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Title: The Discovery of America Vol. 1 (of 2) - with some account of Ancient America and the Spanish Conquest
Author: Fiske, John, 1842-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  Then I unbar the doors; my paths lead out
  The exodus of nations; I disperse
  Men to all shores that front the hoary main.
      I too have arts and sorceries;
  Illusion dwells forever with the wave.
  I make some coast alluring, some lone isle
  To distant men, who must go there or die.

[Illustration: Editor's arm.]

  The Riverside Press, Cambridge

Copyright, 1892, By JOHN FISKE.

_All rights reserved._


  _The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A._
  Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.



                HAS TAUGHT ME


The present work is the outcome of two lines of study pursued, with more
or less interruption from other studies, for about thirty years. It will
be observed that the book has two themes, as different in character as
the themes for voice and piano in Schubert's "Frühlingsglaube," and yet
so closely related that the one is needful for an adequate comprehension
of the other. In order to view in their true perspective the series of
events comprised in the Discovery of America, one needs to form a mental
picture of that strange world of savagery and barbarism to which
civilized Europeans were for the first time introduced in the course of
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in their voyages along the
African coast, into the Indian and Pacific oceans, and across the
Atlantic. Nothing that Europeans discovered during that stirring period
was so remarkable as these antique phases of human society, the mere
existence of which had scarcely been suspected, and the real character
of which it has been left for the present generation to begin to
understand. Nowhere was this ancient society so full of instructive
lessons as in aboriginal America, which had pursued its own course of
development, cut off and isolated from the Old World, for probably more
than fifty thousand years. The imperishable interest of those episodes
in the Discovery of America known as the conquests of Mexico and Peru
consists chiefly in the glimpses they afford us of this primitive world.
It was not an uninhabited continent that the Spaniards found, and in
order to comprehend the course of events it is necessary to know
something about those social features that formed a large part of the
burden of the letters of Columbus and Vespucius, and excited even more
intense and general interest in Europe than the purely geographical
questions suggested by the voyages of those great sailors. The
descriptions of ancient America, therefore, which form a kind of
background to the present work, need no apology.

It was the study of prehistoric Europe and of early Aryan institutions
that led me by a natural sequence to the study of aboriginal America. In
1869, after sketching the plan of a book on our Aryan forefathers, I was
turned aside for five years by writing "Cosmic Philosophy." During that
interval I also wrote "Myths and Myth-Makers" as a side-work to the
projected book on the Aryans, and as soon as the excursion into the
field of general philosophy was ended, in 1874, the work on that book
was resumed. Fortunately it was not then carried to completion, for it
would have been sadly antiquated by this time. The revolution in theory
concerning the Aryans has been as remarkable as the revolution in
chemical theory which some years ago introduced the New Chemistry. It is
becoming eminently probable that the centre of diffusion of Aryan speech
was much nearer to Lithuania than to any part of Central Asia, and it
has for some time been quite clear that the state of society revealed in
Homer and the Vedas is not at all like primitive society, but very far
from it. By 1876 I had become convinced that there was no use in going
on without widening the field of study. The conclusions of the Aryan
school needed to be supplemented, and often seriously modified, by the
study of the barbaric world, and it soon became manifest that for the
study of barbarism there is no other field that for fruitfulness can be
compared with aboriginal America.

This is because the progress of society was much slower in the western
hemisphere than in the eastern, and in the days of Columbus and Cortes
it had nowhere "caught up" to the points reached by the Egyptians of the
Old Empire or by the builders of Mycenæ and Tiryns. In aboriginal
America we therefore find states of society preserved in stages of
development similar to those of our ancestral societies in the Old World
long ages before Homer and the Vedas. Many of the social phenomena of
ancient Europe are also found in aboriginal America, but always in a
more primitive condition. The clan, phratry, and tribe among the
Iroquois help us in many respects to get back to the original
conceptions of the gens, curia, and tribe among the Romans. We can
better understand the growth of kingship of the Agamemnon type when we
have studied the less developed type in Montezuma. The house-communities
of the southern Slavs are full of interest for the student of the early
phases of social evolution, but the Mandan round-house and the Zuñi
pueblo carry us much deeper into the past. Aboriginal American
institutions thus afford one of the richest fields in the world for the
application of the comparative method, and the red Indian, viewed in
this light, becomes one of the most interesting of men; for in studying
him intelligently, one gets down into the stone age of human thought. No
time should be lost in gathering whatever can be learned of his ideas
and institutions, before their character has been wholly lost under the
influence of white men. Under that influence many Indians have been
quite transformed, while others have been as yet but little affected.
Some extremely ancient types of society, still preserved on this
continent in something like purity, are among the most instructive
monuments of the past that can now be found in the world. Such a type
is that of the Moquis of northeastern Arizona. I have heard a rumour,
which it is to be hoped is ill-founded, that there are persons who wish
the United States government to interfere with this peaceful and
self-respecting people, break up their pueblo life, scatter them in
farmsteads, and otherwise compel them, against their own wishes, to
change their habits and customs. If such a cruel and stupid thing were
ever to be done, we might justly be said to have equalled or surpassed
the folly of those Spaniards who used to make bonfires of Mexican
hieroglyphics. It is hoped that the present book, in which of course it
is impossible to do more than sketch the outlines and indicate the
bearings of so vast a subject, will serve to awaken readers to the
interest and importance of American archæology for the general study of
the evolution of human society.

So much for the first and subsidiary theme. As for my principal theme,
the Discovery of America, I was first drawn to it through its close
relations with a subject which for some time chiefly occupied my mind,
the history of the contact between the Aryan and Semitic worlds, and
more particularly between Christians and Mussulmans about the shores of
the Mediterranean. It is also interesting as part of the history of
science, and furthermore as connected with the beginnings of one of the
most momentous events in the career of mankind, the colonization of the
barbaric world by Europeans. Moreover, the discovery of America has its
full share of the romantic fascination that belongs to most of the work
of the Renaissance period. I have sought to exhibit these different
aspects of the subject.

The present book is in all its parts written from the original sources
of information. The work of modern scholars has of course been freely
used, but never without full acknowledgment in text or notes, and seldom
without independent verification from the original sources.
Acknowledgments are chiefly due to Humboldt, Morgan, Bandelier, Major,
Varnhagen, Markham, Helps, and Harrisse. To the last-named scholar I owe
an especial debt of gratitude, in common with all who have studied this
subject since his arduous researches were begun. Some of the most
valuable parts of his work have consisted in the discovery,
reproduction, and collation of documents; and to some extent his pages
are practically equivalent to the original sources inspected by him in
the course of years of search through European archives, public and
private. In the present book I must have expressed dissent from his
conclusions at least as often as agreement with them, but whether one
agrees with him or not, one always finds him helpful and stimulating.
Though he has in some sort made himself a Frenchman in the course of
his labours, it is pleasant to recall the fact that M. Harrisse is by
birth our fellow-countryman; and there are surely few Americans of our
time whom students of history have more reason for holding in honour.

I have not seen Mr. Winsor's "Christopher Columbus" in time to make any
use of it. Within the last few days, while my final chapter is going to
press, I have received the sheets of it, a few days in advance of
publication. I do not find in it any references to sources of
information which I have not already fully considered, so that our
differences of opinion on sundry points may serve to show what diverse
conclusions may be drawn from the same data. The most conspicuous
difference is that which concerns the personal character of Columbus.
Mr. Winsor writes in a spirit of energetic (not to say violent) reaction
against the absurdities of Roselly de Lorgues and others who have tried
to make a saint of Columbus; and under the influence of this reaction he
offers us a picture of the great navigator that serves to raise a
pertinent question. No one can deny that Las Casas was a keen judge of
men, or that his standard of right and wrong was quite as lofty as any
one has reached in our own time. He had a much more intimate knowledge
of Columbus than any modern historian can ever hope to acquire, and he
always speaks of him with warm admiration and respect. But how could
Las Casas ever have respected the feeble, mean-spirited driveller whose
portrait Mr. Winsor asks us to accept as that of the Discoverer of

If, however, instead of his biographical estimate of Columbus, we
consider Mr. Winsor's contributions toward a correct statement of the
difficult geographical questions connected with the subject, we
recognize at once the work of an acknowledged master in his chosen
field. It is work, too, of the first order of importance. It would be
hard to mention a subject on which so many reams of direful nonsense
have been written as on the discovery of America; and the prolific
source of so much folly has generally been what Mr. Freeman fitly calls
"bondage to the modern map." In order to understand what the great
mariners of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were trying to do, and
what people supposed them to have done, one must begin by resolutely
banishing the modern map from one's mind. The ancient map must take its
place, but this must not be the ridiculous "Orbis Veteribus Notus," to
be found in the ordinary classical atlas, _which simply copies the
outlines of countries with modern accuracy from the modern map, and then
scatters ancient names over them!_ Such maps are worse than useless. In
dealing with the discovery of America one must steadily keep before
one's mind the quaint notions of ancient geographers, especially
Ptolemy and Mela, as portrayed upon such maps as are reproduced in the
present volume. It was just these distorted and hazy notions that swayed
the minds and guided the movements of the great discoverers, and went on
reproducing themselves upon newly-made maps for a century or more after
the time of Columbus. Without constant reference to these old maps one
cannot begin to understand the circumstances of the discovery of

In no way can one get at the heart of the matter more completely than by
threading the labyrinth of causes and effects through which the western
hemisphere came slowly and gradually to be known by the name AMERICA.
The reader will not fail to observe the pains which I have taken to
elucidate this subject, not from any peculiar regard for Americus
Vespucius, but because the quintessence of the whole geographical
problem of the discovery of the New World is in one way or another
involved in the discussion. I can think of no finer instance of the
queer complications that can come to surround and mystify an increase of
knowledge too great and rapid to be comprehended by a single generation
of men.

In the solution of the problem as to the first Vespucius voyage I follow
the lead of Varnhagen, but always independently and with the documentary
evidence fully in sight. For some years I vainly tried to pursue
Humboldt's clues to some intelligible conclusion, and felt inhospitably
inclined toward Varnhagen's views as altogether too plausible; he seemed
to settle too many difficulties at once. But after becoming convinced of
the spuriousness of the Bandini letter (see below, vol. ii. p. 94); and
observing how the air at once was cleared in some directions, it seemed
that further work in textual criticism would be well bestowed. I made a
careful study of the diction of the letter from Vespucius to Soderini in
its two principal texts:--1. the Latin version of 1507, the original of
which is in the library of Harvard University, appended to
Waldseemüller's "Cosmographiæ Introductio"; 2. the Italian text
reproduced severally by Bandini, Canovai, and Varnhagen, from the
excessively rare original, of which only five copies are now known to be
in existence. It is this text that Varnhagen regards as the original
from which the Latin version of 1507 was made, through an intermediate
French version now lost. In this opinion Varnhagen does not stand alone,
as Mr. Winsor seems to think ("Christopher Columbus," p. 540, line 5
from bottom), for Harrisse and Avezac have expressed themselves plainly
to the same effect (see below, vol. ii. p. 42). A minute study of this
text, with all its quaint interpolations of Spanish and Portuguese
idioms and seafaring phrases into the Italian ground-work of its
diction, long ago convinced me that it never was a _translation_ from
anything in heaven or earth or the waters under the earth. Nobody would
ever have translated a document _into_ such an extremely peculiar and
individual jargon. It is most assuredly an original text, and its author
was either Vespucius or the Old Nick. It was by starting from this text
as primitive that Varnhagen started correctly in his interpretation of
the statements in the letter, and it was for that reason that he was
able to dispose of so many difficulties at one blow. When he showed that
the landfall of Vespucius on his first voyage was near Cape Honduras and
had nothing whatever to do with the Pearl Coast, he began to follow the
right trail, and so the facts which had puzzled everybody began at once
to fall into the right places. This is all made clear in the seventh
chapter of the present work, where the general argument of Varnhagen is
in many points strongly reinforced. The evidence here set forth in
connection with the Cantino map is especially significant.

It is interesting on many accounts to see the first voyage of Vespucius
thus elucidated, though it had no connection with the application of his
name by Waldseemüller to an entirely different region from any that was
visited upon that voyage. The real significance of the third voyage of
Vespucius, in connection with the naming of America, is now set forth, I
believe, for the first time in the light thrown upon the subject by the
opinions of Ptolemy and Mela. Neither Humboldt nor Major nor Harrisse
nor Varnhagen seems to have had a firm grasp of what was in
Waldseemüller's mind when he wrote the passage photographed below in
vol. ii. p. 136 of this work. It is only when we keep the Greek and
Roman theories in the foreground and unflinchingly bar out that
intrusive modern atlas, that we realize what the Freiburg geographer
meant and why Ferdinand Columbus was not in the least shocked or

       *       *       *       *       *

I have at various times given lectures on the discovery of America and
questions connected therewith, more especially at University College,
London, in 1879, at the Philosophical Institution in Edinburgh, in 1880,
at the Lowell Institute in Boston, in 1890, and in the course of my work
as professor in the Washington University at St. Louis; but the present
work is in no sense whatever a reproduction of such lectures.

Acknowledgments are due to Mr. Winsor for his cordial permission to make
use of a number of reproductions of old maps and facsimiles already used
by him in the "Narrative and Critical History of America;" they are
mentioned in the lists of illustrations. I have also to thank Dr.
Brinton for allowing me to reproduce a page of old Mexican music, and
the Hakluyt Society for permission to use the Zeno and Catalan maps and
the view of Kakortok church. Dr. Fewkes has very kindly favoured me with
a sight of proof-sheets of some recent monographs by Bandelier. And for
courteous assistance at various libraries I have most particularly to
thank Mr. Kiernan of Harvard University, Mr. Appleton Griffin of the
Boston Public Library, and Mr. Uhler of the Peabody Institute in

       *       *       *       *       *

There is one thing which I feel obliged, though with extreme hesitation
and reluctance, to say to my readers in this place, because the time has
come when something ought to be said, and there seems to be no other
place available for saying it. For many years letters--often in a high
degree interesting and pleasant to receive--have been coming to me from
persons with whom I am not acquainted, and I have always done my best to
answer them. It is a long time since such letters came to form the
larger part of a voluminous mass of correspondence. The physical fact
has assumed dimensions with which it is no longer possible to cope. If I
were to answer all the letters which arrive by every mail, I should
never be able to do another day's work. It is becoming impossible even
to _read_ them all; and there is scarcely time for giving due attention
to one in ten. Kind friends and readers will thus understand that if
their queries seem to be neglected, it is by no means from any want of
good will, but simply from the lamentable fact that the day contains
only four-and-twenty hours.

CAMBRIDGE, _October 25, 1891._




  The American aborigines                                            1

  Question as to their origin                                     2, 3

  Antiquity of man in America                                        4

  Shell-mounds, or middens                                        4, 5

  The Glacial Period                                              6, 7

  Discoveries in the Trenton gravel                                  8

  Discoveries in Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota                        9

  Mr. Cresson's discovery at Claymont, Delaware                     10

  The Calaveras skull                                               11

  Pleistocene men and mammals                                   12, 13

  Elevation and subsidence                                      13, 14

  Waves of migration                                                15

  The Cave men of Europe in the Glacial Period                      16

  The Eskimos are probably a remnant of the Cave men             17-19

  There was probably no connection or intercourse by
    water between ancient America and the Old World                 20

  There is one great American red race                              21

  Different senses in which the word "race" is used              21-23

  No necessary connection between differences in culture
    and differences in race                                         23

  Mr. Lewis Morgan's classification of grades of culture         24-32

  Distinction between Savagery and Barbarism                        25

  Origin of pottery                                                 25

  Lower, middle, and upper status of savagery                       26

  Lower status of barbarism; it ended differently in the
    two hemispheres; in ancient America there was no
    pastoral stage of development                                   27

  Importance of Indian corn                                         28

  Tillage with irrigation                                           29

  Use of adobe-brick and stone in building                          29

  Middle status of barbarism                                    29, 30

  Stone and copper tools                                            30

  Working of metals; smelting of iron                               30

  Upper status of barbarism                                         31

  The alphabet and the beginnings of civilization                   32

  So-called "civilizations" of Mexico and Peru                  33, 34

  Loose use of the words "savagery" and "civilization"              35

  Value and importance of the term "barbarism"                  35, 36

  The status of barbarism is most completely exemplified
    in ancient America                                          36, 37

  Survival of bygone epochs of culture; work of the
    Bureau of Ethnology                                         37, 38

  Tribal society and multiplicity of languages in aboriginal
    America                                                     38, 39

  Tribes in the upper status of savagery; Athabaskans,
    Apaches, Shoshones, etc.                                        39

  Tribes in the lower status of barbarism; the Dakota
    group or family                                                 40

  The Minnitarees and Mandans                                       41

  The Pawnee and Arickaree group                                    42

  The Maskoki group                                                 42

  The Algonquin group                                               43

  The Huron-Iroquois group                                          44

  The Five Nations                                               45-47

  Distinction between horticulture and field agriculture            48

  Perpetual intertribal warfare, with torture and
    cannibalism                                                  49-51

  Myths and folk-lore                                               51

  Ancient law                                                   52, 53

  The patriarchal family not primitive                              53

  "Mother-right"                                                    54

  Primitive marriage                                                55

  The system of reckoning kinship through females only              56

  Original reason for the system                                    57

  The primeval human horde                                      58, 59

  Earliest family-group; the clan                                   60

  "Exogamy"                                                         60

  Phratry and tribe                                                 61

  Effect of pastoral life upon property and upon the
    family                                                       61-63

  The exogamous clan in ancient America                             64

  Intimate connection of aboriginal architecture with
    social life                                                     65

  The long houses of the Iroquois                               66, 67

  Summary divorce                                                   68

  Hospitality                                                       68

  Structure of the clan                                         69, 70

  Origin and structure of the phratry                           70, 71

  Structure of the tribe                                            72

  Cross-relationships between clans and tribes; the Iroquois
    Confederacy                                                  72-74

  Structure of the confederacy                                  75, 76

  The "Long House"                                                  76

  Symmetrical development of institutions in ancient
    America                                                     77, 78

  Circular houses of the Mandans                                 79-81

  The Indians of the pueblos, in the middle status of
    barbarism                                                   82, 83

  Horticulture with irrigation, and architecture with
    adobe                                                       83, 84

  Possible origin of adobe architecture                         84, 85

  Mr. Cushing's sojourn at Zuñi                                     86

  Typical structure of the pueblo                                86-88

  Pueblo society                                                    89

  Wonderful ancient pueblos in the Chaco valley                  90-92

  The Moqui pueblos                                                 93

  The cliff-dwellings                                               93

  Pueblo of Zuñi                                                93, 94

  Pueblo of Tlascala                                             94-96

  The ancient city of Mexico was a great composite
    pueblo                                                          97

  The Spanish discoverers could not be expected to understand
    the state of society which they found there                 97, 98

  Contrast between feudalism and gentilism                          98

  Change from gentile society to political society in
    Greece and Rome                                            99, 100

  First suspicions as to the erroneousness of the Spanish
    accounts                                                       101

  Detection and explanation of the errors, by Lewis
    Morgan                                                         102

  Adolf Bandelier's researches                                     103

  The Aztec Confederacy                                       104, 105

  Aztec clans                                                      106

  Clan officers                                                    107

  Rights and duties of the clan                                    108

  Aztec phratries                                                  108

  The _tlatocan_, or tribal council                                109

  The _cihuacoatl_, or "snake-woman"                               110

  The _tlacatecuhtli_, or "chief-of-men"                           111

  Evolution of kingship in Greece and Rome                         112

  Mediæval kingship                                                113

  Montezuma was a "priest-commander"                               114

  Mode of succession to the office                            114, 115

  Manner of collecting tribute                                     116

  Mexican roads                                                    117

  Aztec and Iroquois confederacies contrasted                      118

  Aztec priesthood; human sacrifices                          119, 120

  Aztec slaves                                                121, 122

  The Aztec family                                            122, 123

  Aztec property                                                   124

  Mr. Morgan's rules of criticism                                  125

  He sometimes disregarded his own rules                           126

  Amusing illustrations from his remarks on "Montezuma's
    Dinner"                                                    126-128

  The reaction against uncritical and exaggerated statements
    was often carried too far by Mr. Morgan                   128, 129

  Great importance of the middle period of barbarism               130

  The Mexicans compared with the Mayas                         131-133

  Maya hieroglyphic writing                                        132

  Ruined cities of Central America                             134-138

  They are probably not older than the twelfth century             136

  Recent discovery of the Chronicle of Chicxulub                   138

  Maya culture very closely related to Mexican                     139

  The "Mound-Builders"                                         140-146

  The notion that they were like the Aztecs                        142

  Or, perhaps, like the Zuñis                                      143

  These notions are not well sustained                             144

  The mounds were probably built by different peoples
    in the lower status of barbarism, by Cherokees,
    Shawnees, and other tribes                                144, 145

  It is not likely that there was a "race of Mound Builders"       146

  Society in America at the time of the Discovery had
    reached stages similar to stages reached by eastern
    Mediterranean peoples fifty or sixty centuries
    earlier                                                   146, 147



  Stories of voyages to America before Columbus; the
    Chinese                                                        148

  The Irish.                                                       149

  Blowing and drifting; Cousin, of Dieppe                          150

  These stories are of small value                                 150

  But the case of the Northmen is quite different                  151

  The Viking exodus from Norway                               151, 152

  Founding of a colony in Iceland, A. D. 874                       153

  Icelandic literature                                             154

  Discovery of Greenland, A. D. 876                           155, 156

  Eric the Red, and his colony in Greenland,
    A. D. 986                                                  157-161

  Voyage of Bjarni Herjulfsson                                     162

  Conversion of the Northmen to Christianity                       163

  Leif Ericsson's voyage, A. D. 1000; Helluland and
    Markland                                                       164

  Leif's winter in Vinland                                    165, 166

  Voyages of Thorvald and Thorstein                                167

  Thorfinn Karlsefni, and his unsuccessful attempt to
    found a colony in Vinland, A. D. 1007-10                   167-169

  Freydis, and her evil deeds in Vinland, 1011-12             170, 171

  Voyage into Baffin's Bay, 1135                                   172

  Description of a Viking ship discovered at Sandefiord,
    in Norway                                                  173-175

  To what extent the climate of Greenland may have
    changed within the last thousand years                    176, 177

  With the Northmen once in Greenland, the discovery
    of the American continent was inevitable                       178

  Ear-marks of truth in the Icelandic narratives              179, 180

  Northern limit of the vine                                       181

  Length of the winter day                                         182

  Indian corn                                                 182, 183

  Winter weather in Vinland                                        184

  Vinland was probably situated somewhere between Cape Breton
    and Point Judith                                               185

  Further ear-marks of truth; savages and barbarians of the
    lower status were unknown to mediæval Europeans           185, 186

  The natives of Vinland as described in the Icelandic
    narratives                                                 187-193

  Meaning of the epithet "Skrælings"                          188, 189

  Personal appearance of the Skrælings                             189

  The Skrælings of Vinland were Indians,--very likely
    Algonquins                                                     190

  The "balista" or "demon's head"                             191, 192

  The story of the "uniped"                                        193

  Character of the Icelandic records; misleading associations
    with the word "saga"                                           194

  The comparison between Leif Ericsson and Agamemnon, made by
    a committee of the Massachusetts Historical Society, was
    peculiarly unfortunate and inappropriate                  194, 197

  The story of the Trojan War, in the shape in which we find
    it in Greek poetry, is pure folk-lore                          195

  The Saga of Eric the Red is not folk-lore                        196

  Mythical and historical sagas                                    197

  The western or Hauks-bók version of Eric the Red's Saga          198

  The northern or Flateyar-bók version                             199

  Presumption against sources not contemporary                     200

  Hauk Erlendsson and his manuscripts                              201

  The story is not likely to have been preserved to Hauk's
    time by oral tradition only                                    202

  Allusions to Vinland in other Icelandic documents            202-207

  Eyrbyggja Saga                                                   203

  The abbot Nikulas, etc.                                          204

  Ari Fródhi and his works                                         204

  His significant allusion to Vinland                              205

  Other references                                                 206

  Differences between Hauks-bók and Flateyar-bók versions          207

  Adam of Bremen                                                   208

  Importance of his testimony                                      209

  His misconception of the situation of Vinland                    210

  Summary of the argument                                      211-213

  Absurd speculations of zealous antiquarians                  213-215

  The Dighton inscription was made by Algonquins, and has
    nothing to do with the Northmen                           213, 214

  Governor Arnold's stone windmill                                 215

  There is no reason for supposing that the Northmen founded a
    colony in Vinland                                              216

  No archæological remains of them have been found south of
    Davis strait                                                   217

  If the Northmen had founded a successful colony, they would
    have introduced domestic cattle into the North American
    fauna                                                          218

  And such animals could not have vanished and left no trace
    of their existence                                        219, 220

  Further fortunes of the Greenland colony                         221

  Bishop Eric's voyage in search of Vinland, 1121                  222

  The ship from Markland, 1347                                     223

  The Greenland colony attacked by Eskimos, 1349                   224

  Queen Margaret's monopoly, and its baneful effects               225

  Story of the Venetian brothers, Nicolò and Antonio Zeno          226

  Nicolò Zeno wrecked upon one of the Færoe islands                227

  He enters the service of Henry Sinclair, Earl of the Orkneys
    and Caithness                                                  228

  Nicolò's voyage to Greenland, cir. 1394                          229

  Voyage of Earl Sinclair and Antonio Zeno                    229, 230

  Publication of the remains of the documents by the younger
    Nicolò Zeno, 1558                                              231

  The Zeno map                                                232, 233

  Queer transformations of names                               234-236

  The name _Færoislander_ became _Frislanda_                       236

  The narrative nowhere makes a claim to the "discovery
    of America"                                                    237

  The "Zichmni" of the narrative means Henry Sinclair              238

  Bardsen's "Description of Greenland"                             239

  The monastery of St. Olaus and its hot spring                    240

  Volcanoes of the north Atlantic ridge                            241

  Fate of Gunnbjörn's Skerries, 1456                               242

  Volcanic phenomena in Greenland                             242, 243

  Estotiland                                                       244

  Drogio                                                           245

  Inhabitants of Drogio and the countries beyond                   246

  The Fisherman's return to Frislanda                              247

  Was the account of Drogio woven into the narrative
    by the younger Nicolò?                                         248

  Or does it represent actual experiences in North
    America?                                                       249

  The case of David Ingram, 1568                                   250

  The case of Cabeza de Vaca, 1528-36                              251

  There may have been unrecorded instances of visits to
    North America                                                  252

  The pre-Columbian voyages made no real contributions
    to geographical knowledge                                      253

  And were in no true sense a discovery of America                 254

  Real contact between the eastern and western hemisphere
    was first established by Columbus                              255



  Why the voyages of the Northmen were not followed up             256

  Ignorance of their geographical significance                     257

  Lack of instruments for ocean navigation                         257

  Condition of Europe in the year 1000                        258, 259

  It was not such as to favour colonial enterprise                 260

  The outlook of Europe was toward Asia                            261

  Routes of trade between Europe and Asia                          262

  Claudius Ptolemy and his knowledge of the earth                  263

  Early mention of China                                           264

  The monk Cosmas Indicopleustes                                   265

  Shape of the earth, according to Cosmas                     266, 267

  His knowledge of Asia                                            268

  The Nestorians                                                   268

  Effects of the Saracen conquests                                 269

  Constantinople in the twelfth century                            270

  The Crusades                                                 270-274

  Barbarizing character of Turkish conquest                        271

  General effects of the Crusades                                  272

  The Fourth Crusade                                               273

  Rivalry between Venice and Genoa                                 274

  Centres and routes of mediæval trade                        275, 276

  Effects of the Mongol conquests                                  277

  Cathay, origin of the name                                       277

  Carpini and Rubruquis                                            278

  First knowledge of an eastern ocean beyond Cathay                278

  The data were thus prepared for Columbus; but as yet nobody
    reasoned from these data to a practical conclusion             279

  The Polo brothers                                                280

  Kublai Khan's message to the Pope                                281

  Marco Polo and his travels in Asia                          281, 282

  First recorded voyage of Europeans around the Indo-Chinese
    peninsula                                                      282

  Return of the Polos to Venice                                    283

  Marco Polo's book, written in prison at Genoa, 1299;
    its great contributions to geographical knowledge         284, 285

  Prester John                                                     285

  Griffins and Arimaspians                                         286

  The Catalan map, 1375                                       288, 289

  Other visits to China                                        287-291

  Overthrow of the Mongol dynasty, and shutting up of China        291

  First rumours of the Molucca islands and Japan                   292

  The accustomed routes of Oriental trade were cut off in the
    fifteenth century by the Ottoman Turks                         293

  Necessity for finding an "outside route to the Indies"           294




  Question as to whether Asia could be reached by sailing
    around Africa                                                  295

  Views of Eratosthenes                                            296

  Opposing theory of Ptolemy                                       297

  Story of the Phoenician voyage in the time of Necho          298-300

  Voyage of Hanno                                             300, 301

  Voyages of Sataspes and Eudoxus                                  302

  Wild exaggerations                                               303

  Views of Pomponius Mela                                     304, 305

  Ancient theory of the five zones                            306, 307

  The Inhabited World, or Oecumene, and the Antipodes              308

  Curious notions about Taprobane (Ceylon)                         309

  Question as to the possibility of crossing the torrid zone       309

  Notions about sailing "up and down hill"                    310, 311

  Superstitious fancies                                       311, 312

  Clumsiness of ships in the fifteenth century                     312

  Dangers from famine and scurvy                                   313

  The mariner's compass; an interesting letter from Brunetto
    Latini to Guido Cavalcanti                                 313-315

  Calculating latitudes and longitudes                             315

  Prince Henry the Navigator                                   316-326

  His idea of an ocean route to the Indies, and what it
    might bring                                                    318

  The Sacred Promontory                                            319

  The Madeira and Canary islands                               320-322

  Gil Eannes passes Cape Bojador                                   323

  Beginning of the modern slave-trade, 1442                        323

  Papal grant of heathen countries to the Portuguese
    crown                                                     324, 325

  Advance to Sierra Leone                                          326

  Advance to the Hottentot coast                              326, 327

  Note upon the extent of European acquaintance with
    savagery and the lower forms of barbarism previous
    to the fifteenth century                                   327-329

  Effect of the Portuguese discoveries upon the theories
    of Ptolemy and Mela                                       329, 330

  News of Prester John; Covilham's journey                         331

  Bartholomew Dias passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the
    Indian ocean                                                   332

  Some effects of this discovery                                   333

  Bartholomew Columbus took part in it                             333

  Connection between these voyages and the work of Christopher
    Columbus                                                       334




  Sources of information concerning the life of Columbus;
    Las Casas and Ferdinand Columbus                               335

  The Biblioteca Colombina at Seville                         336, 337

  Bernaldez and Peter Martyr                                       338

  Letters of Columbus                                              338

  Defects in Ferdinand's information                          339, 340

  Researches of Henry Harrisse                                     341

  Date of the birth of Columbus; archives of Savona                342

  Statement of Bernaldez                                           343

  Columbus's letter of September, 1501                             344

  The balance of probability is in favour of 1436                  345

  The family of Domenico Colombo, and its changes of
    residence                                                 346, 347

  Columbus tells us that he was born in the city of Genoa          348

  His early years                                              349-351

  Christopher and his brother Bartholomew at Lisbon           351, 352

  Philippa Moñiz de Perestrelo                                     352

  Personal appearance of Columbus                                  353

  His marriage, and life upon the island of Porto Santo       353, 354

  The king of Portugal asks advice of the great astronomer
    Toscanelli                                                     355

  Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus                        356-361

  His second letter to Columbus                               361, 362

  Who first suggested the feasibleness of a westward route
    to the Indies? Was it Columbus?                                363

  Perhaps it was Toscanelli                                   363, 364

  Note on the date of Toscanelli's first letter to
    Columbus                                                   365-367

  The idea, being naturally suggested by the globular form of
    the earth, was as old as Aristotle                        368, 369

  Opinions of ancient writers                                      370

  Opinions of Christian writers                                    371

  The "Imago Mundi" of Petrus Alliacus                        372, 373

  Ancient estimates of the size of the globe and the length of
    the Oecumene                                                   374

  Toscanelli's calculation of the size of the earth, and of
    the position of Japan (Cipango)                           375, 376

  Columbus's opinions of the size of the globe, the length of
    the Oecumene, and the width of the Atlantic ocean from
    Portugal to Japan                                          377-380

  There was a fortunate mixture of truth and error in these
    opinions of Columbus                                           381

  The whole point and purport of Columbus's scheme lay in its
    promise of a route to the Indies shorter than that which the
    Portuguese were seeking by way of Guinea                       381

  Columbus's speculations on climate; his voyages to Guinea
    and into the Arctic ocean                                      382

  He may have reached Jan Mayen island, and stopped
    at Iceland                                                383, 384

  The Scandinavian hypothesis that Columbus "must
    have" heard and understood the story of the Vinland
    voyages                                                   384, 385

  It has not a particle of evidence in its favour                  385

  It is not probable that Columbus knew of Adam of
    Bremen's allusion to Vinland, or that he would have
    understood it if he had read it                                386

  It is doubtful if he would have stumbled upon the
    story in Iceland                                               387

  If he had heard it, he would probably have classed it
    with such tales as that of St. Brandan's isle                  388

  He could not possibly have obtained from such a source his
    opinion of the width of the ocean                         388, 389

  If he had known and understood the Vinland story, he had the
    strongest motives for proclaiming it and no motive whatever
    for concealing it                                          390-392

  No trace of a thought of Vinland appears in any of his
    voyages                                                        393

  Why did not Norway or Iceland utter a protest in 1493?           393

  The idea of Vinland was not associated with the idea of
    America until the seventeenth century                          394

  Recapitulation of the genesis of Columbus's scheme               395

  Martin Behaim's improved astrolabe                          395, 396

  Negotiations of Columbus with John II. of Portugal          396, 397

  The king is persuaded into a shabby trick                        398

  Columbus leaves Portugal and enters into the service
    of Ferdinand and Isabella, 1486                            398-400

  The junto at Salamanca, 1486                                     401

  Birth of Ferdinand Columbus, August 15, 1488                     401

  Bartholomew Columbus returns from the Cape of Good Hope,
    December, 1487                                            402, 403

  Christopher visits Bartholomew at Lisbon, cir. September,
    1488, and sends him to England                                 404

  Bartholomew, after mishaps, reaches England cir. February,
    1490, and goes thence to France before 1492                405-407

  The duke of Medina-Celi proposes to furnish the ships for
    Columbus, but the queen withholds her consent             408, 409

  Columbus makes up his mind to get his family together and go
    to France, October, 1491                                  409, 410

  A change of fortune; he stops at La Rábida, and meets the
    prior Juan Perez, who writes to the queen                      411

  Columbus is summoned back to court                               411

  The junto before Granada, December, 1491                    412, 413

  Surrender of Granada, January 2, 1492                            414

  Columbus negotiates with the queen, who considers his terms
    exorbitant                                                 414-416

  Interposition of Luis de Santangel                               416

  Agreement between Columbus and the sovereigns                    417

  Cost of the voyage                                               418

  Dismay at Palos                                                  419

  The three famous caravels                                        420

  Delay at the Canary islands                                      421

  Martin Behaim and his globe                                 422, 423

  Columbus starts for Japan, September 6, 1492                     424

  Terrors of the voyage:--1. Deflection of the needle              425

                          2. The Sargasso sea                 426, 427

                          3. The trade wind                        428

  Impatience of the crews                                          428

  Change of course from W. to W. S. W                         429, 430

  Discovery of land, October 12, 1492                              431

  Guanahani: which of the Bahama islands was it?                   432

  Groping for Cipango and the route to Quinsay                433, 434

  Columbus reaches Cuba, and sends envoys to find a
    certain Asiatic prince                                    434, 435

  He turns eastward and Pinzon deserts him                         435

  Columbus arrives at Hayti and thinks it must be Japan            436

  His flag-ship is wrecked, and he decides to go back to
    Spain                                                          437

  Building of the blockhouse, La Navidad                           438

  Terrible storm in mid-ocean on the return voyage                 439

  Cold reception at the Azores                                     440

  Columbus is driven ashore in Portugal, where the king is
    advised to have him assassinated                               440

  But to offend Spain so grossly would be imprudent                441

  Arrival of Columbus and Pinzon at Palos; death of Pinzon         442

  Columbus is received by the sovereigns at Barcelona         443, 444

  General excitement at the news that a way to the Indies had
    been found                                                     445

  This voyage was an event without any parallel in history         446



  The Discovery of America was a gradual process              447, 448

  The letters of Columbus to Santangel and to Sanchez              449

  Versification of the story by Giuliano Dati                      450

  Earliest references to the discovery                             451

  The earliest reference in English                                452

  The Portuguese claim to the Indies                               453

  Bulls of Pope Alexander VI.                                  454-458

  The treaty of Tordesillas                                        459

  Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, and his relations with
    Columbus                                                   460-462

  Friar Boyle                                                      462

  Notable persons who embarked on the second voyage                463

  Departure from Cadiz                                             464

  Cruise among the Cannibal (Caribbee) islands                     465

  Fate of the colony at La Navidad                                 466

  Building the town of Isabella                                    467

  Exploration of Cibao                                        467, 468

  Westward cruise; Cape Alpha and Omega                        468-470

  Discovery of Jamaica                                             471

  Coasting the south side of Cuba                                  472

  The "people of Mangon"                                           473

  Speculations concerning the Golden Chersonese                474-476

  A solemn expression of opinion                                   477

  Vicissitudes of theory                                      477, 478

  Arrival of Bartholomew Columbus in Hispaniola               478, 479

  Mutiny in Hispaniola; desertion of Boyle and Margarite      479, 480

  The government of Columbus was not tyrannical                    481

  Troubles with the Indians                                   481, 482

  Mission of Juan Aguado                                           482

  Discovery of gold mines, and speculations about Ophir            483

  Founding of San Domingo, 1496                                    484

  The return voyage to Spain                                       485

  Edicts of 1495 and 1497                                     486, 487

  Vexatious conduct of Fonseca; Columbus loses his temper          487

  Departure from San Lucar on the third voyage                     488

  The belt of calms                                            489-491

  Trinidad and the Orinoco                                    491, 492

  Speculations as to the earth's shape; the mountain of
    Paradise                                                       494

  Relation of the "Eden continent" to "Cochin China"               495

  Discovery of the Pearl Coast                                     495

  Columbus arrives at San Domingo                                  496

  Roldan's rebellion and Fonseca's machinations               496, 497

  Gama's voyage to Hindustan, 1497                                 498

  Fonseca's creature, Bobadilla, sent to investigate the
    troubles in Hispaniola                                         499

  He imprisons Columbus                                            500

  And sends him in chains to Spain                                 501

  Release of Columbus; his interview with the sovereigns           502

  How far were the sovereigns responsible for Bobadilla?           503

  Ovando, another creature of Fonseca, appointed governor
    of Hispaniola                                             503, 504

  Purpose of Columbus's fourth voyage, to find a passage
    from the Caribbee waters into the Indian ocean            504, 506

  The voyage across the Atlantic                                   506

  Columbus not allowed to stop at San Domingo                      507

  His arrival at Cape Honduras                                     508

  Cape Gracias a Dios, and the coast of Veragua                    509

  Fruitless search for the strait of Malacca                       510

  Futile attempt to make a settlement in Veragua                   511

  Columbus is shipwrecked on the coast of Jamaica; shameful
    conduct of Ovando                                              512

  Columbus's last return to Spain                                  513

  His death at Valladolid, May 20, 1506                            513

  "Nuevo Mundo;" arms of Ferdinand Columbus                   514, 515

  When Columbus died, the fact that a New World had been
    discovered by him had not yet begun to dawn upon his mind,
    or upon the mind of any voyager or any writer             515, 516



  Portrait of the author                                _Frontispiece_

  View and ground-plan of Seneca-Iroquois long house
    _reduced from Morgan's Houses and House-Life of the
    American Aborigines_                                            66

  View, cross-section, and ground-plan of Mandan round
    house, _ditto_                                                  80

  Ground-plan of Pueblo Hungo Pavie, _ditto_                        86

  Restoration of Pueblo Hungo Pavie, _ditto_                        88

  Restoration of Pueblo Bonito, _ditto_                             90

  Ground-plan of Pueblo Peñasca Blanca, _ditto_                     92

  Ground-plan of so-called "House of the Nuns" at Uxmal,
    _ditto_                                                        133

  Map of the East Bygd, or eastern settlement of the Northmen
    in Greenland, _reduced from Rafn's Antiquitates
    Americanæ_                                                160, 161

  Ruins of the church at Kakortok, _from Major's Voyages of
    the Zeni, published by the Hakluyt Society_                    222

  Zeno Map, cir. 1400, _ditto_                                232, 233

  Map of the World according to Claudius Ptolemy, cir. A. D.
    150, _an abridged sketch after a map in Bunbury's History of
    Ancient Geography_                                    _Facing_ 265

  Two sheets of the Catalan Map, 1375, _from Yule's Cathay,
    published by the Hakluyt Society_                         288, 289

  Map of the World according to Pomponius Mela, cir. A. D. 50,
    _from Winsor's Narrative and Critical History of America_      304

  Map illustrating Portuguese voyages on the coast of Africa,
    _from a sketch by the author_                                  324

  Toscanelli's Map, 1474, _redrawn and improved from a sketch
    in Winsor's America_                                 _Facing_  357

  Annotations by Columbus, _reduced from a photograph in
    Harrisse's Notes on Columbus_                                  373

  Sketch of Martin Behaim's Globe, 1492, preserved in the city
    hall at Nuremberg, _reduced to Mercator's projection and
    sketched by the author_                                   422, 423

  Sketch of Martin Behaim's Atlantic Ocean, with outline of the
    American continent superimposed, _from Winsor's America_       429

  Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his first and
    second voyages, _sketched by the author_                       469

  Map of the discoveries made by Columbus in his third and
    fourth voyages, _ditto_                                        493

  Arms of Ferdinand Columbus, _from the title-page of
    Harrisse's Fernand Colomb_                                     515




[Sidenote: The American aborigines.]

When the civilized people of Europe first became acquainted with the
continents of North and South America, they found them inhabited by a
race of men quite unlike any of the races with which they were familiar
in the Old World. Between the various tribes of this aboriginal American
race, except in the sub-arctic region, there is now seen to be a general
physical likeness, such as to constitute an American type of mankind as
clearly recognizable as those types which we call Mongolian and Malay,
though far less pronounced than such types as the Australian or the
negro. The most obvious characteristics possessed in common by the
American aborigines are the copper-coloured or rather the
cinnamon-coloured complexion, along with the high cheek-bones and small
deep-set eyes, the straight black hair and absence or scantiness of
beard. With regard to stature, length of limbs, massiveness of frame,
and shape of skull, considerable divergencies may be noticed among the
various American tribes, as indeed is also the case among the members of
the white race in Europe, and of other races. With regard to culture the
differences have been considerable, although, with two or three apparent
but not real exceptions, there was nothing in pre-Columbian America that
could properly be called civilization; the general condition of the
people ranged all the way from savagery to barbarism of a high type.

[Sidenote: Question as to their origin.]

[Sidenote: Antiquity of man in America.]

Soon after America was proved not to be part of Asia, a puzzling
question arose. Whence came these "Indians," and in what manner did they
find their way to the western hemisphere. Since the beginning of the
present century discoveries in geology have entirely altered our mental
attitude toward this question. It was formerly argued upon the two
assumptions that the geographical relations of land and water had been
always pretty much the same as we now find them, and that all the racial
differences among men have arisen since the date of the "Noachian
Deluge," which was generally placed somewhere between two and three
thousand years before the Christian era. Hence inasmuch as European
tradition knows nothing of any such race as the Indians, it was supposed
that at some time within the historic period they must have moved
eastward from Asia into America; and thus "there was felt to be a sort
of speculative necessity for discovering points of resemblance between
American languages, myths, and social observances and those of the
Oriental world. Now the aborigines of this Continent were made out to
be Kamtchatkans, and now Chinamen, and again they were shown, with
quaint erudition, to be remnants of the ten tribes of Israel. Perhaps
none of these theories have been exactly disproved, but they have all
been superseded and laid on the shelf."[1] The tendency of modern
discovery is indeed toward agreement with the time-honoured tradition
which makes the Old World, and perhaps Asia, the earliest dwelling-place
of mankind. Competition has been far more active in the fauna of the
eastern hemisphere than in that of the western, natural selection has
accordingly resulted in the evolution of higher forms, and it is there
that we find both extinct and surviving species of man's nearest
collateral relatives, those tailless half-human apes, the gorilla,
chimpanzee, orang, and gibbon. It is altogether probable that the people
whom the Spaniards found in America came by migration from the Old
World. But it is by no means probable that their migration occurred
within so short a period as five or six thousand years. A series of
observations and discoveries kept up for the last half-century seem to
show that North America has been continuously inhabited by human beings
since the earliest Pleistocene times, if not earlier.

         [Footnote 1: See my _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, p. 148. A
         good succinct account of these various theories, monuments of
         wasted ingenuity, is given in Short's _North Americans of
         Antiquity_, chap. iii. The most elaborate statement of the
         theory of an Israelite colonization of America is to be found
         in the ponderous tomes of Lord Kingsborough, _Mexican
         Antiquities_, London, 1831-48, 9 vols. elephant-folio. Such a
         theory was entertained by the author of that curious piece of
         literary imposture, _The Book of Mormon_. In this book we are
         told that, when the tongues were confounded at Babel, the Lord
         selected a certain Jared, with his family and friends, and
         instructed them to build eight ships, in which, after a voyage
         of 344 days, they were brought to America, where they "did
         build many mighty cities," and "prosper exceedingly." But after
         some centuries they perished because of their iniquities. In
         the reign of Zedekiah, when calamity was impending over Judah,
         two brothers, Nephi and Laman, under divine guidance led a
         colony to America. There, says the veracious chronicler, their
         descendants became great nations, and worked in _iron_, and had
         stuffs of _silk_, besides keeping plenty of _oxen_ and _sheep_.
         (_Ether_, ix. 18, 19; x. 23, 24.) Christ appeared and wrought
         many wonderful works; people spake with tongues, and the dead
         were raised. (3 _Nephi_, xxvi. 14, 15.) But about the close of
         the fourth century of our era, a terrible war between Lamanites
         and Nephites ended in the destruction of the latter. Some two
         million warriors, with their wives and children, having been
         slaughtered, the prophet Mormon escaped, with his son Moroni,
         to the "hill Cumorah," hard by the "waters of Ripliancum," or
         Lake Ontario. (_Ether_, xv. 2, 8, 11.) There they hid the
         sacred tablets, which remained concealed until they were
         miraculously discovered and translated by Joseph Smith in 1827.
         There is, of course, no element of tradition in this story. It
         is all pure fiction, and of a very clumsy sort, such as might
         easily be devised by an ignorant man accustomed to the language
         of the Bible; and of course it was suggested by the old notion
         of the Israelitish origin of the red men. The references are to
         _The Book of Mormon_, Salt Lake City: Deseret News Co., 1885.]

[Sidenote: Shell-mounds.]

The first group of these observations and discoveries relate to
"middens" or shell-heaps. On the banks of the Damariscotta river in
Maine are some of the most remarkable shell-heaps in the world. With an
average thickness of six or seven feet, they rise in places to a height
of twenty-five feet. They consist almost entirely of huge oyster-shells
often ten inches in length and sometimes much longer. The shells belong
to a salt-water species. In some places "there is an appearance of
stratification covered by an alternation of shells and earth, as if the
deposition of shells had been from time to time interrupted, and a
vegetable mould had covered the surface." In these heaps have been found
fragments of pottery and of the bones of such edible animals as the
moose and deer. "At the very foundation of one of the highest heaps," in
a situation which must for long ages have been undisturbed, Mr. Edward
Morse "found the remains of an ancient fire-place, where he exhumed
charcoal, bones, and pottery."[2] The significant circumstance is that
"at the present time oysters are only found in very small numbers, too
small to make it an object to gather them," and so far as memory and
tradition can reach, such seems to have been the case. The great size of
the heap, coupled with the notable change in the distribution of this
mollusk since the heap was abandoned, implies a very considerable lapse
of time since the vestiges of human occupation were first left here.
Similar conclusions have been drawn from the banks or mounds of shells
on the St. John's river in Florida,[3] on the Alabama river, at Grand
Lake on the lower Mississippi, and at San Pablo in the bay of San
Francisco. Thus at various points from Maine to California, and in
connection with one particular kind of memorial, we find records of the
presence of man at a period undoubtedly prehistoric, but not necessarily
many thousands of years old.

         [Footnote 2: _Second Annual Report of the Peabody Museum of
         American Archæology_, etc., p. 18.]

         [Footnote 3: Visited in 1866-74 by Professor Jeffries Wyman,
         and described in his _Fresh-Water Shell Mounds of the St.
         John's River_, Cambridge, 1875.]

[Sidenote: The Glacial Period.]

The second group of discoveries carries us back much farther, even into
the earlier stages of that widespread glaciation which was the most
remarkable feature of the Pleistocene period. At the periods of greatest
cold "the continent of North America was deeply swathed in ice as far
south as the latitude of Philadelphia, while glaciers descended into
North Carolina."[4] The valleys of the Rocky Mountains also supported
enormous glaciers, and a similar state of things existed at the same
time in Europe. These periods of intense cold were alternated with long
interglacial periods during which the climate was warmer than it is
to-day. Concerning the antiquity of the Pleistocene age, which was
characterized by such extraordinary vicissitudes of heat and cold, there
has been, as in all questions relating to geological time, much conflict
of opinion. Twenty years ago geologists often argued as if there were an
unlimited fund of past time upon which to draw; but since Sir William
Thomson and other physicists emphasized the point that in an antiquity
very far from infinite this earth must have been a molten mass, there
has been a reaction. In many instances further study has shown that less
time was needed in order to effect a given change than had formerly been
supposed; and so there has grown up a tendency to shorten the time
assigned to geological periods. Here, as in so many other cases, the
truth is doubtless to be sought within the extremes. If we adopt the
magnificent argument of Dr. Croll, which seems to me still to hold its
ground against all adverse criticism,[5] and regard the Glacial epoch as
coincident with the last period of high eccentricity of the earth's
orbit, we obtain a result that is moderate and probable. That
astronomical period began about 240,000 years ago and came to an end
about 80,000 years ago. During this period the eccentricity was seldom
less than .04, and at one time rose to .0569. At the present time the
eccentricity is .0168, and nearly 800,000 years will pass before it
attains such a point as it reached during the Glacial epoch. For the
last 50,000 years the departure of the earth's orbit from a circular
form has been exceptionally small.

         [Footnote 4: _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, p. 39.]

         [Footnote 5: Croll, _Climate and Time in their Geological
         Relations_, New York, 1875; _Discussions on Climate and
         Cosmology_, New York, 1886; Archibald Geikie, _Text Book of
         Geology_, pp. 23-29, 883-909, London, 1882; James Geikie, _The
         Great Ice Age_, pp. 94-136, New York, 1874; _Prehistoric
         Europe_, pp. 558-562, London, 1881; Wallace, _Island Life_, pp.
         101-225, New York, 1881. Some objections to Croll's theory may
         be found in Wright's _Ice Age in North America_, pp. 405-505,
         585-595, New York, 1889. I have given a brief account of the
         theory in my _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, pp. 57-76.]

Now the traces of the existence of men in North America during the
Glacial epoch have in recent years been discovered in abundance, as for
example, the palæolithic quartzite implements found in the drift near
the city of St. Paul, which date from toward the close of the Glacial
epoch[6]; the fragment of a human jaw found in the red clay deposited in
Minnesota during an earlier part of that epoch;[7] the noble collection
of palæoliths found by Dr. C. C. Abbott in the Trenton gravels in New
Jersey; and the more recent discoveries of Dr. Metz and Mr. H. T.

         [Footnote 6: See Miss F. E. Babbitt, "Vestiges of Glacial Man
         in Minnesota," in _Proceedings of the American Association_,
         vol. xxxii., 1883.]

         [Footnote 7: See N. H. Winchell, _Annual Report of the State
         Geologist of Minnesota_, 1877, p. 60.]

[Sidenote: Discoveries in the Trenton gravel.]

[Sidenote: Discoveries in Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota;]

The year 1873 marks an era in American archæology as memorable as the
year 1841 in the investigation of the antiquity of man in Europe. With
reference to these problems Dr. Abbott occupies a position similar to
that of Boucher de Perthes in the Old World, and the Trenton valley is
coming to be classic ground, like the valley of the Somme. In April,
1873, Dr. Abbott published his description of three rude implements
which he had found some sixteen feet below the surface of the ground "in
the gravels of a bluff overlooking the Delaware river." The implements
were in place in an undisturbed deposit, and could not have found their
way thither in any recent time; Dr. Abbott assigned them to the age of
the Glacial drift. This was the beginning of a long series of
investigations, in which Dr. Abbott's work was assisted and supplemented
by Messrs. Whitney, Carr, Putnam, Shaler, Lewis, Wright, Haynes,
Dawkins, and other eminent geologists and archæologists. By 1888 Dr.
Abbott had obtained not less than 60 implements from various recorded
depths in the gravel, while many others were found at depths not
recorded or in the talus of the banks.[8] Three human skulls and other
bones, along with the tusk of a mastodon, have been discovered in the
same gravel. Careful studies have been made of the conditions under
which the gravel-banks were deposited and their probable age; and it is
generally agreed that they date from the later portion of the Glacial
period, or about the time of the final recession of the ice-sheet from
this region. At that time, in its climate and general aspect, New York
harbour must have been much like a Greenland fiord of the present day.
In 1883 Professor Wright of Oberlin, after a careful study of the
Trenton deposits and their relations to the terrace and gravel deposits
to the westward, predicted that similar palæolithic implements would be
found in Ohio. Two years afterward, the prediction was verified by Dr.
Metz, who found a true palæolith of black flint at Madisonville, in the
Little Miami valley, eight feet below the surface. Since then further
discoveries have been made in the same neighbourhood by Dr. Metz, and in
Jackson county, Indiana, by Mr. H. T. Cresson; and the existence of man
in that part of America toward the close of the Glacial period may be
regarded as definitely established. The discoveries of Miss Babbitt and
Professor Winchell, in Minnesota, carry the conclusion still farther,
and add to the probability of the existence of a human population all
the way from the Atlantic coast to the upper Mississippi valley at that
remote antiquity.

         [Footnote 8: Wright's _Ice Age in North America_, p. 516.]

[Sidenote: and in Delaware.]

A still more remarkable discovery was made by Mr. Cresson in July, 1887,
at Claymont, in the north of Delaware. In a deep cut of the Baltimore
and Ohio Railroad, in a stratum of Philadelphia red gravel and brick
clay, Mr. Cresson obtained an unquestionable palæolith, and a few months
afterward his diligent search was rewarded with another.[9] This
formation dates from far back in the Glacial period. If we accept Dr.
Croll's method of reckoning, we can hardly assign to it an antiquity
less than 150,000 years.

         [Footnote 9: The chipped implements discovered by Messrs.
         Abbott, Metz, and Cresson, and by Miss Babbitt, are all on
         exhibition at the Peabody Museum in Cambridge, whither it is
         necessary to go if one would get a comprehensive view of the
         relics of interglacial man in North America. The collection of
         implements made by Dr. Abbott includes much more than the
         palæoliths already referred to. It is one of the most important
         collections in the world, and is worth a long journey to see.
         Containing more than 20,000 implements, all found within a very
         limited area in New Jersey, "as now arranged, the collection
         exhibits at one and the same time the sequence of peoples and
         phases of development in the valley of the Delaware, from
         palæolithic man, through the intermediate period, to the recent
         Indians, and the relative numerical proportion of the many
         forms of their implements, each in its time.... It is doubtful
         whether any similar collection exists from which a student can
         gather so much information at sight as in this, where the
         natural pebbles from the gravel begin the series, and the
         beautifully chipped points of chert, jasper, and quartz
         terminate it in one direction, and the polished celts and
         grooved stone axes in the other." There are three principal
         groups,--first, the interglacial palæoliths, secondly, the
         argillite points and flakes, and thirdly, the arrow-heads,
         knives, mortars and pestles, axes and hoes, ornamental stones,
         etc., of Indians of the recent period. Dr. Abbott's _Primitive
         Industry_, published in 1881, is a useful manual for studying
         this collection; and an account of his discoveries in the
         glacial gravels is given in _Reports of the Peabody Museum_,
         vol. ii. pp. 30-48, 225-258; see also vol. iii. p. 492. A
         succinct and judicious account of the whole subject is given by
         H. W. Haynes, "The Prehistoric Archæology of North America," in
         Winsor's _Narrative and Critical History_, vol. i. pp.

[Sidenote: The Calaveras skull.]

But according to Professor Josiah Whitney there is reason for supposing
that man existed in California at a still more remote period. He holds
that the famous skull discovered in 1866, in the gold-bearing gravels of
Calaveras county, belongs to the Pliocene age.[10] If this be so, it
seems to suggest an antiquity not less than twice as great as that just
mentioned. The question as to the antiquity of the Calaveras skull is
still hotly disputed among the foremost palæontologists, but as one
reads the arguments one cannot help feeling that theoretical
difficulties have put the objectors into a somewhat inhospitable
attitude toward the evidence so ably presented by Professor Whitney. It
has been too hastily assumed that, from the point of view of evolution,
the existence of Pliocene man is improbable. Upon general
considerations, however, we have strong reason for believing that human
beings must have inhabited some portions of the earth throughout the
whole duration of the Pliocene period, and it need not surprise us if
their remains are presently discovered in more places than one.[11]

         [Footnote 10: J. D. Whitney, "The Auriferous Gravels of the
         Sierra Nevada", _Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy
         at Harvard College_, Cambridge, 1880, vol. vi.]

         [Footnote 11: In an essay published in 1882 on "Europe before
         the Arrival of Man" (_Excursions of an Evolutionist_, pp.
         1-40), I argued that if we are to find traces of the "missing
         link," or primordial stock of primates from which man has been
         derived, we must undoubtedly look for it in the Miocene (p.
         36). I am pleased at finding the same opinion lately expressed
         by one of the highest living authorities. The case is thus
         stated by Alfred Russel Wallace: "The evidence we now possess
         of the exact nature of the resemblance of man to the various
         species of anthropoid apes, shows us that he has little special
         affinity for any one rather than another species, while he
         differs from them all in several important characters in which
         they agree with each other. The conclusion to be drawn from
         these facts is, that his points of affinity connect him with
         the whole group, while his special peculiarities equally
         separate him from the whole group, and that he must, therefore,
         have diverged from the common ancestral form before the
         existing types of anthropoid apes had diverged from each other.
         Now this divergence almost certainly took place as early as the
         Miocene period, because in the Upper Miocene deposits of
         western Europe remains of two species of ape have been found
         allied to the gibbons, one of them, dryopithecus, nearly as
         large as a man, and believed by M. Lartet to have approached
         man in its dentition more than the existing apes. We seem
         hardly, therefore, to have reached in the Upper Miocene the
         epoch of the common ancestor of man and the anthropoids."
         (_Darwinism_, p. 455, London, 1889.) Mr. Wallace goes on to
         answer the objection of Professor Boyd Dawkins, "that man did
         not probably exist in Pliocene times, because almost all the
         known mammalia of that epoch are distinct species from those
         now living on the earth, and that the same changes of the
         environment which led to the modification of other mammalian
         species would also have led to a change in man." This argument,
         at first sight apparently formidable, quite overlooks the fact
         that in the evolution of man there came a point after which
         variations in his intelligence were seized upon more and more
         exclusively by natural selection, to the comparative neglect of
         physical variations. After that point man changed but little in
         physical characteristics, except in size and complexity of
         brain. This is the theorem first propounded by Mr. Wallace in
         the _Anthropological Review_, May, 1864; restated in his
         _Contributions to Natural Selection_, chap. ix., in 1870; and
         further extended and developed by me in connection with the
         theory of man's origin first suggested in my lectures at
         Harvard in 1871, and worked out in _Cosmic Philosophy_, part
         ii., chapters xvi., xxi., xxii.]

[Sidenote: Pleistocene men and mammals.]

Whatever may be the final outcome of the Calaveras controversy, there
can be no doubt as to the existence of man in North America far back in
early Pleistocene times. The men of the River-drift, who long dwelt in
western Europe during the milder intervals of the Glacial period, but
seem to have become extinct toward the end of it, are well known to
palæontologists through their bones and their rude tools.
Contemporaneously with these Europeans of the River-drift there
certainly lived some kind of men, of a similar low grade of culture, in
the Mississippi valley and on both the Atlantic and Pacific slopes of
North America. Along with these ancient Americans lived some terrestrial
mammals that still survive, such as the elk, reindeer, prairie wolf,
bison, musk-ox, and beaver; and many that have long been extinct, such
as the mylodon, megatherium, megalonyx, mastodon, Siberian elephant,
mammoth, at least six or seven species of ancestral horse, a huge bear
similar to the cave bear of ancient Europe, a lion similar to the
European cave lion, and a tiger as large as the modern tiger of Bengal.

[Sidenote: Elevation and subsidence.]

Now while the general relative positions of those stupendous abysses
that hold the oceans do not appear to have undergone any considerable
change since an extremely remote geological period, their shallow
marginal portions have been repeatedly raised so as to add extensive
territories to the edges of continents, and in some cases to convert
archipelagoes into continents, and to join continents previously
separated. Such elevation is followed in turn by an era of subsidence,
and almost everywhere either the one process or the other is slowly
going on. If you look at a model in relief of the continents and
ocean-floors, such as may be seen at the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy
in Cambridge, showing the results of a vast number of soundings in all
parts of the world, you cannot fail to be struck with the shallowness of
Bering Sea; it looks like a part of the continent rather than of the
ocean, and indeed it is just that,--an area of submerged continent. So
in the northern Atlantic there is a lofty ridge running from France to
Greenland. The British islands, the Orkney, Shetland, and Færoe groups,
and Iceland are the parts of this ridge high enough to remain out of
water. The remainder of it is shallow sea. Again and again it has been
raised, together with the floor of the German ocean, so as to become dry
land. Both before and since the time when those stone tools were dropped
into the red gravel from which Mr. Cresson took them the other day, the
northwestern part of Europe has been solid continent for more than a
hundred miles to the west of the French and Irish coasts, the Thames and
Humber have been tributaries to the Rhine, which emptied into the Arctic
ocean, and across the Atlantic ridge one might have walked to the New
World dry-shod.[12] In similar wise the northwestern corner of America
has repeatedly been joined to Siberia through the elevation of Bering

         [Footnote 12: See, for example, the map of Europe in early
         post-glacial times, in James Geikie's _Prehistoric Europe_.]

There have therefore been abundant opportunities for men to get into
America from the Old World without crossing salt water. Probably this
was the case with the ancient inhabitants of the Delaware and Little
Miami valleys; it is not at all likely that men who used their kind of
tools knew much about going on the sea in boats.

[Sidenote: Waves of migration.]

Whether the Indians are descended from this ancient population or not,
is a question with which we have as yet no satisfactory method of
dealing. It is not unlikely that these glacial men may have perished
from off the face of the earth, having been crushed and supplanted by
stronger races. There may have been several successive waves of
migration, of which the Indians were the latest.[13] There is time
enough for a great many things to happen in a thousand centuries. It
will doubtless be long before all the evidence can be brought in and
ransacked, but of one thing we may feel pretty sure; the past is more
full of changes than we are apt to realize. Our first theories are
usually too simple, and have to be enlarged and twisted into all manner
of shapes in order to cover the actual complication of facts.[14]

         [Footnote 13: "There are three human crania in the Museum,
         which were found in the gravel at Trenton, one several feet
         below the surface, the others near the surface. These skulls,
         which are of remarkable uniformity, are of small size and of
         oval shape, differing from all other skulls in the Museum. In
         fact they are of a distinct type, and hence of the greatest
         importance. So far as they go they indicate that palæolithic
         man was exterminated, or has become lost by admixture with
         others during the many thousand years which have passed since
         he inhabited the Delaware valley." F. W. Putnam, "The Peabody
         Museum," _Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society_,
         1889, New Series, vol. vi. p. 189.]

         [Footnote 14: An excellent example of this is the expansion and
         modification undergone during the past twenty years by our
         theories of the Aryan settlement of Europe. See Benfey's
         preface to Fick's _Woerterbuch der Indogermanischen
         Grundsprache_, 1868; Geiger, _Zur Entwickelungsgeschichte der
         Menschheit_, 1871; Cuno, _Forschungen im Gebiete der alten
         Voelkerkunde_, 1871; Schmidt, _Die Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse
         der Indogermanischen Sprachen_, 1872; Poesche, _Die Arier_,
         1878; Lindenschmit, _Handbuch der deutschen Alterthumskunde_,
         1880; Penka, _Origines Ariacæ_, 1883, and _Die Herkunft der
         Arier_, 1886; Spiegel, _Die arische Periode und ihre Zustande_,
         1887; Rendal, _Cradle of the Aryans_, 1889; Schrader,
         _Sprachvergleichung und Urgeschichte_, 1883, and second edition
         translated into English, with the title _Prehistoric
         Antiquities of the Aryan Peoples_, 1890. Schrader's is an
         epoch-making book. An attempt to defend the older and simpler
         views is made by Max Müller, _Biographies of Words and the Home
         of the Aryas_, 1888; see also Van den Gheyn, _L'origine
         européenne des Aryas_, 1889. The whole case is well summed up
         by Isaac Taylor, _Origin of the Aryans_, 1889.]

[Sidenote: The Cave men of Europe in the Glacial Period.]

[Sidenote: The Eskimos are probably a remnant of the Cave men.]

In this connection the history of the Eskimos introduces us to some
interesting problems. Mention has been made of the River-drift men who
lived in Europe during the milder intervals of the Glacial period. At
such times they made their way into Germany and Britain, along with
leopards, hyænas, and African elephants. But as the cold intervals came
on and the edge of the polar ice-sheet crept southward and mountain
glaciers filled up the valleys, these men and beasts retreated into
Africa; and their place was taken by a sub-arctic race of men known as
the Cave men, along with the reindeer and arctic fox and musk-sheep.
More than once with the secular alternations of temperature did the
River-drift men thus advance and retreat and advance again, and as they
advanced the Cave men retreated, both races yielding to an enemy
stronger than either,--to wit, the hostile climate. At length all traces
of the River-drift men vanish, but what of the Cave men? They have left
no representatives among the present populations of Europe, but the
musk-sheep, which always went and came with the Cave men, is to-day
found only in sub-arctic America among the Eskimos, and the fossilized
bones of the musk-sheep lie in a regular trail across the eastern
hemisphere, from the Pyrenees through Germany and Russia and all the
vast length of Siberia. The stone arrow-heads, the sewing-needles, the
necklaces and amulets of cut teeth, and the daggers made from antler,
used by the Eskimos, resemble so minutely the implements of the Cave
men, that if recent Eskimo remains were to be put into the Pleistocene
caves of France and England they would be indistinguishable in
appearance from the remains of the Cave men which are now found
there.[15] There is another striking point of resemblance. The Eskimos
have a talent for artistic sketching of men and beasts, and scenes in
which men and beasts figure, which is absolutely unrivalled among rude
peoples. One need but look at the sketches by common Eskimo fishermen
which illustrate Dr. Henry Rink's fascinating book on Danish Greenland,
to realize that this rude Eskimo art has a character as pronounced and
unmistakable in its way as the much higher art of the Japanese. Now
among the European remains of the Cave men are many sketches of
mammoths, cave bears, and other animals now extinct, and hunting scenes
so artfully and vividly portrayed as to bring distinctly before us many
details of daily life in an antiquity so vast that in comparison with it
the interval between the pyramids of Egypt and the Eiffel tower shrinks
into a point. Such a talent is unique among savage peoples. It exists
only among the living Eskimos and the ancient Cave men; and when
considered in connection with so many other points of agreement, and
with the indisputable fact that the Cave men were a sub-arctic race, it
affords a strong presumption in favour of the opinion of that great
palæontologist, Professor Boyd Dawkins, that the Eskimos of North
America are to-day the sole survivors of the race that made their homes
in the Pleistocene caves of western Europe.[16]

         [Footnote 15: See Dawkins, _Early Man in Britain_, pp.

         [Footnote 16: According to Dr. Rink the Eskimos formerly
         inhabited the central portions of North America, and have
         retreated or been driven northward; he would make the Eskimos
         of Siberia an offshoot from those of America, though he freely
         admits that there are grounds for entertaining the opposite
         view. Dr. Abbott is inclined to attribute an Eskimo origin to
         some of the palæoliths of the Trenton gravel. On the other
         hand, Mr. Clements Markham derives the American Eskimos from
         those of Siberia. It seems to me that these views may be
         comprehended and reconciled in a wider one. I would suggest
         that during the Glacial period the ancestral Eskimos may have
         gradually become adapted to arctic conditions of life; that in
         the mild interglacial intervals they migrated northward along
         with the musk-sheep; and that upon the return of the cold they
         migrated southward again, keeping always near the edge of the
         ice-sheet. Such a southward migration would naturally enough
         bring them in one continent down to the Pyrenees, in the other
         down to the Alleghanies; and naturally enough the modern
         inquirer has his attention first directed to the indications of
         their final retreat, _both_ northward in America and
         northeastward from Europe through Siberia. This is like what
         happened with so many plants and animals. Compare Darwin's
         remarks on "Dispersal in the Glacial Period," _Origin of
         Species_, chap. xii.

         The best books on the Eskimos are those of Dr. Rink, _Tales and
         Traditions of the Eskimo_, Edinburgh, 1875; _Danish Greenland_,
         London, 1877; _The Eskimo Tribes, their Distribution and
         Characteristics, especially in regard to Language_, Copenhagen,
         1887. See also Franz Boas, "The Central Eskimo," _Sixth Report
         of the Bureau of Ethnology_, Washington, 1888, pp. 399-669; W.
         H. Dall. _Alaska and its Resources_, 1870; Markham, "Origin and
         Migrations of the Greenland Esquimaux," _Journal of the Royal
         Geographical Society_, 1865; Cranz, _Historie von Groenland_,
         Leipsic, 1765; Petitot, _Traditions indiennes du Canada
         nord-ouest_, Paris, 1886; Pilling's _Bibliography of the Eskimo
         Language_, Washington, 1887; Wells and Kelly, _English-Eskimo
         and Eskimo-English Vocabularies, with Ethnographical Memoranda
         concerning the Arctic Eskimos in Alaska and Siberia_,
         Washington, 1890; Carstensen's _Two Summers in Greenland_,
         London, 1890.]

If we have always been accustomed to think of races of men only as they
are placed on modern maps, it at first seems strange to think of England
and France as ever having been inhabited by Eskimos. Facts equally
strange may be cited in abundance from zoölogy and botany. The camel is
found to-day only in Arabia and Bactria; yet in all probability the
camel originated in America,[17] and is an intruder into what we are
accustomed to call his native deserts, just as the people of the United
States are European intruders upon the soil of America. So the giant
trees of Mariposa grove are now found only in California, but there was
once a time when they were as common in Europe[18] as maple-trees to-day
in a New England village.

         [Footnote 17: Wallace, _Geographical Distribution of Animals_,
         vol. ii. p. 155.]

         [Footnote 18: Asa Gray, "Sequoia and its History," in his
         _Darwiniana_, pp. 205-235.]

[Sidenote: There was probably no connection or intercourse by water
between ancient America and the Old World.]

Familiarity with innumerable facts of this sort, concerning the
complicated migrations and distribution of plants and animals, has
entirely altered our way of looking at the question as to the origin of
the American Indians. As already observed, we can hardly be said to
possess sufficient data for determining whether they are descended from
the Pleistocene inhabitants of America, or have come in some later wave
of migration from the Old World. Nor can we as yet determine whether
they were earlier or later comers than the Eskimos. But since we have
got rid of that feeling of speculative necessity above referred to, for
bringing the red men from Asia within the historic period, it has become
more and more clear that they have dwelt upon American soil for a very
long time. The aboriginal American, as we know him, with his language
and legends, his physical and mental peculiarities, his social
observances and customs, is most emphatically a native and not an
imported article. He belongs to the American continent as strictly as
its opossums and armadillos, its maize and its golden-rod, or any
members of its aboriginal fauna and flora belong to it. In all
probability he came from the Old World at some ancient period, whether
pre-glacial or post-glacial, when it was possible to come by land; and
here in all probability, until the arrival of white men from Europe, he
remained undisturbed by later comers, unless the Eskimos may have been
such. There is not a particle of evidence to suggest any connection or
intercourse between aboriginal America and Asia within any such period
as the last twenty thousand years, except in so far as there may perhaps
now and then have been slight surges of Eskimo tribes back and forth
across Bering strait.

[Sidenote: There is one great American "red" race.]

The Indians must surely be regarded as an entirely different stock from
the Eskimos. On the other hand, the most competent American ethnologists
are now pretty thoroughly agreed that all the aborigines south of the
Eskimo region, all the way from Hudson's Bay to Cape Horn, belong to
one and the same race. It was formerly supposed that the higher culture
of the Aztecs, Mayas, and Peruvians must indicate that they were of
different race from the more barbarous Algonquins and Dakotas; and a
speculative necessity was felt for proving that, whatever may have been
the case with the other American peoples, this higher culture at any
rate must have been introduced within the historic period from the Old
World.[19] This feeling was caused partly by the fact that, owing to
crude and loosely-framed conceptions of the real points of difference
between civilization and barbarism, this Central American culture was
absurdly exaggerated. As the further study of the uncivilized parts of
the world has led to more accurate and precise conceptions, this kind of
speculative necessity has ceased to be felt. There is an increasing
disposition among scholars to agree that the warrior of Anahuac and the
shepherd of the Andes were just simply Indians, and that their culture
was no less indigenous than that of the Cherokees or Mohawks.

         [Footnote 19: Illustrations may be found in plenty in the
         learned works of Brasseur de Bourbourg:--_Histoire des nations
         civilisées du Mexique et de l'Amérique centrale_, 4 vols.,
         Paris, 1857-58; _Popol Vuh_, Paris, 1861; _Quatre lettres sur
         le Mexique_, Paris, 1868; _Le manuscrit Troano_, Paris, 1870,

[Sidenote: Different senses in which the word "race" is used.]

To prevent any possible misconception of my meaning, a further word of
explanation may be needed at this point. The word "race" is used in such
widely different senses that there is apt to be more or less vagueness
about it. The difference is mainly in what logicians call extension;
sometimes the word covers very little ground, sometimes a great deal. We
say that the people of England, of the United States, and of New South
Wales belong to one and the same race; and we say that an Englishman, a
Frenchman, and a Greek belong to three different races. There is a sense
in which both these statements are true. But there is also a sense in
which we may say that the Englishman, the Frenchman, and the Greek
belong to one and the same race; and that is when we are contrasting
them as white men with black men or yellow men. Now we may correctly say
that a Shawnee, an Ojibwa, and a Kickapoo belong to one and the same
Algonquin race; that a Mohawk and a Tuscarora belong to one and the same
Iroquois race; but that an Algonquin differs from an Iroquois somewhat
as an Englishman differs from a Frenchman. No doubt we may fairly say
that the Mexicans encountered by Cortes differed in race from the
Iroquois encountered by Champlain, as much as an Englishman differs from
an Albanian or a Montenegrin. But when we are contrasting aboriginal
Americans with white men or yellow men, it is right to say that Mexicans
and Iroquois belong to the same great red race.

In some parts of the world two strongly contrasted races have become
mingled together, or have existed side by side for centuries without
intermingling. In Europe the big blonde Aryan-speaking race has mixed
with the small brunette Iberian race, producing the endless varieties in
stature and complexion which may be seen in any drawing-room in London
or New York. In Africa south of Sahara, on the other hand, we find,
interspersed among negro tribes but kept perfectly distinct, that
primitive dwarfish race with yellow skin and tufted hair to which belong
the Hottentots and Bushmen, the Wambatti lately discovered by Mr.
Stanley, and other tribes.[20] Now in America south of Hudson's Bay the
case seems to have been quite otherwise, and more as it would have been
in Europe if there had been only Aryans, or in Africa if there had been
only blacks.[21]

         [Footnote 20: See Werner, "The African Pygmies," _Popular
         Science Monthly_, September, 1890,--a thoughtful and
         interesting article.]

         [Footnote 21: This sort of illustration requires continual
         limitation and qualification. The case in ancient America was
         not _quite_ as it would have been in Europe if there had been
         only Aryans there. The semi-civilized people of the Cordilleras
         were relatively brachycephalous as compared with the more
         barbarous Indians north and east of New Mexico. It is correct
         to call this a distinction of race if we mean thereby a
         distinction developed upon American soil, a differentiation
         within the limits of the red race, and not an intrusion from
         without. In this sense the Caribs also may be regarded as a
         distinct sub-race; and, in the same sense, we may call the
         Kafirs a distinct sub-race of African blacks. See, as to the
         latter, Tylor, _Anthropology_, p. 39.]

[Sidenote: No necessary connection between differences in culture and
differences in race.]

The belief that the people of the Cordilleras must be of radically
different race from other Indians was based upon the vague notion that
grades of culture have some necessary connection with likenesses and
differences of race. There is no such necessary connection.[22] Between
the highly civilized Japanese and their barbarous Mandshu cousins the
difference in culture is much greater than the difference between
Mohawks and Mexicans; and the same may be said of the people of Israel
and Judah in contrast with the Arabs of the desert, or of the imperial
Romans in comparison with their Teutonic kinsmen as described by

         [Footnote 22: As Sir John Lubbock well says, "Different races
         in similar stages of development often present more features of
         resemblance to one another than the same race does to itself in
         different stages of its history." (_Origin of Civilization_, p.
         11.) If every student of history and ethnology would begin by
         learning this lesson, the world would be spared a vast amount
         of unprofitable theorizing.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Grades of culture.]

At this point, in order to prepare ourselves the more clearly to
understand sundry facts with which we shall hereafter be obliged to
deal, especially the wonderful experiences of the Spanish conquerors, it
will be well to pause for a moment and do something toward defining the
different grades of culture through which men have passed in attaining
to the grade which can properly be called civilization. Unless we begin
with clear ideas upon this head we cannot go far toward understanding
the ancient America that was first visited and described for us by
Spaniards. The various grades of culture need to be classified, and that
most original and suggestive scholar, the late Lewis Morgan of
Rochester, made a brilliant attempt in this direction, to which the
reader's attention is now invited.

[Sidenote: Distinction between Savagery and Barbarism.]

[Sidenote: Origin of pottery.]

Below _Civilization_ Mr. Morgan[23] distinguishes two principal grades
or stages of culture, namely _Savagery_ and _Barbarism_. There is much
looseness and confusion in the popular use of these terms, and this is
liable to become a fruitful source of misapprehension in the case of any
statement involving either of them. When popular usage discriminates
between them it discriminates in the right direction; there is a vague
but not uncertain feeling that savagery is a lower stage than barbarism.
But ordinarily the discrimination is not made and the two terms are
carelessly employed as if interchangeable. Scientific writers long since
recognized a general difference between savagery and barbarism, but Mr.
Morgan was the first to suggest a really useful criterion for
distinguishing between them. His criterion is the making of pottery; and
his reason for selecting it is that the making of pottery is something
that presupposes village life and more or less progress in the simpler
arts. The earlier methods of boiling food were either putting it into
holes in the ground lined with skins and then using heated stones, or
else putting it into baskets coated with clay to be supported over a
fire. The clay served the double purpose of preventing liquids from
escaping and protecting the basket against the flame. It was probably
observed that the clay was hardened by the fire, and thus in course of
time it was found that the clay would answer the purpose without the
basket.[24] Whoever first made this ingenious discovery led the way from
savagery to barbarism. Throughout the present work we shall apply the
name "savages" only to uncivilized people who do not make pottery.

         [Footnote 23: See his great work on _Ancient Society_, New
         York, 1877.]

         [Footnote 24: See the evidence in Tylor, _Researches into the
         Early History of Mankind_, pp. 269-272; cf. Lubbock,
         _Prehistoric Times_, p. 573; and see Cushing's masterly "Study
         of Pueblo Pottery," etc., _Reports of Bureau of Ethnology_,
         iv., 473-521.]

[Sidenote: Lower status of savagery.]

But within each of these two stages Mr. Morgan distinguishes three
subordinate stages, or Ethnic Periods, which may be called either lower,
middle, and upper status, or older, middle, and later periods. The lower
status of savagery was that wholly prehistoric stage when men lived in
their original restricted habitat and subsisted on fruit and nuts. To
this period must be assigned the beginning of articulate speech. All
existing races of men had passed beyond it at an unknown antiquity.

[Sidenote: Middle status of savagery.]

Men began to pass beyond it when they discovered how to catch fish and
how to use fire. They could then begin (following coasts and rivers) to
spread over the earth. The middle status of savagery, thus introduced,
ends with the invention of that compound weapon, the bow and arrow. The
natives of Australia, who do not know this weapon, are still in the
middle status of savagery.[25]

         [Footnote 25: Lumholtz, _Among Cannibals_, London, 1889, gives
         a vivid picture of aboriginal life in Australia.]

[Sidenote: Upper status of savagery.]

The invention of the bow and arrow, which marks the upper status of
savagery, was not only a great advance in military art, but it also
vastly increased men's supply of food by increasing their power of
killing wild game. The lowest tribes in America, such as those upon the
Columbia river, the Athabaskans of Hudson's Bay, the Fuegians and some
other South American tribes, are in the upper status of savagery.

[Sidenote: Lower status of barbarism: it ended differently in the two

The transition from this status to the lower status of barbarism was
marked, as before observed, by the invention of pottery. The end of the
lower status of barbarism was marked in the Old World by the
domestication of animals other than the dog, which was probably
domesticated at a much earlier period as an aid to the hunter. The
domestication of horses and asses, oxen and sheep, goats and pigs, marks
of course an immense advance. Along with it goes considerable
development of agriculture, thus enabling a small territory to support
many people. It takes a wide range of country to support hunters. In the
New World, except in Peru, the only domesticated animal was the dog.
Horses, oxen, and the other animals mentioned did not exist in America,
during the historic period, until they were brought over from Europe by
the Spaniards. In ancient American society there was no such thing as a
pastoral stage of development,[26] and the absence of domesticable
animals from the western hemisphere may well be reckoned as very
important among the causes which retarded the progress of mankind in
this part of the world.

         [Footnote 26: The case of Peru, which forms an apparent but not
         real exception to this general statement, will be considered
         below in chap. ix.]

[Sidenote: Importance of Indian corn.]

On the other hand the ancient Americans had a cereal plant peculiar to
the New World, which made comparatively small demands upon the
intelligence and industry of the cultivator. Maize or "Indian corn" has
played a most important part in the history of the New World, as
regards both the red men and the white men. It could be planted without
clearing or ploughing the soil. It was only necessary to girdle the
trees with a stone hatchet, so as to destroy their leaves and let in the
sunshine. A few scratches and digs were made in the ground with a stone
digger, and the seed once dropped in took care of itself. The ears could
hang for weeks after ripening, and could be picked off without meddling
with the stalk; there was no need of threshing and winnowing. None of
the Old World cereals can be cultivated without much more industry and
intelligence. At the same time, when Indian corn is sown in tilled land
it yields with little labour more than twice as much food per acre as
any other kind of grain. This was of incalculable advantage to the
English settlers of New England, who would have found it much harder to
gain a secure foothold upon the soil if they had had to begin by
preparing it for wheat and rye without the aid of the beautiful and
beneficent American plant.[27] The Indians of the Atlantic coast of
North America for the most part lived in stockaded villages, and
cultivated their corn along with beans, pumpkins, squashes, and tobacco;
but their cultivation was of the rudest sort,[28] and population was too
sparse for much progress toward civilization. But Indian corn, when
sown in carefully tilled and irrigated land, had much to do with the
denser population, the increasing organization of labour, and the higher
development in the arts, which characterized the confederacies of Mexico
and Central America and all the pueblo Indians of the southwest. The
potato played a somewhat similar part in Peru. Hence it seems proper to
take the regular employment of tillage with irrigation as marking the
end of the lower period of barbarism in the New World. To this Mr.
Morgan adds the use of adobe-brick and stone in architecture, which also
distinguished the Mexicans and their neighbours from the ruder tribes of
North and South America. All these ruder tribes, except the few already
mentioned as in the upper period of savagery, were somewhere within the
lower period of barbarism. Thus the Algonquins and Iroquois, the Creeks,
the Dakotas, etc., when first seen by white men, were within this
period; but some had made much further progress within it than others.
For example, the Algonquin tribe of Ojibwas had little more than emerged
from savagery, while the Creeks and Cherokees had made considerable
advance toward the middle status of barbarism.

         [Footnote 27: See Shaler, "Physiography of North America," in
         Winsor's _Narr. and Crit. Hist._ vol. iv. p. xiii.]

         [Footnote 28: "No manure was used," says Mr. Parkman, speaking
         of the Hurons, "but at intervals of from ten to twenty years,
         when the soil was exhausted and firewood distant, the village
         was abandoned and a new one built." _Jesuits in North America_,
         p. xxx.]

[Sidenote: Middle status of barbarism.]

Let us now observe some characteristics of this extremely interesting
middle period. It began, we see, in the eastern hemisphere with the
domestication of other animals than the dog, and in the western
hemisphere with cultivation by irrigation and the use of adobe-brick and
stone for building. It also possessed another feature which
distinguished it from earlier periods, in the materials of which its
tools were made. In the periods of savagery hatchets and spear-heads
were made of rudely chipped stones. In the lower period of barbarism the
chipping became more and more skilful until it gave place to polishing.
In the middle period tools were greatly multiplied, improved polishing
gave sharp and accurate points and edges, and at last metals began to be
used as materials preferable to stone. In America the metal used was
copper, and in some spots where it was very accessible there were
instances of its use by tribes not in other respects above the lower
status of barbarism,--as for example, the "mound-builders." In the Old
World the metal used was the alloy of copper and tin familiarly known as
bronze, and in its working it called for a higher degree of intelligence
than copper.

[Sidenote: Working of metals.]

Toward the close of the middle period of barbarism the working of metals
became the most important element of progress, and the period may be
regarded as ending with the invention of the process of smelting iron
ore. According to this principle of division, the inhabitants of the
lake villages of ancient Switzerland, who kept horses and oxen, pigs and
sheep, raised wheat and ground it into flour, and spun and wove linen
garments, but knew nothing of iron, were in the middle status of
barbarism. The same was true of the ancient Britons before they learned
the use of iron from their neighbours in Gaul. In the New World the
representatives of the middle status of barbarism were such peoples as
the Zuñis, the Aztecs, the Mayas, and the Peruvians.

[Sidenote: Upper status of barbarism.]

[Sidenote: Beginning of civilization.]

The upper status of barbarism, in so far as it implies a knowledge of
smelting iron, was never reached in aboriginal America. In the Old World
it is the stage which had been reached by the Greeks of the Homeric
poems[29] and the Germans in the time of Cæsar. The end of this period
and the beginning of true civilization is marked by the invention of a
phonetic alphabet and the production of written records. This brings
within the pale of civilization such people as the ancient Phoenicians,
the Hebrews after the exodus, the ruling classes at Nineveh and Babylon,
the Aryans of Persia and India, and the Japanese. But clearly it will
not do to insist too narrowly upon the phonetic character of the
alphabet. Where people acquainted with iron have enshrined in
hieroglyphics so much matter of historic record and literary interest as
the Chinese and the ancient Egyptians, they too must be classed as
civilized; and this Mr. Morgan by implication admits.

         [Footnote 29: In the interesting architectural remains
         unearthed by Dr. Schliemann at Mycenæ and Tiryns, there have
         been found at the former place a few iron keys and knives, at
         the latter one iron lance-head; but the form and workmanship of
         these objects mark them as not older than the beginning of the
         fifth century B. C., or the time of the Persian wars. With
         these exceptions the weapons and tools found in these cities,
         as also in Troy, were of bronze and stone. Bronze was in common
         use, but obsidian knives and arrow-heads of fine workmanship
         abound in the ruins. According to Professor Sayce, these ruins
         must date from 2000 to 1700 B. C. The Greeks of that time would
         accordingly be placed in the middle status of barbarism. (See
         Schliemann's _Mycenæ_, pp. 75, 364; _Tiryns_, p. 171.) In the
         state of society described in the Homeric poems the smelting of
         iron was well known, but the process seems to have been costly,
         so that bronze weapons were still commonly used. (Tylor,
         _Anthropology_, p. 279.) The Romans of the regal period were
         ignorant of iron. (Lanciani, _Ancient Rome in the Light of
         Recent Discoveries_, Boston, 1888, pp. 39-48.) The upper period
         of barbarism was shortened for Greece and Rome through the
         circumstance that they learned the working of iron from Egypt
         and the use of the alphabet from Phoenicia. Such copying, of
         course, affects the symmetry of such schemes as Mr. Morgan's,
         and allowances have to be made for it. It is curious that both
         Greeks and Romans seem to have preserved some tradition of the
         Bronze Age:--

            [Greek: tois d' ên chalkea men teuchea, chalkeoi de te oikoi,
            chalkô d' eirgazonto; melas d' ouk eske sidêros.]
                                             Hesiod, _Opp. Di._ 134.

            Arma antiqua manus ungues dentesque fuerunt
            Et lapides et item silvarum fragmina rami,
            Et flamma atque ignes, postquam sunt cognita primum.
            Posterius ferri vis est, ærisque reperta.
            Et prior æris erat, quam ferri cognitus usus, etc.
                                             Lucretius, v. 1283.

         Perhaps, as Munro suggests, Lucretius was thinking of Hesiod;
         but it does not seem improbable that in both cases there may
         have been a genuine tradition that their ancestors used bronze
         tools and weapons before iron, since the change was
         comparatively recent, and sundry religious observances tended
         to perpetuate the memory of it.]

[Sidenote: "Civilizations" of Mexico and Peru.]

This brilliant classification of the stages of early culture will be
found very helpful if we only keep in mind the fact that in all wide
generalizations of this sort the case is liable to be somewhat unduly
simplified. The story of human progress is really not quite so easy to
decipher as such descriptions would make it appear, and when we have
laid down rules of this sort we need not be surprised if we now and then
come upon facts that will not exactly fit into them. In such an event
it is best not to try to squeeze or distort the unruly facts, but to
look and see if our rules will not bear some little qualification. The
faculty for generalizing is a good servant but a bad master. If we
observe this caution we shall find Mr. Morgan's work to be of great
value. It will be observed that, with one exception, his restrictions
leave the area of civilization as wide as that which we are accustomed
to assign to it in our ordinary speaking and thinking. That exception is
the case of Mexico, Central America, and Peru. We have so long been
accustomed to gorgeous accounts of the civilization of these countries
at the time of their discovery by the Spaniards that it may at first
shock our preconceived notions to see them set down as in the "middle
status of barbarism," one stage higher than Mohawks, and one stage lower
than the warriors of the Iliad. This does indeed mark a change since Dr.
Draper expressed the opinion that the Mexicans and Peruvians were
morally and intellectually superior to the Europeans of the sixteenth
century.[30] The reaction from the state of opinion in which such an
extravagant remark was even possible has been attended with some
controversy; but on the whole Mr. Morgan's main position has been
steadily and rapidly gaining ground, and it is becoming more and more
clear that if we are to use language correctly when we speak of the
civilizations of Mexico and Peru we really mean civilizations of an
extremely archaic type, considerably more archaic than that of Egypt in
the time of the Pharaohs. A "civilization" like that of the Aztecs,
without domestic animals or iron tools, with trade still in the
primitive stage of barter, with human sacrifices, and with cannibalism,
has certainly some of the most vivid features of barbarism. Along with
these primitive features, however, there seem to have been--after making
all due allowances--some features of luxury and splendour such as we are
wont to associate with civilization. The Aztecs, moreover, though
doubtless a full ethnical period behind the ancient Egyptians in general
advancement, had worked out a system of hieroglyphic writing, and had
begun to put it to some literary use. It would seem that a people may in
certain special points reach a level of attainment higher than the level
which they occupy in other points. The Cave men of the Glacial period
were ignorant of pottery, and thus had not risen above the upper status
of savagery; but their artistic talent, upon which we have remarked, was
not such as we are wont to associate with savagery. Other instances will
occur to us in the proper place.

         [Footnote 30: See his _Intellectual Development of Europe_, New
         York, 1863, pp. 448, 464.]

[Sidenote: Loose use of the words "savagery" and "civilization".]

The difficulty which people usually find in realizing the true position
of the ancient Mexican culture arises partly from the misconceptions
which have until recently distorted the facts, and partly from the loose
employment of terms above noticed. It is quite correct to speak of the
Australian blackfellows as "savages," but nothing is more common than to
hear the same epithet employed to characterize Shawnees and Mohawks;
and to call those Indians "savages" is quite misleading. So on the other
hand the term "civilization" is often so loosely used as to cover a
large territory belonging to "barbarism." One does not look for
scientific precision in newspapers, but they are apt to reflect popular
habits of thought quite faithfully, and for that reason it is proper
here to quote from one. In a newspaper account of Mr. Cushing's recent
discoveries of buried towns, works of irrigation, etc., in Arizona, we
are first told that these are the remains of a "splendid prehistoric
civilization," and the next moment we are told, in entire
unconsciousness of the contradiction, that the people who constructed
these works had only stone tools. Now to call a people "civilized" who
have only stone tools is utterly misleading. Nothing but confusion of
ideas and darkening of counsel can come from such a misuse of words.
Such a people may be in a high degree interesting and entitled to credit
for what they have achieved, but the grade of culture which they have
reached is not "civilization."

[Sidenote: Value and importance of the term "barbarism."]

With "savagery" thus encroaching upon its area of meaning on the one
side, and "civilization" encroaching on the other, the word "barbarism,"
as popularly apprehended, is left in a vague and unsatisfactory plight.
If we speak of Montezuma's people as barbarians one stage further
advanced than Mohawks, we are liable to be charged with calling them
"savages." Yet the term "barbarism" is a very useful one; indispensable,
indeed, in the history of human progress. There is no other word which
can serve in its stead as a designation of the enormous interval which
begins with the invention of pottery and ends with the invention of the
alphabet. The popular usage of the word is likely to become more
definite as it comes to be more generally realized how prodigious that
interval has been. When we think what a considerable portion of man's
past existence has been comprised within it, and what a marvellous
transformation in human knowledge and human faculty has been gradually
wrought between its beginning and its end, the period of barbarism
becomes invested with most thrilling interest, and its name ceases to
appear otherwise than respectable. It is Mr. Morgan's chief title to
fame that he has so thoroughly explored this period and described its
features with such masterly skill.

[Sidenote: The status of barbarism is most completely exemplified in
ancient America.]

[Sidenote: Survivals of bygone epochs of culture.]

It is worth while to observe that Mr. Morgan's view of the successive
stages of culture is one which could not well have been marked out in
all its parts except by a student of American archæology. Aboriginal
America is the richest field in the world for the study of barbarism.
Its people present every gradation in social life during three ethnical
periods--the upper period of savagery and the lower and middle periods
of barbarism--so that the process of development may be most
systematically and instructively studied. Until we have become familiar
with ancient American society, and so long as our view is confined to
the phases of progress in the Old World, the demarcation between
civilized and uncivilized life seems too abrupt and sudden; we do not
get a correct measure of it. The oldest European tradition reaches back
only through the upper period of barbarism.[31] The middle and lower
periods have lapsed into utter oblivion, and it is only modern
archæological research that is beginning to recover the traces of them.
But among the red men of America the social life of ages more remote
than that of the lake villages of Switzerland is in many particulars
preserved for us to-day, and when we study it we begin to realize as
never before the continuity of human development, its enormous duration,
and the almost infinite accumulation of slow efforts by which progress
has been achieved. Ancient America is further instructive in presenting
the middle status of barbarism in a different form from that which it
assumed in the eastern hemisphere. Its most conspicuous outward
manifestations, instead of tents and herds, were strange and imposing
edifices of stone, so that it was quite natural that observers
interpreting it from a basis of European experience should mistake it
for civilization. Certain aspects of that middle period may be studied
to-day in New Mexico and Arizona, as phases of the older periods may
still be found among the wilder tribes, even after all the contact they
have had with white men. These survivals from antiquity will not
permanently outlive that contact, and it is important that no time
should be lost in gathering and putting on record all that can be
learned of the speech and arts, the customs and beliefs, everything that
goes to constitute the philology and anthropology of the red men. For
the intelligent and vigorous work of this sort now conducted by the
Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, under the direction
of Major Powell, no praise can be too strong and no encouragement too

         [Footnote 31: Now and then, perhaps, but very rarely, it just
         touches the close of the middle period, as, e. g., in the lines
         from Hesiod and Lucretius above quoted.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Tribal society and multiplicity of languages in aboriginal

A brief enumeration of the principal groups of Indians will be helpful
in enabling us to comprehend the social condition of ancient America.
The groups are in great part defined by differences of language, which
are perhaps a better criterion of racial affinity in the New World than
in the Old, because there seems to have been little or nothing of that
peculiar kind of conquest with incorporation resulting in complete
change of speech which we sometimes find in the Old World; as, for
example, when we see the Celto-Iberian population of Spain and the
Belgic, Celtic, and Aquitanian populations of Gaul forgetting their
native tongues, and adopting that of a confederacy of tribes in Latium.
Except in the case of Peru there is no indication that anything of this
sort went on, or that there was anything even superficially analogous to
"empire," in ancient America. What strikes one most forcibly at first is
the vast number of American languages. Adelung, in his "Mithridates,"
put the number at 1,264, and Ludewig, in his "Literature of the American
Languages," put it roundly at 1,100. Squier, on the other hand, was
content with 400.[32] The discrepancy arises from the fact that where
one scholar sees two or three distinct languages another sees two or
three dialects of one language and counts them as one; it is like the
difficulty which naturalists find in agreeing as to what are species and
what are only varieties. The great number of languages and dialects
spoken by a sparse population is one mark of the universal prevalence of
a rude and primitive form of tribal society.[33]

         [Footnote 32: Winsor, "Bibliographical Notes on American
         Linguistics," in his _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, vol. i. pp.
         420-428, gives an admirable survey of the subject. See also
         Pilling's bibliographical bulletins of Iroquoian, Siouan, and
         Muskhogean languages, published by the Bureau of Ethnology.]

         [Footnote 33: _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, pp. 147-174.]

[Sidenote: Tribes in the upper status of savagery.]

The lowest tribes in North America were those that are still to be found
in California, in the valley of the Columbia river, and on the shores of
Puget Sound. The Athabaskans of Hudson's Bay were on about the same
level of savagery. They made no pottery, knew nothing of horticulture,
depended for subsistence entirely upon bread-roots, fish, and game, and
thus had no village life. They were mere prowlers in the upper status of
savagery.[34] The Apaches of Arizona, preëminent even among red men for
atrocious cruelty, are an offshoot from the Athabaskan stock. Very
little better are the Shoshones and Bannocks that still wander among
the lonely bare mountains and over the weird sage-brush plains of Idaho.
The region west of the Rocky Mountains and north of New Mexico is thus
the region of savagery.

         [Footnote 34: For a good account of Indians in the upper status
         of savagery until modified by contact with civilization, see
         Myron Eells, "The Twana, Chemakum, and Klallam Indians of
         Washington Territory," _Smithsonian Report_, 1887, pp.

[Sidenote: The Dakota family of tribes.]

Between the Rocky Mountains and the Atlantic coast the aborigines, at
the time of the Discovery, might have been divided into six or seven
groups, of which three were situated mainly to the east of the
Mississippi river, the others mainly to the west of it. All were in the
lower period of barbarism. Of the western groups, by far the most
numerous were the Dakotas, comprising the Sioux, Poncas, Omahas, Iowas,
Kaws, Otoes, and Missouris. From the headwaters of the Mississippi their
territory extended westward on both sides of the Missouri for a thousand
miles. One of their tribes, the Winnebagos, had crossed the Mississippi
and pressed into the region between that river and Lake Michigan.

[Sidenote: The Minnitarees and Mandans.]

A second group, very small in numbers but extremely interesting to the
student of ethnology, comprises the Minnitarees and Mandans on the upper
Missouri.[35] The remnants of these tribes now live together in the same
village, and in personal appearance, as well as in intelligence, they
are described as superior to any other red men north of New Mexico.
From their first discovery, by the brothers La Vérendrye in 1742, down
to Mr. Catlin's visit nearly a century later, there was no change in
their condition,[36] but shortly afterward, in 1838, the greater part of
them were swept away by small-pox. The excellence of their horticulture,
the framework of their houses, and their peculiar religious ceremonies
early attracted attention. Upon Mr. Catlin they made such an impression
that he fancied there must be an infusion of white blood in them; and
after the fashion of those days he sought to account for it by a
reference to the legend of Madoc, a Welsh prince who was dimly imagined
to have sailed to America about 1170. He thought that Madoc's party
might have sailed to the Mississippi and founded a colony which ascended
that river and the Ohio, built the famous mounds of the Ohio valley, and
finally migrated to the upper Missouri.[37] To this speculation was
appended the inevitable list of words which happen to sound somewhat
alike in Mandan and in Welsh. In the realm of free fancy everything is
easy. That there was a Madoc who went somewhere in 1170 is quite
possible, but as shrewd old John Smith said about it, "where this place
was no history can show."[38] But one part of Mr. Catlin's speculation
may have hit somewhat nearer the truth. It is possible that the
Minnitarees or the Mandans, or both, may be a remnant of some of those
Mound-builders in the Mississippi valley concerning whom something will
presently be said.

         [Footnote 35: An excellent description of them, profusely
         illustrated with coloured pictures, may be found in Catlin's
         _North American Indians_, vol. i. pp. 66-207, 7th ed., London,
         1848; the author was an accurate and trustworthy observer. Some
         writers have placed these tribes in the Dakota group because of
         the large number of Dakota words in their language; but these
         are probably borrowed words, like the numerous French words in

         [Footnote 36: See Francis Parkman's paper, "The Discovery of
         the Rocky Mountains," _Atlantic Monthly_, June, 1888. I hope
         the appearance of this article, two years ago, indicates that
         we have not much longer to wait for the next of that
         magnificent series of volumes on the history of the French in
         North America.]

         [Footnote 37: _North American Indians_, vol. ii., Appendix A.]

         [Footnote 38: Smith's _Generall Historie of Virginia, New
         England and the Summer Isles_, p. 1, London, 1626.]

[Sidenote: Pawnees, etc.]

The third group in this western region consists of the Pawnees and
Arickarees,[39] of the Platte valley in Nebraska, with a few kindred
tribes farther to the south.

         [Footnote 39: For the history and ethnology of these
         interesting tribes, see three learned papers by J. B. Dunbar,
         in _Magazine of American History_, vol. iv. pp. 241-281; vol.
         v. pp. 321-342; vol. viii. pp. 734-756; also Grinnell's _Pawnee
         Hero Stories and Folk-Tales_, New York, 1889.]

[Sidenote: Maskoki family.]

Of the three groups eastward of the Mississippi we may first mention the
Maskoki, or Muskhogees, consisting of the Choctaws, Chickasaws,
Seminoles, and others, with the Creek confederacy.[40] These tribes were
intelligent and powerful, with a culture well advanced toward the end of
the lower period of barbarism.

         [Footnote 40: These tribes of the Gulf region were formerly
         grouped, along with others not akin to them, as "Mobilians."
         The Cherokees were supposed to belong to the Maskoki family,
         but they have lately been declared an intrusive offshoot from
         the Iroquois stock. The remnants of another alien tribe, the
         once famous Natchez, were adopted into the Creek confederacy.
         For a full account of these tribes, see Gatschet, _A Migration
         Legend of the Creek Indians_, vol. i., Philadelphia, 1884.]

[Sidenote: Algonquin family of tribes.]

The Algonquin family, bordering at its southern limits upon the Maskoki,
had a vast range northeasterly along the Atlantic coast until it reached
the confines of Labrador, and northwesterly through the region of the
Great Lakes and as far as the Churchill river[41] to the west of
Hudson's Bay. In other words, the Algonquins were bounded on the south
by the Maskoki,[42] on the west by the Dakotas, on the northwest by the
Athabaskans, on the northeast by Eskimos, and on the east by the ocean.
Between Lake Superior and the Red River of the North the Crees had their
hunting grounds, and closely related to them were the Pottawatomies,
Ojibwas, and Ottawas. One offshoot, including the Blackfeet, Cheyennes,
and Arrapahos, roamed as far west as the Rocky Mountains. The great
triangle between the upper Mississippi and the Ohio was occupied by the
Menomonees and Kickapoos, the Sacs and Foxes, the Miamis and Illinois,
and the Shawnees. Along the coast region the principal Algonquin tribes
were the Powhatans of Virginia, the Lenape or Delawares, the Munsees or
Minisinks of the mountains about the Susquehanna, the Mohegans on the
Hudson, the Adirondacks between that river and the St. Lawrence, the
Narragansetts and their congeners in New England, and finally the
Micmacs and Wabenaki far down East, as the last name implies. There is a
tradition, supported to some extent by linguistic evidence,[43] that the
Mohegans, with their cousins the Pequots, were more closely related to
the Shawnees than to the Delaware or coast group. While all the
Algonquin tribes were in the lower period of barbarism, there was a
noticeable gradation among them, the Crees and Ojibwas of the far North
standing lowest in culture, and the Shawnees, at their southernmost
limits, standing highest.

         [Footnote 41: Howse, _Grammar of the Cree Language_, London,
         1865, p. vii.]

         [Footnote 42: Except in so far as the Cherokees and Tuscaroras,
         presently to be mentioned, were interposed.]

         [Footnote 43: Brinton, _The Lenape and their Legends_, p. 30.]

[Sidenote: Huron-Iroquois family of tribes.]

We have observed the Dakota tribes pressing eastward against their
neighbours and sending out an offshoot, the Winnebagos, across the
Mississippi river. It has been supposed that the Huron-Iroquois group of
tribes was a more remote offshoot from the Dakotas. This is very
doubtful; but in the thirteenth or fourteenth century the general trend
of the Huron-Iroquois movement seems to have been eastward, either in
successive swarms, or in a single swarm, which became divided and
scattered by segmentation, as was common with all Indian tribes. They
seem early to have proved their superiority over the Algonquins in
bravery and intelligence. Their line of invasion seems to have run
eastward to Niagara, and thereabouts to have bifurcated, one line
following the valley of the St. Lawrence, and the other that of the
Susquehanna. The Hurons established themselves in the peninsula between
the lake that bears their name and Lake Ontario. South of them and along
the northern shore of Lake Erie were settled their kindred, afterward
called the "Neutral Nation."[44] On the southern shore the Eries planted
themselves, while the Susquehannocks pushed on in a direction
sufficiently described by their name. Farthest of all penetrated the
Tuscaroras, even into the pine forests of North Carolina, where they
maintained themselves in isolation from their kindred until 1715. These
invasions resulted in some displacement of Algonquin tribes, and began
to sap the strength of the confederacy or alliance in which the
Delawares had held a foremost place.

         [Footnote 44: Because they refused to take part in the strife
         between the Hurons and the Five Nations. Their Indian name was
         Attiwandarons. They were unsurpassed for ferocity. See Parkman,
         _Jesuits in North America_, p. xliv.]

[Sidenote: The Five Nations.]

But by far the most famous and important of the Huron-Iroquois were
those that followed the northern shore of Lake Ontario into the valley
of the St. Lawrence. In that direction their progress was checked by the
Algonquin tribe of Adirondacks, but they succeeded in retaining a
foothold in the country for a long time; for in 1535 Jacques Cartier
found on the site which he named Montreal an Iroquois village which had
vanished before Champlain's arrival seventy years later. Those Iroquois
who were thrust back in the struggle for the St. Lawrence valley, early
in the fifteenth century, made their way across Lake Ontario and
established themselves at the mouth of the Oswego river. They were then
in three small tribes,--the Mohawks, Onondagas, and Senecas,--but as
they grew in numbers and spread eastward to the Hudson and westward to
the Genesee, the intermediate tribes of Oneidas and Cayugas were formed
by segmentation.[45] About 1450 the five tribes--afterwards known as the
Five Nations--were joined in a confederacy in pursuance of the wise
counsel which Hayowentha, or Hiawatha,[46] according to the legend,
whispered into the ears of the Onondaga sachem, Daganoweda. This union
of their resources combined, with their native bravery and cunning, and
their occupation of the most commanding military position in eastern
North America, to render them invincible among red men. They
exterminated their old enemies the Adirondacks, and pushed the Mohegans
over the mountains from the Hudson river to the Connecticut. When they
first encountered white men in 1609 their name had become a terror in
New England, insomuch that as soon as a single Mohawk was caught sight
of by the Indians in that country, they would raise the cry from hill to
hill, "A Mohawk! a Mohawk!" and forthwith would flee like sheep before
wolves, never dreaming of resistance.[47]

         [Footnote 45: Morgan, _Ancient Society_, p. 125.]

         [Footnote 46: Whether there was ever such a person as Hiawatha
         is, to say the least, doubtful. As a traditional culture-hero
         his attributes are those of Ioskeha, Michabo, Quetzalcoatl,
         Viracocha, and all that class of sky-gods to which I shall
         again have occasion to refer. See Brinton's _Myths of the New
         World_, p. 172. When the Indian speaks of Hiawatha whispering
         advice to Daganoweda, his meaning is probably the same as that
         of the ancient Greek when he attributed the wisdom of some
         mortal hero to whispered advice from Zeus or his messenger
         Hermes. Longfellow's famous poem is based upon Schoolcraft's
         book entitled _The Hiawatha Legends_, which is really a
         misnomer, for the book consists chiefly of Ojibwa stories about
         Manabozho, son of the West Wind. There was really no such
         legend of Hiawatha as that which the poet has immortalized. See
         Hale, _The Iroquois Book of Rites_, pp. 36, 180-183.]

         [Footnote 47: Cadwallader Colden, _History of the Five
         Nations_, New York, 1727.]

After the Five Nations had been supplied with firearms by the Dutch
their power increased with portentous rapidity.[48] At first they sought
to persuade their neighbours of kindred blood and speech, the Eries and
others, to join their confederacy; and failing in this they went to war
and exterminated them.[49] Then they overthrew one Algonquin tribe after
another until in 1690 their career was checked by the French. By that
time they had reduced to a tributary condition most of the Algonquin
tribes, even to the Mississippi river. Some writers have spoken of the
empire of the Iroquois, and it has been surmised that, if they had not
been interfered with by white men, they might have played a part
analogous to that of the Romans in the Old World; but there is no real
similarity between the two cases. The Romans acquired their mighty
strength by incorporating vanquished peoples into their own body
politic.[50] No American aborigines ever had a glimmering of the process
of state-building after the Roman fashion. No incorporation resulted
from the victories of the Iroquois. Where their burnings and massacres
stopped short of extermination, they simply took tribute, which was as
far as state-craft had got in the lower period of barbarism. General
Walker has summed up their military career in a single sentence: "They
were the scourge of God upon the aborigines of the continent."[51]

         [Footnote 48: Morgan, _League of the Iroquois_, p. 12.]

         [Footnote 49: All except the distant Tuscaroras, who in 1715
         migrated from North Carolina to New York, and joining the
         Iroquois league made it the Six Nations. All the rest of the
         outlying Huron-Iroquois stock was wiped out of existence before
         the end of the seventeenth century, except the remnant of
         Hurons since known as Wyandots.]

         [Footnote 50: See my _Beginnings of New England_, chap. i.]

         [Footnote 51: F. A. Walker, "The Indian Question," _North
         American Review_, April, 1873, p. 370.]

[Sidenote: Horticulture must be distinguished from field agriculture.]

[Sidenote: Perpetual warfare.]

The six groups here enumerated--Dakota, Mandan, Pawnee, Maskoki,
Algonquin, Iroquois--made up the great body of the aborigines of North
America who at the time of the Discovery lived in the lower status of
barbarism. All made pottery of various degrees of rudeness. Their tools
and weapons were of the Neolithic type,--stone either polished or
accurately and artistically chipped. For the most part they lived in
stockaded villages, and cultivated maize, beans, pumpkins, squashes,
sunflowers, and tobacco. They depended for subsistence partly upon such
vegetable products, partly upon hunting and fishing, the women generally
attending to the horticulture, the men to the chase. _Horticulture_ is
an appropriate designation for this stage in which the ground is merely
scratched with stone spades and hoes. It is incipient agriculture, but
should be carefully distinguished from the _field agriculture_ in which
extensive pieces of land are subdued by the plough. The assistance of
domestic animals is needed before such work can be carried far, and it
does not appear that there was an approach to field agriculture in any
part of pre-Columbian America except Peru, where men were harnessed to
the plough, and perhaps occasionally llamas were used in the same
way.[52] Where subsistence depended upon rude horticulture eked out by
game and fish, it required a large territory to support a sparse
population. The great diversity of languages contributed to maintain the
isolation of tribes and prevent extensive confederation. Intertribal
warfare was perpetual, save now and then for truces of brief duration.
Warfare was attended by wholesale massacre. As many prisoners as could
be managed were taken home by their captors; in some cases they were
adopted into the tribe of the latter as a means of increasing its
fighting strength, otherwise they were put to death with lingering
torments.[53] There was nothing which afforded the red men such
exquisite delight as the spectacle of live human flesh lacerated with
stone knives or hissing under the touch of firebrands, and for elaborate
ingenuity in devising tortures they have never been equalled.[54]
Cannibalism was quite commonly practised.[55] The scalps of slain
enemies were always taken, and until they had attained such trophies the
young men were not likely to find favour in the eyes of women. The
Indian's notions of morality were those that belong to that state of
society in which the tribe is the largest well-established political
aggregate. Murder without the tribe was meritorious unless it entailed
risk of war at an obvious disadvantage; murder within the tribe was
either revenged by blood-feud or compounded by a present given to the
victim's kinsmen. Such rudimentary _wergild_ was often reckoned in
wampum, or strings of beads made of a kind of mussel shell, and put to
divers uses, as personal ornament, mnemonic record, and finally money.
Religious thought was in the fetishistic or animistic stage,[56] while
many tribes had risen to a vague conception of tutelar deities embodied
in human or animal forms. Myth-tales abounded, and the folk-lore of the
red men is found to be extremely interesting and instructive.[57] Their
religion consisted mainly in a devout belief in witchcraft. No
well-defined priestly class had been evolved; the so-called "medicine
men" were mere conjurers, though possessed of considerable influence.

         [Footnote 52: See Humboldt, _Ansichten der Natur_, 3d ed.,
         Stuttgart, 1849, vol. i. p. 203.]

         [Footnote 53: "Women and children joined in these fiendish
         atrocities, and when at length the victim yielded up his life,
         his heart, if he were brave, was ripped from his body, cut in
         pieces, broiled, and given to the young men, under the belief
         that it would increase their courage; they drank his blood,
         thinking it would make them more wary; and finally his body was
         divided limb from limb, roasted or thrown into the seething
         pot, and hands and feet, arms and legs, head and trunk, were
         all stewed into a horrid mess and eaten amidst yells, songs,
         and dances." Jeffries Wyman, in _Seventh Report of Peabody
         Museum_, p. 37. For details of the most appalling character,
         see Butterfield's _History of the Girtys_, pp. 176-182; Stone's
         _Life of Joseph Brant_, vol. ii. pp. 31, 32; Dodge's _Plains of
         the Great West_, p. 418, and _Our Wild Indians_, pp. 525-529;
         Parkman's _Jesuits in North America_, pp. 387-391; and many
         other places in Parkman's writings.]

         [Footnote 54: One often hears it said that the cruelty of the
         Indians was not greater than that of mediæval Europeans, as
         exemplified in judicial torture and in the horrors of the
         Inquisition. But in such a judgment there is lack of due
         discrimination. In the practice of torture by civil and
         ecclesiastical tribunals in the Middle Ages, there was a
         definite moral purpose which, however lamentably mistaken or
         perverted, gave it a very different character from torture
         wantonly inflicted for amusement. The atrocities formerly
         attendant upon the sack of towns, as e. g. Beziers, Magdeburg,
         etc., might more properly be regarded as an illustration of the
         survival of a spirit fit only for the lowest barbarism: and the
         Spanish conquerors of the New World themselves often exhibited
         cruelty such as even Indians seldom surpass. See below, vol.
         ii. p. 444. In spite of such cases, however, it must be held
         that for artistic skill in inflicting the greatest possible
         intensity of excruciating pain upon every nerve in the body,
         the Spaniard was a bungler and a novice as compared with the
         Indian. See Dodge's _Our Wild Indians_, pp. 536-538. Colonel
         Dodge was in familiar contact with Indians for more than thirty
         years, and writes with fairness and discrimination.

         In truth the question as to comparative cruelty is not so much
         one of race as of occupation, except in so far as race is
         moulded by long occupation. The "old Adam," i. e. the
         inheritance from our brute ancestors, is very strong in the
         human race. Callousness to the suffering of others than self is
         part of this brute-inheritance, and under the influence of
         certain habits and occupations this germ of callousness may be
         developed to almost any height of devilish cruelty. In the
         lower stages of culture the lack of political aggregation on a
         large scale is attended with incessant warfare in the shape in
         which it comes home to everybody's door. This state of things
         keeps alive the passion of revenge and stimulates cruelty to
         the highest degree. As long as such a state of things endures,
         as it did in Europe to a limited extent throughout the Middle
         Ages, there is sure to be a dreadful amount of cruelty. The
         change in the conditions of modern warfare has been a very
         important factor in the rapidly increasing mildness and
         humanity of modern times. See my _Beginnings of New England_,
         pp. 226-229. Something more will be said hereafter with
         reference to the special causes concerned in the cruelty and
         brutality of the Spaniards in America. Meanwhile it may be
         observed in the present connection, that the Spanish
         taskmasters who mutilated and burned their slaves were not
         representative types of their own race to anything like the
         same extent as the Indians who tortured Brébeuf or Crawford. If
         the fiendish Pedrarias was a Spaniard, so too was the saintly
         Las Casas. The latter type would be as impossible among
         barbarians as an Aristotle or a Beethoven. Indeed, though there
         are writers who would like to prove the contrary, it may be
         doubted whether that type has ever attained to perfection
         except under the influence of Christianity.]

         [Footnote 55: See the evidence collected by Jeffries Wyman, in
         _Seventh Report of Peabody Museum_, pp. 27-37; cf. Wake,
         _Evolution of Morality_, vol. i. p. 243. Many illustrations are
         given by Mr. Parkman. In this connection it may be observed
         that the name "Mohawk" means "Cannibal." It is an Algonquin
         word, applied to this Iroquois tribe by their enemies in the
         Connecticut valley and about the lower Hudson. The name by
         which the Mohawks called themselves was "Caniengas," or
         "People-at-the-Flint." See Hale, _The Iroquois Book of Rites_,
         p. 173.]

         [Footnote 56: For accounts and explanations of animism see
         Tylor's _Primitive Culture_, London, 1871, 2 vols.; Caspari,
         _Urgeschichte der Menschheit_, Leipsic, 1877, 2 vols.;
         Spencer's _Principles of Sociology_, part i.; and my _Myths and
         Mythmakers_, chap. vii.]

         [Footnote 57: No time should be lost in gathering and recording
         every scrap of this folk-lore that can be found. The American
         Folk-Lore Society, founded chiefly through the exertions of my
         friend Mr. W. W. Newell, and organized January 4, 1888, is
         already doing excellent work and promises to become a valuable
         aid, within its field, to the work of the Bureau of Ethnology.
         Of the _Journal of American Folk-Lore_, published for the
         society by Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., nine numbers have
         appeared, and the reader will find them full of valuable
         information. One may also profitably consult Knortz's _Märchen
         und Sagen der nordamerikanischen Indianer_, Jena, 1871;
         Brinton's _Myths of the New World_, N. Y., 1868, and his
         _American Hero-Myths_, Phila., 1882; Leland's _Algonquin
         Legends of New England_, Boston, 1884; Mrs. Emerson's _Indian
         Myths_, Boston, 1884. Some brief reflections and criticisms of
         much value, in relation to aboriginal American folk-lore, may
         be found in Curtin's _Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland_, pp.

But none of the characteristics of barbarous society above specified
will carry us so far toward realizing the gulf which divides it from
civilized society as the imperfect development of its domestic
relations. The importance of this subject is such as to call for a few
words of special elucidation.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Ancient Law.]

Thirty years ago, when Sir Henry Maine published that magnificent
treatise on Ancient Law, which, when considered in all its potency of
suggestiveness, has perhaps done more than any other single book of our
century toward placing the study of history upon a scientific basis, he
began by showing that in primitive society the individual is nothing and
the state nothing, while the family-group is everything, and that the
progress of civilization politically has consisted on the one hand in
the aggregation and building up of family-groups through intermediate
tribal organizations into states, and on the other hand in the
disentanglement of individuals from the family thraldom. In other words,
we began by having no political communities larger than clans, and no
bond of political union except blood relationship, and in this state of
things the individual, as to his rights and obligations, was submerged
in the clan. We at length come to have great nations like the English or
the French, in which blood-relationship as a bond of political union is
no longer indispensable or even much thought of, and in which the
individual citizen is the possessor of legal rights and subject to legal
obligations. No one in our time can forget how beautifully Sir Henry
Maine, with his profound knowledge of early Aryan law and custom, from
Ireland to Hindustan, delineated the slow growth of individual ownership
of property and individual responsibility for delict and crime out of an
earlier stage in which ownership and responsibility belonged only to
family-groups or clans.

[Sidenote: The patriarchal family not primitive.]

[Sidenote: "Mother-right."]

[Sidenote: Primitive marriage.]

[Sidenote: The system of reckoning kinship through females only.]

In all these brilliant studies Sir Henry Maine started with the
patriarchal family as we find it at the dawn of history among all
peoples of Aryan and Semitic speech,--the patriarchal family of the
ancient Roman and the ancient Jew, the family in which kinship is
reckoned through males, and in which all authority centres in the eldest
male, and descends to his eldest son. Maine treated this patriarchal
family as primitive; but his great book had hardly appeared when other
scholars, more familiar than he with races in savagery or in the lower
status of barbarism, showed that his view was too restricted. We do not
get back to primitive society by studying Greeks, Romans, and Jews,
peoples who had nearly emerged from the later period of barbarism when
we first know them.[58] Their patriarchal family was perfected in shape
during the later period of barbarism, and it was preceded by a much
ruder and less definite form of family-group in which kinship was
reckoned only through the mother, and the headship never descended from
father to son. As so often happens, this discovery was made almost
simultaneously by two investigators, each working in ignorance of what
the other was doing. In 1861, the same year in which "Ancient Law" was
published, Professor Bachofen, of Basel, published his famous book, "Das
Mutterrecht," of which his co-discoverer and rival, after taking
exception to some of his statements, thus cordially writes: "It remains,
however, after all qualifications and deductions, that Bachofen, before
any one else, discovered the fact that a system of kinship through
mothers only, had anciently everywhere prevailed before the tie of blood
between father and child had found a place in systems of relationships.
And the honour of that discovery, the importance of which, as affording
a new starting-point for all history, cannot be overestimated, must
without stint or qualification be assigned to him."[59] Such are the
generous words of the late John Ferguson McLennan, who had no knowledge
of Bachofen's work when his own treatise on "Primitive Marriage" was
published in 1865. Since he was so modest in urging his own claims, it
is due to the Scotch lawyer's memory to say that, while he was inferior
in point of erudition to the Swiss professor, his book is characterized
by greater sagacity, goes more directly to the mark, and is less
encumbered by visionary speculations of doubtful value.[60] Mr. McLennan
proved, from evidence collected chiefly from Australians and South Sea
Islanders, and sundry non-Aryan tribes of Hindustan and Thibet, that
systems of kinship in which the father is ignored exist to-day, and he
furthermore discovered unmistakable and very significant traces of the
former existence of such a state of things among the Mongols, the Greeks
and Phoenicians, and the ancient Hebrews. By those who were inclined to
regard Sir Henry Maine's views as final, it was argued that Mr.
McLennan's facts were of a sporadic and exceptional character. But when
the evidence from this vast archaic world of America began to be
gathered in and interpreted by Mr. Morgan, this argument fell to the
ground, and as to the point chiefly in contention, Mr. McLennan was
proved to be right. Throughout aboriginal America, with one or two
exceptions, kinship was reckoned through females only, and in the
exceptional instances the vestiges of that system were so prominent as
to make it clear that the change had been but recently effected. During
the past fifteen years, evidence has accumulated from various parts of
the world, until it is beginning to appear as if it were the patriarchal
system that is exceptional, having been reached only by the highest
races.[61] Sir Henry Maine's work has lost none of its value, only,
like all human work, it is not final; it needs to be supplemented by the
further study of savagery as best exemplified in Australia and some
parts of Polynesia, and of barbarism as best exemplified in America. The
subject is, moreover, one of great and complicated difficulty, and leads
incidentally to many questions for solving which the data at our command
are still inadequate. It is enough for us now to observe in general that
while there are plenty of instances of change from the system of
reckoning kinship only through females, to the system of reckoning
through males, there do not appear to have been any instances of change
in the reverse direction; and that in ancient America the earlier system
was prevalent.

         [Footnote 58: Until lately our acquaintance with human history
         was derived almost exclusively from literary memorials, among
         which the Bible, the Homeric poems, and the Vedas, carried us
         back about as far as literature could take us. It was natural,
         therefore, to suppose that the society of the times of Abraham
         or Agamemnon was "primitive," and the wisest scholars reasoned
         upon such an assumption. With vision thus restricted to
         civilized man and his ideas and works, people felt free to
         speculate about uncivilized races (generally grouped together
         indiscriminately as "savages") according to any _à priori_ whim
         that might happen to captivate their fancy. But the discoveries
         of the last half-century have opened such stupendous vistas of
         the past that the age of Abraham seems but as yesterday. The
         state of society described in the book of Genesis had five
         entire ethnical periods, and the greater part of a sixth,
         behind it; and its institutions were, comparatively speaking,

         [Footnote 59: McLennan's _Studies in Ancient History,
         comprising a reprint of Primitive Marriage_, etc. London, 1876,
         p. 421.]

         [Footnote 60: There is much that is unsound in it, however, as
         is often inevitably the case with books that strike boldly into
         a new field of inquiry.]

         [Footnote 61: A general view of the subject may be obtained
         from the following works: Bachofen, _Das Mutterrecht_,
         Stuttgart, 1871, and _Die Sage von Tanaquil_, Heidelberg, 1870;
         McLennan's _Studies in Ancient History_, London, 1876, and _The
         Patriarchal Theory_, London, 1884; Morgan's _Systems of
         Consanguinity_ (Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, vol.
         xvii.), Washington, 1871, and _Ancient Society_, New York,
         1877; Robertson Smith, _Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia_,
         Cambridge, Eng., 1885; Lubbock, _Origin of Civilization_, 5th
         ed., London, 1889; Giraud-Teulon, _La Mère chez certains
         peuples de l'antiquité_, Paris, 1867, and _Les Origines de la
         Famille_, Geneva, 1874; Starcke (of Copenhagen), _The Primitive
         Family_, London, 1889. Some criticisms upon McLennan and Morgan
         may be found in Maine's later works, _Early History of
         Institutions_, London, 1875, and _Early Law and Custom_,
         London, 1883. By far the ablest critical survey of the whole
         field is that in Spencer's _Principles of Sociology_, vol. i.
         pp. 621-797.]

[Sidenote: Original reason for the system.]

[Sidenote: The primeval human horde.]

[Sidenote: Earliest family-group: the clan.]

[Sidenote: "Exogamy."]

If now we ask the reason for such a system of reckoning kinship and
inheritance, so strange according to all our modern notions, the true
answer doubtless is that which was given by prudent ([Greek:
Pepnymenos]) Telemachus to the goddess Athene when she asked him to tell
her truly if he was the son of Odysseus:--"My mother says I am his son,
for my part, I don't know; one never knows of one's self who one's
father is."[62] Already, no doubt, in Homer's time there was a gleam of
satire about this answer, such as it would show on a modern page; but in
more primitive times it was a very serious affair. From what we know of
the ideas and practices of uncivilized tribes all over the world, it is
evident that the sacredness of the family based upon indissoluble
marriage is a thing of comparatively modern growth. If the sexual
relations of the Australians, as observed to-day,[63] are an improvement
upon an antecedent state of things, that antecedent state must have been
sheer promiscuity. There is ample warrant for supposing, with Mr.
McLennan, that at the beginning of the lower status of savagery, long
since everywhere extinct, the family had not made itself distinctly
visible, but men lived in a horde very much like gregarious brutes.[64]
I have shown that the essential difference between this primeval human
horde and a mere herd of brutes consisted in the fact that the gradual
but very great prolongation of infancy had produced two effects: the
lengthening of the care of children tended to differentiate the horde
into family-groups, and the lengthening of the period of youthful mental
plasticity made it more possible for a new generation to improve upon
the ideas and customs of its predecessors.[65] In these two concomitant
processes--the development of the family and the increase of mental
plasticity, or ability to adopt new methods and strike out into new
paths of thought--lies the whole explanation of the moral and
intellectual superiority of men over dumb animals. But in each case the
change was very gradual.[66] The true savage is only a little less
unteachable than the beasts of the field. The savage family is at first
barely discernible amid the primitive social chaos in which it had its
origin. Along with polyandry and polygyny in various degrees and forms,
instances of exclusive pairing, of at least a temporary character, are
to be found among the lowest existing savages, and there are reasons for
supposing that such may have been the case even in primeval times. But
it was impossible for strict monogamy to flourish in the ruder stages of
social development; and the kind of family-group that was first clearly
and permanently differentiated from the primeval horde was not at all
like what civilized people would recognize as a family. It was the
_gens_ or _clan_, as we find it exemplified in all stages from the
middle period of savagery to the middle period of barbarism. The _gens_
or _clan_ was simply--to define it by a third synonym--the _kin_; it was
originally a group of males and females who were traditionally aware of
their common descent reckoned in the female line. At this stage of
development there was quite generally though not universally prevalent
the custom of "exogamy," by which a man was forbidden to marry a woman
of his own clan. Among such Australian tribes as have been studied, this
primitive restriction upon promiscuity seems to be about the only one.

         [Footnote 62: [Greek:
            All' age moi tode eipe kai atrekeôs katalexon,
            ei dê ex autoio tosos pais eis Odysêos.
            ainôs gar kephalên te kai ommata kala eoikas
            keinô, epei thama toion emisgometh' allêloisin,
            prin ge ton es Troiên anabêmenai, entha per alloi
            Argeiôn hoi aristoi eban koilês epi nêusin
            ek tou d' out' Odysêa egôn idon out' eme keinos.

            Tên d' au Têlemachos pepnymenos antion êuda
            toigar egô toi, xeine, mal' atrekeôs agoreusô.
            mêtêr men t' eme phêsi tou emmenai, autar egôge
            ouk oid'; ou gar pô tis heon gonon autos anegnô.]
                                             _Odyssey_, i. 206.]

         [Footnote 63: Lumholtz, _Among Cannibals_, p. 213; Lubbock,
         _Origin of Civilization_, p. 107; Morgan, _Ancient Society_,
         part iii., chap. iii. "After battle it frequently happens among
         the native tribes of Australia that the wives of the conquered,
         of their own free-will, go over to the victors; reminding us of
         the lioness which, quietly watching the fight between two
         lions, goes off with the conqueror." Spencer, _Principles of
         Sociology_, vol. i. p. 632.]

         [Footnote 64: The notion of the descent of the human race from
         a single "pair," or of different races from different "pairs,"
         is a curious instance of transferring modern institutions into
         times primeval. Of course the idea is absurd. When the elder
         Agassiz so emphatically declared that "pines have originated in
         forests, heaths in heaths, grasses in prairies, bees in hives,
         herrings in shoals, buffaloes in herds, men in nations" (_Essay
         on Classification_, London, 1859, p. 58), he made, indeed, a
         mistake of the same sort, so far as concerns the origin of Man,
         for the nation is a still more modern institution than the
         family; but in the other items of his statement he was right,
         and as regards the human race he was thinking in the right
         direction when he placed _multitude_ instead of _duality_ at
         the beginning. If instead of that extremely complex and highly
         organized multitude called "nation" (in the plural), he had
         started with the extremely simple and almost unorganized
         multitude called "horde" (in the singular), the statement for
         Man would have been correct. Such views were hardly within the
         reach of science thirty years ago.]

         [Footnote 65: _Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy_, part ii., chaps.
         xvi., xxi., xxii.; _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, pp.
         306-319; _Darwinism, and other Essays_, pp. 40-49; _The Destiny
         of Man_, §§ iii.-ix.]

         [Footnote 66: The slowness of the development has apparently
         been such as befits the transcendent value of the result.
         Though the question is confessedly beyond the reach of science,
         may we not hold that civilized man, the creature of an infinite
         past, is the child of eternity, maturing for an inheritance of
         immortal life?]

[Sidenote: Phratry and tribe.]

Throughout all the earlier stages of culture, and even into the
civilized period, we find society organized with the clan for its
ultimate unit, although in course of time its character becomes greatly
altered by the substitution of kinship in the paternal, for that in the
maternal line. By long-continued growth and repeated segmentation the
primitive clan was developed into a more complex structure, in which a
group of clans constituted a _phratry_ or brotherhood, and a group of
phratries constituted a _tribe_. This threefold grouping is found so
commonly in all parts of the world as to afford good ground for the
belief that it has been universal. It was long ago familiar to
historians in the case of Greece and Rome, and of our Teutonic
forefathers,[67] but it also existed generally in ancient America, and
many obscure points connected with the history of the Greek and Roman
groups have been elucidated through the study of Iroquois and Algonquin
institutions. Along with the likenesses, however, there are numerous
unlikenesses, due to the change of kinship, among the European groups,
from the female line to the male.

         [Footnote 67: The Teutonic _hundred_ and Roman _curia_ answered
         to the Greek _phratry_.]

[Sidenote: Effect of pastoral life upon property and upon the family.]

This change, as it occurred among Aryan and Semitic peoples, marked one
of the most momentous revolutions in the history of mankind. It probably
occurred early in the upper period of barbarism, or late in the middle
period, after the long-continued domestication of animals had resulted
in the acquisition of private property (_pecus, peculium, pecunia_) in
large amounts by individuals. In primitive society there was very little
personal property except in weapons, clothing (such as it was), and
trinkets. Real estate was unknown. Land was simply _occupied_ by the
tribe. There was general communism and social equality. In the Old
World the earliest instance of extensive "adverse possession" on the
part of individuals, as against other individuals in the clan-community,
was the possession of flocks and herds. Distinctions in wealth and rank
were thus inaugurated; slavery began to be profitable and personal
retainers and adherents useful in new ways. As in earlier stages the
community in marital relations had been part of the general community in
possessions, so now the exclusive possession of a wife or wives was part
of the system of private property that was coming into vogue. The man of
many cattle, the man who could attach subordinates to him through
motives of self-interest as well as personal deference, the man who
could defend his property against robbers, could also have his separate
household and maintain its sanctity. In this way, it is believed,
indissoluble marriage, in its two forms of monogamy and polygamy,
originated. That it had already existed sporadically is not denied, but
it now acquired such stability and permanence that the older and looser
forms of alliance, hitherto prevalent, fell into disfavour. A natural
result of the growth of private wealth and the permanence of the marital
relation was the change in reckoning kinship from the maternal to the
paternal line. This change was probably favoured by the prevalence of
polygamy among those who were coming to be distinguished as "upper
classes," since a large family of children by different mothers could be
held together only by reckoning the kinship through the father. Thus, we
may suppose, originated the patriarchal family. Even in its rudest form
it was an immense improvement upon what had gone before, and to the
stronger and higher social organization thus acquired we must largely
ascribe the rise of the Aryan and Semitic peoples to the foremost rank
of civilization.[68]

         [Footnote 68: Fenton's _Early Hebrew Life_, London, 1880, is an
         interesting study of the upper period of barbarism; see also
         Spencer, _Princip. of Sociol._, i. 724-737.]

It is not intended to imply that there is no other way in which the
change to the male line may have been brought about among other peoples.
The explanation just given applies very well to the Aryan and Semitic
peoples, but it is inapplicable to the state of things which seems to
have existed in Mexico at the time of the Discovery.[69] The subject is
a difficult one, and sometimes confronts us with questions much easier
to ask than to answer. The change has been observed among tribes in a
lower stage than that just described.[70] On the other hand, as old
customs die hard, no doubt inheritance has in many places continued in
the maternal line long after paternity is fully known. Symmetrical
regularity in the development of human institutions has by no means been
the rule, and there is often much difficulty in explaining particular
cases, even when the direction of the general drift can be discerned.

         [Footnote 69: See below, p. 122.]

         [Footnote 70: As among the Hervey Islanders; Gill, _Myths and
         Songs of the South Pacific_, p. 36. Sir John Lubbock would
         account for the curious and widely spread custom of the
         _Couvade_ as a feature of this change. _Origin of
         Civilization_, pp. 14-17, 159; cf. Tylor, _Early Hist. of
         Mankind_, pp. 288, 297.]

[Sidenote: The exogamous clan in ancient America.]

In aboriginal America, as already observed, kinship through females only
was the rule, and exogamy was strictly enforced,--the wife must be taken
from a different clan. Indissoluble marriage, whether monogamous or
polygamous, seems to have been unknown. The marriage relation was
terminable at the will of either party.[71] The abiding unit upon which
the social structure was founded was not the family but the exogamous

         [Footnote 71: "There is no embarrassment growing out of
         problems respecting the woman's future support, the division of
         property, or the adjustment of claims for the possession of the
         children. The independent self-support of every adult healthy
         Indian, male or female, and the gentile relationship, which is
         more wide-reaching and authoritative than that of marriage,
         have already disposed of these questions, which are usually so
         perplexing for the white man. So far as personal maintenance is
         concerned, a woman is, as a rule, just as well off without a
         husband as with one. What is hers, in the shape of property,
         remains her own whether she is married or not. In fact,
         marriage among these Indians seems to be but the natural mating
         of the sexes, to cease at the option of either of the
         interested parties." Clay MacCauley, "The Seminole Indians of
         Florida", in _Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_,
         Washington, 1887, p. 497. For a graphic account of the state of
         things among the Cheyennes and Arrapahos, see Dodge, _Our Wild
         Indians_, pp. 204-220.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Intimate connection of aboriginal architecture with social

I have been at some pains to elucidate this point because the house-life
of the American aborigines found visible, and in some instances very
durable, expression in a remarkable style of house-architecture. The
manner in which the Indians built their houses grew directly out of the
requirements of their life. It was an unmistakably characteristic
architecture, and while it exhibits manifold unlikenesses in detail,
due to differences in intelligence as well as to the presence or absence
of sundry materials, there is one underlying principle always manifest.
That underlying principle is adaptation to a certain mode of communal
living such as all American aborigines that have been carefully studied
are known to have practised. Through many gradations, from the sty of
the California savage up to the noble sculptured ruins of Uxmal and
Chichen-Itza, the principle is always present. Taken in connection with
evidence from other sources, it enables us to exhibit a gradation of
stages of culture in aboriginal North America, with the savages of the
Sacramento and Columbia valleys at the bottom, and the Mayas of Yucatan
at the top; and while in going from one end to the other a very long
interval was traversed, we feel that the progress of the aborigines in
crossing that interval was made along similar lines.[72]

         [Footnote 72: See Morgan's _Houses and House-Life of the
         American Aborigines_, Washington, 1881, an epoch-making book of
         rare and absorbing interest.]

[Illustration: Seneca-Iroquois long house.]

[Illustration: Ground-plan of long house.]

[Sidenote: The long houses of the Iroquois.]

The principle was first studied and explained by Mr. Morgan in the case
of the famous "long houses" of the Iroquois. "The long house ... was
from fifty to eighty and sometimes one hundred feet long. It consisted
of a strong frame of upright poles set in the ground, which was
strengthened with horizontal poles attached with withes, and surmounted
with a triangular, and in some cases with a round roof. It was covered
over, both sides and roof, with long strips of elm bark tied to the
frame with strings or splints. An external frame of poles for the sides
and of rafters for the roof were then adjusted to hold the bark shingles
between them, the two frames being tied together. The interior of the
house was comparted[73] at intervals of six or eight feet, leaving each
chamber entirely open like a stall upon the passageway which passed
through the centre of the house from end to end. At each end was a
doorway covered with suspended skins. Between each four apartments, two
on a side, was a fire-pit in the centre of the hall, used in common by
their occupants. Thus a house with five fires would contain twenty
apartments and accommodate twenty families, unless some apartments were
reserved for storage. They were warm, roomy, and tidily-kept
habitations. Raised bunks were constructed around the walls of each
apartment for beds. From the roof-poles were suspended their strings of
corn in the ear, braided by the husks, also strings of dried squashes
and pumpkins. Spaces were contrived here and there to store away their
accumulations of provisions. Each house, as a rule, was occupied by
related families, the mothers and their children belonging to the same
gens, while their husbands and the fathers of these children belonged to
other gentes; consequently the gens or clan of the mother largely
predominated in the household. Whatever was taken in the hunt or raised
by cultivation by any member of the household ... was for the common
benefit. Provisions were made a common stock within the household."[74]

         [Footnote 73: This verb of Mr. Morgan's at first struck me as
         odd, but though rarely used, it is supported by good authority;
         see _Century Dictionary_, s. v.]

         [Footnote 74: The Iroquois ceased to build such houses before
         the beginning of the present century. I quote Mr. Morgan's
         description at length, because his book is out of print and
         hard to obtain. It ought to be republished, and in octavo, like
         his _Ancient Society_, of which it is a continuation.]

"Over every such household a matron presided, whose duty it was to
supervise its domestic economy. After the single daily meal had been
cooked at the different fires within the house, it was her province to
divide the food from the kettle to the several families according to
their respective needs. What remained was placed in the custody of
another person until she again required it."[75]

         [Footnote 75: Lucien Carr, "On the Social and Political
         Position of Woman among the Huron-Iroquois Tribes," _Reports of
         Peabody Museum_, vol. iii. p. 215.]

[Sidenote: Summary divorce.]

Not only the food was common property, but many chattels, including the
children, belonged to the gens or clan. When a young woman got married
she brought her husband home with her. Though thenceforth an inmate of
this household he remained an alien to her clan. "If he proved lazy and
failed to do his share of the providing, woe be to him. No matter how
many children, or whatever goods he might have in the house, he might at
any time be ordered to pick up his blanket and budge; and after such
orders it would not be healthful for him to disobey; the house would be
too hot for him; and unless saved by the intercession of some aunt or
grandmother [of his wife] he must retreat to his own clan, or, as was
often done, go and start a new matrimonial alliance in some other....
The female portion ruled the house."[76]

         [Footnote 76: This was not incompatible with the subjection of
         women to extreme drudgery and ill-treatment. For an instructive
         comparison with the case among the tribes of the Far West, see
         Dodge, _Our Wild Indians_, chap. xvi.]

[Sidenote: Hospitality.]

Though there was but one freshly-cooked meal, taken about the middle of
the day, any member of the household when hungry could be helped from
the common stock. Hospitality was universal. If a person from one of the
other communal households, or a stranger from another tribe (in time of
peace), were to visit the house, the women would immediately offer him
food, and it was a breach of etiquette to decline to eat it. This custom
was strictly observed all over the continent and in the West India
Islands, and was often remarked upon by the early discoverers, in whose
minds it was apt to implant idyllic notions that were afterward rudely
disturbed. The prevalence of hospitality among uncivilized races has
long been noted by travellers, and is probably in most cases, as it
certainly was in ancient America, closely connected with communism in

[Sidenote: Structure of the clan.]

The clan, which practised this communism, had its definite organization,
officers, rights, and duties. Its official head was the "sachem," whose
functions were of a civil nature. The sachem was elected by the clan and
must be a member of it, so that a son could not be chosen to succeed his
father, but a sachem could be succeeded by his uterine brother or by his
sister's son, and in this way customary lines of succession could and
often did tend to become established. The clan also elected its
"chiefs," whose functions were military; the number of chiefs was
proportionate to that of the people composing the clan, usually one
chief to every fifty or sixty persons. The clan could depose its sachem
or any of its chiefs. Personal property, such as weapons, or trophies,
or rights of user in the garden-plots, was inheritable in the female
line, and thus stayed within the clan. The members were reciprocally
bound to help, defend, and avenge one another. The clan had the right of
adopting strangers to strengthen itself. It had the right of naming its
members, and these names were always obviously significant, like Little
Turtle, Yellow Wolf, etc.; of names like our Richard or William, with
the meaning lost, or obvious only to scholars, no trace is to be found
in aboriginal America. The clan itself, too, always had a name, which
was usually that of some animal,--as Wolf, Eagle, or Salmon, and a rude
drawing or pictograph of the creature served as a "totem" or primitive
heraldic device. A mythological meaning was attached to this emblem. The
clan had its own common religious rites and common burial place. There
was a clan-council, of which women might be members; there were
instances, indeed, of its being composed entirely of women, whose
position was one of much more dignity and influence than has commonly
been supposed. Instances of squaw sachems were not so very rare.[77]

         [Footnote 77: Among the Wyandots there is in each clan a
         council composed of four squaws, and this council elects the
         male sachem who is its head. Therefore the tribal council,
         which is the aggregate of the clan-councils, consists one fifth
         of men and four fifths of women. See Powell, "Wyandot
         Government: a Short Study of Tribal Society," in _First Annual
         Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_, Washington, 1881, pp.
         59-69; and also Mr. Carr's interesting essay above cited.]

[Sidenote: Origin and structure of the phratry.]

The number of clans in a tribe naturally bore some proportion to the
populousness of the tribe, varying from three, in the case of the
Delawares, to twenty or more, as in the case of the Ojibwas and Creeks.
There were usually eight or ten, and these were usually grouped into two
or three phratries. The phratry seems to have originated in the
segmentation of the overgrown clan, for in some cases exogamy was
originally practised as between the phratries and afterward the custom
died out while it was retained as between their constituent clans.[78]
The system of naming often indicates this origin of the phratry, though
seldom quite so forcibly as in the case of the Mohegan tribe, which was
thus composed:[79]--


_Clans:_ 1. Wolf, 2. Bear, 3. Dog, 4. Opossum.


_Clans:_ 5. Little Turtle, 6. Mud Turtle, 7. Great Turtle, 8. Yellow


_Clans:_ 9. Turkey, 10. Crane, 11. Chicken.

Here the senior clan in the phratry tends to keep the original
clan-name, while the junior clans have been guided by a sense of kinship
in choosing their new names. This origin of the phratry is further
indicated by the fact that the phratry does not always occur; sometimes
the clans are organized directly into the tribe. The phratry was not so
much a governmental as a religious and social organization. Its most
important function seems to have been supplementing or reinforcing the
action of the single clan in exacting compensation for murder; and this
point is full of interest because it helps us to understand how among
our Teutonic forefathers the "hundred" (the equivalent of the phratry)
became charged with the duty of prosecuting criminals. The Greek phratry
had a precisely analogous function.[80]

         [Footnote 78: H. H. Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific
         States_, vol. i. p. 109.]

         [Footnote 79: Morgan, _Houses and House-Life_, p. 16.]

         [Footnote 80: See Freeman, _Comparative Politics_, p. 117;
         Stubbs, _Const. Hist._, vol. i. pp. 98-104; Grote, _History of
         Greece_, vol. iii. pp. 74, 88. It is interesting to compare
         Grote's description with Morgan's (_Anc. Soc._, pp. 71, 94) and
         note both the closeness of the general parallelism and the
         character of the specific variations.]

[Sidenote: Structure of the tribe.]

The Indian tribe was a group of people distinguished by the exclusive
possession of a dialect in common. It possessed a tribal name and
occupied a more or less clearly defined territory; there were also
tribal religious rites. Its supreme government was vested in the council
of its clan-chiefs and sachems; and as these were thus officers of the
tribe as well as of the clan, the tribe exercised the right of investing
them with office, amid appropriate solemnities, after their election by
their respective clans. The tribal-council had also the right to depose
chiefs and sachems. In some instances, not always, there was a head
chief or military commander for the tribes, elected by the tribal
council. Such, was the origin of the office which, in most societies of
the Old World, gradually multiplied its functions and accumulated power
until it developed into true kingship. Nowhere in ancient North America
did it quite reach such a stage.

[Sidenote: Cross-relationships between clans and tribes: the Iroquois

Among the greater part of the aborigines no higher form of social
structure was attained than the tribe. There were, however, several
instances of permanent confederation, of which the two most interesting
and most highly developed were the League of the Iroquois, mentioned
above, and the Mexican Confederacy, presently to be considered. The
principles upon which the Iroquois league was founded have been
thoroughly and minutely explained by Mr. Morgan.[81] It originated in a
union of five tribes composed of clans in common, and speaking five
dialects of a common language. These tribes had themselves arisen
through the segmentation of a single overgrown tribe, so that portions
of the original clans survived in them all. The Wolf, Bear, and Turtle
clan were common to all the five tribes; three other clans were common
to three of the five. "All the members of the same gens [clan], whether
Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, or Senecas, were brothers and
sisters to each other in virtue of their descent from the same common
[female] ancestor, and they recognized each other as such with the
fullest cordiality. When they met, the first inquiry was the name of
each other's gens, and next the immediate pedigree of each other's
sachems; after which they were able to find, under their peculiar system
of consanguinity, the relationship in which they stood to each other....
This cross-relationship between persons of the same gens in the
different tribes is still preserved and recognized among them in all its
original force. It explains the tenacity with which the fragments of the
old confederacy still cling together."[82] Acknowledged consanguinity
is to the barbarian a sound reason, and the only one conceivable, for
permanent political union; and the very existence of such a confederacy
as that of the Five Nations was rendered possible only through the
permanence of the clans or communal households which were its ultimate
units. We have here a clue to the policy of these Indians toward the
kindred tribes who refused to join their league. These tribes, too, so
far as is known, would seem to have contained the same clans. After a
separation of at least four hundred years the Wyandots have still five
of their eight clans in common with the Iroquois. When the Eries and
other tribes would not join the league of their kindred, the refusal
smacked of treason to the kin, and we can quite understand the deadly
fury with which the latter turned upon them and butchered every man,
woman, and child except such as they saw fit to adopt into their own

         [Footnote 81: In his _League of the Iroquois_, Rochester, 1851,
         a book now out of print and excessively rare. A brief summary
         is given in his _Ancient Society_, chap. v., and in his _Houses
         and House-Life_, pp. 23-41. Mr. Morgan was adopted into the
         Seneca tribe, and his life work was begun by a profound and
         exhaustive study of this interesting people.]

         [Footnote 82: _Houses and House-Life_, p. 33. At the period of
         its greatest power, about 1675, the people of the confederacy
         were about 25,000 in number. In 1875, according to official
         statistics (see table appended to Dodge's _Plains of the Great
         West_, pp. 441-448), there were in the state of New York 198
         Oneidas, 203 Onondagas, 165 Cayugas, 3,043 Senecas, and 448
         Tuscaroras,--in all 4,057. Besides these there were 1,279
         Oneidas on a reservation in Wisconsin, and 207 Senecas in the
         Indian Territory. The Mohawks are not mentioned in the list.
         During the Revolutionary War, and just afterward, the Mohawks
         migrated into Upper Canada (Ontario), for an account of which
         the reader may consult the second volume of Stone's _Life of
         Brant_. Portions of the other tribes also went to Canada. In
         New York the Oneidas and Tuscaroras were converted to
         Christianity by Samuel Kirkland and withheld from alliance with
         the British during the Revolution; the others still retain
         their ancient religion. They are for the most part farmers and
         are now increasing in numbers. Their treatment by the state of
         New York has been honourably distinguished for justice and

[Sidenote: Structure of the confederacy.]

Each of the Five Tribes retained its local self-government. The supreme
government of the confederacy was vested in a General Council of fifty
sachems, "equal in rank and authority." The fifty sachemships were
created in perpetuity in certain clans of the several tribes; whenever a
vacancy occurred, it was filled by the clan electing one of its own
members; a sachem once thus elected could be deposed by the clan-council
for good cause; "but the right to invest these sachems with office was
reserved to the General Council." These fifty sachems of the confederacy
were likewise sachems in their respective tribes, "and with the chiefs
of these tribes formed the council of each, which was supreme over all
matters pertaining to the tribe exclusively." The General Council could
not convene itself, but could be convened by any one of the five tribal
councils. The regular meeting was once a year in the autumn, in the
valley of Onondaga, but in stirring times extra sessions were frequent.
The proceedings were opened by an address from one of the sachems, "in
the course of which he thanked the Great Spirit [i. e. Ioskeha, the
sky-god] for sparing their lives and permitting them to meet together;"
after this they were ready for business. It was proper for any orator
from among the people to address the Council with arguments, and the
debates were sometimes very long and elaborate. When it came to voting,
the fifty sachems voted by tribes, each tribe counting as a unit, and
unanimity was as imperative as in an English jury, so that one tribe
could block the proceedings. The confederacy had no head-sachem, or
civil chief-magistrate; but a military commander was indispensable, and,
curiously enough, without being taught by the experience of a Tarquin,
the Iroquois made this a dual office, like the Roman consulship. There
were two permanent chieftainships, one in the Wolf, the other in the
Turtle clan, and both in the Seneca tribe, because the western border
was the most exposed to attack.[83] The chiefs were elected by the clan,
and inducted into office by the General Council; their tenure was during
life or good behaviour. This office never encroached upon the others in
its powers, but an able warrior in this position could wield great

         [Footnote 83: Somewhat on the same principle that in mediæval
         Europe led an earl or count, commanding an exposed border
         district or _march_ to rise in power and importance and become
         a "margrave" [_mark_ + _graf_ = march-count] or "marquis."
         Compare the increase of sovereignty accorded to the earls of
         Chester and bishops of Durham as rulers of the two principal
         march counties of England.]

[Sidenote: The "Long House."]

Such was the famous confederacy of the Iroquois. They called it the Long
House, and by this name as commonly as any other it is known in history.
The name by which they called themselves was Hodenosaunee, or "People of
the Long House." The name was picturesquely descriptive of the long and
narrow strip of villages with its western outlook toward the Niagara,
and its eastern toward the Hudson, three hundred miles distant. But it
was appropriate also for another and a deeper reason than this. We have
seen that in its social and political structure, from top to bottom and
from end to end, the confederacy was based upon and held together by the
gentes, clans, communal households, or "long houses," which were its
component units. They may be compared to the hypothetical indestructible
atoms of modern physics, whereof all material objects are composed. The
whole institutional fabric was the outgrowth of the group of ideas and
habits that belong to a state of society ignorant of and incapable of
imagining any other form of organization than the clan held together by
the tie of a common maternal ancestry. The house architecture was as
much a constituent part of the fabric as the council of sachems. There
is a transparency about the system that is very different from the
obscurity we continually find in Europe and Asia, where different strata
of ideas and institutions have been superimposed one upon another and
crumpled and distorted with as little apparent significance or purpose
as the porches and gables of a so-called "Queen Anne" house.[84]
Conquest in the Old World has resulted in the commingling and manifold
fusion of peoples in very different stages of development. In the New
World there has been very little of that sort of thing. Conquest in
ancient America was pretty much all of the Iroquois type, entailing in
its milder form the imposition of tribute, in its more desperate form
the extermination of a tribe with the adoption of its remnants into the
similarly-constituted tribe of the conquerors. There was therefore but
little modification of the social structure while the people, gradually
acquiring new arts, were passing through savagery and into a more or
less advanced stage of barbarism. The symmetry of the structure and the
relation of one institution to another is thus distinctly apparent.

         [Footnote 84: For instance, the whole discussion in Gomme's
         _Village Community_, London, 1890, an excellent book, abounds
         with instances of this crumpling.]

The communal household and the political structure built upon it, as
above described in the case of the Iroquois, seem to have existed all
over ancient North America, with agreement in fundamental
characteristics and variation in details and degree of development.
There are many corners as yet imperfectly explored, but hitherto, in so
far as research has been rewarded with information, it all points in the
same general direction. Among the tribes above enumerated as either in
savagery or in the lower status of barbarism, so far as they have been
studied, there seems to be a general agreement, as to the looseness of
the marriage tie the clan with descent in the female line, the phratry,
the tribe, the officers and councils, the social equality, the community
in goods (with exceptions already noted), and the wigwam or house
adapted to communal living.

[Illustration: View, Cross-section, and Ground-plan of Mandan round

[Sidenote: Circular houses of the Mandans.]

The extreme of variation consistent with adherence to the common
principle was to be found in the shape and material of the houses. Those
of the savage tribes were but sorry huts. The long house was used by the
Powhatans and other Algonquin tribes. The other most highly developed
type may be illustrated by the circular frame-houses of the
Mandans.[85] These houses were from forty to sixty feet in diameter. A
dozen or more posts, each about eight inches in diameter, were set in
the ground, "at equal distances in the circumference of a circle, and
rising about six feet above the level of the floor." The tops of the
posts were connected by horizontal stringers; and outside each post a
slanting wooden brace sunk in the ground about four feet distant served
as a firm support to the structure. The spaces between these braces were
filled by tall wooden slabs, set with the same slant and resting against
the stringers. Thus the framework of the outer wall was completed. To
support the roof four posts were set in the ground about ten feet apart
in the form of a square, near the centre of the building. They were from
twelve to fifteen feet in height, and were connected at the top by four
stringers forming a square. The rafters rested upon these stringers and
upon the top of the circular wall below. The rafters were covered with
willow matting, and upon this was spread a layer of prairie grass. Then
both wall and roof, from the ground up to the summit, were covered with
earth, solid and hard, to a thickness of at least two feet. The rafters
projected above the square framework at the summit, so as to leave a
circular opening in the centre about four feet in diameter. This hole
let in a little light, and let out some of the smoke from the fire which
blazed underneath in a fire-pit lined with stone slabs set on edge.
The only other aperture for light was the doorway, which was a kind of
vestibule or passage some ten feet in length. Curtains of buffalo robes
did duty instead of doors. The family compartments were triangles with
base at the outer wall, and apex opening upon the central hearth; and
the partitions were hanging mats or skins, which were tastefully fringed
and ornamented with quill-work and pictographs.[86] In the lower Mandan
village, visited by Catlin, there were about fifty such houses, each
able to accommodate from thirty to forty persons. The village, situated
upon a bold bluff at a bend of the Missouri river, and surrounded by a
palisade of stout timbers more than ten feet in height, was very strong
for defensive purposes. Indeed, it was virtually impregnable to Indian
methods of attack, for the earth-covered houses could not be set on fire
by blazing arrows, and just within the palisade ran a trench in which
the defenders could securely skulk, while through the narrow chinks
between the timbers they could shoot arrows fast enough to keep their
assailants at a distance. This purpose was further secured by rude
bastions, and considering the structure as a whole one cannot help
admiring the ingenuity which it exhibits. It shows a marked superiority
over the conceptions of military defence attained by the Iroquois or any
other Indians north of New Mexico. Besides the communal houses the
village contained its "medicine lodge," or council house, and an open
area for games and ceremonies. In the spaces between the houses were
the scaffolds for drying maize, buffalo meat, etc., ascended by
well-made portable ladders. Outside the village, at a short distance on
the prairie, was a group of such scaffolds upon which the dead were left
to moulder, somewhat after the fashion of the Parsees.[87]

         [Footnote 85: Morgan, _Houses and House-life_, pp. 126-129;
         Catlin's _North Amer. Indians_, i. 81 _ff._]

         [Footnote 86: Catlin, i. 83.]

         [Footnote 87: Catlin, i. 90.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The Indians of the pueblos,--in the middle status of

We are now prepared to understand some essential points in the life of
the groups of Indians occupying the region of the Cordilleras, both
north and south of the Isthmus of Darien, all the way from Zuñi to
Quito. The principal groups are the Moquis and Zuñis of Arizona and New
Mexico, the Nahuas or Nahuatlac tribes of Mexico, the Mayas, Quichés,
and kindred peoples of Central America; and beyond the isthmus, the
Chibchas of New Granada, and sundry peoples comprised within the domain
of the Incas. With regard to the ethnic relationships of these various
groups, opinion is still in a state of confusion; but it is not
necessary for our present purpose that we should pause to discuss the
numerous questions thus arising. Our business is to get a clear notion
in outline of the character of the culture to which these peoples had
attained at the time of the Discovery. Here we observe, on the part of
all, a very considerable divergence from the average Indian level which
we have thus far been describing.

This divergence increases as we go from Zuñi toward Cuzco, reaching its
extreme, on the whole, among the Peruvians, though in some respects the
nearest approach to civilization was made by the Mayas. All these
peoples were at least one full ethnical period nearer to true
civilization than the Iroquois,--and a vast amount of change and
improvement is involved in the conception of an entire ethnical period.
According to Mr. Morgan, one more such period would have brought the
average level of these Cordilleran peoples to as high a plane as that of
the Greeks described in the Odyssey. Let us now observe the principal
points involved in the change, bearing in mind that it implies a
considerable lapse of time. While the date 1325, at which the city of
Mexico was founded, is the earliest date in the history of that country
which can be regarded as securely established, it was preceded by a long
series of generations of migration and warfare, the confused and
fragmentary record of which historians have tried--hitherto with scant
success--to unravel. To develop such a culture as that of the Aztecs out
of an antecedent culture similar to that of the Iroquois must of course
have taken a long time.

[Sidenote: Horticulture with irrigation, and architecture with adobe.]

It will be remembered that the most conspicuous distinctive marks of the
grade of culture attained by the Cordilleran peoples were two,--the
cultivation of maize in large quantities by irrigation, and the use of
adobe-brick or stone in building. Probably there was at first, to some
extent, a causal connection between the former and the latter. The
region of the Moqui-Zuñi culture is a region in which arid plains become
richly fertile when water from neighbouring cliffs or peaks is
directed down upon them. It is mainly an affair of sluices, not of pump
or well, which seem to have been alike beyond the ken of aboriginal
Americans of whatever grade. The change of occupation involved in
raising large crops of corn by the aid of sluices would facilitate an
increase in density of population, and would encourage a preference for
agricultural over predatory life. Such changes would be likely to favour
the development of defensive military art. The Mohawk's surest defence
lay in the terror which his prowess created hundreds of miles away. One
can easily see how the forefathers of our Moquis and Zuñis may have come
to prefer the security gained by living more closely together and
building impregnable fortresses.

[Sidenote: Possible origin of adobe architecture.]

The earthen wall of the Mandan, supported on a framework of posts and
slabs, seems to me curiously and strikingly suggestive of the incipient
pottery made by surrounding a basket with a coating of clay.[88] When it
was discovered how to make the earthen bowl or dish without the basket,
a new era in progress was begun. So when it was discovered that an
earthen wall could be fashioned to answer the requirements of
house-builders without the need of a permanent wooden framework, another
great step was taken. Again the consequences were great enough to make
it mark the beginning of a new ethnical period. If we suppose the
central portion of our continent, the Mississippi and Missouri valleys,
to have been occupied at some time by tribes familiar with the Mandan
style of building; and if we further suppose a gradual extension or
migration of this population, or some part of it, westward into the
mountain region; that would be a movement into a region in which timber
was scarce, while adobe clay was abundant. Under such circumstances the
useful qualities of that peculiar clay could not fail to be soon
discovered. The simple exposure to sunshine would quickly convert a
Mandan house built with it into an adobe house; the coating of earth
would become a coating of brick. It would not then take long to
ascertain that with such adobe-brick could be built walls at once light
and strong, erect and tall, such as could not be built with common clay.
In some such way as this I think the discovery must have been made by
the ancestors of the Zuñis, and others who have built pueblos. After the
pueblo style of architecture, with its erect walls and terraced stories,
had become developed, it was an easy step, when the occasion suggested
it, to substitute for the adobe-brick coarse rubble-stones embedded in
adobe. The final stage was reached in Mexico and Yucatan, when soft
coralline limestone was shaped into blocks with a flint chisel and laid
in courses with adobe-mortar.

         [Footnote 88: See above, p. 25.]

[Sidenote: Mr. Cushing at Zuñi.]

The pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona are among the most interesting
structures in the world. Several are still inhabited by the descendants
of the people who were living in them at the time of the Spanish
Discovery, and their primitive customs and habits of thought have been
preserved to the present day with but little change. The long sojourn
of Mr. Cushing, of the Bureau of Ethnology, in the Zuñi pueblo, has
already thrown a flood of light upon many points in American
archæology.[89] As in the case of American aborigines generally, the
social life of these people is closely connected with their
architecture, and the pueblos which are still inhabited seem to furnish
us with the key to the interpretation of those that we find deserted or
in ruins, whether in Arizona or in Guatemala.

         [Footnote 89: See his articles in the _Century Magazine_, Dec.,
         1882, Feb., 1883, May, 1883; and his papers on "Zuñi Fetiches,"
         _Reports of the Bureau of Ethnology_, ii. 9-45; "A Study of
         Pueblo Pottery as Illustrative of Zuñi Culture Growth," id. iv.
         473-521; see also Mrs. Stevenson's paper, "Religious Life of a
         Zuñi Child," id. v. 539-555; Sylvester Baxter, "An Aboriginal
         Pilgrimage," _Century Magazine_, Aug., 1882.]

[Illustration: Pueblo Hungo Pavie. Chaco Cañon N. M.]

[Sidenote: Typical structure of the pueblo.]

In the architecture of the pueblos one typical form is reproduced with
sundry variations in detail. The typical form is that of a solid block
of buildings making three sides of an extensive rectangular enclosure
or courtyard. On the inside, facing upon the courtyard, the structure
is but one story in height; on the outside, looking out upon the
surrounding country, it rises to three, or perhaps even five or six
stories. From inside to outside the flat roofs rise in a series of
terraces, so that the floor of the second row is continuous with the
roof of the first, the floor of the third row is continuous with the
roof of the second, and so on. The fourth side of the rectangle is
formed by a solid block of one-story apartments, usually with one or two
narrow gateways overlooked by higher structures within the enclosure.
Except these gateways there is no entrance from without; the only
windows are frowning loop-holes, and access to the several apartments is
gained through skylights reached by portable ladders. Such a structure
is what our own forefathers would have naturally called a "burgh," or
fortress; it is in one sense a house, yet in another sense a town;[90]
its divisions are not so much houses as compartments; it is a
joint-tenement affair, like the Iroquois long houses, but in a higher
stage of development.

         [Footnote 90: Cf. [Greek: oikos], "house," with Latin _vicus_,
         "street" or "village," Sanskrit _vesa_, "dwelling-place,"
         English _wick_, "mansion" or "village."]

[Illustration: Restoration of Pueblo Hungo Pavie.]

[Sidenote: Pueblo society.]

So far as they have been studied, the pueblo Indians are found to be
organized in clans, with descent in the female line, as in the case of
the ruder Indians above described. In the event of marriage the young
husband goes to live with his wife, and she may turn him out of doors if
he deserves it.[91] The ideas of property seem still limited to that
of possessory right, with the ultimate title in the clan, except that
portable articles subject to individual ownership have become more
numerous. In government the council of sachems reappears with a
principal sachem, or cacique, called by the Spaniards "gobernador."
There is an organized priesthood, with distinct orders, and a ceremonial
more elaborate than those of the ruder Indians. In every pueblo there is
to be found at least one "estufa," or council-house, for governmental or
religious transactions. Usually there are two or three or more such
estufas. In mythology, in what we may call pictography or rudimentary
hieroglyphics, as well as in ordinary handicrafts, there is a marked
advance beyond the Indians of the lower status of barbarism, after
making due allowances for such things as the people of the pueblos have
learned from white men.[92]

         [Footnote 91: "With the woman rests the security of the
         marriage ties; and it must be said, in her high honour, that
         she rarely abuses the privilege; that is, never sends her
         husband 'to the home of his fathers,' unless he richly deserves
         it." But should not Mr. Cushing have said "home of his
         mothers," or perhaps, of "his sisters and his cousins and his
         aunts?" For a moment afterward he tells us, "To her belong all
         the children; and descent, including inheritance, is on her
         side." _Century Magazine_, May, 1883, p. 35.]

         [Footnote 92: For example, since the arrival of the Spaniards
         some or perhaps all of the pueblos have introduced chimneys
         into their apartments; but when they were first visited by
         Coronado, he found the people wearing cotton garments, and
         Franciscan friars in 1581 remarked upon the superior quality of
         their shoes. In spinning and weaving, as well as in the
         grinding of meal, a notable advance had been made.]

[Illustration: Restoration of Pueblo Bonito.]

[Illustration: Pueblo Peñasca Blanca.]

[Sidenote: Wonderful ancient pueblos in the Chaco valley.]

[Sidenote: The Moqui pueblos.]

[Sidenote: The cliff pueblos.]

From the pueblos still existing, whether inhabited or in ruins, we may
eventually get some sort of clue to the populations of ancient towns
visited by the Spanish discoverers.[93] The pueblo of Zuñi seems to have
had at one time a population of 5,000, but it has dwindled to less than
2,000. Of the ruined pueblos, built of stone with adobe mortar, in the
valley of the Rio Chaco, the Pueblo Hungo Pavie contained 73 apartments
in the first story, 53 in the second, and 29 in the third, with an
average size of 18 feet by 13; and would have accommodated about 1,000
Indians. In the same valley Pueblo Bonito, with four stories, contained
not less than 640 apartments, with room enough for a population of
3,000; within a third of a mile from this huge structure stood Pueblo
Chettro Kettle, with 506 apartments. The most common variation from the
rectangular shape was that in which a terraced semicircle was
substituted for the three terraced sides, as in Pueblo Bonito, or the
whole rectangular design was converted into an ellipse, as in Pueblo
Peñasca Blanca. There are indications that these fortresses were not in
all cases built at one time, but that, at least in some cases, they grew
by gradual accretions.[94] The smallness of the distances between those
in the Chaco valley suggests that their inhabitants must have been
united in a confederation; and one can easily see that an actual
juxtaposition or partial coalescence of such communities would have
made a city of very imposing appearance. The pueblos are always found
situated near a river, and their gardens, lying outside, are easily
accessible to sluices from neighbouring cliffs or mesas. But in some
cases, as the Wolpi pueblo of the Moquis, the whole stronghold is built
upon the summit of the cliff; there is a coalescence of communal
structures, each enclosing a courtyard, in which there is a spring for
the water-supply; and the irrigated gardens are built in terrace-form
just below on the bluff, and protected by solid walls. From this curious
pueblo another transition takes us to the extraordinary cliff-houses found
in the Chelly, Mancos, and McElmo cañons, and elsewhere,--veritable
human eyries perched in crevices or clefts of the perpendicular rock,
accessible only by dint of a toilsome and perilous climb; places of
refuge, perhaps for fragments of tribes overwhelmed by more barbarous
invaders, yet showing in their dwelling-rooms and estufas marks of
careful building and tasteful adornment.[95]

         [Footnote 93: At least a better one than Mr. Prescott had when
         he naively reckoned five persons to a household, _Conquest of
         Mexico_, ii. 97.]

         [Footnote 94: Morgan, _Houses and House-Life_, chap. vii.]

         [Footnote 95: For careful descriptions of the ruined pueblos
         and cliff-houses, see Nadaillac's _Prehistoric America_, chap.
         v., and Short's _North Americans of Antiquity_, chap. vii. The
         latter sees in them the melancholy vestiges of a people
         gradually "succumbing to their unpropitious surroundings--a
         land which is fast becoming a howling wilderness, with its
         scourging sands and roaming savage Bedouin--the Apaches."]

[Sidenote: Pueblo of Zuñi.]

The pueblo of Zuñi is a more extensive and complex structure than the
ruined pueblos on the Chaco river. It is not so much an enormous
communal house as a small town formed of a number of such houses crowded
together, with access from one to another along their roof-terraces.
Some of the structures are of adobe brick, others of stone embedded in
adobe mortar and covered with plaster. There are two open plazas or
squares in the town, and several streets, some of which are covered ways
passing beneath the upper stories of houses. The effect, though not
splendid, must be very picturesque, and would doubtless astonish and
bewilder visitors unprepared for such a sight. When Coronado's men
discovered Zuñi in 1540, although that style of building was no longer a
novelty to them, they compared the place to Granada.

[Sidenote: Pueblo of Tlascala.]

Now it is worthy of note that Cortes made the same comparison in the
case of Tlascala, one of the famous towns at which he stopped on his
march from Vera Cruz to the city of Mexico. In his letter to the emperor
Charles V., he compared Tlascala to Granada, "affirming that it was
larger, stronger, and more populous than the Moorish capital at the time
of the conquest, and quite as well built."[96] Upon this Mr. Prescott
observes, "we shall be slow to believe that its edifices could have
rivalled those monuments of Oriental magnificence, whose light aerial
forms still survive after the lapse of ages, the admiration of every
traveller of sensibility and taste. The truth is that Cortes, like
Columbus, saw objects through the warm medium of his own fond
imagination, giving them a higher tone of colouring and larger
dimensions than were strictly warranted by the fact." Or, as Mr.
Bandelier puts it, when it comes to general statements about numbers
and dimensions, "the descriptions of the conquerors cannot be taken as
facts, only as the expression of feelings, honestly entertained but
uncritical." From details given in various Spanish descriptions,
including those of Cortes himself, it is evident that there could not
have been much difference in size between Tlascala and its neighbour
Cholula. The population of the latter town has often been given as from
150,000 to 200,000; but, from elaborate archæological investigations
made on the spot in 1881, Mr. Bandelier concludes that it cannot have
greatly exceeded 30,000, and this number really agrees with the
estimates of two very important Spanish authorities, Las Casas and
Torquemada, when correctly understood.[97] We may therefore suppose that
the population of Tlascala was about 30,000. Now the population of the
city of Granada, at the time of its conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella,
is said by the greatest of Spanish historians[98] to have been about
200,000. It would thus appear that Cortes sometimes let his feelings run
away with him; and, all things considered, small blame to him if he did!
In studying the story of the Spanish conquest of America, liberal
allowance must often be made for inaccuracies of statement that were
usually pardonable and sometimes inevitable.

         [Footnote 96: "La qual ciudad ... es muy mayor que Granada, y
         muy mas fuerte, y de tan buenos edificios, y de mucha mas
         gente, que Granada tenia al tiempo que se gaño." Cortes,
         _Relacion segunda al Emperador_, ap. Lorenzana, p. 58, cited in
         Prescott's _Conquest of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 401 (7th ed.,
         London, 1855).]

         [Footnote 97: See Bandelier's _Archæological Tour in Mexico_,
         Boston, 1885, pp. 160-164. Torquemada's words, cited by
         Bandelier, are "Quando entraron los Españoles, dicen que tenia
         mas de quarenta mil vecinos esta ciudad." _Monarquía Indiana_,
         lib. iii. cap. xix. p. 281. A prolific source of error is the
         ambiguity in the word _vecinos_, which may mean either
         "inhabitants" or "householders." Where Torquemada meant 40,000
         inhabitants, uncritical writers fond of the marvellous have
         understood him to mean 40,000 houses, and multiplying this
         figure by 5, the average number of persons _in a modern
         family_, have obtained the figure 200,000. But 40,000 houses
         peopled after the old Mexican fashion, with at least 200
         persons in a house (to put it as low as possible), would make a
         city of 8,000,000 inhabitants! Las Casas, in his _Destruycion
         de las Indias_, vii., puts the population of Cholula at about
         30,000. I observe that Llorente (in his _Oeuvres de Las Casas_,
         tom. i. p. 38) translates the statement correctly. I shall
         recur to this point below, vol. ii. p. 264.]

         [Footnote 98: Mariana, _Historia de España_, Valencia, 1795,
         tom. viii. p. 317.]

But when Cortes described Tlascala as "quite as well built" as Granada,
it is not at all likely that he was thinking about that exquisite
Moorish architecture which in the mind of Mr. Prescott or any cultivated
modern writer is the first thing to be suggested by the name. The
Spaniards of those days did not admire the artistic work of "infidels;"
they covered up beautiful arabesques with a wash of dirty plaster, and
otherwise behaved very much like the Puritans who smashed the
"idolatrous" statues in English cathedrals. When Cortes looked at
Tlascala, and Coronado looked at Zuñi, and both soldiers were reminded
of Granada, they were probably looking at those places with a
professional eye as fortresses hard to capture; and from this point of
view there was doubtless some justice in the comparison.

[Sidenote: The ancient city of Mexico was a great composite pueblo.]

In the description of Tlascala by the Spaniards who first saw it, with
its dark and narrow streets, its houses of adobe, or "the better sort"
of stone laid in adobe mortar, and its flat and terraced roofs, one is
irresistibly reminded of such a pueblo as Zuñi. Tlascala was a town of
a type probably common in Mexico. In some respects, as will hereafter
appear, the city of Mexico showed striking variations from the common
type. Yet there too were to be seen the huge houses, with terraced
roofs, built around a square courtyard; in one of them 450 Spaniards,
with more than 1,000 Tlascalan allies, were accommodated; in another,
called "Montezuma's palace," one of the conquerors, who came several
times intending to see the whole of it, got so tired with wandering
through the interminable succession of rooms that at length he gave it
up and never saw them all.[99] This might have happened in such a
building as Pueblo Bonito; and a suspicion is raised that Montezuma's
city was really a vast composite pueblo, and that its so-called palaces
were communal buildings in principle like the pueblos of the Chaco

         [Footnote 99: "Et io entrai piu di quattro volte in una casa
         del gran Signor non por altro effetto che per vederla, et ogni
         volta vi camminauo tanto che mi stancauo, et mai la fini di
         vedere tutta." _Relatione fatta per un gentil' huomo del Signor
         Fernando Cortese_, apud Ramusio, _Navigationi et Viaggi_,
         Venice, 1556, tom. iii. fol. 309.]

[Sidenote: Natural mistake of the Spanish discoverers.]

[Sidenote: Contrast between feudalism and gentilism.]

[Sidenote: Change from gentile society to political society.]

Of course the Spanish discoverers could not be expected to understand
the meaning of what they saw. It dazed and bewildered them. They knew
little or nothing of any other kind of society than feudal monarchy, and
if they made such mistakes as to call the head war-chief a "king" (i. e.
feudal king) or "emperor," and the clan-chiefs "lords" or "noblemen," if
they supposed that these huge fortresses were like feudal castles and
palaces in Europe, they were quite excusable. Such misconceptions were
common enough before barbarous societies had been much studied; and many
a dusky warrior, without a tithe of the pomp and splendour about him
that surrounded Montezuma, has figured in the pages of history as a
mighty potentate girt with many of the trappings of feudalism.[100]
Initial misconceptions that were natural enough, indeed unavoidable,
found expression in an absurdly inappropriate nomenclature; and then the
use of wrong names and titles bore fruit in what one cannot properly
call a theory but rather an incoherent medley of notions about barbaric
society. Nothing could be further from _feudalism_, in which the
relation of landlord and tenant is a fundamental element, than the
society of the American aborigines, in which that relation was utterly
unknown and inconceivable. This more primitive form of society is not
improperly called _gentilism_, inasmuch as it is based upon the gens or
clan, with communism in living, and with the conception of individual
ownership of property undeveloped. It was gentilism that everywhere
prevailed throughout the myriads of unrecorded centuries during which
the foremost races of mankind struggled up through savagery and
barbarism into civilization, while weaker and duller races lagged behind
at various stages on the way. The change from "gentile" society to
political society as we know it was in some respects the most important
change that has occurred in human affairs since men became human. It
might be roughly defined as the change from personal to territorial
organization. It was accomplished when the stationary clan became
converted into the township, and the stationary tribe into the small
state;[101] when the conception of individual property in land was fully
acquired; when the tie of physical kinship ceased to be indispensable as
a bond for holding a society together; when the _clansman_ became a
_citizen_. This momentous change was accomplished among the Greeks
during a period beginning shortly before the first Olympiad (B. C.
776), and ending with the reforms of Kleisthenes at Athens (B. C. 509);
among the Romans it was accomplished by the series of legislative
changes beginning with those ascribed to Servius Tullius (about B. C.
550), and perfected by the time of the first Punic War (B. C. 264-241).
In each case about three centuries was required to work the change.[102]
If now the reader, familiar with European history, will reflect upon the
period of more than a thousand years which intervened between the date
last named and the time when feudalism became thoroughly established, if
he will recall to mind the vast and powerful complication of causes
which operated to transform civil society from the aspect which it wore
in the days of Regulus and the second Ptolemy to that which it had
assumed in the times of Henry the Fowler or Fulk of Anjou, he will begin
to realize how much "feudalism" implies, and what a wealth of experience
it involves, above and beyond the change from "gentile" to "civil"
society. It does not appear that any people in ancient America ever
approached very near to this earlier change. None had fairly begun to
emerge from gentilism; none had advanced so far as the Greeks of the
first Olympiad or the Romans under the rule of the Tarquins.

         [Footnote 100: When Pocahontas visited London in 1616 she was
         received at court as befitted a "king's daughter," and the old
         Virginia historian, William Stith (born in 1689), says it was a
         "constant tradition" in his day that James I. "became jealous,
         and was highly offended at Mr. Rolfe for marrying a princess."
         The notion was that "if Virginia descended to Pocahontas, as it
         might do at Powhatan's death, at her own death the kingdom
         would be vested in Mr. Rolfe's posterity." Esten Cooke's
         _Virginia_, p. 100. Powhatan (i. e. Wahunsunakok, chief of the
         Powhatan tribe) was often called "emperor" by the English
         settlers. To their intense bewilderment he told one of them
         that his office would descend to his [maternal] brothers, even
         though he had sons living. It was thought that this could not
         be true.]

         [Footnote 101: The small states into which tribes were at first
         transformed have in many cases survived to the present time as
         portions of great states or nations. The shires or counties of
         England, which have been reproduced in the United States,
         originated in this way, as I have briefly explained in my
         little book on _Civil Government in the United States_, p. 49.
         When you look on the map of England, and see the town of
         _Icklingham_ in the county of _Suffolk_, it means that this
         place was once the "home" of the "Icklings" or "children of
         Ickel," a clan which formed part of the tribe of Angles known
         as "South folk." So the names of Gaulish tribes survived as
         names of French provinces, e. g. _Auvergne_ from the _Arverni_,
         _Poitou_ from the _Pictavi_, _Anjou_ from the _Andecavi_,
         _Béarn_ from the _Bigerrones_, etc.]

         [Footnote 102: "It was no easy task to accomplish such a
         fundamental change, however simple and obvious it may now
         seem.... Anterior to experience, a township, as the unit of a
         political system, was abstruse enough to tax the Greeks and
         Romans to the depths of their capacities before the conception
         was formed and set in practical operation." Morgan, _Ancient
         Society_, p. 218.]

[Sidenote: Suspicions as to the erroneousness of the Spanish accounts.]

[Sidenote: Detection and explanation of the errors, by Lewis Morgan.]

The first eminent writer to express a serious doubt as to the
correctness of the earlier views of Mexican civilization was that
sagacious Scotchman, William Robertson.[103] The illustrious statesman
and philologist, Albert Gallatin, founder of the American Ethnological
Society, published in the first volume of its "Transactions" an essay
which recognized the danger of trusting the Spanish narratives without
very careful and critical scrutiny.[104] It is to be observed that Mr.
Gallatin approached the subject with somewhat more knowledge of
aboriginal life in America than had been possessed by previous writers.
A similar scepticism was expressed by Lewis Cass, who also knew a great
deal about Indians.[105] Next came Mr. Morgan,[106] the man of
path-breaking ideas, whose minute and profound acquaintance with Indian
life was joined with a power of penetrating the hidden implications of
facts so keen and so sure as to amount to genius. Mr. Morgan saw the
nature of the delusion under which the Spaniards laboured; he saw that
what they mistook for feudal castles owned by great lords, and inhabited
by dependent retainers, were really huge communal houses, owned and
inhabited by clans, or rather by segments of overgrown clans. He saw
this so vividly that it betrayed him now and then into a somewhat
impatient and dogmatic manner of statement; but that was a slight fault,
for what he saw was not the outcome of dreamy speculation but of
scientific insight. His researches, which reduced "Montezuma's empire"
to a confederacy of tribes dwelling in pueblos, governed by a council of
chiefs, and collecting tribute from neighbouring pueblos, have been
fully sustained by subsequent investigation.

         [Footnote 103: Robertson's _History of America_, 9th ed. vol.
         iii. pp. 274, 281.]

         [Footnote 104: "Notes on the Semi-civilized Nations of Mexico,
         Yucatan, and Central America," _American Ethnological Society's
         Transactions_, vol. i., New York, 1852. There is a brief
         account of Mr. Gallatin's pioneer work in American philology
         and ethnology in Stevens's _Albert Gallatin_, pp. 386-396.]

         [Footnote 105: Cass, "Aboriginal Structures," _North Amer.
         Review_, Oct., 1840.]

         [Footnote 106: Mr. R. A. Wilson's _New History of the Conquest
         of Mexico_, Philadelphia, 1859, denounced the Spanish
         conquerors as wholesale liars, but as his book was ignorant,
         uncritical, and full of wild fancies, it produced little
         effect. It was demolished, with neatness and despatch, in two
         articles in the _Atlantic Monthly_, April and May, 1859, by the
         eminent historian John Foster Kirk, whose _History of Charles
         the Bold_ is in many respects a worthy companion to the works
         of Prescott and Motley. Mr. Kirk had been Mr. Prescott's

[Sidenote: Adolf Bandelier's researches.]

The state of society which Cortes saw has, indeed, passed away, and its
monuments and hieroglyphic records have been in great part destroyed.
Nevertheless some monuments and some hieroglyphic records remain, and
the people are still there. Tlascalans and Aztecs, descendants in the
eleventh or twelfth generation from the men whose bitter feuds gave such
a golden opportunity to Cortes, still dwell upon the soil of Mexico, and
speak the language in which Montezuma made his last harangue to the
furious people. There is, moreover, a great mass of literature in
Spanish, besides more or less in Nahuatl, written during the century
following the conquest, and the devoted missionaries and painstaking
administrators, who wrote books about the country in which they were
working, were not engaged in a wholesale conspiracy for deceiving
mankind. From a really critical study of this literature, combined with
archæological investigation, much may be expected; and a noble beginning
has already been made. A more extensive acquaintance with Mexican
literature would at times have materially modified Mr. Morgan's
conclusions, though without altering their general drift. At this point
the work has been taken up by Mr. Adolf Bandelier, of Highland,
Illinois, to whose rare sagacity and untiring industry as a field
archæologist is joined such a thorough knowledge of Mexican literature
as few men before him have possessed. Armed with such resources, Mr.
Bandelier is doing for the ancient history of America work as
significant as that which Mommsen has done for Rome, or Baur for the
beginnings of Christianity. When a sufficient mass of facts and
incidents have once been put upon record, it is hard for ignorant
misconception to bury the truth in a pit so deep but that the delving
genius of critical scholarship will sooner or later drag it forth into
the light of day.[107]

         [Footnote 107: A summary of Mr. Bandelier's principal results,
         with copious citation and discussion of original Spanish and
         Nahuatl sources, is contained in his three papers, "On the art
         of war and mode of warfare of the ancient Mexicans,"--"On the
         distribution and tenure of land, and the customs with respect
         to inheritance, among the ancient Mexicans,"--"On the social
         organization and mode of government of the ancient Mexicans,"
         _Peabody Museum Reports_, vol. ii., 1876-79, pp. 95-161,
         385-448, 557-699.]

[Sidenote: The Aztec confederacy.]

At this point in our exposition a very concise summary of Mr.
Bandelier's results will suffice to enable the reader to understand
their import. What has been called the "empire of Montezuma" was in
reality a confederacy of three tribes, the Aztecs, Tezcucans, and
Tlacopans,[108] dwelling in three large composite pueblos situated very
near together in one of the strongest defensive positions ever occupied
by Indians. This Aztec confederacy extended its "sway" over a
considerable portion of the Mexican peninsula, but that "sway" could not
correctly be described as "empire," for it was in no sense a military
occupation of the country. The confederacy did not have garrisons in
subject pueblos or civil officials to administer their affairs for them.
It simply sent some of its chiefs about from one pueblo to another to
collect tribute. This tax consisted in great part of maize and other
food, and each tributary pueblo reserved a certain portion of its tribal
territory to be cultivated for the benefit of the domineering
confederacy. If a pueblo proved delinquent or recalcitrant, Aztec
warriors swooped down upon it in stealthy midnight assault, butchered
its inhabitants and emptied its granaries, and when the paroxysm of rage
had spent itself, went exulting homeward, carrying away women for
concubines, men to be sacrificed, and such miscellaneous booty as could
be conveyed without wagons or beasts to draw them.[109] If the sudden
assault, with scaling ladders, happened to fail, the assailants were
likely to be baffled, for there was no artillery, and so little food
could be carried that a siege meant starvation for the besiegers.

         [Footnote 108: In the Iroquois confederacy the Mohawks enjoyed
         a certain precedence or seniority, the Onondagas had the
         central council-fire, and the Senecas, who had the two head
         war-chiefs, were much the most numerous. In the Mexican
         confederacy the various points of superiority seem to have been
         more concentrated in the Aztecs; but spoils and tribute were
         divided into five portions, of which Mexico and Tezcuco each
         took two, and Tlacopan one.]

         [Footnote 109: The wretched prisoners were ordinarily compelled
         to carry the booty.]

The tributary pueblos were also liable to be summoned to furnish a
contingent of warriors to the war-parties of the confederacy, under the
same penalties for delinquency as in the case of refusal of tribute. In
such cases it was quite common for the confederacy to issue a peremptory
summons, followed by a declaration of war. When a pueblo was captured,
the only way in which the vanquished people could stop the massacre was
by holding out signals of submission; a parley then sometimes adjusted
the affair, and the payment of a year's tribute in advance induced the
conquerors to depart, but captives once taken could seldom if ever be
ransomed. If the parties could not agree upon terms, the slaughter was
renewed, and sometimes went on until the departing victors left nought
behind them but ruined houses belching from loop-hole and doorway lurid
clouds of smoke and flame upon narrow silent streets heaped up with
mangled corpses.

The sway of the Aztec confederacy over the Mexican peninsula was thus
essentially similar to the sway of the Iroquois confederacy over a great
part of the tribes between the Connecticut river and the Mississippi.
It was simply the levying of tribute,--a system of plunder enforced by
terror. The so-called empire was "only a partnership formed for the
purpose of carrying on the business of warfare, and that intended, not
for the extension of territorial ownership, but only for an increase of
the means of subsistence."[110] There was none of that coalescence and
incorporation of peoples which occurs after the change from gentilism to
civil society has been effected. Among the Mexicans, as elsewhere
throughout North America, the tribe remained intact as the highest
completed political integer.

         [Footnote 110: Bandelier, _op. cit._ p. 563.]

[Sidenote: Aztec clans.]

The Aztec tribe was organized in clans and phratries, and the number of
clans would indicate that the tribe was a very large one.[111] There
were twenty clans, called in the Nahuatl language "calpullis." We may
fairly suppose that the average size of a clan was larger than the
average tribe of Algonquins or Iroquois; but owing to the compact "city"
life, this increase of numbers did not result in segmentation and
scattering, as among Indians in the lower status. Each Aztec clan seems
to have occupied a number of adjacent communal houses, forming a kind of
precinct, with its special house or houses for official purposes,
corresponding to the _estufas_ in the New Mexican pueblos. The houses
were the common property of the clan, and so was the land which its
members cultivated; and such houses and land could not be sold or
bartered away by the clan, or in anywise alienated. The idea of "real
estate" had not been developed; the clan simply exercised a right of
occupancy, and--as among some ruder Indians--its individual members
exercised certain limited rights of user in particular garden-plots.

         [Footnote 111: The notion of an immense population groaning
         under the lash of taskmasters, and building huge palaces for
         idle despots must be dismissed. The statements which refer to
         such a vast population are apt to be accompanied by
         incompatible statements. Mr. Morgan is right in throwing the
         burden of proof upon those who maintain that a people without
         domestic animals or field agriculture could have been so
         numerous (_Anc. Soc._, p. 195). On the other hand, I believe
         Mr. Morgan makes a grave mistake in the opposite direction, in
         underestimating the numbers that could be supported upon Indian
         corn even under a system of horticulture without the use of the
         plough. Some pertinent remarks on the extraordinary
         reproductive power of maize in Mexico may be found in Humboldt,
         _Essai politique sur la Nouvelle Espagne_, Paris, 1811, tom.
         iii. pp. 51-60; the great naturalist is of course speaking of
         the yield of maize in ploughed lands, but, after making due
         allowances, the yield under the ancient system must have been
         well-nigh unexampled in barbaric agriculture.]

[Sidenote: Clan officers.]

The clan was governed by a clan council, consisting of chiefs
(_tecuhtli_) elected by the clan, and inducted into office after a cruel
religious ordeal, in which the candidate was bruised, tortured, and half
starved. An executive department was more clearly differentiated from
the council than among the Indians of the lower status. The clan
(_calpulli_) had an official head, or sachem, called the _calpullec_;
and also a military commander called the _ahcacautin_, or "elder
brother." The _ahcacautin_ was also a kind of peace officer, or
constable, for the precinct occupied by the clan, and carried about with
him a staff of office; a tuft of white feathers attached to this staff
betokened that his errand was one of death. The clan elected its
_calpullec_ and _ahcacautin_, and could depose them for cause.[112]

         [Footnote 112: Compare this description with that of the
         institutions of Indians in the lower status, above, p. 69.]

[Sidenote: Rights and duties of the clan.]

The members of the clan were reciprocally bound to aid, defend, and
avenge one another; but wergild was no longer accepted, and the penalty
for murder was death. The clan exercised the right of naming its
members. Such names were invariably significant (as _Nezahualcoyotl_,
"Hungry Coyote," _Axayacatl_, "Face-in-the-Water," etc.), and more or
less "medicine," or superstitious association, was attached to the name.
The clans also had their significant names and totems. Each clan had its
peculiar religious rites, its priests or medicine-men who were members
of the clan council, and its temple or medicine-house. Instead of
burying their dead the Mexican tribes practised cremation; there was,
therefore, no common cemetery, but the funeral ceremonies were conducted
by the clan.

[Sidenote: Aztec phratries.]

The clans of the Aztecs, like those of many other Mexican tribes, were
organized into four phratries; and this divided the city of Mexico, as
the Spaniards at once remarked, into four quarters. The phratry had
acquired more functions than it possessed in the lower status. Besides
certain religious and social duties, and besides its connection with the
punishment of criminals, the Mexican phratry was an organization for
military purposes.[113] The four phratries were four divisions of the
tribal host, each with its captain. In each of the quarters was an
arsenal, or "dart-house," where weapons were stored, and from which they
were handed out to war-parties about to start on an expedition.

         [Footnote 113: In this respect it seems to have had some
         resemblance to the Roman _centuria_ and Teutonic _hundred_. So
         in prehistoric Greece we may perhaps infer from Nestor's advice
         to Agamemnon that a similar organization existed:--

            [Greek: krin' andras kata phyla, kata phrêtras, Agamemnon,
            hôs phrêtrê phrêtrêphin arêgê, phyla de phylois.]
                                             _Iliad_, ii. 362.

         But the phratry seems never to have reached so high a
         development among the Greeks as among the Romans and the early

[Sidenote: The tribal council.]

The supreme government of the Aztecs was vested in the tribal council
composed of twenty members, one for each clan. The member, representing
a clan, was not its _calpullec_, or "sachem;" he was one of the
_tecuhtli_, or clan-chiefs, and was significantly called the "speaker"
(_tlatoani_). The tribal council, thus composed of twenty speakers, was
called the _tlatocan_, or "place of speech."[114] At least as often as
once in ten days the council assembled at the _tecpan_, or official
house of the tribe, but it could be convened whenever occasion required,
and in cases of emergency was continually in session. Its powers and
duties were similar to those of an ancient English shiremote, in so far
as they were partly directive and partly judicial. A large part of its
business was settling disputes between the clans. It superintended the
ceremonies of investiture with which the chiefs and other officers of
the clans were sworn into office. At intervals of eighty days there was
an "extra session" of the _tlatocan_, attended also by the twenty "elder
brothers," the four phratry-captains, the two executive chiefs of the
tribe, and the leading priests, and at such times a reconsideration of
an unpopular decision might be urged; but the authority of the
_tlatocan_ was supreme, and from its final decision there could be no

         [Footnote 114: Compare _parliament_ from _parler_. These twenty
         were the "grandees," "counsellors," and "captains" mentioned by
         Bernal Diaz as always in Montezuma's company; "y siempre á la
         contina estaban en su compañía veinte grandes señores y
         consejeros y capitanes," etc. _Historia verdadera_, ii. 95. See
         Bandelier, _op. cit._ p. 646.]

         [Footnote 115: Mr. Bandelier's note on this point gives an
         especially apt illustration of the confusion of ideas and
         inconsistencies of statement amid which the early Spanish
         writers struggled to understand and describe this strange
         society: _op. cit._ p. 651.]

[Sidenote: The "snake-woman."]

The executive chiefs of the tribe were two in number, as was commonly
the case in ancient America. The tribal sachem, or civil executive, bore
the grotesque title of _cihuacoatl_, or "snake-woman."[116] His relation
to the tribe was in general like that of the _calpullec_ to the clan. He
executed the decrees of the tribal council, of which he was _ex officio_
a member, and was responsible for the housing of tribute and its proper
distribution among the clans. He was also chief judge, and he was
lieutenant to the head war-chief in command of the tribal host.[117]
He was elected for life by the tribal council, which could depose him
for misconduct.

         [Footnote 116: In Aztec mythology Cihuacoatl was wife of the
         supreme night deity, Tezcatlipoca. Squier, _Serpent Symbol in
         America_, pp. 159-166, 174-183. On the connection between
         serpent worship and human sacrifices, see Fergusson's _Tree and
         Serpent Worship_, pp. 3-5, 38-41. Much evidence as to American
         serpent worship is collected in J. G. Müller's _Geschichte der
         amerikanischen Urreligionen_, Basel, 1855. The hieroglyphic
         emblem of the Aztec tribal sachem was a female head surmounted
         by a snake.]

         [Footnote 117: Other tribes besides the Aztec had the
         "snake-woman." In the city of Mexico the Spaniards mistook him
         for a "second-king," or "royal lieutenant." In other towns they
         regarded him, somewhat more correctly, as "governor," and
         called him _gobernador_,--a title still applied to the tribal
         sachem of the pueblo Indians, as e. g. in Zuñi heretofore
         mentioned; see above p. 89.]

[Sidenote: The "chief-of men."]

[Sidenote: Evolution of kingship in Greece and Rome.]

The office of head war-chief was an instance of primitive royalty in a
very interesting stage of development. The title of this officer was
_tlacatecuhtli_, or "chief-of-men."[118] He was primarily head war-chief
of the Aztec tribe, but about 1430 became supreme military commander of
the three confederate tribes, so that his office was one of peculiar
dignity and importance. When the Spaniards arrived upon the scene
Montezuma was _tlacatecuhtli_, and they naturally called him "king." To
understand precisely how far such an epithet could correctly be applied
to him, and how far it was misleading, we must recall the manner in
which early kingship arose in Europe. The Roman _rex_ was an officer
elected for life; the typical Greek _basileus_ was a somewhat more fully
developed king, inasmuch as his office was becoming practically
hereditary; otherwise _rex_ was about equivalent to _basileus_. Alike in
Rome and in Greece the king had at least three great functions, and
possibly four.[119] He was, primarily, chief commander, secondly, chief
priest, thirdly, chief judge; whether he had reached the fourth stage
and added the functions of chief civil executive, is matter of dispute.
Kingship in Rome and in most Greek cities was overthrown at so early a
date that some questions of this sort are difficult to settle. But in
all probability the office grew up through the successive acquisition of
ritual, judicial, and civil functions by the military commander. The
paramount necessity of consulting the tutelar deities before fighting
resulted in making the general a priest competent to perform sacrifices
and interpret omens;[120] he thus naturally became the most important
among priests; an increased sanctity invested his person and office; and
by and by he acquired control over the dispensation of justice, and
finally over the whole civil administration. One step more was needed to
develop the _basileus_ into a despot, like the king of Persia, and that
was to let him get into his hands the law-making power, involving
complete control over taxation. When the Greeks and Romans became
dissatisfied with the increasing powers of their kings, they destroyed
the office. The Romans did not materially diminish its functions, but
put them into commission, by entrusting them to two consuls of equal
authority elected annually. The Greeks, on the other hand, divided the
royal functions among different officers, as e. g. at Athens among the
nine archons.[121]

         [Footnote 118: This title seems precisely equivalent to [Greek:
         anax andrôn], commonly applied to Agamemnon, and sometimes to
         other chieftains, in the Iliad.]

         [Footnote 119: Ramsay's _Roman Antiquities_, p. 64; Hermann's
         _Political Antiquities of Greece_, p. 105; Morgan, _Anc. Soc._,
         p. 248.]

         [Footnote 120: Such would naturally result from the
         desirableness of securing unity of command. If Demosthenes had
         been in sole command of the Athenian armament in the harbour of
         Syracuse, and had been a _basileus_, with priestly authority,
         who can doubt that some such theory of the eclipse as that
         suggested by Philochorus would have been adopted, and thus one
         of the world's great tragedies averted? See Grote, _Hist.
         Greece_, vol. vii. chap. lx. M. Fustel de Coulanges, in his
         admirable book _La Cité antique_, pp. 205-210, makes the
         priestly function of the king primitive, and the military
         function secondary; which is entirely inconsistent with what we
         know of barbarous races.]

         [Footnote 121: It is worthy of note that the archon who
         retained the priestly function was called _basileus_, showing
         perhaps that at that time this had come to be most prominent
         among the royal functions, or more likely that it was the one
         with which reformers had some religious scruples about
         interfering. The Romans, too, retained part of the king's
         priestly function in an officer called _rex sacrorum_, whose
         duty was at times to offer a sacrifice in the forum, and then
         run away as fast as legs could carry him,--[Greek: hên thysas
         ho basileus, kata tachos apeisi pheugôn ex agoras] (!)
         Plutarch, _Quæst. Rom._ 63.]

[Sidenote: Mediæval kingship.]

The typical kingship in mediæval Europe, after the full development of
the feudal system, was very different indeed from the kingship in early
Greece and Rome. In the Middle Ages all priestly functions had passed
into the hands of the Church.[122] A king like Charles VII. of France,
or Edward III. of England, was military commander, civil magistrate,
chief judge, and _supreme landlord_; the people were his tenants. That
was the kind of king with which the Spanish discoverers of Mexico were

         [Footnote 122: Something of the priestly quality of "sanctity,"
         however, surrounded the king's person; and the ceremony of
         anointing the king at his coronation was a survival of the
         ancient rite which invested the head war-chief with priestly

[Sidenote: Montezuma was a "priest-commander."]

Now the Mexican _tlacatecuhtli_, or "chief-of-men," was much more like
Agamemnon in point of kingship than like Edward III. He was not supreme
landlord, for landlordship did not exist in Mexico. He was not chief
judge or civil magistrate; those functions belonged to the
"snake-woman." Mr. Bandelier regards the "chief-of-men" as simply a
military commander; but for reasons which I shall state hereafter,[123]
it seems quite clear that he exercised certain very important priestly
functions, although beside him there was a kind of high-priest or
medicine-chief. If I am right in holding that Montezuma was a
"priest-commander," then incipient royalty in Mexico had advanced at
least one stage beyond the head war-chief of the Iroquois, and remained
one stage behind the _basileus_ of the Homeric Greeks.

         [Footnote 123: They can be most conveniently stated in
         connection with the story of the conquest of Mexico; see below,
         vol. ii. p. 278. When Mr. Bandelier completes his long-promised
         paper on the ancient Mexican religion, perhaps it will appear
         that he has taken these facts into the account.]

[Sidenote: Mode of succession to the office.]

The _tlacatecuhtli_, or "chief-of-men," was elected by an assembly
consisting of the tribal council, the "elder brothers" of the several
clans, and certain leading priests. Though the office was thus elective,
the choice seems to have been practically limited to a particular clan,
and in the eleven chiefs who were chosen from 1375 to 1520 a certain
principle or custom of succession seems to be plainly indicated.[124]
There was a further limit to the order of succession. Allusion has been
made to the four phratry-captains commanding the quarters of the city.
Their cheerful titles were "man of the house of darts," "cutter of men,"
"bloodshedder," and "chief of the eagle and cactus." These captains were
military chiefs of the phratries, and also magistrates charged with the
duty of maintaining order and enforcing the decrees of the council in
their respective quarters. The "chief of the eagle and cactus" was chief
executioner,--Jack Ketch. He was not eligible for the office of
"chief-of-men;" the three other phratry-captains were eligible. Then
there was a member of the priesthood entitled "man of the dark house."
This person, with the three eligible captains, made a quartette, and one
of this privileged four _must_ succeed to the office of "chief-of-men."

         [Footnote 124: I cannot follow Mr. Bandelier in discrediting
         Clavigero's statement that the office of _tlacatecuhtli_
         "should always remain in the house of Acamapitzin," inasmuch as
         the eleven who were actually elected were all closely akin to
         one another. In point of fact it _did_ remain "in the house of

The eligibility of the "man of the dark house" may be cited here as
positive proof that sometimes the "chief-of-men" could be a
"priest-commander." That in all cases he acquired priestly functions
after election, even when he did not possess them before, is indicated
by the fact that at the ceremony of his induction into office he
ascended to the summit of the pyramid sacred to the war-god
Huitzilopochtli, where he was anointed by the high-priest with a black
ointment, and sprinkled with sanctified water; having thus become
consecrated he took a censer of live coals and a bag of copal, and as
his first official act offered incense to the war-god.[125]

         [Footnote 125: H. H. Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific
         States_, vol. ii. p. 145. Hence the accounts of the reverent
         demeanour of the people toward Montezuma, though perhaps
         overcoloured, are not so absurd as Mr. Morgan deemed them. Mr.
         Morgan was sometimes too anxious to reduce Montezuma to the
         level of an Iroquois war-chief.]

[Sidenote: Manner of collecting tribute.]

As the "chief-of-men" was elected, so too he could be deposed for
misbehaviour. He was _ex officio_ a member of the tribal council, and he
had his official residence in the _tecpan_, or tribal house, where the
meetings of the council were held, and where the hospitalities of the
tribe were extended to strangers. As an administrative officer, the
"chief-of-men" had little to do within the limits of the tribe; that, as
already observed, was the business of the "snake-woman." But outside of
the confederacy the "chief-of-men" exercised administrative functions.
He superintended the collection of tribute. Each of the three
confederate tribes appointed, through its tribal council, agents to
visit the subjected pueblos and gather in the tribute. These agents were
expressively termed _calpixqui_, "crop-gatherers." As these men were
obliged to spend considerable time in the vanquished pueblos in the
double character of tax-collectors and spies, we can imagine how hateful
their position was. Their security from injury depended upon the
reputation of their tribes for ruthless ferocity.[126] The tiger-like
confederacy was only too ready to take offence; in the lack of a decent
pretext it often went to war without one, simply in order to get human
victims for sacrifice.

         [Footnote 126: As I have elsewhere observed in a similar
         case:--"Each summer there came two Mohawk elders, secure in the
         dread that Iroquois prowess had everywhere inspired; and up and
         down the Connecticut valley they seized the tribute of weapons
         and wampum, and proclaimed the last harsh edict issued from the
         savage council at Onondaga." _Beginnings of New England_, p.

Once appointed, the tax-gatherers were directed by the "chief-of-men."
The tribute was chiefly maize, but might be anything the conquerors
chose to demand,--weapons, fine pottery or featherwork, gold ornaments,
or female slaves. Sometimes the tributary pueblo, instead of sacrificing
all its prisoners of war upon its own altars, sent some of them up to
Mexico as part of its tribute. The ravening maw of the horrible deities
was thus appeased, not by the pueblo that paid the blackmail, but by the
power that extorted it, and thus the latter obtained a larger share of
divine favour. Generally the unhappy prisoners were forced to carry the
corn and other articles. They were convoyed by couriers who saw that
everything was properly delivered at the _tecpan_, and also brought
information by word of mouth and by picture-writing from the _calpixqui_
to the "chief-of-men." When the newly-arrived Spaniards saw these
couriers coming and going they fancied that they were "ambassadors."
This system of tribute-taking made it necessary to build roads, and this
in turn facilitated, not only military operations, but trade, which had
already made some progress albeit of a simple sort. These "roads" might
perhaps more properly be called Indian trails,[127] but they served
their purpose.

         [Footnote 127: See Salmeron's letter of August 13, 1531, to the
         Council of the Indies, cited in Bandelier, _op. cit._ p. 696.
         The letter recommends that to increase the security of the
         Spanish hold upon the country the roads should be made
         practicable for beasts and wagons. They were narrow paths
         running straight ahead up hill and down dale, sometimes
         crossing narrow ravines upon heavy stone culverts.]

[Sidenote: Aztec and Iroquois confederacies contrasted.]

The general similarity of the Aztec confederacy to that of the
Iroquois, in point of social structure, is thus clearly manifest. Along
with this general similarity we have observed some points of higher
development, such as one might expect to find in traversing the entire
length of an ethnical period. Instead of stockaded villages, with houses
of bark or of clay supported upon a wooden framework, we have pueblos of
adobe-brick or stone, in various stages of evolution, the most advanced
of which present the appearance of castellated cities. Along with the
systematic irrigation and increased dependence upon horticulture, we
find evidences of greater density of population; and we see in the
victorious confederacy a more highly developed organization for adding
to its stock of food and other desirable possessions by the systematic
plunder of neighbouring weaker communities. Naturally such increase in
numbers and organization entails some increase in the number of officers
and some differentiation of their functions, as illustrated in the
representation of the clans (_calpulli_) in the tribal council
(_tlatocan_), by speakers (_tlatoani_) chosen for the purpose, and not
by the official heads (_calpullec_) of the clan. Likewise in the
military commander-in-chief (_tlacatecuhtli_) we observe a marked
increase in dignity, and--as I have already suggested and hope to
maintain--we find that his office has been clothed with sacerdotal
powers, and has thus taken a decided step toward kingship of the ancient
type, as depicted in the Homeric poems.

[Sidenote: Aztec priesthood: human sacrifices.]

No feature of the advance is more noteworthy than the development of
the medicine-men into an organized priesthood.[128] The presence of this
priesthood and its ritual was proclaimed to the eyes of the traveller in
ancient Mexico by the numerous tall truncated pyramids (_teocallis_), on
the flat summits of which men, women, and children were sacrificed to
the gods. This custom of human sacrifice seems to have been a
characteristic of the middle period of barbarism, and to have survived,
with diminishing frequency, into the upper period. There are abundant
traces of its existence throughout the early Aryan world, from Britain
to Hindustan, as well as among the ancient Hebrews and their
kindred.[129] But among all these peoples, at the earliest times at
which we can study them with trustworthy records, we find the custom of
human sacrifice in an advanced stage of decline, and generally no longer
accompanied by the custom of cannibalism in which it probably
originated.[130] Among the Mexicans, however, when they were first
visited by the Spaniards, cannibalism flourished as nowhere else in the
world except perhaps in Fiji, and human sacrifices were conducted on
such a scale as could not have been witnessed in Europe without going
back more than forty centuries.

         [Footnote 128: The priesthood was not hereditary, nor did it
         form a caste. There was no hereditary nobility in ancient
         Mexico, nor were there any hereditary vocations, as "artisans,"
         "merchants," etc. See Bandelier, _op. cit._ p. 599.]

         [Footnote 129: See the copious references in Tylor's _Primitive
         Culture_, ii. 340-371; Mackay, _Religious Development of the
         Greeks and Hebrews_, ii. 406-434; Oort and Hooykaas, _The Bible
         for Young People_, i. 30, 189-193; ii. 102, 220; iii. 21, 170,
         316, 393, 395; iv. 85, 226. Ghillany, _Die Menschenopfer der
         alten Hebräer_, Nuremberg, 1842, treats the subject with much

         [Footnote 130: Spencer, _Princip. Sociol._, i. 287; Tylor, _op.
         cit._ ii. 345.]

The custom of sacrificing captives to the gods was a marked advance upon
the practice in the lower period of barbarism, when the prisoner, unless
saved by adoption into the tribe of his captors, was put to death with
lingering torments. There were occasions on which the Aztecs tortured
their prisoners before sending them to the altar,[131] but in general
the prisoner was well-treated and highly fed,--fatted, in short, for the
final banquet in which the worshippers participated with their savage
deity.[132] In a more advanced stage of development than that which the
Aztecs had reached, in the stage when agriculture became extensive
enough to create a steady demand for servile labour, the practice of
enslaving prisoners became general; and as slaves became more and more
valuable, men gradually succeeded in compounding with their deities for
easier terms,--a ram, or a kid, or a bullock, instead of the human

         [Footnote 131: Mr. Prescott, to avoid shocking the reader with
         details, refers him to the twenty-first canto of Dante's
         Inferno, _Conquest of Mexico_, vol. i. p. 64.]

         [Footnote 132: See below, vol. ii. p. 283.]

         [Footnote 133: The victim, by the offer of which the wrath of
         the god was appeased or his favour solicited, must always be
         some valued possession of the sacrificer. Hence, e. g., among
         the Hebrews "wild animals, as not being property, were
         generally considered unfit for sacrifice." (Mackay, _op. cit._
         ii. 398.) Among the Aztecs (Prescott, _loc. cit._) on certain
         occasions of peculiar solemnity the clan offered some of its
         own members, usually children. In the lack of prisoners such
         offerings would more often be necessary, hence one powerful
         incentive to war. The use of prisoners to buy the god's favour
         was to some extent a substitute for the use of the clan's own
         members, and at a later stage the use of domestic animals was a
         further substitution. The legend of Abraham and Isaac
         (_Genesis_, xxii. 1-14) preserves the tradition of this latter
         substitution among the ancient Hebrews. Compare the Boeotian
         legend of the temple of Dionysos Aigobolos:--[Greek: thyontes
         gar tô theô proêchthêsan pote hypo methês es hybrin, hôste kai
         tou Dionysou ton hierea apokteinousin; apokteinantas de autika
         epelabe nosos loimôdês; kai sphisin aphiketo hama ek Delphôn,
         tô Dionysô thyein paida hôraion; etesi de ou pollois hysteron
         ton theon phasin aiga hiereion hypallaxai sphisin anti tou

Pausanias, ix. 8. A further stage of progress was the substitution of a
mere inanimate symbol for a living victim, whether human or brute, as
shown in the old Roman custom of appeasing "Father Tiber" once a year by
the ceremony of drowning a lot of dolls in that river. Of this
significant rite Mommsen aptly observes, "Die Ideen göttlicher Gnade und
Versöhnbarkeit sind hier ununterscheidbar gemischt mit der frommen
Schlauigkeit, welche es versucht den gefährlichen Herrn durch
scheinhafte Befriedigung zu berücken und abzufinden." _Römische
Geschichte_, 4e Aufl., 1865, Bd. i. p. 176. After reading such a remark
it may seem odd to find the writer, in a footnote, refusing to accept
the true explanation of the custom; but that was a quarter of a century
ago, when much less was known about ancient society than now.]

[Sidenote: Aztec slaves.]

The ancient Mexicans had not arrived at this stage, which in the Old
World characterized the upper period of barbarism. Slavery had, however,
made a beginning among the Aztecs. The nucleus of the small
slave-population of Mexico consisted of _outcasts_, persons expelled
from the clan for some misdemeanour. The simplest case was that in which
a member of a clan failed for two years to cultivate his
garden-plot.[134] The delinquent member was deprived, not only of his
right of user, but of all his rights as a clansman, and the only way to
escape starvation was to work upon some other lot, either in his own or
in some other clan, and be paid in such pittance from its produce as the
occupant might choose to give him. This was slavery in embryo. The
occupant did not own this outcast labourer, any more than he owned his
lot; he only possessed a limited right of user in both labourer and lot.
To a certain extent it was "adverse" or exclusive possession. If the
slave ran away or was obstinately lazy, he could be made to wear a
wooden collar and sold without his consent; if it proved too troublesome
to keep him, the collared slave could be handed over to the priests for
sacrifice.[135] In this class of outcasts and their masters we have an
interesting illustration of a rudimentary phase of slavery and of
private property.

         [Footnote 134: Bandelier, _op. cit._ p. 611.]

         [Footnote 135: There was, however, in this extreme case, a
         right of sanctuary. If the doomed slave could flee and hide
         himself in the _tecpan_ before the master or one of his sons
         could catch him, he became free and recovered his clan-rights;
         and no third person was allowed to interfere in aid of the
         pursuer. Torquemada, _Monarquía indiana_, ii. 564-566.]

[Sidenote: The Aztec family.]

At this point it is worthy of note that in the development of the family
the Aztecs had advanced considerably beyond the point attained by
Shawnees and Mohawks, and a little way toward the point attained in the
patriarchal family of the ancient Romans and Hebrews. In the Aztec clan
(which was exogamous[136]) the change to descent in the male line seems
to have been accomplished before the time of the Discovery. Apparently
it had been recently accomplished. Names for designating family
relationships remained in that primitive stage in which no distinction
is made between father and uncle, grandchildren and cousins. The family
was still too feebly established to count for much in the structure of
society, which still rested firmly upon the clan.[137] Nevertheless the
marriage bonds were drawn much tighter than among Indians of the lower
status, and penalties for incontinence were more severe. The wife became
her husband's property and was entitled to the protection of his clan.
All matrimonial arrangements were controlled by the clan, and no member
of it, male or female, was allowed to remain unmarried, except for
certain religious reasons. The penalty for contumacy was expulsion from
the clan, and the same penalty was inflicted for such sexual
irregularities as public opinion, still in what we should call quite a
primitive stage, condemned. Men and women thus expelled went to swell
the numbers of that small class of outcasts already noted. With men the
result, as we have seen, was a kind of slavery; with women it was
prostitution; and it is curious to see that the same penalty, entailing
such a result, was visited alike upon unseemly frailty and upon refusal
to marry. In either case the sin consisted in rebellion against the
clan's standards of proper or permissible behaviour.

         [Footnote 136: Bancroft, _Native Races of the Pacific States_,
         vol. ii. p. 251.]

         [Footnote 137: Bandelier, _op. cit._ pp. 429, 570, 620.]

[Sidenote: Aztec property.]

The inheritance in the male line, the beginnings of individual property
in slaves, the tightening of the marriage bond, accompanied by the
condemnation of sundry irregularities heretofore tolerated, are
phenomena which we might expect to find associated together. They are
germs of the upper status of barbarism, as well as of the earliest
status of civilization more remotely to follow. The common cause, of
which they are the manifestations, is an increasing sense of the value
and importance of personal property. In the Old World this sense grew up
during a pastoral stage of society such as the New World never knew, and
by the ages of Abraham and Agamemnon[138] it had produced results such
as had not been reached in Mexico at the time of the Discovery. Still
the tendency in the latter country was in a similar direction. Though
there was no notion of real estate, and the house was still
clan-property, yet the number and value of articles of personal
ownership had no doubt greatly increased during the long interval which
must have elapsed since the ancestral Mexicans entered upon the middle
status. The mere existence of large and busy market-places with regular
and frequent fairs, even though trade had scarcely begun to emerge from
the stage of barter, is sufficient proof of this. Such fairs and markets
do not belong to the Mohawk chapter in human progress. They imply a
considerable number and diversity of artificial products, valued as
articles of personal property. A legitimate inference from them is the
existence of a certain degree of luxury, though doubtless luxury of a
barbaric type.

         [Footnote 138: I here use these world-famous names without any
         implication as to their historical character, or their precise
         date, which are in themselves interesting subjects for
         discussion. I use them as best symbolizing the state of society
         which existed about the northern and eastern shores of the
         eastern Mediterranean, several centuries before the

[Sidenote: Mr. Morgan's rules.]

It is at this point, I think, that a judicious critic will begin to part
company with Mr. Morgan. As regards the outward aspect of the society
which the Spaniards found in Mexico, that eminent scholar more than once
used arguments that were inconsistent with principles of criticism laid
down by himself. At the beginning of his chapter on the Aztec
confederacy Mr. Morgan proposed the following rules:--

"The histories of Spanish America may be trusted in whatever relates to
the acts of the Spaniards, and to the acts and personal characteristics
of the Indians; in whatever relates to their weapons, implements and
utensils, fabrics, food and raiment, and things of a similar character.

"But in whatever relates to Indian society and government, their social
relations and plan of life, they are nearly worthless, because they
learned nothing and knew nothing of either. We are at full liberty to
reject them in these respects and commence anew; using any facts they
may contain which harmonize with what is known of Indian society."[139]

         [Footnote 139: Morgan, _Ancient Society_, p. 186, note.]

Perhaps it would have been better if the second of these rules had been
somewhat differently worded; for even with regard to the strange society
and government, the Spanish writers have recorded an immense number of
valuable facts, without which Mr. Bandelier's work would have been
impossible. It is not so much the _facts_ as the _interpretations_ of
the Spanish historians that are "nearly worthless," and even their
misinterpretations are interesting and instructive when once we rightly
understand them. Sometimes they really help us toward the truth.

[Sidenote: Mr. Morgan sometimes disregarded his own rules: "Montezuma's

The broad distinction, however, as stated in Mr. Morgan's pair of rules,
is well taken. In regard to such a strange form of society the Spanish
discoverers of Mexico could not help making mistakes, but in regard to
utensils and dress their senses were not likely to deceive them, and
their statements, according to Mr. Morgan, may be trusted. Very good.
But as soon as Mr. Morgan had occasion to write about the social life of
the Aztecs, he forgot his own rules and paid as little respect to the
senses of eye-witnesses as to their judgment. This was amusingly
illustrated in his famous essay on "Montezuma's Dinner."[140] When
Bernal Diaz describes Montezuma as sitting on a low chair at a table
covered with a white cloth, Mr. Morgan declares that it could not have
been so,--there were no chairs or tables! On second thought he will
admit that there may have been a wooden block hollowed out for a stool,
but in the matter of a table he is relentless. So when Cortes, in his
despatch to the emperor, speaks of the "wine-cellar" and of the presence
of "secretaries" at dinner, Mr. Morgan observes, "Since cursive writing
was unknown among the Aztecs, the presence of these secretaries is an
amusing feature in the account. The wine-cellar also is remarkable for
two reasons: firstly, because the level of the streets and courts was
but four feet above the level of the water, which made cellars
impossible; and, secondly, because the Aztecs had no knowledge of wine.
An acid beer (_pulque_), made by fermenting the juice of the maguey, was
a common beverage of the Aztecs; but it is hardly supposable that even
this was used at dinner."[141]

         [Footnote 140: _North Amer. Review_, April, 1876. The substance
         of it was reproduced in his _Houses and House-Life_, chap. x.]

         [Footnote 141: _Houses and House-Life_, p. 241.]

To this I would reply that the fibre of that same useful plant from
which the Aztecs made their "beer" supplied them also with paper, upon
which they were in the habit of writing, not indeed in cursive
characters, but in hieroglyphics. This kind of writing, as well as any
other, accounts for the presence of secretaries, which seems to me, by
the way, a very probable and characteristic feature in the narrative.
From the moment the mysterious strangers landed, every movement of
theirs had been recorded in hieroglyphics, and there is no reason why
notes of what they said and did should not have been taken at dinner. As
for the place where the _pulque_ was kept, it was a venial slip of the
pen to call it a "wine-cellar," even if it was not below the ground. The
language of Cortes does not imply that he visited the "cellar;" he saw a
crowd of Indians drinking the beverage, and supposing the great house he
was in to be Montezuma's, he expressed his sense of that person's
hospitality by saying that "his wine-cellar was open to all." And
really, is it not rather a captious criticism which in one breath chides
Cortes for calling the beverage "wine," and in the next breath goes on
to call it "beer"? The _pulque_ was neither the one nor the other; for
want of any other name a German might have called it beer, a Spaniard
would be more likely to call it wine. And why is it "hardly supposable"
that _pulque_ was used at dinner? Why should Mr. Morgan, who never dined
with Montezuma, know so much more about _such things_ than Cortes and
Bernal Diaz, who did?[142]

         [Footnote 142: Mr. Andrew Lang asks some similar questions in
         his _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, vol. ii. p. 349, but in a
         tone of impatient contempt which, as applied to a man of Mr.
         Morgan's calibre, is hardly becoming.]

[Sidenote: The reaction against uncritical and exaggerated statements.]

The Spanish statements of facts are, of course, not to be accepted
uncritically. When we are told of cut slabs of porphyry inlaid in the
walls of a room, we have a right to inquire how so hard a stone could be
cut with flint or copper chisels,[143] and are ready to entertain the
suggestion that some other stone might easily have been mistaken for
porphyry. Such a critical inquiry is eminently profitable, and none the
less so when it brings us to the conclusion that the Aztecs did succeed
in cutting porphyry. Again, when we read about Indian armies of 200,000
men, pertinent questions arise as to the commissariat, and we are led to
reflect that there is nothing about which old soldiers spin such
unconscionable yarns as about the size of the armies they have
thrashed. In a fairy tale, of course, such suggestions are impertinent;
things can go on anyhow. In real life it is different. The trouble with
most historians of the conquest of Mexico has been that they have made
it like a fairy tale, and the trouble with Mr. Morgan was that, in a
wholesome and much-needed spirit of reaction, he was too much inclined
to dismiss the whole story as such. He forgot the first of his pair of
rules, and applied the second to everything alike. He felt "at full
liberty to reject" the testimony of the discoverers as to what they saw
and tasted, and to "commence anew," reasoning from "what is known of
Indian society." And here Mr. Morgan's mind was so full of the kind of
Indian society which he knew more minutely and profoundly than any other
man, that he was apt to forget that there could be any other kind. He
overlooked his own distinction between the lower and middle periods of
barbarism in his attempt to ignore or minimize the points of difference
between Aztecs and Iroquois.[144] In this way he did injustice to his
own brilliant and useful classification of stages of culture, and in
particular to the middle period of barbarism, the significance of which
he was the first to detect, but failed to realize fully because his
attention had been so intensely concentrated upon the lower period.

         [Footnote 143: For an excellent account of ancient Mexican
         knives and chisels, see Dr. Valentini's paper on "Semi-Lunar
         and Crescent-Shaped Tools," in _Proceedings of Amer. Antiq.
         Soc._, New Series, vol. iii. pp. 449-474. Compare the very
         interesting Spanish observations on copper hatchets and flint
         chisels in Clavigero, _Historia antigua_, tom. i. p. 242;
         Mendieta, _Historia ecclesiastica indiana_, tom. iv. cap. xii.]

         [Footnote 144: It often happens that the followers of a great
         man are more likely to run to extremes than their master, as,
         for example, when we see the queen of pueblos rashly described
         as "a collection of mud huts, such as Cortes found and
         dignified with the name of a city." _Smithsonian Report_, 1887,
         part i. p. 691. This is quite inadmissible.]

[Sidenote: Importance of the middle period of barbarism.]

In truth, the middle period of barbarism was one of the most important
periods in the career of the human race, and full of fascination to the
student, as the unfading interest in ancient Mexico and the huge mass of
literature devoted to it show. It spanned the interval between such
society as that of Hiawatha and such as that of the Odyssey. One more
such interval (and, I suspect, a briefer one, because the use of iron
and the development of inheritable wealth would accelerate progress) led
to the age that could _write_ the Odyssey, one of the most beautiful
productions of the human mind. If Mr. Morgan had always borne in mind
that, on his own classification, Montezuma must have been at least as
near to Agamemnon as to Powhatan, his attitude toward the Spanish
historians would have been less hostile. A Moqui pueblo stands near the
lower end of the middle period of barbarism; ancient Troy stood next the
upper end. Mr. Morgan found apt illustrations in the former; perhaps if
he had lived long enough to profit by the work of Schliemann and
Bandelier, he might have found equally apt ones in the latter. Mr.
Bandelier's researches certainly show that the ancient city of Mexico,
in point of social development, stood somewhere between the two.

How that city looked may best be described when we come to tell what its
first Spanish visitors saw. Let it suffice here to say that, upon a
reasonable estimate of their testimony, pleasure-gardens, menageries and
aviaries, fountains and baths, tessellated marble floors, finely wrought
pottery, exquisite featherwork, brilliant mats and tapestries, silver
goblets, dainty spices burning in golden censers, varieties of highly
seasoned dishes, dramatic performances, jugglers and acrobats, ballad
singers and dancing girls,--such things were to be seen in this city of
snake-worshipping cannibals. It simulated civilization as a tree-fern
simulates a tree.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Ground-plan of so-called "House of the Nuns" at Uxmal.]

[Sidenote: Mexicans and Mayas.]

In its general outlines the account here given of Aztec society and
government at the time of the Discovery will probably hold true of all
the semi-civilized communities of the Mexican peninsula and Central
America. The pueblos of Mexico were doubtless of various grades of size,
strength, and comfort, ranging from such structures as Zuñi up to the
city of Mexico. The cities of Chiapas, Yucatan, and Guatemala, whose
ruins, in those tropical forests, are so impressive, probably belong to
the same class. The Maya-Quiché tribes, who dwelt and still dwell in
this region, were different in stock-language from their neighbours of
Mexico; but there are strong reasons for believing that the two great
groups, Mexicans and Mayas, arose from the expansion and segmentation of
one common stock, and there is no doubt as to the very close similarity
between the two in government, religion, and social advancement. In some
points the Mayas were superior. They possessed a considerable
literature, written in highly developed hieroglyphic characters upon
maguey paper and upon deerskin parchment, so that from this point of
view they stood upon the threshold of civilization as strictly
defined.[145] But, like the Mexicans, they were ignorant of iron, their
society was organized upon the principle of gentilism, they were
cannibals and sacrificed men and women to idols, some of which were
identical with those of Mexico. The Mayas had no conception of property
in land; their buildings were great communal houses, like pueblos; in
some cases these so-called palaces, at first supposed to be scanty
remnants of vast cities, were themselves the entire "cities;" in other
cases there were doubtless large composite pueblos fit to be called

         [Footnote 145: This writing was at once recognized by learned
         Spaniards, like Las Casas, as entirely different from anything
         found elsewhere in America. He found in Yucatan "letreros de
         ciertos caracteres que en otra ninguna parte," Las Casas,
         _Historia apologética_, cap. cxxiii. For an account of the
         hieroglyphics, see the learned essays of Dr. Cyrus Thomas, _A
         Study of the Manuscript Troano_, Washington, 1882; "Notes on
         certain Maya and Mexican MSS.," _Third Report of the Bureau of
         Ethnology_, pp. 7-153; "Aids to the Study of the Maya Codices,"
         _Sixth Report_, pp. 259-371. (The paper last mentioned ends
         with the weighty words, "The more I study these characters the
         stronger becomes the conviction that they have grown out of a
         pictographic system similar to that common among the Indians of
         North America." Exactly so; and this is typical of every aspect
         and every detail of ancient American culture. It is becoming
         daily more evident that the old notion of an influence from
         Asia has not a leg to stand on.) See also a suggestive paper by
         the astronomer, E. S. Holden, "Studies in Central American
         Picture-Writing," _First Report of the Bureau of Ethnology_,
         pp. 205-245; Brinton, _Ancient Phonetic Alphabet of Yucatan_,
         New York, 1870; _Essays of an Americanist_, Philadelphia, 1890,
         pp. 193-304; Léon de Rosny, _Les écritures figuratives_, Paris,
         1870; _L'interprétation des anciens textes Mayas_, Paris, 1875;
         _Essai sur le déchiffrement de l'écriture hiératique de
         l'Amérique Centrale_, Paris, 1876; Förstemann, _Erläuterungen
         der Maya Handschrift_, Dresden, 1886. The decipherment is as
         yet but partially accomplished. The Mexican system of writing
         is clearly developed from the ordinary Indian pictographs; it
         could not have arisen from the Maya system, but the latter
         might well have been a further development of the Mexican
         system; the Maya system had probably developed some characters
         with a phonetic value, i. e. was groping toward the
         alphabetical stage; but how far this groping had gone must
         remain very doubtful until the decipherment has proceeded
         further. Dr. Isaac Taylor is too hasty in saying that "the
         Mayas employed twenty-seven characters which must be admitted
         to be alphabetic" (Taylor, _The Alphabet_, vol. i. p. 24); this
         statement is followed by the conclusion that the Maya system of
         writing was "superior in simplicity and convenience to that
         employed ... by the great Assyrian nation at the epoch of its
         greatest power and glory." Dr. Taylor has been misled by Diego
         de Landa, whose work (_Relation des choses de l'Yucatan_, ed.
         Brasseur, Paris, 1864) has in it some pitfalls for the unwary.]

[Sidenote: Ruined cities of Central America.]

These noble ruins have excited great and increasing interest since the
publication of Mr. Stephens's charming book just fifty years ago.[146]
An air of profound mystery surrounded them, and many wild theories were
propounded to account for their existence. They were at first accredited
with a fabulous antiquity, and in at least one instance this notion was
responsible for what must be called misrepresentation, if not
humbug.[147] Having been placed by popular fancy at such a remote age,
they were naturally supposed to have been built, not by the Mayas,--who
still inhabit Yucatan and do not absolutely dazzle us with their exalted
civilization,--but by some wonderful people long since vanished. Now as
to this point the sculptured slabs of Uxmal and Chichen-Itza tell their
own story. They are covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions, and these
hieroglyphs are the same as those in which the Dresden Codex and other
Maya manuscripts still preserved are written; though their decipherment
is not yet complete, there is no sort of doubt as to their being written
in the Maya characters. Careful inspection, moreover, shows that the
buildings in which these inscriptions occur are not so very ancient. Mr.
Stephens, who was one of their earliest as well as sanest explorers,
believed them to be the work of the Mayas at a comparatively recent
period.[148] The notion of their antiquity was perhaps suggested by the
belief that certain colossal mahogany trees growing between and over
the ruins at Palenque must be nearly 2,000 years old. But when M. de
Charnay visited Palenque in 1859 he had the eastern side of the "palace"
cleared of its dense vegetation in order to get a good photograph; and
when he revisited the spot in 1881 he found a sturdy growth of young
mahogany the age of which he knew did not exceed twenty-two years.
Instead of making a ring once a year, as in our sluggish and temperate
zone, these trees had made rings at the rate of about one in a month;
their trunks were already more than two feet in diameter; judging from
this rate of growth the biggest giant on the place need not have been
more than 200 years old, if as much.[149]

         [Footnote 146: Stephens, _Incidents of Travel in Central
         America, Chiapas, and Yucatan_, 2 vols., New York, 1841.]

         [Footnote 147: It occurred in the drawings of the artist
         Fréderic de Waldeck, who visited Palenque before Stephens, but
         whose researches were published later. "His drawings," says Mr.
         Winsor, "are exquisite; but he was not free from a tendency to
         improve and restore, where the conditions gave a hint, and so
         as we have them in the final publication they have not been
         accepted as wholly trustworthy." _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, i.
         194. M. de Charnay puts it more strongly. Upon his drawing of a
         certain panel at Palenque, M. de Waldeck "has seen fit to place
         three or four elephants. What end did he propose to himself in
         giving this fictitious representation? Presumably to give a
         prehistoric origin to these ruins, since it is an ascertained
         fact that elephants in a fossil state only have been found on
         the American continent. It is needless to add that neither
         Catherwood, who drew these inscriptions most minutely, nor
         myself who brought impressions of them away, nor living man,
         ever saw these elephants and their fine trunks. But such is the
         mischief engendered by preconceived opinions. With some writers
         it would seem that to give a recent date to these monuments
         would deprive them of all interest. It would have been
         fortunate had explorers been imbued with fewer prejudices and
         gifted with a little more common sense, for then we should have
         known the truth with regard to these ruins long since."
         Charnay, _The Ancient Cities of the New World_, London, 1887,
         p. 248. The gallant explorer's indignation is certainly quite

         [Footnote 148: Some of his remarks are worth quoting in detail,
         especially in view of the time when they were written: "I
         repeat my opinion that we are not warranted in going back to
         any ancient nation of the Old World for the builders of these
         cities; that they are not the work of people who have passed
         away and whose history is lost, but that there are strong
         reasons to believe them the creations of the same races who
         inhabited the country at the time of the Spanish conquest, or
         some not very distant progenitors. And I would remark that we
         began our exploration without any theory to support.... Some
         are beyond doubt older than others; some are known to have been
         inhabited at the time of the Spanish conquest, and others,
         perhaps, were really in ruins before; ... but in regard to
         Uxmal, at least, we believe that it was an existing and
         inhabited city at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards."
         Stephens, _Central America_, etc., vol. ii. p. 455.]

         [Footnote 149: Charnay, _The Ancient Cities of the New World_,
         p. 260.]

[Sidenote: They are probably not older than the twelfth century.]

These edifices are not so durably constructed as those which in Europe
have stood for more than a thousand years. They do not indicate a high
civilization on the part of their builders. They do not, as Mr. Andrew
Lang says, "throw Mycenæ into the shade, and rival the remains of
Cambodia."[150] In pictures they may seem to do so, but M. de Charnay,
after close and repeated examination of these buildings, assures us that
as structures they "cannot be compared with those at Cambodia, which
belong to nearly the same period, the twelfth century, and which,
notwithstanding their greater and more resisting proportions, are found
in the same dilapidated condition."[151] It seems to me that if Mr.
Lang had spoken of the Yucatan ruins as rivalling the remains of Mycenæ,
instead of "throwing them into the shade," he would have come nearer the
mark. The builders of Uxmal, like those of Mycenæ, did not understand
the principle of the arch, but were feeling their way toward it.[152]
And here again we are brought back, as seems to happen whatever road we
follow, to the middle status of barbarism. The Yucatan architecture
shows the marks of its origin in the adobe and rubble-stone work of the
New Mexico pueblos. The inside of the wall "is a rude mixture of friable
mortar and small irregular stones," and under the pelting tropical rains
the dislocation of the outer facing is presently effected. The large
blocks, cut with flint chisels, are of a soft stone that is soon damaged
by weather; and the cornices and lintels are beams of a very hard wood,
yet not so hard but that insects bore into it. From such considerations
it is justly inferred that the highest probable antiquity for most of
the ruins in Yucatan or Central America is the twelfth or thirteenth
century of our era.[153] Some, perhaps, may be no older than the ancient
city of Mexico, built A. D. 1325.

         [Footnote 150: Lang, _Myth, Ritual, and Religion_, vol. ii. p.

         [Footnote 151: Charnay, _op. cit._ p. 209. "I may remark that
         [the] virgin forests [here] have no very old trees, being
         destroyed by insects, moisture, lianas, etc.; and old monteros
         tell me that mahogany and cedar trees, which are most durable,
         do not live above 200 years," id. p. 447.]

         [Footnote 152: The reader will find it suggestive to compare
         portions of Schliemann's _Mycenæ_ and M. de Charnay's book,
         just cited, with Morgan's _Houses and House-Life_, chap. xi.]

         [Footnote 153: Charnay, _op. cit._ p. 411. Copan and Palenque
         may be two or three centuries older, and had probably fallen
         into ruins before the arrival of the Spaniards.]

[Sidenote: Chronicle of Chicxulub.]

But we are no longer restricted to purely archæological evidence. One of
the most impressive of all these ruined cities is Chichen-Itza, which is
regarded as older than Uxmal, but not so old as Izamal. Now in recent
times sundry old Maya documents have been discovered in Yucatan, and
among them is a brief history of the Spanish conquest of that country,
written in the Roman character by a native chief, Nakuk Pech, about
1562. It has been edited, with an English translation, by that zealous
and indefatigable scholar, to whom American philology owes such a debt
of gratitude,--Dr. Daniel Brinton. This chronicle tells us several
things that we did not know before, and, among others, it refers most
explicitly to Chichen-Itza and Izamal as inhabited towns during the time
that the Spaniards were coming, from 1519 to 1542. If there could have
been any lingering doubt as to the correctness of the views of Stephens,
Morgan, and Charnay, this contemporaneous documentary testimony dispels
it once for all.[154]

         [Footnote 154: Brinton, _The Maya Chronicles_, Philadelphia,
         1882, "Chronicle of Chicxulub," pp. 187-259. This book is of
         great importance, and for the ancient history of Guatemala
         Brinton's _Annals of the Cakchiquels_, Philadelphia, 1885, is
         of like value and interest.

         Half a century ago Mr. Stephens wrote in truly prophetic vein,
         "the convents are rich in manuscripts and documents written by
         the early fathers, caciques, and Indians, who very soon
         acquired the knowledge of Spanish and the art of writing. These
         have never been examined with the slightest reference to this
         subject; _and I cannot help thinking that some precious
         memorial is now mouldering in the library of a neighbouring
         convent, which would determine the history of some one of these
         ruined cities_." Vol. ii. p. 456. The italicizing, of course,
         is mine.]

[Sidenote: Maya culture very closely related to Mexican.]

The Mexicans and Mayas believed themselves to be akin to each other,
they had several deities and a large stock of traditional lore in
common, and there was an essential similarity in their modes of life; so
that, since we are now assured that such cities as Izamal and
Chichen-Itza were contemporary with the city of Mexico, we shall
probably not go very far astray if we assume that the elaborately carved
and bedizened ruins of the former may give us some hint as to how things
might have looked in the latter. Indeed this complicated and grotesque
carving on walls, door-posts, and lintels was one of the first things to
attract the attention of the Spaniards in Mexico. They regarded it with
mingled indignation and awe, for serpents, coiled or uncoiled, with
gaping mouths, were most conspicuous among the objects represented. The
visitors soon learned that all this had a symbolic and religious
meaning, and with some show of reason they concluded that this strange
people worshipped the Devil.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now passed in review the various peoples of North America, from
the Arctic circle to the neighbourhood of the isthmus of Darien, and can
form some sort of a mental picture of the continent at the time of its
discovery by Europeans in the fifteenth century. Much more might have
been said without going beyond the requirements of an outline sketch,
but quite as much has been said as is consistent with the general plan
of this book. I have not undertaken at present to go beyond the isthmus
of Darien, because this preliminary chapter is already disproportionately
long, and after this protracted discussion the reader's attention may be
somewhat relieved by an entire change of scene. Enough has been set
forth to explain the narrative that follows, and to justify us
henceforth in taking certain things for granted. The outline description
of Mexico will be completed when we come to the story of its conquest by
Spaniards, and then we shall be ready to describe some principal
features of Peruvian society and to understand how the Spaniards
conquered that country.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The "Mound-Builders."]

[Sidenote: The notion that they were like the Aztecs;]

[Sidenote: or like the Zuñis.]

There is, however, one conspicuous feature of North American antiquity
which has not yet received our attention, and which calls for a few
words before we close this chapter. I refer to the mounds that are
scattered over so large a part of the soil of the United States, and
more particularly to those between the Mississippi river and the
Alleghany mountains, which have been the subject of so much theorizing,
and in late years of so much careful study.[155] Vague and wild were
the speculations once rife about the "Mound-Builders" and their
wonderful civilization. They were supposed to have been a race quite
different from the red men, with a culture perhaps superior to our own,
and more or less eloquence was wasted over the vanished "empire" of the
mound-builders. There is no reason, however, for supposing that there
ever was an empire of any sort in ancient North America, and no relic of
the past has ever been seen at any spot on our planet which indicates
the former existence of a vanished civilization even remotely
approaching our own. The sooner the student of history gets his head
cleared of all such rubbish, the better. As for the mounds, which are
scattered in such profusion over the country west of the Alleghanies,
there are some which have been built by Indians since the arrival of
white men in America, and which contain knives and trinkets of European
manufacture. There are many others which are much older, and in which
the genuine remains sometimes indicate a culture like that of Shawnees
or Senecas, and sometimes suggest something perhaps a little higher.
With the progress of research the vast and vague notion of a distinct
race of "Mound-Builders" became narrowed and defined. It began to seem
probable that the builders of the more remarkable mounds were tribes of
Indians who had advanced beyond the average level in horticulture, and
consequently in density of population, and perhaps in political and
priestly organization. Such a conclusion seemed to be supported by the
size of some of the "ancient garden-beds," often covering more than a
hundred acres, filled with the low parallel ridges in which corn was
planted. The mound people were thus supposed to be semi-civilized red
men, like the Aztecs, and some of their elevated earthworks were
explained as places for human sacrifice, like the pyramids of Mexico and
Central America. It was thought that the "civilization" of the
Cordilleran peoples might formerly have extended northward and eastward
into the Mississippi valley, and might after a while have been pushed
back by powerful hordes of more barbarous invaders. A further
modification and reduction of this theory likened the mound-builders to
the pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Such was the opinion of Mr. Morgan,
who offered a very ingenious explanation of the extensive earthworks at
High Bank, in Ross county, Ohio, as the fortified site of a pueblo.[156]
Although there is no reason for supposing that the mound-builders
practised irrigation (which would not be required in the Mississippi
valley) or used adobe-brick, yet Mr. Morgan was inclined to admit them
into his middle status of barbarism because of the copper hatchets and
chisels found in some of the mounds, and because of the apparent
superiority in horticulture and the increased reliance upon it. He
suggested that a people somewhat like the Zuñis might have migrated
eastward and modified their building habits to suit the altered
conditions of the Mississippi valley, where they dwelt for several
centuries, until at last, for some unknown reason, they retired to the
Rocky Mountain region. It seems to me that an opinion just the reverse
of Mr. Morgan's would be more easily defensible,--namely, that the
ancestors of the pueblo Indians were a people of building habits
somewhat similar to the Mandans, and that their habits became modified
in adaptation to a country which demanded careful irrigation and
supplied adobe-clay in abundance. If ever they built any of the mounds
in the Mississippi valley, I should be disposed to place their
mound-building period before their pueblo period.

         [Footnote 155: For original researches in the mounds one cannot
         do better than consult the following papers in the _Reports of
         the Bureau of Ethnology_:--1. by W. H. Holmes, "Art in Shell of
         the Ancient Americans," ii. 181-305; "The Ancient Pottery of
         the Mississippi Valley," iv. 365-436; "Prehistoric Textile
         Fabrics of the United States," iii. 397-431; followed by an
         illustrated catalogue of objects collected chiefly from mounds,
         iii. 433-515;--2. H. W. Henshaw, "Animal Carvings from the
         Mounds of the Mississippi Valley," ii. 121-166;--3. Cyrus
         Thomas, "Burial Mounds of the Northern Section of the United
         States," v. 7-119; also three of the Bureau's "Bulletins" by
         Dr. Thomas, "The Problem of the Ohio Mounds," "The Circular,
         Square, and Octagonal Earthworks of Ohio," and "Work in Mound
         Exploration of the Bureau of Ethnology;" also two articles by
         Dr. Thomas in the _Magazine of American History_:--"The Houses
         of the Mound-Builders," xi. 110-115; "Indian Tribes in
         Prehistoric Times," xx. 193-201. See also Horatio Hale, "Indian
         Migrations," in _American Antiquarian_, v. 18-28, 108-124; M.
         F. Force, _To What Race did the Mound-Builders belong?_
         Cincinnati, 1875; Lucien Carr, _Mounds of the Mississippi
         Valley historically considered_, 1883; Nadaillac's _Prehistoric
         America_, ed. W. H. Dall, chaps. iii., iv. The earliest work of
         fundamental importance on the subject was Squier's _Ancient
         Monuments of the Mississippi Valley_, Philadelphia, 1848, being
         the first volume of the Smithsonian Contributions to
         Knowledge.--For statements of the theory which presumes either
         a race connection or a similarity in culture between the
         mound-builders and the pueblo Indians, see Dawson, _Fossil
         Men_, p. 55; Foster, _Prehistoric Races of the United States_,
         Chicago, 1873, chaps. iii., v.-x.; Sir Daniel Wilson,
         _Prehistoric Man_, chap. x. The annual _Smithsonian Reports_
         for thirty years past illustrate the growth of knowledge and
         progressive changes of opinion on the subject. The
         bibliographical account in Winsor's _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, i.
         397-412, is full of minute information.]

         [Footnote 156: _Houses and House-Life_, chap. ix.]

[Sidenote: The mounds were probably built by different peoples in the
lower status of barbarism;]

[Sidenote: by Cherokees;]

[Sidenote: and by Shawnees, and other tribes.]

Recent researches, however, make it more and more improbable that the
mound-builders were nearly akin to such people as the Zuñis or similar
to them in grade of culture. Of late years the exploration of the
mounds has been carried on with increasing diligence. More than 2,000
mounds have been opened, and at least 38,000 ancient relics have been
gathered from them: such as quartzite arrow-heads and spades, greenstone
axes and hammers, mortars and pestles, tools for spinning and weaving,
and cloth, made of spun thread and woven with warp and woof, somewhat
like a coarse sail-cloth. The water-jugs, kettles, pipes, and sepulchral
urns have been elaborately studied. The net results of all this
investigation, up to the present time, have been concisely summed up by
Dr. Cyrus Thomas.[157] The mounds were not all built by one people, but
by different tribes as clearly distinguishable from one another as
Algonquins are distinguishable from Iroquois. These mound-building
tribes were not superior in culture to the Iroquois and many of the
Algonquins as first seen by white men. They are not to be classified
with Zuñis, still less with Mexicans or Mayas, in point of culture, but
with Shawnees and Cherokees. Nay more,--some of them _were_ Shawnees and
Cherokees. The missionary Johann Heckewelder long ago published the
Lenape tradition of the Tallegwi or Allighewi people, who have left
their name upon the Alleghany river and mountains.[158] The Tallegwi
have been identified with the Cherokees, who are now reckoned among the
most intelligent and progressive of Indian peoples.[159] The Cherokees
were formerly classed in the Muskoki group, along with the Creeks and
Choctaws, but a closer study of their language seems to show that they
were a somewhat remote offshoot of the Huron-Iroquois stock. For a long
time they occupied the country between the Ohio river and the Great
Lakes, and probably built the mounds that are still to be seen there.
Somewhere about the thirteenth or fourteenth century they were gradually
pushed southward into the Muskoki region by repeated attacks from the
Lenape and Hurons. The Cherokees were probably also the builders of the
mounds of eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. They retained
their mound-building habits some time after the white men came upon the
scene. On the other hand the mounds and box-shaped stone graves of
Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Georgia were probably the work of
Shawnees, and the stone graves in the Delaware valley are to be ascribed
to the Lenape. There are many reasons for believing that the mounds of
northern Mississippi were constructed by Chickasaws, and the burial
tumuli and "effigy mounds" of Wisconsin by Winnebagos. The Minnitarees
and Mandans were also very likely at one time a mound-building people.

         [Footnote 157: _Work in Mound Exploration of the Bureau of
         Ethnology_, Washington, 1887. For a sight of the thousands of
         objects gathered from the mounds, one should visit the Peabody
         Museum at Cambridge and the Smithsonian Institution at

         [Footnote 158: Heckewelder, _History of the Indian Nations of
         Pennsylvania_, etc., Philadelphia, 1818; cf. Squier,
         _Historical and Mythological Traditions of the Algonquins_, a
         paper read before the New York Historical Society in June,
         1848; also Brinton, _The Lenape and their Legends_,
         Philadelphia, 1885.]

         [Footnote 159: For a detailed account of their later history,
         see C. C. Royce, "The Cherokee Nation," _Reports of Bureau of
         Ethnology_, v. 121-378.]

If this view, which is steadily gaining ground, be correct, our
imaginary race of "Mound-Builders" is broken up and vanishes, and
henceforth we may content ourselves with speaking of the authors of the
ancient earthworks as "Indians." There were times in the career of
sundry Indian tribes when circumstances induced them to erect mounds as
sites for communal houses or council houses, medicine-lodges or
burial-places; somewhat as there was a period in the history of our own
forefathers in England when circumstances led them to build moated
castles, with drawbridge and portcullis; and there is no more occasion
for assuming a mysterious race of "Mound-Builders" in America than for
assuming a mysterious race of "Castle-Builders" in England.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Society in America at the time of the Discovery had reached
stages similar to stages reached by eastern Mediterranean peoples fifty
or sixty centuries earlier.]

Thus, at whatever point we touch the subject of ancient America, we
find scientific opinion tending more and more steadily toward the
conclusion that its people and their culture were indigenous. One of the
most important lessons impressed upon us by a long study of comparative
mythology is that human minds in different parts of the world, but under
the influence of similar circumstances, develop similar ideas and clothe
them in similar forms of expression. It is just the same with political
institutions, with the development of the arts, with social customs,
with culture generally. To repeat the remark already quoted from Sir
John Lubbock,--and it is well worth repeating,--"Different races in
similar stages of development often present more features of resemblance
to one another than the same race does to itself in different stages of
its history." When the zealous Abbé Brasseur found things in the history
of Mexico that reminded him of ancient Egypt, he hastened to the
conclusion that Mexican culture was somehow "derived" from that of
Egypt. It was natural enough for him to do so, but such methods of
explanation are now completely antiquated. Mexican culture was no more
Egyptian culture than a prickly-pear is a lotus. It was an outgrowth of
peculiar American conditions acting upon the aboriginal American mind,
and such of its features as remind us of ancient Egypt or prehistoric
Greece show simply that it was approaching, though it had not reached,
the standard attained in those Old World countries. From this point of
view the resemblances become invested with surpassing interest. Ancient
America, as we have seen, was a much more archaic world than the world
of Europe and Asia, and presented in the time of Columbus forms of
society that on the shores of the Mediterranean had been outgrown before
the city of Rome was built. Hence the intense and peculiar fascination
of American archæology, and its profound importance to the student of
general history.



There is something solemn and impressive in the spectacle of human life
thus going on for countless ages in the Eastern and Western halves of
our planet, each all unknown to the other and uninfluenced by it. The
contact between the two worlds practically begins in 1492.

[Sidenote: The Chinese.]

[Sidenote: The Irish.]

[Sidenote: Cousin, of Dieppe.]

By this statement it is not meant to deny that occasional visitors may
have come and did come before that famous date from the Old World to the
New. On the contrary I am inclined to suspect that there may have been
more such occasional visits than we have been wont to suppose. For the
most part, however, the subject is shrouded in the mists of obscure
narrative and fantastic conjecture. When it is argued that in the fifth
century of the Christian era certain Buddhist missionary priests came
from China by way of Kamtchatka and the Aleutian islands, and kept on
till they got to a country which they called Fusang, and which was
really Mexico, one cannot reply that such a thing was necessarily and
absolutely impossible; but when other critics assure us that, after all,
Fusang was really Japan, perhaps one feels a slight sense of
relief.[160] So of the dim whispers of voyages to America undertaken by
the Irish, in the days when the cloisters of sweet Innisfallen were a
centre of piety and culture for northwestern Europe,[161] we may say
that this sort of thing has not much to do with history, or history with
it. Irish anchorites certainly went to Iceland in the seventh
century,[162] and in the course of this book we shall have frequent
occasion to observe that first and last there has been on all seas a
good deal of blowing and drifting done. It is credibly reported that
Japanese junks have been driven ashore on the coasts of Oregon and
California;[163] and there is a story that in 1488 a certain Jean
Cousin, of Dieppe, while sailing down the west coast of Africa, was
caught in a storm and blown across to Brazil.[164] This was certainly
quite possible, for it was not so very unlike what happened in 1500 to
Pedro Alvarez de Cabral, as we shall hereafter see;[165] nevertheless,
the evidence adduced in support of the story will hardly bear a critical

         [Footnote 160: This notion of the Chinese visiting Mexico was
         set forth by the celebrated Deguignes in 1761, in the _Mémoires
         de l'Académie des Inscriptions_, tom. xxviii. pp. 506-525. Its
         absurdity was shown by Klaproth, "Recherches sur le pays de Fou
         Sang," _Nouvelles annales des voyages_, Paris, 1831, 2e série,
         tom. xxi. pp. 58-68; see also Klaproth's introduction to
         _Annales des empereurs du Japon_, Paris, 1834, pp. iv.-ix.;
         Humboldt, _Examen critique de l'histoire de la géographie du
         nouveau continent_, Paris, 1837, tom. ii. pp. 62-84. The fancy
         was revived by C. G. Leland ("Hans Breitmann"), in his
         _Fusang_, London, 1875, and was again demolished by the
         missionary, S. W. Williams, in the _Journal of the American
         Oriental Society_, vol. xi., New Haven, 1881.]

         [Footnote 161: On the noble work of the Irish church and its
         missionaries in the sixth and seventh centuries, see
         Montalembert, _Les moines d'Occident_, tom. ii. pp. 465-661;
         tom. iii. pp. 79-332; Burton's _History of Scotland_, vol. i.
         pp. 234-277; and the instructive map in Miss Sophie Bryant's
         _Celtic Ireland_, London, 1889, p. 60. The notice of the
         subject in Milman's _Latin Christianity_, vol. ii. pp. 236-247,
         is entirely inadequate.]

         [Footnote 162: The passion for solitude led some of the
         disciples of St. Columba to make their way from Iona to the
         Hebrides, and thence to the Orkneys, Shetlands, Færoes, and
         Iceland, where a colony of them remained until the arrival of
         the Northmen in 874. See Dicuil, _Liber de mensura Orbis Terræ_
         (A. D. 825), Paris, 1807; Innes, _Scotland in the Middle Ages_,
         p. 101; Lanigan, _Ecclesiastical History of Ireland_, chap.
         iii.; Maurer, _Beiträge zur Rechtsgeschichte des Germanischen
         Nordens_, i. 35. For the legend of St. Brandan, see Gaffarel,
         _Les voyages de St. Brandan_, Paris, 1881.]

         [Footnote 163: C. W. Brooks, of San Francisco, cited in
         Higginson, _Larger History of the United States_, p. 24.]

         [Footnote 164: Desmarquets, _Mémoires chronologiques pour
         servir à l'histoire de Dieppe_, Paris, 1785, tom. i. pp. 91-98;
         Estancelin, _Recherches sur les voyages et découvertes des
         navigateurs normands_, etc., Paris, 1832, pp. 332-361.]

         [Footnote 165: See below, vol. ii. p. 96.]

         [Footnote 166: As Harrisse says, concerning the alleged voyages
         of Cousin and others, "Quant aux voyages du Dieppois Jean
         Cousin en 1488, de João Ramalho en 1490, et de João Vaz
         Cortereal en 1464 ou 1474, le lecteur nous pardonnera de les
         passer sous silence." _Christophe Colomb_, Paris, 1884, tom. i.
         p. 307.]

[Sidenote: Those stories are of little value;]

It is not my purpose to weary the reader with a general discussion of
these and some other legends or rumours of pre-Columbian visitors to
America. We may admit, at once, that "there is no good reason why any
one of them may not have done" what is claimed, but at the same time the
proof that any one of them _did_ do it is very far from
satisfactory.[167] Moreover the questions raised are often of small
importance, and belong not so much to the serious workshop of history as
to its limbo prepared for learned trifles, whither we will hereby
relegate them.[168]

         [Footnote 167: Winsor, _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, i. 59.]

         [Footnote 168: Sufficiently full references may be found in
         Watson's _Bibliography of the Pre-Columbian Discoveries of
         America_, appended to Anderson's _America not discovered by
         Columbus_, 3d ed., Chicago, 1883, pp. 121-164; and see the
         learned chapters by W. H. Tillinghast on "The Geographical
         Knowledge of the Ancients considered in relation to the
         Discovery of America," and by Justin Winsor on "Pre-Columbian
         Explorations," in _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, vol. i.]

[Sidenote: but the case of the Northmen is entirely different.]

[Sidenote: The Viking exodus from Norway.]

[Sidenote: Founding of Iceland, A. D. 874.]

But when we come to the voyages of the Northmen in the tenth and
eleventh centuries, it is quite a different affair. Not only is this a
subject of much historic interest, but in dealing with it we stand for a
great part of the time upon firm historic ground. The narratives which
tell us of Vinland and of Leif Ericsson are closely intertwined with the
authentic history of Norway and Iceland. In the ninth century of our era
there was a process of political consolidation going on in Norway,
somewhat as in England under Egbert and his successors. After a war of
twelve years, King Harold Fairhair overthrew the combined forces of the
Jarls, or small independent princes, in the decisive naval battle of
Hafursfiord in the year 872. This resulted in making Harold the feudal
landlord of Norway. Allodial tenures were abolished, and the Jarls were
required to become his vassals. This consolidation of the kingdom was
probably beneficial in its main consequences, but to many a proud spirit
and crafty brain it made life in Norway unendurable. These bold Jarls
and their Viking[169] followers, to whom, as to the ancient Greeks, the
sea was not a barrier, but a highway,[170] had no mind to stay at home
and submit to unwonted thraldom. So they manned their dragon-prowed
keels, invoked the blessing of Wodan, god of storms, upon their
enterprise, and sailed away. Some went to reinforce their kinsmen who
were making it so hot for Alfred in England[171] and for Charles the
Bald in Gaul; some had already visited Ireland and were establishing
themselves at Dublin and Limerick; others now followed and found homes
for themselves in the Hebrides and all over Scotland north of glorious
Loch Linnhe and the Murray frith; some made their way through the blue
Mediterranean to "Micklegard," the Great City of the Byzantine Emperor,
and in his service wielded their stout axes against Magyar and
Saracen;[172] some found their amphibious natures better satisfied upon
the islands of the Atlantic ridge,--the Orkneys, Shetlands, and
Færoes, and especially noble Iceland. There an aristocratic republic
soon grew up, owning slight and indefinite allegiance to the kings of
Norway.[173] The settlement of Iceland was such a wholesale colonization
of communities of picked men as had not been seen since ancient Greek
times, and was not to be seen again until Winthrop sailed into
Massachusetts Bay. It was not long before the population of Iceland
exceeded 50,000 souls. Their sheep and cattle flourished, hay crops were
heavy, a lively trade--with fish, oil, butter, skins, and wool, in
exchange for meal and malt--was kept up with Norway, Denmark, and the
British islands, political freedom was unimpaired,[174] justice was (for
the Middle Ages) fairly well administered, naval superiority kept all
foes at a distance; and under such conditions the growth of the new
community in wealth[175] and culture was surprisingly rapid. In the
twelfth century, before literature had begun to blossom in the modern
speech of France or Spain or Italy, there was a flourishing literature
in prose and verse in Iceland. Especial attention was paid to history,
and the "Landnáma-bók," or statistical and genealogical account of the
early settlers, was the most complete and careful work of the kind which
had ever been undertaken by any people down to quite recent times. Few
persons in our day adequately realize the extent of the early Icelandic
literature or its richness. The poems, legends, and histories earlier
than the date when Dante walked and mused in the streets of Florence
survive for us now in some hundreds of works, for the most part of rare
and absorbing interest. The "Heimskringla," or chronicle of Snorro
Sturleson, written about 1215, is one of the greatest history books in
the world.[176]

         [Footnote 169: The proper division of this Old Norse word is
         not into _v[=i]-king_, but into _v[)i]k-ing_. The first
         syllable means a "bay" or "fiord," the second is a patronymic
         termination, so that "vikings" are "sons of the fiord,"--an
         eminently appropriate and descriptive name.]

         [Footnote 170: Curtius (_Griechische Etymologie_, p. 237)
         connects [Greek: pontos] with [Greek: patos]; compare the
         Homeric expressions [Greek: hygra keleutha, ichthyoenta
         keleutha], etc.]

         [Footnote 171: The descendants of these Northmen formed a very
         large proportion of the population of the East Anglian
         counties, and consequently of the men who founded New England.
         The East Anglian counties have been conspicuous for resistance
         to tyranny and for freedom of thought. See my _Beginnings of
         New England_, p. 62.]

         [Footnote 172: They were the Varangian guard at Constantinople,
         described by Sir Walter Scott in _Count Robert of Paris_. About
         this same time their kinsmen, the Russ, moving eastward from
         Sweden, were subjecting Slavic tribes as far as Novgorod and
         Kief, and laying the foundations of the power that has since,
         through many and strange vicissitudes, developed into Russia.
         See Thomsen, _The Relations between Ancient Russia and
         Scandinavia_, Oxford, 1877.]

         [Footnote 173: Fealty to Norway was not formally declared until

         [Footnote 174: The settlement of Iceland is celebrated by
         Robert Lowe in verses which show that, whatever his opinion may
         have been in later years as to the use of a classical
         education, his own early studies must always have been a source
         of comfort to him:--

           [Greek: Chaire kai en nephelaisi kai en niphadessi bareiais
              Kai pyri kai seismois nêse saleuomenê
            Enthade gar basilêos hyperbion hybrin alyxas
              Dêmos Hyperboreôn, kosmou ep' eschatiê,
            Autarkê bioton theiôn t' erethismata Mousôn
              Kai thesmous hagnês heuren eleutherias.]

         These verses are thus rendered by Sir Edmund Head (_Viga Glums
         Saga_, p. v.):--

            "Hail, Isle! with mist and snowstorms girt around,
            Where fire and earthquake rend the shattered ground,--
            Here once o'er furthest ocean's icy path
            The Northmen fled a tyrant monarch's wrath:
            Here, cheered by song and story, dwelt they free,
            And held unscathed their laws and liberty."

         Laing (_Heimskringla_, vol. i. p. 57) couples Iceland and New
         England as the two modern colonies most distinctly "founded on
         principle and peopled at first from higher motives than want or

         [Footnote 175: Just what was then considered wealth, for an
         individual, may best be understood by a concrete instance. The
         historian Snorro Sturleson, born in 1178, was called a rich
         man. "In one year, in which fodder was scarce, he lost 120 head
         of oxen without being seriously affected by it." The fortune
         which he got with his first wife Herdisa, in 1199, was
         equivalent nominally to $4,000, or, according to the standard
         of to-day, about $80,000. Laing, _Heimskringla_, vol. i. pp.
         191, 193.]

         [Footnote 176: Laing's excellent English translation of it was
         published in London in 1844. The preliminary dissertation, in
         five chapters, is of great value. A new edition, revised by
         Prof. Rasmus Anderson, was published in London in 1889. Another
         charming book is Sir George Dasent's _Story of Burnt Njal_,
         Edinburgh, 1861, 2 vols., translated from the _Njals Saga_.
         Both the saga itself and the translator's learned introduction
         give an admirable description of life in Iceland at the end of
         the tenth century, the time when the voyages to America were
         made. It is a very instructive chapter in history.

         The Icelanders of the present day retain the Old Norse
         language, while on the Continent it has been modified into
         Swedish and Norwegian-Danish. They are a well-educated people,
         and, in proportion to their numbers, publish many books.]

[Sidenote: Discovery of Greenland, 876.]

[Sidenote: Eric's Colony in Greenland, 986.]

Now from various Icelandic chronicles[177] we learn that in 876, only
two years after the island commonwealth was founded, one of the
settlers named Gunnbjörn was driven by foul weather to some point on the
coast of Greenland, where he and his crew contrived to pass the winter,
their ship being locked in ice; when the spring set them free, they
returned to Iceland. In the year 983 Eric the Red, a settler upon Öxney
(Ox-island) near the mouth of Breidafiord, was outlawed for killing a
man in a brawl. Eric then determined to search for the western land
which Gunnbjörn had discovered. He set out with a few followers, and in
the next three years these bold sailors explored the coasts of Greenland
pretty thoroughly for a considerable distance on each side of Cape
Farewell. At length they found a suitable place for a home, at the head
of Igaliko fiord, not far from the site of the modern Julianeshaab.[178]
It was fit work for Vikings to penetrate so deep a fiord and find out
such a spot, hidden as it is by miles upon miles of craggy and
ice-covered headlands. They proved their sagacity by pitching upon one
of the pleasantest spots on the gaunt Greenland coast; and there upon a
smooth grassy plain may still be seen the ruins of seventeen houses
built of rough blocks of sandstone, their chinks caulked up with clay
and gravel. In contrast with most of its bleak surroundings the place
might well be called Greenland, and so Eric named it, for, said he, it
is well to have a pleasant name if we would induce people to come
hither. The name thus given by Eric to this chosen spot has been
extended in modern usage to the whole of the vast continental region
north of Davis strait, for the greater part of which it is a flagrant
misnomer.[179] In 986 Eric ventured back to Iceland, and was so
successful in enlisting settlers for Greenland that on his return voyage
he started with five and twenty ships. The loss from foul weather and
icebergs was cruel. Eleven vessels were lost; the remaining fourteen,
carrying probably from four to five hundred souls, arrived safely at the
head of Igaliko fiord, and began building their houses at the place
called Brattahlid. Their settlement presently extended over the head of
Tunnudliorbik fiord, the next deep inlet to the northwest; they called
it Ericsfiord. After a while it extended westward as far as Immartinek,
and eastward as far as the site of Friedrichsthal; and another distinct
settlement of less extent was also made about four hundred miles to the
northwest, near the present site of Godthaab. The older settlement,
which began at Igaliko fiord, was known as the East Bygd;[180] the
younger settlement, near Godthaab, was called the West Bygd.

         [Footnote 177: A full collection of these chronicles is given
         in Rafn's _Antiquitates Americanæ_, Copenhagen, 1837, in the
         original Icelandic, with Danish and Latin translations. This
         book is of great value for its full and careful reproduction of
         original texts; although the rash speculations and the want of
         critical discernment shown in the editor's efforts to determine
         the precise situation of Vinland have done much to discredit
         the whole subject in the eyes of many scholars. That is,
         however, very apt to be the case with first attempts, like
         Rafn's, and the obvious defects of his work should not be
         allowed to blind us to its merits. In the footnotes to the
         present chapter I shall cite it simply as "Rafn;" as the exact
         phraseology is often important, I shall usually cite the
         original Icelandic, and (for the benefit of readers unfamiliar
         with that language) shall also give the Latin version, which
         has been well made, and quite happily reflects the fresh and
         pithy vigour of the original. An English translation of all the
         essential parts may be found in De Costa, _Pre-Columbian
         Discovery of America by the Northmen_, 2d ed., Albany, 1890;
         see also Slafter, _Voyages of the Northmen to America_, Boston,
         1877 (Prince Society). An Icelandic version, interpolated in
         Peringskiold's edition of the _Heimskringla_, 1697, is
         translated in Laing, vol. iii. pp. 344-361.

         The first modern writer to call attention to the Icelandic
         voyages to Greenland and Vinland was Arngrim Jónsson, in his
         _Crymogoea_, Hamburg, 1610, and more explicitly in his
         _Specimen Islandiæ historicum_, Amsterdam, 1643. The voyages
         are also mentioned by Campanius, in his _Kort beskrifning om
         provincien Nya Swerige uti America_, Stockholm, 1702. The
         first, however, to bring the subject prominently before
         European readers was that judicious scholar Thormodus Torfæus,
         in his two books _Historia Vinlandiæ antiquæ_, and _Historia
         Gronlandiæ antiquæ_, Copenhagen, 1705 and 1706. Later writers
         have until very recently added but little that is important to
         the work of Torfæus. In the voluminous literature of the
         subject the discussions chiefly worthy of mention are Forster's
         _Geschichte der Entdeckungen und Schiffahrten im Norden_,
         Frankfort, 1784, pp. 44-88; and Humboldt, _Examen critique_,
         etc., Paris, 1837, tom. i. pp. 84-104; see, also, Major,
         _Select Letters of Columbus_, London, 1847 (Hakluyt Soc.) pp.
         xii.-xxi. The fifth chapter of Samuel Laing's preliminary
         dissertation to the _Heimskringla_, which is devoted to this
         subject, is full of good sense; for the most part the shrewd
         Orkneyman gets at the core of the thing, though now and then a
         little closer knowledge of America would have been useful to
         him. The latest critical discussion of the sources, marking a
         very decided advance since Rafn's time, is the paper by Gustav
         Storm, professor of history in the University of Christiania,
         "Studier over Vinlandsreiserne," in _Aarbøger for Nordisk
         Oldkyndighed og Historie_, Copenhagen, 1887, pp. 293-372.

         Since this chapter was written I have seen an English
         translation of the valuable paper just mentioned, "Studies on
         the Vineland Voyages," in _Mémoires de la société royale des
         antiquaires du Nord_, Copenhagen, 1888, pp. 307-370. I have
         therefore in most cases altered my footnote references below,
         making the page-numbers refer to the English version (in which,
         by the way, some parts of the Norwegian original are, for no
         very obvious reason, omitted). By an odd coincidence there
         comes to me at the same time a book fresh from the press, whose
         rare beauty of mechanical workmanship is fully equalled by its
         intrinsic merit, _The Finding of Wineland the Good--the History
         of the Icelandic Discovery of America_, edited and translated
         from the earliest records by Arthur Middleton Reeves, London,
         1890. This beautiful quarto contains phototype plates of the
         original Icelandic vellums in the _Hauks-bók_, the MS. AM. 557,
         and the _Flateyar-bók_, together with the texts carefully
         edited, an admirable English translation, and several chapters
         of critical discussion decidedly better than anything that has
         gone before it. On reading it carefully through, it seems to me
         the best book we have on the subject in English, or perhaps in
         any language.

         Since the above was written, the news has come of the sudden
         and dreadful death of Mr. Reeves, in the railroad disaster at
         Hagerstown, Indiana, February 25, 1891. Mr. Reeves was an
         American scholar of most brilliant promise, only in his
         thirty-fifth year.]

         [Footnote 178: Rink, _Danish Greenland_, p. 6.]

         [Footnote 179: We thus see the treacherousness of one of the
         arguments cited by the illustrious Arago to prove that the
         Greenland coast must be colder now than in the tenth century.
         The Icelanders, he thinks, called it "a green land" because of
         its verdure, and therefore it must have been warmer than at
         present. But the land which Eric called green was evidently
         nothing more than the region about Julianeshaab, which still
         has plenty of verdure; and so the argument falls to the ground.
         See Arago, _Sur l'état thermométrique du globe terrestre_, in
         his _Oeuvres_, tom. v. p. 243. There are reasons, however, for
         believing that Greenland was warmer in the tenth century than
         at present. See below, p. 176.]

         [Footnote 180: The map is reduced from Rafn's _Antiquitates
         Americanæ_, tab. xv. The ruins dotted here and there upon it
         have been known ever since the last rediscovery of Greenland in
         1721, but until after 1831 they were generally supposed to be
         the ruins of the West Bygd. After the fifteenth century, when
         the old colony had perished, and its existence had become a
         mere literary tradition, there grew up a notion that the names
         East Bygd and West Bygd indicated that the two settlements must
         have been respectively eastward and westward of Cape Farewell;
         and after 1721 much time was wasted in looking for vestiges of
         human habitations on the barren and ice-bound eastern coast. At
         length, in 1828-31, the exploring expedition sent out by the
         Danish government, under the very able and intelligent Captain
         Graah, demonstrated that both settlements were west of Cape
         Farewell, and that the ruins here indicated upon the map are
         the ruins of the East Bygd. It now became apparent that a
         certain description of Greenland by Ivar Bardsen--written in
         Greenland in the fourteenth century, and generally accessible
         to European scholars since the end of the sixteenth, but not
         held in much esteem before Captain Graah's expedition--was
         quite accurate and extremely valuable. From Bardsen's
         description, about which we shall have more to say hereafter,
         we can point out upon the map the ancient sites with much
         confidence. Of those mentioned in the present work, the
         bishop's church, or "cathedral" (a view of which is given
         below, p. 222), was at Kakortok. The village of Gardar, which
         gave its name to the bishopric, was at Kaksiarsuk, at the
         northeastern extremity of Igaliko fiord. Opposite Kaksiarsuk,
         on the western fork of the fiord, the reader will observe a
         ruined church; that marks the site of Brattahlid. The fiord of
         Igaliko was called by the Northmen Einarsfiord; and that of
         Tunnudliorbik was their Ericsfiord. The monastery of St. Olaus,
         visited by Nicolò Zeno (see below, p. 240), is supposed by Mr.
         Major to have been situated near the Iisblink at the bottom of
         Tessermiut fiord, between the east shore of the fiord and the
         small lake indicated on the map.]

[Illustration: The East Bygd, or Eastern Settlement of the Northmen in

This colonization of Greenland by the Northmen in the tenth century is
as well established as any event that occurred in the Middle Ages. For
four hundred years the fortunes of the Greenland colony formed a part,
albeit a very humble part, of European history. Geographically speaking,
Greenland is reckoned as a part of America, of the western
hemisphere, and not of the eastern. The Northmen who settled in
Greenland had, therefore, in this sense found their way to America.
Nevertheless one rightly feels that in the history of geographical
discovery an arrival of Europeans in Greenland is equivalent merely to
reaching the vestibule or ante-chamber of the western hemisphere. It is
an affair begun and ended outside of the great world of the red men.

But the story does not end here. Into the world of the red men the
voyagers from Iceland did assuredly come, as indeed, after once getting
a foothold upon Greenland, they could hardly fail to do. Let us pursue
the remainder of the story as we find it in our Icelandic sources of
information, and afterwards it will be proper to inquire into the
credibility of these sources.

[Sidenote: Voyage of Bjarni Herjulfson, 986.]

One of the men who accompanied Eric to Greenland was named Herjulf,
whose son Bjarni, after roving the seas for some years, came home to
Iceland in 986 to drink the Yuletide ale with his father. Finding him
gone, he weighed anchor and started after him to Greenland, but
encountered foggy weather, and sailed on for many days by guess-work
without seeing sun or stars. When at length he sighted land it was a
shore without mountains, showing only small heights covered with dense
woods. It was evidently not the land of fiords and glaciers for which
Bjarni was looking. So without stopping to make explorations he turned
his prow to the north and kept on. The sky was now fair, and after
scudding nine or ten days with a brisk breeze astern, Bjarni saw the
icy crags of Greenland looming up before him, and after some further
searching found his way to his father's new home.[181] On the route he
more than once sighted land on the larboard.

         [Footnote 181: In Herjulfsfiord, at the entrance to which the
         modern Friedrichsthal is situated. Across the fiord from
         Friedrichsthal a ruined church stands upon the cape formerly
         known as Herjulfsness. See map.]

[Sidenote: Conversion of the Northmen to Christianity.]

This adventure of Bjarni's seems not to have excited general curiosity
or to have awakened speculation. Indeed, in the dense geographical
ignorance of those times there is no reason why it should have done so.
About 994 Bjarni was in Norway, and one or two people expressed some
surprise that he did not take more pains to learn something about the
country he had seen; but nothing came of such talk till it reached the
ears of Leif, the famous son of Eric the Red. This wise and stately
man[182] spent a year or two in Norway about 998. Roman missionary
priests were then preaching up and down the land, and had converted the
king, Olaf Tryggvesson, great-grandson of Harold Fairhair. Leif became a
Christian and was baptised, and when he returned to Greenland he took
priests with him who converted many people, though old Eric, it is said,
preferred to go in the way of his fathers, and deemed boisterous
Valhalla, with its cups of wassail, a place of better cheer than the New
Jerusalem, with its streets of gold.

         [Footnote 182: "Leifr var mikill madhr ok sterkr, manna
         sköruligastr at sjá, vitr madhr ok gódhr hófsmadhr um alla
         hluti," i. e. "Leif was a large man and strong, of noble
         aspect, prudent and moderate in all things." Rafn, p. 33.]

[Sidenote: Leif Ericsson's voyage, 1000.]

[Sidenote: Helluland.]

[Sidenote: Markland.]

[Sidenote: Vinland.]

Leif's zeal for the conversion of his friends in Greenland did not so
far occupy his mind as to prevent him from undertaking a voyage of
discovery. His curiosity had been stimulated by what he had heard about
Bjarni's experiences, and he made up his mind to go and see what the
coasts to the south of Greenland were like. He sailed from
Brattahlid--probably in the summer or early autumn of the year
1000[183]--with a crew of five and thirty men. Some distance to the
southward they came upon a barren country covered with big flat stones,
so that they called it Helluland, or "slate-land." There is little room
for doubt that this was the coast opposite Greenland, either west or
east of the strait of Belle Isle; in other words, it was either Labrador
or the northern coast of Newfoundland. Thence, keeping generally to the
southward, our explorers came after some days to a thickly wooded coast,
where they landed and inspected the country. What chiefly impressed them
was the extent of the forest, so that they called the place Markland, or
"wood-land." Some critics have supposed that this spot was somewhere
upon the eastern or southern coast of Newfoundland, but the more general
opinion places it somewhere upon the coast of Cape Breton island or
Nova Scotia. From this Markland our voyagers stood out to sea, and
running briskly before a stiff northeaster it was more than two days
before they came in sight of land. Then, after following the coast for a
while, they went ashore at a place where a river, issuing from a lake,
fell into the sea. They brought their ship up into the lake and cast
anchor. The water abounded in excellent fish, and the country seemed so
pleasant that Leif decided to pass the winter there, and accordingly his
men put up some comfortable wooden huts or booths. One day one of the
party, a "south country" man, whose name was Tyrker,[184] came in from a
ramble in the neighbourhood making grimaces and talking to himself in
his own language (probably German), which his comrades did not
understand. On being interrogated as to the cause of his excitement,
he replied that he had discovered vines loaded with grapes, and was much
pleased at the sight inasmuch as he had been brought up in a vine
country. Wild grapes, indeed, abounded in this autumn season, and Leif
accordingly called the country Vinland. The winter seems to have passed
off very comfortably. Even the weather seemed mild to these visitors
from high latitudes, and they did not fail to comment on the unusual
length of the winter day. Their language on this point has been so
construed as to make the length of the shortest winter day exactly nine
hours, which would place their Vinland in about the latitude of Boston.
But their expressions do not admit of any such precise construction; and
when we remember that they had no accurate instruments for measuring
time, and that a difference of about fourteen minutes between sunrise
and sunset on the shortest winter day would make all the difference
between Boston and Halifax, we see how idle it is to look for the
requisite precision in narratives of this sort, and to treat them as one
would treat the reports of a modern scientific exploring expedition.

         [Footnote 183: The year seems to have been that in which
         Christianity was definitely established by law in Iceland,
         viz., A. D. 1000. The chronicle _Thattr Eireks Raudha_ is
         careful about verifying its dates by checking one against
         another. See Rafn, p. 15. The most masterly work on the
         conversion of the Scandinavian people is Maurer's _Die
         Bekehrung des Norwegischen Stammes zum Christenthume_, Munich,
         1855; for an account of the missionary work in Iceland and
         Greenland, see vol. i. pp. 191-242, 443-452.]

         [Footnote 184: The name means "Turk," and has served as a
         touchstone for the dullness of commentators. To the Northmen a
         "Southman" would naturally be a German, and why should a German
         be called a Turk? or how should these Northmen happen to have
         had a Turk in their company? Mr. Laing suggests that he may
         have been a Magyar. Yes; or he may have visited the Eastern
         Empire and taken part in a fight _against_ Turks, and so have
         got a soubriquet, just as Thorhall Gamlason, after returning
         from Vinland to Iceland, was ever afterward known as "the
         Vinlander." That did not mean that he was an American redskin.
         See below, p. 203. From Tyrker's grimaces one commentator
         sagely infers that he had been eating grapes and got drunk; and
         another (even Mr. Laing!) thinks it necessary to remind us that
         all the grape-juice in Vinland would not fuddle a man unless it
         had been fermented,--and then goes on to ascribe the absurdity
         to our innocent chronicle, instead of the stupid annotator. See
         _Heimskringla_, vol. i. p. 168.]

[Sidenote: Voyages of Thorvald and Thorstein, 1002-05.]

In the spring of 1001 Leif returned to Greenland with a cargo of
timber.[185] The voyage made much talk. Leif's brother Thorvald caught
the inspiration,[186] and, borrowing Leif's ship, sailed in 1002, and
succeeded in finding Vinland and Leif's huts, where his men spent two
winters. In the intervening summer they went on an exploring expedition
along the coast, fell in with some savages in canoes, and got into a
fight in which Thorvald was killed by an arrow. In the spring of 1004
the ship returned to Brattahlid. Next year the third brother, Thorstein
Ericsson, set out in the same ship, with his wife Gudrid and a crew of
thirty-five men; but they were sore bestead with foul weather, got
nowhere, and accomplished nothing. Thorstein died on the voyage, and his
widow returned to Greenland.

         [Footnote 185: On the homeward voyage he rescued some
         shipwrecked sailors near the coast of Greenland, and was
         thenceforward called Leif the Lucky (et postea cognominatus est
         Leivus Fortunatus). The pleasant reports from the newly found
         country gave it the name of "Vinland the Good." In the course
         of the winter following Leif's return his father died.]

         [Footnote 186: "Jam crebri de Leivi in Vinlandiam profectione
         sermones serebantur, Thorvaldus vero, frater ejus, nimis pauca
         terræ loca explorata fuisse judicavit." Rafn, p. 39.]

[Sidenote: Thorfinn Karlsefni, and his unsuccessful attempt to found a
colony in Vinland, 1007-10.]

In the course of the next summer, 1006, there came to Brattahlid from
Iceland a notable personage, a man of craft and resource, wealthy withal
and well born, with the blood of many kinglets or jarls flowing in his
veins. This man, Thorfinn Karlsefni, straightway fell in love with the
young and beautiful widow Gudrid, and in the course of the winter there
was a merry wedding at Brattahlid. Persuaded by his adventurous bride,
whose spirit had been roused by the reports from Vinland and by her
former unsuccessful attempt to find it, Thorfinn now undertook to visit
that country in force sufficient for founding a colony there.
Accordingly in the spring of 1007 he started with three or four
ships,[187] carrying one hundred and sixty men, several women, and quite
a cargo of cattle. In the course of that year his son Snorro was born in
Vinland,[188] and our chronicle tells us that this child was three years
old before the disappointed company turned their backs upon that land of
promise and were fain to make their way homeward to the fiords of
Greenland. It was the hostility of the natives that compelled Thorfinn
to abandon his enterprise. At first they traded with him, bartering
valuable furs for little strips of scarlet cloth which they sought most
eagerly; and they were as terribly frightened by his cattle as the
Aztecs were in later days by the Spanish horses.[189] The chance
bellowing of a bull sent them squalling to the woods, and they did not
show themselves again for three weeks. After a while quarrels arose, the
natives attacked in great numbers, many Northmen were killed, and in
1010 the survivors returned to Greenland with a cargo of timber and
peltries. On the way thither the ships seem to have separated, and one
of them, commanded by Bjarni Grimolfsson, found itself bored by worms
(the _teredo_) and sank, with its commander and half the crew.[190]

         [Footnote 187: Three is the number usually given, but at least
         four of their ships would be needed for so large a company; and
         besides Thorfinn himself, three other captains are
         mentioned,--Snorro Thorbrandsson, Bjarni Grimolfsson, and
         Thorhall Gamlason. The narrative gives a picturesque account of
         this Thorhall, who was a pagan and fond of deriding his
         comrades for their belief in the new-fangled Christian notions.
         He seems to have left his comrades and returned to Europe
         before they had abandoned their enterprise. A further reference
         to him will be made below, p. 203.]

         [Footnote 188: To this boy Snorro many eminent men have traced
         their ancestry,--bishops, university professors, governors of
         Iceland, and ministers of state in Norway and Denmark. The
         learned antiquarian Finn Magnusson and the celebrated sculptor
         Thorwaldsen regarded themselves as thus descended from Thorfinn

         [Footnote 189: Compare the alarm of the Wampanoag Indians in
         1603 at the sight of Martin Pring's mastiff. Winsor, _Narr. and
         Crit. Hist._, iii. 174.]

         [Footnote 190: The fate of Bjarni was pathetic and noble. It
         was decided that as many as possible should save themselves in
         the stern boat. "Then Bjarni ordered that the men should go in
         the boat by lot, and not according to rank. As it would not
         hold all, they accepted the saying, and when the lots were
         drawn, the men went out of the ship into the boat. The lot was
         that Bjarni should go down from the ship to the boat with one
         half of the men. Then those to whom the lot fell went down from
         the ship to the boat. When they had come into the boat, a young
         Icelander, who was the companion of Bjarni, said: 'Now thus do
         you intend to leave me, Bjarni?' Bjarni replied, 'That now
         seems necessary.' He replied with these words: 'Thou art not
         true to the promise made when I left my father's house in
         Iceland.' Bjarni replied: 'In this thing I do not see any other
         way'; continuing, 'What course can you suggest?' He said: 'I
         see this, that we change places and thou come up here and I go
         down there.' Bjarni replied: 'Let it be so, since I see that
         you are so anxious to live, and are frightened by the prospect
         of death.' Then they changed places, and he descended into the
         boat with the men, and Bjarni went up into the ship. It is
         related that Bjarni and the sailors with him in the ship
         perished in the worm sea. Those who went in the boat went on
         their course until they came to land, where they told all these
         things." De Costa's version from _Saga Thorfinns Karlsefnis_,
         Rafn, pp. 184-186.]

[Sidenote: Freydis, and her evil deeds in Vinland, 1011-12.]

Among Karlsefni's companions on this memorable expedition was one
Thorvard, with his wife Freydis, a natural daughter of Eric the Red.
About the time of their return to Greenland in the summer of 1010, a
ship arrived from Norway, commanded by two brothers, Helgi and Finnbogi.
During the winter a new expedition was planned, and in the summer of
1011 two ships set sail for Vinland, one with Freydis, Thorvard, and a
crew of 30 men, the other with Helgi and Finnbogi, and a crew of 35 men.
There were also a number of women. The purpose was not to found a colony
but to cut timber. The brothers arrived first at Leif's huts and had
begun carrying in their provisions and tools, when Freydis, arriving
soon afterward, ordered them off the premises. They had no right, she
said, to occupy her brother's houses. So they went out and built other
huts for their party a little farther from the shore. Before their
business was accomplished "winter set in, and the brothers proposed to
have some games for amusement to pass the time. So it was done for a
time, till discord came among them, and the games were given up, and
none went from one house to the other; and things went on so during a
great part of the winter." At length came the catastrophe. Freydis one
night complained to her husband that the brothers had given her evil
words and struck her, and insisted that he should forthwith avenge the
affront. Presently Thorvard, unable to bear her taunts, was aroused to a
deed of blood. With his followers he made a night attack upon the huts
of Helgi and Finnbogi, seized and bound all the occupants, and killed
the men one after another in cold blood. Five women were left whom
Thorvard would have spared; as none of his men would raise a hand
against them, Freydis herself took an axe and brained them one and all.
In the spring of 1012 the party sailed for Brattahlid in the ship of
the murdered brothers, which was the larger and better of the two.
Freydis pretended that they had exchanged ships and left the other party
in Vinland. With gifts to her men, and dire threats for any who should
dare tell what had been done, she hoped to keep them silent. Words were
let drop, however, which came to Leif's ears, and led him to arrest
three of the men and put them to the torture until they told the whole
story. "'I have not the heart,' said Leif, 'to treat my wicked sister as
she deserves; but this I will foretell them [Freydis and Thorvard] that
their posterity will never thrive.' So it went that nobody thought
anything of them save evil from that time."

[Sidenote: The whole story is eminently probable.]

With this grewsome tale ends all account of Norse attempts at exploring
or colonizing Vinland, though references to Vinland by no means end
here.[191] Taking the narrative as a whole, it seems to me a sober,
straightforward, and eminently probable story. We may not be able to say
with confidence exactly where such places as Markland and Vinland were,
but it is clear that the coasts visited on these southerly and
southwesterly voyages from Brattahlid must have been parts of the coast
of North America, unless the whole story is to be dismissed as a figment
of somebody's imagination. But for a figment of the imagination, and of
European imagination withal, it has far too many points of
verisimilitude, as I shall presently show.

         [Footnote 191: The stories of Gudleif Gudlaugsson and Ari
         Marsson, with the fanciful speculations about "Hvitramannaland"
         and "Irland it Mikla," do not seem worthy of notice in this
         connection. They may be found in De Costa, _op. cit._ pp.
         159-177; and see Reeves, _The Finding of Wineland the Good_,
         chap. v.]

[Sidenote: Voyage into Baffin's Bay, 1135.]

In the first place, it is an extremely probable story from the time that
Eric once gets settled in Brattahlid. The founding of the Greenland
colony is the only strange or improbable part of the narrative, but that
is corroborated in so many other ways that we know it to be true; as
already observed, no fact in mediæval history is better established.
When I speak of the settlement of Greenland as strange, I do not mean
that there is anything strange in the Northmen's accomplishing the
voyage thither from Iceland. That island is nearer to Greenland than to
Norway, and we know, moreover, that Norse sailors achieved more
difficult things than penetrating the fiords of southern Greenland. Upon
the island of Kingitorsook in Baffin's Bay (72° 55' N., 56° 5' W.) near
Upernavik, in a region supposed to have been unvisited by man before the
modern age of Arctic exploration, there were found in 1824 some small
artificial mounds with an inscription upon stone:--"Erling Sighvatson
and Bjarni Thordharson and Eindrid Oddson raised these marks and cleared
ground on Saturday before Ascension Week, 1135." That is to say, they
took symbolic possession of the land.[192]

         [Footnote 192: Laing, _Heimskringla_, i. 152.]

[Sidenote: A Viking ship discovered at Sandefiord, in Norway.]

In order to appreciate how such daring voyages were practicable, we must
bear in mind that the Viking "ships" were probably stronger and more
seaworthy, and certainly much swifter, than the Spanish vessels of the
time of Columbus. One was unearthed a few years ago at Sandefiord in
Norway, and may be seen at the museum in Christiania. Its pagan owner
had been buried in it, and his bones were found amidships, along with
the bones of a dog and a peacock, a few iron fish-hooks and other
articles. Bones of horses and dogs, probably sacrificed at the funeral
according to the ancient Norse custom, lay scattered about. This craft
has been so well described by Colonel Higginson,[193] that I may as well
quote the passage in full:--

         [Footnote 193: See his _Larger History of the United States_,
         pp. 32-34.]

[Sidenote: Description of the ship.]

She "was seventy-seven feet eleven inches at the greatest length, and
sixteen feet eleven inches at the greatest width, and from the top of
the keel to the gunwale amidships she was five feet nine inches deep.
She had twenty ribs, and would draw less than four feet of water. She
was clinker-built; that is, had plates slightly overlapped, like the
shingles on the side of a house. The planks and timbers of the frame
were fastened together with withes made of roots, but the oaken boards
of the side were united by iron rivets firmly clinched. The bow and
stern were similar in shape, and must have risen high out of water, but
were so broken that it was impossible to tell how they originally ended.
The keel was deep and made of thick oak beams, and there was no trace of
any metallic sheathing; but an iron anchor was found almost rusted to
pieces. There was no deck and the seats for rowers had been taken out.
The oars were twenty feet long, and the oar-holes, sixteen on each side,
had slits sloping towards the stern to allow the blades of the oars to
be put through from inside. The most peculiar thing about the ship was
the rudder, which was on the starboard or right side, this side being
originally called 'steerboard' from this circumstance. The rudder was
like a large oar, with long blade and short handle, and was attached,
not to the side of the boat, but to the end of a conical piece of wood
which projected almost a foot from the side of the vessel, and almost
two feet from the stern. This piece of wood was bored down its length,
and no doubt a rope passing through it secured the rudder to the ship's
side. It was steered by a tiller attached to the handle, and perhaps
also by a rope fastened to the blade. As a whole, this disinterred
vessel proved to be anything but the rude and primitive craft which
might have been expected; it was neatly built and well preserved,
constructed on what a sailor would call beautiful lines, and eminently
fitted for sea service. Many such vessels may be found depicted on the
celebrated Bayeux tapestry; and the peculiar position of the rudder
explains the treaty mentioned in the Heimskringla, giving to Norway all
lands lying west of Scotland between which and the mainland a vessel
could pass with her rudder shipped.... This was not one of the very
largest ships, for some of them had thirty oars on each side, and
vessels carrying from twenty to twenty-five were not uncommon. The
largest of these were called Dragons, and other sizes were known as
Serpents or Cranes. The ship itself was often so built as to represent
the name it bore: the dragon, for instance, was a long low vessel, with
the gilded head of a dragon at the bow, and the gilded tail at the
stern; the moving oars at the side might represent the legs of the
imaginary creature, the row of shining red and white shields that were
hung over the gunwale looked like the monster's scales, and the sails
striped with red and blue might suggest his wings. The ship preserved at
Christiania is described as having had but a single mast, set into a
block of wood so large that it is said no such block could now be cut in
Norway. Probably the sail was much like those still carried by large
open boats in that country,--a single square on a mast forty feet
long.[194] These masts have no standing rigging, and are taken down when
not in use; and this was probably the practice of the Vikings."

         [Footnote 194: Perhaps it may have been a square-headed lug,
         like those of the Deal galley-punts; see Leslie's _Old Sea
         Wings, Ways, and Words, in the Days of Oak and Hemp_, London,
         1890, p. 21.]

[Sidenote: The climate of Greenland.]

In such vessels, well stocked with food and weapons, the Northmen were
accustomed to spend many weeks together on the sea, now and then
touching land. In such vessels they made their way to Algiers and
Constantinople, to the White Sea, to Baffin's Bay. It is not, therefore,
their voyage to Greenland that seems strange, but it is their success in
founding a colony which could last for more than four centuries in that
inhospitable climate. The question is sometimes asked whether the
climate of Greenland may not have undergone some change within the last
thousand years.[195] If there has been any change, it must have been
very slight; such as, perhaps, a small variation in the flow of ocean
currents might occasion. I am inclined to believe that there may have
been such a change, from the testimony of Ivar Bardsen, steward of the
Gardar bishopric in the latter half of the fourteenth century, or about
halfway between the time of Eric the Red and our own time. According to
Bardsen there had long been a downward drifting of ice from the north
and a consequent accumulation of bergs and floes upon the eastern coast
of Greenland, insomuch that the customary route formerly followed by
ships coming from Iceland was no longer safe, and a more southerly route
had been generally adopted.[196] This slow southward extension of the
polar ice-sheet upon the east of Greenland seems still to be going on at
the present day.[197] It is therefore not at all improbable, but on the
contrary quite probable, that a thousand years ago the mean annual
temperature of the tip end of Greenland, at Cape Farewell, was a few
degrees higher than now.[198] But a slight difference of this sort
might have an important bearing upon the fortunes of a colony planted
there. For example, it would directly affect the extent of the hay crop.
Grass grows very well now in the neighbourhood of Julianeshaab. In
summer it is still a "green land," with good pasturage for cattle, but
there is difficulty in getting hay enough to last through the nine
months of winter. In 1855 "there were in Greenland 30 to 40 head of
horned cattle, about 100 goats, and 20 sheep;" but in the ancient
colony, with a population not exceeding 6,000 persons, "herds of cattle
were kept which even yielded produce for exportation to Europe."[199] So
strong a contrast seems to indicate a much more plentiful grass crop
than to-day, although some hay might perhaps have been imported from
Iceland in exchange for Greenland exports, which were chiefly whale oil,
eider-down, and skins of seals, foxes, and white bears.

         [Footnote 195: Some people must have queer notions about the
         lapse of past time. I have more than once had this question put
         to me in such a way as to show that what the querist really had
         in mind was some vague impression of the time when oaks and
         chestnuts, vines and magnolias, grew luxuriantly over a great
         part of Greenland! But that was in the Miocene period, probably
         not less than a million years ago, and has no obvious bearing
         upon the deeds of Eric the Red.]

         [Footnote 196: Bardsen, _Descriptio Groenlandiæ_, appended to
         Major's _Voyages of the Venetian Brothers_, etc., pp. 40, 41;
         and see below, p. 242.]

         [Footnote 197: Zahrtmann, _Journal of Royal Geographical
         Society_, London, 1836, vol. v. p. 102. On this general subject
         see J. D. Whitney, "The Climate Changes of Later Geological
         Times," in _Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at
         Harvard College_, Cambridge, 1882, vol. vii. According to
         Professor Whitney there has also been a deterioration in the
         climate of Iceland.]

         [Footnote 198: One must not too hastily infer that the mean
         temperature of points on the American coast south of Davis
         strait would be affected in the same way. The relation between
         the phenomena is not quite so simple. For example, a warm early
         spring on the coast of Greenland increases the discharge of
         icebergs from its fiords to wander down the Atlantic ocean; and
         this increase of floating ice tends to chill and dampen the
         summers at least as far South as Long Island, if not farther.]

         [Footnote 199: Rink's _Danish Greenland_, pp. 27, 96, 97.]

[Sidenote: With the Northmen once in Greenland, the discovery of the
American continent was almost inevitable.]

[Sidenote: Voyages for timber.]

When once the Northmen had found their way to Cape Farewell, it would
have been marvellous if such active sailors could long have avoided
stumbling upon the continent of North America. Without compass or
astrolabe these daring men were accustomed to traverse long stretches of
open sea, trusting to the stars; and it needed only a stiff
northeasterly breeze, with persistent clouds and fog, to land a westward
bound "dragon" anywhere from Cape Race to Cape Cod. This is what appears
to have happened to Bjarni Herjulfsson in 986, and something quite like
it happened to Henry Hudson in 1609.[200] Curiosity is a motive quite
sufficient to explain Leif's making the easy summer voyage to find out
what sort of country Bjarni had seen. He found it thickly wooded, and as
there was a dearth of good timber both in Greenland and in Iceland, it
would naturally occur to Leif's friends that voyages for timber, to be
used at home and also to be exported to Iceland, might turn out to be
profitable.[201] As Laing says, "to go in quest of the wooded countries
to the southwest, from whence driftwood came to their shores, was a
reasonable, intelligible motive for making a voyage in search of the
lands from whence it came, and where this valuable material could be got
for nothing."[202]

         [Footnote 200: See Read's _Historical Inquiry concerning Henry
         Hudson_, Albany, 1866, p. 160.]

         [Footnote 201: "Nú tekst umrædha at nýju um Vínlandsferdh,
         thviat sú ferdh thikir bædhi gódh til fjár ok virdhíngar," i.
         e. "Now they began to talk again about a voyage to Vinland, for
         the voyage thither was both gainful and honourable." Rafn, p.

         [Footnote 202: _Heimskringla_, i, 168.]

[Sidenote: Ear-marks of truth in the narrative.]

If now we look at the details of the story we shall find many ear-marks
of truth in it. We must not look for absolute accuracy in a narrative
which--as we have it--is not the work of Leif or Thorfinn or any of
their comrades, but of compilers or copyists, honest and careful as it
seems to me, but liable to misplace details and to call by wrong names
things which they had never seen. Starting with these modest
expectations we shall find the points of verisimilitude numerous. To
begin with the least significant, somewhere on our northeastern coast
the voyagers found many foxes.[203] These animals, to be sure, are found
in a great many countries, but the point for us is that in a southerly
and southwesterly course from Cape Farewell these sailors are said to
have found them. If our narrators had been drawing upon their
imaginations or dealing with semi-mythical materials, they would as
likely as not have lugged into the story elephants from Africa or
hippogriffs from Dreamland; mediæval writers were blissfully ignorant of
all canons of probability in such matters.[204] But our narrators simply
mention an animal which has for ages abounded on our northeastern
coasts. One such instance is enough to suggest that they were following
reports or documents which emanated ultimately from eye-witnesses and
told the plain truth. A dozen such instances, if not neutralized by
counter-instances, are enough to make this view extremely probable; and
then one or two instances which could not have originated in the
imagination of a European writer will suffice to prove it.

         [Footnote 203: "Fjöldi var thar melrakka," i. e. "ibi vulpium
         magnus numerus erat," Rafn, p. 138.]

         [Footnote 204: It is extremely difficult for an impostor to
         concoct a narrative without making blunders that can easily be
         detected by a critical scholar. For example, the Book of
         Mormon, in the passage cited (see above, p. 3), in supremely
         blissful ignorance introduces oxen, sheep, and silk-worms, as
         well as the knowledge of smelting iron, into pre-Columbian

Let us observe, then, that on coming to Markland they "slew a
bear;"[205] the river and lake (or bay) in Vinland abounded with salmon
bigger than Leif's people had ever seen;[206] on the coast they caught
halibut;[207] they came to an island where there were so many eider
ducks breeding that they could hardly avoid treading on their eggs;[208]
and, as already observed, it was because of the abundance of wild grapes
that Leif named the southernmost country he visited Vinland.

         [Footnote 205: "Thar í drápu their einn björn," i. e. "in qua
         ursum interfecerunt," id. p. 138.]

         [Footnote 206: "Hvorki skorti thar lax í ánni nè í vatninu, ok
         stærra lax enn their hefdhi fyrr sèdh," i. e. "ibi neque in
         fluvio neque in lacu deerat salmonum copia, et quidem majoris
         corporis quam antea vidissent," id. p. 32.]

         [Footnote 207: "Helgir fiskar," i. e. "sacri pisces," id. p.
         148. The Danish phrase is "helleflyndre," i. e. "holy
         flounder." The English _halibut_ is _hali_ = _holy_ + _but_ =
         _flounder_. This word _but_ is classed as Middle English, but
         may still be heard in the north of England. The fish may have
         been so called "from being eaten particularly on holy days"
         (_Century Dict._ s.v.); or possibly from a pagan superstition
         that water abounding in flat fishes is especially safe for
         mariners (Pliny, _Hist. Nat._ ix. 70); or possibly from some
         lost folk-tale about St. Peter (Maurer, _Isländische Volkssagen
         der Gegenwart_, Leipsic, 1860, p. 195).]

         [Footnote 208: "Svâ var mörg ædhr í eynni, at varla mátti gánga
         fyri eggjum," i. e. "tantus in insula anatum mollissimarum
         numerus erat, ut præ ovis transiri fere non posset," id. p.
         141. Eider ducks breed on our northeastern coasts as far south
         as Portland, and are sometimes in winter seen as far south as
         Delaware. They also abound in Greenland and Iceland, and, as
         Wilson observes, "their nests are crowded so close together
         that a person can scarcely walk without treading on them....
         The Icelanders have for ages known the value of eider down, and
         have done an extensive business in it." See Wilson's _American
         Ornithology_, vol. iii. p. 50.]

[Sidenote: Northern limit of the vine.]

From the profusion of grapes--such that the ship's stern boat is said on
one occasion to have been filled with them[209]--we get a clue, though
less decisive than could be wished, to the location of Vinland. The
extreme northern limit of the vine in Canada is 47°, the parallel which
cuts across the tops of Prince Edward and Cape Breton islands on the
map.[210] Near this northern limit, however, wild grapes are by no means
plenty; so that the coast upon which Leif wintered must apparently have
been south of Cape Breton. Dr. Storm, who holds that Vinland was on the
southern coast of Nova Scotia, has collected some interesting testimony
as to the growth of wild grapes in that region, but on the whole the
abundance of this fruit seems rather to point to the shores of
Massachusetts Bay.[211]

         [Footnote 209:
            {"Svâ    er sagt  at  eptirbátr theirra var  fylldr
                                                       af vinberjurn."}
            {  So it-is-said that afterboat their   was  filled
                                                       of vine-berries.}
                                             Rafn, p. 36.]

         [Footnote 210: Storm, "Studies on the Vinland Voyages,"
         _Mémoires de la société royale des antiquaires du Nord_,
         Copenhagen, 1888, p. 351. The limit of the vine at this
         latitude is some distance inland; near the shore the limit is a
         little farther south, and in Newfoundland it does not grow at
         all. Id. p. 308.]

         [Footnote 211: The attempt of Dr. Kohl (_Maine Hist. Soc._, New
         Series, vol. i.) to connect the voyage of Thorfinn with the
         coast of Maine seems to be successfully refuted by De Costa,
         _Northmen in Maine_, etc., Albany, 1870.]

[Sidenote: Length of the winter day.]

We may now observe that, while it is idle to attempt to determine
accurately the length of the winter day, as given in our chronicles,
nevertheless since that length attracted the attention of the voyagers,
as something remarkable, it may fairly be supposed to indicate a
latitude lower than they were accustomed to reach in their trading
voyages in Europe. Such a latitude as that of Dublin, which lies
opposite Labrador, would have presented no novelty to them, for voyages
of Icelanders to their kinsmen in Dublin, and in Rouen as well, were
common enough. Halifax lies about opposite Bordeaux, and Boston a little
south of opposite Cape Finisterre, in Spain, so that either of these
latitudes would satisfy the conditions of the case; either would show a
longer winter day than Rouen, which was about the southern limit of
ordinary trading voyages from Iceland. At all events, the length of day
indicates for Vinland a latitude south of Cape Breton.

[Sidenote: Indian corn.]

The next point to be observed is the mention of "self-sown
wheat-fields."[212] This is not only an important ear-mark of truth in
the narrative, but it helps us somewhat further in determining the
position of Vinland. The "self-sown" cereal, which these Icelanders
called "wheat," was in all probability what the English settlers six
hundred years afterward called "corn," in each case applying to a new
and nameless thing the most serviceable name at hand. In England "corn"
means either wheat, barley, rye, and oats collectively, or more
specifically wheat; in Scotland it generally means oats; in America it
means maize, the "Indian corn," the cereal peculiar to the western
hemisphere. The beautiful waving plant, with its exquisitely tasselled
ears, which was one of the first things to attract Champlain's
attention, could not have escaped the notice of such keen observers as
we are beginning to find Leif and Thorfinn to have been. A cereal like
this, requiring so little cultivation that without much latitude of
speech it might be described as growing wild, would be interesting to
Europeans visiting the American coast; but it would hardly occur to
European fancy to invent such a thing. The mention of it is therefore a
very significant ear-mark of the truth of the narrative. As regards the
position of Vinland, the presence of maize seems to indicate a somewhat
lower latitude than Nova Scotia. Maize requires intensely hot summers,
and even under the most careful European cultivation does not flourish
north of the Alps. In the sixteenth century its northern-most limit on
the American coast seems to have been at the mouth of the Kennebec
(44°), though farther inland it was found by Cartier at Hochelaga, on
the site of Montreal (45° 30'). A presumption is thus raised in favour
of the opinion that Vinland was not farther north than Massachusetts

         [Footnote 212:
            {"Sjálfsána hveitiakra"   }
            {                         } Rafn, p. 147.
            { Self-sown wheat-acres   }]

         [Footnote 213: Dr. Storm makes perhaps too much of this
         presumption. He treats it as decisive against his own opinion
         that Vinland was the southern coast of Nova Scotia, and
         accordingly he tries to prove that the self-sown corn was not
         maize, but "wild rice" (_Zizania aquatica_). _Mémoires_, etc.,
         p. 356. But his argument is weakened by excess of ingenuity.]

[Sidenote: Winter weather in Vinland.]

This presumption is supported by what is said about the climate of
Vinland, though it must be borne in mind that general statements about
climate are apt to be very loose and misleading. We are told that it
seemed to Leif's people that cattle would be able to pass the winter out
of doors there, for there was no frost and the grass was not much
withered.[214] On the other hand, Thorfinn's people found the winter
severe, and suffered from cold and hunger.[215] Taken in connection with
each other, these two statements would apply very well to-day to our
variable winters on the coast southward from Cape Ann. The winter of
1889-90 in Cambridge, for example, might very naturally have been
described by visitors from higher latitudes as a winter without frost
and with grass scarcely withered. Indeed, we might have described it so
ourselves. On Narragansett and Buzzard's bays such soft winter weather
is still more common; north of Cape Ann it is much less common. The
severe winter (_magna hiems_) is of course familiar enough anywhere
along the northeastern coast of America.

         [Footnote 214: "Thar var svâ gódhr landskostr at thví er theim
         sýndist, at thar mundi eingi fènadhr fódhr thurfa á vetrum;
         thar kvomu eingi frost á vetrum, ok lítt rènudhu thar grös," i.
         e. "tanta autem erat terræ bonitas, ut inde intelligere esset,
         pecora hieme pabulo non indigere posse, nullis incidentibus
         algoribus hiemalibus, et graminibus parum flaccescentibus."
         Rafn, p. 32.]

         [Footnote 215: "Thar voru their um vetrinn; ok gjördhist vetr
         mikill, en ekki fyri unnit ok gjördhist íllt til matarins, ok
         tókust af veidhirnar," i. e. "hic hiemarunt; cum vero magna
         incideret hiems, nullumque provisum esset alimentum, cibus
         coepit deficere capturaque cessabat," Id. p. 174.]

[Sidenote: Probable situation of Vinland.]

On the whole, we may say with some confidence that the place described
by our chroniclers as Vinland was situated somewhere between Point
Judith and Cape Breton; possibly we may narrow our limits and say that
it was somewhere between Cape Cod and Cape Ann. But the latter
conclusion is much less secure than the former. In such a case as this,
the more we narrow our limits the greater our liability to error.[216]
While by such narrowing, moreover, the question may acquire more
interest as a bone of contention among local antiquarians, its value for
the general historian is not increased.

         [Footnote 216: A favourite method of determining the exact
         spots visited by the Northmen has been to compare their
         statements regarding the shape and trend of the coasts, their
         bays, headlands, etc., with various well-known points on the
         New England coast. It is a tempting method, but unfortunately
         treacherous, because the same general description will often
         apply well enough to several different places. It is like
         summer boarders in the country struggling to tell one another
         where they have been to drive,--past a school-house, down a
         steep hill, through some woods, and by a saw-mill, etc.]

[Sidenote: "Savages" unknown to mediæval Europeans.]

[Sidenote: The natives of Vinland.]

But we have not yet done with the points of verisimilitude in our story.
We have now to cite two or three details that are far more striking than
any as yet mentioned,--details that could never have been conjured up by
the fancy of any mediæval European. We must bear in mind that "savages,"
whether true savages or people in the lower status of barbarism, were
practically unknown to Europeans before the fifteenth century. There
were no such people in Europe or in any part of Asia or Africa visited
by Europeans before the great voyages of the Portuguese. Mediæval
Europeans knew nothing whatever about people who would show surprise at
the sight of an iron tool[217] or frantic terror at the voice of a
bull, or who would eagerly trade off valuable property for worthless
trinkets. Their imagination might be up to inventing hobgoblins and
people with heads under their shoulders,[218] but it was not up to
inventing such simple touches of nature as these. Bearing this in mind,
let us observe that Thorfinn found the natives of Vinland eager to give
valuable furs[219] in exchange for little strips of scarlet cloth to
bind about their heads. When the Northmen found the cloth growing scarce
they cut it into extremely narrow strips, but the desire of the natives
was so great that they would still give a whole skin for the smallest
strip. They wanted also to buy weapons, but Thorfinn forbade his men to
sell them. One of the natives picked up an iron hatchet and cut wood
with it; one after another tried and admired it; at length one tried it
on a stone and broke its edge, and then they scornfully threw it
down.[220] One day while they were trading, Thorfinn's bull ran out
before them and bellowed, whereupon the whole company was instantly
scattered in headlong flight. After this, when threatened with an attack
by the natives, Thorfinn drew up his men for a fight and put the bull in
front, very much as Pyrrhus used elephants--at first with success--to
frighten the Romans and their horses.[221]

         [Footnote 217: It is not meant that stone implements did not
         continue to be used in some parts of Europe far into the Middle
         Ages. But this was not because iron was not perfectly well
         known, but because in many backward regions it was difficult to
         obtain or to work, so that stone continued in use. As my
         friend, Mr. T. S. Perry, reminds me, Helbig says that
         stone-pointed spears were used by some of the English at the
         battle of Hastings, and stone battle-axes by some of the Scots
         under William Wallace at the end of the thirteenth century.
         _Die Italiker in der Poebene_, Leipsic, 1879, p. 42. Helbig's
         statement as to Hastings is confirmed by Freeman, _Norman
         Conquest of England_, vol. iii. p. 473.]

         [Footnote 218: My use of the word "inventing" is, in this
         connection, a slip of the pen. Of course the tales of "men
         whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders," the Sciopedæ,
         etc., as told by Sir John Mandeville, were not invented by the
         mediæval imagination, but copied from ancient authors. They may
         be found in Pliny, _Hist. Nat._, lib. vii., and were mentioned
         before his time by Ktesias, as well as by Hecatæus, according
         to Stephanus of Byzantium. Cf. Aristophanes, _Aves_, 1553;
         Julius Solinus, _Polyhistor_, ed. Salmasius, cap. 240. Just as
         these sheets are going to press there comes to me Mr. Perry's
         acute and learned _History of Greek Literature_, New York,
         1890, in which this subject is mentioned in connection with the
         mendacious and medical Ktesias:--These stories have probably
         acquired a literary currency "by exercise of the habit, not
         unknown even to students of science, of indiscriminate copying
         from one's predecessors, so that in reading Mandeville we have
         the ghosts of the lies of Ktesias, almost sanctified by the
         authority of Pliny, who quoted them and thereby made them a
         part of mediæval folk-lore--and from folk-lore, probably, they
         took their remote start" (p. 522).]

         [Footnote 219: "En that var grávara ok safvali ok allskonar
         skinnavara" (Rafn, p. 59),--i. e. gray fur and sable and all
         sorts of skinwares; in another account, "skinnavöru ok algrá
         skinn," which in the Danish version is "skindvarer og ægte
         graaskind" (id. p. 150),--i. e. skinwares and genuine gray
         furs. Cartier in Canada and the Puritans in Massachusetts were
         not long in finding that the natives had good furs to sell.]

         [Footnote 220: Rafn, p. 156.]

         [Footnote 221: Much curious information respecting the use of
         elephants in war may be found in the learned work of the
         Chevalier Armandi, _Histoire militaire des éléphants_, Paris,
         1843. As regards Thorfinn's bull, Mr. Laing makes the kind of
         blunder that our British cousins are sometimes known to make
         when they get the Rocky Mountains within sight of Bunker Hill
         monument. "A continental people in that part of America," says
         Mr. Laing, "could not be strangers to the much more formidable
         bison." _Heimskringla_, p. 169. Bisons on the Atlantic coast,
         Mr. Laing?! And then his comparison quite misses the point; a
         bison, if the natives had been familiar with him, would not
         have been at all formidable as compared to the bull which they
         had never before seen. A horse is much less formidable than a
         cougar, but Aztec warriors who did not mind a cougar were
         paralyzed with terror at the sight of men on horseback. It is
         the unknown that frightens in such cases. Thorfinn's natives
         were probably familiar with such large animals as moose and
         deer, but a deer isn't a bull.]

[Sidenote: Meaning of the epithet "Skrælings."]

These incidents are of surpassing interest, for they were attendant upon
the first meeting (in all probability) that ever took place between
civilized Europeans and any people below the upper status of
barbarism.[222] Who were these natives encountered by Thorfinn? The
Northmen called them "Skrælings," a name which one is at first sight
strongly tempted to derive from the Icelandic verb _skrækja_, identical
with the English _screech_. A crowd of excited Indians might most
appropriately be termed Screechers.[223] This derivation, however, is
not correct. The word _skræling_ survives in modern Norwegian, and means
a feeble or puny or _insignificant_ person. Dr. Storm's suggestion is in
all probability correct, that the name "Skrælings," as applied to the
natives of America, had no ethnological significance, but simply meant
"inferior people;" it gave concise expression to the white man's opinion
that they were "a bad lot." In Icelandic literature the name is usually
applied to the Eskimos, and hence it has been rashly inferred that
Thorfinn found Eskimos in Vinland. Such was Rafn's opinion, and since
his time the commentators have gone off upon a wrong trail and much
ingenuity has been wasted.[224] It would be well to remember, however,
that the Europeans of the eleventh century were not ethnologists; in
meeting these inferior peoples for the first time they were more likely
to be impressed with the broad fact of their inferiority than to be nice
in making distinctions. When we call both Australians and Fuegians
"savages," we do not assert identity or relationship between them; and
so when the Northmen called Eskimos and Indians by the same disparaging
epithet, they doubtless simply meant to call them savages.

         [Footnote 222: The Phoenicians, however (who in this connection
         may be classed with Europeans), must have met with some such
         people in the course of their voyages upon the coasts of
         Africa. I shall treat of this more fully below, p. 327.]

         [Footnote 223: As for Indians, says Cieza de Leon, they are all
         noisy (alharaquientos). _Segunda Parte de la Crónica del Peru_,
         cap. xxiii.]

         [Footnote 224: For example, Dr. De Costa refers to Dr. Abbott's
         discoveries as indicating "that the Indian was preceded by a
         people like the Eskimos, whose stone implements are found in
         the Trenton gravel." _Pre-Columbian Discovery_, p. 132. Quite
         so; but that was in the Glacial Period (!!), and when the edge
         of the ice-sheet slowly retreated northward, the Eskimo, who is
         emphatically an Arctic creature, doubtless retreated with it,
         just as he retreated from Europe. See above, p. 18. There is
         not the slightest reason for supposing that there were any
         Eskimos south of Labrador so lately as nine hundred years ago.]

[Sidenote: Personal appearance of the Skrælings.]

Our chronicle describes the Skrælings of Vinland as swarthy in hue,
ferocious in aspect, with ugly hair, big eyes, and broad cheeks.[225]
This will do very well for Indians, except as to the eyes. We are
accustomed to think of Indian eyes as small; but in this connection it
is worthy of note that a very keen observer, Marc Lescarbot, in his
minute and elaborate description of the physical appearance of the
Micmacs of Acadia, speaks with some emphasis of their large eyes.[226]
Dr. Storm quite reasonably suggests that the Norse expression may refer
to the size not of the eye-ball, but of the eye-socket, which in the
Indian face is apt to be large; and very likely this is what the
Frenchman also had in mind.

         [Footnote 225: "Their voru svartir menn ok illiligir, ok havdhu
         íllt hár á höfdhi. Their voru mjök eygdhir ok breidhir í
         kinnum," i. e. "Hi homines erant nigri, truculenti specie,
         foedam in capite comam habentes, oculis magnis et genis latis."
         Rafn, p. 149. The Icelandic _svartr_ is more precisely rendered
         by the identical English _swarthy_ than by the Latin _niger_.]

         [Footnote 226: "Mais quãt à noz Sauvages, pour ce qui regarde
         les ïeux ilz ne les ont ni bleuz, ni verds, mais noirs pour la
         pluspart, ainsi que les cheveux; & neantmoins ne sont petits,
         cõme ceux des anciens Scythes, mais d'une grandeur bien
         agréable." Lescarbot, _Histoire de la Nouvelle France_, Paris,
         1612, tom. ii. p. 714.]

[Sidenote: The Skrælings of Vinland were Indians,--very likely

These Skrælings were clad in skins, and their weapons were bows and
arrows, slings, and stone hatchets. In the latter we may now, I think,
be allowed to recognize the familiar tomahawk; and when we read that, in
a sharp fight with the natives, Thorbrand, son of the commander Snorro,
was slain, and the woman Freydis afterward found his corpse in the
woods, with a flat stone sticking in the head, and his naked sword lying
on the ground beside him, we seem to see how it all happened.[227] We
seem to see the stealthy Indian suddenly dealing the death-blow, and
then obliged for his own safety to dart away among the trees without
recovering his tomahawk or seizing the sword. The Skrælings came up the
river or lake in a swarm of canoes, all yelling at the top of their
voices (_et illi omnes valde acutum ululabant_), and, leaping ashore,
began a formidable attack with slings and arrows. The narrative calls
these canoes "skin-boats" (_hudhkeipar_), whence it has been inferred
that the writer had in mind the _kayaks_ and _umiaks_ of the
Eskimos.[228] I suspect that the writer did have such boats in mind, and
accordingly used a word not strictly accurate. Very likely his
authorities failed to specify a distinction between bark-boats and
skin-boats, and simply used the handiest word for designating canoes as
contrasted with their own keeled boats.[229]

         [Footnote 227: "Hún fann fyrir sèr mann daudhan, thar var
         Thorbrandr Snorrason, ok stódh hellusteinn í höfdhi honum;
         sverdhit lá bert í hjá honum," i. e. "Illa incidit in mortuum
         hominem, Thorbrandum Snorrii filium, cujus capiti lapis planus
         impactus stetit; nudus juxta eum gladius jacuit." Rafn, p.

         [Footnote 228: These Eskimo skin-boats are described in Rink's
         _Danish Greenland_, pp. 113, 179.]

         [Footnote 229: Cf. Storm, _op. cit._ pp. 366, 367.]

One other point which must be noticed here in connection with the
Skrælings is a singular manoeuvre which they are said to have practised
in the course of the fight. They raised upon the end of a pole a big
ball, not unlike a sheep's paunch, and of a bluish colour; this ball
they swung from the pole over the heads of the white men, and it fell to
the ground with a horrid noise.[230] Now, according to Mr. Schoolcraft,
this was a mode of fighting formerly common among the Algonquins, in New
England and elsewhere. This big ball was what Mr. Schoolcraft calls the
"balista," or what the Indians themselves call the "demon's head." It
was a large round boulder, sewed up in a new skin and attached to a
pole. As the skin dried it enwrapped the stone tightly; and then it was
daubed with grotesque devices in various colours. "It was borne by
several warriors who acted as balisteers. Plunged upon a boat or canoe,
it was capable of sinking it. Brought down upon a group of men on a
sudden, it produced consternation and death."[231] This is a most
remarkable feature in the narrative, for it shows us the Icelandic
writer (here manifestly controlled by some authoritative source of
information) describing a very strange mode of fighting, which we know
to have been characteristic of the Algonquins. Karlsefni's men do not
seem to have relished this outlandish style of fighting; they retreated
along the river bank until they came to a favourable situation among
some rocks, where they made a stand and beat off their swarming
assailants. The latter, as soon as they found themselves losing many
warriors without gaining their point, suddenly turned and fled to their
canoes, and paddled away with astonishing celerity. Throughout the
account it seems to me perfectly clear that we are dealing with Indians.

         [Footnote 230: "That sá their Karlsefni at Skrælíngar færdhu
         upp á stöng knött stundar mykinn thví nær til at jafna sem
         saudharvömb, ok helzt blán at lit, ok fleygdhu af stönginni upp
         á landit yfir lidh theirra Karlsefnis, ok lèt illilega vidhr,
         thar sem nidhr kom. Vidh thetta sló ótta myklum á Karlsefni ok
         allt lidh hans, svâ at thá fýsti engis annars enn flýja, ok
         halda undan upp medh ánni, thvíat theim thótti lidh Skrælínga
         drífa at sèr allum megin, ok lètta eigi, fyrr enn their koma
         til hamra nokkurra, ok veittu thar vidhrtöku hardha," i. e.
         "Viderunt Karlsefniani quod Skrælingi longurio sustulerunt
         globum ingentem, ventri ovillo haud absimilem, colore fere
         cæruleo; hune ex longurio in terram super manum Karlsefnianorum
         contorserunt, qui ut decidit, dirum sonuit. Hac re terrore
         perculsus est Karlsefnius suique omnes, ut nihil aliud cuperent
         quam fugere et gradum referre sursum secundum fluvium:
         credebant enim se ab Skrælingis undique circumveniri. Hinc non
         gradum stitere, priusquam ad rupes quasdam pervenissent, ubi
         acriter resistebant." Rafn, p. 153.]

         [Footnote 231: Schoolcraft, _Archives of Aboriginal Knowledge_,
         Philadelphia, 1860, 6 vols. 4to, vol. i. p. 89; a figure of
         this weapon is given in the same volume, plate xv. fig. 2, from
         a careful description by Chingwauk, an Algonquin chief.]

[Sidenote: The uniped.]

The coexistence of so many unmistakable marks of truth in our narratives
may fairly be said to amount to a demonstration that they must be
derived, through some eminently trustworthy channel, from the statements
of intelligent eye-witnesses who took part in the events related. Here
and there, no doubt, we come upon some improbable incident or a touch of
superstition, such as we need not go back to the eleventh century to
find very common among seamen's narratives; but the remarkable thing in
the present case is that there are so few such features. One fabulous
creature is mentioned. Thorfinn and his men saw from their vessel a
glittering speck upon the shore at an opening in the woods. They hailed
it, whereupon the creature proceeded to perform the quite human act of
shooting an arrow, which killed the man at the helm. The narrator calls
it a "uniped," or some sort of one-footed goblin,[232] but that is
hardly reasonable, for after the shooting it went on to perform the
further quite human and eminently Indian-like act of running away.[233]
Evidently this discreet "uniped" was impressed with the desirableness of
living to fight another day. In a narrative otherwise characterized by
sobriety, such an instance of fancy, even supposing it to have come down
from the original sources, counts for as much or as little as Henry
Hudson's description of a mermaid.[234]

         [Footnote 232: Rafn, p. 160; De Costa, p. 134; Storm, p. 330.]

         [Footnote 233: Here the narrator seems determined to give us a
         genuine smack of the marvellous, for when the fleeing uniped
         comes to a place where his retreat seems cut off by an arm of
         the sea, he runs (glides, or hops?) across the water without
         sinking. In Vigfusson's version, however, the marvellous is
         eliminated, and the creature simply runs over the stubble and
         disappears. The incident is evidently an instance where the
         narrative has been "embellished" by introducing a feature from
         ancient classical writers. The "Monocoli," or one-legged
         people, are mentioned by Pliny, _Hist. Nat._, vii. 2: "Item
         hominum genus qui Monocoli vocarentur, singulis cruribus, miræ
         pernicitatis ad saltum." Cf. Aulus Gellius, _Noctes Atticæ_,
         viii. 4.]

         [Footnote 234: Between Spitzbergen and Nova Zembla, June 15,
         1608. For the description, with its droll details, see _Purchas
         his Pilgrimes_, iii. 575.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Misleading associations with the word "saga."]

[Sidenote: Unfortunate comparison between Leif Ericsson and Agamemnon.]

[Sidenote: The story of the Trojan War, as we have it, is pure

It is now time for a few words upon the character of the records upon
which our story is based. And first, let us remark upon a possible
source of misapprehension due to the associations with which a certain
Norse word has been clothed. The old Norse narrative-writings are called
"sagas," a word which we are in the habit of using in English as
equivalent to legendary or semi-mythical narratives. To cite a "saga" as
authority for a statement seems, therefore, to some people as
inadmissible as to cite a fairy-tale; and I cannot help suspecting that
to some such misleading association of ideas is due the particular form
of the opinion expressed some time ago by a committee of the
Massachusetts Historical Society,--"that there is the same sort of
reason for believing in the existence of Leif Ericsson that there is for
believing in the existence of Agamemnon. They are both traditions
accepted by later writers, and there is no more reason for regarding as
true the details related about the discoveries of the former than there
is for accepting as historic truth the narrative contained in the
Homeric poems." The report goes on to observe that "it is antecedently
probable that the Northmen discovered America in the early part of the
eleventh century; and this discovery is confirmed by the same sort of
historical tradition, not strong enough to be called evidence, upon
which our belief in many of the accepted facts of history rests."[235]
The second of these statements is characterized by critical moderation,
and expresses the inevitable and wholesome reaction against the rash
enthusiasm of Professor Rafn half a century ago, and the vagaries of
many an uninstructed or uncritical writer since his time. But the first
statement is singularly unfortunate. It would be difficult to find a
comparison more inappropriate than that between Agamemnon and Leif,
between the Iliad and the Saga of Eric the Red. The story of the Trojan
War and its heroes, as we have it in Homer and the Athenian dramatists,
is pure folk-lore as regards form, and chiefly folk-lore as regards
contents. It is in a high degree probable that this mass of folk-lore
surrounds a kernel of plain fact, that in times long before the first
Olympiad an actual "king of men" at Mycenæ conducted an expedition
against the great city by the Simois, that the Agamemnon of the poet
stands in some such relation toward this chieftain as that in which the
Charlemagne of mediæval romance stands toward the mighty Emperor of the
West.[236] Nevertheless the story, as we have it, is simply folk-lore.
If the Iliad and Odyssey contain faint reminiscences of actual events,
these events are so inextricably wrapped up with mythical phraseology
that by no cunning of the scholar can they be construed into history.
The motives and capabilities of the actors and the conditions under
which they accomplish their destinies are such as exist only in
fairy-tales. Their world is as remote from that in which we live as the
world of Sindbad and Camaralzaman; and this is not essentially altered
by the fact that Homer introduces us to definite localities and familiar
customs as often as the Irish legends of Finn M'Cumhail.[237]

         [Footnote 235: _Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc._, December, 1887.]

         [Footnote 236: I used this argument twenty years ago in
         qualification of the over-zealous solarizing views of Sir G. W.
         Cox and others. See my _Myths and Mythmakers_, pp. 191-202; and
         cf. Freeman on "The Mythical and Romantic Elements in Early
         English History," in his _Historical Essays_, i. 1-39.]

         [Footnote 237: Curtin, _Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland_, pp.
         12, 204, 303; Kennedy, _Legendary Fictions of the Irish Celts_,
         pp. 203-311.]

[Sidenote: The Saga of Eric the Red is not folk-lore.]

It would be hard to find anything more unlike such writings than the
class of Icelandic sagas to which that of Eric the Red belongs. Here we
have quiet and sober narrative, not in the least like a fairy-tale, but
often much like a ship's log. Whatever such narrative may be, it is not
folk-lore. In act and motive, in its conditions and laws, its world is
the every-day world in which we live. If now and then a "uniped" happens
to stray into it, the incongruity is as conspicuous as in the case of
Hudson's mermaid, or a ghost in a modern country inn; whereas in the
Homeric fabric the supernatural is warp and woof. To assert a likeness
between two kinds of literature so utterly different is to go very far

[Sidenote: Mythical and historical sagas.]

As already observed, I suspect that misleading associations with the
word "saga" may have exerted an unconscious influence in producing this
particular kind of blunder,--for it is nothing less than a blunder.
Resemblance is tacitly assumed between the Iliad and an Icelandic saga.
Well, between the Iliad and _some_ Icelandic sagas there is a real and
strong resemblance. In truth these sagas are divisible into two well
marked and sharply contrasted classes. In the one class belong the Eddic
Lays, and the _mythical sagas_, such as the Volsunga, the stories of
Ragnar, Frithiof, and others; and along with these, though totally
different in source, we may for our present purpose group the _romantic
sagas_, such as Parceval, Remund, Karlamagnus, and others brought from
southern Europe. These are alike in being composed of legendary and
mythical materials; they belong essentially to the literature of
folk-lore. In the other class come the _historical sagas_, such as those
of Njal and Egil, the Sturlunga, and many others, with the numerous
biographies and annals.[238] These writings give us history, and often
very good history indeed. "Saga" meant simply any kind of literature in
narrative form; the good people of Iceland did not happen to have such a
handy word as "history," which they could keep entire when they meant it
in sober earnest and chop down into "story" when they meant it
otherwise. It is very much as if we were to apply the same word to the
Arthur legends and to William of Malmesbury's judicious and accurate
chronicles, and call them alike "stories."

         [Footnote 238: Nowhere can you find a more masterly critical
         account of Icelandic literature than in Vigfusson's
         "Prolegomena" to his edition of _Sturlunga Saga_, Oxford, 1878,
         vol. i. pp. ix.-ccxiv. There is a good but very brief account
         in Horn's _History of the Literature of the Scandinavian
         North_, transl. by R. B. Anderson, Chicago, 1884, pp. 50-70.]

[Sidenote: The western or Hauks-bók version of Eric the Red's Saga.]

The narrative upon which our account of the Vinland voyages is chiefly
based belongs to the class of historical sagas. It is the Saga of Eric
the Red, and it exists in two different versions, of which one seems to
have been made in the north, the other in the west, of Iceland. The
western version is the earlier and in some respects the better. It is
found in two vellums, that of the great collection known as _Hauks-bók_
(AM. 544), and that which is simply known as AM. 557 from its catalogue
number in Arni Magnusson's collection. Of these the former, which is the
best preserved, was written in a beautiful hand by Hauk Erlendsson,
between 1305 and 1334, the year of his death. This western version is
the one which has generally been printed under the title, "Saga of
Thorfinn Karlsefni." It is the one to which I have most frequently
referred in the present chapter.[239]

         [Footnote 239: It is printed in Rafn, pp. 84-187, and in
         _Grönlands historiske Mindesmærker_, i. 352-443. The most
         essential part of it may now be found, under its own name, in
         Vigfusson's _Icelandic Prose Reader_, pp. 123-140.]

[Sidenote: The northern or Flateyar-bók version.]

The northern version is that which was made about the year 1387 by the
priest Jón Thórdharson, and contained in the famous compilation known as
the _Flateyar-bók_, or "Flat Island Book."[240] This priest was editing
the saga of King Olaf Tryggvesson, which is contained in that
compilation, and inasmuch as Leif Ericsson's presence at King Olaf's
court was connected both with the introduction of Christianity into
Greenland and with the discovery of Vinland, Jón paused, after the
manner of mediæval chroniclers, and inserted then and there what he knew
about Eric and Leif and Thorfinn. In doing this, he used parts of the
original saga of Eric the Red (as we find it reproduced in the western
version), and added thereunto a considerable amount of material
concerning the Vinland voyages derived from other sources. Jón's version
thus made has generally been printed under the title, "Saga of Eric the

         [Footnote 240: It belonged to a man who lived on Flat Island,
         in one of the Iceland fiords.]

         [Footnote 241: It is printed in Rafn, pp. 1-76, under the title
         "Thættir af Eireki Rauda ok Grænlendíngum." For a critical
         account of these versions, see Storm, _op. cit._ pp. 319-325; I
         do not, in all respects, follow him in his depreciation of the
         Flateyar-bók version.]

[Sidenote: Presumption against sources not contemporary.]

Now the older version, written at the beginning of the fourteenth
century, gives an account of things which happened three centuries
before it was written. A cautious scholar will, as a rule, be slow to
consider any historical narrative as quite satisfactory authority, even
when it contains no improbable statements, unless it is nearly
contemporary with the events which it records. Such was the rule laid
down by the late Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and it is a very good rule;
the proper application of it has disencumbered history of much rubbish.
At the same time, like all rules, it should be used with judicious
caution and not allowed to run away with us. As applied by Lewis to
Roman history it would have swept away in one great cataclysm not only
kings and decemvirs, but Brennus and his Gauls to boot, and left us with
nothing to swear by until the invasion of Pyrrhus.[242] Subsequent
research has shown that this was going altogether too far. The mere fact
of distance in time between a document and the events which it records
is only negative testimony against its value, for it may be a faithful
transcript of some earlier document or documents since lost. It is so
difficult to prove a negative that the mere lapse of time simply raises
a presumption the weight of which should be estimated by a careful
survey of all the probabilities in the case. Among the many Icelandic
vellums that are known to have perished[243] there may well have been
earlier copies of Eric the Red's Saga.

         [Footnote 242: Lewis's _Inquiry into the Credibility of the
         Early Roman History_, 2 vols., London, 1855.]

         [Footnote 243: And notably in that terrible fire of October,
         1728, which consumed the University Library at Copenhagen, and
         broke the heart of the noble collector of manuscripts, Arni
         Magnusson. The great eruption of Hecla in 1390 overwhelmed two
         famous homesteads in the immediate neighbourhood. From the
         local history of these homesteads and their inmates, Vigfusson
         thinks it not unlikely that some records may still be there
         "awaiting the spade and pickaxe of a new Schliemann."
         _Sturlunga Saga_, p. cliv.]

[Sidenote: Hauk Erlendsson and his manuscripts.]

Hauk Erlendsson reckoned himself a direct descendant, in the eighth
generation, from Snorro, son of Thorfinn and Gudrid, born in Vinland. He
was an important personage in Iceland, a man of erudition, author of a
brief book of contemporary annals and a treatise on arithmetic in which
he introduced the Arabic numerals into Iceland. In those days the lover
of books, if he would add them to his library, might now and then obtain
an original manuscript, but usually he had to copy them or have them
copied by hand. The Hauks-bók, with its 200 skins, one of the most
extensive Icelandic vellums now in existence, is really Hauk's private
library, or what there is left of it, and it shows that he was a man who
knew how to make a good choice of books. He did a good deal of his
copying himself, and also employed two clerks in the same kind of

         [Footnote 244: An excellent facsimile of Hauk's handwriting is
         given in Rafn, tab. iii., lower part; tab. iv. and the upper
         part of tab. iii. are in the hands of his two amanuenses. See
         Vigfusson, _op. cit._ p. clxi.]

[Sidenote: The story is not likely to have been preserved to Hauk's time
by oral tradition only.]

Now I do not suppose it will occur to any rational being to suggest that
Hauk may have written down his version of Eric the Red's Saga from an
oral tradition nearly three centuries old. The narrative could not have
been so long preserved in its integrity, with so little extravagance of
statement and so many marks of truthfulness in details foreign to
ordinary Icelandic experience, if it had been entrusted to oral
tradition alone. One might as well try to imagine Drake's "World
Encompassed" handed down by oral tradition from the days of Queen
Elizabeth to the days of Queen Victoria. Such transmission is possible
enough with heroic poems and folk-tales, which deal with a few dramatic
situations and a stock of mythical conceptions familiar at every
fireside; but in a simple matter-of-fact record of sailors' observations
and experiences on a strange coast, oral tradition would not be long in
distorting and jumbling the details into a result quite undecipherable.
The story of the Zeno brothers, presently to be cited, shows what
strange perversions occur, even in written tradition, when the copyist,
instead of faithfully copying records of unfamiliar events, tries to
edit and amend them. One cannot reasonably doubt that Hauk's vellum of
Eric the Red's Saga, with its many ear-marks of truth above mentioned,
was copied by him--and quite carefully and faithfully withal--from some
older vellum not now forthcoming.

[Sidenote: Allusions to Vinland in other documents.]

As we have no clue, however, beyond the internal evidence, to the age or
character of the sources from which Hauk copied, there is nothing left
for us to do but to look into other Icelandic documents, to see if
anywhere they betray a knowledge of Vinland and the voyages thither.
Incidental references to Vinland, in narratives concerned with other
matters, are of great significance in this connection; for they imply on
the part of the narrator a presumption that his readers understand such
references, and that it is not necessary to interrupt his story in order
to explain them. Such incidental references imply the existence, during
the interval between the Vinland voyages and Hauk's manuscript, of many
intermediate links of sound testimony that have since dropped out of
sight; and therefore they go far toward removing whatever presumption
may be alleged against Hauk's manuscript because of its distance from
the events.

[Sidenote: Eyrbyggja Saga.]

Now the Eyrbyggja Saga, written between 1230 and 1260, is largely
devoted to the settlement of Iceland, and is full of valuable notices of
the heathen institutions and customs of the tenth century. The
Eyrbyggja, having occasion to speak of Thorbrand Snorrason, observes
incidentally that he went from Greenland to Vinland with Karlsefni and
was killed in a battle with the Skrælings.[245] We have already
mentioned the death of this Thorbrand, and how Freydis found his body in
the woods.

         [Footnote 245: Vigfusson, _Eyrbyggja Saga_, pp. 91, 92. Another
         of Karlsefni's comrades, Thorhall Gamlason, is mentioned in
         _Grettis Saga_, Copenhagen, 1859, pp. 22, 70; he went back to
         Iceland, settled on a farm there, and was known for the rest of
         his life as "the Vinlander." See above, pp. 165, 168.]

[Sidenote: The abbot Nikulas, etc.]

Three Icelandic tracts on geography, between the twelfth and fourteenth
centuries, mention Helluland and Vinland, and in two of these accounts
Markland is interposed between Helluland and Vinland.[246] One of these
tracts mentions the voyages of Leif and Thorfinn. It forms part of an
essay called "Guide to the Holy Land," by Nikulas Sæmundsson, abbot of
Thvera, in the north of Iceland, who died 1159. This Nikulas was curious
in matters of geography, and had travelled extensively.

         [Footnote 246: Werlauf, _Symbolæ ad Geogr. Medii Ævi_,
         Copenhagen, 1820.]

[Sidenote: Ari Fródhi.]

With the celebrated Ari Thorgilsson, usually known as Fródhi, "the
learned," we come to testimony nearly contemporaneous in time and
extremely valuable in character. This erudite priest, born in 1067, was
the founder of historical writing in Iceland. He was the principal
author of the "Landnáma-bók," already mentioned as a work of thorough
and painstaking research unequalled in mediæval literature. His other
principal works were the "Konunga-bók," or chronicle of the kings of
Norway, and the "Islendinga-bók," or description of Iceland.[247] Ari's
books, written not in monkish Latin, but in a good vigorous vernacular,
were a mine of information from which all subsequent Icelandic
historians were accustomed to draw such treasures as they needed. To his
diligence and acumen they were all, from Snorro Sturlason down, very
much indebted. He may be said to have given the tone to history-writing
in Iceland, and it was a high tone.

         [Footnote 247: For a critical estimate of Ari's literary
         activity and the extent of his work, the reader is referred to
         Möbius, _Are's Isländerbuch_, Leipsic, 1869; Maurer, "Über Ari
         Thorgilsson und sein Isländerbuch," in _Germania_, xv.; Olsen,
         _Ari Thorgilsson hinn Fródhi_, Reykjavik, 1889, pp. 214-240.]

[Sidenote: Ari's significant allusion to Vinland.]

Unfortunately Ari's Islendinga-bók has perished. One cannot help
suspecting that it may have contained the contemporary materials from
which Eric the Red's Saga in the Hauks-bók was ultimately drawn. For
Ari made an abridgment or epitome of his great book, and this epitome,
commonly known as "Libellus Islandorum," still survives. In it Ari makes
brief mention of Greenland, and refers to his paternal uncle, Thorkell
Gellison, as authority for his statements. This Thorkell Gellison, of
Helgafell, a man of high consideration who flourished about the middle
of the eleventh century, had visited Greenland and talked with one of
the men who accompanied Eric when he went to settle in Brattahlid in
986. From this source Ari gives us the interesting information that
Eric's party found in Greenland "traces of human habitations, fragments
of boats, and stone implements; so from this one might conclude that
people of the kind who inhabited Vinland and were known by the (Norse)
Greenlanders as Skrælings must have roamed about there."[248] Observe
the force of this allusion. The settlers in Greenland did not at first
(nor for a long time) meet with barbarous or savage natives there, but
only with the vestiges of their former presence. But when Ari wrote the
above passage, the memory of Vinland and its fierce Skrælings was still
fresh, and Ari very properly inferred from the archæological remains in
Greenland that a people similar (in point of barbarism) to the
Skrælings must have been there. Unless Ari and his readers had a
distinct recollection of the accounts of Vinland, such a reference would
have been only an attempt to explain the less obscure by the more
obscure. It is to be regretted that we have in this book no more
allusions to Vinland; but if Ari could only leave us one such allusion,
he surely could not have made that one more pointed.

         [Footnote 248: Their "fundo thar manna vister bæthi austr ok
         vestr á landi ok kæiplabrot ok steinsmíthi, that es af thví má
         scilja, at thar hafdhi thessconar thjóth farith es Vínland
         hefer bygt, ok Grænlendínger calla Skrelínga," i. e.
         "invenerunt ibi, tam in orientali quam occidentali terræ parte,
         humanæ habitationis vestigia, navicularum fragmenta et opera
         fabrilia ex lapide, ex quo intelligi potest, ibi versatum esse
         nationem quæ Vinlandiam incoluit quamque Grænlandi Skrælingos
         appellant." Rafn, p. 207.]

[Sidenote: Other references.]

But this is not quite the only reference that Ari makes to Vinland.
There are three others that must in all probability be assigned to him.
Two occur in the Landnáma-bók, the first in a passage where mention is
made of Ari Marsson's voyage to a place in the western ocean near
Vinland;[249] the only point in this allusion which need here concern us
is that Vinland is tacitly assumed to be a known geographical situation
to which others may be referred. The second reference occurs in one of
those elaborate and minutely specific genealogies in the Landnáma-bók:
"Their son was Thordhr Hest-höfdhi, father of Karlsefni, who found
Vinland the Good, Snorri's father," etc.[250] The third reference occurs
in the Kristni Saga, a kind of supplement to the Landnáma-bók, giving an
account of the introduction of Christianity into Iceland; here it is
related how Leif Ericsson came to be called "Leif the Lucky," 1. from
having rescued a shipwrecked crew off the coast of Greenland, 2. from
having discovered "Vinland the Good."[251] From these brief allusions,
and from the general relation in which Ari Fródhi stood to later
writers, I suspect that if the greater Islendinga-bók had survived to
our time we should have found in it more about Vinland and its
discoverers. At any rate, as to the existence of a definite and
continuous tradition all the way from Ari down to Hauk Erlendsson, there
can be no question whatever.[252]

         [Footnote 249: _Landnáma-bók_, part ii. chap. xxii.]

         [Footnote 250: Id. part iii. chap. x.]

         [Footnote 251: _Kristni Saga_, apud _Biskupa Sögur_,
         Copenhagen, 1858, vol. i. p. 20.]

         [Footnote 252: Indeed, the parallel existence of the
         Flateyar-bók version of Eric the Red's Saga, alongside of the
         Hauks-bók version, is pretty good proof of the existence of a
         written account older than Hauk's time. The discrepancies
         between the two versions are such as to show that Jón
         Thordharson did not copy from Hauk, but followed some other
         version not now forthcoming. Jón mentions six voyages in
         connection with Vinland: 1. Bjarni Herjulfsson; 2. Leif; 3.
         Thorvald; 4. Thorstein and Gudrid; 5. Thorfinn Karlsefni; 6.
         Freydis. Hauk, on the other hand, mentions only the two
         principal voyages, those of Leif and Thorfinn; ignoring Bjarni,
         he accredits his adventures to Leif on his return voyage from
         Norway in 999, and he makes Thorvald a comrade of Thorfinn, and
         mixes his adventures with the events of Thorfinn's voyage. Dr.
         Storm considers Hauk's account intrinsically the more probable,
         and thinks that in the Flateyar-bók we have a later
         amplification of the tradition. But while I agree with Dr.
         Storm as to the general superiority of the Hauk version, I am
         not convinced by his arguments on this point. It seems to me
         likely that the Flateyar-bók here preserves more faithfully the
         details of an older tradition too summarily epitomized in the
         Hauks-bók. As the point in no way affects the general
         conclusions of the present chapter, it is hardly worth arguing
         here. The main thing for us is that the divergencies between
         the two versions, when coupled with their agreement in the most
         important features, indicate that both writers were working
         upon the basis of an antecedent written tradition, like the
         authors of the first and third synoptic gospels. Only here, of
         course, there are in the divergencies no symptoms of what the
         Tübingen school would call "_tendenz_," impairing and obscuring
         to an indeterminate extent the general trustworthiness of the
         narratives. On the whole, it is pretty clear that Hauks-bók and
         Flateyar-bók were independent of each other, and collated, each
         in its own way, earlier documents that have probably since

[Sidenote: Adam of Bremen.]

The testimony of Adam of Bremen brings us yet one generation nearer to
the Vinland voyages, and is very significant. Adam was much interested
in the missionary work in the north of Europe, and in 1073, the same
year that Hildebrand was elected to the papacy, he published his famous
"Historia Ecclesiastica" in which he gave an account of the conversion
of the northern nations from the time of Leo III. to that of
Hildebrand's predecessor. In prosecuting his studies, Adam made a visit
to the court of Swend Estridhsen, king of Denmark, nephew of Cnut the
Great, king of Denmark and England. Swend's reign began in 1047, so that
Adam's visit must have occurred between that date and 1073. The voyage
of Leif and Thorfinn would at that time have been within the memory of
living men, and would be likely to be known in Denmark, because the
intercourse between the several parts of the Scandinavian world was
incessant; there was continual coming and going. Adam learned what he
could of Scandinavian geography, and when he published his history, he
did just what a modern writer would do under similar circumstances; he
appended to his book some notes on the geography of those remote
countries, then so little known to his readers in central and southern
Europe. After giving some account of Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, he
describes the colony in Iceland, and then the further colony in
Greenland, and concludes by saying that out in that ocean there is
another country, or island, which has been visited by many persons, and
is called Vinland because of wild grapes that grow there, out of which a
very good wine can be made. Either rumour had exaggerated the virtues of
fox-grape juice, or the Northmen were not such good judges of wine as of
ale. Adam goes on to say that corn, likewise, grows in Vinland without
cultivation; and as such a statement to European readers must needs have
a smack of falsehood, he adds that it is based not upon fable and
guess-work, but upon "trustworthy reports (_certa relatione_) of the

[Sidenote: Adam's misconception of the situation.]

Scanty as it is, this single item of strictly contemporary testimony is
very important, because quite incidentally it gives to the later
accounts such confirmation as to show that they rest upon a solid basis
of continuous tradition and not upon mere unintelligent hearsay.[253]
The unvarying character of the tradition, in its essential details,
indicates that it must have been committed to writing at a very early
period, probably not later than the time of Ari's uncle Thorkell, who
was contemporary with Adam of Bremen. If, however, we read the whole
passage in which Adam's mention of Vinland occurs, it is clear from the
context that his own information was not derived from an inspection of
Icelandic documents. He got it, as he tells us, by talking with King
Swend; and all that he got, or all that he thought worth telling, was
this curious fact about vines and self-sown corn growing so near to
Greenland; for Adam quite misconceived the situation of Vinland, and
imagined it far up in the frozen North. After his mention of Vinland,
the continental character of which he evidently did not suspect, he goes
on immediately to say, "After this island nothing inhabitable is to be
found in that ocean, all being covered with unendurable ice and
boundless darkness." That most accomplished king, Harold Hardrada, says
Adam, tried not long since to ascertain how far the northern ocean
extended, and plunged along through this darkness until he actually
reached the end of the world, and came near tumbling off![254] Thus the
worthy Adam, while telling the truth about fox-grapes and maize as well
as he knew how, spoiled the effect of his story by putting Vinland in
the Arctic regions. The juxtaposition of icebergs and vines was a little
too close even for the mediæval mind so hospitable to strange yarns.
Adam's readers generally disbelieved the "trustworthy reports of the
Danes," and when they thought of Vinland at all, doubtless thought of it
as somewhere near the North Pole.[255] We shall do well to bear this in
mind when we come to consider the possibility of Columbus having
obtained from Adam of Bremen any hint in the least likely to be of use
in his own enterprise.[256]

         [Footnote 253: It is further interesting as the only undoubted
         reference to Vinland in a mediæval book written beyond the
         limits of the Scandinavian world. There is also, however, a
         passage in Ordericus Vitalis (_Historia Ecclesiastica_, iv.
         29), in which _Finland_ and the Orkneys, along with Greenland
         and Iceland, are loosely described as forming part of the
         dominions of the kings of Norway. This Finland does not appear
         to refer to the country of the Finns, east of the Baltic, and
         it has been supposed that it may have been meant for Vinland.
         The book of Ordericus was written about 1140.]

         [Footnote 254: The passage from Adam of Bremen deserves to be
         quoted in full: "Præterea unam adhuc insulam [regionam]
         recitavit [i. e. Svendus rex] a multis in eo repertam oceano,
         quæ dicitur Vinland, eo quod ibi vites sponte nascantur, vinum
         bonum gerentes [ferentes]; nam et fruges ibi non seminatas
         abundare, non fabulosa opinione, sed certa comperimus relatione
         Danorum. Post quam insulam terra nulla invenitur habitabilis in
         illo oceano, sed omnia quæ ultra sunt glacie intolerabili ac
         caligine immensa plena sunt; cujus rei Marcianus ita meminit:
         ultra Thyle, inquiens, navigare unius diei mare concretum est.
         Tentavit hoc nuper experientissimus Nordmannorum princeps
         Haroldus, qui latitudinem septentrionalis oceani perscrutatus
         navibus, tandem caligantibus ante ora deficientis mundi
         finibus, immane abyssi baratrum, retroactis vestigiis, vix
         salvus evasit." _Descriptio insularum aquilonis_, cap. 38, apud
         _Hist. Ecclesiastica_, iv. ed. Lindenbrog, Leyden, 1595. No
         such voyage is known to have been undertaken by Harold of
         Norway, nor is it likely. Adam was probably thinking of an
         Arctic voyage undertaken by one Thorir under the auspices of
         King Harold; one of the company brought back a polar bear and
         gave it to King Swend, who was much pleased with it. See Rafn,
         339. "Regionam" and "ferentes" in the above extract are variant
         readings found in some editions.]

         [Footnote 255: "Det har imidlertid ikke forhindret de senere
         forfattere, der benyttede Adam, fra at blive mistænksomme, og
         saalænge Adams beretning stod alene, har man i regelen vægret
         sig for at tro den. Endog den norske forfatter, der skrev
         'Historia Norvegiæ' og som foruden Adam vel ogsaa bar kjendt de
         hjemlige sagn om Vinland, maa have anseet beretningen for
         fabelagtig og derfor forbigaaet den; han kjendte altfor godt
         Grønland som et nordligt isfyldt Polarland til at ville tro
         paa, at i nærheden fandtes et Vinland." Storm, in _Aarbøger for
         Nordisk Oldkyndighed_, etc., Copenhagen, 1887, p. 300.]

         [Footnote 256: See below, p. 386.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Summary of the argument.]

To sum up the argument:--we have in Eric the Red's Saga, as copied by
Hauk Erlendsson, a document for the existence of which we are required
to account. That document contains unmistakable knowledge of some
things which mediæval Europeans could by no human possibility have
learned, except through a visit to some part of the coast of North
America further south than Labrador or Newfoundland. It tells an
eminently probable story in a simple, straightforward way, agreeing in
its details with what we know of the North American coast between Point
Judith and Cape Breton. Its general accuracy in the statement and
grouping of so many remote details is proof that its statements were
controlled by an exceedingly strong and steady tradition,--altogether
too strong and steady, in my opinion, to have been maintained simply by
word of mouth. These Icelanders were people so much given to writing
that their historic records during the Middle Ages were, as the late Sir
Richard Burton truly observed, more complete than those of any other
country in Europe.[257] It is probable that the facts mentioned in
Hauk's document rested upon some kind of a written basis as early as the
eleventh century; and it seems quite clear that the constant tradition,
by which all the allusions to Vinland and the Skrælings are controlled,
had become established by that time. The data are more scanty than we
could wish, but they all point in the same direction as surely as straws
blown by a steady wind, and their cumulative force is so great as to
fall but little short of demonstration. For these reasons it seems to me
that the Saga of Eric the Red should be accepted as history; and there
is another reason which might not have counted for much at the
beginning of this discussion, but at the end seems quite solid and
worthy of respect. The narrative begins with the colonization of
Greenland and goes on with the visits to Vinland. It is unquestionably
sound history for the first part; why should it be anything else for the
second part? What shall be said of a style of criticism which, in
dealing with one and the same document, arbitrarily cuts it in two in
the middle and calls the first half history and the last half legend?
which accepts its statements as serious so long as they keep to the
north of the sixtieth parallel, and dismisses them as idle as soon as
they pass to the south of it? Quite contrary to common sense, I should

         [Footnote 257: Burton, _Ultima Thule_, London, 1875, i. 237.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Absurd speculations of zealous antiquarians.]

[Sidenote: There is no reason for supposing that the Northmen founded a
colony in Vinland.]

[Sidenote: No archæological remains of the Northmen have been found
south of Davis strait.]

The only discredit which has been thrown upon the story of the Vinland
voyages, in the eyes either of scholars or of the general public, has
arisen from the eager credulity with which ingenious antiquarians have
now and then tried to prove more than facts will warrant. It is
peculiarly a case in which the judicious historian has had frequent
occasion to exclaim, Save me from my friends! The only fit criticism
upon the wonderful argument from the Dighton inscription is a reference
to the equally wonderful discovery made by Mr. Pickwick at Cobham;[258]
and when it was attempted, some sixty years ago, to prove that Governor
Arnold's old stone windmill at Newport[259] was a tower built by the
Northmen, no wonder if the exposure of this rather laughable notion
should have led many people to suppose that the story of Leif and
Thorfinn had thereby been deprived of some part of its support. But the
story never rested upon any such evidence, and does not call for
evidence of such sort. There is nothing in the story to indicate that
the Northmen ever founded a colony in Vinland, or built durable
buildings there. The distinction implicitly drawn by Adam of Bremen, who
narrates the colonization of Iceland and Greenland, and then goes on to
speak of Vinland, not as colonized, but simply as discovered, is a
distinction amply borne out by our chronicles. Nowhere is there the
slightest hint of a colony or settlement established in Vinland. On the
contrary, our plain, business-like narrative tells us that Thorfinn
Karlsefni tried to found a colony and failed; and it tells us why he
failed. The Indians were too many for him. The Northmen of the eleventh
century, without firearms, were in much less favourable condition for
withstanding the Indians than the Englishmen of the seventeenth; and at
the former period there existed no cause for emigration from Norway and
Iceland at all comparable to the economic, political, and religious
circumstances which, in a later age, sent thousands of Englishmen to
Virginia and New England. The founding of colonies in America in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was no pastime; it was a tale of
drudgery, starvation, and bloodshed, that curdles one's blood to read;
more attempts failed than succeeded. Assuredly Thorfinn gave proof of
the good sense ascribed to him when he turned his back upon Vinland. But
if he or any other Northman had ever succeeded in establishing a colony
there, can anybody explain why it should not have stamped the fact of
its existence either upon the soil, or upon history, or both, as
unmistakably as the colony of Greenland? Archæological remains of the
Northmen abound in Greenland, all the way from Immartinek to near Cape
Farewell; the existence of one such relic on the North American
continent has never yet been proved. Not a single vestige of the
Northmen's presence here, at all worthy of credence, has ever been
found. The writers who have, from time to time, mistaken other things
for such vestiges, have been led astray because they have failed to
distinguish between the different conditions of proof in Greenland and
in Vinland. As Mr. Laing forcibly put the case, nearly half a century
ago, "Greenland was a colony with communications, trade, civil and
ecclesiastical establishments, and a considerable population," for more
than four centuries. "Vinland was only visited by flying parties of
woodcutters, remaining at the utmost two or three winters, but never
settling there permanently.... To expect here, as in Greenland, material
proofs to corroborate the documentary proofs, is weakening the latter by
linking them to a sort of evidence which, from the very nature of the
case,--the temporary visits of a ship's crew,--cannot exist in Vinland,
and, as in the case of Greenland, come in to support them."[260]

         [Footnote 258: See _Pickwick Papers_, chap. xi. I am indebted
         to Mr. Tillinghast, of Harvard University Library, for calling
         my attention to a letter from Rev. John Lathrop, of Boston, to
         Hon. John Davis, August 10, 1809, containing George
         Washington's opinion of the Dighton inscription. When President
         Washington visited Cambridge in the fall of 1789, he was shown
         about the college buildings by the president and fellows of the
         university. While in the museum he was observed to "fix his
         eye" upon a full-size copy of the Dighton inscription made by
         the librarian, James Winthrop. Dr. Lathrop, who happened to be
         standing near Washington, "ventured to give the opinion which
         several learned men had entertained with respect to the origin
         of the inscription." Inasmuch as some of the characters were
         thought to resemble "oriental" characters, and inasmuch as the
         ancient Phoenicians had sailed outside of the Pillars of
         Hercules, it was "conjectured" that some Phoenician vessels had
         sailed into Narragansett bay and up the Taunton river. "While
         detained by winds, or other causes now unknown, the people, it
         has been conjectured, made the inscription, now to be seen on
         the face of the rock, and which we may suppose to be a record
         of their fortunes or of their fate."

         "After I had given the above account, the President smiled and
         said he believed the learned gentlemen whom I had mentioned
         were mistaken; and added that in the younger part of his life
         his business called him to be very much in the wilderness of
         Virginia, which gave him an opportunity to become acquainted
         with many of the customs and practices of the Indians. The
         Indians, he said, had a way of writing and recording their
         transactions, either in war or hunting. When they wished to
         make any such record, or leave an account of their exploits to
         any who might come after them, they scraped off the outer bark
         of a tree, and with a vegetable ink, or a little paint which
         they carried with them, on the smooth surface they wrote in a
         way that was generally understood by the people of their
         respective tribes. As he had so often examined the rude way of
         writing practised by the Indians of Virginia, and observed many
         of the characters on the inscription then before him so nearly
         resembled the characters used by the Indians, he had no doubt
         the inscription was made long ago by some natives of America."
         _Proceedings of Massachusetts Historical Society_, vol. x. p.
         115. This pleasant anecdote shows in a new light Washington's
         accuracy of observation and unfailing common-sense. Such
         inscriptions have been found by the thousand, scattered over
         all parts of the United States; for a learned study of them see
         Garrick Mallery, "Pictographs of the North American Indians,"
         _Reports of Bureau of Ethnology_, iv. 13-256. "The voluminous
         discussion upon the Dighton rock inscription," says Colonel
         Mallery, "renders it impossible wholly to neglect it.... It is
         merely a type of Algonquin rock-carving, not so interesting as
         many others.... It is of purely Indian origin, and is executed
         in the peculiar symbolic character of the Kekeewin," p. 20. The
         characters observed by Washington in the Virginia forests would
         very probably have been of the same type. Judge Davis, to whom
         Dr. Lathrop's letter was addressed, published in 1809 a paper
         maintaining the Indian origin of the Dighton inscription.

         A popular error, once started on its career, is as hard to kill
         as a cat. Otherwise it would be surprising to find, in so
         meritorious a book as Oscar Peschel's _Geschichte des
         Zeitalters der Entdeckungen_, Stuttgart, 1877, p. 82, an
         unsuspecting reliance upon Rafn's ridiculous interpretation of
         this Algonquin pictograph. In an American writer as well
         equipped as Peschel, this particular kind of blunder would of
         course be impossible; and one is reminded of Humboldt's remark,
         "Il est des recherches qui ne peuvent s'exécuter que près des
         sources mêmes." _Examen critique_, etc., tom. ii. p. 102.

         In old times, I may add, such vagaries were usually saddled
         upon the Phoenicians, until since Rafn's time the Northmen have
         taken their place as the pack-horses for all sorts of
         antiquarian "conjecture."]

         [Footnote 259: See Palfrey's _History of New England_, vol. i.
         pp. 57-59; Mason's _Reminiscences of Newport_, pp. 392-407.
         Laing (_Heimskringla_, pp. 182-185) thinks the Yankees must
         have intended to fool Professor Rafn and the Royal Society of
         Antiquaries at Copenhagen; "Those sly rogues of Americans,"
         says he, "dearly love a quiet hoax;" and he can almost hear
         them chuckling over their joke in their club-room at Newport. I
         am afraid these Yankees were less rogues and more fools than
         Mr. Laing makes out.]

         [Footnote 260: Laing, _Heimskringla_, vol. i. p. 181.]

[Sidenote: If the Northmen had founded a successful colony, they would
have introduced domestic cattle into the North American fauna;]

[Sidenote: and such animals could not have vanished and left no trace of
their existence.]

The most convincing proof that the Northmen never founded a colony in
America, south of Davis strait, is furnished by the total absence of
horses, cattle, and other domestic animals from the soil of North
America until they were brought hither by the Spanish, French, and
English settlers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. If the
Northmen had ever settled in Vinland, they would have brought cattle
with them, and if their colony had been successful, it would have
introduced such cattle permanently into the fauna of the country.
Indeed, our narrative tells us that Karlsefni's people "had with them
all kinds of cattle, having the intention to settle in the land if they
could."[261] Naturally the two things are coupled in the narrator's
mind. So the Portuguese carried livestock in their earliest expeditions
to the Atlantic islands;[262] Columbus brought horses and cows, with
vines and all kinds of grain, on his second voyage to the West
Indies;[263] when the French, under Baron Léry, made a disastrous
attempt to found a colony on or about Cape Breton in 1518, they left
behind them, upon Sable island, a goodly stock of cows and pigs, which
throve and multiplied long after their owners had gone;[264] the
Pilgrims at Plymouth had cattle, goats, and swine as early as 1623.[265]
In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a community of Europeans
subsisting anywhere for any length of time without domestic animals. We
have seen that the Northmen took pains to raise cattle in Greenland, and
were quick to comment upon the climate of Vinland as favourable for
pasturage. To suppose that these men ever founded a colony in North
America, but did not bring domestic animals thither, would be absurd.
But it would be scarcely less absurd to suppose that such animals,
having been once fairly introduced into the fauna of North America,
would afterward have vanished without leaving a vestige of their
presence. As for the few cattle for which Thorfinn could find room in
his three or four dragon-ships, we may easily believe that his people
ate them up before leaving the country, especially since we are told
they were threatened with famine. But that domestic cattle, after being
supported on American soil during the length of time involved in the
establishment of a successful colony (say, for fifty or a hundred
years), should have disappeared without leaving abundant traces of
themselves, is simply incredible. Horses and kine are not dependent upon
man for their existence; when left to themselves, in almost any part of
the world, they run wild and flourish in what naturalists call a "feral"
state. Thus we find feral horned cattle in the Falkland and in the
Ladrone islands, as well as in the ancient Chillingham Park, in
Northumberland; we find feral pigs in Jamaica; feral European dogs in La
Plata; feral horses in Turkestan, and also in Mexico, descended from
Spanish horses.[266] If the Northmen had ever founded a colony in
Vinland, how did it happen that the English and French in the
seventeenth century, and from that day to this, have never set eyes upon
a wild horse, or wild cattle, pigs, or hounds, or any such indication
whatever of the former presence of civilized Europeans? I do not
recollect ever seeing this argument used before, but it seems to me
conclusive. It raises against the hypothesis of a Norse colonization in
Vinland a presumption extremely difficult if not impossible to

         [Footnote 261: "Their höfdhu medh sèr allskonar fènadh, thvíat
         their ætlödhu at byggja landit, ef their mætti that," i. e.,
         "illi omne pecudum genus secum habuerunt, nam terram, si
         liceret, coloniis frequentare cogitarunt." Rafn, p. 57.]

         [Footnote 262: Major, _Prince Henry the Navigator_, p. 241.]

         [Footnote 263: Irving's _Life of Columbus_, New York, 1828,
         vol. i. p. 293.]

         [Footnote 264: _Histoire chronologique de la Nouvelle France_,
         pp. 40, 58; this work, written in 1689 by the Recollet friar
         Sixte le Tac, has at length been published (Paris, 1888) with
         notes and other original documents by Eugène Réveillaud. See,
         also, Læt, _Novus Orbis_, 39.]

         [Footnote 265: John Smith, _Generall Historie_, 247.]

         [Footnote 266: Darwin, _Animals and Plants under
         Domestication_, London, 1868, vol. i pp. 27, 77, 84.]

         [Footnote 267: The views of Professor Horsford as to the
         geographical situation of Vinland and its supposed colonization
         by Northmen are set forth in his four monographs, _Discovery of
         America by Northmen--address at the unveiling of the statue of
         Leif Eriksen_, etc., Boston, 1888; _The Problem of the
         Northmen_, Cambridge, 1889; _The Discovery of the Ancient City
         of Norumbega_, Boston, 1890; _The Defences of Norumbega_,
         Boston, 1891. Among Professor Horsford's conclusions the two
         principal are: 1. that the "river flowing through a lake into
         the sea" (Rafn, p. 147) is Charles river, and that Leif's
         booths were erected near the site of the present Cambridge
         hospital; 2. that "Norumbega"--a word loosely applied by some
         early explorers to some region or regions somewhere between the
         New Jersey coast and the Bay of Fundy--was the Indian utterance
         of "Norbega" or "Norway;" and that certain stone walls and dams
         at and near Watertown are vestiges of an ancient "city of
         Norumbega," which was founded and peopled by Northmen and
         carried on a more or less extensive trade with Europe for more
         than three centuries.

         With regard to the first of these conclusions, it is perhaps as
         likely that Leif's booths were within the present limits of
         Cambridge as in any of the numerous places which different
         writers have confidently assigned for them, all the way from
         Point Judith to Cape Breton. A judicious scholar will object
         not so much to the conclusion as to the character of the
         arguments by which it is reached. Too much weight is attached
         to hypothetical etymologies.

         With regard to the Norse colony alleged to have flourished for
         three centuries, it is pertinent to ask, what became of its
         cattle and horses? Why do we find no vestiges of the
         burial-places of these Europeans? or of iron tools and weapons
         of mediæval workmanship? Why is there no documentary mention,
         in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe, of this transatlantic
         trade? etc., etc. Until such points as these are disposed of,
         any further consideration of the hypothesis may properly be

[Illustration: Ruins of the church at Kakortok.]

[Sidenote: Further fortunes of the Greenland colony.]

[Sidenote: Bishop Eric's voyage in search of Vinland, 1121.]

[Sidenote: The ship from Markland, 1347.]

As for the colony in Greenland, while its population seems never to have
exceeded 5,000 or 6,000 souls, it maintained its existence and its
intercourse with Europe uninterruptedly from its settlement in 986, by
Eric the Red, for more than four hundred years. Early in the fourteenth
century the West Bygd, or western settlement, near Godthaab, seems to
have contained ninety farmsteads and four churches; while the East Bygd,
or eastern settlement, near Julianeshaab, contained one hundred and
ninety farmsteads, with one cathedral and eleven smaller churches, two
villages, and three or four monasteries.[268] Between Tunnudliorbik and
Igaliko fiords, and about thirty miles from the ruined stone houses of
Brattahlid, there now stands, imposing in its decay, the simple but
massive structure of Kakortok church, once the "cathedral" church of the
Gardar bishopric, where the Credo was intoned and censers swung, while
not less than ten generations lived and died. About the beginning of the
twelfth century there was a movement at Rome for establishing new
dioceses in "the islands of the ocean;" in 1106 a bishop's see was
erected in the north of Iceland, and one at about the same time in the
Færoes. In 1112, Eric Gnupsson,[269] having been appointed by Pope
Paschal II. "bishop of Greenland and Vinland _in partibus infidelium_,"
went from Iceland to organize his new diocese in Greenland. It is
mentioned in at least six different vellums that in 1121 Bishop Eric
"went in search of Vinland."[270] It is nowhere mentioned that he found
it, and Dr. Storm thinks it probable that he perished in the enterprise,
for, within the next year or next but one, the Greenlanders asked for a
new bishop, and Eric's successor, Bishop Arnold, was consecrated in
1124.[271] After Eric there was a regular succession of bishops
appointed by the papal court, down at least to 1409, and seventeen of
these bishops are mentioned by name. We do not learn that any of them
ever repeated Eric's experiment of searching for Vinland. So far as
existing Icelandic vellums know, there was no voyage to Vinland after
1121. Very likely, however, there may have been occasional voyages for
timber from Greenland to the coast of the American continent, which did
not attract attention or call for comment in Iceland. This is rendered
somewhat probable from an entry in the "Elder Skálholt Annals," a vellum
written about 1362. This informs us that in 1347 "there came a ship from
Greenland, less in size than small Icelandic trading-vessels. It was
without an anchor. There were seventeen men on board, and they had
sailed to Markland, but had afterwards been driven hither by storms at
sea."[272] This is the latest mention of any voyage to or from the
countries beyond Greenland.

         [Footnote 268: Laing, _Heimskringla_, i. 141. A description of
         the ruins may be found in two papers in _Meddelelser om
         Gronland_, Copenhagen, 1883 and 1889.]

         [Footnote 269: Sometimes called Eric Uppsi; he is mentioned in
         the Landnáma-bók as a native of Iceland.]

         [Footnote 270: Storm, _Islandske Annaler_, Christiania, 1888;
         Reeves, _The Finding of Wineland the Good_, London, 1890, pp.

         [Footnote 271: Storm, in _Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed_,
         1887, p. 319.]

         [Footnote 272: Reeves, _op. cit._ p. 83. In another vellum it
         is mentioned that in 1347 "a ship came from Greenland, which
         had sailed to Markland, and there were eighteen men on board."
         As Mr. Reeves well observes: "The nature of the information
         indicates that the knowledge of the discovery had not
         altogether faded from the memories of the Icelanders settled in
         Greenland. It seems further to lend a measure of plausibility
         to a theory that people from the Greenland colony may from time
         to time have visited the coast to the southwest of their home
         for supplies of wood, or for some kindred purpose. The visitors
         in this case had evidently intended to return directly from
         Markland to Greenland, and had they not been driven out of
         their course to Iceland, the probability is that this voyage
         would never have found mention in Icelandic chronicles, and all
         knowledge of it must have vanished as completely as did the
         colony to which the Markland visitors belonged."]

[Sidenote: The Greenland colony attacked by Eskimos.]

If the reader is inclined to wonder why a colony could be maintained in
southern Greenland more easily than on the coasts of Nova Scotia or
Massachusetts, or even why the Northmen did not at once abandon their
fiords at Brattahlid and come in a flock to these pleasanter places, he
must call to mind two important circumstances. First, the settlers in
southern Greenland did not meet with barbarous natives, but only with
vestiges of their former presence. It was not until the twelfth century
that, in roaming the icy deserts of the far north in quest of seals and
bearskins, the Norse hunters encountered tribes of Eskimo using stone
knives and whalebone arrow-heads;[273] and it was not until the
fourteenth century that we hear of their getting into a war with these
people. In 1349 the West Bygd was attacked and destroyed by Eskimos; in
1379 they invaded the East Bygd and wrought sad havoc; and it is
generally believed that some time after 1409 they completed the
destruction of the colony.

         [Footnote 273: Storm, _Monumenta historica Norvegiæ_, p. 77.]

[Sidenote: Queen Margaret's monopoly, and its baneful effects.]

Secondly, the relative proximity of Greenland to the mother country,
Iceland, made it much easier to sustain a colony there than in the more
distant Vinland. In colonizing, as in campaigning, distance from one's
base is sometimes the supreme circumstance. This is illustrated by the
fact that the very existence of the Greenland colony itself depended
upon perpetual and untrammelled exchange of commodities with Iceland;
and when once the source of supply was cut off, the colony soon
languished. In 1380 and 1387 the crowns of Norway and Denmark descended
upon Queen Margaret, and soon she made her precious contribution to the
innumerable swarm of instances that show with how little wisdom the
world is ruled. She made the trade to Greenland, Iceland, and the Færoe
isles "a royal monopoly which could only be carried on in ships
belonging to, or licensed by, the sovereign.... Under the monopoly of
trade the Icelanders could have no vessels, and no object for sailing to
Greenland; and the vessels fitted out by government, or its lessees,
would only be ready to leave Denmark or Bergen for Iceland at the season
they ought to have been ready to leave Iceland to go to Greenland. The
colony gradually fell into oblivion."[274] When this prohibitory
management was abandoned after 1534 by Christian III., it was altogether
too late. Starved by the miserable policy of governmental interference
with freedom of trade, the little Greenland colony soon became too weak
to sustain itself against the natives whose hostility had, for half a
century, been growing more and more dangerous. Precisely when or how it
perished we do not know. The latest notice we have of the colony is of a
marriage ceremony performed (probably in the Kakortok church), in 1409,
by Endrede Andreasson, the last bishop.[275] When, after three
centuries, the great missionary, Hans Egede, visited Greenland, in 1721,
he found the ruins of farmsteads and villages, the population of which
had vanished.

         [Footnote 274: Laing, _Heimskringla_, i. 147. It has been
         supposed that the Black Death, by which all Europe was ravaged
         in the middle part of the fourteenth century, may have crossed
         to Greenland, and fatally weakened the colony there; but
         Vigfusson says that the Black Death never touched Iceland
         (_Sturlunga Saga_, vol. i. p. cxxix.), so that it is not so
         likely to have reached Greenland.]

         [Footnote 275: Laing, _op. cit._ i. 142.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The story of the Venetian brothers.]

Our account of pre-Columbian voyages to America would be very incomplete
without some mention of the latest voyage said to have been made by
European vessels to the ancient settlement of the East Bygd. I refer to
the famous narrative of the Zeno brothers, which has furnished so many
subjects of contention for geographers that a hundred years ago John
Pinkerton called it "one of the most puzzling in the whole circle of
literature."[276] Nevertheless a great deal has been done, chiefly
through the acute researches of Mr. Richard Henry Major and Baron
Nordenskjöld, toward clearing up this mystery, so that certain points in
the Zeno narrative may now be regarded as established;[277] and from
these essential points we may form an opinion as to the character of
sundry questionable details.

         [Footnote 276: Yet this learned historian was quite correct in
         his own interpretation of Zeno's story, for in the same place
         he says, "If real, his Frisland is the Ferro islands, and his
         Zichmni is Sinclair." Pinkerton's _History of Scotland_,
         London, 1797, vol. i. p. 261.]

         [Footnote 277: Major, _The Voyages of the Venetian Brothers,
         Nicolò and Antonio Zeno, to the Northern Seas in the XIVth
         Century_, London, 1873 (Hakluyt Society); cf. Nordenskjöld, _Om
         bröderna Zenos resor och de äldsta kartor öfner Norden_,
         Stockholm, 1883.]

[Sidenote: The Zeno family.]

[Sidenote: Nicolò Zeno wrecked upon one of the Færoe islands, 1390.]

[Sidenote: Nicolò's voyage to Greenland, cir. 1394.]

[Sidenote: Voyage of Earl Sinclair and Antonio Zeno.]

The Zeno family was one of the oldest and most distinguished in Venice.
Among its members in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries we find a
doge, several senators and members of the Council of Ten, and military
commanders of high repute. Of these, Pietro Dracone Zeno, about 1350,
was captain-general of the Christian league for withstanding the Turks;
and his son Carlo achieved such success in the war against Genoa that he
was called the Lion of St. Mark, and his services to Venice were
compared with those of Camillus to Rome. Now this Carlo had two
brothers,--Nicolò, known as "the Chevalier," and Antonio. After the
close of the Genoese war the Chevalier Nicolò was seized with a desire
to see the world,[278] and more particularly England and Flanders. So
about 1390 he fitted up a ship at his own expense, and, passing out from
the strait of Gibraltar, sailed northward upon the Atlantic. After some
days of fair weather, he was caught in a storm and blown along for many
days more, until at length the ship was cast ashore on one of the Færoe
islands and wrecked, though most of the crew and goods were rescued.
According to the barbarous custom of the Middle Ages, some of the
natives of the island (Scandinavians) came swarming about the
unfortunate strangers to kill and rob them, but a great chieftain, with
a force of knights and men-at-arms, arrived upon the spot in time to
prevent such an outrage. This chief was Henry Sinclair of Roslyn, who in
1379 had been invested by King Hacon VI., of Norway, with the earldom of
the Orkneys and Caithness. On learning Zeno's rank and importance,
Sinclair treated him with much courtesy, and presently a friendship
sprang up between the two. Sinclair was then engaged with a fleet of
thirteen vessels in conquering and annexing to his earldom the Færoe
islands, and on several occasions profited by the military and nautical
skill of the Venetian captain. Nicolò seems to have enjoyed this
stirring life, for he presently sent to his brother Antonio in Venice an
account of it, which induced the latter to come and join him in the
Færoe islands. Antonio arrived in the course of 1391, and remained in
the service of Sinclair fourteen years, returning to Venice in time to
die there in 1406. After Antonio's arrival, his brother Nicolò was
appointed to the chief command of Sinclair's little fleet, and assisted
him in taking possession of the Shetland islands, which were properly
comprised within his earldom. In the course of these adventures, Nicolò
seems to have had his interest aroused in reports about Greenland. It
was not more than four or five years since Queen Margaret had undertaken
to make a royal monopoly of the Greenland trade in furs and whale oil,
and this would be a natural topic of conversation in the Færoes. In
July, 1393, or 1394, Nicolò Zeno sailed to Greenland with three ships,
and visited the East Bygd. After spending some time there, not being
accustomed to such a climate, he caught cold, and died soon after his
return to the Færoes, probably in 1395. His brother Antonio succeeded to
his office and such emoluments as pertained to it; and after a while, at
Earl Sinclair's instigation, he undertook a voyage of discovery in the
Atlantic ocean, in order to verify some fishermen's reports of the
existence of land a thousand miles or more to the west. One of these
fishermen was to serve as guide to the expedition, but unfortunately he
died three days before the ships were ready to sail. Nevertheless, the
expedition started, with Sinclair himself on board, and encountered
vicissitudes of weather and fortune. In fog and storm they lost all
reckoning of position, and found themselves at length on the western
coast of a country which, in the Italian narrative, is called "Icaria,"
but which has been supposed, with some probability, to have been Kerry,
in Ireland. Here, as they went ashore for fresh water, they were
attacked by the natives and several of their number were slain. From
this point they sailed out into the broad Atlantic again, and reached a
place supposed to be Greenland, but which is so vaguely described that
the identification is very difficult.[279] Our narrative here ends
somewhat confusedly. We are told that Sinclair remained in this place,
"and explored the whole of the country with great diligence, as well as
the coasts on both sides of Greenland." Antonio Zeno, on the other hand,
returned with part of the fleet to the Færoe islands, where he arrived
after sailing eastward for about a month, during five and twenty days of
which he saw no land. After relating these things and paying a word of
affectionate tribute to the virtues of Earl Sinclair, "a prince as
worthy of immortal memory as any that ever lived for his great bravery
and remarkable goodness," Antonio closes his letter abruptly: "But of
this I will say no more in this letter, and hope to be with you very
shortly, and to satisfy your curiosity on other subjects by word of

         [Footnote 278: "Or M. Nicolò il Caualiere ... entrò in
         grandissimo desiderio di ueder il mondo, e peregrinare, e farsi
         capace di varij costumi e di lingue de gli huomini, acciò che
         con le occasioni poi potesse meglio far seruigio alla sua
         patria ed à se acquistar fama e onore." The narrative gives
         1380 as the date of the voyage, but Mr. Major has shown that it
         must have been a mistake for 1390 (_op. cit._ xlii.-xlviii.).]

         [Footnote 279: It appears on the Zeno map as "Trin
         p[-p]montor," about the site of Cape Farewell; but how could
         six days' sail W. from Kerry, followed by four days' sail N.
         E., reach any such point? and how does this short outward sail
         consist with the return voyage, twenty days E. and eight days
         S. E., to the Færoes? The place is also said to have had "a
         fertile soil" and "good rivers," a description in nowise
         answering to Greenland.]

         [Footnote 280: "Però non ni dirò altro in questa lettera,
         sperando tosto di essere con uoi, e di sodisfarui di molte
         altre cose con la uiua uoce." Major, p. 34.]

[Sidenote: Publication of the remains of the documents by the younger
Nicolò Zeno.]

The person thus addressed by Antonio was his brother, the illustrious
Carlo Zeno. Soon after reaching home, after this long and eventful
absence, Antonio died. Besides his letters he had written a more
detailed account of the affairs in the northern seas. These papers
remained for more than a century in the palace of the family at Venice,
until one of the children, in his mischievous play, got hold of them and
tore them up. This child was Antonio's great-great-great-grandson,
Nicolò, born in 1515. When this young Nicolò had come to middle age, and
was a member of the Council of Ten, he happened to come across some
remnants of these documents, and then all at once he remembered with
grief how he had, in his boyhood, pulled them to pieces.[281] In the
light of the rapid progress in geographical discovery since 1492, this
story of distant voyages had now for Nicolò an interest such as it could
not have had for his immediate ancestors. Searching the palace he found
a few grimy old letters and a map or sailing chart, rotten with age,
which had been made or at any rate brought home by his ancestor Antonio.
Nicolò drew a fresh copy of this map, and pieced together the letters as
best he could, with more or less explanatory text of his own, and the
result was the little book which he published in 1558.[282]

         [Footnote 281: "All these letters were written by Messire
         Antonio to Messire Carlo, his brother; and I am grieved that
         the book and many other writings on these subjects have, I
         don't know how, come sadly to ruin; for, being but a child when
         they fell into my hands, I, not knowing what they were, tore
         them in pieces, as children will do, and sent them all to ruin:
         a circumstance which I cannot now recall without the greatest
         sorrow. Nevertheless, in order that such an important memorial
         should not be lost, I have put the whole in order, as well as I
         could, in the above narrative." Major, p. 35.]

         [Footnote 282: Nicolò Zeno, _Dello scoprimento dell' isole
         Frislanda, Eslanda, Engronelanda, Estotilanda, & Icaria, fatto
         per due fratelli Zeni, M. Nicolò it Caualiere, & M. Antonio.
         Libro Vno, col disegno di dette Isole._ Venice, 1558. Mr.
         Major's book contains the entire text, with an English

[Illustration: Zeno Map, cir. 1400--western half.]

[Illustration: Zeno Map, cir. 1400--eastern half.]

[Sidenote: Queer transformations of names.]

[Sidenote: "Frislanda."]

Unfortunately young Nicolò, with the laudable purpose of making it all
as clear as he could, thought it necessary not simply to reproduce
the old weather-beaten map, but to amend it by putting on here and there
such places and names as his diligent perusal of the manuscript led him
to deem wanting to its completeness.[283] Under the most favourable
circumstances that is a very difficult sort of thing to do, but in this
case the circumstances were far from favourable. Of course Nicolò got
these names and places into absurd positions, thus perplexing the map
and damaging its reputation. With regard to names, there was obscurity
enough, to begin with. In the first place, they were Icelandic names
falling upon the Italian ears of old Nicolò and Antonio, and spelled by
them according to their own notions; in the second place, these
outlandish names, blurred and defaced withal in the weather-stained
manuscript, were a puzzle to the eye of young Nicolò, who could but
decipher them according to _his_ notions. The havoc that can be wrought
upon winged words, subjected to such processes, is sometimes
marvellous.[284] Perhaps the slightest sufferer, in this case, was the
name of the group of islands upon one of which the shipwrecked Nicolò
was rescued by Sinclair. The name _Færoislander_ sounded to Italian
ears as _Frislanda_, and was uniformly so written.[285] Then the
pronunciation of _Shetland_ was helped by prefixing a vowel sound, as is
common in Italian, and so it came to be _Estland_ and _Esland_. This led
young Nicolò's eye in two or three places to confound it with _Islanda_,
or _Iceland_, and probably in one place with _Irlanda_, or _Ireland_.
Where old Nicolò meant to say that the island upon which he was living
with Earl Sinclair was somewhat larger than Shetland, young Nicolò
understood him as saying that it was somewhat larger than Ireland; and
so upon the amended map "Frislanda" appears as one great island
surrounded by tiny islands.[286] After the publication of this map, in
1558, sundry details were copied from it by the new maps of that day, so
that even far down into the seventeenth century it was common to depict
a big "Frislanda" somewhere in mid-ocean. When at length it was proved
that no such island exists, the reputation of the Zeno narrative was
seriously damaged. The nadir of reaction against it was reached when it
was declared to be a tissue of lies invented by the younger Nicolò,[287]
apparently for the purpose of setting up a Venetian claim to the
discovery of America.

         [Footnote 283: The map is taken from Winsor's _Narr. and Crit.
         Hist._, i. 127, where it is reduced from Nordenskjöld's
         _Studien ok Forskningar_. A better because larger copy may be
         found in Major's _Voyages of the Venetian Brothers_. The
         original map measures 12 x 15-1/2 inches. In the legend at the
         top the date is given as M CCC LXXX. but evidently one X has
         been omitted, for it should be 1390, and is correctly so given
         by Marco Barbaro, in his _Genealogie dei nobili Veneti_; of
         Antonio Zeno he says, "Scrisse con il fratello Nicolò Kav. li
         viaggi dell' Isole sotto il polo artico, e di quei scoprimente
         del 1390, e che per ordine di Zieno, re di Frislanda, si portò
         nel continente d'Estotilanda nell' America settentrionale e che
         si fermò 14 anni in Frislanda, cioè 4 con suo fratello Nicolò e
         10 solo." (This valuable work has never been published. The
         original MS., in Barbaro's own handwriting, is preserved in the
         Biblioteca di San Marco at Venice. There is a seventeenth
         century copy of it among the Egerton MSS. in the British
         Museum.)--Nicolò did not leave Italy until after December 14,
         1388 (Muratori, _Rerum Italicarum Scriptores_, tom. xxii. p.
         779). The map can hardly have been made before Antonio's
         voyage, about 1400. The places on the map are wildly out of
         position, as was common enough in old maps. Greenland is
         attached to Norway according to the general belief in the
         Middle Ages. In his confusion between the names "Estland" and
         "Islanda," young Nicolò has tried to reproduce the Shetland
         group, or something like it, and attach it to Iceland.
         "Icaria," probably Kerry, in Ireland, has been made into an
         island and carried far out into the Atlantic. The queerest of
         young Nicolò's mistakes was in placing the monastery of St.
         Olaus ("St. Thomas"). He should have placed it on the southwest
         coast of Greenland, near his "Af [-p]montor;" but he has got it
         on the extreme northeast, just about where Greenland is joined
         to Europe.]

         [Footnote 284: "Combien de coquilles typographiques ou de
         lectures défectueuses ont créé de noms boiteux, qu'il est
         ensuite bien difficile, quelquefois impossible de redresser!
         L'histoire et la géographie en sont pleines." Avezac, _Martin
         Waltzemüller_, p. 9.

         It is interesting to see how thoroughly words can be disguised
         by an unfamiliar phonetic spelling. I have seen people
         hopelessly puzzled by the following bill, supposed to have been
         made out by an illiterate stable-keeper somewhere in England:--

            Osafada        7s  6d
            Takinonimome       4d
                           7s 10d

         Some years ago Professor Huxley told me of a letter from France
         which came to the London post-office thus addressed:--

               Piqué du lait,

         This letter, after exciting at first helpless bewilderment and
         then busy speculation, was at length delivered to the right
         person, _Sir Humphry Davy_, in his rooms at the Royal
         Institution on Albemarle street, just off from _Piccadilly_!]

         [Footnote 285: Columbus, on his journey to Iceland in 1477,
         also heard the name _Færoislander_ as _Frislanda_, and so wrote
         it in the letter preserved for us in his biography by his son
         Ferdinand, hereafter to be especially noticed. See Major's
         remarks on this, _op. cit._ p. xix.]

         [Footnote 286: Perhaps in the old worn-out map the archipelago
         may have been blurred so as to be mistaken for one island. This
         would aid in misleading young Nicolò.]

         [Footnote 287: See the elaborate paper by Admiral Zahrtmann, in
         _Nordisk Tidsskrift for Oldkyndighed_, Copenhagen, 1834, vol.
         i., and the English translation of it in _Journal of Royal
         Geographical Society_, London, 1836, vol. v. All that human
         ingenuity is ever likely to devise against the honesty of
         Zeno's narrative is presented in this erudite essay, which has
         been so completely demolished under Mr. Major's heavy strokes
         that there is not enough of it left to pick up. As to this part
         of the question, we may now safely cry, "finis, laus Deo!"]

[Sidenote: The narrative nowhere makes a claim to the "discovery of

The narrative, however, not only sets up no such claim, but nowhere
betrays a consciousness that its incidents entitle it to make such a
claim. It had evidently not occurred to young Nicolò to institute any
comparison between his ancestors' voyages to Greenland and the voyages
of Columbus to the western hemisphere, of which _we now know_ Greenland
to be a part. The knowledge of the North American coast, and of the
bearing of one fact upon another fact in relation to it, was still, in
1558, in an extremely vague and rudimentary condition. In the mind of
the Zeno brothers, as the map shows, Greenland was a European peninsula;
such was the idea common among mediæval Northmen, as is nowhere better
illustrated than in this map. Neither in his references to Greenland,
nor to Estotiland and Drogio, presently to be considered, does young
Nicolò appear in the light of a man urging or suggesting a "claim." He
appears simply as a modest and conscientious editor, interested in the
deeds of his ancestors and impressed with the fact that he has got hold
of important documents, but intent only upon giving his material as
correctly as possible, and refraining from all sort of comment except
such as now and then seems needful to explain the text as he himself
understands it.

[Sidenote: Earl Sinclair.]

[Sidenote: Bardsen's "Description of Greenland."]

The identification of "Frislanda" with the Færoe islands was put beyond
doubt by the discovery that the "Zichmni" of the narrative means Henry
Sinclair; and, in order to make this discovery, it was only necessary to
know something about the history of the Orkneys; hence old Pinkerton, as
above remarked, got it right. The name "Zichmni" is, no doubt, a fearful
and wonderful bejugglement; but Henry Sinclair is a personage well known
to history in that corner of the world, and the deeds of "Zichmni," as
recounted in the narrative, are neither more nor less than the deeds of
Sinclair. Doubtless Antonio spelled the name in some queer way of his
own, and then young Nicolò, unable to read his ancestor's pot-hooks
where--as in the case of proper names--there was no clue to guide him,
contrived to make it still queerer. Here we have strong proof of the
genuineness of the narrative. If Nicolò had been concocting a story in
which Earl Sinclair was made to figure, he would have obtained his
knowledge from literary sources, and thus would have got his names
right; the earl might have appeared as Enrico de Santo Claro, but not as
"Zichmni." It is not at all likely, however, that any literary knowledge
of Sinclair and his doings was obtainable in Italy in the sixteenth
century. The Zeno narrative, moreover, in its references to Greenland in
connection with the Chevalier Nicolò's visit to the East Bygd, shows a
topographical knowledge that was otherwise quite inaccessible to the
younger Nicolò. Late in the fourteenth century Ivar Bardsen, steward to
the Gardar bishopric, wrote a description of Greenland, with sailing
directions for reaching it, which modern research has proved to have
been accurate in every particular. Bardsen's details and those of the
Zeno narrative mutually corroborate each other. But Bardsen's book did
not make its way down into Europe until the very end of the sixteenth
century,[288] and then amid the dense ignorance prevalent concerning
Greenland its details were not understood until actual exploration
within the last seventy years has at length revealed their meaning. The
genuineness of the Zeno narrative is thus conclusively proved by its
knowledge of Arctic geography, such as could have been obtained only by
a visit to the far North at a time before the Greenland colony had
finally lost touch with its mother country.

         [Footnote 288: It was translated into Dutch by the famous
         Arctic explorer, William Barentz, whose voyages are so
         graphically described in Motley's _United Netherlands_, vol.
         iii. pp. 552-576. An English translation was made for Henry
         Hudson. A very old Danish version may be found in Rafn's
         _Antiquitates Americanæ_, pp. 300-318; Danish, Latin, and
         English versions in Major's _Voyages of the Venetian Brothers_,
         etc., pp. 39-54; and an English version in De Costa's _Sailing
         Directions of Henry Hudson_, Albany, 1869, pp. 61-96.]

[Sidenote: The monastery of St. Olaus and its hot spring.]

The visit of the Chevalier Nicolò, therefore, about 1394, has a peculiar
interest as the last distinct glimpse afforded us of the colony founded
by Eric the Red before its melancholy disappearance from history.
Already the West Bygd had ceased to exist. Five and forty years before
that time it had been laid waste and its people massacred by Eskimos,
and trusty Ivar Bardsen, tardily sent with a small force to the rescue,
found nothing left alive but a few cattle and sheep running wild.[289]
Nicolò Zeno, arriving in the East Bygd, found there a monastery
dedicated to St. Olaus, a name which in the narrative has become St.
Thomas. To this monastery came friars from Norway and other countries,
but for the most part from Iceland.[290] It stood "hard by a hill which
vomited fire like Vesuvius and Etna." There was also in the
neighbourhood a spring of hot water which the ingenious friars conducted
in pipes into their monastery and church, thereby keeping themselves
comfortable in the coldest weather. This water, as it came into the
kitchen, was hot enough to boil meats and vegetables. The monks even
made use of it in warming covered gardens or hot-beds in which they
raised sundry fruits and herbs that in milder climates grow out of
doors.[291] "Hither in summertime come many vessels from ... the Cape
above Norway, and from Trondheim, and bring the friars all sorts of
comforts, taking in exchange fish ... and skins of different kinds of
animals.... There are continually in the harbour a number of vessels
detained by the sea being frozen, and waiting for the next season to
melt the ice."[292]

         [Footnote 289: So he tells us himself: "Quo cum venissent,
         nullum hominem, neque christianum neque paganum, invenerunt,
         tantummodo fera pecora et oves deprehenderunt, ex quibus
         quantum naves ferre poterant in has deportato domum redierunt."
         _Descriptio Groenlandiæ_, apud Major, p. 53. The glacial men
         had done their work of slaughter and vanished.]

         [Footnote 290: "Ma la maggior parte sono delle Islande." Mr.
         Major is clearly wrong in translating it "from the Shetland
         Isles." The younger Nicolò was puzzled by the similarity of the
         names Islanda and Eslanda, and sometimes confounded Iceland
         with the Shetland group. But in this place Iceland is evidently

         [Footnote 291: This application of the hot water to purposes of
         gardening reminds us of the similar covered gardens or hot-beds
         constructed by Albertus Magnus in the Dominican monastery at
         Cologne in the thirteenth century. See Humboldt's _Kosmos_, ii.

         [Footnote 292: Major, _op. cit._ p. 16. The narrative goes on
         to give a description of the skin-boats of the Eskimo

[Sidenote: Volcanoes of the north Atlantic ridge.]

[Sidenote: Fate of Gunnbjörn's Skerries, 1456.]

[Sidenote: Volcanic phenomena in Greenland.]

This mention of the volcano and the hot spring is very interesting. In
the Miocene period the Atlantic ridge was one of the principal seats of
volcanic activity upon the globe; the line of volcanoes extended all the
way from Greenland down into central France. But for several hundred
thousand years this activity has been diminishing. In France, in the
western parts of Great Britain and the Hebrides, the craters have long
since become extinct. In the far North, however, volcanic action has
been slower in dying out. Iceland, with no less than twenty active
volcanoes, is still the most considerable centre of such operations in
Europe. The huge volcano on Jan Mayen island, between Greenland and
Spitzbergen, is still in action. Among the submerged peaks in the
northern seas explosions still now and then occur, as in 1783, when a
small island was thrown up near Cape Reykianes, on the southern coast of
Iceland, and sank again after a year.[293] Midway between Iceland and
Greenland there appears to have stood, in the Middle Ages, a small
volcanic island discovered by that Gunnbjörn who first went to
Greenland. It was known as Gunnbjörn's Skerries, and was described by
Ivar Bardsen.[294] This island is no longer above the surface, and its
fate is recorded upon Ruysch's map of the world in the 1508 edition of
Ptolemy: "Insula hæc anno Domini 1456 fuit totaliter combusta,"--this
island was entirely burnt (i. e. blown up in an eruption) in 1456; and
in later maps Mr. Major has found the corrupted name "Gombar Scheer"
applied to the dangerous reefs and shoals left behind by this
explosion.[295] Where volcanic action is declining geysers and boiling
springs are apt to abound, as in Iceland; where it has become extinct at
a period geologically recent, as in Auvergne and the Rhine country, its
latest vestiges are left in the hundreds of thermal and mineral springs
whither fashionable invalids congregate to drink or to bathe.[296] Now
in Greenland, at the present day, hot springs are found, of which the
most noted are those on the island of Ounartok, at the entrance to the
fiord of that name. These springs seem to be the same that were
described five hundred years ago by Ivar Bardsen. As to volcanoes, it
has been generally assumed that those of Greenland are all extinct; but
in a country as yet so imperfectly studied this only means that
eruptions have not been recorded.[297] On the whole, it seems to me that
the mention, in our Venetian narrative, of a boiling spring and an
active volcano in Greenland is an instance of the peculiar sort--too
strange to have been invented, but altogether probable in itself--that
adds to the credit of the narrative.

         [Footnote 293: Daubeny, _Description of Active and Extinct
         Volcanoes_, London, 1848, pp. 307; cf. Judd, _Volcanoes_,
         London, 1881, p. 234.]

         [Footnote 294: "Ab Snefelsneso Islandiæ, quâ brevissimus in
         Gronlandiam trajectus est, duorum dierum et duarum noctium
         spatio navigandum est recto cursu versus occidentem; ibique
         Gunnbjoernis scopulos invenies, inter Gronlandiam et Islandiam
         medio situ interjacentes. Hic cursus antiquitûs frequentabatur,
         nunc vero glacies ex recessu oceani euroaquilonari delata
         scopulos ante memoratos tam prope attigit, ut nemo sine vitæ
         discrimine antiquum cursum tenere possit, quemadmodum infra
         dicetur." _Descriptio Groenlandiæ_, apud Major, _op. cit._ p.

         [Footnote 295: _Op. cit._ p. lxxvi. See below, vol. ii. p. 115,
         note B.]

         [Footnote 296: Judd, _op. cit._ pp. 217-220.]

         [Footnote 297: My friend, Professor Shaler, tells me that "a
         volcano during eruption might shed its ice mantle and afterward
         don it again in such a manner as to hide its true character
         even on a near view;" and, on the other hand, "a voyager not
         familiar with volcanoes might easily mistake the cloud-bonnet
         of a peak for the smoke of a volcano." This, however, will not
         account for Zeno's "hill that vomited fire," for he goes on to
         describe the use which the monks made of the pumice and
         calcareous tufa for building purposes.]

Thus far, in dealing with the places actually visited by Nicolò or
Antonio, or by both brothers, we have found the story consistent and
intelligible. But in what relates to countries beyond Greenland,
countries which were not visited by either of the brothers, but about
which Antonio heard reports, it is quite a different thing. We are
introduced to a jumble very unlike the clear, business-like account of
Vinland voyages in the Hauks-bók. Yet in this medley there are some
statements curiously suggestive of things in North America. It will be
remembered that Antonio's voyage with Sinclair (somewhere about 1400)
was undertaken in order to verify certain reports of the existence of
land more than a thousand miles west of the Færoe islands.

[Sidenote: Estotiland.]

About six and twenty years ago, said Antonio in a letter to Carlo, four
small fishing craft, venturing very far out upon the Atlantic, had been
blown upon a strange coast, where their crews were well received by the
people. The land proved to be an island rather smaller than Iceland (or
Shetland?), with a high mountain whence flowed four rivers. The
inhabitants were intelligent people, possessed of all the arts, but did
not understand the language of these Norse fishermen.[298] There
happened, however, to be one European among them, who had himself been
cast ashore in that country and had learned its language; he could speak
Latin, and found some one among the shipwrecked men who could understand
him. There was a populous city with walls, and the king had Latin books
in his library which nobody could read.[299] All kinds of metals
abounded, and especially gold.[300] The woods were of immense extent.
The people traded with Greenland, importing thence pitch(?), brimstone,
and furs. They sowed grain and made "beer." They made small boats, but
were ignorant of the loadstone and the compass. For this reason, they
held the newcomers in high estimation.[301] The name of the country was

         [Footnote 298: They were, therefore, not Northmen.]

         [Footnote 299: Pruning this sentence of its magniloquence,
         might it perhaps mean that there was a large palisaded village,
         and that the chief had some books in Roman characters, a relic
         of some castaway, which he kept as a fetish?]

         [Footnote 300: With all possible latitude of interpretation,
         this could not be made to apply to any part of America north of

         [Footnote 301: The magnetic needle had been used by the
         mariners of western and northern Europe since the end of the
         thirteenth century.]

There is nothing so far in this vague description to show that
Estotiland was an American country, except its western direction and
perhaps its trading with Greenland. The points of unlikeness are at
least as numerous as the points of likeness. But in what follows there
is a much stronger suggestion of North America.

[Sidenote: Drogio.]

For some reason not specified an expedition was undertaken by people
from Estotiland to a country to the southward named Drogio, and these
Norse mariners, or some of them, because they understood the compass,
were put in charge of it.[302] But the people of Drogio were cannibals,
and the people from Estotiland on their arrival were taken prisoners and
devoured,--all save the few Northmen, who were saved because of their
marvellous skill in catching fish with nets. The barbarians seemed to
have set much store by these white men, and perhaps to have regarded
them as objects of "medicine." One of the fishermen in particular became
so famous that a neighbouring tribe made war upon the tribe which kept
him, and winning the victory took him over into its own custody. This
sort of thing happened several times. Various tribes fought to secure
the person and services of this Fisherman, so that he was passed about
among more than twenty chiefs, and "wandering up and down the country
without any fixed abode, ... he became acquainted with all those parts."

         [Footnote 302: "Fanno nauigli e nauigano, ma non hanno la
         calamìta ne intendeno col bossolo la tramontana. Per ilche
         questi pescatori furono in gran pregio, si che il re li spedì
         con dodici nauigli uerso ostro nel paese che essi chiamano
         Drogio." Major, _op. cit._ p. 21.]

[Sidenote: Inhabitants of Drogio and the countries beyond.]

And now comes quite an interesting passage. The Fisherman "says that it
is a very great country, and, as it were, a new world; the people are
very rude and uncultivated, for they all go naked, and suffer cruelly
from the cold, nor have they the sense to clothe themselves with the
skins of the animals which they take in hunting [a gross exaggeration].
They have no kind of metal. They live by hunting, and carry lances of
wood, sharpened at the point. They have bows, the strings of which are
made of beasts' skins. They are very fierce, and have deadly fights
amongst each other, and eat one another's flesh. They have chieftains
and certain laws among themselves, but differing in the different
tribes. The farther you go southwestwards, however, the more refinement
you meet with, because the climate is more temperate, and accordingly
there they have cities and temples dedicated to their idols, in which
they sacrifice men and afterwards eat them. In those parts they have
some knowledge and use of gold and silver. Now this Fisherman, having
dwelt so many years in these parts, made up his mind, if possible, to
return home to his own country; but his companions, despairing of ever
seeing it again, gave him God's speed, and remained themselves where
they were. Accordingly, he bade them farewell, and made his escape
through the woods in the direction of Drogio, where he was welcomed and
very kindly received by the chief of the place, who knew him, and was a
great enemy of the neighbouring chieftain; and so passing from one chief
to another, being the same with whom he had been before, after a long
time and with much toil, he at length reached Drogio, where he spent
three years. Here, by good luck, he heard from the natives that some
boats had arrived off the coast; and full of hope of being able to carry
out his intention, he went down to the seaside, and to his great delight
found that they had come from Estotiland. He forthwith requested that
they would take him with them, which they did very willingly, and as he
knew the language of the country, which none of them could speak, they
employed him as their interpreter."[303]

         [Footnote 303: Major, _op. cit._ pp. 20-22.]

[Sidenote: The Fisherman's return to "Frislanda."]

Whither the Fisherman was first carried in these boats or vessels,
Antonio's letter does not inform us. We are only told that he engaged in
some prosperous voyages, and at length returned to the Færoes after
these six and twenty years of strange adventures. It was apparently the
Fisherman's description of Estotiland as a very rich country (_paese
ricchissimo_) that led Sinclair to fit out an expedition to visit it,
with Antonio as his chief captain. As we have already seen, the
Fisherman died just before the ships were ready to start, and to
whatever land they succeeded in reaching after they sailed without him,
the narrative leaves us with the impression that it was not the
mysterious Estotiland.

To attempt to identify that country from the description of it, which
reads like a parcel of ill-digested sailors' yarns, would be idle. The
most common conjecture has identified it with Newfoundland, from its
relations to other points mentioned in the Zeno narrative, as indicated,
with fair probability, on the Zeno map. To identify it with Newfoundland
is to brand the description as a "fish story," but from such a
conclusion there seems anyway to be no escape.

[Sidenote: Was the account of Drogio woven into the narrative by the
younger Nicolò?]

With Drogio, however, it is otherwise. The description of Drogio and the
vast country stretching beyond it, which was like a "new world," is the
merest sketch, but it seems to contain enough characteristic details to
stamp it as a description of North America, and of no other country
accessible by an Atlantic voyage. It is a sketch which apparently must
have had its ultimate source in somebody's personal experience of
aboriginal North America. Here we are reminded that when the younger
Nicolò published this narrative, in 1558, some dim knowledge of the
North American tribes was beginning to make its way into the minds of
people in Europe. The work of Soto and Cartier, to say nothing of other
explorers, had already been done. May we suppose that Nicolò had thus
obtained some idea of North America, and wove it into his reproduction
of his ancestors' letters, for the sake of completeness and point, in
somewhat the same uncritical mood as that in which the most worthy
ancient historians did not scruple to invent speeches to put into the
mouths of their heroes? It may have been so, and in such case the
description of Drogio loses its point for us as a feature in the
pre-Columbian voyages to America. In such case we may dismiss it at
once, and pretty much all the latter part of the Zeno narrative,
relating to what Antonio heard and did, becomes valueless; though the
earlier part, relating to the elder Nicolò, still remains valid and

[Sidenote: Or does it represent actual experiences in North America?]

But suppose we take the other alternative. As in the earlier part of the
story we feel sure that young Nicolò must have reproduced the ancestral
documents faithfully, because it shows knowledge that he could not have
got in any other way; let us now suppose that in the latter part also he
added nothing of himself, but was simply a faithful editor. It will then
follow that the Fisherman's account of Drogio, reduced to writing by
Antonio Zeno about 1400, must probably represent personal experiences in
North America; for no such happy combination of details characteristic
only of North America is likely at that date to have been invented by
any European. Our simplest course will be to suppose that the Fisherman
really had the experiences which are narrated, that he was bandied about
from tribe to tribe in North America, all the way, perhaps, from Nova
Scotia to Mexico, and yet returned to the Færoe islands to tell the
tale! Could such a thing be possible? Was anything of the sort ever done
before or since?

[Sidenote: The case of David Ingram, 1568.]

Yes: something of the sort appears to have been done about ten years
after the Zeno narrative was published. In October, 1568, that great
sailor, Sir John Hawkins, by reason of scarcity of food, was compelled
to set about a hundred men ashore near the Rio de Minas, on the Mexican
coast, and leave them to their fate. The continent was a network of rude
paths or trails, as it had doubtless been for ages, and as central
Africa is to-day. Most of these Englishmen probably perished in the
wilderness. Some who took southwestern trails found their way to the
city of Mexico, where, as "vile Lutheran dogges," they were treated with
anything but kindness. Others took northeasterly trails, and one of
these men, David Ingram, made his way from Texas to Maine, and beyond to
the St. John's river, where he was picked up by a friendly French ship
and carried to France, and so got home to England. The journey across
North America took him about eleven months, but one of his comrades, Job
Hortop, had no end of adventures, and was more than twenty years in
getting back to England. Ingram told such blessed yarns about houses of
crystal and silver, and other wonderful things, that many disbelieved
his whole story, but he was subjected to a searching examination before
Sir Francis Walsingham, and as to the main fact of his journey through
the wilderness there seems to be no doubt.[304]

         [Footnote 304: Ingram's narrative was first published in
         Hakluyt's folio of 1589, pp. 557-562, but in his larger work,
         _Principal Navigations_, etc., London, 1600, it is omitted. As
         Purchas quaintly says, "As for David Ingram's perambulation to
         the north parts, Master Hakluyt in his first edition published
         the same; but it seemeth some incredibilities of his reports
         caused him to leaue him out in the next impression, the reward
         of lying being not to be beleeued in truths." _Purchas his
         Pilgrimes_, London, 1625, vol. iv. p. 1179. The examination
         before Walsingham had reference to the projected voyage of Sir
         Humphrey Gilbert, which was made in 1583. Ingram's relation,
         "w^{ch} he reported vnto S^{r} Frauncys Walsingh[~m], Knight,
         and diuers others of good judgment and creditt, in August and
         Septembar, A^{o} Dñi, 1582," is in the British Museum, Sloane
         MS. No. 1447, fol. 1-18; it was copied and privately printed in
         Plowden Weston's _Documents connected with the History of South
         Carolina_, London, 1856. There is a MS. copy in the Sparks
         collection in the Harvard University library. See the late Mr.
         Charles Deane's note in his edition of Hakluyt's _Discourse
         concerning Westerne Planting_, Cambridge, 1877, p. 229
         (_Collections of Maine Hist. Soc._, 2d series, vol. ii.); see,
         also, Winsor, _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, iii. 186.]

[Sidenote: The case of Cabeza de Vaca, 1528-36.]

Far more important, historically, and in many ways more instructive than
the wanderings of David Ingram, was the journey of Cabeza de Vaca and
his ingenious comrades, in 1528-36, from the Mississippi river to their
friends in Mexico. This remarkable journey will receive further
consideration in another place.[305] In the course of it Cabeza de Vaca
was for eight years held captive by sundry Indian tribes, and at last
his escape involved ten months of arduous travel. On one occasion he and
his friends treated some sick Indians, among other things breathing upon
them and making the sign of the cross. As the Indians happened to get
well, these Spaniards at once became objects of reverence, and different
tribes vied with one another for access to them, in order to benefit by
their supernatural gifts. In those early days, before the red men had
become used to seeing Europeans, a white captive was not so likely to be
put to death as to be cherished as a helper of vast and undetermined
value.[306] The Indians set so much store by Cabeza de Vaca that he
found it hard to tear himself away; but at length he used his influence
over them in such wise as to facilitate his moving in a direction by
which he ultimately succeeded in escaping to his friends. There seems to
be a real analogy between his strange experiences and those of the
Fisherman in Drogio, who became an object of reverence because he could
do things that the natives could not do, yet the value of which they
were able to appreciate.

         [Footnote 305: See below, vol. ii. p. 501.]

         [Footnote 306: In the first reception of the Spaniards in Peru,
         we shall see a similar idea at work, vol. ii. pp. 398, 407.]

Now if the younger Nicolò had been in the mood for adorning his
ancestors' narrative by inserting a few picturesque incidents out of his
own hearsay knowledge of North America, it does not seem likely that he
would have known enough to hit so deftly upon one of the peculiarities
of the barbaric mind. Here, again, we seem to have come upon one of
those incidents, inherently probable, but too strange to have been
invented, that tend to confirm the story. Without hazarding anything
like a positive opinion, it seems to me likely enough that this voyage
of Scandinavian fishermen to the coast of North America in the
fourteenth century may have happened.

[Sidenote: There may have been unrecorded instances of visits to North

It was this and other unrecorded but possible instances that I had in
mind at the beginning of this chapter, in saying that occasional visits
of Europeans to America in pre-Columbian times may have occurred oftener
than we are wont to suppose. Observe that our scanty records--naturally
somewhat perplexed and dim, as treating of remote and unknown
places--refer us to that northern Atlantic region where the ocean is
comparatively narrow, and to that northern people who, from the time of
their first appearance in history, have been as much at home upon sea as
upon land. For a thousand years past these hyperborean waters have been
furrowed in many directions by stout Scandinavian keels, and if, in
aiming at Greenland, the gallant mariners may now and then have hit upon
Labrador or Newfoundland, and have made flying visits to coasts still
farther southward, there is nothing in it all which need surprise

         [Footnote 307: The latest pre-Columbian voyage mentioned as
         having occurred in the northern seas was that of the Polish
         pilot John Szkolny, who, in the service of King Christian I. of
         Denmark, is said to have sailed to Greenland in 1476, and to
         have touched upon the coast of Labrador. See Gomara, _Historia
         de las Indias_, Saragossa, 1553, cap. xxxvii.; Wytfliet,
         _Descriptionis Ptolemaicæ Augmentum_, Douay, 1603, p. 102;
         Pontanus, _Rerum Danicarum Historia_, Amsterdam, 1631, p. 763.
         The wise Humboldt mentions the report without expressing an
         opinion, _Examen critique_, tom. ii. p. 153.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The pre-Columbian voyages made no real contributions to
geographical knowledge;]

[Sidenote: and were in no true sense a Discovery of America.]

Nothing can be clearer, however, from a survey of the whole subject,
than that these pre-Columbian voyages were quite barren of results of
historic importance. In point of colonization they produced the two
ill-fated settlements on the Greenland coast, and nothing more.
Otherwise they made no real addition to the stock of geographical
knowledge, they wrought no effect whatever upon the European mind
outside of Scandinavia, and even in Iceland itself the mention of
coasts beyond Greenland awakened no definite ideas, and, except for a
brief season, excited no interest. The Zeno narrative indicates that the
Vinland voyages had practically lapsed from memory before the end of the
fourteenth century.[308] Scholars familiar with saga literature of
course knew the story; it was just at this time that Jón Thórdharson
wrote out the version of it which is preserved in the Flateyar-bók. But
by the general public it must have been forgotten, or else the
Fisherman's tale of Estotiland and Drogio would surely have awakened
reminiscences of Markland and Vinland, and some traces of this would
have appeared in Antonio's narrative or upon his map. The principal
naval officer of the Færoes, and personal friend of the sovereign, after
dwelling several years among these Northmen, whose intercourse with
their brethren in Iceland was frequent, apparently knew nothing of Leif
or Thorfinn, or the mere names of the coasts which they had visited.
Nothing had been accomplished by those voyages which could properly be
called a contribution to geographical knowledge. To speak of them as
constituting, in any legitimate sense of the phrase, a Discovery of
America is simply absurd. Except for Greenland, which was supposed to be
a part of the European world, America remained as much undiscovered
after the eleventh century as before. In the midsummer of 1492 it
needed to be discovered as much as if Leif Ericsson or the whole race of
Northmen had never existed.

         [Footnote 308: Practically, but not entirely, for we have seen
         Markland mentioned in the "Elder Skálholt Annals," about 1362.
         See above, p. 223.]

As these pre-Columbian voyages produced no effect in the eastern
hemisphere, except to leave in Icelandic literature a scanty but
interesting record, so in the western hemisphere they seem to have
produced no effect beyond cutting down a few trees and killing a few
Indians. In the outlying world of Greenland it is not improbable that
the blood of the Eskimos may have received some slight Scandinavian
infusion. But upon the aboriginal world of the red men, from Davis
strait to Cape Horn, it is not likely that any impression of any sort
was ever made. It is in the highest degree probable that Leif Ericsson
and his friends made a few voyages to _what we now know to have been_
the coast of America; but it is an abuse of language to say that they
"discovered" America. In no sense was any real contact established
between the eastern and the western halves of our planet until the great
voyage of Columbus in 1492.



[Sidenote: Why the voyages of the Northmen were not followed up.]

The question has sometimes been asked, Why did the knowledge of the
voyages to Vinland so long remain confined to the Scandinavian people or
a portion of them, and then lapse into oblivion, insomuch that it did
not become a matter of notoriety in Europe until after the publication
of the celebrated book of Thormodus Torfæus in 1705? Why did not the
news of the voyages of Leif and Thorfinn spread rapidly over Europe,
like the news of the voyage of Columbus? and why was it not presently
followed, like the latter, by a rush of conquerors and colonizers across
the Atlantic?

Such questions arise from a failure to see historical events in their
true perspective, and to make the proper allowances for the manifold
differences in knowledge and in social and economic conditions which
characterize different periods of history. In the present case, the
answer is to be found, first, in the geographical ignorance which
prevented the Northmen from realizing in the smallest degree what such
voyages really signified or were going to signify to posterity; and,
secondly, in the political and commercial condition of Europe at the
close of the tenth century.

[Sidenote: Ignorance of geography.]

In the first place the route which the Norse voyagers pursued, from
Iceland to Greenland and thence to Vinland, was not such as to give
them, in their ignorance of the shape of the earth, and with their
imperfect knowledge of latitude and longitude, any adequate gauge
wherewith to measure their achievement. The modern reader, who has in
his mind a general picture of the shape of the northern Atlantic ocean
with its coasts, must carefully expel that picture before he can begin
to realize how things must have seemed to the Northmen. None of the
Icelandic references to Markland and Vinland betray a consciousness that
these countries belong to a geographical world outside of Europe. There
was not enough organized geographical knowledge for that. They were
simply conceived as remote places beyond Greenland, inhabited by
inferior but dangerous people. The accidental finding of such places
served neither to solve any great commercial problem nor to gratify and
provoke scientific curiosity. It was, therefore, not at all strange that
it bore no fruit.

[Sidenote: Lack of instruments for ocean navigation.]

Secondly, even if it had been realized, and could have been duly
proclaimed throughout Europe, that across the broad Atlantic a new world
lay open for colonization, Europe could not have taken advantage of the
fact. Now and then a ship might make its way, or be blown, across the
waste of waters without compass or astrolabe; but until these
instruments were at hand anything like systematic ocean navigation was
out of the question; and from a colonization which could only begin by
creeping up into the Arctic seas and taking Greenland on the way, not
much was to be expected, after all.

[Sidenote: Europe in the year 1000.]

But even if the compass and other facilities for oceanic navigation had
been at hand, the state of Europe in the days of Eric the Red was not
such as to afford surplus energy for distant enterprise of this sort.
Let us for a moment recall what was going on in Europe in the year of
grace 1000, just enough to get a suggestive picture of the time. In
England the Danish invader, fork-bearded Swend, father of the great
Cnut, was wresting the kingship from the feeble grasp of Ethelred the
Redeless. In Gaul the little duchy of France, between the Somme and the
Loire, had lately become the kingdom of France, and its sovereign, Hugh
Capet, had succeeded to feudal rights of lordship over the great dukes
and counts whose territories surrounded him on every side; and now
Hugh's son, Robert the Debonair, better hymn-writer than warrior, was
waging a doubtful struggle with these unruly vassals. It was not yet in
any wise apparent what the kingdoms of England and France were going to
be. In Germany the youthful Otto III., the "wonder of the world," had
just made his weird visit to the tomb of his mighty predecessor at
Aachen, before starting on that last journey to Rome which was so soon
to cost him his life. Otto's teacher, Gerbert, most erudite of
popes,--too learned not to have had dealings with the Devil,--was
beginning to raise the papacy out of the abyss of infamy into which the
preceding age had seen it sink, and so to prepare the way for the
far-reaching reforms of Hildebrand. The boundaries of Christendom were
as yet narrow and insecure. With the overthrow of Olaf Tryggvesson in
this year 1000, and the temporary partition of Norway between Swedes and
Danes, the work of Christianizing the North seemed, for the moment, to
languish. Upon the eastern frontier the wild Hungarians had scarcely
ceased to be a terror to Europe, and in this year Stephen, their first
Christian king, began to reign. At the same time the power of heretical
Bulgaria, which had threatened to overwhelm the Eastern Empire, was
broken down by the sturdy blows of the Macedonian emperor Basil. In this
year the Christians of Spain met woful defeat at the hands of Almansor,
and there seemed no reason why the Mussulman rule over the greater part
of that peninsula should not endure forever.

Thus, from end to end, Europe was a scene of direst confusion, and
though, as we now look back upon it, the time seems by no means devoid
of promise, there was no such cheering outlook then. Nowhere were the
outlines of kingdoms or the ownership of crowns definitely settled.
Private war was both incessant and universal; the Truce of God had not
yet been proclaimed.[309] As for the common people, their hardships
were well-nigh incredible. Amid all this anarchy and misery, at the
close of the thousandth year from the birth of Christ, the belief was
quite common throughout Europe that the Day of Judgment was at hand for
a world grown old in wickedness and ripe for its doom.

         [Footnote 309: The "Truce of God" (_Treuga Dei_) was introduced
         by the clergy in Guienne about 1032; it was adopted in Spain
         before 1050, and in England by 1080. See Datt, _De pace imperii
         publica_, lib. i. cap. ii. A cessation of all violent quarrels
         was enjoined, under ecclesiastical penalties, during church
         festivals, and from every Wednesday evening until the following
         Monday morning. This left only about eighty days in the year
         available for shooting and stabbing one's neighbours. The truce
         seems to have accomplished much good, though it was very
         imperfectly observed.]

[Sidenote: The condition of things was not such as to favour colonial

It hardly need be argued that a period like this, in which all the vital
energy in Europe was consumed in the adjustment of affairs at home, was
not fitted for colonial enterprises. Before a people can send forth
colonies it must have solved the problem of political life so far as to
ensure stability of trade. It is the mercantile spirit that has
supported modern colonization, aided by the spirit of intellectual
curiosity and the thirst for romantic adventure. In the eleventh century
there was no intellectual curiosity outside the monastery walls, nor had
such a feeling become enlisted in the service of commerce. Of trade
there was indeed, even in western Europe, a considerable amount, but the
commercial marine was in its infancy, and on land the trader suffered
sorely at the hands of the robber baron. In those days the fashionable
method of compounding with your creditors was, not to offer them fifty
cents on the dollar, but to inveigle them into your castle and broil
them over a slow fire.

[Sidenote: The outlook of Europe was toward Asia.]

In so far as the attention of people in Europe was called to any
quarter of the globe outside of the seething turbulence in which they
dwelt, it was directed toward Asia. Until after 1492, Europe stood with
her back toward the Atlantic. What there might be out beyond that "Sea
of Darkness" (_Mare Tenebrosum_), as it used commonly to be called, was
a question of little interest and seems to have excited no speculation.
In the view of mediæval Europe the inhabited world was cut off on the
west by this mysterious ocean, and on the south by the burning sands of
Sahara; but eastward it stretched out no one knew how far, and in that
direction dwelt tribes and nations which Europe, from time immemorial,
had reason to fear. As early as the time of Herodotus, the secular
antagonism between Europe and Asia had become a topic of reflection
among the Greeks, and was wrought with dramatic effect by that great
writer into the structure of his history, culminating in the grand and
stirring scenes of the Persian war. A century and a half later the
conquests of Alexander the Great added a still more impressive climax to
the story. The struggle was afterward long maintained between Roman and
Parthian, but from the fifth century after Christ onward through the
Middle Ages, it seemed as if the Oriental world would never rest until
it had inflicted the extremities of retaliation upon Europe. Whether it
was the heathen of the steppes who were in question, from Attila in the
fifth century to Batu Khan in the thirteenth, or the followers of the
Prophet, who tore away from Christendom the southern shores of the
Mediterranean, and held Spain in their iron grasp, while from age to age
they exhausted their strength in vain against the Eastern Empire, the
threatening danger was always coming with the morning sun; whatever
might be the shock that took the attention of Europe away from herself,
it directed it upon Asia. This is a fact of cardinal importance for us,
inasmuch as it was directly through the interest, more and more
absorbing, which Europe felt in Asia that the discovery of the western
hemisphere was at last effected.

[Sidenote: Routes of trade between Europe and Asia.]

[Sidenote: Claudius Ptolemy.]

[Sidenote: Early mention of China.]

It was not only in war, but in commerce, that the fortunes of Europe
were dependent upon her relations with Asia. Since prehistoric times
there has always been some commercial intercourse between the eastern
shores of the Mediterranean and the peninsula of Hindustan. Tyre and
Sidon carried on such trade by way of the Red Sea.[310] After Alexander
had led his army to Samarcand and to the river Hyphasis, the
acquaintance of the Greeks with Asia was very considerably increased,
and important routes of trade were established. One was practically the
old Phoenician route, with its western terminus moved from Tyre to
Alexandria. Another was by way of the Caspian sea, up the river Oxus,
and thence with camels to the banks of the Indus.[311] An intermediate
route was through Syria and by way of the Euphrates and the Persian
gulf; the route which at one time made the greatness of Palmyra. After
the extension of Roman sway to the Nile, the Euphrates, and the Euxine,
these same routes continued to be used. The European commodities carried
to India were light woollen cloths, linens, coral, black lead, various
kinds of glass vessels, and wine. In exchange for these the traders
brought back to Europe divers aromatic spices, black pepper, ivory,
cotton fabrics, diamonds, sapphires, and pearls, silk thread and silk
stuffs.[312] Detailed accounts of these commercial transactions, and of
the wealth of personal experiences that must have been connected with
them, are excessively scant. Of the Europeans who, during all the
centuries between Alexander and Justinian, made their way to Hindustan
or beyond, we know very few by name. The amount of geographical
information that was gathered during the first half of this period is
shown in the map representing Claudius Ptolemy's knowledge of the earth,
about the middle of the second century after Christ. Except for the
Scandinavian world, and some very important additions made to the
knowledge of Asia by Marco Polo, this map fairly represents the maximum
of acquaintance with the earth's surface possessed by Europeans previous
to the great voyages of the fifteenth century. It shows a dim knowledge
of the mouths of the Ganges, of the island of Ceylon, and of what we
sometimes call Farther India. A very dim knowledge, indeed; for the huge
peninsula of Hindustan is shrunk into insignificance, while Taprobane,
or Ceylon, unduly magnified, usurps the place belonging to the Deccan.
At the same time we see that some hearsay knowledge of China had made
its way into the Roman world before the days of Ptolemy. The two names
by which China was first known to Europeans were "Seres" or "Serica,"
and "Sinæ" or "Thin." These two differing names are the records of two
different methods of approach to different parts of a vast country, very
much as the Northmen called their part of eastern North America
"Vinland," while the Spaniards called their part "Florida." The name
"Seres" was given to northwestern China by traders who approached it
through the highlands of central Asia from Samarcand, while "Sinæ" was
the name given to southeastern China by traders who approached it by way
of the Indian ocean, and heard of it in India, but never reached it.
Apparently no European ships ever reached China before the Portuguese,
in 1517.[313] The name "Sinæ" or "Thin" seems to mean the country of the
"Tchin" dynasty, which ruled over the whole of China in the second
century before Christ, and over a portion of it for a much longer time.
The name "Seres," on the other hand, was always associated with the
trade in silks, and was known to the Romans in the time of the Emperor
Claudius,[314] and somewhat earlier. The Romans in Virgil's time set a
high value upon silk, and every scrap of it they had came from China.
They knew nothing about the silk-worm, and supposed that the fibres or
threads of this beautiful stuff grew upon trees. Of actual intercourse
between the Roman and Chinese empires there was no more than is implied
in this current of trade, passing through many hands. But that each
knew, in a vague way, of the existence of the other, there is no

         [Footnote 310: Diodorus Siculus, i. 70.]

         [Footnote 311: Strabo, xi. 7, § 3.]

         [Footnote 312: Robertson, _Historical Disquisition concerning
         the Knowledge which the Ancients had of India_, Dublin, 1791,
         p. 55. I never have occasion to consult Dr. Robertson without
         being impressed anew with his scientific habit of thought and
         the solidity of his scholarship; and in none of his works are
         these qualities better illustrated than in this noble essay.]

         [Footnote 313: The Polos sailed back from China to the Persian
         gulf in 1292-94; see below, p. 282.]

         [Footnote 314: The name "Seres" appears on the map of Pomponius
         Mela (cir. A. D. 50), while "Sinæ" does not. See below, p. 304.

            Jam Tartessiaco quos solverat æquore Titan
            In noctem diffusus equos, jungebat Eoïs
            Littoribus, primique novo Phaethonte retecti
            Seres lanigeris repetebant vellera lucis.
                                   Silius Italicus, lib. vi. _ad init._]

         [Footnote 315: For this whole subject see Colonel Sir Henry
         Yule's _Cathay and the Way Thither_, London, 1866, 2 vols.,--a
         work of profound learning and more delightful than a novel.]

[Sidenote: Cosmas Indicopleustes.]

[Sidenote: Shape of the earth, according to Cosmas.]

In the course of the reign of Justinian, we get references at first hand
to India, and coupled withal to a general theory of cosmography. This
curious information we have in the book of the monk Cosmas
Indicopleustes, written somewhere between A. D. 530 and 550. A pleasant
book it is, after its kind. In his younger days Cosmas had been a
merchant, and in divers voyages had become familiar with the coasts of
Ethiopia and the Persian gulf, and had visited India and Ceylon. After
becoming a monk at Alexandria, Cosmas wrote his book of Christian
geography,[316] maintaining, in opposition to Ptolemy, that the earth
is not a sphere, but a rectangular plane forming the floor of the
universe; the heavens rise on all four sides about this rectangle, like
the four walls of a room, and, at an indefinite height above the floor,
these blue walls support a vaulted roof or firmament, in which God
dwells with the angels. In the centre of the floor are the inhabited
lands of the earth, surrounded on all sides by a great ocean, beyond
which, somewhere out in a corner, is the Paradise from which Adam and
Eve were expelled. In its general shape, therefore, the universe
somewhat resembles the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, or a modern
"Saratoga trunk." On the northern part of the floor, under the
firmament, is a lofty conical mountain, around which the sun, moon, and
planets perform their daily revolutions. In the summer the sun takes a
turn around the apex of the cone, and is, therefore, hidden only for a
short night; but in the winter he travels around the base, which takes
longer, and, accordingly, the nights are long. Such is the doctrine
drawn from Holy Scripture, says Cosmas, and as for the vain blasphemers
who pretend that the earth is a round ball, the Lord hath stultified
them for their sins until they impudently prate of Antipodes, where
trees grow downward and rain falls upward. As for such nonsense, the
worthy Cosmas cannot abide it.

         [Footnote 316: Its title is [Greek: Christianôn biblos,
         hermêneia eis tên Oktateuchon], i. e. against Ptolemy's
         Geography in eight books. The name Cosmas Indicopleustes seems
         merely to mean "the cosmographer who has sailed to India." He
         begins his book in a tone of extreme and somewhat unsavory
         humility: [Greek: Anoigô ta mogilala kai bradyglôssa cheilê ho
         hamartôlos kai talas egô]--"I, the sinner and wretch, open my
         stammering, stuttering lips," etc.--The book has been the
         occasion of some injudicious excitement within the last half
         century. Cosmas gave a description of some comparatively recent
         inscriptions on the peninsula of Sinai, and because he could
         not find anybody able to read them, he inferred that they must
         be records of the Israelites on their passage through the
         desert. (Compare the Dighton rock, above, p. 214.) Whether in
         the sixth century of grace or in the nineteenth, your
         unregenerate and unchastened antiquary snaps at conclusions as
         a drowsy dog does at flies. Some years ago an English
         clergyman, Charles Forster, started up the nonsense again, and
         argued that these inscriptions might afford a clue to man's
         primeval speech! Cf. Bunsen, _Christianity and Mankind_, vol.
         iii. p. 231; Müller and Donaldson, _History of Greek
         Literature_, vol. iii. p. 353; Bury, _History of the Later
         Roman Empire from Arcadius to Irene_, vol. ii. p. 177.]

I cite these views of Cosmas because there can be no doubt that they
represent beliefs current among the general public until after the time
of Columbus,[317] in spite of the deference paid to Ptolemy's views by
the learned. Along with these cosmographical speculations, Cosmas shows
a wider geographical knowledge of Asia than any earlier writer. He gives
a good deal of interesting information about India and Ceylon, and has a
fairly correct idea of the position of China, which he calls Tzinista or
Chinistan. This land of silk is the remotest of all the Indies, and
beyond it "there is neither navigation nor inhabited country.... And the
Indian philosophers, called Brachmans, tell you that if you were to
stretch a straight cord from Tzinista through Persia to the Roman
territory, you would just divide the world in halves. And mayhap they
are right."[318]

         [Footnote 317: Such views have their advocates even now. There
         still lives, I believe, in England, a certain John Hampden, who
         with dauntless breast maintains that the earth is a circular
         plane with centre at the north pole and a circumference of
         nearly 30,000 miles where poor misguided astronomers suppose
         the south pole to be. The sun moves across the sky at a
         distance of about 800 miles. From the boundless abyss beyond
         the southern circumference, with its barrier of icy mountains,
         came the waters which drowned the antediluvian world; for, as
         this author quite reasonably observes, "on a globular earth
         such a deluge would have been physically Impossible." Hampden's
         title is somewhat like that of Cosmas,--_The New Manual of
         Biblical Cosmography_, London, 1877; and he began in 1876 to
         publish a periodical called _The Truth-Seeker's Oracle and
         Scriptural Science Review_. Similar views have been set forth
         by one Samuel Rowbotham, under the pseudonym of "Parallax,"
         _Zetetic Astronomy. Earth not a Globe. An experimental inquiry
         into the true figure of the earth, proving it a plane without
         orbital or axial motion_, etc., London, 1873; and by a William
         Carpenter, _One Hundred Proofs that the Earth is not a Globe_,
         Baltimore, 1885. There is a very considerable quantity of such
         literature afloat, the product of a kind of mental aberration
         that thrives upon paradox. When I was superintendent of the
         catalogue of Harvard University library, I made the class
         "Eccentric Literature" under which to group such books,--the
         lucubrations of circle-squarers, angle-trisectors, inventors of
         perpetual motion, devisers of recipes for living forever
         without dying, crazy interpreters of Daniel and the Apocalypse,
         upsetters of the undulatory theory of light, the
         Bacon-Shakespeare lunatics, etc.; a dismal procession of
         long-eared bipeds, with very raucous bray. The late Professor
         De Morgan devoted a bulky and instructive volume to an account
         of such people and their crotchets. See his _Budget of
         Paradoxes_, London, 1872.]

         [Footnote 318: Cosmas, ii. 138. Further mention of China was
         made early in the seventh century by Theophylactus Samocatta,
         vii. 7. See Yule's _Cathay_, vol. i. pp. xlix., clxviii.]

[Sidenote: The Nestorians.]

In the fourth and following centuries, Nestorian missionaries were very
active in Asia, and not only made multitudes of converts and established
metropolitan sees in such places as Kashgar and Herat, but even found
their way into China. Their work forms an interesting though melancholy
chapter in history, but it does not seem to have done much toward making
Asia better known to Europe. As declared heretics, the Nestorians were
themselves almost entirely cut off from intercourse with European

[Sidenote: Effects of the Saracen conquests.]

[Sidenote: Constantinople in the twelfth century.]

The immediate effect of the sudden rise of the vast Saracen empire, in
the seventh and eighth centuries, was to interpose a barrier to the
extension of intercourse between Europe and the Far East. Trade between
the eastern and western extremities of Asia went on more briskly than
ever, but it was for a long time exclusively in Mussulman hands. The
mediæval Arabs were bold sailors, and not only visited Sumatra and Java,
but made their way to Canton. Upon the southern and middle routes the
Arab cities of Cairo and Bagdad became thriving centres of trade; but as
Spain and the whole of northern Africa were now Arab countries, most of
the trade between east and west was conducted within Mussulman
boundaries. Saracen cruisers prowled in the Mediterranean and sorely
harassed the Christian coasts. During the eighth, ninth, and tenth
centuries, Europe was more shut in upon herself than ever before or
since. In many respects these were especially the dark ages of
Europe,--the period of least comfort and least enlightenment since the
days of pre-Roman barbarism. But from this general statement
Constantinople should be in great measure excepted. The current of
mediæval trade through the noble highway of the Dardanelles and the
Bosphorus was subject to fluctuations, but it was always great. The
city of the Byzantine emperors was before all things a commercial city,
like Venice in later days. Until the time of the Crusades Constantinople
was the centre of the Levant trade. The great northern route from Asia
remained available for commercial intercourse in this direction. Persian
and Armenian merchants sent their goods to Batoum, whence they were
shipped to Constantinople; and silk was brought from northwestern China
by caravan to the Oxus, and forwarded thence by the Caspian sea, the
rivers Cyrus and Phasis, and the Euxine sea.[319] When it was visited by
Benjamin of Tudela in the twelfth century, Constantinople was
undoubtedly the richest and most magnificent city, and the seat of the
highest civilization, to be found anywhere upon the globe.

         [Footnote 319: Robertson, _Historical Disquisition_, p. 93;
         Pears, _The Fall of Constantinople_, p. 177,--a book of great

[Sidenote: The Crusades.]

[Sidenote: Barbarizing character of Turkish conquest.]

[Sidenote: General effects of the Crusades.]

In the days of its strength the Eastern Empire was the staunch bulwark
of Christendom against the dangerous assaults of Persian, Saracen, and
Turk; alike in prosperity and in calamity, it proved to be the teacher
and civilizer of the western world. The events which, at the close of
the eleventh century, brought thousands upon thousands of adventurous,
keen-witted people from western Europe into this home of wealth and
refinement, were the occasion of the most remarkable intellectual
awakening that the world had ever witnessed up to that time. The
Crusades, in their beginning, were a symptom of the growing energy of
western Europe under the ecclesiastical reformation effected by the
mighty Hildebrand. They were the military response of Europe to the most
threatening, and, as time has proved, the most deadly of all the blows
that have ever been aimed at her from Asia. Down to this time the
Mahometanism with which Christendom had so long been in conflict was a
Mahometanism of civilized peoples. The Arabs and Moors were industrious
merchants, agriculturists, and craftsmen; in their society one might
meet with learned scholars, refined poets, and profound philosophers.
But at the end of the tenth century, Islam happened to make converts of
the Turks, a nomad race in the upper status of barbarism, with flocks
and herds and patriarchal families. Inspired with the sudden zeal for
conquest which has always characterized new converts to Islam, the Turks
began to pour down from the plains of central Asia like a deluge upon
the Eastern Empire. In 1016 they overwhelmed Armenia, and presently
advanced into Asia Minor. Their mode of conquest was peculiarly baleful,
for at first they deliberately annihilated the works of civilization in
order to prepare the country for their nomadic life; they pulled down
cities to put up tents. Though they long ago ceased to be nomads, they
have to this day never learned to comprehend civilized life, and they
have been simply a blight upon every part of the earth's surface which
they have touched. At the beginning of the eleventh century, Asia Minor
was one of the most prosperous and highly civilized parts of the
world;[320] and the tale of its devastation by the terrible Alp Arslan
and the robber chiefs that came after him is one of the most mournful
chapters in history. At the end of that century, when the Turks were
holding Nicæa and actually had their outposts on the Marmora, it was
high time for Christendom to rise _en masse_ in self-defence. The idea
was worthy of the greatest of popes. Imperfectly and spasmodically as it
was carried out, it undoubtedly did more than anything that had ever
gone before toward strengthening the wholesome sentiment of a common
Christendom among the peoples of western Europe. The Crusades increased
the power of the Church, which was equivalent to putting a curb upon the
propensities of the robber baron and making labour and traffic more
secure. In another way they aided this good work by carrying off the
robber baron in large numbers to Egypt and Syria, and killing him there.
In this way they did much toward ridding European society of its most
turbulent elements; while at the same time they gave fresh development
to the spirit of romantic adventure, and connected it with something
better than vagrant freebooting.[321] By renewing the long-suspended
intercourse between the minds of western Europe and the Greek culture
of Constantinople, they served as a mighty stimulus to intellectual
curiosity, and had a large share in bringing about that great thirteenth
century renaissance which is forever associated with the names of Giotto
and Dante and Roger Bacon.

         [Footnote 320: "It is difficult for the modern traveller who
         ventures into the heart of Asia Minor, and finds nothing but
         rude Kurds and Turkish peasants living among mountains and wild
         pastures, not connected even by ordinary roads, to imagine the
         splendour and rich cultivation of this vast country, with its
         brilliant cities and its teeming population." Mahaffy, _The
         Greek World under Roman Sway_, London, 1890, p. 229.]

         [Footnote 321: The general effects of the Crusades are
         discussed, with much learning and sagacity, by
         Choiseul-Daillecourt, _De l'Influence des Croisades sur l'état
         des peuples de l'Europe_, Paris, 1809.]

[Sidenote: The Fourth Crusade.]

There can be no doubt that in these ways the Crusades were for our
forefathers in Europe the most bracing and stimulating events that
occurred in the whole millennium between the complicated disorders of
the fifth century and the outburst of maritime discovery in the
fifteenth. How far they justified themselves from the military point of
view, it is not so easy to say. On the one hand, they had much to do
with retarding the progress of the enemy for two hundred years; they
overwhelmed the Seljukian Turks so effectually that their successors,
the Ottomans, did not become formidable until about 1300, after the last
crusading wave had spent its force. On the other hand, the Fourth
Crusade, with better opportunities than any of the others for striking a
crushing blow at the Moslem, played false to Christendom, and in 1204
captured and despoiled Constantinople in order to gratify Venice's
hatred of her commercial rival and superior. It was a sorry piece of
business, and one cannot look with unmixed pleasure at the four superb
horses that now adorn the front of the church of St. Mark as a trophy of
this unhallowed exploit.[322] One cannot help feeling that but for this
colossal treachery, the great city of Constantine, to which our own
civilization owes more than can ever be adequately told, might, perhaps,
have retained enough strength to withstand the barbarian in 1453, and
thus have averted one of the most lamentable catastrophes in the history
of mankind.

         [Footnote 322: They were taken from Chios in the fourth century
         by the emperor Theodosius, and placed in the hippodrome at
         Constantinople, whence they were taken by the Venetians in
         1204. The opinion that "the results of the Fourth Crusade upon
         European civilization were altogether disastrous" is ably set
         forth by Mr. Pears, _The Fall of Constantinople_, London, 1885,
         and would be difficult to refute. Voltaire might well say in
         this case, "Ainsi le seul fruit des chrétiens dans leurs
         barbares croisades fut d'exterminer d'autres chrétiens. Ces
         croisés, qui ruinaient l'empire auraient pu, bien plus aisément
         que tous leurs prédécesseurs, chasser les Turcs de l'Asie."
         _Essai sur les Moeurs_, tom. ii. p. 158. Voltaire's general
         view of the Crusades is, however, very superficial.]

[Sidenote: Rivalry between Venice and Genoa.]

The general effect of the Crusades upon Oriental commerce was to
increase the amount of traffic through Egypt and Syria. Of this
lucrative trade Venice got the lion's share, and while she helped
support the short-lived Latin dynasty upon the throne at Constantinople,
she monopolized a great part of the business of the Black Sea also. But
in 1261 Venice's rival, Genoa, allied herself with the Greek emperor,
Michael Palæologus, at Nicæa, placed him upon the Byzantine throne, and
again cut off Venice from the trade that came through the Bosphorus.
From this time forth the mutual hatred between Venice and Genoa "waxed
fiercer than ever; no merchant fleet of either state could go to sea
without convoy, and wherever their ships met they fought. It was
something like the state of things between Spain and England in the
days of Drake."[323] In the one case as in the other, it was a strife
for the mastery of the sea and its commerce. Genoa obtained full control
of the Euxine, took possession of the Crimea, and thus acquired a
monopoly of the trade from central Asia along the northern route. With
the fall of Acre in 1291, and the consequent expulsion of Christians
from Syria, Venice lost her hold upon the middle route. But with the
pope's leave[324] she succeeded in making a series of advantageous
commercial treaties with the new Mameluke sovereigns of Egypt, and the
dealings between the Red Sea and the Adriatic soon came to be
prodigious. The Venetians gained control of part of the Peloponnesus,
with many islands of the Ægean and eastern Mediterranean. During the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries their city was the most splendid and
luxurious in all Christendom.

         [Footnote 323: Yule's _Marco Polo_, vol. i. p. lxxi.]

         [Footnote 324: A papal dispensation was necessary before a
         commercial treaty could be made with Mahometans. See Leibnitz,
         _Codex Jur. Gent. Diplomat._, i. 489.]

[Sidenote: Centres and routes of mediæval trade.]

Such a development of wealth in Venice and Genoa implies a large
producing and consuming area behind them, able to take and pay for the
costly products of India and China. Before the end of the thirteenth
century the volume of European trade had swelled to great proportions.
How full of historic and literary interest are the very names of the
centres and leading routes of this trade as it was established in those
days, with its outlook upon the Mediterranean and the distant East! Far
up in the North we see Wisby, on the little isle of Gothland in the
Baltic, giving its name to new rules of international law; and the
merchants of the famous Hansa towns extending their operations as far as
Novgorod in one direction, and in another to the Steelyard in London,
where the pound of these honest "Easterlings" was adopted as the
"sterling" unit of sound money. Fats and tallows, furs and wax from
Russia, iron and copper from Sweden, strong hides and unrivalled wools
from England, salt cod and herring (much needed on meagre church
fast-days) from the North and Baltic seas, appropriately followed by
generous casks of beer from Hamburg, were sent southward in exchange for
fine cloths and tapestries, the products of the loom in Ghent and
Bruges, in Ulm and Augsburg, with delicious vintages of the Rhine,
supple chain armour from Milan, Austrian yew-wood for English long-bows,
ivory and spices, pearls and silks from Italy and the Orient. Along the
routes from Venice and Florence to Antwerp and Rotterdam we see the
progress in wealth and refinement, in artistic and literary
productiveness. We see the early schools of music and painting in Italy
meet with prompt response in Flanders; in the many-gabled streets of
Nuremberg we hear the voice of the Meistersinger, and under the low
oaken roof of a Canterbury inn we listen to joyous if sometimes naughty
tales erst told in pleasant groves outside of fever-stricken Florence.

[Sidenote: Effects of the Mongol conquests.]

[Sidenote: Cathay.]

[Sidenote: Carpini and Rubruquis.]

[Sidenote: First knowledge of an eastern ocean beyond Cathay.]

With this increase of wealth and culture in central Europe there came a
considerable extension of knowledge and a powerful stimulus to
curiosity concerning the remote parts of Asia. The conquering career of
Jenghis Khan (1206-1227) had shaken the world to its foundations. In the
middle of that century, to adopt Colonel Yule's lively expression,
"throughout Asia and eastern Europe, scarcely a dog might bark without
Mongol leave, from the borders of Poland and the coast of Cilicia to the
Amur and the Yellow Sea." About these portentous Mongols, who had thus
in a twinkling overwhelmed China and Russia, and destroyed the Caliphate
of Bagdad, there was a refreshing touch of open-minded heathenism. They
were barbarians willing to learn. From end to end of Asia the barriers
were thrown down. It was a time when Alan chiefs from the Volga served
as police in Tunking, and Chinese physicians could be consulted at
Tabriz. For about a hundred years China was more accessible than at any
period before or since,--more even than to-day; and that country now for
the first time became really known to a few Europeans. In the northern
provinces of China, shortly before the Mongol deluge, there had reigned
a dynasty known as the _Khitai_, and hence China was (and still is)
commonly spoken of in central Asia as the country of the Khitai. When
this name reached European ears it became _Cathay_, the name by which
China was best known in Europe during the next four centuries.[325] In
1245, Friar John of Plano Carpini, a friend and disciple of St. Francis,
was sent by Pope Innocent IV. on a missionary errand to the Great Khan,
and visited him in his camp at Karakorum in the very depths of Mongolia.
In 1253 the king of France, St. Louis, sent another Franciscan monk,
Willem de Rubruquis, to Karakorum, on a mission of which the purpose is
now not clearly understood. Both these Franciscans were men of shrewd
and cultivated minds, especially Rubruquis, whose narrative, "in its
rich detail, its vivid pictures, its acuteness of observation and strong
good sense ... has few superiors in the whole library of travel."[326]
Neither Rubruquis nor Friar John visited China, but they fell in with
Chinese folk at Karakorum, and obtained information concerning the
geography of eastern Asia far more definite than had ever before been
possessed by Europeans. They both describe Cathay as bordering upon an
eastern ocean, and this piece of information constituted the first
important leap of geographical knowledge to the eastward since the days
of Ptolemy, who supposed that beyond the "Seres and Sinæ" lay an unknown
land of vast extent, "full of reedy and impenetrable swamps."[327] The
information gathered by Rubruquis and Friar John indicated that there
was an end to the continent of Asia; that, not as a matter of vague
speculation, but of positive knowledge, Asia was bounded on the east,
just as Europe was bounded on the west, by an ocean.

         [Footnote 325: Yule's _Cathay_, vol. i. p. cxvi.; _Marco Polo_,
         vol. i. p. xlii.]

         [Footnote 326: Yule's _Marco Polo_, vol. i. p. cxxx.; cf.
         Humboldt, _Examen critique_, tom. i. p. 71. The complete
         original texts of the reports of both monks, with learned
         notes, may be found in the _Recueil de Voyages et de Mémoires,
         publié par la Société de Géographie_, Paris, 1839, tom. iv.,
         viz.: _Johannis de Plano Carpini Historia Mongolorum quos nos
         Tartaros appellamus_, ed. M. d'Avezac; _Itinerarium Willelmi de
         Rubruk_, ed. F. Michel et T. Wright.]

         [Footnote 327: Yule's _Cathay_, vol. i. p. xxxix.; Ptolemy, i.
         17. Cf. Bunbury's _History of Ancient Geography_, London, 1883,
         vol. ii. p. 606.]

[Sidenote: The data were thus prepared for Columbus;]

[Sidenote: but as yet nobody reasoned from these data to a practical

Here we arrive at a notable landmark in the history of the Discovery of
America. Here from the camp of bustling heathen at Karakorum there is
brought to Europe the first announcement of a geographical fact from
which the poetic mind of Christopher Columbus will hereafter reap a
wonderful harvest. This is one among many instances of the way in which,
throughout all departments of human thought and action, the glorious
thirteenth century was beginning to give shape to the problems of which
the happy solution has since made the modern world so different from the
ancient.[328] Since there is an ocean east of Cathay and an ocean west
of Spain, how natural the inference--and albeit quite wrong, how
amazingly fruitful--that these oceans are one and the same, so that by
sailing westward from Spain one might go straight to Cathay! The data
for such an inference were now all at hand, but it does not appear that
any one as yet reasoned from the data to the conclusion, although we
find Roger Bacon, in 1267, citing the opinions of Aristotle and other
ancient writers to the effect that the distance by sea from the western
shores of Spain to the eastern shores of Asia cannot be so very
great.[329] In those days it took a long time for such ideas to get from
the heads of philosophers into the heads of men of action; and in the
thirteenth century, when Cathay was more accessible by land than at any
time before or since, there was no practical necessity felt for a water
route thither. Europe still turned her back upon the Atlantic and gazed
more intently than ever upon Asia. Stronger and more general grew the
interest in Cathay.

         [Footnote 328: See my _Beginnings of New England_, chap. i. How
         richly suggestive to an American is the contemporaneity of
         Rubruquis and Earl Simon of Leicester!]

         [Footnote 329: Roger Bacon, _Opus Majus_, ed. Jebb, London,
         1733, p. 183.]

[Sidenote: The Polo brothers.]

[Sidenote: Kublai Khan's message to the Pope.]

In the middle of the thirteenth century, some members of the Polo
family, one of the aristocratic families of Venice, had a commercial
house at Constantinople. Thence, in 1260, the brothers Nicolò and Maffeo
Polo started on a trading journey to the Crimea, whence one opportunity
after another for making money and gratifying their curiosity with new
sights led them northward and eastward to the Volga, thence into
Bokhara, and so on until they reached the court of the Great Khan, in
one of the northwestern provinces of Cathay. The reigning sovereign was
the famous Kublai Khan, grandson of the all-conquering Jenghis. Kublai
was an able and benevolent despot, earnest in the wish to improve the
condition of his Mongol kinsmen. He had never before met European
gentlemen, and was charmed with the cultivated and polished Venetians.
He seemed quite ready to enlist the Roman Church in aid of his
civilizing schemes, and entrusted the Polos with a message to the Pope,
asking him for a hundred missionary teachers. The brothers reached
Venice in 1269, and found that Pope Clement IV. was dead and there was
an interregnum. After two years Gregory X. was elected and received the
Khan's message, but could furnish only a couple of Dominican friars, and
these men were seized with the dread not uncommonly felt for
"Tartareans," and at the last moment refused to go. Nicolò and his
brother then set out in the autumn of 1271 to return to China, taking
with them Nicolò's son Marco, a lad of seventeen years. From Acre they
went by way of Bagdad to Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian gulf,
apparently with the intention of proceeding thence by sea, but for some
reason changed their course, and travelled through Kerman, Khorassan,
and Balkh, to Kashgar, and thence by way of Yarkand and Khotan, and
across the desert of Gobi into northwestern China, where they arrived in
the summer of 1275, and found the Khan at Kaipingfu, not far from the
northern end of the Great Wall.

[Sidenote: Marco Polo and his travels in Asia.]

[Sidenote: First recorded voyage of Europeans around the Indo-Chinese
peninsula, 1292-94.]

[Sidenote: Return of the Polos to Venice.]

It has been said that the failure of Kublai's mission to the Pope led
him to apply to the Grand Lama, at Thibet, who responded more
efficiently and successfully than Gregory X., so that Buddhism seized
the chance which Catholicism failed to grasp. The Venetians, however,
lost nothing in the good Khan's esteem. Young Marco began to make
himself proficient in speaking and writing several Asiatic languages,
and was presently taken into the Khan's service. His name is mentioned
in the Chinese Annals of 1277 as a newly-appointed commissioner of the
privy council.[330] He remained in Kublai's service until 1292, while
his father and uncle were gathering wealth in various ways. Marco made
many official journeys up and down the Khan's vast dominions, not only
in civilized China, but in regions of the heart of Asia seldom visited
by Europeans to this day,--"a vast ethnological garden," says Colonel
Yule, "of tribes of various race and in every stage of uncivilization."
In 1292 a royal bride for the Khan of Persia was to be sent all the way
from Peking to Tabriz, and as war that year made some parts of the
overland route very unsafe, it was decided to send her by sea. The three
Polos had for some time been looking for an opportunity to return to
Venice, but Kublai was unwilling to have them go. Now, however, as every
Venetian of that day was deemed to be from his very cradle a seasoned
seadog, and as the kindly old Mongol sovereign had an inveterate
land-lubber's misgivings about ocean voyages, he consented to part with
his dear friends, so that he might entrust the precious princess to
their care. They sailed from the port of Zaiton (Chinchow) early in
1292, and after long delays on the coasts of Sumatra and Hindustan, in
order to avoid unfavourable monsoons, they reached the Persian gulf in
1294. They found that the royal bridegroom, somewhat advanced in years,
had died before they started from China; so the young princess became
the bride of his son. After tarrying awhile in Tabriz, the Polos
returned, by way of Trebizond and the Bosphorus, to Venice, arriving in
1295. When they got there, says Ramusio, after their absence of four and
twenty years, "the same fate befel them as befel Ulysses, who, when he
returned to his native Ithaca, was recognized by nobody." Their kinsfolk
had long since given them up for dead; and when the three wayworn
travellers arrived at the door of their own palace, the middle-aged men
now wrinkled graybeards, the stripling now a portly man, all three
attired in rather shabby clothes of Tartar cut, and "with a certain
indescribable smack of the Tartar about them, both in air and accent,"
some words of explanation were needed to prove their identity. After a
few days they invited a party of old friends to dinner, and bringing
forth three shabby coats, ripped open the seams and welts, and began
pulling out and tumbling upon the table such treasures of diamonds and
emeralds, rubies and sapphires, as could never have been imagined,
"which had all been stitched up in those dresses in so artful a fashion
that nobody could have suspected the fact." In such wise had they
brought home from Cathay their ample earnings; and when it became known
about Venice that the three long-lost citizens had come back,
"straightway the whole city, gentle and simple, flocked to the house to
embrace them, and to make much of them, with every conceivable
demonstration of affection and respect."[331]

         [Footnote 330: Pauthier's _Marco Polo_, p. 361; Yule's _Marco
         Polo_, p. li.]

         [Footnote 331: Ramusio, _apud_ Yule's _Marco Polo_, vol. i. p.

[Sidenote: Marco Polo's book written in prison at Genoa, 1299.]

Three years afterward, in 1298, Marco commanded a galley in the great
naval battle with the Genoese near Curzola. The Venetians were totally
defeated, and Marco was one of the 7,000 prisoners taken to Genoa, where
he was kept in durance for about a year. One of his companions in
captivity was a certain Rusticiano, of Pisa, who was glad to listen to
his descriptions of Asia, and to act as his amanuensis. French was then,
at the close of the Crusades, a language as generally understood
throughout Europe as later, in the age of Louis XIV.; and Marco's
narrative was duly taken down by the worthy Rusticiano in rather lame
and shaky French. In the summer of 1299 Marco was set free and returned
to Venice, where he seems to have led a quiet life until his death in

[Sidenote: Its great contributions to geographical knowledge.]

"The Book of Ser Marco Polo concerning the Kingdoms and Marvels of the
East" is one of the most famous and important books of the Middle Ages.
It contributed more new facts toward a knowledge of the earth's surface
than any book that had ever been written before. Its author was "the
first traveller to trace a route across the whole longitude of Asia;"
the first to describe China in its vastness, with its immense cities,
its manufactures and wealth, and to tell, whether from personal
experience or direct hearsay, of Thibet and Burmah, of Siam and Cochin
China, of the Indian archipelago, with its islands of spices, of Java
and Sumatra, and of the savages of Andaman. He knew of Japan and the
woful defeat of the Mongols there, when they tried to invade the island
kingdom in 1281. He gave a description of Hindustan far more complete
and characteristic than had ever before been published. From Arab
sailors, accustomed to the Indian ocean, he learned something about
Zanzibar and Madagascar and the semi-Christian kingdom of Abyssinia. To
the northward from Persia he described the country of the Golden Horde,
whose khans were then holding Russia in subjection; and he had gathered
some accurate information concerning Siberia as far as the country of
the Samoyeds, with their dog-sledges and polar bears.[332]

         [Footnote 332: Yule's _Marco Polo_, vol. i. p. cxxxi.]

[Sidenote: Prester John.]

[Sidenote: The "Arimaspians."]

Here was altogether too much geographical knowledge for European
ignorance in those days to digest. While Marco's book attracted much
attention, its influence upon the progress of geography was slighter
than it would have been if addressed to a more enlightened public. Many
of its sober statements of fact were received with incredulity. Many of
the places described were indistinguishable, in European imagination,
from the general multitude of fictitious countries mentioned in
fairy-tales or in romances of chivalry. Perhaps no part of Marco's story
was so likely to interest his readers as his references to Prester John.
In the course of the twelfth century the notion had somehow gained
possession of the European mind that somewhere out in the dim vastness
of the Orient there dwelt a mighty Christian potentate, known as John
the Presbyter or "Prester."[333] At different times he was identified
with various known Asiatic sovereigns. Marco Polo identified him with
one Togrul Wang, who was overcome and slain by the mighty Jenghis; but
he would not stay dead, any more than the grewsome warlock in Russian
nursery lore. The notion of Prester John and his wealthy kingdom could
no more be expelled from the European mind in the fourteenth and
fifteenth centuries than the kindred notion of El Dorado in the
sixteenth. The position of this kingdom was shifted about here and
there, as far as from Chinese Tartary to Abyssinia and back again, but
somewhere or other in people's vague mental picture of the East it was
sure to occur. Other remote regions in Asia were peopled with elves and
griffins and "one-eyed Arimaspians,"[334] and we may be sure that to
Marco's readers these beings were quite as real as the polished
citizens of Cambaluc (Peking) or the cannibals of the Andaman islands.
From such a chaos of ideas sound geographical knowledge must needs be a
slow evolution, and Marco Polo's acquisitions were altogether too far in
advance of his age to be readily assimilated.

         [Footnote 333:
            "But for to speake of riches and of stones,
            And men and horse, I trow the large wones
            Of Prestir John, ne all his tresorie,
            Might not unneth have boght the tenth partie."
                              Chaucer, _The Flower and the Leaf_, 200.

         The fabulous kingdom of Prester John is ably treated in Yule's
         _Cathay_, vol. i. pp. 174-182; _Marco Polo_, vol. i. p.
         204-216. Colonel Yule suspects that its prototype may have been
         the semi-Christian kingdom of Abyssinia. This is very likely.
         As for its range, shifted hither and thither as it was, all the
         way from the upper Nile to the Thian-Shan mountains, we can
         easily understand this if we remember how an ignorant mind
         conceives all points distant from its own position as near to
         one another; i. e. if you are about to start from New York for
         Arizona, your housemaid will perhaps ask you to deliver a
         message to her brother in Manitoba. Nowhere more than in the
         history of geography do we need to keep before us, at every
         step, the limitations of the untutored mind and its feebleness
         in grasping the space-relations of remote regions.]

         [Footnote 334: These Arimaspians afford an interesting example
         of the uncritical statements of travellers at an early time, as
         well as of their tenacious vitality. The first mention of these
         mythical people seems to have been made by Greek travellers in
         Scythia as early as the seventh century before Christ; and they
         furnished Aristeas of Proconnesus, somewhat later, with the
         theme of his poem "Arimaspeia," which has perished, all except
         six verses quoted by Longinus. See Mure's _Literature of
         Antient Greece_, vol. iv. p. 68. Thence the notion of the
         Arimaspians seems to have passed to Herodotus (iii. 116; iv.
         27) and to Æschylus:--

            [Greek: oxystomous gar Zênos akrageis kynas
            grypas phylaxai, ton te mounôpa straton
            Arimaspon hippobamon', hoi chrysorrhyton
            oikousin amphi nama Ploutônos porou;
            toutois sy mê pelaze.]
                              _Prometheus_, 802.

         Thence it passed on to Pausanias, i. 24; Pomponius Mela, ii. 1;
         Pliny, _Hist. Nat._, vii. 2; Lucan, _Pharsalia_, iii. 280; and
         so on to Milton:--

            "As when a gryphon through the wilderness,
            With winged course o'er hill or moory dale,
            Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth
            Had from his wakeful custody purloined
            The guarded gold."
                              _Paradise Lost_, ii. 944.]

[Illustration: Two sheets of the Catalan Map, 1375.]

[Sidenote: Other visits to China.]

[Sidenote: Overthrow of the Mongol dynasty, and shutting up of China.]

Nevertheless, in the Catalan map, made in 1375, and now to be seen in
the National Library at Paris, there is a thorough-going and not
unsuccessful attempt to embody the results of Polo's travels. In the
interval of three quarters of a century since the publication of Marco's
narrative, several adventurous travellers had found their way to Cathay.
There was Friar Odoric, of Pordenone, who, during the years 1316-30
visited Hindustan, Sumatra, Java, Cochin China, the Chinese Empire, and
Thibet.[335] It was from this worthy monk that the arrant old impostor,
"Sir John Mandeville," stole his descriptions of India and Cathay,
seasoning them with yarns from Pliny and Ktesias, and grotesque conceits
of his own.[336] Several other missionary friars visited China between
1302 and 1330, and about ten years after the latter date the Florentine
merchant, Francesco Pegolotti, wrote a very useful handbook for
commercial travellers on the overland route to that country.[337]
Between 1338 and 1353 Giovanni Marignolli spent some years at Peking, as
papal legate from Benedict XI. to the Great Khan, and also travelled in
Ceylon and Hindustan.[338] That seems to have been the last of these
journeys to the Far East. In 1368, the people of China rose against the
Mongol dynasty and overthrew it. The first emperor of the native Ming
dynasty was placed upon the throne, and the Chinese retorted upon their
late conquerors by overrunning vast Mongolia and making it Chinese
Tartary. The barriers thrown down by the liberal policy of the Mongol
sovereigns were now put up again, and no more foreigners were allowed to
set foot upon the sacred soil of the Flowery Kingdom.

         [Footnote 335: Odoric mentions Juggernaut processions and the
         burning of widows; in Sumatra he observed cannibalism and
         community of wives; he found the kingdom of Prester John in
         Chinese Tartary; "but as regards him," says wise Odoric, "not
         one hundredth part is true of what is told of him as if it were
         undeniable." Yule's _Cathay_, vol. i. pp. 79, 85, 146.]

         [Footnote 336: Colonel Yule gives a list of fourteen important
         passages taken bodily from Odoric by Mandeville. _Op. cit._ i.
         28. It is very doubtful if that famous book, "Sir John
         Mandeville's Travels," was written by a Mandeville, or by a
         knight, or even by an Englishman. It seems to have been
         originally written in French by Jean de Bourgogne, a physician
         who lived for some years at Liège, and died there somewhere
         about 1370. He may possibly have been an Englishman named John
         Burgoyne, who was obliged some years before that date to flee
         his country for homicide or for some political offence. He had
         travelled as far as Egypt and Palestine, but no farther. His
         book is almost entirely cribbed from others, among which may be
         mentioned the works of Jacques de Vitry, Plano Carpini, Hayton
         the Armenian, Boldensele's Itinerary, Albert of Aix's chronicle
         of the first crusade, Brunetto Latini's _Trésor_, Petrus
         Comestor's _Historia scholastica_, the _Speculum_ of Vincent de
         Beauvais, etc., etc. It is one of the most wholesale and
         successful instances of plagiarism and imposture on record. See
         _The Buke of John Mandevill, from the unique copy (Egerton MS.
         1982) in the British Museum. Edited by G. F. Warner._
         Westminster, 1889. (Roxburghe Club.)]

         [Footnote 337: One piece of Pegolotti's advice is still useful
         for travellers in the nineteenth century who visit benighted
         heathen countries afflicted with robber tariffs: "And don't
         forget that if you treat the custom-house officers with
         respect, and make them something of a present in goods or
         money, they will behave with great civility and always be ready
         to appraise your wares below their real value." _Op. cit._ ii.

         [Footnote 338: The works of all the writers mentioned in this
         paragraph, or copious extracts from them, may be found in
         Yule's _Cathay_, which comprises also the book of the
         celebrated Ibn Batuta, of Tangier, whose travels, between 1325
         and 1355, covered pretty much the whole of Asia except Siberia,
         besides a journey across Sahara to the river Niger. His book
         does not seem to have attracted attention in Europe until early
         in the present century.]

[Sidenote: First rumours of the Molucca islands and Japan.]

Thus, for just a century,--from Carpini and Rubruquis to
Marignolli,--while China was open to strangers as never before or since,
a few Europeans had availed themselves of the opportunity in such wise
as to mark the beginning of a new era in the history of geographical
knowledge. Though the discoveries of Marco Polo were as yet but
imperfectly appreciated, one point, and that the most significant of
all, was thoroughly established. It was shown that the continent of Asia
did not extend indefinitely eastward, nor was it bounded and barricaded
on that side, as Ptolemy had imagined, by vast impenetrable swamps. On
the contrary, its eastern shores were perfectly accessible through an
open sea, and half a dozen Europeans in Chinese ships had now actually
made the voyage between the coast of China and the Persian gulf.
Moreover, some hearsay knowledge--enough to provoke curiosity and
greed--had been gained of the existence of numerous islands in that
far-off eastern ocean, rich in the spices which from time immemorial had
formed such an important element in Mediterranean commerce. News, also,
had been brought to Europe of the wonderful island kingdom of Japan
(Cipango or Zipangu) lying out in that ocean some hundreds of miles
beyond the coast of Cathay. These were rich countries, abounding in
objects of lucrative traffic. Under the liberal Mongol rule the Oriental
trade had increased enough for Europe to feel in many ways its
beneficial effects. Now this trade began to be suddenly and severely
checked, and while access to the interior of Asia was cut off, European
merchants might begin to reflect upon the value of what they were
losing, and to consider if there were any feasible method of recovering

[Sidenote: The accustomed routes of Oriental trade cut off by the
Ottoman Turks.]

[Sidenote: Necessity for finding an "outside route to the Indies."]

It was not merely the shutting up of China by the first Ming emperor,
in 1368, that checked the intercourse between Europe and Asia. A still
more baleful obstacle to all such intercourse had lately come upon the
scene. In Asia Minor the beastly Turk, whose career had been for two
centuries arrested by the Crusades, now reared his head again. The
Seljukian had been only scotched, not killed; and now he sprang to life
as the Ottoman, with sharper fangs than before. In 1365 the Turks
established themselves in the Balkan peninsula, with Adrianople as their
capital, and began tightening their coils about the doomed city of
Constantine. Each point that they gained meant the strangling of just so
much Oriental trade; for, as we have seen, the alliance of
Constantinople with Genoa since 1261 had secured to the latter city, and
to western Europe, the advantages of the overland routes from Asia,
whether through the Volga country or across Armenia. When at length, in
1453, the Turks took Constantinople, the splendid commercial career of
Genoa was cut with the shears of Atropos. At the same time, as their
power was rapidly extending over Syria and down toward Egypt,
threatening the overthrow of the liberal Mameluke dynasty there, the
commercial prosperity of Venice also was seriously imperilled. Moreover,
as Turkish corsairs began to swarm in the eastern waters of the
Mediterranean, the voyage became more and more unsafe for Christian
vessels. It was thus, while the volume of trade with Asia was, in the
natural course of things, swelling year by year, that its accustomed
routes were being ruthlessly cut off. It was fast becoming necessary to
consider whether there might not be other practicable routes to "the
Indies" than those which had from time immemorial been followed. Could
there be such a thing as an "outside route" to that land of promise? A
more startling question has seldom been propounded; for it involved a
radical departure from the grooves in which the human mind had been
running ever since the days of Solomon. Two generations of men lived and
died while this question was taking shape, and all that time Cathay and
India and the islands of Spices were objects of increasing desire,
clothed by eager fancy with all manner of charms and riches. The more
effectually the eastern Mediterranean was closed, the stronger grew the
impulse to venture upon unknown paths in order to realize the vague but
glorious hopes that began to cluster about these remote countries. Such
an era of romantic enterprise as was thus ushered in, the world has
never seen before or since. It was equally remarkable as an era of
discipline in scientific thinking. In the maritime ventures of
unparalleled boldness now to be described, the human mind was groping
toward the era of enormous extensions of knowledge in space and time
represented by the names of Newton and Darwin. It was learning the right
way of putting its trust in the Unseen.




[Sidenote: Question as to whether Asia could be reached by sailing
around Africa.]

As it dawned upon men's minds that to find some oceanic route from
Europe to the remote shores of Asia was eminently desirable, the first
attempt would naturally be to see what could be done by sailing down the
western coast of Africa, and ascertaining whether that continent could
be circumnavigated. It was also quite in the natural order of things
that this first attempt should be made by the Portuguese.

In the general history of the Middle Ages the Spanish peninsula had been
to some extent cut off from the main currents of thought and feeling
which actuated the rest of Europe. Its people had never joined the other
Christian nations in the Crusades, for the good reason that they always
had quite enough to occupy them in their own domestic struggle with the
Moors. From the throes of this prolonged warfare Portugal emerged
somewhat sooner than the Spanish kingdoms, and thus had somewhat earlier
a surplus of energy released for work of another sort. It was not
strange that the Portuguese should be the first people since the old
Northmen to engage in distant maritime adventure upon a grand scale.
Nor was it strange that Portuguese seamanship should at first have
thriven upon naval warfare with Mussulmans. It was in attempting to
suppress the intolerable nuisance of Moorish piracy that Portuguese
ships became accustomed to sail a little way down the west coast of
Africa; and such voyages, begun for military purposes, were kept up in
the interests of commerce, and presently served as a mighty stimulus to
geographical curiosity. We have now to consider at some length how grave
was the problem that came up for immediate solution.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Views of Eratosthenes, B. C. 276-196.]

[Sidenote: Opposing theory of Ptolemy, cir. A. D. 150.]

With regard to the circumnavigability of Africa two opposite opinions
were maintained by the ancient Greek and Latin writers whose authority
the men of the Middle Ages were wont to quote as decisive of every vexed
question. The old Homeric notion of an ocean encompassing the
terrestrial world, although mentioned with doubt by Herodotus,[339]
continued to survive after the globular form of the earth had come to be
generally maintained by ancient geographers. The greatest of these
geographers, Eratosthenes, correctly assumed that the Indian ocean was
continuous with the Atlantic,[340] and that Africa could be
circumnavigated, just as he incorrectly assumed that the Caspian sea
was a huge gulf communicating with a northern ocean, by which it would
be possible to sail around the continent of Asia as he imagined it.[341]
A similar opinion as to Africa was held by Posidonius and by
Strabo.[342] It was called in question, however, by Polybius,[343] and
was flatly denied by the great astronomer Hipparchus, who thought that
certain observations on the tides, reported by Seleucus of Babylon,
proved that there could be no connection between the Atlantic and Indian
oceans.[344] Claudius Ptolemy, writing in the second century after
Christ, followed the opinion of Hipparchus, and carried to an extreme
the reaction against Eratosthenes. By Ptolemy's time the Caspian had
been proved to be an inland sea, and it was evident that Asia extended
much farther to the north and east than had once been supposed. This
seems to have discredited in his mind the whole conception of outside
oceans, and he not only gave an indefinite northward and eastward
extension to Asia and an indefinite southern extension to Africa, but
brought these two continents together far to the southeast, thus making
the Indian ocean a land-locked sea.[345]

         [Footnote 339: [Greek: Ton de Ôkeanon logô men legousi ap'
         hêliou anatoleôn arxamenon gên peri pasan rheein, ergô de ouk
         apodeiknysi.] Herodotus, iv. 8.]

         [Footnote 340: [Greek: Kai gar kat' auton Eratosthenê tên ektos
         thalattan hapasan syrroun einai, hôste kai tên Hesperion kai
         tên Erythran thalattan mian einai.] Strabo, i. 3, § 13.]

         [Footnote 341: Bunbury, _History of Ancient Geography_, vol. i.
         p. 644.]

         [Footnote 342: Strabo, ii. 3, § 4; xvii. 3, § 1.]

         [Footnote 343: [Greek: Kathaper de kai tês Asias kai tês
         Libyes, katho synaptousin allêlais peri tên Aithiopian, oudeis
         echei legein atrekôs heôs tôn kath' hêmas kairôn, poteron
         êpeiros esti kata to syneches ta pros tên mesêmbrian, ê
         thalattê periechetai.] Polybius, iii. 38.]

         [Footnote 344: Bunbury, _op. cit._ vol. ii. p. 15.]

         [Footnote 345: See the map of Ptolemy's world, above, p. 264.]

[Sidenote: Story of the Phoenician voyage, in the time of Necho.]

These views of Hipparchus and Ptolemy took no heed of the story told to
Herodotus of the circumnavigation of Africa by a Phoenician squadron at
some time during the reign of Necho in Egypt (610-595 B. C.).[346] The
Phoenician ships were said to have sailed from the Red Sea and to have
returned through the Mediterranean in the third year after starting. In
each of the two autumn seasons they stopped and sowed grain and waited
for it to ripen, which in southern Africa would require ten or twelve
weeks.[347] On their return to Egypt they declared ("I for my part do
not believe them," says Herodotus, "but perhaps others may") that in
thus sailing from east to west around Africa they had the sun upon their
right hand. About this alleged voyage there has been a good deal of
controversy.[348] No other expedition in any wise comparable to it for
length and difficulty can be cited from ancient history, and a critical
scholar is inclined to look with suspicion upon all such accounts of
unique and isolated events. As we have not the details of the story, it
is impossible to give it a satisfactory critical examination. The
circumstance most likely to convince us of its truth is precisely that
which dear old Herodotus deemed incredible. The position of the sun, to
the north of the mariners, is something that could hardly have been
imagined by people familiar only with the northern hemisphere. It is
therefore almost certain that Necho's expedition sailed beyond the
equator.[349] But that is as far as inference can properly carry us; for
our experience of the uncritical temper of ancient narrators is enough
to suggest that such an achievement might easily be magnified by rumour
into the story told, more than a century after the event, to Herodotus.
The data are too slight to justify us in any dogmatic opinion. One
thing, however, is clear. Even if the circumnavigation was
effected,--which, on the whole, seems improbable,--it remained quite
barren of results. It produced no abiding impression upon men's
minds[350] and added nothing to geographical knowledge. The veil of
mystery was not lifted from southern Africa. The story was doubted by
Strabo and Posidonius, and passed unheeded, as we have seen, by
Hipparchus and Ptolemy.

         [Footnote 346: Ptolemy expressly declares that the equatorial
         regions had never been visited by people from the northern
         hemisphere: [Greek: Tines de eisin hai oikêseis ouk an echoimen
         pepeismenôs eipein. Atriptoi gar eisi mechri tou deuro tois apo
         tês kath' hêmas oikoumenês, kai eikasian mallon an tis ê
         historian hêgêsaito ta legomena peri autôn.] _Syntaxis_, ii.

         [Footnote 347: Rawlinson's _Herodotus_, vol. iii. p. 29, note

         [Footnote 348: The story is discredited by Mannert, _Geographie
         der Griechen und Römer_, bd. i. pp. 19-26; Gossellin,
         _Recherches sur la géographie des Anciens_, tom. i. p. 149;
         Lewis, _Astronomy of the Ancients_, pp. 508-515; Vincent,
         _Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients in the Indian Ocean_,
         vol. i. pp. 303-311, vol. ii. pp. 13-15; Leake, _Disputed
         Questions of Ancient Geography_, pp. 1-8. It is defended by
         Heeren, _Ideen über die Politik, den Verkehr_, etc., 3e aufl.,
         Göttingen, 1815, bd. i. abth. ii. pp. 87-93; Rennell,
         _Geography of Herodotus_, pp. 672-714; Grote, _History of
         Greece_, vol. iii. pp. 377-385. The case is ably presented in
         Bunbury's _History of Ancient Geography_, vol. i. pp. 289-296,
         where it is concluded that the story "cannot be disproved or
         pronounced to be absolutely impossible; but the difficulties
         and improbabilities attending it are so great that they cannot
         reasonably be set aside without better evidence than the mere
         statement of Herodotus, upon the authority of unknown
         informants." Mr. Bunbury (vol. i. p. 317) says that he has
         reasons for believing that Mr. Grote afterwards changed his
         opinion and came to agree with Sir George Lewis.]

         [Footnote 349: In reading the learned works of Sir George
         Cornewall Lewis, one is often reminded of what Sainte-Beuve
         somewhere says of the great scholar Letronne, when he had spent
         the hour of his lecture in demolishing some pretty or popular
         belief: "Il se frotta les mains et s'en alla bien content."
         When it came to ancient history, Sir George was undeniably fond
         of "the everlasting No." In the present case his skepticism
         seems on the whole well-judged, but some of his arguments
         savour of undue haste toward a negative conclusion. He thus
         strangely forgets that what we call autumn is springtime in the
         southern hemisphere (_Astronomy of the Ancients_, p. 511). His
         argument that the time alleged was insufficient for the voyage
         is fully met by Major Rennell, who has shown that the time was
         amply sufficient, and that the direction of winds and ocean
         currents would make the voyage around southern Africa from east
         to west much easier than from west to east.]

         [Footnote 350: "No trace of it could be found in the
         Alexandrian library, either by Eratosthenes in the third, or by
         Marinus of Tyre in the second, century before Christ, although
         both of them were diligent examiners of ancient records."
         Major, _Prince Henry the Navigator_, p. 90.]

[Sidenote: Voyage of Hanno.]

Of Phoenician and other voyages along the Atlantic coast of Africa we
have much more detailed and trustworthy information. As early as the
twelfth century before Christ traders from Tyre had founded Cadiz
(Gades),[351] and at a later date the same hardy people seem to have
made the beginnings of Lisbon (Olisipo). From such advanced stations
Tyrian and Carthaginian ships sometimes found their way northward as far
as Cornwall, and in the opposite direction fishing voyages were made
along the African coast. The most remarkable undertaking in this quarter
was the famous voyage of the Carthaginian commander Hanno, whose own
brief but interesting account of it has been preserved.[352] This
expedition consisted of sixty penteconters (fifty-oared ships), and its
chief purpose was colonization. Upon the Mauritanian coast seven small
trading stations were founded, one of which--Kerne, at the mouth of the
Rio d' Ouro[353]--existed for a long time. From this point Hanno made
two voyages of exploration, the second of which carried him as far as
Sierra Leone and the neighbouring Sherboro island, where he found "wild
men and women covered with hair," called by the interpreters
"gorillas."[354] At that point the ships turned back, apparently for
want of provisions.

         [Footnote 351: Rawlinson's _History of Phoenicia_, pp. 105,
         418; Pseudo-Aristotle, _Mirab. Auscult._, 146; Velleius
         Paterculus, i. 2, § 6.]

         [Footnote 352: Hanno, _Periplus_, in Müller, _Geographi Græci
         Minores_, tom. i. pp. 1-14. Of two or three commanders named
         Hanno it is uncertain which was the one who led this
         expedition, and thus its date has been variously assigned from
         570 to 470 B. C.]

         [Footnote 353: For the determination of these localities see
         Bunbury, _op. cit._ vol. i. pp. 318-335. There is an
         interesting Spanish description of Hanno's expedition in
         Mariana, _Historia de España_, Madrid, 1783, tom. i. pp.

         [Footnote 354: The sailors pursued them, but did not capture
         any of the males, who scrambled up the cliffs out of their
         reach. They captured three females, who bit and scratched so
         fiercely that it was useless to try to take them away. So they
         killed them and took their skins home to Carthage. _Periplus_,
         xviii. According to Pliny (_Hist. Nat._, vi. 36) these skins
         were hung up as a votive offering in the temple of Juno (i. e.
         Astarte or Ashtoreth: see Apuleius, _Metamorph._, xi. 257;
         Gesenius, _Monumenta Phoenic._, p. 168), where they might have
         been seen at any time before the Romans destroyed the city.]

[Sidenote: Voyages of Sataspes and Eudoxus.]

No other expedition in ancient times is known to have proceeded so far
south as Sierra Leone. Two other voyages upon this Atlantic coast are
mentioned, but without definite details. The one was that of Sataspes
(about 470 B. C.), narrated by Herodotus, who merely tells us that a
coast was reached where undersized men, clad in palm-leaf garments, fled
to the hills at sight of the strange visitors.[355] The other was that
of Eudoxus (about 85 B. C.), related by Posidonius, the friend and
teacher of Cicero. The story is that this Eudoxus, in a voyage upon the
east coast of Africa, having a philological turn of mind, wrote down the
words of some of the natives whom he met here and there along the shore.
He also picked up a ship's prow in the form of a horse's head, and upon
his return to Alexandria some merchants professed to recognize it as
belonging to a ship of Cadiz. Eudoxus thereupon concluded that Africa
was circumnavigable, and presently sailed through the Mediterranean and
out upon the Atlantic. Somewhere upon the coast of Mauritania he found
natives who used some words of similar sound to those which he had
written down when visiting the eastern coast, whence he concluded that
they were people of the same race. At this point he turned back, and the
sequel of the story was unknown to Posidonius.[356]

         [Footnote 355: Herodotus, iv. 43.]

         [Footnote 356: The story is preserved by Strabo, ii. 3, §§ 4,
         5, who rejects it with a vehemence for which no adequate reason
         is assigned.]

[Sidenote: Wild exaggerations.]

It is worthy of note that both Pliny and Pomponius Mela, quoting
Cornelius Nepos as their authority, speak of Eudoxus as having
circumnavigated Africa from the Red Sea to Cadiz; and Pliny, moreover,
tells us that Hanno sailed around that continent as far as
Arabia,[357]--a statement which is clearly false. These examples show
how stories grow when carelessly and uncritically repeated, and they
strongly tend to confirm the doubt with which one is inclined to regard
the tale of Necho's sailors above mentioned. In truth, the island of
Gorillas, discovered by Hanno, was doubtless the most southerly point on
that coast reached by navigators in ancient times. Of the islands in the
western ocean the Carthaginians certainly knew the Canaries (where they
have left undoubted inscriptions), probably also the Madeiras, and
possibly the Cape Verde group.[358]

         [Footnote 357: Pliny, _Hist. Nat._, ii. 67; Mela, _De Situ
         Orbis_, iii. 9.]

         [Footnote 358: After the civil war of Sertorius (B. C. 80-72),
         the Romans became acquainted with the Canaries, which, because
         of their luxuriant vegetation and soft climate, were identified
         with the Elysium described by Homer, and were commonly known as
         the Fortunate islands. "Contra Fortunatæ Insulæ abundant sua
         sponte genitis, et subinde aliis super aliis innascentibus
         nihil sollicitos alunt, beatius quam aliæ urbes excultæ." Mela,
         iii. 10.

            [Greek: Alla s' es Êlysion pedion kai peirata gaiês
            athanatoi pempsousin, hothi xanthos Rhadamanthys,
            têper rhêïstê biotê pelei anthrôpoisin;
            ou niphetos, out' ar cheimôn polys oute pot' ombros,
            all' aiei Zephyroio ligy pneiontas aêtas
            Ôkeanos aniêsin anapsychein anthrôpous.]
                                        _Odyssey_, iv. 563.

         Since Horace's time (_Epod._ vi. 41-66) the Canary islands have
         been a favourite theme for poets. It was here that Tasso placed
         the loves of Rinaldo and Armida, in the delicious garden where

            Vezzosi augelli infra le verde fronde
            Temprano a prova lascivette note.
            Mormora l' aura, e fa le foglie e l' onde
            Garrir, che variamente ella percote.
                                        _Gerusalemme Liberata_, xvi. 12.]

[Illustration: Pomponius Mela's World, cir. A. D. 50.]

[Sidenote: Views of Pomponius Mela, cir. A. D. 50.]

The extent of the knowledge which the ancients thus had of western
Africa is well illustrated in the map representing the geographical
theories of Pomponius Mela, whose book was written about A. D. 50. Of
the eastern coast and the interior Mela knew less than Ptolemy a
century later, but of the Atlantic coast he knew more than Ptolemy. The
fact that the former geographer was a native of Spain and the latter a
native of Egypt no doubt had something to do with this. Mela had
profited by the Carthaginian discoveries. His general conception of the
earth was substantially that of Eratosthenes. It was what has been
styled the "oceanic" theory, in contrast with the "continental" theory
of Ptolemy. In the unvisited regions on all sides of the known world
Eratosthenes imagined vast oceans, Ptolemy imagined vast deserts or
impenetrable swamps. The former doctrine was of course much more
favourable to maritime enterprise than the latter. The works of Ptolemy
exercised over the mediæval mind an almost despotic sway, which, in
spite of their many merits, was in some respects a hindrance to
progress; so that, inasmuch as the splendid work of Strabo, the most
eminent follower of Eratosthenes, was unknown to mediæval Europe until
about 1450, it was fortunate that the Latin treatise of Mela was
generally read and highly esteemed. People in those days were such
uncritical readers that very likely the antagonism between Ptolemy and
Mela may have failed to excite comment,[359] especially in view of the
lack of suitable maps such as emphasize that antagonism to our modern
minds. But in the fifteenth century, when men were getting their first
inklings of critical scholarship, and when the practical question of an
ocean voyage to Asia was pressing for solution, such a point could no
longer fail to attract attention; and it happened fortunately that the
wet theory, no less than the dry theory, had a popular advocate among
those classical authors to whose authority so much deference was paid.

         [Footnote 359: Just as our grandfathers used to read the Bible
         without noticing such points as the divergences between the
         books of Kings and Chronicles, the contradictions between the
         genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, the radically
         different theories of Christ's personality and career in the
         Fourth Gospel as compared with the three Synoptics, etc.]

[Sidenote: Ancient theory of the five zones.]

[Sidenote: The Inhabited World and the Antipodes.]

If the Portuguese mariners of the generation before Columbus had
acquiesced in Ptolemy's views as final, they surely would not have
devoted their energies to the task of circumnavigating Africa. But there
were yet other theoretical or fanciful obstacles in the way. When you
look at a modern map of the world, the "five zones" may seem like a mere
graphic device for marking conveniently the relations of different
regions to the solar source of heat; but before the great Portuguese
voyages and the epoch-making third voyage of Vespucius, to be described
hereafter, a discouraging doctrine was entertained with regard to these
zones. Ancient travellers in Scythia and voyagers to "Thule"--which in
Ptolemy's scheme perhaps meant the Shetland isles[360]--had learned
something of Arctic phenomena. The long winter nights,[361] the snow and
ice, and the bitter winds, made a deep impression upon visitors from the
Mediterranean;[362] and when such facts were contrasted with the
scorching blasts that came from Sahara, the resulting theory was
undeniably plausible. In the extreme north the ocean must be frozen and
the country uninhabitable by reason of the cold; contrariwise, in the
far south the ocean must be boiling hot and the country inhabitable only
by gnomes and salamanders. Applying these ideas to the conception of the
earth as a sphere, Pomponius Mela tells us that the surface of the
sphere is divided into five zones, of which only two are fit to support
human life. About each pole stretches a dead and frozen zone; the
southern and northern hemispheres have each a temperate zone, with the
same changes of seasons, but not occurring at the same (but opposite)
times; the north temperate zone is the seat of the Oecumene ([Greek:
oikoumenê]), or Inhabited World; the south temperate zone is also
inhabited by the Antichthones or Antipodes, but about these people we
know nothing, because between us and them there intervenes the burning
zone, which it is impossible to cross.[363]

         [Footnote 360: Bunbury, _op. cit._ vol. ii. pp. 492, 527. The
         name is used in different geographical senses by various
         ancient writers, as is well shown in Lewis's _Astronomy of the
         Ancients_, pp. 467-481.]

         [Footnote 361: The Romans, at least by the first century A. D.,
         knew also of the shortness of northern nights in summer.

                                Arma quidem ultra
            Littora Invernæ promovimus, et modo captas
            Orcadas, ac minima contentos nocte Britannos.
                                        Juvenal, ii. 159.

         See also Pliny, _Hist. Nat._, iv. 30; Martianus Capella, vi.
         595; Achilles Tatius, XXXV.]

         [Footnote 362: The reader will remember Virgil's magnificent
         description of a Scythian winter (_Georg._, iii. 352):--

            Illic clausa tenent stabulis armenta; neque ullæ
            Aut herbæ campo apparent, aut arbore frondes:
            Sed jacet aggeribus niveis informis, et alto
            Terra gelu late, septemque assurgit in ulnas;
            Semper hiems, semper spirantes frigora Cauri.
            Tum Sol pallentes haud unquam discutit umbras;
            Nec cum invectus equis altum petit æthera, nec cum
            Præcipitem Oceani rubro lavit æquore currum.
            Concrescunt subitæ currenti in flumine crustæ;
            Undaque jam tergo ferratos sustinet orbes,
            Puppibus illa prius patulis, nunc hospita plaustris,
            Æraque dissiliunt vulgo, vestesque rigescunt
            Indutæ, cæduntque securibus humida vina
            Et totæ solidam in glaciem vertêre lacunæ,
            Stiriaque impexis induruit horrida barbis.
            Interea toto non secius aëre ningit;
            Intereunt pecudes; stant circumfusa pruinis
            Corpora magna boum; confertoque agmine cervi
            Torpent mole nova, et summis vix cornibus exstant.
            Ipsi in defossis specubus, secura sub alta
            Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, totasque
            Advolvere focis ulmos, ignique dedere.
            Hic noctem ludo ducunt, et pocula læti
            Fermento atque acidis imitantur vitea sorbis.
            Talis Hyperboreo Septem subjecta trioni
            Gens effræna virûm Rhipæo tunditur Euro,
            Et pecudum fulvis velantur corpora sætis.

         The Roman conception of the situation of these "Hyperboreans"
         and of the Rhipæan mountains may be seen in the map of Mela's

         [Footnote 363: "Huic medio terra sublimis cingitur undique
         mari: eodemque in duo latera, quæ hemisphæria nominantur, ab
         oriente divisa ad occasum, zonis quinque distinguitur. Mediam
         æstus infestat, frigus ultimas: reliquæ habitabiles paria agunt
         anni tempora, verum non pariter. Antichthones alteram, nos
         alteram incolimus. Illius situ ab ardorem intercedentis plagæ
         incognito, hujus dicendus est," etc. _De Situ Orbis_, i. 1. A
         similar theory is set forth by Ovid (_Metamorph._, i. 45), and
         by Virgil (_Georg._, i. 233):--

            Quinque tenent coelum zonæ; quarum una corusco
            Semper Sole rubens, et torrida semper ab igni;
            Quam circum extremæ dextra lævaque trahuntur,
            Cærulea glacie concretæ atque imbribus atris.
            Has inter mediamque, duæ mortalibus ægris
            Munere concessæ Divûm; et via secta per ambas,
            Obliquus qua se signorum verteret ordo.]

[Sidenote: Curious notions about Ceylon.]

This notion of an antipodal world in the southern hemisphere will have
especial interest for us when we come to deal with the voyages of
Vespucius. The idea seems to have originated in a guess of Hipparchus
that Taprobane--the island of Ceylon, about which the most absurd
reports were brought to Europe--might be the beginning of another world.
This is very probable, says Mela, with delightful _naïveté_, because
Taprobane is inhabited, and still we do not know of anybody who has ever
made the tour of it.[364] Mela's contemporary, the elder Pliny,
declares that Taprobane "has long been regarded" as part of another
world, the name of which is Antichthon, or Opposite-Earth;[365] at the
same time Pliny vouchsafes three closely-printed pages of information
about this mysterious country. Throughout the Middle Ages the conception
of some sort of an antipodal inhabited world was vaguely entertained by
writers here and there, but many of the clergy condemned it as implying
the existence of people cut off from the knowledge of the gospel and not
included in the plan of salvation.

         [Footnote 364: "Taprobane aut grandis admodum insula aut prima
         pars orbis alterius Hipparcho dicitur; sed quia habitata, nec
         quisquam circummeasse traditur, prope verum est." _De Situ
         Orbis_, iii. 7.]

         [Footnote 365: "Taprobanen alterum orbem terrarum esse, diu
         existimatum est, Antichthonum appellatione." _Hist. Nat._, vi.

[Sidenote: The fiery zone.]

As to the possibility of crossing the torrid zone, opinion was not
unanimous. Greek explorers from Alexandria (cir. B. C. 100) seem to have
gone far up the Nile toward the equator, and the astronomer Geminus
quotes their testimony in proof of his opinion that the torrid zone is
inhabitable.[366] Panætius, the friend of the younger Scipio Africanus,
had already expressed a similar opinion. But the flaming theory
prevailed. Macrobius, writing about six hundred years later, maintained
that the southernmost limit of the habitable earth was 850 miles south
of Syene, which lies just under the tropic of Cancer.[367] Beyond this
point no man could go without danger from the fiery atmosphere. Beyond
some such latitude on the ocean no ship could venture without risk of
being engulfed in some steaming whirlpool.[368] Such was the common
belief before the great voyages of the Portuguese.

         [Footnote 366: Geminus, _Isagoge_, cap. 13.]

         [Footnote 367: Macrobius, _Somnium Scipionis_, ii. 8. Strabo
         (ii. 5, §§ 7, 8) sets the southern boundary of the Inhabited
         World 800 miles south of Syene, and the northern boundary at
         the north of Ireland.]

         [Footnote 368: Another notion, less easily explicable and less
         commonly entertained, but interesting for its literary
         associations, was the notion of a mountain of loadstone in the
         Indian ocean, which prevented access to the torrid zone by
         drawing the nails from ships and thus wrecking them. This
         imaginary mountain, with some variations in the description, is
         made to carry a serious geographical argument by the astrologer
         Pietro d' Abano, in his book _Conciliator Differentiarum_,
         written about 1312. (See Major, _Prince Henry the Navigator_,
         p. 100.) It plays an important part in one of the finest tales
         in the _Arabian Nights_,--the story of the "Third Royal

[Sidenote: Going downhill.]

Besides this dread of the burning zone, another fanciful obstacle beset
the mariner who proposed to undertake a long voyage upon the outer
ocean. It had been observed that a ship which disappears in the offing
seems to be going downhill; and many people feared that if they should
happen thus to descend too far away from the land they could never get
back again. Men accustomed to inland sea travel did not feel this dread
within the regions of which they had experience, but it assailed them
whenever they thought of braving the mighty waters outside.[369] Thus
the master mariner, in the Middle Ages, might contemplate the possible
chance of being drawn by force of gravity into the fiery gulf, should he
rashly approach too near; and in such misgivings he would be confirmed
by Virgil, who was as much read then as he is to-day and esteemed an
authority, withal, on scientific questions; for according to Virgil the
Inhabited World descends toward the equator and has its apex in the
extreme north.[370]

         [Footnote 369: Ferdinand Columbus tells us that this objection
         was urged against the Portuguese captains and afterwards
         against his father: "E altri di ciò quasi così disputavano,
         come già i Portoghesi intorno al navigare in Guinea; dicendo
         che, se si allargasse alcuno a far cammino diritto al
         occidente, come l' Ammiraglio diceva, non potrebbe poi tornare
         in Ispagna per la rotondità della sfera; tenendo per
         certissime, che qualunque uscisse del emisperio conosciuto da
         Tolomeo, anderebbe in giù, e poi gli sarebbe impossibile dar la
         volta; e affermando che ciò sarebbe quasi uno ascendere all'
         insù di un monte. Il che non potrebbono fare i navigli con
         grandissimo vento." _Vita deli' Ammiraglio_, Venice, 1571, cap.
         xii. The same thing is told, in almost the same words, by Las
         Casas, since both writers followed the same original documents:
         "Añidian mas, que quien navegase por vía derecha la vuelta del
         poniente, como el Cristóbal Colon proferia, no podria despues
         volver, suponiendo que el mundo era redondo y yendo hácia el
         occidente iban cuesta abajo, y saliendo del hemisferio que
         Ptolomeo escribiò, á la vuelta érales necesario subir cuesta
         arriba, lo que los navíos era imposible hacer." The gentle but
         keen sarcasm that follows is very characteristic of Las Casas:
         "Esta era gentil y profunda razon, y señal de haber bien el
         negocio entendido!" _Historia de las Indias_, tom. i. p. 230.]

         [Footnote 370:
            Mundus, ut ad Scythiam Rhipæasque arduus arces
            Consurgit, premitur Libyæ devexus in austros.
            Hic vertex nobis semper sublimis; at illum
            Sub pedibus Styx atra videt Manesque profundi.
                                        _Georg._, i. 240.

         For an account of the deference paid to Virgil in the Middle
         Ages, as well as the grotesque fancies about him, see Tunison's
         _Master Virgil_, 2d ed., Cincinnati, 1890.]

[Sidenote: Superstitious fancies.]

To such notions as these, which were supposed to have some sort of
scientific basis, we must add the wild superstitious fancies that
clustered about all remote and unvisited corners of the world. In maps
made in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in such places as we
should label "Unexplored Region," there were commonly depicted uncouth
shapes of "Gorgons and Hydras and Chimæras dire," furnishing eloquent
testimony to the feelings with which the unknown was regarded. The
barren wastes of the Sea of Darkness awakened a shuddering dread like
that with which children shrink from the gloom of a cellar. When we
remember all these things, and consider how the intelligent purpose
which urged the commanders onward was scarcely within the comprehension
of their ignorant and refractory crews, we can begin to form some idea
of the difficulties that confronted the brave mariners who first sought
an ocean route to the far-off shores of Cathay.

[Sidenote: Clumsiness of the caravels.]

[Sidenote: Famine and scurvy.]

Less formidable than these obstacles based on fallacious reasoning or
superstitious whim were those that were furnished by the clumsiness of
the ships and the crudeness of the appliances for navigation. As already
observed, the Spanish and Portuguese caravels of the fifteenth century
were less swift and manageable craft than the Norwegian "dragons" of the
tenth. Mere yachts in size we should call them, but far from yachtlike
in shape or nimbleness. With their length seldom more than thrice their
width of beam, with narrow tower-like poops, with broad-shouldered bows
and bowsprit weighed down with spritsail yards, and with no canvas
higher than a topsail, these clumsy caravels could make but little
progress against head-winds, and the amount of tacking and beating to
and fro was sometimes enough to quadruple the length of the voyage. For
want of metallic sheathing below the waterline the ship was liable to be
sunk by the terrible worm which, in Hakluyt's phrase, "many times
pearceth and eateth through the strongest oake." For want of vegetable
food in the larder, or anything save the driest of bread and beef
stiffened with brine, the sailors were sure to be attacked by scurvy,
and in a very long voyage the crew was deemed fortunate that did not
lose half its number from that foul disease. Often in traversing unknown
seas the sturdy men who survived all other perils were brought face to
face with starvation when they had ventured too far without turning
back.[371] We need not wonder that the first steps in oceanic discovery
were slow and painful.

         [Footnote 371: Or simply because a wrong course happened to be
         taken, through ignorance of atmospheric conditions, as in the
         second homeward and third outward voyages of Columbus. See
         below, pp. 485, 490.]

[Sidenote: The mariner's compass.]

First among the instruments without which systematic ocean navigation
would have been impossible, the magnetic compass had been introduced
into southern Europe and was used by Biscayan and Catalan sailors before
the end of the twelfth century.[372] Parties of Crusaders had learned
the virtues of the suspended needle from the Arabs, who are said to have
got their knowledge indirectly from China in the course of their eastern
voyages.[373] It seems to have been at Amalfi that the needle was first
enclosed in a box and connected with a graduated compass-card.
Apparently it had not come into general use in the middle of the
thirteenth century, for in 1258 the famous Brunetto Latini, afterwards
tutor of Dante, made a visit to Roger Bacon, of which he gives a
description in a letter to his friend the poet Guido Cavalcanti: "The
Parliament being summoned to assemble at Oxford, I did not fail to see
Friar Bacon as soon as I arrived, and (among other things) he showed me
a black ugly stone called a magnet, which has the surprising property of
drawing iron to it; and upon which, if a needle be rubbed, and
afterwards fastened to a straw so that it shall swim upon water, the
needle will instantly turn toward the Pole-star: therefore, be the night
ever so dark, so that neither moon nor star be visible, yet shall the
mariner be able, by the help of this needle, to steer his vessel aright.
This discovery, which appears useful in so great a degree to all who
travel by sea, must remain concealed until other times; because no
master mariner dares to use it lest he should fall under the imputation
of being a magician; nor would the sailors venture themselves out to sea
under his command, if he took with him an instrument which carries so
great an appearance of being constructed under the influence of some
infernal spirit.[374] A time may arrive when these prejudices, which
are of such great hindrance to researches into the secrets of nature,
will be overcome; and it will be then that mankind shall reap the
benefit of the labours of such learned men as Friar Bacon, and do
justice to that industry and intelligence for which he and they now meet
with no other return than obloquy and reproach."[375]

         [Footnote 372: Navarrete, _Discurso historico sobre los
         progresos del arte de navegar en España_, p. 28; see also
         Raymond Lully's treatise, _Libro felix, ó Maravillas del mundo_
         (A. D. 1286).]

         [Footnote 373: See Humboldt's _Kosmos_, bd. i. p. 294;
         Klaproth, _Lettre à M. de Humboldt sur l'invention de la
         boussole_, pp. 41, 45, 50, 66, 79, 90. But some of Klaproth's
         conclusions have been doubted: "Pour la boussole, rien ne
         prouve que les Chinois l'aient employée pour la navigation,
         tandis que nous la trouvons dès le xi^{e} siècle chez les
         Arabes qui s'en servent non seulement dans leurs traversées
         maritimes, mais dans les voyages de caravanes au milieu des
         déserts," etc. Sédillot, _Histoire des Arabes_, tom. ii. p.

         [Footnote 374: Is it not a curious instance of human perversity
         that while customary usage from time immemorial has
         characterized as "acts of God" such horrible events as famines,
         pestilences, and earthquakes, on the other hand when some
         purely beneficent invention has appeared, such as the mariner's
         compass or the printing press, it has commonly been accredited
         to the Devil? The case of Dr. Faustus is the most familiar

         [Footnote 375: This version is cited from Major's _Prince Henry
         the Navigator_, p. 58.]

[Sidenote: Latitude and longitude.]

That time was after all not so long in arriving, for by the end of the
thirteenth century the compass had come to be quite generally used,[376]
and the direction of a ship's course could be watched continuously in
foul and fair weather alike. For taking the sun's altitude rude
astrolabes and jack-staffs were in use, very crazy affairs as compared
with the modern quadrant, but sufficiently accurate to enable a
well-trained observer, in calculating his latitude, to get somewhere
within two or three degrees of the truth. In calculating longitude the
error was apt to be much greater, for in the absence of chronometers
there were no accurate means for marking differences in time. It was
necessary to depend upon the dead-reckoning, and the custom was first to
sail due north or south to the parallel of the place of destination and
then to turn at right angles and sail due east or west. Errors of eight
or even ten degrees were not uncommon. Thus at the end of a long outward
voyage the ship might find itself a hundred miles or more to the north
or south, and six or seven hundred miles to the east or west, of the
point at which it had been aimed. Under all these difficulties, the
approximations made to correct sailing by the most skilful mariners were
sometimes wonderful. Doubtless this very poverty of resources served to
sharpen their watchful sagacity.[377] To sail the seas was in those days
a task requiring high mental equipment; it was no work for your
commonplace skipper. Human faculty was taxed to its utmost, and human
courage has never been more grandly displayed than by the glorious
sailors of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

         [Footnote 376: Hüllmann, _Städtewesen des Mittelalters_, bd. i.
         pp. 125-137.]

         [Footnote 377: Compare the remarks of Mr. Clark Russell on the
         mariners of the seventeenth century, in his _William Dampier_,
         p. 12.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Prince Henry the Navigator, 1394-1463.]

[Sidenote: His idea of an ocean route to the Indies, and what it might

We are now prepared to appreciate the character of the work that was
done in the course of the first attempts to find an oceanic route from
Europe to Asia. Then, as in other great epochs of history, men of genius
arose to meet the occasion. In 1394 was born Prince Henry of Portugal,
since known as Henry the Navigator.[378] He was fourth son of King John
I., the valiant and prudent king under whom began the golden age of
Portugal, which lasted until the conquest of that country in 1580 by
Philip II. of Spain. Henry's mother was Philippa, daughter of John of
Gaunt. He was therefore cousin to our own Henry V. of England, whom he
quite equalled in genius, while the laurels that he won were more
glorious than those of Agincourt. In 1415, being then in his
twenty-first year, Prince Henry played a distinguished part in the
expedition which captured Ceuta from the Moors. While in Morocco he
gathered such information as he could concerning the interior of the
continent; he learned something about the oases of Sahara, the distant
river Gambia, and the caravan trade between Tunis and Timbuctoo, whereby
gold was carried from the Guinea coast to Mussulman ports on the
Mediterranean. If this coast could be reached by sea, its gold might be
brought to Lisbon as well. To divert such treasure from the infidel and
secure it for a Christian nation was an enterprise fitted to kindle a
prince's enthusiasm. While Henry felt the full force of these
considerations, his thoughts took a wider range. The views of Pomponius
Mela had always been held in high esteem by scholars of the Spanish
peninsula,[379] and down past that Gold Coast Prince Henry saw the
ocean route to the Indies, the road whereby a vast empire might be won
for Portugal and millions of wandering heathen souls might be gathered
into the fold of Christ. To doubt the sincerity of the latter motive, or
to belittle its influence, would be to do injustice to Prince
Henry,--such cynical injustice as our hard-headed age is only too apt to
mete out to that romantic time and the fresh enthusiasm which inspired
its heroic performances. Prince Henry was earnest, conscientious,
large-minded, and in the best sense devout; and there can be no question
that in his mind, as in that of Columbus, and (with somewhat more alloy)
in the minds of Cortes and others, the desire of converting the heathen
and strengthening the Church served as a most powerful incentive to the
actions which in the course of little more than a century quite changed
the face of the world.

         [Footnote 378: My chief authorities for the achievements of
         Prince Henry and his successors are the Portuguese historians,
         Barros and Azurara. The best edition of the former is a modern
         one, Barros y Couto, _Decadas da Asia, nova edicão con Indice
         geral_, Lisbon, 1778-88, 24 vols. 12mo. I also refer sometimes
         to the Lisbon, 1752, edition of the _Decada primeira_, in
         folio. The priceless contemporary work of Azurara, written in
         1453 under Prince Henry's direction, was not printed until the
         present century; Azurara, _Chronica do Descobrimento e
         Conquista de Guiné_, Paris, 1841, a superb edition in royal
         quarto, edited by the Viscount da Carreira, with introduction
         and notes by the Viscount de Santarem.]

         [Footnote 379: Partly, perhaps, because Mela was himself a
         Spaniard, and partly because his opinions had been shared and
         supported by St. Isidore, of Seville (A. D. 570-636), whose
         learned works exercised immense authority throughout the Middle
         Ages. It is in one of St. Isidore's books (_Etymologiarum_,
         xiii. 16, apud Migne, _Patrologia_, tom. lxxxii. col. 484) that
         we first find the word "Mediterranean" used as a proper name
         for that great land-locked sea.]

[Sidenote: The Sacred Promontory.]

Filled with such lofty and generous thoughts, Prince Henry, on his
return from Morocco, in 1418, chose for himself a secluded place of
abode where he could devote himself to his purposes undisturbed by the
court life at Lisbon or by political solicitations of whatever sort. In
the Morocco campaign he had won such military renown that he was now
invited by Pope Martin V. to take chief command of the papal army; and
presently he received similar flattering offers from his own cousin,
Henry V. of England, from John II. of Castile, and from the Emperor
Sigismund, who, for shamefully violating his imperial word and
permitting the burning of John Huss, was now sorely pressed by the
enraged and rebellious Bohemians. Such invitations had no charm for
Henry. Refusing them one and all, he retired to the promontory of
Sagres, in the southernmost province of Portugal, the ancient kingdom of
Algarve, of which his father now appointed him governor. That lonely and
barren rock, protruding into the ocean, had long ago impressed the
imagination of Greek and Roman writers; they called it the Sacred
Promontory, and supposed it to be the westernmost limit of the habitable
earth.[380] There the young prince proceeded to build an astronomical
observatory, the first that his country had ever seen, and to gather
about him a school of men competent to teach and men eager to learn the
mysteries of map-making and the art of navigation. There he spent the
greater part of his life; thence he sent forth his captains to plough
the southern seas; and as year after year the weather-beaten ships
returned from their venturesome pilgrimage, the first glimpse of home
that greeted them was likely to be the beacon-light in the tower where
the master sat poring over problems of Archimedes or watching the stars.
For Henry, whose motto was "Talent de bien faire," or (in the old French
usage) "Desire[381] to do well," was wont to throw himself
whole-hearted into whatever he undertook, and the study of astronomy and
mathematics he pursued so zealously as to reach a foremost place among
the experts of his time. With such tastes and such ambition, he was
singularly fortunate in wielding ample pecuniary resources; if such a
combination could be more often realized, the welfare of mankind would
be notably enhanced. Prince Henry was Grand Master of the Order of
Christ, an organization half military, half religious, and out of its
abundant revenues he made the appropriations needful for the worthy
purpose of advancing the interests of science, converting the heathen,
and winning a commercial empire for Portugal. At first he had to
encounter the usual opposition to lavish expenditure for a distant
object without hope of immediate returns; but after a while his dogged
perseverance began to be rewarded with such successes as to silence all
adverse comment.

         [Footnote 380: [Greek: Homoiôs de kai peri tês exô stêlôn
         legetai; dysmikôtaton men gar sêmeion tês oikoumenês, to tôn
         Ibêrôn akrôtêrion, ho kalousin Ieron.] Strabo, ii. 5, § 14; cf.
         Dionysius Periegetes, v. 161. In reality it lies not quite so
         far west as the country around Lisbon.]

         [Footnote 381: See Littré, _Dictionnaire_, s. v. "Talent;" Du
         Cange, _Glossarium_, "talentum, animi decretum, voluntas,
         desiderium, cupiditas," etc.; cf. Raynouard, _Glossaire
         Provençale_, tom. v. p. 296. French was then fashionable at
         court, in Lisbon as well as in London.]

[Sidenote: The Madeira and Canary islands.]

The first work in hand was the rediscovery of coasts and islands that
had ceased to be visited even before the breaking up of the Roman
Empire. For more than a thousand years the Madeiras and Canaries had
been well-nigh forgotten, and upon the coast of the African continent no
ship ventured beyond Cape Non, the headland so named because it said
"No!" to the wistful mariner.[382] There had been some re-awakening of
maritime activity in the course of the fourteenth century, chiefly due,
no doubt, to the use of the compass. Between 1317 and 1351 certain
Portuguese ships, with Genoese pilots, had visited not only the Madeiras
and Canaries, but even the Azores, a thousand miles out in the Atlantic;
and these groups of islands are duly laid down upon the so-called Medici
map of 1351, preserved in the Laurentian library at Florence.[383] The
voyage to the Azores was probably the greatest feat of ocean navigation
that had been performed down to that time, but it was not followed by
colonization. Again, somewhere about 1377 Madeira seems to have been
visited by Robert Machin, an Englishman, whose adventures make a most
romantic story; and in 1402 the Norman knight, Jean de Béthencourt, had
begun to found a colony in the Canaries, for which, in return for aid
and supplies, he did homage to the King of Castile.[384] As for the
African coast, Cape Non had also been passed at some time during the
fourteenth century, for Cape Bojador is laid down on the Catalan map of
1375; but beyond that point no one had dared take the risks of the
unknown sea.

         [Footnote 382: The Portuguese proverb was "Quem passar o Cabo
         de Não ou voltará ou _não_," i. e. "Whoever passes Cape _Non_
         will return or _not_." See Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_,
         tom. i. p. 173; Mariana, _Hist. de España_, tom. i. p. 91;
         Barros, tom. i. p. 36.]

         [Footnote 383: An engraved copy of this map may be found in
         Major's _Prince Henry the Navigator_, London, 1868, facing p.
         107. I need hardly say that in all that relates to the
         Portuguese voyages I am under great obligation to Mr. Major's
         profoundly learned and critical researches. He has fairly
         conquered this subject and made it his own, and whoever touches
         it after him, however lightly, must always owe him a tribute of

         [Footnote 384: See Bontier and Le Verrier, _The Canarian, or,
         Book of the Conquest and Conversion of the Canaries_,
         translated and edited by R. H. Major, London, 1872 (Hakluyt
         Soc). In 1414, Béthencourt's nephew, left in charge of these
         islands, sold them to Prince Henry, but Castile persisted in
         claiming them, and at length in 1479 her claim was recognized
         by treaty with Portugal. Of all the African islands, therefore,
         the Canaries alone came to belong, and still belong, to Spain.]

[Sidenote: Gil Eannes passes Cape Bojador.]

The first achievement under Prince Henry's guidance was the final
rediscovery and colonization of Porto Santo and Madeira in 1418-25 by
Gonsalvez Zarco, Tristam Vaz, and Bartholomew Perestrelo.[385] This work
occupied the prince's attention for some years, and then came up the
problem of Cape Bojador. The difficulty was twofold; the waves about
that headland were apt to be boisterous, and wild sailor's fancies were
apt to enkindle a mutinous spirit in the crews. It was not until 1433-35
that Gil Eannes, a commander of unusually clear head and steady nerves,
made three attempts and fairly passed the dreaded spot. In the first
attempt he failed, as his predecessors had done, to double the cape; in
the second attempt he doubled it; in the third he sailed nearly two
hundred miles beyond.

         [Footnote 385: Perestrelo had with him a female rabbit which
         littered on the voyage, and being landed, with her young, at
         Porto Santo, forthwith illustrated the fearful rate of
         multiplication of which organisms are capable in the absence of
         enemies or other adverse circumstances to check it. (Darwin,
         _Origin of Species_, chap. iii.) These rabbits swarmed all over
         the island and devoured every green and succulent thing,
         insomuch that they came near converting it into a desert.
         Prince Henry's enemies, who were vexed at the expenditure of
         money in such colonizing enterprises, were thus furnished with
         a wonderful argument. They maintained that God had evidently
         created those islands for beasts alone, not for men! "En este
         tiempo habia en todo Portugal grandísimas murmuraciones del
         Infante, viéndolo tan cudicioso y poner tanta diligencia en el
         descubrir de la tierra y costa de África, diciendo que destruia
         el reino en los gastos que hacia, y consumia los vecinos dél en
         poner en tanto peligro y daño la gente portoguesa, donde muchos
         morian, enviándolos en demanda de tierras que nunca los reyes
         de España pasados se atrevieron á emprender, donde habia de
         hacer muchas viudas y huérfanos con esta su porfia. Tomaban por
         argumento, que Dios no habia criado aquellas tierras sino para
         bestias, pues en tan poco tiempo en aquella isla tantos conejos
         habia multiplicado, que no dejaban cosa que para sustentacion
         de los hombres fuese menester." Las Casas, _Hist. de las
         Indias_, tom. i. p. 180. See also Azurara, _Chronica do
         descobrimento e conquista de Guiné_, cap. lxxxiii.]

[Illustration: Portuguese voyages on the coast of Africa.]

[Sidenote: Beginning of the modern slave-trade, 1442.]

[Sidenote: Papal grant of heathen countries to the Portuguese crown.]

[Sidenote: Advance to Sierra Leone.]

This achievement of Gil Eannes (_anglicè_, plain Giles Jones) marks an
era. It was the beginning of great things. When we think of the
hesitation with which this step was taken, and the vociferous applause
that greeted the successful captain, it is strange to reflect that babes
were already born in 1435 who were to live to hear of the prodigious
voyages of Columbus and Gama, Vespucius and Magellan. After seven years
a further step was taken in advance; in 1442 Antonio Gonçalves brought
gold and negro slaves from the Rio d' Ouro, or Rio del Oro, four hundred
miles beyond Cape Bojador. Of this beginning of the modern slave-trade I
shall treat in a future chapter.[386] Let it suffice here to observe
that Prince Henry did not discourage but sanctioned it. The first aspect
which this baleful traffic assumed in his mind was that of a means for
converting the heathen, by bringing black men and women to Portugal to
be taught the true faith and the ways of civilized people, that they
might in due season be sent back to their native land to instruct their
heathen brethren. The kings of Portugal should have a Christian empire
in Africa, and in course of time the good work might be extended to the
Indies. Accordingly a special message was sent to Pope Eugenius IV.,
informing him of the discovery of the country of these barbarous people
beyond the limits of the Mussulman world, and asking for a grant in
perpetuity to Portugal of all heathen lands that might be discovered in
further voyages beyond Cape Bojador, even so far as to include the
Indies.[387] The request found favour in the eyes of Eugenius, and the
grant was solemnly confirmed by succeeding popes. To these proceedings
we shall again have occasion to refer. We have here to observe that the
discovery of gold and the profits of the slave-trade--though it was as
yet conducted upon a very small scale--served to increase the interest
of the Portuguese people in Prince Henry's work and to diminish the
obstacles in his way. A succession of gallant captains, whose names make
a glorious roll of honour, carried on the work of exploration, reaching
the farthest point that had been attained by the ancients. In 1445 Dinis
Fernandez passed Cape Verde, and two years later Lançarote found the
mouth of the Gambia. In 1456 Luigi Cadamosto--a Venetian captain in the
service of Portugal--went as far as the Rio Grande; in 1460 Diego Gomez
discovered the Cape Verde islands; and in 1462 Piedro de Cintra reached
Sierra Leone.[388] At the same time, in various expeditions between 1431
and 1466, the Azores (i. e. "Hawk" islands) were rediscovered and
colonized, and voyages out into the Sea of Darkness began to lose
something of their manifold terrors.

         [Footnote 386: See below, vol. ii. pp. 429-431.]

         [Footnote 387: "En el año de 1442, viendo el Infante que se
         habia pasado el cabo del Boxador y que la tierra iba muy
         adelante, y que todos los navíos que inviaba traian muchos
         esclavos moros, con que pagaba los gastos que hacia y que cada
         dia crecia más el provecho y se prosperaba su amada
         negociacion, determinó de inviar á suplicar al Papa Martino V.,
         ... que hiciese gracia á la Corona real de Portogal de los
         reinos y señoríos que habia y hobiese desde el cabo del Boxador
         adelante, hácia el Oriente y la India inclusive; y ansí se las
         concedió, ... con todas las tierras, puertos, islas, tratos,
         rescates, pesquerías y cosas á esto pertenecientes, poniendo
         censuras y penas á todos los reyes cristianos, príncipes, y
         señores y comunidades que á esto le perturbasen; despues,
         dicen, que los sumos pontífices, sucesores de Martino, como
         Eugenio IV. y Nicolas V. y Calixto IV. lo confirmaron." Las
         Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. i. p. 185. The name of
         Martin V. is a slip of the memory on the part of Las Casas.
         That pope had died of apoplexy eleven years before. It was
         Eugenius IV. who made this memorable grant to the crown of
         Portugal. The error is repeated in Irving's _Columbus_, vol. i.
         p. 339.]

         [Footnote 388: The first published account of the voyages of
         Cadamosto and Cintra was in the _Paesi nouamente retrouati_,
         Vicenza, 1507, a small quarto which can now sometimes be bought
         for from twelve to fifteen hundred dollars. See also Grynæus,
         _Novus Orbis_, Basel, 1532.]

[Sidenote: Advance to the Hottentot coast.]

Prince Henry did not live to see Africa circumnavigated. At the time of
his death, in 1468, his ships had not gone farther than the spot where
Hanno found his gorillas two thousand years before. But the work of this
excellent prince did not end with his death. His adventurous spirit
lived on in the school of accomplished navigators he had trained. Many
voyages were made after 1462, of which we need mention only those that
marked new stages of discovery. In 1471 two knights of the royal
household, João de Santarem and Pedro de Escobar, sailed down the Gold
Coast and crossed the equator; three years later the line was again
crossed by Fernando Po, discoverer of the island that bears his name. In
1484 Diego Cam went on as far as the mouth of the Congo, and entered
into very friendly relations with the negroes there. In a second voyage
in 1485 this enterprising captain pushed on a thousand miles farther,
and set up a cross in 22° south latitude on the coast of the Hottentot
country. Brisk trading went on along the Gold Coast, and missionaries
were sent to the Congo.[389]

         [Footnote 389: It was in the course of these voyages upon the
         African coast that civilized Europeans first became familiar
         with people below the upper status of barbarism. Savagery and
         barbarism of the lower types were practically unknown in the
         Middle Ages, and almost, though probably not quite unknown, to
         the civilized peoples of the Mediterranean in ancient times.
         The history of the two words is interesting. The Greek word
         [Greek: barbaros], whence Eng. _barbarian_ (=Sanskrit
         _barbara_, Latin _balbus_), means "a stammerer," or one who
         talks gibberish, i. e. in a language we do not understand.
         Aristophanes (_Aves_, 199) very prettily applies the epithet to
         the inarticulate singing of birds. The names _Welsh_,
         _Walloon_, _Wallachian_, and _Belooch_, given to these peoples
         by their neighbours, have precisely the same meaning (Kuhn's
         _Zeitschrift_, ii. 252); and in like manner the Russians call
         the Germans _Nyemetch_, or people who cannot talk (Schafarik,
         _Slawische Alterthumer_, i. 443; Pott, _Etym. Forsch._, ii.
         521). The Greeks called all men but themselves barbarians,
         including such civilized people as the Persians. The Romans
         applied the name to all tribes and nations outside the limits
         of the Empire, and the Italians of the later Middle Ages
         bestowed it upon all nations outside of Italy. Upon its lax use
         in recent times I have already commented (above, pp. 25-35).
         The tendency to apply the epithet to savages is modern. The
         word _savage_, on the other hand, which came to us as the Old
         French _sauvage_ or _salvage_ (Ital. _selvaggio_, _salvatico_),
         is the Latin _silvaticus_, _sylvaticus_, _salvaticus_, that
         which pertains to a forest and is sylvan or wild. In its
         earliest usage it had reference to plants and beasts rather
         than to men. Wild apples, pears, or laurels are characterized
         by the epithet _sylvaticus_ in Varro, _De re rustica_, i. 40;
         and either this adjective, or its equivalent _silvestris_, was
         used of wild animals as contrasted with domesticated beasts, as
         wild sheep and wild fowl, in Columella, vii. 2; viii. 12, or
         wolves, in Propertius, iii. 7, or mice, in Pliny, xxx. 22.
         (Occasionally it is used of men, as in Pliny, viii. 79.) The
         meaning was the same in mediæval Latin (Du Cange, _Glossarium_,
         Niort, 1886, tom. vii. p. 686) and in Old French, as "La douce
         voiz du loussignol sauvage" (Michel, _Chansons de chatelain de
         Coucy_, xix.). In the romance of _Robert le Diable_, in the

            Sire, se vos fustes Sauvages
            Viers moi, je n'i pris mie garde, etc.,

         the reference is plainly to degenerate civilized men
         frequenting the forests, such as bandits or outlaws, not to
         what we call savages.

         Mediæval writers certainly had some idea of savages, but it was
         not based upon any actual acquaintance with such people, but
         upon imperfectly apprehended statements of ancient writers. At
         the famous ball at the Hotel de Saint Pol in Paris, in 1393,
         King Charles VI. and five noblemen were dressed in
         close-fitting suits of linen, thickly covered from head to foot
         with tow or flax, the colour of hair, so as to look like
         "savages." In this attire nobody recognized them, and the Duke
         of Orleans, in his eagerness to make out who they were, brought
         a torch too near, so that the flax took fire, and four of the
         noblemen were burned to death. See Froissart's _Chronicles_,
         tr. Johnes, London, 1806, vol. xi. pp. 69-76. The point of the
         story is that savages were supposed to be men covered with
         hair, like beasts, and Froissart, in relating it, evidently
         knew no better. Whence came this notion of hairy men? Probably
         from Hanno's gorillas (see above, p. 301), through Pliny, whose
         huge farrago of facts and fancies was a sort of household Peter
         Parley in mediæval monasteries. Pliny speaks repeatedly of men
         covered with hair from head to foot, and scatters them about
         according to his fancy, in Carmania and other distant places
         (_Hist. Nat._, vi. 28, 36, vii. 2).

         Greek and Roman writers seem to have had some slight knowledge
         of savagery and the lower status of barbarism as prevailing in
         remote places ("Ptolomée dit que es extremités de la terre
         habitable sont gens sauvages," Oresme, _Les Éthiques
         d'Aristote_, Paris, 1488), but their remarks are usually vague.
         Seldom do we get such a clean-cut statement as that of Tacitus
         about the Finns, that they have neither horses nor houses,
         sleep on the ground, are clothed in skins, live by the chase,
         and for want of iron use bone-tipped arrows (_Germania_, cap.
         46). More often we have unconscionable yarns about men without
         noses, or with only one eye, tailed men, solid-hoofed men,
         Amazons, and parthenogenesis. The Troglodytes, or
         Cave-dwellers, on the Nubian coast of the Red Sea seem to have
         been in the middle status of barbarism (Diodorus, iii. 32;
         Agatharchides, 61-63), and the Ichthyophagi, or Fish-eaters,
         whom Nearchus found on the shores of Gedrosia (Arrian,
         _Indica_, cap. 29), were probably in a lower stage, perhaps
         true savages. It is exceedingly curious that Mela puts a race
         of pygmies at the headwaters of the Nile (see map above, p.
         304). Is this only an echo from _Iliad_, iii. 6, or can any
         ancient traveller have penetrated far enough inland toward the
         equator to have heard reports of the dwarfish race lately
         visited by Stanley (_In Darkest Africa_, vol. ii. pp. 100-104,
         164)? Strabo had no real knowledge of savagery in Africa (cf.
         Bunbury, _Hist. Ancient Geog._, ii. 331). Sataspes may have
         seen barbarians of low type, possibly on one of the Canary
         isles (see description of Canarians in Major's _Prince Henry_,
         p. 212). Ptolemy had heard of an island of cannibals in the
         Indian ocean, perhaps one of the Andaman group, visited A. D.
         1293 by Marco Polo. The people of these islands rank among the
         lowest savages on the earth, and Marco was disgusted and
         horrified; their beastly faces, with huge prognathous jaws and
         projecting canine teeth, he tried to describe by calling them a
         dog-headed people. Sir Henry Yule suggests that the mention of
         Cynocephali, or Dog-heads, in ancient writers may have had an
         analogous origin (_Marco Polo_, vol. ii. p. 252). This visit of
         the Venetian traveller to Andaman was one of very few real
         glimpses of savagery vouchsafed to Europeans before the
         fifteenth century; and a general review of the subject brings
         out in a strong light the truthfulness and authenticity of the
         description of American Indians in Eric the Red's Saga, as
         shown above, pp. 185-192.]

[Sidenote: Effect of these discoveries upon the theories of Ptolemy and

These voyages into the southern hemisphere dealt a damaging blow to the
theory of an impassable fiery zone; but as to the circumnavigability of
the African continent, the long stretch of coast beyond the equator
seemed more in harmony with Ptolemy's views than with those of Mela. The
eastward trend of the Guinea coast was at first in favour of the latter
geographer, but when Santarem and Escobar found it turning southward to
the equator the facts began to refute him. According to Mela they
should have found it possible at once to sail eastward to the gulf of
Aden. What if it should turn out after all that there was no connection
between the Atlantic and Indian oceans? Every added league of voyaging
toward the tropic of Capricorn must have been fraught with added
discouragement, for it went to prove that, even if Ptolemy's theory was
wrong, at any rate the ocean route to Asia was indefinitely longer than
had been supposed. But was it possible to imagine any other route that
should be more direct? To a trained mariner of original and imaginative
mind, sojourning in Portugal and keenly watching the progress of African
discovery, the years just following the voyage of Santarem and Escobar
would be a period eminently fit for suggesting such a question. Let us
not forget this date of 1471 while we follow Prince Henry's work to its
first grand climax.

[Sidenote: News of Prester John.]

About the time that Diego Cam was visiting the tribes on the Congo, the
negro king of Benin, a country by the mouth of the Niger, sent an
embassy to John II. of Portugal (Prince Henry's nephew), with a request
that missionary priests might be sent to Benin. It has been thought that
the woolly-haired chieftain was really courting an alliance with the
Portuguese, or perhaps he thought their "medicine men" might have the
knack of confounding his foes. The negro envoy told King John that a
thousand miles or so east of Benin there was an august sovereign who
ruled over many subject peoples, and at whose court there was an order
of chivalry whose badge or emblem was a brazen cross. Such, at least,
was the king's interpretation of the negro's words, and forthwith he
jumped to the conclusion that this African potentate must be Prester
John, whose name was redolent of all the marvels of the mysterious East.
To find Prester John would be a long step toward golden Cathay and the
isles of spice. So the king of Portugal rose to the occasion, and
attacked the problem on both flanks at once. He sent Pedro de Covilham
by way of Egypt to Aden, and he sent Bartholomew Dias, with three
fifty-ton caravels, to make one more attempt to find an end to the
Atlantic coast of Africa.

[Sidenote: Covilham's journey.]

Covilham's journey was full of interesting experiences. He sailed from
Aden to Hindustan, and on his return visited Abyssinia, where the
semi-Christian king took such a liking to him that he would never let
him go. So Covilham spent the rest of his life, more than thirty years,
in Abyssinia, whence he was able now and then to send to Portugal items
of information concerning eastern Africa that were afterwards quite
serviceable in voyages upon the Indian ocean.[390]

         [Footnote 390: See Major's _India in the Fifteenth Century_,
         pp. lxxxv.-xc.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew Dias passes the Cape of Good Hope and enters the
Indian ocean.]

The daring captain, Bartholomew Dias, started in August, 1486, and after
passing nearly four hundred miles beyond the tropic of Capricorn, was
driven due south before heavy winds for thirteen days without seeing
land. At the end of this stress of weather he turned his prows eastward,
expecting soon to reach the coast. But as he had passed the southernmost
point of Africa and no land appeared before him, after a while he
steered northward and landed near the mouth of Gauritz river, more than
two hundred miles east of the Cape of Good Hope. Thence he pushed on
about four hundred miles farther eastward as far as the Great Fish river
(about 33° 30' S., 27° 10' E.), where the coast begins to have a steady
trend to the northeast. Dias was now fairly in the Indian ocean, and
could look out with wistful triumph upon that waste of waters, but his
worn-out crews refused to go any farther and he was compelled
reluctantly to turn back. On the way homeward the ships passed in full
sight of the famous headland which Dias called the Stormy Cape; but
after arriving at Lisbon, in December, 1487, when the report of this
noble voyage was laid before King John II., his majesty said, Nay, let
it rather be called the Cape of Good Hope, since there was now much
reason to believe that they had found the long-sought ocean route to the
Indies.[391] Though this opinion turned out to be correct, it is well
for us to remember that the proof was not yet complete. No one could
yet say with certainty that the African coast, if followed a few miles
east of Great Fish river, would not again trend southward and run all
the way to the pole. The completed proof was not obtained until Vasco da
Gama crossed the Indian ocean ten years later.

         [Footnote 391: The greatest of Portuguese poets represents the
         Genius of the Cape as appearing to the storm-tossed mariners in
         cloud-like shape, like the Jinni that the fisherman of the
         Arabian tale released from a casket. He expresses indignation
         at their audacity in discovering his secret, hitherto hidden
         from mankind:--

            Eu sou aquelle occulto e grande Cabo,
            A quem chamais vós outros Tormentorio,
            Que nunca á Ptolomeo, Pomponio, Estrabo,
            Plinio, e quantos passaram, fui notorio:
            Aqui toda a Africana costa acabo
            Neste meu nunca vista promontorio,
            Que para o polo Antarctico se estende,
            A quem vossa ousadia tanto offende.
                                        Camoens, _Os Lusiadas_, v. 50.]

[Sidenote: Some effects of the discovery.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew Columbus.]

This voyage of Bartholomew Dias was longer and in many respects more
remarkable than any that is known to have been made before that time.
From Lisbon back to Lisbon, reckoning the sinuosities of the coast, but
making no allowance for tacking, the distance run by those tiny craft
was not less than thirteen thousand miles. This voyage completed the
overthrow of the fiery-zone doctrine, so far as Africa was concerned; it
penetrated far into the southern temperate zone where Mela had placed
his antipodal world; it dealt a staggering blow to the continental
theory of Ptolemy; and its success made men's minds readier for yet more
daring enterprises. Among the shipmates of Dias on this ever memorable
voyage was a well-trained and enthusiastic Italian mariner, none other
than Bartholomew, the younger brother of Christopher Columbus. There was
true dramatic propriety in the presence of that man at just this time;
for not only did all these later African voyages stand in a direct
causal relation to the discovery of America, but as an immediate
consequence of the doubling of the Cape of Good Hope we shall presently
find Bartholomew Columbus in the very next year on his way to England,
to enlist the aid of King Henry VII. in behalf of a scheme of
unprecedented boldness for which his elder brother had for some years
been seeking to obtain the needful funds. Not long after that
disappointing voyage of Santarem and Escobar in 1471, this original and
imaginative sailor, Christopher Columbus, had conceived (or adopted and
made his own) a new method of solving the problem of an ocean route to
Cathay. We have now to sketch the early career of this epoch-making man,
and to see how he came to be brought into close relations with the work
of the Portuguese explorers.




[Sidenote: Sources of information concerning the life of Columbus: Las
Casas and Ferdinand Columbus.]

[Sidenote: The Biblioteca Colombina at Seville.]

Our information concerning the life of Columbus before 1492 is far from
being as satisfactory as one could wish. Unquestionably he is to be
deemed fortunate in having had for his biographers two such men as his
friend Las Casas, one of the noblest characters and most faithful
historians of that or any age, and his own son Ferdinand Columbus, a
most accomplished scholar and bibliographer. The later years of
Ferdinand's life were devoted, with loving care, to the preparation of a
biography of his father; and his book--which unfortunately survives only
in the Italian translation of Alfonso Ulloa,[392] published in Venice in
1571--is of priceless value. As Washington Irving long ago wrote, it is
"an invaluable document, entitled to great faith, and is the cornerstone
of the history of the American continent."[393] After Ferdinand's
death, in 1539, his papers seem to have passed into the hands of Las
Casas, who, from 1552 to 1561, in the seclusion of the college of San
Gregorio at Valladolid, was engaged in writing his great "History of the
Indies."[394] Ferdinand's superb library, one of the finest in Europe,
was bequeathed to the cathedral at Seville.[395] It contained some
twenty thousand volumes in print and manuscript, four fifths of which,
through shameful neglect or vandalism, have perished or been scattered.
Four thousand volumes, however, are still preserved, and this library
(known as the "Biblioteca Colombina") is full of interest for the
historian. Book-buying was to Ferdinand Columbus one of the most
important occupations in life. His books were not only carefully
numbered, but on the last leaf of each one he wrote a memorandum of the
time and place of its purchase and the sum of money paid for it.[396]
This habit of Ferdinand's has furnished us with clues to the solution
of some interesting questions. Besides this, he was much given to making
marginal notes and comments, which are sometimes of immense value, and,
more than all, there are still to be seen in this library a few books
that belonged to Christopher Columbus himself, with very important notes
in his own handwriting and in that of his brother Bartholomew. Las Casas
was familiar with this grand collection in the days of its completeness,
he was well acquainted with all the members of the Columbus family, and
he had evidently read the manuscript sources of Ferdinand's book; for a
comparison with Ulloa's version shows that considerable portions of the
original Spanish text--or of the documents upon which it rested--are
preserved in the work of Las Casas.[397] The citation and adoption of
Ferdinand's statements by the latter writer, who was able independently
to verify them, is therefore in most cases equivalent to corroboration,
and the two writers together form an authority of the weightiest kind,
and not lightly to be questioned or set aside.

         [Footnote 392: _Historie del S. D. Fernando Colombo; Nelle
         quali s' ha particolare, & vera relatione della vita, & de'
         fatti dell' Ammiraglio D. Christoforo Colombo, suo padre: Et
         dello scoprimento, ch' egli fece dell' Indie Occidentali, dette
         Monde-Nuovo, hora possedute dal Sereniss. Re Catolico:
         Nuouamente di lingua Spagnuola tradotte nell' Italiana dal S.
         Alfonso Vlloa. Con. privilegio._ IN VENETIA, M D LXXI.
         _Appresso Francesco de' Franceschi Sanese._ The principal
         reprints are those of Milan, 1614; Venice, 1676 and 1678;
         London, 1867. I always cite it as _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_.]

         [Footnote 393: Irving's _Life of Columbus_, New York, 1868,
         vol. iii. p. 375. My references, unless otherwise specified,
         are to this, the "Geoffrey Crayon," edition.]

         [Footnote 394: Las Casas, _Historia de las Indias, ahora por
         primera vez dada á luz por el Marqués de la Fuensanta del Valle
         y D. José Sancho Rayon_, Madrid, 1875, 5 vols. 8vo.]

         [Footnote 395: "Fu questo D. Ernando di non minor valore del
         padre, ma di molte più lettere et scienze dotato che quelle non
         fu; et il quale lasciò alla Chiesa maggiore di Siviglia, dove
         hoggi si vede honorevolmente sepolto, una, non sola
         numerosissima, ma richissima libraria, et piena di molti libri
         in ogni facoltà et scienza rarissimi: laquale da coloro che l'
         han veduta, vien stimata delle più rare cose di tutta Europa."
         Moleto's prefatory letter to _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, April 25,

         [Footnote 396: For example, "_Manuel de la Sancta Fe católica_,
         Sevilla, 1495, in-4. Costó en Toledo 34 maravedis, año 1511, 9
         de Octubre, No. 3004." "_Tragicomedia de Calisto y Melibea_,
         Sevilla, 1502, in-4. Muchas figuras. Costó en Roma 25
         cuatrines, por Junio de 1515. No. 2417," etc. See Harrisse,
         _Fernand Colomb_, Paris, 1872, p. 13.]

         [Footnote 397: "L' autorita di Las Casas è d' una suprema e
         vitale importanza tanto nella storia di Cristoforo Colombo,
         come nell' esame delle _Historie_ di Fernando suo figlio.... E
         dal confronto tra questi due scrittori emergerà una omogeneità
         si perfetta, che si potrebbe coi termini del frate domenicano
         ritrovare o rifare per due terzi il testo originale spagnuolo
         delle _Historie_ di Fernando Colombo." Peragallo, _L'
         autenticità delle Historie di Fernando Colombo_, Genoa, 1884,
         p. 23.]

[Sidenote: Bernaldez and Peter Martyr.]

[Sidenote: Letters of Columbus.]

Besides these books of most fundamental importance, we have valuable
accounts of some parts of the life of Columbus by his friend Andres
Bernaldez, the curate of Los Palacios near Seville.[398] Peter Martyr,
of Anghiera, by Lago Maggiore, was an intimate friend of Columbus, and
gives a good account of his voyages, besides mentioning him in sundry
epistles.[399] Columbus himself, moreover, was such a voluminous writer
that his contemporaries laughed about it. "God grant," says Zuñiga in a
letter to the Marquis de Pescara, "God grant that Gutierrez may never
come short for paper, for he writes more than Ptolemy, more than
Columbus, the man who discovered the Indies."[400] These writings are in
great part lost, though doubtless a good many things will yet be brought
to light in Spain by persistent rummaging. We have, however, from sixty
to seventy letters and reports by Columbus, of which twenty-three at
least are in his own handwriting; and all these have been

         [Footnote 398: _Historia de los Reyes Católicos D. Fernando y
         D^a Isabel. Crónica inédita del siglo XV, escrita por el
         Bachiller Andrés Bernaldez, cura que fué de Los Palacios_,
         Granada, 1856, 2 vols. small 4to. It is a book of very high

         [Footnote 399: _De orbe novo Decades_, Alcalá, 1516; _Opus
         epistolarum_, Compluti (Alcalá), 1530; Harrisse, _Bibliotheca
         Americana Vetustissima_, Nos. 88, 160.]

         [Footnote 400: "A Gutierrez vuestro solicitador, ruego à Dios
         que nunca le falte papel, porque escribe mas que Tolomeo y que
         Colon, el que halló las Indias." Rivadeneyra, _Curiosidades
         bibliográficas_, p. 59, apud Harrisse, _Christophe Colomb_,
         tom. i. p. 1.]

         [Footnote 401: Harrisse, _loc. cit._, in 1884, gives the number
         at sixty-four.]

[Sidenote: Defects in Ferdinand's information.]

Nevertheless, while these contemporary materials give us abundant
information concerning the great discoverer, from the year 1492 until
his death, it is quite otherwise with his earlier years, especially
before his arrival in Spain in 1484. His own allusions to these earlier
years are sometimes hard to interpret;[402] and as for his son
Ferdinand, that writer confesses, with characteristic and winning
frankness, that his information is imperfect, inasmuch as filial respect
had deterred him from closely interrogating his father on such points,
or, to tell the plain truth, being still very young when his father
died, he had not then come to recognize their importance.[403] This does
not seem strange when we reflect that Ferdinand must have seen very
little of his father until in 1502, at the age of fourteen, he
accompanied him on that last difficult and disastrous voyage, in which
the sick and harassed old man could have had but little time or strength
for aught but the work in hand. It is not strange that when, a quarter
of a century later, the son set about his literary task, he should now
and then have got a date wrong, or have narrated some incidents in a
confused manner, or have admitted some gossiping stories, the falsehood
of which can now plainly be detected. Such blemishes, which occur
chiefly in the earlier part of Ferdinand's book, do not essentially
detract from its high authority.[404] The limits which bounded the son's
accurate knowledge seem also to have bounded that of such friends as
Bernaldez, who did not become acquainted with Columbus until after his
arrival in Spain.

         [Footnote 402: Sometimes from a slip of memory or carelessness
         of phrasing, on Columbus's part, sometimes from our lacking the
         clue, sometimes from an error in numerals, common enough at all

         [Footnote 403: "Ora, l' Ammiraglio avendo cognizione delle
         dette scienze, cominciò ad attendere al mare, e a fare alcuni
         viaggi in levante e in ponente; de' quali, e di molte altre
         cose di quei primi dì io non ho piena notizia; perciocchè egli
         venne a morte a tempo che io non aveva tanto ardire, o pratica,
         per la riverenza filiale, che io ardissi di richiederlo di
         cotali cose; o, per parlare più veramente, allora mi ritrovava
         io, come giovane, molto lontano da cotal pensiero." _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. iv.]

         [Footnote 404: Twenty years ago M. Harrisse published in
         Spanish and French a critical essay maintaining that the _Vita
         dell' Ammiraglio_ was not written by Ferdinand Columbus, but
         probably by the famous scholar Perez de Oliva, professor in the
         university of Salamanca, who died in 1530 (_D. Fernando Colon,
         historiador de su padre_, Seville, 1871; _Fernand Colomb: sa
         vie, ses oeuvres_, Paris, 1872). The Spanish manuscript of the
         book had quite a career. As already observed, it is clear that
         Las Casas used it, probably between 1552 and 1561. From
         Ferdinand's nephew, Luis Columbus, it seems to have passed in
         1568 into the hands of Baliano di Fornari, a prominent citizen
         of Genoa, who sent it to Venice with the intention of having it
         edited and published with Latin and Italian versions. All that
         ever appeared, however, was the Italian version made by Ulloa
         and published in 1571. Harrisse supposes that the Spanish
         manuscript, written by Oliva, was taken to Genoa by some
         adventurer and palmed off upon Baliano di Fornari as the work
         of Ferdinand Columbus. But inasmuch as Harrisse also supposes
         that Oliva probably wrote the book (about 1525) at Seville,
         under Ferdinand's eyes and with documents furnished by him, it
         becomes a question, in such case, how far was Oliva anything
         more than an amanuensis to Ferdinand? and there seems really to
         be precious little wool after so much loud crying. If the
         manuscript was actually written "sous les yeux de Fernand et
         avec documents fournis par lui," most of the arguments alleged
         to prove that it could not have emanated from the son of
         Columbus fall to the ground. It becomes simply a question
         whether Ulloa may have here and there tampered with the text,
         or made additions of his own. To some extent he seems to have
         done so, but wherever the Italian version is corroborated by
         the Spanish extracts in Las Casas, we are on solid ground, for
         Las Casas died five years before the Italian version was
         published. M. Harrisse does not seem as yet to have convinced
         many scholars. His arguments have been justly, if somewhat
         severely, characterized by my old friend, the lamented Henry
         Stevens (_Historical Collections_, London, 1881, vol. i. No.
         1379), and have been elaborately refuted by M. d'Avezac, _Le
         livre de Ferdinand Colomb: revue critique des allegations
         proposées contre son authenticité_, Paris, 1873; and by
         Prospero Peragallo, _L' autenticità delle Historie di Fernando
         Colombo_, Genoa, 1884. See also Fabié, _Vida de Fray Bartolomé
         de Las Casas_, Madrid, 1869, tom. i. pp. 360-372.]

[Sidenote: Researches of Henry Harrisse.]

In recent years elaborate researches have been made, by Henry Harrisse
and others, in the archives of Genoa, Savona, Seville, and other places
with which Columbus was connected, in the hope of supplementing this
imperfect information concerning his earlier years.[405] A number of
data have thus been obtained, which, while clearing up the subject most
remarkably in some directions, have been made to mystify and embroil it
in others. There is scarcely a date or a fact relating to Columbus
before 1492 but has been made the subject of hot dispute; and some
pretty wholesale reconstructions of his biography have been
attempted.[406] The general impression, however, which the discussions
of the past twenty years have left upon my mind, is that the more
violent hypotheses are not likely to be sustained, and that the
newly-ascertained facts do not call for any very radical interference
with the traditional lines upon which the life of Columbus has
heretofore been written.[407] At any rate there seems to be no
likelihood of such interference as to modify our views of the causal
sequence of events that led to the westward search for the Indies; and
it is this relation of cause and effect that chiefly concerns us in a
history of the Discovery of America.

         [Footnote 405: See Harrisse, _Christophe Colomb_, Paris, 1884,
         2 vols., a work of immense research, absolutely indispensable
         to every student of the subject, though here and there somewhat
         over-ingenious and hypercritical, and in general unduly biased
         by the author's private crotchet about the work of Ferdinand.]

         [Footnote 406: One of the most radical of these reconstructions
         may be found in the essay by M. d'Avezac, "Canevas
         chronologique de la vie de Christophe Colomb," in _Bulletin de
         la Société de Géographie_, Paris, 1872, 6e série, tom. iv. pp.

         [Footnote 407: Washington Irving's _Life of Columbus_, says
         Harrisse, "is a history written with judgment and impartiality,
         which leaves far behind it all descriptions of the discovery of
         the New World published before or since." _Christophe Colomb_,
         tom. i. p. 136. Irving was the first to make use of the superb
         work of Navarrete, _Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos
         que hicieron por mar los Españoles desde fines del siglo XV._,
         Madrid, 1825-37, 5 vols. 4to. Next followed Alexander von
         Humboldt, with his _Examen critique de l'histoire de la
         géographie de Nouveau Continent_, Paris, 1836-39, 5 vols. 8vo.
         This monument of gigantic erudition (which, unfortunately, was
         never completed) will always remain indispensable to the

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Date of the birth of Columbus: archives of Savona.]

[Sidenote: Statement of Bernaldez.]

[Sidenote: Columbus's letter of September, 1501.]

[Sidenote: The balance of probability is in favour of 1436.]

The date of the birth of Columbus is easy to determine approximately,
but hard to determine with precision. In the voluminous discussion upon
this subject the extreme limits assigned have been 1430 and 1456, but
neither of these extremes is admissible, and our choice really lies
somewhere between 1436 and 1446. Among the town archives of Savona is a
deed of sale executed August 7, 1473, by the father of Christopher
Columbus, and ratified by Christopher and his next brother
Giovanni.[408] Both brothers must then have attained their majority,
which in the republic of Genoa was fixed at the age of twenty-five.
Christopher, therefore, can hardly have been less than seven and twenty,
so that the latest probable date for his birth is 1446, and this is the
date accepted by Muñoz, Major, Harrisse, and Avezac. There is no
documentary proof, however, to prevent our taking an earlier date; and
the curate of Los Palacios--strong authority on such a point--says
expressly that at the time of his death, in 1506, Columbus was "in a
good old age, seventy years a little more or less."[409] Upon this
statement Navarrete and Humboldt have accepted 1436 as the probable date
of birth.[410] The most plausible objection to this is a statement made
by Columbus himself in a letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, written in
1501. In this letter, as first given in the biography by his son,
Columbus says that he was of "very tender age" when he began to sail the
seas, an occupation which he has kept up until the present moment; and
in the next sentence but one he adds that "now for forty years I have
been in this business and have gone to every place where there is any
navigation up to the present time."[411] The expression "very tender
age" agrees with Ferdinand's statement that his father was fourteen
years old when he first took to the sea.[412] Since 1446 + 14-40 = 1500,
it is argued that Columbus was probably born about 1446; some sticklers
for extreme precision say 1447. But now there were eight years spent by
Columbus in Spain, from 1484 to 1492, without any voyages at all; they
were years, as he forcibly says, "dragged out in disputations."[413] Did
he mean to include those eight years in his forty spent upon the sea?
Navarrete thinks he did not. When he wrote under excitement, as in this
letter, his language was apt to be loose, and it is fair to construe it
according to the general probabilities of the case. This addition of
eight years brings his statement substantially into harmony with that of
Bernaldez, which it really will not do to set aside lightly. Moreover,
in the original text of the letter, since published by Navarrete,
Columbus appears to say, "now for _more than_ forty years," so that the
agreement with Bernaldez becomes practically complete.[414] The good
curate spoke from direct personal acquaintance, and his phrases
"seventy years" and "a good old age" are borne out by the royal decree
of February 23, 1505, permitting Columbus to ride on a mule, instead of
a horse, by reason of his old age (_ancianidad_) and infirmities.[415]
Such a phrase applies much better to a man of sixty-nine than to a man
of fifty-nine. On the whole, I think that Washington Irving showed good
sense in accepting the statement of the curate of Los Palacios as
decisive, dating as it does the birth of Columbus at 1436, "a little
more or less."

         [Footnote 408: Harrisse, _op. cit._ tom. i. p. 196.]

         [Footnote 409: "In _senectute bona_, de edad de setenta años
         poco mas o menos." Bernaldez, _Reyes Católicos_, tom. i. p.

         [Footnote 410: M. d'Avezac (_Canevas chronologique_, etc.)
         objects to this date that we have positive documentary evidence
         of the birth of Christopher's youngest brother Giacomo
         (afterwards spanished into Diego) in 1468, which makes an
         interval of 32 years; so that if the mother were (say) 18 in
         1436 she must have borne a child at the age of 50. That would
         be unusual, but not unprecedented. But M. Harrisse (tom. ii. p.
         214), from a more thorough sifting of this documentary
         evidence, seems to have proved that while Giacomo cannot have
         been born later than 1468 he may have been born as early as
         1460; so that whatever is left of M. d'Avezac's objection falls
         to the ground.]

         [Footnote 411: "Serenissimi principi, di età molto tenera io
         entrai in mare navigando, et vi ho continovato fin' hoggi: ...
         et hoggimai passano quaranta anni che io uso per tutte quelle
         parti che fin hoggi si navigano." _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap.

         [Footnote 412: _Op. cit._ cap. iv. _ad fin_.]

         [Footnote 413: "Traido en disputas," Navarrete, _Coleccion_,
         tom. ii. p. 254.]

         [Footnote 414: "Muy altos Reyes, de muy pequeña edad entré en
         la mar navegando, é lo he continuado fasta hoy.... Yá pasan de
         cuarenta años que yo voy en este uso: todo lo que hoy se
         navega, todo lo he andado." Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. ii. p.
         262. Observe the lame phrase "pasan de cuarenta;" what business
         has that "de" in such a place without "mas" before it? "Pasan
         mas de cuarenta," i. e. "more than forty;" writing in haste and
         excitement, Columbus left out a little word; or shall we blame
         the proof-reader? Avezac himself translates it "il y a plus de
         quarante ans," and so does Eugène Müller, in his French version
         of Ferdinand's book, _Histoire de la vie de Christophe Colomb_,
         Paris, 1879, p. 15.]

         [Footnote 415: That was the golden age of sumptuary laws.
         Because Alfonso XI. of Castile (1312-1350), when he tried to
         impress horses for the army, found it hard to get as many as he
         wanted, he took it into his head that his subjects were raising
         too many mules and not enough horses. So he tried to remedy the
         evil by a wholesale decree prohibiting all Castilians from
         riding upon mules! In practice this precious decree, like other
         villainous prohibitory laws that try to prevent honest people
         from doing what they have a perfect right to do, proved so
         vexatious and ineffective withal that it had to be perpetually
         fussed with and tinkered. One year you could ride a mule and
         the next year you couldn't. In 1492, as we shall see, Columbus
         immortalized one of these patient beasts by riding it a few
         miles from Granada. But in 1494 Ferdinand and Isabella decreed
         that nobody except women, children, and clergymen could ride on
         mules,--"dont la marche est beaucoup plus douce que celle des
         chevaux" (Humboldt, _Examen critique_, tom. iii. p. 338). This
         edict remained in force in 1505, so that the Discoverer of the
         New World, the inaugurator of the greatest historic event since
         the birth of Christ, could not choose an easygoing animal for
         the comfort of his weary old weather-shaken bones without the
         bother of getting a special edict to fit his case. _Eheu, quam
         parva sapientia regitur mundus!_]

[Sidenote: The family of Domenico Colombo, and its changes of

With regard to the place where the great discoverer was born there ought
to be no dispute, since we have his own most explicit and unmistakable
word for it, as I shall presently show. Nevertheless there has been no
end of dispute. He has been claimed by as many places as Homer,[416] but
the only real question is whether he was born in the city of Genoa or in
some neighbouring village within the boundaries of the Genoese republic.
It is easy to understand how doubt has arisen on this point, if we trace
the changes of residence of his family. The grandfather of Columbus
seems to have been Giovanni Colombo, of Terrarossa, an inland hamlet
some twenty miles east by north from Genoa. Giovanni's son, Domenico
Colombo, was probably born at Terrarossa, and moved thence with his
father, somewhere between 1430 and 1445, to Quinto al Mare, four miles
east of Genoa on the coast. All the family seem to have been weavers.
Before 1445, but how many years before is not known, Domenico married
Susanna Fontanarossa, who belonged to a family of weavers, probably of
Quezzi, four miles northeast of Genoa. Between 1448 and 1451 Domenico,
with his wife and three children, moved into the city of Genoa, where he
became the owner of a house and was duly qualified as a citizen. In 1471
Domenico moved to Savona, thirty miles west on the Corniche road, where
he set up a weaving establishment and also kept a tavern. He had then
five children, Cristoforo, Giovanni, Bartolommeo, Giacomo, and a
daughter. Domenico lived in Savona till 1484. At that time his wife and
his son Giovanni were dead, Giacomo was an apprentice, learning the
weaver's trade, Christopher and Bartholomew had long been domiciled in
Portugal, the daughter had married a cheese merchant in Genoa, and to
that city Domenico returned in the autumn of 1484, and lived there until
his death, at a great age, in 1499 or 1500. He was always in pecuniary
difficulties, and died poor and in debt, though his sons seem to have
sent him from Portugal and Spain such money as they could spare.[417]

         [Footnote 416: "Nous avons démontré l'inanité des théories qui
         le font naître à Pradello, à Cuccaro, à Cogoleto, à Savona, à
         Nervi, à Albissola, à Bogliasco, à Cosseria, à Finale, à
         Oneglia, voire même en Angleterre ou dans l'isle de Corse."
         Harrisse, tom. i. p. 217. In Cogoleto, about sixteen miles west
         of Genoa on the Corniche road, the visitor is shown a house
         where Columbus is said first to have seen the light. Upon its
         front is a quaint inscription in which the discoverer is
         compared to the dove (_Colomba_) which, when sent by Noah from
         the ark, discovered dry land amid the waters:--

            Con generoso ardir dall' Arca all' onde
            Ubbidiente il vol Colomba prende,
            Corre, s' aggira, terren scopre, e fronde
            D' olivo in segno, al gran Noè ne rende.
            L' imita in ciò Colombo, ne' s' asconde,
            E da sua patria il mar solcando fende;
            Terreno al fin scoprendo diede fondo,
            Offerendo all' Ispano un Nuovo Mondo.

         This house is or has been mentioned in Baedeker's _Northern
         Italy_ as the probable birthplace, along with Peschel's absurd
         date 1456. It is pretty certain that Columbus was _not_ born in
         that house or in Cogoleto. See Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 148-155.]

         [Footnote 417: Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 166-216.]

[Sidenote: Christopher tells us that he was born in the city of Genoa.]

The reader will observe that Christopher and his two next brothers were
born before the family went to live in the city of Genoa. It has hence
been plausibly inferred that they were born either in Quinto or in
Terrarossa; more likely the latter, since both Christopher and
Bartholomew, as well as their father, were called, and sometimes signed
themselves, Columbus of Terrarossa.[418] In this opinion the most
indefatigable modern investigator, Harrisse, agrees with Las Casas.[419]
Nevertheless, in a solemn legal instrument executed February 22, 1498,
establishing a _mayorazgo_, or right of succession to his estates and
emoluments in the Indies, Columbus expressly declares that he was born
in the city of Genoa: "I enjoin it upon my son, the said Don Diego, or
whoever may inherit the said _mayorazgo_, always to keep and maintain in
the City of Genoa one person of our lineage, because from thence I came
and in it I was born."[420] I do not see how such a definite and
positive statement, occurring in such a document, can be doubted or
explained away. It seems clear that the son was born while the parents
were dwelling either at Terrarossa or at Quinto, but what is to hinder
our supposing that the event might have happened when the mother was in
the city on some errand or visit? The fact that Christopher and his
brother were often styled "of Terrarossa" does not prove that they were
born in that hamlet. A family moving thence to Quinto and to Genoa would
stand in much need of some such distinctive epithet, because the name
Colombo was extremely common in that part of Italy; insomuch that the
modern historian, who prowls among the archives of those towns, must
have a care lest he get hold of the wrong person, and thus open a fresh
and prolific source of confusion. This has happened more than once.

         [Footnote 418: Harrisse, tom. i. p. 188; _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. xi.]

         [Footnote 419: "Fué este varon escogido de nacion genovés, de
         algun lugar de la provincia de Génova; cual fuese, donde nació
         ó qué nombre tuvo el tal lugar, no consta la verdad dello más
         de que se solia llamar ántes que llegase al estado que llegó,
         Cristobal Colombo de Terra-rubia y lo mismo su hermano
         Bartolomé Colon." Las Casas, _Historia de las Indias_, tom. i.
         p. 42; cf. Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 217-222.]

         [Footnote 420: "Mando al dicho D. Diego, mi hijo, ó á la
         persona que heredare el dicho mayorazgo, que tenga y sostenga
         siempre en la _Ciudad de Génova_ una persona de nuestro linage
         ... pues que della salí _y en ella naci_" [italics mine].
         Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. ii. p. 232.]

[Sidenote: Christopher's early years.]

[Sidenote: Christopher and Bartholomew at Lisbon.]

On the whole, then, it seems most probable that the Discoverer of
America was born in the city of Genoa in 1436, or not much later. Of his
childhood we know next to nothing. Las Casas tells us that he studied at
the University of Pavia and acquired a good knowledge of Latin.[421]
This has been doubted, as incompatible with the statement of Columbus
that he began a seafaring life at the age of fourteen. It is clear,
however, that the earlier years of Columbus, before his departure for
Portugal, were not all spent in seafaring. Somewhere, if not at Pavia,
he not only learned Latin, but found time to study geography, with a
little astronomy and mathematics, and to become an expert draughtsman.
He seems to have gone to and fro upon the Mediterranean in merchant
voyages, now and then taking a hand in sharp scrimmages with Mussulman
pirates.[422] In the intervals of this adventurous life he was probably
to be found in Genoa, earning his bread by making maps and charts, for
which there was a great and growing demand. About 1470, having become
noted for his skill in such work, he followed his younger brother
Bartholomew to Lisbon,[423] whither Prince Henry's undertakings had
attracted able navigators and learned geographers until that city had
come to be the chief centre of nautical science in Europe. Las Casas
assures us that Bartholomew was quite equal to Christopher as a sailor,
and surpassed him in the art of making maps and globes, as well as in
the beauty of his handwriting.[424] In Portugal, as before in Italy, the
work of the brothers Columbus was an alternation of map-making on land
and adventure on the sea. We have Christopher's own word for it that he
sailed with more than one of those Portuguese expeditions down the
African coast;[425] and I think it not altogether unlikely that he may
have been with Santarem and Escobar in their famous voyage of 1471.

         [Footnote 421: Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. i. p. 46.]

         [Footnote 422: The reader must beware, however, of some of the
         stories of adventure attaching to this part of his life, even
         where they are confirmed by Las Casas. They evidently rest upon
         hearsay, and the incidents are so confused that it is almost
         impossible to extract the kernel of truth.]

         [Footnote 423: The date 1470 rests upon a letter of Columbus to
         King Ferdinand of Aragon in May, 1505. He says that God must
         have directed him into the service of Spain by a kind of
         miracle, since he had already been in Portugal, whose king was
         more interested than any other sovereign in making discoveries,
         and yet God closed his eyes, his ears, and all his senses to
         such a degree that _in fourteen years_ Columbus could not
         prevail upon him to lend aid to his scheme. "Dije
         milagrosamente porque fui á aportar á Portugal, adonde el Rey
         de allí entendia en el descubrir mas que otro: él le atajó la
         vista, oido y todos los sentidos, que en catorce años no le
         pude hacer entender lo que yo dije." Las Casas, _op. cit._ tom.
         iii. p. 187; Navarrete, tom. iii. p. 528. Now it is known that
         Columbus finally left Portugal late in 1484, or very early in
         1485, so that fourteen years would carry us back to before 1471
         for the first arrival of Columbus in that country. M. Harrisse
         (_op. cit._ tom. i. p. 263) is unnecessarily troubled by the
         fact that the same person was not king of Portugal during the
         whole of that period. Alfonso V. (brother of Henry the
         Navigator) died in 1481, and was succeeded by his son John II.;
         but during a considerable part of the time between 1475 and
         1481 the royal authority was exercised by the latter. Both
         kings were more interested in making discoveries than any other
         European sovereigns. Which king did Columbus mean? Obviously
         his words were used loosely; he was too much preoccupied to be
         careful about trifles; he probably had John in his mind, and
         did not bother himself about Alfonso; King Ferdinand, to whom
         he was writing, did not need to have such points minutely
         specified, and could understand an elliptical statement; and
         the fact stated by Columbus was simply that during a residence
         of fourteen years in Portugal he had not been able to enlist
         even that enterprising government in behalf of his novel

         In the town archives of Savona we find Christopher Columbus
         witnessing a document March 20, 1472, endorsing a kind of
         promissory note for his father August 26, 1472, and joining
         with his mother and his next brother Giovanni, August 7, 1473,
         in relinquishing all claims to the house in Genoa sold by his
         father Domenico by deed of that date. It will be remembered
         that Domenico had moved from Genoa to Savona in 1471. From
         these documents (which are all printed in his _Christophe
         Colomb_, tom. ii. pp. 419, 420, 424-426) M. Harrisse concludes
         that Christopher cannot have gone to Portugal until after
         August 7, 1473. Probably not, so far as to be domiciled there;
         but inasmuch as he had long been a sailor, why should he not
         have been in Portugal, or upon the African coast in a
         Portuguese ship, in 1470 and 1471, and nevertheless have been
         with his parents in Savona in 1472 and part of 1473? His own
         statement "fourteen years" is not to be set aside on such
         slight grounds as this. Furthermore, from the fact that
         Bartholomew's name is not signed to the deed of August 7, 1473,
         M. Harrisse infers that he was then a minor; i. e. under five
         and twenty. But it seems to me more likely that Bartholomew was
         already domiciled at Lisbon, since we are expressly told by two
         good contemporary authorities--both of them Genoese writers
         withal--that he moved to Lisbon and began making maps there at
         an earlier date than Christopher. See Antonio Gallo, _De
         navigatione Columbi per inaccessum antea Oceanum
         Commentariolus_, apud Muratori, tom. xxiii. col. 301-304;
         Giustiniani, _Psalterium_, Milan, 1516 (annotation to Psalm
         xix.); Harrisse, _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima_, No. 88.
         To these statements M. Harrisse objects that he finds (in
         Belloro, _Notizie_, p. 8) mention of a document dated Savona,
         June 16, 1480, in which Domenico Colombo gives a power of
         attorney to his son Bartholomew to act for him in some matter.
         The document itself, however, is not forthcoming, and the
         notice cited by M. Harrisse really affords no ground for the
         assumption that Bartholomew was in 1480 domiciled at Savona or
         at Genoa.]

         [Footnote 424: Las Casas, _op. cit._ tom. i. p. 224; tom. ii.
         p. 80. He possessed many maps and documents by both the

         [Footnote 425: "Spesse volte navigando da Lisbona a Guinea,"
         etc. _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. iv. The original authority
         is Columbus's marginal note in his copy of the _Imago Mundi_ of
         Alliacus, now preserved in the Colombina at Seville: "Nota quod
         sepius navigando ex Ulixbona ad austrum in Guineam, notavi cum
         diligentia viam, etc." Compare the allusions to Guinea in his
         letters, Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. i. pp. 55, 71, 101.]

[Sidenote: Philippa Moñiz de Perestrelo.]

[Sidenote: Personal appearance of Columbus.]

He had not been long in Portugal before he found a wife. We have already
met the able Italian navigator, Bartholomew Perestrelo, who was sent by
Prince Henry to the island of Porto Santo with Zarco and Vaz, about
1425. In recognition of eminent services Prince Henry afterwards, in
1446, appointed him governor of Porto Santo. Perestrelo died in 1457,
leaving a widow (his second wife, Isabella Moñiz) and a charming
daughter Philippa,[426] whom Columbus is said to have first met at a
religious service in the chapel of the convent of All Saints at Lisbon.
From the accounts of his personal appearance, given by Las Casas and
others who knew him, we can well understand how Columbus should have won
the heart of this lady, so far above him at that time in social
position. He was a man of noble and commanding presence, tall and
powerfully built, with fair ruddy complexion and keen blue-gray eyes
that easily kindled; while his waving white hair must have been quite
picturesque. His manner was at once courteous and cordial and his
conversation charming, so that strangers were quickly won, and in
friends who knew him well he inspired strong affection and respect.[427]
There was an indefinable air of authority about him, as befitted a man
of great heart and lofty thoughts.[428] Out of those kindling eyes
looked a grand and poetic soul, touched with that divine spark of
religious enthusiasm which makes true genius.

         [Footnote 426: There are some vexed questions concerning this
         lady and the connections between the Moñiz and Perestrelo
         families, for which see Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 267-292.]

         [Footnote 427: Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. i. p. 43. He
         describes Bartholomew as not unlike his brother, but not so
         tall, less affable in manner, and more stern in disposition,
         _id._ tom. ii. p. 80.]

         [Footnote 428: "Christoval Colon ... persona de gran corazon y
         altos pensamientos." Mariana, _Historia de España_, tom. viii.
         p. 341.]

[Sidenote: His marriage, and life upon the island of Porto Santo.]

The acquaintance between Columbus and Philippa Moñiz de Perestrelo was
not long in ripening into affection, for they were married in 1473. As
there was a small estate at Porto Santo, Columbus went home thither with
his bride to live for a while in quiet and seclusion. Such repose we may
believe to have been favourable to meditation, and on that little
island, three hundred miles out on the mysterious ocean, we are told
that the great scheme of sailing westward to the Indies first took shape
in the mind of Columbus.[429] His father-in-law Perestrelo had left a
quantity of sailing charts and nautical notes, and these Columbus
diligently studied, while ships on their way to and from Guinea every
now and then stopped at the island, and one can easily imagine the eager
discussions that must have been held over the great commercial problem
of the age,--how far south that African coast extended and whether there
was any likelihood of ever finding an end to it.

         [Footnote 429: Upon that island his eldest son Diego was born.
         This whole story of the life upon Porto Santo and its relation
         to the genesis of Columbus's scheme is told very explicitly by
         Las Casas, who says that it was told to him by Diego Columbus
         at Barcelona in 1519, when they were waiting upon Charles V.,
         just elected Emperor and about to start for Aachen to be
         crowned. And yet there are modern critics who are disposed to
         deny the whole story. (See Harrisse, tom. i. p. 298.) The
         grounds for doubt are, however, extremely trivial when
         confronted with Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. i. p. 54.]

[Sidenote: Alfonso V. asks advice of the great astronomer Toscanelli.]

How long Columbus lived upon Porto Santo is not known, but he seems to
have gone from time to time back to Lisbon, and at length to have made
his home--or in the case of such a rover we might better say his
headquarters--in that city. We come now to a document of supreme
importance for our narrative. Paolo del Pozzo dei Toscanelli, born at
Florence in 1397, was one of the most famous astronomers and
cosmographers of his time, a man to whom it was natural that questions
involving the size and shape of the earth should be referred. To him
Alfonso V. of Portugal made application, through a gentleman of the
royal household, Fernando Martinez, who happened to be an old friend of
Toscanelli. What Alfonso wanted to know was whether there could be a
shorter oceanic route to the Indies than that which his captains were
seeking by following the African coast; if so, he begged that Toscanelli
would explain the nature and direction of such a route. The Florentine
astronomer replied with the letter presently to be quoted in full, dated
June 25, 1474; and along with the letter he sent to the king a sailing
chart, exhibiting his conception of the Atlantic ocean, with Europe on
the east and Cathay on the west. The date of this letter is eloquent. It
was early in 1472 that Santarem and Escobar brought back to Lisbon the
news that beyond the Gold Coast the African shore turned southwards and
stretched away in that direction beyond the equator. As I have already
observed, this was the moment when the question as to the possibility of
a shorter route was likely to arise;[430] and this is precisely the
question we find the king of Portugal putting to Toscanelli some time
before the middle of 1474. Now about this same time, or not long
afterwards, we find Columbus himself appealing to Toscanelli. An aged
Florentine merchant, Lorenzo Giraldi, then settled in Lisbon, was going
back to his native city for a visit, and to him Columbus entrusted a
letter for the eminent astronomer. He received the following answer:

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus.]

"Paul, the physicist, to Christopher Columbus greeting.[431] I perceive
your great and noble desire to go to the place where the spices grow;
wherefore in reply to a letter of yours, I send you a copy of another
letter, which I wrote a few days ago [or some time ago] to a friend of
mine, a gentleman of the household of the most gracious king of Portugal
before the wars of Castile,[432] in reply to another, which by command
of His Highness he wrote me concerning that matter: and I send you
another sailing chart, similar to the one I sent him, by which your
demands will be satisfied. The copy of that letter of mine is as

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's copy of his former letter to Martinez--enclosed
in his first letter to Columbus.]

"'Paul, the physicist, to Fernando Martinez, canon, at Lisbon,
greeting.[433] I was glad to hear of your intimacy and favour with your
most noble and illustrious king. I have formerly spoken with you about a
shorter route to the places of Spices by ocean navigation than that
which you are pursuing by Guinea. The most gracious king now desires
from me some statement, or rather an exhibition to the eye, so that even
slightly educated persons can grasp and comprehend that route. Although
I am well aware that this can be proved from the spherical shape of the
earth, nevertheless, in order to make the point clearer and to
facilitate the enterprise, I have decided to exhibit that route by means
of a sailing chart. I therefore send to his majesty a chart made by my
own hands,[434] upon which are laid down your coasts, and the islands
from which you must begin to shape your course steadily westward, and
the places at which you are bound to arrive, and how far from the pole
or from the equator you ought to keep away, and through how much space
or through how many miles you are to arrive at places most fertile in
all sorts of spices and gems; and do not wonder at my calling _west_ the
parts where the spices are, whereas they are commonly called _east_,
because to persons sailing persistently westward those parts will be
found by courses on the under side of the earth. For if [you go] by land
and by routes on this upper side, they will always be found in the east.
The straight lines drawn lengthwise upon the map indicate distance from
east to west, while the transverse lines show distances from south to
north. I have drawn upon the map various places upon which you may come,
for the better information of the navigators in case of their arriving,
whether through accident of wind or what not, at some different place
from what they had expected; but partly in order that they may show the
inhabitants that they have some knowledge of their country, which is
sure to be a pleasant thing. It is said that none but merchants dwell in
the islands.[435] For so great there is the number of navigators with
their merchandise that in all the rest of the world there are not so
many as in one very splendid port called Zaiton.[436] For they say that
a hundred great ships of pepper unload in that port every year, besides
other ships bringing other spices. That country is very populous and
very rich, with a multitude of provinces and kingdoms and cities without
number, under one sovereign who is called the Great Khan, which name
signifies King of Kings, whose residence is for the most part in the
province of Cathay. His predecessors two hundred years ago desired an
alliance with Christendom; they sent to the pope and asked for a number
of persons learned in the faith, that they might be enlightened; but
those who were sent, having encountered obstacles on the way,
returned.[437] Even in the time of Eugenius[438] there came one to
Eugenius and made a declaration concerning their great goodwill toward
Christians, and I had a long talk with him about many things, about the
great size of their royal palaces and the remarkable length and breadth
of their rivers, and the multitude of cities on the banks of the rivers,
such that on one river there are about two hundred cities, with marble
bridges very long and wide and everywhere adorned with columns. This
country is worth seeking by the Latins, not only because great treasures
may be obtained from it,--gold, silver, and all sorts of jewels and
spices,--but on account of its learned men, philosophers, and skilled
astrologers, and [in order that we may see] with what arts and devices
so powerful and splendid a province is governed, and also [how] they
conduct their wars. This for some sort of answer to his request, so far
as haste and my occupations have allowed, ready in future to make
further response to his royal majesty as much as he may wish. Given at
Florence 25th June, 1474.'

         [Footnote 430: See above, p. 330.]

         [Footnote 431: I translate this prologue from the Italian text
         of the _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. viii. The original Latin
         has nowhere been found. A Spanish version of the whole may be
         found in Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. i. pp. 92-96. Las Casas,
         by a mere slip of the pen, calls "Paul, the physicist," _Marco
         Paulo_, and fifty years later Mariana calls him _Marco Polo,
         physician_: "por aviso que le dió un cierto Marco Polo médico
         Florentin," etc. _Historia de España_, tom. viii. p. 343. Thus
         step by step doth error grow.]

         [Footnote 432: He means that his friend Martinez has been a
         member of King Alfonso's household ever since the time before
         the civil wars that began with the attempted deposition of
         Henry IV. in 1465 and can hardly be said to have come to an end
         before the death of that prince in December, 1474. See
         Humboldt, _Examen critique_, tom. i. p. 225.]

         [Footnote 433: I translate this enclosed letter from the
         original Latin text, as found, a few years ago, in the
         handwriting of Columbus upon the fly-leaves of his copy of the
         _Historia rerum ubique gestarum_ of Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini
         (Pope Pius II.), published at Venice in 1477, in folio, and now
         preserved in the Colombina at Seville. This Latin text is given
         by Harrisse, in his _Fernand Colomb_, pp. 178-180, and also
         (with more strict regard to the abbreviations of the original)
         in his _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima--Additions_, Paris,
         1872, pp. xvi.-xviii. Very likely Columbus had occasion to let
         the original MS. go out of his hands, and so preserved a copy
         of it upon the fly-leaves of one of his books. These same
         fly-leaves contain extracts from Josephus and Saint Augustine.
         The reader will rightly infer from my translation that the
         astronomer's Latin was somewhat rugged and lacking in literary
         grace. Apparently he was anxious to jot down quickly what he
         had to say, and get back to his work.]

         [Footnote 434: A sketch of this most memorable of maps is given
         opposite. Columbus carried it with him upon his first voyage,
         and shaped his course in accordance with it. Las Casas
         afterwards had it in his possession (_Hist. de las Indias_,
         tom. i. pp. 96, 279). It has since been lost, that is to say,
         it may still be in existence, but nobody knows where. But it
         has been so well described that the work of restoring its
         general outlines is not difficult and has several times been
         done. The sketch here given is taken from Winsor (_Narr. and
         Crit. Hist._, ii. 103), who takes it from _Das Ausland_, 1867,
         p. 5. Another restoration may be found in St. Martin's _Atlas_,
         pl. ix. This map was the source of the western part of Martin
         Behaim's globe, as given below, p. 422.]

         [Footnote 435: All the description that follows is taken by
         Toscanelli from the book of Marco Polo.]

         [Footnote 436: On modern maps usually called Chang-chow, about
         100 miles S. W. from Fou-chow.]

         [Footnote 437: I have given an account of this mission, above,
         p. 281.]

         [Footnote 438: Eugenius IV., pope from 1431 to 1447.]

[Sidenote: Conclusion of Toscanelli's first letter to Columbus.]

"From[439] the city of Lisbon due west there are 26 spaces marked on the
map, each of which contains 250 miles, as far as the very great and
splendid city of Quinsay.[440] For it is a hundred miles in
circumference and has ten bridges, and its name means City of Heaven,
and many wonderful things are told about it and about the multitude of
its arts and revenues. This space is almost a third part of the whole
sphere. That city is in the province of Mangi, or near the province of
Cathay in which land is the royal residence. But from the island of
Antilia, which you know, to the very splendid island of Cipango[441]
there are ten spaces. For that island abounds in gold, pearls, and
precious stones, and they cover the temples and palaces with solid gold.
So through the unknown parts of the route the stretches of sea to be
traversed are not great. Many things might perhaps have been stated more
clearly, but one who duly considers what I have said will be able to
work out the rest for himself. Farewell, most esteemed one."

         [Footnote 439: This paragraph is evidently the conclusion of
         the letter to Columbus, and not a part of the letter to
         Martinez, which has just ended with the date. In _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_ the two letters are mixed together.]

         [Footnote 440: On modern maps Hang-chow. After 1127 that city
         was for some time the capital of China, and Marco Polo's name
         _Quinsay_ represents the Chinese word _King-sse_ or "capital,"
         now generally applied to Peking. Marco Polo calls it the finest
         and noblest city in the world. It appears that he does not
         overstate the circumference of its walls at 100 Chinese miles
         or _li_, equivalent to about 30 English miles. It has greatly
         diminished since Polo's time, while other cities have grown.
         Toscanelli was perhaps afraid to repeat Polo's figure as to the
         number of stone bridges; Polo says there were 12,000 of them,
         high enough for ships to pass under! We thus see how his
         Venetian fellow-citizens came to nickname him "Messer Marco
         Milione." As Colonel Yule says, "I believe we must not bring
         Marco to book for the literal accuracy of his statements as to
         the bridges; but all travellers have noticed the number and
         elegance of the bridges of cut stone in this part of China."
         _Marco Polo_, vol. ii, p. 144.]

         [Footnote 441: For Cipango, or Japan, see Yule's _Marco Polo_,
         vol. ii. pp. 195-207. The venerable astronomer's style of
         composition is amusing. He sets out to demonstrate to Columbus
         that the part of the voyage to be accomplished through new and
         unfamiliar stretches of the Atlantic is not great; but he is so
         full of the glories of Cathay and Cipango that he keeps
         reverting to that subject, to the manifest detriment of his
         exposition. His argument, however, is perfectly clear.]

Some time after the receipt of this letter Columbus wrote again to
Toscanelli, apparently sending him either some charts of his own, or
some notes, or something bearing upon the subject in hand. No such
letter is preserved, but Toscanelli replied as follows:--

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's second letter to Columbus.]

"Paul, the physicist, to Christopher Columbus greeting.[442] I have
received your letters, with the things which you sent me, for which I
thank you very much. I regard as noble and grand your project of sailing
from east to west according to the indications furnished by the map
which I sent you, and which would appear still more plainly upon a
sphere. I am much pleased to see that I have been well understood, and
that the voyage has become not only possible but certain,[443] fraught
with honour as it must be, and inestimable gain, and most lofty fame
among all Christian people. You cannot take in all that it means except
by actual experience, or without such copious and accurate information
as I have had from eminent and learned men who have come from those
places to the Roman court, and from merchants who have traded a long
time in those parts, persons whose word is to be believed (_persone di
grande autorità_). When that voyage shall be accomplished, it will be a
voyage to powerful kingdoms, and to cities and provinces most wealthy
and noble, abounding in all sorts of things most desired by us; I mean,
with all kinds of spices and jewels in great abundance. It will also be
advantageous for those kings and princes who are eager to have dealings
and make alliances with the Christians of our countries, and to learn
from the erudite men of these parts,[444] as well in religion as in all
other branches of knowledge. For these reasons, and many others that
might be mentioned, I do not wonder that you, who are of great courage,
and the whole Portuguese nation, which has always had men distinguished
in all such enterprises, are now inflamed with desire[445] to execute
the said voyage."

         [Footnote 442: The original of this letter is not forthcoming.
         I translate from _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. viii.]

         [Footnote 443: Yet poor old Toscanelli did not live to see it
         accomplished; he died in 1482, before Columbus left Portugal.]

         [Footnote 444: That is, of Europe, and especially of Italy.
         Toscanelli again refers to Kublai Khan's message to the pope
         which--more or less mixed up with the vague notions about
         Prester John--had evidently left a deep impression upon the
         European mind. In translating the above sentence I have
         somewhat retrenched its excessive verbiage without affecting
         the meaning.]

         [Footnote 445: In including the "whole Portuguese nation" as
         feeling this desire, the good astronomer's enthusiasm again
         runs away with him.]

[Sidenote: Who first suggested the feasibleness of a westward route? Was
it Columbus?]

These letters are intensely interesting, especially the one to Martinez,
which reveals the fact that as early as 1474 the notion that a westward
route to the Indies would be shorter than the southward route had
somehow been suggested to Alfonso V.; and had, moreover, sufficiently
arrested his attention to lead him to make inquiries of the most eminent
astronomer within reach. Who could have suggested this notion to the
king of Portugal? Was it Columbus, the trained mariner and map-maker,
who might lately have been pondering the theories of Ptolemy and Mela as
affected by the voyage of Santarem and Escobar, and whose connection
with the Moñiz and Perestrelo families would now doubtless facilitate
his access to the court? On some accounts this may seem probable,
especially if we bear in mind Columbus's own statement implying that his
appeals to the crown dated almost from the beginning of his fourteen
years in Portugal.

[Sidenote: Perhaps it was Toscanelli.]

All the circumstances, however, seem to be equally consistent with the
hypothesis that the first suggestion of the westward route may have come
from Toscanelli himself, through the medium of the canon Martinez, who
had for so many years been a member of King Alfonso's household. The
words at the beginning of the letter lend some probability to this view:
"I have formerly spoken with you about a shorter route to the places of
Spices by ocean navigation than that which you are pursuing by Guinea."
It was accordingly earlier than 1474--how much earlier does not
appear--that such discussions between Toscanelli and Martinez must
probably have come to the ears of King Alfonso; and now, very likely
owing to the voyage of Santarem and Escobar, that monarch began to think
it worth while to seek for further information, "an exhibition to the
eye," so that mariners not learned in astronomy like Toscanelli might
"grasp and comprehend" the shorter route suggested. It is altogether
probable that the Florentine astronomer, who was seventy-seven years old
when he wrote this letter, had already for a long time entertained the
idea of a westward route; and a man in whom the subject aroused so much
enthusiasm could hardly have been reticent about it. It is not likely
that Martinez was the only person to whom he descanted[446] upon the
glory and riches to be found by sailing "straight to Cathay," and there
were many channels through which Columbus might have got some inkling of
his views, even before going to Portugal.

         [Footnote 446: Luigi Pulci, in his famous romantic poem
         published in 1481, has a couple of striking stanzas in which
         Astarotte says to Rinaldo that the time is at hand when
         Hercules shall blush to see how far beyond his Pillars the
         ships shall soon go forth to find another hemisphere, for
         although the earth is as round as a wheel, yet the water at any
         given point is a plane, and inasmuch as all things tend to a
         common centre so that by a divine mystery the earth is
         suspended in equilibrium among the stars, just so there is an
         antipodal world with cities and castles unknown to men of olden
         time, and the sun in hastening westwards descends to shine upon
         those peoples who are awaiting him below the horizon:--

            Sappi che questa opinione è vana
            Perchè più oltre navicar si puote,
            Però che l' acqua in ogni parte è piana,
            Benchè la terra abbi forma di ruote;
            Era più grossa allor la gente umana,
            Tal che potrebbe arrossirne le gote
            Ercule ancor, d' aver posti que' segni,
            Perchè più oltre passeranno i legni.
            E puossi andar giù nell' altro emisperio,
            Però che al centro ogni cosa reprime:
            Sicchè la terra per divin misterio
            Sospesa sta fra le stelle sublime,
            E laggiù son città, castella, e imperio;
            Ma nol cognobbon quelle gente prime.
            Vedi che il sol di camminar s' affretta,
            Dove io dico che laggiù s' aspetta.
                              Pulci, _Morgante Maggiore_, xxv. 229, 230.

         This prophecy of western discovery combines with the
         astronomical knowledge here shown, to remind us that the
         Florentine Pulci was a fellow-townsman and most likely an
         acquaintance of Toscanelli.]

[Sidenote: The idea was suggested by the globular form of the earth;]

[Sidenote: and was as old as Aristotle.]

[Sidenote: Opinions of ancient writers.]

However this may have been, the letter clearly proves that at that most
interesting period, in or about 1474, Columbus was already meditating
upon the westward route.[447] Whether he owed the idea to Toscanelli,
or not, is a question of no great importance so far as concerns his own
originality; for the idea was already in the air. The originality of
Columbus did not consist in his conceiving the possibility of reaching
the shores of Cathay by sailing west, but in his conceiving it in such
distinct and practical shape as to be ready to make the adventure in
his own person. As a matter of theory the possibility of such a voyage
could not fail to be suggested by the globular form of the earth; and
ever since the days of Aristotle that had been generally admitted by men
learned in physical science. Aristotle proved, from the different
altitudes of the pole-star in different places, that the earth must
necessarily be a globe. Moreover, says Aristotle, "some stars are seen
in Egypt or at Cyprus, but are not seen in the countries to the north of
these; and the stars that in the north are visible while they make a
complete circuit, there undergo a setting. So that from this it is
manifest, not only that the form of the earth is round, but also that it
is part of not a very large sphere; for otherwise the difference would
not be so obvious to persons making so small a change of place.
Wherefore we may judge that _those persons who connect the region in the
neighbourhood of the Pillars of Hercules with that towards India, and
who assert that in this way the sea is_ ONE, do not assert things very
improbable."[448] It thus appears that more than eighteen centuries
before Columbus took counsel of Toscanelli, "those persons" to whom
Aristotle alludes were discussing, as a matter of theory, this same
subject. Eratosthenes held that it would be easy enough to sail from
Spain to India on the same parallel were it not for the vast extent of
the Atlantic ocean.[449] On the other hand, Seneca maintained that the
distance was probably not so very great, and that with favouring winds a
ship might make the voyage in a few days.[450] In one of his tragedies
Seneca has a striking passage[451] which has been repeatedly quoted as
referring to the discovery of America, and is certainly one of the most
notable instances of prophecy on record. There will come a time, he
says, in the later years, when Ocean shall loosen the bonds by which we
have been confined, when an immense land shall lie revealed, and Tethys
shall disclose new worlds, and Thule will no longer be the most remote
of countries. In Strabo there is a passage, less commonly noticed, which
hits the truth--as we know it to-day--even more closely. Having argued
that the total length of the Inhabited World is only about a third part
of the circumference of the earth in the temperate zone, he suggests it
as possible, or even probable, that within this space there may be
another Inhabited World, or even more than one; but such places would be
inhabited by different races of men, with whom the geographer, whose
task it is to describe the _known_ world, has no concern.[452] Nothing
could better illustrate the philosophical character of Strabo's mind. In
such speculations, so far as his means of verification went, he was
situated somewhat as we are to-day with regard to the probable
inhabitants of Venus or Mars.

         [Footnote 447: It was formerly assumed, without hesitation,
         that the letter from Toscanelli to Columbus was written and
         sent in 1474. The reader will observe, however, that while the
         enclosed letter to Martinez is dated June 25, 1474, the letter
         to Columbus, in which it was enclosed, has no date. But
         according to the text as given in _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap.
         viii., this would make no difference, for the letter to
         Columbus was sent only a few days later than the original
         letter to Martinez: "I send you a copy of another letter, which
         I wrote a few days ago (_alquanti giorni fa_) to a friend of
         mine, a gentleman of the household of the king of Portugal
         before the wars of Castile, in reply to another," etc. This
         friend, Martinez, had evidently been a gentleman of the
         household of Alfonso V. since before the civil wars of Castile,
         which in 1474 had been going on intermittently for nine years
         under the feeble Henry IV., who did not die until December 12,
         1474. Toscanelli apparently means to say "a friend of mine who
         has for ten years or more been a gentleman of the royal
         household," etc.; only instead of mentioning the number of
         years, he alludes less precisely (as most people, and perhaps
         especially old people, are apt to do) to the most notable,
         mentionable, and glaring fact in the history of the Peninsula
         for that decade,--namely, the civil wars of Castile. As if an
         American writer in 1864 had said, "a friend of mine, who has
         been secretary to A. B. since before the war," instead of
         saying "for four years or more." This is the only reasonable
         interpretation of the phrase as it stands above, and it was
         long ago suggested by Humboldt (_Examen critique_, tom. i. p.
         225). Italian and Spanish writers of that day, however, were
         lavish with their commas and sprinkled them in pretty much at
         haphazard. In this case Ferdinand's translator, Ulloa,
         sprinkled in one comma too many, and it fell just in front of
         the clause "before the wars of Castile;" so that Toscanelli's
         sentence was made to read as follows: "I send you a copy of
         another letter, which I wrote a few days ago to a friend of
         mine, a gentleman of the household of the king of Portugal,
         before the wars of Castile, in reply to another," etc. Now this
         unhappy comma, coming after the word "Portugal," has caused
         ream after ream of good paper to be inked up in discussion, for
         it has led some critics to understand the sentence as follows:
         "I send you a copy of another letter, which I wrote a few days
         ago, before the wars of Castile, to a friend of mine," etc.
         This reading brought things to a pretty pass. Evidently a
         letter dated June 25, 1474, could not have been written before
         the civil wars of Castile, which began in 1465. It was
         therefore assumed that the phrase must refer to the "War of
         Succession" between Castile and Portugal (in some ways an
         outgrowth from the civil wars of Castile) which began in May,
         1475, and ended in September, 1479. M. d'Avezac thinks that the
         letter to Columbus must have been written after the latter
         date, or more than five years later than the enclosed letter.
         M. Harrisse is somewhat less exacting, and is willing to admit
         that it may have been written at any time after this war had
         fairly begun,--say in the summer of 1475, not more than a year
         or so later than the enclosed letter. Still he is disposed on
         some accounts to put the date as late as 1482. The phrase
         _alquanti giorni fa_ will not allow either of these
         interpretations. It means "a few days ago," and cannot possibly
         mean a year ago, still less five years ago. The Spanish
         retranslator from Ulloa renders it exactly _algunos dias há_
         (Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. ii. p. 7), and Humboldt (_loc.
         cit._) has it _il y a quelques jours_. If we could be sure that
         the expression is a correct rendering of the lost Latin
         original, we might feel sure that the letter to Columbus must
         have been written as early as the beginning of August, 1474.
         But now the great work of Las Casas, after lying in manuscript
         for 314 years, has at length been published in 1875. Las Casas
         gives a Spanish version of the Toscanelli letters (_Historia de
         las Indias_, tom. i. pp. 92-97), which is unquestionably older
         than Ulloa's Italian version, though perhaps not necessarily
         more accurate. The phrase in Las Casas is not _algunos dias
         há_, but _há dias_, i. e. not "a few days ago," but "some time
         ago." Just which expression Toscanelli used cannot be
         determined unless somebody is fortunate enough to discover the
         lost Latin original. The phrase in Las Casas admits much more
         latitude of meaning than the other. I should suppose that _há
         dias_ might refer to an event a year or two old, which would
         admit of the interpretation considered admissible by M.
         Harrisse. I should hardly suppose that it could refer to an
         event five or six years old; if Toscanelli had been referring
         in 1479 or 1480 to a letter written in 1474, his phrase would
         probably have appeared in Spanish as _algunos años há_, i. e.
         "a few years ago," not as _há dias_. M. d'Avezac's hypothesis
         seems to me not only inconsistent with the phrase _há dias_,
         but otherwise improbable. The frightful anarchy in Castile,
         which began in 1465 with the attempt to depose Henry IV. and
         alter the succession, was in great measure a series of ravaging
         campaigns and raids, now more general, now more local, and can
         hardly be said to have come to an end before Henry's death in
         1474. The war which began with the invasion of Castile by
         Alfonso V. of Portugal, in May, 1475, was simply a later phase
         of the same series of conflicts, growing out of disputed claims
         to the crown and rivalries among great barons, in many respects
         similar to the contemporary anarchy in England called the Wars
         of the Roses. It is not likely that Toscanelli, writing at any
         time between 1475 and 1480, and speaking of the "wars of
         Castile" in the plural, could have had 1474 in his mind as a
         date previous to those wars; to his mind it would have rightly
         appeared as a date in the midst of them. In any case,
         therefore, his reference must be to a time before 1465, and
         Humboldt's interpretation is in all probability correct. The
         letter from Toscanelli to Columbus was probably written within
         a year or two after June 25, 1474.

         On account of the vast importance of the Toscanelli letters,
         and because the early texts are found in books which the reader
         is not likely to have at hand, I have given them entire in the
         Appendix at the end of this work.]

         [Footnote 448: [Greek: Hôste ta hyper tês kephalês astra
         megalên echein tên metabolên, kai mê tauta phainesthai pros
         arkton te kai mesêmbrian metabainousin; enioi gar en Aigyptô
         men asteres horôntai, kai peri Kypron; en tois pros arkton de
         chôrious ouch horôntai kai ta dia pantos en tois pros arkton
         phainomena tôn astrôn, en ekeinois tois topois poieitai dysin.
         Hôst' ou monon ek toutôn dêlon peripheres on to schêma tês gês,
         alla kai sphairas ou megalês. Ou gar an houtô tachy epidêlon
         epoiei methistemenois houtô brachy. Dio tous hypolambanontas
         synaptein ton peri tas Hêrakleious stêlas topon tô peri tên
         Indikên, kai touton ton tropon einai tên Thalattan mian, mê
         lian hypolambanein apista dokein.] Aristotle, _De Coelo_, ii.
         14. He goes on to say that "those persons" allege the existence
         of elephants alike in Mauretania and in India in proof of their

         [Footnote 449: [Greek: Hôst' ei mê to megethos tou Atlantikou
         pelagous ekôlye, kan plein hêmas ek tês Ibêrias eis tên Indikên
         dia tou autou parallêlou.] Strabo, i. 4, § 6.]

         [Footnote 450: "Quantum enim est, quod ab ultimis litoribus
         Hispaniæ usque ad Indos jacet? Paucissimorum dierum spatium, si
         navem suus ventus implevit." Seneca, _Nat. Quæst._, i. præf. §

         [Footnote 451:

            Venient annis sæcula seris,
            Quibus Oceanus vincula rerum
            Laxet, et ingens pateat tellus,
            Tethysque novos detegat orbes,
            Nec sit terris ultima Thule.
                              Seneca, _Medea_, 376.

         In the copy of Seneca's tragedies, published at Venice in
         1510, bought at Valladolid by Ferdinand Columbus in March,
         1518, for 4 reals (plus 2 reals for binding), and now to be
         seen at the Biblioteca Colombina, there is a marginal note
         attached to these verses: "hæc prophetia expleta [=e] per
         patr[=e] meuz[=z] cristofor[=u] col[=o] almir[=a]t[=e] anno

         [Footnote 452: [Greek: Kaloumen gar oikoumenên hên oikoumen kai
         gnôrizomen; endeketai de kai en tê autê eukratô zônê kai dyo
         oikoumenas einai ê kai pleious.] Strabo, i. 4, § 6; [Greek: kai
         gar ei houtôs echei, ouch hypo toutôn ge oikeitai tôn par'
         hêmin; all' ekeinên allên oikoumenên theteon. hoper esti
         pithanon. Hêmin de ta en autê tauta lekteon.] Id. ii. 5, § 13.
         This has always seemed to me one of the most remarkable
         anticipations of modern truth in all ancient literature. Mr.
         Bunbury thinks it may have suggested the famous verses of
         Seneca just quoted. _History of Ancient Geography_, vol. ii. p.

[Sidenote: Opinions of Christian writers.]

[Sidenote: Roger Bacon.]

[Sidenote: The "Imago Mundi" of Petrus Alliacus.]

Early in the Christian era we are told by an eminent Greek astronomer
that the doctrine of the earth's sphericity was accepted by all
competent persons except the Epicureans.[453] Among the Fathers of the
Church there was some difference of opinion; while in general they
denied the existence of human beings beyond the limits of their
Oecumene, or Inhabited World, this denial did not necessarily involve
disbelief in the globular figure of the earth.[454] The views of the
great mass of people, and of the more ignorant of the clergy, down to
the time of Columbus, were probably well represented in the book of
Cosmas Indicopleustes already cited.[455] Nevertheless among the more
enlightened clergy the views of the ancient astronomers were never quite
forgotten, and in the great revival of intellectual life in the
thirteenth century the doctrine of the earth's sphericity was again
brought prominently into the foreground. We find Dante basing upon it
the cosmical theory elaborated in his immortal poem.[456] In 1267 Roger
Bacon--stimulated, no doubt, by the reports of the ocean east of
Cathay--collected passages from ancient writers to prove that the
distance from Spain to the eastern shores of Asia could not be very
great. Bacon's argument and citations were copied in an extremely
curious book, the "Imago Mundi," published in 1410 by the Cardinal
Pierre d'Ailly, Bishop of Cambrai, better known by the Latinized form of
his name as Petrus Alliacus. This treatise, which throughout the
fifteenth century enjoyed a great reputation, was a favourite book with
Columbus, and his copy of it, covered with marginal annotations in his
own handwriting, is still preserved among the priceless treasures of the
Biblioteca Colombina.[457] He found in it strong confirmation of his
views, and it is not impossible that the reading of it may have first
put such ideas into his head. Such a point, however, can hardly be
determined. As I have already observed, these ideas were in the air.
What Columbus did was not to originate them, but to incarnate them in
facts and breathe into them the breath of life. It was one thing to
suggest, as a theoretical possibility, that Cathay might be reached by
sailing westward; and it was quite another thing to prove that the
enterprise was feasible with the ships and instruments then at command.

         [Footnote 453: [Greek: Hoi de hêmeteroi] [i. e. the Stoics]
         [Greek: kai apo mathêmatôn pantes, kai hoi pleious tôn apo tou
         Sôkratikou didaskaleiou sphairikon einai to schêma tês gês
         diebebaiôsanto.] Cleomedes, i. 8; cf. Lucretius, _De Rerum
         Nat._, i. 1052-1082; Stobæus, _Eclog._ i. 19; Plutarch, _De
         facie in Orbe Luna_, cap. vii.]

         [Footnote 454: See Augustine, _De civitate Dei_, xvi. 9;
         Lactantius, _Inst. Div._, iii. 23; Jerome, _Comm. in Ezechiel_,
         i. 6; Whewell's _History of the Inductive Sciences_, vol i. p.

         [Footnote 455: See above, p. 266.]

         [Footnote 456: For an account of the cosmography of the Divine
         Comedy, illustrated with interesting diagrams, see Artaud de
         Montor, _Histoire de Dante Alighieri_, Paris, 1841.]

         [Footnote 457: It was first printed without indication of place
         or date, but probably the place was Paris and the date
         somewhere from 1483 to 1490. Manuscript copies were very
         common, and Columbus probably knew the book long before that
         time. There is a good account of it in Humboldt's _Examen
         critique_, tom. i. pp. 61-76, 96-108. Humboldt thinks that such
         knowledge as Columbus had of the opinions of ancient writers
         was chiefly if not wholly obtained from Alliacus. It is
         doubtful if Columbus had any direct acquaintance with the works
         of Roger Bacon, but he knew the _Liber Cosmographicus_ of
         Albertus Magnus and the _Speculum Naturale_ of Vincent de
         Beauvais (both about 1250), and drew encouragement from them.
         He also knew the book of Mandeville, first printed in French at
         Lyons in 1480, and a Latin translation of Marco Polo, published
         in 1485, a copy of which, with marginal MS. notes, is now in
         the Colombina.]

[Illustration: Annotations by Columbus.]

[Sidenote: Ancient estimates of the size of the globe and the length of
the Oecumene.]

The principal consideration, of course, was the distance to be
traversed; and here Columbus was helped by an error which he shared with
many geographers of his day. He somewhat underestimated the size of the
earth, and at the same time greatly overestimated the length of Asia.
The first astronomer to calculate, by scientific methods, the
circumference of our planet at the equator was Eratosthenes (B. C.
276-196), and he came--all things considered--fairly near the truth; he
made it 25,200 geographical miles (of ten stadia), or about one seventh
too great. The true figure is 21,600 geographical miles, equivalent to
24,899 English statute miles.[458] Curiously enough, Posidonius, in
revising this calculation a century later, reduced the figure to 18,000
miles, or about one seventh too small. The circumference in the latitude
of Gibraltar he estimated at 14,000 miles; the length of the Oecumene,
or Inhabited World, he called 7,000; the distance across the Atlantic
from the Spanish strand to the eastern shores of Asia was the other
7,000. The error of Posidonius was partially rectified by Ptolemy, who
made the equatorial circumference 20,400 geographical miles, and the
length of a degree 56.6 miles.[459] This estimate, in which the error
was less than one sixteenth, prevailed until modern times. Ptolemy also
supposed the Inhabited World to extend over about half the circumference
of the temperate zone, but the other half he imagined as consisting
largely of bad lands, quagmires, and land-locked seas, instead of a vast
and open ocean.[460]

         [Footnote 458: See Herschel's _Outlines of Astronomy_, p. 140.
         For an account of the method employed by Eratosthenes, see
         Delambre, _Histoire de l'astronomie ancienne_, tom. i. pp.
         86-91; Lewis, _Astronomy of the Ancients_, p. 198.]

         [Footnote 459: See Bunbury's _History of Ancient Geography_,
         vol. ii. pp. 95-97, 546-579; Müller and Donaldson, _History of
         Greek Literature_, vol. iii. p. 268.]

         [Footnote 460: Strabo, in arguing against this theory of bad
         lands, etc., as obstacles to ocean navigation--a theory which
         seems to be at least as old as Hipparchus--has a passage which
         finely expresses the loneliness of the sea:--[Greek: Hoite gar
         periplein epicheirêsantes, eita anastrepsantes, ouch hypo
         êpeirou tinos antipiptousês kai kôlyousês, ton epekeina ploun
         anakrousthênai phasin, alla hypo aporias kai erêmias, ouden
         hêtton tês thalattês echousês ton poron] (lib. i. cap. i. § 8).
         When one thinks of this [Greek: aporia] and [Greek: erêmia],
         one fancies oneself far out on the Atlantic, alone in an open
         boat on a cloudy night, bewildered and hopeless.]

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's calculation of the size of the earth,]

[Sidenote: and of the position of Cipango.]

Ptolemy's opinion as to the length of the Inhabited World was
considerably modified in the minds of those writers who toward the end
of the Middle Ages had been strongly impressed by the book of Marco
Polo. Among these persons was Toscanelli. This excellent astronomer
calculated the earth's equatorial circumference at almost exactly the
true figure; his error was less than 124 English miles in excess. The
circumference in the latitude of Lisbon he made 26 × 250 × 3 = 19,500
miles.[461] Two thirds of this figure, or 13,000 miles, he allowed for
the length of the Oecumene, from Lisbon eastward to Quinsay (i. e.
Hang-chow), leaving 6,500 for the westward voyage from Lisbon to
Quinsay. Thus Toscanelli elongated Asia by nearly the whole width of the
Pacific ocean. His Quinsay would come about 130° W., a few hundred miles
west of the mouth of the Columbia river. Zaiton (i. e. Chang-chow), the
easternmost city in Toscanelli's China, would come not far from the tip
end of Lower California. Thus the eastern coast of Cipango, about a
thousand miles east from Zaiton, would fall in the Gulf of Mexico
somewhere near the ninety-third meridian, and that island, being over a
thousand miles in length north and south, would fill up the space
between the parallel of New Orleans and that of the city of Guatemala.
The westward voyage from the Canaries to Cipango, according to
Toscanelli, would be rather more than 3,250 miles, but at a third of the
distance out he placed the imaginary island of "Antilia," with which he
seems to have supposed Portuguese sailors to be familiar.[462] "So
through the unknown parts of the route," said the venerable astronomer,
"the stretches of sea to be traversed are not great,"--not much more
than 2,000 English miles, not so long as the voyage from Lisbon to the
Guinea coast.

[Sidenote: Columbus's opinion of the size of the globe, the length of
the Oecumene, and the width of the Atlantic ocean.]

[Sidenote: The fourth book of Esdras.]

While Columbus attached great importance to these calculations and
carried Toscanelli's map with him upon his first voyage, he improved
somewhat upon the estimates of distance, and thus made his case still
more hopeful. Columbus was not enough of an astronomer to adopt
Toscanelli's improved measurement of the size of the earth. He accepted
Ptolemy's figure of 20,400 geographical miles for the equatorial
girth,[463] which would make the circumference in the latitude of the
Canaries about 18,000; and Columbus, on the strength of sundry passages
from ancient authors which he found in Alliacus (cribbed from Roger
Bacon), concluded that six sevenths of this circumference must be
occupied by the Oecumene, including Cipango, so that in order to reach
that wonderful island he would only have to sail over one seventh, or
not much more than 2,500 miles from the Canaries.[464] An authority upon
which he placed great reliance in this connection was the fourth book
of Esdras, which although not a canonical part of the Bible was approved
by holy men, and which expressly asserted that six parts of the earth
(i. e. of the length of the Oecumene, or north temperate zone) are
inhabited and only the seventh part covered with water. From the general
habit of Columbus's mind it may be inferred that it was chiefly upon
this scriptural authority that he based his confident expectation of
finding land soon after accomplishing seven hundred leagues from the
Canaries. Was it not as good as written in the Bible that land was to be
found there?

         [Footnote 461: See above, p. 360. Toscanelli's mile was nearly
         equivalent to the English statute mile. See the very important
         note in Winsor, _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, vol. i. p. 51.]

         [Footnote 462: The reader will also notice upon Toscanelli's
         map the islands of Brazil and St. Brandan. For an account of
         all these fabulous islands see Winsor, _Narr. and Crit. Hist._,
         vol. i. pp. 46-51. The name of "Antilia" survives in the name
         "Antilles," applied since about 1502 to the West India islands.
         All the islands west of Toscanelli's ninetieth meridian belong
         in the Pacific. He drew them from his understanding of the
         descriptions of Marco Polo, Friar Odoric, and other travellers.
         These were the islands supposed, rightly, though vaguely, to
         abound in spices.]

         [Footnote 463: Columbus was confirmed in this opinion by the
         book of the Arabian astronomer Alfragan, written about A. D.
         950, a Latin translation of which appeared in 1447. There is a
         concise summary of it in Delambre, _Histoire de l'astronomie du
         Moyen Âge_, pp. 63-73. Columbus proceeded throughout on the
         assumption that the length of a degree at the equator is 56.6
         geographical miles, instead of the correct figure 60. This
         would oblige him to reduce all Toscanelli's figures by about
         six per cent., to begin with. Upon this point we have the
         highest authority, that of Columbus himself, in an autograph
         marginal note in his copy of the _Imago Mundi_, where he
         expresses himself most explicitly: "Nota quod sepius navigando
         ex Ulixbona ad Austrum in Guineam, notavi cum diligentia viam,
         ut solitum naucleris et malineriis, et preteria accepi
         altitudinem solis cum quadrante et aliis instrumentis plures
         vices, et inveni concordare cum Alfragano, videlicet respondere
         quemlibet gradum milliariis 56-2/3. Quare ad hanc mensuram
         fidem adhibendam. Tunc igitur possumus dicere quod circuitus
         Terræ sub aræ equinoctiali est 20,400 milliariorum. Similiter
         que id invenit magister Josephus phisicus et astrologus et alii
         plures missi specialiter ad hoc per serenissimum regem
         Portugaliæ," etc.; _anglicè_, "Observe that in sailing often
         from Lisbon southward to Guinea, I carefully marked the course,
         according to the custom of skippers and mariners, and moreover
         I took the sun's altitude several times with a quadrant and
         other instruments, and in agreement with Alfragan I found that
         each degree [i. e. of longitude, measured on a great circle]
         answers to 56-2/3 miles. So that one may rely upon this
         measure. We may therefore say that the equatorial circumference
         of the earth is 20,400 miles. A similar result was obtained by
         Master Joseph, the physicist [or, perhaps, physician] and
         astronomer, and several others sent for this special purpose by
         the most gracious king of Portugal."--Master Joseph was
         physician to John II. of Portugal, and was associated with
         Martin Behaim in the invention of an improved astrolabe which
         greatly facilitated ocean navigation.--The exact agreement with
         Ptolemy's figures shows that by a mile Columbus meant a
         geographical mile, equivalent to ten Greek stadia.]

         [Footnote 464: One seventh of 18,000 is 2,571 geographical
         miles, equivalent to 2,963 English miles. The actual length of
         Columbus's first voyage, from last sight of land in the
         Canaries to first sight of land in the Bahamas, was according
         to his own dead reckoning about 3,230 geographical miles. See
         his journal in Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. i. pp. 6-20.

         I give here in parallel columns the passage from Bacon and the
         one from Alliacus upon which Columbus placed so much reliance.
         In the Middle Ages there was a generous tolerance of much that
         we have since learned to stigmatize as plagiarism.

   From Roger Bacon, _Opus                From Petrus Alliacus, _De
   Majus_ (A. D. 1267), London,           imagine Mundi_ (A. D. 1410),
   1733, ed. Jebb, p. 183:--"Sed          Paris, cir. 1490, cap. viii. fol.
   Aristoteles vult in fine secundi       13 b:--"Summus Aristoteles
   Coeli et Mundi quod plus [terræ]       dicit quod mare parvum est inter
   habitetur quam quarta pars. Et         finem Hispaniæ a parte occidentis
   Averroes hoc confirmat. Dicit          et inter principium Indiæ
   Aristoteles quod mare parvum           a parte orientis, et vult quod
   est inter finem Hispaniæ a parte       plus habitetur quam quarta
   occidentis et inter principium         pars, et Averroes hoc confirmat.
   Indiæ a parte orientis. Et Seneca,     Insuper Seneca libro
   libro quinto Naturalium,               quinto Naturalium, dicit quod
   dicit quod mare hoc est navigabile     mare est navigabile in paucis
   in paucissimis diebus si               diebus si ventus sit conveniens.
   ventus sit conveniens. Et Plinius      Et Plinius docet in Naturalibus,
   docet in Naturalibus quod              libro secundo, quod navigatum
   navigatum est a sinu Arabico           est a sinu Arabico usque ad
   usque ad Gades: unde refert            Gades Herculis non multum
   quendam fugisse a rego suo             magno tempore,
   præ timore et intravit sinum
   Maris Rubri ... qui circiter
   spatium navigationis annualis
   distat a Mari Indico: ... ex
   quo patet principium Indiæ in
   oriente multum a nobis distare
   et ab Hispania, postquam tantum
   distat a principio Arabiæ
   versus Indiam. A fine Hispaniæ                      unde concludunt
   sub terra tam parvum mare est          aliqui, quod mare non est
   quod non potest cooperire tres         tantum quod possit cooperire
   quartas terræ. Et hoc per              tres quartas terræ. Accedit ad
   auctoritatem alterius considerationis  hoc auctoritas Esdræ libro suo
   probatur. Nam Esdras                   quarto, dicentis quod sex partes
   dicit quarto libro, quod sex
   partes terræ sunt habitatæ et          terrae sunt habitatæ et septima
   septima est cooperta aquis. Et         est cooperta aquis,
   ne aliquis impediat hanc auctoritatem,
   dicens quod liber ille
   est apocryphus et ignotæ auctoritatis,
   dicendum est quod                      cujus libri auctoritatem sancti
   sancti habuerunt illum librum          habuerunt in reverentia."
   in usu et confirmant veritates
   sacras per illum librum."

         Columbus must either have carried the book of Alliacus with him
         on his voyages, or else have read his favourite passages until
         he knew them by heart, as may be seen from the following
         passage of a letter, written from Hispaniola in 1498 to
         Ferdinand and Isabella (Navarrete, tom i. p. 261):--"El
         Aristotel dice que este mundo es pequeño y es el agua muy poca,
         y que facilmente se puede pasar de España à las Indias, y esto
         confirma el Avenryz [Averroes], y le alega el cardenal Pedro de
         Aliaco, autorizando este decir y aquel de Seneca, el qual
         conforma con estos.... À esto trac una autoridad de Esdras del
         tercero libro suyo, adonde dice que de siete partes del mundo
         las seis son descubiertas y la una es cubierta de agua, la cual
         autoridad es aprobada por Santos, los cuales dan autoridad al
         3^o é 4^o libro de Esdras, ansí come es S. Agustin é S.
         Ambrosio en su _exámeron_," etc.--"Singular period," exclaims
         Humboldt, "when a mixture of testimonies from Aristotle and
         Averroes, Esdras and Seneca, on the small extent of the ocean
         compared with the magnitude of continental land, afforded to
         monarchs guarantees for the safety and expediency of costly
         enterprises!" _Cosmos_, tr. Sabine, vol. ii. p. 250. The
         passages cited in this note may be found in Humboldt, _Examen
         critique_, tom. i. pp. 65-69. Another interesting passage from
         _Imago Mundi_, cap. xv., is quoted on p. 78 of the same work.]

[Sidenote: Fortunate mixture of truth and error.]

[Sidenote: The whole point and purport of Columbus's scheme.]

Thus did Columbus arrive at his decisive conclusion, estimating the
distance across the Sea of Darkness to Japan at something less than the
figure which actually expresses the distance to the West Indies. Many a
hopeful enterprise has been ruined by errors in figuring, but this wrong
calculation was certainly a great help to Columbus. When we consider
how difficult he found it to obtain men and ships for a voyage supposed
to be not more than 2,500 miles in this new and untried direction, we
must admit that his chances would have been poor indeed if he had
proposed to sail westward on the Sea of Darkness for nearly 12,000
miles, the real distance from the Canaries to Japan. It was a case where
the littleness of the knowledge was not a dangerous but a helpful thing.
If instead of the somewhat faulty astronomy of Ptolemy and the very hazy
notions prevalent about "the Indies," the correct astronomy of
Toscanelli had prevailed and had been joined to an accurate knowledge of
eastern Asia, Columbus would surely never have conceived his great
scheme, and the discovery of America would probably have waited to be
made by accident.[465] The whole point of his scheme lay in its promise
of a shorter route to the Indies than that which the Portuguese were
seeking by way of Guinea. Unless it was probable that it could furnish
such a shorter route, there was no reason for such an extraordinary

         [Footnote 465: See below, vol. ii. p. 96.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus's speculations on climate.]

[Sidenote: His voyage to Guinea.]

[Sidenote: His voyage into the Arctic ocean, 1477.]

The years between 1474 and 1480 were not favourable for new maritime
ventures on the part of the Portuguese government. The war with Castile
absorbed the energies of Alfonso V. as well as his money, and he was
badly beaten into the bargain. About this time Columbus was writing a
treatise on "the five habitable zones," intended to refute the old
notions about regions so fiery or so frozen as to be inaccessible to
man. As this book is lost we know little or nothing of its views and
speculations, but it appears that in writing it Columbus utilized sundry
observations made by himself in long voyages into the torrid and arctic
zones. He spent some time at the fortress of San Jorge de la Mina, on
the Gold Coast, and made a study of that equinoctial climate.[466] This
could not have been earlier than 1482, the year in which the fortress
was built. Five years before this he seems to have gone far in the
opposite direction. In a fragment of a letter or diary, preserved by his
son and by Las Casas, he says:--"In the month of February, 1477, I
sailed a hundred leagues beyond the island of Thule, [to?] an island of
which the south part is in latitude 73°, not 63°, as some say; and it
[i. e. Thule] does not lie within Ptolemy's western boundary, but much
farther west. And to this island, which is as big as England, the
English go with their wares, especially from Bristol. When I was there
the sea was not frozen. In some places the tide rose and fell twenty-six
fathoms. It is true that the Thule mentioned by Ptolemy lies where he
says it does, and this by the moderns is called Frislanda."[467]

         [Footnote 466: _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. iv.; Las Casas,
         _Historia_, tom. i. p. 49.]

         [Footnote 467: "Io navigai l' anno M CCCC LXXVII nel mese di
         Febraio oltra Tile isola cento leghe, la cui parte Australe è
         lontana dall' Equinottiale settantatrè gradi, e non
         sessantatrè, come alcuni vogliono; nè giace dentro della linea,
         che include l' Occidente di Tolomeo, ma è molto più
         Occidentale. Et a questa isola, che è tanto grande, come
         l'Inghilterra, vanno gl' Inglesi con le loro mercatantie,
         specialmente quelli di Bristol. Et al tempo che io vi andai,
         non era congelato il mare, quantunque vi fossero si grosse
         maree, che in alcuni luoghi ascendeva ventisei braccia, e
         discendeva altretanti in altezza. È bene il vero, che Tile,
         quella, di cui Tolomeo fa mentione, giace dove egli dice; &
         questa da' moderni è chiamata Frislanda." _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. iv. In the original edition of 1571, there
         are no quotation-marks; and in some modern editions, where
         these are supplied, the quotation is wrongly made to end just
         before the last sentence, so as to make it appear like a gloss
         of Ferdinand's. This is, however, impossible. Ferdinand died in
         1539, and the Zeno narrative of Frislanda was not published
         till 1558, so that the only source from which that name could
         have come into his book was his father's document. The
         genuineness of the passage is proved by its recurrence, almost
         word for word, in Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. i. p. 48.]

[Sidenote: He may have reached Jan Mayen island,]

[Sidenote: and stopped at Iceland.]

Taken as it stands this passage is so bewildering that we can hardly
suppose it to have come in just this shape from the pen of Columbus. It
looks as if it had been abridged from some diary of his by some person
unfamiliar with the Arctic seas; and I have ventured to insert in
brackets a little preposition which may perhaps help to straighten out
the meaning. By Thule Columbus doubtless means Iceland, which lies
between latitudes 64° and 67°, and it looks as if he meant to say that
he ran beyond it as far as the little island, just a hundred leagues
from Iceland and in latitude 71°, since discovered by Jan Mayen in 1611.
The rest of the paragraph is more intelligible. It is true that Iceland
lies thirty degrees farther west than Ptolemy placed Thule; and that for
a century before the discovery of the Newfoundland fisheries the English
did much fishing in the waters about Iceland, and carried wares
thither, especially from Bristol.[468] There can be no doubt that by
Frislanda Columbus means the Færoe islands,[469] which do lie in the
latitude though not in the longitude mentioned by Ptolemy. As for the
voyage into the Jan Mayen waters in February, it would be dangerous but
by no means impossible.[470] In another letter Columbus mentions
visiting England, apparently in connection with this voyage,[471] and it
is highly probable that he went in an English ship from Bristol.

         [Footnote 468: See Thorold Rogers, _The Economic Interpretation
         of History_, London, 1888, pp. 103, 319.]

         [Footnote 469: See above, p. 236.]

         [Footnote 470: See the graphic description of a voyage in these
         waters in March, 1882, in Nansen's _The First Crossing of
         Greenland_, London, 1890, vol. i. pp. 149-152.]

         [Footnote 471: "E vidi tutto il Levante, e tutto il Ponente,
         che si dice per andare verso il Settentrione, cioè
         l'Inghilterra, e ho camminato per la Guinea." _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. iv.]

[Sidenote: The hypothesis that Columbus "must have" heard and understood
the story of the Vinland voyages.]

The object of Columbus in making these long voyages to the equator and
into the polar circle was, as he tells us, to gather observations upon
climate. From the circumstance of his having made a stop at some point
in Iceland, it was conjectured by Finn Magnusson that Columbus might
have learned something about Vinland which served to guide him to his
own enterprise or to encourage him in it. Starting from this suggestion,
it has been argued[472] that Columbus must have read the geographical
appendix to Adam of Bremen's "Ecclesiastical History;" that he must
have understood, as we now do, the reference therein made to Vinland;
that he made his voyage to Iceland in order to obtain further
information; that he there not only heard about Vinland and other
localities mentioned in the sagas, but also mentally placed them about
where they were placed in 1837 by Professor Rafn; that, among other
things, he thus obtained a correct knowledge of the width of the
Atlantic ocean in latitude 28° N.; and that during fifteen subsequent
years of weary endeavour to obtain ships and men for his westward
voyage, he sedulously refrained from using the most convincing argument
at his command,--namely that land of continental dimensions had actually
been found (though by a very different route) in the direction which he

         [Footnote 472: See Anderson's _America not discovered by
         Columbus_, Chicago, 1874; 3d ed. enlarged, Chicago, 1883.]

[Sidenote: That hypothesis has no evidence in its favour.]

I have already given an explanation of the process by which Columbus
arrived at the firm belief that by sailing not more than about 2,500
geographical miles due west from the Canaries he should reach the coast
of Japan. Every step of that explanation is sustained by documentary
evidence, and as his belief is thus completely accounted for, the
hypothesis that he may have based it upon information obtained in
Iceland is, to say the least, superfluous. We do not need it in order to
explain his actions, and accordingly his actions do not afford a
presumption in favour of it. There is otherwise no reason, of course,
for refusing to admit that he might have obtained information in
Iceland, were there any evidence that he did. But not a scrap of such
evidence has ever been produced. Every step in the Scandinavian
hypothesis is a pure assumption.

[Sidenote: It is not probable that Columbus knew of Adam of Bremen's
allusion to Vinland,]

[Sidenote: or that he would have understood it if he had read it.]

First it is assumed that Columbus _must_ have read the appendix to Adam
of Bremen's history. But really, while it is not impossible that he
should have read that document, it is, on the whole, improbable. The
appendix was first printed in Lindenbrog's edition, published at Leyden,
in 1595. The eminent Norwegian historian, Gustav Storm, finds that in
the sixteenth century just six MSS. of Adam's works can now be traced.
Of these, two were preserved in Denmark, two in Hamburg, one had
_perhaps_ already wandered southward to Leyden, and one as far as
Vienna. Dr. Storm, therefore, feels sure that Columbus never saw Adam's
mention of Vinland, and pithily adds that "had Columbus known it, it
would not have been able to show him the way to the West Indies, but
perhaps to the North Pole."[473] From the account of this mention and
its context, which I have already given,[474] it is in the highest
degree improbable that if Columbus had read the passage he could have
understood it as bearing upon his own problem. There is, therefore, no
ground for the assumption that Columbus went to Iceland in order to
make inquiries about Vinland.

         [Footnote 473: "Det er derfor sikkert, at Columbus ikke, som
         nogle har formodet, kan have kjendt Adam af Bremens Beretning
         on Vinland; vi kan gjerne tilføie, at havde Columbus kjendt
         den, vilde den ikke have kunnet vise ham Vei til Vesten
         (Indien), men kanske til Nordpolen." _Aarbøger for Nordisk
         Oldkyndighed_, 1887, ii. 2, p. 301.]

         [Footnote 474: See above, p. 210.]

[Sidenote: It is doubtful if Columbus would have stumbled upon the story
in Iceland.]

It may be argued that even if he did not go for such a purpose,
nevertheless when once there he could hardly have failed incidentally to
get the information. This, however, is not at all clear. Observe that
our sole authority for the journey to Iceland is the passage above
quoted at second-hand from Columbus himself; and there is nothing in it
to show whether he staid a few hours or several weeks ashore, or met
with any one likely to be possessed of the knowledge in question. The
absence of any reference to Vinland in the Zeno narrative is an
indication that the memory of it had faded away before 1400, and it was
not distinctly and generally revived until the time of Torfæus in

         [Footnote 475: In 1689 the Swedish writer, Ole Rudbeck, could
         not understand Adam of Bremen's allusion to Vinland. The
         passage is instructive. Rudbeck declares that in speaking of a
         wine-growing country near to the Arctic ocean, Adam must have
         been misled by some poetical or figurative phrase; he was
         deceived either by his trust in the Danes, or by his own
         credulity, for he manifestly refers to _Finland_, for which the
         form _Vinland_ does not once occur in Sturleson, etc.:--"Ne
         tamen poetis solis hoc loquendi genus in suis regionum
         laudationibus familiare fuisse quis existimet, sacras adeat
         literas quæ Palæstinæ fæcunditatem appellatione _fluentorum
         lactis & mellis_ designant. Tale aliquid, sine omne dubio,
         Adamo Bremensi quondam persuaserat insulam esse in ultimo
         septentrione sitam, mari glaciali vicinam, vini feracem, & ea
         propter fide tamen Danorum, _Vinlandiam_ dictam prout ipse ...
         fateri non dubitat. Sed deceptum eum hae sive Danorum fide,
         sive credulitate sua planum facit affine isti vocabulum
         _Finlandiæ_ provinciæ ad Regnum nostrum pertinentis, pro quo
         apud Snorronem & in Hist. Regum non semel occurrit _Vinlandiæ_
         nomen, cujus promontorium ad ultimum septentrionem & usque ad
         mare glaciale sese extendit." Rudbeck, _Atland eller Manheim_,
         Upsala, cir. 1689, p. 291.]

[Sidenote: If he had heard it, he would probably have classed it with
such tales as that of St. Brandan's isle.]

But to hear about Vinland was one thing, to be guided by it to Japan was
quite another affair. It was not the mention of timber and peltries and
Skrælings that would fire the imagination of Columbus; his dreams were
of stately cities with busy wharves where ships were laden with silks
and jewels, and of Oriental magnates decked out with "barbaric pearl and
gold," dwelling in pavilions of marble and jasper amid flowery gardens
in "a summer fanned with spice." The mention of Vinland was no more
likely to excite Columbus's attention than that of St. Brandan's isle or
other places supposed to lie in the western ocean. He was after higher

[Sidenote: He could not have obtained from such a source his opinion of
the width of the ocean.]

To suppose that Columbus, even had he got hold of the Saga of Eric the
Red and conned it from beginning to end, with a learned interpreter at
his elbow, could have gained from it a knowledge of the width of the
Atlantic ocean, is simply preposterous. It would be impossible to
extract any such knowledge from that document to-day without the aid of
our modern maps. The most diligent critical study of all the Icelandic
sources of information, with all the resources of modern scholarship,
enables us with some confidence to place Vinland somewhere between Cape
Breton and Point Judith, that is to say, somewhere between two points
distant from each other more than four degrees in latitude and more than
eleven degrees in longitude! When we have got thus far, knowing as we do
that the coast in question belongs to the same continental system as
the West Indies, we can look at our map and pick up our pair of
compasses and measure the width of the ocean at the twenty-eighth
parallel. But it is not the mediæval document, but our modern map that
guides us to this knowledge. And yet it is innocently assumed that
Columbus, without any knowledge or suspicion of the existence of
America, and from such vague data concerning voyages made five hundred
years before his time, by men who had no means of reckoning latitude and
longitude, could have obtained his figure of 2,500 miles for the voyage
from the Canaries to Japan![476] The fallacy here is that which
underlies the whole Scandinavian hypothesis and many other fanciful
geographical speculations. It is the fallacy of projecting our present
knowledge into the past.

         [Footnote 476: The source of such a confusion of ideas is
         probably the ridiculous map in Rafn's _Antiquitates Americanæ_,
         upon which North America is represented in all the accuracy of
         outline attainable by modern maps, and then the Icelandic names
         are put on where Rafn thought they ought to go, i. e. Markland
         upon Nova Scotia, Vinland upon New England, etc. Any person
         using such a map is liable to forget that it cannot possibly
         represent the crude notions of locality to which the reports of
         the Norse voyages must have given rise in an ignorant age. (The
         reader will find the map reproduced in Winsor, _Narr. and Crit.
         Hist._, i. 95.) Rafn's fault was, however, no greater than that
         committed by the modern makers of so-called "ancient
         atlases"--still current and in use in schools--when, for
         example, they take a correct modern map of Europe, with parts
         of Africa and Asia, and upon countries so dimly known to the
         ancients as Scandinavia and Hindustan, but now drawn with
         perfect accuracy, they simply print the ancient names!! Nothing
         but confusion can come from using such wretched maps. The only
         safe way to study the history of geography is to reproduce the
         ancient maps themselves, as I have done in the present work.
         Many of the maps given below in the second volume will
         illustrate the slow and painful growth of the knowledge of the
         North American coast during the two centuries after Columbus.]

[Sidenote: If he had known and understood the Vinland story, he had the
strongest motives for proclaiming it and no motive for concealing it.]

We have next to inquire, if Columbus had heard of Vinland and
comprehended its relation to his own theory about land at the west, why
in the world should he have concealed this valuable knowledge? The
notion seems to be that he must have kept it secret through an unworthy
desire to claim a priority in discovery to which he knew that he was not
entitled.[477] This is projecting our present knowledge into the past
with a vengeance. Columbus never professed to have discovered America;
he died in the belief that what he had done was to reach the eastern
shores of Asia by a shorter route than the Portuguese. If he had reason
to suppose that the Northmen had once come down from the Arctic seas to
some unknown part of the Asiatic coast, he had no motive for concealing
such a fact, but the strongest of motives for proclaiming it, inasmuch
as it would have given him the kind of inductive argument which he
sorely needed. The chief obstacle for Columbus was that for want of
tangible evidence he was obliged to appeal to men's reason with
scientific arguments. When you show things to young children they are
not content with looking; they crave a more intimate acquaintance than
the eyes alone can give, and so they reach out and handle the things.
So when ideas are presented to grown-up men, they are apt to be
unwilling to trust to the eye of reason until it has been supplemented
by the eye of sense; and indeed in most affairs of life such caution is
wholesome. The difference between Columbus and many of the "practical"
men whom he sought to convince was that he could see with his mind's eye
solid land beyond the Sea of Darkness while they could not. To them the
ocean, like the sky, had nothing beyond, unless it might be the
supernatural world.[478] For while the argument from the earth's
rotundity was intelligible enough, there were few to whom, as to
Toscanelli, it was a living truth. Even of those who admitted, in
theory, that Cathay lay to the west of Europe, most deemed the distance
untraversable. Inductive proof of the existence of accessible land to
the west was thus what Columbus chiefly needed, and what he sought every
opportunity to find and produce; but it was not easy to find anything
more substantial than sailors' vague mention of driftwood of foreign
aspect or other outlandish jetsam washed up on the Portuguese
strand.[479] What a godsend it would have been for Columbus if he could
have had the Vinland business to hurl at the heads of his adversaries!
If he could have said, "Five hundred years ago some Icelanders coasted
westward in the polar regions, and then coasted southward until they
reached a country beyond the ocean and about opposite to France or
Portugal; therefore that country must be Asia, and I can reach it by
striking boldly across the ocean, which will obviously be shorter than
going down by Guinea,"--if he could have said this, he would have had
precisely the unanswerable argument for lack of which his case was
waiting and suffering. In persuading men to furnish hard cash, for his
commercial enterprise, as Colonel Higginson so neatly says, "an ounce of
Vinland would have been worth a pound of cosmography."[480] We may be
sure that the silence of Columbus about the Norse voyages proves that he
knew nothing about them or quite failed to see their bearings upon his
own undertaking. It seems to me absolutely decisive.

         [Footnote 477: "The fault that we find with Columbus is, that
         he was not honest and frank enough to tell where and how he had
         obtained his previous information about the lands which he
         pretended to discover." Anderson, _America not discovered by
         Columbus_, p. 90.]

         [Footnote 478: See below, p. 398, note.]

         [Footnote 479: For example, the pilot Martin Vicenti told
         Columbus that 1,200 miles west of Cape St. Vincent he had
         picked up from the sea a piece of carved wood evidently not
         carved with iron tools. Pedro Correa, who had married
         Columbus's wife's sister, had seen upon Porto Santo a similar
         piece of carving that had drifted from the west. Huge reeds
         sometimes floated ashore upon those islands, and had not
         Ptolemy mentioned enormous reeds as growing in eastern Asia?
         Pine-trees of strange species were driven by west winds upon
         the coast of Fayal, and two corpses of men of an unknown race
         had been washed ashore upon the neighbouring island of Flores.
         Certain sailors, on a voyage from the Azores to Ireland, had
         caught glimpses of land on the west, and believed it to be the
         coast of "Tartary;" etc., etc. See _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_,
         cap. ix. Since he cited these sailors, why did he not cite the
         Northmen also, if he knew what they had done?]

         [Footnote 480: _Larger History of the United States_, p. 54.]

[Sidenote: No trace of a thought of Vinland appears in the voyages of

Furthermore, this silence is in harmony with the fact that in none of
his four voyages across the Atlantic did Columbus betray any
consciousness that there was anything for him to gain by steering toward
the northwest. If he could correctly have conceived the position of
Vinland he surely would not have conceived it as south of the fortieth
parallel. On his first voyage he steered due west in latitude 28°
because Toscanelli placed Japan opposite the Canaries. When at length
some doubts began to arise and he altered his course, as we shall
hereafter see, the change was toward the southwest. His first two
voyages did not reveal to him the golden cities for which he was
looking, and when on his third and fourth voyages he tried a different
course it was farther toward the equator, not farther away from it, that
he turned his prows. Not the slightest trace of a thought of Vinland
appears in anything that he did.

[Sidenote: Why did not Norway or Iceland utter a protest in 1493?]

Finally it may be asked, if the memory of Vinland was such a living
thing in Iceland in 1477 that a visitor would be likely to be told about
it, why was it not sufficiently alive in 1493 to call forth a protest
from the North? When the pope, as we shall presently see, was
proclaiming to the world that the Spanish crown was entitled to all
heathen lands and islands already discovered or to be discovered in the
ocean west of the Azores, why did not some zealous Scandinavian at once
jump up and cry out, "Look here, old Columbus, _we_ discovered that
western route, you know! Stop thief!" Why was it necessary to wait more
than a hundred years longer before the affair of Vinland was mentioned
in this connection?

[Sidenote: The idea of Vinland was not associated with the idea of
America until the seventeenth century.]

Simply because it was not until the seventeenth century that the
knowledge of North American geography had reached such a stage of
completeness as to suggest to anybody the true significance of the old
voyages from Greenland. That significance could not have been understood
by Leif and Thorfinn themselves, or by the compilers of Hauks-bók and
Flateyar-bók, or by any human being, until about the time of Henry
Hudson. Not earlier than that time should we expect to find it
mentioned, and it is just then, in 1610, that we do find it mentioned by
Arngrim Jonsson, who calls Vinland "an island of _America_, in the
region of Greenland, perhaps the modern Estotilandia."[481] This is the
earliest glimmering of an association of the idea of Vinland with that
of America.

         [Footnote 481: "Terram veró Landa Rolfoni quæsitam existimarem
         esse Vinlandiam olim Islandis sic dictam; de qua alibi insulam
         nempe Americæ e regione Gronlandiæ, quæ fortè hodie
         Estotilandia," etc. _Crymogoea_, Hamburg, 1610, p. 120.

         Abraham Ortelius in 1606 speaks of the Northmen coming to
         America, but bases his opinion upon the Zeno narrative
         (published in 1558) and upon the sound of the name _Norumbega_,
         and apparently knows nothing of Vinland:--"Iosephus Acosta in
         his book _De Natura noui orbis_ indeuors by many reasons to
         proue, that this part of _America_ was originally inhabited by
         certaine Indians, forced thither by tempestuous weather ouer
         the South sea which now they call Mare del Zur. But to me it
         seemes more probable, out of the historie of the two Zeni,
         gentlemen of Venice, ... that this New World many ages past was
         entred upon by some islanders of _Europe_, as namely of
         _Groenland_, Island, and Frisland; being much neerer thereunto
         than the Indians, nor disioyned thence ... by an Ocean so huge,
         and to the Indians so vnnauigable. Also, what else may we
         coniecture to be signified by this _Norumbega_ [the name of a
         North region of _America_] but that from _Norway_, signifying a
         North land, some Colonie in times past hath hither beene
         transplanted?" _Theatre of the Whole World_, London, 1606, p.
         5. These passages are quoted and discussed by Reeves, _The
         Finding of Wineland the Good_, pp. 95, 96. The supposed
         connection of _Norumbega_ with _Norway_ is very doubtful.
         Possibly Stephanius, in his map of 1570 (Torfæus, _Gronlandia
         antiqua_, 1706), may have had reference to Labrador or the
         north of Newfoundland.]

[Sidenote: Résumé of the genesis of Columbus's scheme.]

[Sidenote: Martin Behaim's improved astrolabe.]

[Sidenote: Negotiations of Columbus with John II. of Portugal.]

[Sidenote: A shabby trick.]

[Sidenote: Columbus leaves Portugal,]

[Sidenote: and enters the service of the Spanish sovereigns, 1486.]

[Sidenote: The junto at Salamanca.]

The genesis of the grand scheme of Columbus has now been set forth, I
believe, with sufficient fulness. The cardinal facts are 1, that the
need for some such scheme was suggested in 1471, by the discovery that
the Guinea coast extended south of the equator; 2, that by 1474 advice
had been sought from Toscanelli by the king of Portugal, and not very
long after 1474 by Columbus; 3, that upon Toscanelli's letters and map,
amended by the Ptolemaic estimate of the earth's size and by the
authority of passages quoted in the book of Alliacus (one of which was a
verse from the Apocrypha), Columbus based his firm conviction of the
feasibleness of the western route. How or by whom the suggestion of that
route was first made--whether by Columbus himself or by Toscanelli or by
Fernando Martinez or, as Antonio Gallo declares, by Bartholomew
Columbus,[482] or by some person in Portugal whose name we know not--it
would be difficult to decide. Neither can we fix the date when Columbus
first sought aid for his scheme from the Portuguese government. There
seems to be no good reason why he should not have been talking about it
before 1474; but the affair did not come to any kind of a climax until
after his return from Guinea, some time after 1482 and certainly not
later than 1484. It was on some accounts a favourable time. The war with
Castile was out of the way, and Martin Behaim had just invented an
improved astrolabe which made it ever so much easier to find and keep
one's latitude at sea. It was in 1484 that Portuguese discoveries took a
fresh start after a ten years' lull, and Diego Cam, with the learned
Behaim and his bran-new astrolabe on board, was about to sail a thousand
miles farther south than white men had ever gone before. About this time
the scheme of Columbus was formally referred by King John II. to the
junto of learned cosmographers from whom the crown had been wont to seek
advice. The project was condemned as "visionary,"[483] as indeed it
was,--the outcome of vision that saw farther than those men could see.
But the king, who had some of his uncle Prince Henry's love for bold
enterprises, was more hospitably inclined toward the ideas of Columbus,
and he summoned a council of the most learned men in the kingdom to
discuss the question.[484] In this council the new scheme found some
defenders, while others correctly urged that Columbus must be wrong in
supposing Asia to extend so far to the east, and it must be a much
longer voyage than he supposed to Cipango and Cathay,[485] Others
argued that the late war had impoverished the country, and that the
enterprises on the African coast were all that the treasury could
afford. Here the demands of Columbus were of themselves an obstacle to
his success. He never at any time held himself cheap,[486] and the
rewards and honours for which he insisted on stipulating were greater
than the king of Portugal felt inclined to bestow upon a plain Genoese
mariner. It was felt that if the enterprise should prove a failure, as
very likely it would, the less heartily the government should have
committed itself to it beforehand, the less it would expose itself to
ridicule. King John was not in general disposed toward unfair and
dishonest dealings, but on this occasion, after much parley, he was
persuaded to sanction a proceeding quite unworthy of him. Having
obtained Columbus's sailing plans, he sent out a ship secretly, to carry
some goods to the Cape Verde islands, and then to try the experiment of
the westward voyage. If there should turn out to be anything profitable
in the scheme, this would be safer and more frugal than to meet the
exorbitant demands of this ambitious foreigner. So it was done; but the
pilots, having no grand idea to urge them forward, lost heart before the
stupendous expanse of waters that confronted them, and beat an
ignominious retreat to Lisbon; whereupon Columbus, having been informed
of the trick,[487] departed in high dudgeon, to lay his proposals before
the crown of Castile. He seems to have gone rather suddenly, leaving
his wife, who died shortly after, and one or two children who must also
have died, for he tells us that he never saw them again. But his son
Diego, aged perhaps four or five years, he took with him as far as the
town of Huelva, near the little port of Palos in Andalusia, where he
left him with one of his wife's sisters, who had married a man of that
town named Muliar.[488] This arrival in Spain was probably late in the
autumn of 1484, and Columbus seems to have entered into the service of
Ferdinand and Isabella January 20, 1486. What he was doing in the
interval of rather more than a year is not known. There is a very
doubtful tradition that he tried to interest the republic of Genoa in
his enterprise,[489] and a still more doubtful rumour that he afterwards
made proposals to the Venetian senate.[490] If these things ever
happened, there was time enough for them in this year, and they can
hardly be assigned to any later period. In 1486 we find Columbus at
Cordova, where the sovereigns were holding court. He was unable to
effect anything until he had gained the ear of Isabella's finance
minister Alonso de Quintanilla, who had a mind hospitable to large
ideas. The two sovereigns had scarcely time to attend to such things,
for there was a third king in Spain, the Moor at Granada, whom there now
seemed a fair prospect of driving to Africa, and thus ending the
struggle that had lasted with few intermissions for nearly eight
centuries. The final war with Granada had been going on since the end of
1481, and considering how it weighed upon the minds of Ferdinand and
Isabella it is rather remarkable that cosmography got any hearing at
all. The affair was referred to the queen's confessor Fernando de
Talavera, whose first impression was that if what Columbus said was
true, it was very strange that other geographers should have failed to
know all about it long ago. Ideas of evolution had not yet begun to
exist in those days, and it was thought that what the ancients did not
know was not worth knowing. Toward the end of 1486 the Spanish
sovereigns were at Salamanca, and Talavera referred the question to a
junto of learned men, including professors of the famous
university.[491] There was no lack of taunt and ridicule, and a whole
arsenal of texts from Scripture and the Fathers were discharged at
Columbus, but it is noticeable that quite a number were inclined to
think that his scheme might be worth trying, and that some of his most
firmly convinced supporters were priests. No decision had been reached
when the sovereigns started on the Malaga campaign in the spring of

         [Footnote 482: Gallo, _De navigatione Columbi_, apud Muratori,
         _Rerum Italicarum Scriptores_, tom. xxiii. col. 302.]

         [Footnote 483: Lafuente, _Historia de España_, tom. ix, p.

         [Footnote 484: Vasconcellos, _Vida del rey Don Juan II._, lib.
         iv.; La Clède, _Histoire de Portugal_, lib. xiii.]

         [Footnote 485: The Portuguese have never been able to forgive
         Columbus for discovering a new world for Spain, and their
         chagrin sometimes vents itself in amusing ways. After all, says
         Cordeiro, Columbus was no such great man as some people think,
         for he did not discover what he promised to discover; and,
         moreover, the Portuguese geographers were right in condemning
         his scheme, because it really is not so far by sea from Lisbon
         around Africa to Hindustan as from Lisbon by any practicable
         route westward to Japan! See Luciano Cordeiro, _De la part
         prise par les Portugais dans la découverte d'Amérique_, Lisbon,
         1876, pp. 23, 24, 29, 30. Well, I don't know that there is any
         answer to be made to this argument. Logic is logic, says the
         wise Autocrat:--

            "End of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
            Logic is logic, that's all I say."

         Cordeiro's book is elaborately criticised in the learned work
         of Prospero Peragallo, _Cristoforo Colombo in Portogallo: studi
         critici_, Genoa, 1882.]

         [Footnote 486: "Perciocchè essendo l' Ammiraglio di generosi ed
         alti pensieri, volle capitolare con suo grande onore e
         vantaggio, per lasciar la memoria sua, e la grandezza della sua
         casa, conforme alla grandezza delle sue opere e de' suoi
         meriti." _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. xi. The jealous
         Portuguese historian speaks in a somewhat different tone from
         the affectionate son:--"Veó requerer á el rey Dom João que le
         desse algums navios pera ir á descobrir a ilha de Gypango
         [_sic_] per esta mar occidental.... El rey, porque via ser este
         Christovão Colom homem falador e glorioso em mostrar suas
         habilidades, e mas fantastico et de imaginacão com sua ilha de
         Cypango, que certo no que dezia: davalhe pouco credito."
         Barros, _Decada primeira da Asia_, Lisbon, 1752, liv. iii. cap.
         xi. fol. 56.]

         [Footnote 487: It has been urged in the king's defence that
         "such a proceeding was not an instance of bad faith or perfidy
         (!) but rather of the policy customary at that time, which
         consisted in distrusting everything that was foreign, and in
         promoting by whatever means the national glory." Yes, indeed,
         whether the means were fair or foul. Of course it was a common
         enough policy, but it was lying and cheating all the same. "Não
         foi sem duvida por mà fè ou perfidia que tacitamente se mandon
         armar hum navio à cujo capitão se confiou o plano que Colombo
         havia proposto, e cuja execuçao se lhe encarregou; mas sim por
         seguir a politica naquelle tempo usada, que toda consistia em
         olhar com desconfiança para tudo o que era estrangeiro, e en
         promover por todos os modos a gloria nacional. O capitão
         nomeado para a empreza, como não tivesse nem o espirito, nem a
         convicção de Colombo, depois de huma curta viagem nos mares do
         Oeste, fez-se na volta da terra: e arribou à Lisboa descontente
         e desanimado." Campe, _Historia do descobrimento da America_,
         Paris, 1836, tom. i. p. 13. The frightened sailors protested
         THAT WASTE OF WATERS! See Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_,
         tom. i. p. 221. Las Casas calls the king's conduct by its right
         name, _dobladura_, "trickery."]

         [Footnote 488: It has generally been supposed, on the authority
         of _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. xi., that his wife had lately
         died; but an autograph letter of Columbus, in the possession of
         his lineal descendant and representative the present Duke of
         Veraguas, proves that this is a mistake. In this letter
         Columbus says expressly that when he left Portugal he left wife
         and children, and never saw them again. (Navarrete,
         _Coleccion_, tom. ii. doc. cxxxvii. p. 255.) As Las Casas, who
         knew Diego so well, also supposed his mother to have died
         before his father left Portugal, it is most likely that she
         died soon afterwards. Ferdinand Columbus says that Diego was
         left in charge of some friars at the convent of La Rábida near
         Palos (_loc. cit._); Las Casas is not quite so sure; he thinks
         Diego was left with some friend of his father at Palos, or
         perhaps (_por ventura_) at La Rábida. (_Historia_, tom. i. p.
         227.) These mistakes were easy to make, for both La Rábida and
         Huelva were close by Palos, and we know that Diego's aunt
         Muliar was living at Huelva. (Las Casas, _op. cit._ tom. i. p.
         241; Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 279, 356, 391; tom. ii. p. 229.) It
         is pretty clear that Columbus never visited La Rábida before
         the autumn of 1491 (see below, p. 412). My own notion is that
         Columbus may have left his wife with an infant and perhaps one
         older child, relieving her of the care of Diego by taking him
         to his aunt, and intending as soon as practicable to reunite
         the family. He clearly did not know at the outset whether he
         should stay in Spain or not.]

         [Footnote 489: It rests upon an improbable statement of
         Ramusio, who places the event as early as 1470. The first
         Genoese writer to allude to it is Casoni, _Annali della
         Republica di Genova_, Genoa, 1708, pp. 26-31. Such testimony is
         of small value.]

         [Footnote 490: First mentioned in 1800 by Marin, _Storia del
         commercio de Veneziani_, Venice, 1798-1808, tom. vii. p. 236.]

         [Footnote 491: The description usually given of this conference
         rests upon the authority of Remesal, _Historia de la prouincia
         de Chyapa_, Madrid, 1619, lib. ii. cap. vii. p. 52. Las Casas
         merely says that the question was referred to certain persons
         at the court, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. i. p. 228. It is
         probably not true that the project of Columbus was officially
         condemned by the university of Salamanca as a corporate body.
         See Camara, _Religion y Ciencia_, Valladolid, 1880, p. 261.]

[Sidenote: Birth of Ferdinand Columbus, Aug. 15, 1488.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew Columbus returns from the Cape of Good Hope, Dec,

[Sidenote: Christopher visits Bartholomew at Lisbon, cir. Sept., 1488;]

[Sidenote: and sends him to England.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew, after mishaps, reaches England cir. Feb., 1490;]

[Sidenote: and goes thence to France before 1492.]

After the surrender of Malaga in August, 1487, Columbus visited the
court in that city. For a year or more after that time silken chains
seem to have bound him to Cordova. He had formed a connection with a
lady of noble family, Beatriz Enriquez de Arana, who gave birth to his
son Ferdinand on the 15th of August, 1488.[492] Shortly after this
event, Columbus made a visit to Lisbon, in all probability for the
purpose of meeting his brother Bartholomew, who had returned in the last
week of December, 1487, in the Dias expedition, with the proud news of
the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope,[493] which was rightly
believed to be the extremity of Africa; and we can well understand how
Christopher, on seeing the success of Prince Henry's method of reaching
the Indies so nearly vindicated, must have become more impatient than
ever to prove the superiority of his own method. It was probably not
long after Bartholomew's return that Christopher determined to go and
see him, for he applied to King John II. for a kind of safe-conduct,
which was duly granted March 20, 1488. This document[494] guarantees
Christopher against arrest or arraignment or detention on any charge
civil or criminal whatever, during his stay in Portugal, and commands
all magistrates in that kingdom to respect it. From this it would seem
probable that in the eagerness of his geographical speculations he had
neglected his business affairs and left debts behind him in Portugal for
which he was liable to be arrested. The king's readiness to grant the
desired privilege seems to indicate that he may have cherished a hope of
regaining the services of this accomplished chart-maker and mariner.
Christopher did not avail himself of the privilege until late in the
summer,[495] and it is only fair to suppose that he waited for the birth
of his child and some assurance of its mother's safety. On meeting
Bartholomew he evidently set him to work forthwith in making overtures
to the courts of England and France. It was natural enough that
Bartholomew should first set out for Bristol, where old shipmates and
acquaintances were sure to be found. It appears that on the way he was
captured by pirates, and thus some delay was occasioned before he
arrived in London and showed the king a map, probably similar to
Toscanelli's and embellished with quaint Latin verses. An entry on this
map informs us that it was made by Bartholomew Columbus in London,
February 10, 1488, which I think should be read 1489 or even 1490, so we
may suppose it to have been about that time or perhaps later that he
approached the throne.[496] Henry VII. was intelligent enough to see
the bearings of Bartholomew's arguments, and at the same time, as a good
man of business, he was likely to be cautious about investing money in
remote or doubtful enterprises. What arguments were used we do not know,
but the spring of 1492 had arrived before any decisive answer had been
given. Meanwhile Bartholomew had made his way to France, and found a
powerful protector in a certain Madame de Bourbon,[497] while he made
maps for people at the court and waited to see if there were any
chances of getting help from Charles VIII.

         [Footnote 492: Some historians, unwilling to admit any
         blemishes in the character of Columbus, have supposed that this
         union was sanctioned by marriage, but this is not probable. He
         seems to have been tenderly attached to Beatriz, who survived
         him many years. See Harrisse, tom. ii. pp. 353-357.]

         [Footnote 493: The authority for Bartholomew Columbus having
         sailed to the Cape of Good Hope with Dias is a manuscript note
         of his own in Christopher's copy of the _Imago Mundi_: "Nota
         quod hoc anno de 88 [it should be 87] in mense decembri appulit
         in Ulixbona Bartholomeus Didacus capitaneus trium carabelarum
         quem miserat serenissimus rex Portugalie in Guineam ad
         tentandum terrain. Et renunciavit ipse serenissimo regi prout
         navigaverat ultra jam navigata leuchas 600, videlicet 450 ad
         austrum et 150 ad aquilonem usque montem per ipsum nominatum
         _Cabo de boa esperança_ quem in Agesimba estimamus. Qui quidem
         in eo loco invenit se distare per astrolabium ultra lineam
         equinoctialem gradus 35. Quem viagium pictavit et scripsit de
         leucha in leucham in una carta navigationis ut oculi visum
         ostenderet ipso serenissimo regi. In quibus omnibus interfui."
         M. Varnhagen has examined this note and thinks it is in the
         handwriting of Christopher Columbus (_Bulletin de Géographie_,
         janvier, 1858, tom. xv. p. 71); and M. d'Avezac (_Canevas
         chronologique_, p. 58), accepting this opinion, thinks that the
         words _in quibus omnibus interfui_, "in all of which I took
         part," only mean that Christopher was present in Lisbon when
         the expedition returned, and heard the whole story! With all
         possible respect for such great scholars as MM. d'Avezac and
         Varnhagen, I submit that the opinion of Las Casas, who first
         called attention to this note, must be much better than theirs
         on such a point as the handwriting of the two brothers. When
         Las Casas found the note he wondered whether it was meant for
         Bartholomew or Christopher, i. e. wondered which of the two was
         meant to be described as having "taken part;" but at all
         events, says Las Casas, the handwriting is
         Bartholomew's:--"Estas son palabras escritas de la mano de
         Bartolomé Colon, no sé si las escribió de sí ó de su letra por
         su hermano Cristóbal Colon." Under these circumstances it seems
         idle to suppose that Las Casas could have been mistaken about
         the handwriting; he evidently put his mind on that point, and
         in the next breath he goes on to say, "la letra yo conozco ser
         de Bartolomé Colon, porque tuve muchas suyas," i. e. "I know it
         is Bartholomew's writing, for I have had many letters of his;"
         and again "estas palabras ... de la misma letra y mano de
         Bartolomé Colon, la cual muy bien conocí y agora tengo hartas
         cartas y letras suyas, tratando deste viaje," i. e. "these
         words ... from the very writing and hand of Bartholomew
         Columbus, which I knew very well, and I have to-day many charts
         and letters of his, treating of this voyage." (_Hist. de las
         Indias_, tom. i. pp. 213, 214.) This last sentence makes Las
         Casas an independent witness to Bartholomew's presence in the
         expedition, a matter about which he was not likely to be
         mistaken. What puzzled him was the question, not whether
         Bartholomew went, but whether Christopher could have gone also,
         "pudo ser tambien que se hallase Cristóbal Colon." Now
         Christopher certainly did not go on that voyage. The expedition
         started in August, 1486, and returned to Lisbon in December,
         1487, after an absence of sixteen months and seventeen days,
         "anendo dezaseis meses et dezasete dias que erão partidos
         delle." (Barros, _Decada primeira da Asia_, Lisbon, 1752, tom.
         i. fol. 42, 44.) The account-book of the treasury of Castile
         shows that sums of money were paid to Christopher at Seville,
         May 5, July 3, August 27, and October 15, 1487; so that he
         could not have gone with Dias (see Harrisse, tom. ii. p. 191).
         Neither could Christopher have been in Lisbon in December,
         1487, when the little fleet returned, for his safe-conduct from
         King John is dated March 20, 1488. It was not until the autumn
         of 1488 that Columbus made this visit to Portugal, and M.
         d'Avezac has got the return of the fleet a year too late.
         Bartholomew's note followed a custom which made 1488 begin at
         Christmas, 1487.

         In reading a later chapter of Las Casas for another purpose
         (tom. i. p. 227), I come again upon this point. He rightly
         concludes that Christopher could not have gone with Dias, and
         again declares most positively that the handwriting of the note
         was Bartholomew's and not Christopher's.

         This footnote affords a good illustration of the kind of
         difficulties that surround such a subject as the life of
         Columbus, and the ease with which an excess of ingenuity may
         discover mare's nests.]

         [Footnote 494: It may be found in Navarrete, _Coleccion de
         viages_, tom. ii. pp. 5, 6.]

         [Footnote 495: The account-book of the treasury shows that on
         June 16 he was still in Spain. See Harrisse, tom. i. p. 355.]

         [Footnote 496: The entry, as given by Las Casas, is "Pro
         authore, seu pictore, || Gennua cui patria est, nomen cui
         Bartolomeus || Columbus de terra rubea, opus edidit istud ||
         Londonije: anno domini millesimo quatercentessimo octiesque uno
         || Atque insuper anno octavo: decimaque die mensis Februarii.
         || Laudes Christo cantentur abunde." _Historia_, tom. i. p.
         225. Now since Bartholomew Columbus was a fairly educated man,
         writing this note in England on a map made for the eyes of the
         king of England, I suppose he used the old English style which
         made the year begin at the vernal equinox instead of Christmas,
         so that his February, 1488, means the next month but one after
         December, 1488, i. e. what in our new style becomes February,
         1489. Bartholomew returned to Lisbon from Africa in the last
         week of December, 1487, and it is not likely that his plans
         could have been matured and himself settled down in London in
         less than seven weeks. The logical relation of the events, too,
         shows plainly that Christopher's visit to Lisbon was for the
         purpose of consulting his brother and getting first-hand
         information about the greatest voyage the world had ever seen.
         In the early weeks of 1488 Christopher sends his request for a
         safe-conduct, gets it March 20, waits till his child is born,
         August 15, and then presently goes. Bartholomew may have sailed
         by the first of October for England, where (according to this
         reading of his date) we actually find him four months later.
         What happened to him in this interval? Here we come to the
         story of the pirates. M. Harrisse, who never loses an
         opportunity for throwing discredit upon the _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, has failed to make the correction of date which I
         have here suggested. He puts Bartholomew in London in February,
         1488, and is thus unable to assign any reason for Christopher's
         visit to Lisbon. He also finds that in the forty-six days
         between Christmas, 1487, and February, 10, 1488, there is
         hardly room enough for any delay due to so grave a cause as
         capture by pirates. (_Christophe Colomb_, vol. ii. p. 192.) He
         therefore concludes that the statement in the _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. xi., is unworthy of credit, and it is upon an
         accumulation of small difficulties like this that he bases his
         opinion that Ferdinand Columbus cannot have written that book.
         But Las Casas also gives the story of the pirates, and adds the
         information that they were "Easterlings," though he cannot say
         of what nation, i. e. whether Dutch, German, or perhaps Danes.
         He says that Bartholomew was stripped of his money and fell
         sick, and after his recovery was obliged to earn money by
         map-making before he could get to England. (_Historia_, tom. i.
         p. 225.) Could all this have happened within the four months
         which I have allowed between October, 1488, and February, 1489?
         Voyages before the invention of steamboats were of very
         uncertain duration. John Adams in 1784 was fifty-four days in
         getting from London to Amsterdam (see my _Critical Period of
         American History_, p. 156). But with favourable weather a
         Portuguese caravel in 1488 ought to have run from Lisbon to
         Bristol in fourteen days or less, so that in four months there
         would be time enough for quite a chapter of accidents. Las
         Casas, however, says it was _a long time_ before Bartholomew
         was able to reach England:--"Esto fué causa que enfermase y
         viniese á mucha pobreza, y estuviese mucho tempo sin poder
         llegar á Inglaterra, hasta tanto que quiso Dies sanarle; y
         reformado algo, por su industria y trabajos de sus manos,
         haciendo cartas de marear, llegó á Inglaterra, y, pasados un
         dia y otros, hobo de alcanzar que le oyese Enrique VII." It is
         impossible, I think, to read this passage without feeling that
         at least a year must have been consumed; and I do not think we
         are entitled to disregard the words of Las Casas in such a
         matter. But how shall we get the time?

         Is it possible that Las Casas made a slight mistake in
         deciphering the date on Bartholomew's map? Either that mariner
         did not give the map to Henry VII., or the king gave it back,
         or more likely it was made in duplicate. At any rate Las Casas
         had it, along with his many other Columbus documents, and for
         aught we know it may still be tumbling about somewhere in the
         Spanish archives. It was so badly written (_de muy mala é
         corrupta letra_), apparently in abbreviations (_sin
         ortografía_), that Las Casas says he found extreme difficulty
         in making it out. Now let us observe that date, which is given
         in fantastic style, apparently because the inscription is in a
         rude doggerel, and the writer seems to have wished to keep his
         "verses" tolerably even. (They don't scan much better than Walt
         Whitman's.) As it stands, the date reads _anno domini millesimo
         quatercentessimo octiesque uno atque insuper anno octavo_, i.
         e. "in the year of our Lord the thousandth, four hundredth, AND
         EIGHT-TIMES-ONE, and thereafter the eighth year." What business
         has this cardinal number _octiesque uno_ in a row of ordinals?
         If it were translatable, which it is not, it would give us
         1,000 + 400 + 8 + 8 = 1416, an absurd date. The most obvious
         way to make the passage readable is to insert the ordinal
         _octogesimo primo_ instead of the incongruous _octiesque uno_;
         then it will read "in the year of our Lord the
         one-thousand-four-hundred-and-eighty-first, and thereafter the
         eighth year," that is to say 1489. Now translate old style into
         new style, and February, 1489, becomes February, 1490, which I
         believe to be the correct date. This allows sixteen months for
         Bartholomew's mishaps; it justifies the statement in which Las
         Casas confirms Ferdinand Columbus; and it harmonizes with the
         statement of Lord Bacon: "For Christopherus Columbus, refused
         by the king of Portugal (who would not embrace at once both
         east and west), employed his brother Bartholomew Columbus unto
         King Henry to negotiate for his discovery. And it so fortuned
         that he was taken by pirates at sea; by which accidental
         impediment he was long ere he came to the king; so long that
         before he had obtained a capitulation with the king for his
         brother the enterprise was achieved, and so the West Indies by
         Providence were then reserved for the crown of Castilia."
         _Historie of the Raygne of K. Henry the Seventh_, Bacon's
         _Works_, Boston, 1860, vol. xi. p. 296. Lord Bacon may have
         taken the statement from Ferdinand's biography; but it probably
         agreed with English traditions, and ought not to be slighted in
         this connection.]

         [Footnote 497: One of the sisters of Charles VIII. See
         Harrisse, tom. ii. p. 194.]

[Sidenote: The Duke of Medina-Celi proposes to furnish the ships for

[Sidenote: but Isabella withholds her consent.]

[Sidenote: Columbus makes up his mind to get his family together and go
to France, Oct., 1491.]

As for Christopher Columbus, we find him back in Spain again, in May,
1489, attending court at Cordova. In the following autumn there was much
suffering in Spain from floods and famine,[498] and the sovereigns were
too busy with the Moorish war to give ear to Columbus. It was no time
for new undertakings, and the weary suitor began to think seriously of
going in person to the French court. First, however, he thought it worth
while to make an attempt to get private capital enlisted in his
enterprise, and in the Spain of that day such private capital meant a
largess from some wealthy grandee. Accordingly about Christmas of 1489,
after the Beza campaign in which Columbus is said to have fought with
distinguished valour,[499] he seems to have applied to the most powerful
nobleman in Spain, the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, but without success. But
at the hands of Luis de la Cerda, Duke of Medina-Celi, he met with more
encouragement than he had as yet found in any quarter. That nobleman
entertained Columbus most hospitably at his castle at Puerto de Santa
Maria for nearly two years, until the autumn of 1491. He became
convinced that the scheme of Columbus was feasible, and decided to fit
up two or three caravels at his own expense, if necessary, but first he
thought it proper to ask the queen's consent, and to offer her another
chance to take part in the enterprise.[500] Isabella was probably
unwilling to have the duke come in for a large share of the profits in
case the venture should prove successful. She refused the royal license,
saying that she had not quite made up her mind whether to take up the
affair or not, but if she should decide to do so she would be glad to
have the duke take part in it.[501] Meanwhile she referred the question
to Alonso de Quintanilla, comptroller of the treasury of Castile. This
was in the spring of 1491, when the whole country was in a buzz of
excitement with the preparations for the siege of Granada. The baffled
Columbus visited the sovereigns in camp, but could not get them to
attend to him, and early in the autumn, thoroughly disgusted and sick at
heart, he made up his mind to shake the dust of Castile from his feet
and see what could be done in France. In October or November he went to
Huelva, apparently to get his son Diego, who had been left there, in
charge of his aunt. It was probably his intention to take all the family
he had--Beatriz and her infant son Ferdinand, of whom he was extremely
fond, as well as Diego--and find a new home in either France or England,
besides ascertaining what had become of his brother Bartholomew, from
whom he had not heard a word since the latter left Portugal for

         [Footnote 498: Bernaldez, _Reyes Católicos_, cap. xci.]

         [Footnote 499: Zuñiga, _Anales de Sevilla_, lib. xii. p. 404.]

         [Footnote 500: See the letter of March 19, 1493, from the Duke
         of Medina-Celi to the Grand Cardinal of Spain (from the
         archives of Simancas) in Navarrete _Coleccion de viages_, tom.
         ii. p. 20.]

         [Footnote 501: This promise was never fulfilled. When Columbus
         returned in triumph, arriving March 6, 1493, at Lisbon, and
         March 15 at Palos, the Duke of Medina-Celi wrote the letter
         just cited, recalling the queen's promise and asking to be
         allowed to send to the Indies once each year an expedition on
         his own account; for, he says, if he had not kept Columbus with
         him in 1490 and 1491 he would have gone to France, and Castile
         would have lost the prize. There was some force in this, but
         Isabella does not appear to have heeded the request.]

         [Footnote 502: This theory of the situation is fully sustained
         by Las Casas, tom. i. p. 241.]

[Sidenote: He stops at La Rábida, and meets the prior Juan Perez.]

[Sidenote: Perez writes to the queen,]

[Sidenote: and Columbus is summoned back to court.]

But now at length events took a favourable turn. Fate had grown tired of
fighting against such indomitable perseverance. For some years now the
stately figure of Columbus had been a familiar sight in the streets of
Seville and Cordova, and as he passed along, with his white hair
streaming in the breeze, and countenance aglow with intensity of purpose
or haggard with disappointment at some fresh rebuff, the ragged urchins
of the pavement tapped their foreheads and smiled with mingled wonder
and amusement at this madman. Seventeen years had elapsed since the
letter from Toscanelli to Martinez, and all that was mortal of the
Florentine astronomer had long since been laid in the grave. For
Columbus himself old age was not far away, yet he seemed no nearer the
fulfilment of his grand purpose than when he had first set it forth to
the king of Portugal. We can well imagine that when he started from
Huelva, with his little son Diego, now some eleven or twelve years old,
again to begin renewing his suit in a strange country, his thoughts must
have been sombre enough. For some reason or other--tradition says to ask
for some bread and water for his boy--he stopped at the Franciscan
monastery of La Rábida, about half a league from Palos. The prior, Juan
Perez, who had never seen Columbus before, became greatly interested in
him and listened with earnest attention to his story. This worthy monk,
who before 1478 had been Isabella's father-confessor, had a mind
hospitable to new ideas. He sent for Garcia Fernandez, a physician of
Palos, who was somewhat versed in cosmography, and for Martin Alonso
Pinzon, a well-to-do ship-owner and trained mariner of that town, and in
the quiet of the monastery a conference was held in which Columbus
carried conviction to the minds of these new friends. Pinzon declared
himself ready to embark in the enterprise in person. The venerable prior
forthwith sent a letter to the queen, and received a very prompt reply
summoning him to attend her in the camp before Granada. The result of
the interview was that within a few days Perez returned to the convent
with a purse of 20,000 maravedis (equivalent to about 1,180 dollars of
the present day), out of which Columbus bought a new suit of clothes and
a mule; and about the first of December he set out for the camp in
company with Juan Perez, leaving the boy Diego in charge of the priest
Martin Sanchez and a certain Rodriguez Cabejudo, upon whose sworn
testimony, together with that of the physician Garcia Fernandez, some
years afterward, several of these facts are related.[503]

         [Footnote 503: My account of these proceedings at La Rábida
         differs in some particulars from any heretofore given, and I
         think gets the events into an order of sequence that is at once
         more logical and more in harmony with the sources of
         information than any other. The error of Ferdinand Columbus--a
         very easy one to commit, and not in the least damaging to his
         general character as biographer--lay in confusing his father's
         two real visits (in 1484 and 1491) to Huelva with two visits
         (one imaginary in 1484 and one real in 1491) to La Rábida,
         which was close by, between Huelva and Palos. The visits were
         all the more likely to get mixed up in recollection because in
         each case their object was little Diego and in each case he was
         left in charge of somebody in that neighbourhood. The confusion
         has been helped by another for which Ferdinand is not
         responsible, viz.: the friar Juan Perez has been confounded
         with another friar Antonio de Marchena, who Columbus says was
         the only person who from the time of his first arrival in Spain
         had always befriended him and never mocked at him. These worthy
         friars twain have been made into one (e. g. "the prior of the
         convent, Juan Perez de Marchena," Irving's _Columbus_, vol. i.
         p. 128), and it has often been supposed that Marchena's
         acquaintance began with Columbus at La Rábida in 1484, and that
         Diego was left at the convent at that time. But some modern
         sources of information have served at first to bemuddle, and
         then when more carefully sifted, to clear up the story. In 1508
         Diego Columbus brought suit against the Spanish crown to
         vindicate his claim to certain territories discovered by his
         father, and there was a long investigation in which many
         witnesses were summoned and past events were busily raked over
         the coals. Among these witnesses were Rodriguez Cabejudo and
         the physician Garcia Fernandez, who gave from personal
         recollection a very lucid account of the affairs at La Rábida.
         These proceedings are printed in Navarrete, _Coleccion de
         viages_, tom. iii. pp. 238-591. More recently the publication
         of the great book of Las Casas has furnished some very
         significant clues, and the elaborate researches of M. Harrisse
         have furnished others. (See Las Casas, lib. i. cap. xxix.,
         xxxi.; Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 341-372; tom. ii. pp. 237-231; cf.
         Peragallo, _L' autenticità_, etc., pp. 117-134.)--It now seems
         clear that Marchena, whom Columbus knew from his first arrival
         in Spain, was not associated with La Rábida. At that time
         Columbus left Diego, a mere infant, with his wife's sister at
         Huelva. Seven years later, intending to leave Spain forever, he
         went to Huelva and took Diego, then a small boy. On his way
         from Huelva to the Seville road, and thence to Cordova (where
         he would have been joined by Beatriz and Ferdinand), he
         happened to pass by La Rábida, where up to that time he was
         evidently unknown, and to attract the attention of the prior
         Juan Perez, and the wheel of fortune suddenly and unexpectedly
         turned. As Columbus's next start was not for France, but for
         Granada, his boy was left in charge of two trustworthy persons.
         On May 8, 1492, the little Diego was appointed page to Don
         John, heir-apparent to the thrones of Castile and Aragon, with
         a stipend of 9,400 maravedis. On February 19, 1498, after the
         death of that young prince, Diego became page to Queen

[Sidenote: The junto before Granada, Dec, 1491.]

At once upon the arrival of Columbus in the camp before Granada, his
case was argued then and there before an assembly of learned men and
was received more hospitably than formerly, at Salamanca. Several
eminent prelates had come to think favourably of his project or to deem
it at least worth a trial. Among these were the royal confessors, Deza
and Talavera, the latter having changed his mind, and especially
Mendoza, archbishop of Toledo, who now threw his vast influence
decisively in favour of Columbus.[504] The treasurers of the two
kingdoms, moreover, Quintanilla for Castile and Luis de Santangel for
Aragon, were among his most enthusiastic supporters; and the result of
the conference was the queen's promise to take up the matter in earnest
as soon as the Moor should have surrendered Granada.

         [Footnote 504: In popular allusions to Columbus it is quite
         common to assume or imply that he encountered nothing but
         opposition from the clergy. For example the account in Draper's
         _Conflict between Science and Religion_, p. 161, can hardly be
         otherwise understood by the reader. But observe that Marchena
         who never mocked at Columbus, Juan Perez who gave the
         favourable turn to his affairs, the great prelates Deza and
         Mendoza, and the two treasurers Santangel and Quintanilla, were
         every one of them priests! Without cordial support from the
         clergy no such enterprise as that of Columbus could have been
         undertaken, in Spain at least. It is quite right that we should
         be free-thinkers; and it is also desirable that we should have
         some respect for facts.]

[Sidenote: Surrender of Granada, Jan. 2, 1492.]

[Sidenote: Columbus negotiates with the queen.]

[Sidenote: His terms are considered exorbitant.]

Columbus had not long to wait for that great event, which came on the 2d
of January, 1492, and was hailed with rejoicings throughout Europe as in
some sort a compensation for the loss of Constantinople. It must have
been with a manifold sense of triumph that Columbus saw the banner of
Spain unfurled to the breeze from the highest tower of the Alhambra. But
at this critical moment in his fortunes the same obstacle was
encountered that long before had broken off his negotiations with the
king of Portugal. With pride and self-confidence not an inch abated by
all these years of trial, he demanded such honours and substantial
rewards as seemed extravagant to the queen, and Talavera advised her not
to grant them. Columbus insisted upon being appointed admiral of the
ocean and viceroy of such heathen countries as he might discover,
besides having for his own use and behoof one eighth part of such
revenues and profits as might accrue from the expedition. In principle
this sort of remuneration did not differ from that which the crown of
Portugal had been wont to award to its eminent discoverers;[505] but in
amount it was liable to prove indefinitely great, enough perhaps to
raise to princely power and rank this foreign adventurer. Could he not
be satisfied with something less? But Columbus was as inexorable as the
Sibyl with her books, and would hear of no abatement in his price. For
this "great constancy and loftiness of soul,"[506] Las Casas warmly
commends his friend Columbus. A querulous critic might call it
unreasonable obstinacy. But in truth the good man seems to have
entertained another grand scheme of his own, to which he wished to make
his maritime venture contribute. It was natural that his feelings toward
Turks should have been no more amiable than those of Hannibal toward the
Romans. It was the Turks who had ruined the commerce of his native
Genoa, in his youth he had more than once crossed swords with their
corsairs, and now he looked forward to the time when he might play the
part of a second Godfrey de Bouillon and deliver Jerusalem from the
miscreant followers of Mahound.[507] Vast resources would be needed for
such work, and from Cipango with its gold-roofed temples, and the
nameless and numberless isles of spices that crowded the Cathayan seas,
he hoped to obtain them. Long brooding over his cherished projects, in
which chimeras were thus mixed with anticipations of scientific truth,
had imparted to his character a tinge of religious fanaticism. He had
come to regard himself as a man with a mission to fulfil, as God's
chosen instrument for enlarging the bounds of Christendom and achieving
triumphs of untold magnificence for its banners. In this mood he was apt
to address kings with an air of equality that ill comported with his
humble origin and slender means; and on the present occasion, if
Talavera felt his old doubts and suspicions reviving, and was more than
half inclined to set Columbus down as a mere vendor of crotchets, one
can hardly wonder.

         [Footnote 505: Our Scandinavian friends are fond of pointing to
         this demand of Columbus as an indication that he secretly
         expected to "discover America," and not merely to find the way
         to Asia. But how about Ferdinand and Isabella, who finally
         granted what was demanded, and their ministers who drew up the
         agreement, to say nothing of the clerks who engrossed it? What
         did they all understand by "discovering islands and continents
         in the ocean"? Were they all in this precious Vinland secret?
         If so, it was pretty well kept. But in truth there was nothing
         singular in these stipulations. Portugal paid for discovery in
         just this way by granting governorships over islands like the
         Azores, or long stretches of continent like Guinea, along with
         a share of the revenues yielded by such places. See for example
         the cases of Gonzalo Cabral, Fernando Gomez, and others in
         Major, _Prince Henry the Navigator_, pp. 238, 321, and
         elsewhere. In their search for the Indies the Portuguese were
         continually finding new lands, and it was likely to be the same
         with the western route, which was supposed (see Catalan,
         Toscanelli, and Behaim maps) to lead among spice islands
         innumerable, and to Asiatic kingdoms whose heathen people had
         no rights of sovereignty that Christian monarchs felt bound to

         [Footnote 506: Las Casas, _op. cit._ tom i. p. 243.]

         [Footnote 507: See his letter of February, 1502, to Pope
         Alexander VI. in Navarrete, tom. ii. p. 280; and cf. Helps,
         _Spanish Conquest in America_, vol. i. p. 96; Roselly de
         Lorgues, _Christophe Colomb_, p. 394.]

[Sidenote: Interposition of Luis de Santangel.]

The negotiations were broken off, and the indomitable enthusiast once
more prepared to go to France. He had actually started on his mule one
fine winter day, when Luis de Santangel rushed into the queen's room and
spoke to her with all the passionate and somewhat reproachful energy of
one who felt that a golden opportunity was slipping away forever. His
arguments were warmly seconded by Quintanilla, who had followed him into
the room, as well as by the queen's bosom friend Beatriz de Bobadilla,
Marchioness of Moya, who happened to be sitting on the sofa and was a
devoted admirer of Columbus. An impulse seized Isabella. A courier was
sent on a fleet horse, and overtook Columbus as he was jogging quietly
over the bridge of Pinos, about six miles out from Granada. The matter
was reconsidered and an arrangement was soon made. It was agreed:--

[Sidenote: Agreement between Columbus and the sovereigns.]

"1. That Columbus should have, for himself, during his life, and for his
heirs and successors forever, the office of admiral in all the islands
and continents which he might discover or acquire in the ocean, with
similar honours and prerogatives to those enjoyed by the high admiral of
Castile in his district.

"2. That he should be viceroy and governor-general over all the said
lands and continents; with the privilege of nominating three candidates
for the government of each island or province, one of whom should be
selected by the sovereigns.

"3. That he should be entitled to reserve for himself one tenth of all
pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and all other articles
and merchandises, in whatever manner found, bought, bartered, or gained
within his admiralty, the costs being first deducted.

"4. That he, or his lieutenant, should be the sole judge in all causes
and disputes arising out of traffic between those countries and Spain,
provided the high admiral of Castile had similar jurisdiction in his

"5. That he might then, and at all after times, contribute an eighth
part of the expense in fitting out vessels to sail on this enterprise,
and receive an eighth part of the profits."[508]

         [Footnote 508: I cite this version from Irving's _Columbus_,
         vol. i. p. 142, making a slight amendment in the rendering; the
         original text is in Navarrete, tom. ii. p. 7. A few days later
         the title of "Don" was granted to Columbus and made hereditary
         in his family along with the offices of viceroy and

Columbus was not long in finding friends to advance or promise on his
account an eighth part of the sum immediately required. A considerable
amount was assessed upon the town of Palos in punishment for certain
misdeeds or delinquencies on the part of its people or some of them.
Castile assumed the rest of the burden, though Santangel may have
advanced a million maravedis out of the treasury of Aragon, or out of
the funds of the _Hermandad_,[509] or perhaps more likely on his own
account.[510] In any case it was a loan to the treasury of Castile
simply. It was always distinctly understood that Ferdinand as king of
Aragon had no share in the enterprise, and that the Spanish Indies were
an appurtenance to the crown of Castile. The agreement was signed April
17, 1492, and with tears of joy Columbus vowed to devote every maravedi
that should come to him to the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre.

         [Footnote 509: A police organization formed in 1476 for
         suppressing highway robbery.]

         [Footnote 510: It is not easy to give an accurate account of
         the cost of this most epoch-making voyage in all history.
         Conflicting statements by different authorities combine with
         the fluctuating values of different kinds of money to puzzle
         and mislead us. According to M. Harrisse 1,000,000 maravedis
         would be equivalent to 295,175 francs, or about 59,000 gold
         dollars of United States money at present values. Las Casas
         (tom. i. p. 256) says that the eighth part, raised by Columbus,
         was 500,000 maravedis (29,500 dollars). Account-books preserved
         in the archives of Simancas show that the sums paid from the
         treasury of Castile amounted to 1,140,000 maravedis (67,500
         dollars). Assuming the statement of Las Casas to be correct,
         the amounts contributed would perhaps have been as follows:--

            Queen Isabella, from Castile treasury        $67,500
                 "          loan from Santangel           59,000
            Columbus                                      29,500
            Other sources, including contribution levied
            upon the town of Palos                        80,000
            Total                                       $236,000

         This total seems to me altogether too large for probability,
         and so does the last item, which is simply put at the figure
         necessary to make the total eight times 29,500. I am inclined
         to suspect that Las Casas (with whom arithmetic was not always
         a strong point) may have got his figures wrong. The amount of
         Santangel's loan also depends upon the statement of Las Casas,
         and we do not know whether he took it from a document or from
         hearsay. Nor do we know whether it should be added to, or
         included in, the first item. More likely, I think, the latter.
         The only item that we know with documentary certainty is the
         first, so that our statement becomes modified as follows:--

            Queen Isabella, from Castile treasury       $67,500
                   "        loan from Santangel            ?
            Columbus                                       ?
                                                  { rent of two fully
            Town of Palos                         { equipped caravels
                                                  { for two months, etc.
            Total                                          ?

         (Cf. Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 391-404.) Unsatisfactory, but
         certain as far as it goes. Alas, how often historical
         statements are thus reduced to meagreness, after the
         hypothetical or ill-supported part has been sifted out! The
         story that the Pinzon brothers advanced to Columbus his portion
         is told by Las Casas, but he very shrewdly doubts it. The
         famous story that Isabella pledged her crown jewels (_Vita
         dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. xiv.) has also been doubted, but
         perhaps on insufficient grounds, by M. Harrisse. It is
         confirmed by Las Casas (tom. i. p. 249). According to one
         account she pledged them to Santangel in security for his
         loan,--which seems not altogether improbable. See Pizarro y
         Orellana, _Varones ilustres del Nuevo Mundo_, Madrid, 1639, p.

[Sidenote: Dismay at Palos.]

[Sidenote: The three famous caravels; the Santa Maria.]

[Sidenote: The Pinta.]

[Sidenote: The Niña.]

When he reached Palos in May, with royal orders for ships and men, there
had like to have been a riot. Terrible dismay was felt at the prospect
of launching out for such a voyage upon the Sea of Darkness. Groans and
curses greeted the announcement of the forced contribution. But Martin
Pinzon and his brothers were active in supporting the crown officials,
and the work went on. To induce men to enlist, debts were forgiven and
civil actions suspended. Criminals were released from jail on condition
of serving. Three caravels were impressed into the service of the crown
for a time unlimited; and the rent and maintenance of two of these
vessels for two months was to be paid by the town. The largest caravel,
called the Santa Maria or Capitana, belonged to Juan de La Cosa, a
Biscayan mariner whose name was soon to become famous.[511] He now
commanded her, with another consummate sailor, Sancho Ruiz, for his
pilot. This single-decked craft, about ninety feet in length by twenty
feet breadth of beam, was the Admiral's flag-ship. The second caravel,
called the Pinta, a much swifter vessel, was commanded by Martin Pinzon.
She belonged to two citizens of Palos, Gomez Rascon and Cristobal
Quintero, who were now in her crew, sulky and ready for mischief. The
third and smallest caravel, the Niña ("Baby"), had for her commander
Vicente Yañez Pinzon, the youngest of the brothers, now about thirty
years of age. Neither the Pinta nor the Niña were decked amidships. On
board the three caravels were just ninety persons.[512] And so they set
sail from Palos on Friday, August 3, 1492, half an hour before sunrise,
and by sunset had run due south five and forty geographical miles, when
they shifted their course a couple of points to starboard and stood for
the Canaries.

         [Footnote 511: Navarrete, _Biblioteca maritima_, tom. ii. pp.
         208, 209.]

         [Footnote 512: The accounts of the armament are well summed up
         and discussed in Harrisse, tom. i. pp. 405-408. Eighty-seven
         names, out of the ninety, have been recovered, and the list is
         given below, Appendix C.]

[Sidenote: They go to the Canaries and are delayed there.]

No thought of Vinland is betrayed in these proceedings. Columbus was
aiming at the northern end of Cipango (Japan). Upon Toscanelli's map,
which he carried with him, the great island of Cipango extends from 5°
to about 28° north latitude. He evidently aimed at the northern end of
Cipango as being directly on the route to Zaiton (Chang-chow) and other
Chinese cities mentioned by Marco Polo. Accordingly he began by running
down to the Canaries, in order that he might sail thence due west on the
28th parallel without shifting his course by a single point until he
should see the coast of Japan looming up before him.[513] On this
preliminary run signs of mischief began already to show themselves. The
Pinta's rudder was broken and unshipped, and Columbus suspected her two
angry and chafing owners of having done it on purpose, in order that
they and their vessel might be left behind. The Canaries at this
juncture merited the name of Fortunate Islands; fortunately they, alone
among African islands, were Spanish, so that Columbus could stop there
and make repairs. While this was going on the sailors were scared out
of their wits by an eruption of Teneriffe, which they deemed an omen of
evil, and it was also reported that some Portuguese caravels were
hovering in those waters, with intent to capture Columbus and carry him
off to Lisbon.

         [Footnote 513: "Para de allí tomar mi derrota, y navegar tanto
         que yo llegase á las Indias," he says in his journal,
         Navarrete, _Coleccion de viages_, tom. i.p. 3.]

[Illustration: Martin Behaim's Globe, 1492,]

[Illustration: reduced to Mercator's projection.][514]

         [Footnote 514: Martin Behaim was born at Nuremberg in 1436, and
         is said to have been a pupil of the celebrated astronomer,
         Regiomontanus, author of the first almanac published in Europe,
         and of Ephemerides, of priceless value to navigators. He
         visited Portugal about 1480, invented a new kind of astrolabe,
         and sailed with it in 1484 as cosmographer in Diego Cam's
         voyage to the Congo. On his return to Lisbon he was knighted,
         and presently went to live on the island of Fayal, of which his
         wife's father was governor. He was a friend of Columbus. Toward
         1492 he visited Nuremberg, to look after some family affairs,
         and while there "he gratified some of his townspeople by
         embodying in a globe the geographical views which prevailed in
         the maritime countries; and the globe was finished before
         Columbus had yet accomplished his voyage. The next year (1493)
         Behaim returned to Portugal; and after having been sent to the
         Low Countries on a diplomatic mission, he was captured by
         English cruisers and carried to England. Escaping finally, and
         reaching the Continent, he passes from our view in 1494, and is
         scarcely heard of again." (Winsor, _Narr. and Crit. Hist._, ii.
         104.) He died in May, 1506. A ridiculous story that he
         anticipated Columbus in the discovery of America originated in
         the misunderstanding of an interpolated passage in the Latin
         text of Schedel's _Registrum_, Nuremberg, 1498, p. 290 (the
         so-called _Nuremberg Chronicle_). See Winsor, _op. cit._ ii.
         34; Major's _Prince Henry_, p. 326; Humboldt, _Examen
         critique_, tom. i.p. 256; Murr, _Diplomatische Geschichte des
         Ritters Behaim_, Nuremberg, 1778; Cladera, _Investigaciones
         históricas_, Madrid, 1794; Harrisse, _Bibliotheca Americana
         Vetustissima_, pp. 37-43.--The globe made by Behaim may now be
         seen in the city hall at Nuremberg. It "is made of
         _papier-maché_, covered with gypsum, and over this a parchment
         surface received the drawing; it is twenty inches in diameter."
         (Winsor, _op. cit._ ii. 105.) The portion west of the 330th
         meridian is evidently copied from Toscanelli's map. I give
         below (p. 429) a sketch (from Winsor, after Ruge's _Geschichte
         des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen_, p. 230) of Behaim's ocean,
         with the outline of the American continent superimposed in the
         proper place.]

[Sidenote: Columbus starts for Japan, Sept. 6, 1492.]

At length, on the 6th of September, they set sail from Gomera, but were
becalmed and had made only thirty miles by the night of the 8th. The
breeze then freshened, and when next day the shores of Ferro, the last
of the Canaries, sank from sight on the eastern horizon, many of the
sailors loudly lamented their unseemly fate, and cried and sobbed like
children. Columbus well understood the difficulty of dealing with these
men. He provided against one chief source of discontent by keeping two
different reckonings, a true one for himself and a false one for his
officers and crews. He was shrewd enough not to overdo it and awaken
distrust. Thus after a twenty-four hours' run of 180 miles on September
10, he reported it as 144 miles; next day the run was 120 miles and he
announced it as 108, and so on. But for this prudent if somewhat
questionable device, it is not unlikely that the first week of October
would have witnessed a mutiny in which Columbus would have been either
thrown overboard or forced to turn back.

[Sidenote: Deflection of the needle.]

The weather was delicious, and but for the bug-a-boos that worried those
poor sailors it would have been a most pleasant voyage. Chief among the
imaginary terrors were three which deserve especial mention. At
nightfall on September 13 the ships had crossed the magnetic line of no
variation, and Columbus was astonished to see that the compass-needle,
instead of pointing a little to the right of the pole-star, began to
sway toward the left, and next day this deviation increased. It was
impossible to hide such a fact from the sharp eyes of the pilots, and
all were seized with alarm at the suspicion that this witch instrument
was beginning to play them some foul trick in punishment of their
temerity; but Columbus was ready with an ingenious astronomical
explanation, and their faith in the profundity of his knowledge
prevailed over their terrors.

[Sidenote: The Sargasso Sea.]

The second alarm came on September 16, when they struck into vast
meadows of floating seaweeds and grasses, abounding in tunny fish and
crabs. They had now come more than 800 miles from Ferro and were
entering the wonderful Sargasso Sea, that region of the Atlantic six
times as large as France, where vast tangles of vegetation grow upon the
surface of water that is more than 2,000 fathoms deep, and furnish
sustenance for an untold wealth of fishy life.[515] To the eye of the
mariner the Sargasso Sea presents somewhat the appearance of an endless
green prairie, but modern ships plough through it with ease and so did
the caravels of Columbus at first. After two or three days, however, the
wind being light, their progress was somewhat impeded. It was not
strange that the crews were frightened at such a sight. It seemed
uncanny and weird, and revived ancient fancies about mysterious
impassable seas and overbold mariners whose ships had been stuck fast in
them. The more practical spirits were afraid of running aground upon
submerged shoals, but all were somewhat reassured on this point when it
was found that their longest plummet-lines failed to find bottom.

         [Footnote 515: The situation of this Sargasso region in
         mid-ocean seems to be determined by its character as a quiet
         neutral ground between the great ocean-currents that flow past
         it on every side. Sargasso plants are found elsewhere upon the
         surface of the waves, but nowhere else do they congregate as
         here. There are reasons for supposing that in ancient times
         this region extended nearer to the African coast. Skylax
         (_Periplus_, cap. 109) says that beyond Kerne, at the mouth of
         Rio d' Ouro the sea cannot be navigated on account of the mud
         and seaweed. Sataspes, on his return to Persia, B. C. 470, told
         King Xerxes that his voyage failed because his ship stopped or
         was stuck fast. (Herodotus, iv. 43.) Festus Avienus mentions
         vast quantities of seaweed in the ocean west of the Pillars of

            Exsuperat autem gurgitem fucus frequens
            Atque impeditur æstus ex uligine....
            Sic nulla late flabra propellunt ratem,
            Sic segnis humor æquoris pigri stupet.
            Adjicit et illud, plurimum inter gurgites
            Exstare fucum, et sæpe virgulti vice
            Retinere puppim, etc.
                              Avienus, _Ora Maritima_, 108, 117.

         See also Aristotle, _Meteorol._, ii. 1, 14; Pseudo-Aristotle,
         _De Mirab. Auscult._, p. 106; Theophrastus, _Historia
         plantarum_, iv. 7 Jornandes, _De rebus Geticis_, apud Muratori,
         tom. i.p. 191; according to Strabo (iii. 2, § 7) tunny fish
         were caught in abundance in the ocean west of Spain, and were
         highly valued for the table on account of their fatness which
         was due to submarine vegetables on which they fed. Possibly the
         reports of these Sargasso meadows may have had some share in
         suggesting to Plato his notion of a huge submerged island
         Atlantis (_Timæus_, 25; _Kritias_, 108; cf. the notion of a
         viscous sea in Plutarch, _De facie in Orbe Luna_, 26), Plato's
         fancy has furnished a theme for much wild speculation. See, for
         example, Bailly, _Lettres sur l'Atlantide de Platon_, Paris,
         1779. The belief that there can ever have been such an island
         in that part of the Atlantic is disposed of by the fact that
         the ocean there is nowhere less than two miles in depth. See
         the beautiful map of the Atlantic sea-bottom in Alexander
         Agassiz's _Three Cruises of the Blake_, Boston, 1888, vol. i.p.
         108, and compare chap. vi. of that noble work, on "The
         Permanence of Continents and of Oceanic Basins;" see also
         Wallace's _Island Life_, chap. vi. It was formerly supposed
         that the Sargasso plants grow on the sea-bottom, and becoming
         detached rise to the surface (Peter Martyr, _De rebus
         oceanicis_, dec. iii. lib. v. p. 53; Humboldt, _Personal
         Narrative_, book i. chap, i.); but it is now known that they
         are simply rooted in the surface water itself. "L'accumulation
         de ces plantes marines est l'exemple le plus frappant de
         plantes congénères réunies sur le même point. Ni les forêts
         colossales de l'Himalaya, ni les graminées qui s'étendent à
         perte de vue dans les savanes américaines ou les steppes
         sibériens ne rivalisent avec ces prairies océaniques. Jamais
         sur un espace aussi étendu, ne se rencontrent de telles masses
         de plantes semblables. Quand on a vu la mer des Sargasses, on
         n'oublie point un pareil spectacle." Paul Gaffarel, "La Mer des
         Sargasses," _Bulletin de Géographie_, Paris, 1872, 6e série,
         tom. iv. p. 622.]

[Sidenote: The trade wind.]

On September 22 the journal reports "no more grass." They were in clear
water again, and more than 1,400 geographical miles from the Canaries.
A third source of alarm had already begun to disturb the sailors. They
were discovering much more than they had bargained for. They were in the
belt of the trade winds, and as the gentle but unfailing breeze wafted
them steadily westward, doubts began to arise as to whether it would
ever be possible to return. Fortunately soon after this question began
to be discussed, the wind, jealous of its character for capriciousness
even there, veered into the southwest.

[Sidenote: Impatience of the crews.]

By September 25 the Admiral's chief difficulty had come to be the
impatience of his crews at not finding land. On that day there was a
mirage, or some such illusion, which Columbus and all hands supposed to
be a coast in front of them, and hymns of praise were sung, but at dawn
next day they were cruelly undeceived. Flights of strange birds and
other signs of land kept raising hopes which were presently dashed
again, and the men passed through alternately hot and cold fits of
exultation and dejection. Such mockery seemed to show that they were
entering a realm of enchantment. Somebody, perhaps one of the released
jail-birds, hinted that if a stealthy thrust should happen some night to
push the Admiral overboard, it could be plausibly said that he had
slipped and fallen while star-gazing. His situation grew daily more
perilous, and the fact that he was an Italian commanding Spaniards did
not help him. Perhaps what saved him was their vague belief in his
superior knowledge; they may have felt that they should need him in
going back.

[Illustration: Martin Behaim's Atlantic Ocean (with outline of American
continent superimposed).]

[Sidenote: Change of course from W. to W. S. W.]

[Sidenote: Land ahead! Oct. 12 (N. S. 21), 1492.]

By October 4 there were ominous symptoms of mutiny, and the anxiety of
Columbus was evinced in the extent of his bold understatement of that
day's run,--138 miles instead of the true figure 189. For some days his
pilots had been begging him to change his course; perhaps they had
passed between islands. Anything for a change! On the 7th at sunrise,
they had come 2,724 geographical miles from the Canaries, which was
farther than the Admiral's estimate of the distance to Cipango; but
according to his false statement of the runs, it appeared that they had
come scarcely 2,200 miles. This leads one to suspect that in stating the
length of the voyage, as he had so often done, at 700 leagues, he may
have purposely made it out somewhat shorter than he really believed it
to be. But now after coming more than 2,500 miles he began to fear that
he might be sailing past Cipango on the north, and so he shifted his
course two points to larboard, or west-southwest. If a secret knowledge
of Vinland had been his guiding-star he surely would not have turned his
helm that way; but a glance at the Toscanelli map shows what was in his
mind. Numerous flights of small birds confirmed his belief that land at
the southwest was not far off. The change of direction was probably
fortunate. If he had persisted in keeping on the parallel, 720 miles
would have brought him to the coast of Florida, a little south of Cape
Malabar. After the change he had but 505 miles of water before him, and
the temper of the sailors was growing more dangerous with every
mile,[516]--until October 11, when the signs of land became
unmistakable, and the wildest excitement prevailed. A reward of 10,000
maravedis had been promised to the person who should first discover
land, and ninety pair of eyes were strained that night with looking.
About ten o'clock the Admiral, standing on the tower-like poop of his
vessel, saw a distant light moving as if somebody were running along
the shore with a torch. This interpretation was doubted, but a few
hours later a sailor on the Pinta saw land distinctly, and soon it was
visible to all, a long low coast about five miles distant. This was at
two in the morning of Friday, October 12,[517]--just ten weeks since
they had sailed from Palos, just thirty-three days since they had lost
sight of the coast of Ferro. The sails were now taken in, and the ships
lay to, awaiting the dawn.

         [Footnote 516: The often-repeated story that a day or two
         before the end of the voyage Columbus capitulated with his
         crew, promising to turn back if land were not seen within three
         days, rests upon the single and relatively inferior authority
         of Oviedo. It is not mentioned by Las Casas or Bernaldez or
         Peter Martyr or Ferdinand Columbus, and it is discredited by
         the tone of the Admiral's journal, which shows as unconquerable
         determination on the last day of the voyage as on any previous
         day. Cf. Irving, vol. i. p. 187.]

         [Footnote 517: Applying the Gregorian Calendar, or "new style,"
         it becomes the 21st. The four hundredth anniversary will
         properly fall on October 21, 1892.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The crews go ashore.]

At daybreak the boats were lowered and Columbus, with a large part of
his company, went ashore. Upon every side were trees of unknown kinds,
and the landscape seemed exceedingly beautiful. Confident that they must
have attained the object for which they had set sail, the crews were
wild with exultation. Their heads were dazed with fancies of princely
fortunes close at hand. The officers embraced Columbus or kissed his
hands, while the sailors threw themselves at his feet, craving pardon
and favour.

[Sidenote: The astonished natives.]

[Sidenote: Guanahani: where was it?]

These proceedings were watched with unutterable amazement and awe by a
multitude of men, women, and children of cinnamon hue, different from
any kind of people the Spaniards had ever seen. All were stark naked and
most of them were more or less greased and painted. They thought that
the ships were sea-monsters and the white men supernatural creatures
descended from the sky.[518] At first they fled in terror as these
formidable beings came ashore, but presently, as they found themselves
unmolested, curiosity began to overcome fear, and they slowly approached
the Spaniards, stopping at every few paces to prostrate themselves in
adoration. After a time, as the Spaniards received them with encouraging
nods and smiles, they waxed bold enough to come close to the visitors
and pass their hands over them, doubtless to make sure that all this
marvel was a reality and not a mere vision. Experiences in Africa had
revealed the eagerness of barbarians to trade off their possessions for
trinkets, and now the Spaniards began exchanging glass beads and hawks'
bells for cotton yarn, tame parrots, and small gold ornaments. Some sort
of conversation in dumb show went on, and Columbus naturally interpreted
everything in such wise as to fit his theories. Whether the natives
understood him or not when he asked them where they got their gold, at
any rate they pointed to the south, and thus confirmed Columbus in his
suspicion that he had come to some island a little to the north of the
opulent Cipango. He soon found that it was a small island, and he
understood the name of it to be Guanahani. He took formal possession of
it for Castile, just as the discoverers of the Cape Verde islands and
the Guinea coasts had taken possession of those places for Portugal;
and he gave it a Christian name, San Salvador. That name has since the
seventeenth century been given to Cat island, but perhaps in pursuance
of a false theory of map-makers; it is not proved that Cat island is the
Guanahani of Columbus. All that can positively be asserted of Guanahani
is that it was one of the Bahamas: there has been endless discussion as
to which one, and the question is not easy to settle. Perhaps the theory
of Captain Gustavus Fox, of the United States navy, is on the whole best
supported. Captain Fox maintains that the true Guanahani was the little
island now known as Samana or Atwood's Cay.[519] The problem well
illustrates the difficulty in identifying any route from even a good
description of landmarks, without the help of persistent proper names,
especially after the lapse of time has somewhat altered the landmarks.
From this point of view it is a very interesting problem and has its
lessons for us; otherwise it is of no importance.

         [Footnote 518: This is a common notion among barbarians. "The
         Polynesians imagine that the sky descends at the horizon and
         encloses the earth. Hence they call foreigners _papalangi_, or
         'heaven-bursters,' as having broken in from another world
         outside." Max Müller, _Chips from a German Workshop_, vol. ii.
         p. 268.]

         [Footnote 519: "An Attempt to solve the Problem of the First
         Landing Place of Columbus in the New World," in _United States
         Coast and Geodetic Survey--Report for 1880--Appendix 18_,
         Washington, 1882.]

[Sidenote: Groping for Cipango and the route to Quinsay.]

A cruise of ten days among the Bahamas, with visits to four of the
islands, satisfied Columbus that he was in the ocean just east of
Cathay, for Marco Polo had described it as studded with thousands of
spice-bearing islands, and the Catalan map shows that some of these were
supposed to be inhabited by naked savages. To be sure, he could not find
any spices or valuable drugs, but the air was full of fragrance and the
trees and herbs were strange in aspect and might mean anything; so for a
while he was ready to take the spices on trust. Upon inquiries about
gold the natives always pointed to the south, apparently meaning
Cipango; and in that direction Columbus steered on the 25th of October,
intending to stay in that wealthy island long enough to obtain all
needful information concerning its arts and commerce. Thence a sail of
less than ten days would bring him to the Chinese coast, along which he
might comfortably cruise northwesterly as far as Quinsay and deliver to
the Great Khan a friendly letter with which Ferdinand and Isabella had
provided him. Alas, poor Columbus--unconscious prince of
discoverers--groping here in Cuban waters for the way to a city on the
other side of the globe and to a sovereign whose race had more than a
century since been driven from the throne and expelled from the very
soil of Cathay! Could anything be more pathetic, or better illustrate
the profound irony with which our universe seems to be governed?

[Sidenote: Columbus reaches Cuba, and sends envoys to find a certain
Asiatic prince.]

On reaching Cuba the Admiral was charmed with the marvellous beauty of
the landscape,--a point in which he seems to have been unusually
sensitive. He found pearl oysters along the shore, and although no
splendid cities as yet appeared, he did not doubt that he had reached
Cipango. But his attempts at talking with the amazed natives only served
to darken counsel. He understood them to say that Cuba was part of the
Asiatic continent, and that there was a king in the neighbourhood who
was at war with the Great Khan! So he sent two messengers to seek this
refractory potentate,--one of them a converted Jew acquainted with
Arabic, a language sometimes heard far eastward in Asia, as Columbus
must have known. These envoys found pleasant villages, with large
houses, surrounded with fields of such unknown vegetables as maize,
potatoes, and tobacco; they saw men and women smoking cigars,[520] and
little dreamed that in that fragrant and soothing herb there was a
richer source of revenue than the spices of the East. They passed acres
of growing cotton and saw in the houses piles of yarn waiting to be
woven into rude cloth or twisted into nets for hammocks. But they found
neither cities nor kings, neither gold nor spices, and after a tedious
quest returned, somewhat disappointed, to the coast.

         [Footnote 520: The first recorded mention of tobacco is in
         Columbus's diary for November 20, 1492:--"Hallaron los dos
         cristianos por el camino mucha gente que atravesaba á sus
         pueblos, mugeres y hombres con un tizon en la mano, yerbas para
         tomar sus sahumerios que acostumbraban," i. e. "the two
         Christians met on the road a great many people going to their
         villages, men and women with brands in their hands, made of
         herbs for taking their customary smoke." Navarrete, tom. i. p.

[Sidenote: Columbus turns eastward; Pinzon deserts him.]

Columbus seems now to have become perplexed, and to have vacillated
somewhat in his purposes. If this was the continent of Asia it was
nearer than he had supposed, and how far mistaken he had been in his
calculations no one could tell. But where was Cipango? He gathered from
the natives that there was a great island to the southeast, abounding
in gold, and so he turned his prows in that direction. On the 20th of
November he was deserted by Martin Pinzon, whose ship could always
outsail the others. It seems to have been Pinzon's design to get home in
advance with such a story as would enable him to claim for himself an
undue share of credit for the discovery of the Indies. This was the
earliest instance of a kind of treachery such as too often marred the
story of Spanish exploration and conquest in the New World.

[Sidenote: Columbus arrives at Hayti and thinks it must be Japan.]

[Sidenote: Wreck of the Santa Maria, Dec. 25, 1492.]

For a fortnight after Pinzon's desertion Columbus crept slowly eastward
along the coast of Cuba, now and then landing to examine the country and
its products; and it seemed to him that besides pearls and mastic and
aloes he found in the rivers indications of gold. When he reached the
cape at the end of the island he named it Alpha and Omega, as being the
extremity of Asia,--Omega from the Portuguese point of view, Alpha from
his own. On the 6th of December he landed upon the northwestern coast of
the island of Hayti, which he called Española, Hispaniola, or "Spanish
land."[521] Here, as the natives seemed to tell him of a region to the
southward and quite inland which abounded in gold, and which they called
Cibao, the Admiral at once caught upon the apparent similarity of sounds
and fancied that Cibao must be Cipango, and that at length he had
arrived upon that island of marvels. It was much nearer the Asiatic
mainland (i. e. Cuba) than he had supposed, but then, it was beginning
to appear that in any case somebody's geography must be wrong. Columbus
was enchanted with the scenery. "The land is elevated," he says, "with
many mountains and peaks ... most beautiful, of a thousand varied forms,
accessible, and full of trees of endless varieties, so tall that they
seem to touch the sky; and I have been told that they never lose their
foliage. The nightingale [i. e. some kind of thrush] and other small
birds of a thousand kinds were singing in the month of November
[December] when I was there."[522] Before he had done much toward
exploring this paradise, a sudden and grave mishap quite altered his
plans. On Christmas morning, between midnight and dawn, owing to
careless disobedience of orders on the part of the helmsman, the
flag-ship struck upon a sand-bank near the present site of Port au Paix.
All attempts to get her afloat were unavailing, and the waves soon beat
her to pieces.

         [Footnote 521: Not "Little Spain," as the form of the word, so
         much like a diminutive, might seem to indicate. It is simply
         the feminine of _Español_, "Spanish," sc. _tierra_ or _isla_.
         Columbus believed that the island was larger than Spain. See
         his letter to Gabriel Sanchez, in Harrisse, tom. i. p. 428.]

         [Footnote 522: Columbus to Santangel, February 15, 1493
         (Navarrete, tom. i. p. 168).]

[Sidenote: Columbus decides to go back to Spain.]

This catastrophe brought home, with startling force, to the mind of
Columbus, the fact that the news of his discovery of land was not yet
known in Europe. As for the Pinta and her insubordinate commander, none
could say whether they would ever be seen again or whether their speedy
arrival in Spain might not portend more harm than good to Columbus. His
armament was now reduced to the little undecked Niña alone, such a craft
as we should deem about fit for a summer excursion on Long Island Sound.
What if his party should all perish, or be stranded helpless on these
strange coasts, before any news of their success should reach the ears
of friends in Europe! Then the name of Columbus would serve as a by-word
for foolhardiness, and his mysterious fate would simply deter other
expeditions from following in the same course. Obviously the first
necessity of the situation was to return to Spain immediately and report
what had already been done. Then it would be easy enough to get ships
and men for a second voyage.

[Sidenote: Building of the blockhouse, La Navidad.]

[Sidenote: Meeting with Pinzon.]

This decision led to the founding of an embryo colony upon Hispaniola.
There was not room enough for all the party to go in the Nina, and quite
a number begged to be left behind, because they found life upon the
island lazy and the natives, especially the women, seemed well-disposed
toward them. So a blockhouse was built out of the wrecked ship's timbers
and armed with her guns, and in commemoration of that eventful Christmas
it was called Fort Nativity (_La Navidad_). Here forty men were left
behind, with provisions enough for a whole year, and on January 4, 1493,
the rest of the party went on board the Niña and set sail for Spain. Two
days later in following the northern coast of Hispaniola they
encountered the Pinta, whose commander had been delayed by trading with
the natives and by finding some gold. Pinzon tried to explain his sudden
disappearance by alleging that stress of weather had parted him from
his comrades, but his excuses were felt to be lame and improbable.
However it may have been with his excuses, there was no doubt as to the
lameness of his foremast; it had been too badly sprung to carry much
sail, so that the Pinta could not again run away from her consort.

[Sidenote: Terrible storm in mid-ocean, Feb., 1493.]

On this return voyage the Admiral, finding the trade winds dead against
him, took a northeasterly course until he had passed the thirty-seventh
parallel and then headed straight toward Spain. On the 12th of February
a storm was brewing, and during the next four days it raged with such
terrific violence that it is a wonder how those two frail caravels ever
came out of it. They were separated this time not to meet again upon the
sea. Expecting in all likelihood to be engulfed in the waves with his
tiny craft, Columbus sealed and directed to Ferdinand and Isabella two
brief reports of his discovery, written upon parchment. Each of these he
wrapped in a cloth and inclosed in the middle of a large cake of wax,
which was then securely shut up in a barrel. One of the barrels was
flung into the sea, the other remained standing on the little
quarter-deck to await the fate of the caravel. The anxiety was not
lessened by the sight of land on the 15th, for it was impossible to
approach it so as to go ashore, and there was much danger of being
dashed to pieces.

[Sidenote: Cold reception at the Azores.]

At length on the 18th, the storm having abated, the ship's boat went
ashore and found that it was the island of St. Mary, one of the Azores.
It is worthy of note that such skilful sailors as the Nina's captain,
Vicente Yañez Pinzon, and the pilot Ruiz were so confused in their
reckoning as to suppose themselves near the Madeiras, whereas Columbus
had correctly maintained that they were approaching the Azores,--a good
instance of his consummate judgment in nautical questions.[523] From the
Portuguese governor of the island this Spanish company met with a very
ungracious reception. A party of sailors whom Columbus sent ashore to a
small chapel of the Virgin, to give thanks for their deliverance from
shipwreck, were seized and held as prisoners for five days. It
afterwards appeared that this was done in pursuance of general
instructions from the king of Portugal to the governors of his various
islands. If Columbus had gone ashore he would probably have been
arrested himself. As it was, he took such a high tone and threatened to
such good purpose that the governor of St. Mary was fain to give up his
prisoners for fear of bringing on another war between Portugal and

         [Footnote 523: Las Casas, tom. i. pp. 443, 449.]

[Sidenote: Columbus is driven ashore in Portugal, where the king is
advised to have him assassinated;]

[Sidenote: but to offend Spain so grossly would be dangerous.]

Having at length got away from this unfriendly island, as the Niña was
making her way toward Cape St. Vincent and within 400 miles of it, she
was seized by another fierce tempest and driven upon the coast of
Portugal, where Columbus and his crew were glad of a chance to run into
the river Tagus for shelter. The news of his voyage and his discoveries
aroused intense excitement in Lisbon. Astonishment was mingled with
chagrin at the thought that the opportunity for all this glory and
profit had first been offered to Portugal and foolishly lost. The king
even now tried to persuade himself that Columbus had somehow or other
been trespassing upon the vast and vague undiscovered dominions granted
to the Crown of Portugal by Pope Eugenius IV. Some of the king's
counsellors are said to have urged him to have Columbus assassinated; it
would be easy enough to provoke such a high-spirited man into a quarrel
and then run him through the body.[524] To clearer heads, however, the
imprudence of such a course was manifest. It was already impossible to
keep the news of the discovery from reaching Spain, and Portugal could
not afford to go to war with her stronger neighbour. In fact even had
John II. been base enough to resort to assassination, which seems quite
incompatible with the general character of Lope de Vega's "perfect
prince," Columbus was now too important a personage to be safely
interfered with. So he was invited to court and made much of. On the
13th of March he set sail again and arrived in the harbour of Palos at
noon of the 15th. His little caravel was promptly recognized by the
people, and as her story flew from mouth to mouth all the business of
the town was at an end for that day.[525]

         [Footnote 524: This story rests upon the explicit statement of
         a contemporary Portuguese historian of high authority, Garcia
         de Resende, _Chronica del Rey Dom João II._, Lisbon, 1622, cap.
         clxiv. (written about 1516); see also Vasconcellos, _Vida del
         Rey Don Juan II._, Madrid, 1639, lib. vi.]

         [Footnote 525: "When they learnt that she returned in triumph
         from the discovery of a world, the whole community broke forth
         into transports of joy." Irving's _Columbus_, vol. i. p. 318.
         This is projecting our present knowledge into the past. We now
         know that Columbus had discovered a new world. He did not so
         much as suspect that he had done anything of the sort; neither
         did the people of Palos.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and Pinzon at Palos; death of Pinzon.]

Towards evening, while the bells were ringing and the streets brilliant
with torches, another vessel entered the harbour and dropped anchor. She
was none other than the Pinta! The storm had driven her to Bayonne,
whence Martin Pinzon instantly despatched a message to Ferdinand and
Isabella, making great claims for himself and asking permission to wait
upon them with a full account of the discovery. As soon as practicable
he made his way to Palos, but when on arriving he saw the Niña already
anchored in the harbour his guilty heart failed him. He took advantage
of the general hub-bub to slink ashore as quickly and quietly as
possible, and did not dare to show himself until after the Admiral had
left for Seville. The news from Columbus reached the sovereigns before
they had time to reply to the message of Pinzon; so when their answer
came to him it was cold and stern and forbade him to appear in their
presence. Pinzon was worn out with the hardships of the homeward voyage,
and this crushing reproof was more than he could bear. His sudden death,
a few days afterward, was generally attributed to chagrin.[526]

[Sidenote: Columbus is received by the sovereigns at Barcelona, April,

[Sidenote: General excitement at the news that a way to the Indies had
been found.]

From Seville the Admiral was summoned to attend court at Barcelona,
where he was received with triumphal honours. He was directed to seat
himself in the presence of the sovereigns, a courtesy usually reserved
for royal personages.[527] Intense interest was felt in his specimens of
stuffed birds and small mammals, his live parrots, his collection of
herbs which he supposed to have medicinal virtues, his few pearls and
trinkets of gold, and especially his six painted and bedizened
barbarians, the survivors of ten with whom he had started from
Hispaniola. Since in the vague terminology of that time the remote and
scarcely known parts of Asia were called the Indies, and since the
islands and coasts just discovered were Indies, of course these red men
must be Indians. So Columbus had already named them in his first letter
written from the Niña, off the Azores, sent by special messenger from
Palos, and now in April, 1493, printed at Barcelona, containing the
particulars of his discovery,--a letter appropriately addressed to the
worthy Santangel but for whose timely intervention he might have ridden
many a weary league on that mule of his to no good purpose.[528] It was
generally assumed without question that the Admiral's theory of his
discovery must be correct, that the coast of Cuba must be the eastern
extremity of China, that the coast of Hispaniola must be the northern
extremity of Cipango, and that a direct route--much shorter than that
which Portugal had so long been seeking--had now been found to those
lands of illimitable wealth described by Marco Polo.[529] To be sure
Columbus had not as yet seen the evidences of this Oriental splendour,
and had been puzzled at not finding them, but he felt confident that he
had come very near them and would come full upon them in a second
voyage. There was nobody who knew enough to refute these opinions,[530]
and really why should not this great geographer, who had accomplished so
much already which people had scouted as impossible,--why should he not
know what he was about? It was easy enough now to get men and money for
the second voyage. When the Admiral sailed from Cadiz on September 25,
1493, it was with seventeen ships carrying 1,500 men. Their dreams were
of the marble palaces of Quinsay, of isles of spices, and the treasures
of Prester John. The sovereigns wept for joy as they thought that such
untold riches were vouchsafed them by the special decree of Heaven, as a
reward for having overcome the Moor at Granada and banished the Jews
from Spain.[531] Columbus shared these views and regarded himself as a
special instrument for executing the divine decrees. He renewed his vow
to rescue the Holy Sepulchre, promising within the next seven years to
equip at his own expense a crusading army of 50,000 foot and 4,000
horse; within five years thereafter he would follow this with a second
army of like dimensions.

         [Footnote 526: Charlevoix, _Histoire de l'isle Espagnole, ou de
         St. Domingue_, Paris, 1730, liv. ii.; Muñoz, _Historia de las
         Indias ó Nuevo Mundo_, Madrid, 1793, lib. iv. § 14.]

         [Footnote 527: He was also allowed to quarter the royal arms
         with his own, "which consisted of a group of golden islands
         amid azure billows. To these were afterwards added five
         anchors, with the celebrated motto, well known as being carved
         on his sepulchre." Prescott's _Ferdinand and Isabella_, pt. i.
         chap. vii. This statement about the motto is erroneous. See
         below, p. 514. Considering the splendour of the reception given
         to Columbus, and the great interest felt in his achievement,
         Mr. Prescott is surprised at finding no mention of this
         occasion in the local annals of Barcelona, or in the royal
         archives of Aragon. He conjectures, with some probability, that
         the cause of the omission may have been what an American would
         call "sectional" jealousy. This Cathay and Cipango business was
         an affair of Castile's, and, as such, quite beneath the notice
         of patriotic Aragonese archivists! That is the way history has
         too often been treated. With most people it is only a kind of
         ancestor worship.]

         [Footnote 528: The unique copy of this first edition of this
         Spanish letter is a small folio of two leaves, or four pages.
         It was announced for sale in Quaritch's Catalogue, April 16,
         1891, No. 111, p. 47, for £1,750. Evidently most book-lovers
         will have to content themselves with the facsimile published in
         London, 1891, price two guineas. A unique copy of a Spanish
         reprint in small quarto, made in 1493, is preserved in the
         Ambrosian library at Milan. In 1889 Messrs. Ellis & Elvey, of
         London, published a facsimile _alleged_ to have been made from
         an edition of about the same date as the Ambrosian quarto; but
         there are good reasons for believing that these highly
         respectable publishers have been imposed upon. It is a time
         just now when fictitious literary discoveries of this sort may
         command a high price, and the dealer in early Americana must
         keep his eyes open. See Quaritch's note, _op. cit._ p. 49; and
         Justin Winsor's letter in _The Nation_, April 9, 1891, vol.
         lii. p. 298.]

         [Footnote 529: "The lands, therefore, which Columbus had
         visited were called the West Indies; and as he seemed to have
         entered upon a vast region of unexplored countries, existing in
         a state of nature, the whole received the comprehensive
         appellation of the New World." Irving's _Columbus_, vol. i. p.
         333. These are very grave errors, again involving the
         projection of our modern knowledge into the past. The lands
         which Columbus had visited were called simply the Indies; it
         was not until long after his death, and after the crossing of
         the Pacific ocean, that they were distinguished from the East
         Indies. The _New World_ was not at first a "comprehensive
         appellation" for the countries discovered by Columbus; it was
         at first applied to one particular region never visited by him,
         viz. to that portion of the southeastern coast of South America
         first explored by Vespucius. See vol. ii. pp. 129, 130.]

         [Footnote 530: Peter Martyr, however, seems to have entertained
         some vague doubts, inasmuch as this assumed nearness of the
         China coast on the west implied a greater eastward extension of
         the Asiatic continent than seemed to him probable:--"Insulas
         reperit plures; has esse, de quibus fit apud cosmographos
         mentio extra oceanum orientalem, adjacentes Indiæ arbitrantur.
         Nec inficior ego penitus, _quamvis sphæræ magnitudo aliter
         sentire videatur_; neque enim desunt qui parvo tractu a finibus
         Hispaniæ distare littus Indicum putent." _Opus Epist._, No.
         135. The italicizing is mine.]

         [Footnote 531: This abominable piece of wickedness, driving
         200,000 of Spain's best citizens from their homes and their
         native land, was accomplished in pursuance of an edict signed
         March 30, 1492. There is a brief account of it in Prescott's
         _Ferdinand and Isabella_, pt. i. chap. vi.]

[Sidenote: This voyage was an event without any parallel in history.]

Thus nobody had the faintest suspicion of what had been done. In the
famous letter to Santangel there is of course not a word about a New
World. The grandeur of the achievement was quite beyond the ken of the
generation that witnessed it. For we have since come to learn that in
1492 the contact between the eastern and the western halves of our
planet was first really begun, and the two streams of human life which
had flowed on for countless ages apart were thenceforth to mingle
together. The first voyage of Columbus is thus a unique event in the
history of mankind. Nothing like it was ever done before, and nothing
like it can ever be done again. No worlds are left for a future Columbus
to conquer. The era of which this great Italian mariner was the most
illustrious representative has closed forever.



[Sidenote: The Discovery of America was a gradual process.]

But that era did not close with Columbus, nor did he live long enough to
complete the Discovery of America. Our practice of affixing specific
dates to great events is on many accounts indispensable, but it is
sometimes misleading. Such an event as the discovery of a pair of vast
continents does not take place within a single year. When we speak of
America as discovered in 1492, we do not mean that the moment Columbus
landed on two or three islands of the West Indies, a full outline map of
the western hemisphere from Labrador and Alaska to Cape Horn suddenly
sprang into existence--like Pallas from the forehead of Zeus--in the
minds of European men. Yet people are perpetually using arguments which
have neither force nor meaning save upon the tacit assumption that
somehow or other some such sort of thing must have happened. This
grotesque fallacy lies at the bottom of the tradition which has caused
so many foolish things to be said about that gallant mariner, Americus
Vespucius. In geographical discussions the tendency to overlook the fact
that Columbus and his immediate successors did not sail with the latest
edition of Black's General Atlas in their cabins is almost inveterate;
it keeps revealing itself in all sorts of queer statements, and probably
there is no cure for it except in familiarity with the long series of
perplexed and struggling maps made in the sixteenth century. Properly
regarded, the Discovery of America was not a single event, but a very
gradual process. It was not like a case of special creation, for it was
a case of evolution, and the voyage of 1492 was simply the most decisive
and epoch-marking incident in that evolution. Columbus himself, after
all his four eventful voyages across the Sea of Darkness, died in the
belief that he had simply discovered the best and straightest route to
the eastern shores of Asia. Yet from his first experiences in Cuba down
to his latest voyage upon the coasts of Honduras and Veragua, he was
more or less puzzled at finding things so different from what he had
anticipated. If he had really known anything with accuracy about the
eastern coast of Asia, he would doubtless soon have detected his
fundamental error, but no European in his day had any such knowledge. In
his four voyages Columbus was finding what he supposed to be parts of
Asia, what we now know to have been parts of America, but what were
really to him and his contemporaries neither more nor less than Strange
Coasts. We have now to consider briefly his further experiences upon
these strange coasts.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second voyage of Columbus was begun in a very different mood and
under very different auspices from either his former or his two
subsequent voyages. On his first departure from Palos, in 1492, all
save a few devoted friends regarded him as a madman rushing upon his
doom; and outside the Spanish peninsula the expedition seems to have
attracted no notice. But on the second start, in 1493, all hands
supposed that they were going straight to golden Cathay and to boundless
riches. It was not now with groans but with pæans that they flocked on
board the ships; and the occasion was observed, with more or less
interest, by some people in other countries of Europe,--as in Italy, and
for the moment in France and England.

[Sidenote: The letter to Sanchez.]

At the same time with his letter to Santangel, the Admiral had
despatched another account, substantially the same,[532] to Gabriel
Sanchez,[533] another officer of the royal treasury. Several copies of a
Latin translation of this letter were published at Rome, at Paris, and
elsewhere, in the course of the year 1493.[534] The story which it
contained was at once paraphrased in Italian verse by Giuliano Dati, one
of the most popular poets of the age, and perhaps in the autumn of 1493
the amazing news that the Indies had been found by sailing west[535] was
sung by street urchins in Florence. We are also informed, in an
ill-vouched but not improbable clause in Ramusio, that not far from that
same time the news was heard with admiration in London, where it was
pronounced "a thing more divine than human to sail by the West unto the
East, where spices grow, by a way that was never known before;"[536] and
it seems altogether likely that it was this news that prompted the
expedition of John Cabot hereafter to be mentioned.[537]

         [Footnote 532: "Un duplicata de cette relation," Harrisse,
         _Christophe Colomb_, tom i. p. 419.]

         [Footnote 533: Often called Raphael Sanchez.]

         [Footnote 534: The following epigram was added to the first
         Latin edition of the latter by Corbaria, Bishop of

            _Ad Invictissimum Regem Hispaniarum_:

            Iam nulla Hispanis tellus addenda triumphis,
              Atque parum tantis viribus orbis erat.
            Nunc longe eois regio deprensa sub undis,
              Auctura est titulos Betice magne tuos.
            Unde repertori inerita referenda Columbo
              Gratia, sed summo est maior habenda deo,
            Qui vincenda parat noua regna tibique sibique
              Teque simul fortem prestat et esse pium.

         These lines are thus paraphrased by M. Harrisse:--

            _To the Invincible King of the Spains_:

            Less wide the world than the renown of Spain,
            To swell her triumphs no new lands remain.
            Rejoice, Iberia! see thy fame increased!
            Another world Columbus from the East
            And the mid-ocean summons to thy sway!
            Give thanks to him--but loftier homage pay
            To God Supreme, who gives its realms to thee!
            Greatest of monarchs, first of servants be!
                         _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima_, p. 13.

         The following is a literal version:--"Already there is no land
         to be added to the triumphs of Spain, and the earth was too
         small for such great deeds. Now a far country under the eastern
         waves has been discovered, and will be an addition to thy
         titles, O great Bætica! wherefore thanks are due to the
         illustrious discover Columbus; but greater thanks to the
         supreme God, who is making ready new realms to be conquered for
         thee and for Himself, and vouchsafes to thee to be at once
         strong and pious." It will be observed that nothing is said
         about "another world."

         An elaborate account of these earliest and excessively rare
         editions is given by M. Harrisse, _loc. cit._]

         [Footnote 535: Or, as Mr. Major carelessly puts it, "the
         astounding news of the discovery of a new world." (_Select
         Letters of Columbus_, p. vi.) Mr. Major knows very well that no
         such "news" was possible for many a year after 1493; his remark
         is, of course, a mere slip of the pen, but if we are ever going
         to straighten out the tangle of misconceptions with which this
         subject is commonly surrounded, we must be careful in our
         choice of words.--As a fair specimen, of the chap-book style of
         Dati's stanzas, we may cite the fourteenth:--

            Hor vo tornar almio primo tractato
            dellisole trovate incognite a te
            in [~q]sto anno presente [~q]sto e stato
            nel millequatrocento nov[=a]tatre,
            uno che x[~p]ofan col[=o]bo chiamato,
            che e stato in corte der prefecto Re
            ha molte volte questa stimolato,
            el Re ch'cerchi acrescere il suo stato.

         M. Harrisse gives the following version:--

            Back to my theme, O Listener, turn with me
            And hear of islands all unknown to thee!
            Islands whereof the grand discovery
            Chanced in this year of fourteen ninety-three.
            One Christopher Colombo, whose resort
            Was ever in the King Fernando's court,
            Bent himself still to rouse and stimulate
            The King to swell the borders of his State.
                         _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima_, p. 29.

         The entire poem of sixty-eight stanzas is given in Major, _op.
         cit._ pp. lxxiii.-xc. It was published at Florence, Oct. 26,
         1493, and was called "the story of the discovery [not of a new
         world, but] of the new Indian islands of Canary!" (_Storia
         della inventione delle nuove isole dicanaria indiane._)]

         [Footnote 536: _Raccolta di Navigazioni_, etc., Venice, 1550,
         tom. i. fol. 414.]

         [Footnote 537: See below, vol. ii. pp. 2-15.]

[Sidenote: Earliest references to the discovery.]

[Sidenote: Earliest reference in English.]

The references to the discovery are very scanty, however, until after
the year 1500, and extremely vague withal. For example, Bernardino de
Carvajal, the Spanish ambassador at the papal court, delivered an
oration in Rome on June 19, 1493, in which he said: "And Christ placed
under their [Ferdinand and Isabella's] rule the Fortunate [Canary]
islands, the fertility of which has been ascertained to be wonderful.
And he has lately disclosed some other unknown ones towards the Indies
which may be considered among the most precious things on earth; and it
is believed that they will be gained over to Christ by the emissaries
of the king."[538] Outside of the Romance countries we find one German
version of the first letter of Columbus, published at Strasburg, in
1497,[539] and a brief allusion to the discovery in Sebastian Brandt's
famous allegorical poem, "Das Narrenschiff," the first edition of which
appeared in 1494.[540] The earliest distinct reference to Columbus in
the English language is to be found in a translation of this poem, "The
Shyppe of Fooles," by Henry Watson, published in London by Wynkyn de
Worde in 1509. The purpose of Brandt's allegory was to satirize the
follies committed by all sorts and conditions of men. In the chapter,
"Of hym that wyll wryte and enquere of all regyons," it is said: "There
was one that knewe that in y^{e} ysles of Spayne was enhabitantes.
Wherefore he asked men of Kynge Ferdynandus & wente & founde them, the
whiche lyved as beestes."[541] Until after the middle of the sixteenth
century no English chronicler mentions either Columbus or the Cabots,
nor is there anywhere an indication that the significance of the
discoveries in the western ocean was at all understood.[542]

         [Footnote 538: Harrisse, _Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima_,
         p. 35.]

         [Footnote 539: Id. p. 50.]

         [Footnote 540:
            Auch hat man sydt in Portigall
            Und in Hyspanyen uberall
            Golt-inseln funden, und nacket l[°u]t
            Von den man vor wust sagen n[°u]t.
                    Harrisse, _Bibl. Amer. Vet._; _Additions_, p. 4.

         Or, in more modern German:--

            Wie man auch jüngst von Portugal
            Und Hispanien aus schier überall
            Goldinseln fand und nakte Leute,
            Von denen man erst weiss seit heute.
                    _Das Narrenschiff_, ed. Simrock, Berlin, 1872, p. 161.

         In the Latin version of 1497, now in the National Library at
         Paris, it goes somewhat differently:--

            Antea que fuerat priscis incognita tellus:
              Exposita est oculis & manifesta patet.
            Hesperie occidue rex Ferdinandus: in alto
            Aequore nunc gentes repperit innumeras.
                    Harrisse, _op. cit._; _Additions_, p. 7.

         It will be observed that these foreign references are so
         ungallant, and so incorrect, as to give all the credit to
         Ferdinand, while poor Isabella is not mentioned!]

         [Footnote 541: Harrisse, _op. cit._; _Additions_, p. 45.]

         [Footnote 542: Harrisse, _Jean et Sebastien Cabot_, Paris,
         1882, p. 15.]

[Sidenote: Portuguese claim to the Indies.]

North of the Alps and Pyrenees the interest in what was going on at the
Spanish court in 1493 was probably confined to very few people. As for
Venice and Genoa we have no adequate means of knowing how they felt
about the matter,--a fact which in itself is significant. The interest
was centred in Spain and Portugal. There it was intense and awakened
fierce heart-burnings. Though John II. had not given his consent to the
proposal for murdering Columbus, he appears to have seriously
entertained the thought of sending a small fleet across the Atlantic as
soon as possible, to take possession of some point in Cathay or Cipango
and then dispute the claims of the Spaniards.[543] Such a summary
proceeding might perhaps be defended on the ground that the grant from
Pope Eugenius V. to the crown of Portugal expressly included "the
Indies." In the treaty of 1479, moreover, Spain had promised not to
interfere with the discoveries and possessions of the Portuguese.

         [Footnote 543: Vasconcellos, _Vida del Rey Don Juan II._,
         Madrid, 1639, lib. vi.]

[Sidenote: Bulls of Pope Alexander VI.]

But whatever King John may have intended, Ferdinand and Isabella were
too quick for him. No sooner had Columbus arrived at Barcelona than an
embassy was despatched to Rome, asking for a grant of the Indies just
discovered by that navigator in the service of Castile. The notorious
Rodrigo Borgia, who had lately been placed in the apostolic chair as
Alexander VI., was a native of Valencia in the kingdom of Aragon, and
would not be likely to refuse such a request through any excess of
regard for Portugal. As between the two rival powers the pontiff's
arrangement was made in a spirit of even-handed justice. On the 3d of
May, 1493, he issued a bull conferring upon the Spanish sovereigns all
lands already discovered or thereafter to be discovered in the western
ocean, with jurisdiction and privileges in all respects similar to those
formerly bestowed upon the crown of Portugal. This grant was made by the
pope "out of our pure liberality, certain knowledge, and plenitude of
apostolic power," and by virtue of "the authority of omnipotent God
granted to us in St. Peter, and of the Vicarship of Jesus Christ which
we administer upon the earth."[544] It was a substantial reward for the
monarchs who had completed the overthrow of Mahometan rule in Spain, and
it afforded them opportunities for further good work in converting the
heathen inhabitants of the islands and mainland of Asia.[545]

         [Footnote 544: "De nostra mera liberalitate, et ex certa
         scientia, ac de apostolicæ potestatis plenitudine." ...
         "auctoritate omnipotentis Dei nobis in beato Petro concessa, ac
         vicariatus Jesu Christi qua fungimur in terris." The same
         language is used in the second bull. Mr. Prescott (_Ferdinand
         and Isabella_, part i. chap, vii.) translates _certa scientia_
         "infallible knowledge," but in order to avoid any complications
         with modern theories concerning papal infallibility, I prefer
         to use a less technical word.]

         [Footnote 545: A year or two later the sovereigns were further
         rewarded with the decorative title of "Most Catholic." See
         Zurita, _Historia del Rey Hernando_, Saragossa, 1580, lib. ii.
         cap. xl.; Peter Martyr, _Epist._ clvii.]

[Sidenote: Treaty of Tordesillas.]

On the following day Alexander issued a second bull in order to prevent
any occasion for quarrel between Spain and Portugal.[546] He decreed
that all lands discovered or to be discovered to the west of a meridian
one hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape Verde islands should
belong to the Spaniards. Inasmuch as between the westernmost of the
Azores and the easternmost of the Cape Verde group the difference in
longitude is not far from ten degrees, this description must be allowed
to be somewhat vague, especially in a document emanating from "certain
knowledge;"[547] and it left open a source of future disputes which one
would suppose the "plenitude of apostolic power" might have been
worthily employed in closing. The meridian 25° W., however, would have
satisfied the conditions, and the equitable intent of the arrangement is
manifest. The Portuguese were left free to pursue their course of
discovery and conquest along the routes which they had always preferred.
King John, however, was not satisfied. He entertained vague hopes of
finding spice islands, or something worth having, in the western waters;
and he wished to have the Line of Demarcation carried farther to the
west. After a year of diplomatic wrangling a treaty was signed at
Tordesillas, June 7, 1494, in which Spain consented to the moving of the
line to a distance of 370 leagues west from the Cape Verde islands.[548]
It would thus on a modern map fall somewhere between the 41st and 44th
meridians west of Greenwich. This amendment had important and curious
consequences. It presently gave the Brazilian coast to the Portuguese,
and thereupon played a leading part in the singular and complicated
series of events that ended in giving the name of Americus Vespucius to
that region, whence it was afterwards gradually extended to the whole
western hemisphere.[549]

         [Footnote 546: The complete text of this bull, with Richard
         Eden's translation, is given at the end of this work; see
         below, Appendix B. The official text is in _Magnum Bullarium
         Romanum_, ed. Cherubini, Lyons, 1655, tom. i. p. 466. The
         original document received by Ferdinand and Isabella is
         preserved in the Archives of the Indies at Seville; it is
         printed entire in Navarrete, _Coleccion de viages_, tom. ii.
         No. 18. Another copy, less complete, may be found in Raynaldus,
         _Annales ecclesiastici_, Lucca, 1754, tom. xi. p. 214, No.
         19-22; and another in Leibnitz, _Codex Diplomaticus_, tom. i.
         pt. i. p. 471. It is often called the Bull "Inter Cetera," from
         its opening words.

         The origin of the pope's claim to apostolic authority for
         giving away kingdoms is closely connected with the fictitious
         "Donation of Constantine," an edict probably fabricated in Rome
         about the middle of the eighth century. The title of the old
         Latin text is _Edictum domini Constantini Imp._, apud
         Pseudo-Isidorus, _Decretalia_. Constantine's transfer of the
         seat of empire from the Tiber to the Bosphorus tended greatly
         to increase the dignity and power of the papacy, and I presume
         that the fabrication of this edict, four centuries afterward,
         was the expression of a sincere belief that the first Christian
         emperor _meant_ to leave the temporal supremacy over Italy in
         the hands of the Roman see. The edict purported to be such a
         donation from Constantine to Pope Sylvester I., but the extent
         and character of the donation was stated with such vagueness as
         to allow a wide latitude of interpretation. Its genuineness was
         repeatedly called in question, but belief in it seems to have
         grown in strength until after the thirteenth century. Leo IX.,
         who was a strong believer in its genuineness, granted in 1054
         to the Normans their conquests in Sicily and Calabria, to be
         held as a fief of the Roman see. (Muratori, _Annali d' Italia_,
         tom. vi. pt. ii. p. 245.) It was next used to sustain the papal
         claim to suzerainty over the island of Corsica. A century later
         John of Salisbury maintained the right of the pope to dispose
         "of all _islands_ on which Christ, the Sun of righteousness,
         hath shined," and in conformity with this opinion Pope Adrian
         IV. (Nicholas Breakspeare, an Englishman) authorized in 1164
         King Henry II. of England to invade and conquer Ireland. (See
         Adrian IV., _Epist._ 76, apud Migne, _Patrologia_, tom.
         clxxxviii.) Dr. Lanigan, in treating of this matter, is more an
         Irishman than a papist, and derides "this nonsense of the
         pope's being the head-owner of all Christian islands."
         (_Ecclesiastical History of Ireland_, vol. iv. p.
         159.)--Gregory VII., in working up to the doctrine that all
         Christian kingdoms should be held as fiefs under St. Peter
         (Baronius, _Annales_, tom. xvii. p. 430; cf. Villemain,
         _Histoire de Grégoire VII._, Paris, 1873, tom. ii. pp. 59-61),
         does not seem to have appealed to the Donation. Perhaps he was
         shrewd enough to foresee the kind of objection afterwards
         raised by the Albigensians, who pithily declared that if the
         suzerainty of the popes was derived from the Donation, then
         they were successors of Constantine and not of St. Peter.
         (Moneta Cremonensis, _Adversus Catharos et Waldenses_, ed.
         Ricchini, Rome, 1743, v. 2.) But Innocent IV. summarily
         disposed of this argument at the Council of Lyons in 1245, when
         he deposed the Emperor Frederick II. and King Sancho II. of
         Portugal,--saying that Christ himself had bestowed temporal as
         well as spiritual headship upon St. Peter and his successors,
         so that Constantine only gave up to the Church what belonged to
         it already. The opposite or Ghibelline theory was eloquently
         set forth by Dante, in his treatise _De Monarchia_; he held
         that inasmuch as the Empire existed before the Church, it could
         not be derived from it. Dante elsewhere expressed his
         abhorrence of the Donation:--

            Ahi Constantin, di quanto mal fu matre,
              Non la tua conversion, ma quella dote
              Che da te prese il primo ricco patre!
                                   _Inferno_, xix. 115.

         Similar sentiments were expressed by many of the most popular
         poets from the twelfth century to the sixteenth. Walther von
         der Vogelweide was sure that if the first Christian emperor
         could have foreseen the evils destined to flow from his
         Donation, he would have withheld it:--

            Solte ich den pfaffen raten an den triuwen min,
            So spræche ir haut den armen zuo: se, daz ist din,
            Ir zunge sünge, unde lieze mengem man daz sin,
            Gedæhten daz ouch si dur Got wæren almuosenære.
            Do gab ir erste teil der Kuenik Konstantin,
            Het er gewest, daz da von uebel kuenftik wære,
            So het er wol underkomen des riches swære,
            Wan daz si do waren kiusche, und uebermuete lære.
                         Hagen, _Minnesinger-Sammlung_, Leipsic, 1838,
                         bd. i. p. 270.

         Ariosto, in a passage rollicking with satire, makes his
         itinerant paladin find the "stinking" Donation in the course of
         his journey upon the moon:--

            Di varii fiori ad un gran monte passa,
            Ch' ebber già buono odore, or puzzan forte,
            Questo era il dono, se però dir lece,
            Che Constantino al buon Silvestro fece.
                         _Orlando Furioso_, xxxiv. 80.

         The Donation was finally proved to be a forgery by Laurentius
         Valla in 1440, in his _De falso credita et ementita Constantini
         donatione declamatio_ (afterward spread far and wide by Ulrich
         von Hutten), and independently by the noble Reginald Pecock,
         bishop of Chichester, in his _Repressor_, written about
         1447.--During the preceding century the theory of Gregory VII.
         and Innocent IV. had been carried to its uttermost extreme by
         the Franciscan monk Alvaro Pelayo, in his _De Planctu
         Ecclesiæ_, written at Avignon during the "Babylonish
         Captivity," about 1350 (printed at Venice in 1560), and by
         Agostino Trionfi, in his _Summa de potestate ecclesiastica_,
         Augsburg, 1473, an excessively rare book, of which there is a
         copy in the British Museum. These writers maintained that the
         popes were suzerains of the whole earth and had absolute power
         to dispose not only of all Christian kingdoms, but also of all
         heathen lands and powers. It was upon this theory that Eugenius
         IV. seems to have acted with reference to Portugal and
         Alexander VI. with reference to Spain. Of course there was
         never a time when such claims for the papacy were not denied by
         a large party within the Church. The Spanish sovereigns in
         appealing to Alexander VI. took care to hint that some of their
         advisers regarded them as already entitled to enjoy the fruits
         of their discoveries, even before obtaining the papal
         permission, but they did not choose to act upon that opinion
         (Herrera, decad. i. lib. ii. cap. 4). The kings of Portugal
         were less reserved in their submission. In _Valasci Ferdinandi
         ad Innocentium octauum de obedientia oratio_, a small quarto
         printed at Rome about 1488, John II. did homage to the pope for
         the countries just discovered by Bartholomew Dias. His
         successor Emanuel did the same after the voyages of Gama and
         Vespucius. In a small quarto, _Obedientia potentissimi
         Emanuelis Lusitaniæ regis &c. per clarissimum juris consultum
         Dieghum Pacett[=u] oratorem ad Iuli[=u] Pont. Max._, Rome,
         1505, all the newly found lands are laid at the feet of Julius
         II. in a passage that ends with words worth noting: "Accipe
         tandem orbem ipsum terrarum, Deus enim noster es," i. e.
         "Accept in fine the earth itself, for thou art our God."
         Similar homage was rendered to Leo X. in 1513, on account of
         Albuquerque's conquests in Asia.--We may suspect that if the
         papacy had retained, at the end of the fifteenth century,
         anything like the overshadowing power which it possessed at the
         end of the twelfth, the kings of Portugal would not have been
         quite so unstinted in their homage. As it came to be less of a
         reality and more of a flourish of words, it cost less to offer
         it. Among some modern Catholics I have observed a disposition
         to imagine that in the famous bull of partition Alexander VI.
         acted not as supreme pontiff but merely as an arbiter, in the
         modern sense, between the crowns of Spain and Portugal; but
         such an interpretation is hardly compatible with Alexander's
         own words. An arbiter, as such, does not make awards by virtue
         of "the authority of Omnipotent God granted to us in St. Peter,
         and of the Vicarship of Jesus Christ which we administer upon
         the earth."

         Since writing this note my attention has been called to Dr.
         Ignaz von Döllinger's _Fables respecting the Popes of the
         Middle Ages_, London, 1871; and I find in it a chapter on the
         Donation of Constantine, in which the subject is treated with a
         wealth of learning. Some of my brief references are there
         discussed at considerable length. To the references to Dante
         there is added a still more striking passage, where Constantine
         is admitted into Heaven _in spite of_ his Donation (_Paradiso_,
         xx. 55).]

         [Footnote 547: The language of the bull is even more vague than
         my version in the text. His Holiness describes the lands to be
         given to the Spaniards as lying "to the west and south" (versus
         occidentem et meridiem) of his dividing meridian. Land to the
         south of a meridian would be in a queer position! Probably it
         was meant to say that the Spaniards, once west of the papal
         meridian, might go south as well as north. For the king of
         Portugal had suggested that they ought to confine themselves to
         northern waters.]

         [Footnote 548: For the original Spanish text of the treaty of
         Tordesillas, see Navarrete, tom. ii. pp. 116-130.]

         [Footnote 549: See below, vol. ii. pp. 98-154.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca.]

Already in April, 1493, without waiting for the papal sanction,
Ferdinand and Isabella bent all their energies to the work of fitting
out an expedition for taking possession of "the Indies." First, a
department of Indian affairs was created, and at its head was placed
Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca, archdeacon of Seville: in Spain a man in high
office was apt to be a clergyman. This Fonseca was all-powerful in
Indian affairs for the next thirty years. He won and retained the
confidence of the sovereigns by virtue of his executive ability. He was
a man of coarse fibre, ambitious and domineering, cold-hearted and
perfidious, with a cynical contempt--such as low-minded people are apt
to call "smart"--for the higher human feelings. He was one of those ugly
customers who crush, without a twinge of compunction, whatever comes in
their way. The slightest opposition made him furious, and his
vindictiveness was insatiable. This dexterous and pushing Fonseca held
one after another the bishoprics of Badajoz, Cordova, Palencia, and
Conde, the archbishopric of Rosano in Italy, together with the bishopric
of Burgos, and he was also principal chaplain to Isabella and afterwards
to Ferdinand. As Sir Arthur Helps observes, "the student of early
American history will have a bad opinion of many Spanish bishops, if he
does not discover that it is Bishop Fonseca who reappears under
various designations."[550] Sir Arthur fitly calls him "the ungodly

         [Footnote 550: _History of the Spanish Conquest_, vol. i. p.

[Sidenote: Friar Boyle.]

The headquarters of Fonseca and of the Indian department were
established at Seville, and a special Indian custom-house was set up at
Cadiz. There was to be another custom-house upon the island of
Hispaniola (supposed to be Japan), and a minute registry was to be kept
of all ships and their crews and cargoes, going out or coming in. Nobody
was to be allowed to go to the Indies for any purpose whatever without a
license formally obtained. Careful regulations were made for hampering
trade and making everything as vexatious as possible for traders,
according to the ordinary wisdom of governments in such matters. All
expenses were to be borne and all profits received by the crown of
Castile, saving the rights formerly guaranteed to Columbus. The cost of
the present expedition was partly defrayed with stolen money, the
plunder wrung from the worthy and industrious Jews who had been driven
from their homes by the infernal edict of the year before. Extensive
"requisitions" were also made; in other words, when the sovereigns
wanted a ship or a barrel of gunpowder they seized it, and impressed it
into the good work of converting the heathen. To superintend this
missionary work, a Franciscan monk[551] was selected who had lately
distinguished himself as a diplomatist in the dispute with France over
the border province of Rousillon. This person was a native of Catalonia,
and his name was Bernardo Boyle, which strongly suggests an Irish
origin. Alexander VI. appointed him his apostolic vicar for the
Indies,[552] and he seems to have been the first clergyman to perform
mass on the western shores of the Atlantic. To assist the vicar, the six
Indians brought over by Columbus were baptized at Barcelona, with the
king and queen for their godfather and godmother. It was hoped that they
would prove useful as missionaries, and when one of them presently died
he was said to be the first Indian ever admitted to heaven.[553]

         [Footnote 551: Irving calls him a Benedictine, but he is
         addressed as "fratri ordinis Minorum" in the bull clothing him
         with apostolic authority in the Indies, June 25, 1493. See
         Raynaldus, _Annales ecclesiastici_, tom. xi. p. 216. I cannot
         imagine what M. Harrisse means by calling him "religieux de
         Saint-Vincent de Paule" (_Christophe Colomb_, tom. ii. p. 55).
         Vincent de Paul was not born till 1576.]

         [Footnote 552: Not for "the New World," as Irving carelessly
         has it in his _Columbus_, vol. i. p. 346. No such phrase had
         been thought of in 1493, or until long afterward.]

         [Footnote 553: Herrera, _Hist. de las Indias_, decad. i. lib.
         ii. cap. 5.]

The three summer months were occupied in fitting out the little fleet.
There were fourteen caravels, and three larger store-ships known as
carracks. Horses, mules, and other cattle were put on board,[554] as
well as vines and sugar-canes, and the seeds of several European
cereals, for it was intended to establish a permanent colony upon
Hispaniola. In the course of this work some slight matters of
disagreement came up between Columbus and Fonseca, and the question
having been referred to the sovereigns, Fonseca was mildly snubbed and
told that he must in all respects be guided by the Admiral's wishes.
From that time forth this ungodly prelate nourished a deadly hatred
toward Columbus, and never lost an opportunity for whispering evil
things about him. The worst of the grievous afflictions that afterward
beset the great discoverer must be ascribed to the secret machinations
of this wretch.

         [Footnote 554: _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. xliv.]

[Sidenote: Notable persons who embarked on the second voyage.]

At last the armament was ready. People were so eager to embark that it
was felt necessary to restrain them. It was not intended to have more
than 1,200, but about 1,500 in all contrived to go, so that some of the
caravels must have been overcrowded. The character of the company was
very different from that of the year before. Those who went in the first
voyage were chiefly common sailors. Now there were many aristocratic
young men, hot-blooded and feather-headed hidalgos whom the surrender of
Granada had left without an occupation. Most distinguished among these
was Alonso de Ojeda, a dare-devil of unrivalled muscular strength, full
of energy and fanfaronade, and not without generous qualities, but with
very little soundness of judgment or character. Other notable personages
in this expedition were Columbus's youngest brother Giacomo (henceforth
called Diego), who had come from Genoa at the first news of the
Admiral's triumphant return; the monk Antonio de Marchena,[555] whom
historians have so long confounded with the prior Juan Perez; an
Aragonese gentleman named Pedro Margarite, a favourite of the king and
destined to work sad mischief; Juan Ponce de Leon, who afterwards gave
its name to Florida; Francisco de Las Casas, father of the great apostle
and historian of the Indies; and, last but not least, the pilot Juan de
La Cosa, now charged with the work of chart-making, in which he was an
acknowledged master.[556]

         [Footnote 555: He went as astronomer, from which we may perhaps
         suppose that scientific considerations had made him one of the
         earliest and most steadfast upholders of Columbus's views.]

         [Footnote 556: See Harrisse, _Christophe Colomb_, tom. ii. pp.
         55, 56; Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. i. p. 498;
         Fabié, _Vida de Las Casas_, Madrid, 1879, tom. i. p. 11;
         Oviedo, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. i. p. 467; Navarrete,
         _Coleccion de viages_, tom. ii. pp. 143-149.]

[Sidenote: Cruise among the cannibal islands.]

The pomp and bustle of the departure from Cadiz, September 25, 1493, at
which the Admiral's two sons, Diego and Ferdinand, were present, must
have been one of the earliest recollections of the younger boy, then
just five years of age.[557] Again Columbus stopped at the Canary
islands, this time to take on board goats and sheep, pigs and fowls, for
he had been struck by the absence of all such animals on the coasts
which he had visited.[558] Seeds of melons, oranges, and lemons were
also taken. On the 7th of October the ships weighed anchor, heading a
trifle to the south of west, and after a pleasant and uneventful voyage
they sighted land on the 3d of November.[559] It turned out to be a
small mountainous island, and as it was discovered on Sunday they called
it Dominica. In a fortnight's cruise in these Caribbean waters they
discovered and named several islands, such as Marigalante, Guadaloupe,
Antigua, and others, and at length reached Porto Rico. The inhabitants
of these islands were ferocious cannibals, very different from the
natives encountered on the former voyage. There were skirmishes in which
a few Spaniards were killed with poisoned arrows. On Guadaloupe the
natives lived in square houses made of saplings intertwined with reeds,
and on the rude porticoes attached to these houses some of the wooden
pieces were carved so as to look like serpents. In some of these houses
human limbs were hanging from the roof, cured with smoke, like ham; and
fresh pieces of human flesh were found stewing in earthen kettles, along
with the flesh of parrots. Now at length, said Peter Martyr, was proved
the truth of the stories of Polyphemus and the Læstrygonians, and the
reader must look out lest his hair stand on end.[560] These western
Læstrygonians were known as Caribbees, Caribales, or Canibales, and have
thus furnished an epithet which we have since learned to apply to
man-eaters the world over.

         [Footnote 557: "E con questo preparamento il mercoledé ai 25
         del mese di settembre dell' anno 1493 un' ora avanti il levar
         del sole, essendovi io e mio fratel presenti, l' Ammiraglio
         levò le ancore," etc. _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. xliv.]

         [Footnote 558: Eight sows were bought for 70 maravedis apiece,
         and "destas ocho puercas se han multiplicado todos los puercos
         que, hasta hoy, ha habido y hay en todas estas Indias," etc.
         Las Casas, _Historia_, tom. ii. p. 3.]

         [Footnote 559: The relation of this second voyage by Dr. Chanca
         may be found in Navarrete, tom. i. pp. 198-241; an interesting
         relation in Italian by Simone Verde, a Florentine merchant then
         living in Valladolid, is published in Harrisse, _Christophe
         Colomb_, tom. ii. pp. 68-78. The narrative of the curate of Los
         Palacios is of especial value for this voyage.]

         [Footnote 560: Martyr, _Epist._ cxlvii. _ad Pomponium Lætum_;
         cf. _Odyssey_, x. 119; Thucyd. vi. 2.--Irving (vol. i. p. 385)
         finds it hard to believe these stories, but the prevalence of
         cannibalism, not only in these islands, but throughout a very
         large part of aboriginal America, has been superabundantly

[Sidenote: Fate of the colony at La Navidad.]

It was late at night on the 27th of November that Columbus arrived in
the harbour of La Navidad and fired a salute to arouse the attention of
the party that had been left there the year before. There was no reply
and the silence seemed fraught with evil omen. On going ashore next
morning and exploring the neighbourhood, the Spaniards came upon sights
of dismal significance. The fortress was pulled to pieces and partly
burnt, the chests of provisions were broken open and emptied, tools and
fragments of European clothing were found in the houses of the natives,
and finally eleven corpses, identifiable as those of white men, were
found buried near the fort. Not one of the forty men who had been left
behind in that place ever turned up to tell the tale. The little colony
of La Navidad had been wiped out of existence. From the Indians,
however, Columbus gathered bits of information that made a sufficiently
probable story. It was a typical instance of the beginnings of
colonization in wild countries. In such instances human nature has shown
considerable uniformity. Insubordination and deadly feuds among
themselves had combined with reckless outrages upon the natives to
imperil the existence of this little party of rough sailors. The cause
to which Horace ascribes so many direful wars, both before and since the
days of fairest Helen, seems to have been the principal cause on this
occasion. At length a fierce chieftain named Caonabo, from the region of
Xaragua, had attacked the Spaniards in overwhelming force, knocked their
blockhouse about their heads, and butchered all that were left of them.

[Sidenote: Building of Isabella.]

[Sidenote: Exploration of Cibao.]

This was a gloomy welcome to the land of promise. There was nothing to
be done but to build new fortifications and found a town. The site
chosen for this new settlement, which was named Isabella, was at a good
harbour about thirty miles east of Monte Christi. It was chosen because
Columbus understood from the natives that it was not far from there to
the gold-bearing mountains of Cibao, a name which still seemed to
signify Cipango. Quite a neat little town was presently built, with
church, marketplace, public granary, and dwelling-houses, the whole
encompassed with a stone wall. An exploring party led by Ojeda into the
mountains of Cibao found gold dust and pieces of gold ore in the beds of
the brooks, and returned elated with this discovery. Twelve of the ships
were now sent back to Spain for further supplies and reinforcements, and
specimens of the gold were sent as an earnest of what was likely to be
found. At length, in March, 1494, Columbus set forth, with 400 armed
men, to explore the Cibao country. The march was full of interest. It is
upon this occasion that we first find mention of the frantic terror
manifested by Indians at the sight of horses. At first they supposed the
horse and his rider to be a kind of centaur, and when the rider
dismounted this separation of one creature into two overwhelmed them
with supernatural terror. Even when they had begun to get over this
notion they were in dread of being eaten by the horses.[561] These
natives lived in houses grouped into villages, and had carved wooden
idols and rude estufas for their tutelar divinities. It was ascertained
that different tribes tried to steal each other's idols and even fought
for the possession of valuable objects of "medicine."[562] Columbus
observed and reported the customs of these people with some minuteness.
There was nothing that agreed with Marco Polo's descriptions of Cipango,
but so far as concerned the discovery of gold mines, the indications
were such as to leave little doubt of the success of this
reconnaissance. The Admiral now arranged his forces so as to hold the
inland regions just visited and gave the general command to Margarite,
who was to continue the work of exploration. He left his brother, Diego
Columbus, in charge of the colony, and taking three caravels set sail
from Isabella on the 24th of April, on a cruise of discovery in these
Asiatic waters.

         [Footnote 561: For an instance of 400 hostile Indians fleeing
         before a single armed horseman, see _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_,
         cap. lii.; Las Casas, _Hist._ tom. ii. p. 46.]

         [Footnote 562: Compare the Fisherman's story of Drogio, above,
         pp. 246, 252.]

[Illustration: Discoveries made by Columbus in his first and second

[Sidenote: Cape Alpha and Omega.]

A brief westward sail brought the little squadron into the Windward
Passage and in sight of Cape Mayzi, which Columbus on his first voyage
had named Cape Alpha and Omega as being the easternmost point on the
Chinese coast. He believed that if he were to sail to the right of this
cape he should have the continent on his port side for a thousand miles
and more, as far as Quinsay and Cambaluc (Peking). If he had sailed
in this direction and had succeeded in keeping to the east of Florida,
he would have kept a continent on his port side, and a thousand miles
would have taken him a long way toward that Vinland which our
Scandinavian friends would fondly have us believe was his secret
guiding-star, and the geographical position of which they suppose him to
have known with such astounding accuracy. But on this as on other
occasions, if the Admiral had ever received any information about
Vinland, it must be owned that he treated it very cavalierly, for he
chose the course to the left of Cape Mayzi. His decision is intelligible
if we bear in mind that he had not yet circumnavigated Hayti and was not
yet cured of his belief that its northern shore was the shore of the
great Cipango. At the same time he had seen enough on his first voyage
to convince him that the relative positions of Cipango and the mainland
of Cathay were not correctly laid down upon the Toscanelli map. He had
already inspected two or three hundred miles of the coast to the right
of Cape Mayzi without finding traces of civilization; and whenever
inquiries were made about gold or powerful kingdoms the natives
invariably pointed to the south or southwest. Columbus, therefore,
decided to try his luck in this direction. He passed to the left of Cape
Mayzi and followed the southern coast of Cuba.

[Sidenote: Discovery of Jamaica.]

By the 3d of May the natives were pointing so persistently to the south
and off to sea that he changed his course in that direction and soon
came upon the northern coast of the island which we still know by its
native name Jamaica. Here he found Indians more intelligent and more
warlike than any he had as yet seen. He was especially struck with the
elegance of their canoes, some of them nearly a hundred feet in length,
carved and hollowed from the trunks of tall trees. We may already
observe that different tribes of Indians comported themselves very
differently at the first sight of white men. While the natives of some
of the islands prostrated themselves in adoration of these
sky-creatures, or behaved with a timorous politeness which the Spaniards
mistook for gentleness of disposition, in other places the red men
showed fight at once, acting upon the brute impulse to drive away
strangers. In both cases, of course, dread of the unknown was the
prompting impulse, though so differently manifested. As the Spaniards
went ashore upon Jamaica, the Indians greeted them with a shower of
javelins and for a few moments stood up against the deadly fire of the
cross-bows, but when they turned to flee, a single bloodhound, let loose
upon them, scattered them in wildest panic.[563]

         [Footnote 563: Bernaldez, _Reyes Católicos_, cap. cxxv.
         Domesticated dogs were found generally in aboriginal America,
         but they were very paltry curs compared to these fierce hounds,
         one of which could handle an unarmed man as easily as a terrier
         handles a rat.]

[Sidenote: Coasting the south side of Cuba.]

Finding no evidences of civilization upon this beautiful island,
Columbus turned northward and struck the Cuban coast again at the point
which still bears the name he gave it, Cape Cruz. Between the general
contour of this end of Cuba and that of the eastern extremity of Cathay
upon the Toscanelli map there is a curious resemblance, save that the
direction is in the one case more east and west and in the other more
north and south. Columbus passed no cities like Zaiton, nor cities of
any sort, but when he struck into the smiling archipelago which he
called the Queen's Gardens, now known as Cayos de las Doce Leguas, he
felt sure that he was among Marco Polo's seven thousand spice islands.
On the 3d of June, at some point on the Cuban coast, probably near
Trinidad, the crops of several doves were opened and spices found in
them. None of the natives here had ever heard of an end to Cuba, and
they believed it was endless.[564] The next country to the west of
themselves was named Mangon, and it was inhabited by people with tails
which they carefully hid by wearing loose robes of cloth. This
information seemed decisive to Columbus. Evidently this Mangon was
Mangi, the province in which was the city of Zaiton, the province just
south of Cathay. And as for the tailed men, the book of Mandeville had a
story of some naked savages in eastern Asia who spoke of their more
civilized neighbours as wearing clothes in order to cover up some bodily
peculiarity or defect. Could there be any doubt that the Spanish
caravels had come at length to the coast of opulent Mangi?[565]

         [Footnote 564: As a Greek would have said, [Greek: êpeiros], a

         [Footnote 565: Bernaldez, _Reyes Católicos_, cap. cxxvii, Mr.
         Irving, in citing these same incidents from Bernaldez, could
         not quite rid himself of the feeling that there was something
         strange or peculiar in the Admiral's method of interpreting
         such information: "Animated by one of the pleasing illusions of
         his ardent imagination, Columbus pursued his voyage, with a
         prosperous breeze, along the supposed continent of Asia."
         (_Life of Columbus_, vol. i. p. 493.) This lends a false colour
         to the picture, which the general reader is pretty sure to make
         still falser. To suppose the southern coast of Cuba to be the
         southern coast of Toscanelli's Mangi required no illusion of an
         "ardent imagination." It was simply a plain common-sense
         conclusion reached by sober reasoning from such data as were
         then accessible (i. e. the Toscanelli map, amended by
         information such as was understood to be given by the natives);
         it was more probable than any other theory of the situation
         likely to be devised from those data; and it seems fanciful to
         us to-day only because knowledge acquired since the time of
         Columbus has shown us how far from correct it was. Modern
         historians abound in unconscious turns of expression--as in
         this quotation from Irving--which project modern knowledge back
         into the past, and thus destroy the historical perspective. I
         shall mention several other instances from Irving, and the
         reader must not suppose that this is any indication of
         captiousness on my part toward a writer for whom my only
         feeling is that of sincerest love and veneration.]

[Sidenote: The "people of Mangon."]

[Sidenote: The Golden Chersonese.]

Under the influence of this belief, when a few days later they landed in
search of fresh water, and a certain archer, on the lookout for game,
caught distant glimpses of a flock of tall white cranes feeding in an
everglade, he fled to his comrades with the story that he had seen a
party of men clad in long white tunics, and all agreed that these must
be the people of Mangon.[566] Columbus sent a small company ashore to
find them. It is needless to add that the search was fruitless, but
footprints of alligators, interpreted as footprints of griffins guarding
hoarded gold,[567] frightened the men back to their ships. From the
natives, with whom the Spaniards could converse only by signs, they
seemed to learn that they were going toward the realm of Prester
John;[568] and in such wise did they creep along the coast to the point,
some fifty miles west of Broa Bay, where it begins to trend decidedly to
the southwest. Before they had reached Point Mangles, a hundred miles
farther on, inasmuch as they found this southwesterly trend persistent,
the proof that they were upon the coast of the Asiatic continent began
to seem complete. Columbus thought that they had passed the point (lat.
23°, long. 145° on Toscanelli's map) where the coast of Asia began to
trend steadily toward the southwest.[569] By pursuing this coast he felt
sure that he would eventually reach the peninsula (Malacca) which
Ptolemy, who knew of it only by vague hearsay, called the Golden
Chersonese.[570] An immense idea now flitted through the mind of
Columbus. If he could reach and double that peninsula he could then find
his way to the mouth of the Ganges river; thence he might cross the
Indian ocean, pass the Cape of Good Hope (for Dias had surely shown that
the way was open), and return that way to Spain after circumnavigating
the globe! But fate had reserved this achievement for another man of
great heart and lofty thoughts, a quarter of a century later, who should
indeed accomplish what Columbus dreamed, but only after crossing another
Sea of Darkness, the most stupendous body of water on our globe, the
mere existence of which until after Columbus had died no European ever
suspected.[571] If Columbus had now sailed about a hundred miles
farther, he would have found the end of Cuba, and might perhaps have
skirted the northern shore of Yucatan and come upon the barbaric
splendours of Uxmal and Campeche. The excitement which such news would
have caused in Spain might perhaps have changed all the rest of his life
and saved him from the worst of his troubles. But the crews were now
unwilling to go farther, and the Admiral realized that it would be
impossible to undertake such a voyage as he had in mind with no more
than their present outfit. So it was decided to return to Hispaniola.

         [Footnote 566: These tropical birds are called _soldados_, or
         "soldiers," because their stately attitudes remind one of
         sentinels on duty. The whole town of Angostura, in Venezuela,
         was one day frightened out of its wits by the sudden appearance
         of a flock of these cranes on the summit of a neighbouring
         hill. They were mistaken for a war-party of Indians. Humboldt,
         _Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent_, tom.
         ii. p. 314.]

         [Footnote 567: See above, p. 287, note.]

         [Footnote 568: For these events, see Bernaldez, _Reyes
         Católicos_, cap. cxxiii.; F. Columbus, _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_,
         cap. lvi.; Muñoz, _Historia del Nuevo Mundo_, lib. v. § 16;
         Humboldt, _Examen critique_, tom. iv. pp. 237-263; Irving's
         _Columbus_, vol. i. pp. 491-504.]

         [Footnote 569: That is to say, he thought he had passed the
         coast of Mangi (southern China) and reached the beginning of
         the coast of Champa (Cochin China; see Yule's _Marco Polo_,
         vol. ii. p. 213). The name Champa, coming to European writers
         through an Italian source, was written Ciampa and Ciamba. See
         its position on the Behaim and Toscanelli maps, and also on
         Ruysch's map, 1508, below, vol. ii. p. 114. Peter Martyr says
         that Columbus was sure that he had reached the coast of
         Gangetic (i. e. what we call Farther) India: "Indiæ Gangetidis
         continentem eam (Cubæ) plagam esse contendit Colonus." _Epist._
         xciii. _ad Bernardinum_. Of course Columbus understood that
         this region, while agreeing well enough with Toscanelli's
         latitude, was far from agreeing with his longitude. But from
         the moment when he turned eastward on his first voyage he seems
         to have made up his mind that Toscanelli's longitudes needed
         serious amendment. Indeed he had always used different
         measurements from Toscanelli.]

         [Footnote 570: For an account of Ptolemy's almost purely
         hypothetical and curiously distorted notions about southeastern
         Asia, see Bunbury's _History of Ancient Geography_, vol. ii.
         pp. 604-608.]

         [Footnote 571: See below, vol. ii. pp. 200-210.]

Upon consultation with La Cosa and others, it was unanimously agreed
that they were upon the coast of the continent of Asia. The evidence
seemed conclusive. From Cape Mayzi (Alpha and Omega) they had observed,
upon their own reckoning, 335 leagues, or about 1,000 geographical
miles, of continuous coast running steadily in nearly the same
direction.[572] Clearly it was too long for the coast of an island; and
then there was the name Mangon = Mangi. The only puzzling circumstance
was that they did not find any of Marco Polo's cities. They kept getting
scraps of information which seemed to refer to gorgeous kingdoms, but
these were always in the dim distance. Still there was no doubt that
they had discovered the coast of a continent, and of course such a
continent could be nothing else but Asia!

         [Footnote 572: The length of Cuba from Cape Mayzi to Cape San
         Antonio is about 700 English miles. But in following the
         sinuosities of the coast, and including tacks, the estimate of
         these pilots was probably not far from correct.]

[Sidenote: A solemn expression of opinion.]

Such unanimity of opinion might seem to leave nothing to be desired. But
Columbus had already met with cavillers. Before he started on this
cruise from Isabella, some impatient hidalgos, disgusted at finding much
to do and little to get, had begun to hint that the Admiral was a
humbug, and that his "Indies" were no such great affair after all. In
order to silence these ill-natured critics, he sent his notary,
accompanied by four witnesses, to every person in those three caravels,
to get a sworn statement. If anybody had a grain of doubt about this
coast being the coast of Asia, so that you could go ashore there and
walk on dry land all the way to Spain if so disposed, let him declare
his doubts once for all, so that they might now be duly considered. No
one expressed any doubts. All declared, under oath, their firm belief.
It was then agreed that if any of the number should thereafter deny or
contradict this sworn statement, he should have his tongue slit;[573]
and if an officer, he should be further punished with a fine of 10,000
maravedis, or if a sailor, with a hundred lashes. These proceedings were
embodied in a formal document, dated June 12, 1494, which is still to be
seen in the Archives of the Indies at Seville.[574]

         [Footnote 573: "É cortada la lengua;" "y le cortarian la
         lengua." Irving understands it to mean cutting off the tongue.
         But in those days of symbolism slitting the tip of that unruly
         member was a recognized punishment for serious lying.]

         [Footnote 574: It is printed in full in Navarrete, torn. ii.
         pp. 143-149.]

Having disposed of this solemn matter, the three caravels turned
eastward, touching at the Isle of Pines and coasting back along the
south side of Cuba. The headland where the Admiral first became
convinced of the significance of the curvature of the coast, he named
Cape of Good Hope,[575] believing it to be much nearer the goal which
all were seeking than the other cape of that name, discovered by Dias
seven years before.

         [Footnote 575: It is given upon La Cosa's map; see below, vol.
         ii., frontispiece.]

[Sidenote: Vicissitudes of theory.]

It will be remembered that the Admiral, upon his first voyage, had
carried home with him two theories,--first, that in the Cuban coast he
had already discovered that of the continent of Asia, secondly that
Hispaniola was Cipango. The first theory seemed to be confirmed by
further experience; the second was now to receive a serious shock.
Leaving Cape Cruz the caravels stood over to Jamaica, leisurely explored
the southern side of that island, and as soon as adverse winds would let
them, kept on eastward till land appeared on the port bow. Nobody
recognized it until an Indian chief who had learned some Spanish hailed
them from the shore and told them it was Hispaniola. They then followed
that southern coast its whole length, discovering the tiny islands,
Beata, Saona, and Mona. Here Columbus, overcome by long-sustained
fatigue and excitement, suddenly fell into a death-like lethargy, and in
this sad condition was carried all the way to Isabella, and to his own
house, where he was put to bed. Hispaniola had thus been
circumnavigated, and either it was not Cipango or else that wonderland
must be a much smaller affair than Toscanelli and Martin Behaim had
depicted it.[576] There was something truly mysterious about these
Strange Coasts!

         [Footnote 576: Hispaniola continued, however, for many years to
         be commonly identified with Cipango. See note D on Ruysch's
         map, 1508, below, vol. ii. p. 114.]

[Sidenote: Arrival of Bartholomew Columbus.]

When Columbus, after many days, recovered consciousness, he found his
brother Bartholomew standing by his bedside. It was six years since they
had last parted company at Lisbon, whence the younger brother started
for England, while the elder returned to Spain. The news of
Christopher's return from his first voyage found Bartholomew in Paris,
whence he started as soon as he could for Seville, but did not arrive
there until just after the second expedition had started. Presently the
sovereigns sent him with three ships to Hispaniola, to carry supplies to
the colony; and there he arrived while the Admiral was exploring the
coast of Cuba. The meeting of the two brothers was a great relief to
both. The affection between them was very strong, and each was a support
for the other. The Admiral at once proceeded to appoint Bartholomew to
the office of Adelantado, which in this instance was equivalent to
making him governor of Hispaniola under himself, the Viceroy of the
Indies. In making this appointment Columbus seems to have exceeded the
authority granted him by the second article of his agreement of April,
1492, with the sovereigns;[577] but they mended the matter in 1497 by
themselves investing Bartholomew with the office and dignity of

         [Footnote 577: See above, p. 417.]

         [Footnote 578: Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. ii. p.

[Sidenote: Mutiny in Hispaniola; desertion of Boyle and Margarite.]

Columbus was in need of all the aid he could summon, for, during his
absence, the island had become a pandemonium. His brother Diego, a man
of refined and studious habits, who afterwards became a priest, was too
mild in disposition to govern the hot-heads who had come to Hispaniola
to get rich without labour. They would not submit to the rule of this
foreigner. Instead of doing honest work they roamed about the island,
abusing the Indians and slaying one another in silly quarrels. Chief
among the offenders was King Ferdinand's favourite, the commander
Margarite; and he was aided and abetted by Friar Boyle. Some time after
Bartholomew's arrival, these two men of Aragon gathered about them a
party of malcontents and, seizing the ships which had brought that
mariner, sailed away to Spain. Making their way to court, they sought
pardon for thus deserting the colony, saying that duty to their
sovereigns demanded that they should bring home a report of what was
going on in the Indies. They decried the value of Columbus's
discoveries, and reminded the king that Hispaniola was taking money out
of the treasury much faster than it was putting it in; an argument well
calculated to influence Ferdinand that summer, for he was getting ready
to go to war with France over the Naples affair. Then the two recreants
poured forth a stream of accusations against the brothers Columbus, the
general purport of which was that they were gross tyrants not fit to be
trusted with the command of Spaniards.

[Sidenote: The government of Columbus was not tyrannical.]

No marked effect seems to have been produced by these first complaints,
but when Margarite and Boyle were once within reach of Fonseca, we need
not wonder that mischief was soon brewing. It was unfortunate for
Columbus that his work of exploration was hampered by the necessity of
founding a colony and governing a parcel of unruly men let loose in the
wilderness, far away from the powerful restraints of civilized society.
Such work required undivided attention and extraordinary talent for
command. It does not appear that Columbus was lacking in such talent. On
the contrary both he and his brother Bartholomew seem to have possessed
it in a high degree. But the situation was desperately bad when the
spirit of mutiny was fomented by deadly enemies at court. I do not find
adequate justification for the charges of tyranny brought against
Columbus. The veracity and fairness of the history of Las Casas are
beyond question; in his divinely beautiful spirit one sees now and then
a trace of tenderness even for Fonseca, whose conduct toward him was
always as mean and malignant as toward Columbus. One gets from Las Casas
the impression that the Admiral's high temper was usually kept under
firm control, and that he showed far less severity than most men would
have done under similar provocation. Bartholomew was made of sterner
stuff, but his whole career presents no instance of wanton cruelty;
toward both white men and Indians his conduct was distinguished by
clemency and moderation. Under the government of these brothers a few
scoundrels were hanged in Hispaniola. Many more ought to have been.

[Sidenote: Troubles with the Indians.]

Of the attempt of Columbus to collect tribute from the native
population, and its consequences in developing the system of
_repartimientos_ out of which grew Indian slavery, I shall treat in a
future chapter.[579] That attempt, which was ill-advised and
ill-managed, was part of a plan for checking wanton depredations and
regulating the relations between the Spaniards and the Indians. The
colonists behaved so badly toward the red men that the chieftain
Caonabo, who had destroyed La Navidad the year before, now formed a
scheme[580] for a general alliance among the native tribes, hoping with
sufficient numbers to overwhelm and exterminate the strangers, in spite
of their solid-hoofed monsters and death-dealing thunderbolts. This
scheme was revealed to Columbus, soon after his return from the coast of
Cuba, by the chieftain Guacanagari, who was an enemy to Caonabo and
courted the friendship of the Spaniards. Alonso de Ojeda, by a daring
stratagem, captured Caonabo and brought him to Columbus, who treated him
kindly but kept him a prisoner until it should be convenient to send him
to Spain. But this chieftain's scheme was nevertheless put in operation
through the influence of his principal wife Anacaona. An Indian war
broke out; roaming bands of Spaniards were ambushed and massacred; and
there was fighting in the field, where the natives--assailed by firearms
and cross-bows, horses and bloodhounds--were wofully defeated.

         [Footnote 579: See below, vol. ii. pp. 433, 434.]

         [Footnote 580: The first of a series of such schemes in
         American history, including those of Sassacus, Philip, Pontiac,
         and to some extent Tecumseh.]

[Sidenote: Mission of Aguado.]

[Sidenote: Discovery of gold mines.]

[Sidenote: Speculations about Ophir.]

Thus in the difficult task of controlling mutinous white men and
defending the colony against infuriated red men Columbus spent the first
twelvemonth after his return from Cuba. In October, 1495, there arrived
in the harbour of Isabella four caravels laden with welcome supplies. In
one of these ships came Juan Aguado, sent by the sovereigns to gather
information respecting the troubles of the colony. This appointment
was doubtless made in a friendly spirit, for Columbus had formerly
recommended Aguado to favour. But the arrival of such a person created a
hope, which quickly grew into a belief, that the sovereigns were
preparing to deprive Columbus of the government of the island; and, as
Irving neatly says, "it was a time of jubilee for offenders; every
culprit started up into an accuser." All the ills of the colony, many of
them inevitable in such an enterprise, many of them due to the
shiftlessness and folly, the cruelty and lust of idle swash-bucklers,
were now laid at the door of Columbus. Aguado was presently won over by
the malcontents, so that by the time he was ready to return to Spain,
early in 1496, Columbus felt it desirable to go along with him and make
his own explanations to the sovereigns. Fortunately for his purposes,
just before he started, some rich gold mines were discovered on the
south side of the island, in the neighbourhood of the Hayna and Ozema
rivers. Moreover there were sundry pits in these mines, which looked
like excavations and seemed to indicate that in former times there had
been digging done.[581] This discovery confirmed the Admiral in a new
theory, which he was beginning to form. If it should turn out that
Hispaniola was not Cipango, as the last voyage seemed to suggest,
perhaps it might prove to be Ophir![582] Probably these ancient
excavations were made by King Solomon's men when they came here to get
gold for the temple at Jerusalem! If so, one might expect to find
silver, ivory, red sandal-wood, apes, and peacocks at no great distance.
Just where Ophir was situated no one could exactly tell,[583] but the
things that were carried thence to Jerusalem certainly came from "the
Indies." Columbus conceived it as probably lying northeastward of the
Golden Chersonese (Malacca) and as identical with the island of

         [Footnote 581: The Indians then living upon the island did not
         dig, but scraped up the small pieces of gold that were more or
         less abundant in the beds of shallow streams.]

         [Footnote 582: Peter Martyr, _De Rebus Oceanicis_, dec. i. lib.

         [Footnote 583: The original Ophir may be inferred, from
         _Genesis_ x. 29, to have been situated where, as Milton says,

                    "northeast winds blow
            Sabæan odours from the spicy shore
            Of Araby the Blest,"

         but the name seems to have become applied indiscriminately to
         the remote countries reached by ships that sailed past that
         coast; chiefly no doubt, to Hindustan. See Lassen, _Indische
         Alterthumskunde_, bd. i. p. 538.]

[Sidenote: Founding of San Domingo, 1496.]

[Sidenote: The return voyage.]

The discovery of these mines led to the transfer of the headquarters of
the colony to the mouth of the Ozema river, where, in the summer of
1496, Bartholomew Columbus made a settlement which became the city of
San Domingo.[584] Meanwhile Aguado and the Admiral sailed for Spain
early in March, in two caravels overloaded with more than two hundred
homesick passengers. In choosing his course Columbus did not show so
much sagacity as on his first return voyage. Instead of working
northward till clear of the belt of trade-winds, he kept straight to the
east, and so spent a month in beating and tacking before getting out of
the Caribbean Sea. Scarcity of food was imminent, and it became
necessary to stop at Guadaloupe and make a quantity of cassava
bread.[585] It was well that this was done, for as the ships worked
slowly across the Atlantic, struggling against perpetual head-winds, the
provisions were at length exhausted, and by the first week in June the
famine was such that Columbus had some difficulty in preventing the
crews from eating their Indian captives, of whom there were thirty or
more on board.[586]

         [Footnote 584: Bartholomew's town was built on the left side of
         the river, and was called New Isabella. In 1504 it was
         destroyed by a hurricane, and rebuilt on the right bank in its
         present situation. It was then named San Domingo after the
         patron saint of Domenico, the father of Columbus.]

         [Footnote 585: While the Spaniards were on this island they
         encountered a party of tall and powerful women armed with bows
         and arrows; so that Columbus supposed it must be the Asiatic
         island of Amazons mentioned by Marco Polo. See Yule's _Marco
         Polo_, vol. ii. pp. 338-340.]

         [Footnote 586: Among them was Caonabo, who died on the voyage.]

[Sidenote: Edicts of 1495 and 1497.]

At length, on the 11th of June, the haggard and starving company arrived
at Cadiz, and Columbus, while awaiting orders from the sovereigns,
stayed at the house of his good friend Bernaldez, the curate of Los
Palacios.[587] After a month he attended court at Burgos, and was kindly
received. No allusion was made to the complaints against him, and the
sovereigns promised to furnish ships for a third voyage of discovery.
For the moment, however, other things interfered with this enterprise.
One was the marriage of the son and daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella
to the daughter and son of the Emperor Maximilian. The war with France
was at the same time fast draining the treasury. Indeed, for more than
twenty years, Castile had been at war nearly all the time, first with
Portugal, next with Granada, then with France; and the crown never found
it easy to provide money for maritime enterprises. Accordingly, at the
earnest solicitation of Vicente Yañez Pinzon and other enterprising
mariners, the sovereigns had issued a proclamation, April 10, 1495,
granting to all native Spaniards the privilege of making, at their own
risk and expense, voyages of discovery or traffic to the newly found
coasts. As the crown was to take a pretty heavy tariff out of the
profits of these expeditions, while all losses were to be borne by the
adventurers, a fairly certain source of revenue, be it great or small,
seemed likely to be opened.[588] Columbus protested against this edict,
inasmuch as he deemed himself entitled to a patent or monopoly in the
work of conducting expeditions to Cathay. The sovereigns evaded the
difficulty by an edict of June 2, 1497, declaring that it was never
their intention "in any way to affect the rights of the said Don
Christopher Columbus." This declaration was, doubtless, intended simply
to pacify the Admiral. It did not prevent the authorization of voyages
conducted by other persons a couple of years later; and, as I shall show
in the next chapter, there are strong reasons for believing that on May
10, 1497, three weeks before this edict, an expedition sailed from Cadiz
under the especial auspices of King Ferdinand, with Vicente Yañez Pinzon
for its chief commander and Americus Vespucius for one of its pilots.

         [Footnote 587: The curate thus heard the story of the second
         voyage from Columbus himself while it was fresh in his mind.
         Columbus also left with him written memoranda, so that for the
         events of this expedition the _Historia de los Reyes Católicos_
         is of the highest authority.]

         [Footnote 588: "All vessels were to sail exclusively from the
         port of Cadiz, and under the inspection of officers appointed
         by the crown. Those who embarked for Hispaniola without pay,
         and at their own expense, were to have lands assigned to them,
         and to be provisioned for one year, with a right to retain such
         lands and all houses they might erect upon them. Of all gold
         which they might collect, they were to retain one third for
         themselves, and pay two thirds to the crown. Of all other
         articles of merchandise, the produce of the island, they were
         to pay merely one tenth to the crown. Their purchases were to
         be made in the presence of officers appointed by the
         sovereigns, and the royal duties paid into the hands of the
         king's receiver. Each ship sailing on private enterprise was to
         take one or two persons named by the royal officers at Cadiz.
         One tenth of the tonnage of the ship was to be at the service
         of the crown, free of charge. One tenth of whatever such ships
         should procure in the newly-discovered countries was to be paid
         to the crown on their return. These regulations included
         private ships trading to Hispaniola with provisions. For every
         vessel thus fitted out on private adventure, Columbus, in
         consideration of his privilege of an eighth of tonnage, was to
         have the right to freight one on his own account." Irving's
         _Columbus_, vol. ii. p. 76.]

[Sidenote: Columbus loses his temper.]

It was not until late in the spring of 1498 that the ships were ready
for Columbus. Everything that Fonseca could do to vex and delay him was
done. One of the bishop's minions, a converted Moor or Jew named Ximeno
Breviesca, behaved with such outrageous insolence that on the day of
sailing the Admiral's indignation, so long restrained, at last broke
out, and he drove away the fellow with kicks and cuffs.[589] This
imprudent act gave Fonseca the opportunity to maintain that what the
Admiral's accusers said about his tyrannical disposition must be true.

         [Footnote 589: "Parece que uno debiera de, en estos reveses, y,
         por ventura, en palábras contra él y contra la negociacion
         destas Indias, mas que otro señalarse, y segun entendí, no
         debiera ser cristiano viejo, y creo que se llamaba Ximeno,
         contra el cual debió el Almirante gravemente sentirse y
         enojarse, y aguardó el dia que se hizo á la vela, y, ó en la
         nao que entró, por ventura, el dicho oficial, ó en tierra
         quando queria desembarcarse, arrebatólo el Almirante, y dále
         muchas coces ó remesones, por manera que lo trató mal; y á mi
         parecer, por esta causa principalmente, sobre otras quejas que
         fueron de acá, y cosas que murmuraron dél y contra él los que
         bien con él no estaban y le acumularon; los Reyes indignados
         proveyeron de quitarle la gobernacion." Las Casas, _Historia de
         las Indias_, tom. ii. p. 199.]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The third voyage.]

The expedition started on May 30, 1498, from the little port of San
Lucar de Barrameda. There were six ships, carrying about 200 men besides
the sailors. On June 21, at the Isle of Ferro, the Admiral divided his
fleet, sending three ships directly to Hispaniola, while with the other
three he kept on to the Cape Verde islands, whence he steered southwest
on the 4th of July. A week later, after a run of about 900 miles, his
astrolabe seemed to show that he was within five degrees of the
equator.[590] There were three reasons for going so far to the
south:--1, the natives of the islands already visited always pointed
in that direction when gold was mentioned; 2, a learned jeweller, who
had travelled in the East, had assured Columbus that gold and gems, as
well as spices and rare drugs, were to be found for the most part among
black people near the equator; 3, if he should not find any rich islands
on the way, a sufficiently long voyage would bring him to the coast of
Champa (Cochin China) at a lower point than he had reached on the
preceding voyage, and nearer to the Golden Chersonese (Malacca), by
doubling which he could enter the Indian ocean. It will be remembered
that he supposed the southwesterly curve in the Cuban coast, the
farthest point reached in his second voyage, to be the beginning of the
coast of Cochin China according to Marco Polo.

         [Footnote 590: The figure given by Columbus is equivalent only
         to 360 geographical miles (Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. i. p.
         246), but as Las Casas (_Hist._ tom. ii. p. 226) already
         noticed, there must be some mistake here, for on a S. W. course
         from the Cape Verde islands it would require a distance of 900
         geographical miles to cut the fifth parallel. From the weather
         that followed, it is clear that Columbus stated his latitude
         pretty correctly; he had come into the belt of calms. Therefore
         his error must be in the distance run.]

[Sidenote: The belt of calms.]

Once more through ignorance of the atmospheric conditions of the regions
within the tropics Columbus encountered needless perils and hardships.
If he had steered from Ferro straight across the ocean a trifle south of
west-southwest, he might have made a quick and comfortable voyage, with
the trade-wind filling his sails, to the spot where he actually struck
land.[591] As it was, however, he naturally followed the custom then so
common, of first running to the parallel upon which he intended to sail.
This long southerly run brought him into the belt of calms or neutral
zone between the northern and southern trade-winds, a little north of
the equator.[592] No words can describe what followed so well as those
of Irving: "The wind suddenly fell, and a dead sultry calm commenced,
which lasted for eight days. The air was like a furnace; the tar melted,
the seams of the ship yawned; the salt meat became putrid; the wheat was
parched as if with fire; the hoops shrank from the wine and water casks,
some of which leaked and others burst, while the heat in the holds of
the vessels was so suffocating that no one could remain below a
sufficient time to prevent the damage that was taking place. The
mariners lost all strength and spirits, and sank under the oppressive
heat. It seemed as if the old fable of the torrid zone was about to be
realized; and that they were approaching a fiery region where it would
be impossible to exist."[593]

         [Footnote 591: Humboldt in 1799 did just this thing, starting
         from Teneriffe and reaching Trinidad in nineteen days. See
         Bruhn's _Life of Humboldt_, vol. i. p. 263.]

         [Footnote 592: "The strength of the trade-winds depends
         entirely upon the difference in temperature between the equator
         and the pole; the greater the difference, the stronger the
         wind. Now, at the present time, the south pole is much colder
         than the north pole, and the southern trades are consequently
         much stronger than the northern, so that the neutral zone in
         which they meet lies some five degrees north of the equator."
         _Excursions of an Evolutionist_, p. 64.]

         [Footnote 593: Irving's _Columbus_, vol. ii. p. 137. One is
         reminded of a scene in the _Rime of the Ancient Mariner_:--

            "All in a hot and copper sky
            The bloody sun, at noon,
            Right up above the mast did stand,
            No bigger than the moon.

            "Day after day, day after day,
            We stuck,--nor breath nor motion;
            As idle as a painted ship
            Upon a painted ocean."]

Fortunately, they were in a region where the ocean is comparatively
narrow. The longitude reached by Columbus on July 13, when the wind died
away, must have been about 36° or 37° W., and a run of only 800 miles
west from that point would have brought him to Cayenne. His course
between the 13th and 21st of July must have intersected the thermal
equator, or line of greatest mean annual heat on the globe,--an
irregular curve which is here deflected as much as five degrees north of
the equinoctial line. But although there was not a breath of wind, the
powerful equatorial current was quietly driving the ships, much faster
than the Admiral could have suspected, to the northwest and toward land.
By the end of that stifling week they were in latitude 7° N., and caught
the trade-wind on the starboard quarter. Thence after a brisk run of ten
days, in sorry plight, with ugly leaks and scarcely a cask of fresh
water left, they arrived within sight of land. Three mountain peaks
loomed up in the offing before them, and as they drew nearer it appeared
that those peaks belonged to one great mountain; wherefore the pious
Admiral named the island Trinidad.

[Sidenote: Trinidad and the Orinoco.]

Here some surprises were in store for Columbus. Instead of finding black
and woolly-haired natives, he found men of cinnamon hue, like those in
Hispaniola, only--strange to say--lighter in colour. Then in coasting
Trinidad he caught a glimpse of land at the delta of the Orinoco, and
called it Isla Santa, or Holy Island.[594] But, on passing into the
gulf of Paria, through the strait which he named Serpent's Mouth, his
ships were in sore danger of being swamped by the raging surge that
poured from three or four of the lesser mouths of that stupendous river.
Presently, finding that the water in the gulf was fresh to the taste, he
gradually reasoned his way to the correct conclusion, that the billows
which had so nearly overwhelmed him must have come out from a river
greater than any he had ever known or dreamed of, and that so vast a
stream of running water could be produced only upon land of continental
dimensions.[595] This coast to the south of him was, therefore, the
coast of a continent, with indefinite extension toward the south, a land
not laid down upon Toscanelli's or any other map, and of which no one
had until that time known anything.[596]

         [Footnote 594: He "gave it the name of Isla Santa," says Irving
         (vol. ii. p. 140), "little imagining that he now, for the first
         time, beheld that continent, that Terra Firma, which had been
         the object of his earnest search." The reader of this passage
         should bear in mind that the continent of South America, which
         nobody had ever heard of, was _not_ the object of Columbus's
         search. The Terra Firma which was the object of his search was
         the mainland of Asia, and that he never beheld, though he felt
         positively sure that he had already set foot upon it in 1492
         and 1494.]

         [Footnote 595: A modern traveller thus describes this river:
         "Right and left of us lay, at some distance off, the low banks
         of the Apuré, at this point quite a broad stream. But before us
         the waters spread out like a wide dark flood, limited on the
         horizon only by a low black streak, and here and there showing
         a few distant hills. This was the Orinoco, rolling with
         irrepressible power and majesty sea-wards, and often upheaving
         its billows like the ocean when lashed to fury by the wind....
         The Orinoco sends a current of fresh water far into the ocean,
         its waters--generally green, but in the shallows
         milk-white--contrasting sharply with the indigo blue of the
         surrounding sea." Bates, _Central America, the West Indies, and
         South America_, 2d ed., London, 1882, pp. 234, 235. The island
         of Trinidad forms an obstacle to the escape of this huge volume
         of fresh water, and hence the furious commotion at the two
         outlets, the Serpent's Mouth and Dragon's Mouth, especially in
         July and August, when the Orinoco is swollen with tropical

         [Footnote 596: In Columbus's own words, in his letter to the
         sovereigns describing this third voyage, "Y digo que ... viene
         este rio y procede de tierra infinita, pues al austro, de la
         cual fasta agora no se ha habido noticia." Navarrete,
         _Coleccion_, tom. i. p. 262.]

[Illustration: Discoveries made by Columbus in his third and fourth

[Sidenote: Speculations as to the earth's shape.]

[Sidenote: The mountain of Paradise.]

In spite of the correctness of this surmise, Columbus was still as far
from a true interpretation of the whole situation as when he supposed
Hispaniola to be Ophir. He entered upon a series of speculations which
forcibly remind us how empirical was the notion of the earth's rotundity
before the inauguration of physical astronomy by Galileo, Kepler, and
Newton. We now know that our planet has the only shape possible for such
a rotating mass that once was fluid or nebulous, the shape of a spheroid
slightly protuberant at the equator and flattened at the poles; but this
knowledge is the outcome of mechanical principles utterly unknown and
unsuspected in the days of Columbus. He understood that the earth is a
round body, but saw no necessity for its being strictly spherical or
spheroidal. He now suggested that it was probably shaped like a pear,
rather a blunt and corpulent pear, nearly spherical in its lower part,
but with a short, stubby apex in the equatorial region somewhere beyond
the point which he had just reached. He fancied he had been sailing up a
gentle slope from the burning glassy sea where his ships had been
becalmed to this strange and beautiful coast where he found the climate
enchanting. If he were to follow up the mighty river just now revealed,
it might lead him to the summit of this apex of the world, the place
where the terrestrial paradise, the Garden which the Lord planted
eastward in Eden, was in all probability situated![597]

         [Footnote 597: Thus would be explained the astounding force
         with which the water was poured down. It was common in the
         Middle Ages to imagine the terrestrial paradise at the top of a
         mountain. See Dante, _Purgatorio_, canto xxviii. Columbus
         quotes many authorities in favour of his opinion. The whole
         letter is worth reading. See Navarrete, tom. i. pp. 242-264.]

[Sidenote: Relation of the "Eden continent" to "Cochin China."]

As Columbus still held to the opinion that by keeping to the west from
that point he should soon reach the coast of Cochin China, his
conception of the position of Eden is thus pretty clearly indicated. He
imagined it as situated about on the equator, upon a continental mass
till then unknown, but evidently closely connected with the continent of
Asia if not a part of it. If he had lived long enough to hear of Quito
and its immense elevation, I should suppose that might very well have
suited his idea of the position of Eden. The coast of this continent,
upon which he had now arrived, was either continuous with the coast of
Cochin China (Cuba) and Malacca, or would be found to be divided from it
by a strait through which one might pass directly into the Indian ocean.

[Sidenote: The Pearl Coast.]

[Sidenote: Arrival at San Domingo.]

It took some little time for this theory to come to maturity in the mind
of Columbus. Not expecting to find any mainland in that quarter, he
began by calling different points of the coast different islands. Coming
out through the passage which he named Dragon's Mouth, he caught distant
glimpses of Tobago and Grenada to starboard, and turning westward
followed the Pearl Coast as far as the islands of Margarita and Cubagua.
The fine pearls which he found there in abundance confirmed him in the
good opinion he had formed of that country. By this time, the 15th of
August, he had so far put facts together as to become convinced of the
continental character of that coast, and would have been glad to pursue
it westward. But now his strength gave out. During most of the voyage he
had suffered acute torments with gout, his temperature had been very
feverish, and his eyes were at length so exhausted with perpetual
watching that he could no longer make observations. So he left the coast
a little beyond Cubagua, and steered straight for Hispaniola, aiming at
San Domingo, but hitting the island of Beata because he did not make
allowance for the westerly flow of the currents. He arrived at San
Domingo on the 30th of August, and found his brother Bartholomew, whom
he intended to send at once on a further cruise along the Pearl Coast,
while he himself should be resting and recovering strength.

[Sidenote: Roldan's rebellion.]

[Sidenote: Fonseca's machinations.]

But alas! there was to be no cruising now for the younger brother nor
rest for the elder. It was a sad story that Bartholomew had to tell. War
with the Indians had broken out afresh, and while the Adelantado was
engaged in this business a scoundrel named Roldan had taken advantage of
his absence to stir up civil strife. Roldan's rebellion was a result of
the ill-advised mission of Aguado. The malcontents in the colony
interpreted the Admiral's long stay in Spain as an indication that he
had lost favour with the sovereigns and was not coming back to the
island. Gathering together a strong body of rebels, Roldan retired to
Xaragua and formed an alliance with the brother of the late chieftain
Caonabo. By the time the Admiral arrived the combination of mutiny with
barbaric warfare had brought about a frightful state of things. A party
of soldiers, sent by him to suppress Roldan, straightway deserted and
joined that rebel. It thus became necessary to come to terms with
Roldan, and this revelation of the weakness of the government only made
matters worse. Two wretched years were passed in attempts to restore
order in Hispaniola, while the work of discovery and exploration was
postponed. Meanwhile the items of information that found their way to
Spain were skilfully employed by Fonseca in poisoning the minds of the
sovereigns, until at last they decided to send out a judge to the
island, armed with plenary authority to make investigations and settle
disputes. The glory which Columbus had won by the first news of the
discovery of the Indies had now to some extent faded away. The
enterprise yielded as yet no revenue and entailed great expense; and
whenever some reprobate found his way back to Spain, the malicious
Fonseca prompted him to go to the treasury with a claim for pay alleged
to have been wrongfully withheld by the Admiral. Ferdinand Columbus
tells how some fifty such scamps were gathered one day in the courtyard
of the Alhambra, cursing his father and catching hold of the king's
robe, crying, "Pay us! pay us!" and as he and his brother Diego, who
were pages in the queen's service, happened to pass by, they were
greeted with hoots:--"There go the sons of the Admiral of Mosquito-land,
the man who has discovered a land of vanity and deceit, the grave of
Spanish gentlemen!"[598]

         [Footnote 598: "Ecco i figliuoli dell' Ammiraglio de'
         Mosciolini, di colui che ha trovate terre di vanitá e d'
         inganno, per sepoltura e miseria de' gentiluomini castigliani."
         _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. lxxxiv.]

[Sidenote: Gama's voyage to Hindustan, 1497.]

An added sting was given to such taunts by a great event that happened
about this time. In the summer of 1497, Vasco da Gama started from
Lisbon for the Cape of Good Hope, and in the summer of 1499 he returned,
after having doubled the cape and crossed the Indian ocean to Calicut on
the Malabar coast of Hindustan. His voyage was the next Portuguese step
sequent upon that of Bartholomew Dias. There was nothing questionable or
dubious about Gama's triumph. He had seen splendid cities, talked with a
powerful Rajah, and met with Arab vessels, their crews madly jealous at
the unprecedented sight of Christian ships in those waters; and he
brought back with him to Lisbon nutmegs and cloves, pepper and ginger,
rubies and emeralds, damask robes with satin linings, bronze chairs with
cushions, trumpets of carved ivory, a sunshade of crimson satin, a sword
in a silver scabbard, and no end of such gear.[599] An old civilization
had been found and a route of commerce discovered, and a factory was to
be set up at once on that Indian coast. What a contrast to the miserable
performance of Columbus, who had started with the flower of Spain's
chivalry for rich Cipango, and had only led them to a land where they
must either starve or do work fit for peasants, while he spent his time
in cruising among wild islands! The king of Portugal could now snap his
fingers at Ferdinand and Isabella, and if a doubt should have sometimes
crossed the minds of those chagrined sovereigns, as to whether this
plausible Genoese mariner might not, after all, be a humbug or a crazy
enthusiast, we can hardly wonder at it.

         [Footnote 599: Major, _Prince Henry the Navigator_, pp.

[Sidenote: Fonseca's creature, Bobadilla.]

[Sidenote: Columbus in chains.]

The person sent to investigate the affairs of Hispaniola was Francisco
de Bobadilla, a knight commander of the order of Calatrava. He carried
several documents, one of them directing him to make inquiries and
punish offenders, another containing his appointment as governor, a
third commanding Columbus and his brothers to surrender to him all
fortresses and other public property.[600] The two latter papers were to
be used only in case of such grave misconduct proved against Columbus as
to justify his removal from the government. These papers were made out
in the spring of 1499, but Bobadilla was not sent out until July, 1500.
When he arrived at San Domingo on the 23d of August, the insurrection
had been suppressed; the Admiral and Bartholomew were bringing things
into order in distant parts of the island, while Diego was left in
command at San Domingo. Seven ringleaders had just been hanged, and five
more were in prison under sentence of death. If Bobadilla had not come
upon the scene this wholesome lesson might have worked some improvement
in affairs.[601] He destroyed its moral in a twinkling. The first day
after landing, he read aloud, at the church door, the paper directing
him to make inquiries and punish offenders; and forthwith demanded of
Diego Columbus that the condemned prisoners should be delivered up to
him. Diego declined to take so important a step until he could get
orders from the Admiral. Next day Bobadilla read his second and third
papers, proclaimed himself governor, called on Diego to surrender the
fortress and public buildings, and renewed his demand for the prisoners.
As Diego still hesitated to act before news of these proceedings could
be sent to his brother, Bobadilla broke into the fortress, took the
prisoners out, and presently set them free. All the rebellious spirits
in the colony were thus drawn to the side of Bobadilla, whose royal
commission, under such circumstances, gave him irresistible power. He
threw Diego into prison and loaded him with fetters. He seized the
Admiral's house, and confiscated all his personal property, even
including his business papers and private letters. When the Admiral
arrived in San Domingo, Bobadilla, without even waiting to see him, sent
an officer to put him in irons and take him to prison. When Bartholomew
arrived, he received the same treatment. The three brothers were
confined in different places, nobody was allowed to visit them, and
they were not informed of the offences with which they were charged.
While they lay in prison, Bobadilla busied himself with inventing an
excuse for this violent behaviour. Finally he hit upon one at which
Satan from the depths of his bottomless pit must have grimly smiled. He
said that he had arrested and imprisoned the brothers only because he
had reason to believe they were inciting the Indians to aid them in
resisting the commands of Ferdinand and Isabella!! In short, from the
day of his landing Bobadilla made common cause with the insurgent
rabble, and when they had furnished him with a ream or so of charges
against the Admiral and his brothers, it seemed safe to send these
gentlemen to Spain. They were put on board ship, with their fetters upon
them, and the officer in charge was instructed by Bobadilla to deliver
them into the hands of Bishop Fonseca, who was thus to have the
privilege of glutting to the full his revengeful spite.

         [Footnote 600: The documents are given in Navarrete, _Coleccion
         de viages_, tom. ii. pp. 235-240; and, with accompanying
         narrative, in Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. ii. pp.

         [Footnote 601: No better justification for the government of
         the brothers Columbus can be found than to contrast it with the
         infinitely worse state of affairs that ensued under the
         administrations of Bobadilla and Ovando. See below, vol. ii.
         pp. 442-446.]

[Sidenote: Return to Spain.]

[Sidenote: Release of Columbus.]

The master of the ship, shocked at the sight of fetters upon such a man
as the Admiral, would have taken them off, but Columbus would not let it
be done. No, indeed! they should never come off except by order of the
sovereigns, and then he would keep them for the rest of his life, to
show how his labours had been rewarded.[602] The event--which always
justifies true manliness--proved the sagacity of this proud demeanour.
Fonseca was baulked of his gratification. The clumsy Bobadilla had
overdone the business. The sight of the Admiral's stately and venerable
figure in chains, as he passed through the streets of Cadiz, on a
December day of that year 1500, awakened a popular outburst of sympathy
for him and indignation at his persecutors. While on the ship he had
written or dictated a beautiful and touching letter[603] to a lady of
whom the queen was fond, the former nurse of the Infante, whose untimely
death, three years since, his mother was still mourning. This letter
reached the court at Granada, and was read to the queen before she had
heard of Bobadilla's performances from any other quarter. A courier was
sent in all haste to Cadiz, with orders that the brothers should at once
be released, and with a letter to the Admiral, inviting him to court and
enclosing an order for money to cover his expenses. The scene in the
Alhambra, when Columbus arrived, is one of the most touching in history.
Isabella received him with tears in her eyes, and then this
much-enduring old man, whose proud and masterful spirit had so long been
proof against all wrongs and insults, broke down. He threw himself at
the feet of the sovereigns in an agony of tears and sobs.[604]

         [Footnote 602: Las Casas, _Hist. de las Indias_, tom. ii. p.
         501; F. Columbus, _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. lxxxv.
         Ferdinand adds that he had often seen these fetters hanging in
         his father's room.]

         [Footnote 603: It is given in full in Las Casas, _op. cit._
         tom. ii. pp. 502-510.]

         [Footnote 604: Herrera, _Historia_, dec. i. lib. iv. cap. 10.]

[Sidenote: How far were the sovereigns responsible for Bobadilla?]

How far the sovereigns should be held responsible for the behaviour of
their agent is not altogether easy to determine. The appointment of such
a creature as Bobadilla was a sad blunder, but one such as is liable to
be made under any government. Fonseca was very powerful at court, and
Bobadilla never would have dared to proceed as he did if he had not
known that the bishop would support him. Indeed, from the indecent haste
with which he went about his work, without even the pretence of a
judicial inquiry, it is probable that he started with private
instructions from that quarter. But, while Fonseca had some of the
wisdom along with the venom of the serpent, Bobadilla was simply a
jackass, and behaved so that in common decency the sovereigns were
obliged to disown him. They took no formal or public notice of his
written charges against the Admiral, and they assured the latter that he
should be reimbursed for his losses and restored to his viceroyalty and
other dignities.

[Sidenote: Ovando, another creature of Fonseca, appointed governor of

This last promise, however, was not fulfilled; partly, perhaps, because
Fonseca's influence was still strong enough to prevent it, partly
because the sovereigns may have come to the sound and reasonable
conclusion that for the present there was no use in committing the
government of that disorderly rabble in Hispaniola to a foreigner. What
was wanted was a Spanish priest, and a military priest withal, of the
sort that Spain then had in plenty. Obedience to priests came natural to
Spaniards. The man now selected was Nicolas de Ovando, a knight
commander of the order of Alcántara, of whom we shall have more to say
hereafter.[605] Suffice it now to observe that he proved himself a
famous disciplinarian, and that he was a great favourite with Fonseca,
to whom he seems to have owed his appointment. He went out in February,
1502, with a fleet of thirty ships carrying 2,500 persons, for the
pendulum of public opinion had taken another swing, and faith in the
Indies was renewed. Some great discoveries, to be related in the next
chapter, had been made since 1498; and, moreover, the gold mines of
Hispaniola were beginning to yield rich treasures.

         [Footnote 605: See below, vol. ii. pp. 435-446.]

[Sidenote: Purpose of Columbus's fourth voyage.]

But, while the sovereigns were not disposed to restore Columbus to his
viceroyalty, they were quite ready to send him on another voyage of
discovery which was directly suggested by the recent Portuguese voyage
of Gama. Since nothing was yet known about the discovery of a New World,
the achievement of Gama seemed to have eclipsed that of Columbus. Spain
must make a response to Portugal. As already observed, the Admiral
supposed the coast of his "Eden continent" (South America) either to be
continuous with the coast of Cochin China (Cuba) and Malacca, or else to
be divided from that coast by a strait. The latter opinion was the more
probable, since Marco Polo and a few other Europeans had sailed from
China into the Indian ocean without encountering any great continent
that had to be circumnavigated. The recent expedition of Vespucius and
Ojeda (1499-1500) had followed the northern coast of South America for a
long distance to the west of Cubagua, as far as the gulf of Maracaibo.
Columbus now decided to return to the coast of Cochin China (Cuba) and
follow the coast southwestward until he should find the passage between
his Eden continent and the Golden Chersonese (Malacca) into the Indian
ocean. He would thus be able to reach by this western route the same
shores of Hindustan which Gama had lately reached by sailing eastward.
So confident did he feel of the success of this enterprise, that he
wrote a letter to Pope Alexander VI., renewing his vow to furnish troops
for the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre.[606] It was no doubt the symptom
of a reaction against his misfortunes that he grew more and more
mystical in these days, consoling himself with the belief that he was a
chosen instrument in the hands of Providence for enlarging the bounds of
Christendom. In this mood he made some studies on the prophecies, after
the fantastic fashion of his time,[607] and a habit grew upon him of
attributing his discoveries to miraculous inspiration rather than to the
good use to which his poetical and scientific mind had put the data
furnished by Marco Polo and the ancient geographers.

         [Footnote 606: Navarrete, _Coleccion_, tom. ii. pp. 280-282.]

         [Footnote 607: The MS. volume of notes on the prophecies is in
         the Colombina. There is a description of it in Navarrete, tom.
         ii. pp. 260-273.]

[Sidenote: Crossing the Atlantic.]

[Sidenote: Columbus not allowed to stop at San Domingo.]

The armament for the Admiral's fourth and last voyage consisted of four
small caravels, of from fifty to seventy tons burthen, with crews
numbering, all told, 150 men. His brother Bartholomew, and his younger
son Ferdinand, then a boy of fourteen, accompanied him. They sailed from
Cadiz on the 11th of May, 1502, and finally left the Canaries behind on
the 26th of the same month. The course chosen was the same as on the
second voyage, and the unfailing trade-winds brought the ships on the
15th of June to an island called Mantinino, probably Martinique, not
more than ten leagues distant from Dominica. The Admiral had been
instructed not to touch at Hispaniola upon his way out, probably for
fear of further commotions there until Ovando should have succeeded in
bringing order out of the confusion ten times worse confounded into
which Bobadilla's misgovernment had thrown that island. Columbus might
stop there on his return, but not on his outward voyage. His intention
had, therefore, been, on reaching the cannibal islands, to steer for
Jamaica, thence make the short run to "Cochin China," and then turn
southwards. But as one of his caravels threatened soon to become
unmanageable, he thought himself justified in touching at San Domingo
long enough to hire a sound vessel in place of her. Ovando had assumed
the government there in April, and a squadron of 26 or 28 ships,
containing Roldan and Bobadilla, with huge quantities of gold wrung from
the enslaved Indians, was ready to start for Spain about the end of
June. In one of these ships were 4,000 pieces of gold destined for
Columbus, probably a part of the reimbursement that had been promised
him. On the 29th of June the Admiral arrived in the harbour and stated
the nature of his errand. At the same time, as his practised eye had
detected the symptoms of an approaching hurricane, he requested
permission to stay in the harbour until it should be over, and he
furthermore sent to the commander of the fleet a friendly warning not to
venture out to sea at present. His requests and his warnings were alike
treated with contumely. He was ordered to leave the harbour, and did so
in great indignation. As his first care was for the approaching tempest,
he did not go far but found safe anchorage in a sheltered and secluded
cove, where his vessels rode the storm with difficulty but without
serious damage. Meanwhile the governor's great fleet had rashly put out
to sea, and was struck with fatal fury by wind and wave. Twenty or more
ships went to the bottom, with Bobadilla, Roldan, and most of the
Admiral's principal enemies, besides all the ill-gotten treasure; five
or six shattered caravels, unable to proceed, found their way back to
San Domingo; of all the fleet, only one ship arrived safe and sound in
Spain, and that, says Ferdinand, was the one that had on board his
father's gold. Truly it was such an instance of poetical justice as one
does not often witness in this world. "We will not inquire now," says
Las Casas, who witnessed the affair, "into this remarkable divine
judgment, for at the last day of the world it will be made quite clear
to us."[608] If such judgments were more often visited upon the right
persons, perhaps the ways of Providence would not have so generally come
to be regarded as inscrutable.

         [Footnote 608: "Aqueste tan gran juicio de Dios no curemos de
         escudriñallo, pues en el dia final deste mundo nos será bien
         claro." _Hist. do las Indias_, tom. iii. p. 32; cf. _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. lxxxvii. As Las Casas was then in San
         Domingo, having come out in Ovando's fleet, and as Ferdinand
         Columbus was with his father, the testimony is very direct.]

[Sidenote: Arrival at Cape Honduras.]

The hurricane was followed by a dead calm, during which the Admiral's
ships were carried by the currents into the group of tiny islands called
the Queen's Gardens, on the south side of Cuba. With the first
favourable breeze he took a southwesterly course, in order to strike
that Cochin-Chinese coast farther down toward the Malay peninsula. This
brought him directly to the island of Guanaja and to Cape Honduras,
which he thus reached without approaching the Yucatan channel.[609]

         [Footnote 609: In the next chapter I shall give some reasons
         for supposing that the Admiral had learned the existence of the
         Yucatan channel from the pilot Ledesma, coupled with
         information which made it unlikely that a passage into the
         Indian ocean would be found that way. See below, vol. ii. p.

[Sidenote: Cape Gracias a Dios.]

Upon the Honduras coast the Admiral found evidences of semi-civilization
with which he was much elated,--such as copper knives and hatchets,
pottery of skilled and artistic workmanship, and cotton garments finely
woven and beautifully dyed. Here the Spaniards first tasted the
_chicha_, or maize beer, and marvelled at the heavy clubs, armed with
sharp blades of obsidian, with which the soldiers of Cortes were by and
by to become unpleasantly acquainted. The people here wore cotton
clothes, and, according to Ferdinand, the women covered themselves as
carefully as the Moorish women of Granada.[610] On inquiring as to the
sources of gold and other wealth, the Admiral was now referred to the
west, evidently to Yucatan and Guatemala, or, as he supposed, to the
neighbourhood of the Ganges. Evidently the way to reach these countries
was to keep the land on the starboard and search for the passage
between the Eden continent and the Malay peninsula.[611] This course at
first led Columbus eastward for a greater number of leagues than he
could have relished. Wind and current were dead against him, too; and
when, after forty days of wretched weather, he succeeded in doubling the
cape which marks on that coast the end of Honduras and the beginning of
Nicaragua, and found it turning square to the south, it was doubtless
joy at this auspicious change of direction, as well as the sudden relief
from head-winds, that prompted him to name that bold prominence Cape
Gracias a Dios, or Thanks to God.

         [Footnote 610: _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. lxxxviii.]

         [Footnote 611: Irving (vol. ii. pp. 386, 387) seems to think it
         strange that Columbus did not at once turn westward and
         circumnavigate Yucatan. But if--as Irving supposed--Columbus
         had not seen the Yucatan channel, and regarded the Honduras
         coast as continuous with that of Cuba, he could only expect by
         turning westward to be carried back to Cape Alpha and Omega,
         where he had already been twice before! In the next chapter,
         however, I shall show that Columbus may have shaped his course
         in accordance with the advice of the pilot Ledesma.]

[Sidenote: The coast of Veragua.]

[Sidenote: Fruitless search for the Strait of Malacca.]

[Sidenote: Futile attempt to make a settlement.]

[Sidenote: Columbus shipwrecked.]

As the ships proceeded southward in the direction of Veragua, evidences
of the kind of semi-civilization which we recognize as characteristic of
that part of aboriginal America grew more and more numerous. Great
houses were seen, built of "stone and lime," or perhaps of rubble stone
with adobe mortar. Walls were adorned with carvings and pictographs.
Mummies were found in a good state of preservation. There were signs of
abundant gold; the natives wore plates of it hung by cotton cords about
their necks, and were ready to exchange pieces worth a hundred ducats
for tawdry European trinkets. From these people Columbus heard what we
should call the first "news of the Pacific Ocean," though it had no such
meaning to his mind. From what he heard he understood that he was on the
east side of a peninsula, and that there was another sea on the other
side, by gaining which he might in ten days reach the mouth of the
Ganges.[612] By proceeding on his present course he would soon come to a
"narrow place" between the two seas. There was a curious equivocation
here. No doubt the Indians were honest and correct in what they tried to
tell Columbus. But by the "narrow place" they meant narrow land, not
narrow water; not a strait which connected but an isthmus which divided
the two seas, not the Strait of Malacca, but the Isthmus of Darien![613]
Columbus, of course, understood them to mean the strait for which he was
looking, and in his excitement at approaching the long-expected goal he
pressed on without waiting to verify the reports of gold mines in the
neighbourhood, a thing that could be done at any time.[614] By the 5th
of December, however, having reached a point on the isthmus, a few
leagues east of Puerto Bello, without finding the strait, he yielded to
the remonstrances of the crews, and retraced his course to Veragua. If
the strait could not be found, the next best tidings to carry home to
Spain would be the certain information of the discovery of gold mines,
and it was decided to make a settlement here which might serve as a base
for future operations. Three months of misery followed. Many of the
party were massacred by the Indians, the stock of food was nearly
exhausted, and the ships were pierced by worms until it was feared there
would be no means left for going home. Accordingly, it was decided to
abandon the enterprise and return to Hispaniola.[615] In order to allow
for the strong westerly currents in the Caribbean sea, the Admiral first
sailed eastward almost to the gulf of Darien, and then turned to the
north. The allowance was not enough, however. The ships were again
carried into the Queen's Gardens, where they were caught in a storm and
nearly beaten to pieces. At length, on St. John's eve, June 23, 1503,
the crazy wrecks--now full of water and unable to sail another
league--were beached on the coast of Jamaica and converted into a sort
of rude fortress; and while two trusty men were sent over to San Domingo
in a canoe, to obtain relief, Columbus and his party remained
shipwrecked in Jamaica. They waited there a whole year before it proved
possible to get any relief from Ovando. He was a slippery knave, who
knew how to deal out promises without taking the first step toward

         [Footnote 612: Navarrete, _Coleccion de viages_, tom. i. p.

         [Footnote 613: _Vita dell' Ammiraglio_, cap. lxxxix.; Humboldt,
         _Examen Critique_, tom. i. p. 350.]

         [Footnote 614: "Nothing could evince more clearly his generous
         ambition than hurrying in this brief manner along a coast where
         wealth was to be gathered at every step, for the purpose of
         seeking a strait which, however it might produce vast benefit
         to mankind, could yield little else to himself than the glory
         of the discovery." Irving's _Columbus_, vol. ii. p. 406. In
         this voyage, however, the express purpose from the start was to
         find the strait of Malacca as a passage to the very same
         regions which had been visited by Gama, and Columbus expected
         thus to get wealth enough to equip an army of Crusaders.
         Irving's statement does not correctly describe the Admiral's
         purpose, and as savouring of misplaced eulogy, is sure to
         provoke a reaction on the part of captious critics.]

         [Footnote 615: A graphic account of these scenes, in which he
         took part, is given by Ferdinand Columbus, _Vita dell'
         Ammiraglio_, cap. xciii.-cvi.]

[Sidenote: A year of misery.]

[Sidenote: Last return to Spain.]

It was a terrible year that Columbus spent upon the wild coast of
Jamaica. To all the horrors inseparable from such a situation there was
added the horror of mutiny. The year did not end until there had been a
pitched battle, in which the doughty Bartholomew was, as usual,
victorious. The ringleader was captured, and of the other mutineers such
as were not slain in the fight were humbled and pardoned. At length
Ovando's conduct began to arouse indignation in San Domingo, and was
openly condemned from the pulpit; so that, late in June, 1504, he sent
over to Jamaica a couple of ships which brought away the Admiral and his
starving party. Ovando greeted the brothers Columbus with his customary
hypocritical courtesy, which they well understood. During the past year
the island of Hispaniola had been the scene of atrocities such as have
scarcely been surpassed in history. I shall give a brief account of them
in a future chapter. Columbus was not cheered by what he saw and heard,
and lost no time in starting for Spain. On the 7th of November, 1504,
after a tempestuous voyage and narrow escape from shipwreck, he landed
at San Lucar de Barrameda and made his way to Seville. Queen Isabella
was then on her death-bed, and breathed her last just nineteen days

[Sidenote: Death of Columbus.]

The death of the queen deprived Columbus of the only protector who could
stand between him and Fonseca. The reimbursement for the wrongs which he
had suffered at that man's hands was never made. The last eighteen
months of the Admiral's life were spent in sickness and poverty.
Accumulated hardship and disappointment had broken him down, and he died
on Ascension day, May 20, 1506, at Valladolid. So little heed was taken
of his passing away that the local annals of that city, "which give
almost every insignificant event from 1333 to 1539, day by day, do not
mention it."[616] His remains were buried in the Franciscan monastery at
Valladolid, whence they were removed in 1513 to the monastery of Las
Cuevas, at Seville, where the body of his son Diego, second Admiral and
Viceroy of the Indies, was buried in 1526. Ten years after this date,
the bones of father and son were removed to Hispaniola, to the cathedral
of San Domingo; whence they have since been transferred to Havana. The
result of so many removals has been to raise doubts as to whether the
ashes now reposing at Havana are really those of Columbus and his son;
and over this question there has been much critical discussion, of a
sort that we may cheerfully leave to those who like to spend their time
over such trivialities.

         [Footnote 616: Harrisse, _Notes on Columbus_, New York, 1866,
         p. 73.]

[Sidenote: "Nuevo Mundo."]

There is a tradition that Ferdinand and Isabella, at some date
unspecified, had granted to Columbus, as a legend for his coat-of-arms,
the noble motto:--

  Á Castilla y á Leon
  Nuevo mundo dió Colon,

_i. e._ "To Castile-and-Leon Columbus gave a New World;" and we are
further told that, when the Admiral's bones were removed to Seville,
this motto was, by order of King Ferdinand, inscribed upon his
tomb.[617] This tradition crumbles under the touch of historical
criticism. The Admiral's coat-of-arms, as finally emblazoned under his
own inspection at Seville in 1502, quarters the royal Castle-and-Lion of
the kingdom of Castile with his own devices of five anchors, and a group
of golden islands with a bit of Terra Firma, upon a blue sea. But there
is no legend of any sort, nor is anything of the kind mentioned by Las
Casas or Bernaldez or Peter Martyr. The first allusion to such a motto
is by Oviedo, in 1535, who gives it a somewhat different turn:--

  Por Castilla y por Leon
  Nuevo mundo halló Colon,

_i. e._ "For Castile-and-Leon Columbus found a New World." But the other
form is no doubt the better, for Ferdinand Columbus, at some time not
later than 1537, had adopted it, and it may be read to-day upon his tomb
in the cathedral at Seville. The time-honoured tradition has evidently
transferred to the father the legend adopted, if not originally
devised, by his son.

         [Footnote 617: _Vita del Ammiraglio_, cap. cvii. This is
         unquestionably a gloss of the translator Ulloa. Cf. Harrisse,
         _Christophe Colomb_, tom. ii. pp. 177-179.]

[Illustration: Arms.]

But why is this mere question of heraldry a matter of importance for the
historian? Simply because it furnishes one of the most striking among
many illustrations of the fact that at no time during the life of
Columbus, nor for some years after his death, did anybody use the phrase
"New World" with conscious reference to _his_ discoveries. At the time
of his death their true significance had not yet begun to dawn upon the
mind of any voyager or any writer. It was supposed that he had found a
new route to the Indies by sailing west, and that in the course of this
achievement he had discovered some new islands and a bit or bits of
Terra Firma of more or less doubtful commercial value. To group these
items of discovery into an organic whole, and to ascertain that they
belonged to a whole quite distinct from the Old World, required the work
of many other discoverers, companions and successors to Columbus. In the
following chapter I shall endeavour to show how the conception of the
New World was thus originated and at length became developed into the
form with which we are now familiar.

[Illustration: Sketch of Toscanelli's map, sent to Portugal in 1474, and
used by Columbus in his first voyage across the Atlantic.]

[Illustration: Claudius Ptolemy's world, cir. A. D. 150.]

[Illustration: John Fiske.]

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