed their westerly course for a north-easterly one, they
soon came upon fertile shores, and their eyes were refreshed by the
sight of corn-fields and pasture-lands, interspersed with all kinds
of fruit-trees except the olive. They put into Badis or Jask, and
after leaving it and passing Maceta or Mussendon, they came in sight
of the Persian Gulf, to which Nearchus, following the geography of
the Arabs, gave the misnomer of the Red Sea.

They sailed up the gulf, and after one halt reached Harmozia, which
has since given its name to the little island of Ormuz. There he
learnt that Alexander's army was only five days' march from him, and
he disembarked at once, and hastened to meet it. No news of the
fleet having reached the army for twenty-one weeks, they had given
up all hope of seeing it again, and great was Alexander's joy when
Nearchus appeared before him, though the hardships he had endured
had altered him almost beyond recognition. Alexander ordered games
to be celebrated and sacrifices offered up to the gods; then
Nearchus returned to Harmozia, as he wished to go as far as Susa
with the fleet, and set sail again, having invoked Jupiter the

He touched at some of the neighbouring islands, probably those of
Arek and Kismis, and soon afterwards the vessels ran aground, but
the advancing tide floated them again, and after passing Bestion,
they arrived at the island of Keish, that is sacred to Mercury and
Venus. This was the boundary-line between Karmania and Persia. As
they advanced along the Persian coast, they visited different places,
Gillam, Indarabia, Shevou, &c., and at the last-named was found a
quantity of wheat which Alexander had sent for the use of the

Some days after this they came to the mouth of the river Araxes,
that separates Persia from Susiana, and thence they reached a large
lake situated in the country now called Dorghestan, and finally
anchored near the village of Degela, at the source of the Euphrates,
having accomplished their project of visiting all the coast lying
between the Euphrates and Indus. Nearchus returned a second time to
Alexander, who rewarded him magnificently, and placed him in command
of his fleet. Alexander's wish, that the whole of the Arabian coast
should be explored as far as the Red Sea, was never fulfilled, as he
died before the expedition was arranged.

It is said that Nearchus became governor of Lysia and Pamphylia, but
in his leisure time he wrote an account of his travels, which has
unfortunately perished, though not before Arian had made a complete
analysis of it in his Historia Indica. It seems probable that
Nearchus fell in the battle of Ipsu, leaving behind him the
reputation of being a very able commander; his voyage may be looked
upon as an event of no small importance in the history of navigation.

We must not omit to mention a most hazardous attempt made in B.C.
146, by Eudoxus of Cyzicus, a geographer living at the court of
Euergetes II, to sail round Africa. He had visited Egypt and the
coast of India, when this far greater project occurred to him, one
which was only accomplished sixteen hundred years later by Vasco da
Gama. Eudoxus fitted out a large vessel and two smaller ones, and
set sail upon the unknown waters of the Atlantic. How far he took
these vessels we do not know, but after having had communication
with some natives, whom he thought were Ethiopians, he returned to
Mauritania. Thence he went to Tiberia, and made preparations for
another attempt to circumnavigate Africa, but whether he ever set
out upon this voyage is not known; in fact some learned men are even
inclined to consider Eudoxus an impostor.

We have still to mention two names of illustrious travellers, living
before the Christian era; those of Cæsar and Strabo. Cæsar, born B.C.
100, was pre-eminently a _conqueror_, not an _explorer_, but we must
remember, that in the year B.C. 58, he undertook the conquest of
Gaul, and during the ten years that were occupied in this vast
enterprise, he led his victorious Legions to the shores of Great
Britain, where the inhabitants were of German extraction.

As to Strabo, who was born in Cappadocia B.C. 50, he distinguished
himself more as a geographer than a traveller, but he travelled
through the interior of Asia, and visited Egypt, Greece, and Italy,
living many years in Rome, and dying there in the latter part of the
reign of Tiberius. Strabo wrote a Geography in seventeen Books, of
which the greater part has come down to us, and this work, with that
of Ptolemy, are the two most valuable legacies of ancient to modern


700; WILLIBALD, 725; SOLEYMAN, 851.

Pliny, Hippalus, Arian, and Ptolemy--Pausanias visits Attica,
Corinth, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia, Arcadia, Boeotia, and
Phocis--Fa-Hian explores Kan-tcheou, Tartary, Northern India, the
Punjaub, Ceylon, and Java--Cosmos Indicopleustes, and the Christian
Topography of the Universe--Arculphe describes Jerusalem, the valley
of Jehoshaphat, the Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, Jericho, the river
Jordan, Libanus, the Dead Sea, Capernaum, Nazareth, Mount Tabor,
Damascus, Tyre, Alexandria, and Constantinople--Willibald and the
Holy Land--Soleyman travels through Ceylon, and Sumatra, and crosses
the Gulf of Siam and the China Sea.

In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the study of
geography received a great stimulus from the advance of other
branches of science, but travellers, or rather explorers of new
countries were very few in number. Pliny in the year A.D. 23,
devoted the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth books of his Natural
History to geography, and in A.D. 50, Hippalus, a clever navigator,
discovered the laws governing the monsoon in the Indian Ocean, and
taught sailors how they might deviate from their usual course, so as
to make these winds subservient to their being able to go to and
return from India in one year. Arian, a Greek historian, born A.D.
105, wrote an account of the navigation of the Euxine or Black Sea,
and pointed out as nearly as possible, the countries that had been
discovered by explorers who had lived before his time; and Ptolemy
the Egyptian, about A.D. 175, making use of the writings of his
predecessors, published a celebrated geography, in which, for the
first time, places and cities were marked in their relative latitude
and longitude on a mathematical plan.

The first traveller of the Christian era, whose name has been handed
down to us, was Pausanias, a Greek writer, living in Rome in the
second century, and whose account of his travels bears the date of
A.D. 175. Pausanias did for ancient Greece what Joanne, the
industrious and clever Frenchman did for the other countries of
Europe, in compiling the "Traveller's Guide." His account, a most
reliable one on all points, and most exact even in details, was one
upon which travellers of the second century might safely depend in
their journeys through the different parts of Greece.

Pausanias gives a minute description of Attica, and especially of
Athens and its monuments, tombs, temples, citadel, academy, columns,
and of the Areopagus.

From Attica Pausanias went to Corinth, and then explored the Islands
of Ægina and Methana, Sparta, the Island of Cerigo, Messene, Achaia,
Arcadia, Boeotia, and Phocis. The roads in the provinces and even
the streets in the towns, are mentioned in his narrative, as well as
the general character of the country through which he passed;
although we can scarcely say that he added any fresh discoveries to
those already made, he was one of those careful travellers whose
object was more to obtain exact information, than to make new
discoveries. His narrative has been of the greatest use to all
geographers and writers upon Greece and the Peloponnesus, and an
author of the sixteenth century has truly said that this book is "a
most ancient and rare specimen of erudition."

[Illustration: World as known to the Ancients.]

It was about a hundred and thirty years after the Greek historian,
in the fourth century, that a Chinese monk undertook the exploration
of the countries lying to the west of China. The account of his
travels is still extant, and we may well agree with M. Charton when
he says that "this is a most valuable work, carrying us beyond our
ordinarily narrow view of western civilization."

Fa-Hian, the traveller, was accompanied by several monks; wishing to
leave China by the west, they crossed more than one chain of
mountains, and reached the country now called Kan-tcheou, which is
not far from the great wall. They crossed the river Cha-ho, and a
desert that Marco Polo was to explore eight hundred years later.
After seventeen days' march they reached the Lake of Lobnor in
Turkestan. From this point all the countries that the monks visited
were alike as to manners and customs, the languages alone differing.
Being dissatisfied with the reception that they met with in the
country of the Ourgas, who are not a hospitable people, they took a
south-easterly course towards a desert country, where they had great
difficulty in crossing the rivers; and, after a thirty-five days'
march, the little caravan reached Tartary in the kingdom of Khotan,
which contained, according to Fa-Hian, "Many times ten thousand holy
men." Here they met with a cordial welcome, and after a residence of
three months were allowed to assist at the "Procession of the
Images," a great feast, in which both Brahmins and Buddhists join,
when all the idols are placed upon magnificently decorated cars, and
paraded through streets strewn with flowers, amid clouds of incense.

The feast over, the monks left Khotan for Koukonyar, and after
resting there fifteen days, we find them further south in the
Balistan country of the present day, a cold and mountainous district,
where wheat was the only grain cultivated, and where Fa-Hian found
in use the curious cylinders on which prayers are written, and which
are turned by the faithful with the most extraordinary rapidity.
Thence they went to the eastern part of Afghanistan; it took them
four weeks to cross the mountains, in the midst of which, and the
never-melting snow they are said to have found venomous dragons.

On the further side of this rocky chain the travellers found
themselves in Northern India, where the country is watered by the
streams which, further on, form the Sinde or Indus. After traversing
the kingdoms of On-tchang, Su-ho-to, and Kian-tho-wei, they arrived
at Fo-loo-cha, which must be the town of Peshawur, standing between
Cabul and the Indus, and twenty-four leagues farther west, they came
to the town of Hilo, built on the banks of a tributary of the river
Kabout. In these towns Fa-Hian specially notices the feasts and
religious ceremonies practised in the worship of Fo or Buddha.

[Illustration: One of Fa-Hian's companions falls.]

When the monks left Kito, they were obliged to cross the
Hindoo-Koosh mountains, lying between Turkestan and the Gandhara,
the cold being so intense that one of their party sank under it.
After enduring great hardships they reached Banoo, a town that is
still standing, and then, after again crossing the Indus, they
entered the Punjaub. Thence, descending towards the south-east, with
a view of crossing the northern part of the Indian Peninsula, they
reached Mathura, a town in the province of Agra, and crossing the
great salt desert which lies to the east of the Indus, travelled
through a country that Fa-Hian calls "a happy kingdom, where the
inhabitants are good and honest, needing neither laws nor
magistrates, and indebted to none for their support; without markets
or wine merchants, and living happily, with plenty of all that they
required, where the temperature was neither hot nor cold." This
happy kingdom was India. Fa-Hian followed a south-easterly route,
and came to Feroukh-abad, where Buddha is said to have alighted as
he came down from heaven, the Chinese traveller dwelling much upon
the Buddhist Creed. Thence he visited the town of Kanoji, standing
on the right bank of the Ganges, that he calls Heng, and this is the
very centre of Buddhism. Wherever Buddha is supposed to have rested,
his followers have erected high towers in his honour. The travellers
visited the temple of Tchihouan, where for twenty-five years Fo
practised the most severe mortifications, and where he is said to
have given sight to five hundred blind men. They are said to have
been much moved by the sight of this temple.

They set out again, passing Kapila and Goruckpoor, on the frontier
of Nepaul, all made famous by Fo's miracles, and then reached the
celebrated town of Palian-foo, in the delta of the Ganges, in the
kingdom of Magadha. This was a fertile tract of country inhabited by
a civilized, upright people, who loved all philosophic researches.
After climbing the peak of Vautour, which stands at the source of
the Dyardanes and Banourah rivers, Fa-Hian descended the Ganges,
visited the temple of Issi-paten that was frequented by magicians
and astrologers, reached Benares, "the kingdom of splendours," and a
little lower down, the town of Tomo-li-ti, situated at the mouth of
the river, a short distance from the site of Calcutta in the present

Fa-Hian found a party of merchants just preparing to put to sea with
the intention of going to Ceylon; he sailed with them, and in
fourteen days landed on the shores of the ancient Taprobana, of
which the Greek merchant, Jamboulos, had given a curious account
some centuries previously. Here the Chinese monk found all the
traditions and legends regarding the god Fo, and passed two years in
searching ancient manuscripts. He left Ceylon for Java, where he
landed after a very rough voyage, in the course of which, when the
sky was overclouded, he says, "we saw nothing but great waves
dashing one against another, lightning, crocodiles, tortoises, and
monsters of the deep."

He spent five months in Java, and then set sail for Canton; but the
winds were again unfavourable, and after undergoing great hardships
he landed at the town of Chantoung of the present day; then having
spent some time at Nankin he returned to Fi-an-foo, his native town,
after an absence of eighteen months. Such is the account of
Fa-Hian's travels, which have been well translated by M. Abel de
Rémusat, and which give very interesting details of Indian and
Tartar customs, especially those relating to their religious

The next traveller to the Chinese monk, in chronological order, is
an Egyptian called Cosmos Indicopleustes, a name that M. Charton
renders as "Cosmographic traveller in India." He lived in the sixth
century, and was a merchant of Alexandria, who, on his return from
visiting Ethiopia and part of Asia, entered a monastery.

His narrative is called the "Christian Topography of the Universe."
It gives no details of its author's voyages, but begins with
cosmographic discussions, to prove that the world is square, and
enclosed in a great oblong coffer with all the other planets. This
is followed by some dissertations on the function of the angels, and
a description of the dress of the Jewish Priests. Cosmos also gives
the natural history of the animals of India and Ceylon, and notices
the rhinoceros and buffalo, which can be made of use for domestic
purposes, the giraffe, the wild ox, the musk that is hunted for its
"perfumed blood," the unicorn, which he considers a real animal and
not a myth, the wild boar, the hippopotamus, the phoca, the dolphin,
and the tortoise. Afterwards, Cosmos describes the pepper-plant, as
a frail and delicate shrub, like the smallest tendrils of the vine,
and the cocoa-tree, whose fruit has a fragrance "equal to that of a

From the earliest times of the Christian era there has been a great
love for visiting the Holy Land, the cradle of the new religion.
These pilgrimages became more and more frequent, and we have many
names left to us of those who visited Palestine during the first
centuries of Christianity.

One of these pilgrims, the French Bishop Arculphe, who lived towards
the end of the seventh century, has left us an account of his

He sets out by giving a topographical description of the site of
Jerusalem, and describes the wall that surrounds the holy city, then
the circular church built over the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of our
Lord Jesus Christ, and the stone that closed it, the church
dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church built upon Calvary, and the
basilica of Constantine on the site of the place where the real
cross was found. These various churches are united in one building,
which also encloses the Tomb of Christ, and Calvary, where our Lord
was crucified.

Arculphe then descended into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is
situated to the east of the city, and contains the church that
covers the tomb of the Virgin; he also saw that of Absalom, which he
calls the Tower of Jehoshaphat. He describes the Mount of Olives
that faces the city beyond the valley, and he prayed in the cave
where Jesus prayed. He also went to Mount Zion, which stands outside
the town on the south side; he notices the gigantic fig-tree, on
which, according to tradition, Judas Iscariot hanged himself, and he
visited the church of the guest-chamber, now destroyed.

[Illustration: Absalom's Tomb.]

After making the tour of the city by the Valley of Siloam, and
ascending by the brook Cedron, the bishop returned to the Mount of
Olives, which was covered with waving wheat and barley, grass and
wild flowers, and he describes the place where Christ ascended from
the summit of the mountain. On this spot a large church has been
built, with three arched porticoes that are not roofed over or
covered in any way, but are open to the sky. "They have not roofed
in this church," says the bishop, "because it was the place whence
our Saviour ascended upon a cloud, and the space open to heaven
allows the prayers of the faithful to ascend thither. For when they
paved this church they could not lay the pavement over the place
where our Lord's feet had rested, as, when the stones were laid upon
that spot, the earth, as though impatient of anything not divine
resting upon it, threw them up again before the workmen. Beyond this,
the dust bears the impress of the divine feet, and though, day by
day, the faithful who visit the spot efface the marks, they
immediately reappear and may be seen perpetually."

After having explored the neighbourhood of Bethany in the midst of
the grove of olives, where the grave of Lazarus is said to be, and
where the church, standing on the right hand is supposed to mark the
spot where our Lord usually conversed with His disciples, Arculphe
went to Bethlehem, which is a short distance from the holy city. He
describes the birthplace of our Lord, a natural cave, hollowed out
of the rock at the eastern end of the village, the church, built by
St. Helena, the tombs of the three shepherds, upon whom the heavenly
light shone at the birth of our Saviour, the burial-places of the
patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that of Rachel, and he
visited the oak of Mamre, under which Abraham received the visit of
the angels. Thence, Arculphe went to Jericho, or rather the place
where the town once stood, whose walls fell at the sound of Joshua's
trumpets. He explored the place where the children of Israel first
rested in the land of Canaan after crossing the river Jordan, and he
speaks of the church of Galgala, where the twelve stones are placed,
which the children of Israel took from the river when they entered
the promised land. He followed the course of the Jordan, and found
near one of the bends of the river on the right bank, and among the
most beautiful scenery, about an hour's walk from the Dead Sea, the
place where our Lord was baptized by St. John the Baptist. A cross
is placed to mark the spot, but when the river is swollen, it is
covered by the water.

After examining the banks of the Dead Sea and tasting its brackish
water, he viewed the source of the Jordan, at the foot of Libanus,
and explored the greater part of the Lake of Tiberias, visiting the
well where the woman of Samaria gave our Lord the water He so much
needed, seeing the fountain in the desert of which St. John the
Baptist drank, and the great plain of Gaza, where our Lord blessed
the five loaves and two fishes, and fed the multitude. Next he went
down to Capernaum, of which there are now no remains; then visited
Nazareth, where our Lord spent His childhood, and ended his journey
at Mount Tabor in Galilee.

The bishop's narrative contains both geographical and historical
accounts of other places, beyond those immediately connected with
our Lord's life on earth. He visited the royal city of Damascus,
which is watered by four large rivers. Also Tyre, the chief town of
Phoenicia, which, though once separated from the mainland, was
joined to it again by the jetty or pier made by the orders of
Nabuchodonosor. He speaks of Alexandria, once the capital of Egypt,
which he reached forty days after leaving Jaffa, and lastly, of
Constantinople, where he often visited the large church in which
"the wood of the cross is preserved, upon which the Saviour suffered
for the salvation of the human race."

The account of this journey was written by the Abbé de St. Columban
at the dictation of the bishop, and not many years afterwards the
same journey was undertaken by an English pilgrim, and accomplished
in much the same way. The name of this pilgrim was Willibald, a
member of a rich family living at Southampton, who, on his recovery
from a long illness, dedicated him to God's service. All his early
life was spent in holy exercises in the monastery of Woltheim; when
he was grown up he had the most intense wish to see St. Peter's at
Rome, and was so set upon this, that it induced his father, brother,
and young sister to wish to go there also; they embarked at
Southampton in the spring of 721, and making their way up the Seine,
they landed at Rouen. We have but few details of the journey to Rome,
but Willibald mentions that after passing through Cortona and Lucca,
at which latter place his father sank under the fatigue of the
journey and died, he reached Rome in safety with his brother and
sister, and passed the winter there, but they were all in turn
attacked with fever. When Willibald regained his health, he
determined to continue his journey to the Holy Land. He sent his
brother and sister back to England, while he joined some monks who
were going in the same direction as himself. They went by Terracina
and Gaeta to Naples, and set sail for Reggio in Calabria, and
Catania and Syracuse in Sicily, whence they again embarked, and,
after touching at Cos and Samos, landed at Ephesus in Asia Minor,
where they visited the tombs of St. John the Evangelist, of Mary
Magdalene, and of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, that is, seven
Christians martyred in the time of the Emperor Decius.

They made some stay at Patara and at Mitylene, and then went to
Cyprus and Paphos; we next find the party, seven in number, at
Edessa, visiting the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle. Here they were
arrested as spies, and thrown into prison by the Saracens, but the
king, on the petition of a Spaniard, set them at liberty. As soon as
they were set free they left the town in great haste, and from that
time their route is almost the same as that of the Bishop Arculphe;
they visited Damascus, Nazareth, Cana, where they saw a wonderful
amphora on Mount Tabor, where our Lord was transfigured, and the
Lake of Tiberias, where St. Peter walked upon the water; Magdala,
where Lazarus and his sister dwelt; Capernaum, where our Lord raised
to life the son of the nobleman; Bethsaida in Galilee, the native
place of St. Peter and St. Andrew; Chorazin, where our Lord cured
those possessed with devils; Cæsarea, and the spot where our Lord
was baptized, as well as Jericho and Jerusalem.

They also went to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Mount of Olives,
and to Bethlehem, the scene of the murder of the Innocents by Herod,
and Gaza. While they were at Gaza, Willibald tells us that he
suddenly became blind, while he was in the church of St. Matthias,
and only recovered his sight two months afterwards, as he entered
the church of the Holy Cross at Jerusalem. He went through the
valley of Diospolis or Lydda, ten miles from Jerusalem, and then
went to Tyre and Sidon, and thence, by Libanus, Damascus, Cæsarea,
and Emmaus, back to Jerusalem, where the travellers spent the winter.

This was not to be the limit of their exploration, for we hear of
them at Ptolemais, Emesa, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Samaria, where St.
John the Baptist is said to have been buried, and at Tyre, where it
must be confessed that Willibald defrauded the revenue of that time
by smuggling some balsam that was very celebrated, and on which a
duty was levied. On quitting Tyre they went to Constantinople and
lived there for two years before returning by Sicily, Calabria,
Naples, and Capua. The English pilgrim reached the monastery of
Monte Cassino, just ten years after his first setting out on his
travels; but his time of rest had not yet come, as he was appointed
to a bishopric in Franconia by Pope Gregory III. He was forty-one
years of age when he was made bishop, and he lived forty years
afterwards. In 938 he was canonized by Leo VII.

We will conclude the list of celebrated travellers living between
the first and ninth centuries, by giving a short account of Soleyman,
a merchant of Bassorah, who, starting from the Persian Gulf, arrived
eventually on the shores of China. This narrative is in two distinct
parts, one written in 851, by Soleyman himself, who was the
traveller, and the other in 878 by a geographer named Abou-Zeyd
Hassan with the view of completing the first. Renaud, the
orientalist, is of opinion that this narrative "has thrown quite a
new light on the commercial transactions that existed in the ninth
century between Egypt, Arabia, and the countries bordering on the
Persian Gulf on one side, and the vast provinces of India and China
on the other."

Soleyman, as we have said, started from the Persian Gulf after
having taken in a good supply of fresh water at Muscat, and visited
first, the second sea, or that of Oman. He noticed a fish of
enormous size, probably a spermaceti whale, which the seamen
endeavoured to frighten away by ringing a bell, then a shark, in
whose stomach they found a smaller shark, enclosing in its turn one
still smaller, "both alive," says the traveller, which is manifestly
an exaggeration; then, after describing the remora, the dactyloptera,
and the porpoise, he speaks of the sea near the Maldive Islands in
which he counted an enormous number of islands, among them he
mentions Ceylon by its Arabian name, with its pearl fisheries;
Sumatra, inhabited by cannibals, and rich in gold-mines; Nicobar,
and the Andaman Islands, where cannibalism still exists even at the
present day. "This sea," he says, "is subject to fearful
water-spouts which wreck the ships, and throw on its shores an
immense number of dead fish and sometimes even large stones. When
these tempests are at their height the sea seethes and boils."
Soleyman imagined it to be infested by a sort of monster who preyed
upon human beings; this is thought to have been a kind of dog-fish.

[Illustration: Soleyman noticed a shark in whose stomach they found
a smaller shark.]

Arrived at Nicobar, Soleyman traded with the inhabitants, bartering
some iron for cocoa-nuts, sugar-cane, bananas, &c.; he then crossed
the sea, and seems to have made for Singapore, and northwards by the
Gulf of Siam. Soleyman put into a harbour, near Cape Varella, to
revictual his ships, and thence he went by the China Sea to
Jehan-fou the port of the present town of Tche-kiang. The remainder
of the account of Soleyman's travels, written by Abou-Zeyd Hassan,
contains a detailed account of the manners and customs of the
Indians and Chinese; but it is not the traveller himself who is
speaking, and we shall find the same subjects spoken of in a more
interesting manner by later authors.

We must add, in reviewing the discoveries made by travellers sixteen
centuries before, and nine centuries after, the Christian era, that
from Norway to the extreme boundaries of China, taking a line
through the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the
Indian Ocean, and the Sea of China, the immense extent of coast
bordering these seas had been in a great measure visited. Some
explorations had been attempted in the interior of these countries;
for instance, in Egypt as far as Ethiopia, in Asia Minor to the
Caucasus, in India and China; and if these old travellers may not
have quite understood mathematical precision, as to some of the
points they visited, at all events the manners and customs of the
inhabitants, the productions of the different countries, the mode of
trading with them, and their religious customs, were quite
sufficiently understood. Ships could sail with more safety when the
change of winds was no longer a subject of mere speculation, the
caravans could take a more direct route in the interior of the
countries, and the great increase of trade which took place in the
middle ages is surely owing to the facilities afforded by the
writings of travellers.


1245-1247; RUBRUQUIS, 1253-1254.

The Scandinavians in the North, Iceland and Greenland--Benjamin of
Tudela visits Marseilles, Rome, Constantinople, the Archipelago,
Palestine, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Damascus, Baalbec, Nineveh, Baghdad,
Babylon, Bassorah, Ispahan, Shiraz, Samarcand, Thibet, Malabar,
Ceylon, the Red Sea, Egypt, Sicily, Italy, Germany, and France--
Carpini explores Turkestan--Manners and customs of the Tartars--
Rubruquis and the Sea of Azov, the Volga, Karakorum, Astrakhan, and

In the course of the tenth, and at the beginning of the eleventh
century, a considerable amount of ardour for exploration had arisen
in Northern Europe. Some Norwegians and adventurous Gauls had
penetrated to the Northern seas, and, if we may trust to some
accounts, they had gone as far as the White Sea and visited the
country of the Samoyedes. Some documents say that Prince Madoc may
have explored the American continent.

At all events we may be tolerably certain that Iceland was
discovered about A.D. 861 by some Scandinavian adventurers, and that
it was soon after colonized by Normans. About this same time a
Norwegian had taken refuge on a newly discovered land, and surprised
by its verdure he gave it the name of Greenland.

The communication with this portion of the American continent was
difficult and uncertain, and one geographer says "it took five years
for a vessel to go from Norway to Greenland, and to return from
Greenland to Norway." Sometimes in severe winters the Northern Ocean
was completely frozen over, and a certain Hollur-Geit, guided by a
goat, was able to cross on foot from Norway to Greenland. We should
keep in mind that the period of which we are speaking is the time
when legends and traditions were very plentiful, and gained ready

Let us return to well-authenticated facts, and relate the journey of
a Spanish Jew, whose truthfulness is beyond question.

This Jew was the son of a rabbi of Tudela, a town in Navarre, and he
was called Benjamin of Tudela. It seems probable that the object of
his voyage was to make a census of his brother Jews scattered over
the surface of the Globe, but whatever may have been his motive, he
spent thirteen years, from 1160-1173, exploring nearly all the known
world, and his narrative was considered the great authority on this
subject up to the sixteenth century.

Benjamin of Tudela left Barcelona, and travelling by Tarragona,
Gironde, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier, Sunel, Pousquiers, St.
Gilles, and Arles, reached Marseilles. Here he visited the two
synagogues in the town and the principal Jews, and then set sail for
Genoa, arriving there in four days. The Genoese were masters of the
sea at that time, and were at war with the people of Pisa, a brave
people, who, like the Genoese, says the traveller, "owned neither
kings nor princes, but only the judges whom they appointed at their
own pleasure."

After visiting Lucca, Benjamin of Tudela went to Rome. Alexander III.
was Pope at that time, and according to this traveller, he included
some Jews among his ministers. Among the monuments of special
interest in the eternal city, he mentions St. Peter's and St. John
Lateran, but his descriptions are not interesting. From Rome by
Capua, and Pozzuoli, then partly inundated, he went to Naples, where
he seems to have seen nothing but the five hundred Jews living
there; then by Salerno, Amalfi, Benevento, Ascoli, Trani, St.
Nicholas of Bari, and Brindisi, he arrived at Otranto, having
crossed Italy and yet found nothing interesting to relate of this
splendid country.

The list of the places Benjamin of Tudela visited, is not
interesting, but we must not omit to mention one of them, for his
narrative is most precise, and it is useful to follow his route by
the maps specially prepared for this purpose by Lelewel. From
Otranto to Zeitun, his halting-places were Corfu, the Gulf of Arta,
Achelous, an ancient town in Ætolia, Anatolia in Greece, on the Gulf
of Patras, Patras, Lepanto, Crissa, at the foot of Mount Parnassus,
Corinth, Thebes, whose two thousand Jewish inhabitants were the best
makers of silk and purple in Greece, Negropont and Zeitoun. Here,
according to the Spanish traveller, is the boundary-line of
Wallachia; he says the Wallachians are as nimble as goats, and come
down from the mountains to pillage the neighbouring Greek towns.

Benjamin of Tudela went on to Constantinople by way of Gardiki, a
small township on the Gulf of Volo, Armyros, a port much frequented
by the Venetians and Genoese, Bissina, a town of which no traces are
left, Salonica, the ancient Thessalonica, and Abydos. He gives us
some details of Constantinople; the Emperor Emmanuel Comnenus was
reigning at that time and lived in a palace that he had built upon
the sea-shore, containing columns of pure gold and silver, and "the
golden throne studded with precious stones, above which a golden
crown is suspended by a chain of the same precious metal, which
rests upon the monarch's head as he sits upon the throne." In this
crown are many precious stones, and one of priceless worth: "so
brilliant are they," says this traveller, "that at night, there is
no occasion for any further light than that thrown back by these
jewels." He adds that there is a large population in the city, and
for the number of merchants from all countries who assemble there,
it can only be compared to Baghdad. The inhabitants are principally
dressed in embroidered silk robes enriched with golden fringes, and
to see them thus attired and mounted upon their horses, one would
take them for princes, but they are not brave warriors, and they
keep mercenaries from all nations to fight for them. One regret he
expresses, and that is, that there are no Jews left in the City, and
that they have all been transported to Galata, near the entrance of
the port, where are nearly two thousand five hundred of the sects
(Rabbinites and Caraites), and among them many rich merchants and
silk manufacturers, but the Turks have a bitter hatred for them, and
treat them with great severity. Only one of these rich Jews was
allowed to ride on horseback, he was the Emperor's physician,
Solomon, the Egyptian. As to the remarkable buildings of
Constantinople, he mentions the Mosque of St. Sophia, in which the
number of altars answers to the number of days in a year, and the
columns and gold and silver candlesticks, are too numerous to be
counted; also the Hippodrome, which at the present day is used as a
horse-market, but was then the scene of combats between "lions,
bears, tigers, other wild beasts, and even birds."

[Illustration: The approach to Constantinople.]

When Benjamin of Tudela left Constantinople, he visited Gallipoli
and Kilia, a port on the Eastern coast, and went to the islands in
the Archipelago, Mitylene, Chios, whence there was much trade in the
juice of the pistachio-tree, Samos, Rhodes, and Cyprus. As he sailed
towards the land of Aram, he passed by Messis, by Antioch, where he
admired the arrangements for supplying the city with water, and by
Latakia on his way to Tripoli, which he found had been recently
shaken by an earthquake, that had been felt for miles round. We next
hear of him at Beyrout, at Sidon, and Tyre, celebrated for its glass
manufactory, at Acre, at Jaffa near Mount Carmel, at Capernaum, at
the beautiful town of Cæsarea, at Samaria, which is built in the
midst of a fertile tract, where are vineyards, gardens, orchards,
and olive-yards, at Nablous, at Gibeon, and then at Jerusalem.

In the holy city, it was but natural that the Jew could see nothing
that would have interested a Christian visitor. For him, Jerusalem
appeared only a small town, defended by three walls and peopled with
Jews, Syrians, Greeks, Georgians, and Franks of all languages and
nations. He found four hundred horse-soldiers in the city ready for
war at any moment, a great temple in which is the tomb of "that
man," as the Talmud styles our Saviour, and a house in which the
Jews had the privilege of carrying on the work of dyeing; but they
were few in number, scarcely two hundred, and they lived under the
tower of David at one corner of the city. Outside Jerusalem, the
traveller mentions the tomb of Absalom, the sepulchre of Osias, the
pool of Siloam, near the brook Cedron, the valley of Jehoshaphat,
and the Mount of Olives, from whose summit one can see the Dead Sea.
Two leagues from it stands the pillar of Lot's wife, and the
traveller adds, "that though the flocks and herds which pass this
pillar of salt are continually licking it, yet it never diminishes
in size." From Jerusalem, Benjamin of Tudela went to Bethlehem, and
inscribed his name on Rachel's tomb, as it was customary for all
Jews to do who passed by it; and from Bethlehem, after counting
twelve Jewish dyeing establishments, he went on to Hebron, which is
now deserted and in ruins.

After visiting, in the plain of Machpelah, the tombs of Abraham,
Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah, and passing by Beth-Jairim,
Scilo, Mount Moriah, Beth-Nubi, Ramah, Joppa, Jabneh, Azotus,
Ascalon, built by Esdras, Lud, Tiberias, where are some hot springs,
Gish and Merom, which is still a spot visited by Jewish pilgrims,
Kedesh and Laish, near the cavern, where the Jordan takes its rise,
the traveller left the land of Israel, and entered Damascus.

The following is his description of this city, where the Turkish
rule begins. "It is a very large and beautiful city, walled round,
and outside the walls for fifteen miles are gardens and orchards,
and of all the surrounding country, this is the most fertile spot.
The town stands at the foot of Mount Hermon, whence rise the two
rivers, Abana and Pharpar; the first passes through the city, and
its waters are taken into the larger houses by means of aqueducts,
as well as through the streets and markets. This town trades with
all the world. The river Pharpar fertilizes the orchards and gardens
outside the town. There is an Ishmaelitish mosque, called
Goman-Dammesec, meaning the synagogue of Damascus, and this building
has not its equal; it is said to have been Benhadad's palace, and it
contains a glass wall, built apparently by magic. This wall has 365
holes in it, answering to the days of the year; as the sun rises and
sets it shines through one or other of these holes, so that the hour
of the day may thus always be known. Inside the palace or mosque are
gold and silver houses, large enough to hold two or three persons at
a time, if they wish to wash or bathe in them."

After going to Galad and Salkah, which are two days' journey from
Damascus, Benjamin reached Baalbec, the Heliopolis of the Greeks and
Romans, built by Solomon, in the valley of the Libanus, then to
Tadmor, which is Palmyra, also built entirely of great stones. Then
passing by Cariatin, he stopped at Hamah, which was partially
destroyed by an earthquake in 1157, which overthrew many of the
Syrian towns.

Now comes in the narrative a list of names, which are of no great
interest: we may mention among them, Nineveh, whence the traveller
returned towards the Euphrates; and finally that he reached Baghdad,
the residence of the Caliph.

Baghdad was of great interest to the Jewish traveller; he says it is
a large town three miles in circumference, containing a hospital
both for Jews and sick people of any nation. It is the centre for
learned men, philosophers, and magicians from all parts of the world.
It is the residence of the Caliph, who at this time was probably
Mostaidjed, whose dominion included western Persia and the banks of
the Tigris. He had a vast palace, standing in a park watered by a
tributary of the Tigris and filled with wild beasts, he may be taken
as a model sovereign on some points; he was a good and very truthful
man, kind and considerate to all with whom he came in contact. He
lived on the produce of his own toil, and made blankets, which,
marked with his own seal, were sold in the market by the princes of
his court, to defray the expense of his living. He only left his
palace once a year, at the feast of Ramadan, when he went to the
mosque near the Bassorah gate, and there acting as Iman, he
explained the law to his people. He returned to his palace by a
different route which was carefully guarded all the rest of the year,
so that no other passer by might profane the marks of his footsteps.
All the brothers of the Caliph inhabit the same palace as he does;
they are all treated with much respect, and have the government of
provinces and towns in their hands, the revenues from them enabling
them to pass a pleasant life; only, as they once rebelled against
their sovereign, they are now all fettered with chains of iron, and
have guards mounted before their houses.

Benjamin of Tudela visited that part of Turkey in Asia which is
watered by the Euphrates and Tigris, and saw the ruined city of
Babylon, passing by what is said to be the furnace into which
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown, and the tower of Babel,
which he describes as follows. "The tower built by the tribes that
were dispersed is of bricks; its largest ground work must be two
miles in circumference; its length is two hundred and forty cubits.
At every ten cubits there is a passage leading to a spiral staircase,
which goes to the upper part of the building; from the tower there
is a view of the surrounding country for twenty miles; but the wrath
of God fell upon it and it is now only a heap of ruins."

[Illustration: The Tower of Babel.]

From Babel the traveller went to the Synagogue of Ezekiel, situated
on the Euphrates, a real sanctuary where believers congregate to
read the book written by the prophet. Then traversing Alkotzonath,
&c., to Sura, once the site of a celebrated Jewish college, and
Shafjathib, whose synagogue is built with stones from Jerusalem, and
crossing the desert of Yemen he passed Themar, Tilimar, and Chaibar
which contained a great number of Jewish inhabitants, to Waseth; and
thence to Bassorah on the Tigris, nearly at the end of the Persian

He gives no account of this important town; and thence he seems to
have gone to Karna, to visit the tomb of the prophet Esdras; then he
entered Persia and sojourned at Chuzestan, a large town, partly in
ruins, which the river Tigris divides into two parts, one rich the
other poor, joined by a bridge, over which hangs the coffin of
Daniel the prophet. He went to Amaria, which is the boundary of
Media, where he says the impostor David-el-roi appeared, the worker
of false miracles, who is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, but
called among the Jews of that part by the former name. Then he went
to Hamadan, where the tombs of Mordecai and Esther are found, and by
Dabrestan he reached Ispahan, the capital of the kingdom, a city
measuring twelve miles in circumference. At this point the narrative
of the traveller becomes somewhat obscure; according to his notes we
find him at Shiraz, then at Samarcand, then at the foot of the
mountains in Thibet. This seems to have been his farthest point
towards the north-east; he must have come back to Nizapur and
Chuzestan on the banks of the Tigris; thence after a sea voyage of
two days to El-Cachif, an Arabian town on the Persian Gulf, where
the pearl fishery is carried on. Then, after another voyage of seven
days and crossing the Sea of Oman, he seems to have reached Quilon
on the coast of Malabar.

He was at last in India, the kingdom of the worshippers of the Sun
and of the descendants of Cush. This country produces pepper, ginger,
and cinnamon. Twenty days after leaving Quilon he was among the
fire-worshippers in Ceylon, and thence, perhaps, he went to China.
He thought this voyage a very perilous one, and says that many
vessels are lost on it, giving the following singular expedient for
averting the danger. "You should take on board with you several
skins of oxen, and, if the wind rises and threatens the vessel with
danger, all who wish to escape envelope themselves each in a skin,
sew up this skin so as to make it as far as possible water-tight,
then throw themselves into the sea, and flocks of the great eagles
called griffins, thinking that they are really oxen, will descend
and bear them on their wings to some mountain or valley, there to
devour their prey. Immediately on reaching land the man will kill
the eagle with his knife, and leaving the skin, will walk towards
the nearest habitation; many people," he adds, "have been saved by
this means."

We find Benjamin of Tudela again at Ceylon, then at the Island of
Socotra in the Persian Gulf, and after crossing the Red Sea he
arrives in Abyssinia, which he styles "the India that is on terra
firma." Thence he goes down the Nile, crosses the country of Assouan,
reaches the town of Holvan, and by the Sahara, where the sand
swallows up whole caravans, he goes to Zairlah, Kous, Faiouna and
Misraim or Cairo.

This last is a large town containing fine squares and shops. It
never rains there, but this want is supplied by the overflow of the
Nile once a year, which waters the country and renders it very

[Illustration: Benjamin of Tudela in the Desert of Sahara.]

He passed Gizeh on leaving Misraim but does not mention the pyramids,
and just names Ain-Schams, Boutig, Zefita, and Damira; he stopped at
Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great, a city of great commerce,
frequented by merchants from all parts of the world. Its squares and
streets are thronged with people, and so long that one cannot see
from one end to another. A dike or causeway runs out a mile into the
sea, on which a high tower was built by the conqueror, and on the
top of it a glass mirror was placed, by which all vessels could be
seen while still fifty days' sail away, coming from Greece or the
east on their way to make war upon or otherwise harm the town. "This
tower," if we may credit the writer, "is still of use as a signal to
vessels coming to Alexandria, for it can be seen night or day, a
great flaming torch being kept lighted at night, visible 100 miles
off!" What are our light-houses when even with the electric light
they are only visible thirty miles away? From Damietta, the
traveller visited several neighbouring towns, then returning there
he embarked on board a vessel and twenty days afterwards landed at
Messina. He wished to continue the census that he was making, so by
way of Rome and Lucca he went to St. Bernard. He mentions visiting
several towns both in Germany and France, where Jews had settled,
and according to Chateaubriand's account, Benjamin of Tudela's
computation brought the number of Jews to about 768,165.

In conclusion the traveller speaks of Paris, which he seems to have
visited; he says, "This great town numbers among its inhabitants
some remarkably learned men, who are unequalled for learning by any
in the world; they spend all their time studying law, and at the
same time are very hospitable to all strangers, but especially to
all their Jewish brethren." Such is the account of Benjamin of
Tudela's travels; they form an important part of the geographical
science of the middle of the twelfth century. As we have used the
modern names, it is easy to follow the short account of his route
that we have given, on any atlas of the present day.

Next in order of succession we come to the name of Jean du Plan de
Carpin, or as some authors render it simply, Carpini. He was a
Franciscan or Grey Friar, born in 1182, at Perugia in Italy. It is
well known what inroads the Mongolians had made under Gengis-Khan,
and in 1206 this chieftain had made Karakorum, an ancient Turkish
town, his capital. This town was a little north of China. His
successor Ojadaï, extended the Mongolian dominion into the centre of
China, and, after raising an army of 600,000 men, he even invaded
Europe. Russia, Georgia, Poland, Moravia, Silesia, and Hungary, all
became the scenes of sanguinary conflicts which almost always ended
in favour of the invaders. The Mongols were looked upon as demons
possessed with superhuman power, and Western Europe was terrified at
their approach.

Pope Innocent IV. sent an ambassador to the Tartars, but he was
treated with arrogance; at the same time he sent other ambassadors
to the Tartars living in North-Eastern Tartary, in the hope of
stopping the Mongolian invasion, and as chief in this mission, the
Franciscan Carpini was chosen, being known to be a clever and
intelligent diplomatist. Carpini was accompanied by Stephen, a
Bohemian; they set out on the 6th of April, 1245, and went first to
Bohemia, where the king gave them letters to some relations living
in Poland, who he hoped might facilitate their entrance into Russia.
Carpini had no difficulty in reaching the territory of the Archduke
of Russia, and by his advice they bought beaver and other furs as
presents for the Tartar chiefs. Thus provided, they took a
north-easterly route to Kiev, then the chief town of Russia and now
the seat of Government of that part, but they travelled in fear of
the Lithuanians, who scoured the country at that time.

The Governor of Kiev advised the Pope's envoys to exchange their own
for Tartar horses, who were accustomed to seek for their food under
the snow, and thus mounted they had no difficulty in getting as far
as Danilisha. There they both were attacked by severe illness; when
nearly recovered they bought a carriage, and in spite of the intense
cold set out again. Arrived at Kaniev, on the Dnieper, they found
themselves in the frontier town of the Mongol empire, and hence they
were conducted to the Tartar camp by one of the chiefs, whom they
had made their friend by gifts. In the camp they were badly received
at first, but being directed to the Duke of Corrensa, who commanded
an army of 60,000 men forming the advanced guard: this general sent
them with an escort of three Tartars to Prince Bathy, the next in
command to the Emperor himself. Relays of horses were prepared for
them on the road, they travelled night and day, and thus passed
through the Comans' country lying between the Dnieper, the Tanais,
the Volga, and the Yaik, frequently having to cross the frozen
rivers, and finally reaching the court of Prince Bathy on the
frontiers of the Comans' country. "As we were being conducted to the
prince," says Carpini, "we were told that we should have to pass
between two fires, in order to purify us from any infection we might
carry, and also to do away with any evil designs we might have
towards the prince, which we agreed to do that we might be freed
from all suspicion."

The prince was seated on his throne in the midst of his courtiers
and officers in a magnificent tent made of fine linen. He had the
reputation of being a just and kind ruler of his people, but very
cruel in war. Carpini and Stephen were placed on the left of the
throne, and the papal letters, translated into a language composed
of Tartar and Arabic, were presented to the prince. He read them
attentively and then dismissed the envoys to their tents, where
their only refreshment was a little porringer full of millet.

This interview took place on Good Friday, and the next day Bathy
sent for the envoys, and told them they must go to the Emperor. They
set out on Easter-day with two guides; but having lived upon nothing
but millet, water, and salt, the travellers were but little fit for
a journey; nevertheless their guides obliged them to travel very
quickly, changing horses five or six times in a day. They passed
through almost a desert country, the Tartars having driven away
nearly all the inhabitants. They came next to the country of the
Kangites to the east of Comania, where there was a great deficiency
of water; in this province the people were mostly herdsmen, under
the hard yoke of the Mongolians.

Carpini was travelling from Easter till Ascension-Day through the
land of the Kangites, and thence he came into the Biserium country,
or what we call Turkestan in the present day; on all sides the eye
rested on towns and villages in ruins. After crossing a chain of
mountains the envoys entered Kara-Kâty on the 1st of July; here the
governor received them very hospitably, and made his sons and the
principal officers of his court dance before them for their

On leaving Kara-Kâty the envoys rode for some days along the banks
of a lake lying to the north of the town of Zeman, which must be,
according to M. de Rémusat, the Lake Balkash. There lived Ordu, the
eldest of the Tartar captains, and here Carpini and Stephen took a
day's rest before encountering the cold and mountainous country of
the Maimans, a nomadic people living in tents. After some days the
travellers reached the country of the Mongols, and on the 22nd of
July arrived at the place where the Emperor was, or rather he who
was to be Emperor, the election having not yet taken place.

This future Emperor was named Cunius; he received the envoys in a
most friendly manner, a letter from Prince Bathy having explained to
him the object of their visit; not being yet Emperor he could not
entertain them nor take any part in public affairs, but from the
time of Ojadaï's death, his widow, the mother of Prince Cunius had
been Regent; she received the travellers in a purple and white tent
capable of holding 2000 persons. Carpini gives the following account
of the interview: "When we arrived we saw a large assembly of dukes
and princes who had come from all parts with their attendants, who
were on horseback in the neighbouring fields and on the hills. The
first day they were all dressed in white and purple, on the second
when Cunius appeared in the tent, in red, on the third day they wore
violet, and on the fourth, scarlet, or crimson. Outside the tent, in
the surrounding palisade were two great gates, by one of which the
Emperor alone might enter; it was unguarded, but none dared to enter
or leave by it; while the other, which was the general entrance, was
guarded by soldiers with swords, and bows and arrows; if any one
approached within the prescribed limits he was beaten, or else shot
to death with arrows. We noticed several horsemen there, on whose
harness cannot have been less than twenty marks' worth of silver."

[Illustration: The Tartars.]

A whole month passed away before Cunius was proclaimed Emperor, and
the envoys were obliged to wait patiently for this before they could
be received by him. Carpini turned this leisure time to account by
studying the habits of the people; he has given much interesting
information on the subject in his account of his travels.

The country seemed to him to be principally very hilly and the soil
sandy, with but little vegetation. There is scarce any wood; but all
classes are content with dung for fuel. Though the country is so
bare, sheep seem to do well. The climate is very changeable; in
summer, storms are very frequent, many fall victims to the vivid
lightning, and the wind is often so strong as even to blow over men
on horseback: during the winter there is no rain, which all falls in
the summer, and then scarcely enough to lay the dust, while the
storms of hail are terrible; during Carpini's residence in the
country they were so severe that once 140 persons were drowned by
the melting of the enormous mass of hail-stones that had fallen. It
is a very extensive country, but miserable beyond expression.

Carpini who seems to have been a man of great discernment took a
very just idea of the Tartars themselves. He says, "Their eyes are
set very far apart; they have very high cheek-bones, their noses are
small and flat; their eyes small, and their eye-lashes and eyebrows
seem to meet; they are of middle height with slender waists, they
have small beards, some wear moustaches, and what are now called
imperials. On the top of the head the hair is shaved off like monks,
and to the width of three fingers between their ears they also shave
off the hair, letting what is between the tonsure and the back of
the head grow to some length; in fact it is as long as a woman's in
many cases, and plaited and tied in two tails behind the ear. They
have small feet. He says there is but little difference perceptible
in the dress of the men and women, all alike wearing long robes
trimmed with fur, and high buckram caps enlarged towards the upper
part. Their houses are built like tents of rods and stakes, so that
they can be easily taken down and packed on the beasts of burden.
Other larger dwellings are sometimes carried whole as they stand, on
carts, and thus follow their owner about the country.

"The Tartars believe in God as the Creator of the universe and as
the Rewarder and Avenger of all, but they also worship the sun, moon,
fire, earth, and water, and idols made in felt, like human beings.
They have little toleration, and put Michael of Turnigoo and Féodor
to death for not worshipping the sun at midday at the command of
Prince Bathy. They are a superstitious people, believing in
enchantment and sorcery, and looking upon fire as the purifier of
all things. When one of their chiefs dies he is buried with a horse
saddled and bridled, a table, a dish of meat, a cup of mare's milk,
and a mare and foal.

"The Tartars are most obedient to their chiefs, and are truthful and
not quarrelsome; murders and deeds of violence are rare, there is
very little robbery, and articles of value are never guarded. They
bear great fatigue and hunger without complaint, as well as heat and
cold, singing and dancing under the most adverse circumstances. They
are much prone to drink to excess; they are very proud and
disdainful to strangers, and have no respect for the lives of human

Carpini completes his sketch of the Tartar character by adding that
they eat all kinds of animals, dogs, wolves, foxes, horses, and even
sometimes their fellow-creatures. Their principal beverage is the
milk of the mare, sheep, goat, cow, and camel. They have neither
wine, cervisia, (a beverage composed of grain and herbs,) nor mead,
but only intoxicating liquors. They are very dirty in their habits,
scarcely ever washing their porringers, or only doing so in their
broth; they hardly ever wash their clothes, more especially "when
there is thunder about;" and they eat rats, mice, &c., if they are
badly off for other food. The men are not brought up to any manual
labour, their whole occupation consisting in hunting, shooting with
bow and arrows, watching the flocks, and riding. The women and girls
are very athletic and very brave, they prepare furs and make clothes,
drive carts and camels, and as polygamy is practised among them, and
a man _buys_ as many wives as he can keep, there are enough women
for all these employments.

Such is the résumé of Carpini's observations made during his
residence at Syra-Orda while he was awaiting the Emperor's election.
Soon he found that the election was about to take place; he noticed
that the courtiers always sang before Cunius when he came out of his
tent, and bowed down before him with beautiful little wands in their
hands, having small pieces of scarlet wool attached to them. On a
plain about four leagues from Syra-Orda, beside a stream, a tent was
prepared for the Coronation, carpeted with scarlet, and supported on
columns covered with gold. On St. Bartholomew's day a large
concourse of people assembled, each one fell on his knees as he
arrived, and remained praying towards the sun; but Carpini and his
companion refused to join in this idolatrous worship of the sun.
Then Cunius was placed on the imperial throne, and the dukes and all
the assembled multitudes having done homage to him, he was

As soon as this ceremony was over, Carpini and Stephen were
commanded to appear before the Emperor. They were first searched and
then entered the imperial presence at the same time as other
Ambassadors, the bearers of rich presents; the poor papal envoys had
nothing to present; whether this had anything to do with the length
of time they had to wait before his Imperial Majesty could attend to
their affairs we do not know; but days passed slowly by, and they
were nearly dying of hunger and thirst, before they received a
summons to appear before the Secretary of the Emperor, and letters
to the Pope were given to them, ending with these words, "we worship
GOD, and by His help we shall destroy the whole earth from east to

The envoys had now nothing to wait for, and during the whole of the
winter they travelled across icy deserts. About May they again
arrived at the court of Prince Bathy, who gave them free passes, and
they reached Kiev about the middle of June, 1247. On the 9th of
October of the same year the Pope made Carpini Bishop of Antivari in
Dalmatia, and this celebrated traveller died at Rome about the year

Carpini's mission was not of much use, and the Tartars remained much
as they were before, a savage and ferocious tribe; but six years
after his return another monk of the minor order of Franciscans,
named William Rubruquis, of Belgian origin, was sent to the
barbarians who lived in the country between the Volga and the Don.
The object of this journey was as follows,--

St. Louis was waging war against the Saracens of Syria at this time,
and while he was engaging the Infidels, Erkalty, a Mongol prince,
attacked them on the side nearest to Persia, and thus caused a
diversion that was in favour of the King of France. The report arose
that Prince Erkalty had become a Christian, and St. Louis, anxious
to prove the truth of it, charged Rubruquis to go into the prince's
own country and there make what observations he could upon the

In the month of June 1253, Rubruquis and his companions embarked for
Constantinople. From thence they reached the mouth of the river Don
on the Sea of Azov where they found a great number of Goths. On
their arrival among the Tartars, their reception was at first very
inhospitable, but after presenting the letters with which they were
furnished, Zagathal, the governor of that province, gave them
waggons, horses, and oxen for their journey.

Thus equipped they set out and were much surprised next day by
meeting a moving village; that is to say, all the huts were placed
on waggons and were being moved away. During the ten days that
Rubruquis and his companions were passing through this part of the
country they were very badly treated, and had it not been for their
own store of biscuits, they must have died of starvation. After
passing by the end of the Sea of Azov they went in an easterly
direction and crossed a sandy desert on which neither tree nor stone
was visible. This was the country of the Comans that Carpini had
traversed, but in a more northerly part. Rubruquis left the
mountains inhabited by the Circassians to the south, and after a
wearisome journey of two months arrived at the camp of Prince
Sartach on the banks of the Volga.

This was the court of the prince, the son of Baatu-Khan; he had six
wives, each of whom possessed a palace of her own, some houses, and
a great number of chariots, some of them very large, being drawn by
a team of twenty-two oxen harnessed in pairs.

Sartach received the envoys of the King of France very graciously,
and seeing their poverty, he supplied them with all that they
required. They were to be presented to the prince in their
sacerdotal dress, when, bearing on a cushion a splendid Bible, the
gift of the King of France, a Psalter given by the Queen, a Missal,
a crucifix and a censer, they entered the royal presence, taking
good care not to touch the threshold of the door, which would have
been considered profanation. Once in the royal presence, they sang
the "Salve Regina." After the prince and those of the princesses who
were present at the ceremony had examined the books, &c., that the
monks had brought with them, the envoys were allowed to retire; it
being impossible for Rubruquis to form any opinion as to Sartach's
being a Christian, or not; but his work was not yet finished, the
prince having pressed the envoys to go to his father's court.
Rubruquis complied with the request, and crossing the country lying
between the Volga and the Don, they arrived at their destination.
There the same ceremonies had to be gone through as at the court of
Prince Sartach. The monks had to prepare their books, &c., and be
presented to the Khan, who was seated on a large gilded throne, but
not wishing to treat with the envoys himself, he sent them to
Karakorum, to the court of Mangu-khan.

They crossed the country of the Bashkirs and visited Kenchat, Talach,
passed the Axiartes and reached Equius, a town of which the position
cannot be accurately ascertained in the present day; then by the
land of Organum, by the Lake of Balkash, and the territory of the
Uigurs, they arrived at Karakorum, the capital of the Mongolian
empire, where Carpini had stopped without entering the town.

This town, says Rubruquis, was surrounded with walls of earth, and
had four gates in the walls. The principal buildings it contained
were two mosques and a Christian church. While in this city, the
monk made many interesting observations on the surrounding people,
especially upon the Tangurs, whose oxen, of a remarkable race, are
no other than the Yaks, so celebrated in Thibet. In speaking of the
Thibetans he notices their most extraordinary custom of eating the
bodies of their fathers and mothers, in order to secure their having
an honourable sepulture.

When Rubruquis and his companions reached Karakorum, they found that
the great khan was not in his capital, but in one of his palaces
which was situated on the further side of the mountains which rise
in the northern part of the country. They followed him there, and
the next day after their arrival presented themselves before him
with bare feet, according to the Franciscan custom, so securing for
themselves frozen toes. Rubruquis thus describes the interview:
"Mangu-Khan is a man of middle height with a flat nose; he was lying
on a couch clad in a robe of bright fur, which was speckled like the
skin of a sea-calf." He was surrounded with falcons and other birds.
Several kinds of beverages, arrack punch, fermented mare's milk, and
ball, a kind of mead, were offered to the envoys; but they refused
them all. The khan, less prudent than they, soon became intoxicated
on these drinks, and the audience had to be ended without any result
being arrived at. Rubruquis remained several days at Mangu-Khan's
court; he found there a great number of German and French prisoners,
mostly employed in making different kinds of arms, or in working the
mines of Bocol. The prisoners were well treated by the Tartars, and
did not complain of their lot. After several interviews with the
great khan, Rubruquis gained permission to leave, and he returned to

Near this town stood a magnificent palace, belonging to the khan; it
was like a large church with nave and double aisles, here the
sovereign sits at the northern end on a raised platform, the
gentlemen being seated on his right, and the ladies on his left hand.
It is at this palace that twice every year splendid fêtes are given,
when all the nobles of the country are assembled round their

While at Karakorum, Rubruquis collected many interesting documents
relating to the Chinese, their customs, literature, &c.; then
leaving the capital of the Mongols, he returned by the same route as
he had come, as far as Astrakhan; but there he branched to the south
and went to Syria with a Turkish escort, which was rendered
necessary by the presence of tribes bent on pillage. He visited
Derbend, and went thence by Nakshivan, Erzeroum, Sivas, Cæsarea, and
Iconium, to the port of Kertch, whence he embarked for his own
country. His route was much the same as that of Carpini, but his
narrative is less interesting, and the Belgian does not seem to have
been gifted with the spirit of observation which characterized the
Italian monk.

With Carpini and Rubruquis closes the list of celebrated travellers
of the thirteenth century, but we have the brilliant career of Marco
Polo now before us, whose travels extended over part of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

MARCO POLO, 1253-1324.


The interest of the Genoese and Venetian merchants in encouraging
the exploration of Central Asia--The family of Polo, and its
position in Venice--Nicholas and Matteo Polo, the two brothers--They
go from Constantinople to the Court of the Emperor of China--Their
reception at the Court of Kublaï-Khan--The Emperor appoints them his
ambassadors to the Pope--Their return to Venice--Marco Polo--He
leaves his father Nicholas and his uncle Matteo for the residence of
the King of Tartary--The new Pope Gregory X.--The narrative of Marco
Polo is written in French from his dictation, by Rusticien of Pisa.

The Genoese and Venetian merchants could not fail to be much
interested in the explorations of the brave travellers in Central
Asia, India, and China, for they saw that these countries would give
them new openings for disposing of their merchandise, and also the
great benefit to be derived by the West from being supplied with the
productions of the East. The interests of commerce stimulated fresh
explorations, and it was this motive that actuated two noble
Venetians to leave their homes, and brave all the fatigue and danger
of a perilous journey.

These two Venetians belonged to the family of Polo, which had come
originally from Dalmatia, and, owing to successful trading, had
become so opulent as to be reckoned among the patrician families of
Venice. In 1260 the two brothers, Nicholas and Matteo, who had lived
for some years in Constantinople, where they had established a
branch house, went to the Crimea, with a considerable stock of
precious stones, where their eldest brother, Andrea Polo, had his
place of business. Thence, taking a north-easterly direction and
crossing the country of the Comans, they reached the camp of
Barkaï-Khan on the Volga. This Mongol prince received the two
merchants very kindly, and bought all the jewels they offered him at
double their value.

Nicolo and Matteo remained a year in the Mongolian camp, but a war
breaking out at this time between Barkaï, and Houlagou, the
conqueror of Persia, the two brothers, not wishing to be in the
midst of a country where war was being waged, went to Bokhara, and
there they remained three years. But when Barkaï was vanquished and
his capital taken, the partisans of Houlagou induced the two
Venetians to follow them to the residence of the grand Khan of
Tartary, who was sure to give them a hearty welcome. This
Kublaï-Khan, the fourth son of Gengis-Khan, was Emperor of China,
and was then at his summer-palace in Mongolia, on the frontier of
the Chinese empire.

The Venetian merchants set out, and were a whole year crossing the
immense extent of country lying between Bokhara and the northern
limits of China. Kublaï-Khan was much pleased to receive these
strangers from the distant West. He fêted them, and asked, with much
eagerness, for any information that they could give him of what was
happening in Europe, requiring details of the government of the
various kings and emperors, and their methods of making war; and he
then conversed at some length about the Pope and the state of the
Latin Church. Matteo and Nicolo fortunately spoke the Tartar
language fluently, so they could freely answer all the emperor's

[Illustration: Kublaï-Khan's feast on the arrival of the Venetian

It had occurred to Kublaï-Khan to send messengers to the Pope; and
he seized the opportunity to beg the two brothers to act as his
ambassadors to his Holiness. The merchants thankfully accepted his
proposal, for they foresaw that this new character would be very
advantageous to them. The emperor had some charters drawn up in the
Turkish language, asking the Pope to send a hundred learned men to
convert his people to Christianity; then he appointed one of his
barons named Cogatal to accompany them, and he charged them to bring
him some oil from the sacred lamp, which is perpetually burning
before the tomb of Christ at Jerusalem.

The two brothers took leave of the khan, having been furnished with
passports by him, which put both men and horses at their disposal
throughout the empire, and in 1266 they set out on their journey.
Soon the baron Cogatal fell ill, and the Venetians were obliged to
leave him and continue their journey; but in spite of all the aid
that had been given to them, they were three years in reaching the
port of Laïas, in Armenia, now known by the name of Issus. Leaving
this port, they arrived at Acre in 1269, where they heard of the
death of Pope Clement IV., to whom they were sent, but the legate
Theobald lived in Acre and received the Venetians; learning what was
the object of their mission he begged them to wait for the election
of the new Pope.

The brothers had been absent from their country for fifteen years,
so they resolved to return to Venice, and at Negropont they embarked
on board a vessel that was going direct to their native town.

On landing there, Nicolo was met by news of the death of his wife,
and of the birth of his son, who had been born shortly after his
departure in 1254; this son was the celebrated Marco Polo. The two
brothers waited at Venice for the election of the Pope, but at the
end of two years, as it had not taken place, they thought they could
no longer defer their return to the Emperor of the Mongols;
accordingly they started for Acre, taking Marco Polo with them, who
could not then have been more than seventeen. At Acre they had an
interview with the legate Theobald, who authorized them to go to
Jerusalem and there to procure some of the sacred oil. This mission
accomplished, the Venetians returned to Acre and asked the legate to
give them letters to Kublaï-Khan, mentioning the death of Pope
Clement IV.; he complied with their request, and they returned to
Laïas or Issus. There, to their great joy, they learnt that the
legate Theobald had just been made Pope with the title of Gregory X.,
on the 1st of September, 1271. The newly-elected Pope sent at once
for the Venetian envoys, and the King of Armenia placed a galley at
their disposal to expedite their return to Acre. The Pope received
them with much affection, and gave them letters to the Emperor of
China; he added two preaching friars, Nicholas of Vicenza and
William of Tripoli, to their party, and gave them his blessing on
their departure. They went back to Laïas, but had scarcely arrived
before they were made prisoners by the soldiers of the Mameluke
Sultan Bibars, who was then ravaging Armenia. The two preaching
friars were so discouraged at this outset of the expedition that
they gave up all idea of going to China, and left the two Venetians
and Marco Polo to prosecute the journey together as best they could.

Here begins what may properly be called Marco Polo's travels. It is
a question if he really visited all the places that he describes,
and it seems probable that he did not; in fact, in the narrative
written at his dictation by Rusticien of Pisa it is stated
"Marco-Polo, a wise and noble citizen of Venice, saw nearly all
herein described with his own eyes, and what he did not see he
learnt from the lips of truthful and credible witnesses;" but we
must add that the greater part of the kingdoms and towns spoken of
by Marco Polo he certainly did visit. We will follow the route he
describes, simply pointing out what the traveller learnt by hearsay,
during the important missions with which he was charged by
Kublaï-Khan. During this second journey the travellers did not
follow exactly the same road as on the first occasion of their visit
to the Emperor of China. They had lengthened their route by passing
to the north of the celestial mountains, but now they turned to the
south of them, and though this route was shorter than the other,
they were three years and a half in accomplishing their journey,
being much impeded by the rains and the difficulty of crossing the
great rivers. Their course may be easily followed with the help of a
map of Asia, as we have substituted the modern names in place of the
ancient ones used by Marco Polo in his narrative.

[Illustration: Marco Polo.]


Armenia Minor--Armenia--Mount Ararat--Georgia--Mosul, Baghdad,
Bussorah, Tauris--Persia--The Province of Kirman--Comadi--Ormuz--The
Old Man of the Mountain--Cheburgan--Balkh--Cashmir--Kashgar--
Samarcand--Kotan--The Desert--Tangun--Kara-Korum--Signan-fu--The
Great Wall--Chang-tou--The residence of Kublaï-Khan--Cambaluc, now
Pekin--The Emperor's fêtes--His hunting--Description of Pekin--
Chinese Mint and bank-notes--The system of posts in the Empire.

Marco Polo left the town of Issus; he describes Armenia Minor as a
very unhealthy place, the inhabitants of which, though once valiant,
are now cowardly and wretched, their only talent seeming to lie in
their capacity for drinking to excess. From Armenia Minor he went to
Turcomania, whose inhabitants, though somewhat of savages, are
clever in cultivating pastures and breeding horses and mules; and
the townspeople excel in the manufacture of carpets and silk.
Armenia Proper, that Marco Polo next visited, affords a good
camping-ground to the Tartar armies during the summer. There the
traveller saw Mount Ararat, where Noah's Ark rested after the Deluge.
He noticed that the lands bordering on the Caspian Sea afford large
supplies of naphtha, which forms an important item in the trade of
that neighbourhood.

When he left Armenia he took a north-easterly course towards Georgia,
a kingdom lying on the south side of the Caucasus, whose ancient
kings, says the legend, "were born with an eagle traced on their
right shoulders." The Georgians, he describes as good archers and
men of war, and also as clever in working in gold and manufacturing
silk. Here is a celebrated defile, four leagues in length, which
lies between the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea, that the Turks call
the Iron Door, and Europeans the Pass of Derbend, and here too is
the miraculous lake, where fish are said to exist only during Lent.
Hence the travellers descended towards the kingdom of Mosul, and
arrived at the town of the same name on the right bank of the Tigris,
thence going to Baghdad, the residence of the Caliph of all the
Saracens. Marco Polo gives an account of the taking of Baghdad by
the Tartars in 1255; mentioning a wonderful story in support of the
Christian idea of Faith, "that can remove mountains;" he points out
the route from this town to the Persian Gulf, which may be reached
in eighteen days by the river, passing Bussorah, the country of

From this point to Tauris, a Persian town in the province of
Adzer-baidjan, Marco Polo's route seems to be doubtful. He takes up
his narrative at Tauris, which he describes as a large flourishing
town built in the midst of beautiful gardens and carrying on a great
traffic in precious stones and other valuable merchandise, but its
Saracen inhabitants are disloyal and treacherous. Here he seems to
divide Persia geographically into eight provinces. The natives of
Persia, according to him, are formidable enemies to the merchants,
who are obliged to travel armed with bows and arrows. The principal
trade of the country seems to be in horses and asses, which are sent
to Kis or Ormuz and thence to India. The natural productions of the
country are wheat, barley, millet, and grapes, which grow in

Marco Polo went next to Yezd, the most easterly town of Persia
Proper; on leaving it, after a ride of seven days through
magnificent forests abounding in game, he came to the province of
Kirman. Here the mines yield large quantities of turquoise, as well
as iron and antimony; the manufacture of arms and harness as well as
embroidery and the training of falcons for hunting occupy a great
number of the inhabitants. On leaving Kirman Marco Polo and his two
companions set out on a nine days' journey across a rich and
populous country to the town of Comadi, which is supposed to be the
Memaun of the present day, and was even then sinking into decay. The
country was superb; on all sides were to be seen fine fat sheep,
great oxen, white as snow, with short strong horns, and thousands of
domestic fowls and other birds; also there were magnificent date,
orange, and pistachio trees.

After travelling for five days they entered the beautiful and well
watered plain of Cormos or Ormuz, and after two days' further march
they reached the shores of the Persian Gulf and the town of Ormuz,
which forms the sea-port of the kingdom of Kirman. This country they
found very warm und unhealthy, but rich in date and spice trees, in
grain, precious stones, silk and golden stuffs, and elephants' tusks,
wine made from the date and other merchandise being brought into the
town ready for shipment on board ships with but one mast, which came
in numbers to the port; but many were lost on the voyage to India,
as they were only built with wooden pegs, not iron nails, to fasten
them together.

From Ormuz, Marco Polo, going up again towards the north-east,
visited Kirman; then he ventured by dangerous roads across a sandy
desert, where there was only brackish water to be found, the desert
across which, 1500 years before, Alexander had led his army to meet
Nearchus. Seven days afterwards he entered the town of Khabis. On
leaving this town he crossed for eight days the great plains to
Tonokan, the capital of the province of Kumis, probably Damaghan. At
this point of his narrative Marco Polo gives an account of the "Old
Man of the Mountain," the chief of the Mahometan sect called the
Hashishins, who were noted for their religious fanaticism and
terrible cruelty. He next visited the Khorassan town of Cheburgan, a
city celebrated for its sweet melons, and then the noble city of
Balkh, situated near the source of the Oxus. Next he crossed a
country infested by lions to Taikan, a great salt-market frequented
by a large number of merchants, and to Scasem; this town seems to be
the Kashme spoken of by Marsden, the Kishin or Krishin of
Hiouen-Tsang, which Sir Henry Rawlinson has identified with the hill
of Kharesm of Zend-Avesta, that some commentators think must be the
modern Koundouz. In this part of the country he says porcupines
abound, and when they are hunted they curl themselves up, darting
out the prickles on their sides and backs at the dogs that are
hunting them. We now know how much faith to put in this pretended
power of defence said to be possessed by the porcupine.

Marco Polo now entered the rocky mountainous kingdom of the Balkhs,
whose kings claim descent from Alexander the Great; a cold country,
producing good fast horses, excellent falcons, and all kinds of game.
Here, too, are prolific ruby-mines worked by the king and which
yield large quantities, but they are so strictly enclosed that no
one on pain of death may set foot on the Sighinan mountain
containing the mines. In other places silver is found, and many
precious stones, of which he says "they make the finest azure in the
world," meaning lapis-lazuli; his stay in this part of the country
must have been a long one to have enabled him to observe so many of
its characteristics. Ten days' journey from hence he entered a
province which must be the Peshawur of the present day, whose
dark-skinned inhabitants were idolaters; then after seven days'
further march, about mid-day he came to the kingdom of Cashmere,
where the temperature is cool, and towns and villages are very
numerous. Had Marco Polo continued his route in the same direction
he would soon have reached the territory of India, but instead of
that he took a northerly course, and in twelve days was in Vaccan, a
land watered by the Upper Oxus, which runs through splendid pastures,
where feed immense flocks of wild sheep, called mufflons. Thence he
went through a mountainous country, lying between the Altai and
Himalayan ranges to Kashgar. Here Marco Polo's route is the same as
that of his uncle and his father during their first voyage, when
from Bokhara they were taken to the residence of the great khan.
From Kashgar, Marco Polo diverged a little to the west, to Samarcand,
a large town inhabited by Saracens and Christians, then to Yarkand,
a city frequented by caravans trading between India and Northern
Asia; passing by Khotan, the capital of the province of that name,
and by Pein, a town whose situation is uncertain, but in a part of
the country where chalcedony and jasper abound. He came to the
kingdom of Kharachar, which extends along the borders of the desert
of Jobe; then after five days' further travelling over sandy plains,
where there was no water fit to drink, he rested for eight days in
the city of Lob, a place now in ruins, while he prepared to cross
the desert lying to the east, "so great a desert," he says, "that it
would require a year to traverse its whole length, a haunted
wilderness, where drums and other instruments are heard, though

After spending a year crossing this desert, Marco Polo reached
Tcha-tcheou, in the province of Tangaut, a town built on the western
limits of the Chinese empire. There are but few merchants here, the
greater part of the population being agricultural. The custom that
seems to have struck him the most in the province of Tangaut, was
that of burning their dead only on a day fixed by the astrologers;
"all the time that the dead remain in their houses, the relations
stay there with them, preparing a place at each meal as well as
providing both food and drink for the corpse, as though it were
still alive."

Marco Polo and his companions made an excursion to the north-east,
to the city of Amil, going on as far as Ginchintalas, a town
inhabited by idolaters, Mahometans, and Nestorian Christians, whose
situation is disputed. From this town Marco Polo returned to
Tcha-tcheou, and went eastward across Tangaut, by the town of So-ceu,
over a tract of country particularly favourable to the cultivation
of rhubarb, and by Kanpiceon, the Khan-tcheou of the Chinese, then
the capital of the province of Tangaut, an important town, whose
numerous chiefs are idolaters and polygamists. The three Venetians
remained a year in this large city; it is easy to understand, from
their long halts and deviations, why they required three years for
their journey across Central Asia.

They left Khan-tcheou, and after riding for twelve days they reached
the borders of a sandy desert, and entered the city of Etzina. This
was another détour, as it lay directly north of their route, but
they wished to visit Kara-Korum, the celebrated capital of Tartary,
where Rubruquis had been in 1254. Marco Polo was certainly an
explorer by nature; fatigue was nothing to him if he had any
geographical studies to complete, which is proved by his spending
forty days crossing an uninhabited desert without vegetation, in
order to reach the Tartar town.

When he arrived there, he found a city measuring three miles in
circumference, which had been for a long time the capital of the
Empire, before it was conquered by Gengis-Khan, the grandfather of
the reigning emperor. Here Marco Polo makes an historical digression,
in which he gives an account of the wars of the Tartar chiefs
against the famous Prester John who held all this part of the
country under his dominion.

Marco Polo after returning to Khan-tcheou left it again, marching
five days towards the east, and arriving at the town of Erginul.
Thence he went a little to the south to visit Sining-foo, across a
tract of country where grazed great wild oxen and the valuable
species of goat which is called the "musk-bearer." Returning to
Erginul, they went eastward to Cialis, where there is the best
manufactory of cloth made from camels' hair in the world, to Tenduc,
a town in the province of the same name, where a descendant of
Prester John reigned, but who had given in his submission to the
great khan; this was a busy flourishing town: from hence the
travellers went to Sinda-tchou, and on beyond the great wall of
China as far as Ciagannor, which must be Tzin-balgassa, a pretty
town where the emperor lives when he wishes to hawk; for cranes,
storks, pheasants, and partridges abound in this neighbourhood.

At last Marco Polo, his father, and his uncle, reached Ciandu or
Tchan-tchou of the present day, called elsewhere in this narrative
Clemen-foo. Here Kublaï-Khan received the papal envoys, for he was
occupying his summer palace beyond the great wall, north of Pekin,
which was then the capital of the empire. The traveller does not
tell us what reception he met with, but he describes most carefully
the palace, the grandeur of the building of stone and marble,
standing in the middle of a park surrounded by walls, enclosing
menageries and fountains. Also a building made of reeds, so closely
interlaced as to be impenetrable to water; it was a sort of movable
kiosk that the great khan inhabited during the fine months of June,
July, and August. The weather during the emperor's sojourn in this
summer palace could not but be beautiful, for, according to Marco
Polo, the astrologers who were attached to the khan's court were
charged to scatter all rain and fog by their sorcery, and the
travellers seem to believe in the power of these magicians. "These
astrologers," he says, "belong to two races, both idolaters; they
are learned in all magic and enchantments, above any other men, and
what they do is done by the aid of the devil, but they make others
believe that they owe their power to the help of God, and their own
holiness. These people have the following strange custom: when a man
has been condemned and put to death, they take the body, cook, and
eat it; but in the case of a natural death they do not eat the body.
And you must know that these people of whom I am speaking, who know
so many kinds of enchantments, work the wonder I am about to relate.
When the great khan is seated at dinner in the principal dining-hall,
the table of which is eight cubits in length, and the cups are on
the floor ten paces from the table, filled with wine, milk, and
other good beverages, these clever magicians, by their arts, make
these cups rise by themselves, and without any one touching them,
they are placed before the great khan. This has been done before an
immense number of people, and is the exact truth; and those skilled
in necromancy will tell you that it is quite possible to do this."

Marco Polo next gives a history of Kublaï, whom he considers to
possess more lands and treasures than any man since our first father,
Adam. He tells how the great khan ascended the throne in the year
1256, being then eighty-five; he was a man of middle height, rather
stout, but of a fine figure, with a good complexion and black eyes.
He was a good commander in war, and his talents were put to the
proof when his uncle Naïan, having rebelled against him, wished to
dispute his power at the head of 400,000 cavalry. Kublaï-Khan
collected (in secret) a force of 300,000 horsemen, and 100,000
foot-soldiers, and marched against his uncle. The battle was a most
terrible one, so many men being killed, but the khan was victorious,
and Naïan, as a prince of the blood royal, was condemned to be sewn
up tightly in a carpet, and died in great suffering. After his
victory the khan made a triumphal entry into Cathay, capital of
Cambaluc, or, as it is now called, Pekin. When Marco Polo arrived at
this city he made a long stay there, remaining until the emperor
needed his services to undertake various missions into the interior
of China. The emperor had a splendid palace at Cambaluc, and the
traveller gives so graphic an account of the riches and magnificence
of the Mongol sovereigns, that we give it word for word. "The palace
is surrounded by a great wall, a mile long each way, four miles in
length altogether, very thick, ten feet in height, all white and
battlemented. At each corner of this wall is a palace beautiful and
rich, in which all the trappings of war belonging to the great khan
are kept; his bows, quivers, the saddles and bridles of the horses,
the bow-strings, in fact everything that would be wanted in time of
war; in the midst of each square is another building, like those at
the corner, so that there are eight in all, and each building
contains one particular kind of harness or trapping. In the wall on
the south side are five doors, the middle or large door only being
opened when the emperor wishes to go in or out; near this great gate
on either side is a smaller one through which other people may pass,
and two others for the same purpose. Inside this wall is another,
having also eight buildings to be used in the same manner."

[Illustration: Plan of Pekin.]

Thus we see that all these buildings constituted the emperor's
armoury and harness-store; we shall not be surprised that there was
so much harness to be kept when we know that the emperor possessed a
race of horses white as snow, and among them ten thousand mares,
whose milk was reserved for the sole use of princes of the blood

[Illustration: The Emperor's palace at Pekin.]

Marco Polo continues his narrative thus:--"The inner wall has five
gates on the south side, answering to those in the outer wall, but
on the other sides the walls have only one gate each. In the centre
of the enclosure made by these walls, stands the palace, the largest
in the world. It has no second story, but the ground-floor is raised
about eight feet above the ground. The roof is very high, the walls
of the rooms are covered with gold and silver, and on this gold and
silver are paintings of dragons, birds, horses, and other animals,
so that nothing can be seen but gilding and pictures. The
dining-hall is large enough to hold 6000 men, and the number of
other rooms is marvellous, and all is so well arranged that it could
not be improved. The ceilings are painted vermillion, green, blue,
yellow, and all kinds of colours, varnished so as to shine like
crystal, and the roof is so well built that it will last for many
years. Between the two walls the land is laid out in fields with
fine trees in them, containing different species of animals, the
musk-ox, white deer, roe-buck, fallow-deer, and other animals, who
fill the space between the walls, except the roads reserved for
human beings. On the north-western side is a great lake, full of
fishes of divers kinds, for the great khan has had several species
placed there, and each time that he desires it to be done, he has
his will in it. A river rises in this lake and flows out from the
grounds of the palace, but no fish escape in it, there being iron
and brass nets to prevent their doing so. On the northern side, near
an arched doorway, the emperor has had a mound made, a hundred feet
in height and more than a mile in circumference; it is covered with
evergreen trees, and the emperor, being very fond of horticulture,
whenever he hears of a fine tree, sends for it and has it brought by
his elephants, with the roots and surrounding soil, the size of the
tree being no impediment, and thus he has the finest collection of
trees in the world. The hill is called 'green hill,' from its being
covered with evergreen trees and green turf, and on the top of the
hill is a house. This hill is altogether so beautiful that it is the
admiration of every one."

After Marco Polo has concluded his description of this palace, he
gives one of that of the emperor's son and heir; then he speaks of
the town of Cambaluc, the old town which is separated from the
modern town of Taidu by a canal, the same which divides the Chinese
and Tartar quarters of Pekin. The traveller gives many particulars
of the emperor's habits, and among other things, he says that
Kublaï-Khan has a body-guard of 2000 horse-soldiers; but he adds,
"it is not fear that causes him to keep this guard." His meals are
real ceremonies, and etiquette is most rigidly enforced. His table
is raised above the others, and he always sits on the north side
with his principal wife on his right, and lower down his sons,
nephews, and relations; he is waited upon by noble barons, who are
careful to envelope their mouths and noses in fine cloth of gold,
"so that their breath and their odour may not contaminate the food
or drink of their lord." When the emperor is about to drink, a band
of music plays, and when he takes the cup in his hand, all the
barons and every one present, fall on their knees.

The principal fêtes given by the grand khan were on the anniversary
of his birth, and on the first day of the year. At the first, 12,000
barons were accustomed to assemble round the throne, and to them
were presented annually 150,000 garments made of gold and silk and
ornamented with pearls, whilst the subjects, idolaters as well as
Christians, offered up public prayers. At the second of these fêtes,
on the first day of the year, the whole population, men and women
alike, appeared dressed in white, following the tradition that white
brings good fortune, and every one brought gifts to the king of
great value. One hundred thousand richly-caparisoned horses, five
thousand elephants covered with handsome cloths and carrying the
imperial plate, as well as a large number of camels, passed in
procession before the emperor.

During the three winter months of December, January, and February,
when the khan is living in his winter palace, all the nobles within
a radius of sixty days' march are obliged to supply him with boars,
stags, fallow-deer, roes, and bears. Besides, Kublaï is a great
huntsman himself, and his hunting-train is superbly mounted and kept
up. He has leopards, lynxes and fine lions trained to hunt for wild
animals, eagles strong enough to chase wolves, foxes, fallow and
roe-deer, and, as Marco Polo says, "often to take them too," and his
dogs may be counted by thousands. It is about March when the emperor
begins his principal hunting in the direction of the sea, and he is
accompanied by no less than 10,000 falconers, 500 gerfalcons, and
many goshawks, peregrine, and sacred falcons. During the hunting
excursion, a portable palace, covered outside with lions' skins and
inside with cloth of gold, and carried on four elephants harnessed
together, accompanies the emperor everywhere, who seems to enjoy all
this oriental pomp and display. He goes as far as the camp of
Chachiri-Mongou, which is situated on a stream, a tributary of the
river Amoor, and the tent is set up, which is large enough to hold
ten thousand nobles. This is his reception-saloon where he gives
audiences; and when he wishes to sleep he goes into a tent which is
hung all round with ermine and sable furs of almost priceless value.
The emperor lives thus till about Easter, hunting cranes, swans,
hares, stags, roebucks, &c., and then returns to his capital,

Marco Polo now completes his description of this fine city and
enumerates the twelve quarters it contains, in many of which the
rich merchants have their palatial houses, for commerce flourishes
in this town, and more valuable merchandise is brought to it than to
any other in the world. It is the depôt and market for the richest
productions of India, such as pearls and precious stones, and
merchants come from long distances round to purchase them. The khan
has established a mint here for the benefit of trade, and it is an
inexhaustible source of revenue to him. The bank-notes, sealed with
the emperor's seal, are made of a kind of card-board manufactured
from the bark of the mulberry-tree. The card-board thus prepared is
cut into various thicknesses according to the value of the money it
is supposed to represent. The currency of this money is enforced,
none daring to refuse it "on pain of death;" the emperor using it in
all his payments, and enforcing its circulation throughout his
dominions. Besides this, several times in the year the possessors of
precious stones, pearls, gold, or silver, are obliged to bring their
treasures to the mint and receive in exchange for them these pieces
of card-board, so that, in fact, the emperor becomes the possessor
of all the riches in his empire.

According to Marco Polo the system of the Imperial Government was
wonderfully centralized. "The kingdom is divided into thirty-four
provinces, and is governed by twelve of the greatest barons living
in Cambaluc; in the same palace also reside the intendants and
secretaries, who conduct the business of each province. From this
central city a great number of roads diverge to the various parts of
the kingdom, and on these roads are now post-houses stationed at
intervals of twenty-two miles, where well-mounted messengers are
always ready to carry the emperor's messages. Besides this, at every
three miles on the road there is a little hamlet of about fourteen
houses where the couriers live, who carry messages on foot; these
men wear a belt round their waists and have a girdle with bells
attached to it, that are heard at a long distance; they start at a
gallop, quickly accomplishing the three miles and giving the message
to the courier who is waiting for it at the next hamlet; thus the
emperor receives news from places at long distances from the capital
in a comparatively short time." This mode of communication also
involved but small expense to Kublaï-Khan, as the only remuneration
he gave these couriers was their exemption from taxation, and as to
the horses, they were furnished gratuitously by the provinces.

But if the emperor used his power in this manner to lay heavy
burdens upon his subjects, he exerted himself actively for their
good, and was always ready to help them; for instance, when their
crops were damaged by hail-storms, he not only remitted all taxes,
but gave them corn from his own stores, and when there was any great
mortality among the flocks and herds in any particular province, he
always replaced them at his own expense. He was careful to have a
large quantity of wheat, barley, millet, and rice, stored up in
years of abundant harvest, so as to keep the price of grain at a
uniform rate when the harvest failed. He was particularly careful of
the poor who lived in Cambaluc. "He had a list made of all the
poorest houses in the town, where they were usually short of food,
and supplied them liberally with wheat and other grain according to
the size of their families, and bread was never refused to any
applying at the palace for it; it is computed that at least 30,000
persons avail themselves of this daily throughout the year. His
kindness to his poor subjects makes them almost worship him." The
whole affairs of the empire are administered with great care, the
roads well kept up and planted with fine trees, so that from a
distance their direction can easily be traced. There is no want of
wood, and in Cathay they work a number of coal-pits which supply
abundance of coal.

[Illustration: Map of the world according to Marco Polo's ideas.]

Marco Polo remained a long time at Cambaluc, and his intelligence,
spirit, and readiness in adapting himself, made him a great
favourite with the emperor. He was intrusted with various missions,
not only in China, but also to places on the coast of India, Ceylon,
the Coromandel and Malabar coasts, and a part of Cochin-China near
Cambogia, and between the years 1277 and 1280 he was made governor
of Yang-tcheou, and of twenty-seven other towns which were joined
with it under the same government. Thanks to the missions on which
he was sent, he travelled over an immense extent of country, and
gained a great amount of ethnological and geographical knowledge. We
can now follow him map in hand through some of these journeys, which
were of the greatest service to science.


Tso-cheu--Tai-yen-fou--Pin-yang-fou--The Yellow River--Signan-fou--
Towns on the coast--Quin-say or Hang-tcheou-foo--Fo-kien.

When Marco Polo had been at Cambaluc some time, he was sent on a
mission that kept him absent from the capital for four months. Ten
miles southwards from Cambaluc, he crossed the fine river Pe-ho-nor
(which he calls the Pulisanghi), by a stone bridge of twenty-four
arches, and 300 feet in length, which was then without parallel in
the world. Thirty miles further on he came to the town of Tso-cheu,
where a large trade in sandal-wood is carried on; at ten days'
journey from hence he came to the modern town of Tai-yen-fou, which
was once the seat of an independent government. All the province of
Shan-si seemed rich in vines and mulberry-trees; the principal
industry in the towns was the making of armour for the emperor's use.

[Illustration: A fine bridge of stone built on twenty-four arches.]

Seven days' journey further on they came to the beautiful commercial
city of Pianfou, now called Pin-yang-foo, where the manufacture of
silk was carried on. He soon afterwards came to the banks of the
Yellow River, which he calls Caramoran or Black River, probably on
account of its waters being darkened by the aquatic plants growing
in them; at two days' journey from hence he came to the town of
Cacianfu, whose position is not now clearly defined. He found
nothing remarkable in this town, and leaving it he rode across a
beautiful country, covered with towns, country-houses, and gardens,
and abounding in game.

In eight days he reached the fine city of Quangianfoo, the ancient
capital of the Tâng dynasty, now called Signanfoo, and the capital
of Shensi; here reigned Prince Mangalai, the emperor's son, an
upright and amiable prince, much loved by his people. He lived in a
magnificent palace outside the town, built in the midst of a park,
of which the battlemented wall cannot have been less than five miles
in circumference.

From Signanfoo, the traveller went towards Thibet, across the modern
province of Szu-tchouan, a mountainous country intersected by deep
valleys, where lions, bears, lynxes, &c., abounded, and after
twenty-eight days' march he found himself on the borders of the
great plain of Acmelic-mangi. This is a fertile country and produces
all kinds of vegetation; ginger is especially cultivated; there is
sufficient to supply all the province of Cathay, and so fertile is
the soil that according to a French traveller, M. E. Simon, an acre
is now worth 15,000 francs, or three francs the metre. In the
thirteenth century this plain was covered with towns and
country-houses, and the inhabitants lived upon the fruits of the
ground, and the produce of their flocks and herds, while the large
quantity of game furnished hunters with abundant occupation.

Marco Polo next visited the town of Sindafou (now Tching-too-foo),
the capital of the province of Se-tchu-an, whose population at the
present day exceeds 1,500,000 souls. Sindafu, measuring at that time
twenty miles round, was divided into three parts, each surrounded
with its own wall, and each part had a king of its own before
Kublaï-Khan took possession of the town. The great river Kiang ran
through the town: it contained large quantities of fish, and from
its size resembled a sea more than a river; its waters were covered
by a vast number of vessels. Five days after leaving this busy,
thriving town Marco Polo reached the province of Thibet, which he
says "is very desolate, for it has been destroyed by the war."

Thibet abounds in lions, bears, and other savage animals, from which
the travellers would have much difficulty in defending themselves
had it not been for the quantity of large thick canes that grow
there, which are probably bamboos: he says, "the merchants and
travellers passing through these countries at night collect a
quantity of these canes and make a large fire of them, for when they
are burning they make such a noise and crackle so much, that the
lions, bears, and other wild beasts take flight to a distance, and
would not approach these fires on any account; thus both men, horses,
and camels are safe. In another way, too, protection is afforded by
throwing a number of these canes on a wood fire, and when they
become heated and split, and the sap hisses, the sound is heard at
least ten miles off. When any one is not accustomed to this noise,
it is so terrifying that even the horses will break away from their
cords and tethers; so their owners often bandage their eyes and tie
their feet together to prevent their running away." This method of
burning canes is still used in countries where the bamboo grows, and
indeed the noise may be compared to the loudest explosion of

According to Marco Polo, Thibet is a very large province, having its
own language; and its inhabitants, who are idolaters, are a race of
bold thieves. A large river, the Khin-cha-kiang, flows over
auriferous sands through the province; a quantity of coral is found
in it which is much used for idols, and for the adornment of the
women. Thibet was at this time under the dominion of the great khan.

The traveller took a westerly direction when he left Sindafou, and
crossing the kingdom of Gaindu he must have come to Li-kiang-foo,
the capital of the country that is now called Tsi-mong. In this
province he visited a beautiful lake which produces pearl-oysters;
the fishing is the emperor's property; he also found great
quantities of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and other spices under

After leaving the province of Gaindu, and crossing a large river,
probably the Irrawaddy, Marco Polo took a south-easterly course to
the province of Carajan, which probably forms the north-western part
of Yunnan. According to his account all the inhabitants of this
province, who are mostly great riders, live on the raw flesh of
fowls, sheep, buffaloes, and oxen; the rich seasoning their raw meat
with garlic sauce and good spices. This country is infested with
great adders, and serpents, "hideous to look upon." These reptiles,
probably alligators, were ten feet long, had two legs armed with
claws, and with their large heads and great jaws could at one gulp
swallow a man.

Five days' journey west of Carajan, Marco Polo took a new route to
the south, and entered the province of Zardandan, whose capital
Nocian, is the modern town of Yung-chang. All the inhabitants of the
city had teeth of gold; that is to say, they covered their teeth
with little plates of gold which they removed before eating. The men
of this province employed themselves only in hunting, catching birds,
and making war, the hard work all devolving upon the women and
slaves. These Zardanians have neither idols nor churches, but they
each worship their ancestor, the patriarch of the family. Their
tradesmen carry their goods about on barrows like the bakers in
France. They have no doctors, but only enchanters, who jump, dance,
and play musical instruments around the invalid's bed till he either
dies or recovers.

[Illustration: Marco Polo in the midst of the forests.]

Leaving these people with gilded teeth, Marco Polo took the great
road which conveys all the traffic between India and Indo-China, and
passed by Bhamo, where a market is held three times a week, which
attracts merchants from the most distant countries. After riding for
fifteen days through forests filled with elephants, unicorns, and
other wild animals, he came to the great city of Mien; that is to
say, to that part of Upper Burmah, of which the present capital, of
recent erection, is called Amarapura. This city of Mien, which may
be, perhaps, the old town of Ava now in ruins, or the old town of
Paghan situated on the Irrawaddy, possessed a veritable
architectural marvel, in two towers, one built of fine stone, and
entirely covered with a coating of gold about an inch in thickness,
and the other, also of stone, coated with silver, both intended to
serve as a tomb for the king of Mien, before his kingdom fell under
the dominion of the khan. After visiting this province, the
traveller went to Bangala, the Bengal of the present day, which at
this time, 1290, did not belong to Kublaï-Khan. The emperor's forces
were then engaged in trying to conquer this fertile country, rich in
cotton plants, in sugar-canes, &c., and whose magnificent oxen were
like elephants in height. From thence, the traveller ventured as far
as the city of Cancigu, in the province of the same name, probably
the modern town of Kassaye. The natives here tattooed their bodies,
and with needles drew pictures of lions, dragons, and birds on their
faces, necks, bellies, hands, legs, and bodies, and he who had the
greatest number of these pictures they considered the most beautiful
of human beings.

Cancigu was the most southerly point visited by Marco Polo, during
this journey. Leaving this city, he went towards the north-east, and
by the country of Amu, Anam, and Tonkin, he reached Toloman, now
called Tai-ping, after fifteen days' march. There he found that fine
race of men, of dark colour, who have crowned their mountains with
strong castles, and whose ordinary food is the flesh of animals,
milk, rice, and spices.

On leaving Toloman, he followed the course of a river for twelve
days, and found numerous towns on its banks. Here, as M. Charton
truly observes, the traveller is leaving the country known as India
beyond the Ganges, and returning towards China. In fact, Marco Polo
after leaving Toloman visited the province of Guigui with its
capital of the same name, and what struck him most in this country,
(and we cannot but think that the bold explorer was also a keen
hunter) was the great number of lions that were to be seen about its
mountains and plains. Only, commentators are of opinion that the
lions he speaks of must have been tigers, for no lions are found in
China, but we will give his own words: he says, "There are so many
lions in this country, that it is not safe to sleep out of doors for
fear of being devoured. And when you are on the river and stop for
the night, you must be careful to anchor far from land, for
otherwise the lions come to the vessel, seize upon a man, and devour
him. The inhabitants of this part of the country are well aware of
this, and so take measures to guard against it. These lions are very
large and very dangerous, but there are dogs in this country brave
enough to attack these lions; it requires two dogs and a man to
overcome each lion."

From this province Marco Polo returned to Sindifu, the capital of
the province of Se-chuen, whence he had started on his excursion
into Thibet; and retracing the route by which he had set out, he
returned to Kublaï-Khan, after having brought his mission to
Indo-China to a satisfactory termination. It was probably at this
time that the traveller was first entrusted by the emperor with
another mission to the south-east of China. M. Pauthier, in his fine
work upon the Venetian traveller, speaks of this south-easterly part
of China as "the richest and most flourishing quarter of this vast
empire and that also about which, since the 16th century, Europeans
have had the most information."

As we return to the route that M. Pauthier has traced on his map, we
find that Marco Polo went southwards to Ciangli, probably the town
of Ti-choo, and at six days' journey from thence he came to
Condinfoo, the present city of Tsi-nan, the capital of the province
of Shan-tung, the birthplace of Confucius. It was at that time a
fine town and much frequented by silk-merchants, and its beautiful
gardens produced abundance of excellent fruit. Three days' march
from hence, the traveller came to the town of Lin-tsing, standing at
the mouth of the Yu-ho canal, the principal rendezvous for the
innumerable boats that carry so much merchandise to the provinces of
Mangi and Cathay. Eight days afterwards he passed by Ligui, which
seems to correspond to the modern town of Lin-tsin, and the town of
Piceu, the first city in the province of Tchang-su; then by the town
of Cingui, he arrived at Caramoran, the Yellow River, which he had
crossed higher up when he was on his way to Indo-China; here Marco
Polo was not more than a league from the mouth of this great river.
After crossing it he was in the province of Mangi, a territory
included in the Empire of the Soongs.

Before this province of Mangi belonged to Kublaï-Khan it was
governed by a very pacific king, who shunned war, and was very
merciful to all his subjects. Marco Polo describes him so well that
we will quote his own words. "This last emperor of the Soong dynasty
was most generous, and I will cite but two noble traits to show
this; every year he had nearly 20,000 infants brought up at the
royal charge, for it was the custom in these provinces, when a poor
woman could not bring up a child herself, to cast it away as soon as
it was born, to die. The king had all these children taken care of,
and a record kept of the sign and the planet under which each was
born, and then they were sent to different places to be brought up,
for there are a quantity of nurses. When a rich man had no sons, he
came to the king and asked of him some of his wards, who were
immediately given to him. As the children grew up they intermarried,
and the king gave them sufficient incomes to live upon. When he went
through his dominions and saw a small house among several much
larger ones, he inquired why this house was smaller than those near
it, and if he found it was on account of the poverty of the owner,
he immediately had it made as large as the others at his own expense.
He was always waited upon by a thousand pages and a thousand girls.
He kept up such rigorous discipline throughout his kingdom that
there was never any crime; at night, houses and shops remained open,
and nothing was taken from them, and travelling was as safe by night
as by day."

Marco Polo came first to the town of Coigangui, now called Hoang-fou,
on the banks of the Yellow River, where the principal industry is
the preparation of the salt found in the salt marshes. One day's
journey from this town he came to Pau-in-chen, famous for its cloth
of gold, and the town of Caiu, now Kao-yu, whose inhabitants are
clever fishermen and hunters, then to the city of Tai-cheu, where
numerous vessels are generally to be found, and at last to the city
of Yangui.

This town of Yangui, of which Marco Polo was the governor for three
years, is the modern Yang-tchou; it is a very populous and busy town,
and cannot be less than two leagues in circumference. It was from
Yangui that the traveller set out on the various expeditions which
enabled him to see so much of the inland and sea-coast towns.

First, the traveller went westward to Nan-ghin, which must not be
confounded with Nan-kin of the present day. Its modern name is
Ngan-khing, and it stands in the midst of a remarkably fertile
province. Further on in the same direction he came to Saianfu, which
is now called Siang-yang, and is built in the northern part of the
province of Hou-pe. This was the last town in the province of Mangi
that resisted the dominion of Kublaï-Khan; he besieged it for three
years, and he owed his taking it at last to the help of the three
Polos, who constructed some powerful balistas and crushed the
besieged under a perfect hail-storm of stones, some of which weighed
as much as three hundred pounds. From Saianfu Marco Polo retraced
his steps that he might visit some of the towns on the sea-coast. He
visited Kui-kiang on the river Kiang, which is very broad here, and
upon which 5000 ships can sail at the same moment; Kain-gui, which
supplies the Emperor's palace with corn; Ching-kiang where are two
Nestorian Christian churches; Ginguigui, now Tchang-tcheou, a busy
thriving city; and Singui, now called Soo-choo, a large town, which,
according to the very exaggerated account of the Venetian traveller,
has no less than 6000 bridges.

After spending some time at Vugui, probably Hou-tcheou, and at
Ciangan, now Kia-hing, Marco Polo reached the fine city of Quinsay,
after three days' march. This name means the "City of Heaven," but
it is now called Hang-chow-foo. It is six leagues round; the river
Tsien-tang-kiang flows through it, and by its constant windings,
makes Quinsay almost a second Venice. This ancient capital of the
Soongs is almost as populous as Pekin; its streets are paved with
stones and bricks, and if we may credit Marco Polo's statement, it
contained "600,000 houses, 4000 bathing establishments, and 12,000
stone bridges." In this city dwell the richest merchants in the
world with their wives, who are "beautiful and angelic creatures."
It is the residence of a viceroy, who has besides, 140 other cities
under his dominion. Here was to be seen also the palace of the Mangi
sovereigns surrounded by beautiful gardens, lakes, and fountains,
the palace itself containing more than a thousand rooms. Kublaï-Khan
draws immense revenues from this town and province, and it is by
tens of thousands of pounds we must reckon the income derived from
the sugar, salt, spices, and silk, which form the principal
productions of this country. At one day's journey south from Quinsay,
Marco Polo visited Chao-hing, Vugui, or Hou-tcheou, Ghengui or
Kui-tcheou, Cianscian or Yo-tcheou-fou (according to M. Charton),
and Sonï-tchang-fou (according to M. Pauthier), and Cugui or
Kiou-tcheou, the last town in the kingdom of Quinsay; thence he
entered the kingdom of Fugui, whose chief town of the same name is
now called Fou-tcheou-foo, the capital of the province of Fo-kien.
According to Marco Polo, the inhabitants of this province are a
cruel warlike race, never sparing their enemies, of whom, after they
have killed them, they drink the blood and eat the flesh. After
passing by Quenlifu, now Kien-ning-foo, and Unguen, the traveller
entered Fugui, probably the modern town of Kuant-tcheou (called
Canton amongst us), and the chief town of the province, where a
large trade in pearls and precious stones was carried on, and in
five days he reached the port of Zaitem, probably the Chinese town
of Tsiuen-tcheou, which was the extreme point reached by him in this
exploration of south-eastern China.


Japan--Departure of the three Venetians with the Emperor's daughter
and the Persian ambassadors--Sai-gon--Java--Condor--Bintang--
Sumatra--The Nicobar Islands--Ceylon--The Coromandel coast--The
Malabar coast--The Sea of Oman--The island of Socotra--Madagascar--
Zanzibar and the coast of Africa--Abyssinia--Yemen--Hadramaut and
Oman--Ormuz--The return to Venice--A feast in the household of
Polo--Marco Polo a Genoese prisoner--Death of Marco Polo about 1323.

Marco Polo returned to the court of Kublaï-Khan when he had finished
the expedition of which we spoke in the last chapter. He was then
entrusted with several other missions, in which he found his
knowledge of the Turkish, Chinese, Mongolian, and Mantchorian
languages of the greatest use. He seems to have taken part in an
expedition to the islands in the Indian Ocean, and he brought back a
detailed account of this hitherto little known sea. There is a want
of clearness as to dates at this part of his life, which makes it
difficult to give a correct narrative of these voyages in their
right order. He gives a circumstantial account of the Island of
Cipango, a name applying to the group of islands which make up
Japan; but it does not appear that he actually entered that kingdom.
This country was famous for its wealth, and about 1264, some years
before Marco Polo arrived at the Tartar court, Kublaï-Khan had tried
to conquer it and sent his fleet there with that purpose. They had
taken possession of a citadel and put all its valiant defenders to
the edge of the sword, but just at the moment of apparent victory a
storm arose and dispersed all the enemy's fleet, and thus the
expedition was useless. Marco Polo gives a long account of this
attempt, and adds many curious particulars as to Japanese customs.

Marco Polo, with his father and uncle, had now been seventeen years
in the service of Kublaï-Khan, and even longer absent from their own
country; they had a great wish to revisit it, but the Emperor had
become so much attached to them, and valued their services so highly,
that he could not make up his mind to part with them. He tried in
every way to shake their resolution, offering them riches and honour
if only they would remain with him, but they still held to their
plan of returning to Europe; the Emperor then absolutely refused to
allow them to go, and Marco Polo could find no means of eluding the
surveillance of which he was the object, until circumstances arose
which quite changed Kublaï-Khan's resolution.

A Mongol prince, named Arghun, whose dominions were in Persia, had
sent an ambassador to the Emperor to ask one of the princesses of
the blood royal, in marriage. Kublaï-Khan acceded to his request and
sent off his daughter Cogatra to Prince Arghun, attended by a
numerous suite; but the countries by which they endeavoured to
travel were not safe; the caravan was soon stopped by disturbances
and rebellions, and after some months was obliged to return to the
Emperor's palace. The Persian ambassadors had heard Marco Polo
spoken of as a clever navigator who had had some experience of the
Indian Ocean, and they begged the Emperor to confide the Princess
Cogatra to his care, that he might conduct her to her future husband,
thinking that the voyage by sea would probably be attended by less
danger than a land journey.

After some demur Kublaï-Khan acceded to their request, and equipped
a fleet of forty four-masted vessels, provisioning them for two
years. Some of these were very large, having a crew of 250 men, for
this was an important expedition worthy of the opulent Emperor of
China. Matteo, Nicolo, and Marco Polo set out with the Chinese
princess and the Persian ambassadors, and it was during this voyage,
which lasted eighteen months, that it seems most probable that Marco
Polo visited the islands of Sunda and other islands in the Indian
Ocean, as well as Ceylon and the towns on the coast of India. We
will follow him in his voyage and give his description of the places
that he visited in this hitherto little known portion of the globe.

[Illustration: Kublaï-Khan equips a fleet.]

It must have been about 1291 or 1292 that the fleet left the port of
Zaitem, under the command of Marco Polo. He steered first for
Tchampa, a great country situated at the south of Cochin China, and
which contains the present province of Saïgon, belonging to France.
This was not a new country to Marco Polo, as he had visited it about
1280, when he was on a mission for the Emperor. At this time,
Tchampa was under the dominion of the grand khan, and paid him an
annual tribute in elephants; when Marco Polo visited this country
before its conquest by Kublaï-Khan, he found the reigning king had
no less than 326 children, of whom 150 were old enough to carry arms.

Leaving the peninsula of Cambodia, the fleet went in the direction
of Java, the rich island that Kublaï-Khan had never been able to
subjugate, where abundance of pepper, cloves, nutmegs, &c., grew.
After putting into port at Condor and Sandur, at the extremity of
the peninsular of Cochin China, they reached the island of Pentam
(Bintang), situated near the eastern entrance of the straits of
Malacca, and the island of Sumatra, called Little Java. "This island
is so much in the south," he says, "that they never see there the
polar star," which is true as far as the inhabitants of the southern
part are concerned. It is very fertile, aloes growing most
luxuriantly; and here wild elephants and rhinoceroses (called by
Marco Polo unicorns) are found, and apes, too, in large numbers. The
fleet was detained five months on these shores by contrary winds,
and the traveller made the most of his time in visiting the
principal provinces of the island, such as Samara, Dagraian, and
Labrin (which boasts a great number of men with tails--evidently
apes), and the island of Fandur or Panchor, where the sago-tree
grows, from which a kind of flour is obtained that makes very good

At last the wind changed, and enabled the vessels to leave Little
Java, and after touching at Necaran, which must be one of the
Nicobar Islands, and at the Andaman group, whose inhabitants are
still cannibals, as they were in the time of Marco Polo, the fleet
took a south-westerly course and arrived on the coast of Ceylon.
"This island," says the traveller in his narrative, "was once much
larger, for according to the map of the world that the pilots of
these seas carry, it was once 3600 miles in circumference but the
north wind blows with such force in these parts that it caused a
part of the island to be submerged." This tradition is still held by
the inhabitants of Ceylon. Here are collected in abundance, rubies,
sapphires, topaz, amethysts, and other precious stones, such as
garnets, opals, agates, and sardonyx. The king of the country was
the possessor at this time of a most splendid ruby as long as the
palm of the hand, as thick as a man's arm, and red as fire, which
excited the envy of the grand khan, who vainly tried to induce its
possessor to part with it, offering a whole city in exchange, but
that could not tempt the King to let him have the jewel.

Sixty miles west of Ceylon the travellers came to Maabar, a great
province on the coast of India. This must not be mistaken for
Malabar, which is situated on the west coast of the Indian peninsula.
This Maabar forms the southern part of the Coromandel coast, and is
celebrated for its pearl fisheries. Here the magicians are at work,
and are said to render the monsters of the deep harmless to the
fishermen; they are astrologers whose race is perpetuated even to
modern times. Marco Polo gives some interesting details of the
customs of the natives, one is that when a king dies, the nobles
throw themselves into the fire in his honour; another strange custom
is that of the religious purifications twice every day, and their
blind faith in astrologers and diviners; he also speaks of the
frequency of religious suicides, and the sacrifice of widows whom
the funeral pile awaits on the death of their husbands. He also
notices the skill in physiognomy evinced by the natives.

The next resting-place of the fleet was Muftili, of which the
capital is now called Masulipatam, the chief city of the kingdom of
Golconda. This country was well governed by a queen, a widow for
forty years, who desired to remain faithful to the memory of her
husband. The country contained many valuable diamond mines, but
these were unfortunately among mountains where serpents abounded;
the miners had recourse to a strange device when collecting the
precious stones, to protect themselves from these reptiles, which we
may believe or not as we choose. Marco Polo says: "They take several
pieces of meat, and throw them among the pointed rocks, where no man
can go, and the meat, falling upon the diamonds, they become
attached to it. Now, among these mountains live a number of white
eagles, who hunt the serpents, and when they see the meat at the
foot of the precipices they swoop down and carry it away. At the
moment the men who have been following the eagles' movements see
them alight to eat the meat, they raise fearful cries, the meat is
dropped and the eagles take to flight, and thus the men have no
difficulty in taking the diamonds that are attached to the meat.
Diamonds are often found on the mountains, mingled with the
excrement of the eagles."

After visiting the small town of St. Thomas, situated some miles to
the south of Madras, where St. Thomas the apostle is said to be
buried, the travellers explored the kingdom of Maabar and especially
the province of Lar, from whence spring all the "_Abrahamites_" of
the world, probably the Brahmins. These men, he says, live to a
great age, owing to their abstinence and sobriety; some have been
known to attain 150 and even 200 years of age; their diet is
principally rice and milk, and they drink a mixture of sulphur and
quicksilver. These "Abrahamites" are clever merchants, superstitious,
however, but remarkably sincere, and never guilty of theft of any
kind; they never kill any living thing, and they worship the ox,
which is a sacred animal among them.

The fleet now returned to Ceylon, where in 1284 Kublaï-Khan had sent
an ambassador who had brought him back some pretended relics of Adam,
and among other things two of his molar teeth; for, if we can
believe the Saracen traditions, the tomb of our first father must
have been on the summit of one of the precipitous mountains, which
forms the highest ground in the island. After losing sight of Ceylon,
Marco Polo went to Cail, a port that we do not find marked on any of
the modern maps, but a place where all the vessels touched coming
from Ormuz, Kiss, Aden, and the coasts of Arabia. Thence doubling
Cape Comorin they came to Coilum, now Quilon, which was a very
thriving city in the thirteenth century. It is there that a great
quantity of sandal-wood and indigo is found, and merchants come in
large numbers from the Levant and from the West to trade in both.
The country of Malabar produces a great quantity of rice, and wild
animals are found there, such as leopards, which Marco Polo calls
"black lions," also peacocks of much greater beauty than those of
Europe, as well as different kinds of parroquets.

The fleet, leaving Coilum, and advancing northwards along the
Malabar coast, arrived at the shores of the kingdom of Maundallay,
which derives its name from a mountain situated on the borders of
Kanara and Malabar; here pepper, ginger, saffron, and other spices
abound. To the north of this kingdom extended that country which the
Venetian traveller calls Melibar, and which is situated to the north
of Malabar proper. The vessels of the Mangalore merchants came here
to trade with the natives of this part of India for cargoes of
spices, a fine kind of cloth called buckram and other valuable
wares; but their vessels were frequently attacked, and too often
pillaged by the pirates who infested these seas, and who were justly
regarded as formidable enemies. These pirates principally inhabit
the peninsula of Gohourat, now called Gujerat, where the fleet was
on its way after calling at Tana--a country where is collected the
frankincense--and Canboat, now Kambay, a town where there is a great
trade in leather. Visiting Sumenath, a city of the peninsula, whose
inhabitants are cruel, ferocious, and idolaters, and Kesmacoran, the
modern city of Kedje, the capital of Makran, situated on the Indus
near the sea, and the last town in India on the northwest, Marco
Polo went westward across the sea of Oman, instead of going to
Persia, which was the destination of the princess.

His insatiable love of exploration led him 500 miles away to the
shores of Arabia, where he stopped at the Male and Female Islands,
so called from the men usually living on one island, and their wives
on the other. Thence they sailed to the south towards the island of
Socotra, at the entrance of the Gulf of Aden, which, Marco Polo
partially explored. He speaks of the inhabitants of Socotra as
clever magicians, who, by their enchantments, obtain the fulfilment
of all their wishes as well as the power of stilling storms and
tempests. Then, taking a southerly course of 1000 miles, he arrived
at the shores of Madagascar. This island appeared to him to be one
of the grandest in the world. Its inhabitants are very much occupied
with commerce, especially in elephants' tusks. They live principally
upon camels' flesh, which is better and more wholesome food than any
other. The merchants on their way from the coast of India are
usually only twenty days crossing the Sea of Oman; but when they
return they are often three months on the voyage on account of the
opposing currents which take them always southwards. Nevertheless,
they visit Madagascar very constantly, for there are whole forests
of sandal-wood, and amber is also found there, from which they can
obtain great profit by bartering it for gold and silk stuffs. Wild
animals and game are plentiful; according to Marco Polo, leopards,
bears, lions, wild boars, giraffes, wild asses, roebucks, deer,
stags, and cattle were to be found in great numbers; but what seemed
most marvellous of all to him was the fabulous griffin, the roc, of
which we hear so much in the "Thousand and one Nights," which is not,
he says, "an animal, half-lion and half-bird, able to raise and
carry away an elephant in its claws." It was probably the "_epyornis
maximus_," for some eggs of this bird are still to be found in

[Illustration: This wonderful bird was probably the _epyornis

From this island Marco Polo went in a north-westerly direction to
Zanzibar and the coast of Africa. The inhabitants seemed to him
remarkably stout, but strong and able to carry the burdens of four
ordinary men, "which is not strange," he says, "for they each eat as
much as five other men;" these natives were black and wore no
clothing, they had large mouths and turned-up noses, thick lips, and
large eyes, a description that agrees exactly with that of the
natives of that part of Africa now. They live upon rice, meat, milk,
and dates, and make a kind of wine of rice, sugar, and spices. They
are brave warriors and fearless of death; they are usually in war
mounted on camels and elephants, and armed with a leathern shield, a
sword, and a lance; they give their animals an intoxicating drink to
excite them on going into action.

In Marco Polo's time, says M. Charton, the countries comprised under
the title of India were divided into three parts; Greater India or
Hindostan, that is, the country lying between the Indus and the
Ganges; Lesser India, that is, all the country lying beyond the
Ganges, between the western coast of the peninsula and the coast of
Cochin China; lastly, Middle India, that is, Abyssinia and the
Arabian coast to the Persian Gulf. After leaving Zanzibar it was
Middle India whose coast Marco Polo explored, sailing towards the
north, and first Abassy or Abyssinia, a fertile country where the
manufacture of fine cotton cloths and buckram is largely carried on.
Then the fleet went to Zaila, almost at the entrance of the straits
of Bab-el-Mandeb, and at last by the coast of Yemen and Hadramaut
they came to Aden, the port frequented by all the ships trading with
India and China; then to Escier, whence a great quantity of fine
horses are exported; Dafar, which produces incense of the finest
quality, and Galatu, now Kalajate, on the coast of Oman; then to
Ormuz, that Marco Polo had visited once before when he was on his
way from Venice to the court of Kublaï-Khan. This was the furthest
point that the fleet had to reach, as the princess was now on the
borders of Persia, after a voyage of eighteen months. But on their
arrival they were met by the sad news of the death of Prince Arghun,
the fiancé of the princess, and they found the country involved in
civil war. The poor princess was put under the care of Prince Ghazan,
the son of Prince Arghun, who did not ascend the throne until 1295,
when his uncle, the usurper, was strangled. What became of the
princess we do not hear, but on parting with Nicolo, Matteo, and
Marco Polo, she bestowed on them great marks of favour. It was
probably during Marco Polo's residence in Persia that he collected
some curious documents upon Turkey in Asia; they are disconnected
pieces, which he gives at the close of his narrative, and they form
a genuine history of the Mongol Khans of Persia. His travels for
exploration were at an end, and after taking leave of the Tartar
princess, the three Venetians well escorted, and with all expenses
paid, set out on their way home. They went to Trebizond, then to
Constantinople, and thence to Negropont, where they embarked for

It was in the year 1295, twenty-four years after leaving it, that
Marco Polo and his companions returned to their native town. They
were bronzed by exposure to the air and sun, coarsely clad in Tartar
costume, and both in manners and language were so much more
Mongolian than Venetian, that even their nearest relatives failed to
recognize them. Beyond this, a report had been widely spread that
they were dead, and it had gained so much credence that their
friends never expected to see them again. They went to their own
house in the part of Venice called St. John Chrysostom, and found it
occupied by different members of the Polo family, who received the
travellers with every mark of distrust, which their pitiable
appearance did not tend to lessen, and placed no faith in the
somewhat marvellous stories related to them by Marco Polo. After
some persuasion, however, they gained admittance into their own
house. When they had been a few days in Venice, the three travellers
gave a magnificent banquet, followed by a splendid fête, to do away
with any remaining doubts as to their identity. They invited the
nobility of Venice and all the members of their own family, and when
all the guests were assembled the three hosts appeared dressed in
crimson satin robes; the guests then entered the dining-room, and
the feast began. After the first course was over the three
travellers retired for a few moments and then reappeared, clad in
robes of splendid silk damask, which they proceeded to tear, and to
present each of their guests with a piece. After the second course
they dressed themselves in even more splendid robes of crimson
velvet, which they wore until the feast was over, when they appeared
in simple Venetian costume. The astonished guests marvelled at the
magnificence of these garments, and wondered what their hosts would
next show them; then the coarse rough clothes that they had worn on
the voyage were brought in, and when the linings and seams were
undone, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and carbuncles of
great value were poured forth from them; great riches had been
hidden in these rags. This unexpected sight cleared away all doubt;
the three travellers were recognized at once as Marco, Nicolo, and
Matteo Polo, and congratulations upon their return were showered
upon them.

So celebrated a man as Marco Polo could not escape civic honours. He
was made first magistrate in Venice, and as he was continually
speaking of the "millions" of the Grand Khan, who commanded
"millions" of subjects, he gained the soubriquet of Signor Million.

It was about 1296 that a war broke out between Venice and Genoa. A
Genoese fleet under the command of Lamba Doria crossed the Adriatic,
and threatened the sea coast. The Venetian Admiral Andrea Dandolo
immediately manned a larger fleet and entrusted the command of a
galley to Marco Polo who was justly considered an able commander.
The Venetians were beaten in a naval battle on the 8th of September,
1296, and Marco Polo, badly wounded, fell into the hands of the
Genoese, who, knowing and appreciating the value of their prisoner,
treated him with great kindness. He was taken to Genoa, and there
met with a hearty welcome from the most distinguished people, who
were anxious to hear the account of his travels. It was during his
captivity, in 1298, that he made acquaintance with Pisano Rusticien,
and, tired of repeating his story again and again, dictated his
narrative to him.

About 1299 Marco Polo was set at liberty; he returned to Venice, and
there married. From this time we hear no more of the incidents of
his life, and only know from his will that he left three daughters;
he is thought to have died about the 9th of January, 1323, at the
age of seventy.

Such is the life of this celebrated traveller, whose narrative had a
marked influence on the progress of geographical science. He was
gifted with great power of observation, and could see and describe
equally well; and all later explorers have confirmed the truth of
his statements. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the
documents founded on this narrative formed the basis of geographical
books, and were used as a guide in commercial expeditions to China,
India, and Central Asia. Posterity will concur in the suitability of
the title that the first copyists gave to Marco Polo's work, that of
"The Book of the Wonders of the World."

IBN BATUTA, 1328-1353.

Ibn Batuta--The Nile--Gaza, Tyre, Tiberias, Libanus, Baalbec,
Damascus, Meshid, Bussorah, Baghdad, Tabriz, Mecca and Medina--
Yemen--Abyssinia--The country of the Berbers--Zanguebar--Ormuz--
Syria--Anatolia--Asia Minor--Astrakhan--Constantinople--
Turkestan--Herat--The Indus--Delhi--Malabar--The Maldives--
Ceylon--The Coromandel coast--Bengal--The Nicobar Islands--
Sumatra--China--Africa--The Niger--Timbuctoo.

Marco Polo had returned to his native land now nearly twenty-five
years, when a Franciscan monk traversed the whole of Asia, from the
Black Sea to the extreme limits of China, passing by Trebizond,
Mount Ararat, Babel, and the island of Java; but he was so credulous
of all that was told him, and his narrative is so confused, that but
little reliance can be placed upon it. It is the same with the
fabulous travels of Jean de Mandeville. Cooley says of them, "They
are so utterly untrue, that they have not their parallel in any

But we find a worthy successor to the Venetian traveller in an
Arabian theologian, named Abdallah El Lawati, better known by the
name of Ibn Batuta. He did for Egypt, Arabia, Anatolia, Tartary,
India, China, Bengal, and Soudan, what Marco Polo had done for
Central Asia, and he is worthy to be placed in the foremost rank as
a brave traveller and bold explorer. In the year 1324, the 725th
year of the Hegira, he resolved to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, and
starting from Tangier, his native town, he went first to Alexandria,
and thence to Cairo. During his stay in Egypt he turned his
attention to the Nile, and especially to the Delta; then he tried to
sail up the river, but being stopped by disturbances on the Nubian
frontier, he was obliged to return to the mouth of the river, and
then set sail for Asia Minor.

[Illustration: Ibn Batuta in Egypt.]

After visiting Gaza, the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Tyre,
then strongly fortified and unassailable on three sides, and
Tiberias, which was in ruins, and whose celebrated baths were
completely destroyed, Ibn Batuta was attracted by the wonders of
Lebanon, the centre for all the hermits of that day, who had
judiciously chosen one of the most lovely spots in the whole world
wherein to end their days. Then passing Baalbec, and going on to
Damascus, he found the city (in the year 1345) decimated by the
plague. This fearful scourge devoured "24,000 persons daily," if we
may believe his report, and Damascus would have been depopulated,
had not the prayers of all the people offered up in the mosque
containing the stone with the print of Moses' foot upon it, been
heard and answered. On leaving Damascus, Ibn Batuta went to Mesjid,
where he visited the tomb of Ali, which attracts a large number of
paralytic pilgrims who need only to spend one night in prayer beside
it, to be completely cured. Batuta does not seem to doubt the
authenticity of this miracle, well known in the East under the title
of "the Night of Cure."

From Mesjid, the traveller went to Bussorah, and entered the kingdom
of Ispahan, and then the province of Shiraz, where he wished to
converse with the celebrated worker of miracles, Magd Oddin. From
Shiraz he went to Baghdad, to Tabriz, then to Medina, where he
prayed beside the tomb of the Prophet, and finally to Mecca, where
he remained three years. It is well known that from Mecca, caravans
are continually starting for the surrounding country, and it was in
company with some of these bold merchants that Ibn Batuta was able
to visit the towns of Yemen. He went as far as Aden, at the mouth of
the Red Sea, and embarked for Zaila, one of the Abyssinian ports. He
was now once more on African ground, and advanced into the country
of the Berbers, that he might study the manners and customs of those
dirty and repulsive tribes; he found their diet consisted wholly of
fish and camels' flesh. But in the town of Makdasbu, there was an
attempt at comfort and civilization, presenting a most agreeable
contrast with the surrounding squalor. The inhabitants were very fat,
each of them, to use Ibn's own expression, "eating enough to feed a
convent;" they were very fond of delicacies, such as plantains
boiled in milk, preserved citrons, pods of fresh pepper, and green

After seeing all he wished of the country of the Berbers, chiefly on
the coast, he resolved to go to Zanguebar, and then, crossing the
Red Sea and following the coast of Arabia, he came to Zafar, a town
situated upon the Indian Ocean. The vegetation of this country is
most luxuriant, the betel, cocoa-nut, and incense-trees forming
there great forests; still the traveller pushed on, and came to
Ormuz on the Persian Gulf, and passed through several provinces of
Persia. We find him a second time at Mecca in the year 1332, three
years after he had left it.

But this was only to be a short rest for the traveller, for now,
leaving Asia for Africa, he went to Upper Egypt, a region but little
known, and thence to Cairo. He next visited Syria, making a short
stay at Jerusalem and Tripoli, and thence he visited the Turkomans
of Anatolia, where the "confraternity of young men" gave him a most
hearty welcome.

After Anatolia, the Arabian narrative speaks of Asia Minor. Ibn
Batuta advanced as far as Erzeroum, where he was shown an aerolite
weighing 620 pounds. Then, crossing the Black Sea, he visited the
Crimea, Kaffa, and Bulgar, a town of sufficiently high latitude for
the unequal length of day and night to be very marked; and at last
he reached Astrakhan, at the mouth of the Volga, where the Khan of
Tartary lived during the winter months.

The Princess Bailun, the wife of the khan, and daughter of the
Emperor of Constantinople, was wishing to visit her father, and it
was an opportunity not to be lost by Ibn Batuta for exploring Turkey
in Europe; he gained permission to accompany the princess, who set
out attended by 5000 men, and followed by a portable mosque, which
was set up at every place where they stayed. The princess's
reception at Constantinople was very magnificent, the bells being
rung with such spirit that he says, "even the horizon seemed full of
the vibration."

The welcome given to the theologian by the princes of the country
was worthy of his fame; he remained in the city thirty-six days, so
that he was able to study it in all its details.

This was a time when communication between the different countries
was both dangerous and difficult, and Ibn Batuta was considered a
very bold traveller. Egypt, Arabia, Turkey in Asia, the Caucasian
provinces had all in turn been explored by him. After such hard work
he might well have taken rest and been satisfied with the laurels
that he had gained, for he was without doubt the most celebrated
traveller of the fourteenth century; but his insatiable passion for
travelling remained, and the circle of his explorations was still to
widen considerably.

On leaving Constantinople, Ibn Batuta went again to Astrakhan,
thence crossing the sandy wastes of the present Turkestan, he
arrived at Khovarezen, a large populous town, then at Bokhara, half
destroyed by the armies of Gengis-Khan. Some time after we hear of
him at Samarcand, a religious town which greatly pleased the learned
traveller, and then at Balkh which he could not reach without
crossing the desert of Khorassan. This town was all in ruins and
desolate, for the armies of the barbarians had been there, and Ibn
Batuta could not remain in it, but wished to go westward to the
frontier of Afghanistan. The mountainous country, near the Hindoo
Koosh range, confronted him, but this was no barrier to him, and
after great fatigue, which he bore with equal patience and
good-humour, he reached the important town of Herat. This was the
most westerly point reached by the traveller; he now resolved to
change his course for an easterly one, and in going to the extreme
limits of Asia, to reach the shores of the Pacific: if he could
succeed in this he would pass the bounds of the explorations of the
celebrated Marco Polo.

He set out, and following the course of the river Kabul and the
frontiers of Afghanistan, he came to the Sindhu, the modern Indus,
and descended it to its mouth. From the town of Lahore, he went to
Delhi, which great and beautiful city had been deserted by its
inhabitants, who had fled from the Emperor Mohammed.

This tyrant, who was occasionally both generous and magnificent,
received the Arabian traveller very well, made him a judge in Delhi,
and gave him a grant of land with some pecuniary advantages that
were attached to the post, but these honours were not to be of any
long duration, for Ibn Batuta being implicated in a pretended
conspiracy, thought it best to give up his place, and make himself a
fakir to escape the Emperor's displeasure. Mohammed, however,
pardoned him, and made him his ambassador to China.

Fortune again smiled upon the courageous traveller, and he had now
the prospect of seeing these distant lands under exceptionally good
and safe circumstances. He was charged with presents for the Emperor
of China, and 2000 horse-soldiers were given him as an escort.

But Ibn Batuta had not thought of the insurgents who occupied the
surrounding countries; a skirmish took place between the escort and
the Hindoos, and the traveller, being separated from his companions,
was taken prisoner, robbed, garotted, and carried off he knew not
whither; but his courage and hopefulness did not forsake him, and he
contrived to escape from the hands of these robbers. After wandering
about for seven days, he was received into his house by a negro, who
at length led him back to the emperor's palace at Delhi.

Mohammed fitted out another expedition, and again appointed the
Arabian traveller as his ambassador. This time they passed through
the enemy's country without molestation, and by way of Kanoje, Mersa,
Gwalior, and Barun, they reached Malabar. Some time after, they
arrived at the great port of Calicut, an important place which
became afterwards the chief town of Malabar; here they were detained
by contrary winds for three months, and made use of this time to
study the Chinese mercantile marine which frequented this port. Ibn
speaks with great admiration of these junks which are like floating
gardens, where ginger and herbs are grown on deck; they are each
like a separate village, and some merchants were the possessors of a
great number of these junks.

At last the wind changed; Ibn Batuta chose a small junk well fitted
up, to take him to China, and had all his property put on board.
Thirteen other junks were to receive the presents sent by the King
of Delhi to the Emperor of China, but during the night a violent
storm arose, and all the vessels sank. Fortunately for Ibn he had
remained on shore to attend the service at the mosque, and thus his
piety saved his life, but he had lost everything except "the carpet
which he used at his devotions." After this second misfortune he
could not make up his mind to appear before the King of Delhi. This
catastrophe was enough to weary the patience of a more
long-suffering emperor than Mohammed.

Ibn soon made up his mind what to do. Leaving the service of the
emperor, and the advantages attaching to the post of ambassador, he
embarked for the Maldive Islands, which were governed by a woman,
and where a large trade in cocoa was carried on. Here he was again
made a judge, but this was only of short duration, for the vizier
became jealous of his success, and, after marrying three wives, Ibn
was obliged to take refuge in flight. He hoped to reach the
Coromandel coast, but contrary winds drove his vessel towards Ceylon,
where he was very well received, and gained the king's permission to
climb the sacred mountain of Serendid, or Adam's Peak. His object
was to see the wonderful impression of a foot at the summit, which
the Hindoos call "Buddha's," and the Mahometans "Adam's, foot." He
pretends, in his narrative, that this impression measures eleven
hands in length, a very different account from that of an historian
of the ninth century, who declared it to be seventy-nine cubits
long! This historian also adds that while one of the feet of our
forefather rested on the mountain, the other was in the Indian ocean.

Ibn Batuta speaks also of large bearded apes, forming a considerable
item in the population of the island, and said to be under a king of
their own, crowned with leaves. We can give what credit we like to
such fables as these, which were propagated by the credulity of the

From Ceylon, the traveller made his way to the Coromandel coast, but
not without experiencing some severe storms. He crossed to the other
side of the Indian peninsula, and again embarked.

[Illustration: Ibn Batuta's vessel was seized by pirates.]

But his vessel was seized by pirates, and Ibn Batuta arrived at
Calicut almost without clothes, robbed, and worn out with fatigue.
No misfortune could damp his ardour, his was one of those great
spirits which seem only invigorated by trouble and disasters. As
soon as he was enabled by the kindness of some Delhi merchants to
resume his travels, he embarked for the Maldive Islands, went on to
Bengal, there set sail for Sumatra, and disembarked at one of the
Nicobar Islands after a very bad passage which had lasted fifty days.
Fifteen days afterwards he arrived at Sumatra, where the king gave
him a hearty welcome and furnished him with means to continue his
journey to China.

A junk took him in seventy-one days to the port Kailuka, capital of
a country somewhat problematical, of which the brave and handsome
inhabitants excelled in making arms. From Kailuka, Ibn passed into
the Chinese provinces, and went first to the splendid town of Zaitem,
probably the present Tsieun-tcheou of the Chinese, a little to the
north of Nankin. He passed through various cities of this great
empire, studying the customs of the people and admiring everywhere
the riches, industry, and civilization that he found, but he did not
get as far as the Great Wall, which he calls "The obstacle of Gog
and Magog." It was while he was exploring this immense tract of
country that he made a short stay in the city of Tchensi, which is
composed of six fortified towns standing together. It happened that
during his wanderings he was able to be present at the funeral of a
khan, who was buried with four slaves, six of his favourites, and
four horses.

In the meanwhile, disturbances had occurred at Zaitem, which obliged
Ibn to leave this town, so he set sail for Sumatra, and then after
touching at Calicut and Ormuz, he returned to Mecca in 1348, having
made the tour of Persia and Syria.

But the time of rest had not yet come for this indefatigable
explorer; the following year he revisited his native place Tangier,
and then after travelling in the southern countries of Europe he
returned to Morocco, went to Soudan and the countries watered by the
Niger, crossed the Great Desert and entered Timbuctoo, thus making a
journey which would have rendered illustrious a less ambitious

This was to be his last expedition. In 1353, twenty-nine years after
leaving Tangier for the first time, he returned to Morocco, and
settled at Fez. He has earned the reputation of being the most
intrepid explorer of the fourteenth century, and well merits to be
ranked next after Marco Polo, the illustrious Venetian.



The Norman cavalier--His ideas of conquest--What was known of
the Canary Islands--Cadiz--The Canary Archipelago--Graciosa--
Lancerota--Fortaventura--Jean de Béthencourt returns to Spain--
Revolt of Berneval--His interview with King Henry III.--Gadifer
visits the Canary Archipelago--Canary Island or "Gran Canaria"--
Ferro Island--Palma Island.

Jean de Béthencourt was born about the year 1339, at Eu in Normandy.
He was of good family, and Baron of St. Martin-le-Gaillard, and had
distinguished himself both as a navigator and warrior; he was made
chamberlain to Charles VI. But his tastes were more for travelling
than a life at court; he resolved to make himself a still more
illustrious name by further conquests, and soon an opportunity
offered for him to carry out his plans.

[Illustration: Jean de Béthencourt.]

On the coast of Africa there is a group of islands called the
Canaries, which were once known as the Fortunate Islands. Juba, a
son of one of the Numidian kings, is said to have been their first
explorer, about the year of Rome 776. In the middle ages, according
to some accounts, Arabs, Genoese, Portuguese, Spaniards, and
Biscayans, had partially visited this interesting group of islands.
In 1393, a Spanish gentleman named Almonaster, who was commanding an
expedition, succeeded in landing on Lancerota, one of these islands,
and brought back, with several prisoners, some produce which was a
sufficient guarantee of the fertility of this archipelago.

The Norman cavalier now found the opening that he sought, and he
determined to conquer the Canary Islands and try to convert the
inhabitants to the Catholic faith. He was as intelligent, brave, and
full of resources as he was energetic; and leaving his house of
Grainville-la-Teinturière at Caux, he went to La Rochelle, where he
met the Chevalier Gadifer de la Salle, and having explained his
project to him, they decided to go to the Canary Islands together.
Jean de Béthencourt having collected an army and made his
preparations, and had vessels fitted out and manned, Gadifer and he
set sail; after experiencing adverse winds on the way to the Ile de
Ré, and being much harassed by the constant dissensions on board,
they arrived at Vivero, and then at Corunna. Here they remained
eight days, then set sail again, and doubling Cape Finisterre,
followed the Portuguese coast to Cape St. Vincent, and arrived at
Cadiz, where they made a longer stay. Here Béthencourt had a dispute
with some Genoese merchants, who accused him of having taken their
vessel, and he had to go to Seville, where King Henry III. heard his
complaint and acquitted him from all blame. On his return to Cadiz
he found part of his crew in open mutiny, and some of his sailors so
frightened that they refused to continue the voyage, so the
chevalier sent back the cowardly sailors, and set sail with those
who were more courageous.

The vessel in which Jean de Béthencourt sailed was becalmed for
three days, then, the weather improving, he reached the island of
Graziosa, one of the smaller of the Canary group, in five days, and
then the larger island of Lancerota, which is nearly the same size
as the island of Rhodes. Lancerota has excellent pasturage, and
arable land, which is particularly good for the cultivation of
barley; its numerous fountains and cisterns are well supplied with
excellent water. The orchilla, which is so much used in dyeing,
grows abundantly here. The inhabitants of this island, who as a rule
wear scarce any clothing, are tall and well-made, and the women, who
wear leathern great-coats reaching to the ground, are very
good-looking and honest.

The traveller, prior to disclosing his plans of conquest, wished to
possess himself of some of the natives, but his ignorance of the
country made this a difficult matter, so, anchoring under the
shelter of a small island in the archipelago, he called a meeting of
his companions to decide upon a plan of action. They all agreed that
the only thing to be done was to take some of the natives by fair
means or foul. Guardafia, the king of the island, treated
Béthencourt more as a friend than a subject. A castle or rather fort
was built at the south-western extremity of the island, and some men
left there under the command of Berthin de Berneval, while
Béthencourt set out with the rest of his followers for the island of
Erbania or Fortaventura. Gadifer counselled a debarcation by night,
which was done, and then he took the command of a small body of men
and scoured the island with them for eight days without meeting one
native, they having all fled to the mountains. Provisions failing,
Gadifer was forced to return, and he went to the island of Lobos
between Lancerota and Fortaventura; but there his chief sailor
mutinied and it was not without difficulty that Gadifer and
Béthencourt reached the fort on Lancerota.

Béthencourt resolved to return to Spain to get provisions and a new
contingent of soldiers, for his crew he could not depend upon; so he
left Gadifer in command and set sail for Spain in one of Gadifer's

It will be remembered that Berthin de Berneval had been left in
command of the fort on Lancerota Island. Unfortunately he was
Gadifer's bitter enemy, and no sooner had Béthencourt set out than
he tried to poison the minds of Gadifer's men against him; he
succeeded in inducing some, especially the Gascons, to revolt
against the governor, who, quite innocent of Berneval's base designs,
was spending his time hunting sea-wolves on the island of Lobos with
Remonnet de Levéden and several others. Remonnet having been sent to
Lancerota for provisions, found no Berneval there, he having
deserted the island with his accomplices for a port on Graziosa,
where a coxswain, deceived by his promises, had placed his vessel at
his disposal. From Graziosa, the traitor Berneval returned to
Lancerota, and put the finishing stroke to his villany by pretending
to make an alliance with the king of the island. The king, thinking
that no officer of Béthencourt's, in whom he had implicit confidence,
could deceive him, came with twenty-four of his subjects to see
Berneval, who seized them when asleep, had them bound, and then
carried them off to Graziosa. The king managed to break his bonds,
set three of his men free, and succeeded in escaping, but the
remainder of his unfortunate companions were still prisoners, and
Berneval gave them up to some Spanish thieves, who took them away to
sell in a foreign land.

Berneval's evil deeds did not stop here. By his order the vessel
that Gadifer had sent to the fort at Lancerota was seized; Remonnet
tried resistance, but his numbers were too small, and his
supplications were useless to prevent Berneval's men, and even
Berneval himself, from destroying all the arms, furniture, and goods,
which Béthencourt had placed in the fort at Lancerota. Insults were
showered upon the governor, and Berneval cried, "I should like
Gadifer de la Salle to know that if he were as young as I, I would
kill him, but as he is not, I will spare him. If he is put above me
I shall have him drowned, and then he can fish for sea-wolves."

Meanwhile, Gadifer and his ten companions were in danger of
perishing on the island of Lobos for want of food and fresh water,
but happily the two chaplains of the fort of Lancerota had gone to
Graziosa, and met the coxswain, who had been the victim of
Berneval's treason, and he sent one of his men named Ximenes with
them back to Lancerota. There they found a small boat which they
filled with provisions, and embarking with four men who were
faithful to Gadifer, they succeeded in reaching Lobos, four leagues
off, after a most dangerous passage.

Gadifer and his companions were suffering fearfully from hunger and
thirst, when Ximenes arrived just in time to save them from
perishing, and the governor learning Berneval's treachery embarked
in the boat for Lancerota, as soon as he was a little restored to
health. He was grieved at Berneval's conduct towards the poor
islanders whom Béthencourt and he had sworn to protect. No! he never
could have expected such wickedness in one who was looked upon as
the most able of the whole band.

But what was Berneval doing meanwhile? After having betrayed his
master, he did the same to the companions who had aided him in his
evil deeds; he had twelve of them killed and then he set out for
Spain to rejoin Béthencourt and make his own case good by
representing all that had happened in his own way. It was to his
interest to get rid of inconvenient witnesses, and therefore he
abandoned his companions. These unfortunate men at first meditated
imploring the pardon of the governor; they confessed all to the
chaplains, but then, fearing the consequences of their deeds, they
seized a boat and fled towards Morocco. The boat reached the coast
of Barbary, where ten of the crew were drowned and the two others
taken for slaves.

While all this was happening at Lancerota, Béthencourt arrived at
Cadiz, where he took strong measures against his mutinous crew, and
had the ringleaders imprisoned. Then he sent his vessel to Seville,
where King Henry III. was at that time; but the ship sank in the
Guadalquiver, a great loss to Gadifer, her owner.

Béthencourt having arrived at Seville, met a certain Francisque
Calve who had lately come from the Canaries, and who offered to
return thither with all the things needed by the governor, but
Béthencourt could not agree to this proposal before he had seen the

Just at this time, Berneval arrived with some of his accomplices,
and some islanders whom he intended to sell as slaves. He hoped to
be able to deceive Béthencourt, but he had not reckoned upon a
certain Courtille who was with him, who lost no time in denouncing
the villany of Berneval, and on whose word the traitors were all
imprisoned at Cadiz. Courtille also told of the treatment that the
poor islanders had received; as Béthencourt could not leave Seville
till he had had an audience with the king, he gave orders that they
should receive every kindness, but while these preliminaries were
being concluded, the vessel that contained them was taken to Aragon,
and they were sold for slaves.

Béthencourt obtained the audience that he sought with the king of
Castille, and after telling him the result of his expedition he said,
"Sire, I come to ask your assistance and your leave to conquer the
Canary Islands for the Catholic faith, and as you are king and lord
of all the surrounding country, and the nearest Christian king to
these islands, I beg you to receive the homage of your humble
servant." The king was very gracious to him and gave him dominion
over these islands, and beyond this, a fifth of all the merchandise
that should be brought from them to Spain. He gave him 20,000
maravédis, about 600_l._, to buy all that he needed, and also the
right to coin money in the Canary Islands. Most unfortunately these
20,000 maravédis were confided to the care of a dishonest man, who
fled to France, carrying the money with him.

However, Henry III. gave Béthencourt a well-rigged vessel manned by
eighty men, and stocked with provisions, arms, &c. He was most
grateful for this fresh bounty, and sent Gadifer an account of all
that had happened, and his extreme disappointment and disgust at
Berneval's conduct, in whom he had so much confidence, announcing at
the same time the speedy departure of the vessel given by the King
of Castille.

[Illustration: Plan of Jerusalem.]

But meanwhile very serious troubles had arisen on Lancerota. King
Guardafia was so hurt at Berneval's conduct that he had revolted,
and some of Gadifer's companions had been killed by the islanders.
Gadifer insisted upon these subjects being punished, when one of the
king's relations named Ache, came to him proposing to dethrone the
king, and put himself in his place. This Ache was a villain, who
after having betrayed his king, proposed to betray the Normans, and
to chase them from the country. Gadifer had no suspicion of his
motives; wishing to avenge the death of his men, he accepted Ache's
proposal, and a short time afterwards, on the vigil of St.
Catherine's day, the king was seized, and conveyed to the fort in

Some days afterwards, Ache, the new king of the island attacked
Gadifer's companions, mortally wounding several of them, but the
following night Guardafia having made his escape from the fort
seized Ache, had him stoned to death, and his body burnt. The
governor (Gadifer) was so grieved by these scenes of violence, which
were renewed daily, that he resolved to kill all the men on the
island, and save only the women and children, whom he hoped to have
baptized. But just at this time, the vessel that Béthencourt had
freighted for the governor arrived, and brought besides the eighty
men, provisions, &c., a letter which told him among other things
that Béthencourt had done homage to the King of Castille for the
Canary Islands. The governor was not well pleased at this news, for
he thought that he ought to have had his share in the islands; but
he concealed his displeasure, and gave the new comers a hearty

The arms were at once disembarked, and then Gadifer went on board
the vessel to explore the neighbouring islands. Remonnet and several
others joined him in this expedition, and they took two of the
islanders with them to serve as guides.

They arrived safely at Fortaventura island; a few days after landing
on the island, Gadifer set out with thirty-five men to explore the
country; but soon the greater part of his followers deserted him,
only thirteen men, including two archers, remaining with him. But he
did not give up his project; after wading through a large stream, he
found himself in a lovely valley shaded by numberless palm-trees;
here having rested and refreshed himself, he set out again and
climbed a hill. At the summit he found about fifty natives, who
surrounded the small party and threatened to murder them. Gadifer
and his companions showed no signs of fear, and succeeded in putting
their enemies to flight; by the evening they were able to regain
their vessel, carrying away four of the native women as prisoners.

[Illustration: Gadifer found himself in a lovely valley.]

The next day Gadifer left the island and went to the Gran Canaria
island anchoring in a large harbour lying between Telde and Argonney.
Five hundred of the natives confronted them, but apparently with no
hostile intentions; they gave them some fish-hooks and old iron in
exchange for some of the natural productions of the island, such as
figs, and dragon's blood, a resinous substance taken from the
dragon-tree, which has a very pleasant balsamic odour. The natives
were very much on their guard with the strangers, for twenty years
before this some of Captain Lopez' men had invaded the island; so
they would not allow Gadifer to land.

The governor was obliged to weigh anchor without exploring the
island; he went to Ferro Island, and coasting along it arrived next
at Gomera; it was night, and the sailors were attracted by the fires
that the natives had lighted on the shore. When day broke Gadifer
and his companions wished to land; but the islanders would not allow
them to proceed when they reached the shore, and drove them back to
their vessel. Much disappointed by his reception, Gadifer determined
to make another attempt at Ferro Island; there he found that he
could land without opposition, and he remained on the island
twenty-two days. The interior of the island was very beautiful.
Pine-trees grew in abundance, and clear streams of water added to
its fertility. Quails were found in large numbers, as well as pigs,
goats, and sheep.

From this fertile island the party of explorers went to Palma, and
anchored in a harbour situated to the right of a large river. This
is the furthest island of the Canary group; it is covered with pine
and dragon-trees; from the abundance of fresh water the pasturage is
excellent and the land might be cultivated with much profit. Its
inhabitants are a tall, robust race, well made, with good features
and very white skin. Gadifer remained a short time on this island;
on leaving it he spent two days and two nights sailing round the
other islands, and then returned to the fort on Lancerota. They had
been absent three months. In the meantime, those of the party who
had been left in the fort had waged a petty war with the natives,
and had made a great number of prisoners. The Canarians, demoralized,
now came daily to cast themselves on their mercy, and to pray for
the consecration of baptism. Gadifer was so pleased to hear of this,
that he sent one of his companions to Spain to inform Béthencourt of
the state of the colony.


The return of Jean de Béthencourt--Gadifer's jealousy--Béthencourt
visits his archipelago--Gadifer goes to conquer Gran Canaria--
Disagreement of the two commanders--Their return to Spain--Gadifer
blamed by the King--Return of Béthencourt--The natives of
Fortaventura are baptized--Béthencourt revisits Caux--Returns to
Lancerota--Lands on the African coast--Conquest of Gran Canaria,
Ferro, and Palma Islands--Maciot appointed Governor of the
archipelago--Béthencourt obtains the Pope's consent to the Canary
Islands being made an Episcopal See--His return to his country and
his death.

The envoy had not reached Cadiz when Béthencourt landed at the fort
on Lancerota. Gadifer gave him a hearty welcome, and so did the
Canary islanders who had been baptized. A few days afterwards, King
Guardafia came and threw himself on their mercy. He was baptized on
the 20th of February, 1404, with all his followers. Béthencourt's
chaplains drew up a very simple form of instruction for their use,
embracing the principal elements of Christianity, the creation, Adam
and Eve's fall, the history of Noah, the lives of the patriarchs,
the life of our Saviour and His crucifixion by the Jews, finishing
with an exhortation to believe the ten commandments, the Holy
Sacrament of the Altar, Easter, confession, and some other points.

Béthencourt was an ambitious man. Not content with having explored,
and so to speak, gained possession of the Canary Islands, he desired
to conquer the African countries bordering on the ocean. This was
his secret wish in returning to Lancerota, and meanwhile, he had
full occupation in establishing his authority in these islands, of
which he was only the nominal sovereign. He gave himself wholly to
the task, and first visited the islands which Gadifer had explored.

But before he set out, a conversation took place between Gadifer and
himself, which we must not omit to notice. Gadifer began boasting of
all he had done, and asked for the gift of Fortaventura, Teneriffe,
and Gomera Islands, as a recompense.

"My friend," replied Béthencourt, "the islands that you ask me to
give you are not yet conquered, but I do not intend you to be at any
loss for your trouble, nor that you should be unrequited; but let us
accomplish our project, and meanwhile remain the friends we have
always been."

"That is all very well," replied Gadifer, "but there is one point on
which I do not feel at all satisfied, and that is that you have done
homage to the King of Castille for these islands, and so you call
yourself absolute master over them."

"With regard to that," said Béthencourt, "I certainly have done
homage for them, and so I am their rightful master, but if you will
only patiently wait the end of our affair, I will give you what I
feel sure will quite content you."

"I shall not remain here," replied Gadifer, "I am going back to
France, and have no wish to be here any longer."

Upon this they separated, but Gadifer gradually cooled down and
agreed to accompany Béthencourt in his exploration of the islands.

They set out for Fortaventura well armed and with plenty of
provisions. They remained there three months, and began by seizing a
number of the natives, and sending them to Lancerota. This was such
a usual mode of proceeding at that time that we are less surprised
at it than we should be at the present day. The whole island was
explored and a fort named Richeroque built on the slope of a high
mountain; traces of it may still be found in a hamlet there.

Just at this time, and when he had scarcely had time to forget his
grievances and ill-humour, Gadifer accepted the command of a small
band of men who were to conquer Gran Canaria.

He set out on the 25th July, 1404, but this expedition was not fated
to meet with any good results, winds and waves were against it. At
last they reached the port of Telde, but as it was nearly dark and a
strong wind blowing they dared not land, and they went on to the
little town of Aginmez, where they remained eleven days at anchor;
the natives, encouraged by their king, laid an ambush for Gadifer
and his followers; there was a skirmish, blood was shed, and the
Castilians, feeling themselves outnumbered, went to Telde for two
days, and thence to Lancerota.

Gadifer was much disappointed at his want of success, and began to
be discontented with everything around him. Above all, his jealousy
of Béthencourt increased daily, and he gave way to violent
recriminations, saying openly that the chief had not done everything
himself, and that things would not have been in so advanced a stage
as they were if others had not aided him. This reached Béthencourt's
ears; he was much incensed, and reproached Gadifer. High words
followed, Gadifer insisted upon leaving the country, and as
Béthencourt had just made arrangements for returning to Spain, he
proposed to Gadifer to accompany him, that their cause of
disagreement might be inquired into. This proposal being accepted,
they set sail, but each in his own ship. When they reached Seville,
Gadifer laid his complaints before the king, but as the king gave
judgment against him, fully approving of Béthencourt's conduct, he
left Spain, and returning to France, never revisited the Canary
Islands which he had so fondly hoped to conquer for himself.

Béthencourt took leave of the king almost at the same time, for the
new colony demanded his immediate presence there; but before he left,
the inhabitants of Seville, with whom he was a great favourite,
showed him much kindness; what he valued more highly than anything
else was the supply of arms, gold, silver, and provisions that they
gave him. He went to Fortaventura, where his companions were
delighted to see him. Gadifer had left his son Hannibal in his place,
but Béthencourt treated him with much cordiality.

The first days of the installation of Béthencourt were far from
peaceful; skirmishes were of constant occurrence, the natives even
destroying the fortress of Richeroque, after burning and pillaging a
chapel. Béthencourt was determined to overcome them, and in the end
succeeded. He sent for several of his men from Lancerota, and gave
orders that the fortress should be rebuilt.

In spite of all this the combats began again, and many of the
islanders fell, among others a giant of nine feet high, whom
Béthencourt would have liked to have made prisoner. The governor
could not trust Gadifer's son nor the men who followed him, for
Hannibal seemed to have inherited his father's jealousy, but as
Béthencourt needed his help, he concealed his distrust. Happily,
Béthencourt's men outnumbered those who were faithful to Gadifer,
but Hannibal's taunts became so unbearable that Jean de Courtois was
sent to remind him of his oath of obedience and to advise him to
keep it.

Courtois was very badly received, he having a crow to pick with
Hannibal with regard to some native prisoners whom Gadifer's
followers had kept and would not give up. Hannibal was obliged to
obey the orders, but Courtois represented his conduct to Béthencourt
on his return in the very worst light, and tried to excite his
master's anger against him. "No, sir," answered the upright
Béthencourt, "I do not wish him to be wronged, we must never carry
our power to its utmost limits, we should always endeavour to
control ourselves and preserve our honour rather than seek for

In spite of these intestine discords, the war continued between the
natives and the conquerors, but the latter being well-armed always
came off victorious. The kings of Fortaventura sent a native to
Béthencourt saying that they wished to make peace with him, and to
become Christians. This news delighted the conqueror, and he sent
word that they would be well received if they would come to him.
Almost immediately on receiving this reply, King Maxorata, who
governed the north-westerly part of the island, set out, and with
his suite of twenty-two persons, was baptized on the 18th of January,
1405. Three days afterwards twenty-two other natives received the
sacrament of baptism. On the 25th of January the king who governed
the peninsula of Handia, the south-eastern part of the island, came
with twenty-six of his subjects, and was baptized. In a short time
all the inhabitants of Fortaventura had embraced the Christian

[Illustration: The King of Maxorata arrived with his suite.]

Béthencourt was so elated with these happy results, that he arranged
to revisit his own country, leaving Courtois as governor during his
absence. He set out on the last day of January amid the prayers and
blessings of his people, taking with him three native men and one
woman, to whom he wished to show something of France. He reached
Harfleur in twenty-one days, and two days later was at his own house,
where he only intended making a short stay, and then returning to
the Canary Islands. He met with a very warm reception from everybody.
One of his chief motives in returning to France was the hope of
finding people of all classes ready to return with him, on the
promise of grants of land in the island. He succeeded in finding a
certain number of emigrants, amongst whom were twenty-eight soldiers,
of whom twenty-three took their wives. Two vessels were prepared to
transport the party, and the 6th of May was the day named for them
to set out. On the 9th of May they set sail, and landed on Lancerota
just four mouths and a half after Béthencourt had quitted it.

He was received with trumpets, clarionets, tambourines, harps, and
other musical instruments. Thunder could scarcely have been heard
above the sound of this music. The natives celebrated his return by
dancing and singing, and crying out, "Here comes our king." Jean de
Courtois hastened to welcome his master, who asked him how
everything was going on; he replied, "Sir, all is going on as well
as possible."

Béthencourt's companions stayed with him at the fort of Lancerota;
they appeared much pleased with the country, enjoying the dates and
other fruits on the island, "and nothing seemed to harm them." After
they had been a short time at Lancerota, Béthencourt went with them
to see Fortaventura, and here his reception was as warm as it had
been at Lancerota, especially from the islanders and their two kings.
The kings supped with them at the fortress of Richeroque, which
Courtois had rebuilt.

Béthencourt announced his intention of conquering Gran Canaria
Island, as he had done Lancerota and Fortaventura; his hope was that
his nephew Maciot, whom he had brought with him from France, would
succeed him in the government of these islands, so that the name of
Béthencourt might be perpetuated there. He imparted his project to
Courtois, who highly approved of it, and added, "Sir, when you
return to France, I will go with you. I am a bad husband. It is five
years since I saw my wife, and, by my troth, she did not much care
about it."

The 6th of October, 1405, was the day fixed for starting for Gran
Canaria, but contrary winds carried the ships towards the African
coast, and they passed by Cape Bojador, where Béthencourt landed. He
made an expedition twenty-four miles inland, and seized some natives
and a great number of camels that he took to his vessels. They put
as many of the camels as possible on board, wishing to acclimatize
them in the Canary Islands, and the baron set sail again, leaving
Cape Bojador, which he had the honour of seeing thirty years before
the Portuguese navigators.

During this voyage from the coast of Africa to Gran Canaria, the
three vessels were separated in stormy weather, one going to Palma,
and another to Fortaventura, but finally they all reached Gran
Canaria. This island is sixty miles long and thirty-six miles broad;
at the northern end it is flat, but very hilly towards the south.
Firs, dragon-trees, olive, fig, and date-trees form large forests,
and sheep, goats, and wild dogs are found here in large numbers. The
soil is very fertile, and produces two crops of corn every year, and
that without any means of improving it. Its inhabitants form a large
body of people, and consider themselves all on an equality.

When Béthencourt had landed he set to work at once to conquer the
island. Unfortunately his Norman soldiers were so proud of their
success on the coast of Africa, that they thought they could conquer
this island with its ten thousand natives, with a mere handful of
men. Béthencourt seeing that they were so confident of success,
recommended them to be prudent, but they took no heed of this and
bitterly they rued their confidence. After a skirmish, in which they
seemed to have got the better of the islanders, they had left their
ranks, when the natives surprised them, massacring twenty-two of
them, including Jean de Courtois and Hannibal, Gadifer's son.

After this sad affair Béthencourt left Gran Canaria and went to try
to subdue Palma. The natives of this island were very clever in
slinging stones, rarely missing their aim, and in the encounters
with these islanders many fell on both sides, but more natives than
Normans, whose loss, however, amounted to one hundred.

After six weeks of skirmishing, Béthencourt left Palma, and went to
Ferro for three months, a large island twenty-one miles long and
fifteen broad. It is a flat table-land, and large woods of pine and
laurel-trees shade it in many places. The mists, which are frequent,
moisten the soil and make it especially favourable for the
cultivation of corn and the vine. Game is abundant; pigs, goats, and
sheep run wild about the country; there are also great lizards in
shape like the iguana of America. The inhabitants both men and women
are a very fine race, healthy, lively, agile and particularly well
made, in fact Ferro is one of the pleasantest islands of the group.

Béthencourt returned to Fortaventura with his ships after conquering
Ferro and Palma. This island is fifty-one miles in length by
twenty-four in breadth, and has high mountains as well as large
plains, but its surface is less undulating than that of the other
islands. Large streams of fresh water run through the island; the
euphorbia, a deadly poison, grows largely here, and date and
olive-trees are abundant, as well as a plant that is invaluable for
dyeing and whose cultivation would be most remunerative. The coast
of Fortaventura has no good harbours for large vessels, but small
ones can anchor there quite safely. It was in this island that
Béthencourt began to make a partition of land to the colonists, and
he succeeded in doing it so evenly that every one was satisfied with
his portion. Those colonists whom he had brought with him were to be
exempted from taxes for nine years.

The question of religion, and religious administration could not
fail to be of the deepest interest to so pious a man as Béthencourt,
so he resolved to go to Rome and try to obtain a bishop for this
country, who "would order and adorn the Roman Catholic faith."
Before setting out he appointed his nephew Maciot as lieutenant and
governor of the islands. Under his orders two sergeants were to act,
and enforce justice; he desired that twice a year news of the colony
should be sent to him in Normandy, and the revenue from Lancerota
and Fortaventura was to be devoted to building two churches. He said
to his nephew Maciot, "I give you full authority in everything to do
whatever you think best, and I believe you will do all for my honour
and to my advantage. Follow as nearly as possible Norman and French
customs, especially in the administration of justice. Above all
things, try and keep peace and unity among yourselves, and care for
each other as brothers, and specially try that there shall be no
rivalry among the gentlemen; I have given to each one his share and
the country is quite large enough for each to have his own sphere. I
can tell you nothing further beyond again impressing the importance
of your all living as good friends together, and then all will be

Béthencourt remained three months in Fortaventura and the other
islands. He rode about among the people on his mule, and found many
of the natives beginning to speak Norman-French. Maciot and the
other gentlemen accompanied him, he pointing out what was best to be
done and the most honest way of doing it. Then he gave notice that
he would set out for Rome on the ensuing 15th of December. Returning
to Lancerota, he remained there till his departure, and ordered all
the gentlemen he had brought with him, the workmen, and the three
kings to appear before him two days before his departure, to tell
them what he wished done, and to commend himself and them to God's

None failed to appear at this meeting; they were all received at the
fort on Lancerota, and sumptuously entertained. When the repast was
over, he spoke to them, especially impressing the duty of obedience
to his nephew Maciot upon them, the retention of the fifth of
everything for himself, and also the exercise of all Christian
virtues and of fervent love to God. This done, he chose those who
were to accompany him to Rome, and prepared to set out.

His vessel had scarcely set sail when cries and groans were heard on
all sides, both Europeans and natives alike regretting this just
master, who they feared would never return to them. A great number
waded into the water, and tried to stop the vessel that carried him
away from them, but the sails were set and Béthencourt was really
gone. "May God keep him safe from all harm," was the utterance of
many that day. In a week he was at Seville, from thence he went to
Valladolid, where the king received him very graciously. He related
the narrative of his conquests to the king, and requested from him
letters recommending him to the Pope, that he might have a bishop
appointed for the islands. The king gave him the letters, and loaded
him with gifts, and then Béthencourt set out for Rome with a
numerous retinue.

He remained three weeks in the eternal city, and was admitted to
kiss Pope Innocent VII.'s foot, who complimented him on his having
made so many proselytes to the Christian faith, and on his bravery
in having ventured so far from his native country. When the bulls
were prepared as Béthencourt had requested, and Albert des Maisons
was appointed Bishop of the Canary Islands, the Norman took leave of
the Pope after receiving his blessing.

The new prelate took leave of Béthencourt, and set out at once for
his diocese. He went by way of Spain, taking with him some letters
from Béthencourt to the king. Then he set sail for Fortaventura and
arrived there without any obstacle. Maciot gave him a cordial
reception, and the bishop at once began to organize his diocese,
governing with gentleness and courtesy, preaching now in one island,
now in another, and offering up public prayers for Béthencourt's
safety. Maciot was universally beloved, but especially by the
natives. This happy, peaceful time only lasted for five years, for
later on, Maciot began to abuse his unlimited power, and levied such
heavy exactions that he was obliged to fly the country to save his

Béthencourt after leaving Rome went to Florence and to Paris, and
then to his own chateau, where a great number of people came to pay
their respects to the king of the Canary Islands, and if on his
return the first time he was much thought of, his reception this
second time far exceeded it. Béthencourt established himself at
Grainville; although he was an old man, his wife was still young. He
had frequent accounts from Maciot of his beloved islands, and he
hoped one day to return to his kingdom, but God willed otherwise.
One day in the year 1425 he was seized with what proved to be fatal
illness; he was aware that the end was near; and after making his
will and receiving the last sacraments of the church he passed away.
"May God keep him and pardon his sins," says the narrative of his
life; "he is buried in the church of Grainville la Teinturière, in
front of the high altar."

[Illustration: Jean de Béthencourt makes his will.]



Discovery of Madeira, Cape de Verd Islands, the Azores, Congo, and
Guinea--Bartholomew Diaz--Cabot and Labrador--The geographical and
commercial tendencies of the middle ages--The erroneous idea of the
distance between Europe and Asia--Birth of Christopher Columbus--His
first voyages--His plans rejected--His sojourn at the Franciscan
convent--His reception by Ferdinand and Isabella--Treaty of the 17th
of April, 1492--The brothers Pinzon--Three armed caravels at the
port of Palos--Departure on the 3rd of August, 1492.

The year 1492 is an era in geographical annals. It is the date of
the discovery of America. The genius of one man was fated to
complete the terrestrial globe, and to show the truth of Gagliuffi's

    Unus erat mundus; duo sint, ait iste; fuere.

The old world was to be entrusted with the moral and political
education of the new. Was it equal to the task, with its ideas still
limited, its tendencies still semi-barbarous, and its bitter
religious animosities? We must leave the answer to these questions
to the facts that follow.

Between the year 1405, when Béthencourt had just accomplished the
colonization of the Canary Islands, and the year 1492, what had
taken place? We will give a short sketch of the geographical
enterprise of the intervening years. A considerable impetus had been
given to science by the Arabs (who were soon to be expelled from
Spain), and had spread throughout the peninsula. In all the ports,
but more especially in those of Portugal, there was much talk of the
continent of Africa, and the rich and wonderful countries beyond the
sea. "A thousand anecdotes," says Michelet, "stimulated curiosity,
valour and avarice, every one wishing to see these mysterious
countries where monsters abounded and gold was scattered over the
surface of the land." A young prince, Don Henry, duke of Viseu,
third son of John I., who was very fond of the study of astronomy
and geography, exercised a considerable influence over his
contemporaries; it is to him that Portugal owes her colonial power
and wealth and the expeditions so repeatedly made, which were
vividly described, and their results spoken of as so wonderful, that
they may have aided in awakening Columbus' love of adventure. Don
Henry had an observatory built in the southern part of the province
of Algarve, at Sagres, commanding a most splendid view over the sea,
and seeming as though it must have been placed there to seek for
some unknown land; he also established a naval college, where
learned geographers traced correct maps and taught the use of the
mariner's compass. The young prince surrounded himself with learned
men, and especially gathered all the information he could as to the
possibility of circumnavigating Africa, and thus reaching India.
Though he had never taken part in any maritime expedition, his
encouragement and care for seamen gave him the soubriquet of "the
Navigator," by which name he is known in history. Two gentlemen
belonging to Don Henry's court, Juan Gonzales Zarco, and Tristram
Vaz Teixeira had passed Cape Nun, the terror of ancient navigators,
when they were carried out to sea and passed near an island to which
they gave the name of Porto-Santo. Sometime afterwards, as they were
sailing towards a black point that remained on the horizon, they
came to a large island covered with splendid forests; this was

[Illustration: Prince Henry of Portugal--"The Navigator."]

In 1433, Cape Bojador, which had for long been such a difficulty to
navigators, was first doubled by the two Portuguese sailors,
Gillianès and Gonzalès Baldaya, who passed more than forty leagues
beyond it.

Encouraged by their example, Antonio Gonzalès, and Nuño Tristram, in
1441, sailed as far as Cape Blanco, "a feat," says Faria y Souza
"that is generally looked upon as being little short of the labours
of Hercules," and they brought back with them to Lisbon some
gold-dust taken from the Rio del Ouro. In a second voyage Tristram
noticed some of the Cape de Verd Islands, and went as far south as
Sierra Leone. In the course of this expedition, he bought from some
Moors off the coast of Guinea, ten negroes, whom he took back with
him to Lisbon and parted with for a very high price, they having
excited great curiosity. This was the origin of the slave-trade in
Europe, which for the next 400 years robbed Africa of so many of her
people, and was a disgrace to humanity.

In 1441, Cada Mosto doubled Cape Verd, and explored a part of the
coast below it. About 1446, the Portuguese, advancing further into
the open sea than their predecessors, came upon the group of the
Azores. From this time all fear vanished, for the formidable line
had been passed, beyond which the air was said to scorch like fire;
expeditions succeeded each other without intermission, and each
brought home accounts of newly-discovered regions. It seemed as if
the African continent was really endless, for the further they
advanced towards the south, the further the cape they sought
appeared to recede. Some little time before this King John II. had
added the title of Seigneur of Guinea to his other titles, and to
the discovery of Congo had been added that of some stars in the
southern hemisphere hitherto unknown, when Diogo Cam, in three
successive voyages, went further south than any preceding navigator,
and bore away from Diaz the honour of being the discoverer of the
southern point of the African continent. This cape is called Cape
Cross, and here he raised a monument called a padrao or padron in
memory of his discovery, which is still standing. On his way back,
he visited the King of Congo in his capital, and took back with him
an ambassador and numerous suite of natives, who were all baptized,
and taught the elements of the Christian religion, which they were
to propagate on their return to Congo.

A short time after Diogo Cam's return in the month of August, 1487,
three caravels left the Tagus under the command of Bartholomew Diaz,
a gentleman attached to the king's household, and an old sailor on
the Guinea seas. He had an experienced mariner under him, and the
smallest of the three vessels freighted with provisions, was
commanded by his brother Pedro Diaz. We have no record of the
earlier part of this expedition; we only know, from Joao de Barros,
to whom we owe nearly all we learn of Portuguese navigation, that
beyond Congo he followed the coast for some distance, and came to an
anchorage that he named "Das Voltas" on account of the manner in
which he had to tack to reach it, and there he left the smallest of
the caravels under the care of nine sailors. After having been
detained here five days by stress of weather, Diaz stood out to sea,
and took a southerly course, but for thirteen days his vessels were
tossed hither and thither by the tempest.

As he went further south the temperature fell and the air became
very cold; at last the fury of the elements abated, and Diaz took an
easterly course hoping to sight the land, but after several days had
passed, and being in about 42 degrees south latitude, he anchored in
the bay "dos Vaquieros," so named from the numbers of horned animals
and shepherds, who fled inland at the sight of the two vessels.

At this time Diaz was about 120 miles east of the Cape of Good Hope,
which he had doubled without seeing it. They then went to Sam Braz
(now Mossel) bay, and coasted as far as Algoa bay and to an island
called Da Cruz where they set up a padrao. But here the crews being
much discouraged by the dangers they had passed through, and feeling
much the scarcity and bad quality of the provisions, refused to go
any farther. "Besides," they said, "as the land is now on our left,
let us go back and see the Cape, which we have doubled without
knowing it."

Diaz called a council, and decided that they should go forwards in a
north-easterly direction for two or three days longer. We owe it to
his firmness of purpose that he was able to reach a river, 75 miles
from Da Cruz that he called Rio Infante, but then the crew refusing
to go farther, Diaz was obliged to return to Europe. Barros says,
"When Diaz left the pillar that he had erected, it was with such
sorrow and so much bitterness, that it seemed almost as though he
were leaving an exiled son, and especially when he thought of all
the dangers that he and his companions had passed through, and the
long distance which they had come with only this memorial as a
remembrance: it was indeed painful to break off when the task was
but half completed." At last they saw the Cape of Good Hope, or as
Diaz and his followers called it then, the "Cape of Torments," in
remembrance of all the storms and tempests they had passed through
before they could double it. With the foresight which so often
accompanies genius, John II. substituted for the "Cape of Torments,"
the name of the "Cape of Good Hope," for he saw that now the route
to India was open at last, and his vast plans for the extension of
the commerce and influence of his country were about to be realized.

On the 24th of August, 1488, Diaz returned to Angra das Voltas,
where he had left his smallest caravel. He found six of his nine men
dead, and the seventh was so overcome with joy at seeing his
companions again that he died also. No particular incident marked
the voyage home; they reached Lisbon in December, 1488, after
staying at Benin, where they traded, and at La Mina to receive the
money gained by the commerce of the colony.

It is strange but true, that Diaz not only received no reward of any
kind for this voyage which had been so successful, but he seemed to
be treated rather as though he had disgraced himself, for he was not
employed again for ten years. More than this the command of the
expedition that was sent to double the cape which Diaz had
discovered, was given to Vasco da Gama, and Diaz was only to
accompany it to La Mina holding a subordinate position. He was to
hear of the marvellous campaign of his successful rival in India,
and to see what an effect such an event would have upon the destiny
of his country.

He took part in Cabral's expedition which discovered Brazil, but he
had not the pleasure of seeing the shores to which he had been the
pioneer, for the fleet had only just left the American shore, when a
fearful storm arose; four vessels sank, and among them the one that
Diaz commanded. It is in allusion to his sad fate that Camoens puts
the following prediction into the mouth of Adamastor, the spirit of
the Cape of Tempests. "I will make a terrible example of the first
fleet that shall pass near these rocks, and I will wreak my
vengeance on him who first comes to brave me in my dwelling."

In fact it was only in 1497, maybe five years after the discovery of
America, that the southern point of Africa was passed by Vasco da
Gama, and it may be affirmed that if this latter had preceded
Columbus, the discovery of the new continent might have been delayed
for several centuries. The navigators of this period were very
timorous, and did not dare to sail out into mid-ocean; not liking to
venture upon seas that were but little known, they always followed
the coast-line of Africa, rather than go further from land. If the
Cape of Tempests had been doubled, the sailors would have gone by
this route to India, and none would have thought of going to the
"Land of Spices," that is to say Asia, by venturing across the
Atlantic. Who, in fact, would have thought of seeking for the east
by the route to the west? But in truth this _was_ the great idea of
that day, for Cooley says, "The principal object of Portuguese
maritime enterprise in the fifteenth century was to search for a
passage to India by the Ocean." The most learned men had not gone so
far as to imagine the existence of another continent to complete the
equilibrium and balance of the terrestrial globe. Some parts of the
American continent had been already discovered, for an Italian
navigator Sebastian Cabot had landed on Labrador in 1487, and the
Scandinavians had certainly disembarked on this unknown land. The
colonists of Greenland, too had explored Winland, but so little
disposition was there at this time to believe in the existence of a
new world, that Greenland, Winland, and Labrador were all thought to
be a continuation of the European continent.

The main question before the navigators of the fifteenth century was
the opening up of an easier communication with the shores of Asia.
The route to India, China, and Japan (countries already known
through the wonderful narrative of Marco Polo), viâ, Asia Minor,
Persia, and Tartary, was long and dangerous. The transport of goods
was too difficult and costly for these "ways terrestrial" ever to
become roads for commerce. A more practicable means of communication
must be found. Thus all the dwellers on the coasts, from England to
Spain, as well as the people living on the shores of the
Mediterranean, seeing the great Atlantic ocean open to their vessels,
began to inquire, whether indeed this new route might not conduct
them to the shores of Asia.

The sphericity of the Globe being established, this reasoning was
correct, for going always westward, the traveller must necessarily
at last reach the east, and as to the route across the ocean, it
would certainly be open. Who could, indeed, have suspected the
existence of an obstacle 9750 miles in length, lying between Europe
and Asia, and called America?

We must observe also that the scientific men of the Middle Ages
believed that the shores of Asia were not more than 6000 miles
distant from those of Europe. Aristotle supposed the terrestrial
globe to be smaller than it really is. Seneca said "How far is it
from the shores of Spain to India? _A very few days' sail_, should
the wind be favourable." This was also the opinion of Strabo. So it
seemed that the route between Europe and Asia _must_ be short, and
there being such places for ships to touch at as the Azores and
Antilles, of which the existence was known in the fifteenth century,
the transoceanic communication promised not to be difficult. This
popular error as to distance had the happy effect of inducing
navigators to try to cross the Atlantic, a feat which, had they been
aware of the 15,000 miles of ocean separating Europe from Asia, they
would scarcely have dared to attempt.

We must in justice allow that certain facts gave, or seemed to give,
reason to the partisans of Aristotle and Strabo for their belief in
the proximity of the eastern shores. Thus, a pilot in the service of
the King of Portugal, while sailing at 1350 miles' distance from
Cape St. Vincent, the south-western point of the Portuguese province
of Algarve, met with a piece of wood ornamented with ancient
sculptures, which he considered must have come from a continent not
far off. Again, some fishermen had found near the island of Madeira,
a sculptured post and some bamboos, which in shape resembled those
found in India. The inhabitants of the Azores also, often picked up
gigantic pine-trees, of an unknown species, and one day two human
bodies were cast upon their shores, "corpses with broad faces," says
the chronicler Herrera, "and not resembling Christians."

These various facts tended to inflame imagination. As in the
fifteenth century men had no knowledge of that great Gulf-stream,
which, in nearing the European coasts, brings with it waifs and
strays from America, so they could only imagine that these various
débris must come from Asia. Therefore, they argued, Asia could not
be far off, and the communication between these two extremes of the
old continent must be easy. One point must be clearly borne in mind,
no geographer of this period had any notion of the existence of a
new world; it was not even a desire of adding to geographical
knowledge which led to the exploration of the western route. It was
the men of commerce who were the leaders in this movement, and who
first undertook to cross the Atlantic. Their only thought was of
traffic, and of carrying it on by the shortest road.

The mariner's compass, invented, according to the generally received
opinion, about 1302, by one Flavio Gioja of Amalfi, enabled vessels
to sail at a distance from the coasts, and to guide themselves when
out of sight of land. Martin Béhaim, with two physicians in the
service of Prince Henry of Portugal, had also added to nautical
science by discovering the way of directing the voyager's course
according to the position of the sun in the heavens, and by applying
the astrolabe to the purposes of navigation. These improvements
being adopted, the commercial question of the western route
increased daily in importance in Spain, Portugal, and Italy,
countries in which three-quarters of the science is made up of
imagination. There was discussion, there were writings. The excited
world of commerce disputed with the world of science. Facts, systems,
doctrines, were grouped together. The time was come when there was
needed one single intelligence to collect together and assimilate
the various floating ideas. This intelligence was found. At length
all the scattered notions were gathered together in the mind of one
man, who possessed in a remarkable degree genius, perseverance, and

[Illustration: Christopher Columbus.]

This man was no other than Christopher Columbus, born, probably near
Genoa, about the year 1436. We say "probably," for the towns of
Cogoreo and Nervi dispute with Savona and Genoa, the honour of
having given him birth. The date of his birth varies, with different
biographers, from 1430 to 1445, but the year 1436 would appear to be
the correct one, according to the most reliable documents. The
family of Columbus was of humble origin; his father, Domenic
Columbus, a manufacturer of woollen stuffs, seems, however, to have
been in sufficiently easy circumstances to enable him to give his
children a more than ordinarily good education. The young
Christopher, the eldest of the family, was sent to the University of
Pavia, there to study Grammar, Latin, Geography, Astronomy, and

At fourteen years of age Christopher left school and went to sea;
from this time until 1487, very little is known of his career. It is
interesting to give the remark of Humboldt on this subject, as
reported by M. Charton; he said, "that he regretted the more this
uncertainty about the early life of Columbus when he remembered all
that the chroniclers have so minutely preserved for us upon the life
of the dog Becerillo, or the elephant Aboulababat, which
Haroun-al-Raschid sent to Charlemagne!" The most probable account to
be gathered from contemporary documents and from the writings of
Columbus himself, is that the young sailor visited the Levant, the
west, the north, England several times, Portugal, the coast of
Guinea, and the islands of Africa, perhaps even Greenland, for, by
the age of forty "he had sailed to every part that had ever been
sailed to before." He was looked upon as a thoroughly competent
mariner, and his reputation led to his being chosen for the command
of the Genoese galleys, in the war which that Republic was waging
against Venice. He afterwards made an expedition, in the service of
René, king of Anjou, to the coasts of Barbary, and in 1477, he went
to explore the countries beyond Iceland.

This voyage being successfully terminated, Christopher Columbus
returned to his home at Lisbon. He there married the daughter of an
Italian gentleman, Bartolomeo Munez Perestrello, a sailor like
himself and deeply interested in the geographical ideas of the day.
The wife of Columbus, Dona Filippa, was without fortune, and
Columbus, having none himself, felt he must work for the support of
himself and his family. The future discoverer, therefore, set to
work to make picture-books, terrestrial globes, maps, and nautical
charts, and continued in this employment until 1481, but without at
the same time abandoning his scientific and literary pursuits. It
seems probable even, that during this period he studied deeply, and
attained to knowledge far beyond that possessed by most of the
sailors of his time. Can it have been that at this time "the Great
Idea" first arose in his mind? It may well have been so. He was
following assiduously the discussions relative to the western routes,
and the facility of communication by the west, between Europe and
Asia. His correspondence proves that he shared the opinion of
Aristotle as to the relatively short distance separating the extreme
shores of the old Continent. He wrote frequently to the most
distinguished savants of his time. Martin Béhaim, of whom we have
already spoken, was amongst his correspondents, and also the
celebrated Florentine astronomer, Toscanelli, whose opinions in some
degree influenced those of Columbus.

[Illustration: A Spanish Port.]

At this time Columbus, according to the portrait of him given by his
biographer Washington Irving, was a tall man, of robust and noble
presence. His face was long, he had an aquiline nose, high cheek
bones, eyes clear and full of fire; he had a bright complexion, and
his face was much covered with freckles. He was a truly Christian
man, and it was with the liveliest faith that he fulfilled all the
duties of the Catholic religion.

At the time when Christopher Columbus was in correspondence with the
astronomer Toscanelli, he learnt that the latter, at the request of
Alphonso V., King of Portugal, had sent to the king a learned Memoir
upon the possibility of reaching the Indies by the western route.
Columbus was consulted, and supported the ideas of Toscanelli with
all his influence; but without result, for the King of Portugal, who
was engaged at the time in war with Spain, died, without having been
able to give any attention to maritime discoveries. His successor,
John II., adopted the plans of Columbus and Toscanelli with
enthusiasm. At the same time, with most reprehensible cunning, he
tried to deprive these two savants of the benefit of their
proposition; without telling them, he sent out a caravel to attempt
this great enterprise, and to reach China by crossing the Atlantic.
But he had not reckoned upon the inexperience of his pilots, nor
upon the violence of the storms which they might encounter; the
result was, that some days after their departure, a hurricane
brought back to Lisbon the sailors of the Portuguese king. Columbus
was justly wounded by this unworthy action, and felt that he could
not reckon upon a king who had so deceived him. His wife being dead,
he left Spain with his son Diego, towards the end of the year 1484.
It is thought that he went to Genoa and to Venice, where his
projects of transoceanic navigation were but badly received.

[Illustration: Columbus knocks at a convent door.]

However it may have been, in 1485 we find him again in Spain. This
great man was poor, without resources. He travelled on foot,
carrying Diego his little son of ten years old, in his arms. From
this period of his life, history follows him step by step; she no
more loses sight of him, and she has preserved to posterity the
smallest incidents of this grand existence. We find Columbus arrived
in Andalusia, only half a league from the port of Palos. Destitute,
and dying of hunger, he knocked at the door of a Franciscan convent,
dedicated to Santa Maria de Rabida, and asked for a little bread and
water for his poor child and for himself. The superior of the
convent, Juan Perez de Marchena, gave hospitality to the unfortunate
traveller. He questioned him, and was surprised by the nobleness of
his language, but still more astonished was he, by the boldness of
the ideas of Columbus, who made the good Father the confidant of his
aspirations. For several months the wandering sailor remained in
this hospitable convent; some of the monks were learned men, and
interested themselves about him and his projects; they studied his
plans; they mentioned him to some of the well-known navigators of
the time; and we must give them the credit of having been the first
to believe in the genius of Christopher Columbus. Juan Perez showed
still greater kindness; he offered to take upon himself the charge
of the education of Diego, and he gave to Columbus a letter of
recommendation addressed to the confessor of the Queen of Castille.

This confessor, prior of the monastery of Prado, was deep in the
confidence of Ferdinand and Isabella; but he did not approve of the
projects of the Genoese navigator, and he rendered him no service
whatever with his royal penitent. Columbus must still resign himself
to wait. He went to live at Cordova, where the court was soon to
come, and for livelihood he resumed his trade of picture-seller. Is
it possible to quote from the lives of illustrious men an instance
of a more trying existence than this of the great navigator? Could
ill-fortune have assailed any man with more cruel blows? But this
indomitable, indefatigable man of genius, rising up again after each
trial, did not despair. He felt within him the sacred fire of genius,
he worked on unceasingly, he visited influential persons, spreading
his ideas and defending them, and combating all objections with the
most heroic energy. At length he obtained the protection of the
great cardinal-archbishop of Toledo, Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, and
thanks to him, was admitted into the presence of the King and Queen
of Spain.

Christopher Columbus must have imagined himself now at the end of
all his troubles. Ferdinand and Isabella received his project
favourably, and caused it to be submitted for examination to a
council of learned men, consisting of bishops and monks who were
gathered together _ad hoc_ in a Dominican convent at Salamanca. But
the unfortunate pleader was not yet at the end of his vicissitudes.
In this meeting at Salamanca all his judges were against him. The
truth was, that his ideas interfered with the intolerant religious
notions of the fifteenth century. The Fathers of the Church had
denied the sphericity of the earth, and since the earth was not
round they declared that a voyage of circumnavigation was absolutely
contrary to the Bible, and could not therefore, on any logical
theory, be undertaken. "Besides," said these theologians, "if any
one should ever succeed in descending into the other hemisphere, how
could he ever mount up again into this one?" This manner of arguing
was a very formidable one at this period; for Christopher Columbus
saw himself, in consequence, almost accused of heresy, the most
unpardonable crime which could be committed in these intolerant
countries. He escaped any evil consequences from the hostile
disposition of the Council, but the execution of his project was
again adjourned.

[Illustration: Building a caravel.]

Long years passed away. The unfortunate man of genius, despairing of
success in Spain, sent his brother to England to make an offer of
his services to the king, Henry VII. But it is probable that the
king gave no answer. Then Christopher Columbus turned again with
unabated perseverance to Ferdinand, but Ferdinand was at this time
engaged in a war of extermination against the Moors, and it was not
until 1492, when he had chased the Moors from Spain, that he was
able again to listen to the solicitations of the Genoese sailor.

This time the affair was thoroughly considered, and the king
consented to the enterprise. But Columbus, as is the manner of proud
natures, wished to impose his own conditions. They bargained over
that which should enrich Spain! Columbus, in disgust, was without
doubt ready to quit, and for ever, this ungrateful country, but
Isabella, touched by the thought of the unbelievers of Asia, whom
she hoped to convert to the Catholic faith, ordered Columbus to be
recalled, and then acceded to all his demands.

Columbus was in the fifty-sixth year of his age when he signed a
treaty with the King of Spain at Santa-Feta on the 17th of April,
1492, being eighteen years after he had first conceived his project,
and seven years from the time of his quitting the monastery of Palos.
By this solemn convention, the dignity of high admiral was to belong
to Columbus in all the lands which he might discover, and this
dignity was to descend in perpetuity to his heirs and successors. He
was named viceroy and governor of the new possessions which he hoped
to conquer in the rich countries of Asia, and one-tenth part of the
pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, provisions, and
merchandise of whatever kind, which might be acquired in any manner
whatsoever, within the limits of his jurisdiction, was of right to
belong to him.

All was arranged, and at length Columbus was to put his cherished
projects in execution. But let us repeat, he had no thought of
meeting with the New World, of the existence of which he had not the
faintest suspicion. His aim was "to explore the East by the West,
and to pass by the way of the West to the Land whence come the
spices." One may even aver that Columbus died in the belief that he
had arrived at the shores of Asia, and never knew himself that he
had made the discovery of America. But this in no way lessens his
glory; the meeting with the new Continent was but an accident. The
real cause of the immortal renown of Columbus was that audacity of
genius which induced him to brave the dangers of an unknown ocean,
to separate himself afar from those familiar shores, which, until
now, navigators had never ventured to quit, to adventure himself
upon the waves of the Atlantic Ocean in the frail ships of the
period, which the first tempest might engulf, to launch himself, in
a word, upon the deep darkness of an unknown sea.

The preparations began, Columbus entering into an arrangement with
some rich navigators of Palos, the three brothers Pinzon, who made
the necessary advances for defraying the expenses of fitting out the
ships. Three caravels, named the _Gallega_, the _Nina_, and the
_Pinta_, were equipped in the port of Palos. The _Gallega_ was
destined to carry the admiral, who changed her name to the
_Santa-Maria_. The _Pinta_ was commanded by Martin Alonzo Pinzon,
and the _Nina_ by his two brothers, Francis Martin, and Vincent
Yanez Pinzon. It was difficult to man the ships, sailors generally
being frightened at the enterprise, but at last the captains
succeeded in getting together one hundred and twenty men, and on
Friday, August 3rd, 1492, the admiral crossing at eight o'clock in
the morning the bar of Saltez, off the town of Huelva, in Andalusia,
adventured himself with his three half-decked caravels upon the
Atlantic waves.


First voyage: The Great Canary--Gomera--Magnetic variation--Symptoms
of revolt--Land, land--San Salvador--Taking possession--Conception--
Fernandina or Great Exuma--Isabella, or Long Island--The Mucaras--
Cuba--Description of the island--Archipelago of Notre-Dame--
Hispaniola or San Domingo--Tortuga Island--The cacique on board the
_Santa-Maria_--The caravel of Columbus goes aground and cannot be
floated off--Island of Monte-Christi--Return--Tempest--Arrival in
Spain--Homage rendered to Christopher Columbus.

During the first day's voyage, the admiral--the title by which he is
usually known in the various accounts of his exploits--bearing
directly southwards, sailed forty-five miles before sunset; turning
then to the south-east, he steered for the Canaries, in order to
repair the _Pinta_, which had unshipped her rudder, an accident
caused perhaps by the ill-will of the steersman, who dreaded the
voyage. Ten days later Columbus cast anchor before the Great Canary
Island, where the rudder of the caravel was repaired. Nineteen days
afterwards he arrived before Gomera, where the inhabitants assured
him of the existence of an unknown land in the west of the
Archipelago. He did not leave Gomera until the 6th of September. He
had received warning that three Portuguese ships awaited him in the
open sea, with the intention of barring his passage; however,
without taking any heed of this news, he put to sea, cleverly
avoided meeting his enemies, and steering directly westward, he lost
all sight of land. During the voyage the admiral took care to
conceal from his companions the true distance traversed each day; he
made it appear less than it really was in the daily abstracts of his
observations, that he might not add to the fear already felt by the
sailors, by letting them know the real distance which separated them
from Europe. Each day he watched the compasses with attention, and
it is to him we owe the discovery of the magnetic variation, of
which he took account in his calculations. The pilots, however, were
much disturbed on seeing the compasses all "north-westers," as they
expressed it.

[Illustration: Christopher Columbus on board his caravel.]

On the 14th of September the sailors saw a swallow and some
tropic-birds. The sight of these birds was an evidence of land being
near, for they do not usually fly more than about seventy miles out
to sea. The temperature was very mild, the weather magnificent; the
wind blew from the east and wafted the caravels in the desired
direction. But it was exactly this continuance of east wind which
frightened the greater part of the sailors, who saw in this
persistence, so favourable for the outward voyage, the promise of a
formidable obstacle to their return home. On the 16th of September
some tufts of seaweed, still fresh, were seen floating on the waves.
But no land was to be seen, and this seaweed might possibly indicate
the presence of submarine rocks, and not of the shores of a
continent. On the 17th, thirty-five days after the departure of the
expedition, floating weeds were frequently seen, and upon one mass
of weed was found a live cray-fish, a sure sign this of the
proximity of land.

During the following days a large number of birds, such as gannets,
sea-swallows, and tropic-birds, flew around the caravels. Columbus
turned their presence to account as a means of reassuring his
companions, who were beginning to be terribly frightened at not
meeting with land after six weeks of sailing. His own confidence
never abated, but putting firm trust in God, he often addressed
energetic words of comfort to those around him, and made them each
evening chant the _Salve Regina_, or some other hymn to the Virgin.
At the words of this heroic man, so noble, so sure of himself, so
superior to all human weaknesses, the courage of the sailors revived,
and they again went onwards.

We can well imagine how anxiously both officers and men scanned the
western horizon towards which they were steering. Each one had a
pecuniary motive for wishing to be the first to descry the New
Continent, King Ferdinand having promised a reward of 10,000
maravédis, or 400 pounds sterling, to the first discoverer. The
latter days of the month of September were enlivened by the presence
of numerous large birds, petrels, man-of-war birds, and damiers,
flying in couples, a sign that they were not far away from home. So
Columbus retained his unshaken conviction that land could not be far

On the 1st of October, the admiral announced to his companions that
they had made 1272 miles to the west since leaving Ferro; in reality,
the distance traversed exceeded 2100 miles, and of this Columbus was
quite aware, but persisted in his policy of disguising the truth in
this particular. On the 7th of October, the crews were excited by
hearing discharges of musketry from the _Nina_, the commanders of
which, the two brothers Pinzon, thought they had descried the land;
they soon found, however, that they had been mistaken. Still, on
their representing that they had seen some parroquets flying in a
south-westerly direction, the admiral consented to change his route
so far as to steer some points to the south, a change which had
happy consequences in the future, for had they continued to run
directly westward, the caravels would have been aground upon the
great Bahama Bank, and would probably have been altogether destroyed.

Still the ardently desired land did not appear. Each evening the sun
as it went down dipped behind an interminable horizon of water. The
crews who had several times been the victims of an optical illusion,
now began to murmur against Columbus, "the Genoese, the foreigner,"
who had enticed them so far away from their country. Some symptoms
of mutiny had already shown themselves on board the vessels, when,
on the 10th of October, the sailors openly declared that they would
go no further. In treating of this part of the voyage, the
historians would seem to have drawn somewhat upon their imagination;
they narrate scenes of serious import which took place upon the
admiral's caravel, the sailors going so far as even to threaten his
life. They say also, that the recriminations ended by a kind of
arrangement, granting a respite of three days to Columbus, at the
end of which time, should land not have been then discovered, the
fleet was to set out on its return to Europe. All these statements
we may look upon as pure fiction; there is nothing in the accounts
given by Columbus himself which lends them the smallest credibility.
But it has been needful to touch upon them, for nothing must be
omitted relating to the great Genoese Navigator, and some amount of
legend mixed up with history does not ill beseem the grand figure of
Christopher Columbus. Still, it is an undoubted fact that there was
much murmuring on board the caravels, but it would seem that the
crews, cheered by the words of the admiral, and by his brave
attitude in the midst of uncertainty, did not refuse to do their
duty in working the ships.

On the 11th of October, the admiral noticed alongside of his vessel,
a reed still green, floating upon the top of a large wave: at the
same time the crew of the _Pinta_ hoisted on board another reed, a
small board, and a little stick, which appeared to have been cut
with an instrument of iron; it was evident that human hands had been
employed upon these things. Almost at the same moment, the men of
the _Nina_ perceived a branch of some thorny tree covered with
blossoms. At all this every one rejoiced exceedingly; there could be
no doubt now of the proximity of the coast. Night fell over the sea.
The _Pinta_, the best sailor of the three vessels, was leading.
Already, Columbus himself, and one Rodrigo Sanchez, comptroller of
the expedition, had thought they had seen a light moving amidst the
shadows of the horizon, when a sailor named Rodrigo, on board the
_Pinta_, cried out, "Land, land."

[Illustration: What must have been the feelings in the breast of
Columbus at that moment?]

What must have been the feelings in the breast of Columbus at that
moment? Never had any man, since the first creation of the human
race experienced a similar emotion to that now felt by the great
navigator. Perhaps even it is allowable to think that the eye which
first saw this New Continent, was indeed that of the admiral himself.
But what matters it? The glory of Columbus consisted not in the
having arrived, his glory was in the having set out. It was at two
o'clock in the morning that the land was first seen, when the
caravels were not two hours' sail away from it. At once all the
crews deeply moved, joined in singing together the _Salve Regina_.
With the first rays of the sun they saw a little island, six miles
to windward of them. It was one of the Bahama group; Columbus named
it San Salvador, and immediately falling on his knees, he began to
repeat the hymn of Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine: "Te Deum
laudamus, Te Deum confitemur."

At this moment, some naked savages appeared upon the newly
discovered coast. Columbus had his long boat lowered, and got into
it with Alonzo and Yanez Pinzon, the comptroller Rodrigo, the
secretary Descovedo, and some others. He landed upon the shore,
carrying in his hand the royal banner, whilst the two captains bore
between them the green banner of the Cross, upon which were
interlaced, the initials of Ferdinand and Isabella. Then the admiral
solemnly took possession of the island in the name of the King and
Queen of Spain, and caused a record of the act to be drawn up.
During this ceremony the natives came round Columbus and his
companions. M. Charton gives the account of the scene in the very
words of Columbus: "Desiring to inspire them (the natives) with
friendship for us, and being persuaded, on seeing them, that they
would confide the more readily in us, and be the better disposed
towards embracing our Holy Faith, if we used mildness in persuading
them, rather than if we had recourse to force, I caused to be given
to several amongst them, coloured caps, and also glass beads, which
they put around their necks. I added various other articles of small
value; they testified great joy, and showed so much gratitude that
we marvelled greatly at it. When we were re-embarking, they swam
towards us, to offer us parroquets, balls of cotton thread, zagayes
(or long darts), and many other things; in exchange we gave them
some small glass beads, little bells, and other objects. They gave
us all they had, but they appeared to me to be very poor. The men
and women both were as naked as when they were born. Amongst those
whom we saw, one woman was rather young, and none of the men
appeared to be more than thirty years of age. They were well made,
their figures handsome, and their faces agreeable. Their hair,
coarse as that of a horse's tail, hung down in front as low as their
eyebrows, behind it formed a long mass, which they never cut. There
are some who paint themselves with a blackish pigment; their natural
colour being neither black nor white, but similar to that of the
inhabitants of the Canary islands; some paint themselves with white,
some with red, or any other colour, either covering the whole body
with it, or the whole face, or perhaps only the eyes, or the nose.
They do not carry arms like our people, and do not even know what
they are. When I showed them some swords, they laid hold of them by
the blades, and cut their fingers. They have no iron; their zagayes
are sticks, the tip is not of iron, but sometimes made of a fish
tooth, or of some other hard substance. They have much grace in
their movements. I remarked that several had scars upon their bodies,
and I asked them by means of signs, how they had been wounded. They
answered in the same manner, that the inhabitants of the
neighbouring islands had come to attack them, and make them
prisoners, and that they had defended themselves. I thought then and
I still think that they must have come from the mainland to make
them prisoners for slaves; they would be faithful and gentle
servants. They seem to have the power of repeating quickly what they
hear. I am persuaded that they might be converted to Christianity
without difficulty, for I believe that they belong to no sect."

When Columbus returned on board, several of the savages swam after
his boat; the next day, the 13th, they came in crowds around the
ships, on board of enormous canoes shaped out of the trunks of
trees; they were guided by means of a kind of baker's shovel, and
some of the canoes were capable of holding forty men. Several
natives wore little plates of gold hanging from their nostrils; they
appeared much surprised at the arrival of the strangers, and quite
believed that these white men must have fallen from the skies. It
was with a mixture of respect and curiosity that they touched the
garments of the Spaniards, considering them doubtless, a kind of
natural plumage. The scarlet coat of the admiral excited their
admiration above everything, and it was evident they looked upon
Columbus as a parroquet of a superior species; at once they seemed
to recognize him as the chief amongst the strangers.

So Columbus and his followers visited this new island of San
Salvador. They were never tired of admiring the beauty of its
situation, its magnificent groves, its running streams, and verdant
meadows. The fauna of the island offered little variety; parroquets
of radiant plumage abounded amongst the trees, but they appeared to
be the only species of birds upon the island. San Salvador presented
an almost flat plateau of which no mountain broke the uniformity; a
small lake occupied the centre of the island. The explorers imagined
that San Salvador must contain great mineral riches, since the
inhabitants were adorned with ornaments of gold. But was this
precious metal derived from the island itself? Upon this point the
admiral questioned one of the natives, and succeeded in learning
from him by means of signs, that in turning the island and sailing
towards the south, the admiral would find a country of which the
king possessed great vessels of gold and immense riches. The next
morning, at daybreak, Columbus gave orders to have the ships
prepared for sea; he set sail, and steered towards the continent of
which the natives had spoken, which, as he imagined, could be none
other than Cipango.

Here an important observation must be made, showing the state of
geographical knowledge at this period: viz. that Columbus now
believed himself to have arrived at Asia, Cipango being the name
given by Marco Polo to Japan. This error of the admiral, shared in
by all his companions, was not rectified for many years afterwards,
and thus, as we have already remarked, the great navigator after
four successive voyages to the islands, died, without knowing that
he had discovered a new world. It is beyond doubt that the sailors
of Columbus, and Columbus himself, imagined that they had arrived,
during that night of the 12th October, 1492, either at Japan, or
China, or the Indies. This is the reason why America so long bore
the name of the "Western Indies," and why the aborigines of this
continent, in Brazil and in Mexico, as well as in the United States,
are still classed under the general appellation of "Indians."

So Columbus dreamt only of reaching the shores of Japan. He coasted
along San Salvador, exploring its western side. The natives, running
down to the shore, offered him water and cassava bread, made from
the root of a plant called the "Yucca." Several times the admiral
landed upon the coast at different points, and with a sad want of
humanity, he carried away some of the natives, that he might take
them with him to Spain. Poor men! already the strangers began to
tear them from their country; it would not be long before they began
to sell them! At last the caravels lost sight of San Salvador, and
were again upon the wide ocean.

Fortune had favoured Columbus in thus guiding him into the centre of
one of the most beautiful archipelagos which the world contains.
These new lands which he discovered were as a casket of precious
stones, which needed only to be opened, and the hands of the
discoverer were full of treasures. On the 15th October, at sunset,
the flotilla came to anchor near the western point of a second
island, at a distance of only fifteen miles from San Salvador; this
island was named Conception; on the morrow the admiral landed upon
the shore, having his men well armed for fear of surprise; the
natives, however, proved to be of the same race as those of San
Salvador, and gave a kind welcome to the Spaniards. A south-easterly
wind having arisen, Columbus soon put to sea again, and twenty-seven
miles further westward, he discovered a third island, which he
called Fernandina, but which now goes by the name of the Great Exuma.
All night they lay-to, and next day, the 17th October, large native
canoes came off to the vessels. The relations with the natives were
excellent, the savages peacefully exchanging fruit, and small balls
of cotton for glass beads, tambourines, needles, which took their
fancy greatly, and some molasses, of which they appeared very fond.
These natives of Fernandina wore some clothing, and appeared
altogether more civilized than those of San Salvador; they inhabited
houses made in the shape of tents and having high chimneys; the
interiors of these dwellings were remarkably clean and well kept.
The western side of the island, with its deeply indented shore,
formed a grand natural harbour, capable of containing a hundred

But Fernandina did not afford the riches so much coveted by the
Spaniards as spoils to take back to Europe; there were no gold-mines
here; the natives who were on board the flotilla always spoke,
however, of a larger island, situated to the south and called
Saometo, in which the precious metal was found. Columbus steered in
the direction indicated, and during the night of Friday, the 19th of
October, he cast anchor near this Saometo, calling it Isabella; in
modern maps it goes by the name of Long Island. According to the
natives of San Salvador, there was a powerful king in this island,
but the admiral for several days awaited in vain the advent of this
great personage; he did not show himself. The island of Isabella was
beautiful of aspect, with its clear lakes, and thick forests; the
Spaniards were never tired of admiring the new type of nature
presented to their view, and of which the intense verdure was
wonderful to European eyes. Parroquets in innumerable flocks were
flying amongst the thick trees, and great lizards, doubtless iguanas,
glided with rapid movements in the high grass. The inhabitants of
the island fled at first at the sight of the foreigners, but soon
becoming bolder, they trafficked with the Spaniards in the
productions of their country.

Still Columbus held firmly to the notion of reaching the shores of
Japan. The natives had mentioned to him a large island a little to
the west which they called Cuba, and this the admiral supposed must
form part of the kingdom of Cipango; he felt little doubt but that
he would soon arrive at the town of Quinsay, or Hang-tchoo-foo,
formerly the capital of China. With this object, as soon as the
winds permitted, the fleet weighed anchor. On Thursday, the 25th of
October, seven or eight islands lying in a straight line were
sighted, these were probably the Mucaras. Columbus did not stop to
visit them, and on the Sunday he came in sight of Cuba. The caravels
were moored in a river, to which the Spaniards gave the name of San
Salvador; after a short stay, they sailed again towards the west,
and entered a harbour situated at the mouth of a large river which
was afterwards called the harbour of Las Nuevitas del Principe.

Numerous palm-trees were growing upon the shores of the island,
having leaves so broad that only one was required for roofing a
native hut. The natives had fled at the approach of the Spaniards,
who found upon the shore idols of female form, tame birds, bones of
animals, also dumb dogs, and some fishing instruments. The Cuban
savages, however, were ready to be enticed like the others, and they
consented to barter their goods with the Spaniards. Columbus
believed himself to be now on the mainland, and only a few leagues
from Hang-tchoo-foo; this idea being so rooted in his mind, that he
even busied himself in despatching some presents to the great Khan
of China. On the 2nd of November he desired one of the officers of
his ship, and a Jew who could speak Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic, to
set out to seek this native monarch. The ambassadors, carrying with
them strings of beads, and having six days given to them for the
fulfilment of their mission, started, taking a route leading towards
the interior of this so-called continent.

In the meantime, Columbus explored for nearly six miles a splendid
river which flowed beneath the shade of woods of odoriferous trees.
The inhabitants freely bartered their goods with the Spaniards, and
frequently mentioned to them a place named Bohio, where gold and
pearls might be obtained in abundance. They added that men lived
there who had dogs' heads, and who fed upon human flesh.

The admiral's envoys returned to the port on the 6th of November,
after a four days' absence. Two days had sufficed to bring them to a
village composed of about fifty huts, where they were received with
every mark of respect; the natives kissing their feet and hands, and
taking them for deities descended from the skies. Among other
details of native customs, they reported that both men and women
smoked tobacco by means of a forked pipe, drawing up the smoke
through their nostrils. These savages were acquainted with the
secret of obtaining fire by rubbing briskly two pieces of wood
against each other. Cotton was found in large quantities in the
houses, made up into the form of tents, one of these containing as
much as 11,000 pounds of the material. As to the grand khan they saw
no vestige of him.

Another consequence of the error of Columbus must be noticed here,
one which, according to Irving, changed the whole series of his
discoveries. He believed himself to be on the coast of Asia, and
therefore looked upon Cuba as a portion of that continent. In
consequence, he never thought of making the tour of Cuba, but
decided on returning towards the east. Now, had he not been deceived
on this occasion, and had he continued to follow the same direction
as at first, the results of his enterprise would have been greatly
modified. He might then have drifted towards Florida at the
south-eastern point of North America, or he might have run direct to
Mexico. In this latter case, instead of ignorant and savage natives,
what would he have found? The inhabitants of the great Aztec Empire,
of the half-civilized kingdom of Montezuma. There he would have seen
towns, armies, enormous wealth, and his rôle would no doubt have
been the same as that afterwards played by Fernando Cortès. But it
was not to be thus, and the admiral, persevering in his mistake,
directed his flotilla towards the east, weighing anchor on the 12th
of November, 1492.

Columbus tacked in and out along the Cuban coast; he saw the two
mountains--Cristal and Moa; he explored a harbour to which he gave
the name of Puerto del Principe, and an archipelago which he called
the Sea of Nuestra Señora. Each night the fishermen's fires were
seen upon the numerous islands, the inhabitants of which lived upon
spiders and huge worms. Several times the Spaniards landed upon
different points of the coast, and there planted the cross as a sign
of taking possession of the country. The natives often spoke to the
admiral about a certain island of Babeque, where gold abounded, and
thither Columbus resolved to go, but Martin-Alonzo Pinzon, the
captain of the _Pinta_, the best sailer of the three ships, was
beforehand with him, and at day-break on the 21st of November, he
had completely disappeared from sight. The admiral was very angry at
this separation, his feelings on the subject appearing plainly in
his narrative, where he says, "Pinzon has said and done to me many
like things." Continuing his exploration of the coast of Cuba,
Columbus discovered the Bay of Moa, the Point of Mangle, Point Vaez,
and the harbour of Barracoa, but nowhere did he meet with cannibals,
although the huts of the natives were often to be seen adorned with
human skulls, a sight which appeared to give great satisfaction to
the islanders on board the fleet. On the following days, they saw
the Boma River, and the caravels, doubling the point of Los Azules,
found themselves upon the eastern part of the island, whose coast
they had now reconnoitred for a distance of 375 miles. But Columbus
instead of continuing his route to the south turned off to the east,
and on the 5th of December perceived a large island, called by the
natives Bohio. This was Hayti, or San Domingo.

In the evening, the _Nina_ by the admiral's orders, entered a
harbour which was named Port Mary; it is situated at the
north-western extremity of the island, and, with the cape near which
it lies, is now called St. Nicholas. The next day the Spaniards
discovered a number of headlands, and an islet, called Tortuga
Island. Everywhere on the appearance of the ships, the Indian canoes
took to flight. The island, along which they were now coasting,
appeared very large and very high, from which latter peculiarity it
gained, later on, its name of Hayti, which signifies High Land. The
coast was explored by the Spaniards as far as Mosquito Bay; its
natural features, its plains and hills, its plants and the birds
which fluttered amongst the beautiful trees of the island, all
recalled to the memory the landscapes of Castille, and for this
reason Columbus named it Hispaniola, or Spanish Island. The
inhabitants were extremely timid and distrustful; they fled away
into the interior and no communication could be held with them. Some
sailors, however, succeeded in capturing a young woman, whom they
carried on board with them. She was young and rather pretty. The
admiral gave her, besides rings and beads, some clothing, of which
she had great need, and after most generous treatment, he sent her
back to shore.

This good conduct had the result of taming the natives, and the next
day, when nine of the sailors, well armed, ventured as far as
sixteen miles inland, they were received with respect, the savages
running to them in crowds, and offering them everything which their
country produced. The sailors returned to the ships enchanted with
their excursion. The interior of the island they had found rich in
cotton plants, mastic-trees and aloes, while a fine river, named
afterwards the Three Rivers, flowed gently along its limpid course.
On December 15th, Columbus again set sail, and was carried by the
wind towards Tortuga Island, upon which he saw a navigable stream of
water, and a valley so beautiful that he called it the Vale of
Paradise. The day following, having tacked into a deep gulf, an
Indian was seen who, notwithstanding the violence of the wind, was
skilfully manoeuvring a light canoe. This Indian was invited to come
on board, was loaded with presents by the admiral, and then put on
shore again, at one of the harbours of Hispaniola, now called the
Puerto de Paz. This kindness tended to attach the natives to the
admiral, and from that day they came in numbers round the caravels;
their king came with them, a strong, vigorous, and somewhat stout
young man of twenty years of age; he was naked, like his subjects of
both sexes, who showed him much respect, but with no appearance of
servility. Columbus ordered royal honours to be rendered to him, and
in return, the king, or rather cacique, informed the admiral that
the provinces to the east abounded in gold.

[Illustration: Columbus named it the Vale of Paradise.]

Next day another cacique arrived, offering to place all the
treasures of his country at the service of the Spaniards. He was
present at a fête in honour of the Virgin Mary, that Columbus caused
to be celebrated with great pomp on board his vessel, which was
gaily dressed with flags on the occasion. The cacique dined at the
admiral's table, apparently enjoying the repast; after he had
himself tasted of the different viands and beverages, he sent the
dishes and goblets to the members of his suite; he had good manners,
spoke little, but showed great politeness. After the feast, he gave
the admiral some thin leaves of gold, while Columbus, on his side,
presented him with some coins, upon which were engraved the
portraits of Ferdinand and Isabella, and after explaining to him by
signs that these were the representations of the most powerful
sovereigns in the world, he caused the royal banners of Castille to
be displayed before the savage prince. When night fell, the cacique
retired, highly delighted with his visit; and on his departure he
was saluted with a salvo of artillery. On the day following, the
crews before quitting this hospitable coast, set up a large cross in
the middle of the little town. In issuing from the gulf formed by
Tortuga Island and Hispaniola, they discovered several harbours,
capes, bays, and rivers; at the point of Limbé, a small island which
Columbus named St. Thomas, and finally, an enormous harbour safe and
sheltered, hidden between the island and the Bay of Acul, and to
which access was given by a canal surrounded by high mountains
covered with trees.

The admiral often disembarked upon this coast, the natives receiving
him as an ambassador from heaven, and imploring him to remain among
them. Columbus gave them quantities of little bells, brass rings,
glass beads, and other toys, which they eagerly accepted. A cacique
named Guacanagari, reigning over the province of Marien, sent to the
admiral a belt adorned with the figure of an animal with large ears,
of which the nose and tongue were made of beaten gold. Gold appeared
to be abundant in the island, and the natives soon brought a
considerable quantity of it to the strangers. The inhabitants of
this part of Hispaniola seemed to be superior in intelligence and
appearance to those of that portion of the island which had been
first visited; in the opinion of Columbus, the paint, red, black, or
white, with which the natives covered their bodies, served to
protect them from sunstroke. The huts of these savages were pretty
and well built. Upon Columbus questioning them as to the country
which produced gold, they always indicated one towards the east, a
country which they called Cibao, and which the admiral continued to
identify with Cipango or Japan.

On Christmas Day a serious accident occurred to the admiral's
caravel, the first damage sustained in this hitherto prosperous
voyage. An inexperienced steersman was at the helm of the
_Santa-Maria_ during an excursion outside the Gulf of St. Thomas;
night came on, and he allowed the vessel to be caught in some
currents which threw her upon the rocks; the caravel grounded and
her rudder stuck fast. The admiral, awakened by the shock, ran upon
deck; he ordered an anchor to be fastened forward, by which the ship
might warp herself off and so float again. The master and some of
the sailors charged with the execution of this order, jumped into
the long boat, but seized with a sudden panic, they rowed away in
haste to the _Nina_. Meantime the tide fell, and the _Santa-Maria_
ran further aground; it became necessary to cut away the masts to
lighten her, and soon it was evident that everything on board must
be removed to the other ship. The cacique Guacanagari, quite
understanding the dangerous situation of the caravel, came with his
brothers and other relations, accompanied by a great number of the
Indians, and helped in unlading the ship. Thanks to this prince, not
a single article of the cargo was stolen, and during the whole night
armed natives kept watch around the stores of provisions.

The next day Guacanagari went on board the _Nina_, to console the
admiral, and to place all his own possessions at his disposal, at
the same time offering him a repast of bread, doe's flesh, fish,
roots, and fruit. Columbus, much moved by these tokens of friendship,
formed the design of founding an establishment on this island. With
this purpose in view, he addressed himself to gain the hearts of the
Indians by presents and kindness, and wishing also to give them an
adequate notion of his power, he ordered the discharge of an
arquebuse and a small cannon, of which the reports frightened the
poor savages terribly. On December 26th, the Spaniards commenced the
construction of a fort upon this part of the coast, the intention of
the admiral being to leave there a certain number of men, with a
year's provision of bread, wine, and seed, and to give them the long
boat belonging to the _Santa-Maria_. The works at the fort were
pushed forward with rapidity. It was also on the 26th that they
received news of the _Pinta_, which had been separated from the
flotilla since November 21st. The natives announced that she was at
anchor in a river at the extreme point of the island, but a canoe
despatched by Guacanagari returned without having found her. Then
Columbus, not wishing to continue his explorations under the present
conditions, since the loss of the _Santa-Maria_, which could not be
floated again, left him but one caravel, decided to return to Spain,
and preparations for the departure began.

On the 2nd of January Columbus caused his soldiers to act a mimic
battle, greatly to the admiration of the cacique and his subjects.
Afterwards the admiral chose out thirty-nine men to form the
garrison of the fortress during his absence, naming Rodrigo de
Escovedo as their commander. The greater part of the cargo of the
_Santa-Maria_ was to be left behind with them, for their year's
provision. Amongst these first colonists of the New World were
included a writer, an alguazil, a cooper, a doctor, and a tailor.
These Spaniards were charged with the mission of seeking for
gold-mines, and of choosing a suitable site for the building of a
town. On the 3rd of January, after solemn leave-takings of the
cacique and the new colonists, the _Nina_ weighed anchor and sailed
out of the harbour. An island was soon discovered, having upon it a
very high mountain; to this was given the name of Monte-Christi.
Columbus had already sailed for two days along the coast, when he
was aware of the approach of the _Pinta_, and very soon her captain,
Martin Alonzo Pinzon, came on board the _Nina_, endeavouring to
excuse his conduct. The real truth was that Pinzon had taken the
lead with the view of being the first to reach the pretended island
of Babeque, of which the riches had been described in glowing
colours by the natives. The admiral was very ready to accept the bad
reasons given him by Captain Pinzon, and learnt from him that the
_Pinta_ had done nothing but coast along the shores of Hispaniola,
without discovering any new island.

On the 7th of January the ships lay to, to stop a leak which had
sprung in the hold of the _Nina_. Columbus profited by this delay to
explore a wide river, situated about three miles from Monte-Christi,
and which carried so much gold-dust along with it, that he gave it
the name of the Golden River. The admiral would have desired to
visit this part of Hispaniola with greater care, but the crews were
in haste to return home, and under the influence of the brothers
Pinzon, began to murmur against his authority.

On the 9th of January the caravels set sail and steered towards the
east-south-east, skirting the coast, and distinguishing by names
even its smallest sinuosities; of such were point Isabella, the cape
of La Roca, French Cape, Cape Cabron, and the Bay of Samana,
situated at the eastern extremity of the island, where was a port,
in which the fleet, being becalmed, came to anchor. At first the
relations between the foreigners and the natives were excellent, but
a change was suddenly perceived, the savages ceasing to barter, and
making some hostile demonstrations, which left no doubt of the bad
intentions entertained by them. On the 13th of January the savages
made a sudden and unexpected attack upon the Spaniards, who, however,
put a bold face on the matter, and by the aid of their weapons, put
their enemies to flight after a few minutes' combat. Thus, for the
first time, the blood of the Indian flowed beneath the hand of the

On the morrow Columbus again set sail, having on board four young
natives, whom, notwithstanding their objections, he persisted in
carrying off with him. His crews, embittered and fatigued, caused
him great uneasiness, and in his narrative of the voyage, this great
man, superior though he were to all human weaknesses, and a being
whom adverse fate could not humble, bemoans himself bitterly over
this trial. It was on the 16th of January that the homeward voyage
commenced in good earnest, and Cape Samana, the extreme point of
Hispaniola, disappeared below the horizon. The passage proved a
quick one, and no incident is recorded until the 12th of February,
when the vessels encountered a fearful storm lasting three days,
with furious wind, enormous waves, and much lightning from the
north-north-east. Three times did the terrified sailors make a vow
of pilgrimage to St. Mary of Guadalupe, to our Lady of Loretto, and
to St. Clara of Moguer, and at length, in extremity of fear, the
whole crew swore to go and pray in their shirts and with naked feet
in some church dedicated to the Virgin. But in spite of all, the
storm raged with redoubled fury, and even the admiral feared for the
result. In case of a catastrophe, he thought it well hastily to
write upon a parchment an abstract of his discoveries, with a
request that who ever should find the document would forward it to
the King of Spain; wrapping the parchment in oil-cloth, he enclosed
it in a wooden barrel, which was thrown into the sea.

At sunrise on the 15th of February the hurricane abated, the two
caravels which had been separated by the storm again joined company,
and after three days they cast anchor at the island of St. Mary, one
of the Azores; as soon as they arrived there, the admiral sought to
further the accomplishment of the vows made during the storm, and
with this object, sent half of his people on shore; but these were
unhappily made prisoners by the Portuguese, who did not restore them
to liberty for five days, notwithstanding the urgent remonstrances
made by Columbus. The admiral put to sea again on the 23rd of
February; again the winds were contrary, and again, amidst a violent
tempest, he took fresh vows in company with all his crew, promising
to fast on the first Saturday which should follow their arrival in
Spain. At last, on the 4th of March, the pilots sighted the mouth of
the Tagus, in which the _Nina_ took refuge, whilst the _Pinta_,
caught by the wind, was carried away into the Bay of Biscay.

The Portuguese welcomed the admiral kindly, the king even admitting
him to an audience. Columbus was in haste to return to Spain; as
soon as the weather permitted, the _Nina_ again set sail, and at
mid-day on the 15th of March, she cast anchor in the port of Palos,
after seven months and a half of navigation, during which Columbus
had discovered the islands of San Salvador, Conception, Great Exuma,
Long Island, the Mucaras, Cuba, and San Domingo.

The court of Ferdinand and Isabella was then at Barcelona, whither
the admiral was summoned. He set out immediately, taking with him
the Indians whom he had brought from the New World. The enthusiasm
he excited was extreme; from all parts the people ran to look at him
as he passed, rendering him royal honours. His entry into Barcelona
was magnificent. The king and queen, with the grandees of Spain,
received him with great pomp at the palace of the Deputation. He
there gave an account of his wonderful voyage, and presented the
specimens of gold which he had brought with him; then all the
assembly knelt down and chanted the Te Deum. Christopher Columbus
was afterwards ennobled by letters patent, and the king granted him
a coat of arms bearing this device: "To Castille and Leon, Columbus
gives a New World." The fame of the Genoese navigator rang through
the whole of Europe; the Indians whom he had brought with him were
baptized in presence of the whole court; and thus, the man of genius,
so long poor and unknown, had now risen to the highest point of


Second Voyage: Flotilla of seventeen vessels--Island of Ferro--
Dominica--Marie-Galante--Guadaloupe--The Cannibals--Montserrat--
Santa-Maria-la-Rodonda--St. Martin and Santa Cruz--Archipelago of
the Eleven Thousand Virgins--The island of St. John Baptist, or
Porto Rico--Hispaniola--The first Colonists massacred--Foundation of
the town of Isabella--Twelve ships laden with treasure sent to
Spain--Fort St. Thomas built in the Province of Cibao--Don Diego,
Columbus' brother, named Governor of the Island--Jamaica--The Coast
of Cuba--The Remora--Return to Isabella--The Cacique made prisoner--
Revolt of the Natives--Famine--Columbus traduced in Spain--Juan
Aguado sent as Commissary to Isabella--Gold-mines--Departure of
Columbus--His arrival at Cadiz.

The narrative of the adventures of the great Genoese navigator had
over-excited the minds of the hearers. Imagination already caught
glimpses of golden continents situated beyond the seas. All the
passions which are engendered by cupidity were seething in the
people's hearts. The admiral, under pressure of public opinion, must
set forth again with the most brief delay. He was himself also,
eager to return to the theatre of his conquests, and to yet enrich
the maps of the day with more new discoveries. He declared himself,
therefore, ready to start.

The king and queen placed at his disposal a flotilla composed of
three large ships and fourteen caravels. Twelve hundred men were to
sail in them. Several Castilian nobles, with firm faith in the lucky
star of Columbus, decided to try their fortune with him beyond seas.
In the holds of the vessels were horses, cattle, instruments of all
kinds for collecting and purifying gold, grain of various kinds; in
a word, everything that might be needful in the establishing an
important colony. Of the ten natives brought to Europe, five
returned to their country, three, who were ill, remained behind in
Europe, the other two were dead. Columbus was named captain-general
of the squadron, with unlimited powers.

On the 25th of September, 1493, the seventeen ships left Cadiz, with
all sails set, amidst the acclamations of an immense crowd of people
and on the 1st of October, they cast anchor at the island of Ferro,
the most westerly of the Canary group. On sailing again, the fleet
was favoured by wind and sea, and after twenty-three days of
navigation came in sight of new land. At sunrise on the 3rd of
November, being the Sunday in the octave of All Saints, the pilot of
the flag-ship, the _Marie-Galante_, cried out, "Good news, there is
land." This land proved to be an island covered with trees; the
admiral, thinking it uninhabited, did not stop; but, after passing
several scattered islets, he arrived before a second island. The
first he named Dominica, the second Marie-Galante, names which they
retain to the present day. The next day a still larger island was in
sight, and, says the narrative of this voyage given by Peter Martyr,
the contemporary of Columbus, "When they were arrived, they saw it
was the island of the infamous cannibals, or Caribbees, of whom they
had only heard a rumour during the first voyage."

The Spaniards, well armed, landed upon the shore, where they found
about thirty circular houses built of wood and covered with palm
leaves. In the interior of the huts were suspended hammocks made of
cotton. In the centre of the village were placed two trees or posts
around which were entwined the dead bodies of two serpents. At the
approach of the strangers the natives fled in haste, leaving behind
them several prisoners whom they were preparing to devour. The
sailors searched the houses, and found both leg and arm bones, heads
so newly cut off that the blood was still moist, and other human
remains, which left no doubt as to the food consumed by these
Caribbees. This island, which, with its principal rivers, the
admiral caused to be partially explored, was named Guadaloupe, on
account of the resemblance it bore to one of the Spanish provinces.
Some Indian women were carried off by the sailors, but, after having
been kindly treated on board the admiral's ship, they were sent back
to land, Columbus hoping that this conduct towards the females would
induce the men of the place to come on board, but in this he was

[Illustration: The sailors find some recently-severed heads.]

On the 8th of November the signal for departure was given, and the
whole fleet sailed for Hispaniola, the present San Domingo, and the
island upon which Columbus had left thirty-nine of the companions of
his first voyage. In turning again towards the north, a large island
was discovered, to which the natives who had been kept on board
after having been saved from the jaws of the Caribbees, gave the
name of Mandanino. They declared that it was inhabited only by women,
and as Marco Polo had mentioned an Asiatic country which possessed
an exclusively feminine population, Columbus was confirmed in the
idea that he was sailing upon the coast of Asia. He felt a great
desire to explore this island, but the contrary winds completely
prevented his doing so. Thirty miles from thence an island was seen
surrounded by high mountains; it received the name of Montserrat; on
the next day another, which was called Santa-Maria la Rodonda; and
on the day following two more islands, St. Martin and Santa Cruz.

The squadron anchored before Santa Cruz, to take in water. There
occurred a scene of grave import, reported by Peter Martyr in such
expressive words, that we cannot do better than quote them: "The
admiral," he says, "ordered thirty men from his ship to go ashore
and explore the island; and these men, being landed on the coast,
were aware of four dogs and as many young men and women coming
towards them, extending their arms in supplication, and praying for
help and deliverance from the cruel people. The cannibals on seeing
this fled, as in the island of Guadaloupe, and all retired into the
forests. And our people remained two days on the island to visit it.

"During that time, those who had remained with the boat saw a canoe
coming towards them from a distance, containing eight men and as
many women; to these our people made signs; but they on approaching,
began to transpierce ours with their arrows, before they had time to
cover themselves with their bucklers, so that one Spaniard was
killed by a shaft aimed by a woman, who also transfixed another with
a second arrow. These savages had poisoned arrows, the poison being
contained in the tip; amongst them was a woman whom all the others
obeyed, bowing before her. And this was, as they conjectured, a
queen, having a son of cruel appearance, robust, and with the face
of a lion, who followed her.

"Ours then, considering that it was better to fight hand to hand,
than to wait for greater evils in thus fighting at a distance,
advanced their boat by rowing, and by so great violence did they
make it move forward, that the stern of the said boat came with such
velocity, it caused the enemies' canoe to founder.

"But these Indians, being very good swimmers, without moving
themselves either more slowly or more rapidly, did not cease, both
men and women, to shoot arrows with all their might, at our people.
And they succeeded in reaching, by swimming, a rock covered with the
water, upon which they mounted, and still fought manfully.
Nevertheless, they were finally taken, and one of them slain, and
the son of the queen, pierced in two places; when they were taken to
the admiral's ship they showed no less ferociousness and atrocity of
mien, than if they had been lions of Libya who felt themselves taken
in the net. And such were they that no man could have even looked
upon them without his heart trembling with horror, so greatly was
their look hideous, terrible, and infernal."

From all this it is clear that the strife between the Indians and
the Europeans was beginning to be serious. Columbus sailed again
towards the north, going in the midst of islands "pleasant and
innumerable," covered with forests overshadowed by mountains of
various hues. This collection of islands was called the Archipelago
of the Eleven Thousand Virgins. Soon appeared the island of St. John
Baptist (now Porto Rico), a place infested by Caribbees, but
cultivated with care, and appearing truly superb from its immense
woods. Some sailors landed upon the shore, but only found there a
dozen uninhabited huts. The admiral put to sea again, and sailed
along the southern coast of Porto Rico for about one hundred and
fifty miles.

On Friday, the 12th of November, Columbus at last reached the island
of Hispaniola. With what emotions must he not have been agitated in
revisiting the theatre of his first success, in seeking to behold
that fortress in which he had left his companions! What might not
have happened in the course of a year to those Europeans left alone
in this barbarous land? Soon a great canoe, bringing the brother of
the Cacique Guacanagari, came alongside of the _Marie-Galante_, and
the Indian prince springing on board, offered two images of gold to
the admiral. Still Columbus sought for his fortress, but, although
he had anchored opposite its site, there was no trace whatever to be
seen of it. With feelings of the deepest anxiety as to the fate of
his companions, he went on shore. What was his dismay, when he found
nothing left of the fortress but a few ashes! What could have become
of his compatriots? Had their lives been the forfeit of this first
attempt at colonization? The admiral ordered the simultaneous
discharge of the cannon from all the ships to announce his arrival
at Hispaniola. But none of his companions appeared. Columbus, in
despair, immediately despatched messengers to the Cacique
Guacanagari; who, on their return brought sad news. If Guacanagari
might be believed, some other caciques, irritated by the presence of
the foreigners in their island, had attacked the unfortunate
colonists, and had massacred them to the last man. Guacanagari
himself had received a wound in endeavouring to defend them, and to
corroborate his story he showed his leg enveloped in a cotton

Columbus did not believe in this intervention of the cacique, but,
resolving to dissimulate, he welcomed Guacanagari kindly when he
came on board the next day; the cacique accepted an image of the
Virgin, suspending it on his bosom. He appeared astonished at the
sight of the horses which they showed him, these animals having been
hitherto quite unknown to himself and his companions. When his visit
was over, he returned to the shore, regained the region of mountains,
and was seen no more.

The admiral then despatched one of his captains with three hundred
men under his orders, to scour the country and carry off the cacique.
This captain penetrated far into the interior, but found no traces
of the cacique, nor of the unfortunate colonists. During this
excursion, a great river was discovered, and also a fine sheltered
harbour, which was named Port Royal. However, in spite of the bad
success of his first attempt, Columbus had resolved to found a new
colony upon this island, which appeared to be rich both in gold and
silver. The natives constantly spoke of mines situated in the
province of Cibao, and in the month of January two gentlemen, Alonzo
de Hojeda and Corvalan, set out accompanied by a numerous escort to
verify these assertions. They discovered four rivers having
auriferous sands, and brought back with them a nugget which weighed
nine ounces. The admiral on seeing these riches was confirmed in his
idea that Hispaniola was the famous Ophir, spoken of in the Book of
Kings. After looking for a site upon which to build a town, he laid
the foundation of Isabella in a spot at the mouth of a river which
formed a harbour, and at a distance of thirty miles east from Monte
Christi. On the Feast of the Epiphany, thirteen priests officiated
in the church in presence of an immense crowd of natives.

Columbus was now anxious to send news of the colony to the King and
Queen of Spain. Twelve ships laden with gold collected in the island,
and with various specimens of the produce of the soil, were prepared
to return to Europe under the command of Captain Torrès. This
flotilla set sail on the 2nd of February, 1494, and a short time
afterwards Columbus sent back one more of the five ships which
remained to him, with the Lieutenant Bernard of Pisa, against whom
he had cause of complaint.

As soon as order was established in the colony of Isabella, the
admiral, leaving his brother behind as governor, set out,
accompanied by five hundred men, to visit the mines of Cibao. The
country they traversed seemed to be splendidly fertile; vegetables
came to perfection in thirteen days; corn sown in February was in
full ear in April, and each year yielded two abundant harvests. They
crossed successively mountains and valleys, where often the pick-axe
had to be used to clear a way over these still virgin lands; at last
the Spaniards arrived at Cibao. There the admiral caused a fort to
be constructed of wood and stone on a hill near the brink of a large
river; it was surrounded with a deep ditch, and Columbus bestowed
upon it the name of St. Thomas, in derision of some of his officers
who were incredulous upon the subject of the gold-mines. It ill
became them to doubt, for from all parts the natives brought nuggets
and gold dust, which they were eager to exchange for beads, and
above all for the hawks' bells, of which the silvery sound excited
them to dance. This country was not only a land of gold, it was also
a country rich in spices and aromatic gums, the trees which bore
them forming quite large forests. The Spaniards considered the
conquest of this wealthy island a cause of unmixed congratulation.

Columbus left fifty-six men to guard the Fort of St. Thomas, under
the command of Don Pedro de Margarita, while he returned to Isabella,
towards the beginning of April, being much hindered on the road by
excessive rain. On his arrival he found the infant colony in great
disorder; famine was threatening from the want of flour, which could
not be obtained, for there were no mills; both soldiers and workmen
were exhausted with fatigue. Columbus sought to oblige the gentlemen
to aid them; but these proud Hidalgos, anxious as they were to
conquer fortune, would not stoop to pick it up, and refused to
perform any manual labour. The priests upholding them in this
conduct, Columbus, who was forced to act with vigour, was obliged to
place the churches under an interdict. He could not spare time to
remain any longer at Isabella, but was in haste to make further
discoveries; therefore, having formed a council, composed of three
gentlemen and the chief of the missionaries, under the presidency of
Don Diego, to govern the colony, he set out on the 24th of April
with three vessels, to complete the cycle of his discoveries.

The flotilla sailing towards the south, a new island was soon
discovered, which was called by the natives Jamaica. The highest
point of the island was a mountain of which the sides sloped gently
down. The inhabitants appeared clever, and much given to the
mechanical arts, but they were far from pacific in character, and
several times opposed the landing of the Spaniards, who, however,
repulsed them, and at length the savages were induced to conclude a
treaty of alliance with the admiral. From Jamaica Columbus pushed
his researches more towards the west. He imagined himself to be
arrived at the point where the old geographers placed the golden
region of the west, Chersonesus. Strong currents carried him towards
Cuba, along whose coast he sailed for a distance of six hundred and
sixty-six miles. During this dangerous navigation amongst shallows
and narrow passages, he named more than seven hundred islands,
discovered a great number of harbours, and often entered into
communication with the natives.

[Illustration: Fishermen on the coast of Cuba.]

In the month of May, the look-out-men on board the ships descried a
large number of grassy islands, fertile and inhabited. Columbus, on
approaching the shore, entered a river, of which the water was so
warm that the hand could not remain in it, a fact evidently of
exaggeration, and one which later researches have not authenticated.
The fishermen of this coast employed a certain fish called the
Remora or sucking-fish, "which fulfilled for them the same office as
the dog does for the hunter. This fish was of an unknown species,
having a body like a great eel, and upon the back of his head a very
tenacious skin, in fashion like a purse, wherewith to take the
fishes. They keep this fish fastened by a cord to the boat, always
in the water, for it cannot bear the _look_ of the air. And when
they see a fish or a turtle, which there are larger than great
bucklers, then they loose the fish by slackening the rope. And when
he feels himself at liberty, suddenly, and more rapidly than the
flight of an arrow, he (the remora) assails the said fish or turtle,
throws over him his skin in the manner of a purse, and holds his
prey so firmly, be it fish or turtle, by the part visible beyond the
shell, that none can wrest it from him, if he be not drawn to the
surface of the water; the cord is therefore pulled up, and gathered
in little by little; and no sooner does he see the splendour of the
air, than incontinent he lets go of his prey. And the fishermen
descend as far as is necessary to take the prey, and they put it on
board the boat, and fasten the fish-hunter with as much of rope as
is necessary for him to regain his old position and place; then, by
means of another rope, they give him for reward a small piece of the
flesh of his prey."

The exploration of the coasts continued towards the west. The
admiral visited several countries, in which abounded goslings, ducks,
herons, and those dumb dogs which the natives eat, as we should kids,
and which were probably either almigui or racoons. As the ships
advanced, the sandy channels became narrower and narrower, and
navigation more and more difficult, but the admiral adhered to his
resolution of continuing the exploration of these coasts. One day,
he imagined he saw upon a point of land some men dressed in white,
whom he took for brothers of the order of Santa Maria de la Merced;
he sent some sailors to open communication with them, when it proved
to be simply an optical illusion; these so-called monks turning out
to be great tropical herons, to whom distance had lent the
appearance of human beings.

During the first days of June, Columbus was obliged to stop to
repair the ships, of which the keels were much damaged by the
shallow water on the coast. On the seventh day of the month he
caused a solemn mass to be celebrated on the shore: during the
service an old cacique arrived, who, the ceremony being over,
offered the admiral some fruits, and then this native sovereign
pronounced some words which the interpreters thus translated:--

"It hath been told us after what manner thou hast invested and
enveloped with thy power these lands, which were to you unknown, and
how thy presence has caused great terror to the people and the
inhabitants. But I hold it my duty to exhort and to warn thee that
two roads present themselves before the souls, when they are
separated from the bodies: the one, filled with shadows and sadness
destined for those who are harmful and hurtful to the human species;
the other, pleasant and delightful, reserved for those who in their
life-time have loved peace and the repose of the people. Therefore,
if thou rememberest that thou art mortal, and that the future
retribution will be meted out according to the works of the present
life, thou wilt take care to do harm to nobody." What philosopher of
ancient or modern time could have spoken better or in sounder
language! All the human side of Christianity is expressed in these
magnificent words, and they came from the mouth of a savage!
Columbus and the cacique separated, charmed with one another, and
the more astonished of the two was not, perhaps, the old native. The
rest of his tribe appeared to live in the practice of the excellent
precepts indicated by their chief. Land was common property amongst
the natives, as much so as sun, air, and water. The Meum and Tuum,
cause of all strife, did not exist amongst them, and they lived
content with little. "They enjoy the Golden Age," says the narrative,
"they protect not their possessions with ditches and hedges, they
leave their gardens open; without laws, without books, without
judges, they by nature follow what is right, and hold as bad and
unjust whatever sins against, or causes harm to another."

Leaving Cuba, Columbus returned towards Jamaica, and sailed along
the whole of the southern coast as far as the eastern extremity of
the island. His intention was to attack the islands of the Caribbees,
and destroy that mischievous brood. But the admiral was at this time
seized with an illness, brought on by watching and fatigue, which
obliged him to suspend his projects. He was forced to return to
Isabella, where, under the influence of good air and repose, and the
care of his brother and his friends, he recovered his health. The
colony greatly needed his presence. The governor of St. Thomas had
aroused the indignation of the natives by his cruel exactions, and
had refused to listen to the remonstrances upon the subject
addressed to him by Don Diego, the brother of Columbus; he had
returned to Isabella from St. Thomas during the absence of the
admiral and he embarked for Spain upon one of the ships which had
just brought Don Bartolomeo, the second brother of Columbus, to
Hispaniola. When the admiral regained his health he resolved to
punish the cacique who had revolted against the governor of St.
Thomas, feeling that it would be unwise to allow his authority, in
the person of his delegates, to be set at nought. In the first place
he sent nine men well armed to take prisoner a bold cacique named
Caonabo. The leader Hojeda, with an intrepidity of which we shall
have further instances in the future, carried off the cacique from
the midst of his own people, and brought him prisoner to Isabella.
Columbus afterwards sent Caonabo to Europe, but the ship in which he
sailed was wrecked during the voyage, and he was never heard of more.

In the meantime, Antonio de Torrès, sent by the King and Queen of
Spain to compliment Columbus in their names, arrived at San Domingo
with four vessels. Ferdinand declared himself highly content with
the successes of the admiral, and informed him that he was about to
establish a monthly service of transport between Spain and

The carrying off of Caonabo had excited a general revolt amongst the
natives, who burned to revenge the chief, so deeply insulted and
unjustly carried away. The Cacique Guacanagari, notwithstanding the
share he had had in the murder of the first colonists, alone
remained faithful to the Spaniards. Columbus, accompanied by his
brother Bartolomeo and the cacique, marched against the rebels and
soon met with an army of natives, the numbers of which, with
manifest exaggeration, he places at 100,000 men. However numerous it
may have been, this army was quickly routed by a small detachment,
composed of 200 infantry, twenty-five cavalry, and twenty-five dogs.
This victory to all appearance re-established the admiral's
authority. The Indians were condemned to pay tribute to the
Spaniards, those living near the mines were ordered to furnish every
three months a small quantity of gold, while the others, more
distant, were to contribute twenty-five pounds of cotton. But
rebellion had been only curbed, not extinguished. At the voice of a
woman, Anacaona, widow of Caonabo, the natives rose a second time;
and even succeeded in drawing over the hitherto faithful Guacanagari
to their side; the rebels destroyed all the fields of maize, and
everything else which had been planted, and then retired into the
mountains. The Spaniards, seeing themselves thus reduced to all the
horrors of famine, indulged their anger by terrible reprisals
against the natives; it is calculated that one-third of the island
population perished from hunger, sickness, and the weapons of the
companions of Columbus. These unfortunate Indians paid dearly indeed
for their intercourse with the conquering Europeans.

The good fortune of Columbus was by this time on the wane. While his
authority in Hispaniola was continually more and more compromised,
his reputation and his character were the objects of violent attack
in Europe. The officers whom he had sent back to the mother country,
loudly accused him of injustice and cruelty; they even insinuated
that he sought to render himself independent of the king; and
against all these attacks, Columbus, being absent, could not defend
himself. Ferdinand, influenced by this unworthy discourse, chose a
commissioner, whom he ordered to proceed to the West Indies and to
examine into the truth of the accusations. This gentleman was named
Juan d'Aguado, and the choice of such a man to fulfil such a mission,
possessing as he did a mind both prejudiced and partial, was not a
happy one. Aguado arrived at Isabella in the month of October, at
the time when the admiral was absent on an exploring expedition, and
began at once to treat the brother of Columbus with extreme
haughtiness, while Diego on his side, relying upon his title of
governor-general, refused to submit to the commands of the royal
commissioner. Aguado soon considered himself ready to return to
Spain, although the examination he had made was a most incomplete
one, when a fearful hurricane occurred, which sank the vessels which
had brought him over in the harbour. There now remained only two
caravels at Hispaniola, but Columbus, who had returned to the colony,
acting with a greatness of soul which cannot be too much admired,
placed one of these ships at the disposal of the commissioner, with
the proviso that he himself would embark in the other, to plead his
cause in person before the king.

So matters stood, when the news arriving of the discovery of fresh
gold-mines in Hispaniola, caused the admiral to put off his
departure. Covetousness was a power strong enough to cut short all
discussions; there was no longer any mention of the King of Spain,
nor of the inquiry which he had ordered; officers were sent off to
the new auriferous ground, finding there nuggets of which some
weighed as much as twenty ounces, and a lump of amber of the weight
of 300 pounds. Columbus ordered two fortresses to be erected for the
protection of the miners, one on the boundary of the province of
Cibao, the other upon the banks of the River Hayna. Having taken
this precaution, he set out for Europe, full of eagerness to justify
himself. The two caravels sailed from the harbour of St. Isabella on
the 10th of March, 1496. On board of the admiral's ship were 225
persons and thirty Indians. On the 9th of April he touched at
Marie-Galante, and on the 10th at Guadaloupe, to take in water; here
there occurred a sharp skirmish with the natives. On the 20th he
left this inhospitable island, and for a whole month he had to
contend with contrary winds. On the 11th of June land was sighted in
Europe, and on the next day the caravels entered the harbour of

This second return of the great navigator was not welcomed, as the
first had been, by the acclamations of the populace. To enthusiasm
had succeeded coldness and envy; the companions even of the admiral
took part against him. Discouraged as they were, with illusions
destroyed, and not bringing back that wealth, for the acquisition of
which they had encountered so many dangers, and submitted to so much
fatigue, they became unjust, and forgot that it was not the fault of
Columbus if the mines hitherto worked had been a source of expense
rather than of profit.

However, the admiral was received at court with a certain measure of
favour, the narrative of his second voyage doing much to reinstate
him in public opinion. And who could deny that during that
expedition he had discovered the islands of Dominica, Marie-Galante,
Guadaloupe, Montserrat, Santa-Maria, Santa Cruz, Porto Rico,
Jamaica? Had he not also carried out a new survey of Cuba and San
Domingo? Columbus fought bravely against his adversaries, even
employing against them the weapon of irony. To those who denied the
merit of his discoveries, he proposed the experiment of making an
egg remain upright while resting upon one end, and when they could
not succeed in doing this, the admiral, breaking the top of the
shell, made the egg stand upon the broken part. "You had not thought
of that," said he; "but behold! it is done."


Third Voyage: Madeira--Santiago in the Cape Verd Archipelago--
Trinidad--First sight of the American Coast in Venezuela, beyond the
Orinoco, now the Province of Cumana--Gulf of Paria--The Gardens--
Tobago--Grenada--Margarita--Cubaga--Hispaniola during the absence of
Columbus--Foundation of the town of San Domingo--Arrival of
Columbus--Insubordination in the Colony--Complaints in Spain--
Bovadilla sent by the king to inquire into the conduct of Columbus--
Columbus sent to Europe in fetters with his two brothers--His
appearance before Ferdinand and Isabella--Renewal of royal favour.

Columbus had not yet given up the hope of pursuing his conquests on
the further side of the Atlantic Ocean. No fatigue, no injustice
from his fellow-men could stop him. After having triumphed, although
not without difficulty, over the malice of his enemies, he succeeded
in organizing a third expedition under the auspices of the Spanish
government. The king granted him eight vessels, forty cavalry
soldiers, and one hundred infantry, sixty sailors, twenty miners,
fifty labourers, twenty workmen of various trades, thirty women,
some doctors, and even some musicians. The admiral obtained the
concession besides, that all the punishments in use in Spain should
be changed into transportation to the islands. He was thus the
precursor of the English in the intelligent idea of peopling new
colonies with convicts, whom labour was to reform.

[Illustration: Embarkation of Christopher Columbus.]

Columbus put to sea on the 30th of May, 1498, although he was still
suffering from gout, and from the various mental trials which he had
experienced since his return. Before starting, he learnt that a
French fleet was lying in wait off Cape St. Vincent, with the
purpose of hindering the expedition. To avoid it, Columbus made for
Madeira, and anchored there; from that island he dispatched all his
vessels, except three, to Hispaniola under the command of the
Captains Pedro de Arana, Alonzo Sanchez of Carabajal, and Juan
Antonio Columbus, one of his own relations, while he, with a large
ship and two caravels bore down to the south with the intention of
crossing the equator, and seeking for more southern countries, which,
according to the general opinion, must be even richer in all kinds
of productions. On the 27th of June the small flotilla touched at
the islands of Sel and of Santiago, which form part of the Cape Verd
group. It sailed again on the 4th of July, and made 360 miles to the
south-west, experiencing long calms and intense heat; on arriving
abreast of Sierra Leone, it steered due west, and at mid-day on the
31st of July, one of the sailors raised the cry of "land." It was an
island situated at the north-eastern extremity of South America, and
very near the coast. The admiral gave it the name of Trinidad, and
all the crews chanted the _Salve Regina_ in sign of thankfulness. On
the morrow, the 1st of August, at fifteen miles from the part of the
land which had been first seen, the three vessels were moored near
to the Point of Alcatraz, and the admiral sent some of his sailors
ashore to obtain water and wood. The coast appeared to be
uninhabited, but numerous footprints of animals were observed, made,
as was thought, by goats.

On the 2nd of August a long canoe, manned by twenty-four natives,
came towards the ships. These Indians, tall of stature, and paler in
colour than those of Hispaniola, wore upon the head a turban formed
of a cotton scarf of brilliant colours, and a small skirt of the
same material around the body. The Spaniards endeavoured to entice
them on board, by showing them mirrors and glass trinkets; the
sailors even executing lively dances, in the hope of inspiring them
with confidence; but the savages, taking fright at the sound of a
tambourine, which seemed to them a sign of hostility, discharged a
flight of arrows, and directed their canoe towards one of the
caravels, whose pilot endeavoured to reassure them by steering
towards them; but in vain, the canoe soon made off, and was seen no

Columbus again set sail, and discovered a new island which he called
Gracia; but what he imagined to be an island, was, in reality, a
portion of the American coast, and that part of the shore of
Venezuela, which, being intersected by the numerous branches of the
Orinoco, forms the Delta of that river. On this day the Continent of
America, although unknown to him, was really discovered by
Christopher Columbus, in that part of Venezuela which goes by the
name of the Province of Cumana. Between this coast and the Island of
Trinidad there is a dangerous gulf, the Gulf of Paria, in which a
ship can with difficulty resist the currents which flow towards the
west with great rapidity. The admiral, who believed himself to be in
the open sea, was exposed to great peril in this gulf, where the
rivers, falling into the sea from the continent, and being swollen
at that time by an accidental flood, poured great masses of water
upon the ships. Columbus, in writing to the king and queen,
describes this incident in the following terms:--

"Being up on deck, at an advanced hour of the night, I heard a kind
of terrible roaring; I tried to see through the darkness, and all at
once I beheld a sea like a hill, as high as the ship, advancing
slowly from the south towards my vessels. Opposing this great wave
was a current, which met it with a frightful noise. I had no doubt
then that we should be engulfed, and even now the remembrance causes
me a feeling of horror. By good fortune, however, the current and
the wave passed us, going towards the mouth of the canal, where,
after long strife, they gradually sank to rest."

[Illustration: GULF OF MEXICO AND THE ANTILLES. After the Map of
Théodore de Bry.]

Notwithstanding the difficulties of the navigation, Columbus
continued to explore this sea, of which the waters became gradually
calmer as he sailed northwards; he discovered various headlands, one
of them was to the east of the Island of Trinidad, and called the
Cape of Pera Blanca. Another was on the west of the promontory of
Paria, and named Cape Lapa. Several harbours were also noticed,
amongst others one situated at the mouth of the Orinoco, to which
was given the name of the Port of Monkeys. Columbus landed on the
shore, west of Point Cumana, and received a kindly welcome from the
numerous inhabitants. Towards the west, beyond the point of Alcatraz,
the country was magnificent, and there according to the natives,
much gold and pearls were to be obtained. Here the admiral would
gladly have remained for some time if he could have found a safe
anchorage. But as this was impossible, he felt it best to make for
Port Isabella, especially as his crews were worn down by fatigue,
and his own health much affected, besides the sufferings he
experienced from the bad state of his eyesight. So he sailed onwards
along the Venezuelan coast, making friends as far as possible with
the natives. These Indians were agreeable in feature, and of
magnificent physique; their dwellings displayed a certain amount of
taste, their houses being built with façades in front, and
containing articles of furniture ingeniously made. The natives wore
plates of gold as ornaments upon their necks. As to the country, it
was superb; the rivers, the mountains, the immense forests made it a
real land of delight. So the admiral gave this beautiful country the
name of Gracia, and by many arguments he tried to prove that in this
spot was situated that terrestrial Paradise once inhabited by Adam
and Eve, being the cradle of the whole human race. To explain to a
certain degree this idea of the great navigator, we must not forget
that he imagined himself all this time to be on the shores of Asia.
This spot which delighted him so much, he called "the Gardens."

On the 23rd of August, after having at the expense of much danger
and fatigue, overcome the perils of this bay, Columbus issued from
the Gulf of Paria by the narrow strait to which he gave the name,
retained to this day, of the Dragon's Mouth. Arrived in the open sea,
the Spaniards discovered the Island of Tobago situated to the
north-east of Trinidad, and then, more to the north, the Island of
Conception, now known as Grenada. They next steered to the
south-west and returned towards the American coast; after sailing
along which for 120 miles, they discovered, on the 25th of August,
the populous Island of Margarita, and afterwards the Island of
Cubaga, situated very close to the mainland. At this place the
natives had established a pearl-fishery, and busied themselves in
collecting this valuable product. Columbus sent a boat on shore,
when a very profitable traffic was carried on, the natives giving in
exchange for broken pottery or hawks' bells, pounds' weight of
pearls, some of which were very large, and of the finest water.

[Illustration: Pearl-fishers.]

The admiral stopped at this point of his discoveries; the temptation
was strong to explore this country, but both officers and crews were
exhausted. Orders were therefore given to start for San Domingo,
where matters of the gravest moment demanded the presence of
Columbus. Before his departure from Hispaniola he had authorized his
brother to lay the foundations of a new town. With this end Don
Bartolomeo had explored the different portions of the island, and
having discovered at the distance of 150 miles from Isabella a
magnificent harbour at the mouth of a fine river, he there marked
out the first streets of a town which became later on the city of
San Domingo. Here Don Bartolomeo fixed his residence, while Don
Diego remained as Governor of Isabella. By this arrangement
Columbus' two brothers had the whole administration of the colony in
their hands. But there were many malcontents who were ready to
revolt against their authority, and it was while this bad spirit was
abroad that the admiral arrived at San Domingo. He approved of all
that his brothers had done, their administration having been in fact,
marked by great wisdom, and he published a proclamation recalling to
their obedience the Spaniards who had revolted. On the 18th of
October he despatched five ships to Spain, and with them an officer
commissioned to inform the king of the new discoveries, and of the
state of the colony, endangered by the fomenters of disorder.

Meanwhile, the affairs of Columbus had taken a bad turn in Europe.
Since his departure calumnies against himself and his brothers had
been ever on the increase. Some rebels who had been expelled the
colony, denounced the encroaching dynasty of the Columbus family,
thus exciting the jealousy of a vain and ungrateful monarch. Even
the queen, until now the constant patroness of the Genoese navigator,
was indignant at the arrival on board the vessels of three hundred
Indians who had been torn from their country, and who were treated
as slaves. Isabella did not know that this abuse of power had been
carried out unknown to Columbus and during his absence; he was held
responsible for it, and to inquire into his conduct, the Court sent
to Hispaniola a commander of the order of Calatrava, named Francis
de Bovadilla, to whom were given the titles of Governor-general, and
Intendant of Justice. He was in reality meant to supersede Columbus.
Bovadilla, invested with discretionary powers, set out with two
caravels towards the end of June, 1500. On the 23rd of August, the
colonists sighted the two ships, which were then endeavouring to
enter the harbour of San Domingo.

At this time Christopher Columbus and his brother Bartolomeo were
absent, engaged in superintending the erection of a fort in the
province of Xaragua; Don Diego was commanding in their absence.
Bovadilla landed and went to hear mass, displaying during the
ceremony a very significant ostentation; then, having summoned Don
Diego before him, he ordered him to resign his office into his hands.
The admiral, warned by a messenger of what was occurring, arrived in
great haste. He examined the letters patent brought by Bovadilla,
and having read them, he declared his willingness to recognize him
as intendant of justice, but not as governor-general of the colony.

Then Bovadilla gave him a letter from the king and queen, couched in
the following terms:--

"Don Christopher Columbus, our Admiral in the ocean,

"We have ordered Commander Don Francis Bovadilla to explain to you
our intentions. We command you to give credit to, and to execute,
whatever he shall order on our part.

                                "I, THE KING, I, THE QUEEN."

In this letter, the title of Viceroy appertaining to Columbus by the
solemn conventions signed by Ferdinand and Isabella, was not even
mentioned. Columbus, suppressing his just indignation, quietly
submitted. Then arose against the fallen admiral a whole host of
false friends. All those who owed their fortune to Columbus turned
against him; accusing him of having desired to render himself
independent. Foolish calumnies! How could this idea have occurred to
the mind of a foreigner, a Genoese, alone in the midst of a Spanish

Bovadilla found the moment propitious for harsh measures. Don Diego
was already imprisoned, and the governor soon ordered Don Bartolomeo
and Christopher Columbus himself to be put in fetters. The admiral,
accused of high treason, was placed with his two brothers on board a
vessel bound for Spain, under the command of Alphonso de Villejo.
That officer, a man of feeling, and ashamed of the treatment to
which Columbus was exposed, wished to strike off his chains; but
Columbus refused. He, the conqueror of a new world, would arrive
loaded with chains in that kingdom of Spain, which he had so greatly

[Illustration: Columbus bound like a felon.]

The admiral judged rightly in thus acting, for public opinion was
revolted by the sight of him in this depth of humiliation, bound
like a felon, and treated as a criminal. Gratitude towards the man
of genius asserted itself against the bad passions which had been so
unjustly excited, and there arose a cry of indignation against
Bovadilla. The king and queen, swayed by the feelings of the people,
loudly blamed the conduct of the commander, and addressed an
affectionate letter to Columbus, inviting him to present himself at

Thus a bright day again dawned for Columbus. He appeared before
Ferdinand, not as the accused, but as himself the accuser; then, his
fortitude giving way under the remembrance of the unworthy treatment
he had experienced, this unfortunate great man wept, and caused
those around to weep with him. He pointed proudly to the story of
his life. He showed himself to be almost without resources, he whom
they accused of ambition, and of enriching himself out of the
government of the colony! Verily, the man who had made the discovery
of a world, did not possess a roof to shelter his own head!

Isabella, ever good and compassionate, wept in company with the old
sailor, and for sometime could not make him any answer, so choked
was she with her tears. At length she was able to utter some
affectionate words; in assuring Columbus of her protection, she
promised to avenge him of his enemies; she excused the bad choice
they had made in sending this Bovadilla to the islands, and she
declared he should expiate his guilt by an exemplary punishment. In
addition, she desired the admiral to allow some time to elapse
before returning to his government, in order that the minds
prejudiced against him might return to sentiments of honour and

The mind of Christopher Columbus was calmed by the gracious words of
the queen; he showed himself content with his reception, and
admitted the necessity of the delay enjoined upon him by Isabella.
The chief wish of his heart was again to serve his adopted country
and its sovereigns, and he sketched out grand designs of what still
remained to be attempted in the way of discovery. His third voyage,
in spite of its short duration, had not been without fruit, but had
enriched the map with such new names as Trinidad, the Gulf of Paria,
the coast of Cumana, the Islands of Tobago, of Grenada, of Margarita,
and of Cubaga.


Fourth Voyage: A Flotilla of four vessels--Canary Islands--
Cayman Island--Pinos Island--Island of Guanaja--Cape Honduras--The
American Coast of Truxillo on the Gulf of Darien--The Limonare
Islands--Huerta--The Coast of Veragua--Auriferous Strata--Revolt of
the Natives--The Dream of Columbus--Porto-Bello--The Mulatas--
Putting into port at Jamaica--Distress--Revolt of the Spaniards
against Columbus--Lunar Eclipse--Arrival of Columbus at Hispaniola--
Return of Columbus to Spain--His death, on the 20th of March, 1506.

Christopher Columbus saw himself now reinstated in favour, as he
deserved to be, at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella. Perhaps the
king may have still evinced a certain degree of coldness towards him,
but the queen was his avowed and enthusiastic protectress. His
official title as viceroy had not, however, been restored to him,
but the admiral, with his usual magnanimity, did not demand it. He
had the satisfaction of seeing Bovadilla deposed, partly for his
abuse of power, and partly because his conduct towards the Indians
had become atrocious; his inhuman proceedings towards them being
pushed to such a length, that under his administration the native
population of Hispaniola, sensibly decreased.

During this time the island began to fulfil the hopes of Columbus,
who had prophesied that in three years the crown would derive from
it a revenue of sixty millions. Gold was obtained in abundance from
the best worked mines; a slave had dug up on the banks of the Hayna,
a mass, equal in weight to 3600 golden crowns; it was easy to
foresee that the new colonies would yield incalculable riches.

The admiral, who could not bear to remain inactive, earnestly
demanded to be sent on a fourth voyage, although he was by this time
sixty-six years of age. In support of his request he adduced some
very plausible reasons. One year before the return of Columbus, the
Portuguese navigator, Vasco da Gama, had returned from the Indies,
after having doubled the Cape of Good Hope. Columbus felt certain
that by sailing to India by the much safer and shorter western route,
the Spaniards might enter into profitable competition with the
Portuguese traders. He constantly maintained, believing as he did
that he had been alongside the Asiatic territory, that the islands
and continents discovered by him were only separated by a strait
from the Moluccas. He therefore wished, without even returning to
Hispaniola and the colonies already settled, to direct his course at
once to the Indies. It is evident that the ex-Viceroy had again
become the hardy navigator of his earlier years. The king agreed to
the admiral's request, and placed him in command of a flotilla
composed of four vessels, the _Santiago_, _Gallego_, _Vizcaino_, and
a caravel, as admiral's galley. These ships were of small tonnage,
the largest being only of seventy tons, and the smallest of fifty;
they were in fact, little better than coasting-vessels.

Columbus left Cadiz on the 9th of May, 1502, with crews numbering in
all 150 men. He took with him his brother Bartolomeo, and his son
Fernando, the child of his second marriage, and at this time
scarcely thirteen years old. On the 20th of May, the vessels stopped
at Gran Canaria, and on the 15th of June arrived at Martinique, one
of the Windward Islands; afterwards they touched at Dominica,
Santa-Cruz, and Porto-Rico, and at length, after a prosperous voyage,
reached Hispaniola, on the 29th of June. The intention of Columbus,
acting on the queen's advice, was not to land upon the island whence
he had been so unworthily expelled; but his badly-constructed ship
was scarcely sea-worthy, and repairs to the keel were greatly needed.
Therefore the admiral demanded permission of the governor to enter
the harbour.

The new governor, successor to Bovadilla, was a just and moderate
man, a knight of the order of Alcantara, named Nicholas Ovando. His
excessive caution, however, made him fear that the presence of
Columbus in the colony might be a cause of disorder; he therefore
thought it right to refuse the request. The admiral concealed the
indignation which such treatment could not but cause him, and
returned good for evil, by offering wise counsel to the governor in
the following instance. The fleet which was to take Bovadilla back
to Europe, and to bear with it, besides the enormous lump of gold
already mentioned, other treasures of great value, was ready to put
to sea. But the weather was very threatening, and Columbus, with a
sailor's penetration, having observed the signs of an approaching
storm, implored the governor not to expose the ships and passengers
to such danger. Ovando would not listen to the advice, and the ships
put to sea; scarcely had they reached the eastern point of the
island before a terrible hurricane arose, causing twenty-one of the
ships to founder with all on board. Bovadilla was drowned, and with
him the greater part of the enemies of Columbus, but by an exception
which may be called providential, the ship which carried the poor
remains of the admiral's fortune, escaped destruction. In this storm
ten millions' worth of gold and precious stones was engulfed by the

Meanwhile, the four caravels of Columbus, denied access to the
harbour, had been driven before the storm. They were separated one
from the other, and disabled, but they succeeded in meeting together
again, and by the 14th of July, the squall had carried them within
sight of Jamaica. Arrived there, strong currents bore them towards
the islands called the Queen's Garden, and then in the direction of
east-south-east. The little flotilla contended for sixty days
against the wind without making more than 210 miles, and at length
was driven towards the coast of Cuba, which led to the discovery of
Cayman and Pinos Islands.

Columbus then steered to the south-west, sailing upon seas hitherto
unvisited by any European ship, and throwing himself once more into
the course of discovery with all the passionate ardour of a
navigator. Chance conducted him towards the southern coast of
America; he discovered the island of Guanaja, on the 30th of July,
and on the 14th of August he touched at Cape Honduras, that narrow
strip of land, which, prolonged by the Isthmus of Panama, unites the
two continents of America. Thus, for the second time Columbus,
without being aware of it, approached the real soil of America. For
more than nine months he followed the windings of these shores, in
the face of all kinds of perils and difficulties, and succeeded in
laying down the chart of the coast from the part since named
Truxillo, as far as the Gulf of Darien. Each night he cast anchor,
that he might not be driven far from the shore, and at length
reached that eastern extremity of the coast where it ends abruptly
in the Cape Gracias a Dios.

This cape was doubled on the 14th of September, but the ships
encountered contrary winds so violent, that even the admiral,
himself the oldest sailor of the crews, had never before experienced
the like. He relates this terrible episode in his letter to the king
of Spain in the following terms: "During eighty-four days the waves
continued their assaults, nor did my eyes perceive sun, nor stars,
nor any planet; the seams of my vessels gaped, my sails were torn;
tackle, boats, rigging, all were lost; my sailors, ill and
frightened, devoted themselves to the pious duties of religion; no
one failed to promise pilgrimages, and all confessed to each other,
thinking that each moment might prove their last. I have seen many
tempests, but never have I experienced any of such duration and
violence. Many of my men who passed for intrepid sailors, lost
courage; but that which broke my heart, was the pain of my son,
whose tender age added to my despair, and whom I saw the prey of
greater suffering, greater torments, than fell to the lot of any one
amongst us; but it was doubtless no other than God, who bestowed
upon him such energy, that it was He alone who animated the courage,
and reawakened the patience of the sailors under their severe toil;
in a word, looking upon him, one might have fancied him a sailor who
had grown old in contending with storms, an astonishing fact, almost
incredible, but one which awakened some gleam of joy amidst the
sorrows which overwhelmed me. I was ill, and several times I thought
my last hour was near.... To complete my misery comes the thought
that twenty years of service, of fatigues and perils, have brought
me no profit, and I find myself to-day unpossessed of even a roof to
shelter me in Spain, and forced to betake myself to an inn when I
would obtain repose or food; and when there I often find myself
unable to pay my reckoning." Do not these lines indicate clearly the
intensity of sorrow which overwhelmed the soul of Columbus? In the
midst of such dangers and anxieties, how could he preserve the
energy needful to command an expedition?

Throughout the duration of the storm, the ships had been following
the line of coast which successively bears the names of Honduras,
Mosquito, Nicaragua, Costa-Rica, Veragua, and Panama, the twelve
Limonare Islands being also discovered at this time, and at last, on
the 25th of September, Columbus cast anchor between the small island
of Huerta and the continent. On the 5th of October he again set sail,
and after having taken the bearings of the Bay of Almirante, he
anchored opposite to the village of Cariaz. There he remained until
the 15th of October, the repairs of the vessels meanwhile going
actively forward.

Columbus now believed himself to be arrived near the mouth of the
Ganges, and from the natives speaking of a certain province of
Ciguare, which was surrounded by the sea, he felt himself confirmed
in this opinion. They declared that it was a country containing rich
gold-mines, of which the most important was situated seventy-five
miles to the south. When the admiral again set sail, he followed the
wooded coast of Veragua, where the Indians appeared to be very wild.
On the 26th of November, the flotilla entered the harbour of El
Retrete, which is now the port of Escribanos. The ships battered by
the winds, were now in a most miserable plight; it was absolutely
necessary to repair the damage they had sustained, and for this
purpose to prolong the stay at El Retrete. Upon quitting this
harbour Columbus was met by a storm even more dreadful than those
which had preceded it: "During nine days," he says, "I remained
without hope of being saved. Never did any man see a more violent or
terrible sea; it was covered with foam, the wind permitted no ships
to advance, nor to steer towards any cape; I was kept in that sea,
of which the waves seemed to be of blood, and the surges boiled as
though heated by fire. Never have I seen so appalling an aspect of
the heavens: on fire during one whole day and night like a furnace,
they sent forth thunder and flame incessantly, and I feared each
moment that the masts and sails would be carried away. The growling
of the thunder was so horrible that it appeared sufficient to crush
our vessels; and during the whole time the rain fell with such
violence that one could scarcely call it rain, but rather a second
Deluge. My sailors, overcome by so much trouble and suffering,
prayed for death as putting a term to their miseries; my ships
opened in all directions, and boats, anchors, ropes, and sails were
once again lost."

During this long and painful navigation, the admiral had sailed one
thousand and fifty miles. His crews were by this time quite
exhausted; he was therefore obliged to turn back and to regain the
river of Veragua, but not being able to find safe shelter there for
his ships, he went a short distance off to the mouth of Bethlehem
river, now called the Yebra, in which he cast anchor on the feast of
the Epiphany in the year 1503. On the morrow the tempest was again
renewed, and on the 24th of January, a sudden increase of water in
the river caused the cables which held the ships to snap, and the
vessels were only saved with great trouble.

In spite of all this, the admiral, who never forgot the principal
object of his mission in these new countries, had succeeded in
establishing regular intercourse with the natives. The cacique of
Bethlehem showed a friendly disposition, and pointed out a country
fifteen miles inland, where he said the gold-mines were very rich.
On the 6th of February, Columbus despatched a force of seventy men
to the spot indicated, under the command of his brother Bartolomeo.
After travelling through a very undulating country, watered by
rivers so winding that one of them had to be crossed thirty-nine
times, the Spaniards arrived at the auriferous tracts. They were
immense, and extended quite out of sight. Gold was so abundant that
one man alone could collect enough of it in ten days to fill a
measure. In four hours, Bartolomeo and his men had picked up gold to
an enormous amount. They returned to the admiral, who, when he heard
their narrative, resolved to settle upon this coast, and to have
some wooden barracks constructed.

[Illustration: Gold-mines in Cuba. _From an old print_.]

The mines of this region were indeed of incomparable richness; they
appeared to be inexhaustible, and quite made Columbus forget Cuba
and San Domingo. His letter to King Ferdinand evinces his enthusiasm
on the subject; one may feel some astonishment at reading the
following sentiment from the pen of this great man, one indeed which
is neither that of a philosopher nor of a Christian. "Gold! gold!
excellent thing! It is from gold that spring riches! it is by means
of gold that everything in the world is done, and its power suffices
often to place souls in Paradise."

The Spaniards set to work with ardour to store up this gold in their
ships. Hitherto the relations with the natives had been peaceable,
although these people were of fierce disposition. But after a time
the cacique, irritated by the usurpation of the foreigners, resolved
to murder them and burn their dwellings. One day the natives
suddenly attacked the Spaniards in considerable force, and a very
severe battle ensued, ending in the repulse of the Indians. The
cacique had been taken prisoner with all his family, but he
succeeded with his children in escaping from custody, and took
refuge in the mountains in company with a great number of his
followers. In the month of April, a considerable troop of the
natives again attacked the Spaniards, who exterminated a large
proportion of them.

Meanwhile, the health of Columbus became more and more enfeebled;
the wind failed him for quitting the harbour, and he was in despair.
One day, exhausted by fatigue, he fell asleep, and heard a pitying
voice which addressed him as follows:--words which shall be given
verbatim, for they bear the imprint of that kind of ecstatic
religious fervour which gives a finishing touch to the picture of
the great navigator.

"'O foolish man! why such unwillingness to believe in and to serve
thy God, the God of the Universe? What did He more for Moses His
servant, and for David? Since thy birth, has He not had for thee the
most tender solicitude; and when he saw thee of an age in which His
designs for thee could be matured, has He not made thy name resound
gloriously through the world? Has He not bestowed upon thee the
Indies, the richest part of the earth? Has He not set thee free to
make an offering of them to Him according to thine own will? Who but
He has lent thee the means of executing His designs? Bounds were
placed at the entrance of the ocean; they were formed of chains
which could not be broken through. To thee were given the keys. Thy
power was recognized in distant lands, and thy glory was proclaimed
by all Christians. Did God even show Himself more favourable to the
people of Israel, when He rescued them from Egypt? Did He favour
David more, when from a shepherd boy He made him king of Judah? Turn
to Him, confessing thy fault, for His compassion is infinite. Thine
old age will prove no obstacle in the great actions which await
thee: He holds in His hands a heritage the most brilliant. Was not
Abraham a hundred years old, and had not Sarah already passed the
flower of her youth when Isaac was born? Thou seekest an uncertain
help. Answer me: who has exposed thee so often to so many dangers?
Is it God, or the world? God never withholds the blessings promised
to His servants. It is not His manner after receiving a service to
pretend that His intentions have not been carried out, and to give a
new interpretation to His desires; it is not He who seeks to give to
arbitrary acts a favourable colour. His words are to be taken
literally; all that He promises He gives with usury. Thus does He
ever. I have told thee all that the Creator has done for thee; at
this very moment He is showing thee the prize and the reward of the
perils and sufferings to which thou hast been exposed in the service
of thy fellow-men.' And I listened to this voice, overcome though I
were with suffering; but I could not muster strength to reply to
these assured promises; I contented myself by deploring my fault
with tears. The voice concluded with these words:--'Take confidence,
hope on; the record of thy labours will, with justice, be engraved
on marble.'"

Columbus, as soon as he recovered, was anxious to leave this coast.
He had desired to found a colony here, but his crews were not
sufficiently numerous to justify the risk of leaving a part of them
on land. The four caravels were full of worm-holes, and one of them
had to be left behind at Bethlehem. On Easter day the admiral put to
sea, but scarcely had he gone ninety miles before a leak was
discovered in one of the ships; it was necessary to steer for the
coast with all speed, and happily Porto-Bello was reached in safety,
where the ship was abandoned, her injuries being irreparable. The
flotilla consisted now of but two caravels, without boats, almost
without provisions, and with 7000 miles of ocean to traverse. It
sailed along the coast, passed the port of El Retrete, discovered
the group of islands called the Mulatas, and at length entered the
Gulf of Darien. This was the farthest point east reached by Columbus.

On the 1st of May the admiral steered for Hispaniola; by the 10th he
was in sight of the Cayman Islands, but he found it impossible to
make head against the winds which drove him to the north-west nearly
as far as Cuba. There, while in shallow water, he encountered a
storm, during which anchors and sails were carried away, and the two
ships came into collision during the night. The hurricane then drove
them southwards, and the admiral at length reached Jamaica with his
shattered vessels, casting anchor on the 23rd of June in the harbour
of San-Gloria, now called the bay of Don Christopher. Columbus
wished to have gone to Hispaniola, where he would have found the
stores needful for revictualling the ships, resources which were
absolutely wanting in Jamaica; but his two caravels, full of
worm-holes, "like to bee-hives," could not without danger attempt
the ninety miles' voyage; the question now arose, how to send a
message to Ovando, the governor of Hispaniola.

[Illustration: The Admiral is obliged to run the caravels aground.]

The caravels let in water in every direction, and the admiral was
obliged to run them aground; he then tried to organize a life in
common upon shore. The Indians at first gave him assistance, and
furnished the crews with the provisions of which they were in need,
but the miserable and much tried sailors showed resentment against
the admiral; they were ready for revolt, while the unfortunate
Columbus, exhausted by illness, was confined to a bed of pain. It
was in these trying circumstances that two brave officers, Mendez
and Fieschi, proposed to the admiral to attempt to cross from
Jamaica to Hispaniola in Indian canoes. This was in reality a voyage
of six hundred miles, for it was necessary to row along the coast as
far as the port where the colony was established. But these
courageous officers were ready to face every peril, when it was a
question of saving their companions. Columbus, appreciating the
boldness of a proposal, which under other circumstances he would
himself have been the first to make, gave the required permission to
Mendez and Fieschi, who set out, while he, without ships, almost
without provisions, remained with his crew upon this uncultivated

[Illustration: Indian Boats. _From an old print_.]

Soon the misery of the shipwrecked people--for so we may fairly call
them--became so great that a revolt ensued. The admiral's companions,
blinded by their sufferings, imagined that their chief dared not
return to the harbour in Hispaniola, to which Ovando had already
denied him entrance. They thought this proscription applied to them
equally with the admiral, and said among themselves that the
governor, in excluding the flotilla from the harbours of the colony,
must have acted under orders from the king. These absurd reasonings
irritated minds already badly disposed, and at length on the 2nd of
January, 1504, two brothers named Porras, one the captain of one of
the caravels and the other the military treasurer, placed themselves
at the head of the malcontents. Their wish was to return to Europe,
and they rushed towards the admiral's tent, crying, "Castille!
Castille!" Columbus was ill and in bed. His brother and his son
threw themselves between him and the mutineers to defend him. At the
sight of the aged admiral, the rebels stopped, and their violence
abated; but they would not listen to the admiral's remonstrances and
counsels; they did not understand that nothing could save them but
general concord, and each, in unselfish forgetfulness, working for
the public good. No! their decision was taken to quit the island, no
matter by what means. Porras and his followers ran down to the shore,
took possession of the canoes of the natives, and steered for the
eastern extremity of the island. Arrived there, with no respect left
for anything, and drunk with fury, they pillaged the Indians'
dwellings--thus rendering the admiral responsible for their deeds of
violence--and they dragged some unfortunate natives on board of the
canoes which they had stolen. Porras and his companions continued
their navigation; but when several leagues from shore, they were
struck by a gust of wind which placed them in peril: with the object
of lightening the canoes, they threw their prisoners overboard.
After this barbarous execution, the canoes endeavoured, following
the example of Mendez and Fieschi, to gain the island of Hispaniola,
but in vain, they were continually thrown back upon the coasts of

Meanwhile the admiral, left alone with his friends and the sick,
succeeded in establishing order in his little world. But the
distress increased, and famine threatened. The natives wearied of
providing food for these foreigners, whose sojourn upon their island
was so prolonged; besides, they had seen the Spaniards fighting
amongst themselves, a sight which had much destroyed their prestige,
and convinced the Indians that these Europeans were nothing more
than ordinary mortals; thus, they no longer respected nor feared
them. The authority of Columbus over the native population was
diminishing day by day, and an accidental circumstance was needed,
of which the admiral cleverly took advantage, to bring back a renown
which was necessary for the safety of his companions.

A lunar eclipse, foreseen and calculated by Columbus, was due on a
certain day. On the morning of this day, the admiral sent to request
an interview with the caciques of the island. They accepted the
invitation, and when they were assembled in the tent of Columbus,
the latter announced to them that God, desirous of punishing them
for their inhospitable conduct, and their bad feeling towards the
Spaniards, would that evening refuse them the light of the moon. All
came to pass as the admiral had foretold; the shadow of the earth
began to conceal the moon, whose disc had the appearance of being
eaten away by some formidable monster. The savages in terror cast
themselves at the feet of Columbus, praying him to intercede with
Heaven on their behalf, and promising to place all they had at his
disposal. Columbus, after some well feigned hesitation, pretended to
yield to the prayers of the natives. Under pretext of supplicating
the Deity, he remained in his tent during the whole time of the
eclipse, only reappearing at the moment when the phenomenon was
nearly over. Then he told the caciques that God had heard his prayer,
and extending his arm he commanded the moon to reappear. Soon the
disc was seen to issue from the cone of the shadow, and the queen of
night shone forth in all her splendour. From that day forward, the
grateful and submissive Indians accepted the admiral's authority as
one manifestly delegated to him by the celestial powers.

While these events were passing at Jamaica, Mendez and Fieschi had
long ago arrived at their destination. These brave officers had
reached Hispaniola after a voyage of four days, little short of
miraculous, accomplished as it was in a frail canoe. They
immediately made the governor acquainted with the desperate
condition of Columbus and his companions. Ovando, in a spirit of
malice and injustice, detained these officers, and after a delay of
eight months, under pretext of ascertaining the real condition of
affairs, he despatched to Jamaica one of his own followers, a man
named Diego Escobar, who was an especial enemy to Columbus. Escobar,
on his arrival at Jamaica, would not communicate with Columbus; he
did not even land, but contented himself with putting on shore, for
the use of the distressed crews, "a side of pork and a barrel of
wine;" then he again set sail without having allowed a single person
to come on board. This infamous behaviour is but too real, although
humanity almost refuses to believe in it.

The admiral was indignant over this cruel mockery; but he showed no
violence, used no recrimination. The arrival of Escobar somewhat
reassured the shipwrecked men, for at least it proved that their
situation was known. Deliverance was therefore only a matter of time,
and the _morale_ of the Spaniards gradually improved.

The admiral was desirous of bringing about a reconciliation with
Porras and the rebels, who, since their separation, had incessantly
ravaged the island, and been guilty of odious cruelties towards the
unfortunate natives. Columbus proposed to restore them to favour,
but these foolish people only answered his generous overtures by
advancing to attack him in his retreat. Those Spaniards who had
remained faithful to the cause of order, were obliged to take up
arms, and they valiantly defended the admiral, losing but one man in
this sad affair. They took both the brothers Porras prisoners, and
remained masters of the field of battle: then the rebels threw
themselves on their knees before Columbus, who, in compassion for
their sufferings, granted them pardon.

At length, just one year after the departure of Mendez and Fieschi,
a ship appeared, equipped by them at the expense of Columbus, which
was destined to restore the shipwrecked company to their homes. On
the 24th of June, 1504, every one went on board, and quitting
Jamaica, the theatre of accumulated miseries, both moral and
physical, they set sail for Hispaniola. Arrived in harbour, after a
prosperous voyage, Columbus, to his no small surprise, found himself
at first received with much respect, the governor Ovando, as a
shrewd man not willing to go against public opinion, doing him
honour. But this happy temper did not last. Soon the quarrels
recommenced, and then Columbus, unable as well as unwilling to hear
more, humiliated, and even maltreated, freighted two ships, of which
he shared the command with his brother Bartolomeo, and on the 12th
of September, 1504, he for the last time set out for Europe.

His fourth voyage had increased geographical knowledge by the
discovery of the Cayman Islands, Martinique, Guanaja, the Limonare
Islands, with the coasts of Honduras, Mosquito, Nicaragua, Veragua,
Costa-Rica, Porto-Bello, and Panama, the Mulatas Islands, and the
Gulf of Darien.

During this, his last voyage across the ocean, Columbus was destined
to be again tried by storms. His own vessel was disabled, and he and
his crew were obliged to go on board his brother's ship. On the 19th
of October, another fearful hurricane broke the mast of this vessel,
which had then to make more than two thousand miles with incomplete
sails. At last, on the 7th of November, the admiral entered the
harbour of San-Lucar. Here a sad piece of news was awaiting him.
Isabella, his generous protectress, was dead. Who was there now to
take an interest in the old Genoese?

The admiral was coldly received by the ungrateful and jealous king
Ferdinand, who did not even disdain to use subterfuges and delays,
hoping thus to evade the solemn treaties given under his sign
manual; he ended by proposing to Columbus the acceptance of a small
Castilian town, Camon de los Condes, in exchange for his titles and
dignities. This ingratitude and faithlessness overwhelmed the aged
man; his health, already so much impaired, did not improve, and
grief carried him to the grave. On the 20th of May, at Valladolid,
at the age of seventy, he rendered up his soul to God with these
words: "O Lord, into Thy hands I resign my soul and body."

The remains of Columbus were at first laid in the monastery of St.
Francis; in 1513, they were removed to the Carthusian monastery of
Seville. But it seemed as if, even after death, repose were to be
denied to the great navigator, for in 1536 his body was transported
to the cathedral of San Domingo. Local tradition affirms that when,
after the Treaty of Basle in 1795, the Spanish government, before
giving up to France the eastern portion of the island of San Domingo,
ordered the removal of the ashes of the great sailor to Havana, a
canon substituted some other remains for those of Christopher
Columbus, and that the latter were deposited in the choir of the
cathedral, to the left of the altar. Thanks to this manoeuvre of the
canon, whether dictated by a sentiment of local patriotism or by
respect to the last wishes of Columbus who had indicated San Domingo
as his chosen place of sepulture, it is not the dust of the
illustrious navigator which Spain possesses at Havana, but probably
that of his brother Diego. The discovery so lately made in the
cathedral of San Domingo, on the 10th of September, 1877, of a
leaden chest containing human bones, and bearing an inscription
stating that it encloses the remains of the _Discoverer of America_,
seems to confirm in every particular the tradition which has been
just mentioned.

But after all, it matters little whether the body of Columbus be at
San Domingo or at Havana; his name and his glory are everywhere.



Covilham and Païva--Vasco da Gama--The Cape of Good Hope is
doubled--Escalès at Sam-Braz--Mozambique, Mombaz, and Melinda--
Arrival at Calicut--Treason of the Zamorin--Battles--Return to
Europe--The scurvy--Death of Paul da Gama--Arrival at Lisbon.

At the same time that the King of Portugal, John II., despatched
Diaz to seek in the south of Africa the route to the Indies, he
ordered two gentlemen of his court to find out if it would not be
possible to attain the same end by an easier, safer, and more rapid
means; by way of the isthmus of Suez, the Red Sea, and the Indian

For carrying out such a mission there was needed a clever,
enterprising man, well acquainted with the difficulties of a journey
in those regions, and possessing a knowledge of the Oriental
languages, or at the very least, of Arabic. This agent must be of a
versatile disposition, and able to dissemble; capable, in a word, of
concealing the real meaning of projects which aimed at nothing less
than withdrawing all the commerce of Asia from the hands of the
Mussulmans and Arabs, and through them from the Venetians, in order
to enrich Portugal with it.

There was living at this time an experienced navigator, Pedro de
Covilham, who had served with distinction under Alonzo V. in the war
with Castille, and who had made a long stay in Africa. It was upon
him that John II. cast his eye, and Alonzo de Païva was given him as
a colleague. They left Lisbon in the month of May, 1487, furnished
with detailed instructions, and with a chart drawn according to
Bishop Calsadilla's map of the World, by the help of which the tour
of Africa might be made.

The two travellers reached Alexandria and Cairo, where they were
much gratified at meeting with some Moorish traders from Fez and
Tlemcen, who conducted them to Tor--the ancient Ezion-geber--at the
foot of Sinai, where they were able to procure some valuable
information upon the trade of Calicut. Covilham resolved to take
advantage of this fortunate circumstance to visit a country which,
for more than a century, had been regarded by Portugal with covetous
longing, while Païva set out to penetrate into those regions then so
vaguely designated as Ethiopia, in quest of the famous Prester John,
who, according to old travellers, reigned over a marvellously rich
and fertile country in Africa. Païva doubtless perished in his
adventurous enterprise, being never again heard of.

As for Covilham, he travelled to Aden, whence he embarked for the
Malabar coast. He visited in succession Cananore, Calicut, and Goa,
and collected accurate information upon the commerce and productions
of the countries bordering on the Indian Ocean, without arousing the
fears of the Hindoos, who could not suspect that the kind and
friendly welcome they accorded to the traveller would bring about in
the future the enthralment and ruin of their country. Covilham, not
considering that he had yet done enough for his country, quitted
India, and went to the eastern coast of Africa, where he visited
Mozambique, Sofala--long famous for its gold-mines, of which the
reputation, by means of the Arabs, had even reached Europe--and
Zeila, the _Avalites portus_ of the ancients, and the principal town
of the Adel coast, upon the Gulf of Oman, at the entrance of the
Arabian Sea. After a somewhat long stay in that country, he returned
by Aden, then the principal entrepôt of the commerce of the east,
went as far as Ormuz, at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, and then
again passing up the Red Sea, he arrived at Cairo.

John II. had sent to Cairo two learned Jews to await the arrival of
Covilham, and to one of these, the Rabbi Abraham Beja, the traveller
gave his notes, the itinerary of his journey, and a map of Africa
given to him by a Mussulman, charging Beja to carry them all to
Lisbon with the least possible delay. For himself, not content with
all that he had done hitherto, and wishing to execute the mission
which death had prevented Païva from accomplishing, he went into
Abyssinia, where the "negus" or king, known by the name of Prester
John, flattered by seeing his alliance sought by one of the most
powerful sovereigns of Europe, received him with the greatest
kindness, and gave him a high position at his court, but to make
sure of retaining his services, he constantly refused him permission
to leave the country. Although he had married there and had some
children, Covilham still longed for his native country, and when, in
1525, a Portuguese embassy, of which Alvarès was a member, came into
Abyssinia, he witnessed the departure of his countrymen with the
deepest regret, and the chaplain of the expedition has naïvely
re-echoed his complaints and his grief.

M. Ferdinand Denis says, "By furnishing precise information upon the
possibility of circumnavigating Africa, by indicating the route to
the Indies, by giving more positive and extended ideas upon the
commerce of these countries, and above all, by describing the
gold-mines of Sofala, and so exciting the cupidity of the Portuguese,
Covilham contributed greatly to accelerate the expedition of Gama."

[Illustration: Vasco da Gama. _From an old print_.]

If one may believe an old tradition, but one which is unsupported by
any authentic document, Gama was descended by an illegitimate line
from Alphonso III., King of Portugal. His father, Estevam Eanez da
Gama, grand alcalde of Sinès and of Silvès, in the kingdom of
Algarve, and commander of Seizal, occupied a high position at the
court of John II. He enjoyed great reputation as a sailor, so much
so, that just at the moment when his own unexpected death occurred,
King John was thinking of giving Gama the command of the fleet which
he was desirous of sending to the Indies. By his marriage with Dona
Isabella Sodré, daughter of Juan de Resende, proveditore of the
fortifications of Santarem, he had several children, and amongst
them Vasco, who first reached India by doubling the Cape of Good
Hope, and Paul, who accompanied him in that memorable expedition. It
is known that Vasco was born at Sinès, but the date of his birth is
uncertain; the year 1469 is that generally given, but besides the
fact that if this be the correct date, Gama would have been very
young--not more than eight and twenty--when the important command of
the expedition to the Indies was confided to him, there was
discovered twenty years ago, amongst the Spanish archives, a
safe-conduct to Tangier granted in 1478 to two persons, Vasco da
Gama and Lemos. It is scarcely probable that such a passport would
have been given to a child of nine years of age, so that this
discovery would appear to carry back the birth of the celebrated
voyager to an earlier date.

It seems that from an early period of his life, Vasco da Gama was
destined to follow the career of a sailor, in which his father had
distinguished himself. The first historian of the Indies, Lopez de
Castañeda, delights in recalling the fact that he had signalized
himself upon the African seas. At one time he was ordered to seize
all the French ships lying in the Portuguese ports, in revenge for
the capture by French pirates during a time of peace of a rich
Portuguese galleon returning from Mina. Such a mission would only
have been confided to an active, energetic and well-tried captain, a
clear proof that Gama's valour and cleverness were highly
appreciated by the king.

About this time he married Dona Caterina de Ataïde, one of the
highest ladies about the court, and by her he had several children,
amongst others Estevam da Gama, who became governor of the Indies,
and Dom Christovam, who, says Gaucher, by his struggle with Ahmed
Guerad in Abyssinia, and by his romantic death, deserves to be
reckoned amongst the famous adventurers of the sixteenth century.

All doubt as to the precise date of Gama's first voyage is now at an
end, thanks to the document in the public library at Oporto, a paper
with which Castañeda must have been acquainted, and of which M.
Ferdinand Denis has published a translation in the _Ancient and
Modern Travellers_ of M. E. Charton. The date may be fixed with
certainty for Saturday, the 8th of July, 1497.

This expedition had been long ago determined upon, and all its
details were minutely arranged. It was to be composed of four
vessels of medium size, "in order," says Pacheco, "that they may
enter everywhere and again issue forth rapidly." They were solidly
constructed, and provided with a triple supply of sails and hawsers;
all the barrels destined to contain water, oil, or wine had been
strengthened with iron hoops; large provisions of all kinds had been
made, such as flour, wine, vegetables, drugs, and artillery; the
personnel of the expedition consisted of the best sailors, the
cleverest pilots, and the most experienced captains.

Gama, who had received the title of _Capitam mõr_, hoisted his flag
upon the _Sam-Gabriel_ of 120 tons. His brother Paul da Gama was on
board the _Sam-Raphael_ of 100 tons. A caravel of 50 tons, the
_Berrio_, so named in memory of the pilot Berrio, who had sold her
to Emmanuel I., was commanded by an experienced sailor, Nicolo
Coelho, while Pedro Nuñes was the captain of a large barque, laden
with provisions and merchandise, destined for exchange with the
natives of the countries which should be visited. Pero de Alemquer,
who had been pilot to Bartholomew Diaz, was to regulate the course
of the vessels. The crews, including ten criminals who were put on
board to be employed on any dangerous service, amounted to one
hundred and sixty persons. What feeble means these, what almost
absurd resources, compared with the grandeur of the mission which
these men were to accomplish!

On the 8th of July, at sunrise, Gama advanced towards the vessels,
followed by his officers through an immense crowd of people. Around
him were a number of monks and religious persons, who chanted sacred
hymns, and besought Heaven's protection for the voyagers. This
departure from Rastello must have been a singularly moving scene;
all, whether actors or spectators, mingling their chants, their
cries, their adieux and their tears, while the sails, filled by a
favourable breeze, bore away Gama and the fortune of Portugal
towards the open sea. A large caravel and a smaller barque, which
were bound for Mina under the command of Bartholomew Diaz, sailed in
company with Gama's fleet. On the following Saturday, the ships were
in sight of the Canaries, and passed the night windward of Lancerota.
When they arrived parallel with the Rio de Ouro, a thick fog
separated Paul da Gama, Coelho, and Diaz from the rest of the fleet,
but they joined again near the Cape de Verd Islands, which were soon
reached. At Santiago fresh stores of meat, water, and wood were
taken on board, and the ships were again put into good sailing order.

[Illustration: La Mina. _From an old print_.]

They quitted the shore of Santa Maria on the 3rd of August. The
voyage was accomplished without any remarkable incidents, and on the
4th of November, anchors were dropped upon the African Coast in a
bay which received the name of _Santa-Ellena_. Eight days were spent
there in shipping wood, and in putting everything in order on board
the vessels. It was there that they saw for the first time the
Bushmen, a miserable and degraded race of people who fed upon the
flesh of sea-wolves and whales, as well as upon roots. The
Portuguese carried off some of these natives, and treated them with
kindness. The savages knew nothing of the value of the merchandize
which was offered to them, they saw the objects for the first time
and were ignorant of their use. Copper was the only thing which they
appeared to prize, wearing in their ears small chains of that metal.
They understood well the use of the zagayes--a kind of javelin, of
which the point is hardened in the fire--of which three or four of
the sailors and even Gama himself had unpleasant experience, while
endeavouring to rescue from their hands a certain Velloso, a man who
had imprudently ventured into the interior of the country. This
incident has furnished Camoens with one of the most charming
episodes of the "Lusiad."

On leaving Santa-Ellena, Pero de Alemquer, formerly pilot to Diaz,
declared his belief that they were then ninety miles from the Cape,
but in the uncertainty the fleet stood off to sea; on the 18th of
November the Cape of Good Hope was seen, and the next day it was
doubled by the fleet sailing before the wind. On the 25th the
vessels were moored in the Bay of Sam-Braz, where they remained
thirteen days, during which time the boat which carried the stores
was demolished, and her cargo divided amongst the three other
vessels. During their stay the Portuguese gave the Bushmen some
hawks' bells and other objects, which, to their surprise, were
accepted, for in the time of Diaz the negroes had shown themselves
timid and even hostile, and had thrown stones to prevent the crews
from procuring water. Now they brought oxen and sheep, and to show
their pleasure at the visit of the Portuguese, "they began," says
Nicolas Velho, "to play upon four or five flutes, some set high,
some low, a wonderful harmony for negroes, from whom one scarcely
looks for music. They danced also, as dance the blacks, and the
Capitam mõr commanded the trumpets to sound, and we in our boats
danced too, the Capitam mõr himself dancing, as soon as he had
returned amongst us."

What shall we say to this little fête and this mutual serenade
between the Portuguese and the negroes? Would any one have expected
to behold Gama, a grave man, as his portraits represent him,
initiating the negroes into the charms of the pavane. Unhappily
these favourable dispositions were transient, and it was found
necessary to have recourse to some hostile demonstrations by means
of repeated discharges of artillery.

In this Bay of Sam-Braz Gama erected a padrao, which was thrown down
as soon as he was gone. The fleet soon passed the Rio Infante, the
furthest point reached by Diaz. Here the ships experienced the
effects of a strong current, but of which the violence was
neutralized thanks to a favourable wind. On the 25th of December,
Christmas Day, the country of Natal was discovered.

The ships had sustained some damage, and fresh water was needed; it
was therefore urgent for them to find some harbour, which they
succeeded in doing on the 10th of January, 1498. The blacks whom the
Portuguese saw here upon landing were people of greater stature than
those whom they had hitherto met with. Their arms were a large bow
with long arrows, and a zagaye tipped with iron. They were Caffres,
a race very superior to the Bushmen. Such happy relations were
quickly established with them that Gama gave the country the name of
the Land of Good People (_Terra da bon Gente_).

[Illustration: Map of the East Coast of Africa, from the Cape of
Good Hope to the Cape del Gado.]

A little further on, while still sailing up the coast, two Mussulman
traders, one wearing a turban, the other a hood of green satin, came
to visit the Portuguese, with a young man who, "from what could be
understood from their signs, belonged to a very distant country, and
who said he had already seen ships as large as ours." Vasco da Gama,
took this as a proof that he was now approaching those Indian lands,
which had been so long and so eagerly sought. For this reason he
named the river which flowed into the sea at this place _Rio dos
Bonis Signaes_ (River of good tokens). Unhappily the first symptoms
of scurvy appeared at this time amongst the crews, and soon there
were many sailors upon the sick list.

On the 10th of March the expedition cast anchor before the Island of
Mozambique, where, as Gama learnt through his Arab interpreters,
there were several merchants of Mahometan extraction, who carried on
trade with India. Gold and silver, cloth and spices, pearls and
rubies, formed the staple of their commerce. Gama at the same time
was assured that in pursuing the line of the coast, he would find
numerous cities; "Whereat we were so joyful," says Velho in his
naïve and valuable narrative, "that we wept for pleasure, praying
God to grant us health that we might see all that which we had so
much desired."

[Illustration: Mozambique Channel.]

The Viceroy Colyytam, who imagined he was dealing with Mussulmen,
came on board several times and was magnificently entertained; he
returned the civility by sending presents, and even furnished Gama
with two skilful pilots, but when some Moorish merchants who had
traded in Europe told him that these foreigners, far from being
Turks, were in reality the worst enemies of the Mahometans, the
viceroy, disgusted at his mistake, made preparations for seizing the
Portuguese by treachery, and killing them. Gama was obliged to point
his artillery at the town and threaten to reduce it to ashes before
he could obtain the water needed for the prosecution of his voyage.
Blood flowed, and Paul da Gama captured two barques, whose rich
cargo was divided amongst the sailors. The ships quitted this
inhospitable town, on the 29th of March, and the voyage continued, a
close surveillance being kept over the Arab pilots, whom Gama was
obliged to cause to be flogged.

On the 4th of April the coast was seen, and on the 8th Mombasa or
Mombaz was reached, a town, according to the pilots, inhabited by
Christians and Mussulmen. The fleet dropped anchor outside the
harbour, and did not enter it, notwithstanding the enthusiastic
reception given to them. Already the Portuguese were reckoning upon
meeting at mass the next day with the Christians of the Island, when
during the night, the flag-ship was approached by a _zacra_, having
on board a hundred armed men, who endeavoured to enter the ships in
a body, which was refused them. The king of Mombaz was informed of
all that had occurred at Mozambique, but pretending ignorance, he
sent presents to Gama, proposing to him to establish a factory in
his capital, and assuring him that so soon as he should have entered
the port, he might take on board a cargo of spices and aromatics.
The Capitam mõr, suspecting nothing, immediately sent two men to
announce his entry for the morrow; already they were weighing anchor
when the flag-ship refusing to tack, the anchor was let fall again.
In graceful and poetic fiction, Camoens affirms that it was the
Nereids led by Venus, the protectress of the Portuguese, who stayed
their ships when on the point of entering the port. At this moment
all the Moors on board the fleet quitted it simultaneously, whilst
the Mozambique pilots threw themselves into the sea.

Two Moors who were put to the question with a drop of hot oil,
confessed that the intention was to take all the Portuguese
prisoners as soon as they should be inside the harbour. During the
night the Moors endeavoured several times to climb on board and to
cut the cables in order to run the ships aground, but each time they
were discovered. Under these circumstances no prolonged stay was
possible at Mombaz, but it had been long enough for all those ill of
scurvy to recover their health.

At the distance of four-and-twenty miles from land, the fleet
captured a barque richly laden with gold, silver, and provisions.
The next day Gama arrived at Melinda, a rich and flourishing city,
whose gilded minarets, sparkling in the sunshine, and whose mosques
of dazzling whiteness, stood out against a sky of the most intense
blue. The reception of the Portuguese at Melinda was at first very
cold, the capture of the barque the evening before being already
known there, but as soon as explanations had been given, the people
became cordial. The king's son came to visit the admiral,
accompanied by a train of courtiers splendidly dressed, and a choir
of musicians, who played upon various instruments. The greatest
astonishment was shown at the artillery practice, for the invention
of gunpowder was not yet known on the east coast of Africa. A solemn
treaty was made, ratified by oaths upon the Gospel and the Koran,
and cemented by an interchange of presents. From this moment the
ill-will, the treachery, the difficulties of all kinds which had
hitherto beset the expedition, ceased as if by magic: this must be
attributed to the generosity of the King of Melinda, and to the aid
which he furnished to the Portuguese.

Faithful to the promise which he had made to Vasco da Gama, the king
sent him a Gujerat pilot named Malemo Cana, a man well instructed in
navigation, understanding the use of charts, of the compass and the
quadrant, and who rendered the most important service to the
expedition. After a stay of nine days the fleet weighed anchor for
Calicut. The coasting plan hitherto pursued was now to be abandoned,
and the time was come when, in reliance upon the blessing of God,
the Portuguese must venture out upon the wide ocean, without other
guide than an unknown pilot furnished by a king whose kind welcome
had not sufficed to lull to sleep the suspicions of the foreigners.
And yet, thanks to the ability and loyalty of this pilot, thanks
also to the clemency of the sea, and to the wind being constantly in
its favour, the fleet, after a twenty-three days' voyage, reached
the land on the 17th May, and the next day anchored at the distance
of six miles below Calicut. The enthusiasm on board was great. At
last they had arrived in those rich and wonderful countries.
Fatigues, dangers, sickness, all were forgotten. The object of their
long labours was attained! Or rather, it seemed to be so, for there
was still needed the possession of the treasures and rich
productions of India.

Scarcely were the anchors dropped when four boats came off from the
shore, performing evolutions around the fleet, and apparently
inviting the sailors to disembark. But Gama, rendered cautious by
the occurrences at Mozambique and Mombaz, sent on shore one of the
criminals who were on board, to act as a scout; ordering him to walk
through the town and endeavour to ascertain the temper of its
inhabitants. Surrounded by an inquisitive crowd, assailed by
questions to which he could not reply, this man was conducted to the
house of a Moor named Mouçaïda, who spoke Spanish, and to whom he
gave a short account of the voyage of the fleet. Mouçaïda returned
with him on board, and his first words on setting foot on the ship
were "Good luck! good luck! quantities of rubies, quantities of
emeralds!" Whereupon, Mouçaïda was at once engaged as interpreter.

The King of Calicut was at this time at a distance of forty-five
miles from his capital, so the Capitam mõr despatched two men to
announce the arrival of an ambassador from the King of Portugal,
being the bearer of letters to him from his sovereign. The king at
once sent a pilot, with orders to take the Portuguese ships into the
safer roadstead of Pandarany, and promised to return himself on the
morrow to Calicut; this he did, and ordered his Intendant or Catoual
to invite Gama to land and open negotiations. In spite of the
supplications of his brother, Paul da Gama, who represented to him
the dangers which he might incur, and those to which his death would
expose the expedition, the Capitam mõr set out for the shore, upon
which an enormous crowd of people were awaiting him.

The idea that they were in the midst of a Christian population was
so rooted in the minds of all the members of the expedition, that
Gama, on passing by a pagoda on the way, entered it to perform his
devotions. One of his companions, however, Juan de Saa, noticing the
hideous pictures upon the walls, was less credulous, and whilst
throwing himself upon his knees, said aloud, "If that be a devil, I
intend nevertheless to adore only the true God!" A mental
reservation which caused amusement to the admiral.

Near the gates of the town the crowd was even more closely packed.
Gama and his companions, under the guidance of the Catoual, had some
difficulty in reaching the palace, where the king, who in the
narrative is called the "Zamorin," was awaiting them with extreme
impatience. Ushered into halls splendidly decorated with silken
stuffs and carpets, and in which burned the most exquisite perfumes,
the Portuguese found themselves in the presence of the Zamorin. He
was magnificently attired, and loaded with jewels, the pearls and
diamonds which he wore being of extraordinary size. The king ordered
refreshments to be served to the strangers, and permitted them to be
seated, a peculiar mark of favour in a country where the sovereign
is usually only addressed with the most lowly prostrations. The
Zamorin afterwards passed into another apartment, to hear with his
own ears, as was proudly demanded by Gama, the reasons for the
embassy and the desire felt by the King of Portugal to conclude a
treaty of commerce and alliance with the King of Calicut. The
Zamorin listened to Gama's discourse, and replied that he should be
happy to consider himself the friend and brother of King Emmanuel,
and that he would, by the aid of Gama, send ambassadors to Portugal.

[Illustration: Gama's interview with the Zamorin. _From an old

There are certain proverbs of which the force is not affected by
change of latitude, and the truth of that one which says, "The days
succeed each other and have no similarity," was proved the next day
at Calicut. The enthusiasm which had been aroused in the mind of the
Zamorin by the ingenious discourse of Gama, and the hope it had
awakened of the establishment of a profitable trade with Portugal,
vanished at the sight of the presents which were to be given him.
"Twelve pieces of striped cloth, twelve cloaks with scarlet hoods,
six hats, and four branches of coral, accompanied by a box
containing six large basons, a chest of sugar, and four kegs, two
filled with oil, and two with honey," certainly did not constitute a
very magnificent offering. At sight of it, the prime minister
laughed, declaring that the poorest merchant from Mecca brought
richer presents, and that the king would never accept of such
ridiculous trifles. After this affront Gama again visited the
Zamorin, but it was only after long waiting in the midst of a
mocking crowd, that he was admitted to the presence of the king. The
latter reproached him in a contemptuous manner for having nothing to
offer him, while pretending to be the subject of a rich and powerful
king. Gama replied with boldness, and produced the letters of
Emmanuel, which were couched in flattering terms, and contained a
formal promise to send merchandise to Calicut. The Zamorin, pleased
at this prospect, then inquired with interest about the productions
and resources of Portugal, and gave permission to Gama to disembark
and sell his goods.

But this abrupt change in the humour of the Zamorin was not at all
agreeable to the Moorish and Arab traders, whose dealings made the
prosperity of Calicut. They could not look on quietly whilst
foreigners were endeavouring for their own advantage to turn aside
the commerce which had been hitherto entirely in their hands; they
resolved, therefore, to leave no stone unturned to drive away once
for all these formidable rivals from the shores of India. Their
first care was to gain the ear of the Catoual; then they painted in
the blackest colours these insatiable adventurers, these bold
robbers, whose only object was to spy out the strength and resources
of the town, that they might return in force to pillage it, and to
massacre those who should venture to oppose their designs.

Upon arriving at the roadstead of Pandarany, Gama found no boat to
take him off to the ships, and was forced to sleep on shore. The
Catoual never left him, continually seeking to prove to him the
necessity of bringing the ships nearer to the land; and when the
admiral positively refused to consent to this, he declared him to be
his prisoner. He had very little idea as yet of the firmness of
Gama's character. Some armed boats were sent to surprise the ships,
but the Portuguese, having received secret intelligence from the
admiral of all that had happened, were on their guard, and their
enemies dared not use open force. Gama, still a prisoner, threatened
the Catoual with the anger of the Zamorin, whom he imagined could
never thus have violated the duties of hospitality, but seeing that
his menaces produced no effect, he tried bribery, presenting the
minister with several pieces of stuff, who, thereupon at once
altered his demeanour. "If the Portuguese," said he, "had but kept
the promise they had made to the king, of disembarking their
merchandise, the admiral would long ago have returned on board his
ships." Gama at once sent an order to bring the goods to land,
opened a shop for their sale, of which the superintendence was given
to Diego Diaz, brother to the discoverer of the Cape of Good Hope,
and was then allowed to go back to his ships.

The Mussulmen placed obstacles in the way of the sale of the
merchandise by depreciating its value; Gama sent his agent Diaz to
the Zamorin to complain of the perfidy of the Moors and of the bad
treatment to which he had been subjected, requesting at the same
time permission to move his place of sale to Calicut, where he hoped
that the goods would be more easily disposed of. This request was
favourably received, and friendly relations were maintained, in
spite of the Moorish intrigues, until the 10th of August, 1498. On
that day Diaz went to announce Gama's impending departure to the
king, reminding him of his promise to send an embassy to Portugal,
and asking him to allow Gama a specimen of each of the productions
of the country. These were to be paid for on the first sale of goods
which should take place after the departure of the fleet, it being
intended that the employés of the factory should remain at Calicut
during Gama's absence. The Zamorin, instigated by the Arab traders,
not only refused to execute his promise, but demanded the payment of
600 _seraphins_ as customs' duty, ordering at the same time the
seizure of the merchandise, and making prisoners of the men employed
in the factory.

Such an outrage, such contempt for the rights of nations, called for
prompt vengeance, but Gama understood the art of dissimulation;
however, on receiving a visit on board from some rich merchants, he
detained them, and sent to the Zamorin to demand an exchange of
prisoners. The king's reply not being sent within the time specified
by the admiral, the latter set sail and anchored at the distance of
sixteen miles from Calicut. After another fruitless attack by the
Hindoos, the two agents returned on board, and a portion of the
hostages whom Gama had secured were given up. Diaz brought back with
him a curious letter from the Zamorin to the King of Portugal. It
was written upon a palm leaf, and shall be quoted in all its strange
laconicism, so different from the usual grandiloquence of the
oriental style:--

"Vasco da Gama, a noble of thy palace, is come into my country which
I have permitted. In my kingdom there is much cinnamon, cloves, and
pepper, with many precious stones, and what I desire from thy
country is gold, silver, coral, and scarlet. Adieu."

On the morrow, Mouçaïda the Moor of Tunis who had served as
interpreter to the Portuguese, and had been a great assistance to
them in their negotiations with the Zamorin, came to seek an asylum
on board the ships. The merchandise had not been brought back on the
appointed day, and the Capitam mõr now resolved to carry away with
him the men whom he had kept as hostages, but the fleet was becalmed
at several miles distance from Calicut, and was attacked by twenty
armed boats, which were with difficulty kept at a distance by the
artillery, until they were forced by a violent storm to take shelter
under the coast.

The admiral was sailing along the coast of the Deccan, and had
permitted some of the sailors to go on shore to gather fruit and
collect cinnamon bark, when he perceived eight boats, which appeared
to be coming towards him. Gama recalled the men, and sailed forward
to meet the Hindoos, who made the greatest haste to flee from him,
but not without leaving a boat laden with cocoa, and provisions, in
the hands of the Portuguese. On arriving at the Laccadive
Archipelago, Gama had the _Berrio_ recalked, and his own ship drawn
up on shore for repairs. The sailors were busy over this work when
they were again attacked, but without more success than heretofore.
The next day witnessed the arrival of an individual forty years of
age, dressed in Hindoo style, who began to speak to the Portuguese
in excellent Italian, telling them that he was a native of Venice,
and had been torn from his country while still young, that he was a
Christian, but without the possibility of practising his religion.
He was in a high position at the court of the king of the country,
who had sent him to them, to place at their disposal all that the
country contained which could minister to their comfort. These
offers of service, so different from the welcome accorded to them
hitherto, excited the suspicions of the Portuguese, and they were
not long in discovering that this adventurer was in command of the
boats which had attacked them the day before. Upon this they had him
scourged until he confessed that he had come to discover whether it
were possible to attack the fleet with advantage, and he ended by
affirming that all the inhabitants of the sea-shore were in league
to destroy the Portuguese. He was retained on board, the work upon
the ships was hurried forward, and as soon as water and provisions
had been taken in, sail was made for a return to Europe.

In consequence of dead calms and contrary winds, the expedition was
three months, all but three days, in reaching the African coast.
During this long voyage the crews suffered terribly from scurvy, and
thirty sailors perished. In each ship, only seven or eight men were
in a condition to work the vessel, and very often the officers
themselves were forced to lend a hand. "Whence I can affirm," says
Velho, "that if the time in which we sailed across those seas had
been prolonged a fortnight, nobody from hence would have navigated
them after us.... And the captains having held a council upon the
matter, it was resolved that in case of similar winds catching us
again, to return towards India, there to take refuge." On the 2nd of
February, 1499, the Portuguese found themselves at last abreast of a
great town on the coast of Ajan, called Magadoxo, distant 300 miles
from Melinda.

Gama, dreading another reception like the one given to him at
Mozambique, would not stop here, but while passing within sight of
the town, ordered a general discharge of the guns. A few days
afterwards the rich and salubrious plains of Melinda came in sight,
and here they cast anchor. The king hastened to send off fresh
provisions and oranges for the invalids on board. The reception
given by him to the Portuguese was in every particular most
affectionate, and the friendship which had arisen during Gama's
first visit to Melinda was greatly strengthened. The Sheik of
Melinda sent for the King of Portugal a horn made of ivory and a
number of other presents, entreating Gama at the same time to
receive a young Moor on board his ship, that through him the king
might learn how earnestly he desired his friendship.

The five days' rest at Melinda was of the greatest benefit to the
Portuguese, at its expiration they again set sail. Soon after
passing Mombaz they were obliged to burn the _Sam-Raphael_, the
crews being too much reduced to be able to work three ships. They
discovered the Island of Zanzibar, anchored in the Bay of Sam-Braz,
and on the 20th February, a favourable wind enabled them to double
the Cape of Good Hope, when they again found themselves upon the
Atlantic Ocean. The breeze remaining favourable, helped forward the
return of the mariners, and at the end of twenty-seven days, they
had arrived in the neighbourhood of the Island of Santiago. On the
25th of April Nicholas Coelho, captain of the _Berrio_, eager to be
the first to carry to Emmanuel the news of the discovery of the
Indies, separated himself from his chief, and without touching, as
had been arranged, at the Cape de Verd Islands, made sail direct for
Portugal, arriving there on the 10th of July.

During this time the unfortunate Gama was plunged in the most
profound sorrow, for his brother, Paul da Gama, who had shared his
fatigues and sufferings, and who was to be a partaker of his glory,
seemed to be slowly dying. At Santiago, Vasco da Gama, now returned
to well known and much frequented seas, gave up the command of his
ships to Joao da Saa, and chartered a fast-sailing caravel, to
hasten as much as possible his beloved invalid's return to his
native country. But all hope was vain, and the caravel only arrived
at Terceira in time to inter there the body of the brave and
sympathizing Paul da Gama.

Upon his arrival in Portugal, which must have taken place during the
early part of September, the admiral was received with stately
festivals. Of the 160 Portuguese whom he had taken with him,
fifty-five only returned with him. The loss was great certainly, but
what was it compared with the great advantages to be hoped for? The
public realized this, and gave the most enthusiastic reception to
Gama. The King, Emmanuel II., added to his own titles that of Lord
of the conquests and of the navigation of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia,
and the Indies; but he allowed two years to pass before rewarding
Gama. He then bestowed upon him the title of Admiral of the Indies,
and authorized him to use the prefix of _Dom_ before his name, a
privilege then rarely granted. Also, doubtless to make Vasco da Gama
forget the tardiness with which his services had been rewarded, the
king gave him 1000 crowns, a considerable sum for that period, and
also conceded to him certain privileges in connexion with the
commerce of the Indies, which were likely speedily to make his


Alvarès Cabral--Discovery of Brazil--The coast of Africa--Arrival at
Calicut, Cochin, Cananore--Joao da Nova--Gama's second expedition--
The King of Cochin--The early life of Albuquerque--The taking of
Goa--The siege and capture of Malacca--Second expedition against
Ormuz--Ceylon--The Moluccas--Death of Albuquerque--Fate of the
Portuguese empire of the Indies.

On the 9th of March, 1500, a fleet of thirteen vessels left Rastello,
under the command of Pedro Alvarès Cabral; on board, as a volunteer,
was Luiz de Camoens, who in his poem the "Lusiad," was to render
illustrious the valour and adventurous spirit of his countrymen. But
little is known of Cabral, and nothing of the reason which had
gained him the command of this important expedition. Cabral belonged
to one of the most illustrious families in Portugal, and his father,
Fernando Cabral, lord of Zurara da Beira, was Alcalde mõr of
Belmonte. Pedro Alvarès Cabral had married Isabel de Castro, first
lady in waiting to the Infanta Dona Maria, daughter of John III. If
it be asked whether Cabral had made himself famous by some important
maritime discovery, we answer there is no reason to think so, for in
that case the historians would have recorded it. But it is difficult
to believe that he owed to court favour alone the command of an
expedition in which such men as Bartholomew Diaz, Nicholas Coelho
the companion of Gama, and Sancho de Thovar sailed under his orders.
Why had not this mission been confided to Gama, who had been at home
for six months, and whose knowledge of the countries to be visited
and of the manners of their inhabitants, seemed to point him out as
the fittest man for the service? Had he not yet recovered from the
fatigues of his first voyage? Or had his grief for the loss of a
brother who had died almost within sight of the coasts of Portugal
so deeply affected him, that he desired to remain in retirement? May
it not rather have been that King Emmanuel was jealous of the fame
of Gama, and did not wish to give him the opportunity of increasing
his renown? These are problems which perhaps history may be for ever
unable to solve.

It is easy to believe in the realization of those things which we
ardently desire. Emmanuel imagined that the Zamorin of Calicut would
not object to the establishment of Portuguese shops and factories in
his country, and Cabral, the bearer of presents of such magnificence
as to obliterate the memory of the shabbiness of those offered by
Gama, received orders to obtain from the Zamorin an interdict,
forbidding any Moor to carry on trade in his capital. The new
Capitam mõr was in the first place to visit Melinda, to offer rich
presents to its king, and to restore to him the Moor who had come to
Portugal with Gama. Sixteen friars were sent out on board the fleet,
charged to carry the knowledge of the Gospel to the distant
countries of Asia.

The fleet had sailed for thirteen days and had passed the Cape de
Verd Islands, when it was discovered that one of the ships, under
the command of Vasco d'Ataïde, was no longer in company. The rest of
the ships lay to for some time to await her, but in vain, and the
twelve vessels then continued their navigation upon the open sea,
and not, as had been the manner hitherto, steering simply from cape
to cape along the shores of Africa. Cabral hoped by this means to
avoid the calms in the Gulf of Guinea, which had proved so great a
cause of delay to the preceding expeditions. Perhaps even the
Capitam mõr, who must, in common with the rest of his countrymen,
have been acquainted with the discoveries of Christopher Columbus,
may have had the secret hope, by keeping to the west, of arriving at
some region unvisited by the great navigator.

The fact remains, whether it is to be accounted for by a storm or by
some secret design, that the fleet was out of the right way for
doubling the Cape of Good Hope when, on the 22nd of April, a high
mountain was seen, and soon afterwards a long stretch of coast,
which received the name of Vera Cruz, changed afterwards to that of
Santa Cruz. This was Brazil, and the point where now stands Porto
Seguro. On the 28th, after a skilful reconnaissance of the coasts
had been made by Coelho, the Portuguese sailors landed upon the
American shores, and became aware of a delicious mildness of
temperature, with a luxuriance of vegetation greatly exceeding
anything which they had seen on the coasts of Africa or of Malabar.
The natives formed themselves in groups around the sailors, without
showing the least sign of fear. They were almost naked, and bore
upon the wrist a tame parroquet, after the fashion in which the
gentlemen of Europe carry their hawks or their gerfalcons.

On Easter Sunday, the 26th of April, a solemn mass was celebrated on
the shore in sight of the Indians, whose silence and attitude of
respect excited the admiration of the Portuguese. On the 1st of May
a large cross and a padrao were erected on the shore, and Cabral
formally took possession of the country in the name of the King of
Portugal. His first care after this formality was accomplished was
to despatch Gaspard de Lemos to Lisbon, to announce the discovery of
this rich and fertile country. Lemos took with him the narrative of
the expedition written by Pedro Vaz de Caminha, and an important
astronomical document, the work of Master Joao, in which was
doubtless stated the exact situation of the new conquest. Before
setting out for Asia, Cabral put on land two criminals, whom he
ordered to ascertain the resources and riches of the country, as
well as the manners and customs of the inhabitants. These wise and
far-sighted measures speak much for Cabral's prudence and sagacity.

[Illustration: Cabral takes formal possession of Brazil.]

It was the 2nd of May when the fleet lost sight of Brazil. All on
board, rejoicing over this happy commencement of the voyage,
believed in the prospect of an easy and rapid success, when the
appearance of a brilliant comet on eight consecutive days struck the
ignorant and simple minds of the sailors with terror; they
considered it must be a bad omen, and for this once events appeared
to justify superstition. A fearful storm arose, waves mountains high
broke over the ships, whilst the wind blew furiously and rain fell
without ceasing. When the sun at length succeeded in piercing the
thick curtain of clouds which almost entirely intercepted his rays,
a horrible scene was disclosed. The water looked thick and black,
large patches of a livid white colour flecked the foaming, crested
waves, while during the night phosphorescent lights, streaking the
immense plain of water, marked out the course of the ships with a
train of fire. For two-and-twenty days, without truce or mercy, the
Portuguese ships were battered by the furious elements. The
terrified sailors were utterly prostrate; they vainly exhausted
their prayers and vows, and obeyed the orders of their officers only
from the force of habit; from the first day they had given up any
hope of their lives being spared, and only awaited the moment when
they should all be submerged. When light at length returned and the
billows became calm, each crew, thinking themselves to be perhaps
the sole survivors, looked eagerly over the sea in search of their
companions. Three ships met together again with a joy which the sad
reality soon abated. Eight vessels were missing; four had been
engulfed by a gigantic water-spout during the last days of the storm.
One of these had been commanded by Bartholomew Diaz, the discoverer
of the Cape of Good Hope: he had been drowned by these murderous
waves, the defenders, according to Camoens, of the empire of the
east against the nations of the west, who had for so many centuries
coveted her marvellous riches.

During this long series of storms the Cape had been doubled and the
fleet was approaching the coast of Africa. On the 20th of July
Mozambique was signalled. The Moors of this place showed a more
agreeable disposition than they had done when Gama was there, and
furnished the Portuguese with two pilots, who conducted them to
Quiloa, an island famed for the trade in gold-dust which was carried
on with Sofala. There Cabral found two of the missing ships, which
had been driven to this island by the wind. A plot was on foot in
Quiloa for a wholesale massacre of the Europeans, but this was
frustrated by a prompt departure from the island, and the ships
arrived at Melinda without any untoward incident. The stay of the
fleet in this port was the occasion of fêtes and rejoicings without
number, and soon, revictualled, repaired, and furnished with
excellent pilots, the Portuguese vessels sailed for Calicut, where
they arrived on the 13th of December, 1500.

[Illustration: View of Quiloa. _From an old print_.]

This time, thanks to the power of their arms as well as to the
richness of the presents offered to the Zamorin, the reception was
different, and the versatile prince agreed to all the demands of
Cabral: namely, a monopoly of the trade in aromatics and spicery,
and the right of seizure upon all vessels which should infringe this
privilege. For some time the Moors dissembled their resentment, but
when they had succeeded in thoroughly exasperating the population
against the foreigners, they rushed at a given signal into the
factory which was under the direction of Ayrès Correa, and massacred
fifty of the Portuguese, whom they surprised in it. Vengeance for
this outrage was not slow; ten boats moored in the port were taken,
pillaged, and burnt before the eyes of the Hindoos, who were
powerless to render opposition; afterwards the town was bombarded,
and was half-buried under its ruins.

When this affair was concluded, Cabral, continuing the exploration
of the Malabar coast, arrived at Cochin, where the Rajah, a vassal
of the Zamorin, hastened to conclude an alliance with the Portuguese,
eagerly seizing this opportunity to declare himself independent.
Although by this time his fleet was richly laden, Cabral made a
visit to Cananore, where he entered into a treaty with the Rajah of
the country; then, being impatient to return home, he set sail for
Europe. While coasting along that shore of Africa, which is washed
by the Indian Ocean, he discovered Sofala, a place which had escaped
the observation of Gama. On the 13th of July, 1501, Cabral arrived
at Lisbon, where he had the joy of finding the two remaining ships
which he had imagined to be lost.

It is pleasant to believe that he received the welcome merited by
the important results obtained in this memorable expedition.
Although contemporary historians are silent upon the incidents of
his life after his return, recent research has been rewarded by the
discovery of his tomb at Santarem, and M. Ferdinand Denis has
happily proved that, like Vasco da Gama, he received the title of
_Dom_ as a reward for his glorious deeds.

Whilst he was returning to Europe Alvarès Cabral might have
encountered a fleet of four caravels under the command of Joao da
Nova, which King Emmanuel had despatched to give fresh vigour to the
commercial relations which Cabral had been charged to establish in
the Indies. This new expedition doubled the Cape of Good Hope
without misadventure, discovered between Mozambique and Quiloa an
unknown island, which was named after the commander of the fleet,
and arrived at Melinda, where Da Nova was informed of the events
which had taken place at Calicut. He felt that he had not forces at
his disposal sufficient to justify him in going to punish the
Zamorin, and not wishing to endanger the prestige of Portuguese arms
by the risk of a reverse, he steered for Cochin and Cananore, of
which the kings, although tributaries of the Zamorin, had entered
into alliance with Alvarès Cabral. Da Nova had already taken on
board 1000 hundredweights of pepper, 50 of ginger, and 450 of
cinnamon, when he received warning that a considerable fleet, coming
apparently from Calicut, was advancing with hostile intentions. If
he had hitherto been more concerned with trade than with war, he did
not the less in these critical circumstances display a bold and
courageous spirit worthy of his predecessors. He accepted the combat,
notwithstanding the apparent superiority of the Hindoos, and partly
by the skilful arrangements which he made, partly by the power of
his guns, he managed to disperse, to take, or to sink the hostile
vessels. Perhaps Da Nova ought to have profited by the terror which
his victory had spread along the coast, and the temporary exhaustion
of the Moorish resources, to strike a great blow by the taking of
Calicut. But we are too far removed in time from the events, and
know too little of their details, to appreciate with impartiality
the reasons which induced the admiral to return immediately to

It was during this latter part of his voyage that Nova discovered
the small island of Saint Helena in the midst of the Atlantic. A
curious story attaches to this discovery. A certain Fernando Lopez
had followed Gama to the Indies; this man, wishing to marry a Hindoo,
was forced for this purpose to renounce Christianity and become a
Mahometan. Upon Nova's visit, having had enough either of his wife
or of her religion, he begged to be taken back to his country, and
returned to his old creed. Upon arriving at Saint Helena, Lopez, in
obedience to a sudden idea, which he regarded as an inspiration from
on high, requested to be landed there, in order, as he said, to
expiate his detestable apostasy and to atone for it by his devotion
to humanity. His will appeared so fixed that Da Nova was forced to
consent, and he left him there, having given him at his request
various seeds of fruits and vegetables. It must be added that this
singular hermit worked for four years at the clearing and planting
of the island with such success, that ships were soon able to call
there to revictual during their long passage from Europe to the Cape
of Good Hope.

The successive expeditious of Gama, Cabral, and Da Nova had
conclusively proved that an uninterrupted commerce must not be
reckoned upon, nor a continued exchange of merchandise, with the
population of the Malabar Coast, who, while their own independence
and liberty were respected had each time leagued together against
the Portuguese. That trade with Europeans which they so persistently
refused, must be forced upon them, and for that purpose permanent
military establishments must be formed, capable of overawing the
malcontents, and even in case of necessity of taking possession of
the country. But to whom should such an important mission be
entrusted? The choice could scarcely be doubtful, and Vasco da Gama
was unanimously chosen to take the command of the powerful armament
which was in preparation.

Vasco had ten ships under his own immediate command, while his
second brother Stephen da Gama, and his cousin Vincent Sodrez, had
each five ships under his orders, but they were both to recognise
Vasco da Gama as their chief. The ceremonies which preceded the
departure of the fleet from Lisbon were of a particularly grave and
solemn character. King Emmanuel, followed by the whole court,
repaired to the cathedral in the midst of an enormous crowd, and
there called down blessings from heaven upon this expedition, partly
religious, partly military, while the Archbishop blessed the banner
which was entrusted to Gama.

The admiral's first care was to visit Sofala and Mozambique, towns
of which he had had reason to complain in the course of his first
voyage. Being anxious to establish harbours for refuge, and
revictualling of ships, he established there merchants' offices, and
laid the foundations of forts. He also levied a heavy tribute upon
the Sheik of Quiloa, and then sailed for the coast of Hindostan.
When Gama had arrived off Calicut, he perceived on the 3rd of
October a vessel of large tonnage, which appeared to him to be
richly laden. It was the _Merii_ bringing back from Mecca a great
number of pilgrims belonging to all the countries of Asia. Gama
attacked the ship without provocation, captured her and put to death
more than three hundred men who were on board. Twenty children alone
were saved and taken to Lisbon, where they were baptized, and
entered the army of Portugal. This frightful massacre, besides being
quite in accordance with the ideas of the period, was calculated
according to Gama, to strike terror into the Hindoo mind: it did
nothing of the sort. This hateful and useless cruelty has left a
stain of blood upon the hitherto pure fame of the admiral.

[Illustration: Map of the Coasts of Persia, Guzerat, and Malabar.]

As soon as he arrived at Cananore, Gama obtained an audience of the
Rajah, who authorized him to establish a counting-house, and to
build a fort. At the same time a treaty of alliance, offensive and
defensive was concluded. After setting the labourers to work, and
installing his agent, the admiral set sail for Calicut, where he
intended to summon the Zamorin to a reckoning for his disloyalty, as
well as for the murder of the Portuguese who had been surprised in
the factory. Although the Rajah of Calicut had been informed of the
arrival in the Indies of his formidable enemies, he had taken no
military precautions, and thus, when Gama presented himself before
the town, he was able to seize some vessels anchored in the port and
to make a hundred prisoners, without encountering any resistance;
afterwards he granted the Zamorin a respite of four days, in which
to make atonement to the Portuguese for the murder of Correa, and to
refund the value of the merchandise which had been stolen on that

The time specified had scarcely elapsed when the bodies of fifty of
the prisoners were strung up at the yard-arms of the vessels, where
they remained exposed to the view of the town during the whole day.
In the evening the feet and hands of these expiatory victims were
cut off and taken on shore, with a letter from the admiral,
declaring that his vengeance would not be limited to this execution.
Accordingly, under cover of the night, the broadsides of the vessels
were brought to bear upon the town, which was bombarded for the
space of three days. It will never be known what was the exact
number of the slain, but it must have been considerable. Without
reckoning those killed by the fire of the cannon and the muskets, a
great number of Hindoos were buried beneath the ruins of the
buildings, or perished in the conflagration, which destroyed a
portion of the town of Calicut. The Rajah had been one of the first
to take flight, and fortunate was it for him that he had done so,
for his palace was amongst the buildings which were demolished. At
length, satisfied with having transformed this heretofore rich and
populous city into a heap of ruins, and considering his vengeance
satiated, and that the lesson so taught would be profitable, Gama
set sail for Cochin, leaving behind him Vincent Sodrez, with several
ships, to continue the blockade.

Triumpara, the sovereign of Cochin, informed the admiral that he had
been eagerly solicited by the Zamorin to take advantage of the
confidence reposed in him by the Portuguese, to surprise and seize
them, in consequence of which intelligence, and to reward the
integrity of the king whose loyalty had exposed him to the enmity of
the Rajah of Calicut, Gama, when starting for Lisbon with a valuable
cargo, left with Triumpara ships sufficient to enable him to await
in safety the arrival of another squadron. During Gama's return
voyage the only noteworthy incident that occurred was the defeat of
another Malabar fleet. The admiral arrived in Europe on the 20th of
December, 1503.

Once more the eminent services rendered by this great man went
unrecognised, or rather they were not appreciated as they deserved.
Gama, who had just laid the foundations of the colonial empire of
Portugal in India, remained for one and twenty years without
employment, and it was only through the intercession of the Duke of
Braganza, that he obtained the title of Count de Vidigueyra. A too
common instance this of ingratitude, but one which it is never _mal
à propos_ to stigmatize as it deserves.

Scarcely had Gama set out for Europe, before the Zamorin at the
instigation of the Musselmen, who saw their commercial supremacy
more and more compromised, assembled his allies at Pani with the
object of attacking the King of Cochin and of punishing him for the
counsel and assistance which he had given to the Portuguese. The
unfortunate Rajah's fidelity was now put to a hard proof. Besieged
in his capital by a large force, he saw himself all at once deprived
of the aid of those for whose advantage he had incurred so great a
risk. Sodrez and several of his captains had deserted the post,
where both honour and gratitude required them to remain, and if need
were, to die in the discharge of their duty; they forsook Triumpara
to go and cruise in the neighbourhood of Ormuz, and at the entrance
to the Red Sea, where they calculated that the annual pilgrimage to
Mecca was likely to ensure them some rich booty. The Portuguese
agent vainly represented to them the unworthiness of their conduct,
they set out in haste, to escape from these inconvenient reproaches.

The King of Cochin, betrayed by some of the Nairs (military nobles)
of his palace, who had been gained over by the Zamorin, soon saw his
capital carried by assault, and was obliged to seek refuge upon an
inaccessible rock in the little Island of Viopia, with those
Portuguese who had remained faithful to him. When he was reduced to
the last extremity, an emissary was sent to him by the Zamorin, to
promise him pardon and oblivion of his offences if he would give up
to him the Portuguese. But Triumpara, whose fidelity cannot be
sufficiently commended, answered, "that the Zamorin might use his
rights of victory; that he was not ignorant of the perils by which
he was menaced, but that it was not in the power of any man to make
him a traitor and a perjurer." No one could have made a nobler
return than this for the desertion and cowardice of Sodrez.

Vincent Sodrez had arrived at the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, when a
fearful tempest occurred, in which his ship split upon the rocks,
and he and his brother perished. The survivors regarded this event
as a judgment of Providence for their bad conduct, and they made
haste, with all sails set to return to Cochin. They were detained by
contrary winds at the Laccadive Islands, and were there joined by
another Portuguese squadron under the command of Francisco
d'Albuquerque, who had sailed from Lisbon almost at the same time as
his cousin Alfonzo d'Albuquerque the most distinguished captain of
the period, who with the title of Capitam mõr had started from Belem
at the beginning of April, 1503.

The arrival of Francisco d'Albuquerque placed the Portuguese affairs,
which had been so gravely compromised by the criminal conduct of
Sodrez, upon a better footing, and at the same time effected the
rescue of Triumpara, their sole and faithful ally. The besiegers
fled at the sight of the Portuguese squadron, without even a show of
resistance, and the Europeans in conjunction with the troops of the
King of Cochin ravaged the Malabar Coast. As a consequence of these
events, Triumpara allowed his allies to construct a second fortress
in his dominions, and authorised an augmentation of the number and
importance of their mercantile houses. This was the moment that
witnessed the arrival of Alfonzo d'Albuquerque, the man destined to
be the real creator of the Portuguese Empire in the Indies. Diaz,
Cabral, and Gama, had prepared the way, but Albuquerque was the
leader of large views who was needed to determine which were the
principal towns that must be seized in order to place the Portuguese
dominion upon a solid and lasting basis. Thus every particular of
the history of this man who showed so great a genius for
colonisation, is of the deepest interest, and it is well worth while
to record some particulars of his family, his education, and his
early exploits.

Alfonzo d'Alboquerque or d'Albuquerque, was born in 1453 at Alhandra,
eighteen miles from Lisbon. Through his father Gonzalo d'Albuquerque,
the Lord of Villaverde, he was descended, but illegitimately, from
King Diniz; and through his mother from the Menezez, the great
explorers. Brought up at the court of Alphonzo V., he there received
as liberal and thorough an education as was possible at the period.
He made an especial study of the great writers of antiquity, whose
influence may be traced in the majesty and accuracy of his own style,
and of mathematics of which he knew as much as could be learnt at
that time. After staying for some years at Arzila, an African town
which was under the dominion of Alphonzo V., he returned to Portugal,
and was appointed Master of the Horse to John II., a prince whose
chief anxiety was to extend the name and power of Portugal beyond
the seas. It is evident that it was to the constant attendance upon
the king imposed upon him by the duties of his office, that
Albuquerque owed the inclination of his mind towards geographical
studies, and his anxious desire to find the means of giving to his
country the Empire of the Indies. He had already taken part in an
expedition sent to the succour of the King of Naples against an
incursion of the Turks, and in 1489, had been charged with the
commission of revictualling and defending the fortress of Graciosa,
upon the coast of Larache.

We must now return from this digression and take up the history of
Albuquerque, from the time of his arrival in India in 1503. It took
him but a few days to become thoroughly aware of the position of
affairs; he perceived that the commerce of Portugal must depend upon
conquest for its power of development. But his first enterprise was
proportioned to the feebleness of his resources; he laid siege to
Raphelim, which he wished to make a military station for his
countrymen, and then with two ships he undertook a reconnaissance of
the coast of Hindostan. Being attacked quite unexpectedly both by
land and sea, he was on the point of yielding when the fortunate
arrival of his cousin Francisco turned the combat, and put the
Zamorin's troops to flight. The importance of this victory was
considerable; the conquerors remained masters of an immense booty
and quantities of precious stones, which had the result of
stimulating the Portuguese spirit of covetousness; at the same time
it confirmed Albuquerque in his designs, for the execution of which
the consent of the king was needful, and also more considerable
resources. He therefore set out on his return to Lisbon, where he
arrived in July, 1504.

This same year, King Emmanuel wishing to organize a regular
government in the Indies, had made Tristan da Cunha his viceroy, but
Da Cunha having become temporarily blind was obliged to resign his
power before he had exercised it. The king's choice next fell upon
Francisco d'Almeida, who set out with his son in 1505. It will be
soon seen what were the means which he considered should be employed
to assure the triumph of his countrymen.

On the 6th of March, 1506, sixteen vessels left Lisbon under the
command of Tristan da Cunha, who had by that time regained his
health. With him went Alfonzo Albuquerque, carrying with him, but
unknown to himself, his patent of Viceroy of India. He was ordered
not to open the sealed packet until three years should have expired,
when Almeida would have completed the term of his mission.

This numerous fleet, after having stopped at the Cape de Verd
Islands and discovered Cape St. Augustine in Brazil, steered
directly for the unexplored parts of the South Atlantic, and went so
far south that the old chroniclers assert that several sailors being
too lightly clad died from cold, while the others were scarcely able
to work the ships. In 37 degrees 8 minutes south latitude, and 14
degrees 21 minutes west longitude, Da Cunha discovered three small
uninhabited islands, of which the largest still bears his name. A
storm prevented a landing there, and so completely dispersed the
fleet that the admiral could not get his vessels together again
before he arrived at Mozambique. In sailing along this African coast
he explored the island of Madagascar or Sam-Lorenzo, which had just
been discovered by Soarez, who was in command of eight vessels which
Almeida was sending back to Europe; it was not thought advisable to
make a settlement upon the island.

After having wintered at Mozambique, Da Cunha landed three
ambassadors at Melinda, who were to reach Abyssinia by travelling
overland, then he anchored at Brava, which Coutinho, one of his
lieutenants had been unable to subjugate. The Portuguese now laid
siege to this town, which resisted bravely but which yielded in the
end, thanks to the courage of the enemy and the perfection of their
arms. The population was massacred without mercy, and the town
pillaged and burnt. Upon Magadoxo, another town on the African Coast,
Cunha tried but in vain, to impose his authority. The strength of
the town and the stubborn resolution shown by the numerous
population as well as the approach of winter forced him to raise the
siege. He then turned his arms against Socotra, at the entrance of
the Gulf of Aden, where he carried the fortress. The whole of the
garrison were put to the sword, the only man spared being an old
blind soldier, who was discovered hidden in a well. When asked how
he had been able to get down there, he answered,--"The blind only
see the road which leads to liberty." At Socotra, the two Portuguese
chiefs constructed the fort of Çoco, intended by Albuquerque to
command the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, by the Strait of
Bab-el-Mandeb, thus cutting one of the lines of communication with
the Indies, which was the most used by the Venetians.

Here Da Cunha and Albuquerque separated, the former going to India
to obtain a cargo of spices, the latter officially invested with the
title of Capitam mõr, and bent on the realization of his vast
schemes, setting out on the 10th of August, 1507, for Ormuz, having
left his nephew Alfonzo da Noronha in charge of the new fortress. He
took in succession, and as if to get his hand in for the work,
Calayati, where were found immense stores, Curiaty and Mascati,
which he gave up to pillage, fire, and destruction, in order to
avenge a series of acts of treachery easily understood by those who
know the duplicity of these eastern people. The success which he had
just gained at Mascati, important as it was, did not content
Albuquerque. He dreamed of other and grander projects, of which the
execution was, however, much compromised by the jealousy of the
captains under his orders, and notably of Joao da Nova, who
contemplated abandoning his chief, and whom Albuquerque was obliged
to place under arrest on board his own ship. After having suppressed
these beginnings of disobedience and rebellion, the Capitam mõr
reached Orfacati, which was taken after a vigorous resistance.

It is a curious fact that Albuquerque had long heard Ormuz spoken of,
but that as yet he was ignorant of its position. He knew that this
town served as an entrepôt for all the merchandise passing from Asia
into Europe. Its riches and power, the number of its inhabitants and
the beauty of its monuments were at that time celebrated throughout
the East, so much so that there was a common saying, "If the world
be a ring, Ormuz is the precious stone set in it." Albuquerque had
resolved to take this town, not only because in itself it was a
prize worth having, but also because it commanded the whole of the
Persian Gulf, which was the second of the great commercial roads
between the East and West. Without saying anything to the captains
of his fleet, who, without doubt, would have rebelled at the idea of
attacking so strong a town, and the capital of a powerful empire,
Albuquerque gave orders to double Cape Mussendom, and the fleet soon
entered the Strait of Ormuz, the door of the Persian Gulf, from
whence was seen rising in all its magnificence a busy town built
upon a rocky island, provided with formidable artillery, and
protected by an army amounting to not less than from fifteen to
twenty thousand men, while its harbour enclosed a fleet more
numerous than could have been suspected at first sight. At this
sight the captains made urgent representations upon the danger that
Albuquerque would run in attacking so well-prepared a town, and made
the most of the plea how very bad an influence a reverse would
exercise. To this discourse Albuquerque answered, that indeed "it
was a very great affair, but that it was too late to draw back, and
that he had greater need of determination than of good advice."

[Illustration: Albuquerque before Ormuz.]

Scarcely was the anchor dropped before Albuquerque declared his
ultimatum. Although the forces under his orders were very
disproportionate in numbers, the Capitam mõr imperiously demanded
that Ormuz should recognize the suzerainty of the King of Portugal
and submit to his envoy, if it did not wish to share the same fate
as Mascati. The King, Seif-Ed-din, who was then reigning over Ormuz,
was still a child, and his Prime Minister, Kodja-Atar, a skilful and
cunning diplomatist, governed in the king's name. Without denying in
principle the pretensions of Albuquerque, the Prime Minister wished
to gain time, to allow contingents to arrive for the help of the
capital; but the admiral, who guessed his object, did not hesitate,
after waiting three days, to attack the formidable fleet at anchor
under the guns of Ormuz, with his five vessels and the _Flor de la
Mar_, the finest and largest ship of that time. The combat was
bloody and long undecided, but when they saw fortune was against
them the Moors, abandoning their vessels, endeavoured to swim on
shore. The Portuguese upon this jumped into their boats, pursuing
the Moors vigorously, and causing horrible carnage. Albuquerque next
directed his efforts against a large wooden jetty defended by
numerous guns and by archers, whose well-aimed arrows wounded a
number of the Portuguese and the general himself, who, however, was
not hindered thereby from landing and proceeding to burn the suburbs
of the town. Convinced that resistance would soon be impossible, and
that their capital was in danger of being destroyed, the Moors
hoisted a flag of truce, and signed a treaty, by which Seif-Ed-din
declared himself the vassal of King Emmanuel, promised to pay him an
annual tribute of 15,000 seraphins or xarafins, and gave to the
conquerors a site for a fortress, which, in spite of the repugnance
and reproaches of the Portuguese captains, was soon put into a
condition of resistance. Unfortunately some deserters quickly
brought these unworthy dissensions to the knowledge of Kodja-Atar,
who profited by them to avoid, under various pretexts, fulfilling
the execution of the articles of the new treaty. Some days
afterwards Joao da Nova and two other captains, jealous of the
successes of Albuquerque, and trampling in the dust every sentiment
of honour, discipline, and patriotism, left him to go to the Indies;
while Albuquerque was obliged by this cowardly desertion to withdraw
without being able even to guard the fortress which he had been at
so much pains to construct. He went to Socotra, where the garrison
was in need of help, and then returned to cruise before Ormuz, but
thinking himself too weak to undertake anything, he retired for a
time to Goa, arriving there at the end of the year 1508.

What had been occurring on the Malabar coast during this long and
adventurous campaign? The answer may be summed up in a few lines. It
will be remembered that Almeida had set out from Belem in 1505 with
a fleet of twenty-two sail, carrying soldiers to the number of 1500
men. First he seized Quiloa and then Mombaz, of which the "cavaliers,
as the inhabitants loved to repeat, did not yield as easily as the
chicken hearts of Quiloa." Out of the enormous booty, which by the
fall of this town fell into the hands of the Portuguese, Almeida
only took one arrow as his share of the spoil, thus giving a rare
example of disinterestedness. After having stopped at Melinda he
went on to Cochin, where he delivered to the Rajah the golden crown
sent to him by Emmanuel, whilst he himself, with the presumptuous
vanity of which he gave so many proofs, assumed the title of viceroy.
Then, after commencing a fortress at Sofala, destined to overawe the
Mussulmen of that coast, Almeida and his son, Lorenzo, scoured the
Indian Seas, destroying the Malabar fleets, capturing some trading
vessels, and causing great injury to the enemy, whose accustomed
commercial roads were thus intercepted. But for this cruising
warfare a numerous fleet of light vessels was needed, for there was
scarcely any other harbour of refuge except Cochin upon the Asiatic
coast. How preferable was Albuquerque's system of establishing
himself in the country in a permanent manner, by constructing
fortresses in all directions, by seizing upon the most powerful
cities, whence it was easy to branch off into the interior of the
country, by rendering himself master of the keys of the straits, and
thus ensuring with much less risk, and more solidity, the monopoly
of the Indian commerce.

Meantime the victories of Almeida, and the conquests of Albuquerque
had much disquieted the Sultan of Egypt. The abandonment of the
Alexandrian route caused a great diminution in the amount of imposts
and dues of customs, anchorage, and transit, which were laid upon
the merchandise of Asia as it passed through his states. Therefore,
with the help of the Venetians, who furnished him with the wood for
ship-building as well as with skilful sailors, he fitted out a
squadron of twelve large ships, which came as far as Cochin, seeking
the fleet of Lorenzo d'Almeida, and defeating it in a bloody combat
in which Lorenzo was killed. If the sorrow of the viceroy were great
at this sad news, at least he did not let it appear outwardly, but
set to work to make all preparations for taking prompt vengeance
upon the Roumis,--an appellation which shows the lasting terror
attaching to the name of the Romans, and commonly used at this time
upon the Malabar coast, for all Mussulman soldiers coming from
Byzantium. With nineteen sail Almeida appeared before the fort where
his son had been killed, and gained a great victory, but one sullied,
it must be confessed, by most frightful cruelties, so much so that
it soon became a common saying: "May the anger of the Franks fall
upon thee as it fell upon Daboul." Not content with this first
success, Almeida, some weeks later, annihilated the combined forces
of the Sultan of Egypt, and the Rajah of Calicut, before Diu. This
victory made a profound impression in India, and put an end to the
power of the _Mahumetists_ of Egypt.

Joao da Nova and the other captains, who had abandoned Albuquerque
before Ormuz, had decided to rejoin Almeida; they had excused their
disobedience by calumnies, in consequence of which a judicial
process was about to be instituted against Albuquerque, when the
viceroy received the news of his being replaced in his office by
Albuquerque. At first Almeida declared that obedience must be
rendered to this sovereign decree, but afterwards influenced by the
traitors, who feared that they would be severely punished when the
power had passed into the hands of Albuquerque, he repaired to
Cochin in the month of March, 1509, with the fixed determination not
to give up the command to his successor. There were disagreeable and
painful disputes between these two great men, in which all the wrong
done was on the side of Almeida. Albuquerque was about to be sent to
Lisbon with chains on his feet, when a fleet of fifteen sail entered
the harbour, under the command of the grand Marshal of Portugal,
Ferdinand Coutinho. The latter took the part of the prisoner, whom
he immediately released, notifying again to Almeida the powers held
by Albuquerque from the king, and threatening him with the great
anger of Emmanuel if he refused to obey. Almeida could do nothing
but yield, and he then did it nobly. As for Joao da Nova, the author
of these sad misunderstandings, he died some time afterwards,
forsaken by everybody, and had scarcely any one to follow him to the
grave except the new viceroy, who thus generously forgot the
injuries done to Alfonzo Albuquerque.

Immediately after the departure of Almeida, the grand Marshal
Coutinho declared that, having come to India with the intention of
destroying Calicut, he intended to turn to account the absence of
the Zamorin from his capital. In vain the new viceroy endeavoured to
modify his zeal and induce him to take the wise measures recommended
by experience. Coutinho would listen to nothing, and Albuquerque was
obliged to follow him. Calicut, taken by surprise, was easily set on
fire; but the Portuguese, having lingered to pillage the Zamorin's
palace, were fiercely attacked in rear by the Nairs, who had
succeeded in rallying their troops. Coutinho, whose impetuous valour
led him into the greatest danger, was killed, and it required all
the skill and coolness of the viceroy to effect a re-embarkation of
the troops under the enemy's fire, and to preserve the soldiers of
the King of Portugal from total destruction.

On his return to Cintagara, a sea-port which was a dependency of the
King of Narsingue, with whom the Portuguese had been able to form an
alliance, Albuquerque learnt that Goa, the capital of a powerful
kingdom, was a prey to political and religious anarchy. Several
chiefs were contending there for power. One of them, Melek Çufergugi,
was just on the point of seizing the throne, and it was important to
profit by the circumstances of the moment, and attack the town
before he should have been able to gather a force capable of
resisting the Portuguese. The viceroy perceived all the importance
of this counsel. The situation of Goa, giving access as it did to
the kingdom of Narsingue and to the Deccan, had already struck him
forcibly. He did not delay, and soon the Portuguese reckoned one
conquest more. Goa the Golden, a cosmopolitan town, where were
mingled with all the various sects of Islam Parsees, the worshippers
of Fire, and even some Christians, submitted to Albuquerque, and
soon became, under a wise and strict government which understood how
to conciliate the sympathies of opposing sects, the capital, the
chief fortress, and the principal seat of trade of the Portuguese
empire of the Indies.

By degrees and with the course of years the knowledge of these rich
countries had increased. Much information had been gathered together
by all those who had ploughed these sunny seas in their gallant
vessels, and it was now known what was the centre of production of
those spices which people went so far to seek, and for whose
acquisition they encountered so many perils. It was already several
years since Almeida had founded the first Portuguese factories in
Ceylon, the ancient Taprobane. The Islands of Sunda, and the
Peninsula of Malacca, were now exciting the desires of King Emmanuel,
who had already been surnamed "the fortunate." He resolved to send a
fleet to explore them, for Albuquerque had enough to do in India to
restrain the trembling Rajahs, and the Mussulmen--Moors as they were
then called--who were always ready to shake off the yoke. This new
expedition was under the command of Diego Lopez Sequeira, and
according to the traditional policy of the Moors, was at first
amicably received at Malacca; but when the suspicions of Lopez
Sequeira had been lulled to sleep by reiterated protestations of
alliance, the whole population suddenly rose against him, and he was
forced to return on board, but not without leaving thirty of his
companions in the hands of the Malays. These events had already
happened some time when the news of the taking of Goa arrived at
Malacca. The _bendarra_, or Minister of Justice, who exercised regal
power in the name of his nephew who was still a child, fearing the
vengeance which the Portuguese would doubtless exact for his
treachery, resolved to pacify them. He went to visit his prisoners,
excused himself to them by swearing that all had been done unknown
to him and against his will, for he desired nothing so much as to
see the Portuguese establish themselves in Malacca; also he was
about to order the authors of the treason to be sought out and
punished. The prisoners naturally gave no credence to these lying
declarations, but profiting by the comparative liberty which was
henceforth granted to them, they cleverly succeeded in conveying to
Albuquerque some valuable information upon the position and strength
of the town.

Albuquerque with much trouble collected a fleet of nineteen men of
war, carrying fourteen hundred men, amongst whom there were only
eight hundred Portuguese. This being the case, ought he to venture
in obedience to the wish of King Emmanuel to steer for Aden, the key
of the Red Sea, which it was important to master in preparation for
opposing the passage of a new squadron, which the Sultan of Egypt
was intending to send to India? Albuquerque hesitated, when a change
in the trade-winds occurred which put an end to his irresolution. In
fact, it was impossible to reach Aden in the teeth of the prevailing
wind, while it was favourable for a descent upon Malacca. This town,
at that time in its full splendour, did not contain less than
100,000 inhabitants. If many of the houses were built of wood, and
roofed with the leaves of the palm-tree, yet they were equalled in
number by the more important buildings, such as mosques and towers
built of stone, which stretched out in a long panorama for the
distance of three miles. The ships of India, China, and of the Malay
kingdoms of the Sunda Islands, met in its harbour, where numerous
vessels coming from the Malabar coast, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea,
and the coast of Africa traded in merchandise of all kinds and of
every country.

When the Rajah of Malacca saw the Portuguese fleet arrive in his
waters, he felt that it was necessary to appear to give satisfaction
to the foreigners by sacrificing the minister who had excited their
anger and caused their arrival. His ambassador therefore came to the
viceroy to announce the death of the _bendarra_, and to find out
what were the intentions of the Portuguese. Albuquerque answered by
demanding the prisoners who had remained in the hands of the Rajah,
but the latter, desirous of gaining time to allow for the expected
change in the trade-wind,--a change which would force the Portuguese
to regain the Malabar coast, or else would oblige them to remain at
Malacca, where he hoped to be able to exterminate them,--invented a
thousand pretexts for delay, and in the meantime according to the
old narratives, he prepared a battery of 8000 cannon, and collected
troops to the number of 20,000. At length Albuquerque lost his
patience, and ordered some houses and several Gujerat vessels to be
set on fire, a beginning of execution which speedily brought about
the restoration of the prisoners; he then claimed 20,000 crusades as
indemnity for the damage caused to the fleet of Lopez Sequeira, and
finally he demanded to be allowed to build a fortress within the
town itself, which should also serve as a counting-house for the
merchants. This demand could not be complied with as Albuquerque
well knew; but upon the refusal he resolved to seize the town,
fixing upon St. James' day for the attack. The town was taken
quarter by quarter, house by house, after a truly heroic struggle
and a most vigorous defence, which lasted for nine whole days,
notwithstanding the employment of extraordinary devices, such as
elephants of war, poisoned sabres and arrows, barricades, and
skilfully concealed troops. An enormous booty was divided amongst
the soldiers, Albuquerque only reserving to himself six lions, of
gold according to some accounts, of iron according to others, which
he intended for the adornment of his tomb, to perpetuate the memory
of his victory.

The door which gave access to Oceania, and to Upper Asia, was
henceforth open. Many nations unknown till this time would now have
intercourse with Europeans. The strange manners and fabulous history
of many people were about to be disclosed to the astonished West. A
new era had commenced, and these great results were due to the
unbridled audacity, and indomitable courage of a nation whose
country was scarcely discernible upon the map of the world!

It was in part owing to the religious toleration which Albuquerque
displayed, a toleration which contrasts strangely with the cruel
fanaticism of the Spaniards, and in part to the skilful measures
which he took, that the prosperity of Malacca resisted the rude
shock which it had received. In the course of a few months no trace
remained of the trials which the town had experienced, except the
sight of the Portuguese banner floating proudly over this great city,
which had now become the head and vanguard of the colonial empire of
this people, small in numbers, but rendered great by their courage
and their spirit of enterprise.

Great and wonderful as this new conquest might be, it had not made
Albuquerque forget his former projects. If he had appeared to have
renounced them, it was only because circumstances had not hitherto
seemed favourable for their execution. With that tenacity of
determination which formed the basis of his character, while still
at the southern extremity of the empire which he was founding, his
thoughts were fixed upon the northern part of it, upon Ormuz, which
the jealousy and treachery of his subordinates had obliged him to
abandon at the beginning of his career, at the very moment when
success was about to crown his persevering efforts; it was Ormuz
which tempted him still.

[Illustration: The Island of Ormuz.]

The fame of his exploits and the terror inspired by his name had
decided Kodja-Atar to make some advances to Albuquerque, to ask for
a treaty, and to send the arrears of the tribute which had been
formerly imposed. Although the viceroy placed no belief on these
repeated declarations of friendship--on that Moorish faith which
deserves to be as notorious as Punic faith,--he nevertheless
welcomed them, whilst waiting for the power to establish his
dominion after a permanent manner in these countries. In 1513 or
1514--the exact date is not ascertained--when his fleet and soldiers
were set at liberty by the conquest of Malacca and the tranquillity
of his other possessions, Albuquerque set sail for the Persian Gulf.
Immediately upon his arrival, although a series of revolutions had
changed the government of Ormuz and the power was then in the hands
of a usurper named Rais-Nordim or Noureddin, Albuquerque demanded
that the fortress, which had been formerly begun, should be
immediately placed in his hands. After having had it repaired and
finished, he took part against the pretender Rais Named, in the
quarrel which was then dividing the town of Ormuz and preparing it
to fall under the dominion of Persia. He seized upon the town and
bestowed it upon the aspirant who had accepted his conditions
beforehand, and who appeared to Albuquerque to present the most
solid guarantees of submission and fidelity. Besides, it would not
be difficult in the future to make this certain, for Albuquerque
left in the new fortress a garrison perfectly able to bring
Rais-Nordim to repentance for the slightest attempt at revolt, or
the least desire of independence.

A well-known anecdote is related of this expedition to Ormuz, but
one which, even from its notoriety, we should be blamed for omitting.
When the King of Persia sent to Noureddin to demand the tribute
which the sovereigns of Ormuz had been in the habit of paying to him,
Albuquerque gave orders that a quantity of bullets, cannon-balls and
shells, should be brought from his ships, and showing them to the
ambassadors he told them that such was the coin in which the King of
Portugal was accustomed to pay tribute. It does not appear that the
Persian ambassadors repeated their demand.

[Illustration: Albuquerque had a quantity of bullets brought from
his vessels.]

With his usual wisdom, the viceroy did not wound the feelings of the
inhabitants, who speedily returned to the town. Far from squeezing
all he could from them, as his successors were destined soon to do,
he established an upright system of government which caused the
Portuguese name to be loved and respected.

At the same time that he was himself accomplishing these marvellous
labours, Albuquerque had desired some of his lieutenants to explore
the unknown regions to which access had been given by the taking of
Malacca. For this purpose he gave to Antonio and Francisco d'Abreu
the command of a small squadron carrying 220 men, with which they
explored the whole of the Sunda Archipelago, Sumatra, Java, Anjoam,
Simbala, Jolor, Galam, &c.; then being not far from the coast of
Australia they sailed back again to the north and arrived at the
Islands of Buro and Amboyna, which form part of the Molucca group.
After having made a voyage of more than 1500 miles amongst dangerous
archipelagos strewn with rocks and coral reefs, and amidst
populations often hostile, and after loading their ships there with
cloves, nutmegs, sandal-wood, mace, and pearls, they set sail for
Malacca in 1512. This time the veritable land of spices had been
reached, it now only remained to found establishments there and to
take possession of it definitely, which was not likely to be long

It has been often remarked that the Tarpeian rock is not far from
the Capitol; of this Albuquerque was destined to make experience,
and his last days were to be saddened by unmerited disgrace, the
result of calumnies and lies, and of a skilfully woven plot, which,
although it succeeded in temporarily clouding his reputation with
King Emmanuel, has not availed to obscure the glory of this great
man in the eyes of posterity. Already there had been an effort made
to persuade the king that the taking possession of Goa had been a
grave error; its unhealthy climate must, it was said, decimate the
European population in a short time, but the king, with perfect
confidence in the experience and prudence of his lieutenant, had
refused to listen to his enemies, for which Albuquerque had publicly
thanked him, saying,--"I think more is owing to King Emmanuel for
having defended Goa against the Portuguese, than to myself for
having twice conquered it." But in 1514 Albuquerque had asked the
king to bestow upon him as a reward for his services the title of
Duke of Goa, and it was this imprudent step which gave an advantage
to his adversaries.

Soarez d'Albergavia and Diogo Mendez, whom Albuquerque had sent as
prisoners to Portugal after they had publicly declared themselves
his enemies, had succeeded not only in clearing themselves from the
accusation brought against them by the viceroy, but in persuading
Emmanuel that he wished to constitute an independent duchy of which
Goa should be the capital, and they ended by obtaining his disgrace.
The news of the appointment of Albergavia to the post of
Captain-General of Cochin, reached Albuquerque as he was issuing
from the Strait of Ormuz on his return to the Malabar coast, and at
a time when he was suffering much from disease. "He raised his hands
towards heaven," says M. F. Denis, in his excellent History of
Portugal, "and pronounced these few words: Behold I am in disgrace
with the king on account of my love to men, and with men on account
of my love to the king. Turn thee, old man, to the Church, and
prepare to die, for it behoves thine honour that thou shouldest die,
and never hast thou neglected to do aught which thine honour
demands." Whereupon, being arrived in the roadstead of Goa, Alfonzo
Albuquerque set in order the affairs of his conscience with the
Church, caused himself to be clad in the dress of the Order of St.
Iago of which he was a commander, and then "on Sunday the 16th of
December, an hour before daybreak, he rendered up his soul to God.
Thus ended all his labours, without their having ever brought him
any satisfaction."

Albuquerque was buried with great pomp. The soldiers who had been
the faithful companions of his wonderful adventures, and the
witnesses of his manifold tribulations, disputed amidst their tears
for the honour of carrying his remains to their last resting-place,
which their commander had himself chosen. The Hindoos in their grief
refused to believe that he was dead, declaring that he was gone to
command the armies of the sky. A letter of King Emmanuel has been
comparatively lately discovered which proves that, although he were
deceived for a time by the false reports of the enemies of
Albuquerque, he soon discovered his mistake, and rendered him full
and entire justice. Unfortunately this letter of reparation never
reached the unfortunate second Viceroy of the Indies; it would have
sweetened his last moments, whereas he had the pain of dying in the
belief that the sovereign for whose glory and the increase of whose
power he had consecrated his life, had in the end proved ungrateful
towards him. "With Albuquerque," says Michelet, "all humanity and
all justice disappeared from amongst the conquerors. Long years
after his death the Indians would repair to the tomb of the great
Albuquerque, to demand justice of him against the oppressions of his

Many causes may be adduced as bringing about the rapid decay and
dismemberment of that great colonial empire with which Albuquerque
had enriched his country, and which even amidst its ruins has left
ineffaceable traces upon India. With Michelet we may cite the
distance and dispersion of the various factories, the smallness of
the population of Portugal, but little suited to the wide extension
of her establishments, the love of brigandage, and the exactions of
a bad government, but beyond all, that indomitable national pride
which forbade any mingling of the victors with the vanquished.

The fall of the colonial empire was hindered for a time by the
influence of two heroic men, the first was Juan de Castro, who after
having had the control of untold riches, remained so poor that he
had not even the wherewithal to buy a fowl in his last illness; and
the second, Ataïde, who once again gave the corrupt eastern
populations an example of the most manly virtues, and of the most
upright administration. But after their time the empire began to
drop to pieces, and fell by degrees into the hands of the Spaniards
and the Dutch, who in their turn were unable to preserve it intact.
All passes away, all is changed. What can be said but to repeat the
Spanish saw, in applying it to the case of empires, "Life is but a





Hojeda--Americus Vespucius--The New World named after him--Juan de
la Cosa--Vincent Yañez Pinzon--Bastidas--Diego de Lepe--Diaz de
Solis--Ponce de Leon and Florida--Balboa discovers the Pacific
Ocean--Grijalva explores the coast of Mexico.

The letters and narratives of Columbus and his companions,
especially those dwelling upon the large quantity of gold and pearls
found in the recently discovered countries, had inflamed the
imagination of eager traders, and of numbers of gentlemen who loved
adventure. On the 10th of April, 1495, the Spanish government had
issued an order allowing any one who might wish to do so, to go and
discover new countries; but this privilege was so much abused, and
Columbus complained so bitterly of its trenching upon established
rights, that the permission was withdrawn on the 2nd of June, 1497,
and four years later it became necessary to repeat the prohibition
with more severe penalties attached to its infringement. The effect
of the royal decree was at once to produce a kind of general rush to
the Indies, and this was favoured by Bishop Fonseca of Badajoz,
through whose hands passed all business connected with the Indies,
and of whom Columbus had had so much reason to complain.

The admiral had but just left San-Lucar on his third voyage, when
four expeditions of discovery were fitted out almost at the same
moment, at the cost of some rich ship-owners, foremost among whom we
find the Pinzons and Americus Vespucius. The first of these
expeditions, which left the port of Santa-Maria on the 20th of May,
1499, consisted of four vessels, and was commanded by Alonzo Hojeda.
Juan de la Cosa sailed with him as pilot; Americus Vespucius was
also on board, without any very clearly defined duties, but he would
seem to have been astronomer to the fleet.

[Illustration: Americus Vespucius. _Fac-simile of an old print_.]

Before entering on a brief account of this voyage, we will glance
for a few moments at the three men whom we have just named; the last
of the three especially, plays a most important part in the
discovery of the New World, which received its name from him.

Hojeda, born at Cuença about 1465, and brought up in the household
of the Duke of Medina-Celi, had gained his first experience in arms
in the wars against the Moors. Columbus enrolled him amongst the
adventurers whom he recruited for his second voyage, when Hojeda
distinguished himself alike by his cool courage and his readiness in
surmounting all difficulties. What caused his complete rupture with
Columbus remains a mystery; it appears still more inexplicable when
we think of the distinguished services that Hojeda had rendered,
especially in 1495, at the battle of La Vega, when the Caribbean
Confederation was annihilated. All we know is, that on Hojeda's
return to Spain he found shelter and protection with Bishop Fonseca.
It is said even that the Indian minister supplied him with the
journal of the admiral's last voyage, and the map of the countries
which Columbus had discovered.

The first pilot employed by Hojeda was Juan de la Cosa, born
probably at Santona, in the Biscayan country. He had often sailed
along the coast of Africa before accompanying Columbus on his first
voyage, while in the second expedition he filled the post of
hydrographer (_maestro de hacer cartas_).

As specimens of La Cosa's talent in drawing maps may be mentioned
two very curious ones still extant; one showing all the territory
that had been acquired in Africa in 1500, the other on vellum, and
enriched with colour like the first, giving the discoveries made by
Columbus and his successors. The second pilot was Bartholomew Roldan,
who had likewise sailed with Columbus on his voyage to Paria.

As to Americus Vespucius, his duties were not, as we have said, very
clearly defined, he was there to aid in making discoveries (_per
ajutare a discoprire_, says the Italian text of his letter to
Soderini). Born at Florence on the 9th of March, 1451, Amerigo
Vespucci belonged to a family of distinction and wealth. He had made
mathematics, natural philosophy, and astrology (as it was then
called) his special studies. His knowledge of history and literature,
judging from his letters, appears to have been somewhat vague and
ill-digested. He left Florence in 1492 without any special aim in
view, and went to Spain, where he occupied himself at first in
commercial pursuits. We hear of him in Seville acting as factor in
the powerful trading house of his fellow countryman, Juanoto Berardi.
As this house had advanced money to Columbus for his second voyage,
it is not unlikely that Vespucius had become acquainted with the
admiral at this period of his career. On Juanoto's death in 1495,
Vespucius was placed by his heirs at the head of the financial
department of the house. Whether he may have been tired of a
situation that he thought below his powers, or been seized in his
turn with the fever for making new discoveries, or whether he hoped
to make his fortune rapidly in the new countries reputed to be so
rich; whatever in short may have been the motive that actuated him,
at least this we know, that he joined Hojeda's expedition in 1499,
this fact being so stated in Hojeda's deposition in the law-suit
instituted by the Treasury with the heirs of Columbus.

The flotilla, consisting of four vessels, set sail on the 20th of
May from Santa-Maria, taking a south-westerly course, and in
twenty-seven days the American continent was sighted at the place
which was named Venezuela, because the houses being built upon piles
reminded the beholders of Venice. Hojeda, after some ineffectual
attempts to hold intercourse with the natives, with whom he had
several skirmishes, next saw the Island of Margarita; after sailing
about 250 miles to the east of the river Orinoco he reached the Gulf
of Paria, and entered a bay called the Bay of _Las Perlas_, from the
natives of that part being employed in the pearl fisheries.

Guided by the maps of Columbus, Hojeda passed by the Dragon's-Mouth,
which separates Trinidad from the continent, and returned westward
to Cape _La Vela_. Then, after touching at the Caribbee Islands,
where he made a number of prisoners, whom he hoped to sell for
slaves in Spain, he was obliged to cast anchor at Yaquimo, in
Hispaniola, on the 5th of September, 1499.

Columbus, knowing Hojeda's courage and his restless spirit only too
well, feared that he would introduce a new element of discord into
the colony. He therefore despatched Francesco Roldan with two
caravels to inquire into his motives in coming to the island, and if
necessary to prevent his landing. The admiral's fears were but too
well grounded; Hojeda had scarcely landed before he had an interview
with some of the malcontents, inciting them to a rising at Xaragua,
and to a determination to expel Columbus. After some skirmishes,
which had not ended to Hojeda's advantage, a meeting was arranged
for him with Roldan, Diego d'Escobar, and Juan de la Cosa, when they
prevailed upon him to leave the island. "He took with him," says Las
Casas, "a prodigious cargo of slaves, whom he sold in the market at
Cadiz for enormous sums of money." He returned to Spain in February,
1500, where he had been preceded by Americus Vespucius and B. Roldan
on the 18th of October, 1499.

The most southerly point that Hojeda had reached in this voyage was
4 degrees north latitude, and he had only spent fourteen weeks on
the voyage of discovery, properly so called. If we appear to have
dwelt at some length upon this voyage, it is because it was the
first one made by Vespucius. Some authors, Varnhagen for instance,
and quite recently, Mr. H. Major, in his history of Prince Henry the
Navigator, assert that Vespucius' first voyage was in 1497, and
consequently that he must have seen the American continent before
Columbus, but we prefer to follow Humboldt, who spent so many years
in studying the history of the discovery of America, in his opinion
that 1499 was the right date, also M. Ed. Charton and M. Jules
Codine, the latter of whom discussed this question in the Report of
the Geographical Society for 1873, _apropos_ of Mr. Major's book.

"If it were true," says Voltaire, "that Vespucius had discovered the
American Continent, yet the glory would not be his; it belongs
undoubtedly to the man who had the genius and courage to undertake
the first voyage, to Columbus." As Newton says in his argument with
Leibnitz, "the glory is due only to the inventor." But we agree with
M. Codine when he says, "How can we allow that there was an
expedition in 1497 which resulted in the discovery of above 2500
miles of the coast-line of the mainland, when there is no trace of
it left either among the great historians of that time, or in the
legal depositions in connexion with the claims made by the heir of
Columbus against the Spanish Government, in which the priority of
the discoveries of each leader of an expedition is carefully
mentioned, with the part of the coast explored by each?" Finally,
the authentic documents extracted from the archives of the _Casa de
contratacion_ make it evident that Vespucius was entrusted with the
preparation of the vessels destined for the third voyage of Columbus
at Seville and at San Lucar from the middle of August, 1497, till
the departure of Columbus on the 30th of May, 1498. The narratives
of the voyages of Vespucius are very diffuse and wanting in
precision and order; the information they give upon the places he
visited is so vague, that it might apply to one part of the coast as
well as to another; as to the localities treated of, as well as of
the companions of Vespucius, there are no indications given of a
nature to aid the historian. Not a single name is given of any
well-known person, and the dates are contradictory in those famous
letters which have given endless work to commentators. Humboldt says
of them "There is an element of discord in the most authentic
documents relating to the Florentine navigator." We have given an
account of Hojeda's first voyage, which coincides with that of
Vespucius according to Humboldt, who has compared the principal
incidents of the two narratives. Varnhagen asserts that Vespucius,
having started on the 10th of May, 1497, entered the Gulf of
Honduras on the 10th of June, coasted by Yucatan and Mexico, sailed
up the Mississippi, and at the end of February, 1498, doubled the
Cape of Florida. After anchoring for thirty-seven days at the mouth
of the St. Lawrence, he returned to Cadiz in October, 1498.

If Vespucius had really made this marvellous voyage, he would have
far outstripped all the navigators of his time, and would have fully
deserved that his name should be given to the newly-discovered
continent, whose coast-line he had explored for so great a distance.
But nothing is less certain, and Humboldt's opinion has hitherto
appeared to the best writers to offer the largest amount of

Americus Vespucius made three other voyages. Humboldt identifies the
first with that of Vincent Yañez Pinzon, and M. d'Avezac with that
of Diego de Lepe (1499-1500). At the close of this latter year,
Giuliano Bartholomeo di Giocondo induced Vespucius to enter the
service of Emmanuel, King of Portugal, and he accomplished two more
voyages at the expense of his new master. On the first of these two
voyages, he was no higher in command than he had been in his earlier
ones, and only accompanied the expedition as one whose intimate
acquaintance with all nautical matters might prove of service under
certain circumstances. During this voyage the ships coasted along
the American shores from Cape St. Augustine to 52 degrees of south
latitude. The fourth voyage of Vespucius was marked by the wreck of
the flag-ship off the Island of Fernando de Noronha, which prevented
the other vessels from continuing their voyage towards Malacca by
way of the Cape of Good Hope, and obliged the crews to land at All
Saints' Bay, in Brazil.

This fourth voyage was unquestionably made with Gonzalo Coelho, but
we are quite ignorant as to who was in command on the third voyage.
These various expeditions had not tended to enrich Vespucius, while
his position at the Portuguese court was so far from satisfactory
that he determined to re-enter the service of the King of Spain. By
him he was made _Piloto Mayor_ on the 22nd of March, 1508. There
were some valuable emoluments attached for his advantage to this
appointment, which enabled him to end his days, if not as a rich man,
at least as one far removed from want. He died at Seville on the
22nd of February, 1512, with the same conviction as Columbus, that
he had reached the shores of Asia. Americus Vespucius is especially
famous from the New World having been named after him, instead of
being called Columbia, as in all justice it should have been, but
with this Vespucius had nothing to do. He was for a long time
charged, though most unjustly, with impudence, falsehood, and deceit,
it being alleged that he wished to veil the glory of Columbus and to
arrogate to himself the honour of a discovery which did not belong
to him. This was an utterly unfounded accusation, for Vespucius was
both loved and esteemed by Columbus and his contemporaries, and
there is nothing in his writings to justify this calumnious
assertion. Seven printed documents exist which are attributed to
Vespucius; they are--the abridged accounts of his four voyages, two
narratives of his third and fourth voyages, in the form of letters,
addressed to Lorenzo de Pier Francesco de Medici, and a letter
addressed to the same nobleman, relative to the Portuguese
discoveries in the Indies. These documents, printed and bound up as
small thin volumes, were soon translated into various languages and
distributed throughout Europe.

It was in the year 1507 that a certain Hylacolymus, whose real name
was Martin Waldtzemuller, first proposed to give the name of America
to the new part of the world. He did so in a book printed at Saint
Dié and called _Cosmographia introductio_. In 1509 a small
geographical treatise appeared at Strasburg adopting the proposal of
Hylacolymus; and in 1520 an edition of Pomponius Mela was printed at
Basle, giving a map of the New World with the name of America. From
this time the number of works employing the denomination proposed by
Waldtzemuller increased perpetually.

Some years later, when Waldtzemuller was better informed as to the
real discoverer of America and of the value to be placed upon the
voyages of Vespucius, he eliminated from his book all that related
to the latter, and substituted everywhere the name of Columbus for
that of Vespucius, but it was too late, the same error has prevailed
ever since.

As to Vespucius himself, it seems very unlikely that he was at all
aware of the excitement which prevailed in Europe, nor of what was
passing at St. Dié. The testimony that has been unanimously borne to
his honourable and upright conduct should surely clear him from the
unmerited accusations which have for too long a time clouded his

Three other expeditions left Spain almost at the same time as that
of Hojeda. The first of these, consisting of but one vessel, sailed
from Barra Saltez in June 1499. Pier Alonzo Nino, who had served
under Columbus in his two last voyages, was its commander, and he
was accompanied by Christoval Guerra, a merchant of Seville, who
probably defrayed the expenses of the expedition. This voyage to the
coast of Paria seems to have been dictated more by the hope of
lucrative commerce than by the interests of science. No new
discoveries were made, but the two voyagers returned to Spain in
April, 1500, bringing with them so large a quantity of valuable
pearls as to excite the cupidity of their countrymen, who became
anxious to try their own fortunes in the same direction.

The second expedition was commanded by Vincent Yañez Pinzon, the
younger brother of Alonzo Pinzon who had been captain of the _Pinta_
and had shown so much jealousy of Columbus, even adopting the
following mendacious device:--

   _A Castilla, y a Leon
    Nuevo Mundo dio Pinzon_.

Yañez Pinzon, whose devotion to the admiral equalled his brother's
jealousy, had advanced an eighth part of the funds required for the
expedition of 1492, and had on that occasion been in command of the

He set out in December, 1499, with four vessels, of which only two
returned to Palos at the end of September, 1500. He touched the
coast of the newly discovered continent at a point near the shore
visited by Hojeda some months before, and explored the coast for
some 2400 miles, discovering Cape St. Augustine at 8 degrees 20
minutes south latitude, following the coast-line in a north-westerly
direction to _Rio Grande_, which he named _Santa-Maria de la Mar
dulce_, and continuing in the same direction as far as Cape St.
Vincent. Diego de Lepe explored the same coasts with two caravels
from January to June, 1500; there is nothing particular to record of
this voyage beyond the very important observation that was made on
the direction of the coast-line of the continent starting from Cape
St. Augustine. Lepe had but just returned to Spain when two vessels
left Cadiz, equipped by Rodrigo M. Bastidas, a wealthy and highly
respectable man, with the view of making some fresh discoveries, but
above all with the object of collecting as large a quantity of gold
and pearls as possible, for which were to be bartered glass beads
and other worthless trifles. Juan de la Cosa, whose talents as a
navigator were proverbial, and who knew these coasts well from
having explored them, was really at the head of this expedition. The
sailors went on shore and saw the Rio Sinu, the Gulf of Urabia, and
reached the _Puerto del Retrete_ or _de los Escribanos_, in the
Isthmus of Panama. This harbour was not visited by Columbus till the
26th of November, 1502; it is situated about seventeen miles from
the once celebrated, but now destroyed town of _Nombre de Dios_. In
fact this expedition, which had been organized by a merchant, became,
thanks to Juan de la Cosa, one of the voyages the most fertile in
discoveries; but alas! it came to a sad termination; the vessels
were lost in the Gulf of Xaragua, and Bastidas and La Cosa were
obliged to make their way by land to St. Domingo. When they arrived
there, Bovadilla, the upright man and model governor, whose infamous
conduct to Columbus we have already mentioned, had them arrested, on
the plea that they had bought some gold from the Indians of Xaragua;
he sent them off to Spain, which was only reached after a fearfully
stormy voyage, some of the vessels being lost on the way.

After this expedition, so fruitful in results, voyages of discovery
became rather less frequent for some years; the Spaniards being
occupied in asserting their supremacy in the countries in which they
had already founded colonies.

[Illustration: Indians devoured by Dogs. _From an old print_.]

The colonization of Hispaniola had commenced in 1493, when the town
of Isabella was built. Two years afterwards Christopher Columbus had
travelled over the island and had subjugated the poor savages, by
means of those terrible dogs which had been trained to hunt Indians,
and unaccustomed as the natives were to any hard work, he had forced
them to toil in the mines. Both Bovadilla and Ovando treating the
Indians as a herd of cattle, had divided them among the colonists as
slaves. The cruelty with which this unfortunate people was treated
became more and more unbearable. By means of a despicable ambush,
Ovando seized the Queen of Xaragua and 300 of her principal subjects,
and at a given signal they were all put to the sword without there
being any crime adduced against them. "For some years," says
Robertson, "the gold brought into the royal treasury of Spain
amounted to about 460,000 _pesos_ (2,400,000 livres of the currency
of Tours) an enormous sum if we take into consideration the great
increase in the value of money since the beginning of the sixteenth
century." In 1511 Diego Velasquez conquered Cuba with 300 men, and
here again were enacted the terrible scenes of bloodshed and pillage
which have rendered the Spanish name so sadly notorious. They cut
off the thumbs of the natives, put out their eyes, and poured
boiling oil or melted lead into their wounds, even when they did not
torture them by burning them over a slow fire to extract from them
the secret of the treasures of which they were believed to be the
possessors. It was only natural under these circumstances that the
population rapidly decreased, and the day was not far off when it
would be wholly exterminated. To understand fully the sufferings of
this race thus odiously persecuted, the touching and horrible
narrative of Las Casas must be read, himself the indefatigable
defender of the Indians.

[Illustration: Indians burnt alive. _From an old print_.]

In Cuba, the Cacique Hattuey was made prisoner and condemned to be
burnt. When he was tied to the stake, a Franciscan monk tried to
convert him, promising him that if he would only embrace the
Christian faith, he would be at once admitted to all the joys of
Paradise. "Are there any Spaniards in that land of happiness and joy
of which you speak?" asked Hattuey. "Yes," replied the monk, "but
only those who have been just and good in their lives." "The very
best among them can have neither justice nor mercy!" said the poor
cacique, "I do not wish to go to any place where I should meet a
single man of that accursed race."

Does not this fact suffice to paint the degree of exasperation to
which these unfortunate people had been driven? And these horrors
were repeated wherever the Spaniards set foot! We will throw a veil
over these atrocities practised by men who thought themselves
civilized, and who pretended that they wished to convert to
Christianity, the religion pre-eminently of love and mercy, a race
who were in reality less savage than themselves.

In 1504 and 1505 four vessels explored the Gulf of Urabia. This was
the first voyage in which Juan de la Cosa had the supreme command.
This seems, too, to have been about the date of Hojeda's third
voyage, when he went to the territory of Coquibacoa, a voyage that
certainly was made, as Humboldt says, but of which we have no clear

In 1509 Juan Diaz de Solis, in concert with Vincent Yañez Pinzon,
discovered a vast province, since known by the name of Yucatan.

"Though this expedition was not a very remarkable one in itself,"
says Robertson, "it deserves to be noticed as it led to discoveries
of the utmost importance." For the same reason we must mention the
voyage of Diego d'Ocampo, who being charged to sail round Cuba, was
the first to ascertain the fact that it was a large island, Columbus
having always regarded it as part of the continent. Two years later
Juan Diaz de Solis and Vincent Pinzon sailing southwards towards the
equinoctial line, advanced as far as the 40 degrees of south
latitude, and found, to their surprise, that the continent extended
on their right hand even to this immense distance. They landed
several times, and took formal possession of the country, but could
not found any colonies there, on account of the small resources they
had at their command. The principal result of this voyage was the
more exact knowledge which it gave of the extent of this part of the

Alonzo de Hojeda, whose adventures we have narrated above, was the
first to think of founding a colony on the mainland; although he had
no means of his own, his courage and enterprising spirit soon gained
him associates, who furnished him with the funds needed for carrying
out his plans.

With the same object Diego de Nicuessa, a rich colonist of
Hispaniola, organized an expedition in 1509.

King Ferdinand, who was always lavish of encouragements which cost
little, gave both Hojeda and Nicuessa honourable titles and patents
of nobility, but not a single maravédis (a Spanish coin). He also
divided the newly-discovered continent into two governments, of
which one was to extend from Cape _La Vela_ to the Gulf of Darien,
and the other from the Gulf of Darien to Cape _Gracias a Dios_. The
first was given to Hojeda, the second to Nicuessa. These two
"conquistadores" had to deal with a population far less easy to
manage than that of the Antilles. Determined to resist to the utmost
the invasion of their country, they adopted means of resistance
hitherto unknown to the Spaniards. Thus the strife became deadly. In
a single engagement seventy of Hojeda's companions fell under the
arrows of the savages, fearful weapons steeped in "curare," so fatal
a poison that the slightest wound was followed by death. Nicuessa on
his side, had much difficulty in defending himself, and in spite of
two considerable reinforcements from Cuba, the greater number of his
followers perished during the year from wounds, fatigue, privations,
or sickness. The survivors founded the small colony of Santa-Maria
el Antigua upon the Gulf of Darien, and placed it under the command
of Balboa.

Before we speak of Balboa's wonderful expedition, we must notice the
discovery of a country that forms the most northerly side of that
arc, cut so deeply into the continent, and which bears the name of
the Gulf of Mexico. In 1502 Juan Ponce de Leon, a member of one of
the oldest families in Spain, had arrived in Hispaniola with Ovando.
He had assisted in its subjugation, and in 1508 had conquered the
island of San Juan de Porto Rico. Having learnt from the Indians
that there existed a fountain in the island of Bimini which
possessed the miraculous power of restoring youth to all who drank
of its waters, Ponce de Leon resolved to go in search of it.
Infirmities must have been already creeping on him at fifty years of
age, or he would scarcely have felt the need of trying this fountain.
Ponce de Leon equipped three vessels at his own expense, and set out
from St. Germain in Porto Rico on the 1st of March, 1512. He went
first to the Lucayan Islands, which he searched in vain, and then to
the Bahamas. If he did not succeed in finding the fountain of youth
which he sought so credulously, at least he had the satisfaction of
discovering an apparently fertile tract of country, which he named
Florida, either from his landing there on Palm Sunday,
(Pâques-Fleuries), or perhaps from its delightful aspect. Such a
discovery would have contented many a traveller, but Ponce de Leon
went from one island to another, tasting the water of every stream
that he met with, without the satisfaction of seeing his white hair
again becoming black or his wrinkles disappearing. After spending
six months in this fruitless search, he was tired of playing the
dupe, so giving up the business he returned to Porto Rico on the 5th
of October, leaving Perez de Ortubia and the pilot Antonio de
Alaminos to continue the search. Père Charlevoix says, "He was the
object of great ridicule when he returned in much suffering, and
looking older than when he set out."

This voyage, so absurd in its motive but so fertile in its results,
might well be considered to be simply imaginary, were it not vouched
for by historians of such high repute as Peter Martyr, Oviedo,
Herrera, and Garcilasso de la Vega.

Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who was fifteen years younger than Ponce de
Leon, had come to America with Bastidas and had settled in
Hispaniola. He was only anxious for a safe refuge from his numerous
creditors, being, as were so many of his fellow-countrymen, deeply
in debt, in spite of the _repartimiento_ of Indians which had been
allotted to him. Unfortunately for Balboa a law had been passed
forbidding any vessels bound for the mainland taking insolvent
debtors on board, but his ingenuity was equal to this emergency, for
he had himself rolled in an empty barrel to the vessel which was to
carry Encisco to Darien. The chief of the expedition had no choice
but to receive the brave adventurer who had joined him in this
singular manner, and who never fled except from duns, as he soon
proved on landing. The Spaniards, accustomed to find but little
resistance from the natives of the Antilles, could not subjugate the
fierce inhabitants of the mainland. On account of the dissensions
that had arisen among themselves, they were obliged to take refuge
at Santa-Maria el Antigua, a settlement which Balboa, now elected
commandant in place of Encisco, founded in Darien.

If the personal bravery of Balboa, or the ferocity of Leoncillo his
blood-hound--who was more dreaded than twenty armed men and received
the same pay as a soldier,--could have awed the Indians, Balboa
would have also won their respect by his justice and comparative
moderation, for he allowed no unnecessary cruelty. In the course of
some years he collected a great mass of most useful information with
regard to that El Dorado, that land of gold, which he was destined
never to reach himself, but the acquisition of which he did much to
facilitate for his successors.

It was in this way that he learnt the existence six suns away (six
days' journey), of another sea, the Pacific Ocean, which washed the
shores of Peru, a country where gold was found in large quantities.
Balboa's character, which was as grand as those of Cortès and
Pizarro, but who had not, as they, the time or opportunity to show
the extraordinary qualities which he possessed, felt convinced that
this information was most valuable, and that if he could carry out
such a discovery, it would shed great lustre on his name.

He assembled a body of 190 volunteers, all valiant soldiers, and
like himself, accustomed to all the chances of war, as well as
acclimatised to the unhealthy effluvia of a marshy country, where
fever, dysentery, and complaints of the liver were constantly

Though the Isthmus of Darien is only sixty miles in width, it is
divided into two parts by a chain of high mountains; at the foot of
these the alluvial soil is marvellously fertile, and the vegetation
far more luxuriant than any European can imagine. It consists of an
inextricable mass of tropical plants, creepers, and ferns, among
trees of gigantic size which completely hide the sun, a truly virgin
forest, interspersed here and there with patches of stagnant water,
where live multitudes of birds, insects, and animals, never
disturbed by the foot of man. A warm, moist atmosphere exists here
which exhausts the strength and speedily saps the energy of any man,
even the most robust.

With all these obstacles which Nature seemed to have rejoiced in
placing in Balboa's path, there was yet another no less formidable,
and this was the resistance which the savage inhabitants of this
inhospitable shore would offer to his progress. Balboa set out
without caring for the risk he ran in the event of the guides and
native auxiliaries proving faithless; he was escorted by a thousand
Indians as porters, and accompanied by a troop of those terrible
bloodhounds which had acquired the taste for human flesh in

Of the tribes that he met with on his route, some fled into the
mountains carrying their provisions with them, and others, taking
advantage of the difficulties the land presented, tried to fight.
Balboa marching in the midst of his men, never sparing himself,
sharing in their privations and rousing their courage, which would
have failed more than once, was able to inspire them with so much
enthusiasm for the object that was before them, that after
twenty-five days of marching and fighting, they could see from the
top of a mountain that vast Pacific Ocean, of which, four days later,
Balboa, his drawn sword in one hand and the banner of Castille in
the other, took possession in the name of the King of Spain. The
part of the Pacific Ocean which he had reached is situated to the
east of Panama, and still bears the name of the Gulf of San Miguel,
given to it by Balboa. The information he obtained from the
neighbouring caciques, whom he subjugated by force of arms, and from
whom he obtained a considerable booty, agreed in every particular
with what he had heard before he set out.

A vast empire lay to the south, they said, "so rich in gold, that
even the commonest instruments were made of it," where the domestic
animals were llamas that had been tamed and trained to carry heavy
burdens, and whose appearance in the native drawings resembled that
of the camel. These interesting details, and the great quantity of
pearls offered to Balboa, confirmed him in his idea, that he must
have reached the Asiatic countries described by Marco Polo, and that
he could not be far from the empire of Cipango or Japan, of which
the Venetian traveller had described the marvellous riches which
were perpetually dazzling the eyes of these avaricious adventurers.

[Illustration: Balboa discovering the Pacific Ocean.]

Balboa several times crossed the Isthmus of Darien, and always in
some fresh direction. Humboldt might well say that this country was
better known in the beginning of the sixteenth century than in his
own day. Beyond this Balboa had launched some vessels built under
his orders on the newly-discovered ocean, and he was preparing a
formidable armament, with which he hoped to conquer Peru, when he
was odiously and judicially murdered by the orders of Pedrarias
Davila, the governor of Darien, who was jealous of the reputation
Balboa had already gained, and of the glory which would doubtless
recompense his bravery if he carried out the expedition which he had
arranged. Thus the conquest of Peru was retarded by at least
twenty-five years, owing to the culpable jealousy of a man whose
name has acquired, by Balboa's assassination, almost as wretched a
celebrity as that of Erostratus.

If we owe to Balboa the first authentic documents regarding Peru,
another explorer was destined to furnish some not less important
touching that vast Mexican Empire, which had extended its sway over
almost the whole of Central America. In 1518, Juan de Grijalva had
been placed in command of a flotilla, consisting of four vessels,
armed by Diego Velasquez, the conqueror of Cuba, which were destined
to collect information upon Yucatan, sighted the year before by
Hernandez de Cordova. Grijalva, accompanied by the pilot Alaminos,
who had made the voyage to Florida with Ponce de Leon, had two
hundred men under his command; amongst the volunteers was Bernal
Diaz del Castillo, the clever author of a very interesting history
of the conquest of Mexico, from which we shall borrow freely.

After thirteen days' sailing, Grijalva reached the Island of Cozumel
on the coast of Yucatan, doubled the Cape of Cotoche, and entered
the Bay of Campeachy. He disembarked on the 10th of May at Potonchan,
of which the inhabitants defended the town and citadel vigorously,
in spite of their astonishment at the vessels, which they took for
some kind of marine monsters, and their fear of the pale-faced men
who hurled thunderbolts. Fifty-seven Spaniards were killed in the
engagement, and many were wounded. This warm reception did not
encourage Grijalva to make any long stay amongst this warlike people.
He set sail again after anchoring for four days, took a westerly
course along the coast of Mexico, and on the 19th of May entered a
river named by the natives the Tabasco, where he soon found himself
surrounded by a fleet of fifty native boats filled with warriors
ready for the conflict, but thanks to Grijalva's prudence and the
amicable demonstrations which he made, peace was not disturbed.

"We made them understand," writes Bernal Diaz, "that we were the
subjects of a powerful emperor called Don Carlos, and that it would
be greatly to their advantage if they also would acknowledge him as
their master. They replied that they had a sovereign already, and
were at a loss to understand why we, who had only just arrived, and
who knew so little of them, should offer them another king." This
reply was scarcely that of a savage!

In exchange for some worthless European trinkets, the Spaniards
obtained some Yucca bread, copal gum, pieces of gold worked into the
shape of fishes or birds, and garments made of cotton, which had
been woven in the country. As the natives who had been taken on
board at Cape Cotoche did not perfectly understand the language
spoken by the inhabitants of Tabasco, the stay here was but of short
duration, and the ships again put to sea. They passed the mouth of
the Rio Guatzacoalco, the snowy peaks of the San Martin mountains
being seen in the distance, and they anchored at the mouth of a
river which was called _Rio de las Banderas_, from the number of
white banners displayed by the natives to show their friendly
feeling towards the new comers.

When Grijalva landed, he was received with the same honour as the
Indians paid to their gods; they burnt copal incense before him, and
laid at his feet more than 1500 piastres' worth of small gold jewels,
as well as green pearls and copper hatchets. After taking formal
possession of the country, the Spaniards landed on an island called
_Los Sacrificios_ Island, from a sort of altar which they found
there placed at the top of several steps, upon which lay the bodies
of five Indians sacrificed since the preceding evening; their bodies
were cut open, their hearts torn out, and both legs and arms cut off.
Leaving this revolting spectacle, they went to another small island,
which received the name of San Juan, being discovered on St. John's
Day; to this they added the word _Culua_, which they heard used by
the natives of these shores. But Culua was the ancient name for
Mexico, and this Island of San-Juan de Culua is now known as St.
John d'Ulloa.

Grijalva put all the gold which he had collected on board one of the
ships and despatched it to Cuba, while he continued his exploration
of the coast, discovered the Sierras of Tusta and Tuspa, and
collected a large amount of useful information regarding this
populous country; on arriving at the _Rio Panuco_, he was attacked
by a flotilla of native vessels, and had much difficulty in
defending himself against their attacks.

This expedition was nearly over, for provisions were running short,
and the vessels were in a very bad state, the volunteers were many
of them sick and wounded, and even had they been in good health
their numbers were too small to make it safe to leave them among
these warlike people, even under the shelter of fortifications.
Besides, the leaders of the expedition no longer acted in concert,
so after repairing the largest of the vessels in the Rio Tonala,
where Bernal Diaz boasts of having sown the first orange-pips which
were ever brought to Mexico, the Spaniards set out for Santiago in
Cuba, where they arrived on the 15th of November, after a cruise of
seven months, not forty-five days, as M. Ferdinand Denis asserts in
the Biographie Didot, and as M. Ed. Charton repeats in his
_Voyageurs Anciens et Modernes_.

The results obtained from this voyage were considerable. For the
first time the long line of coast which forms the peninsula of
Yucatan, the Bay of Campeachy, and the base of the Gulf of Mexico,
had been explored continuously from cape to cape. Not only had it
been proved beyond doubt that Yucatan was not an island as they had
believed, but much and reliable information had been collected with
regard to the existence of the rich and powerful empire of Mexico.
The explorers had been much struck with the marks of a more advanced
civilization than that existing in the Antilles, with the
superiority of the architecture, the skilful cultivation of the land,
the fine texture of the cotton garments, and the delicacy of finish
of the golden ornaments worn by the Indians. All this combined to
increase the thirst for riches among the Spaniards of Cuba, and to
urge them on like modern Argonauts to the conquest of this new
golden fleece. Grijalva was not destined to reap the fruits of his
perilous and at the same time intelligent voyage, which threw so new
a light on Indian civilization. The _sic vos, non vobis_ of the poet
was once again to find an exemplification in this circumstance.


Ferdinand Cortès--His character--His appointment--Preparations for
the expedition, and attempts of Velasquez to stop it--Landing at
Vera-Cruz--Mexico and the Emperor Montezuma--The republic of
Tlascala--March upon Mexico--The Emperor is made prisoner--Narvaez
defeated--The _Noche Triste_--Battle of Otumba--The second siege and
taking of Mexico--Expedition to Honduras--Voyage to Spain--
Expeditions on the Pacific Ocean--Second Voyage of Cortès to Spain--
His death.

Velasquez had not waited for Grijalva's return before sending off to
Spain the rich products of the countries discovered by the latter,
and at the same time soliciting from the council of the Indies, as
well as from the Bishop of Burgos, an addition to his authority,
that he might attempt the conquest of these countries. At the same
time he fitted out a new armament proportioned to the dangers and
importance of the undertaking that he proposed. But though it was
comparatively easy for Velasquez to collect the necessary material
and men, it was far more difficult for him--whom an old writer
describes as niggardly, credulous, and suspicious in disposition--to
choose a fit leader. He wished indeed, to find one who should
combine qualities nearly always incompatible, high courage and great
talent, without which there was no chance of success, with at the
same time sufficient docility and submissiveness, to do nothing
without orders, and to leave to him who incurred no risk, any glory
and success which might attend the enterprise. Some who were brave
and enterprising would not be treated as mere machines; others who
were more docile or more cunning lacked the qualities required to
insure the success of so vast an enterprise; among the former were
some of Grijalva's companions who wished that he should be made
commander, while the latter preferred Augustin Bermudez or
Bernardino Velasquez. While this was pending, the governor's
secretary, Andrès de Duero, and Amador de Larez, the Controller of
Cuba, both favourites of Velasquez, made an arrangement with a
Spanish nobleman named Ferdinand Cortès, that if they could obtain
the appointment for him, they should be allowed a share in his gains.

Bernal Diaz says, "They praised Cortès so highly, and pointed him
out in such flattering terms as the very man fitted to fill the
vacant post, adding that he was brave and certainly very faithful to
Velasquez (to whom he was son-in-law), that he allowed himself to be
persuaded, and Cortès was nominated captain-general. As Andrès de
Duero was the governor's secretary, he hastened to formulate the
powers in a deed, making them very ample, as Cortès desired, and
brought it to him duly signed." Had Velasquez been gifted with the
power of looking into the future, Cortès was certainly not the man
he would have chosen.

[Illustration: Ferdinand Cortès. _From an old print_.]

Cortès was born at Medellin in Estramadura in 1485, of an ancient,
but slenderly-endowed family; after studying at Salamanca for some
time, he returned to his native town, but the quiet monotonous life
there was little suited to his restless and capricious temper, and
he soon started for America, reckoning upon the protection of his
relation Ovando, the Governor of Hispaniola.

His expectations were fully realized, and he held several honourable
and lucrative posts, without counting that between times he joined
in several expeditions against the natives. If he became in this
manner initiated into the Indian system of tactics, so also,
unfortunately, did he grow familiar with those acts of cruelty which
have too often stained the Castilian name. He accompanied Diego de
Velasquez in his Cuban expedition in 1511, and here he distinguished
himself so highly, that notwithstanding certain disagreements with
his chief, a large grant of land as well as of Indians was made to
him as a recognition of his services.

Cortès amassed the sum of 3000 castellanos in the course of a few
years by his industry and frugality, a large sum for one in his
position, but his chief recommendations in the eyes of Andrès de
Duero and Amador de Sarès his two patrons, were his activity, his
well-known prudence, his decision of character, and the power of
gaining the confidence of all with whom he was brought into contact.
In addition to all this, he was of imposing stature and appearance,
very athletic, and possessed powers of endurance, remarkable even
among the hardy adventurers who were accustomed to brave all kinds
of hardships.

As soon as Cortès had received his commission, which he did with
every mark of respectful gratitude, he set up a banner at the door
of his house, made of black velvet embroidered in gold, bearing the
device of a red cross in the midst of blue and white flames, and
below, this motto in Latin, "Friends, let us follow the Cross, and
if we have faith, we shall overcome by this sign." He concentrated
the whole force of his powerful mind upon the means to make the
enterprise a success; even his most intimate friends were astonished
at his enthusiasm in preparing for it. He not only gave the whole of
the money which he possessed towards arming the fleet, but he
charged part on his estate, and borrowed considerable sums from his
friends to purchase vessels, provisions, munitions of war, and
horses. In a few days 300 volunteers had enrolled themselves,
attracted by the fame of the general, the daring nature of the
enterprise, and the profit that would probably accrue from it.
Velasquez, always suspicious, and doubtless instigated by some who
were jealous of Cortès, tried to put a stop to the expedition at its
outset. Cortès being warned by his two patrons that Velasquez would
probably try to take the command from him, acted with his customary
decision; he collected his men and, in spite of the vessels not
being completed and of an insufficient armament, he weighed anchor
and sailed during the night. When Velasquez discovered that his
plans had been check-mated he concealed his indignation, but at the
same time, he made every arrangement to stop the man who could thus
throw off all dependence upon him with such consummate coolness.
Cortès anchored at Macaca, to complete his stores, and found many of
those who had accompanied Grijalva now hasten to serve under his
banner: Pedro de Alvarado and his brothers, Christoval de Olid,
Alonzo de Avila, Hernandez de Puerto-Carrero, Gonzalo de Sandoval,
and Bernal Diaz del Castillo, who was to write a valuable account of
these events "_quorum pars magna fuit_." Trinity Harbour, on the
south coast of Cuba was the next resting-place, and here a further
supply of provisions was taken on board, but while Cortès lay at
anchor for this purpose, Verdugo the governor, received letters from
Velasquez, desiring him to arrest the captain-general, the command
of the fleet having been just taken from him. This bold step would
have endangered the safety of the town, so Verdugo refrained from
executing the order. Cortès sailed away to Havana in order to enlist
some new adherents, while his lieutenant Alvarado went over land to
the port where the last preparations were made. Although Velasquez
was unsuccessful in his first attempt, he again sent an order to
arrest Cortès, but Pedro Barba the governor, felt the impossibility
of executing the order in the midst of soldiers who, as Bernal Diaz
says, "would willingly have given their lives to save Cortès."

At length, having recalled the volunteers by beat of drum, and taken
on board all that appeared necessary, Cortès set sail on the 18th
February, 1519, with eleven ships (the largest being of 100 tons),
110 sailors, 553 soldiers,--13 of whom were arquebusiers,--200
Indians from the island, and some women for domestic work. The real
strength of the armament lay in the ten pieces of artillery, the
four falconets provided with an ample supply of ammunition, and the
sixteen horses which had been obtained at great expense. It was with
these almost miserable means, which, however, had given Cortès much
trouble to collect, that he prepared to wage war with a sovereign
whose dominions were of greater extent than those appertaining to
the King of Spain--an enterprise from which he would have turned
back if he had foreseen half its difficulties. But long ago a poet
said, "Fortune smiles on those who dare."

After encountering a very severe storm, the fleet touched at the
island of Cozumel, where they found that the inhabitants had
embraced Christianity, either from fear of the Spaniards, or from
finding the inability of their gods to help them. Just as the fleet
was about to leave the island, Cortès had the good fortune to meet
with a Spaniard named Jeronimo d'Aguilar, who had been kept a
prisoner by the Indians for eight years. During that time he had
learnt the Indian language perfectly; he was as prudent as he was
clever, and when he joined the expedition he was of the greatest use
as an interpreter.

After doubling Cape Catoche, Cortès sailed down the Bay of Campeachy,
passed Potonchan, and entered the Rio Tabasco, hoping to meet with
as friendly a reception there as Grijalva had done, and also to
collect an equally large quantity of gold; but he found a great
change had taken place in the feelings of the natives, and he was
obliged to employ force. In spite of the bravery and numerical
superiority of the Indians, the Spaniards overcame them in several
engagements, thanks to the terror caused by the reports of their
fire-arms and the sight of the cavalry, whom the Indians took for
supernatural beings. The Indians lost a large number of men in these
engagements, while among the Spaniards two were killed, and fourteen
men and several horses wounded; the wounds of the latter were
dressed with fat taken from the dead bodies of the Indians. At last
peace was made, and the natives gave Cortès provisions, some cotton
clothing, a small quantity of gold, and twenty female slaves, among
whom was the celebrated Marina, who rendered such signal services to
the Spaniards as an interpreter, and who is mentioned by all the
historians of the conquest of the New World.

[Illustration: Cortès receives provisions, clothing, a little gold,
and twenty female slaves.]

Cortès continued on a westerly course, seeking a suitable place for
landing, but he could find none until he reached St. John d'Ulloa.
The fleet had scarcely cast anchor before a canoe made its way
fearlessly to the admiral's vessel, and here Marina (who was of
Aztec origin) was of the greatest use, in telling Cortès that the
Indians of this part of the country were the subjects of a great
empire, and that their province was one recently added to it by
conquest. Their monarch, named Moctheuzoma, better known under the
name of Montezuma, lived in Tenochtitlan, or Mexico, nearly 210
miles away in the interior. Cortès offered the Indians some presents,
assuring them of his pacific intentions, and then disembarked upon
the torrid and unhealthy shore of Vera-Cruz. Provisions flowed in
immediately, but the day after the landing, Teutile, governor of the
province, and ambassador of Montezuma to the Spaniards, had much
difficulty in answering Cortès when he asked him to conduct him to
his master without delay, knowing as he did all the anxiety and
fears which had haunted the mind of the Emperor since the arrival of
the Spaniards. However, he caused some cotton stuffs, feather cloaks,
and some articles made of gold to be laid at the feet of the general,
a sight which simply excited the cupidity of the Europeans. To give
these poor Indians an adequate idea of his power, Cortès called out
his soldiers, and put them through their drill, he also ordered the
discharge of some pieces of artillery, the noise of which froze the
hearts of the savages with terror. During the whole time of the
interview, some painters had been employed in sketching upon pieces
of white cotton, the ships, the troops, and everything which had
struck their fancy. These drawings very cleverly executed, were to
be sent to Montezuma.

Before beginning the history of the heroic struggles which shortly
commenced, it will be useful to give some details as to that Mexican
empire which, powerful as it appeared, nevertheless contained within
itself numerous elements of decay and dissolution, which fact
explains the cause of its conquest by a mere handful of adventurers.
That part of America which was under the dominion of Montezuma was
called Anahuac and lay between 14 degrees and 20 degrees north
latitude. This region presents great varieties of climate on account
of its difference of altitude; towards the centre, and rather nearer
to the Pacific than to the Atlantic, there is a huge basin at an
elevation of 7500 feet above the sea, and about 200 miles in
circumference, in the hollow of which there were at that time
several lakes; this depression is called the valley of Mexico,
taking its name from the capital of the empire. As may be easily
supposed, we possess very few authentic details about a people whose
written annals were burnt by the ignorant "conquistadores" and by
fanatical monks, who jealously suppressed everything which might
remind the conquered race of their ancient religious and political

Arriving from the north in the seventh century the Toltecs had
overspread the plateau of Anahuac. They were an intelligent race of
people, addicted to agriculture and the mechanical arts,
understanding the working in metals, and to whom is due the
construction of the greater part of the sumptuous and gigantic
edifices of which the ruins are found in every direction in New
Spain. After four centuries of power, the Toltecs disappeared from
the country as mysteriously as they had come. A century later they
were replaced by a savage tribe from the north-west, who were soon
followed by more civilized races, speaking apparently the Toltec
language. The most celebrated of these tribes were the Aztecs, and
the Alcolhuès or Tezcucans, who assimilated themselves easily with
the tincture of civilization which remained in the country with the
last of the Toltecs. The Aztecs, after a series of migrations and
wars, settled themselves in 1326 in the valley of Mexico, where they
built their capital Tenochtitlan. A treaty of alliance both
offensive and defensive was entered into between the states of
Mexico, Tezcuco, and Tlacopan, and was rigorously observed for a
whole century; in consequence of this the Aztec civilization, which
had been at first bounded by the extent of the valley, spread on all
sides, and soon was limited only by the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
In a short time these people had reached a higher degree of
civilization than any other tribe in the New World. The rights of
property were recognized in Mexico, commerce flourished there, and
three kinds of coin in circulation provided the ordinary mechanism
of exchange. There was a well-organized police, and a system of
relays which worked with perfect regularity, and enabled the
sovereign to transmit his orders with rapidity from one end of the
empire to the other. The number and beauty of the towns, the great
size of the palaces, temples, and fortresses indicated an advanced
civilization, which presented a singular contrast to the ferocious
manners of the Aztecs. Their polytheistic religion was in the
highest degree barbarous and sanguinary; the priests formed a very
numerous body, and exercised great influence even over political
affairs. Side by side with rites similar to those of Christians,
such as baptism and confession, the religion presented a tissue of
the most absurd and bloody superstitions. The offering up of human
sacrifices, adopted at the beginning of the 14th century, and used
at first very sparingly, had soon become so frequent, that the
number of victims immolated each year, and drawn chiefly from the
conquered nations, amounted to 20,000, while under certain
circumstances the number was much larger. Thus in 1486, at the
inauguration of the temple of Huitzilopchit, 70,000 captives
perished in a single day.

The Government of Mexico was monarchical; at first the imperial
power had been carefully limited, but it had increased with the
various conquests, and had become despotic. The sovereign was always
chosen out of the same family, and his accession was marked by the
offering up of numerous human sacrifices. The Emperor Montezuma
belonged to the sacerdotal caste, and in consequence his power
received some unwonted development. The result of his numerous wars
had been the extension of his frontiers, and the subjugation of
various nations; these latter welcomed the Spaniards with eagerness,
thinking that their dominion must surely be less oppressive and less
cruel than that of the Aztecs.

It is certain that if Montezuma, with the large force which he had
at his disposal, had fallen upon the Spaniards when they were
occupying the hot and unhealthy shore of Vera-Cruz, they would have
been unable, in spite of the superiority of their arms and
discipline, to resist such a shock; they must all have perished, or
been obliged to re-embark, and the fate of the New World would have
been completely changed. But the decision which formed the most
salient point in the character of Cortès, was completely wanting in
that of Montezuma, a prince who never could at any time adopt a
resolute policy.

Fresh ambassadors from the emperor had arrived at the Spanish camp,
bringing to Cortès an order to quit the country, and upon his
refusal all intercourse between the natives and the invaders had
immediately ceased. The situation was becoming critical, and this
Cortès felt. After having overcome some hesitation which had been
shown by the troops, he laid the foundations of Vera-Cruz, a
fortress designed to serve as a basis of operations, and a shelter
in case of a possible re-embarkation. He next organized a kind of
civil government, a _junta_, as it would be called in the present
day, to which he resigned the commission which had been revoked by
Velasquez, and then he made the junta give him one with new
provisions and more extended powers. After this he received the
envoys from the town of Zempoalla, who were come to solicit his
alliance, and his protection against Montezuma, whose dominion they
bore with impatience. Cortès was indeed fortunate in meeting with
such allies so soon after landing, and not wishing to allow so
golden an opportunity to slip, he welcomed the Totonacs kindly, went
with them to their capital, and after having caused a fortress to be
constructed at Quiabislan on the sea-shore, he persuaded his new
friends to refuse the payment of tribute to Montezuma. He took
advantage of his stay at Zempoalla to exhort these people to embrace
Christianity, and he threw down their idols, as he had already done
at Cozumel, to prove to them the powerlessness of their gods.

Meanwhile a plot had been forming in his own camp, and Cortès,
feeling convinced that as long as there remained any way of
returning to Cuba, there would be constant lukewarmness and
discontent among his soldiers, caused all his ships to be run
aground, under the pretext of their being in too shattered a
condition to be of any further use. This was an unheard-of act of
audacity, and one which forced his companions either to conquer or
to die. Having no longer anything to fear from the want of
discipline of his troops, Cortès set out for Zempoalla on the 16th
of August, with five hundred soldiers, fifteen horses, and six field
cannon, and also two hundred Indian porters, who were intended to
perform all menial offices. The little army soon reached the
frontiers of the small republic of Tlascala, of which the fierce
inhabitants, impatient of servitude, had long been engaged in strife
with Montezuma. Cortès flattered himself that his oft-proclaimed
intention of delivering the Indians from the Mexican yoke would
induce the Tlascalans to become his allies and at once to make
common cause with him. He therefore asked for leave to cross their
territory on his way to Mexico; but his ambassadors were detained,
and as he advanced into the interior of the country, he was harassed
for fourteen consecutive days and nights by continual attacks from
several bodies of Tlascalans, amounting in all to 30,000 men, who
displayed a bravery and determination such as the Spaniards had
never yet seen equalled in the New World. But the arms possessed by
these brave men were very primitive. What could they effect with
only arrows and lances tipped with obsidian or fish-bones, stakes
hardened in the fire, wooden swords, and above all with an inferior
system of tactics? When they found that each encounter cost them the
lives of many of their bravest warriors, while not a single Spaniard
had been killed, they imagined that these strangers must be of a
superior order of beings, while they could not tell what opinion to
form of men who sent back to them the spies taken in their camp,
with their hands cut off, and who yet after each victory not only
did not devour their prisoners, as the Aztecs would have done, but
released them, loading them with presents and proposing peace.

Upon this the Tlascalans declared themselves vassals of the Spanish
crown, and swore to assist Cortès in all his expeditions, while he
on his side promised to protect them against their enemies. It was
time that peace should be made, for many of the Spaniards were
wounded or ill, and all were worn out with fatigue, but the entry in
triumph into Tlascala, where they were welcomed as supernatural
beings, quickly made them forget their sufferings.

After twenty days of repose in this town, Cortès resumed his march
towards Mexico, having with him an auxiliary army of six thousand
Tlascalans. He went first to Cholula, a town regarded as sacred by
the Indians, and as the sanctuary and favoured residence of their
deities. Montezuma felt much satisfaction in the advance of the
Spaniards to this town, either from the hope that the gods would
themselves avenge the desecration of their temples, or that he
thought a rising, and massacre of the Spaniards might be more easily
organized in this populous and fanatical town. Cortès had been
warned by the Tlascalans that he must place no trust in the
protestations of friendship and devotion made by the Cholulans.
However, he took up his quarters in the town, considering that he
would lose his prestige if he showed any signs of fear, but upon
being informed by the Tlascalans that the women and children were
being sent away, and by Marina that a considerable body of troops
was massed at the gates of the city, that pitfalls and trenches were
dug in the streets, whilst the roofs of the houses were loaded with
stones and missiles, Cortès anticipated the designs of his enemies,
gave orders to make prisoners of all the principal men of the town,
and then organized a general massacre of the population, thus taken
by surprise and deprived of their leaders. For two whole days the
unhappy Cholulans were subject to all the horrors which could be
invented by the rage of the Spaniards, and the vengeance of their
allies the Tlascalans. A terrible example was made, six thousand
people being put to the sword, temples burned to the ground, and the
town half destroyed, a work of destruction well calculated to strike
terror into the hearts of Montezuma and his subjects.

[Illustration: Lake of Mexico.]

Sixty miles now separated Cortès from the capital, and everywhere as
he passed along he was received as a liberator. There was not a
cacique who had not some cause of complaint against the imperial
despotism, and Cortès felt confirmed in the hope that so divided an
empire would prove an easy prey. As the Spaniards descended from the
mountains of Chalco, they beheld with astonishment the valley of
Mexico, with its enormous lake, deeply sunk and surrounded by large
towns, the capital city built upon piles, and the well-cultivated
fields of this fertile region.

Cortès did not trouble himself about the continued tergiversations
of Montezuma, who could not make up his mind to the last moment
whether he would receive the Spaniards as friends or enemies. The
Spanish general advanced along the causeway which leads to Mexico
across the lake, and was already within a mile of the town, when
some Indians, who, from their magnificent costume were evidently of
high rank, came to greet him and to announce to him the approach of
the emperor. Montezuma soon appeared, borne upon the shoulders of
his favourites in a kind of litter adorned with gold and feathers,
while a magnificent canopy protected him from the rays of the sun.
As he advanced the Indians prostrated themselves before him, with
their heads downwards, as though unworthy even to look at their
monarch. This first interview was cordial, and Montezuma himself
conducted his guests to the abode which he had prepared for them. It
was a vast palace, surrounded by a stone wall, and defended by high
towers. Cortès immediately took measures of defence, and ordered the
cannon to be pointed upon the roads leading to the palace. At the
second interview, magnificent presents were offered both to the
general and soldiers. Montezuma related that according to an old
tradition, the ancestors of the Aztecs had arrived in the country
under the leadership of a man of white complexion, and bearded like
the Spaniards. After laying the foundations of their power, he had
embarked upon the ocean, promising them that one day his descendants
would come to visit them and to reform their laws--and if, as
Montezuma said, he now received the Spaniards rather as fathers than
as foreigners, it was because he felt convinced that in them he
beheld the descendants of his people's ancient chief, and he begged
them to regard themselves as the masters of his country.

The following days were employed in visiting the town, which
appeared to the Spaniards as larger, more populous, and more
beautiful than any city which they had hitherto seen in America. Its
distinguishing peculiarity consisted in the causeways which formed a
means of communication with the land, and which were cut through in
various places to allow a free passage to vessels sailing on the
waters of the lake. Across these openings were thrown bridges which
could be easily destroyed. On the eastern side of the town there was
no causeway and no means of communication with the land except by
canoes. This arrangement of the town of Mexico caused some anxiety
to Cortès, who saw that he might be at any moment blockaded in the
town, without being able to find means of egress. He determined,
therefore, to prevent any seditious attempt by securing the person
of the emperor, and using him as a hostage. The following news which
he had just received furnished him with an excellent pretext:
Qualpopoca, a Mexican general, had attacked the provinces which had
submitted to the Spaniards, and Escalante and seven of his soldiers
had been mortally wounded; besides this, a prisoner had been
beheaded and the head carried from town to town, thus proving that
the invaders could be conquered, and were nothing more than ordinary

Cortès profited by these events to accuse the emperor of perfidy. He
declared that although Montezuma appeared friendly to him and to his
soldiers, it was only that he might wait for some favourable
opportunity to treat them in the same manner as Escalante, a
proceeding quite unworthy of a monarch, and very different from the
confidence which Cortès had shown in coming, as he had done, to
visit him. He went on to say that if the suspicions of the Spaniards
were not justified, the emperor could easily exonerate himself by
having Qualpopoca punished, and finally, to prevent the recurrence
of aggressions which could but destroy the existing harmony, and to
prove to the Mexicans that he harboured no ill-design against the
Spaniards, Montezuma could not do otherwise than come to reside
amongst them. It may be easily imagined that the emperor was not
very ready to decide upon this course, but was at last obliged to
give in to the violence and threats of the Spaniards. Upon
announcing his resolution to his subjects, he was made to assure
them several times over that he put himself into the hands of the
Spaniards of his own free will; these words were needed to calm the
Mexicans, who threatened to make an attack upon the foreigners.

The success of Cortès in this bold scheme was quite beyond his
expectations. Qualpopoca, with his son and five of the chief
ringleaders in the revolt, were seized by the Mexicans, and brought
before a Spanish tribunal, which was at the same time judge and
prosecutor; the Indians were condemned and burnt alive. Not content
with having punished men who had committed no crime but that of
executing the orders of their emperor, and of opposing an armed
resistance to the invasion of their country, Cortès imposed a new
humiliation upon Montezuma, in placing fetters upon his feet, under
the pretext that the culprits in their last moments had made
accusations against him. For six months the "Conquistador" exercised
the supreme government in the name of the emperor, now reduced to a
puppet-show of authority. Cortès changed the governors who
displeased him, collected the taxes, presided over all the details
of the administration, and sent Spaniards into the various provinces
of the empire with orders to examine their productions, and to take
particular notice of the mining districts and the processes in use
for collecting gold.

Cortès also turned to account the curiosity evinced by Montezuma to
see European ships, to have rigging and other appurtenances brought
from Vera-Cruz, and to order the construction of two brigantines
destined to ensure his communications with terra-firma by the waters
of the lake.

Emboldened by receiving so many proofs of submission and humility,
Cortès took another step in advance, and required that Montezuma
should declare himself the vassal and tributary of Spain. The act of
fidelity and homage was accompanied, as may be easily imagined, with
presents both rich and numerous, as well as by a heavy tax which was
levied without much difficulty. The opportunity was now taken to
gather together everything in gold and silver, which had been
extorted from the Indians, and to melt them down, except certain
pieces which were kept as they were, on account of the beauty of the
workmanship. The whole did not amount to more than 600,000 pesos, or
100,000_l._ Thus, although the Spaniards had made use of all their
power, and Montezuma had exhausted his treasures to satisfy them,
the whole product amounted to an absurdly small sum, very little in
accordance with the idea which the conquerors had formed of the
riches of the country. After reserving one-fifth of the treasure for
the king, and one-fifth for Cortès and subtracting enough to
reimburse the sums which had been advanced for the expenses of the
expedition, the share of each soldier did not amount to 100 _pesos_,
and they considered that it would have been more worth their while
to have remained in Hispaniola, than to have experienced such
fatigues, encountered such great dangers, and suffered so many
privations, all for the reward of 100 _pesos_! If the promises of
Cortès ended in this beggarly result, and if the partition had been
made with fairness, of which they did not feel certain, they argued
that it was absurd to remain longer in so poor a country, while
under a chief less prodigal in promises, but more generous, they
might go to countries rich in gold and precious stones, where brave
warriors would find an adequate compensation for their toils. So
murmured these greedy adventurers; some accepting what fell to their
share while fuming over its small amount, others disdainfully
refusing it.

Cortès had succeeded in persuading Montezuma to conform to his will
in everything which concerned politics, but it was otherwise in
regard to religion. He could not persuade him to change his creed,
and when Cortès wished to throw down the idols, as he had done at
Zempoalla, a tumult arose which would have become very serious, had
he not immediately abandoned his project. From that time the
Mexicans, who had offered scarcely any resistance to the subjugation
and imprisonment of their monarch, resolved to avenge their outraged
deities, and they prepared a simultaneous rising against the
invaders. It was at this juncture, when the affairs in the interior
seemed to be taking a less favourable turn, that Cortès received
news from Vera-Cruz, that several ships were cruising off the
harbour. At first he thought this must be a fleet sent to his aid by
Charles V., in answer to a letter which he had sent to him on the
16th of July, 1519, by Puerto Carrero and Montejo. But he was soon
undeceived, and learnt that this expedition was organized by Diego
Velasquez, who knew by experience how lightly his lieutenant could
shake off all dependence upon him; he had sent this armament with
the object of deposing Cortès from his command, of making him a
prisoner, and of carrying him off to Cuba, where he would be
speedily placed upon his trial. The fleet thus sent was under the
command of Pamphilo de Narvaez; it consisted of eighteen vessels,
and carried eighty horse-soldiers, and 100 infantry (of whom eighty
were musketeers), 120 cross-bowmen, and twelve cannons.

Narvaez disembarked without opposition, near to the fort of San Juan
d'Ulloa, but upon summoning the Governor of Vera-Cruz, Sandoval, to
give up the town to him, Sandoval seized the men who were charged
with the insolent message, and sent them off to Mexico, where Cortès
at once released them, and then gained from them circumstantial
information as to the forces, and the projects of Narvaez. The
personal danger of Cortès at this moment was great; the troops sent
by Velasquez were more numerous and better furnished with arms and
ammunition than were his own, but his deepest cause of anxiety was
not the possibility of his own condemnation and death, it was the
fear lest all fruit of his efforts might be lost, and the knowledge
of the hurtfulness of these dissensions to his country's cause. The
situation was a critical one, but after mature reflection and the
careful weighing of arguments for and against the course he
meditated, Cortès determined to fight, even at a disadvantage,
rather than to sacrifice his conquests and the interests of Spain.
Before proceeding to this last extremity, he sent his chaplain
Olmedo to Narvaez, but he was very ill-received, and saw all his
proposals for an accommodation disdainfully rejected. Olmedo met
with more success amongst the soldiers, who most of them knew him,
and to whom he distributed a number of chains, gold rings, and other
jewels, which were well calculated to give them a high idea of the
riches of the conqueror. But when Narvaez heard of what was going on,
he determined not to leave his troops any longer exposed to
temptation; he set a price upon the heads of Cortès and his
principal officers, and advanced to the encounter.

Cortès, however, was too skilful to be enticed into giving battle
under unfavourable circumstances. He temporized and succeeded in
tiring out Narvaez and his troops, who retired to Zempoalla. Then
Cortès, having taken his measures with consummate prudence, and the
surprise and terror of a nocturnal attack which he organized
compensating for the inferiority of his troops, he made prisoners of
his enemy and all his soldiers, his own loss amounting to but two
men. The conqueror treated the vanquished well, and gave them the
choice between returning to Cuba, or remaining to share his fortune.
This latter proposal, backed up as it was by gifts and promises,
appeared so seductive to the new arrivals, that Cortès found himself
at the head of 1000 soldiers, the day after he had been in danger of
falling into the hands of Narvaez. This rapid change of fortune was
turned to the greatest advantage by the skilful diplomacy of Cortès,
who hastened to return to Mexico. The troops whom he had left there
under the command of Alvarado, to guard the emperor and the treasure,
were reduced to the last extremity by the natives, who had killed or
wounded a great number of soldiers, and who kept the rest in a state
of close blockade, while threatening them constantly with a general
assault. It must be confessed that the imprudent and criminal
conduct of the Spaniards, and notably the massacre of the most
distinguished citizens of the empire during a fête, had brought
about the rising which they dreaded, and which they had hoped to
prevent. After having been joined by 2000 Tlascalans, Cortès pressed
forward by forced marches towards the capital, where he arrived in
safety, and found that the Indians had not destroyed the bridges
belonging to the causeways and dikes which joined Mexico to the land.
In spite of the arrival of this reinforcement, the situation did not
improve. Each day it was necessary to engage in new combats, and to
make sorties to clear the avenues leading to the palace occupied by
the Spaniards.

Cortès now saw but too plainly the mistake which he had made in
shutting himself up in a town where his position might be stormed at
any moment, and from which it was so difficult to extricate himself.
In this difficulty he had recourse to Montezuma, who, by virtue of
his authority and of the prestige which still clung to him, could
appease the tumult, give the Spaniards some respite, and enable them
to prepare for their retreat. But when the unfortunate emperor, now
become a mere toy in the hands of the Spaniards, appeared upon the
walls decked out with regal ornaments, and implored his subjects to
cease from hostilities, murmurs of discontent arose, and threats
were freely uttered. Hostilities began afresh, and before the
soldiers had time to protect him with their shields, Montezuma was
pierced with arrows, and hit upon the head by a stone which knocked
him down. At this sight the Indians, horrified at the crime which
they had just committed, at once ceased fighting, and fled in all
directions, while the emperor, understanding but too late all the
baseness of the part which Cortès had forced him to play, tore off
the bandages which had been applied to his wounds, and refusing all
nourishment, he died cursing the Spaniards.

[Illustration: Death of Montezuma.]

After so fatal an event, there was no more room to hope for peace
with the Mexicans, and it became necessary to retire in haste, and
at whatever cost, from a town in which the Spaniards were threatened
with blockade and starvation. For this retreat Cortès was preparing
in secret. He saw his troops each day more and more closely hemmed
in, whilst several times he was forced himself to take his sword in
his hand and to fight like a common soldier. Solis even relates, but
upon what authority is not known, that during an assault which was
made upon one of the edifices commanding the Spanish quarter, two
young Mexicans, recognizing Cortès, who was cheering on his soldiers,
resolved to sacrifice themselves in the hope of killing the man who
had been the author of their country's calamities. They approached
him in a suppliant attitude, as though they would ask for quarter,
then seizing him round the waist they dragged him towards the
battlements, over which they threw themselves, hoping to drag him
over with them. But thanks to his exceptional strength and agility
Cortès managed to escape from their embrace, and these two brave
Mexicans perished in their generous but vain attempt to save their

The retreat being determined upon, it was necessary to decide upon
whether it should be carried out by night or by day. If in the
daytime the enemy would be more easily resisted, any ambuscades
which might be prepared would be more easily avoided, while they
could better take precautions to repair any bridges broken by the
Mexicans. On the other hand, it was known that the Indians will
seldom attack an enemy after sunset, but what really decided Cortès
in favour of a nocturnal retreat was, that a soldier who dabbled in
astrology had declared to his comrades that success was certain if
they acted in the night.

They therefore began their march at midnight. Besides the Spanish
troops, Cortès had under his orders detachments from Tlascala,
Zempoalla, and Cholula, which, notwithstanding the serious losses
which had been sustained, still numbered 7000 men. Sandoval
commanded the vanguard, and Cortès the centre, where were the cannon,
baggage, and prisoners, amongst whom were a son and two daughters of
Montezuma; Alvarado and Velasquez de Léon led the rearguard. With
the army was carried a flying bridge, which had been constructed to
throw over any gaps there might be in the causeway. Scarcely had the
Spaniards debouched upon the dike leading to Tacuba, which was the
shortest of all, when they were attacked in front, flank, and rear
by solid masses of the enemy, whilst from a fleet of numberless
canoes, a perfect hailstorm of stones and missiles fell upon them.
Blinded and amazed, the allies knew not against whom to defend
themselves first. The wooden bridge sank under the weight of the
artillery and fighting men. Crowded together upon a narrow causeway
where they could not use their fire-arms, deprived of their cavalry
who had not room to act, mingled with the Indians in a hand-to-hand
combat, not having strength to kill, and surrounded on all sides,
the Spaniards and their allies gave way under the ever renewed
numbers of the assailants. Officers and soldiers, infantry and
cavalry, Spaniards and Tlascalans were confounded together, each
defended himself to the best of his ability, without caring about
discipline or the common safety.

All seemed lost, when Cortès with one hundred men succeeded in
crossing the breach in the dike upon the mass of corpses which
filled it up. He drew up his soldiers in order as they arrived, and
putting himself at the head of those least severely wounded, plunged
wedge-fashion into the mêlée, and succeeded in disengaging from it a
portion of his men. Before day dawned all those who had succeeded in
escaping from the massacre of the _noche triste_, as this terrible
night was called, found themselves reunited at Tacuba. It was with
eyes full of tears that Cortès passed in review his remaining
soldiers, all covered with wounds, and took account of the losses
which he had sustained; 4000 Indians, Tlascalans, and Cholulans, and
nearly all the horses were killed, all the artillery and ammunition,
as well as the greatest part of the baggage, were lost, and amongst
the dead were several officers of distinction--Velasquez de Léon,
Salcedo, Morla, Larès, and many others; one of those most
dangerously hurt was Alvarado, but not one man, whether officer or
soldier, was without a wound.

The fugitives did not delay at Tacuba, and by accident they took the
road to Tlascala, where they did not know what reception might await
them. Ever harassed by the Mexicans, the Spaniards were again
obliged to give battle upon the plains of Otumba to a number of
warriors, whom some historians reckon at two hundred thousand.
Thanks to the presence of some cavalry soldiers who still remained
to him, Cortès was able to overthrow all who were in front of him,
and to reach a troop of persons whose high rank was easily discerned
by their gilded plumes and luxurious costumes, amongst whom was the
general bearing the standard. Accompanied by some horsemen, Cortès
threw himself upon this group and was fortunate enough, or skilful
enough, to overturn by a lance-thrust the Mexican general, who was
then despatched by the sword by a soldier named Juan de Salamanca.
From the moment when the standard disappeared the battle was gained,
and the Mexicans, panic-stricken, fled hastily from the field of
battle. "Never had the Spaniards incurred greater danger," says
Prescott, "and had it not been for the lucky star of Cortès, not one
would have survived to transmit to posterity the history of the
sanguinary battle of Otumba." The booty was considerable, and
sufficed in part, to indemnify the Spaniards for the loss they had
sustained in leaving Mexico, for this army which they had just
defeated was composed of the principal warriors of the nation, who,
having been quite confident of success, had adorned themselves with
their richest ornaments.

[Illustration: Cortès at the Battle of Otumba.]

The day after the battle the Spaniards entered the territory of
Tlascala. Bernal Diaz says, "I shall now call the attention of
curious readers to the fact that when we returned to Mexico to the
relief of Alvarado, we were in all 1300 men, including in that
number ninety-seven horsemen, eighty cross-bowmen, and the same
number armed with carbines; besides, we had more than 2000
Tlascalans, and much artillery. Our second entry into Mexico took
place on St. John's Day, 1520; our flight from the city was on the
10th day of the month of July following, and we fought the memorable
battle of Otumba on the 14th day of this same month of July. And now
I would draw attention to the number of men who were killed at
Mexico during the passage of the causeways and bridges, in the
battle of Otumba, and in the other encounters upon the route. I
declare that in the space of five days 860 of our men were massacred,
including ten of our soldiers and five Castilian women, who were
killed in the village of Rustepèque; we lost besides 1200 Tlascalans
during the same time. It is to be noticed also that if the number of
dead in the troop of Narvaez were greater than in the troop of
Cortès, it was because the former soldiers set out on the march
laden with a quantity of gold, the weight of which hindered them
from swimming, and from getting out of the trenches."

The troops with Cortès were reduced to four hundred and forty men,
with twenty horses, twelve cross-bowmen, and seven carabineers; they
had not a single charge of gunpowder, they were all wounded, lame,
or maimed in the arms. It was the same number of men that had
followed Cortès when he first entered Mexico, but how great a
difference was there between that conquering troop, and the
vanquished soldiers who now quitted the capital.

As they entered the Tlascalan territory Cortès recommended his men,
and especially those of Narvaez, not to do anything which could vex
the natives, the common safety depending upon not irritating the
only allies which remained to them. Happily the fears which had
arisen as to the fidelity of the Tlascalans proved groundless. They
gave the Spaniards a most sympathizing welcome, and their thoughts
seemed to be wholly bent upon avenging the death of their brothers
massacred by the Mexicans. While in their capital Cortès heard of
the loss of two more detachments, but these reverses, grave as they
were, did not discourage him; he had under his orders troops inured
to war and faithful allies, Vera-Cruz was intact, he might once more
reckon upon his good fortune. But before undertaking a new campaign
or entering upon another siege, help must be sought and preparations
made, and with these objects in view the general set to work. He
sent four ships to Hispaniola to enrol volunteers and purchase
powder and ammunition, and meanwhile he caused trees to be cut down
in the mountains of Tlascala, and with the wood thus obtained twelve
brigantines were constructed, which were to be carried in pieces to
the Lake of Mexico, to be launched there at the moment when needed.

After suppressing some attempts at mutiny amongst the soldiers, in
which those who had come with Narvaez were the most to blame, Cortès
again marched forwards, and, with the help of the Tlascalans, first
attacked the people of Tepeaca and of other neighbouring provinces,
a measure which had the advantage of exercising anew his own troops
in war, and of training his allies. While this was going on, two
brigantines bringing ammunition and reinforcements fell into the
hands of Cortès; these ships had been sent to Narvaez by Velasquez,
in ignorance of his misadventures; at this time also some Spaniards
sent by Francis de Garay, governor of Jamaica, joined the army. In
consequence of these reinforcements the troops with Cortès, after he
had rid himself of several partisans of Narvaez with whom he was
dissatisfied, amounted to five hundred infantry, of whom eighty
carried muskets, and forty horse-soldiers. With this small army, and
with one thousand Tlascalans, Cortès set out once more for Mexico on
the 28th of December, 1520, six months after he had been forced to
abandon the city. This campaign had for its theatre countries
already described, and must therefore be passed over somewhat
rapidly here, notwithstanding the interest attaching to it; to enter
fully into the history of the conquest of Mexico would not be in
accordance with the primary object of this work.

After the death of Montezuma his brother Quetlavaca was raised to
the throne, and he adopted all the measures of precaution compatible
with Aztec strategic science. But he died of the smallpox, the sad
gift of the Spaniards to the New World, at the very moment when his
brilliant qualities of foresight and bravery were the most needed by
his country. His successor was Guatimozin, the nephew of Montezuma,
a man distinguished by his talents and courage.

Cortès had no sooner entered the Mexican territory than fighting
began. He speedily captured the town of Tezcuco, which was situated
at twenty miles' distance, upon the edge of the great central lake,
that lake upon whose waters the Spaniards were to see an imposing
flotilla floating three months later. At this time a fresh
conspiracy, which had for its object the assassination of Cortès and
his principal officers, was discovered, and the chief culprit
executed. At this moment fate seemed in every way to smile upon
Cortès; he had just received the news of the arrival of fresh
reinforcements at Vera-Cruz, and the greater part of the towns under
the dominion of Guatimozin had submitted to the force of his arms.
The actual siege of Mexico began in the month of May, 1521, and
continued with alternate success and reverse until the day when the
brigantines were launched upon the water of the lake. The Mexicans
did not hesitate to attack them; from four to five thousand canoes,
each bearing two men, covered the lake and advanced to the assault
of the Spanish vessels, which carried in all nearly three hundred
men. These nine brigantines were provided with cannon, and soon
dispersed or sunk the enemy's fleet, who thenceforth left them in
undisputed possession of the water. But this success and certain
other advantages gained by Cortès had no very marked consequences,
and the siege dragged slowly on, until the general made up his mind
to capture the town by force. Unfortunately the officer who was
charged with protecting the line of retreat by the causeways while
the Spaniards were making their way into the town, abandoned his
post, thinking it unworthy of his valour, and went to join in the
combat. Guatimozin was informed of the fault which had been
committed, and at once took advantage of it. His troops attacked the
Spaniards on all sides with such fury that numbers of them were
killed in a short time, while sixty-two of the soldiers fell alive
into the hands of the Mexicans, a fate which Cortès, who was
severely wounded in the thigh, narrowly escaped sharing. During the
night following, the great temple of the war-god was illuminated in
sign of triumph, and the Spaniards listened in profound sadness to
the beating of the great drum. From the position they occupied they
could witness the end of the prisoners, their unfortunate countrymen,
whose breasts were opened and their hearts torn out, and whose dead
bodies were hurled down the steps; they were then torn in pieces by
the Aztecs, who quarrelled over the pieces with the object of using
them for a horrible festival.

This terrible defeat caused the siege to go on slowly, until the day
came when three parts of the city having been taken or destroyed,
Guatimozin was obliged by his councillors to quit Mexico and to set
out for the mainland, where he reckoned upon organizing his
resistance, but the boat which carried him being seized he was made
prisoner. In his captivity he was destined to display much greater
dignity and strength of character than his uncle Montezuma had done.
From this time all resistance ceased, and Cortès might take
possession of the half-destroyed capital. After a heroic resistance,
in which 120,000 Mexicans according to some accounts, but 240,000
according to others, had perished, after a siege which had lasted
not less than seventy days, Mexico, and with the city all the rest
of the empire, succumbed, less indeed to the blows dealt against it
by the Spaniards than to the long-standing hatred and the revolts of
the subjugated people, and to the jealousy of the neighbouring
states, fated soon to regret the yoke which they had so deliberately
shaken off.

Contempt and rage soon succeeded amongst the Spaniards to the
intoxication of success; the immense riches upon which they had
reckoned either had no existence, or they had been thrown into the
lake. Cortès found it impossible to calm the malcontents, and was
obliged to allow the emperor and his principal minister to be put to
the torture. Some historians, and notably Gomara, report that whilst
the Spaniards were stirring the fire which burnt below the gridiron
upon which the two victims were extended, the minister turned his
head towards his master and apparently begged him to speak, in order
to put an end to their tortures; but that Guatimozin reproved this
single moment of weakness by these words, "And I, am I assisting at
some pleasure, or am I in the bath?" an answer which has been
poetically changed into, "And I, do I lie upon roses?"

[Illustration: The Spaniards stir the fire burning below the

The historians of the conquest of Mexico have usually stopped short
at the taking of Mexico, but it remains for us to speak of some
other expeditions undertaken by Cortès with different aims, but
which resulted in casting quite a new light upon some portions of
Central America; besides we could not leave this hero, who played so
large a part in the history of the New World and in the development
of its civilization, without giving some details of the end of his

With the fall of the capital was involved, properly speaking, that
of the Mexican empire; if there were still some resistance, as
notably there was in the province of Oaxaca, it was of an isolated
character, and a few detachments of troops sufficed to reduce to
submission the last remaining opponents of the Spaniards, terrified
as the Mexicans were by the punishments which had been dealt out to
the people of Panuco, who had revolted. At the same time ambassadors
were sent by the people of the distant countries of the empire, to
convince themselves of the reality of that wonderful event, the
taking of Mexico, to behold the ruins of the abhorred town, and to
tender their submission to the conquerors.

Cortès was at length confirmed in the position he held after
incidents which would take too long to relate, and which caused him
to say, "It has been harder for me to fight against my countrymen
than against the Aztecs." It now remained to him to organize the
conquered country, and he began by establishing the seat of
government at Mexico, which he rebuilt. He attracted Spaniards to
the city by granting them concessions of lands, and the Indians, by
allowing them at first to remain under the authority of their native
chiefs, although he speedily reduced them all, except the Tlascalans,
to the condition of slaves, by the vicious system of _repartimientos_,
in vogue in the Spanish colonies. But if it is justifiable to reproach
Cortès with having held cheaply the political rights of the Indians,
it must be conceded that he manifested the most laudable solicitude
for their spiritual well-being. To further this object he brought over
some Franciscans, who by their zeal and charity in a short time gained
the veneration of the natives, and in a space of twenty years brought
about the conversion of the whole population.

At the same time Cortès sent some troops into the state of Mechoacan,
who penetrated as far as the Pacific Ocean, and as they returned
visited some of the rich provinces situated in the north. Cortès
founded settlements in all the parts of the country which appeared
to him advantageous: at Zacatula upon the shores of the Pacific, at
Coliman in Mechoacan, at Santesteban near Tampico, at Medellin near
Vera-Cruz, &c.

Immediately after the pacification of the country, Cortès entrusted
Christoval de Olid with the command of a considerable force, in
order to establish a colony in Honduras, and at the same time Olid
was to explore the southern coast of that province, and to seek for
a strait which should form a communication between the Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans. But, carried away by the pride of command, Olid had
no sooner reached his destination than he declared himself
independent, whereupon Cortès immediately despatched one of his
relations to arrest the culprit, and set out himself, accompanied by
Guatimozin, at the head of one hundred horsemen and fifty
foot-soldiers, on the 12th of October, 1524. After crossing the
provinces of Goatzacoalco, Tabasco, and Yucatan, and enduring all
kinds of privations in the course of a most trying march over marshy
and shifting ground, and across a perfect ocean of undulating
forests, the detachment was approaching the province of Aculan, when
Cortès was told of the existence of a plot, formed, as was said, by
Guatimozin and the principal Indian chiefs. Its aim was to seize the
first opportunity to massacre both officers and soldiers, after
which the march to Honduras was to be continued, the settlements
were to be destroyed, and then there was to be a return to Mexico,
where during a general rising there would doubtless be small
difficulty experienced in getting rid of the invaders. Guatimozin in
vain protested his innocence, in which there is every reason to
believe; he was hung, as well as several of the Aztec nobles, upon
the branches of a _Ceyba_ tree, which shaded the road. Bernal Diaz
del Castillo says, "The execution of Guatimozin was very unjust, and
we were all agreed in condemning it." But Prescott says, "If Cortès
had consulted but his own interest and his renown, he should have
spared him, for he was the living trophy of his victory, as a man
keeps gold in the lining of his coat."

At length the Spaniards reached Aculan, a flourishing town, where
they refreshed themselves after their journey in excellent quarters;
when they set out again, it was in the direction of the Lake of
Peten, a part of the country where the population was easily
converted to Christianity. We shall not dwell upon the sufferings
and misery which tried the expedition in these sparsely-peopled
countries, until it arrived at San Gil de Buena-Vista, upon the
Golfo Dolce, where Cortès, after receiving the news of the execution
of Olid and the re-establishment of the central authority, embarked
upon his return to Mexico. At this time he entrusted to Alvarado the
command of three hundred infantry, one hundred and sixty cavalry,
and four cannon, with a body of Indian auxiliaries, with which he
set out for the south of Mexico, to conquer Guatemala. He reduced to
submission the provinces of Zacatulan, Tehuantepec, Soconusco,
Utlatlan, and laid the foundations of the town of Guatemala la
Vieja; when, some time afterwards he made a voyage to Spain, he was
named by Charles V. governor of the countries which he had conquered.

Three years had not expired after the conquest, before a territory
1200 miles in length upon the sea-board of the Atlantic, and 1500
miles upon that of the Pacific, had submitted to the Castilian crown,
and with but few exceptions, was in a state of perfect tranquillity.

The return of Cortès to Mexico from the useless expedition to
Honduras--which had wasted so much time and caused almost as great
sufferings to the Spaniards as the conquest of Mexico--had taken
place but a few days, when he received the news that he was
temporarily replaced by another commander, and was invited to repair
to Spain to exculpate himself from certain charges. He was not in
any haste to comply with this order, hoping that it might be revoked,
but his indefatigable calumniators and his implacable enemies, both
in Spain and Mexico, preferred accusations against him after such a
manner, that he found himself obliged to go and make his defence, to
state his wrongs, and boldly to claim the approval of his conduct.
Cortès therefore started accompanied by his friend Sandoval, as well
as by Tapia und several Aztec chiefs, amongst whom was a son of
Montezuma. He disembarked at Palos, in May, 1528, at the same place
where Columbus had landed thirty-five years before, and he was
welcomed with the same enthusiasm and rejoicings as the discoverer
of America had been; here Cortès met with Pizarro, then at the
outset of his career, who was come to solicit the support of the
Spanish government. Cortès afterwards set out for Toledo, where the
court then was. The mere announcement of his return had produced a
complete change in public opinion. His unexpected arrival at once
contradicted the idea that he harboured any projects of revolt and
independence. Charles V. saw that public feeling would be outraged
at the thought of punishing a man who had added its greatest gem to
the crown of Castille, and so the journey of Cortès became one
continual triumph in the midst of crowds of people greater than had
been ever known before. "The houses and streets of the large towns
and of the villages," says Prescott, "were filled with spectators
impatient to contemplate the hero whose single arm might be said, in
some sort, to have conquered an empire for Spain, and who, to borrow
the language of an old historian, marched in all the pomp and glory,
not of a great vassal, but of an independent monarch."

Charles V., after having granted several audiences to Cortès, and
bestowed upon him those particular marks of favour which are termed
important by courtiers, deigned to accept from him the empire which
he had conquered for him, and the magnificent presents which he
brought. But he considered that he had fully recompensed him when he
had given Cortès the title of Marquis della Valle de Oajaca, and the
post of captain-general of New Spain, without, however, restoring to
him the civil government, a power which had been formerly delegated
to him by the junta of Vera-Cruz. Cortès, after his marriage with
the niece of the Duke de Béjar, who belonged to one of the first
families in Spain, accompanied the emperor, who was on his way to
Italy, to the port of embarkation; but the general, soon becoming
tired of the frivolities of a court, so little in accordance with
the active habits of his past life, set out again for Mexico in 1530,
and landed at Villa-Rica. After his arrival he underwent some
annoyance caused by the Audienza, which had exercised the power in
his absence, and which had instituted law-suits against him, and he
also found himself in conflict with the new civil junta on the
subject of military affairs. The Marquis della Valle withdrew
himself to Cuernavaca, where he had immense estates, and busied
himself with agriculture. He was the means of introducing the
sugar-cane and the mulberry into Mexico, he also encouraged the
cultivation of hemp and flax, and the breeding, on a large scale, of
merino sheep.

But this peaceable life without adventures could not long satisfy
the enterprising spirit of Cortès. In 1532 and 1533, he equipped two
squadrons destined to make voyages of discovery in the north-west of
the Pacific. The latter expedition reached the southern extremity of
the peninsula of California without attaining the object sought,
namely the discovery of a strait uniting the Pacific with the
Atlantic. Cortès himself met with no better success in 1536 in the
Vermilion Sea (Gulf of California). Three years later a concluding
expedition, of which Cortès gave the command to Ulloa, penetrated to
the farthest extremity of the gulf, and then, sailing along the
exterior side of the peninsula, reached the 29 degrees of north
latitude. From thence the chief of the expedition sent back one of
his ships to Cortès, while the rest proceeded northwards, but from
that time nothing more is heard of them. Such was the unhappy result
of the expeditions of Cortès, which, while they did not bring him in
a single ducat, cost him not less than 300,000 gold castellanos. But
they at least had the result of making known the coast of the
Pacific Ocean, from the Bay of Panama as far as Colorado. The tour
of the Californian Peninsula was made, and it was thus discovered
that what had been imagined to be an island, was in reality a part
of the continent. The whole of the Vermilion Sea, or Sea of Cortès,
as the Spaniards justly named it, was carefully explored, and it was
ascertained that, instead of having an outlet as was supposed to the
north, it was in reality only a gulf deeply hollowed into the

Cortès had not been able to fit out these expeditions without coming
into antagonism with the viceroy Don Antonio de Mendoza, whom the
emperor had sent to Mexico, an appointment which had wounded the
feelings of the Marquis della Valle. Wearied with these continual,
annoyances, and indignant at finding his prerogative as
captain-general, if not absolutely ignored, at least perpetually
questioned, Cortès left Mexico, and once more set out for Spain. But
this journey was not destined at all to resemble the first. Grown
old, disgusted with life, and betrayed by fortune, the
"conquistador" had no longer anything to expect from government. He
had not to wait long before receiving proof of this; one day he
pressed through the crowd which surrounded the emperor's coach, and
mounted upon the step of the door. Charles V. pretended not to
recognize him, and asked who this man was. Cortès answered proudly,
"It is the man who has given you more States than your father left
you Towns." By this time public interest was diverted from Mexico,
which had not yielded as much as had been expected from it, and was
centred upon the marvellous riches of Peru. Cortès was, however,
received with honour by the supreme council of the Indies, and
permitted to state his complaints before it, but the debates upon
the subject were endlessly drawn out, and he could obtain no redress.
In 1541, during the disastrous expedition of Charles V. against
Algiers, Cortès, who was serving in it as a volunteer, but whose
counsels had not been listened to, had the misfortune to lose three
great carved emeralds, jewels which would have sufficed for the
ransom of an empire. Upon his return he renewed his solicitations,
but with the same want of success. His grief over this injustice and
these repeated disappointments was so deep, that his health suffered
severely; he died far from the scene of his exploits, on the 10th of
November, 1547, at Castilleja de la Cuesta, at the very moment when
he was making preparations to return to America.

"He was a true knight errant," says Prescott; "of all that glorious
troop of adventurers which the Spain of the sixteenth century sent
forth to a career of discovery and conquest, there was not one more
deeply imbued with the spirit of romantic enterprise than Fernando
Cortès. Strife was his delight, and he loved to attempt an
enterprise by its most difficult side."...

This passion for the romantic might have reduced the conqueror of
Mexico to the part of a common adventurer, but Cortès was certainly
a profound politician and a great captain, if one is justified in
giving this name to a man who accomplished great actions by his own
unassisted genius. There is no other example in history of so great
an enterprise having been carried to a successful end with such
inadequate means. It may be said with truth that Cortès conquered
Mexico with his own resources alone. His influence over the minds of
his soldiers was the natural result of their confidence in his
ability, but it must be attributed also to his popular manners,
which rendered him eminently fit to lead a band of adventurers. When
he had attained to a higher rank, if Cortès displayed more of pomp,
his veterans at least continued on the same terms of intimacy with
him as before. In finishing this portrait of the "conquistador," we
shall quote the upright and veracious Bernal Diaz, with whose
sentiments we fully agree. "He preferred his name of Cortès to all
the titles by which he might be addressed, and he had good reasons
for it, for the name of Cortès is as famous in our days as that of
Cesar amongst the Romans, or Hannibal amongst the Carthaginians."
The old chronicler ends by a touch which vividly depicts the
religious spirit of the sixteenth century: "Perhaps he was destined
to receive his reward only in a better world, and I fully believe it
to be so; for he was an honest knight, very sincere in his devotions
to the Virgin, to the Apostle St. Peter, and to all the saints."


The triple alliance--Francisco Pizarro and his brothers--Don Diego
d'Almagro--First attempts--Peru, its extent, people, and kings--
Capture of Atahualpa, his ransom and death--Pedro d'Alvarado--
Almagro in Chili--Strife among the conquerors--Trial and execution
of Almagro--Expeditions of Gonzalo Pizarro and Orellana--
Assassination of Francisco Pizarro--Rebellion and execution of his
brother Gonzalo.

The information which had been gained by Balboa as to the riches of
the countries situated to the south of Panama had scarcely become
known to the Spaniards before several expeditions were organized to
attempt the conquest of them. But all had failed, either from the
means used being insufficient, or from the commanders not being
equal to the greatness of the undertaking. It must be confessed also
that the localities explored by these first adventurers--these
pioneers, as they would be called now-a-days--did not at all come up
to what Spanish greed had expected from them, and for this reason,
that all the attempts had been hitherto made upon what was then
called "Terra Firma," a country pre-eminently unhealthy, mountainous,
marshy, and covered with forests; the inhabitants were few, but of
so warlike a disposition that they had added another obstacle to all
those which nature had strewn with so prodigal a hand in the path of
the invaders. Little by little, therefore, the enthusiasm had cooled,
and the wonderful narratives of Balboa were mentioned only to be
turned into ridicule.

[Illustration: Francisco Pizarro. _From an old print_.]

There lived, however, in Panama a man well able to weigh the truth
of the reports which had been circulated concerning the richness of
the countries bathed by the Pacific; this man was Francisco Pizarro,
who had accompanied Muñez de Balboa to the southern sea, and who now
associated with himself two other adventurers, Diego de Almagro and
Ferdinand de Luque. A few words must be said about the chiefs of the
enterprise. Francisco Pizarro, born near Truxillo between the years
1471 and 1478, was the natural son of a certain Captain Gonzalo
Pizarro, who had taught the boy nothing but to take care of pigs; he
was soon tired of this occupation, and took advantage of his having
allowed one of the animals who were in his charge to stray, not to
return to the paternal roof, where he was accustomed to be cruelly
beaten for the smallest peccadillo. The young Pizarro enlisted, and
after passing some years amidst the Italian wars, he followed
Christopher Columbus to Hispaniola in 1510. He served there with
distinction, and also in Cuba; afterwards he accompanied Hojeda to
Darien, discovered, as has been already mentioned, the Pacific, with
Balboa, and after the execution of the latter, he assisted Pedrarias
Davila, whose favourite he had become, in the conquest of all the
country known as Castille d'Or.

While Pizarro was an illegitimate child, Diego de Almagro was a
foundling, picked up according to some in 1475 at Aldea del Rey, but
according to others at Almagro, from which circumstance, as they
maintain, he derived his name. He was educated in the midst of
soldiers, and while still young went to America, where he had
succeeded in amassing a small fortune.

Ferdinand de Luque was a rich ecclesiastic of Tobago, who exercised
the calling of a schoolmaster at Panama. The youngest of these
adventurers was by this time more than fifty years of age, and
Garcilasso de la Vega relates that upon their project being known,
they became the objects of general derision; Ferdinand de Luque was
the most laughed at, and was called by no other name than _Hernando
el Loco_, Ferdinand the Fool. The terms of partnership were soon
agreed upon between these three men, of whom two at least were
without fear, if they were not all three without reproach. Luque
furnished money needed for the armament of the vessels and the pay
of the soldiers, and Almagro bore an equal part in the expense, but
Pizarro, who possessed nothing but his sword, was to pay his
contribution in another manner. It was he who took the command of
the first attempt, upon which we shall dwell in some detail, because
it was then that the perseverance and inflexible obstinacy of the
"conquistador" first came fully into sight.

One of the historians of the conquest of Peru, Augustin de Zarate,
relates as follows:--"Having then asked and obtained the permission
of Pedro Arias d'Avila, Francisco Pizarro after much trouble
equipped a vessel upon which he embarked with 140 men. At the
distance of 150 miles from Panama he discovered a small and poor
province named Peru, which caused the same name to be henceforward
improperly bestowed upon all the country which was discovered along
that coast for the space of more than 3600 miles in length. Passing
onwards he discovered another country, which the Spaniards called
_the burnt people_. The Indians slew so many of his men that he was
constrained to retire in great disorder to the country of Chinchama,
which is not far distant from the place whence he had started.
Almagro, however, who had remained at Panama, fitted out a ship
there, upon which he embarked with seventy Spaniards, and descended
the coast as far as the River San Juan, 300 miles from Panama. Not
having met with Pizarro, he went back northwards as far as _the
burnt people_, where, having ascertained by certain indications that
Pizarro had been there, he landed his men. But the Indians, puffed
up by the victory which they had gained over Pizarro, resisted
bravely, forced the entrenchments with which Almagro had covered his
position, and obliged him to re-embark. He returned therefore, still
following the coast-line until he arrived at Chinchama, where he
found Francisco Pizarro. They were much rejoiced at meeting again,
and having added to their followers some fresh soldiers whom they
had levied, they found their troops amounted to 200 Spaniards, and
once more they descended the coast. They suffered so much from
scarcity of provisions and from the attacks of the Indians, that Don
Diego returned to Panama to collect more recruits and to obtain
provisions. He took back with him eighty men, with whom and with
those who remained to them, they went as far as the country called
Catamez, a country moderately peopled and where they found abundance
of provisions. They noticed that the Indians of these parts who
attacked them and made war against them, had their faces studded
with nails of gold inserted in holes which they had made expressly
for receiving these ornaments. Diego de Almagro returned once again
to Panama, whilst his companion waited for him and for the
reinforcements which he was to bring with him, in a small island
called Cock Island, where he suffered much from the scarcity of all
the necessaries of life."

[Illustration: The Indians kill many of the Spaniards.]

Upon his arrival in Panama, Almagro could not obtain permission from
Los Rios, the successor of Avila, to make new levies, for he had no
right, Los Rios said, to allow a greater number of people to go and
perish uselessly in a rash enterprise; he even sent a boat to Cock
Island to bring away Pizarro and his companions. But such a decision
could not be pleasing to Almagro and De Luque. It meant expense
thrown away; and it meant the annihilation of the hopes which the
sight of the ornaments of gold and silver of the inhabitants of
Catamez had caused them to entertain. They sent therefore a trusty
person to Pizarro, to recommend him to persevere in his resolution,
and to refuse to obey the orders of the Governor of Panama. But
Pizarro in vain held out the most seductive promises; the
remembrance of the fatigues which had been endured was too recent,
and all his companions except twelve abandoned him.

With these intrepid men, whose names have been preserved, and
amongst whom was Garcia de Xerès, one of the historians of the
expedition, Pizarro retired to an uninhabited island at a greater
distance from the coast, to which he gave the name of Gorgona. There
the Spaniards lived miserably on mangles, fish, and shell-fish, and
awaited for five months the succour that Almagro and De Luque were
to send them. At length, vanquished by the unanimous protestations
of the whole colony,--who were indignant that people whose only
crime was that they had not despaired of success, should be left to
perish miserably and as though they were malefactors,--Los Rios sent
to Pizarro a small vessel to bring him back. With the object of
presenting no temptation to Pizarro to make use of this ship to
renew his expedition, not a single soldier was placed on board of
her. At the sight of the help which had arrived, and oblivious of
all their privations, the thirteen adventurers thought of nothing
but persuading the sailors who came to seek them to participate in
their own hopes. Whereupon, instead of starting again on the route
to Panama, they sailed all together, towards the south-east, in
spite of contrary winds and currents, until, after having discovered
the Island of St. Clara, they arrived at the port of Tumbez,
situated beyond the 3 degrees of south latitude, where they saw a
magnificent temple and a palace belonging to the Incas, the
sovereigns of the country.

The country was populous and fairly well-cultivated, but what proved
beyond all else seductive to the Spaniards, and made them think that
they had reached the marvellous countries of which so much had been
said, was the sight of so great an abundance of gold and silver,
that these metals were employed not only as finery and ornament by
the inhabitants, but also for making vases and common utensils.

Pizarro caused the interior of the country to be explored by Pietro
de Candia and Alonzo de Molina, who brought back an enthusiastic
description of it, and he caused some gold vases to be given up to
him, as well as some llamas, a quadruped domesticated by the
Peruvians. He took two natives on board his vessel, to whom he
proposed to teach the Spanish language, and to use them as
interpreters when he should return to the country. He anchored
successively at Payta, Saugarata, and in the Bay of Santa-Cruz, of
which the sovereign, Capillana, received the strangers with such
friendly demonstrations, that several of them were unwilling to
re-embark. After having sailed down the coast as far as Porto Santo,
Pizarro set out on his return to Panama, where he arrived after
three whole years spent in dangerous explorations, which had
completely ruined De Luque and Almagro.

[Illustration: Pizarro received by Charles V.]

Pizarro resolved to apply to Charles V. before undertaking the
conquest of the country which he had discovered, for he could not
obtain leave from Los Rios to engage fresh adventurers; so he
borrowed the sum required for the voyage, and in 1528 he went to
Spain to inform the emperor of the work which he had undertaken. He
painted the picture of the countries that were to be conquered in
the most pleasing light, and as a reward for his labours the titles
of governor, captain-general, and alguazil-major of Peru were
bestowed upon him and his heirs in perpetuity. At the same time he
was ennobled, and a pension of 1000 crowns was bestowed upon him.
His jurisdiction, independent of the governor of Panama, was to
extend over a tract of 600 miles along the coast to the south of the
Santiago river; it was to be called New Castille, and he was to be
the governor; concessions that cost nothing to Spain, for Pizarro
had yet to conquer the country. On his side he undertook to raise a
body of 250 men, and to provide himself with the necessary ships,
arms, and ammunition. Pizarro then repaired to Truxillo, where he
persuaded his three brothers Ferdinand, Juan, and Gonzalo to
accompany him, as well as one of his half-brothers Martin
d'Alcantara. He took advantage of his stay in his native town, and
at Caceres, to try to raise recruits, both there and throughout
Estramadura; they did not, however, come forward in large numbers,
in spite of the title of _Caballeros de la Espado dorada_ which he
promised to bestow upon all who would serve under him. Then he
returned to Panama, where affairs were not going so smoothly as he
had hoped. He had succeeded in getting De Luque named Bishop
_protector de los Indios_; but for Almagro, whose talents he knew,
and whose ambition he feared, he had only asked that he should be
ennobled and a gratuity of 500 ducats bestowed upon him, with the
government of a fortress which was to be built at Tumbez. Almagro
refused to take part in this new expedition; he was not pleased with
the meagre portion given to him after spending all his money on the
earlier expeditions; he wished now to organize one on his own
account. It required all Pizarro's address, aided by the promise to
give up to Almagro the office of _adelantado_, to appease him and
make him consent to renew the old partnership.

[Illustration: Map of Peru.]

The resources of the three partners were so limited at this time,
that they could only get together three small ships and 124 soldiers,
of whom thirty-six were horse-soldiers; the expedition set out in
February, 1531, under the command of Pizarro and his four brothers,
whilst Almagro remained at Panama to organize an expedition of
supplies. At the end of thirteen days' sailing, and after having
been carried by a storm 300 miles more to the south than he had
intended, Pizarro was forced to disembark both men and horses on the
shores of the Bay of San Mateo, and to follow the line of the coast
on land. This march was a difficult one in a very mountainous
country, thinly-peopled, and intersected by rivers which had to be
crossed at their mouths. At last a place called Coaqui was reached,
where was found a great booty, which decided Pizarro to send back
two of his ships. They carried to Panama and Nicaragua spoils to the
amount of 30,000 _castellanos_, as well as a great number of
emeralds, a rich booty, which would, according to Pizarro, determine
many adventurers to come and join him.

Then the conqueror continued his march southwards as far as
Porto-Viejo, where he was joined by Sebastian Benalcazar and Juan
Fernandez, who brought him twelve horsemen and thirty foot-soldiers.
The effect which had been produced in Mexico by the sight of the
horses and the reports of the fire-arms was repeated in Peru, and
Pizarro was able to reach the Island of Puna in the Gulf of
Guayaquil without encountering any resistance. But the islanders
were more numerous and more warlike than their brothers of the
mainland, and for six months they valiantly resisted all the attacks
of the Spaniards. Although Pizarro had received some aid from
Nicaragua, brought by Ferdinand de Soto, and although he had
beheaded the cacique Tonalla and sixteen of the principal chiefs, he
could not overcome their resistance. He was, therefore, obliged to
regain the continent, where the maladies peculiar to the country
tried his companions so cruelly, that he was forced to stay three
months at Tumbez, exposed to the perpetual attacks of the natives.
From Tumbez he went next to the Rio Puira, discovered the harbour of
Payta, the best on this coast, and founded the colony of San-Miguel,
at the mouth of the Chilo, in order that vessels coming from Panama
might find a safe shelter. It was here that Pizarro received some
envoys from Huascar, who informed him of the revolt of Atahualpa,
the brother of Huascar, and asked his aid.

At the period when the Spaniards landed to conquer Peru, it extended
along the shore of the Pacific Ocean for 1500 miles, and stretched
into the interior as far as the imposing chain of the Andes.
Originally the population was divided into savage and barbarous
tribes, having no idea of civilization, and living in a perpetual
state of warfare with one another. For many centuries affairs had
continued in the same state, and there appeared no presage of the
coming of a better era, when, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, there
appeared to the Indians a man and woman, who pretended that they
were the Children of the Sun. They called themselves Manco-Capac and
Mama-Oello, and were of majestic appearance; according to Garcilasso
de la Vega, towards the middle of the twelfth century they united
together a number of wandering tribes, and laid the foundations of
the town of Cuzco. Manco-Capac had taught the men agriculture and
mechanical arts, whilst Mama-Oello instructed the women in spinning
and weaving. When Manco-Capac had satisfied these first needs of all
societies, he framed laws for his subjects, and constituted a
regular political state. It was thus that the dominion of the Incas
or Lords of Peru was established. At first their empire was limited
to the neighbourhood of Cuzco, but under their successors it rapidly
increased, and extended from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Pearl
Islands, a length of thirty degrees. The power of the incas was as
absolute as that of the ancient Asiatic sovereigns. "Also," says
Zarate, "there was perhaps no other country in the world where the
obedience and submission of the subjects was carried further. The
incas were to them quasi-divinities; they had but to place a thread
drawn from the royal head-fillet in the hands of any one, and the
man so distinguished, was certain to be everywhere respected and
obeyed, and to find such absolute deference paid to the king's order
which he carried, that he could alone exterminate a whole province
without any assistance from soldiers, and cause to be put to death
all the inhabitants, both male and female, because at the mere sight
of this thread, taken from the royal crown, the people voluntarily
and without any resistance, offered themselves up to die." However,
the old chroniclers all agree in saying that this unlimited power
was always used by the incas for the well-being of their subjects.
Out of a series of twelve kings, who in succession sat on the throne
of Peru, there was not one who did not leave behind him the memory
of a just prince adored by his subjects. Should we not search in
vain through the annals of any other country in the world for facts
analogous to these? Must it not be regretted that the Spaniards
should have brought war with all its attendant horrors, and the
maladies and vices of a different climate, along with what they in
their pride called civilization, amongst a rich and happy people,
whose descendants, impoverished and debased as they are, have not
even the recollection of their ancient prosperity to console them in
their irremediable decay?

"The Peruvians," says Michelet in his admirable _Précis d'Histoire
Moderne_, "handed down the principal facts to posterity by knots,
which they made in ropes. They had obelisks and exact gnomons to
mark the equinoxes and solstices. Their year consisted of 365 days.
They had erected prodigies of architecture, and they carved statues
with amazing art. They formed the most polished and industrious
nation of the New World."

The inca Huayna-Capac, father of Atahualpa, under whom this vast
empire was destroyed, had done much to increase and embellish it.
This inca, who conquered all the country of Quito, had made, by the
hands of his soldiers and of the vanquished people, a great road
1500 miles in length from Cuzco to Quito, across precipices which
had been filled up and mountains which had been levelled. Relays of
men, stationed at intervals of a mile and a half from each other,
carried the emperor's orders throughout the empire. Such was their
police, and if we wish to judge of Peruvian magnificence, we need
only instance the fact that the king when he travelled was carried
on a throne of gold which weighed 25,000 ducats, and the golden
litter upon which the throne rested was borne by the highest
personages of the realm.

In 1526, when the Spaniards appeared on the coast for the first time,
the twelfth inca had lately married--in defiance of the ancient law
of the kingdom--the daughter of the vanquished king of Quito, and
had had a son of this marriage named Atahualpa, to whom he left this
kingdom on his death, which happened about 1529. His eldest son
Huascar, whose mother was descended from the incas, had the
remainder of his states. But this partition, so contrary to the
customs established from time immemorial, caused such great
discontent at Cuzco, that Huascar, encouraged by his subjects,
determined to march against his brother, who would not acknowledge
him for his lord and master. Atahualpa, in his turn, had too lately
tasted power to be willing to abandon it. He managed by bribes to
attach to himself the greater part of the warriors who had
accompanied his father during the conquest of Quito, and when the
two armies met, fortune favoured the usurper.

Is it not curious to remark how both in Peru and Mexico the
Spaniards were aided by entirely exceptional circumstances? In
Mexico some of the people who had recently submitted to the Aztec
race, being mercilessly trampled upon by their conquerors, welcome
the Spaniards as deliverers; in Peru the strife between two brothers,
furious against each other, hinders the Indians from turning all
their forces against the invaders whom they might easily have

Pizarro upon receiving the envoys sent by Huascar, to ask his aid
against his brother Atahualpa, whom he represented as a rebel and
usurper, saw at once all the advantages that might accrue to him
from these circumstances. He saw that by espousing the cause of one
of the brothers, he could more easily crush them both, therefore he
advanced at once into the interior of the country, at the head of a
very inconsiderable force, consisting of sixty-two cavalry and one
hundred and twenty foot-soldiers, of whom only twenty were armed
with arquebuses and muskets; he was obliged to leave part of his
troops to guard San-Miguel, in which Pizarro reckoned upon finding a
refuge in case of his being unsuccessful, and where in any case all
supplies which might arrive could be landed.

Pizarro first made for Caxamalca, a small town situated at about
twenty days' march from the coast. To reach it he had to cross a
desert of burning sand, without vegetation and without water, which
extended for sixty miles in length as far as the province of Motupé,
and where the slightest attack of the enemy, joined to the
sufferings endured by the little army, would have been sufficient to
crush the whole expedition at one blow. Next the troops plunged into
the mountains and became entangled in narrow defiles where a small
force might have annihilated them. During this march Pizarro
received an envoy from Atahualpa bringing him some painted shoes and
gold bracelets, which he was requested to wear at his approaching
interview with the inca. Naturally Pizarro was lavish in his
promises of friendship and devotion, and assured the Indian
ambassador that he should be only following the orders given him by
the king his master in respecting the lives and property of the
inhabitants. From the moment of his arrival at Caxamalca Pizarro
prudently lodged his soldiers in a temple and a palace belonging to
the inca, where they were sheltered from any surprise. Then he sent
one of his brothers with De Soto and twenty horse-soldiers to the
camp of Atahualpa, which was distant only three miles, to announce
to him his arrival. The envoys of the governor were received with
magnificence, and were astonished at the multiplicity of the
ornaments and vases made of gold and silver which they saw
throughout the Indian camp. They returned, bringing a promise from
Atahualpa that he would come on the next day to visit Pizarro, to
bid him welcome to his kingdom. At the same time the envoys gave an
account of the wonderful riches they had seen, which confirmed
Pizarro in the project which he had formed of seizing the
unfortunate Atahualpa and his treasures by treachery.

Several Spanish authors, and notably Zarate, disguise these facts,
which no doubt appeared to them too odious, and altogether deny the
treachery towards Atahualpa. But at the present day there are extant
many documents which force the historian to believe, with Robertson
and Prescott, in the perfidy of Pizarro. It was very important for
him to have the inca in his own hands, and to employ him as a tool,
just as Cortès had done with Montezuma. He therefore took advantage
of the honesty and simplicity of Atahualpa, who placed entire
confidence in Pizarro's protestations of friendship and so was
thrown off his guard, to arrange an ambuscade into which Atahualpa
was certain to fall. There was not a scruple in the disloyal soul of
the conqueror; he was as cool as though he were about to offer
battle to enemies who had been forewarned of his approach; this
infamous treason must be an eternal dishonour to his memory. Pizarro
divided his cavalry into three small squadrons, left all his
infantry in one body, hid his arquebusiers on the road by which the
inca must pass, and kept twenty of his most determined companions
near himself. Atahualpa, wishing to give the Spaniards a great idea
of his power, advanced with the whole of his army. He himself was
borne upon a kind of bed, decorated with feathers, covered with
plates of gold and silver, and ornamented with precious stones. He
was accompanied by his principal nobles, carried like himself on the
shoulders of their servants, and he was surrounded by dancers and
jesters. Such a march was more that of a procession than of an army.

As soon as the inca had nearly reached the Spanish quarters
(according to Robertson), Father Vincent Valverde, the chaplain of
the expedition, who was afterwards made a bishop as a reward for his
conduct, advanced with the crucifix in one hand and his breviary in
the other. In an interminable discourse he set forth to the monarch
the doctrine of the creation, the fall of the first man, the
Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
choice made by God of St. Peter to be His vicar upon earth, the
power transmitted through him to the Popes, and the gift made by
Pope Alexander to the King of Castille of all the regions of the New
World. When he had expounded all these doctrines, he called upon
Atahualpa to embrace the Christian religion, to recognize the
supreme authority of the Pope, and to submit to the King of Castille
as his legitimate sovereign. If he submitted immediately, Valverde
undertook to promise that the king his master would take Peru under
his protection, and allow him to continue to reign there; but he
declared war against him and threatened him with fearful vengeance
if he refused to obey, and persevered in his impiety.

To say the least of it, this was a singular scene and a very strange
harangue, alluding to facts which were utterly unknown to the
Peruvians, and of the truth of which a more skilful orator than
Valverde would not have succeeded in persuading them. If we add that
the interpreter knew so little of the Spanish language that it was
almost an impossibility for him to translate what he scarcely
understood himself, and that the Peruvian language lacked words to
express ideas so foreign to its genius, we shall not be much
surprised to learn that Atahualpa understood almost nothing of the
Spanish monk's discourse. Some sentences, however, which attacked
his own power, filled him with surprise and indignation. But he was
none the less moderate in his reply. He said that, as master of his
own kingdom by right of succession, he could not see how any one had
the power to dispose of it without his consent; he added that he was
not at all willing to renounce the religion of his fathers to adopt
one of which he had only heard that day for the first time; with
regard to the other points touched upon in the discourse he
understood nothing, it was a thing entirely new to him, and he would
much like to know where Valverde had learnt so many wonderful things.
"In this book," replied Valverde, handing him his breviary.
Atahualpa received it with eagerness and turned over some of the
leaves with much curiosity, then, putting it to his ear, he
exclaimed, "What you show me there does not speak to me, and tells
me nothing." With this he flung the book upon the ground.

This served as a signal for the combat, or rather for the massacre.
Cannon and muskets came into play, the cavalry sprang forward, and
the infantry fell sword in hand upon the stupefied Peruvians. In a
few moments the confusion was at its height. The Indians fled on all
sides, without attempting to defend themselves. As to Atahualpa,
although his principal officers tried to make a rampart of their own
bodies, while they carried him off, Pizarro sprang upon him,
dispersed or overthrew his guards, and seizing him by his long hair,
threw him down from the litter in which he was carried. Only the
darkness could arrest the carnage. Four thousand Indians were killed,
a greater number wounded, and 3000 were taken prisoners. An
incontestable proof that there was no real battle is, that of all
the Spaniards Pizarro alone was hit, and he received his wound from
one of his own soldiers who was too precipitately endeavouring to
seize upon the inca.

[Illustration: Atahualpa is made prisoner. _From an old print_.]

The booty collected in the camp and from the dead exceeded anything
the Spaniards could have imagined, and their enthusiasm was
proportioned to the conquest of such riches.

At first Atahualpa bore his captivity with resignation, which may
have been partly due to Pizarro's doing all he could to soothe him,
at least by words. But the inca, soon understanding the unbridled
covetousness of his jailors, made a proposal to Pizarro to pay him
ransom, and to have a room of twenty-two feet in length by sixteen
in width filled as high as the hand could reach with vases, utensils,
and ornaments of gold. Pizarro eagerly agreed to this, and the
captive inca despatched the necessary orders at once to all the
provinces; these were carried out promptly and unmurmuringly. Beyond
this, the Indian troops were disbanded, and Pizarro was able to send
Soto and five Spaniards to Cuzco, a town situated more than 600
miles from Caxamalca, while he himself subjugated all the country
within a circuit of 300 miles.

In the meantime Almagro landed with 200 soldiers. There had been set
aside for him and his men--with what regrets may easily be
imagined--100,000 pesos (a Spanish coin); a fifth was reserved for
the king, and this left 1,528,500 pesos to be divided between
Pizarro and his companions. This product of pillage and massacre was
solemnly divided between those entitled to it on the Festival of St.
James, the patron saint of Spain, after fervent prayer to God. A
deplorable mixture this of religion and profanity, too common
unfortunately, in these times of mingled superstition and avarice.

Each horse-soldier received 8000 pesos as his share, and each
foot-soldier 4000, which would be equivalent to about 1600_l._ and
800_l._ sterling. This was enough to satisfy the most exacting
soldier, after a campaign which had been neither long nor difficult.
Many of the adventurers wished to enjoy this unexpected good fortune
in a peaceable manner in their own country, and eagerly asked for
their dismissal. This Pizarro granted without hesitation, for he
felt sure that the news of their rapidly-acquired wealth would soon
bring him new recruits. With his brother Ferdinand, who went to
Spain to give the emperor an account of Pizarro's triumph and some
splendid presents, went sixty Spaniards, laden heavily indeed with
money, but lightly with remorse.

As soon as Atahualpa's ransom was paid, he claimed his freedom; but
Pizarro, who had only saved his life that he might make all the
treasures of Peru his own, and shelter himself under the prestige
and authority which the inca still exercised over his subjects, was
soon wearied by his entreaties. He suspected him also of having for
some time secretly given orders to levy troops in the distant
provinces of the empire. Besides, Atahualpa having soon discovered
that Pizarro was no better educated than one of the lowest of his
soldiers, felt in consequence a contempt for the governor which,
unfortunately, he could not conceal. Such were the reasons, all
trivial as they were, which determined Pizarro to prepare for the
trial of the inca.

Nothing could have been more hateful than this trial, in which
Almagro and Pizarro were at the same time both suitors and judges.
The heads of the accusation were so ridiculous and absurd, that one
is in doubt whether to be most surprised by the effrontery or the
wickedness of Pizarro, in subjecting the head of a powerful empire,
over which he had no jurisdiction, to such an inquiry. Atahualpa,
being found guilty, was condemned to be burnt alive; but as he had
at length asked to be baptized, that he might rid himself of the
importunities of Valverde, his enemies contented themselves with
strangling him. A worthy counterpart this, of Guatimozin's
execution! These were amongst the most atrocious and odious deeds
committed by the Spaniards in America, where, however, they have
sullied themselves with every imaginable crime.

Among this herd of adventurers there were still some men who had
retained sentiments of honour and self-respect. They protested
loudly against this perversion of justice, but their generous
pleadings were stifled by the selfish declamations of Pizarro and
his worthy assistants.

The governor now raised one of Atahualpa's sons to the throne, under
the name of Paul Inca; but the civil war between the two brothers,
and the events which had occurred since the arrival of the Spaniards,
had done much to loosen the ties which bound the Peruvians to their
kings, and this young man, destined soon to die an ignominious death,
had scarcely more authority than Manco-Capac, the son of Huascar,
who was acknowledged by the inhabitants of Cuzco. Soon after this,
some of the principal people in the country even tried to carve for
themselves kingdoms out of the empire of Peru. Such was Ruminagui,
the commandant of Quito, who caused the brother and the children of
Atahualpa to be massacred, and declared himself independent. Discord
reigned in the Peruvian camp, and the Spaniards resolved to take
advantage of it. Pizarro advanced rapidly upon Cuzco, the small
number of his forces having been the only reason which had prevented
him from doing so sooner. Now that a crowd of adventurers, attracted
by the treasures which had been brought back to Panama, vied with
each other in hastening to Peru, now that he could assemble 500
men--after leaving an important garrison at San-Miguel under
Benalcazar's command,--Pizarro had no further reason for delay. On
the way some skirmishes took place with large bodies of troops, but
they ended as always, with severe loss to the natives, and a very
insignificant one to the Spaniards. When they entered Cuzco, and
took possession of the town, the invaders showed surprise at the
small quantity of gold and precious stones which they found there,
although it far exceeded Atahualpa's ransom. Was this because they
were becoming accustomed to the riches of the country, or because
there was a larger number to share in them?

Meanwhile, Benalcazar, being weary of inaction, took advantage of
the arrival of a reinforcement from Nicaragua and Panama, to set out
for Quito, where according to the Peruvians, Atahualpa had left the
greater part of his treasure. He placed himself at the head of
eighty horse-soldiers and 120 infantry, defeated on several
occasions Ruminagui, who disputed his passage, and thanks to his
prudence and cleverness, he entered Quito victorious; but he did not
find there what he sought, that is to say, the treasures of

At the same time, Peter d'Alvarado, who had so signally
distinguished himself under Cortès, and who had been made governor
of Guatemala, as a reward for his services, pretended to believe
that the province of Quito was not included in Pizarro's command,
and organized an expedition consisting of 500 men, 200 of whom were
cavalry. Landing at Porto-Viejo, he wished to reach Quito without a
guide, by going up the Guayaquil River and crossing the Andes. This
road has always been one of the worst and most trying that it is
possible to choose. Before they had reached the plain of Quito,
after horrible sufferings from hunger and thirst, without speaking
of the burning cinders hurled from the crater of Chimborazo, a
volcano near Quito, and the snow-storms which assailed them, the
fifth part of the band of adventurers, and half the horses, had
perished; the remainder were completely discouraged and quite unfit
for fighting. It was therefore with the greatest surprise, and some
uneasiness, that they found themselves face to face, not with a body
of Indians as they had expected, but with a party of Spaniards,
under the command of Almagro. The latter were preparing to charge,
when some of the more moderate among the officers caused an
arrangement to be entered into, by virtue of which Alvarado was to
withdraw to his own province after receiving 100,000 pesos to defray
the expenses of the armament.

Ferdinand Pizarro had set sail for Spain, while these events were
happening in Peru, feeling sure that the immense quantity of gold,
silver, and precious stones which he took with him, would secure him
a warm welcome. He obtained for his brother Francisco the
confirmation of his appointment as governor, with more extended
powers; he himself was made a knight of the order of St. Iago; as
for Almagro, he was confirmed in his title of _adelantado_, and his
jurisdiction was extended 600 miles, without, however, its limits
being very strictly defined, which left the door open for many
contests and all kinds of arbitrary interpretations.

Ferdinand Pizarro had not reached Peru again, when Almagro, having
learnt that a special government had been assigned to him, pretended
that Cuzco formed part of it, and made preparations for its conquest.
But Juan and Gonzalo Pizarro had no intention of allowing themselves
to be robbed, and the parties were on the point of coming to blows
when Francisco Pizarro, who is often called _the Marquis_ or _the
great Marquis_, arrived at the capital.

Almagro had never forgiven Francisco Pizarro the duplicity which he
had displayed in his negotiations with Charles V., nor the coolness
with which he had claimed for himself, at the expense of his two
friends, the principal share of authority, and the most extended
government. But as Almagro met with great opposition to his designs,
and as he was not the stronger, he concealed his vexation, put a
good face on the matter, and seemed delighted at a reconciliation.
"They renewed their partnership, therefore," says Zarate, "on
condition that Don Diego d'Almagro should go and discover the
country on the south side, and if he found any that was really good,
they should ask his Majesty to make him the governor of it; but that
if he found nothing to suit him, they should share Don Francisco's
government between them." This arrangement was made very solemnly,
and they took their oath upon the consecrated wafer, that for the
future they would undertake nothing against one another. Some say
that Almagro swore that he would never encroach either upon Cuzco or
on the surrounding country within 390 miles, even if his Majesty
should give him the government of it. They add that turning towards
the holy sacrament, he pronounced these words, "Lord, if I violate
the oath that I now take, I pray that Thou wilt confound me, and
punish me both in my body and my soul!"

[Illustration: Pizarro and Almagro take an oath upon the Host.]

After this solemn agreement, which was destined to be observed with
as little fidelity as the first, Almagro made his preparations for
departure. Thanks to his well-known liberality, as much as to his
reputation for courage, he gathered together 570 men, of about equal
numbers of cavalry and infantry, with which he set out by land for
Chili. The journey was an extremely trying one, and the adventurers
suffered severely from intense cold whilst crossing the Andes; they
had also to deal with very warlike tribes, unsoftened by any
civilization, who assailed them with a _furia_ of which nothing they
had seen in Peru had given them any idea. Almagro could make no
settlement, for he had scarcely been two months in the country when
he heard that the Indians in Peru had revolted, and massacred the
greater part of the Spaniards, whereupon he immediately retraced his

After the new partnership had been signed between the conquerors
(1534), Pizarro had returned to the provinces bordering on the sea,
in which he could establish a regular government, there being no
longer anything to dread from resistance. For a man who had never
studied legislation, he had drawn up some very wise rules for the
administration of justice, for the collection of taxes, the
apportionment of the Indians, and the working of the mines. Some
parts of the "conquistador's" character were doubtless very open to
criticism, but it is only just to recognize that he was not wanting
in enlarged ideas, and that he was conscientious in playing his part
as the founder of a great empire. This it was which made him
hesitate long before choosing the future capital of the Spanish
possessions. Cuzco had the recommendation of having been the
residence of the incas; but this town, situated more than 400 miles
from the sea, was very distant from Quito, of which the importance
seemed to Pizarro to be extreme. Before long he was struck with the
beauty and fertility of a great valley, watered by a stream called
the Rimac, and there in 1536, he established the seat of his
dominion. Soon, the City of Kings (de Los Reyes), or Lima, as it is
called by a corruption of the name of the river which flows at its
feet, assumed the aspect of a great city, owing to the magnificent
palace and the sumptuous residences for officers, which Pizarro
caused to be built there. While these cares kept Pizarro far from
his capital, small bodies of troops, sent in different directions,
penetrated into the most distant provinces of the empire, with the
object of extinguishing the last smouldering embers of resistance;
so many of the soldiers were employed in this way, that there
remained in Cuzco itself but a very small body of troops. The inca,
who had remained in the hands of the Spaniards, thought this an
opportune moment for fomenting a general rising, in which he
earnestly hoped that the foreign government might be overthrown.
Although closely guarded, he contrived to take his measures with so
much skill that he did not arouse the suspicions of his oppressors.
He obtained permission even to be present at a grand fête, which was
to be held at several miles' distance from Cuzco, and for which the
most distinguished persons in the empire had met together. As soon
as the inca appeared, the standard of revolt was raised. The country
was soon in arms from the confines of the province of Quito as far
as Chili, and a number of small detachments of Spaniards were
surprised and destroyed. Cuzco, defended by the three brothers
Pizarro with but 170 Spaniards, was exposed for eight consecutive
months to the incessant attacks of the Peruvians, who had now become
expert in the use of the arms which they had taken from their
enemies. The conquerors made a most valiant resistance, but
experienced some severe losses, especially that of Juan Pizarro.
Almagro left Chili in the greatest haste, crossed the stony and
sandy desert of Atacama, where he suffered as severely from heat and
drought as he had done in the Andes from cold and snow, penetrated
into the Peruvian territory, defeated Manco-Capac in a great battle,
and succeeded in approaching the town of Cuzco, after having driven
away the Indians. He then tried to get the town given up to him, on
the pretext that it was not included in Pizarro's government, and
violating a truce, during which the followers of the marquis were
taking a short rest, he entered Cuzco, seized both Ferdinand and
Gonzalo Pizarro, and had himself acknowledged as governor.

While this was going on, a considerable body of Indians invested
Lima, intercepted all communications, and annihilated the various
small bodies of troops which Pizarro sent at intervals to the aid of
the Spaniards at Cuzco. At this time he sent away all his vessels to
Panama to compel his companions to make a desperate resistance; he
recalled from Truxillo the forces under the command of Alonzo
d'Alvarado, and entrusted to the latter a column of 500 men, which
advanced to within several miles of the capital without having the
slightest suspicion that the town was now in the hands of
fellow-countrymen, who were fully determined to bar their passage.
But Almagro desired much rather to attract these new adversaries to
himself than to destroy them; he arranged therefore, to surprise
them and make them prisoners. He had now a fine opportunity in his
hands of ending the war, and making himself master of the two
governments by a single blow. Several of his officers had observed
this to him, and especially Orgoños, who proposed that the two
brothers of the "conquistador" should be put to death, and that
Almagro should advance by forced marches with his victorious troops
against Lima, where Pizarro, taken by surprise, would not be able to
resist him. But as a Latin poet says, "Jupiter makes dotards of
those whom he means to ruin." Almagro, who in so many other
instances had thrown aside all scruples, did not wish to put himself
in the wrong by invading Pizarro's dominions as a rebel, and he
quietly took the road back to Cuzco.

Looking at it only from the side of Almagro's own interests, he
evidently committed in this a gross blunder, of which he was soon to
repent; but if we consider, what we should never lose sight of, the
interest of the country, he had already committed a capital crime in
the acts of aggression of which he had been guilty, and in kindling
civil war in face of an enemy quite ready to take advantage of it.
His adversaries did not delay to remind him of it. Whereas prompt
decision would have been necessary for Almagro to make him master of
the situation, Pizarro had everything to expect from time and
opportunity. While waiting for the promised reinforcements from
Darien, he commenced negotiations with his adversary, lasting for
several months, during which time one of his brothers, as well as
Alvarado, found means to escape with more than seventy men. Although
Almagro had been so often duped, he consented again to receive the
licentiate Espinosa, who was ordered to represent to him, that if
the emperor knew what was taking place between the two competitors,
and learnt the condition to which their contests had reduced affairs,
no doubt he would recall them both, and put some one else in their
place. At last, after the death of Espinosa, it was decided by the
friar Francisco de Bovadilla, to whom Pizarro and Almagro had
referred their differences, that Ferdinand Pizarro should be
immediately set free, that Cuzco should be given back to the marquis,
and that they should send several officers on both sides to Spain,
charged with representing the respective rights of the two parties
and submitting them to the emperor's decision.

Scarcely had the last of his brothers been set at liberty than
Pizarro, rejecting all idea of peace and amicable arrangement,
declared that arms alone should decide whether he or Almagro was to
be lord of Peru. In a short time he had assembled a body of 700 men,
of which he entrusted the command to his two brothers. Finding it
impossible to cross the mountains which would have been the most
direct road to Cuzco, they followed the line of the sea-coast as far
as Nasca, and then penetrated into a branch of the Andes, by which
they could reach the capital in a short time. Possibly Almagro ought
to have defended the mountain defiles, but he had only 500 men, and
he reckoned much on his splendid cavalry, whom he could not deploy
in a confined space; he therefore waited for the enemy in the plain
of Cuzco. The two parties encountered each other on the 26th of
April, 1538, with equal animosity; but the victory was decided by
two companies of musketeers which the emperor had sent to Pizarro
when he heard of the revolt of the Indians. One hundred and forty
soldiers perished in this engagement, which received the name of
_las salinas_. Orgoños and several officers of distinction were
killed in cold blood after the battle, and Almagro himself, aged and
ill, could not escape from Pizarro.

The Indians who, assembled in arms on the surrounding mountains, had
reckoned upon falling on the conqueror, had need instead to fly in
all haste. "Nothing," says Robertson, "more entirely proves the
ascendancy gained by the Spaniards over the Americans, than seeing
that the latter, witnesses of the defeat and dispersion of one of
the parties, had not the courage to attack the other, even weakened
and fatigued as they were by their victory, and dared not fall upon
their oppressors when fortune offered them so favourable an
opportunity for attacking them with advantage."

At this period a victory not followed by pillage was incomplete, so
the town of Cuzco was sacked, and all the riches that Pizarro's
companions found there did not suffice to content them. They had
such exalted ideas of their merits and of the services which they
had rendered, that each would have desired an appointment as
governor. Ferdinand Pizarro therefore dispersed them, and sent them
to conquer fresh territories with some of the partisans of Almagro
who had rallied, and whom it was important to send to a distance.

As for Almagro himself, Ferdinand Pizarro, feeling convinced that
his name constituted a focus of permanent agitation, resolved to get
rid of him. He caused him therefore to be put upon his trial, which
ended, as it was easy to foresee, in a sentence of death. When
Almagro received this news, after giving way for a few moments to a
very natural grief, pleading his great age and the different way in
which he had behaved with regard to Ferdinand and Gonzalo Pizarro
when they were his prisoners, he recovered his calmness and awaited
his death with a soldier's courage. He was strangled in his prison,
and afterwards publicly beheaded (1538).

After several successful expeditions, Ferdinand Pizarro set out for
Spain, to give the Emperor an account of what had taken place. He
found most minds there strangely prejudiced against him and his
brothers. Their cruelty, their violence, and their disregard of the
most sacred engagements had been laid bare without reserve, by some
friends of Almagro's. Ferdinand Pizarro needed the utmost cleverness
to win the Emperor round. Charles V. had no means of judging fairly
on which side the justice of the case lay, for he had only heard of
it from the interested parties; he could only discern the deplorable
consequences to his own government of the civil war. He decided,
therefore, to send a commissioner to the country, to whom he gave
most extensive powers, and who, after having inquired into all that
had taken place, should establish whatever form of government he
thought most advisable. This delicate mission was confided to
Christoval de Vaca, a judge of _audience_ at Valladolid, who proved
not unequal to his task. One fact is worthy of notice; he was
recommended to show the greatest respect towards Francisco Pizarro,
at the very time when his brother Ferdinand was arrested and thrown
into a prison, where he was destined to remain forgotten for twenty

While these events were taking place in Spain, the Marquis portioned
out the conquered country, keeping for himself and his trustworthy
friends the most fertile and best situated districts, and giving to
Almagro's companions, the men of Chili as they were called, only the
more sterile and distant territories. Next he confided to Pedro de
Valdivia, one of his aides-de-camp the execution of the project
which Almagro had only been able to sketch out, the conquest of
Chili. Valdivia set out on the 28th of January, 1540, with 150
Spaniards, amongst whom Pedro Gomez, Pedro de Miranda, and Alonzo de
Monroy were destined especially to distinguish themselves; he
crossed first the desert of Atacama, which even at the present day
is considered a most troublesome enterprise, and reached Copiapo,
standing in the midst of a beautiful valley. Received at first with
great cordiality, he had to sustain, as soon as harvest was over,
several combats with the Araucanians, a race of brave, indefatigable
warriors, very different from the Indians of Peru. In spite of this,
he laid the foundations of the town of Santiago on the 12th of
February, 1541. Valdivia spent eight years in Chili, presiding over
the conquest and organization of the country. Less greedy than the
other "conquistadores" his contemporaries, he only sought for the
mineral riches of the country that he might ensure the development
of the prosperity of his colony, in which he had taken care first of
all to encourage agriculture. "The best mine that I know of, is one
of corn and wine with nourishment for livestock. Who has this, has
money. As for mines, we do not depend upon them for subsistence. And
often that which looks well outwardly is not really worth much."
These wise words of Lescarbot, in his _Histoire de la Nouvelle
France_, might have been used by Valdivia, so exactly do they
correspond with and express his sentiments. His valour, prudence,
and humanity, more especially the latter quality, which shines forth
strangely in contrast with the cruelty of Pizarro, ensures for him a
distinction all his own among the "conquistadores" of the sixteenth

[Illustration: The shores of Rio Napo.]

At the time that Valdivia set out for Chili, Gonzalo Pizarro crossed
the Andes at the head of 340 Spaniards, half of whom were mounted,
and 4000 Indians, of whom the greater part of the Indians perished
from cold; then he penetrated eastwards into the interior, seeking
for a country where spices and cinnamon were said to abound. In
these vast Savannahs, intersected by marshes and virgin forests, the
Spaniards encountered torrents of rain, which lasted quite two
months; they found only a scattered population, who were not
industrious and also hostile; in consequence, the invaders often
suffered from hunger in a country where there were then neither
horses nor oxen, where the largest quadrupeds were tapirs and llamas,
and even the latter were seldom met with on this slope of the Andes.
In spite of these difficulties, which would have discouraged any
less energetic explorers than the _descubridores_ of the sixteenth
century, they persevered in their attempt and descended the Rio Napo
or Coca, an affluent on the left of the Marañon, as far as its
confluence. There, with great difficulty they built a brigantine,
which was manned by fifty soldiers under the command of Francisco
Orellana. But either the strength of the current carried him away,
or else being no longer under the eyes of his chief, he wished in
his turn to be the leader of an expedition of discovery; he did not
wait for Gonzalo Pizarro at the appointed rendezvous, but continued
to descend the river until he reached the ocean. Such a voyage is
simply marvellous, through nearly 6000 miles of an unknown region,
without guide, without compass, without provisions, with a crew who
murmured more than once against the foolish attempt of their leader,
and in the midst of populations almost invariably hostile. From the
mouth of the river, which he had just descended in his badly built
and dilapidated vessel, Orellana succeeded in reaching the Island of
Cubagua, whence he set sail for Spain. If the proverb "He who comes
from a distance tells many lies" were not of much earlier date, one
might have thought it had been coined for Orellana. He invented the
most preposterous fables as to the wealth of the countries he had
traversed; the inhabitants were so rich that the roofs of the
temples were formed of plates of gold; an assertion which gave rise
to the legend of _El Dorado_. Orellana had heard of the existence of
a Republic of female warriors who had founded a vast empire, which
caused the river Marañon to be called the _River of the Amazons_. If,
however, we strip this narrative of all that is ridiculous and
grotesque, and calculated to please the imaginations of his
contemporaries, it remains certain that Orellana's expedition is one
of the most remarkable of this epoch, so fertile in gigantic
enterprises; and it furnishes the first information upon the immense
zone of country lying between the Andes and the Atlantic.

But we must return to Gonzalo Pizarro. His embarrassment and
consternation had been great, when on arriving at the confluence of
the Napo and Marañon, he had not found Orellana, who was to have
been awaiting him. Fearing that some accident might have befallen
his lieutenant, he had descended the course of the river for 150
miles, until he met with an unfortunate officer, who had been left
behind for having addressed some remonstrances to his chief upon his
perfidy. The bravest among Pizarro's men were discouraged at the
news of the cowardly way in which they had been abandoned, and at
the destitute condition in which they were left. Pizarro was obliged
to yield to their entreaties and to return to Quito, from which they
were more than 1200 miles away. To give an idea of their sufferings
on this return journey, it suffices to say that, after having eaten
horses, dogs, and reptiles, roots, and wild beasts, and after having
devoured every article made of leather in their accoutrements, the
unfortunate survivors who reached Quito, lacerated by brambles,
emaciated and utterly impoverished, numbered only twenty-four. Four
thousand Indians and two hundred and ten Spaniards had perished in
this expedition, which had lasted less than two years.

While Gonzalo Pizarro was conducting the unfortunate expedition just
related, the old partisans of Almagro, who had never frankly joined
Pizarro, gathered round the son of their old leader, and formed a
plot for murdering the Marquis. In vain was Francisco Pizarro
several times warned of what was threatening him, he would pay no
heed to the report. He said "Keep quiet, I shall be safe as long as
there is no one in Peru who does not know that I can in a moment
take the life of any one who should dare to form the project of
attempting mine."

On Sunday, the 26th of June, 1541, at the hour of siesta, Juan de
Herrada and eighteen conspirators left the house of Almagro's son
with drawn swords in their hands and armed from top to toe. They ran
towards the house of Pizarro, crying out, "Death to the tyrant!
death to the infamous wretch!" They entered the palace, killed
Francisco de Chaves, who had appeared in haste on hearing the noise,
and gained the hall, where was Francisco Pizarro, with his brother
Francisco-Martin, the doctor Juan Velasquez, and a dozen servants.
These jumped out of the windows, with the exception of Martin
Pizarro, two other gentlemen, and two tall pages, who were killed
while defending the door of the governor's apartment. He himself had
not had time to put on his cuirass, but he seized his sword and
buckler and defended himself valiantly, killing four of his
adversaries and wounding several others. One of his assailants, in a
spirit of self-devotion, attracted to himself the blows of Pizarro.
Meanwhile the other conspirators made their way in and attacked him
with such fury that he could not parry all the blows, being so
exhausted that he could scarcely wield his sword. "Thus," says
Zarate, "they made an end, and succeeded in killing him by a thrust
in the throat. Falling to the ground, he asked in a loud voice that
he might be allowed to confess, and then not being able any longer
to speak, he made the sign of the cross on the ground, which he
kissed, and then yielded up his soul to God." Some negroes carried
his body to the church, where Juan Barbazan, his old servant, alone
ventured to come and claim it. This faithful servant secretly
rendered to it funeral honours, for the conspirators had pillaged
the house of Pizarro, not leaving enough even to pay for wax tapers.

[Illustration: Death of Pizarro. _From an old print_.]

Thus did Francisco Pizarro come to his end, assassinated even in the
capital of the vast empire which Spain owed to his valour and
indefatigable perseverance, but which he bestowed upon his country,
it must be admitted, ravaged, decimated, and drowned in a deluge of
blood. Pizarro is often compared with Cortès; the one had as much
ambition, courage, and military capacity as the other; but the
cruelty and avarice of the Marquis della Valle were carried to an
extreme in Pizarro, and united in him to perfidy and duplicity. If
we are inclined to excuse certain parts of Cortès' character which
are not estimable, by the times in which he lived, we are at least
charmed by that grace and nobility of manners, and by that way of a
gentleman above prejudices, which made him so much beloved by the
soldier. In Pizarro, on the contrary, we find roughness, and a harsh,
unsympathizing way of feeling, while his chivalrous qualities
disappear entirely behind the rapacity and perfidy which are the
salient features of his character.

If Cortès found brave and resolute adversaries among the Mexicans,
who opposed almost insurmountable difficulties to his progress,
Pizarro had no trouble in vanquishing the Peruvians, who were timid
and enervated, and who never made any serious resistance to his arms.
Of the conquests of Peru and Mexico, the less difficult produced the
greater metallurgic advantage to Spain, and thus it was the more

The civil war was on the point of breaking out again after Pizarro's
death when the governor arrived, who was delegated by the
metropolitan government. As soon as he had collected the needful
troops, he marched towards Cuzco. He seized young Almagro without
trouble, had him beheaded with forty of his confederates and
governed the country with firmness, until the viceroy Blasco Nuñez
Vela, arrived. It is not our intention to enter into the detail of
the disputes which took place between the latter and Gonzalo Pizarro,
who, profiting by the general discontent, caused by the new
regulations as to the "repartimientos," revolted against the
Emperor's representative. After many changes of fortune, for which
we have not space, the struggle ended by the defeat and execution of
Gonzalo Pizarro, which took place in 1548. His body was taken to
Cuzco and buried fully dressed; "No one," says Garcilasso de la Vega,
"being willing to give even a winding-sheet for it." Thus ended the
judicial assassin of Almagro. Is not the text appropriate in this
case: "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword"?


Magellan--His early history--His disappointment--His change of
nationality--Preparations for the expedition--Rio de Janeiro--St.
Julian's Bay--Revolt of a part of the squadron--Terrible punishment
of the guilty--Magellan's Strait--Patagonia--The Pacific--The
Ladrone Islands--Zebu and the Philippine Islands--Death of
Magellan--Borneo--The Moluccas and their Productions--Separation of
the _Trinidad_ and _Victoria_--Return to Europe by the Cape of Good
Hope--Last misadventures.

No one as yet was aware of the immense size of the continent
discovered by Christopher Columbus. Still was sought perseveringly
on the coast of America--which was thought to be a collection of
several islands--the famous strait which should lead at once to the
Pacific Ocean and to those Spice Islands the possession of which
would have made the fortune of Spain. While Cortereal and Cabot were
seeking for it in the Atlantic Ocean, and Cortès in the furthest
part of the Gulf of California, while Pizarro was coasting along
Peru, and Valdivia was conquering Chili, the solution of this
problem was found by a Portuguese in the service of Spain, Ferdinand
de Magellan.

The son of a gentleman of _Cota e Armas_, Ferdinand de Magellan was
born either at Oporto, at Lisbon, at Villa de Sabrossa, or at Villa
de Figueiro, it is not actually known which; the date of his birth
is unknown, but it took place towards the end of the fifteenth
century. He had been brought up in the house of King John II., where
he received as complete an education as could then be given him.
After having made mathematics and navigation his special study--for
at this time in Portugal there was an irresistible current which
drew the whole country towards maritime expeditions and
discoveries--Magellan early embraced a maritime career, and embarked
in 1505 with Almeida, who was on his way to the Indies. He took part
in the sacking of Quiloa, and in all the events of that campaign.
The following year he accompanied Vaz Pereira to Sofala; then, on
returning to the Malabar coast, we find him assisting Albuquerque at
the taking of Malacca, and bearing himself on that occasion with
equal prudence and bravery. He took part in the expedition sent by
Albuquerque about 1510, to seek for the famous Spice Islands, under
the command of Antonio de Abreu and of Francisco Serrão, which
discovered Banda, Amboyna, Ternate, and Tidor. During this time
Magellan had landed at the Malaysian Islands, distant 1800 miles
from Malacca, and in the Archipelago of the Moluccas he had obtained
the circumstantial information which gave birth in his mind to the
idea of the voyage which he was destined to accomplish later on.

[Illustration: Magellan on board his caravel. _From an old print_.]

On his return to Portugal, Magellan obtained leave, though not
without difficulty, to search through the royal archives. He soon
became certain that the Moluccas were situated in the hemisphere
which the bull of demarcation adopted at Tordesillas by the kings of
Spain and Portugal, and confirmed in 1494 by Pope Alexander VI., had
given to Spain.

In virtue of this line of demarcation, which was destined to give
rise to so many impassioned debates, all the countries situated at
360 miles west of the meridian of the Cape de Verd Islands were to
belong to Spain, and all those lying to the east of the same
meridian to Portugal. Magellan was of too active a nature to remain
long without again taking service; he went next to fight in Africa
at Azamor, a town in Morocco, where he received a slight wound in
his knee, but one which by injuring a nerve made him lame for the
remainder of his life, and obliged him to return to Portugal.
Conscious of the superiority which his theoretical and practical
knowledge and his services had earned for him above the herd of
courtiers, Magellan naturally felt more keenly than another would
have done the unjust treatment he received from Emmanuel with regard
to certain complaints laid by the people of Azamor against the
Portuguese officers. King Emmanuel's prejudices soon changed to a
real dislike. It showed itself by the outrageous imputation that
Magellan was pretending to suffer from a wound which was really of
no consequence and was completely cured, that he might escape from
accusations which he could not refute. Such an assertion was a
serious matter for the honour of Magellan, so susceptible and
suspicious; he thereupon came to a desperate determination which
corresponded moreover with the greatness of the insult which he had
received. That no one might be ignorant of it, he caused it to be
legally set forth that he renounced his rights as a Portuguese
citizen, and changed his nationality, and he then took out letters
of naturalization in Spain. This was to proclaim, as solemnly as
could possibly be done, that he intended to be looked upon as a
subject of the crown of Castille, to which henceforward he would
consecrate his services and his whole life. This was a serious
determination, as we can see, which no one blamed, and which even
the most severe historians, such as Barros and Faria y Sousa, have

At the same time as Magellan, the licentiate Rey Faleiro left Lisbon
with his brother Francisco and a merchant named Christovam de Haro;
the former was a man deeply versed in cosmographical knowledge, and
had equally with Magellan fallen under Emmanuel's displeasure.
Faleiro had entered into a treaty of partnership with Magellan to
reach the Moluccas by a new way, but one which was not otherwise
specified, and which remained Magellan's secret. As soon as they
arrived in Spain, (1517), the two partners submitted their project
to Charles V., who accepted it in principle; but there remained the
always delicate question touching the means for putting it into
execution. Happily, Magellan found in Juan de Aranda, the factor of
the Chamber of Commerce, an enthusiastic partisan of his theories,
and one who promised to exert all his influence to make the
enterprise a success. He had an interview accordingly with the high
Chancellor, the Cardinal and Bishop of Burgos, Fonseca. He set forth
with such skill the great advantage that Spain would derive from the
discovery of a route leading to the very centre of the spice
production, and the great prejudice which it would cause to the
trade of Portugal, that an agreement was signed on the 22nd of March,
1518. The Emperor undertook to pay all the expenses of the
expedition on condition that the greater part of the profits should
belong to him.

But Magellan had still many obstacles to surmount before taking to
the sea. In the first place there were the remonstrances of the
Portuguese ambassador, Alvaro de Costa, who, seeing that his
endeavours were in vain, even tried to compass the assassination of
Magellan, so says Faria y Sousa. Then he encountered the ill-will of
the employés of the _Casa de contratacion_ at Seville, who were
jealous of a stranger being entrusted with the command of such an
important expedition, and envious of the least token of favour which
had been accorded to Magellan and Rey Faleiro, who had been named
commanders of the order of St. James. But Charles V. had given his
consent by a public act, which seemed to be irrevocable. They tried,
however, to make the Emperor alter his decision by organizing, on
the 22nd of October, 1518, a disturbance paid for with Portuguese
gold. It broke out on the pretext that Magellan, who had just had
one of his ships drawn on shore for repairs and painting, had
decorated it with the Portuguese arms. This last attempt failed
miserably, and three statutes of the 30th of March, and 6th and 30th
of April, fixed the composition of the crews and named the staff;
while a final official document dated from Barcelona the 26th of
July, 1519, confided the sole command of the expedition to Magellan.

What had meanwhile been happening to Rey Faleiro? We cannot exactly
say. But this man, who had up to this time been treated on the same
footing as Magellan, and who had perhaps first conceived the project,
now found himself quite excluded from the command of the expedition,
after some dissensions of which the cause is unknown. His health,
already shaken, received a last shock from this affront, and poor
Rey Faleiro, who had become almost childish, having returned to
Portugal to see his family, was arrested there, and only released
upon the intercession of Charles V. At last, after having sworn
fidelity and homage to the crown of Castille, Magellan received in
his turn the oath of his officers and sailors, and left the port of
San Lucar de Barrameda on the morning of the 10th of August, 1519.

But before entering on the narrative of this memorable campaign, we
must give a few particulars of the man who has left us the most
complete account of it, Francesco Antonio Pigafetta or Jerome
Pigaphète as he is often called in France. Born at Venice about 1491,
of a noble family, Pigafetta formed part of the suite of the
Ambassador Francesco Chiericalco, sent by Leo X. to Charles V., who
was then at Barcelona. His attention was no doubt aroused by the
noise which the preparations for the expedition made at that time in
Spain, and he obtained permission to take part in the voyage. This
volunteer proved an excellent recruit, for he showed himself in
every respect as faithful and intelligent an observer as he was a
brave and courageous companion. He was wounded at the battle of Zebu,
fighting beside Magellan, which prevented him from being present at
the banquet during which so many of his companions were destined to
lose their lives. As to his narrative, with the exception of some
exaggerations of detail according to the taste of that time, it is
exact, and the greater part of the descriptions which we owe to him
have been verified by modern travellers and learned men, especially
by M. Alcide d'Orbigny.

Upon his return to San Lucar on the 6th of September, 1522, after
having fulfilled the vow which he had made to go bare-foot to return
thanks to _Nuesta Señora de la Victoria_, the Lombard (as they
called him on board the _Victoria_,) presented to Charles V., then
at Valladolid, a complete journal of the voyage. When he returned to
Italy, by means of the original as well as of some supplementary
notes, he wrote a longer narrative of the expedition, at the request
of Pope Clement VII. and of Villiers de l'Isle Adam, grand-master of
the Knights of Malta. He sent copies of this work to several
distinguished personages, and notably to Louisa of Savoy, mother of
Francis I. But she not understanding, so thinks Harrisse, the very
learned author of the _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima_, the kind
of patois used by Pigafetta, and which resembles a mixture of
Italian, Venetian, and Spanish, employed a certain Jacques Antoine
Fabre to translate it into French. Instead of giving a faithful
translation, Fabre made a kind of abridgment of it. Some critics,
however, suppose that this narrative must have been written
originally in French; they found their opinion upon the existence of
three French manuscripts of the sixteenth century, which give very
different readings, and of which two are deposited in the
Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris.

Pigafetta died at Venice about 1534, in a house in the Rue de la
Lune, which in 1800 was still to be seen, and which bore the
well-known device, "No rose without a thorn."

At the same time, not wishing to confine ourselves to Pigafetta's
narrative entirely, we have compared and completed it with that of
Maximilian Transylvain, secretary to Charles V., of which there is
an Italian translation in Ramusio's valuable collection.

The fleet of Magellan consisted of the _Trinidad_, of 120 tons'
burden, which carried the flag of the commander of the expedition;
the _Sant'-Antonio_, also of 120 tons, commanded by Juan de
Carthagena, the second in rank, the _person joined with_ Magellan,
says the official document; the _Concepcion_, of 90 tons, commanded
by Gaspar de Quesada; the famous _Victoria_, of 85 tons, commanded
by Luis de Mendoza; and lastly the _Santiago_, of 75 tons, commanded
by Joao Serrâo, called by the Spaniards Serrano.

Four of these captains and nearly all the pilots were Portuguese.
Barbosa and Gomez on board the _Trinidad_, Luis Alfonso de Goez and
Vasco Gallego on the _Victoria_, Serrâo, Joao Lopez de Carvalho on
the _Concepcion_, Joao Rodriguez de Moefrapil on the _Sant'-Antonio_,
and Joao Serrâo on the _Santiago_, with 25 sailors, formed a total
of 33 Portuguese out of the whole body of 237 individuals whose
names have all been handed down to us, and amongst whom are found a
considerable number of Frenchmen.

Of the officers whose names have been mentioned, it is to be
remembered that Duarte Barbosa was brother-in-law to Magellan and
that Estavam Gomez, who, by returning to Seville on the 6th of May,
1521, did not participate in the conclusion of this memorable voyage,
was afterwards sent by Charles V. to seek for the north-west passage,
and in 1524 sailed along the coast of America from Florida to Rhode
Island, and perhaps as far as Cape Cod.

Nothing could have been better arranged than this expedition, for
the equipment of which the whole resources of the nautical science
of that epoch had been taxed. At the moment of departure Magellan
gave his last orders to his pilots and captains, and the code of
signals which were to ensure unanimity in manoeuvres, and prevent a
possible separation.

On Monday morning, the 10th of August, 1519, the fleet weighed
anchor and sailed down the Guadalquiver as far as San Lucar de
Barrameda, which forms the port of Seville, where the victualling of
the ships was completed, and it was the 20th of September before
they were really off. Six days afterwards the fleet anchored at
Teneriffe in the Canary Archipelago, where both wood and water were
taken on board. It was on leaving this island that the first
symptoms appeared of the misunderstanding between Magellan and Juan
de Carthagena which was to prove so fatal to the expedition. The
latter claimed to be informed by the commander-in-chief of the route
which he intended to take, a claim which was at once rejected by
Magellan, who declared that he was not called upon to give any
explanation to his subordinate.

After having passed between the Cape de Verd Islands and Africa, the
ships reached the shores of Sierra Leone, where contrary winds and
dead calms detained the fleet for twenty days.

[Illustration: Juan de Carthagena placed in the stocks.]

A painful incident now occurred. During a council which was held on
board the flag-ship, a sharp dispute arose, and Juan de Carthagena,
who affected to treat the Captain-general with contempt, having
answered him with pride and insolence, Magellan felt obliged to
arrest him with his own hand, and to have him put in the stocks, an
instrument made of two pieces of wood placed one upon the other and
pierced with holes, in which were placed the legs of the sailor who
was to be punished. The other captains remonstrated loudly with
Magellan against a punishment which was too degrading for a superior
officer, and Carthagena in consequence was simply put under arrest,
and guarded by one of the captains. To the calms now succeeded rain,
tempests, and heavy squalls, which obliged the vessels to lie-to.
During these storms the navigators several times witnessed an
electric phenomenon of which the cause was not then known, but which
they considered an undoubted sign of the protection of heaven, and
which even at the present day is known by the name of St. Elmo's
fire. Once past the equinoctial line--a passage which does not at
that time seem to have been celebrated by the grotesque ceremony of
baptism which is in vogue at the present day--they steered for
Brazil, where, on the 13th of December, 1519, the fleet cast anchor
in the magnificent port of Santa Lucia, now known under the name of
Rio Janeiro. This was not, however, the first time that this bay had
been seen by Europeans, as was long believed. Since the year 1511 it
had been known under the name of _Bahia do Cabo Frio_. It had been
visited also, four years before Magellan's arrival, by Pero Lopez,
and seems to have been frequented since the commencement of the
sixteenth century by mariners from Dieppe who, inheritors of the
passion for adventurous navigation of their ancestors the North-men,
roamed over the world, and founded small establishments or factories
in all directions. Here the Spanish expedition procured cheaply, in
exchange for looking-glasses, pieces of ribbon, scissors, hawks'
bells or fish-hooks, a quantity of provisions, amongst which
Pigafetta mentions pine-apples, sugar-canes, sweet potatoes, fowls,
and the flesh of the _Anta_, which is thought to be the tapir.

The account given in the same narrative of the manners of the
inhabitants is sufficiently curious to be repeated. "The Brazilians
are not Christians," he says, "but no more are they idolaters, for
they worship nothing; natural instinct is their only law." This is
an interesting fact, and a singular avowal for an Italian of the
sixteenth century, deeply imbued with superstition; it offers one
more proof that the idea of the Divinity is not innate, as some
theologians have imagined. "These natives live to a great age, they
go entirely naked, and sleep in cotton nets called hammocks,
suspended by the two ends to beams. As to their boats, called canoes,
each is hollowed out of the single trunk of a tree and can hold as
many as forty men. They are anthropophagi (cannibals), but only on
special occasions, and scarcely ever eat any but their enemies taken
in battle. Their dress of ceremony is a kind of vest made of
paroquets' feathers, woven together, and so arranged that the large
wing and tail-feathers form a sort of girdle round their loins,
which gives them a whimsical and ridiculous appearance."

We have already said that the feather cloak was in use on the shores
of the Pacific, among the Peruvians; it is curious to ascertain that
it was worn equally by the Brazilians. Some specimens of this
singular garment may be seen at the exhibition of the Ethnographical
Museum. This was not however the only ornament of these savages;
they suspended little stone cylinders from three holes pierced in
the lower lip, a custom which is common among many of the Oceanic
people, and which may be compared with our fashion of ear-rings.
These people were extremely credulous and of good disposition and
thus, as Pigafetta says, they could easily have been converted to
Christianity, for they assisted in silence, and with gravity, at the
mass which was said on shore, a remark that Alvarez Cabral had
already made.

[Illustration: The Coast of Brazil.]

After remaining thirteen days in this place, the squadron continued
its route to the south, coasting along the shore, and arrived at 34
degrees 40 minutes of south latitude in a country where flowed a
large river of fresh water. It was the La Plata. The natives, called
Charruas, were so frightened at the sight of the vessels that they
hastily took refuge in the interior of the country, carrying with
them all their valuables, and it was impossible to overtake any of
them. It was in this country that four years previously, Juan Diaz
de Solis had been massacred by a tribe of Charruas, armed with that
terrible engine which is still in use at the present day among the
_gauchos_ of the Argentine Republic, the _bolas_, which are metal
balls fastened to the two ends of a long leather thong, called a

A little below the estuary of the La Plata, once thought to be an
arm of the sea opening into the Pacific, the flotilla anchored at
Port Desire. Here they obtained an ample supply of penguins for the
crews of the five vessels--a bird which did not make a very
delicious meal. Then they anchored in 49 degrees 30 minutes in a
beautiful harbour, where Magellan resolved to winter, and which
received the name of St. Julian's Bay. The Spaniards had been two
months there, when one day they perceived a man who seemed to them
to be of gigantic stature. At sight of them he began dancing and
singing and throwing dust upon his head. This was a Patagonian, who
allowed himself without resistance to be taken on board the vessels.
He showed the greatest surprise at all he saw around him, but
nothing astonished him so much as a large steel mirror which was
presented to him. "The giant, who had not the least idea of the use
of this piece of furniture, and who, no doubt, now saw his own face
for the first time, drew back in such terror, that he threw to the
ground four of our people who were behind him." He was taken back on
shore loaded with presents, and the kind welcome which he had
received induced eighteen of his companions, thirteen women and five
men, to come on board. They were tall, and had broad faces, painted
red except the eyes, which were encircled with yellow; their hair
was whitened with lime, they were wrapped in enormous fur cloaks,
and wore those large leather boots from which was given to them the
name of Large-feet or Patagonians. Their stature was not, however,
so gigantic as it appeared to our simple narrator, for it varies
from 5ft. 10in. to 5ft. 8in., being somewhat above the middle height
among Europeans. For arms they had a short massive bow, and arrows
made of reed, of which the point was formed of a sharp pebble.

The captain, to retain two of these savages whom he wished to take
to Europe, used a stratagem, which we should characterize as hateful
in the present day, but which had nothing revolting about it for the
sixteenth century, when Indians and negroes were universally
considered to be a kind of brute beasts. Magellan loaded these
Indians with presents, and when he saw them embarrassed with the
quantity, he offered to each of them one of those iron rings used
for chaining captives. They would have desired to carry them away,
for they valued iron above everything, but their hands were full. It
was then proposed to fasten the rings to their legs, to which they
agreed without suspicion. The sailors then closed the rings, so that
the savages found themselves in fetters. Nothing can give an idea of
their fury when they discovered this stratagem, worthy rather of
savages than of civilized men. The capture of others was attempted,
but in vain, and in the chase one of the Spaniards was wounded by a
poisoned arrow, which caused his death almost instantaneously.
Intrepid hunters, these people wander about perpetually in pursuit
of guanaquis and other game; they are endowed with such wonderful
voracity "that what would suffice for the nourishment of twenty
sailors, can scarcely satisfy seven or eight of them." Magellan,
foreseeing that the stay here was likely to be prolonged, and
perceiving that the country only presented meagre resources, gave
orders to economize the provisions, and to put the men on fixed
rations, that they might not experience too great privations before
the spring, when they might reach a country where there was more
game. But the Spaniards, discontented at the sterility of the place,
and at the length and rigour of the winter, began to murmur. This
land seemed to stretch southwards as far as the Antarctic pole, they
said; there did not seem to be any strait; already several had died
from the privations they had endured; lastly it was time to return
to Spain, if the commander did not wish to see all his men perish in
this place.

Magellan, fully resolved to die, or else to bring the enterprise he
commanded to a successful issue, replied that the Emperor had
assigned him the course which the voyage was to take, and he neither
could nor would depart from it under any pretext, and that in
consequence, he should go straight forward to the end of this land,
or until he met with some strait. As to provisions, if they found
them insufficient, his men might add to their rations the produce of
their fishing or hunting. Magellan thought that so firm a
declaration would impose silence on the malcontents, and that he
would hear no more of privations, from which he suffered equally
with his crews. He deceived himself completely. Certain of the
captains, and Juan de Carthagena in particular, were interested in
causing a revolt to break out. These rebels therefore began by
reminding the Spaniards of their old animosity against the
Portuguese. The captain-general being one of the latter nation, had
never, according to them, tendered a whole-hearted allegiance to the
Spanish flag. In order to be able to return to his own country and
to gain pardon for what he had done wrong, he wished to commit some
heinous crime, and nothing could be more advantageous to Portugal
than the destruction of this fine fleet. Instead of leading them to
the Archipelago of the Moluccas, of the riches of which he had
boasted to them, he wished to take them into frozen regions, the
dwelling-place of eternal snow, where he could easily manage that
they should all perish; then with the help of the Portuguese on
board the squadron, he would take back to his own country the
vessels which he had seized.

Such were the reports and accusations that the partisans of Juan de
Carthagena, Luis de Mendoza, and Gaspar de Quesada had disseminated
among the sailors, when on Palm Sunday, the 1st of April, 1520,
Magellan summoned the captains, officers, and pilots, to hear mass
on board his vessel and to dine with him afterwards. Alvaro de la
Mesquita, a cousin of the captain-general, accepted this invitation
with Antonio de Coca and his officers, but neither Mendoza nor
Quesada, nor Juan de Carthagena, who was Quesada's prisoner,
appeared. The next night the malcontents boarded the _Sant'-Antonio_
with thirty of the men of the _Concepcion_, and desired to have La
Mesquita given up to them. The pilot, Juan de Eliorraga, while
defending his captain, received four stabs from a poniard in the arm.
Quesada cried out at the same time, "You will see that this fool
will make our business fail." The three vessels, the _Concepcion_,
_Sant'-Antonio_, and _Santiago_, fell without difficulty into the
hands of the rebels, who reckoned more than one accomplice among the
crews. In spite of this success, the three captains did not dare
openly to attack the commander-in-chief, and sent to him some
proposals for a reconciliation. Magellan ordered them to come on
board the _Trinidad_ to confer with him; but this they stoutly
refused to do, whereupon Magellan, having no further need of caution,
had the boat seized which had brought him this answer, and choosing
six strong and brave men from amongst his crew, he sent them on
board the _Victoria_ under the command of the _alguazil_ Espinosa.
He carried a letter from Magellan to Mendoza enjoining him to come
on board the _Trinidad_, and when Mendoza smiled in a scornful
manner, Espinosa stabbed him in the throat with a poniard, while a
sailor struck him on the head with a cutlass. While these events
were taking place, another boat, laden with fifteen armed men, came
alongside the _Victoria_, and took possession of her without any
resistance from the sailors, surprised by the rapidity of the action.
On the next day, the 3rd of April, the two other rebel vessels were
taken, not however without bloodshed. Mendoza's body was divided
into quarters, while a clerk read in a loud voice the sentence that
blasted his memory. Three days afterwards, Quesada was beheaded and
cut in pieces by his own servant, who undertook this sad task to
save his own life. As to Carthagena, the high rank which the royal
edict had conferred upon him in the expedition saved him from death,
but with Gomez de la Reina, the chaplain, he was left behind on the
shore, where some months afterwards he was found by Estevam Gomez.
Forty sailors convicted of rebellion were pardoned because their
services were considered indispensable. After this severe lesson
Magellan might well hope that the mutinous spirit was really subdued.

When the temperature became milder the anchors were weighed; the
squadron put to sea on the 24th of August, following the coast, and
carefully exploring all the gulfs to find that strait which had been
so persistently sought. At the level of Cape St. Croix, one of the
vessels, the _Santiago_, was lost on the rocks during a violent gale
from the east. Happily both the men and merchandise on board were
saved, and they succeeded also in taking from the wrecked vessel the
rigging and appurtenances of the ship, which they divided among the
four remaining vessels.

At last on the 21st of October, according to Pigafetta, the 27th of
November according to Maximilian Transylvain, the flotilla
penetrated by a narrow entrance into a gulf, at the bottom of which
a strait opened, which as they soon saw passed into the sea to the
south. First they called this the Strait of the _Eleven Thousand
Virgins_, because this was the day dedicated to them. On each side
of the strait rose high land covered with snow, on which they saw
numerous fires, especially to the left, but they were unable to
obtain any communication with the natives. The details which
Pigafetta and Martin Transylvain have given with regard to the
topographical and hydrographical dispositions of this strait are
rather vague, and as we shall have to mention it again when we speak
of De Bougainville's expedition, we shall not dilate upon it now.
After sailing for twenty-two days across this succession of narrow
inlets and arms of the sea, in some places three miles wide, in some
twelve, which extends for a distance of 440 miles and has received
the name of Magellan's Strait, the flotilla emerged upon a sea of
immense extent and great depth.

The rejoicings were general when at last the sailors found
themselves at the long-wished-for end of their efforts. Henceforward
the route was open and Magellan's clever conjectures were realized.

Nothing is more extraordinary than the navigation of Magellan upon
this ocean, which he called Pacific, because for four months no
storm assailed him upon it. The privations endured by the crews
during this long space of time were excessive. The biscuit was
nothing more than dust mixed with worms, while the water had become
bad and gave out an unbearable smell. The sailors were obliged to
eat mice and sawdust to prevent themselves from dying of hunger, and
to gnaw all the leather that it was possible to find. As it was easy
to foresee under these circumstances, the crews were decimated by
scurvy. Nineteen men died, and thirty were seized with violent pains
in their arms and legs, which caused prolonged sufferings. At last,
after having sailed over more than 12,000 miles without meeting with
a single island, in a sea where so many and such populous
archipelagos were destined to be discovered, the fleet came upon two
desert and sterile islands, called for that reason the Unfortunate
Islands, but of which the position is indicated in much too
contradictory a manner, for it to be possible to recognize them.

In 12 degrees north latitude and 146 degrees longitude, on Wednesday
the 6th of March, the navigators discovered successively three
islands, at which they greatly desired to stop to recruit, and take
in fresh provisions; but the islanders who came on board stole so
many things, without the possibility of preventing them, that the
sailors were obliged to give up the idea of remaining there. The
natives contrived even to carry off a long boat. Magellan, indignant
at such daring, made a descent with forty armed men, burned some
houses and boats, and killed seven men. These islanders had neither
chief, king, nor religion. Their heads were covered with palm-leaf
hats, they wore beards, and their hair descended to their waists.
Generally of an olive tint, they thought they embellished themselves
by colouring their teeth black and red, while their bodies were
anointed with cocoa-nut oil, no doubt in order to protect themselves
from the heat of the sun. Their canoes of curious construction,
carried a very large matting sail, which might have easily capsized
the boat if the precaution had not been taken of giving a more
stable trim by means of a long piece of wood kept at a certain
distance by two poles; this is what is called the "balance." These
islanders were very industrious, but had a singular aptitude for
stealing, which has gained for their country the name of the
_Islands of Thieves_ (Ladrone Islands).

[Illustration: The Ladrone Islands. _From an old print_.]

On the 16th of March was seen, at about 900 miles from the Ladrones,
some high ground; this was soon discovered to be an island which now
goes by the name of Samar Island. There Magellan, resolving to give
his exhausted crews some rest, caused two tents to be pitched on
land for the use of the sick. The natives quickly brought bananas,
palm wine, cocoa-nuts, and fish; for which mirrors, combs, bells,
and other similar trifles were offered in exchange. The cocoa-nut, a
tree which is valuable beyond all others, supplied these natives
with their bread, wine, oil, and vinegar, and besides they obtained
from it their clothing and the necessary wood for building and
roofing in their huts.

The natives soon became familiar with the Spaniards, and told them
that their archipelago produced cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmegs,
ginger, maize or Indian-corn, and that even gold was found there.
Magellan gave this archipelago the name of the St. Lazarus Islands,
afterwards changed to that of the Philippines from the name of
Philip of Austria, son of Charles V.

This archipelago is formed of a great number of islands which extend
in Malaysia, between 5 degrees 32 minutes and 19 degrees 38 minutes
north latitude, and 114 degrees 56 minutes and 123 degrees 43
minutes longitude east of the meridian of Paris. The most important
are Luzon, Mindoro, Leyte, the Ceylon of Pigafetta, Samar, Panay,
Negros, Zebu, Bohol, Palawan, and Mindanao.

When they were a little restored, the Spaniards put to sea again, in
order to explore the archipelago. They saw in succession the islands
of Cenalo, Huinaugan, Ibusson, and Abarien, as well as another
island called Massava, of which the king Colambu could make himself
understood by a slave a native of Sumatra, whom Magellan had taken
to Europe from India, and who by his knowledge of Malay rendered
signal service in several instances. The king came on board with six
or eight of his principal subjects. He brought with him presents for
the captain-general, and in exchange he received a vest of red and
yellow cloth, made in Turkish fashion, and a cap of fine scarlet,
while mirrors and knives were given to the members of his suite. The
Spaniards showed him all their fire-arms and fired some shots from
the cannon in his presence, at which he was much terrified. "Then
Magellan caused one of our number to be fully armed," says Pigafetta,
"and ordered three men to give him blows with the sword and stiletto,
to show the king that nothing could wound a man armed in this manner,
which surprised him greatly, and turning to the interpreter he said
to the captain through him, 'that a man thus armed, could fight
against a hundred.' 'Yes,' replied the interpreter, in the name of
the commandant, 'and each of the three vessels carries 200 men armed
in this manner.'" The king, astonished by all that he had seen, took
leave of the captain, begging him to send two of his men with him,
to let them see something of the island. Pigafetta was chosen, and
was much satisfied with the welcome that he received. The king told
him "that in this island they found pieces of gold as large as nuts,
and even eggs, mixed with the earth which they passed through a
sieve to find them; all his vessels and even some of the ornaments
of his house were of this metal. He was very neatly dressed,
according to the custom of the country, and was the finest man that
I have seen among these people. His black hair fell upon his
shoulders; a silk veil covered his head, and he wore two rings in
his ears. From his waist to his knees, he was covered with a cotten
cloth embroidered in silk. On each of his teeth there were three
spots of gold, arranged in such a manner that one would have said
all his teeth were fastened together with this metal. He was
perfumed with storax and benzoin. His skin was painted, but its
natural tint was olive."

On Easter Day, the Europeans went on shore to celebrate mass in a
kind of little church which they had constructed on the sea-shore
with sails and branches of trees. An altar had been set up, and
during the whole time that the religious ceremony lasted, the king
with a large concourse of people, listened in silence and imitated
all the motions of the Spaniards. Then a cross having been planted
on a hill with great solemnity, they weighed anchor and made for the
port of Zebu, as being the best for revictualling the vessels and
trading. They arrived there on Sunday, the 7th of April. Magellan
sent one of his officers on shore at once with the interpreter, as
ambassador to the king of Zebu. The envoy explained that the chief
of the squadron was under the orders of the greatest king in the
world. The object of the voyage, he added, was the wish to pay him a
visit, and at the same time to take in some fresh provisions in
exchange for merchandise, and then to go to the Molucca Islands.
Such were the motives which caused them to tarry in a country where
they came as friends.

"They are welcome," replied the king; "but if they intend to trade
they should pay a duty to which all vessels are subject that enter
my port, as did, not four days since, a junk from Siam, which came
to seek for slaves and gold, to which a Moorish merchant who has
remained in this country can testify."

The Spaniard replied that his master was too great a king to submit
to such an unreasonable demand. They had come with pacific
intentions; but if war were declared, it would be seen with whom
they had to deal.

The king of Zebu, warned by the Moorish merchant, of the power of
those who stood before him, and whom he took for Portuguese, at
length consented to forego his claims. Moreover the king of Massava,
who had continued to serve as pilot to the Spaniards, so altered the
inclinations of his brother sovereign, that the Spaniards obtained
the exclusive privilege of trading in the island, and a loyal
friendship was sealed between the king of Zebu and Magellan by an
exchange of blood which each drew from his right arm.

From this moment, provisions were brought and cordial relations
established. The nephew of the king came with a numerous suite to
visit Magellan on board his ship, and the latter took this
opportunity to relate to his visitors the wonderful history of the
creation of the world, and of the redemption of the human race, and
to invite him and his people to become converts to Christianity.
They showed no repugnance to being baptized, and on the 14th of
April the kings of Zebu and Massava, and the Moorish merchant, with
500 men and as many women received baptism. But what was only a
fashion at first, for it cannot be said that the natives knew the
religion which they embraced or were persuaded of its truth, became
a real frenzy, after a wonderful cure had been effected by Magellan.
Having learnt that the father of the king had been ill for two years
and was on the point of death, the captain-general promised, that if
he consented to be baptized and the natives would burn their idols,
he would find himself cured. "He added that he was so convinced of
what he said," relates Pigafetta--for it is as well to quote the
author verbatim in such a matter--"that he agreed to lose his head
if what he promised did not happen immediately. We then made a
procession, with all possible pomp, from the place where we were to
the sick man's house, whom we found really in a very sad state in
that he could neither speak nor move. We baptized him with two of
his wives and ten daughters. The captain asked him directly after
his baptism how he found himself, and he suddenly replied that
thanks to our Lord he was well. We were all witnesses of this
miracle. The captain above all rendered thanks to God for it. He
gave the prince a refreshing drink, and continued to send him some
of it every day till he was quite restored. On the fifth day the
invalid found himself quite cured and got up. His first care was to
have burned, in the presence of the king and all the people, an idol
for which he had great veneration, and which some old women guarded
carefully in his house. He also caused some temples which stood on
the sea-shore, and in which the people assembled to eat the meat
consecrated to their old divinities, to be thrown down. All the
inhabitants applauded these acts, and proposed themselves to go and
destroy all the idols, even those which were in use in the king's
house, crying at the same time '_Vive la Castille!_' in honour of
the king of Spain."

Near to the Island of Zebu is another island called Matan which had
two chiefs, one of whom had recognized the authority of Spain, while
the other having energetically resisted it, Magellan resolved to
impose it upon him by force. On Friday, the 26th of April, three
long boats left for the Island of Matan containing sixty men wearing
cuirasses and helmets, and armed with muskets; and thirty
_balangais_ bearing the king of Zebu, his son-in-law, and a number
of warriors.

The Spaniards waited for day and then to the number of forty-nine
leapt into the water, for the boats could not approach the land on
account of the rocks and shallow water. More than 1500 natives
awaited them, and at once threw themselves upon them, and attacked
them in three troops, both in front and flank. The musketeers and
the crossbow-men fired on the multitude of warriors from a distance,
without doing them much harm, they being protected by their bucklers.
The Spaniards, assailed by stones, arrows, javelins, and lances, and
overwhelmed by numbers, set fire to some huts to disperse and
intimidate the natives. But these, made more furious by the sight of
the fire, redoubled their efforts, and pressed the Spaniards on all
sides, who had the greatest difficulty in resisting them, when a sad
event took place which compromised the issue of the combat. The
natives were not slow in remarking that all the blows which they
directed towards those parts of their enemies' bodies which were
protected by armour, caused no wounds; they set themselves therefore
to hurl their arrows and javelins against the lower part of the body,
which was undefended. Magellan, wounded in the leg by a poisoned
arrow, gave the order for retreat, which, begun in good order, soon
changed into such a flight, that seven or eight Spaniards alone
remained at his side. With much difficulty they kept moving
backwards, fighting as they went, in order to reach the boats. They
were already knee-deep in the water when several islanders rushed
all together upon Magellan, who, wounded in the arm, was unable to
draw his sword; they gave him such a sabre-cut upon his leg that he
immediately fell down in the water, where he was speedily despatched.
His remaining companions, and among them Pigafetta, every one of
whom had been hit, hastily regained the boats. Thus perished the
illustrious Magellan on the 27th of April, 1521. "He was adorned
with every virtue," says Pigafetta, "and ever exhibited an unshaken
constancy in the midst of the greatest adversity. At sea he always
condemned himself to greater privations than the rest of his crew.
Better versed than any one else in the knowledge of nautical charts,
he was perfect in the art of navigation, as he proved by making the
tour of the world, which none before him had ventured to do."
Pigafetta's funeral eulogy, though a little hyperbolical, is not
untrue in the main. Magellan had need of singular constancy and
perseverance to penetrate, despite the fears of his companions, into
regions peopled by the superstitious spirit of the time with
fantastic dangers. Peculiar nautical science was also necessary to
achieve the discovery at the extremity of that long coast of the
strait which so justly bears his name. He was obliged to give
unceasing attention to avoid all untoward accidents while exploring
those unknown parts without any exact instruments. That one of the
vessels was lost must be imputed to pride and a spirit of revolt in
her own captain, more than to any incapacity or want of caution in
the captain-general. Let us add with our enthusiastic narrator, "The
glory of Magellan will survive his death."

[Illustration: Death of Magellan.]

Duarte Barbosa, Magellan's brother-in-law, and Juan Serrano were
elected commanders by the Spaniards, who were destined to meet with
further catastrophes. The slave who had acted as interpreter up to
this time had been slightly wounded during the battle. From the time
of his master's death he had kept aloof, not rendering any further
service to the Spaniards, and remaining extended upon his mat. After
some rather sharp reproofs from Barbosa, who told him that his
master's death did not make him a free man, he disappeared all at
once. He was gone to the newly-baptized king, to whom he declared
that if he could allure the Spaniards into some trap and then kill
them, he would make himself master of all their provisions and
merchandise. Serrano, Barbosa, and twenty-seven Spaniards were
accordingly invited to a solemn assembly to receive the presents
destined by the king of Zebu for the Emperor; during the banquet
they were attacked unexpectedly, and were all massacred except
Serrano, who was led bound to the sea-shore, where he besought his
companions to ransom him, for if they did not he would be murdered.
But Juan de Carvalho and the others, fearing that the insurrection
would become general, and that they might be attacked during the
negotiations by a numerous fleet which they would not be able to
resist, turned a deaf ear to the unfortunate Serrano's supplications.
The ships set sail and reached the Island of Bohol, which was not
far distant.

When there, thinking that their numbers were too much reduced to
navigate three vessels, they burnt the _Concepcion_, after having
transshipped all that was most precious on board the other vessels.
Then, after having coasted along the Island of Panilongon they
stopped at Butuan, which forms part of Mindanao, a magnificent
island, with numerous ports, and rivers abounding in fish, to the
north-west of which lies the Island of Luzon, the most considerable
of the Archipelago. The ships touched also at Paloan, where they
found pigs, goats, fowls, different kinds of bananas, cocoa-nuts,
sugar-canes, and rice, with which they provisioned the ships. This
was for them, as Pigafetta expresses it, "a promised land." Among
the things which he thought worthy of notice, the Italian traveller
mentions the cocks kept by the natives for fighting; a passion which
after so many years is still deeply-rooted amongst the population of
the whole Philippine Archipelago. From Paloan, the Spaniards next
went to the Island of Borneo, the centre of Malay civilization. From
that time they had no longer to deal with poverty-stricken people,
but with a rich population, who received them with magnificence.
Their reception by the rajah is sufficiently curious to warrant a
few words being devoted to it. At the landing-place they found two
elephants with silk trappings, who bore the strangers to the house
of the governor of the town, while twelve men carried the presents
which were to be offered to the rajah. From the governor's house
where they slept, to the palace of the king, the streets were kept
by armed men. Upon descending from their elephants the Spaniards
were admitted to a room filled with courtiers. At the end of this
room opened another smaller room, hung with cloth of gold, in which
were 300 men of the king's guard armed with poniards. Through a door
they could then see the rajah, sitting by a table with a little
child, chewing betel-nut. Behind him there were only some women.

Etiquette required that the petition to be made must pass in
succession through the mouths of three nobles, each of higher rank
than the last, before being transmitted, by means of a hollow cane
placed in a hole in the wall, to one of the principal officers, who
submitted it to the king. Then there was an exchange of presents,
after which the Spanish Ambassadors were conducted back to their
vessels with the same ceremony as on their arrival. The capital is
built on piles in the sea; so that when the tide rises, the women
who sell provisions go about the town in boats. On the 29th of July
more than 100 canoes surrounded the two vessels, whilst at the same
time some junks weighed anchor to approach them more nearly. The
Spaniards, fearing to be treacherously attacked, took the initiative
and fired off their artillery, which killed a number of people in
the canoes, upon which the king excused himself, saying that his
fleet had not been directed against them, but against the Gentiles
with whom the Mussulmen had daily combats. This island produces
arrack (the alcohol of rice), camphor, cinnamon, ginger, oranges,
citrons, sugar-canes, melons, radishes, onions, &c. The articles of
exchange are copper, quicksilver, cinnabar, glass, woollen cloths,
and canvas, and above all iron and spectacles, without mentioning
porcelain, and diamonds, some of which were of extraordinary size
and value. The _fauna_ comprises elephants, horses, buffaloes, pigs,
goats, and domestic poultry. The money in use is of bronze, it is
called _sapèque_ and consists of small coins which are perforated
with holes, that they may be strung together.

On leaving Borneo the travellers sought for a suitable spot in which
to repair their vessels, which were in such great need of it that
the men were not less than forty-two days over the work. "The oddest
things which I have found in this island," says Pigafetta, "are the
trees of which all the leaves are animated. These leaves resemble
those of the mulberry, but are not so long; the stalk is short and
pointed, and near the stalk on both sides there are two feet. If you
touch the leaves, they escape; but when crushed no blood comes from
them. I have kept one of them in a box for nine days; when I opened
the box, the leaf was walking about in it; I believe they must live
upon air." These very curious animals are well known at the present
day, and are commonly called leaf-flies (_mouches-feuille_); they
are of a grey-brown, which makes them more easily mistaken for dead
leaves, which they exactly resemble in appearance.

It was while in these parts that the Spanish expedition, which,
during Magellan's life had preserved its scientific character, began
perceptibly to become piratical. Thus, on several occasions, junks
were seized upon, and their crews forced by their Spanish captors to
pay large ransoms.

The ships next passed by the Archipelago of the Sooloo Islands, the
haunt of Malay pirates, who have even now only lately submitted to
the Spanish arms; then by Mindanao, which had been already visited,
for it was known that the eagerly sought-for Moluccas must be in its
neighbourhood, whether more or less remote. At last, after having
seen a number of islands, of which the names would not convey much
idea to us, on Wednesday, the 6th of November the Spaniards
discovered the Archipelago, about which the Portuguese had related
such terrifying fables, and two days later they landed at Tidor.
Thus the object of the voyage was attained.

The king came to meet the Spaniards, and invited them to go on board
his canoe. "He was seated under a silk parasol which covered him
entirely. In front of him were placed one of his sons who carried
the royal sceptre, two men who had each a golden vase full of water
for washing the king's hands, and two others holding small gilt
boxes filled with betel." Then the Spaniards made the king come on
board the vessels, where they showed him much respect, at the same
time loading him and those who accompanied him with presents, which
seemed to them very precious. "This king is a Moor, that is to say,
an Arab," Pigafetta affirms; "he is nearly forty-five years of age,
tolerably well made, and with a fine physiognomy. His clothing
consisted of a very fine shirt, the cuffs of which were embroidered
in gold; drapery descended from his waist to his feet; a silk veil
(no doubt a turban) covered his head, and upon this veil there was a
garland of flowers. His name is Rajah-sultan Manzor."

The next day, in a long interview which he had with the Spaniards,
Manzor declared his intention of placing himself with the Islands of
Ternate and Tidor under the protection of the king of Spain.

[Illustration: The Sultan Manzor.]

This is the place to give some details about the Archipelago of the
Moluccas, drawn from Pigafetta's narrative, which we are following
step by step in the version that M. Ed. Charton has given, and to
which he has added such valuable notes.

This Archipelago properly speaking, comprises the Islands of Gilolo,
Ternate, Tidor, Mornay, Batchian, and Misal; but the Banda and
Amboyna groups are also often comprehended under the general name of
Molucca. Formerly convulsed by repeated volcanic commotions, this
Archipelago contains a great number of craters almost all extinct,
or in repose during a long succession of years. The air there is
burning, and would be almost unfit to breathe, if frequent rains did
not fall and refresh the atmosphere. The natural productions are
extremely valuable. In the first rank must be placed the sago-tree,
of which the pith called sago takes, with yams, the place of cereals
throughout Malacca. As soon as the tree is cut down, the pith is
extracted, which is then grated, passed through a sieve, and
afterwards cut up in the form of small rolls, which are dried in the
shade. There are also the mulberry, the clove, the nutmeg, the
camphor, and pepper-trees; in fact all the spice-trees and all the
tropical fruits. The forests contain some valuable kinds of wood,
ebony, iron-wood, teak, famous for its strength and employed from
the most ancient times in costly buildings, and the Calilaban laurel,
which yields an aromatic essential oil that is highly prized. At
this period domestic animals were not numerous in the Moluccas, but
among the wild animals the most curious were the _babiroussa_, an
enormous wild boar with long tusks bent backwards; the opossum, a
kind of didelphis a little larger than our squirrel; the phalanger,
a marsupial which lives in thick, dark forests, where it feeds upon
leaves and fruit; and the tarsier, a kind of jerboa, a very harmless,
inoffensive little animal with reddish-coloured hair, about the size
of a rat, but whose body bears some resemblance to that of an ape.
Among the birds, the most remarkable were the parroquets and
cockatoos, the birds of Paradise of which so many fabulous accounts
were given, and which until then had been believed to be without
legs, the king-fishers, and the cassowaries, great wading-birds
almost as large as ostriches.

A Portuguese named Lorosa had been long settled in the Moluccas, and
to him the Spaniards forwarded a letter, in the hope that he would
betray his country and attach himself to Spain. They obtained the
most curious information from him with regard to the expeditions
which the king of Portugal had despatched to the Cape of Good Hope,
to the Rio de la Plata and to the Moluccas; but from various
circumstances these latter expeditions had not been able to take
place. He himself had been sixteen years in this Archipelago; the
Portuguese had been installed there for ten years, but upon this
fact they preserved the most complete silence. When Lorosa saw the
Spaniards making their preparations for departure, he came on board
with his wife and his goods to return to Europe. On the 12th of
November all the merchandise destined for barter was landed, it
being chiefly derived from the four junks which had been seized in
Borneo. Certainly the Spaniards traded to great advantage, but
nevertheless not to so great an extent as they might have done, for
they were in haste to return to Spain. Some vessels from Gilolo and
Batchian came also to trade with them, and a few days later they
received a considerable stock of cloves from the king of Tidor. This
king invited them to a great banquet which he said it was his custom
to give when a vessel or junk was loaded with the first cloves. But
the Spaniards, remembering what had happened to them in the
Philippines, refused the invitation while presenting compliments and
excuses to the king. When their cargo was completed, they set sail.
Scarcely had the _Trinidad_ put to sea before it was perceived that
she had a serious leak, and the return to Tidor as fast as possible
was unavoidable. The skilful divers whom the king placed at the
disposal of the Spaniards, were unable to discover the hole, and it
became necessary to partly unload the ship to make the necessary
repairs. The sailors who were on board the _Victoria_ would not wait
for their companions, and the ship's officers seeing clearly that
the _Trinidad_ would not be fit for the voyage to Spain, decided
that she should go to Darien, where her valuable cargo would be
discharged and transported across the Isthmus to the Atlantic, where
a vessel would be sent to fetch it. But neither the unfortunate
vessel nor her crew was destined ever to return to Spain.

The _Trinidad_, commanded by the alguazil Gonzalo Gomez de Espinosa,
who had Juan de Carvalho as pilot, was in so bad a state that after
leaving Tidor, she was obliged to anchor at Ternate, in the port of
Talangomi, where her crew consisting of seventeen men was
immediately imprisoned by the Portuguese. The only reply given to
Espinosa's remonstrances was a threat to hang him to the yard of a
vessel; and the unfortunate alguazil, after having been transferred
to Cochin, was sent to Lisbon, where for seven months he remained
shut up in the prison of the Limoeiro with two Spaniards, the sole
survivors of the crew of the _Trinidad_.

As to the _Victoria_, she left Tidor richly laden under the command
of Juan Sebastian del Cano, who, after having been simply a pilot on
board one of Magellan's ships, had taken the command of the
_Concepcion_ on the 27th of April, 1521, and who succeeded to Juan
Lopez de Carvalho, when the latter was superseded in his command for
incapacity. The crew of the _Victoria_ was composed of only
fifty-three Europeans and thirteen Indians. Fifty-four Europeans
remained at Tidor on board the _Trinidad_.

After passing amidst the islands of Caioan, Laigoma, Sico, Giofi,
Cafi, Laboan, Toliman, Batchian, Mata, and Batu, the _Victoria_ left
this latter island to the west, and steering west-south-west,
stopped during the night at the island of Xulla or Zulla. At thirty
miles from thence the Spaniards anchored at Booro, (the Boero of
Bougainville), where the ship was revictualled. They stopped 105
miles further on, at Banda, where mace and nutmegs are found, then
at Solor, where a great trade in white sandal-wood is carried on.
They spent a fortnight there to repair their ship, which had
suffered much, and there they laid in an ample provision of wax and
pepper; then they anchored at Timor, where they could only obtain
provisions by retaining by stratagem the chief of the village and
his son, who had come on board the ship. This island was frequented
by junks from Luzon, and by the "praos," from Malacca and Java,
which traded largely there in sandal-wood and pepper. A little
further on the Spaniards touched at Java, where, as it appears,
_suttee_ was practised at this time, as it has been in India until
quite recently.

Among the stories which Pigafetta relates, without entirely
believing them, is one which is most curious. It concerns a gigantic
bird the Epyornis, of which the bones and the enormous eggs were
discovered in Madagascar about the year 1850. It is an instance
proving the caution needed before rejecting as fictitious many
apparently fabulous legends, but which on examination may prove to
possess a substratum of truth. "To the north of Greater Java," says
Pigafetta, "in the gulf of China, there is a very large tree called
_campanganghi_ inhabited by certain birds called _garula_, which are
so large and strong that they can bear away a buffalo and even an
elephant, and carry it as they fly to the place where the tree
_puzathaer_ is." This legend has been current ever since the ninth
century, among the Persians and Arabs, and this bird plays a
wonderful part in Arabian tales under the name of the _roc_. It is
not surprising, therefore, that Pigafetta found an analogous
tradition among the Malays.

After leaving greater Java, the _Victoria_ rounded the peninsula of
Malacca, which had been subjugated to Portugal by the great
Albuquerque ten years before. In the immediate neighbourhood are
Siam and Cambodia, and Tchiampa, where rhubarb grows. This substance
is discovered in the following manner. "A company of from twenty to
five-and-twenty men go into the wood, where they pass the night in
the trees, to protect themselves from lions (note here, that there
are no lions in this country), and other ferocious beasts, and also
that they may better perceive the odour of the rhubarb, which the
wind wafts towards them. In the morning they go towards the place
whence came the odour, and search there for the rhubarb until they
find it. Rhubarb is the putrefied wood of a great tree, and acquires
its odour even from its putrefaction, the best part of the tree is
the root, nevertheless the trunk, which they call _calama_, has the
same medicinal virtue."

Decidedly it is not from Pigafetta that we should seek to acquire
botanical knowledge; we should run a great risk of deceiving
ourselves if we took in earnest the nonsense that the Moor told him
from whom he drew his information. The Lombard traveller gives us
also fantastic details about China with the greatest seriousness,
and falls into the grave errors, which his contemporary Duarte
Barbosa had avoided. It is to the latter we owe the information that
the trade in _anfiam_ or opium has existed from this period. When
once the _Victoria_ had left the shores of Malacca, Sebastian del
Cano took great care to avoid the coast of Zanguebar, where the
Portuguese had been established since the beginning of the century.
He kept to the open sea as far as 42 degrees south latitude, and for
nine weeks he was obliged to keep the sails furled, on account of
the constant west and north-west winds, which ended in a fearful
storm. To keep to this course required great perseverance on the
part of the captain, with a settled desire on his part to carry his
enterprise to a successful issue. The vessel had several leaks, and
a number of the sailors demanded an anchorage at Mozambique, for the
provisions which were not salted having become bad, the crew had
only rice and water for food and drink. At last on the 6th of May,
the Cape of Tempests was doubled and a favourable issue to the
voyage might be hoped for. Nevertheless, many vexatious accidents
still awaited the navigator. In two months, twenty-one men,
Europeans and Indians, died from privations, and if on the 9th July
they had not landed at Santiago, one of the Cape de Verd Islands,
the whole crew would have died of hunger. As this archipelago
belonged to Portugal, the sailors took care to say that they came
from America, and carefully concealed the route which they had
discovered. But one of the sailors having had the imprudence to say
that the _Victoria_ was the only vessel of Magellan's squadron which
had returned to Europe, the Portuguese immediately seized the crew
of a long-boat, and prepared to attack the Spanish vessel. However,
Del Cano on board his vessel was watching all the movements of the
Portuguese, and suspecting, by the preparations which he saw, that
there was an intention of seizing the _Victoria_, he set sail,
leaving thirteen men of his crew in the hands of the Portuguese.
Maximilian Transylvain assigns a different motive from the one given
by Pigafetta, for the anchorage at the Cape de Verd Islands. He
asserts that the fatigued state of the crew, who were reduced by
privations, and who in spite of everything had not ceased to work
the pumps, had decided the captain to stop and buy some slaves to
aid them in this work. Having no money the Spaniards would have paid
with some of their spices, which would have opened the eyes of the

"To see if our journals were correctly kept," says Pigafetta, "we
inquired on shore what day of the week it was. They replied that it
was Thursday, which surprised us, because according to our journals
it was as yet only Wednesday. We could not be persuaded that we had
made the mistake of a day; I was more astonished myself than the
others were, because having always been sufficiently well to keep my
journal, I had uninterruptedly marked the days of the week, and the
course of the months. We learnt afterwards, that there was no error
in our calculation, for having always travelled towards the west,
following the course of the sun, and having returned to the same
point, we must have gained twenty-four hours upon those who had
remained stationary; one has only need of reflection to be convinced
of this fact."

Sebastian del Cano rapidly made the coast of Africa, and on the 6th
of September entered the Bay of San Lucar de Barrameda, with a crew
of seventeen men, almost all of whom were ill. Two days later he
anchored before the mole at Seville, after having accomplished a
complete circuit of the world.

As soon as he arrived, Sebastian del Cano went to Valladolid, where
the court was, and received from Charles V. the welcome which was
merited after so many difficulties had been courageously overcome.
The bold mariner received permission to take as his armorial
bearings, a globe with this motto, _Primus circumdedisti me_, and he
also received a pension of 500 ducats.

The rich freight of the _Victoria_, decided the Emperor to send a
second fleet to the Moluccas. The supreme command of it was not,
however, given to Sebastian del Cano; it was reserved for the
commander Garcia de Loaisa, whose only claim to it was his grand
name. However, after the death of the chief of the expedition, which
happened as soon as the fleet had passed the Strait of Magellan, Del
Cano found himself invested with the command, but he did not hold it
long, for he died six days afterwards. As for the ship _Victoria_,
she was long preserved in the port of Seville, but in spite of all
the care that was taken of her, she at length fell to pieces from
old age.



The Northmen--Eric the Red--The Zenos--John Cabot--Cortereal--
Sebastian Cabot--Willoughby--Chancellor.

Pytheas had opened up the road to the north to the Scandinavians by
discovering Iceland (the famous Thule) and the _Cronian_ Ocean, of
which the mud, the shallow-water, and the ice render the navigation
dangerous, and where the nights are as light as twilight. The
traditions of the voyages undertaken by the ancients to the Orkneys,
the Faröe Islands, and even to Iceland, were treasured up among the
Irish monks, who were learned men, and themselves bold mariners, as
their successive establishments in these archipelagos clearly prove.
They were also the pilots of the Northmen, a name given generally to
the Scandinavian pirates, both Danish and Norwegian, who rendered
themselves so formidable to the whole of Europe during the Middle
Ages. But if all the information that we owe to the ancients, both
Greeks and Romans, with regard to these hyperborean countries be
extremely vague and so to speak fabulous, it is not so with that
which concerns the adventurous enterprises of the "Men of the
North." The Sagas, as the Icelandic and Danish songs are called, are
extremely precise, and the numerous data which we owe to them are
daily confirmed by the archæological discoveries made in America,
Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Denmark. This is a source of
valuable information which was long unknown and unexplored, and of
which we owe the revelation to the learned Dane, C. C. Rafn, who has
furnished us with authentic facts of the greatest interest bearing
on the pre-Columbian discovery of America.

Norway was poor and encumbered with population. Hence arose the
necessity for a permanent emigration, which should allow a
considerable portion of the inhabitants to seek in more favoured
regions the nourishment which a frozen soil denied them. When they
had found some country rich enough to yield them an abundant spoil,
they then returned to their own land, and set out the following
spring accompanied by all those who could be enticed either by the
love of lucre, the desire for an easy life, or by the thirst for
strife. Intrepid hunters and fishermen, accustomed to a dangerous
navigation between the continent and the mass of islands which
border it and appear to defend it against the assaults of the ocean,
and across the narrow, deep _fiords_, which seem as though they were
cut into the soil itself by some gigantic sword, they set out in
those oak vessels, the sight of which made the people tremble who
lived on the shores of the North Sea and British Channel. Sometimes
decked, these vessels, long or short, large or small, were usually
terminated in front by a spur of enormous size, above which the prow
sometimes rose to a great height, taking the form of an _S_. The
_hällristningar_, for so they call the graphic representations so
often met with on the rocks of Sweden and Norway, enable us to
picture to ourselves these swift vessels, which could carry a
considerable crew. Such was the _Long-serpent_ of Olaf Tryggvason,
which had thirty-two benches of rowers and held ninety men, Canute's
vessel, which carried sixty, and the two vessels of Olaf the Saint,
which carried sometimes 200 men. The Sea-kings, as they often called
these adventurers, lived on the ocean, never settling on shore,
passing from the pillage of a castle to the burning of an abbey,
devastating the coasts of France, ascending rivers, especially the
Seine, as far as Paris, sailing over the Mediterranean as far as
Constantinople, establishing themselves later in Sicily, and leaving
traces of their incursions or their sojourn in all the regions of
the known world.

[Illustration: Norman Ships.]

Piracy, far from being, as at the present day, an act falling under
the ban of the law, was not only encouraged in that barbarous or
half-civilized society, but was celebrated in the songs of the
_Skalds_, who reserved their most enthusiastic eulogies for
celebrating chivalrous struggles, adventurous privateering, and all
exhibitions of strength. From the eighth century, these formidable
sea-rovers frequented the groups of the Orkney, the Hebrides, the
Shetland, and Faröe Islands, where they met with the Irish monks,
who had settled themselves there nearly a century earlier, to
instruct the idolatrous population.

In 861 a Norwegian pirate, named Naddod, was carried by a storm
towards an island covered with snow, which he named Snoland (land of
snow), a name changed later to that of Iceland (land of ice). There
again the Northmen found the Irish monks under the name of Papis, in
the cantons of Papeya and Papili.

Ingolf installed himself some years afterwards in the country, and
founded Reijkiavik. In 885 the triumph of Harold Haarfager, who had
just subjugated the whole of Norway by force of arms, brought a
considerable number of malcontents to Iceland. They established
there the republican form of government, which had just been
overthrown in their own country, and which subsisted till 1261, the
epoch when Iceland passed under the dominion of the kings of Norway.

When established in Iceland, these bold fellows, lovers of adventure
and of long hunts in pursuit of seals and walrus, retained their
wandering habits and pursued their bold plans in the west, where
only three years after the arrival of Ingolf, Guunbjorn discovered
the snowy peaks of the mountains of Greenland. Five years later,
Eric the Red, banished from Iceland for murder, rediscovered the
land in latitude 64 degrees north, of which Guunbjorn had caught a
glimpse. The sterility of this ice-bound coast made him decide to
seek a milder climate with a more open country, and one producing
more game, in the south. So he rounded Cape Farewell at the
extremity of Greenland, established himself on the west coast, and
built some vast dwellings for himself and his companions, of which M.
Jorgensen has discovered the ruins. This country was worthy at that
period of the name of Green-Land (Groenland) which the Northmen gave
to it, but the annual and great increase of the glaciers, has
rendered it since that epoch a land of desolation.

Eric returned to Iceland to seek his friends, and in the same year
that he returned to Brattahalida (for so he called his settlement),
fourteen vessels laden with emigrants came to join him. It was a
veritable exodus. These events took place in the year 1000. As
quickly as the resources of the country allowed of it, the
population of Greenland increased, and in 1121, Gardar, the capital
of the country, became the seat of a bishopric, which existed until
after the discovery of the Antilles by Christopher Columbus.

In 986 Bjarn Heriulfson, who had come from Norway to Iceland to
spend the winter with his father, learnt that the latter had joined
Eric the Red in Greenland. Without hesitation, the young man again
put to sea, seeking at haphazard for a country of which he did not
even know the exact situation, and was cast by currents on coasts
which we think must have been those of New Scotland, Newfoundland,
and Maine. He ended, however, by reaching Greenland, where Eric, the
powerful Norwegian _jarl_, reproached him for not having examined
with more care countries of which he owed his knowledge to a happy
accident of the sea.

Eric had sent his son Leif to the Norwegian court, so close at this
time was the connexion between the metropolis and the colonies. The
king, who had been converted to Christianity, had just despatched a
mission to Iceland charged to overthrow the worship of Odin. He
committed to Leif's care some priests who were to instruct the
Greenlanders; but scarcely had the young adventurer returned to his
own country, when he left the holy men to work out the
accomplishment of their difficult task and hearing of the discovery
made by Bjarn, he fitted out his vessels and went to seek for the
lands which had been only imperfectly seen. He landed first on a
desolate and stony plain, to which he gave the name of _Helluland_,
and which we have no hesitation in recognizing as Newfoundland, and
afterwards on a flat sandy shore behind which rose an immense screen
of dark forests, cheered by the songs of innumerable birds. A third
time he put to sea and steering towards the south he arrived at the
Bay of Rhode Island, where the mild climate and the river teeming
with salmon induced him to settle, and where he constructed vast
buildings of planks, which he called _Leifsbudir_ (Leif's house).
Then he sent some of his companions to explore the country, and they
returned with the good news that the wild vine grows in the country,
to which it owes the name of _Vinland_. In the spring of the year
1001, Leif, having laded his ship with skins, grapes, wood, and
other productions of the country, set out for Greenland; he had made
the valuable observation that the shortest day in _Vinland_ lasted
nine hours, which places the site of Leifsbudir at 41 degrees 24
minutes 10 seconds. This fortunate voyage and the salvage of a
Norwegian vessel carrying fifteen men, gained for Leif the surname
of the Fortunate.

This expedition made a great stir, and the account of the wonders of
the country in which Leif had settled, induced his brother Thorvald,
to set out with thirty men. After passing the winter at Leifsbudir,
Thorvald explored the coasts to the south, returning in the autumn
to Vinland, and in the following year 1004, he sailed along the
coast to the north of Leifsbudir. During this return voyage, the
Northmen met with the Esquimaux for the first time, and without any
provocation, slaughtered them without mercy. The following night
they found themselves all at once surrounded by a numerous flotilla
of _Kayacs_, from which came a cloud of arrows. Thorvald alone, the
chief of the expedition, was mortally wounded; he was buried by his
companions on a promontory, to which they gave the name of the
promontory of the Cross.

Now, in the Gulf of Boston in the eighteenth century, a tomb of
masonry was discovered, in which, with the bones, was found a
sword-hilt of iron. The Indians not being acquainted with this metal,
it could not be one of their skeletons; it was not either, the
remains of one of the Europeans who had landed after the fifteenth
century, for their swords had not this very characteristic form.
This tomb has been thought to be that of a Scandinavian, and we
venture to say, that of Thorvald, son of Eric the Red.

In the spring of 1007, three vessels carrying 160 men and some
cattle, left Eriksfjord; the object in view was the foundation of a
permanent colony. The emigrants after sighting Helluland, Markland,
and Vinland, landed in an island, upon which they constructed some
barracks and began the work of cultivation. But they must either
have laid their plans badly, or have been wanting in foresight, for
the winter found them without provisions, and they suffered cruelly
from hunger. They had, however, the good sense to regain the
continent, where in comparative ease, they could await the end of
the winter.

At the beginning of 1008, they set out to seek for Leifsbudir, and
settled themselves at Mount-Hope Bay, on the opposite shore to the
old settlement of Leif. There, for the first time, some intercourse
was held with the natives, called _Skrellings_ in the sagas, and
whom, from the manner in which they are portrayed, it is easy to
recognize as Esquimaux. The first meeting was peaceable, and barter
was carried on with them until the day when the desire of the
Esquimaux to acquire iron hatchets, always prudently refused them by
the Northmen, drove them to acts of aggression, which decided the
new-comers, after three years of residence, to return to their own
country, which they did without leaving behind them any lasting
trace of their stay in the country.

It will be easily understood that we cannot give any detailed
account of all the expeditions, which set out from Greenland, and
succeeded each other on the coasts of Labrador and the United States.
Those of our readers who wish for circumstantial details, should
refer to M. Gabriel Gravier's interesting publication, the most
complete work on the subject, and from which we have borrowed all
that relates to the Norman expeditions.

The same year as Erik the Red landed in Greenland (983), a certain
Hari Marson, being driven out of the ordinary course by storms, was
cast upon the shores of a country known by the name of "White man's
land," which extended according to Rafn from Chesapeake Bay to

What is the meaning of this name "White man's land"? Had some
compatriots of Marson's already settled there? There is some reason
to suppose so even from the words used in the chronicle. We can
understand how interesting it would be, to be able to determine the
nationality of these first colonists. However, the Sagas have not as
yet revealed all their secrets. There are probably, some of them
still unknown, and as those which have been successively discovered,
have confirmed facts already admitted, there is every reason to hope
that our knowledge of Icelandic navigation may become more precise.

Another legend, of which great part is mere romance, but which
nevertheless, contains a foundation of truth, relates that a certain
Bjorn, who was obliged to quit Iceland in consequence of an
unfortunate passion, took refuge in the countries beyond Vinland,
where in 1027, he was found by some of his countrymen.

In 1051, during another expedition, an Icelandic woman was killed by
some _Skrellings_, and in 1867, a tomb was exhumed, bearing a
_runic_ inscription, and containing bones, and some articles of the
toilet, which are now preserved in the museum at Washington. This
discovery was made at the exact spot indicated in the Saga which
related these events, and which was not itself discovered until 1863.

But the Northmen, established in Iceland and Greenland, were not the
only people who frequented the coast of America about the year 1000,
which is proved by the name of "Great Ireland," which was given to
White man's land. As the history of Madoc-op-Owen proves, the Irish
and Welsh founded colonies there, regarding which we have but little
information, but vague and uncertain as it is, MM. d'Avezac and
Gaffarel agree in recognizing its probability.

Having now said a few words upon the travels and settlements of the
Northmen in Labrador, Vinland, and the more southern countries, we
must return to the north. The colonies first founded in the
neighbourhood of Cape Farewell, had not been slow in stretching
along the western coast, which at this period was infinitely less
desolate than it is at the present day, as far as northern latitudes,
which were not again reached until our own day. Thus at this time
they caught seals, walrus, and whales in the bay of Disco; there
were 190 towns counted then in Westerbygd and eighty-six in
Esterbygd, while at the present day, there are far fewer Danish
settlements on these icy shores. These towns were probably only
inconsiderable groups of those houses in stone and wood, of which so
many ruins have been found from Cape Farewell, as far as Upernavik
in about 72 degrees 50 minutes. At the same time numerous runic
inscriptions, which have now been deciphered, have given a degree of
absolute certainty to facts so long unknown. But how many of these
vestiges of the past still remain to be discovered! how many of
these valuable evidences of the bravery and spirit of enterprise of
the Scandinavian race are for ever buried under the glaciers!

[Illustration: The Glaciers of Greenland.]

We have also obtained evidence that Christianity had been brought
into America, and especially into Greenland. To this country,
according to the instructions of Pope Gregory IV., there were
pastoral visits made to strengthen the newly-converted Northmen in
the faith, and to evangelize the Esquimaux and the Indian tribes.
Besides this, M. Riant in 1865, has proved incontrovertibly that the
Crusades were preached in Greenland in the bishopric of Gardar, as
well as in the _islands and neighbouring lands_, and that up to 1418,
Greenland paid to the Holy See tithes and St. Peter's pence, which
for that year consisted of 2600 lbs. of walrus tusks.

The Norwegian colonies owe their downfall and ruin to various
causes: to the very rapid extension of the glaciers,--Hayes has
proved that the glacier of Friar John moves at the rate of about
thirty-three yards annually;--to the bad policy of the mother
country, which prevented the recruiting of the colonies; to the
black plague, which decimated the population of Greenland from 1347
to 1351; lastly, to the depredations of the pirates, who ravaged
these already enfeebled countries in 1418, and in whom some have
thought they recognized certain inhabitants of the Orkney and Faröe
Islands, of which we are now about to speak.

One of the companions of William the Conqueror, named Saint-Clair or
Sinclair, not thinking that the portion of the conquered country
allotted to him was proportioned to his merits, went to try his luck
in Scotland, where he was not long in rising to fortune and honours.
In the latter half of the fourteenth century, the Orkney Islands
passed into the hands of his descendants.

About 1390, a certain Nicolo Zeno, a member of one of the most
ancient and noble Venetian families, who had fitted out a vessel at
his own expense, to visit England and Flanders as a matter of
curiosity, was wrecked in the archipelago of the Orkneys whither he
had been driven by a storm. He was about to be massacred by the
inhabitants, when the Earl, Henry Sinclair took him under his
protection. The history of this wreck, and the adventures and
discoveries which followed it, published in the collection of
Ramusio had been written by Antonio Zeno, says Clements Markham, the
learned geographer, in his "Threshold of the Unknown Region."
Unfortunately one of his descendants named Nicolo Zeno, born in 1515,
when a boy, not knowing the value of these papers, tore them up,
"but some of the letters surviving, he was able from them
subsequently to compile the narrative as we now have it, and which
was printed in Venice in 1558. There was also found in the palace an
old map, rotten with age, illustrative of his voyages. Of this he
made a copy, unluckily supplying from his own reading of the
narrative what he thought was requisite for its illustration. By
doing this in a blundering way, unaided by the geographical
knowledge which enables us to see where he goes astray, he threw the
whole of the geography which he derived from the narrative into the
most lamentable confusion, while those parts of the map which are
not thus sophisticated, and which are consequently original, present
an accuracy far in advance by many generations of the geography even
of Nicolo Zeno's time, and confirm in a notable manner the site of
the old Greenland colony. In these facts we have not only the
solution of all the discussions which have arisen on the subject,
but the most indisputable proof of the authenticity of the
narrative; for it is clear that Nicolo Zeno, junior, could not
himself have been the ingenious concocter of a story the
straightforward truth of which he could thus ignorantly distort upon
the face of the map."

The name of Zichmni, in which writers of the present day, and chief
among them Mr. H. Major, who has rescued these facts from the domain
of fable, recognize the name of Sinclair--appears to be in fact only
applicable to this earl of the Orkneys.

At this time the seas of the north of Europe were infected by
Scandinavian pirates. Sinclair, who had recognized in Zeno a clever
mariner, attached him to himself, and with him conquered the country
of Frisland, the haunt of pirates, who ravaged all the north of
Scotland. In the maps at the end of the fifteenth and beginning of
the sixteenth century this name is applied to the archipelago of the
Faröe Islands, a reasonable indication, for Buache has recognized in
the present names of the harbours and islands of this archipelago a
considerable number of those given by Zeno; finally the facts which
we owe to the Venetian navigator about the waters,--abounding in
fish and dangerous from shallows,--which divide this archipelago,
are still true at the present day.

Satisfied with his position, Zeno wrote to his brother Antonio to
come and join him. While Sinclair was conquering the Faröe Islands,
the Norwegian pirates desolated the Shetland Islands, then called
Eastland. Nicolo set sail to give them battle, but was himself
obliged to fly before their fleet, much more numerous than his own,
and to take refuge on a small island on the coast of Iceland.

After wintering in this place Zeno must have landed the following
year on the eastern coast of Greenland at 69 degrees north latitude,
in a place "where was a monastery of the order of preaching friars,
and a church dedicated to St. Thomas. The cells were warmed by a
natural spring of hot water, which the monks used to prepare their
food and to bake their bread. The monks had also gardens covered
over in the winter season, and warmed by the same means, so that
they were able to produce flowers, fruits, and herbs as well as if
they had lived in a mild climate." There would seem to be some
confirmation of these narratives in the fact that between the years
1828-1830 a captain of the Danish navy met with a population of 600
individuals at 69 degrees north latitude, of a purely European type.

But these adventurous travels in countries of which the climate was
so different from that of Venice, proved fatal to Zeno, who died a
short time after his return to Frisland.

An old sailor, who had returned with the Venetian, and who said he
had been for many long years a prisoner in the countries of the
extreme west, gave to Sinclair such precise and tempting details of
the fertility and extent of these regions, that the latter resolved
to attempt their conquest with Antonio Zeno who had rejoined his
brother. But the inhabitants showed themselves everywhere so hostile,
and opposed such resistance to the strangers landing, that Sinclair
after a long and dangerous voyage was obliged to return to Frisland.

These are all the details that have been left to us, and they make
us deeply regret the loss of those that Antonio should have
furnished in his letters to his father Carlo, on the subject of the
countries which Forster and Malto-Brun have thought may be
identified with Newfoundland.

Who knows, if in his voyage to England and during his wanderings as
far as Thule, Christopher Columbus may not have heard mentioned the
ancient expeditions of the Northmen and the Zeni, and if this
information may not have appeared to him a strange confirmation of
the theories which he held, and of the ideas for whose realization
he came to claim the protection of the King of England?

From the collection of facts which have been here briefly given, it
follows that America was known to Europeans and had been colonized
before the time of Columbus. But in consequence of various
circumstances, and foremost among these must be placed the rarity of
communication between the people in the north of Europe and those in
the south, the discoveries made by the Northmen were only vaguely
known in Spain and Portugal. Judging by appearances, we of the
present day know much more on this subject than did the
fellow-countrymen and contemporaries of Columbus. If the Genoese
mariner had been informed of the existence of some rumours, he
classed them with the information he had collected in the Cape de
Verd Islands and with his classical recollections of the famous
Island of Antilia and the Atlantides of Plato. From this information,
which came from so many different sides, the certainty awoke within
him that the east could be reached by the western route. However it
may be, his glory remains whole and entire; he is really the
discoverer of America, and not those who were carried thither in
spite of themselves by chances of wind and storm, without their
having any intention of reaching the shores of Asia, which
Christopher Columbus would have done, had not the way been barred by

The information that we are about to give on the family of Cortereal,
although it may be much more complete than that which can be met
with in biographical Dictionaries, is still extremely vague.
Nevertheless we must content ourselves with it, for up to this time
history has not collected further details concerning this race of
intrepid navigators.

Joao Vaz Cortereal was the natural son of a gentleman named Vasco
Annes da Costa, who had received the soubriquet of Cortereal from
the King of Portugal, on account of the magnificence of his house
and followers. Devoted like so many other gentlemen of this period
to sea-faring adventure, Joao Vaz had carried off in Gallicia a
young girl named Maria de Abarca, who became his wife. After having
been gentleman-usher to the Infante don Fernando, he was sent by the
king to the North Atlantic, with Alvaro Martins Homem. The two
navigators saw an island known from this time by the name of _Terra
dos Bacalhaos_--the land of cod-fish--which must really have been
Newfoundland. The date of this discovery is approximately fixed by
the fact that on their return, they landed at Terceira and finding
the captainship vacant by the death of Jacome de Bruges, they went
to ask for it from the Infanta Doña Brites, the widow of the Infante
Don Fernando; she bestowed it upon them on condition that they would
divide it between them, a fact which is confirmed by a deed of gift
dated from Evora the 2nd of April, 1464. Though one cannot guarantee
the authenticity of this discovery of America, it is nevertheless an
ascertained fact that Cortereal's voyage must have been signalized
by some extraordinary event; donations of such importance as this
were only made to those who had rendered some great service to the

When Vaz Cortereal was settled at Terceira from 1490 to 1497, he
caused a fine palace to be built in the town of Angra, where he
lived with his three children. His third son, Gaspard, after having
been in the service of King Emmanuel, when the latter was only Duke
de Beja had felt himself attracted while still young to the
enterprises of discovery which had rendered his father illustrious.
By an act dated from Cintra the 12th of March, 1500, King Emmanuel
made a gift to Gaspard Cortereal of any islands or _terra firma_
which he might discover, and the king added this valuable
information, that "already and at other times he had sought for them
on his own account and at his own expense."

For Gaspard Cortereal this was not his first essay. Probably, his
researches may have been directed to the parts where his father had
discovered the Island of Cod. At his own expense, although with the
assistance of the king, Gaspard Cortereal fitted out two vessels at
the commencement of the summer of 1500, and after having touched at
Terceira, he sailed towards the north-west. His first discovery was
of a land of which the fertile and verdant aspect seems to have
charmed him. This was Canada. He saw there a great river bearing ice
along with it on its course--the St. Lawrence--which some of his
companions mistook for an arm of the sea, and to which he gave the
name of _Rio Nevado_. "Its volume is so considerable that it is not
probable that this country is an island, besides, it must be
completely covered with a very thick coating of snow to produce such
a stream of water."

The houses in this country were of wood and covered with skins and
furs. The inhabitants were unacquainted with iron, but used swords
made of sharpened stones, and their arrows were tipped with
fish-bones or stones. Tall and well-made, their faces and bodies
were painted in different colours according to taste, they wore
golden and copper bracelets, and dressed themselves in garments of
fur. Cortereal pursued his voyage and arrived at the Cape of
_Bacalhaos_, "fishes which are found in such great quantities upon
this coast that they hinder the advance of the caravels." Then he
followed the shore for a stretch of 600 miles, from 56 degrees to 60
degrees, or even more, naming the islands, the rivers, and the gulfs
that he met with, as is proved by _Terra do Labrador, Bahia de
Conceiçao_, &c., and landing and holding intercourse with the
natives. Severe cold, and a veritable river of gigantic blocks of
ice prevented the expedition from going farther north, and it
returned to Portugal bringing back with it fifty-seven natives. The
very year of his return, on the 15th of May, 1501, Gaspard Cortereal,
in pursuance of an order of the 15th of April, received provisions,
and left Lisbon in the hope of extending the field of his
discoveries. But from this time he is never again mentioned. Michael
Cortereal, his brother, who was the first gentleman-usher to the
king, then requested and obtained permission to go and seek his
brother, and to pursue his enterprise. By an act of the 15th of
January, 1502, a deed of gift conveyed to him the half of the terra
firma and islands which his brother might have discovered. Setting
out on the 10th of May of this year with three vessels, Michael
Cortereal reached Newfoundland, where he divided his little squadron,
so that each of the vessels might explore the coasts separately,
while he fixed the place of rendezvous. But at the time fixed, he
did not reappear, and the two other vessels, after waiting for him
till the 20th of August, set out on their return to Portugal.

In 1503, the king sent two caravels to try to obtain news of the two
brothers, but the search was in vain, and they returned without
having acquired any information. When Vasco Annes, the last of the
brothers Cortereal, who was captain and governor of the Islands of
St. George and Terceira, and alcaide mõr of the town of Tavilla,
became acquainted with these sad events, he resolved to fit out a
vessel at his own cost, and to go and search for his brothers. The
king, however, would not allow him to go, fearing to lose the last
of this race of good servants.

Upon the maps of this period, Canada is often indicated by the name
of Terra dos Cortereales, a name which is sometimes extended much
further south, embracing a great part of North America.

       *       *       *       *       *

All that concerns John and Sebastian Cabot has been until recently
shrouded by a mist which is not even now completely dissipated,
notwithstanding the conscientious labours of Biddle the American in
1831, and of our compatriot M. d'Avezac; as also those of Mr.
Nicholls the Englishman, who taking advantage of the discoveries
made among the English, Spanish, and Venetian archives, has built up
an imposing monument, of which some parts, however, are open to
discussion. It is from the two last-named works that we shall draw
the materials for this rapid sketch, but principally from Mr.
Nicholls' book, which has this advantage over the smaller volume of
M. d'Avezac, that it relates the whole life of Sebastian Cabot.

[Illustration: Sebastian Cabot. _From an old print_.]

It has been found impossible to determine with certainty either the
name or the nationality of John Cabot, and still less to settle the
period of his birth. John Cabota, Caboto or Cabot must have been
born, if not in Genoa itself, as M. d'Avezac asserts, at least in
the neighbourhood of that town, possibly at Castiglione, about the
first quarter of the fifteenth century. Some historians have
considered that he was an Englishman, and perhaps Mr. Nicholls from
national considerations is inclined to adopt this opinion; at least
this seems to be the meaning of the expressions used by him. What we
do know without room for doubt, is that John Cabot came to London to
occupy himself with commerce, and that he soon settled at Bristol,
then the second town in the kingdom, in one of the suburbs which had
received the name of Cathay, probably from the number of Venetians
who resided there, and the trade carried on by them with the
countries of the extreme East. It was at Bristol that Cabot's two
youngest children were born, Sebastian and Sancho, if we may rely
upon the following account given by the old chronicler Eden.
"Sebastian Cabot told me that he was born at Bristol, and that at
four years of age he went with his father to Venice, returning with
him to England some years later; this made people imagine that he
was born at Venice." In 1476, John Cabot was at Venice, and there on
the 29th of March, he received letters of naturalization, which
prove that he was not a native of this city, and that he must have
merited the honour by some service rendered to the Republic. M.
d'Avezac is inclined to think that he devoted himself to the study
of cosmography and navigation, perhaps even in company with the
celebrated Florentine, Paul Toscanelli, with whose theories upon the
distribution of land and sea on the surface of the globe, he would
certainly be acquainted at this time. He may also have heard mention
made of the islands situated in the Atlantic, and known by the names
of Antilia, the Land of the Seven Cities, or Brazil. What seems more
certain is, that his business affairs took him to the Levant, and,
it is said, to Mecca, and that while there he would learn from what
country came the spices, which then constituted the most important
branch of Venetian commerce.

Whatever value we may attach to these speculative theories, it is at
least certain that John Cabot founded an important mercantile house
at Bristol. His son Sebastian, who in these first voyages had
acquired an inclination for the sea, studied navigation, as far as
it was then known, and made some excursions on the sea, to render
himself as familiar with the practice of this art, as he already was
with its theory. "For seven years past," says the Spanish Ambassador
in a despatch of the 25th of July, 1498, speaking of an expedition
commanded by Cabot, "the people of Bristol have fitted out two,
three, or four caravels every year, to go in search of the Island of
Brazil, and of the Seven Cities, according to the ideas of the
Genoese." At this time the whole of Europe resounded with the fame
of the discoveries of Columbus. "It awoke in me," says Sebastian
Cabot, in a narrative preserved by Ramusio, "a great desire and a
kind of ardour in my heart to do myself also something famous, and
knowing by examining the globe, that if I sailed by the west wind I
should reach India more rapidly, I at once made my project known to
His Majesty, who was much satisfied with it." The king to whom Cabot
addressed himself was the same Henry VII. who some years before had
refused all support to Christopher Columbus. It is evident that he
received with favour the project which John and Sebastian Cabot had
just submitted to him; and though Sebastian, in the fragment which
we have just quoted, attributes to himself alone all the honour of
the project, it is not less true that his father was the promoter of
the enterprise, as the following charter shows, which we translate
in an abridged form.

"We Henry ... permit our well-beloved Jehan Cabot, citizen of Venice,
and Louis, Sebastian, and Sancho, his sons, under our flag and with
five vessels of the tonnage and crew which they shall judge suitable,
to discover at their own expense and charge ... we grant to them as
well as to their heirs and assigns, licence to occupy, possess ...
at the charge of, by them, upon the profits, benefits, and
advantages, accruing from this navigation, to pay us in merchandise
or in money the fifth part of the profit thus obtained, for each of
their voyages, every time that they shall return to the port of
Bristol (at which port they shall be compelled to land).... We
promise and guarantee to them, their heirs and assigns, that they
shall be exempt from all custom-house duties on the merchandise
which they shall bring from the countries thus discovered.... We
command and direct all our subjects, as well on land as on the sea,
to render assistance to the said Jehan, and to his sons.... Given
at ... the 5th day of March, 1495."

Such was the charter that was granted to John Cabot and his sons
upon their return from the American continent, and not as certain
authors have pretended, anterior to this voyage. From the time that
the news of the discovery made by Columbus had reached England, that
is to say, probably in 1493, John and Sebastian Cabot prepared the
expedition at their own expense, and set out at the beginning of the
year 1494, with the idea of reaching Cathay, and finally the Indies.
There can be no doubt upon this point, for in the Bibliothèque
Nationale in Paris is preserved an unique copy of the map engraved
in 1544, that is to say, in the lifetime of Sebastian Cabot, which
mentions this voyage, and the precise and exact date of the
discovery of Cape Breton.

It is probable that we must attribute to the intrigues of the
Spanish Ambassador, the delay which occurred in Cabot's expedition,
for the whole of the year 1496 passed without the voyage being

The following year he set out at the beginning of summer. After
having again sighted the _Terra Bona-vista_, he followed the coast,
and was not long in perceiving to his great disappointment that it
trended towards the north. "Then, sailing along it to make sure if I
could not find some passage, I could not perceive any, and having
advanced as far as 56 degrees, and seeing that at this point the
land turned towards the east, I despaired of finding any passage,
and I put about to examine the coast in this direction towards the
equinoctial line, always with the same object of finding a passage
to the Indies, and in the end, I reached the country now called
Florida, where as provisions were beginning to run short, I resolved
to return to England." This narrative, of which we have given the
commencement above, was related by Cabot to Fracastor, forty or
fifty years after the event. Also, is it not astonishing that Cabot
mixes up in it two perfectly distinct voyages, that of 1494, and
that of 1497? Let us add some reflections on this narrative. The
first land seen was, without doubt, the North Cape, the northern
extremity of the island of Cape Breton, and the island which is
opposite to it is that of Prince Edward, long known by the name of
St. John's Island. Cabot, probably penetrated into the estuary of
the St. Lawrence, which he took for an arm of the sea, near to the
place where Quebec now stands, and coasted along the northern shore
of the gulf, so that he did not see the coast of Labrador stretching
away in the east. He took Newfoundland for an archipelago, and
continued his course to the south, not doubtless, as far as Florida
as he states himself, the time occupied by the voyage making it
impossible that he can have descended so low, but as far as
Chesapeake Bay. These were the countries which the Spaniards
afterwards called "Terra de Estevam Gomez."

On the 3rd of February, 1498, King Henry VII. signed at Westminster
some new letters patent. He empowered John Cabot or his
representative,--being duly authorized--to take in English ports six
vessels of 200 tons' burden, and to procure all that should be
required for their equipment, at the same price as if it were for
the crown. He was allowed to take on board such master-mariners,
pages, and other subjects as might of their own accord wish to go,
and pass with him to the recently discovered land and islands. John
Cabot bore the expense of the equipment of two vessels, and three
others were fitted out at the cost of the merchants of Bristol.

In all probability it was death--a sudden and unexpected
death--which prevented John Cabot from taking the command of this
expedition. His son Sebastian then assumed the direction of the
fleet, which carried 300 men and provisions for a year. After having
sighted land at 45 degrees, Sebastian Cabot followed the coast as
far as 58 degrees, perhaps even higher, but then it became so cold,
and although it was the month of July, there was so much floating
ice about, that, it would have been impossible to go further
northwards. The days were very long, and the nights excessively
light, an interesting detail by which to fix the latitude reached,
for we know that below the 60th parallel of latitude the longest
days are eighteen hours. These various reasons made Sebastian Cabot
decide to put about, and he touched at the Bacalhaos Islands, of
which the inhabitants, who were clothed in the skins of animals,
were armed with bow and arrows, lance, javelin, and wooden sword.
The navigators here caught a great number of cod-fish; they were
even so numerous, says an old narrative, that they hindered ships
from advancing. After having sailed along the coast of America as
far as 38 degrees, Cabot set out for England, where he arrived at
the beginning of autumn. This voyage had indeed a threefold object,
that of discovery, commerce, and colonization, as is shown by the
number of vessels which took part in it and the strength of the
crews. Nevertheless it does not appear that Cabot landed any one, or
that he made any attempts at forming a settlement, either in
Labrador, or in Hudson's Bay--which he was destined to explore more
completely in 1517, in the reign of Henry VIII.--or even to the
south of the Bacalhaos, known by the general name of Newfoundland.
At the close of this expedition, which was almost entirely
unproductive, we lose sight of Sebastian Cabot, if not completely,
at least so as to be insufficiently informed about his deeds and
voyages until 1517. The traveller Hojeda, whose various enterprises
we have related above, had left Spain in the month of May, 1499. We
know that in this voyage he met with an Englishman at Caquibaco, on
the coast of America. Can this have been Cabot? Nothing has come to
light to enable us to settle this point; but we may believe that
Cabot did not remain idle, and that he would be likely to undertake
some fresh expedition: what we do know is, that in spite of the
solemn engagements that he had made with Cabot, the King of England
granted certain privileges of trading in the countries which he had
discovered, to the Portuguese and to the merchants of Bristol. This
ungenerous manner of recognizing his services wounded the navigator,
and decided him to accept the offers which had been made to him on
different occasions, to enter the Spanish service. From the death of
Vespucius, which happened in 1512, Cabot was the navigator held in
most renown. To attach him to himself, Ferdinand wrote on the 13th
of September, 1512, to Lord Willoughby, commander in chief of the
troops which had been transported to Italy, to treat with the
Venetian navigator.

[Illustration: Discoveries of John and Sebastian Cabot.]

As soon as he arrived in Castille, Cabot received the rank of
captain, by an edict dated the 20th of October, 1512, with a salary
of 5000 maravédis. Seville was fixed upon for his residence, until
an opportunity might arise of turning his talents and experience to
account. There was a plan on foot for his taking the command of a
very important expedition, when Ferdinand the Catholic died, on the
23rd of January, 1516. Cabot returned at once to England, having
probably obtained leave of absence. Eden tells us that the following
year Cabot was appointed with Sir Thomas Pert to the command of a
fleet which was to reach China by the north-west. On the 11th of
June, he was in Hudson's Bay at 67-1/2 degrees of latitude; the sea
free from ice spread itself out before him so far that he reckoned
upon success in his enterprise, when the faintheartedness of his
companion, together with the cowardice and mutinous spirit of the
crews, who refused to go any further, obliged him to return to
England. In his _Theatrum orbis terrarum_, Ortelius traces the shape
of Hudson's Bay as it really is; he even indicates at its northern
extremity a strait leading northwards. How can the geographer have
attained to such exactness? "Who," says Mr. Nicholls, "can have
given him the information set forth in his map, if not Cabot?"

On his return to England, Cabot found the country ravaged by a
horrible plague, which put a stop even to commercial transactions.
Soon, either because the time of his leave had expired, or that he
wished to escape from the pestilence, or that he was recalled to
Spain, the Venetian navigator returned to that country. In 1518, on
the 5th of February, Cabot was made pilot-major, with a salary which,
added to that which he already had, made a total of 125,000
maravédis, say, 300 ducats. He did not actually exercise the
functions of his office till Charles V. returned from England. His
principal duty consisted in examining pilots, who were not allowed
to go to the Indies until after having passed this examination.

This epoch was by no means favourable to great maritime expeditions.
The struggle between France and Spain absorbed all the resources
both in men and money, of these two countries--Cabot too, who seems
to have adopted science for his fatherland, much more than any
particular country, made some overtures to Contarini, the Ambassador
of Venice, to take service on board the fleets of the Republic; but
when the favourable answer of the Council of Ten arrived, he had
other projects in his head, and did not carry his attempt any

[Illustration: Cabot presides over a Conference of Cosmographers.]

In the month of April, 1524, Cabot presided at a conference of
mariners and cosmographers, which met at Badajoz, to discuss the
question whether the Moluccas belonged, according to the celebrated
treaty of Tordesillas, to Spain or Portugal. On the 31st of May, it
was decided that the Moluccas were within the Spanish waters, by 20
degrees. Perhaps this resolution of the junta of which Cabot was
president, and which again placed in the hands of Spain a great part
of the spice trade, was not without its influence upon the
resolutions of the council of the Indies. However this may be, in
the month of September of the same year Cabot was authorized to take
the command of three vessels of 100 tons, and a small caravel,
carrying together 150 men, with the title of captain-general.

The declared aim of this voyage was to pass through the Strait of
Magellan, carefully to explore the western coast of America, and to
reach the Moluccas, where they would take in on their return a cargo
of spices. The month of August, 1525, had been fixed upon as the
date of departure, but the intrigues of Portugal succeeded in
delaying it until April, 1526.

Different circumstances seem from this moment to have augured ill
for the voyage. Cabot had only a nominal authority, and the
association of merchants who had defrayed the expenses of the
equipment not accepting him willingly as chief, had found means to
oppose all the plans of the Venetian sailor. Thus it was that in
place of the man whom he had appointed as second in command, another
was imposed upon him, and that instructions destined to be unsealed
when at sea were delivered to each captain. They contained this
absurd arrangement, that in case of the death of the captain-general,
eleven individuals were to succeed him each in his turn. Was not
this an encouragement given to assassination?

Scarcely was the fleet out of sight of land, when discontent
appeared. The rumour spread that the captain-general was not equal
to his task; then as they saw that these calumnies did not affect
him, they pretended that the flotilla was already short of
provisions. The mutiny broke out as soon as land was reached, but
Cabot was not the man to allow himself to be annihilated by it; he
had suffered too much from Sir Thomas Pert's cowardice to bear such
an insult. In order to nip the evil in the bud, he had the mutinous
captains seized, and notwithstanding their reputation and the
brilliancy of their past services, he made them get into a boat, and
abandoned them on the shore. Four months afterwards they had the
good luck to be picked up by a Portuguese expedition, which seems to
have had orders to thwart the plans of Cabot.

The Venetian navigator then penetrated into the Rio de la Plata, the
exploration of which had been commenced by his predecessor the
Pilot-major de Solis. The expedition was not then composed of more
than two vessels, one having been lost during the voyage. Cabot
sailed up the Argent River, and discovered an island which he called
Francis Gabriel, and upon which he built the fort of San Salvador,
entrusting the command of it to Antonio de Grajeda. Cabot had the
keel removed from one of his caravels, and with it, being towed by
his small boats, entered the Parana, built a new fort at the
confluence of the Carcarama and Terceiro, and after having thus
secured his line of retreat he pursued the course of these rivers
farther into the interior. Arriving at the confluence of the Parana
and Paraguay, he followed the second, the direction of which agreed
best with his project of reaching the region of the west where
silver was to be obtained. But it was not long before the aspect of
the country changed, and the attitude of the inhabitants altered
also. Until now, they had collected in crowds, astonished at the
sight of the vessels; but upon the cultivated shores of the Paraguay
they courageously opposed the strangers' landing, and three
Spaniards having tried to knock down the fruit from a palm-tree, a
struggle took place, in which 300 natives lost their lives. This
victory had disabled twenty-five Spaniards. It was too much for
Cabot, who rapidly removed his wounded to the fort San Spirito and
retired, still presenting a bold front to the enemy.

Cabot had already sent two of his companions to the Emperor, to
acquaint him with the attempt at revolt of the captains, to explain
to him the motives which obliged him to modify the course marked out
for his voyage, and to request aid from him, both in men and
provisions. The answer arrived at last. The Emperor approved of what
Cabot had done, and ordered him to colonize the country in which he
had just made a settlement, but did not send him either one man or a
single maravédi. Cabot tried to procure the resources which he
needed in the country, and caused some attempts at cultivation to be
commenced. At the same time, to keep his troops in exercise, he
reduced the neighbouring nations to obedience, had some forts built,
and again sailing up the Paraguay he reached Potosi, and the
water-courses of the Andes which feed the basin of the Atlantic. At
last he prepared to enter Peru, from whence came the gold and silver
which he had seen in the possession of the natives; but it needed
more troops than he could muster, to attempt the conquest of this
vast region. The Emperor, however, was quite unable to send him any.
His European wars absorbed all his resources, the Cortez refused to
vote new subsidies and the Moluccas had just been pledged to
Portugal. In this state of affairs, after having occupied the
country for five years, and waited all this time for the assistance
which never came, Cabot decided to evacuate a part of his
settlements, and he returned with some of his people to Spain. The
rest, amounting to 120, men who were left to guard the fort of San
Spirito, after many vicissitudes which cannot be related here,
perished by the hands of the Indians, or were obliged to take refuge
in the Portuguese settlements on the coast of Brazil. It is to the
horses imported by Cabot that is due the wonderful race of wild
horses which may be seen in large troops on the pampas of La Plata
at the present day; this was the only result of the expedition.

Some time after his return to Spain, Cabot resigned his office, and
went to Bristol, where he settled about 1548, that is to say at the
beginning of the reign of Edward VI. What were the motives of this
fresh change? Was Cabot discontented at having been left to his own
resources during his expedition? Was he hurt at the manner in which
his services were recompensed? It is impossible to say. But Charles
V. took advantage of Cabot's departure to deprive him of his pension,
which Edward VI. hastened to replace, causing him to receive 250
marks annually, about 116_l._ and a fraction, which was a
considerable sum for that period.

The post which Cabot occupied in England seems to be best expressed
by the name of Intendant of the Navy; under the authority of the
king and council, he appears to have superintended all maritime
affairs. He issues licences, he examines pilots, he frames
instructions, he draws maps, a varied and complicated function for
which he possessed the rare gift of both practical and theoretical
knowledge. At the same time he instructed the young king in
cosmography, explained to him the variation of the compass, and was
successful in interesting him in nautical matters, and in the glory
resulting from maritime discoveries. It was a high and almost unique
situation. Cabot used it to put into execution a project which he
had long cherished.

At this period, we may almost say there was no trade in England. All
commerce was in the hands of the Hanseatic towns, Antwerp, Hamburg,
Bremen, &c. These companies of merchants had, on various occasions,
obtained considerable reductions in import duties, and had ended by
monopolizing the English trade. Cabot held that Englishmen possessed
as good qualifications as these merchants for becoming manufacturers,
and that the already powerful navy which England possessed might
assist marvellously in the export of the products of the soil and of
the manufactures. What was the use of having recourse to strangers
when people could do their own business? If they had been unable up
to this time to reach Cathay and India by the north-west, might they
not endeavour to reach it by the north-east. And if they did not
succeed, would they not find in this direction more commercial, and
more civilized people than the miserable Esquimaux on the coast of
Labrador and Newfoundland?

Cabot assembled some leading London merchants, laid his projects
before them, and formed them into an association, of which on the
14th of December, 1551, he was named president for life. At the same
time he exerted himself most vigorously with the king, and having
made him understand the wrong which the monopoly enjoyed by
strangers did to his own subjects, he obtained its abolition on the
23rd of February, 1551, and inaugurated the practice of free trade.

The Association of English Merchants, under the name of "Merchant
Adventurers," hastened to have some vessels built, adapted to the
difficulties to be encountered in the navigation of the Arctic
regions. The first improvement which the English marine owed to
Cabot was the sheathing of the keels, which he had seen done in
Spain, but which had not hitherto been practised in England.

A flotilla of three vessels was assembled at Deptford. They were the
_Buona-Speranza_, of which the command was given to Sir Hugh
Willoughby, a brave gentleman who had earned a high reputation in
war; the _Buona-Confidencia_, Captain Cornil Durforth; and the
_Bonaventure_, Captain Richard Chancellor, a clever sailor, and a
particular friend of Cabot's; he received the title of pilot-major.
The sailing-master of the _Bonaventure_ was Stephen Burrough, an
accomplished mariner, who was destined to make numerous voyages in
the North seas, and later to become pilot in chief for England.

Although age and his important duties prevented Cabot from placing
himself at the head of the expedition, he wished at least, to
preside over all the details of the equipment. He himself wrote out
the instructions, which have been preserved, and which prove the
prudence and skill of this distinguished navigator. He there
recommends the use of the log-line, an instrument intended to
measure the speed of the vessel, and he desires that the journal of
the events happening at sea may be kept with regularity, and that
all information as to the character, manners, habits, and resources
of the people visited, and the productions of the country, may be
recorded in writing. The sailors were to offer no violence to the
natives, but to act towards them with courtesy. All blasphemy and
swearing was to be punished with severity, and also drunkenness. The
religious exercises are prescribed, prayers are to be said morning
and evening, and the Holy Scriptures are to be read once in the day.
Cabot ends by recommending union and concord above all, and reminds
the captains of the greatness of their enterprise, and the honour
which they might hope to gain; finally he promises them to add his
prayers to theirs for the success of their common work.

The squadron set sail on the 20th of May, 1558, in presence of the
court assembled at Greenwich, amid an immense concourse of people,
after fêtes and rejoicings, at which the king, who was ill, could
not be present. Near the Loffoden Islands, on the coast of Norway at
the bearing of Wardhous, the squadron was separated from the
_Bonaventure_. Carried away by the storm, Willoughby's two vessels
touched, without doubt, at Nova Zembla, and were forced by the ice
to return southwards. On the 18th of September, they entered the
port formed by the mouth of the River Arzina in East Lapland. Some
time afterwards, the _Buona-Confidencia_, separated from Willoughby
by a fresh tempest, returned to England. As to the latter, some
Russian fishermen found his vessel the following year, in the midst
of the ice. The whole crew had died of cold. This, at least, is what
we are led to suppose from the journal kept by the unfortunate
Willoughby up to the month of January, 1554.

Chancellor, after having waited in vain for his two consorts at the
rendezvous which had been agreed upon in case of separation, thought
they must have outsailed him, and rounding the North Cape, he
entered a vast gulf which was none other than the White Sea; he then
landed at the mouth of the Dwina, near the monastery of St. Nicholas,
on the spot upon which the town of Archangel was soon to stand. The
inhabitants of these desolate places told him that the country was
under the dominion of the Grand Duke of Russia. Chancellor resolved
at once to go to Moscow, in spite of the enormous distance which
separated him from it. The Czar then on the throne was Ivan IV.
Wassiliewitch, called the Terrible. For some time before this, the
Russians had shaken off the Tartar yoke, and Ivan had united all the
petty rival principalities in one body politic, of which the power
was already becoming considerable. The situation of Russia,
exclusively continental, far from any frequented sea, isolated from
the rest of Europe, of which it did not yet form part, so much were
its habits and manners still Asiatic, promised success to Chancellor.

[Illustration: Chancellor received by the Czar.]

The Czar, who up to this time, had not been able to procure European
merchandise, except by way of Poland, and who wished to gain access
to the German seas, saw with pleasure the attempts of the English to
establish a trade which would be beneficial to both parties. He not
only received Chancellor courteously, but he made him most
advantageous offers, granted him great privileges and encouraged him,
by the kindness of his reception, to repeat his voyage. Chancellor
sold his merchandise to great advantage, and after taking on board
another cargo of furs, of seal and whale oils, copper, and other
products, returned to England, carrying a letter from the Czar. The
advantages which the Company of Merchant Adventurers had derived
from this first voyage, encouraged them to attempt a second. So
Chancellor the following year, made a fresh voyage to Archangel, and
took two of the Company's agents to Russia, who concluded an
advantageous treaty with the Czar. Then he set out again for England
with an ambassador and his suite, sent by Ivan to Great Britain. Of
the four vessels which composed the flotilla, one was lost on the
coast of Norway, another as it left Drontheim, and the _Bonaventure_,
on board of which were Chancellor and the ambassador, foundered in
the Bay of Pitsligo, on the east coast of Scotland on the 10th of
November, 1556. Chancellor was drowned in the wreck, being less
fortunate than the Muscovite ambassador, who had the good luck to
escape; but the presents and merchandise which he was carrying to
England were lost.

[Illustration: Wreck of the _Bonaventure_.]

Such was the commencement of the Anglo-Russian Company. A goodly
number of expeditions succeeded each other in those parts, but it
would be beside our purpose to give an account of them. Let us now
return to Cabot.

It was in 1554 that Queen Mary of England was married to Philip II.,
King of Spain. When the latter came to England he showed himself
very ill-disposed towards Cabot, who had abandoned the service of
Spain, and who, at this very moment was procuring for England a
commerce which would soon immensely increase the maritime power of
an already formidable country. Thus we are not surprised to learn
that eight days after the landing of the King of Spain, Cabot was
forced to resign his office and his pension, both of which had been
bestowed upon him for life by Edward VI. Worthington was nominated
in his place. Mr. Nicholls thinks that this dishonourable man, who
had had some quarrels with the law, had a secret mission to seize
among Cabot's plans, maps, instructions, and projects, those which
could be of use to Spain. The fact is that all these documents are
now lost, at least unless they may yet be discovered among the
archives of Simancas.

At the end of this period, history completely loses sight of the old
mariner. The same mystery which hangs over his birth, also envelopes
the place and date of his death. His immense discoveries, his
cosmographical works, his study of the variations of the magnetic
needle, his wisdom, his humane disposition, and his honourable
conduct, place Sebastian Cabot in the foremost rank among
discoverers. A figure lost in the shadow and vagueness of legends
until our own day, Cabot owes it to his biographers, to Biddle,
D'Avezac, and Nicholls, that he is now better known, more highly
appreciated, and for the first time really placed in the light.


John Verrazzano--Jacques Cartier and his three voyages to Canada--
The town of Hochelaga--Tobacco--The scurvy--Voyage of Roberval--
Martin Frobisher and his voyages--John Davis--Barentz and
Heemskerke--Spitzbergen--Winter season at Nova Zembla--Return to
Europe--Relics of the Expedition.

From 1492 to 1524, France had stood aloof, officially at least, from
enterprises of discovery and colonization. But Francis I. could not
look on quietly while the power of his rival Charles V. received a
large addition by the conquest of Mexico. He therefore ordered John
Verrazzano, a Venetian who was in his service, to make a voyage of
exploration. We will pause here for a short time, although the
various places may have already been visited on several occasions,
because for the first time the banner of France floats over the
shores of the New World. This exploration besides, was to prepare
the way for those of Jacques Cartier and of Champlain in Canada, as
well as for the unlucky experiments in colonization of Jean Ribaut,
and of Laudonnière, the sanguinary voyage of reprisals of Gourgues,
and Villegagnon's attempt at a settlement in Brazil.

We possess no biographical details with regard to Verrazzano. Under
what circumstances did he enter the service of France? What was his
title to the command of such an expedition? Nothing is known of the
Venetian traveller, for all we possess of his writings is the
Italian translation of his report to Francis I. published in the
collection of Ramusio. The French translation of this Italian
translation exists in an abridged form in Lescarbot's work on New
France and in the _Histoire des Voyages_. For our very rapid epitome
we shall make use of the Italian text of Ramusio, except in some
passages where Lescarbot's translation has appeared to give an idea
of the rich, original, and marvellously modulated language of the
sixteenth century.

[Illustration: Map of Newfoundland and of the Mouth of the St.

Having set out with four vessels to make discoveries in the ocean,
says Verrazzano in a letter written from Dieppe to Francis I. on the
8th July, 1524, he was forced by a storm to take refuge in Brittany
with two of his vessels, the _Dauphine_ and the _Normande_, there to
repair damages. Thence he set sail for the coast of Spain, where he
seems to have given chase to some Spanish vessels. We see him leave
with the _Dauphine_ alone on the 17th of January, 1524, a small
inhabited island in the neighbourhood of Madeira, and launch himself
upon the ocean with a crew of fifty men, well furnished with
provisions and ammunition for an eight months' voyage.

Twenty-five days later he has made 1500 miles to the west, when he
is assailed by a fearful storm; and twenty-five days afterwards,
that is to say on the 8th or 9th of March, having made about 1200
miles, he discovers land at 30 degrees north latitude, which he
thought had never been previously explored. "When we arrived, it
seemed to us to be very low, but on approaching within a quarter of
a league we saw by the great fires which were lighted along the
harbours and borders of the sea, that it was inhabited, and in
taking trouble to find a harbour in which to land and make
acquaintance with the country, we sailed more than 150 miles in vain,
so that seeing the coast trended ever southwards, we decided to turn
back again." The Frenchmen finding a favourable landing-place,
perceived a number of natives who came towards them, but who fled
away when they saw them land. Soon recalled by the friendly signs
and demonstrations of the French, they showed great surprise at
their clothes, their faces, and the whiteness of their skin. The
natives were entirely naked, except that the middle of the body was
covered with sable-skins, hung from a narrow girdle of prettily
woven grasses, and ornamented with tails of other animals, which
fell to their knees. Some wore crowns of birds' feathers. "They have
brown skins," says the narrative, "and are exactly like the
Saracens; their hair is black, not very long, and tied at the back
of the head in the form of a small tail. Their limbs are well
proportioned, they are of middle height, although a little taller
than ourselves, and have no other defect beyond their faces being
rather broad; they are not strong, but they are agile, and some of
the greatest and quickest runners in the world." It was impossible
for Verrazzano to collect any details about the manners and mode of
life of these people, on account of the short time that he remained
among them. The shore at this place was composed of fine sand
interspersed here and there with little sandy hillocks, behind which
were scattered "groves and very thick forests which were wonderfully
pleasant to look upon." There were in this country, as far as we
could judge, abundance of stags, fallow deer and hares, numerous
lakes, and streams of sparkling water, as well as a quantity of

This land lies at 34 degrees. It is therefore the part of the United
States which now goes by the name of Carolina. The air there is pure
and salubrious, the climate temperate, the sea is entirely without
rocks, and in spite of the want of harbours it is not unfavourable
for navigators.

During the whole month of March the French sailed along the coast,
which seemed to them to be inhabited by a numerous population. The
want of water forced them to land several times, and they perceived
that the savages were most pleased with mirrors, bells, knives, and
sheets of paper. One day they sent a long-boat ashore with
twenty-five men in it. A young sailor jumped into the water "because
he could not land on account of the waves and currents, in order to
give some small articles to these people, and having thrown them to
them from a distance because he was distrustful of the natives, he
was cast violently on shore by the waves. The Indians seeing him in
this condition, take him and carry him far away from the sea, to the
great dismay of the poor sailor, who expected they were about to
sacrifice him. Having placed him at the foot of a little hill, in
the full blaze of the sun, they stripped him quite naked and
wondered at the whiteness of his skin; then lighting a large fire
they made him come to it and recover his strength, and it was then
that the poor young man as well as those who were in the boat,
thought that the Indians were about to massacre and immolate him,
roasting his flesh in this large brazier and then eating their
victim, as do the cannibals. But it happened quite differently; for
having shown a desire to return to the boat they reconducted him to
the edge of the sea, and having kissed him very lovingly, they
retired to a hill to see him re-enter the boat."

Continuing to follow the shore northwards for more than 150 miles,
the Frenchmen reached a land which seemed to them more beautiful,
being covered with thick woods. Into these forests, twenty men
penetrated for more than six miles and only returned to the shore
from the fear of losing themselves. In this walk, having met two
women, one young and the other old, with some children, they seized
one of the latter who might be about eight years old, with the idea
of taking him away to France; but they could not do the same with
the young woman, who began to cry with all her might, calling for
aid from her compatriots, who were hidden in the wood. In this place
the savages were whiter than any of those hitherto met with; they
snared birds and used a bow of very hard wood, and arrows tipped
with fish-bones. Their canoes, twenty feet long and four feet wide,
were hollowed by fire out of a trunk of a tree. Wild vines abounded
and climbed over the trees in long festoons as they do in Lombardy.
With a little cultivation they would no doubt produce excellent
wine--"for the fruit is sweet and pleasant like ours, and we thought
that the natives were not insensible to it, for in all directions
where these vines grew, they had taken care to cut away the branches
of the surrounding trees so that the fruit might ripen." Wild roses,
lilies, violets, and all kinds of odoriferous plants and flowers,
new to the Europeans, carpeted the ground everywhere, and filled the
air with sweet perfumes.

[Illustration: Canadian Landscape.]

After remaining for three days in this enchanting place, the
Frenchmen continued to follow the coast northwards, sailing by day
and casting anchor at night. As the land trended towards the east,
they went 150 miles further in that direction, and discovered an
island of triangular shape about thirty miles distant from the
continent, similar in size to the Island of Rhodes, and upon which
they bestowed the name of the mother of Francis I., Louisa of Savoy.
Then they reached another island forty-five miles off, which
possessed a magnificent harbour and of which the inhabitants came in
crowds to visit the strange vessels. Two kings, especially, were of
fine stature and great beauty. They were dressed in deer-skins, with
the head bare, the hair carried back and tied in a tuft, and they
wore on the neck a large chain ornamented with coloured stones. This
was the most remarkable nation which they had until now met with.
"The women are graceful," says the narrative published by Ramusio.
"Some wore the skins of the lynx on their arms; their head was
ornamented with their plaited hair and long plaits hung down on both
sides of the chest; others had headdresses which recalled those of
the Egyptian and Syrian women; only the elderly women, and those who
were married, wore pendants in their ears of worked copper." This
land is situated on the same parallel as Rome, in 41 degrees 40
minutes, but its climate is much colder.

[Illustration: Two Canadian Kings.]

On the 5th of May, Verrazzano left this port and sailed along the
sea-shore for 450 miles. At last he reached a country of which the
inhabitants resembled but little any of those whom he had hitherto
met with. They were so wild that it was impossible to carry on any
trade with them, or any sustained intercourse. What they appeared to
esteem above everything else were fish-hooks, knives, and all
articles in metal, attaching no value to all the trifling baubles
which up to this time had served for barter. Twenty-five armed men
landed and advanced from four to six miles into the interior of the
country. They were received by the natives with flights of arrows,
after which the latter retired into the immense forests which
appeared to cover the whole country.

One hundred and fifty miles further on spreads out a vast
archipelago composed of thirty-two islands, all near the land,
separated by narrow canals, which reminded the Venetian navigator of
the archipelagos which in the Adriatic border the coasts of
Sclavonia and Dalmatia. At length, 450 miles further on, in latitude
50 degrees, the French came to lands which had been previously
discovered by the Bretons. Finding themselves then short of
provisions, and having reconnoitred the coast of America for a
distance of 2100 miles, they returned to France, and disembarked
safely at Dieppe in the month of July, 1524.

Some historians relate that Verrazzano was made prisoner by the
savages who inhabit the coast of Labrador, and was eaten by them. A
fact which is simply impossible, since he addressed from Dieppe to
Francis I. the account of his voyage which we have just abridged.
Besides, the Indians of these regions were not anthropophagi.
Certain authors, but we have not been able to discover on the
authority of what documents, nor under what circumstances this
happened, relate that Verrazzano having fallen into the power of the
Spaniards, had been taken to Spain and there hanged. It is wiser to
admit that we know nothing certain about Verrazzano, and that we are
totally ignorant what rewards his long voyage procured for him.
Perhaps when some learned man shall have looked through our archives
(of which the abstract and inventory are far from being finished),
he may recover some new documents; but for the present we must
confine ourselves to the narrative of Ramusio.

[Illustration: Jacques Cartier. _From an old print_.]

Ten years later a captain of St. Malo, named Jacques Cartier, born
on the 21st of December, 1484, conceived the project of establishing
a colony in the northern part of America. Being favourably received
by Admiral Philippe de Chabot, and by Francis I., who asked to see
the clause in Adam's will which disinherited him of the New World in
favour of the kings of Spain and Portugal, Cartier left St. Malo
with two vessels on the 20th of April, 1534. The vessel which
carried him weighed only sixty tons and carried a crew of sixty-one
men. At the end of only twenty days, so favourable was the voyage,
Cartier discovered Newfoundland at Cape Bonavista. He then went
northwards as far as Bird Island, which he found surrounded by ice,
all broken up and melting, but on which he was able, nevertheless,
to lay in a stock of five or six tons of guillemots, puffins, and
penguins, without reckoning those which were eaten fresh. He then
explored all the coast of the island, which at this time bore a
number of Breton names, thus proving the assiduous manner in which
the French frequented these shores. Then penetrating into the Strait
of Belle-Isle, which separates the continent from the Island of
Newfoundland, Cartier arrived at the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Along the
whole of this coast the harbours are excellent: "If the land only
corresponded to the goodness of the harbours," says the St. Malo
sailor, "it would be a great blessing; but one ought not to call it
_land_; it is rather pebbles and savage rocks and places fit for
wild beasts: as for all the land towards the north, I never saw as
much earth there as would fill a tumbrel." After having coasted
along the continent, Cartier was cast by a tempest upon the west
coast of Newfoundland, where he explored Cape Royal and Cape Milk,
the Columba Islands, Cape St. John, the Magdalen Islands, and the
Bay of Miramichi on the continent. In this place he had some
intercourse with the savages, who showed "a great and marvellous
eagerness in the acquisition of iron tools and other things, always
dancing and performing various ceremonies, among others throwing
sea-water on their heads with their hands; so well did they receive
us that they gave us all that they had, keeping back nothing." The
next day the number of the savages was even greater, and our French
sailors made an ample harvest of furs and skins of animals.

After having explored the Bay of Chaleurs, Cartier arrived at the
entrance of the estuary of the St. Lawrence, where he saw some
natives, who possessed neither the appearance nor the language of
the first. "The latter may truly be called savages, for no poorer
people can be found in the world, and I think that all put together,
excepting their boats and their nets, they could not have had the
value of two pence half-penny. They have the head entirely shaved,
with the exception of a lock of hair on the very top, which they
allow to grow as long as a horse's tail, and which they fasten upon
the head with some small copper needles. Their only dwelling is
underneath their boats, which they overturn and then stretch
themselves on the ground beneath them without any covering."

After having planted a large cross in this place, Jacques Cartier
obtained the chief's permission to take away with him two of his
children, whom he was to bring back again on his next voyage. Then
he set out again for France, and landed at St. Malo on the 5th of
September, 1534.

The following year, on the 19th of May, Cartier left St. Malo at the
head of a fleet composed of three vessels called the _Grande_ and
the _Petite Hermine_ and the _Emerillon_ on board of which some
gentlemen of high rank had taken passages, among whom may be named
Charles de la Pommeraye, and Claude de Pont-Briant, son of the Sieur
de Moncevelles and cup-bearer to the Dauphin.

Very soon the squadron was dispersed by the storm, and could not be
brought together again until it reached Newfoundland. After having
landed at Bird Island, in Whitesand harbour, which is in Castle Bay,
Cartier penetrated into the Bay of St. Lawrence. He discovered there
the Island of Natiscotec which we call Anticosti, and entered a
great river called Hochelaga, which leads to Canada. On the banks of
this river lies the country called Saguenay, whence comes the red
copper, to which the two savages whom he had taken on his first
voyage gave the name of _caquetdazé_. But before entering the St.
Lawrence, Cartier wished to explore the whole gulf, to see if no
passage existed to the north. He afterwards returned to the Bay of
the Seven Islands, went up the river, and soon reached the river
Saguenay, which falls into the St. Lawrence on its northern bank. A
little further on, after passing by fourteen islands, he entered the
Canadian territories, which no traveller before him had ever visited.

"The next day the lord of Canada, called Donnacona, with twelve
boats and accompanied by sixteen men, approached the ships. When
abreast of the smallest of our vessels he began to make a palaver or
preachment in their fashion, while moving his body and limbs in a
marvellous manner, which is a sign of joy and confidence, and when
he arrived at the flag-ship where were the two Indians who had been
brought back from France, the said chief spoke to them and they to
him. And they began to relate to him what they had seen in France
and the good treatment which they had received, at which the said
chief was very joyful, and begged the captain to give him his arms
that he might kiss and embrace them, which is their mode of welcome
in this country. The country of Stadaconé, or St. Charles, is
fertile and full of very fine trees of the same nature and kind as
in France, such as oaks, elms, plum-trees, yews, cedars, vines,
hawthorns--which bear fruit as large as damsons--and other trees;
beneath them grows hemp as good as that of France." Cartier
succeeded afterwards in reaching with his boats and his galleon a
place which is the Richelieu of the present day, next, a great lake
formed by the river--St. Peter's Lake--and at last he arrived at
Hochelaga or Montreal, which is 630 miles from the mouth of the St.
Lawrence. In this place are "ploughed lands and large and beautiful
plains full of the corn of the country, which is like the millet of
Brazil, as large or larger than peas, on which they live as we do on
wheat. And among these plains is placed and seated the said town of
Hochelaga near to and joining on to some high ground which is around
the town; and which is well cultivated and quite small; from the top
of it one can see very far. We named this mountain the _Mount

The welcome given to Jacques Cartier could not have been more
cordial. The chief or Agouhanna, who was crippled in all his limbs,
begged the captain to touch them, as if he had asked him for a cure.
Then the blind, and those who were blind in one eye, the lame, and
the impotent came and sat down near Jacques Cartier, that he might
touch them, so thoroughly were they persuaded that he was a god
descended to heal them. "The said captain, seeing the faith and
piety of this people, recited the Gospel of St. John, namely: _In
principio_, making the sign of the cross over the poor sick people,
praying GOD that he would give them the knowledge of our holy faith
and grace to accept Christianity and baptism. Then the said captain
took a book of Hours and read aloud the Passion of our Saviour, so
well that all those present could hear it, all the poor people being
quite silent, looking up to heaven and using the same ceremonies as
they saw us use." After making themselves acquainted with the
country, which could be seen for ninety miles around from the top of
Mount Royal, and having collected some information about the
water-falls and rapids of the St. Lawrence, Jacques Cartier returned
towards Canada, where he did not delay to rejoin his ships. We owe
to him the first information on tobacco for smoking, which does not
seem to have been in use throughout the whole extent of the New
World. "They have a herb," he says, "of which they collect great
quantities during the summer for the winter; they esteem it highly,
and the men alone use it in the following manner: they dry it in the
sun and carry it on their necks in a small skin of an animal in the
shape of a bag, with a horn of stone or of wood, then constantly
they make the said herb into powder, and put it into one of the ends
of the said horn; they then place a live coal upon it and blow
through the other end, and so fill their body with smoke that it
issues from the mouth and nostrils, as if from the shaft of a
chimney. We have tried the said smoke, but after having put it into
our mouths, it seemed as if there were ground pepper in them, so hot
is it." In the month of December the inhabitants of Stadaconé were
attacked by an infectious disease which proved to be the scurvy.
"This malady spread so rapidly in our vessels that by the middle of
February out of our 110 men there were but ten in good health."
Neither prayers, nor orisons, nor vows to our Lady of Roquamadour
brought any relief. Twenty-five Frenchmen perished up to the 18th of
April, and there were not four amongst them who were not attacked by
the malady. But at this time a savage chief informed Jacques Cartier
that a decoction of the leaves and sap of a certain tree, probably
either the Canadian fir-tree or the barberry, was very salutary. As
soon as two or three had experienced its beneficial effects "there
was a crowding as if they would have killed each other to be the
first to get the medicine; and one of the tallest and largest trees
I ever saw was used in less than eight days, which had such an
effect that if all the doctors of Louvain and Montpellier had been
there with all the drugs of Alexandria, they had not done as much in
a year as the said tree accomplished in eight days."

Some time after, Cartier, having noticed that Donnacona was trying
to excite sedition against the French, caused him to be seized, as
well as nine other savages, that he might take them to France, where
they died. He set sail from the harbour of St. Croix on the 6th of
May, descended the St. Lawrence, and after a voyage which was not
marked by any incident, he landed at St. Malo on the 16th of July,

Francis I., in consequence of the report of this voyage which the St.
Malo captain made to him, resolved to take effective possession of
the country. After having appointed François de la Roque, Sieur de
Roberval, viceroy of Canada, he caused five vessels to be fitted out,
which being laden with provisions and ammunition for two years, were
to transport Roberval and a certain number of soldiers, artizans,
and gentlemen to the new colony, which they were about to establish.
The five vessels set sail on the 23rd of May, 1541. They met with
such contrary winds that it took them three months to reach
Newfoundland. Cartier did not arrive at the harbour of St. Croix
till the 23rd of August. As soon as he had landed his provisions, he
sent back two of his vessels to France with letters for the king,
telling him what had been done, also that the Sieur de Roberval had
not yet appeared, and that they did not know what had happened to
him. Then he had works commenced to clear the land, to build a fort,
and to lay the first foundations of the town of Quebec. He next set
out for Hochelaga, taking with him Martin de Paimpont and other
gentlemen, and went to examine the three waterfalls of Sainte Marie,
La Chine, and St. Louis; on his return to St. Croix, he found
Roberval had just arrived. Cartier returned to St. Malo in the month
of October, 1542, where, probably ten years later, he died. As to
the new colony, Roberval having perished in a second voyage, it
vegetated, and was nothing more than a factory until 1608, the date
of the foundation of Quebec by M. de Champlain, of whom we shall
relate the services and discoveries a little further on.

We have just seen how Cartier, who had set out first to seek for the
north-west passage, had been led to take possession of the country
and to lay the foundations of the colony of Canada. In England a
similar movement had begun, set on foot by the writings of Sir
Humphrey Gilbert and of Richard Wills. They ended by carrying public
opinion with them, and demonstrating that it was not more difficult
to find this passage than it had been to discover the Strait of
Magellan. One of the most ardent partizans of this search was a bold
sailor, called Martin Frobisher, who after having many times applied
to rich ship-owners, at last found in Ambrose Dudley, Earl of
Warwick, the favourite of Queen Elizabeth, a patron, whose pecuniary
help enabled him to equip a pinnace and two poor barks of from
twenty to twenty-five tons' burden. It was with means thus feeble,
that the intrepid navigator went to encounter the ice in localities
which had never been visited since the time of the Northmen. Setting
out from Deptford on the 8th of June, 1576, he sighted the south of
Greenland, which he took for the Frisland of Zeno. Soon stopped by
the ice, he was obliged to return to Labrador without being able to
land there, and he entered Hudson's Straits. After having coasted
along Savage and Resolution Islands, he entered a strait which has
received his name, but which is also called by some geographers,
Lunley's inlet. He landed at Cumberland, took possession of the
country in the name of Queen Elizabeth, and entered into some
relations with the natives. The cold increased rapidly, and he was
obliged to return to England. Frobisher only brought back some
rather vague scientific and geographical details about the countries
which he had visited; he received, however, a most flattering
welcome when he showed a heavy black stone in which a little gold
was found. At once all imaginations were on fire. Several lords and
the Queen herself contributed to the expense of a new armament,
consisting of a vessel of 200 tons, with a crew of 100 men, and two
smaller barks, which carried six months' provision both for war and
for nourishment. Frobisher had some experienced sailors--Fenton,
York, George Best, and C. Hall, under his command. On the 31st of
May, 1577, the expedition set sail, and soon sighted Greenland, of
which the mountains were covered with snow, and the shores defended
by a rampart of ice. The weather was bad. Exceedingly dense
fogs,--as thick as pease-soup, said the English sailors,--islands of
ice a mile and a half in circumferance, floating mountains which
were sunk seventy or eighty fathoms in the sea, such were the
obstacles which prevented Frobisher from reaching before the 9th of
August, the strait which he had discovered during his previous
campaign. The English took possession of the country, and pursued
both upon land and sea some poor Esquimaux, who, wounded "in this
encounter, jumped in despair from the top of the rocks into the
sea," says Forster in his _Voyages in the North_, "which would not
have happened if they had shown themselves more submissive, or if we
could have made them understand that we were not their enemies." A
great quantity of stones similar to that which had been brought to
England were soon discovered. They were of gold marcasite, and 200
tons of this substance was soon collected. In their delight, the
English sailors set up a memorial column on a peak to which they
gave the name of Warwick Mount, and performed solemn acts of
thanksgiving. Frobisher afterwards went ninety miles further on in
the same strait, as far as a small island, which received the name
of Smith's Island. There the English found two women, of whom they
took one with her child, but left the other on account of her
extreme ugliness. Suspecting, so much did superstition and ignorance
flourish at this time, that this woman had cloven feet, they made
her take the coverings off her feet, to satisfy themselves that they
really were made like their own. Frobisher, now perceiving that the
cold was increasing, and wishing to place the treasures which he
thought he had collected, in a place of safety, resolved to give up
for the present any farther search for the north-west passage. He
then set sail for England, where he arrived at the end of September,
after weathering a storm which dispersed his fleet. The man, woman,
and child who had been carried off were presented to the Queen. It
is said with regard to them, that the man, seeing at Bristol
Frobisher's trumpeter on horseback wished to imitate him, and
mounted with his face turned towards the tail of the animal. These
savages were the objects of much curiosity, and obtained permission
from the Queen to shoot all kinds of birds, even swans, on the
Thames, a thing which was forbidden to every one else under the most
severe penalties. They did not long survive, and died before the
child was fifteen months old.

People were not slow in discovering that the stones brought back by
Frobisher really contained gold. The nation, but above all the
higher classes, were immediately seized with a fever bordering on
delirium. They had found a Peru, an Eldorado. Queen Elizabeth, in
spite of her practical good sense, yielded to the current. She
resolved to build a fort in the newly discovered country, to which
she gave the name of _Meta incognita_, (unknown boundary) and to
leave there, with 100 men as garrison, under the command of Captains
Fenton, Best, and Philpot, three vessels which should take in a
cargo of the auriferous stones. These 100 men were carefully chosen;
there were bakers, carpenters, masons, gold-refiners, and others
belonging to all the various handicrafts. The fleet was composed of
fifteen vessels, which set sail from Harwich on the 31st of May,
1578. Twenty days later the western coasts of Frisland were
discovered. Whales played round the vessels in innumerable troops.
It is related even that one of the vessels propelled by a favourable
wind, struck against a whale with such force that the violence of
the shock stopped the ship at once, and that the whale after
uttering a loud cry, made a spring out of the water and then was
suddenly swallowed up. Two days later, the fleet met with a dead
whale which they thought must be the one struck by the _Salamander_.
When Frobisher came to the entrance of the strait which has received
his name, he found it blocked up with floating ice. "The barque
_Dennis_, 100 tons," says the old account of George Best, "received
such a shock from an iceberg that she sank in sight of the whole
fleet. Following upon this catastrophe, a sudden and horrible
tempest arose from the south-east, the vessels were surrounded on
all sides by the ice; they left much of it, between which they could
pass, behind them, and found still more before them through which it
was impossible for them to penetrate. Certain ships, either having
found a place less blocked with ice, or one where it was possible to
proceed, furled sails and drifted; of the others, several stopped
and cast their anchors upon a great island of ice. The latter were
so rapidly enclosed by an infinite number of islets of ice and
fragments of icebergs, that the English were obliged to resign
themselves and their ships to the mercy of the ice, and to protect
the ships with cables, cushions, mats, boards, and all kinds of
articles which were suspended to the sides, in order to defend them
from the fearful shocks and blows of the ice." Frobisher himself was
thrown out of his course. Finding the impossibility of rallying his
squadron, he sailed along the west coast of Greenland, as far as the
strait which was soon to be called Davis' Strait, and penetrated as
far as the Countess of Warwick Bay. When he had repaired his vessels
with the wood which was to have been used in the building of a
dwelling, he loaded the ships with 500 tons of stones similar to
those which he had already brought home. Judging the season to be
then too far advanced, and considering also that the provisions had
been either consumed, or lost in the _Dennis_, that the wood for
building had been used for repairing the vessels, and having lost 40
men, he set out on his return to England on the 31st of August.
Tempests and storms accompanied him to the shores of his own country.
As to the results of his expedition they were almost none as to
discoveries, and the stones, which he had put on board in the midst
of so many dangers, were valueless.

This was the last Arctic voyage in which Frobisher took part. In
1585 we meet with him again as vice-admiral, under Drake; in 1588 he
distinguished himself against the _Invincible Armada_; in 1590 he
was with Sir Walter Raleigh's fleet on the coast of Spain; finally
in a descent on the coast of France, he was so seriously wounded
that he had only time to bring his squadron back to Portsmouth
before he died. If Frobisher's voyages had only gain for their
motive, we must put this down not to the navigator himself, but to
the passions of the period, and it is not the less true that in
difficult circumstances, and with means the insufficiency of which
makes us smile, he gave proof of courage, talent, and perseverance.
To Frobisher is due, in one word, the glory of having shown the
route to his countrymen, and of having made the first discoveries in
the localities where the English name was destined to render itself

If it became necessary to abandon the hope of finding in these
circumpolar regions countries in which gold abounded as it did in
Peru, this was no ground for not continuing to seek there for a
passage to China; an opinion supported by very skilful sailors, and
one which found many adherents among the merchants of London. By the
aid of several high personages, two ships were equipped; the
_Sunshine_, of fifty tons' burden and carrying a crew of
twenty-three in number, and the _Moonshine_, of thirty-five tons.
They quitted Portsmouth on the 7th of June, 1585, under the command
of John Davis.

Davis discovered the entrance of the strait which received his name,
and was obliged to cross immense fields of drifting ice, after
having reassured his crew, who were frightened while in the midst of
a dense fog, by the dash of the icebergs, and the splitting of the
blocks of ice. On the 20th July, Davis discovered the Land of
Desolation, but without being able to disembark upon it. Nine days
later he entered Gilbert Bay, where he found a peaceable population,
who gave him sealskins and furs in exchange for some trifling
articles. These natives, some days afterwards, arrived in such
numbers, that there were not less than thirty-seven canoes around
Davis' vessels. In this place, the navigator perceived an enormous
quantity of drift wood, amongst which he mentions an entire tree,
which could not have been less than sixty feet in length. On the 6th
of August, he cast anchor in a fine bay called Tottness; near a
mountain of the colour of gold, which received the name of Raleigh,
at the same time, he gave the names of Dyer and Walsingham to two
capes of that land of Cumberland.

During eleven days, Davis still sailed northwards on a very open sea,
free from ice, and of which the water had the colour of the Ocean.
Already he believed himself at the entrance of the sea, which
communicated with the Pacific, when all at once the weather changed,
and became so foggy, that he was forced to return to Yarmouth, where
he landed on the 30th of September.

Davis had the skill to make the owners of his ships partake in the
hope which he had conceived. Thus on the 7th of May (1586), he set
out again with the two ships which had made the previous voyage. To
them were added the _Mermaid_ of 120 tons, and the pinnace _North
Star_. When, on the 25th of June, he arrived at the southern point
of Greenland, Davis despatched the _Sunshine_ and the _North Star_
towards the north, in order to search for a passage upon the eastern
coast, whilst he pursued the same route as in the preceding year,
and penetrated into the strait which bears his name as far as 69
degrees. But there was a much greater quantity of ice this year, and
on the 17th of July, the expedition fell in with an "icefield" of
such extent that it took thirteen days to coast along it. The wind
after passing over this icy plain was so cold, that the rigging and
sails were frozen, and the sailors refused to go any further. It was
needful, therefore, to descend again to the east-south-east. There
Davis explored the land of Cumberland, without finding the strait he
was seeking, and after a skirmish with the Esquimaux, in which three
of his men were killed, and two wounded, he set out on the 19th of
September, on his return to England.

Although once more his researches had not been crowned with success,
Davis still had good hope, as is witnessed by a letter, which he
wrote to the Company, in which he said that he had reduced the
existence of the passage to a species of certainty. Foreseeing,
however, that he would have more trouble in obtaining the despatch
of a new expedition, he added that the expenses of the enterprise
would be fully covered by the profit arising from the fishery of
walrus, seals, and whales, which were so numerous in those parts,
that they appeared to have there established their head-quarters. On
the 15th of May, 1587, he set sail with the _Sunshine_, the
_Elizabeth_ of Dartmouth, and the _Helen_ of London. This time he
went farther north than he had ever done before, and reached 72
degrees 12 minutes, that is to say, nearly the latitude of Upernavik,
and he descried Cape Henderson's Hope. Stopped by the ice, and
forced to retrace his way, he sailed in Frobisher's Strait, and
after having crossed a large gulf, he arrived, in 61 degrees 10
minutes latitude, in sight of a cape to which he gave the name of
Chudleigh. This cape is a part of the Labrador coast, and forms the
southern entrance to Hudson's Bay. After coasting along the American
shores as far as 52 degrees, Davis set out for England, which he
reached on the 15th of September.

Although the solution of the problem had not been found, yet
nevertheless, precious results had been obtained, but results to
which people at that period did not attach any great value. Nearly
the half of Baffin's Bay had been explored, and clear ideas had been
obtained of its shores, and of the people inhabiting them. These
were considerable acquisitions, from a geographical point of view,
but they were scarcely those which would greatly affect the
merchants of the city. In consequence, the attempts at finding a
north-west passage were abandoned by the English for a somewhat long

A new nation was just come into existence. The Dutch--while scarcely
delivered from the Spanish yoke,--inaugurated that commercial policy,
which was destined to make the greatness and prosperity of their
country, by the successive despatch of several expeditions to seek
for a way to China by the north-east; the same project formerly
conceived by Sebastian Cabot, and which had given to England the
Russian trade. With their practical instinct, the Dutch had
acquainted themselves with English navigation. They had even
established factories at Kola, and at Archangel, but they wished to
proceed further in their search for new markets. The Sea of Kara
appearing to them too difficult, they resolved, acting on the advice
of the cosmographer Plancius, to try a new way by the north of Nova
Zembla. The merchants of Amsterdam applied therefore, to an
experienced sailor, William Barentz, born in the island of
Terschelling, near the Texel. This navigator set out from the Texel
in 1594, on board the _Mercure_, doubled the North Cape, saw the
island of Waigatz, and found himself, on the 4th of July, in sight
of the coast of Nova Zembla, in latitude 73 degrees 25 minutes. He
sailed along the coast, doubled Cape Nassau on the 10th of July, and
three days later he came in contact with the ice. Until the 3rd of
August, he attempted to open a passage through the pack, testing the
mass of ice on various sides, going up as far as the Orange Islands
at the north-western extremity of Nova Zembla, sailing over 1700
miles of ground, and putting his ship about no less than eighty-one
times. We do not imagine that any navigator had hitherto displayed
such perseverance. Let us add that he turned this long cruise to
account, to fix astronomically, and with remarkable accuracy, the
latitude of various points. At last, wearied with the fruitless
boxing about along the edge of the pack, the crew cried for mercy,
and it became necessary to return to the Texel.

The results obtained were judged so important, that the following
year, the Dutch States-General entrusted to Jacob van Heemskerke,
the command of a fleet of seven vessels, of which Barentz was named
chief pilot. After touching at various points upon the coasts of
Nova Zembla and of Asia, this squadron was forced by the pack to go
back without having made any important discovery, and it returned to
Holland on the 18th of September.

As a general rule governments do not possess as much perseverance as
do private individuals. The large fleet of the year 1595, had cost a
great sum of money, and had produced no results; this was sufficient
to discourage the States-General. The merchants of Amsterdam
therefore, substituting private enterprise for the action of the
government, which merely promised a reward to the man who should
first discover the north-east passage--fitted out two vessels, of
which the command was given to Heemskerke and to Jan Corneliszoon
Rijp, while Barentz, who had only the title of pilot, was virtually
the leader of the expedition. The historian of the voyage, Gerrit de
Veer, was also on board as second mate.

The Dutchmen sailed from Amsterdam on the 10th of May, 1596, passed
by the Shetland and Faröe Islands, and on the 5th of June, saw the
first masses of ice, "whereat we were much amazed, believing at
first that they were white swans." They soon arrived to the south of
Spitzbergen, at Bear Island, upon which they landed on the 11th of
June. They collected there a great number of sea-gulls' eggs, and
after much trouble killed at some distance inland a white bear,
destined to give its name to the land which Barentz had just
discovered. On the 19th of June, they disembarked upon some
far-spreading land, which they took to be a part of Greenland, and
to which on account of the sharp-pointed mountains, they gave the
name of Spitzbergen; of this they explored a considerable portion of
the western coast. Forced by the Polar pack to go southwards again
to Bear Island, they separated there from Rijp, who was once more to
endeavour to find a way by the north. On the 11th of July,
Heemskerke and Barentz were in the parts of Cape Kanin, and five
days later they had reached the western coast of Nova Zembla, which
was called Willoughby's Land. They then altered their course, and
again going northwards, they arrived on the 19th at the Island of
Crosses, where the ice which was still attached to the shore, barred
their passage. They remained in this place until the 4th of August,
and two days later they doubled Cape Nassau. After several changes
of course, which it would take too long to relate, they reached the
Orange Islands at the northern extremity of Nova Zembla. They began
to descend the eastern coast, but were soon obliged to enter a
harbour, where they found themselves completely blocked in by the
pack-ice, and in which "they were forced in great cold, poverty,
misery, and grief, to stay all the winter." This was on the 26th of
August. "On the 30th the masses of ice began to pile themselves one
upon another against the ship, with snow falling. The ship was
lifted up and surrounded in such a manner, that all that was about
her and around her began to crack and split. It seemed as if the
ship must break into a thousand pieces, a thing most terrible to see
and to hear, and fit to make one's hair stand on end. The ship was
afterwards in equal danger, when the ice formed beneath, raising her
and bearing her up as though she had been lifted by some
instrument." Soon the ship cracked to such a degree, that prudence
dictated the debarkation of some of the provisions, sails, gunpowder,
lead, the arquebuses as well as other arms, and the erection of a
tent or hut, in which the men might be sheltered from the snow and
from any attacks by bears. Some days later, some sailors who had
advanced from four to six miles inland, found near a river of fresh
water, a quantity of drift-wood; they discovered there also the
traces of wild goats and of reindeer. On the 11th of September,
seeing that the bay was filled with enormous blocks of ice piled one
upon the other, and welded together, the Dutchmen perceived that
they would be obliged to winter in this place, and resolved, "in
order to be better defended against the cold, and armed against the
wild beasts," to build a house there, which might be able to contain
them all, while they would leave to itself the ship, which became
each day less safe and comfortable. Fortunately, they found upon the
shore whole trees, coming doubtless from Siberia, and driven here by
the current, and in such quantity that they sufficed not only for
the construction of their habitation, but also for firewood
throughout the winter.

[Illustration: Barentz's Ship. _From an old print_.]

Never yet had any European wintered in these regions, in the midst
of that slothful and immovable sea, which according to the very
false expressions used by Tacitus, forms the girdle of the world,
and in which is heard the uproar caused by the rising of the sun.
The Dutchmen, therefore, were unable to picture to themselves the
sufferings which threatened them. They bore them, however, with
admirable patience, without a single murmur, and without the least
want of discipline or attempt at mutiny. The conduct of these brave
seamen, quite ignorant of what so apparently dark a future might
have in reserve for them, but who with wonderful faith had "placed
their affairs in the hands of God," may be always proposed as an
example even to the sailors of the present day. It may well be said
that they had really in their heart the _æs triplex_ of which Horace
speaks. It was owing to the skill, knowledge, and foresight of their
leader Barentz, as much as to their own spirit of obedience, that
the Dutch sailors ever came forth from Nova Zembla, which threatened
to be their tomb, and again saw the shores of their own country.

[Illustration: Interior view of the house. _From an old print_.]

The bears, which were extremely numerous at that period of the year,
made frequent visits to the crew. More than one was killed, but the
Dutchmen contented themselves with skinning them for the sake of
their fur, and did not eat them, probably because they believed the
flesh to be unwholesome. It would have been, however, a considerable
addition to their food, and would have saved them from using their
salted meat, and thus they might longer have escaped the attacks of
scurvy. But that we may not anticipate, let us continue to follow
the journal of Gerrit de Veer.

On the 23rd September, the carpenter died, and was interred the next
day in the cleft of a mountain, it being impossible to put a spade
into the ground, on account of the severity of the frost. The
following days were devoted to the transport of driftwood and the
building of the house. To cover it in, it was necessary to demolish
the fore and aft cabins of the ship; the roof was put on, on the 2nd
October, and a piece of frozen snow was set up like a May pole. On
the 31st September, there was a strong wind from the north-west, and
as far as the eye could reach, the sea was entirely open and without
ice. "But we remained as though taken and arrested in the ice, and
the ship was raised full two or three feet upon the ice, and we
could imagine nothing else but that the water must be frozen quite
to the bottom, although it was three fathoms and a half in depth."

On the 12th October, they began to sleep in the house, although it
was not completed. On the 21st, the greater part of the provisions,
furniture, and everything which might be wanted was withdrawn from
the ship, for they felt certain that the sun was about to disappear.
A chimney was fixed in the centre of the roof, inside a Dutch clock
was hung up, bed-places were formed along the walls, and a wine-cask
was converted into a bath, for the surgeon had wisely prescribed to
the men frequent bathing as a preservative of health. The quantity
of snow which fell during this winter, was really marvellous. The
house disappeared entirely beneath this thick covering, which,
however, sensibly raised the temperature within. Every time that
they wished to go forth, the Dutchmen were obliged to hollow out a
long corridor beneath the snow. Each night they first heard the
bears, and then the foxes, which walked upon the top of the dwelling,
and tried to tear off some planks from the roof, that they might get
into the house. So the sailors were accustomed to climb into the
chimney, whence, as from a watch-tower they could shoot the animals
and drive them off. They had manufactured a great number of snares,
into which fell numbers of blue foxes, the valuable fur of which
served as a protection against cold, while their flesh enabled the
sailors to economize their provisions. Always cheerful and good
tempered, they bore equally well the ennui of the long polar night,
and the severity of the cold, which was so extreme, that during two
of three days, when they had not been able to keep so large a fire
as usual, on account of the smoke being driven back again by the
wind, it froze so hard in the house, that the walls and the floor
were covered with ice to the depth of two fingers, even in the cots
where these poor people were sleeping. It was necessary to thaw the
sherry, when it was served out, as was done every two days, at the
rate of half a pint.

"On the 7th of December, the rough weather continued, with a violent
storm coming from the north-east, which produced horrible cold. We
knew no means of guarding ourselves against it, and while we were
consulting together, what we could do for the best, one of our men
in this extreme necessity proposed to make use of the coal which we
had brought from the ship into our house, and to make a fire of it,
because it burns with great heat and lasts a long time. In the
evening we lighted a large fire of this coal, which threw out a
great heat, but we did not provide against what might happen, for as
the heat revived us completely, we tried to retain it for a long
time. To this end we thought it well to stop up all the doors and
the chimney, to keep in the delightful warmth. And thus, each went
to repose in his cot, and animated by the acquired warmth, we
discoursed long together. But in the end, we were seized with a
giddiness in the head, some however, more than others; this was
first perceived to be the case with one of our men who was ill, and
who for this reason, had less power of resistance. And we also
ourselves were sensible of a great pain which attacked us, so that
several of the bravest came out of their cots and began by
unstopping the chimney, and afterwards opening the door. But the man
who opened the door fainted, and fell senseless upon the snow, on
perceiving which, I ran to him and found him lying on the ground in
a fainting fit. I went in haste to seek for some vinegar, and with
it I rubbed his face until he recovered from his swoon. Afterwards,
when we were somewhat restored, the captain gave to each a little
wine, in order to comfort our hearts...."

"On the 11th, the weather continued fine, but so extremely cold,
that no one who had not felt it could imagine it; even our shoes,
frozen to our feet, were as hard as horn, and inside they were
covered with ice in such a manner that we could no longer use them.
The garments which we wore were quite white with frost and ice."

On Christmas Day, the 25th December, the weather was as rough as on
the preceding days. The foxes made havoc upon the house, which one
of the sailors declared to be a bad omen, and upon being asked why
he said so, answered, "Because we cannot put them in a pot, or on
the spit, which would have been a good omen."

If the year 1596, had closed with excessive cold, the commencement
of 1597 was not more agreeable. Most violent storms of snow, and
hard frost prevented the Dutchmen from leaving the house. They
celebrated Twelfth Night with gaiety, as is related in the simple
and touching narrative of Gerrit de Veer. "For this purpose, we
besought the captain to allow us a little diversion in the midst of
our sufferings, and to let us use a part of the wine which was
destined to be served out to us every other day. Having two pounds
of flour we made some pancakes with oil, and each one brought a
white biscuit, which we soaked in the wine and eat. And it seemed to
us that we were in our own country, and amongst our relations and
friends; and we were as much diverted as if a banquet had been given
in our honour, so much did we relish our entertainment. We also made
a Twelfth-Night king, by means of paper, and our master gunner was
king of Nova Zembla, which is a country enclosed between two seas,
and of the great length of six hundred miles."

After the 21st January, the foxes became less numerous, the bears
reappeared, and daylight began to increase, which enabled the
Dutchmen, who had been so long confined to the house, to go out a
little. On the 24th, one of the sailors, who had been long ill, died,
and was buried in the snow at some distance from the house. On the
28th, the weather being very fine, the men all went out, walking
about, running for exercise, and playing at bowls, to take off the
stiffness of their limbs, for they were extremely weak, and nearly
all suffering from scurvy. They were so much enfeebled that they
were obliged to go to work several times before they could carry to
their house the wood which was needful. At length in the first days
of March, after several tempests and driving snowstorms, they were
able to verify the fact that there was no ice in the sea.
Nevertheless, the weather was still rough and the cold glacial. It
was not feasible as yet to put to sea again, the rather because the
ship was still embedded in the ice. On the 15th of April, the
sailors paid a visit to her and found her in fairly good condition.

[Illustration: Exterior view of the house. _From an old print_.]

At the beginning of May the men became somewhat impatient, and asked
Barentz if he were not soon intending to make the necessary
preparations for departure. But Barentz answered that he must wait
until the end of the month, and then, if it should be impossible to
set the ship free, he would take measures to prepare the long-boats
and the launch, and to render them fit for a sea voyage. On the 20th
of the month the preparations for departure commenced; with what joy
and ardour it is easy to imagine. The launch was repaired, the sails
were mended, and both boats were dragged to the sea, and provisions
put on board. Then, seeing that the water was free, and that a
strong wind was blowing, Heemskerke went to seek Barentz, who had
been long ill, and declared to him "that it seemed good to him to
set out from thence, and in God's name to commence the voyage and
abandon Nova Zembla."

"William Barentz had before this written a paper setting forth how
we had started from Holland to go towards the kingdom of China, and
all that had happened, in order that, if by chance, some one should
come after us, it might be known what had befallen us. This note he
enclosed in the case of a musket which he hung up in the chimney."

On the 13th June, 1597, the Dutchmen abandoned the ship, which had
not stirred from her icy prison, and commending themselves to the
protection of God, the two open boats put to sea. They reached the
Orange Islands, and again descended the western coast of Nova Zembla
in the midst of ceaselessly recurring dangers.

"On the 20th of June Nicholas Andrieu became very weak, and we saw
clearly that he would soon expire. The lieutenant of the governor
came on board our launch, and told us that Nicholas Andrieu was very
much indisposed, and that it was very evident that his days would
soon end. Upon which, William Barentz said, 'It appears to me that
my life also will be very short.' We did not imagine that Barentz
was so ill, for we were chatting together, and William Barentz was
looking at the little chart which I had made of our voyage, and we
had various discourses together. Finally, he laid down the chart,
and said to me, 'Gerard, give me something to drink.' After he had
drunk, such weakness supervened that his eyes turned in his head,
and he died so suddenly that we had not time to call the captain,
who was in the other boat. This death of William Barentz saddened us
greatly, seeing that he was our principal leader, and our sole pilot,
in whom we had placed our whole trust. But we could not oppose the
will of God, and this thought quieted us a little." Thus died the
illustrious Barentz, like his successors Franklin and Hall, in the
midst of his discoveries. In the measured and sober words of the
short funeral oration of Gerrit de Veer may be perceived the
affection, sympathy, and confidence which this brave sailor had been
able to inspire in his unfortunate companions. Barentz is one of the
glories of Holland, so prolific in brave and skilful navigators. We
shall mention presently what has been done to honour his memory.

[Illustration: Map of Nova Zembla.]

After having been forced several times to haul the boats out of the
water when they were on the point of being crushed between the
blocks of ice; after having seen on various occasions the sea open,
and again close before them; after having suffered both from thirst
and hunger, the Dutchmen reached Cape Nassau. One day, being obliged
to draw up the long-boat, which was in danger of being stove in upon
an iceberg, the sailors lost a part of their provisions and were all
deluged with water, for the ice broke away under their feet. In the
midst of so much misery they sometimes met with good windfalls. Thus,
when they were upon the ice on the Island of Crosses they found
there seventy eggs of the mountain-duck. "But they did not know what
they should put them in to carry them. At length one man took off
his breeches, tying them together by the ends, and having put the
eggs into them, they carried them on a pike between two, while the
third man carried the musket. The eggs were very welcome, and we eat
them like lords." From the 19th July, the Dutchmen sailed over a sea,
which, if not altogether free from ice, was at least clear of those
great fields of ice which had given them so much trouble to avoid.
On the 28th July, when entering the Gulf of St. Lawrence, they met
with two Russian vessels, which at first they dared not approach.
But when they saw the sailors come to them unarmed and with friendly
demonstrations, they put aside all fear, the rather as they
recognized in the Russians some people whom they had met with the
year before in the neighbourhood of Waigatz. The Dutchmen received
some assistance from them, and then continued their voyage, still
keeping along the coast of Nova Zembla, and as close in shore as the
ice would allow. Upon one occasion when they landed, they discovered
the cochlearia (scurvy-grass), a plant of which the leaves and seeds
form one of the most powerful of known anti-scorbutics. They eat
them, therefore, by handfuls, and immediately experienced great
relief. Their provisions were, however, nearly exhausted; they had
only a little bread remaining and scarcely any meat. They decided
therefore to take to the open sea, in order to shorten the distance
which separated them from the coast of Russia, where they hoped to
fall in with some fishermen's boats, from which they might obtain
assistance. In this hope they were not deceived, although they had
still many trials to undergo. The Russians were much touched by
their misfortunes, and consented on several occasions to bestow
provisions upon them, which prevented the Dutch sailors from dying
of hunger. In consequence of a thick fog the two boats were
separated from each other, and did not come together again until
some distance beyond Cape Kanin on the further side of the White Sea,
at Kildyn Island, where some fishermen informed the Dutchmen that at
Kola there were three ships belonging to their nation, which were
ready to put to sea on their return to their own country. They
therefore despatched thither one of their men accompanied by a
Laplander, who returned three days afterwards with a letter signed
_Jan Rijp_. Great was the astonishment of the Dutch at the sight of
this signature. It was only on comparing the letter just received
with several others which Heemskerke had in his possession, that
they were convinced that it really came from the captain who had
accompanied them the preceding year. Some days later, on the 30th
September, Rijp himself arrived with a boat laden with provisions,
to seek them out and take them to the Kola River, in which his ship
was at anchor.

Rijp was greatly astonished at all that they related to him, and at
the terrible voyage of nearly 1200 miles which they had made, and
which had not taken less than 104 days--namely, from the 13th June
to the 25th September. Some days of repose accompanied by wholesome
and abundant food sufficed to clear off the last remains of scurvy,
and to refresh the sailors after their fatigues. On the 17th
September, Jan Rijp left the Kola River, and on the 1st November the
Dutch crew arrived at Amsterdam. "We had on," says Gerrit de Veer,
"the same garments which we wore in Nova Zembla, having on our heads
caps of white fox-skin, and we repaired to the house of Peter
Hasselaer, who had been one of the guardians of the town of
Amsterdam charged with presiding over the fitting out of the two
ships of Jan Rijp and of our own captain. Arrived at this house, in
the midst of general astonishment, because that we had been long
thought to be dead, and this report had been spread throughout the
town, the news of our arrival reached the palace of the prince,
where there were then at table the Chancellor, and the Ambassador of
the high and mighty King of Denmark and Norway, of the Goths and the
Vandals. We were then brought before them by M. l'Écoutets and two
lords of the town, and we gave to the said lord Ambassador, and to
their lordships the burgomasters, a narrative of our voyage.
Afterwards each of us retired to his own house. Those who had not
dwellings in the town, were lodged in an inn until such time as we
had received our money, when each went his own way. These are the
names of the men who returned from this voyage: Jacob Heemskerke,
clerk and captain, Peter Peterson Vos, Gerrit de Veer, mate, Jan Vos,
surgeon, Jacob Jansen Sterrenburg, Leonard Henry, Laurence William,
Jan Hillebrants, Jacob Jansen Hoochwout, Peter Corneille, Jacob de
Buisen, and Jacob Everts."

Of all these brave sailors we have nothing further to record except
that De Veer published the following year the narrative of his
voyage, and that Heemskerke after having made several cruises to
India, received in 1607 the command of a fleet of twenty-six vessels,
at the head of which, on the 25th of April, he had a severe battle
with the Spaniards under the guns of Gibraltar, in which battle,
although the Dutch were the conquerers, Heemskerke lost his life.

The spot where the unfortunate Barentz and his companions had
wintered was not revisited until 1871, nearly three hundred years
after their time. The first to double the northern point of Nova
Zembla, Barentz had remained alone in the achievement until this
period. On the 7th September, 1871, the Norwegian Captain, Elling
Carlsen, well known by his numerous voyages in the North Sea and the
Frozen Ocean, arrived at the ice haven of Barentz, and on the 9th he
discovered the house which had sheltered the Dutchmen. It was in
such a wonderful state of preservation that it seemed to have been
built but a day, and everything was found in the same position as at
the departure of the shipwrecked crew. Bears, foxes, and other
creatures inhabiting these inhospitable regions had alone visited
the spot. Around the house were standing some large puncheons and
there were heaps of seal, bear, and walrus bones. Inside, everything
was in its place. It was the faithful reproduction of the curious
engraving of Gerrit de Veer. The bed-places were arranged along the
partition as they are shown in the drawing, as well as the clock,
the muskets, and the halberd. Amongst the household utensils, the
arms, and the various objects brought away by Captain Carlsen, we
may mention two copper cooking-pans, some goblets, gun-barrels,
augers and chisels, a pair of boots, nineteen cartridge-cases, of
which some were still filled with powder, the clock, a flute, some
locks and padlocks, twenty-six pewter candlesticks, some fragments
of engravings, and three books in Dutch, one of which, the last
edition of Mendoza's "History of China" shows the goal which Barentz
sought in this expedition, and a "Manual of Navigation" proves the
care taken by the pilot to keep himself well up in all professional

Upon his return to the port of Hammerfest, Captain Carlsen met with
a Dutchman, Mr. Lister Kay, who purchased the Barentz relics, and
forwarded them to the authorities of the Netherlands. These objects
have been placed in the Naval Museum at the Hague, where a house,
open in front, has been constructed precisely similar to the one
represented in the drawing of Gerrit de Veer, and each object or
instrument brought back has been placed in the very position which
it occupied in the house in Nova Zembla. Surrounded by all the
respect and affection which they merit, these precious witnesses of
a maritime event so important as the first wintering in the Arctic
regions, these touching reminiscences of Barentz, Heemskerke, and
their rough companions, constitute one of the most interesting
monuments in the Museum. Beside the clock is placed a copper dial,
through the middle of which a meridian is drawn. This curious dial,
invented by Plancius, which served without doubt to determine the
variations of the compass, is now the only example extant of a
nautical instrument which has never been in very general use. For
this reason it is as precious as, from another point of view, are
the flute used by Barentz, and the shoes of the poor sailor who died
during the winter sojourn. It is impossible to behold this curious
collection without experiencing poignant emotion.


Drake--Cavendish--De Noort--Walter Raleigh.

A very poor cottage at Tavistock in Devonshire was the birthplace in
1540, of Francis Drake, who was destined to gain millions by his
indomitable courage, which however, he lost with as much facility as
he had obtained them. Edmund Drake his father, was one of those
clergy who devote themselves to the education of the people. His
poverty was only equalled by the respect which was felt for his
character. Burdened with a family as he was, the father of Francis
Drake found himself obliged from necessity to allow his son to
embrace the maritime profession, for which he had an ardent longing,
and to serve as cabin-boy on board a coasting vessel which traded
with Holland. Industrious, active, self-reliant, and saving, the
young Francis Drake had soon acquired all the theoretical knowledge
needed for the direction of a vessel. When he had realized a small
sum, which was increased by the sale of a vessel bequeathed to him
by his first master, he made more extended voyages; he visited the
Bay of Biscay and the Gulf of Guinea, and laid out all his capital
in purchasing a cargo which he hoped to sell in the West Indies. But
no sooner had he arrived at Rio de la Hacha, than both ship and
cargo were confiscated, we know not under what frivolous pretext.
All the remonstrances of Drake, who thus saw himself ruined, were
useless. He vowed to avenge himself for such a piece of injustice,
and he kept his word.

In 1567, two years after this adventure, a small fleet of six
vessels, of which the largest was of 700 tons' burden, left Plymouth
with the sanction of the Queen, to make an expedition to the Coasts
of Mexico. Drake was in command of a ship of fifty tons. At first
starting they captured some negroes on the Cape de Verd Islands, a
sort of rehearsal of what was destined to take place in Mexico. Then
they besieged La Mina, where some more negroes were taken, which
they sold at the Antilles. Hawkins, doubtless by the advice of Drake,
captured the town of Rio de la Hacha; after which he reached St.
Jean d'Ulloa, having encountered a fearful storm. But the harbour
contained a numerous fleet, and was defended by formidable artillery.
The English fleet was defeated, and Drake had much difficulty in
regaining the English coast in January, 1568.

Drake afterwards made two expeditions to the West Indies for the
purpose of studying the country. When he considered himself to have
acquired the necessary information, he fitted out two vessels at his
own expense: the _Swan_, of twenty-five tons, commanded by his
brother John, and the _Pasha_ of Plymouth, of seventy tons. The two
vessels had as crew seventy-three jack-tars, who could be thoroughly
depended on. From July, 1572, to August, 1573, sometimes alone,
sometimes in concert with a certain Captain Rawse, Drake made a
lucrative cruise upon the coasts of the Gulf of Darien, attacked the
towns of Vera Cruz and of Nombre de Dios, and obtained considerable
spoil. Unfortunately these enterprises were not carried out without
much cruelty and many acts of violence which would make men of the
present day blush. But we will not dwell upon the scenes of piracy
and barbarity which are only too frequently met with in the
sixteenth century.

After assisting in the suppression of the rebellion in Ireland,
Drake, whose name was beginning to be well known, was presented to
Queen Elizabeth. He laid before her his project of going to ravage
the western coasts of South America, by passing through the Strait
of Magellan, and he obtained, with the title of admiral, a fleet of
six vessels, on board of which were 160 picked sailors.

Francis Drake started from Plymouth on the 15th November, 1577. He
had some intercourse with the Moors of Mogador, of which he had no
reason to boast, made some captures of small importance before
arriving at the Cape de Verd Islands, where he took in fresh
provisions, and then was fifty-six days in crossing the Atlantic and
reaching the coast of Brazil, which he followed as far as the
estuary of La Plata, where he laid in a supply of water. He
afterwards arrived at Seal Bay in Patagonia, where he traded with
the natives, and killed a great number of penguins and sea-wolves
for the nourishment of his crew. "Some of the Patagonians who were
seen on the 13th May a little below Seal Bay," says the original
narrative, "wore on the head a kind of horn, and nearly all had many
beautiful birds' feathers by way of hats. They also had the face
painted and diversified by several kinds of colours, and they each
held a bow in the hand, from which every-time they drew it, they
discharged two arrows. They were very agile, and as far as we could
see, well instructed in the art of making war, for they kept good
order in marching and advancing, and for so few men as they were,
they made themselves appear a large number." M. Charton, in his
_Voyageurs Anciens et Modernes_, notices that Drake does not mention
the extraordinary stature which Magellan had attributed to the
Patagonians. For this there is more than one good reason. There
exists in Patagonia more than one tribe, and the description here
given by Drake of the savages whom he met, does not at all resemble
that given by Pigafetta of the Patagonians of Port St. Julian. If
there exist, as seems now to be proved, a race of men of great
stature, their habitat appears fixed upon the shores of the Strait
at the southern extremity of Patagonia, and not at fifteen days'
sail from Port Desire, at which Drake arrived on the 2nd June. On
the following day he reached the harbour of St. Julian, where he
found a gibbet erected of yore by Magellan for the punishment of
some rebellious members of his crew. Drake in his turn, chose this
spot to rid himself of one of his captains, named Doughty, who had
been long accused of treason and underhand dealing, and who on
several occasions had separated himself from the fleet. Some sailors
having confessed that he had solicited them to join with him in
frustrating the voyage, Doughty was convicted of the crimes of
rebellion, and of tampering with the sailors, and according to the
laws of England, he was condemned by a court martial to be beheaded.
This sentence was immediately executed, although Doughty until the
last moment vehemently declared his innocence. Was his guilt
thoroughly proved? If Drake were accused upon his return to
England--in spite of the moderation which he always evinced towards
his men,--of having taken advantage of the opportunity to get rid of
a rival whom he dreaded, it is difficult to conceive that the forty
judges who pronounced the sentence should have concerted together to
further the secret designs of their admiral and condemn an innocent

On the 20th of August, the fleet, now reduced to three vessels--two
of the ships having been so much damaged that they were at once
destroyed by the admiral--entered the strait, which had not been
traversed since the time of Magellan. Although he met with fine
harbours, Drake found that it was difficult to anchor in them, on
account both of the depth of the water close to the shore, and of
the violence of the wind, which, blowing as it did in sudden squalls,
rendered navigation dangerous. During a storm which was encountered
at the point where the strait opens into the Pacific, Drake beheld
one of his ships founder, while his last companion was separated
from him a few days afterwards, nor did he see her again until the
end of the campaign. Driven by the currents to the south of the
strait as far as 55 degrees 40 minutes, Drake had now only his own
vessel; but by the injury which he did to the Spaniards, he showed
what ravages he would have committed if he had had still under his
command the fleet with which he left England. During a descent upon
the island of Mocha, the English had two men killed and several
wounded, while Drake himself, hit by two arrows on the head, found
himself utterly unable to punish the Indians for their perfidy. In
the harbour of Valparaiso he captured a vessel richly laden with the
wines of Chili, and with ingots of gold valued at 37,000 ducats;
afterwards he pillaged the town, which had been precipitately
abandoned by its inhabitants. At Coquimbo, the people were
forewarned of his approach, so that he found there a strong force,
which obliged him to re-embark. At Arica he plundered three small
vessels, in one of which he found fifty-seven bars of silver valued
at 2006_l._ In the harbour of Lima, where were moored twelve ships
or barks, the booty was considerable. But what most rejoiced the
heart of Drake was to learn that a galleon named the _Cagafuego_,
very richly laden, was sailing towards Paraca. He immediately went
in pursuit, capturing on the way a bark carrying 80 lbs. of gold,
which would be worth 14,080 French crowns, and in the latitude of
San Francisco he seized without any difficulty the _Cagafuego_, in
which he found 80 lbs. weight of gold. This caused the Spanish pilot
to say, laughing, "Captain, our ship ought no longer to be called
_Cagafuego_ (spit-fire), but rather _Caga-Plata_ (spit money), it is
yours which should be named _Caga-Fuego_." After making some other
captures more or less valuable, upon the Peruvian coast, Drake,
learning that a considerable fleet was being prepared to oppose him,
thought it time to return to England. For this, there were three
different routes open to him: he might again pass the Strait of
Magellan, or he might cross the Southern Sea, and doubling the Cape
of Good Hope might so return to the Atlantic Ocean, or he could sail
up the coast of China and return by the Frozen Sea and the North
Cape. It was this last alternative, as being the safest of the three,
which was adopted by Drake. He therefore put out to sea, reached the
38 degrees of north latitude, and landed on the shore of the Bay of
San Francisco, which had been discovered three years previously by
Bodega. It was now the month of June, the temperature was very low,
and the ground covered with snow. The details given by Drake of his
reception by the natives, are curious enough: "When we arrived, the
savages manifested great admiration at the sight of us, and thinking
that we were gods, they received us with great humanity and

"As long as we remained, they continued to come and visit us,
sometimes bringing us beautiful plumes made of feathers of divers
colours, and sometimes petun (tobacco) which is a herb in general
use among the Indians. But before presenting these things to us,
they stopped at a little distance, in a spot where we had pitched
our tents. Then they made a long discourse after the manner of a
harangue, and when they had finished, they laid aside their bows and
arrows in that place, and approached us to offer their presents."

"The first time they came their women remained in the same place,
and scratched and tore the skin and flesh of their cheeks, lamenting
themselves in a wonderful manner, whereat we were much astonished.
But we have since learnt that it was a kind of sacrifice which they
offered to us."

The facts given by Drake with regard to the Indians of California
are almost the only ones which he furnishes upon the manners and
customs of the nations which he visited. We would draw the reader's
attention here, to that custom of long harangues which the traveller
especially remarks, just as Cartier had observed upon it forty years
earlier, and which is so noticeable amongst the Canadian Indians at
the present day. Drake did not advance farther north and gave up his
project of returning by the Frozen Sea. When he again set sail, it
was to descend towards the Line, to reach the Moluccas, and to
return to England by the Cape of Good Hope. As this part of the
voyage deals with countries already known, and as the observations
made by Drake are neither numerous nor novel, our narrative here
shall be brief.

On the 13th of October, 1579, Drake arrived in latitude 8 degrees
north, at a group of islands of which the inhabitants had their ears
much lengthened by the weight of the ornaments suspended to them;
their nails were allowed to grow, and appeared to serve as defensive
weapons, while their teeth, "black as ship's pitch," contracted this
colour from the use of the betel-nut. After resting for a time,
Drake passed by the Philippines, and on the 14th of November arrived
at Ternate. The king of this island came alongside, with four canoes
bearing his principal officers dressed in their state costumes.
After an interchange of civilities and presents, the English
received some rice, sugar-canes, fowls, _figo_, cloves, and sago. On
the morrow, some of the sailors who had landed, were present at a
council. "When the king arrived, a rich umbrella or parasol all
embroidered in gold was borne before him. He was dressed after the
fashion of his country, but with extreme magnificence, for he was
enveloped from the shoulders with a long cloak of cloth of gold
reaching to the ground. He wore as an ornament upon the head, a kind
of turban made of the same stuff, all worked in fine gold and
enriched with jewels and tufts. On his neck there hung a fine gold
chain many times doubled, and formed of broad links. On his fingers,
he had six rings of very valuable stones, and his feet were encased
in shoes of morocco leather."

After remaining some time in the country to refresh his crew, Drake
again put to sea, but his ship on the 9th of January, 1580, struck
on a rock, and to float her off it was necessary to throw overboard
eight pieces of ordnance and a large quantity of provisions. A month
later, Drake arrived at Baratena Island where he repaired his ship.
This island afforded much silver, gold, copper, sulphur, spices,
lemons, cucumbers, cocoa-nuts, and other delicious fruits. "We
loaded our vessels abundantly with these, being able to certify that
since our departure from England we have not visited any place where
we have found more comforts in the way of food and fresh provisions
than in this island and that of Ternate."

After quitting this richly endowed island, Drake landed at Greater
Java, where he was very warmly welcomed by the five kings amongst
whom the island was partitioned, and by the inhabitants. "These
people are of a fine degree of corpulence, they are great
connoisseurs in arms, with which they are well provided, such as
swords, daggers, and bucklers, and all these arms are made with much
art." Drake had been some little time at Java when he learnt that
not far distant there was a powerful fleet at anchor, which he
suspected must belong to Spain; to avoid it he put to sea in all
haste. He doubled the Cape of Good Hope during the first days of
June, and after stopping at Sierra Leone to take in water, he
entered Plymouth harbour on the 3rd November, 1580, after an absence
of three years all but a few days.

The reception which awaited him in England was at first extremely
cold. His having fallen by surprise both upon Spanish towns and
ships, at a time when the two nations were at peace, rightly caused
him to be regarded by a portion of society as a pirate, who tramples
under foot the rights of nations. For five months the Queen herself,
under the pressure of diplomatic proprieties, pretended to be
ignorant of his return. But at the end of that time, either because
circumstances had altered, or because she did not wish to show
herself any longer severe towards the skilful sailor, she repaired
to Deptford where Drake's ship was moored, went on board, and
conferred the honour of knighthood upon the navigator.

[Illustration: Elizabeth knighting Drake.]

From this period Drake's part as a discoverer is ended, and his
after-life as a warrior and as the implacable enemy of the Spaniards
does not concern us. Loaded with honours, and invested with
important commands, Drake died at sea on the 28th January, 1596,
during an expedition against the Spaniards.

To him pertains the honour of having been the second to pass through
the Strait of Magellan, and to have visited Tierra del Fuego as far
as the parts about Cape Horn. He also ascended the coast of North
America to a point higher than any his predecessors had attained,
and he discovered several islands and archipelagos. Being a very
clever navigator, he made the transit through the Strait of Magellan
with great rapidity. If there are but very few discoveries due to
him, this is probably either because he neglected to record them in
his journal, or because he often mentions them in so inaccurate a
manner that it is scarcely possible to recognize the places. It was
he who inaugurated that privateering warfare by which the English,
and later on the Dutch, were destined to inflict much injury upon
the Spaniards. And the large profits accruing to him from it,
encouraged his contemporaries, and gave birth in their minds to the
love for long and hazardous voyages.

Among all those who took example by Drake, the most illustrious was
undoubtedly Thomas Cavendish or Candish. Cavendish joined the
English marine service at a very early age; and passed a most stormy
youth, during which he rapidly dissipated his modest fortune. That
which play had robbed him of, he resolved to recover from the
Spaniards. Having in 1585 obtained letters of mark, he made a cruise
to the East Indies and returned with considerable booty. Encouraged
by his easy success as a highwayman on the great maritime roads, he
thought that if he could acquire some honour and glory while engaged
in making his fortune, so much the better would it be for him. With
this idea he bought three ships, the _Desire_, of twenty tons, the
_Content_, of sixty tons, and the _Hugh Gallant_, of forty tons,
upon which he embarked one hundred and twenty-three soldiers and
sailors. Setting sail on the 22nd July, 1586, he passed by the
Canaries, and landed at Sierra Leone, which town he attacked and
plundered; then, sailing again, he crossed the Atlantic, sighted
Cape Sebastian in Brazil, sailed along the coast of Patagonia, and
arrived on the 27th November at Port Desire. He found there an
immense quantity of dog-fish, very large, and so strong that four
men could with difficulty kill them, and numbers of birds, which,
having no wings, could not fly, and which fed upon fish. They are
classed under the general names of auks and penguins. In this very
secure harbour, the ships were drawn up on shore to be repaired.
During his stay at this place Cavendish had some skirmishes with the
Patagonians,--"men of gigantic size, and having feet eighteen inches
long"--who wounded two of the sailors with arrows tipped with
sharpened flints.

On the 7th January, 1587, Cavendish entered the Strait of Magellan,
and in the narrowest part of it received on board his ships
one-and-twenty Spaniards and two women, the sole survivors of the
colony founded three years previously, under the name of
Philippeville, by Captain Sarmiento. This town, which had been built
to bar the passage through the strait, had possessed no fewer than
four forts as well as several churches. Cavendish could discern the
fortress, then deserted and already falling into ruins. Its
inhabitants, who had been completely prevented by the continual
attacks of the savages from gathering in their harvests, had died of
hunger, or had perished in endeavouring to reach the Spanish
settlements in Chili. The Admiral, upon hearing this lamentable tale,
changed the name of Philippeville into that of Port Famine, under
which appellation the place is known at the present day. On the 21st
the ships entered a beautiful bay, which received the name of
Elizabeth, and in which was buried the carpenter of the _Hugh
Gallant_. Not far from thence a fine river fell into the sea, on the
banks of which dwelt the anthropophagi who had fought so fiercely
with the Spaniards, and who endeavoured, but in vain, to entice the
Englishmen into the interior of the country.

On the 24th February, as the little squadron came forth from the
strait, it encountered a violent storm, which dispersed it. The
_Hugh Gallant_, left alone, and letting in water in all directions,
was only kept afloat with the greatest trouble. Rejoined on the 15th
by his consorts, Cavendish tried in vain to land on Mocha Island,
where Drake had been so maltreated by the Araucanians. This country,
rich in gold and silver, had hitherto successfully resisted all
Spanish attempts to subjugate it, and its inhabitants, fully
determined to maintain their liberty, repulsed by force of arms
every attempt to land. It was necessary therefore to go to the
island of St. Maria, where the Indians, who took the Englishmen for
Spaniards, furnished them with abundance of maize, fowls, sweet
potatoes, pigs, and other provisions.

On the 30th March, Cavendish dropped anchor in 32 degrees 50 minutes
in the Bay of Quintero. A party of thirty musketeers advanced into
the country and met with oxen, cows, wild horses, hares, and
partridges in abundance. The little troop was attacked by the
Spaniards, and Cavendish was obliged to return to his ships after
losing twelve of his men. He afterwards ravaged, plundered, or burnt
the towns of Paraca, Cincha, Pisca, and Païta, and devastated the
island of Puna, where he obtained a booty in coined money of the
value of 25,760_l._ After having scuttled the _Hugh Gallant_, which
was totally unfit any longer to keep the water, Cavendish continued
his profitable cruising, burnt, in the latitude of New Spain, a ship
of 120 tons, plundered and burnt Aguatulio, and captured, after six
hours of fighting, a vessel of 708 tons, laden with rich stuffs, and
with 122,000 gold pesos. Then, "victorious and contented," Cavendish
wished to secure the great spoils which he was conveying against any
chance of danger. He touched at the Ladrones, the Philippines, and
Greater Java, doubled the Cape of Good Hope, recruited himself at St.
Helena, and on the 9th September, 1588, anchored at Plymouth, after
two years of sailing, privateering, and fighting. At the end of two
years after his return, of all the great fortune which he had
brought back with him, there remained only a sum sufficient for the
fitting out of a third, and as it proved, a last expedition.

Cavendish started on the 6th August, 1591, with five vessels, but a
storm on the coast of Patagonia scattered the flotilla, which could
not be collected again until the arrival at Port Desire. Assailed by
fearful hurricanes in the Strait of Magellan, Cavendish was obliged
to go back, after having seen himself deserted by three of his ships.
The want of fresh provisions, the cold, and the privations of all
kinds which he underwent, and which had decimated his crew, forced
him to return northwards along the coast of Brazil, where the
Portuguese opposed every attempt at landing. He was therefore
obliged to put to sea again without having been able to revictual.
Cavendish died, from grief perhaps as much as from hardships, before
he reached the English coast.

One year after the return of the companions of Barentz, two ships,
the _Mauritius_ and the _Hendrik Fredrik_, with two yachts, the
_Eendracht_ and _Espérance_, having on board a crew of 248 men,
quitted Amsterdam on the 2nd July, 1598. The commander-in-chief of
this squadron was Oliver de Noort, a man at that time about thirty
or thereabouts, and well known as having made several long cruising
voyages. His second in command and vice-admiral was Jacob Claaz
d'Ulpenda, and as pilot there was a certain Melis, a skilful sailor
of English origin. This expedition, fitted out by the merchants of
Amsterdam with the concurrence and aid of the States-General of
Holland, had a double purpose; at once commercial and military.
Formerly the Dutch had contented themselves with fetching from
Portugal the merchandise which they distributed by means of their
coasting vessels throughout Europe; but now they were reduced to the
necessity of going to seek the commodities in the scene of their
production. For this object, De Noort was to show his countrymen the
route inaugurated by Magellan, and on the way to inflict as much
injury as he could upon the Spaniards and Portuguese. At this period
Philip II., whose yoke the Dutch had shaken off, and who had just
added Portugal to his possessions, had forbidden his subjects to
have any commercial intercourse with the rebels of the Low Countries.
It was thus a necessity for Holland if she did not wish to be ruined,
and as a consequence, to fall anew under Spanish rule, to open up
for herself a road to the Spice Islands. The route which was the
least frequented by the enemy's ships was that by the Strait of
Magellan, and this was the one which De Noort was ordered to follow.

After touching at Goree, the Dutch anchored in the Gulf of Guinea,
at the Island _do Principe_. Here the Portuguese pretended to give a
friendly welcome to the men who went on shore, but they took
advantage of a favourable opportunity, to fall upon and massacre
them without mercy. Among the dead were Cornille de Noort, brother
of the admiral, Melis, Daniel Goerrits, and John de Bremen--the
captain, Peter Esias, being the only man who escaped. It was a
sorrowful commencement for a campaign, a sad presage which was
destined not to remain unfulfilled. De Noort, who was furious over
this foul play, landed from his ships 120 men; but he found the
Portuguese so well entrenched, that after a brisk skirmish in which
seventeen more of his men were either killed or wounded, he was
obliged to weigh anchor without having been able to avenge the
wicked and cowardly perfidy to which his brother and twelve of his
companions had fallen victims. On the 25th December, one of the
pilots named Jan Volkers, was abandoned on the African coast as a
punishment for his disloyal intrigues, for endeavouring to foment a
spirit of despondency amongst the crews, and for his well-proved
rebellion. On the 5th January, the island of Annobon, situated in
the Gulf of Guinea, a little below the Line, was sighted, and the
course of the ships was changed for crossing the Atlantic. De Noort
had scarcely cast anchor in the Bay of Rio Janeiro before he sent
some sailors on shore to obtain water and buy provisions from the
natives; but the Portuguese opposed the landing, and killed eleven
men. Afterwards, repulsed from the coast of Brazil by the Portuguese
and the natives, driven back by contrary winds, having made vain
efforts to reach the island of St. Helena, where they had hoped to
obtain the provisions of which they were in the most pressing want,
the Dutchmen, deprived of their pilot, toss at random upon the ocean.
They land upon the desert islands of Martin Vaz, again reach the
coast of Brazil at Rio Doce, which they mistake for Ascension Island,
and are finally obliged to winter in the desert island of Santa
Clara. The putting into port at this place was marked by several
disagreeable events. The flag-ship struck upon a rock with so much
violence that had the sea been a little rougher, she must have been
lost. There were also some bloody and barbarous executions of
mutinous sailors, notably that of a poor man, who having wounded a
pilot with a knife thrust, was condemned to have his hand nailed to
the mainmast. The invalids, of whom there were many on board the
fleet, were brought on shore, and nearly all were cured by the end
of a fortnight. From the 2nd to the 21st of June, De Noort remained
in this island, which was not more than three miles from the
mainland. But before putting to sea he was obliged to burn the
_Eendracht_, as he had not sufficient men to work her. It was not
until the 20th December, after having been tried by many storms,
that he was able to cast anchor in Port Desire, where the crew
killed in a few days a quantity of dog-fish and sea-lions, as well
as more than five thousand penguins. "The general landed," says the
French translation of De Noort's narrative, published by De Bry,
"with a party of armed men, but they saw nobody, only some graves
placed on high situations among the rocks, in which the people bury
their dead, putting upon the grave a great quantity of stones, all
painted red, having besides adorned the graves with darts, plumes of
feathers, and other singular articles which they use as arms."

[Illustration: A Sea-lion Hunt. _From an old print_.]

The Dutch saw also, but at too great a distance to shoot them,
buffalos, stags, and ostriches, and from a single nest they obtained
ten ostrich eggs. Captain Jacob Jansz Huy de Cooper, died during the
stay at this place, and was interred at Port Desire. On the 23rd
November, the fleet entered the Strait of Magellan. During a visit
to the shore three Dutchmen were killed by some Patagonians, and
their death was avenged by the massacre of a whole tribe of Enoos.
The long navigation through the narrows and the lakes of the Strait
of Magellan was signalized by the meeting with two Dutch ships,
under the command of Sebald de Weerdt, who had wintered not far from
the Bay of Mauritius, and by the abandoning of Vice-admiral Claaz,
who, as it would appear, had been several times guilty of
insubordination. Are not these acts, which we see so frequently
committed by English, Dutch, and Spanish navigators, a true sign of
the times? A deed which we should regard now-a-days as one of
terrible barbarity seemed, doubtless, a relatively mild punishment
in the eyes of men so accustomed to set but little value upon human
life. Nevertheless, could anything be more cruel than to abandon a
man in a desert country, without arms and without provisions, to put
him on shore in a country peopled by ferocious cannibals, prepared
to make a repast on his flesh; what was it but condemning him to a
horrible death?

On the 29th of February, 1600, De Noort, after having been
ninety-nine days in passing through the strait, came out on to the
Pacific Ocean. A fortnight later, a storm separated him from the
_Hendrik Fredrik_, which was never again heard of. As for De Noort,
who had now with him only one yacht besides his own vessel, he cast
anchor at the island of Mocha, and, unlike the experience of his
predecessors, he was very well received by the natives. Afterwards
he sailed along the coast of Chili, where he was able to obtain
provisions in abundance in exchange for Nuremberg knives, hatchets,
shirts, hats, and other articles of no great value. After ravaging,
plundering, and burning several towns on the Peruvian coast, after
sinking all the vessels that he met with, and amassing a
considerable booty, De Noort, hearing that a squadron commanded by
the brother of the viceroy, Don Luis de Velasco, had been sent in
pursuit of him, judged it time to make for the Ladrone Islands,
where he anchored on the 16th of September. "The inhabitants came
around our ship with more than 200 canoes, there being three, four,
or five men in each canoe, crying out all together: 'Hierro, hierro'
(iron, iron), which is greatly in request amongst them. They are as
much at home in the water as upon land, and are very clever divers,
as we perceived when we threw five pieces of iron into the sea,
which a single man went to search for." De Noort could testify
unfortunately, that these islands well deserved their name. The
islanders tried even to drag the nails out of the ship, and carried
off everything upon which they could lay their hands. One of them,
having succeeded in climbing along a part of the rigging, had the
audacity to enter a cabin and seize upon a sword, with which he
threw himself into the sea.

On the 14th October following, De Noort traversed the Philippine
Archipelago, where he made several descents, and burnt, plundered,
or sunk a number of Spanish or Portuguese vessels, and some Chinese
junks. While cruising in the Strait of Manilla he was attacked by
two large Spanish vessels, and in the battle which followed the
Dutch had five men killed, and twenty-five wounded and lost their
brigantine, which was captured with her crew of twenty-five men. The
Spaniards lost more than 200 men, for their flag-ship caught fire
and sank. Far from picking up the wounded and the able-bodied men,
who were trying to save themselves by swimming, the Dutch, "making
way with sails set on the foremast, across the heads which were to
be seen in the water, pierced some with lances, and also discharged
their cannon over them." After this bloody and fruitless victory, De
Noort went to recruit at Borneo, captured a rich cargo of spices at
Java, and having doubled the Cape of Good Hope, landed at Rotterdam
on the 26th of August, having only one ship and forty-eight men
remaining. If the merchants who had defrayed the expenses of the
expedition approved of the conduct of De Noort, who brought back a
cargo which more than reimbursed them for their expenditure, and who
had taught his countrymen the way to the Indies, it behoves us,
while extolling his qualities as a sailor, to take great exception
to the manner in which he exercised the command, and to mete out
severe blame for the barbarity which has left a stain of blood upon
the first Dutch voyage of circumnavigation.

[Illustration: Battle of Manilla. _From an old print_.]

We have now to speak of a man who, endowed with eminent qualities
and with at least equal defects, carried on his life's work in
divers, sometimes even in opposing directions, and who after having
reached the highest summit of honour to which a gentleman could
aspire, at last laid his head upon a scaffold, accused of treason
and felony. This man is Sir Walter Raleigh. If he have any claim to
a place in this portrait gallery of great sailors, it is neither as
founder of any English colony nor as a sailor; it is as a discoverer,
and what we have to say of him is not to his credit. Walter Raleigh
passed five years in France fighting against the League, in the
midst of all those Gascons who formed the basis of the armies of
Henry of Navarre, and in such society he perfected the habits of
boasting and falsehood which belonged to his character. In 1577,
after a campaign in the Low Countries against the Spaniards, he
returns to England and takes a deep interest in the questions so
passionately debated among his three brothers by the mother's side,
John, Humphrey, and Adrian Gilbert. At this period England was
passing through a very grave economic crisis. The practice of
agriculture was undergoing a transformation; in all directions
grazing was being substituted for tillage, and the number of
agricultural labourers was greatly reduced by the change. From
thence arose general distress, and also such a surplussage of
population as was fast becoming a matter of anxious concern. At the
same time, to long wars succeeds a peace, destined to endure
throughout the reign of Elizabeth, so that a great number of
adventurers know not how to find indulgence for their love of
violent emotions. At this moment, therefore, arises the necessity
for such an emigration as may relieve the country of its population,
may permit all the miserable people dying of hunger to provide for
their own wants in a new country, and by that means may increase the
influence and prosperity of the mother country. All the more
thoughtful minds in England, who follow the course of public
opinion--Hakluyt, Thomas Hariot, Carlyle, Peckham, and the brothers
Gilbert--are struck with this need. But it is to the last named that
belongs the credit of indicating the locality suitable for the
establishing of colonies. Raleigh only joined with his brothers in
the scheme, following their lead, but he neither conceived nor began
the carrying into execution--as he has been too often credited with
doing--of this fruitful project, the colonization of the American
shores of the Atlantic. If Raleigh, all-powerful with Queen
Elizabeth, fickle and nevertheless jealous in her affections as she
was, encourage his brothers; if he expend himself 40,000_l._
sterling in his attempts at colonization, he still takes good care
not to quit England, for the life of patience and self-devotion of
the founder of a colony would have no attractions for him. He gives
up and sells his patent as soon as he perceives the inutility of his
efforts, while he does not forget to reserve for himself the fifth
part of any profit arising eventually from the colony.

[Illustration: Sir Walter Raleigh. _From an old print_.]

At the same time Raleigh fits out some vessels against the Spanish
possessions; and himself soon takes part in the strife and the
battles which saved England from the Invincible Armada, afterwards
proceeding to support the claims of the Prior de Crato, to the
throne of Portugal. It is a short time after his return to England
that he falls into disgrace with his royal mistress, and after his
release from prison, while he is confined to his princely mansion of
Sherborne, he conceives the project of his voyage to Guiana. To his
mind, this is a gigantic enterprise of which the marvellous results
are destined to draw upon him the attention of the whole world, and
to restore to him the favour of his sovereign. Would not the
discovery and conquest of El Dorado, of the country in which
according to Orellana, the temples are roofed with plates of gold,
where all the tools, even those for the meanest purposes, are made
of gold, where one walks upon precious stones, "procure for him
greater glory," these are the very words which Raleigh employs in
his account, "than Cortès had gained in Mexico, or Pizarro in Peru.
He will have under him more golden towns and nations than the King
of Spain, the Sultan of the Turks, and no matter what Emperor!" We
have already spoken of the fables which Orellana had invented in
1539, and which had been the fruitful source of more than one legend.
Humboldt discloses what had given them birth when he describes to us
the nature of the soil and the rocks which surround Lake Parima,
between the Essequibo and the Branco. "They are," says this great
traveller, "rocks of micaceous slate, and of sparkling talc, which
are resplendent in the midst of a sheet of water, which acts as a
reflector beneath the burning tropical sun." So are explained those
massive domes of gold, those obelisks of silver, and all those
marvels of which the boastful and enthusiastic minds of the
Spaniards afforded them a glimpse. Did Raleigh believe really in the
existence of this city of gold, for the conquest of which he was
about to sacrifice so many lives? Was he thoroughly convinced
himself, or did he not yield to the illusions of a mind eager for
glory? It is impossible to say, but this at least is indisputable,
that, to borrow the just expressions of M. Philarète Chasles, "at
the moment even of his embarkation men did not believe in his
promises, they were suspicious of his exaggerations, and dreaded the
results of an expedition directed by a man so fool-hardy, and of a
morality so equivocal."

[Illustration: Raleigh seizes Berreo. _From an old print_.]

Nevertheless, it seemed that Raleigh had foreseen everything needful
for this undertaking, and that he had made the necessary studies.
Not only did he speak of the nature of the soil of Guiana, of its
productions, and its inhabitants with imperturbable assurance, but
he had taken care to send, at his own expense, a ship commanded by
Captain Whiddon, to prepare the way for the fleet which he intended
to conduct in person to the banks of the Orinoco. What he took good
care, however, not to confide to the public, was that all the
information he received from his emissary was unfavourable to the
enterprise. Raleigh himself started from Plymouth on the 9th
February, 1595, with a small fleet of five vessels, and 100 soldiers,
without reckoning marines, officers, and volunteers. After stopping
four days at Fortaventura, one of the Canaries, to take in wood and
water there, he reached Teneriffe, where Captain Brereton ought to
have rejoined him. Having waited for him in vain for eighty days,
Raleigh sailed for Trinidad, where he met Whiddon. The island of
Trinidad was at that time governed by Don Antonio de Berreo, who, it
is said, had obtained accurate information concerning Guiana. The
arrival of the English did not please him, and he immediately
despatched emissaries to Cumana and to Margarita, with orders to
gather together the troops to attack the Englishmen, while at the
same time he forbade any Indians or Spaniards to hold intercourse
with them under pain of death. Raleigh, forewarned, determined to be
beforehand with him. At nightfall he landed in secret with 100 men,
captured the town of St. Joseph, to which the Indians set fire,
without a blow, and carried off Berreo and the principal personages
to the ships. At the same time arrived Captains Gifford and Knynin,
from whom he had been separated upon the Spanish Coasts. Raleigh at
once sailed for the Orinoco, entered Capuri Bay with a large galley
and three boats carrying 100 sailors and soldiers, became entangled
in the inextricable labyrinth of islands and canals which form the
mouth of the river, and ascended the Orinoco for a distance of 330
miles. The account which Raleigh gives of his campaign is so
fabulous, with the coolness of a Gascon transported to the banks of
the Thames, he so heaps one falsehood upon the top of another, that
one is almost tempted to class his narrative amongst the number of
imaginary voyages. He says that some Spaniards who had seen the town
of Manoa, called El Dorado, told him that this town exceeds in size
and wealth all the towns in the world, and everything which the
"conquistadores" had seen in America. "There is no winter there," he
says; "a soil dry and fertile, with game, and birds of every species
in great abundance, who filled the air with hitherto unknown notes;
it was a real concert for us. My captain, sent to search for mines,
perceived veins both of gold and silver; but as he had no tool but
his sword, he was unable to detach these metals to examine them in
detail; however, he carried away several bits of them which he
reserved for future examination. A Spaniard of Caracas called this
mine _Madre del Oro_ (mother of gold)." Then, as Raleigh well knows
that the public is on its guard against his exaggerations, he adds,
"It will be thought perchance, that I am the sport of a false and
cheating delusion, but why should I have undertaken a voyage thus
laborious, if I had not entertained the conviction that there is not
a country upon earth which is richer in gold than Guiana? Whiddon
and Milechappe, our surgeon, brought back several stones which
resembled sapphires. I showed these stones to several inhabitants of
Orinoco, who have assured me that there exists an entire mountain of
them." An old cacique of the age of 110, who nevertheless could
still walk ten miles without fatigue, came to see Raleigh, boasted
to him of the formidable power of the Emperor of Manoa, and proved
to him that his forces were insufficient. He depicted these people
as much civilized, as wearing clothes, and possessing great riches,
especially in plates of gold; finally, he spoke to him of a mountain
of pure gold. Raleigh relates that he wished to approach this
mountain, but, sad mischance, it was at that moment half submerged.
"It had the form of a tower, and appeared to me rather white than
yellow. A torrent which precipitated itself from the mountain,
swollen by the rains, made a tremendous noise, which could be heard
at the distance of many miles, and which deafened our people. I
recollected the description which Berreo had given of the brilliancy
of the diamonds and of the other precious stones scattered over the
various parts of the country. I had, however, some doubt as to the
value of these stones; their extraordinary whiteness, nevertheless
surprised me. After a short time of repose on the banks of the
Vinicapara, and a visit to the village of the cacique, the latter
promised to conduct me to the foot of the mountain by a circuitous
route; but at the sight of the numerous difficulties which presented
themselves, I preferred to return to the mouth of the Cumana, where
the caciques of the neighbourhood came to bring various presents,
consisting of the rare productions of the country." We will spare
the reader the description of people three times taller than
ordinary men, of cyclops, of natives who had their eyes upon the
shoulders, their mouth in the chest, and the hair growing from the
middle of the back--all affirmations seriously related, but which
give to Raleigh's narrative a singular resemblance to a fairy tale.
One fancies while reading it that it must be a page taken out of the
_Thousand and one Nights_.

If we put on one side all these figments of an imagination run mad,
what gain has been derived for geography? There was certainly no
pains spared in announcing with much noise, and very great puffing,
this fantastic expedition, and we may well say with the

   "In fancy free I an author see,
    Who says, 'The awful war I'll sing
    Of Titans with the Thunder-King:'
    Of this grand promise the result, we find,
                           Is often wind."



Distinguishing characteristics of the Seventeenth Century--The more
thorough exploration of regions previously discovered--To the thirst
for gold succeeds Apostolic zeal--Italian missionaries in Congo--
Portuguese missionaries in Abyssinia--Brue in Senegal and Flacourt
in Madagascar--The Apostles of India, of Indo-China, and of Japan.

The seventeenth century has a distinctive character of its own,
differing from that of the preceding century in the fact that nearly
all the great discoveries have been already made, and that the work
of this whole period consists almost exclusively in perfecting the
information already acquired. It contrasts equally with the century
which is to succeed it, because scientific methods are not yet
applied by astronomers and sailors, as they are to be 100 years
later. It appears in fact, that the narratives of the first
explorers--who were only able, so to speak, to obtain a glimpse of
the regions which they traversed while waging their wars,--may have
in some degree exercised a baneful influence upon the public mind.
Curiosity, in the narrowest sense of the word, is carried to an
extreme. Men travel over the world to gain an idea of the manners
and customs of each nation, of the productions and manufactures of
each country, but there is no real study. They do not seek to trace
what they see to its source, and to reason scientifically upon the
why and wherefore of facts. They behold, curiosity is satisfied, and
they pass on. The observations made do not penetrate beneath the
surface, and the great object appears to be to visit, as rapidly as
may be, all the regions which the sixteenth century has brought to

Besides, the abundance of the wealth diffused on a sudden over the
whole of Europe has caused an economic crisis. Commerce, like
industry, is transformed and altered. New ways are opened, new
mediums arise, new wants are created, luxury increases, and the
eagerness to make a fortune rapidly by speculation, turns the heads
of many. If Venice from a commercial point of view be dead, the
Dutch are about to constitute themselves, to use a happy expression
of M. Leroy-Beaulieu, "the carriers and agents of Europe," and the
English are preparing to lay the foundations of their vast colonial

To the merchants succeed the missionaries. They alight in large
numbers upon the newly-discovered countries, preaching the Gospel,
civilizing the barbarous nations, studying and describing the
country. The development of Apostolic zeal is one of the dominant
features of the seventeenth century, and it behoves us to recognize
all that geography and historic science owe to these devoted,
learned, and unassuming men. The traveller only passes through a
country, the missionary dwells in it. The latter has evidently much
greater facilities for acquiring an intimate knowledge of the
history and civilization of the nations which he studies. It is
therefore very natural that we should owe to them narratives of
journeys, descriptions, and histories, which are still consulted
with advantage, and which have served as a basis for later works.

If there be any country to which these reflections more particularly
apply, it is to Africa, and especially to Abyssinia. How much of
this vast triangular continent of Africa was known in the
seventeenth century? Nothing but the coasts, it will be said. A
mistake. From the earliest times the two branches of the Nile, the
Astapus and the Bahr-el-Abiad, had been known to the ancients. They
had even advanced--if the lists of countries and nations discovered
at Karnak by M. Mariette may be believed--as far as the great Lakes
of the interior. In the twelfth century, the Arab geographer Edrisi
writes an excellent description of Africa for Roger II. of Sicily,
and confirms these data. Later on, Cadamosto and Ibn Batuta travel
over Africa, and the latter goes as far as Timbuctoo. Marco Polo
affirms that Africa is only united to Asia by the Isthmus of Suez,
and he visits Madagascar. Lastly, when the Portuguese, led by Vasco
da Gama, have completed the circumnavigation of Africa, some of them
remain in Abyssinia, and in a short time diplomatic relations are
established between that country and Portugal. We have already said
something of Francesco Alvarez; in his train several Portuguese
missionaries settle in the country, amongst whom must be named
Fathers Paez and Lobo.

Father Paez left Goa in 1588 to preach Christianity upon the eastern
coast of North Africa. After long and sad mishaps, he landed at
Massowah in Abyssinia, traversed the country, and in 1618 pushed on
as far as the sources of the Blue Nile,--a discovery the
authenticity of which Bruce was hereafter to dispute, but of which
the narrative differs only in some unimportant particulars from that
of the Scotch traveller. In 1604, Paez, arrived at the court of the
king Za Denghel, had preached with such success that he had
converted the king and all his court. He had even soon acquired so
great an influence over the Abyssinian monarch, that the latter, in
writing to the Pope and to the King of Spain to offer them his
friendship, asked them to send him men fitted to teach his people.

Father Geronimo Lobo landed in Abyssinia with Alfonzo Meneses,
patriarch of Ethiopia, in 1625. But times were greatly changed. The
king converted by Paez had been murdered, and his successor, who had
summoned the Portuguese missionaries, died after a short time. A
violent revulsion of feeling ensued against the Christians, and the
missionaries were driven away, imprisoned, or given up to the Turks.
Lobo was charged with the mission of obtaining the sum necessary for
the ransom of his companions. After many wanderings, which led him
to Brazil, Carthagena, Cadiz, and Seville, to Lisbon and to Rome,
where he gave the Pope and the King of Spain numerous and accurate
details upon the Church of Ethiopia and the manners of the
inhabitants, he made a last journey in India, and returned to Lisbon
to die, in 1678.

Christianity had been introduced into Congo, upon the Atlantic coast,
in 1489, the year of its discovery by the Portuguese. At first
Dominicans were sent; but as they made scarce any progress, the Pope,
with the consent of the King of Portugal, despatched thither some
Italian Capuchins. These were Carli de Placenza in 1667, Giovanni
Antonio Cavazzi, from 1654 to 1668, afterwards Antonio Zucchelli and
Gradisca, from 1696 to 1704. We shall mention these missionaries
only, because they have published accounts of their journeys.
Cavazzi explored in succession Angola, the country of Matumba, and
the islands of Coanza and Loana. In the ardour of his apostolic zeal,
he could devise no better means of converting the blacks than by
burning their idols, rebuking the kings for the time-honoured custom
of polygamy, and subjecting to torture, or to being torn with whips,
those who relapsed into idolatry. Notwithstanding all this, he
gained considerable ascendancy over the natives, which, if it had
been well directed, might have produced very useful results in the
development of civilization and the progress of religion. The same
reproach is due also to Father Zucchelli and to the other
Missionaries in Congo. The narrative of Cavazzi, published at Rome
in 1687, asserted that Portuguese influence extended from 200 to 300
miles from the coast, and that in the interior there existed a very
important town, known by the name of San Salvador, which possessed
twelve churches, a Jesuit college, and a population of 50,000 souls.

At the close of the fourteenth century Pigafetta published the
account of the journey of Duarte Lopez, ambassador from the King of
Congo to the Courts of Rome and Lisbon. A map which accompanies this
narrative presents to us a Lake Zambré, in the very place occupied
by Lake Tanganyika, and more to the west, Lake Acque Lunda, from
whence issued the Congo River; south of the equator two lakes are
indicated, one the Lake of the Nile, the other, more to the east,
bears the name of Colué; they appear to be the Albert and the
Victoria Nyanza. This most curious information was rejected by the
geographers of the nineteenth century, who left blank the whole
interior of Africa.

Upon the West Coast of Africa at the mouth of the Senegal, the
French had established settlements which, under the skilful
administration of Andrew Brue, speedily received considerable
extension. Brue, _Commandant for the King and Director-general of
the Royal French Company upon the Senegal Coast and in other parts
of Africa_--so ran his official title--although he may be little
known, and the article which treats of him may be one of the most
curtailed in the great collections of biography, deserves to occupy
one of the most prominent positions among colonizers and explorers.
Not content with extending the colony as far as its present limits,
he explored countries which have been only lately revisited by
Lieutenant Mage, or which have not been visited at all since Brue's
time. He carried the French outposts eastwards above the junction of
the Senegal and the Faleme, northwards as far as Arguin, which we
have since abandoned, although reserving our rights, and southwards
as far as the island of Bissao. He explored in the interior Galam
and Bambouk, so rich in gold, and collected the earliest documents
concerning the Pouls, Peuls or Fouls, the Yoloffs and the Mussulmen,
who coming from the north, attempted the religious conquest of all
the black nations of the country. The information thus collected by
Brue about the history and migrations of these various people, is of
the greatest value, affording clear light, even in the present day,
to the geographer and the historian. Not only has Brue left us the
narrative of deeds of which he was witness and the description of
the places which he visited, but we also owe to him much information
about the productions of the countries, the plants, the animals, and
all the objects which would give occasion for commercial or
industrial enterprise. These most curious documents, put together
very maladroitly it must be confessed, by Father Labat, formed the
subject, a few years ago, of a very interesting work by M. Berlioux.

To the south-east of Africa, during the first half of the
seventeenth century, the French founded some commercial settlements
in Madagascar, an island long known under the name of St. Lawrence.
They build Fort Dauphin under the administration of M. de Flacourt;
several unknown districts of the island are explored as well as the
neighbouring islands upon the coast; the Mascarene Islands are
occupied in 1649. Although firm and moderate towards his countrymen,
De Flacourt did not use the same self-control towards the natives;
he even brought about a general revolt, as a consequence of which he
was recalled. Expeditions into the interior of Madagascar were
henceforth very rare, and it is not until the present day that we
find a thorough exploration carried out.

Of Indo-China and Thibet the only information which reached Europe
during the whole of the seventeenth century was due to the
missionaries. Such names as Father Alexandre de Rhodes, Ant.
d'Andrada, Avril, Benedict Goes, may not be passed over in silence.
In their _Annual Letters_ is to be found a quantity of information,
which even in the present day retains a real interest, as concerning
regions so long closed against Europeans. In Cochin China and Tonkin,
Father Tachard devoted himself to astronomical observations, of
which the result was to prove by the most conclusive evidence the
great errors in the longitudes given by Ptolemy. This called the
attention of the learned world to the necessity of a reform in the
graphic representation of the countries of the extreme east, and for
attaining this end, to the absolute need of close observations made
by specially qualified scientific men, or by navigators familiar
with astronomical calculations. The country which especially
attracted the missionaries was China, that enormous and populous
empire, which ever since the arrival of Europeans in India, had
persevered with the greatest strictness in the absurd policy of
abstention from any intercourse whatsoever with foreigners. It was
not until the close of the sixteenth century that the missionaries
obtained the permission, so often demanded before in vain, to
penetrate into the Middle Empire. Their knowledge of mathematics and
astronomy facilitated their settlement and enabled them to gather,
as well from the ancient annals of the country, as during their
journies, a prodigious quantity of most valuable information
concerning the history, ethnography, and geography of the Celestial
Empire. Fathers Mendoza, Ricci, Trigault, Visdelou, Lecomte,
Verbiest, Navarrete, Schall, and Martini, deserve especial mention
for having carried to China the arts and sciences of Europe, while
they diffused in the west the first accurate and precise information
upon the unprogressive civilization of the Flowery Land.


The Dutch in the Spice Islands--Lemaire and Schouten--Tasman--
Mendana--Queiros and Torrès--Pyrard de Laval--Pietro della Valle--
Tavernier--Thévenot--Bernier--Robert Knox--Chardin--De Bruyn--

The Dutch were not slow in perceiving the weakness and decadence of
the Portuguese power in Asia. They felt with how much ease a clever
and prudent nation might in a short time become possessed of the
whole commerce of the extreme East. After a considerable number of
private expeditions and voyages of reconnaissance they had founded
in 1602 that celebrated Company of the Indies which was destined to
raise to so high a pitch the wealth and prosperity of the metropolis.
Equally in its strife with the Portuguese as in its dealing with the
natives, the Company pursued a very skilful policy of moderation.
Far from founding colonies, or repairing and occupying the
fortresses which they took from the Portuguese, the Dutch bore
themselves as simple traders, exclusively occupied with their
commerce. They avoided building any fortified factory, except at the
intersection of the great commercial roads. Thus they were able in a
short time to seize all the carrying trade between India, China,
Japan, and Oceania. The one fault committed by the all-powerful
Company was the concentrating in its own hands a monopoly of the
trade in spices. It drove away the foreigners who had settled in the
Moluccas or in the Islands of Sunda, or who came thither to obtain a
cargo of spices; it even went the length, in order to raise the
price of this valuable commodity, of proscribing the cultivation of
certain species in a large number of islands, and of forbidding,
under pain of death, the exportation and sale of seeds and cuttings
of the spice-producing trees. In a few years the Dutch were
established in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, the Moluccas, and at the Cape
of Good Hope, harbours the best placed for ships returning to Europe.

It was at this time that a rich merchant of Amsterdam, Jacob Lemaire,
in concert with a skilful mariner, named Wilhem Cornelis Schouten,
conceived a project for reaching the Indies by a new route. The
Dutch States-General had in fact forbidden any subject of the United
Provinces, not in the pay of the Company of the Indies, from going
to the Spice Islands by way of the Cape of Good Hope or of the
Strait of Magellan. Schouten, according to some, Lemaire, according
to others, had formed the idea of eluding this interdict by seeking
a passage to the south of Magellan's Strait. This much is certain,
that Lemaire bore one half of the expense of the expedition, while
Schouten, by the aid of several merchants whose names have been
handed down to us, and who filled the chief offices in the town of
Hoorn, provided the other half. They fitted out the _Concorde_, a
vessel of 360 tons, and a yacht, carrying together a crew of
sixty-five men, and twenty-nine cannon. This was certainly an
equipment but little in accordance with the magnitude of the
enterprise. But Schouten was a skilful mariner, the crew had been
carefully chosen, and the vessels were abundantly furnished with
provisions and spare rigging. Lemaire was commissioner, and Schouten
the captain of the ship. The destination was kept secret, and
officers and crew entered into an unlimited engagement to go
wherever they might be led. On the 25th June, 1615, eleven days
after quitting the Texel, and when there was no longer anything to
be feared from indiscretion, the crews were assembled to listen to
the reading of an order which ran as follows: "The two vessels would
seek another passage than that of Magellan, by which to enter the
South Sea, and to discover there certain southern countries, in the
hope of obtaining enormous profits from them, and if heaven should
not favour this design, they would repair by means of the same sea
to the East Indies." This declaration was received with enthusiasm
by the whole crew, who were animated, like all Dutchmen of that
period, with a love for great discoveries.

The route then usually pursued for reaching South America--as may
perhaps have been already observed--followed the African coasts as
far as below the equator. The _Concorde_ did not try to deviate from
it; she reached the shores of Brazil, Patagonia, and Port Desire, at
300 miles to the north of the Strait of Magellan, but was for
several days hindered by storms from entering the harbour. The yacht
even remained for the space of one whole tide, aground and lying on
her side, but high water set her afloat again; only for a short time
however, for whilst some repairs were being done to her keel, her
rigging took fire, and she was consumed in spite of the energetic
efforts of the two crews. On the 13th January, 1616, Lemaire and
Schouten arrived at the Sebaldine Islands, discovered by Sebald de
Weerdt, and followed the coast of Tierra del Fuego at a short
distance from land. The coast ran east-quarter-south-east, and was
skirted by high mountains covered with snow. On the 24th of January
at mid-day, they sighted its extreme point, but eastward stretched
some more land, which also appeared to be of great elevation. The
distance between these two islands, according to the general opinion,
appeared to be about twenty-four miles, and Schouten entered the
strait which divided them. It was so encumbered with whales that the
ship was obliged to tack more than once to avoid them. The island to
the east received the name of Staten Island, and that to the west
the name of Maurice of Nassau.

[Illustration: The sea was so encumbered with whales.]

Twenty-four hours after entering this strait, which received the
name of Lemaire, the ship emerged from it, and to an archipelago of
small islands situated to starboard was given the name of Barneveldt,
in honour of the Grand Pensionary of Holland. In 58 degrees Lemaire
doubled Cape Horn--so named in remembrance of the town where the
expedition had been fitted out--and entered the South Sea. Lemaire
afterwards went northwards as far as the parallel of the Juan
Fernandez Islands, where he judged it wise to stop, in order to
recruit his men who were suffering from scurvy. As Magellan had done,
Lemaire and Schouten passed without perceiving them amongst the
principal Polynesian archipelagos, and cast anchor on the 10th April,
at the Island of Dogs, where it was only possible to procure a
little fresh water and some herbs. They hoped to reach the Solomon
Islands, but in the north the Dangerous Archipelago was entered, in
which were discovered Waterland Island--so named on account of its
containing a great lake--and Fly Island, because a cloud of these
insects settled upon the vessel, and it was impossible to get rid of
them until at the end of four days there was a change of wind.
Afterwards Lemaire crossed the Friendly Archipelago, and entered
that of the Navigators, or of Samoa, of which four small islands
still retain the names which were then given to them: Goed Hoep,
Cocoa, Horn, and Traitors' Islands. The inhabitants of these parts
showed themselves extremely addicted to stealing; they tried to draw
out the bolts from the ship and to break the chains. Scurvy
continued to prevail among the crew, and it was therefore a great
boon to receive from the king a present of a black boar and some
fruits. The sovereign, who was named Latou, speedily arrived in a
large canoe with sails, in shape like the Dutch sledges (_trainaux_),
escorted by a flotilla of five and twenty boats. The king did not
venture himself to go on board the _Concorde_, but his son was of a
bolder spirit, and inquired the reason of everything he saw with the
most lively curiosity. The next day the number of canoes was greatly
augmented, and the Dutch perceived by certain indications that an
attack was impending. Accordingly, a shower of stones falls on a
sudden upon the ship, the canoes approach nearer, become annoying,
and the Dutch to free themselves from them are forced to resort to a
discharge of musketry. This island was rightly named Traitors'

It was now the 18th of May, and Lemaire ordered the course to be
changed, that the Moluccas might be reached by the north of New
Guinea. He probably passed within sight of the Solomon Archipelago,
the Admiralty Islands, and the Thousand Islands (Mille Iles),
coasting afterwards along New Guinea from 143 degrees to Geelwink
Bay. He frequently landed, and gave names to a number of points: the
twenty-five islands which form a part of the Admiralty Archipelago,
the High Corner, the High Mountain (Hoogberg)--which seems to
correspond to a portion of the neighbouring coast of Kornelis-Kinerz
Bay--Moa and Arimoa, two islands again seen later on by Tasman, the
island to which was given the name of Schouten, but which is now
called Mysore and which must not be confounded with some other
Schouten Islands situated upon the Coast of Guinea but much farther
to the west, and finally the Cape Goede-Hoep, which appears to be
Cape Saavedra at the western extremity of Mysore. After sighting the
country of Papua, Schouten and Lemaire reached Gilolo, one of the
Moluccas, where they received an eager welcome from their

When they were thoroughly rested from their fatigues and cured of
scurvy, the Dutch went to Batavia, arriving there on the 23rd
October, 1616, only thirteen months after quitting the Texel, and
having lost only thirteen men during the long voyage. But the
Company of the Indies did not at all understand their privileges
being infringed upon, and a possibility discovered of reaching the
colonies by a way not foreseen in the letters patent which had been
granted to the Company at the time of its establishment. The
Governor caused the _Concorde_ to be seized, and arrested her
officers and sailors, whom he sent off to Holland, there to be tried.
Poor Lemaire, who had expected a totally different recompense for
his toils and fatigues, and for the discoveries which he had made,
could not bear up under the blow which had fallen so unexpectedly
upon him; he fell ill of grief and died in the latitude of the
island of Mauritius. As for Schouten, he appears not to have been
molested upon his return to his own country, and to have made
several voyages to the Indies, which were not distinguished by any
fresh discovery. He was returning to Europe in 1625, when he was
forced by bad weather to enter Antongil Bay, upon the east coast of
Madagascar, where he died.

Such was the history of this important expedition, which by means of
Strait Lemaire opened up a shorter and less dangerous route than
that by Magellan's Strait, an expedition signalized by several
discoveries in Oceania, and by a more attentive exploration of
points already seen by Spanish or Portuguese navigators. But it is
often a matter of difficulty to settle with accuracy to which of
these nations the discovery of certain islands, countries, or
archipelagos in the neighbourhood of Australia, may be due.

Since we are speaking of the Dutch, we shall put the chronological
order of discoveries a little on one side, that we may relate as
well as those of Mendana and Quiros, the expeditions of Jan Abel

What was the early history of Tasman, by what concurrence of
circumstances did he embrace the profession of a sailor, by what
means did he acquire the nautical skill and science of which he gave
so many proofs, and which conducted him to his important
discoveries? From ignorance we cannot answer these questions, all we
know of his biography commences with his departure from Batavia on
2nd June, 1639. After passing the Philippines, he would seem during
this first voyage to have visited in company with Matthew Quast the
Bonin Islands, then known by the fantastic title of "the Gold and
Silver Islands."

In a second expedition, composed of two vessels of which he had the
chief command, and which sailed from Batavia on the 14th of August,
1642, he reached the Mauritius on the 5th September, and afterwards
sailed to the south-east, seeking for the Australian Continent. On
the 24th November in latitude 42 degrees 25 minutes south, he
discovered land, to which he gave the name of Van-Diemen, after the
Governor of the Sunda Islands, but which is now with much greater
justice called Tasmania. He anchored there in Fredrik Hendrik Bay,
and ascertained that the country was inhabited, although he could
not see a single native.

After following this coast for a certain time, he sailed eastwards,
with the intention of afterwards making once more for the north, to
reach the Solomon Archipelago. On the 13th December, in latitude 42
degrees 10 minutes, he came in sight of a mountainous country which
he followed towards the north, until the 18th December, when he cast
anchor in a bay; but even the boldest of the savages whom he met
with there, did not approach the ship within a stone's throw. Their
voices were rough, their stature tall, their colour brown inclining
to yellow, and their black hair, which was nearly as long as that of
the Japanese, was worn drawn up to the crown of the head. On the
morrow they summoned courage to go on board one of the vessels and
carry on traffic by means of barter. Tasman, upon seeing these
pacific dispositions, despatched a boat for the purpose of obtaining
a more accurate knowledge of the shore. Of the sailors who manned it,
three were killed without provocation by the natives, while the
others escaped by swimming, and were picked up by the ships' boats,
but by the time they were in readiness to fire upon the assailants,
these had disappeared. The spot where this sad event happened,
received the name of Assassins' (Moordenaars) Bay. Tasman, who felt
convinced that he could not carry on any intercourse with such
fierce people, weighed anchor and sailed up the coast as far as its
extreme point, which he named Cape Maria Van-Diemen, in honour of
his "lady," for a legend states that having had the audacity to
pretend to the hand of the daughter of the governor of the East
Indies, the latter had sent him to sea with two dilapidated ships,
the _Heemskerke_ and the _Zeechen_.

[Illustration: Three were killed by the natives without

The land thus discovered received the name of Staaten Land, soon
changed into that of New Zealand. On the 21st January, 1643, Tasman
discovered the islands of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, upon which he
found a great quantity of pigs, fowls, and fruit. On the 6th
February, the ships entered an archipelago, consisting of a score of
islands, which were called Prince William Islands, and after
sighting Anthong-Java, Tasman followed the coast of New Guinea from
Cape Santa Maria, passed by the various points previously discovered
by Lemaire and Schouten, and anchored off Batavia on the 15th June
following, after a ten months' voyage.

In a second expedition, Tasman, in obedience to his orders dated
1664, was to visit Van Diemen's Land, and to make a careful
examination of the western coast of New Guinea, as far as 17 degrees
south latitude, in order to ascertain whether that island belonged
to the Australian Continent. It does not appear that Tasman carried
out this programme, but the loss of his journals causes complete
uncertainty as to the route which he followed, and the discoveries
which he may have made. From this time there is no record of the
events which marked the close of his career, nor of the place and
date of his death.

From the period of the taking of Malacca by Albuquerque, the
Portuguese conceived that a new world extended to the south of Asia.
Their ideas were soon shared by the Spaniards, and henceforward a
series of voyages were made on the Pacific Ocean, to search for a
southern continent, of which the existence appeared geographically
necessary to counterbalance the immense extent of the lands already
known. Java the Great, designated later by the names of New Holland
and Australia, had been seen by the French perhaps, or as is more
probable by Saavedra, from 1530 to 1540, and it was sought for by a
crowd of navigators, amongst whom we may mention the Portuguese,
Serrao and Meneses, and the Spaniards, Saavedra, Hernando de
Grijalva, Alvarado, and Inigo Ortiz de Retes, who explored the
greater part of the islands to the north of New Guinea, as well as
that great island itself. Afterwards come Mendana, Torrès, and
Quiros, upon whose deeds we shall pause a little, on account of the
importance and authenticity of the discoveries which we owe to them.

Alvaro Mendana de Neyra was nephew to the Governor of Lima, Don
Pedro de Castro, who warmly advocated with the home government his
nephew's project of searching for new countries in the Pacific Ocean.
Mendana was one-and-twenty when he took the command of two ships and
one hundred and twenty-five soldiers and sailors. He sailed from
Callao, the port of Lima, on the 19th November, 1567. After sighting
the small Island of Jesus, he discovered on the 7th February between
7 degrees and 8 degrees south latitude, the Island of Santa Isabella,
where the Spaniards built a brigantine, with which they explored the
archipelago of which this island was a part. "The inhabitants," says
the narrative of a companion of Mendana, "are anthropophagi, they
devour those whom they can make their prisoners in war, and even
without being in open hostility, those whom they can succeed in
taking by treachery." One of the chiefs in the island sent to
Mendana as a delicacy, a quarter of a child, but the Spanish
commander caused it to be buried in the presence of the natives, who
appeared much hurt by an act which they could not understand. The
Spaniards explored the Island las Palmas (Palm Island), los
Ramos--so named because it was discovered on Palm Sunday--Galley
Island, and Buena-Vista, of which the inhabitants, under the
appearance of friendship concealed hostile intentions, which were
not long in displaying themselves. The same reception awaited the
Spaniards at the Island San Dimas, at Sesarga, and at Guadalcanar,
upon which ginger was found for the first time. In the return voyage
to Santa Isabella, the Spaniards pursued a course which enabled them
to discover St. George Island, where they found bats as large as
kites. Scarcely had the crew of the brigantine cast anchor in the
harbour of Santa Isabella, than they were obliged again to weigh it,
for the place was so unhealthy that five soldiers died and a great
number of others were taken ill. Mendana stopped at the Island of
Guadalcanar, where out of ten men who had landed to fetch water, one
negro alone escaped from the attacks of the natives, who were
extremely angry at one of their fellows having been carried off by
the Spaniards. The punishment was terrible; twenty men were killed
and a number of houses burnt. Mendana afterwards visited several
islands of the Solomon archipelago, amongst others the Three Maries
and San Juan. Upon the latter island, whilst the ships were being
repaired and calked, several affrays with the natives occurred, in
which some prisoners were made. After this checkered rest, Mendana
again put to sea, and visited the islands of San Christoval, Santa
Catalina, and Santa Anna. But as by this time the number of invalids
was considerable, the provisions and ammunition nearly exhausted,
and the rigging become rotten, the flotilla now set out to return to
Peru. The separation of the flagship, the discovery of certain
islands which it is difficult to identify, and probably of the
Sandwich Islands; violent storms, during which the sails were
carried away; the sickness caused by the insufficiency and
putrefaction of the water and biscuit on board, were all incidents
signalizing this long and trying return voyage, which was ended by
the arrival of the ships at the port of Colima in California after
five months of navigation.

The narrative of Mendana excited no enthusiasm, in spite of the name
of Solomon which he gave to the archipelago discovered by him, to
make it believed that from thence came the treasures of the Jewish
King. Marvellous recitals had no longer any fascination for men
glutted with the riches of Peru. Proofs were what they demanded; the
smallest nugget of gold, or the least grain of silver would have
been more satisfactory to them.

Mendana had twenty-seven years to wait before he was able to
organize another expedition, but then his fleet was a large one, it
being proposed to found a colony in the island of San Christoval
which Alvaro de Mendana had seen during his first voyage. Thus four
ships carrying nearly four hundred people sailed from the port of
Lima on the 11th April, 1595. Amongst those on board may be named
Doña Isabella, wife of Mendana, the three brothers-in-law of the
general, and the pilot Pedro Fernandez Quiros, who later on
distinguished himself as commander-in-chief of another expedition.
The fleet did not finally leave the Peruvian coast, where its
equipment had been completed, until the 16th April. At the end of a
month's navigation, not distinguished by any remarkable incident, an
island was discovered, which according to custom received the name
of the saint whose day it was, and was called Magdalena. Immediately
the fleet was surrounded by a crowd of canoes bearing more than four
hundred Indians, of fine stature and nearly white, and who while
presenting cocoa-nuts and other fruits to the sailors, appeared to
entreat them to disembark. The natives no sooner came on board than
they began to pilfer, and it was necessary to fire a cannon to get
rid of them; a wound which one of the natives received in the fray
soon changed their disposition, and a discharge of musketry was the
reply to the shower of arrows which they let fly from their boats.
Not far from this island three others were discovered, San Pedro,
Dominica, and Santa Christina, and the name of _las Marquezas de
Mendoça_ was given to the group, in honour of the governor of Peru.
So friendly had been the intercourse at the beginning, that an
Indian woman upon seeing the beautiful fair hair of Doña Isabella de
Mendana had begged her by signs to give her a curl of it; but by the
fault of the Spaniards the mutual relations speedily became hostile,
and so continued until the day when the natives, becoming conscious
of the great inferiority of their arms, begged for peace.

On the 5th August the Spanish flotilla again put to sea and made
1200 miles west-north-west. On the 20th August were discovered the
St. Bernard, since called Dangerous Islands, and afterwards Queen
Charlotte's Islands, upon which notwithstanding the scarcity of
provisions, no landing was made. After Solitary Island--a name which
explains its situation--the Santa Cruz archipelago was reached. But
at this time, during a storm, the flagship became separated from the
fleet, and although search was made several times, no tidings of her
were obtained. Fifty canoes, carrying a crowd of natives of a tawny
complexion, or of a lustrous black, immediately approached the ships.
"All had frizzled hair, black, red, or some other colour (for it was
dyed); their teeth also were dyed red; the head was half shaven, the
body was naked, except a small veil of fine linen, the face and the
arms painted black, glittering and striped with various colours; the
neck and limbs loaded with several strings of small beads, of gold,
or of black wood, of fishes' teeth, or of a species of medals made
of mother of pearl, or of pearls." For arms they carried bows,
poisoned arrows with sharp points hardened in the fire, or tipped
with bone and steeped in the juice of a herb, great stones, heavy
wooden swords made of stiff wood, with three harpoon points, each
more than a handbreadth long. Slung over their shoulders they had
haversacks exceedingly well made out of palm leaves, and filled with
biscuits made from certain roots which serve them for food.

[Illustration: Doña Isabella consults the officers.]

At first Mendana thought he recognized in these natives the
inhabitants of the islands he was seeking, but he was quickly
undeceived. The vessels were received with a shower of arrows, which
was the more vexatious because Mendana, seeing that he could not
find the Solomon Islands, had determined to establish his colony in
this archipelago. At this juncture, discord reigned among the
Spaniards; a revolt fomented against the general was almost
immediately suppressed, and the guilty were executed. But these
sorrowful events and the fatigues of the voyage had so completely
undermined the health of the head of the expedition, that he died on
the 17th October, after having had time to indicate his wife as his
successor in the conduct of the enterprise. After the death of
Mendana the hostilities with the natives redoubled, and many of the
Spaniards were so exhausted by sickness and hardships, that a score
of thoroughly determined natives might easily have gained the
mastery over them. To persist in the intention of founding a
settlement under such conditions would have been folly; all agreed
in this, and the anchor was raised on the 18th November. Doña
Isabella de Mendana's project was to go to Manilla, and there to
obtain recruits from amongst the colonists, with whom she would
return to found a settlement. She consulted the officers, who all
gave their approval in writing; and she found in Quiros a devotion
and skill which were speedily to be put to a severe proof. They at
once steered away from New Guinea, in order to avoid being entangled
amongst the numerous archipelagos surrounding it, and also to enable
them sooner to reach the Philippines, which the dilapidated state of
the ships rendered necessary. After passing within sight of several
islands surrounded by reefs of madrepore, upon which the crews
wished to land, a permission which Quiros with great prudence always
refused, after having been separated from one of the ships of the
squadron, which could not or would not follow, the flotilla arrived
at the Ladrone--soon to be called the Marianne--Islands. The
Spaniards went on shore several times to buy some provisions; the
natives did not desire either their silver or gold, but set the
highest value upon iron and all tools made of that metal. The
narrative contains here some details upon the veneration shown by
the natives towards their ancestors, which are curious enough to
warrant our reproducing them verbatim: "They take out the bones from
the bodies of their relations, burn the flesh, and mixing the ashes
with _tuba_, a wine made from the cocoa palm, swallow them. They
weep for the dead every year for a whole week; there are a great
number of female mourners, who are to be hired for the purpose.
Besides that, all the neighbours come to weep in the house of the
deceased; the compliment being returned to them when the turn comes
for the feast to take place at their house. These anniversaries are
much frequented, all those assisting at them being liberally regaled.
They weep all day and drink to intoxication all night. They recite
in the midst of tears, the life and deeds of the dead, beginning
with the moment of his birth, and dealing with the whole course of
his life, recounting his strength, his height, his beauty, in a word,
all that can in any way do him honour. If some amusing action occur
in the recital, the company begin to laugh as if they would split
their sides; then on a sudden they drink and are again drowned in
tears. There are sometimes two hundred persons present at these
absurd anniversaries." When the Spanish crew arrived at the
Philippines, it was scarcely more than a company of skeletons,
emaciated and half dead with hunger. Doña Isabella landed at Manilla
on the 11th February, 1596, under a salute from the guns, and was
solemnly received in the midst of the troops drawn up under arms.
The rest of the crew, fifty having died since the departure from
Santa Cruz, were housed and fed at the public expense, and the women
all found husbands in Manilla, except four or five who embraced the
religious life. As for Doña Isabella, she was escorted back to Peru
some time afterwards by Quiros, who lost no time in submitting to
the viceroy a project for a fresh voyage. But Luis de Velasco, who
had succeeded Mendoza, referred the navigator to the King of Spain
and the Council of the Indies, under the pretext that such a
decision would overstep the limits of his authority. Quiros
therefore went to Spain and thence to Rome, where he received a
kindly welcome from the Pope, who recommended him warmly to Philip
III. At length in 1605, after numberless applications and
solicitations, he was empowered to fit out at Lima the two vessels
which he should judge the most suitable for the investigation of the
Australian continent and for continuing the discoveries of Mendana.
With two ships and one light vessel, Quiros set out from Callao on
the 21st December, 1605. At 3000 miles from Peru he had as yet
discovered no land. In latitude 25 degrees south he observed a group
of small islands belonging to the Dangerous archipelago. These were
the _Convercion de San Pablo_, the _Osnabrugh_ of Wallis, and
_Decena_, so named because it was the tenth island seen. Although
this island was defended by rocks, intercourse was carried on with
the natives, whose dwellings were scattered about amongst palm-trees
on the sea shore. The natives were strong and well proportioned, and
their chief wore on his head a kind of crown made of small black
feathers so fine and supple that they might have been taken for silk.
His fair hair, which descended to the waist, excited the wonder of
the Spaniards, who, not being able to understand how a man with so
tawny coloured a face could have such light yellow hair, "chose to
think that he was married, and that he wore his wife's hair." This
singular colour was only due to the habitual use of powdered lime,
which burns the hair and causes it to turn yellow.

This island to which Quiros gave the name of Sagittaria, is,
according to Fleurieu, Tahiti, one of the principal of the group of
Society Islands. On the succeeding days Quiros sighted several other
islands, upon which he did not land, and to which he gave names
taken from the Calendar, according to a practice which has changed
all the native nomenclature of Oceania into a veritable litany. One
island visited may be especially noticed; it was named the island of
_la Gente Hermosa_ on account of the beauty of its inhabitants, and
of the fair colour and coquetry of its women, who, as the Spaniards
declared, even bore away the palm for grace and attractiveness from
their own fellow-countrywomen of Lima, whose beauty is proverbial.
This island, according to Quiros, was situated upon the same
parallel as Santa Cruz, to which he intended to go. He therefore
sailed westward and reached an island called by the natives Taumaco,
in 10 degrees south latitude and 240 miles east of Santa Cruz. This
must have been one of the Duff Islands, and here Quiros was told
that if he directed his course southwards, he would discover a great
land, of which the inhabitants were whiter than those whom he had
hitherto seen. This information determined him to abandon his scheme
of going to Santa Cruz. He steered in a south-westerly direction,
and after having sighted several small islands, he arrived on the
1st May, 1606, in a bay more than twenty-four miles broad. He gave
to this island the name which it still bears, of Espiritu Santo. It
was one of the New Hebrides group. What events happened during the
stay of the ships here? The narrative is silent upon this subject,
but we know from other sources that the crew mutinied, made Quiros
prisoner, and abandoning the second ship and the brigantine, set out
on the 11th June to return to America, where they arrived on the 3rd
October, 1606, after a nine months' voyage. M. Ed. Charton throws no
light upon this incident. He is silent upon the mutiny of the crew,
and even throws all the blame of the separation upon the commander
of the second vessel, Luis Vaes de Torrès, who abandoned his chief
in quitting Espiritu Santo. Now it is known by a letter from Torrès
himself to the King of Spain--published by Lord Stanley at the end
of his English edition of Antoine de Morga's _History of the
Philippines_--that he remained "fifteen" days waiting for Quiros in
the Bay of Saint Philip and Saint James. The officers met in council,
resolved to weigh anchor on the 26th June, and to continue the
search for the Australian continent. Hindered by bad weather, which
prevents him from sailing round Espiritu Santo Island, assailed by
the demands of a crew over whom prevails a slight breath of mutiny,
Torrès decides to steer to the north-east to reach the Spanish
Islands. In 11 degrees 30 minutes he discovers land, which he
imagines must be the commencement of New Guinea. "All this land is
part of New Guinea," says Torrès, "it is peopled by Indians who are
not very white, and who go naked, although their middles are covered
with the bark of trees.... They fight with javelins, bucklers, and
certain clubs of stone, the whole adorned with beautiful feathers.
All along this land there are other inhabited islands. Upon the
whole of this coast there are numerous and vast harbours, with very
broad rivers and great plains. Outside these islands stretch reefs
and shallows; the islands are between these dangers and the mainland,
and a channel runs between. We took possession of these harbours in
your Majesty's name. Having pursued this coast for 900 miles, and
seen our latitude decrease from 2-1/2 degrees until we found
ourselves in 9 degrees, at this point commenced a shoal of from
three to nine fathoms deep, which stretched along the coast to 7-1/2
degrees. Not being able to proceed farther on account of the
numerous shallows and powerful currents which we encountered, we
decided to alter our course to the south-west, by the deep channel
which has been mentioned, as far as about 11 degrees. There is there,
from one end to the other, an archipelago of innumerable islands, by
which I passed. At the end of the eleventh degree the bottom became
deeper. There were some very large islands there, and there appeared
to be more of them towards the south; they were inhabited by a black
population, very robust and quite naked, bearing for arms, strong
and long spears, arrows, and stone clubs roughly fashioned."

Modern geographers are agreed in recognizing in the localities thus
described, that portion of the Australian Coast which ends in York
Peninsula, and the extremity of New Guinea recently visited by
Captain Moresby. It was known that Torrès had entered the strait
which has been named after him, and which divides New Guinea from
Cape York; but the very recent exploration of the south-eastern
portion of New Guinea, of which the population has been discovered
to be of a comparatively light colour and differing much from the
Papous, has just furnished an unexpected confirmation of the
discoveries of Quiros. It is for this reason that we have dwelt at
some length upon them, referring for the purpose to a very learned
work of M. E. T. Hamy, which appeared in the _Bulletin de la Société
de Géographie_.

It behoves us now to say a few words about some travellers who
explored some unfrequented countries, and furnished their
contemporaries with more exact knowledge of a world until then
almost unknown. The first of these travellers is François Pyrard, of
Laval. Having embarked in 1601 on board a St. Malo ship to go to the
Indies to trade, he was wrecked in the Maldive Archipelago. These
islets or atolls (detached coral reefs,) to the number of at least
12,000, descend into the Indian Ocean from Cape Comorin as far as
the equator. The worthy Pyrard relates his shipwreck, the flight of
a portion of his companions in captivity in the archipelago, and his
long sojourn of seven years upon the Maldive Islands, a stay
rendered almost agreeable by the pains which he took to acquire the
native language. He had plenty of time to learn the manners, customs,
religion, and industries of the inhabitants, as well as to study the
productions and climate of the country. Thus his narrative is filled
with details of all kinds, and had retained its attractions until
recent years, because travellers do not voluntarily frequent this
unhealthy archipelago, the isolated situation of which had kept away
foreigners and conquerors. Pyrard's narrative therefore, is still
instructive and agreeable reading.

In 1607, a fleet was sent to the Maldives by the King of Bengal, in
order to carry off the 100 or 120 cannon which the Maldive sovereign
owed to the wreck of numerous Portuguese vessels. Pyrard,
notwithstanding all the liberty allowed him, and that he had become
a landholder, was desirous to behold his beloved Brittany once more.
He therefore eagerly embraced this opportunity of quitting the
Archipelago with the three companions who out of the whole crew
alone remained with him. But the eventful travels of Pyrard were not
yet concluded. Taken first to Ceylon, he was carried afterwards to
Bengal, and endeavoured to reach Cochin. Before reaching this town
he was captured by the Portuguese and carried prisoner to Cochin; he
afterwards fell ill and was nursed in the Hospital of Goa which he
only quitted to serve for two years as a soldier, at the end of
which time he was again thrown into prison, and it was not until
1611, that he was able to revisit the good town of Laval. After so
many trials, Pyrard must doubtless have felt the need of repose, and
we are justified in imagining, from the silence of history as to the
close of his life, that he was privileged at length to find

While the honest burgess François Pyrard, was, so to speak, in spite
of himself, and from having indulged the desire of making a fortune
too rapidly, launched into adventures in which he had to pass much
of his life, circumstances of a different and romantic kind caused
Pietro della Valle to determine upon travelling. Descendant of an
ancient and noble family, he is by turns a soldier of the Pope, and
a sailor chasing Barbary corsairs. Upon his return to Rome he finds
that a rival, profiting by his absence, has taken his place with a
young girl whom he was to have married. So great a misfortune
demands an heroic remedy, and Della Valle makes a vow of pilgrimage
to the Holy Sepulchre. But if, as saith the proverb, there is no
road which does not lead to Rome, so there is no circuit so long as
not to lead to Jerusalem, and of this Della Valle was to make proof.
He embarks at Venice in 1614, passes thirteen months at
Constantinople, reaches Alexandria by sea, afterwards Cairo, and
joins a caravan which at length brings him to Jerusalem. But while
en route, Delia Valle had no doubt imbibed a taste for a traveller's
life, for he visits in succession Baghdad, Damascus, Aleppo, and
even pushes on as far as the ruins of Babylon. We must believe that
Della Valle was marked out as an easy prey to love, for upon his
return he becomes enamoured of a young Christian woman of Mardin, of
wondrous beauty, whom he marries. One would imagine that here at
length is fixed the destiny of this indefatigable traveller. Nothing
of the kind. Della Valle contrives to accompany the Shah in his war
against the Turks, and to traverse during four consecutive years the
provinces of Iran. He quits Ispahan in 1621, loses his wife in the
month of December of the same year, causes her to be embalmed, and
has her coffin carried about in his train for four years longer,
which he devotes to exploring Ormuz, the western coasts of India,
the Persian Gulf, Aleppo, and Syria, landing at length at Naples in

The countries which this singular character visited, urged on as he
was by an extraordinary enthusiasm, are described by him in a shrewd,
gay, and natural style, and even with some degree of fidelity. But
he inaugurates the pleiad of amateur, curious, and commercial
travellers. He is the first of that prolific race of tourists who
each year encumber geographical literature with numerous volumes,
from which the savant finds nothing to glean beyond meagre details.

Tavernier is a specimen of insatiable curiosity. At two-and-twenty
he has traversed France, England, the Low Countries, Germany,
Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, and Italy. Then when Europe no longer
offers any food for his curiosity, he starts for Constantinople,
where he remains for a year, and then arrives in Persia, where the
opportunity and

    Quelque diable, aussi, le poussant,

he sets to work to purchase carpets, stuffs, precious stones, and
those thousand trifles of which lovers of curiosities soon became
passionately fond, and for which they were ready to pay fabulous
sums. The profit which Tavernier realized from his cargo induced him
to resume his travels. But like a wise and prudent man, before
starting he learnt from a jeweller the art of knowing precious
stones. During four successive journeys from 1638 to 1663, he
travelled over Persia, the Mogul Empire, the Indies as far as the
frontier of China, and the Islands of Sunda. Dazzled by the immense
fortune which his traffic had obtained for him, Tavernier would play
the lord, and soon saw himself on the verge of ruin, which he hoped
to avert by sending one of his nephews to the east with a
considerable venture, but instead, his ruin was consummated by this
young man, who, judging it best to appropriate the goods which had
been confided to him, settled down at Ispahan. Tavernier, who was a
well-educated man, made a number of interesting observations upon
the history, manners and customs, of the countries which he visited.
His narrative certainly contributed to give his contemporaries a
much more correct idea of the countries of the east than they
previously possessed.

All travellers during the reign of Louis XIV. take the route to the
East Indies, whatever may be the end they have in view. Africa is
entirely deserted, and if America be the theatre of any real
exploration, it is carried out without aid from government.

Whilst Tavernier was accomplishing his last and distant excursions,
a distinguished archæologist, Jean de Thévenot, nephew of
Melchisedec Thévenot--a learned man to whom we owe an interesting
series of travels--journeyed through Europe, and visited Malta,
Constantinople, Egypt, Tunis, and Italy. He brought back in 1661 an
important collection of medals and monumental inscriptions,
recognized nowadays as so important a help to the historian and the
philologist. In 1664, he set out anew for the Levant, and visited
Persia, Bassorah, Surat, and India, where he saw Masulipatam,
Burhampur, Aurungabad, and Golconda. But the fatigues which he had
experienced prevented his return to Europe, and he died in Armenia
in 1667. The success of his narratives was considerable, and was
well deserved by the care and exactitude of a traveller whose
scientific attainments in history, geography, and mathematics, far
surpassed the average level of his contemporaries.

We must now speak of the amiable Bernier, the "pretty philosopher,"
as he was entitled in his polite circle, in which were found Ninon
and La Fontaine, Madame de la Sablière, St. Evremont, and Chapelle,
without reckoning many other good and gay spirits, refractories from
the stiff solemnity which then weighed upon the entourage of Louis
XIV. Bernier could not escape from the fashion of travelling. After
having taken a rapid survey of Syria and Egypt, he resided for
twelve years in India, where his good knowledge of medicine
conciliated the favour of Aurung-Zebe, and gave him the opportunity
of beholding in detail, and with profit, an empire then in the full
bloom of its prosperity.

To the south of Hindostan, Ceylon had more than one surprise in
reserve for its explorers. Robert Knox, taken prisoner by the
natives, owed to this sad circumstance his long residence in the
country and the collection of the first authentic documents relating
to the forests and the savage natives of Ceylon, the Dutch, with a
commercial jealousy which they were not singular in evincing, having
until now kept secret all the information which had come to light
concerning an island of which they were endeavouring to make a

[Illustration: Jean Chardin. _From an old print_.]

Another merchant, Jean Chardin, the son of a rich Parisian jeweller,
jealous of the successes of Tavernier, desired, like him, to make
his fortune by trading in diamonds. The countries which attract
these merchants are those of which the fame for wealth and
prosperity is become proverbial; these are Persia and India, where
rich costumes sparkle with jewels and gold, and where there are
mines of diamonds of a fabulous size. The moment is well chosen for
visiting these countries. Thanks to the Mogul Emperors, civilization
and art have been developed; mosques, palaces, temples have been
built, and towns have risen suddenly. Their taste--that curious
taste, so distinctly characterized, so different from our own,--is
displayed in the construction of gigantic edifices, quite as much as
in jewellery and goldsmith's work, and in the manufacture of those
costly trifles of which the east was beginning to be passionately
fond. Like a wise man, Chardin takes a partner, as good a
connoisseur as himself. At first Chardin only traversed Persia in
order to reach Ormuz and to embark for the Indies. The following
year he returns to Ispahan, and applies himself to learn the
language of the country, in order to be able to transact business
directly and without any intermediary agent. He has the good fortune
to please the Shah, Abbas II. From that time his fortune is made,
for it is at once genteel and also the part of a prudent courtier to
employ the same purveyor as his sovereign. But Chardin had another
merit besides that of making a fortune. He was able to collect so
considerable a mass of information concerning the government,
manners, creeds, customs, towns, and populations of Persia, that his
narrative has remained to our own days the _vade-mecum_ of the
traveller. This guide is so much the more precious because Chardin
took care to engage at Constantinople a clever draughtsman named
Grelot, by whom were reproduced the monuments, cities, scenes,
costumes, and ceremonies which so well portray what Chardin called,
"the every day of a people."

When Chardin returned to France in 1670, the Revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, with the barbarous persecutions which resulted from it,
had chased from their country great numbers of artisans, who, taking
refuge in foreign countries enriched them with our arts and
manufactures. Chardin, being a protestant, clearly perceived that
his religion would hinder him from attaining "to what are termed
honours and advancement." As, to use his own words, "one is not free
to believe what one will," he resolved to return to the Indies
"where, without being urged to a change of religion," he could not
fail of attaining an honourable position. Thus liberty of conscience
was at that period greater in Persia than in France. Such an
assertion on the part of a man who had made the comparison, is but
little flattering to the grandson of Henry IV.

This time, however, Chardin did not follow the same route as before.
He passed by Smyrna and Constantinople, and from thence, crossing
the Black Sea, he landed in the Crimea, in the garb of a religious.
Whilst passing through the region of the Caucasus he had the
opportunity of studying the Abkasians and Circassians. He afterwards
penetrated into Mingrelia, where he was robbed of his goods and
papers, and of a portion of the jewels which he was taking back to
Europe. He could not have escaped himself had it not been for the
devotion to him of the theatines, from whom he had received
hospitality, but he escaped only to fall into the hands of the Turks,
who, in their turn, accepted a ransom for him. After further
misadventures he arrived at Tiflis on the 17th of December, 1672,
and as Georgia was then governed by a prince who was a tributary of
the Shah of Persia, it was easy for Chardin to reach Erivan, Tauriz,
and finally Ispahan.

After a stay of four years in Persia, and a concluding journey to
India, during which he realized a considerable fortune, Chardin
returned to Europe and settled in England, his own country on
account of his religion, being forbidden ground to him.

The journal of his travels forms a large work, in which everything
that concerns Persia is especially developed. The long stay he made
in the country and his intimate acquaintance with the highest
personages of the state enabled him to collect numerous and
authentic documents. It may fairly be said that in this way Persia
was better known in the seventeenth century than it was 100 years

The countries which Chardin had just explored were visited again
some years later by a Dutch painter, Cornelius de Bruyn, or Le Brun.
The great value of his work consists in the beauty and accuracy of
the drawings which illustrate it, for as far as the text is
concerned, it contains nothing which was not known before, except in
what relates to the Samoyedes, whom he was the first to visit.

[Illustration: Japanese Warrior. _From an old print_.]

We must now speak of the Westphalian, Kæmpfer, almost a naturalized
Swede in consequence of his long sojourn in Scandinavian countries.
He refused the brilliant position which was there offered him in
order to accompany as secretary, an ambassador who was going to
Moscow. He was thus enabled to see the principal cities of Russia, a
country which at that period had scarcely entered upon the path of
western civilization; afterwards he went to Persia, where he quitted
the Ambassador Fabricius, in order to enter the service of the Dutch
Company of the Indies, and to continue his travels. He thus visited
in the first place Persepolis, Shiraz, Ormuz upon the Persian Gulf,
where he was extremely ill, and whence he embarked in 1688 for the
East Indies. Arabia Felix, India, the Malabar Coast, Ceylon, Java,
Sumatra, and Japan were afterwards all visited by him. The object of
these journeys was exclusively scientific. Kæmpfer was a physician,
but was more especially devoted to the various branches of Natural
History, and collected, described, drew, or dried, a considerable
number of plants then unknown in Europe, gave new information upon
their use in medicine or manufactures, and collected an immense
herbarium, which is now preserved with the greater part of his
manuscripts in the British Museum in London. But the most
interesting portion of his narrative, now-a-days indeed quite
obsolete and very incomplete since the country has been opened up to
our scientific men,--was for a long time that relating to Japan. He
had contrived to procure books treating of the history, literature,
and learning of the country, when he had failed in obtaining from
certain personages to whom he had rendered himself very acceptable,
information which was not usually imparted to foreigners.

To conclude, if all the travellers of whom we have just spoken are
not strictly speaking discoverers, if they do not explore countries
unknown before, they all have, in various degrees and according to
their ability or their studies, the merit of having rendered the
countries which they visited better known. Besides they were able to
banish to the domain of fable, many of the tales which others less
learned had naïvely accepted, and which had for long become so
completely public property that nobody dreamed of disputing them.

Thanks to these travellers, something is known of the history of the
east, the migrations of nations began to be dimly suspected, and
accounts to be given of the changes in those great empires of which
the very existence had been long problematical.



William Dampier; or a Sea-King of the Seventeenth Century.

William Dampier was born in 1612 at East Coker, and by the death of
his parents was from his childhood left to his own control. Not
possessing any great taste for study, he preferred running wild in
the woods, and fighting with his companions, to remaining in his
place on the school benches. While still young he was sent to sea as
cabin-boy on board merchant ships. After a voyage to Newfoundland
and a campaign in the East Indies, he took service in the Naval
Marine, and being wounded in a battle, returned to Greenwich to be
nursed. Free from any prejudices, Dampier forgot his engagement when
he left the Military Hospital, and started for Jamaica in the
position of manager of a plantation. It did not require a long trial
to discover that this occupation was not to his taste. So he
abandoned his negroes at the end of six months, and went on board a
ship bound for the Bay of Campeachy, where he worked for three years
at gathering in woods for dyeing.

At the end of that period he is again found in London, but the laws
and the officers charged with compelling their observance are too
strict for his comfort. He goes back to Jamaica, where he speedily
puts himself into communication with those famous buccaneers and
corsairs, who at that time did so much harm to the Spaniards.

These English or French adventurers, established in the Island of
Tortuga, off the coast of San Domingo, had sworn implacable hatred
to Spain. Their ravages were not confined to the Gulf of Mexico:
they crossed the Isthmus of Panama and devastated the coast of the
Pacific Ocean from the Strait of Magellan to California. Terror
exaggerated the exploits of these pirates, which however presented
something of the marvellous.

It was amongst these adventurers, then commanded by Harris, Sawkins,
and Shays, that Dampier enrolled himself. In 1680 we find him in
Darien, where he pillages Santa Maria, endeavours in vain to
surprise Panama, and with his companions, on board of some wretched
canoes stolen from the Indians, captures eight vessels well armed,
which were at anchor not far from the town. In this affair the
losses of the corsairs are so great in the fight, and the spoil is
so poor, that they separate from each other. Some go back to the
Gulf of Mexico, while others establish themselves upon the island of
Juan Fernandez, whence shortly after they attack Arica. But here
again they were so roughly handled that a new secession takes place,
and Dampier is sent to Virginia, where his captain hoped to make
some recruits. There Captain Cook was fitting out a vessel, with the
intention of reaching the Pacific by the Strait of Magellan, and
Dampier joins the expedition. It begins by privateering upon the
African coast, in the Cape de Verd Islands, at Sierra Leone, and in
the River Scherborough, for this is the route habitually taken by
the ships going to South America. In 36 degrees south latitude,
Dampier, who notes in his journal every interesting fact, remarks
that the sea is become white or rather pale, but of this he cannot
explain the reason, which he might easily have done had he made use
of the microscope. The Sebaldine Islands are passed without incident,
the Strait of Le Maire is traversed, Cape Horn is doubled on the 6th
February, 1684, and as soon as he can escape from the storms which
usually assail ships entering the Pacific, Captain Cook arrives at
the island of Juan Fernandez, where he hopes to revictual. Dampier
wondered if he would find a Nicaraguan Indian there, who had been
left behind in 1680 by Captain Sharp. "This Indian had remained
alone upon the island for more than three years. He had been in the
woods hunting goats when the English captain had ordered his men to
re-embark, and they had set sail without perceiving his absence. He
had only his gun and his knife, with a small horn of powder and a
little lead; when his powder and lead were exhausted he had
contrived to saw the barrel of his gun into small pieces with his
knife, and out of them to make harpoons, spears, fish hooks and a
long knife. With these instruments he obtained all the supplies
which the island afforded: goats and fish. At the distance of half a
mile from the sea, he had a small hut covered with goat skins. He
had no clothes left, but an animal's skin covered his loins." We
have dwelt at some length upon this involuntary hermit because he
served Daniel de Foe as the original of his "Robinson Crusoe," a
romance which has formed the delight of every child.

We shall not relate minutely all the expeditions in which Dampier
participated. Suffice it to mention that in this campaign he visited
the Gallapagos Islands. In 1686, Dampier was serving on board of
Captain Swan's ship, who, seeing that the greater part of his
enterprises failed, went to the East Indies, where the Spaniards
were less upon their guard, and where the corsairs reckoned upon
seizing the Manilla galleon. But when our adventurers arrived at
Guaham, they had only three days' provisions, and the sailors had
plotted if the voyage should be prolonged, to eat in turn all those
who had declared themselves in favour of the voyage, and to begin
with the captain who had proposed it. Dampier's turn would have come
next. "Thus it came to pass," says he very humourously, "that after
having cast anchor at Guaham, Swan embraced him and said: 'Ah
Dampier, you would have made them but a sorry meal.' He was right,"
he adds, "for I was as thin and lean, as he was fat and plump."
Mindanao, Manilla, certain parts of the Chinese coasts, the Moluccas,
New Holland, and the Nicobar Islands, were the places visited and
plundered by Dampier in this campaign. In the last-named archipelago
he became separated from his companions, and was discovered half
dead upon the coast of Sumatra.

[Illustration: "Ah! Dampier, you would have afforded them but a
sorry meal."]

During this voyage, Dampier had discovered several hitherto unknown
islands, and especially the Baschi group. Like the thorough
adventurer he was, immediately he recovered his health he travelled
over the south of Asia, Malacca, Tonkin, Madras, and Bencoolen,
where he enrolled himself as an artilleryman in the English service.
Five months afterwards he deserted and returned to London. The
narrative of his adventures and his privateering obtained for him a
certain amount of sympathy amongst the higher classes, and he was
presented to the Earl of Oxford, Lord High Admiral. He speedily
received the command of the ship _Roebuck_ to attempt a voyage of
discovery in the seas which he had already explored. He left England
on the 14th January, 1699, with the intention of passing through the
Strait of Magellan, or of making the tour of Tierra del Fuego, so as
to commence his discoveries on the coasts of the Pacific, which had
hitherto received the visits of a comparatively small number of
travellers. After crossing the line on the 10th March, he sailed for
Brazil, where the ship was revictualled. Far from being able again
to descend the coast of Patagonia, he beheld himself driven by the
wind to forty-eight miles south of the Cape of Good Hope, whence he
steered east-south-east towards New Holland, a long passage which
was not signalized by any adventure. On the 1st August, Dampier saw
land, and at once sought for a harbour in which to land. Five days
later he entered the Bay of Sea-Dogs upon the western coast of
Australia; but he only found there a sterile soil, and met with
neither water nor vegetation. Until the 31st August, he sailed along
this coast without discovering what he sought. Once when he landed,
he had a slight skirmish with some of the inhabitants, who seemed to
be very thinly scattered over the country. Their chief was a young
man of middle height, but quick and vigilant; his eyes were
surrounded by a single ring of white paint, while a stripe of the
same colour descended from the top of his forehead to the end of his
nose; his chest and arms were likewise striped with white. His
companions were black, fierce in aspect, their hair woolly, and in
shape they were tall and slender.

For five weeks Dampier hovered near land, and found neither water
nor provisions; however, he would not give in, and intended to
continue to ascend the coast northwards, but the shallows which he
incessantly encountered, and the monsoon from the north-west which
was soon due, obliged him to give up the enterprise, after having
discovered more than 900 miles of the Australian continent. He
afterwards steered towards Timor, where he intended to repose and
recruit his crew, exhausted by the long voyage. But he knew little
of these parts, and his charts were quite insufficient. He was
therefore obliged to make a reconnaissance of it, as if the Dutch
had not already been long settled there. Thus he discovered a
passage between Timor and Anamabao, in a locality in which his map
only indicated a bay. The arrival of Dampier in a port known only to
themselves, astonished and greatly displeased the Dutch. They
imagined that the English could only have reached it by means of
charts taken on board a ship of their own. However, in the end they
recovered from their fright and received the strangers with kindness.

Although the precursors of the monsoon were making themselves felt,
Dampier again put to sea, and steered towards the western coast of
New Guinea, where he arrived on the 4th February, 1700, near to Cape
Maho of the Dutch. Amongst the things which struck him, Dampier
notices the prodigious quantities of a species of pigeon, bats of
extraordinary size, and scallops, a kind of shell fish, of which the
empty shell weighed as much as 258 lbs. On the 7th of February he
approaches King William's Island and runs to the east, where he soon
sights the Cape of Good Hope of Schouten, and the island named after
that navigator. On the 24th the crew witnessed a curious spectacle:
"Two fish, which had accompanied the vessel for five or six days,
perceived a great sea serpent, and began to pursue it. They were
about the shape and size of mackerel, but yellow and green in colour.
The serpent, who fled from them with great swiftness, carried his
head out of the water, and one of them attempted to seize his tail.
As soon as he turned round, the first fish remained in the rear, and
the other took his place. They retained their wind for a long time,
always heedful to defend themselves by flight, until they were lost
to view."

On the 25th, Dampier gave the name of Saint Matthias to a
mountainous island, thirty miles long, situated above and to the
east of the Admiralty Islands. Further on at the distance of
twenty-one or twenty-four miles, he discovered another island, which
received the name of Squally Island, on account of violent
whirlwinds which prevented him from landing upon it. Dampier
believed himself to be on the coast of New Guinea, while he was in
reality sailing along that of New Ireland. He endeavoured to land
there, but he was surrounded by canoes carrying more than 200
natives, and the shore was covered by a large crowd. Seeing that it
would be imprudent to send a boat on shore, Dampier ordered the ship
to be put about. Scarcely was the order given, when the ship was
assailed by showers of stones, which the natives hurled from a
machine of which Dampier could not discover the shape, but which
caused the name of Slingers' Bay to be given to this locality. A
single discharge of cannon stupefied the natives, and put an end to
hostilities. A little further on, at some distance from the coast of
New Ireland, the English discover the Islands of Denis and St. John.
Dampier is the first to pass through the strait which separates New
Ireland from New Britain, and discovers Vulcan, Crown, G. Rook, Long
Reach and Burning Islands.

[Illustration: Battle in Slingers' Bay.]

After this long cruise, distinguished by important discoveries,
Dampier again steered towards the west, reached Missory Island, and
at length arrived at the Island of Ceram, one of the Moluccas, where
he made a somewhat long stay. He went afterwards to Borneo, passed
through the Strait of Macassar, and on the 23rd of June anchored at
Batavia, in the Island of Java. He remained there until the 17th of
October, when he set out for Europe. On arriving at the Island of
Ascension on the 23rd of February, 1701, his vessel had so
considerable a leak that it was impossible to stop it. It was
necessary to run the ship aground and to put the crew and cargo on
shore. Happily there was no want of water, turtles, goats, and
land-crabs, which prevented any fear of dying of hunger before some
ship should call at the island, and transport the shipwrecked
sailors to their country. For this they had not long to wait, for on
the 2nd of April an English vessel took them on board and carried
them to England. We shall have occasion again to speak of Dampier
with relation to the voyages of Wood Rodgers.


Hudson and Baffin--Champlain and La Sale--The English upon the coast
of the Atlantic--The Spaniards in South America--Summary of the
information acquired at the close of the 17th century--The measure
of the terrestrial degree--Progress of cartography--Inauguration of
Mathematical Geography.

Although the attempts to find a passage by the north-west had been
abandoned by the English for twenty years, they had not, however,
given up the idea of seeking by that way, for a passage which was
only to be discovered in our own days, and of which the absolute
impracticability was then to be ascertained. A clever sailor, Henry
Hudson, of whom Ellis says, "that never did any one better
understand the seafaring profession, that his courage was equal to
any emergency, and that his application was indefatigable,"
concluded an agreement with a company of merchants to search for the
passage by the north-west. On the 1st of May, 1607, he sailed from
Gravesend in the _Hopewell_, a craft about the size of one of the
smallest of modern collier brigs, and having on board a crew of
twelve men; and on the 13th of June, reached the eastern coast of
Greenland at 73 degrees, and gave it a name answering to the hopes
he entertained, in calling it Cape Hold with Hope. The weather here
was finer and less cold than it had been ten degrees southwards. By
the 27th of June, Hudson had advanced 5 degrees more to the north,
but on the 2nd of July, by one of the sudden changes which so
frequently occur in those countries, the cold became severe. The sea,
however, remained free, the air was still, and drift wood floated
about in large quantity. On the 14th of the same month, in 33
degrees 23 minutes, the master's mate and the boatswain of the
vessel landed upon a shore which formed the northern part of
Spitzbergen. Traces of musk oxen, and foxes, great abundance of
aquatic birds, two streams of fresh water, one of them being warm,
proved to our navigators that it was possible to live in these
extreme latitudes at this period of the year. Hudson, who had
re-embarked without delay, found himself arrested at the height of
82 degrees, by thick pack ice, which he endeavoured in vain to
penetrate or sail round. He was compelled to return to England,
where he arrived on September 15th, after having discovered an
island, which is probably that of Jan Mayen. The route followed in
this first voyage having had no result towards the north, Hudson
would try another, and accordingly set sail on April 21st in the
following year, and advanced between Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla;
but he could only follow for a certain distance the coast of that
vast land, without being able to attain as high an elevation as he
had wished. The failure of this second attempt was more complete
than that of the voyage of 1607. In consequence, the English Company,
which had defrayed the expenses of both attempts, declined to
proceed further. This was doubtless the reason which decided Hudson
to take service in Holland.

The Company of Amsterdam gave him, in 1609, the command of a vessel,
with which he set sail from the Texel at the beginning of the year.
Having doubled the North Cape, he advanced along the coasts of Nova
Zembla; but his crew, composed of English and Dutch, who had made
voyages to the East Indies, were soon disheartened by the cold and
ice. Hudson found himself forced to change his route, and to propose
to his sailors, who were in open mutiny, to seek for a passage,
either by Davis' Strait, or the coasts of Virginia, where, according
to the information of Captain Smith, who had frequently visited them,
an outlet must surely be found. The choice of this crew, little
accustomed to discipline, could not be doubtful. In order not to
render the outlay of the Company completely abortive, Hudson was
obliged to make for the Faröe Islands, to descend southward as low
as 44 degrees, and to search on the coast of America for the strait,
of the existence of which he had been assured. On July 18th, he
disembarked on the continent, in order to replace his foremast,
which had been broken in a storm; and he took the opportunity of
bartering furs with the natives. But his undisciplined sailors,
having by their exactions roused the indignation of the poor and
peaceable natives, compelled him again to set sail. He continued to
follow the coast until August 3rd, and then landed a second time. At
40 degrees 30 minutes, he discovered a great bay which he explored
in a canoe for more than 150 miles. In the meantime, his provisions
began to run short, and it was impossible to procure supplies on
land. The crew, which appears to have imposed its wishes on its
captain during this whole voyage, assembled; some proposed to winter
in Newfoundland, in order to resume the search for the passage in
the following year; others wished to make for Ireland. This latter
proposition was adopted; but when they approached the shores of
Great Britain, the land proved so attractive to his men, that Hudson
was obliged, on November 7th, to cast anchor at Dartmouth.

The following year, 1610, notwithstanding all the mortifications
which he had experienced, Hudson tried to renew his engagement with
the Dutch company. But the terms which they named as the price of
their concurrence compelled him to renounce the project, and induced
him to submit to the requirements of the English Company. This
company imposed on Hudson as a condition, that he should carry on
board, rather as an assistant than as a subordinate, a clever seaman,
named Coleburne, in whom they had full confidence. It is easy to
understand how mortifying this condition was to Hudson. Accordingly,
he took the earliest opportunity of ridding himself of the
superintendent who had been imposed upon him. He had not yet left
the Thames when he sent Coleburne back to shore with a letter for
the Company, in which he endeavoured to palliate and justify this
certainly very strange proceeding.

Towards the end of May, when the ship had cast anchor in one of the
ports of the island, the crew formed on the subject of Coleburne,
its first conspiracy, which was repressed without difficulty, and
when Hudson quitted the island on June 1st, he had re-established
his authority. After having passed Frobisher's Strait, he sighted
the land of Desolation of Davis, entered the strait which has
received his name, and speedily penetrated into a wide bay, the
entire western coast of which he examined until the beginning of
September. At this epoch, one of the inferior officers, continuing
to excite revolt against his chief, was superseded; but this act of
justice only exasperated the sailors. In the early part of November,
Hudson, having arrived at the extremity of the bay, sought for an
appropriate spot to winter in, and having soon found one, drew up
the ship on dry land. It is difficult to understand such a
resolution. On the one hand, Hudson had left England with provisions
for six months only, which had already been largely reduced, and he
could scarcely reckon, considering the barrenness of the country,
upon procuring a further supply of nourishment; on the other, the
crew had exhibited such numerous signs of mutiny, that he could
hardly rely upon its discipline and good will. Nevertheless,
although the English were often obliged to content themselves with
scanty rations, they did not, owing to the arrival of great numbers
of birds, pass a very distressing winter. But, on the return of
spring, as soon as the ship was prepared to resume her route to
England, Hudson found that his fate was decided. He made his
arrangements accordingly, distributed to each his share of biscuit,
paid the wages due, and awaited the course of events. He had not
long to wait. The conspirators seized their captain, his son, a
volunteer, the carpenter, and five sailors, put them on board a boat,
without arms, provisions, or instruments, and abandoned them to the
mercy of the ocean. The culprits reached England again, but not all;
two were killed in an encounter with the Indians, another died of
sickness, while the others were sorely tried by famine. Eventually,
no prosecution was commenced against them. Only, the Company, in
1674, procured employment, on board a vessel, for the son of Henry
Hudson, "lost in the discovery of the North-west," the son being
entirely destitute of resources.

[Illustration: Hudson abandoned by his crew.]

The expeditions of Hudson were followed by those of Button and of
Gibbons, to whom we owe, if not new discoveries, important
observations on the tides, the variation of the weather and the
temperature, and on a number of natural phenomena.

In 1615, the English Company entrusted to Byleth, who had taken part
in the last voyages, the command of a vessel of fifty tons. Her name,
the _Discovery_, was of good augury. She carried, as pilot, the
famous William Baffin, whose renown has eclipsed that of his captain.
Setting sail from England on April 13th, the English explorers
sighted Cape Farewell by the 6th of May, passed from the Island of
Desolation to the Savage Islands, where they met with a great number
of natives, and ascended north-westward as high as 64 degrees. On
July 10th, land appeared on the starboard, and the tide flowed from
the north; from which they conceived so much hope of the passage
sought for, that they gave to the cape, discovered on this spot, the
name of Comfort. It was probably Cape Walsingham, for they
ascertained, after doubling it, that the land inclined towards the
north-east, and the east. It was at the entry of Davis' Strait, that
their discoveries came to an end for this year. They returned to
Plymouth on September 9th, without having lost a single man.

So strong were the hopes entertained by Byleth and Baffin, that they
obtained permission to put to sea again in the same vessel the
following year. On May 14th, 1616, after a voyage in which nothing
worthy of remark occurred, the two captains penetrated into Davis'
Strait, sighted Cape Henderson's Hope, the extreme point formerly
reached by Davis, and ascended as high as 72 degrees 40 minutes to
the Women's Island, thus named after some Esquimaux females whom
they met with. On June 12th, Byleth and Baffin were forced by the
ice to enter a bay on the coast. Some Esquimaux brought them a great
quantity of horns, without doubt tusks of walruses, or horns of musk
oxen; from which they named the bay Horn Sound. After remaining some
days in this place, they were able to put to sea again. On setting
out from 75 degrees 40 minutes, they encountered a vast expanse of
water free from ice, and penetrated, without much danger, beyond the
78 degree of latitude, to the entrance of the strait, which
prolonged northwards the immense bay which they had just traversed,
and which received the name of Baffin. Then turning to the west, and
afterwards to the south-west, Byleth and Baffin discovered the Carey
Islands, Jones Strait, Coburg Island, and Lancaster Strait, and
afterwards they descended along the entire western shore of Baffin's
Bay as far as Cumberland Land. Despairing then of being able to
carry his discoveries further, Byleth, who had several men among his
crew afflicted with scurvy, found himself obliged to return to the
shores of England, where he disembarked at Dover, on August 30th.

If this expedition terminated again in failure, in the sense that
the north-west passage was not discovered, the results obtained were
nevertheless considerable. Byleth and Baffin had prodigiously
increased the knowledge of the seas and coasts in the quarters of
Greenland. The captain and the pilot, in writing to the Director of
the Company, assured him that the bay which they had visited was an
excellent spot for fishing, in which thousands of whales, seals, and
walruses, disported themselves. The event could not be long in amply
proving the correctness of this information.

Let us now descend again upon the coast of America, as far as Canada,
and see what had happened since the time of Jacques Cartier. This
latter, we may remember, had made an attempt at colonization, which
had not produced any important results. Nevertheless, some Frenchmen
had remained in the country, had married there, and founded families
of colonists. From time to time, they received reinforcements
brought by fishing vessels from Dieppe or St. Malo. But it was
difficult to establish a current of emigration. It was under these
circumstances that a gentleman, named Samuel de Champlain, a veteran
of the wars of Henry IV., and who, for two years and a half, had
frequented the East Indies, was engaged by the Commander of Chastes
with the Sieur de Pontgravé, to continue the discoveries of Jacques
Cartier, and to choose the situations most favourable for the
establishment of towns and centres of population. This is not the
place for us to consider the manner in which Champlain understood
the business of a colonizer, nor his great services, which might
well entitle him to be called the father of Canada. We will,
therefore, advisedly leave this aspect of his undertaking, not the
least brilliant, in order simply to occupy ourselves with the
discoveries which he effected in the interior of the continent.

Setting sail from Honfleur, on March 15th, 1603, the two chiefs of
the enterprise first ascended the St. Lawrence, as far as the
harbour of Tadoussac, 240 miles from its mouth. They were welcomed
by the populations, which had, however, "neither faith, nor law, and
lived without God, and without religion, like brute beasts." At this
place they quitted their ships, which could not have advanced
further without danger, and reached in a boat the Fall of St. Louis,
where Jacques Cartier had been stopped; they even penetrated a
little into the interior, and then returned to France, where
Champlain printed a narrative of the voyage for the king.

Henry IV. resolved to continue the enterprise. In the meantime M. de
Chastes having died, his privilege was transferred to M. de Monts,
with the title of Vice-admiral and Governor of Acadia. Champlain
accompanied M. de Monts to Canada, and passed three whole years,
whether in aiding by his counsels and his exertions the efforts of
colonization, or in exploring the coasts of Acadia, the bearings of
which he took beyond Cape Cod, or in making excursions into the
interior and visiting the savage tribes which it was important to
conciliate. In 1607, after a new voyage to France to recruit
colonists, Champlain returned again to New France, and founded, in
1608, a town which was to become Quebec. The following year was
devoted to again ascending the St. Lawrence, and ascertaining its
course. On board of a pirogue, with two companions only, Champlain
penetrated, with some Algonquins, to the Iroquois, and remained
conqueror in a great battle fought on the borders of a lake which
has received his name; he then descended the river Richelieu, as far
as the St. Lawrence. In 1610, he made a fresh incursion into the
territory of the Iroquois, at the head of his allies, the Algonquins,
whom he had the greatest possible difficulty in making observe the
European discipline. In this campaign he employed instruments of
warfare which greatly astonished the savages, and easily secured him
the victory. For the attack of a village, he constructed a cavalier
of wood, which 200 of the most powerful men "carried before this
village to within a pike's length, and displayed three arquebusiers
well protected from the arrows and stones which might be shot or
launched at them." A little later, we see him exploring the river
Ottawa, and advancing, in the north of the continent, to within 225
miles of Hudson's Bay. After having fortified Montreal, in 1615, he
twice ascended the Ottawa, explored Lake Huron, and arrived by land
at Lake Ontario, which he crossed.

[Illustration: Siege of a village by Champlain.]

It is very difficult to divide into two parts a life so occupied as
Champlain's. All his excursions, all his reconnaissances, had but
one object, the development of the work to which he had consecrated
his existence. Thus detached from what gives them their interest,
they appear to us unimportant; and yet if the colonial policy of
Louis XIV. and his successor had been different, we should possess
in America a colony which assuredly would not yield in prosperity to
the United States. Notwithstanding our abandonment, Canada has
preserved a fervent love for the mother country.

We must now leap over a period of forty years, to arrive at Robert
Cavelier de la Sale. During this time, the French establishments
have acquired some importance in Canada, and have extended
themselves over a great part of North America. Our hunters and
trappers scour the woods, and bring, every year, with their load of
furs, new information respecting the interior of the continent. In
this latter task they are powerfully seconded by the missionaries,
in the first rank of whom we must place Father Marquette, whom the
extent of his voyages on the great lakes and as far as the
Mississippi marks out for special acknowledgment. Two men, besides,
deserve to be mentioned for the encouragements and facilities which
they afforded to the explorers, viz., M. de Frontenac, Governor of
New France, and Talon, intendant of justice and police. In 1678,
there arrived in Canada, without any settled purpose, a young man
named Cavelier de la Sale. "He was born at Rouen," says Father
Charlevoix, "of a family in easy circumstances; but having passed
some years with the Jesuits, he had had no share in the inheritance
of his parents. He had a cultivated mind, he wished to distinguish
himself, and he felt within himself sufficient genius and courage to
ensure success. In reality, he was not deficient in resolution to
enter upon, nor in perseverance to follow up, an undertaking, nor in
firmness in contending against obstacles, nor in resource to repair
his losses; but he knew not how to make himself loved, nor how to
manage those of whom he stood in need, and when he had attained
authority, he exercised it with harshness and arrogance. With such
defects he could not be happy, and in fact he was not."

Father Charlevoix's portrait appears to us somewhat too black, and
he does not seem to estimate at its true value the great discovery
which we owe to Cavelier de la Sale; a discovery, which has nothing
like it, we do not say equal to it, except that of the river Amazon,
by Orellana, in the 16th century, and that of the Congo, by Stanley,
in the 19th. However this may be, no sooner had he arrived in the
country, than he set himself, with extraordinary application, to
study the native idioms, and to associate with the savages in order
to render himself familiar with their manners and habits. At the
same time he gathered from the trappers a mass of information on the
situation of the rivers and lakes. He communicated his projects of
exploration to M. de Frontenac, who encouraged him, and gave him the
command of a fort constructed at the outlet of the lake into the St.
Lawrence. In the meantime, one Jolyet arrived at Quebec. He brought
the news that in company with Father Marquette and four other
persons, he had reached a great river called the Mississippi,
flowing towards the south. Cavelier de la Sale very soon understood
what advantage might be derived from an artery of this importance,
especially if the Mississippi had, as he believed, its mouth in the
Gulf of Mexico. By the lakes and the Illinois, an affluent of the
Mississippi, it was easy to effect a communication between the St.
Lawrence, and the Sea of the Antilles. What marvellous profit would
France derive from this discovery! La Sale explained the project
which he had conceived to the Count of Frontenac, and obtained from
him very pressing letters of recommendation to the Minister of
Marine. On arriving in France, La Sale learned the death of Colbert;
but he remitted to his son, the Marquis of Seignelay, who had
succeeded him, the despatches of which he was the bearer. This
project, which appeared to rest upon solid foundations, could not
fail to please a young minister. Accordingly, Seignelay presented La
Sale to the king, who caused letters of nobility to be prepared for
him, granted him the Seignory of Catarocouy, and the government of
the fort which he had built, with the monopoly of commerce in the
countries which he might discover.

La Sale had also found means to procure the patronage of the Prince
de Conti, who asked him to take with him the Chevalier Tonti, son of
the inventor of the Tontine, in whom he felt an interest. He was for
La Sale a precious acquisition. Tonti, who had made a campaign in
Sicily, where his hand had been carried off by the explosion of a
grenade, was a brave and skilful officer, who always showed himself
extremely devoted.

La Sale and Tonti embarked at Rochelle, on July 14th, 1678, carrying
with them about thirty men, workmen and soldiers, and a Recollet
(monk), Father Hennepin, who accompanied them in all their voyages.

Then La Sale, being conscious that the execution of his project
required more considerable resources than those which were at his
disposal, constructed a boat upon the Lake Erie, and devoted a whole
year to scouring the country, visiting the Indians, and carrying on
an active trade in furs, which he stored in his fort of Niagara,
while Tonti pursued the same course in other directions. At length,
towards the middle of August, of the year 1679, his boat, the
_Griffon_, being prepared for sailing, he embarked on the Lake Erie,
with thirty men, and three Fathers, Recollets, for Machillimackinac.
In crossing the lakes St. Clair and Huron, he experienced a violent
storm, which caused the desertion of some of his people, whom,
however, Tonti brought back to him. La Sale arrived at
Machillimackinac, and very soon entered the Green Bay. But during
this time his creditors at Quebec had sold all that he possessed,
and the _Griffon_, which he had despatched, laden with furs, to the
fort of Niagara, was either lost or pillaged by the Indians; which
of these took place has never been precisely ascertained. For
himself, although the departure of the _Griffon_ had displeased his
companions, he continued his route, and reached the river St. Joseph,
where he found an encampment of Miamis, and where Tonti speedily
rejoined him. Their first care was to construct a fort on this spot.
Then they crossed the dividing line of the water between the basin
of the great lakes, and that of the Mississippi; they subsequently
reached the river of the Illinois, an affluent on the left of that
great river. With his small band of followers, upon whose fidelity
he could not entirely depend, the situation of La Sale was critical,
in the midst of an unknown country, and among a powerful nation, the
Illinois, who, at first allies of France, had been prejudiced and
excited against us by the Iroquois and the English, jealous of the
progress of the Canadian colony.

Nevertheless, it was necessary, at all cost, to attach to himself
these Indians, who from their situation, were able to hinder all
communication between La Sale and Canada. In order to strike their
imagination, Cavelier de la Sale proceeds to their encampment, where
more than 3000 men are assembled. He has but twenty men, but he
traverses their village haughtily, and stops at some distance. The
Illinois, who have not yet declared war, are surprised. They advance
towards him, and overwhelm him with pacific demonstrations. So
versatile is the spirit of the savages! Such an impression does
every mark of courage make upon them! Without delay, La Sale takes
advantage of their friendly dispositions, and erects upon the very
site of their camp, a small fort, which he calls Crèvecoeur, in
allusion to the troubles which he has already experienced. There he
leaves Tonti with all his people, and he himself, anxious about the
fate of the _Griffon_, returns with three Frenchmen and one Indian,
to the fort of Catarocouy, separated by 500 leagues from Crèvecoeur.
Before setting out, he had detached with Father Hennepin, one of his
companions named Dacan, on a mission to reascend the Mississippi
beyond the river of the Illinois, and if possible, to its source.
"These two travellers," says Father Charlevoix, "set out from the
fort of Crèvecoeur, on February 28th, and having entered the
Mississippi, ascended it as far as 46 degrees of north latitude.
There they were stopped by a considerable waterfall, extending quite
across the river, to which Father Hennepin gave the name of St.
Anthony of Padua. Then they fell, I know not by what mischance, into
the hands of the Sioux, who kept them for a long time prisoners."

On his journey back to Catarocouy, La Sale, having discovered a new
site appropriate to the construction of a fort, summoned Tonti
thither, who immediately set to work, while La Sale continued his
route. This is Fort St. Louis. On his arrival at Catarocouy, La Sale
learned news which would have broken down a man of a less hardy
temperament. Not only had the _Griffon_, on board of which he had
furs of the value of 10,000 crowns, been lost, but a vessel which
was bringing him from France a cargo worth 880_l._ had been
shipwrecked, and his enemies had spread a report of his death.
Having no further business at Catarocouy, and having proved by his
presence that the reports of his disappearance were all false, he
arrived again at the fort of Crèvecoeur, where he was much
astonished to find no one.

This is what had happened. While the Chevalier Tonti was employed in
the construction of Fort St. Louis, the garrison of Fort Crèvecoeur
had mutinied, had pillaged the magazines, had done the same at Fort
Miami, and then fled to Machillimackinac. Tonti, almost alone in
face of the Illinois, who were roused against him by the
depredations of his men, and judging that he could not resist in his
fort of Crèvecoeur, had left it on September 11th, 1680, with the
five Frenchmen who composed his garrison, and had retired as far as
the bay of the Lake Michigan. After having placed a garrison at
Crèvecoeur and at Fort St. Louis, La Sale came to Machillimackinac,
where he rejoined Tonti, and together they set out again from thence
towards the end of August for Catarocouy, whence they embarked on
the Lake Erie with fifty-five persons, on August 28th, 1681. After a
journey of 240 miles along the frozen river of the Illinois, they
reached Fort Crèvecoeur, where the water, free from ice, permitted
the use of their canoes. On February 6th, 1682, La Sale arrived at
the confluence of the Illinois and the Mississippi. He descended the
river, sighted the mouth of the Missouri, and that of the Ohio,
where he raised a fort, penetrated into the country of the Arkansas,
of which he took possession in the name of France, crossed the
country of the Natchez, with whom he made a treaty of friendship,
and finally passed out into the Gulf of Mexico on April 9th, after a
navigation of 1050 miles in a mere bark. The anticipations so
skilfully conceived by Cavelier de la Sale, were realized. He
immediately took formal possession of the country, to which he gave
the name of Louisiana, and called the immense river which he had
just discovered the St. Louis.

La Sale's return to Canada occupied not less than one year and a
half. There is no ground for astonishment, when all the obstacles
scattered in his path are considered. What energy, what strength of
mind were requisite in one of the greatest travellers of whom France
has reason to be proud, to succeed in such an enterprise!

Unhappily, a man, otherwise well intentioned, but who allowed
himself to be prejudiced against La Sale by his numerous enemies, M.
Lefèvre de la Barre, who had succeeded M. de Frontenac as governor
of Canada, wrote to the Minister of Marine, that the discoveries of
La Sale were not to be regarded as of much importance. "This
traveller," he said "was actually, with about twenty French
vagabonds and savages, at the extremity of the bay, where he played
the part of sovereign, plundered and ransomed those of his own
nation, exposed the people to the incursions of the Iroquois, and
covered all these acts of violence with the pretext of the
permission, which he had from His Majesty, to carry on commerce
alone in the countries which he might be able to discover."

Cavelier de la Sale could not allow himself to remain exposed to
these calumnious imputations. On the one side, honour prompted him
to return to France to exculpate himself; on the other, he would not
leave others to reap the profit of his discoveries. He set out,
therefore, and received from Seignelay a kindly welcome. The
minister had not been much influenced by the letters of M. de la
Barre; he was aware that men could not accomplish great achievements
without wounding much self-love, nor without making numerous enemies.
La Sale took the opportunity to explain to him his project of
discovering the mouth of the Mississippi by sea, in order to open a
way for French vessels, and to found an establishment there. The
minister entered into these views, and gave him a commission which
placed Frenchmen and savages under his orders, from Fort St. Louis
to the sea. At the same time the commandant of the squadron which
was to transport him to America, was to be under his authority, and
to furnish him on his disembarkation with all the succours which he
might require, provided that nothing was done to the prejudice of
the king. Four vessels, one of them a frigate of forty guns,
commanded by M. de Beaujeu were to carry 280 persons, including the
crews, to the mouth of the Mississippi, to form the nucleus of the
new colony. Soldiers and artisans had been very badly chosen, as was
perceived when too late, and no one knew his business. Setting sail
from La Rochelle, on July 24th, 1684, the little squadron was almost
immediately obliged to return to port, the bowsprit of the frigate
having broken suddenly in the very finest weather. This inexplicable
accident was the commencement of misunderstanding between M. de
Beaujeu and M. de la Sale. The former could scarcely be pleased to
see himself subordinated to a private individual, and did not
forgive Cavelier this. Nothing however would have been more easy
than to decline the command. La Sale had not the gentleness of
manner and the politeness necessary to conciliate his companions.
The disagreement did but gather force during the voyage by reason of
the obstacles raised by M. de Beaujeu to the rapidity and secrecy of
the expedition. The annoyances of La Sale had indeed become so great
when he arrived at St. Domingo, that he fell seriously ill. He
recovered, however, and the expedition set sail again on November
25th. A month later, it was off Florida; but, as "La Sale had been
assured that in the Gulf of Mexico, all the currents bore eastwards,
he did not doubt that the mouth of the Mississippi must be far to
the west; an error which was the source of all his misfortunes."

La Sale then steered to the west, and passed by, without perceiving
it, without deigning even to attend to certain signs which he was
asked to observe, the mouth of the Mississippi. When he perceived
his mistake, and entreated M. de Beaujeu to turn back, the latter
would no longer consent. La Sale, seeing that he could make no
impression upon the contradictory mind of his companion, decided to
disembark his men and his provisions in the Bay of St. Bernard. Yet,
in this very last act, Beaujeu manifested an amount of culpable
ill-will, which did as little honour to his judgment as to his
patriotism. Not only was he unwilling to land all the provisions,
under the pretext that certain of them being at the bottom of the
hold, he had no time to change his stowage, but further he gave
shelter on board his own ship to the master and crew of the
transport, laden with the stores, utensils, and implements necessary
for a new establishment, people whom everything seems to convict of
having purposely cast their vessel upon shore. At the same time, a
number of savages took advantage of the disorder caused by the
shipwreck of the transport, to plunder everything on which they
could lay their hands. Nevertheless, La Sale, who had the talent of
never appearing depressed by misfortune, and who found in his own
genius resources adapted to the circumstances of the case, ordered
the works of the establishment to be begun. In order to give courage
to his companions, he more than once took part with his own hands in
the work; but very slow progress was made, in consequence of the
ignorance of the workmen. Struck with the resemblance of the
language and habits of the Indians of these parts to those of the
Mississippi, La Sale was very soon persuaded that he was not far
distant from that river, and made several excursions in order to
approach it. But, if he found a country beautiful and fertile, he
did not make progress towards what he was in search of. He returned
each time to the fort more gloomy and more harsh; and this was not
the way to restore calm to spirits embittered by sufferings and the
inutility of their efforts. Grain had been sown; but scarcely any
came up for want of rain, and what had sprung up was soon laid waste
by the savages and the deer. The hunters who wandered far from the
camp were massacred by the Indians, and sickness found an easy prey
in men overwhelmed with ennui, disappointment, and misery. In a
short time, the number of the colonists fell to thirty-seven. At
length, La Sale resolved to try a last effort to reach the
Mississippi, and in descending the river to seek help from the
nations with which he had made alliance. He set out on January 12th,
1687, with his brother, his two nephews, two missionaries, and
twelve colonists. He was approaching the country of the Shawnees,
when, in consequence of an altercation between one of his nephews
and three of his companions, these latter assassinated the young man
and his servant during their sleep, and resolved immediately to do
the same with the chief of the enterprise. De la Sale, uneasy at not
seeing his nephew return, set out to seek him on the morning of the
19th, with Father Anastase. The assassins, seeing him approach, lay
in ambush in a thicket, and one of them shot him in the head, and
stretched him on the ground stark dead. Thus perished Cavelier de la
Sale, "a man of a capacity," says Father Charlevoix, "of a largeness
of mind, of a courage and firmness of soul, which might have led him
to the achievement of something great, if with so many great
qualities, he had known how to master his gloomy and atrabilious
disposition, and to soften the severity or rather the harshness of
his nature...." Many calumnies had been spread abroad against him;
but it is necessary so much the more to be on our guard against all
these malevolent reports "as it is only too common to exaggerate the
defects of the unfortunate, to impute to them even some which they
had not, especially when they have given occasion for their
misfortune, and have not known how to make themselves beloved. What
is sadder for the memory of this celebrated man, is that he has been
regretted by few persons, and that the ill-success of his
undertakings--only of his last--has given him the air of an
adventurer, among those who judge only by appearances. Unhappily,
these are usually the most numerous, and in some degree the voice of
the public."

[Illustration: Assassination of La Sale.]

We have but little to add to these last wise words. La Sale knew not
how to obtain pardon for his first success. We have related
subsequently by what concurrence of circumstances his second
enterprise miscarried. He died, the victim it may be said, of the
jealousy and malevolence of the Chevalier de Beaujeu. It is to this
slight cause that we owe the failure to found in America a powerful
colony, which would very soon have been found in a condition to
compete with the English establishments.

We have narrated the beginning of the English colonies. The events
which took place in England were highly favourable to them. The
religious persecutions, the revolutions of 1648 and 1688, furnished
numerous recruits, who, animated by an excellent spirit, set
themselves to work, and transported to the other side of the
Atlantic the arts, the industry, and in a short time the prosperity,
of the mother country. Very soon, the immense forests which covered
Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Carolina, fell beneath the hatchet of
the "Squatter," and the soil became cleared, while the hunters of
the woods, driving back the Indians, made the interior of the
country better known, and prepared the work of civilization.

In Mexico, in the whole of Central America, in Peru, in Chili, and
on the shores of the Atlantic, a different state of things prevailed.
The Spaniards had extended their conquests; but, far from acting
like the English, they had reduced the Indians to slavery. Instead
of applying themselves to the cultivation appropriate to the variety
of the climates and of the countries of which they had made
themselves masters, they sought only in the produce of the mines the
resources and prosperity which they should have endeavoured to
obtain from the land. If a country can thus rapidly attain
prodigious wealth, yet this factitious system cannot last long. With
the mines a prosperity which does not renew itself, must ere long
become exhausted. The Spaniards could not fail to experience the sad

Thus then, at the end of the seventeenth century, a great part of
the new world was known. In North America, Canada, the shores of the
Atlantic and of the Gulf of Mexico, the valley of the Mississippi,
the coasts of California and of New Mexico, were discovered or
colonized. All the central part of the continent, from Rio del Norte,
as far as Terra Firma, was subject, at least nominally, to the
Spaniards. In the south, the savannahs and the forests of Brazil,
the pampas of the Argentine, and the interior of Patagonia, escaped
the observation of the explorers, as they were destined to do for a
long time yet.

In Africa, the long line of coasts, which are washed by the Atlantic
and the Indian Oceans, had been patiently followed and observed by
navigators. At some points only, colonists and missionaries had
tried to penetrate the mystery of this vast continent. Senegal,
Congo, the valley of the Nile, and Abyssinia, were all that were
known with some degree of detail and of certainty.

If many of the countries of Asia, surveyed by the travellers of the
middle ages, had not been revisited since that epoch, we had
carefully explored the whole anterior part of that continent, India
had been revealed to us, we had even founded some establishments
there, China had been touched by our missionaries, and Japan, that
famous Cipango which had exercised so great an attraction for our
travellers of the preceding age, was at length known to us. Only
Siberia and the whole north-east angle of Asia had escaped our
investigations, and it was not yet known whether America was not
connected with Asia, a mystery which was before long to be cleared

In Oceania, a number of archipelagos, of islands and separate islets,
remained still to be discovered, but the islands of Sunda were
colonized, the coasts of Australia and of New Zealand had been
partially revealed, and the existence of that great continent which,
according to Tasman, extended from Tierra del Fuego to New Zealand,
began to be doubted; but it still required the long and careful
researches of Cook to banish definitely into the domain of fable a
chimera so long cherished.

Geography was on the point of transforming itself. The great
discoveries made in astronomy were about to be applied to geography.
The labours of Fernel and above all of Picard, upon the measure of a
terrestrial degree between Paris and Amiens, had made it clear that
the globe is not a sphere, but a spheroid, that is to say, a ball
flattened at the poles and swollen at the