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Title: Christopher Columbus and How He Received and Imparted the Spirit of Discovery
Author: Winsor, Justin
Language: English
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                By Justin Winsor.

    With Bibliographical and Descriptive Essays on its
    Historical Sources and Authorities. Profusely
    illustrated with portraits, maps, facsimiles, etc.
    Edited by JUSTIN WINSOR, Librarian of Harvard
    University, with the coöperation of a Committee
    from the Massachusetts Historical Society, and with
    the aid of other learned Societies. In eight royal
    8vo volumes. Each volume, _net_, $5.50; sheep,
    _net_, $6.50; half morocco, _net_, $7.50.
      (_Sold only by subscription for the entire set._)

    16mo, $1.25.

    16mo, rubricated parchment paper, 75 cents.

    With portrait and maps. 8vo.

                BOSTON AND NEW YORK.

[Illustration: BEHAIM, 1492.]

[Illustration: AMERICA, 1892.]


                IMPARTED THE SPIRIT
                   OF DISCOVERY

                   JUSTIN WINSOR

      They that go down to the sea in ships,
      that do business in great waters, these
      see the works of the Lord and his
      wonders in the deep.--_Psalms_, cvii. 23, 24

                BOSTON AND NEW YORK
           The Riverside Press, Cambridge

                   Copyright, 1891,
                   BY JUSTIN WINSOR.

                _All rights reserved._

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




You and I have not followed the maritime peoples of western Europe in
planting and defending their flags on the American shores without
observing the strange fortunes of the Italians, in that they have
provided pioneers for those Atlantic nations without having once secured
in the New World a foothold for themselves.

When Venice gave her Cabot to England and Florence bestowed Verrazano
upon France, these explorers established the territorial claims of their
respective and foster motherlands, leading to those contrasts and
conflicts which it has been your fortune to illustrate as no one else

When Genoa gave Columbus to Spain and Florence accredited her Vespucius
to Portugal, these adjacent powers, whom the Bull of Demarcation would
have kept asunder in the new hemisphere, established their rival races
in middle and southern America, neighboring as in the Old World; but
their contrasts and conflicts have never had so worthy a historian as
you have been for those of the north.

The beginnings of their commingled history I have tried to relate in the
present work, and I turn naturally to associate in it the name of the
brilliant historian of FRANCE AND ENGLAND IN NORTH AMERICA with that of
your obliged friend,

[Illustration: Justin Winsor]

  CAMBRIDGE, _June, 1890_.



  SOURCES, AND THE GATHERERS OF THEM                                    1

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Manuscript of Columbus, 2; the Genoa Custodia, 5;
    Columbus's Letter to the Bank of St. George, 6; Columbus's
    Annotations on the _Imago Mundi_, 8; First Page, Columbus's
    First Letter, Latin edition (1493), 16; Archivo de Simancas, 24.


  BIOGRAPHERS AND PORTRAITISTS                                         30

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Page of the Giustiniani Psalter, 31; Notes of
    Ferdinand Columbus on his Books, 42; Las Casas, 48; Roselly de
    Lorgues, 53; St. Christopher, a Vignette on La Cosa's Map (1500),
    62; Earliest Engraved Likeness of Columbus in Jovius, 63; the
    Florence Columbus, 65; the Yañez Columbus, 66; a Reproduction of
    the Capriolo Cut of Columbus, 67; De Bry's Engraving of Columbus,
    68; the Bust on the Tomb at Havana, 69.


  THE ANCESTRY AND HOME OF COLUMBUS                                    71



    ILLUSTRATIONS: Drawing ascribed to Columbus, 80; Benincasa's Map
    (1476), 81; Ship of the Fifteenth Century, 82.


  THE ALLUREMENTS OF PORTUGAL                                          85

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Part of the Laurentian Portolano, 87; Map of
    Andrea Bianco, 89; Prince Henry, the Navigator, 93; Astrolabes
    of Regiomontanus, 95, 96; Sketch Map of African Discovery, 98;
    Fra Mauro's World-Map, 99; Tomb of Prince Henry at Batalha,
    100; Statue of Prince Henry at Belem, 101.


  COLUMBUS IN PORTUGAL                                                103

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Toscanelli's Map restored, 110; Map of Eastern
    Asia, with Old and New Names, 113; Catalan Map of Eastern Asia
    (1375), 114; Marco Polo, 115; Albertus Magnus, 120; the Laon
    Globe, 123; Oceanic Currents, 130; Tables of Regiomontanus
    (1474-1506), 132; Map of the African Coast (1478), 133; Martin
    Behaim, 134.


  WAS COLUMBUS IN THE NORTH?                                          135

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Map of Olaus Magnus (1539), 136; Map of Claudius
    Clavus (1427), 141; Bordone's Map (1528), 142; Map of Sigurd
    Stephanus (1570), 145.


  COLUMBUS LEAVES PORTUGAL FOR SPAIN                                  149

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Portuguese Mappemonde (1490), 152; Père Juan
    Perez de Marchena, 155; University of Salamanca, 162; Monument
    to Columbus at Genoa, 163; Ptolemy's Map of Spain (1482), 165;
    Cathedral of Seville, 171; Cathedral of Cordoba, 172.


  THE FINAL AGREEMENT AND THE FIRST VOYAGE, 1492                      178

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Behaim's Globe (1492), 186, 187; Doppelmayer's
    Reproduction of this Globe, 188, 189; the actual America in
    Relation to Behaim's Geography, 190; Ships of Columbus's Time,
    192, 193; Map of the Canary Islands, 194; Map of the Routes of
    Columbus, 196; of his track in 1492, 197; Map of the Agonic
    Line, 199; Lapis Polaris Magnes, 200; Map of Polar Regions by
    Mercator (1509), 202; Map of the Landfall of Columbus, 210;
    Columbus's Armor, 211; Maps of the Bahamas (1601 and modern),
    212, 213.


  AMONG THE ISLANDS AND THE RETURN VOYAGE                             218

    ILLUSTRATION: Indian Beds, 222.


  COLUMBUS IN SPAIN AGAIN; MARCH TO SEPTEMBER, 1493                   243

    ILLUSTRATIONS: The Arms of Columbus, 250; Pope Alexander VI.,
    253; Crossbow-Maker, 258; Clock-Maker, 260.


  THE SECOND VOYAGE, 1493-1494                                        264

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Map of Guadaloupe, Marie Galante, and Dominica,
    267; Cannibal Islands, 269.


  THE SECOND VOYAGE, CONTINUED, 1494                                  284

    ILLUSTRATION: Mass on Shore, 298.


  THE SECOND VOYAGE, CONTINUED, 1494-1496                             303

    the Native Divisions of Española, 306; Map of Spanish
    Settlements in Española, 321.


  IN SPAIN, 1496-1498. DA GAMA, VESPUCIUS, CABOT                      325

    LLUSTRATIONS: Ferdinand of Aragon, 328; Bartholomew Columbus, 329;
    Vasco Da Gama, 334; Map of South Africa (1513), 335; Earliest
    Representation of South American Natives, 336.


  THE THIRD VOYAGE, 1498-1500                                         347

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Map of the Gulf of Paria, 353; Pre-Columbian
    Mappemonde, restored, 357; Ramusio's Map of Española, 369;
    La Cosa's Map (1500), 380, 381; Ribero's Map of the Antilles
    (1529), 383; Wytfliet's Cuba, 384, 385.



    ILLUSTRATION: Santo Domingo, 391.


  COLUMBUS AGAIN IN SPAIN, 1500-1502                                  407

    ILLUSTRATIONS: First Page of the _Mundus Novus_, 411; Map of
    the Straits of Belle Isle, 413; Manuscript of Gaspar Cortereal,
    414; of Miguel Cortereal, 416; the Cantino Map, 419.


  THE FOURTH VOYAGE, 1502-1504                                        437

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Bellin's Map of Honduras, 443; of Veragua, 446.


  COLUMBUS'S LAST YEARS. DEATH AND CHARACTER                          477

    ILLUSTRATIONS: House where Columbus died, 490; Cathedral at Santo
    Domingo, 493; Statue of Columbus at Santo Domingo, 495.


  THE DESCENT OF COLUMBUS'S HONORS                                    513

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Pope Julius II., 517; Charles the Fifth, 519;
    Ruins of Diego Colon's House, 521.


  THE GEOGRAPHICAL RESULTS                                            529

    ILLUSTRATIONS: Ptolemy, 530; Map by Donis (1482), 531; Ruysch's
    Map (1508), 532; the so-called Admiral's Map (1513), 534;
    Münster's Map (1532), 535; Title-Page of the _Globus Mundi_,
    352; of Eden's _Treatyse of the Newe India_, 537; Vespucius,
    539; Title of the _Cosmographiæ Introductio_, 541; Map in
    Ptolemy (1513), 544, 545; the Tross Gores, 547; the Hauslab
    Globe, 548; the Nordenskiöld Gores, 549; Map by Apianus (1520),
    550; Schöner's Globe (1515), 551; Frisius's Map (1522), 552;
    Peter Martyr's Map (1511), 557; Ponce de Leon, 558; his tracks
    on the Florida Coast, 559; Ayllon's Map, 561; Balboa, 563;
    Grijalva, 566; Globe in Schöner's _Opusculum_, 567; Garay's
    Map of the Gulf of Mexico, 568; Cortes's Map of the Gulf of
    Mexico, 569; the Maiollo Map (1527), 570; the Lenox Globe, 571;
    Schöner's Globe (1520), 572; Magellan, 573; Magellan's Straits
    by Pizafetta, 575; Modern Map of the Straits, 576; Freire's Map
    (1546), 578; Sylvanus's Map in Ptolemy (1511), 579; Stobnieza's
    Map, 580; the Alleged Da Vinci Sketch-Map, 582; Reisch's Map
    (1515), 583; Pomponius Mela's World-Map, 584; Vadianus, 585;
    Apianus, 586; Schöner, 588; Rosenthal or Nuremberg Gores, 590;
    the Martyr-Oviedo Map (1534), 592, 593; the Verrazano Map, 594;
    Sketch of Agnese's Map (1536), 595; Münster's Map (1540), 596,
    597; Michael Lok's Map (1582), 598; John White's Map, 599;
    Robert Thorne's Map (1527), 600; Sebastian Münster, 602;
    House and Library of Ferdinand Columbus, 604; Spanish Map (1527),
    605; the Nancy Globe, 606, 607; Map of Orontius Finæus (1532),
    608; the same, reduced to Mercator's projection, 609; Cortes,
    610; Castillo's California, 611; Extract from an old Portolano
    of the northeast Coast of North America, 613; Homem's Map (1558),
    614; Ziegler's Schondia, 615; Ruscelli's Map (1544), 616; Carta
    Marina (1548), 617; Myritius's Map (1590), 618; Zaltière's Map
    (1566), 619; Porcacchi's Map (1572), 620; Mercator's Globe
    (1538), 622, 623; Münster's America (1545), 624; Mercator's
    Gores (1541), reduced to a plane projection, 625; Sebastian
    Cabot's Mappemonde (1544), 626; Medina's Map (1544), 628, 629;
    Wytfliet's America (1597), 630, 631; the Cross-Staff, 632; the
    Zeni Map, 634, 635; the Map in the Warsaw Codex (1467), 636,
    637; Mercator's America (1569), 638; Portrait of Mercator,
    639; of Ortelius, 640; Map by Ortelius (1570), 641; Sebastian
    Cabot, 642; Frobisher, 643; Frobisher's Chart (1578), 644;
    Francis Drake, 645; Gilbert's Map (1576), 647; the Back-Staff,
    648; Luke Fox's Map of the Arctic Regions (1635), 651;
    Hennepin's Map of Jesso, 653; Domina Farrer's Map (1651), 654,
    655; Buache's Theory of North American Geography (1752), 656;
    Map of Bering's Straits, 657; Map of the Northwest Passage, 659.

  INDEX                                                                661




In considering the sources of information, which are original, as
distinct from those which are derivative, we must place first in
importance the writings of Columbus himself. We may place next the
documentary proofs belonging to private and public archives.

[Sidenote: His prolixity.]

Harrisse points out that Columbus, in his time, acquired such a popular
reputation for prolixity that a court fool of Charles the Fifth linked
the discoverer of the Indies with Ptolemy as twins in the art of
blotting. He wrote as easily as people of rapid impulses usually do,
when they are not restrained by habits of orderly deliberation. He has
left us a mass of jumbled thoughts and experiences, which,
unfortunately, often perplex the historian, while they of necessity aid

[Sidenote: His writings.]

Ninety-seven distinct pieces of writing by the hand of Columbus either
exist or are known to have existed. Of such, whether memoirs, relations,
or letters, sixty-four are preserved in their entirety. These include
twenty-four which are wholly or in part in his own hand. All of them
have been printed entire, except one which is in the Biblioteca
Colombina, in Seville, the _Libro de las Proficias_, written apparently
between 1501 and 1504, of which only part is in Columbus's own hand. A
second document, a memoir addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella, before
June, 1497, is now in the collection of the Marquis of San Roman at
Madrid, and was printed for the first time by Harrisse in his
_Christophe Colomb_. A third and fourth are in the public archives in
Madrid, being letters addressed to the Spanish monarchs: one without
date in 1496 or 1497, or perhaps earlier, in 1493, and the other
February 6, 1502; and both have been printed and given in facsimile in
the _Cartas de Indias_, a collection published by the Spanish government
in 1877. The majority of the existing private papers of Columbus are
preserved in Spain, in the hands of the present representative of
Columbus, the Duke of Veragua, and these have all been printed in the
great collection of Navarrete. They consist, as enumerated by Harrisse
in his _Columbus and the Bank of Saint George_, of the following pieces:
a single letter addressed about the year 1500 to Ferdinand and Isabella;
four letters addressed to Father Gaspar Gorricio,--one from San Lucar,
April 4, 1502; a second from the Grand Canaria, May, 1502; a third from
Jamaica, July 7, 1503; and the last from Seville, January 4, 1505;--a
memorial addressed to his son, Diego, written either in December, 1504,
or in January, 1505; and eleven letters addressed also to Diego, all
from Seville, late in 1504 or early in 1505.


[From a MS. in the Biblioteca Colombina, given in Harrisse's _Notes
on Columbus_.]]

[Sidenote: All in Spanish.]

Without exception, the letters of Columbus of which we have knowledge
were written in Spanish. Harrisse has conjectured that his stay in Spain
made him a better master of that language than the poor advantages of
his early life had made him of his mother tongue.

[Sidenote: His privileges.]

Columbus was more careful of the documentary proofs of his titles and
privileges, granted in consequence of his discoveries, than of his own
writings. He had more solicitude to protect, by such records, the
pecuniary and titular rights of his descendants than to preserve those
personal papers which, in the eyes of the historian, are far more
valuable. These attested evidences of his rights were for a while
inclosed in an iron chest, kept at his tomb in the monastery of Las
Cuevas, near Seville, and they remained down to 1609 in the custody of
the Carthusian friars of that convent. At this date, Nuño de Portugallo
having been declared the heir to the estate and titles of Columbus, the
papers were transferred to his keeping; and in the end, by legal
decision, they passed to that Duke of Veragua who was the grandfather of
the present duke, who in due time inherited these public memorials, and
now preserves them in Madrid.

[Sidenote: _Codex Diplomaticus._]

In 1502 there were copies made in book form, known as the _Codex
Diplomaticus_, of these and other pertinent documents, raising the
number from thirty-six to forty-four. These copies were attested at
Seville, by order of the Admiral, who then aimed to place them so that
the record of his deeds and rights should not be lost. Two copies seem
to have been sent by him through different channels to Nicoló Oderigo,
the Genoese ambassador in Madrid; and in 1670 both of these copies came
from a descendant of that ambassador as a gift to the Republic of Genoa.
Both of these later disappeared from its archives. A third copy was sent
to Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal, the factor of Columbus in Española, and
this copy is not now known. A fourth copy was deposited in the monastery
of Las Cuevas, near Seville, to be later sent to Father Gorricio. It is
very likely this last copy which is mentioned by Edward Everett in a
note to his oration at Plymouth (Boston, 1825, p. 64), where, referring
to the two copies sent to Oderigo as the only ones made by the order of
Columbus, as then understood, he adds: "Whether the two manuscripts thus
mentioned be the only ones in existence may admit of doubt. When I was
in Florence, in 1818, a small folio manuscript was brought to me,
written on parchment, apparently two or three centuries old, in binding
once very rich, but now worn, containing a series of documents in Latin
and Spanish, with the following title on the first blank page: 'Treslado
de las Bullas del Papa Alexandro VI., de la concession de las Indias y
los titulos, privilegios y cedulas reales, que se dieron a Christoval
Colon.' I was led by this title to purchase the book." After referring
to the _Codice_, then just published, he adds: "I was surprised to find
my manuscript, as far as it goes, nearly identical in its contents with
that of Genoa, supposed to be one of the only two in existence. My
manuscript consists of almost eighty closely written folio pages, which
coincide precisely with the text of the first thirty-seven documents,
contained in two hundred and forty pages of the Genoese volume."

Caleb Cushing says of the Everett manuscript, which he had examined
before he wrote of it in the _North American Review_, October, 1825,
that, "so far as it goes, it is a much more perfect one than the Oderigo
manuscript, as several passages which Spotorno was unable to decipher in
the latter are very plain and legible in the former, which indeed is in
most complete preservation." I am sorry to learn from Dr. William
Everett that this manuscript is not at present easily accessible.

Of the two copies named above as having disappeared from the archives of
Genoa, Harrisse at a late day found one in the archives of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in Paris. It had been taken to Paris in 1811, when
Napoleon I. caused the archives of Genoa to be sent to that city, and it
was not returned when the chief part of the documents was recovered by
Genoa in 1815. The other copy was in 1816 among the papers of Count
Cambiaso, and was bought by the Sardinian government, and given to the
city of Genoa, where it is now deposited in a marble _custodia_, which,
surmounted by a bust of Columbus, stands at present in the main hall of
the palace of the municipality. This "custodia" is a pillar, in which a
door of gilded bronze closes the receptacle that contains the relics,
which are themselves inclosed in a bag of Spanish leather, richly
embossed. A copy of this last document was made and placed in the
archives at Turin.

[Sidenote: Their publication by Spotorno.]

These papers, as selected by Columbus for preservation, were edited by
Father Spotorno at Genoa, in 1823, in a volume called _Codice
diplomatico Colombo-Americano_, and published by authority of the state.
There was an English edition at London, in 1823; and a Spanish at
Havana, in 1867. Spotorno was reprinted, with additional matter, at
Genoa, in 1857, as _La Tavola di Bronzo, il pallio di seta, ed il Codice
Colomboamericano, nuovamente illustrati per cura di Giuseppe Banchero_.

[Illustration: THE GENOA CUSTODIA.]

[Sidenote: Letters to the Bank of St. George.]

This Spotorno volume included two additional letters of Columbus, not
yet mentioned, and addressed, March 21, 1502, and December 27, 1504, to
Oderigo. They were found pasted in the duplicate copy of the papers
given to Genoa, and are now preserved in a glass case, in the same
custodia. A third letter, April 2, 1502, addressed to the governors of
the bank of St. George, was omitted by Spotorno; but it is given by
Harrisse in his _Columbus and the Bank of Saint George_ (New York,
1888). This last was one of two letters, which Columbus sent, as he
says, to the bank, but the other has not been found. The history of the
one preserved is traced by Harrisse in the work last mentioned, and
there are lithographic and photographic reproductions of it. Harrisse's
work just referred to was undertaken to prove the forgery of a
manuscript which has within a few years been offered for sale, either as
a duplicate of the one at Genoa, or as the original. When represented as
the original, the one at Genoa is pronounced a facsimile of it. Harrisse
seems to have proved the forgery of the one which is seeking a


[Reduced in size by photographic process.]]

[Sidenote: Marginalia.]

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's letter.]

Some manuscript marginalia found in three different books, used by
Columbus and preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina at Seville, are also
remnants of the autographs of Columbus. These marginal notes are in
copies of Æneas Sylvius's _Historia Rerum ubique gestarum_ (Venice,
1477) of a Latin version of Marco Polo (Antwerp, 1485?), and of Pierre
d'Ailly's _De Imagine Mundi_ (perhaps 1490), though there is some
suspicion that these last-mentioned notes may be those of Bartholomew,
and not of Christopher, Columbus. These books have been particularly
described in José Silverio Jorrin's _Varios Autografos ineditos de
Cristóbal Colon_, published at Havana in 1888. In May, 1860, José Maria
Fernandez y Velasco, the librarian of the Biblioteca Colombina,
discovered a Latin text of the letter of Toscanelli, written by Columbus
in this same copy of Æneas Sylvius. He believed it a Latin version of a
letter originally written in Italian; but it was left for Harrisse to
discover that the Latin was the original draft. A facsimile of this
script is in Harrisse's _Fernando Colon_ (Seville, 1871), and specimens
of the marginalia were first given by Harrisse in his _Notes on
Columbus_, whence they are reproduced in part in the _Narrative and
Critical History of America_ (vol. ii.).

[Sidenote: Harrisse's memorial of Columbus.]

It is understood that, under the auspices of the Italian government,
Harrisse is now engaged in collating the texts and preparing a national
memorial issue of the writings of Columbus, somewhat in accordance with
a proposition which he made to the Minister of Public Instruction at
Rome in his _Le Quatrième Centenaire de la Découverte du Nouveau Monde_
(Genoa, 1887).

[Sidenote: Columbus's printed works.]

There are references to printed works of Columbus which I have not seen,
as a _Declaracion de Tabla Navigatoria_, annexed to a treatise, _Del Uso
de la Carta de Navegar_, by Dr. Grajales: a _Tratado de las Cinco Zonas
Habitables_, which Humboldt found it very difficult to find.


[From Harrisse's _Notes on Columbus_.]]

[Sidenote: His lost writings.]

Of the manuscripts of Columbus which are lost, there are traces still to
be discovered. One letter, which he dated off the Canaries, February 15,
1493, and which must have contained some account of his first voyage,
is only known to us from an intimation of Marino Sanuto that it was
included in the _Chronica Delphinea_. It is probably from an imperfect
copy of this last in the library at Brescia, that the letter in question
was given in the book's third part (A. D. 1457-1500), which is now
missing. We know also, from a letter still preserved (December 27,
1504), that there must be a letter somewhere, if not destroyed, sent by
him respecting his fourth voyage, to Messer Gian Luigi Fieschi, as is
supposed, the same who led the famous conspiracy against the house of
Doria. Other letters, Columbus tells us, were sent at times to the
Signora Madonna Catalina, who was in some way related to Fieschi.

In 1780, Francesco Pesaro, examining the papers of the Council of Ten,
at Venice, read there a memoir of Columbus, setting forth his maritime
project; or at least Pesaro was so understood by Marin, who gives the
story at a later day in the seventh volume of his history of Venetian
commerce. As Harrisse remarks, this paper, if it could be discovered,
would prove the most interesting of all Columbian documents, since it
would probably be found to fall within a period, from 1473 to 1487, when
we have little or nothing authentic respecting Columbus's life. Indeed,
it might happily elucidate a stage in the development of the Admiral's
cosmographical views of which we know nothing.

We have the letter which Columbus addressed to Alexander VI., in
February, 1502, as preserved in a copy made by his son Ferdinand; but no
historical student has ever seen the Commentary, which he is said to
have written after the manner of Cæsar, recounting the haps and mishaps
of the first voyage, and which he is thought to have sent to the ruling
Pontiff. This act of duty, if done after his return from his last
voyage, must have been made to Julius the Second, not to Alexander.

[Sidenote: Journal of his first voyage.]

Irving and others seem to have considered that this Cæsarian performance
was in fact, the well-known journal of the first voyage; but there is a
good deal of difficulty in identifying that which we only know in an
abridged form, as made by Las Casas, with the narrative sent or intended
to be sent to the Pope.

Ferdinand, or the writer of the _Historie_, later to be mentioned,
it seems clear, had Columbus's journal before him, though he excuses
himself from quoting much from it, in order to avoid wearying the

The original "journal" seems to have been in 1554 still in the
possession of Luis Colon. It had not, accordingly, at that date been put
among the treasures of the Biblioteca Colombina. Thus it may have
fallen, with Luis's other papers, to his nephew and heir, Diego Colon y
Pravia, who in 1578 entrusted them to Luis de Cardona. Here we lose
sight of them.

[Sidenote: Abridged by Las Casas.]

Las Casas's abridgment in his own handwriting, however, has come down to
us, and some entries in it would seem to indicate that Las Casas
abridged a copy, and not the original. It was, up to 1886, in the
library of the Duke of Orsuna, in Madrid, and was at that date bought by
the Spanish government. While it was in the possession of Orsuna, it was
printed by Varnhagen, in his _Verdadera Guanahani_ (1864). It was
clearly used by Las Casas in his own _Historia_, and was also in the
hands of Ferdinand, when he wrote, or outlined, perhaps, what now passes
for the life of his father, and Ferdinand's statements can sometimes
correct or qualify the text in Las Casas. There is some reason to
suppose that Herrera may have used the original. Las Casas tells us that
in some parts, and particularly in describing the landfall and the
events immediately succeeding, he did not vary the words of the
original. This Las Casas abridgment was in the archives of the Duke del
Infantado, when Navarrete discovered its importance, and edited it as
early as 1791, though it was not given to the public till Navarrete
published his _Coleccion_ in 1825. When this journal is read, even as we
have it, it is hard to imagine that Columbus could have intended so
disjointed a performance to be an imitation of the method of Cæsar's

The American public was early given an opportunity to judge of this, and
of its importance. It was by the instigation of George Ticknor that
Samuel Kettell made a translation of the text as given by Navarrete, and
published it in Boston in 1827, as a _Personal Narrative of the first
Voyage of Columbus to America, from a Manuscript recently discovered in

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Descriptions of his first voyage.]

We also know that Columbus wrote other concise accounts of his
discovery. On his return voyage, during a gale, on February 14, 1493,
fearing his ship would founder, he prepared a statement on parchment,
which was incased in wax, put in a barrel, and thrown overboard, to take
the chance of washing ashore. A similar account, protected in like
manner, he placed on his vessel's poop, to be washed off in case of
disaster. Neither of these came, as far as is known, to the notice of
anybody. They very likely simply duplicated the letters which he wrote
on the voyage, intended to be dispatched to their destination on
reaching port. The dates and places of these letters are not
reconcilable with his journal. He was apparently approaching the Azores,
when, on February 15, he dated a letter "off the Canaries," directed to
Luis de Santangel. So false a record as "the Canaries" has never been
satisfactorily explained. It may be imagined, perhaps, that the letter
had been written when Columbus supposed he would make those islands
instead of the Azores, and that the place of writing was not changed. It
is quite enough, however, to rest satisfied with the fact that Columbus
was always careless, and easily erred in such things, as Navarrete has
shown. The postscript which is added is dated March 14, which seems
hardly probable, or even possible, so that March 4 has been suggested.
He professes to write it on the day of his entering the Tagus, and this
was March 4. It is possible that he altered the date when he reached
Palos, as is Major's opinion. Columbus calls this a second letter.
Perhaps a former letter was the one which, as already stated, we have
lost in the missing part of the _Chronica Delphinea_.

[Sidenote: Letter to Santangel.]

[Sidenote: Letter to Sanchez.]

The original of this letter to Santangel, the treasurer of Aragon, and
intended for the eyes of Ferdinand and Isabella, was in Spanish, and is
known in what is thought to be a contemporary copy, found by Navarrete
at Simancas; and it is printed by him in his _Coleccion_, and is given
by Kettell in English, to make no other mention of places where it is
accessible. Harrisse denies that this Simancas manuscript represents the
original, as Navarrete had contended. A letter dated off the island of
Santa Maria, the southernmost of the Azores, three days after the letter
to Santangel, February 18, essentially the same, and addressed to
Gabriel Sanchez, was found in what seemed to be an early copy, among the
papers of the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca. This text was printed by
Varnhagen at Valencia, in 1858, as _Primera Epistola del Almirante Don
Cristóbal Colon_, and it is claimed by him that it probably much more
nearly represents the original of Columbus's own drafting.

[Sidenote: Printed editions.]

There was placed in 1852 in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana at Milan, from the
library of Baron Pietro Custodi, a printed edition of this Spanish
letter, issued in 1493, perhaps somewhere in Spain or Portugal, for
Barcelona and Lisbon have been named. Harrisse conjectures that Sanchez
gave his copy to some printer in Barcelona. Others have contended that
it was not printed in Spain at all. No other copy of this edition has
ever been discovered. It was edited by Cesare Correnti at Milan in 1863,
in a volume called _Lettere autografe di Cristoforo Colombo, nuovamente
stampate_, and was again issued in facsimile in 1866 at Milan, under the
care of Girolamo d'Adda, as _Lettera in lingua Spagnuola diretta da
Cristoforo Colombo a Luis de Sant-Angel_. Major and Becher, among
others, have given versions of it to the English reader, and Harrisse
gives it side by side with a French version in his _Christophe Colomb_
(i. 420), and with an English one in his _Notes on Columbus_.

This text in Spanish print had been thought the only avenue of approach
to the actual manuscript draft of Columbus, till very recently two other
editions, slightly varying, are said to have been discovered, one or
both of which are held by some, but on no satisfactory showing, to have
preceded in issue, probably by a short interval, the Ambrosian copy.

One of these newly alleged editions is on four leaves in quarto, and
represents the letter as dated on February 15 and March 14, and its cut
of type has been held to be evidence of having been printed at Burgos,
or possibly at Salamanca. That this and the Ambrosian letter were
printed one from the other, or independently from some unknown anterior
edition, has been held to be clear from the fact that they correspond
throughout in the division of lines and pages. It is not easily
determined which was the earlier of the two, since there are errors in
each corrected in the other. This unique four-leaf quarto was a few
months since offered for sale in London, by Ellis and Elvey, who have
published (1889) an English translation of it, with annotations by Julia
E. S. Rae. It is now understood to be in the possession of a New York
collector. It is but fair to say that suspicions of its genuineness have
been entertained; indeed, there can be scarce a doubt that it is a
modern fabrication.

The other of these newly discovered editions is in folio of two leaves,
and was the last discovered, and was very recently held by Maisonneuve
of Paris at 65,000 francs, and has since been offered by Quaritch in
London for £1,600. It is said to have been discovered in Spain, and to
have been printed at Barcelona; and this last fact is thought to be
apparent from the Catalan form of some of the Spanish, which has
disappeared in the Ambrosian text. It also gives the dates February 15
and March 14. A facsimile edition has been issued under the title _La
Lettre de Christophe Colomb, annonçant la Découverte du Nouveau Monde_.

Caleb Cushing, in the _North American Review_ in October, 1825, refers
to newspaper stories then current of a recent sale of a copy of the
Spanish text in London, for £33 12_s._ to the Duke of Buckingham. It
cannot now be traced.

[Sidenote: Catalan text.]

Harrisse finds in Ferdinand's catalogue of the Biblioteca Colombina what
was probably a Catalan text of this Spanish letter; but it has
disappeared from the collection.

[Sidenote: Letter found by Bergenroth.]

Bergenroth found at Simancas, some years ago, the text of another letter
by Columbus, with the identical dates already given, and addressed to a
friend; but it conveyed nothing not known in the printed Spanish texts.
He, however, gave a full abstract of it in the _Calendar of State Papers
relating to England and Spain_.

[Sidenote: Columbus gives papers to Bernaldez.]

Columbus is known, after his return from the second voyage, to have been
the guest of Andrès Bernaldez, the Cura de los Palacios, and he is also
known to have placed papers in this friend's hands; and so it has been
held probable by Muñoz that another Spanish text of Columbus's first
account is embodied in Bernaldez's _Historia de los Reyes Católicos_.
The manuscript of this work, which gives thirteen chapters to Columbus,
long remained unprinted in the royal library at Madrid, and Irving,
Prescott, and Humboldt all used it in that form. It was finally printed
at Granada in 1856, as edited by Miguel Lafuente y Alcántara, and was
reprinted at Seville in 1870. Harrisse, in his _Notes on Columbus_,
gives an English version of this section on the Columbus voyage.

[Sidenote: Varieties of the Spanish text.]

These, then, are all the varieties of the Spanish text of Columbus's
first announcement of his discovery which are at present known. When the
Ambrosian text was thought to be the only printed form of it, Varnhagen,
in his _Carta de Cristóbal Colon enviada de Lisboa á Barcelona en Marzo
de 1493_ (Vienna, 1869; and Paris, 1870), collated the different texts
to try to reconstruct a possible original text, as Columbus wrote it. In
the opinion of Major no one of these texts can be considered an accurate
transcript of the original.

[Sidenote: Origin of the Latin text.]

There is a difference of opinion among these critics as to the origin of
the Latin text which scholars generally cite as this first letter of
Columbus. Major thinks this Latin text was not taken from the Spanish,
though similar to it; while Varnhagen thinks that the particular Spanish
text found in the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca was the original of the Latin

[Sidenote: Transient fame of the discovery.]

There is nothing more striking in the history of the years immediately
following the discovery of America than the transient character of the
fame which Columbus acquired by it. It was another and later generation
that fixed his name in the world's regard.

[Sidenote: English mentions of it.]

Harrisse points out how some of the standard chroniclers of the world's
history, like Ferrebouc, Regnault, Galliot du Pré, and Fabian, failed
during the early half of the sixteenth century to make any note of the
acts of Columbus; and he could find no earlier mention among the German
chroniclers than that of Heinrich Steinhowel, some time after 1531.
There was even great reticence among the chroniclers of the Low
Countries; and in England we need to look into the dispatches sent
thence by the Spanish ambassadors to find the merest mention of Columbus
so early as 1498. Perhaps the reference to him made eleven years later
(1509), in an English version of Brandt's _Shyppe of Fools_, and another
still ten years later in a little native comedy called _The New
Interlude_, may have been not wholly unintelligible. It was not till
about 1550 that, so far as England is concerned, Columbus really became
a historical character, in Edward Hall's _Chronicle_.

Speaking of the fewness of the autographs of Columbus which are
preserved, Harrisse adds: "The fact is that Columbus was very far from
being in his lifetime the important personage he now is; and his
writings, which then commanded neither respect nor attention, were
probably thrown into the waste-basket as soon as received."

[Sidenote: Editions of the Latin text.]

Nevertheless, substantial proof seems to exist in the several editions
of the Latin version of this first letter, which were issued in the
months immediately following the return of Columbus from his first
voyage, as well as in the popular versification of its text by Dati in
two editions, both in October, 1493, besides another at Florence in
1495, to show that for a brief interval, at least, the news was more or
less engrossing to the public mind in certain confined areas of Europe.
Before the discovery of the printed editions of the Spanish text, there
existed an impression that either the interest in Spain was less than in
Italy, or some effort was made by the Spanish government to prevent a
wide dissemination of the details of the news.

The two Genoese ambassadors who left Barcelona some time after the
return of Columbus, perhaps in August, 1493, may possibly have taken to
Italy with them some Spanish edition of the letter. The news, however,
had in some form reached Rome in season to be the subject of a papal
bull on May 3d. We know that Aliander or Leander de Cosco, who made the
Latin version, very likely from the Sanchez copy, finished it probably
at Barcelona, on the 29th of April, not on the 25th as is sometimes
said. Cosco sent it at once to Rome to be printed, and his manuscript
possibly conveyed the first tidings, to Italy,--such is Harrisse's
theory,--where it reached first the hands of the Bishop of Monte Peloso,
who added to it a Latin epigram. It was he who is supposed to have
committed it to the printer in Rome, and in that city, during the rest
of 1493, four editions at least of Cosco's Latin appeared. Two of these
editions are supposed to be printed by Plannck, a famous Roman printer;
one is known to have come from the press of Franck Silber. All but one
were little quartos, of the familiar old style, of three or four
black-letter leaves; while the exception was a small octavo with
woodcuts. It is Harrisse's opinion that this pictorial edition was
really printed at Basle. In Paris, during the same time or shortly
after, there were three editions of a similar appearance, all from one
press. The latest of all, brought to light but recently, seems to have
been printed by a distinguished Flemish printer, Thierry Martens,
probably at Antwerp. It is not improbable that other editions printed in
all these or other cities may yet be found. It is noteworthy that
nothing was issued in Germany, as far as we know, before a German
version of the letter appeared at Strassburg in 1497.


[From the Barlow copy, now in the Boston Public Library.]]

The text in all these Latin editions is intended to be the same. But a
very few copies of any edition, and only a single copy of two or three
of them, are known. The Lenox, the Carter-Brown, and the Ives libraries
in this country are the chief ones possessing any of them, and the
collections of the late Henry C. Murphy and Samuel L. M. Barlow also
possessed a copy or two, the edition owned by Barlow passing in
February, 1890, to the Boston Public Library. This scarcity and the
rivalry of collectors would probably, in case any one of them should be
brought upon the market, raise the price to fifteen hundred dollars or
more. The student is not so restricted as this might imply, for in
several cases there have been modern facsimiles and reprints, and there
is an early reprint by Veradus, annexed to his poem (1494) on the
capture of Granada. The text usually quoted by the older writers,
however, is that embodied in the _Bellum Christianorum Principum_ of
Robertus Monarchus (Basle, 1533).

[Sidenote: Order of publication.]

In these original small quartos and octavos, there is just enough
uncertainty and obscurity as to dates and printers, to lure
bibliographers and critics of typography into research and controversy;
and hardly any two of them agree in assigning the same order of
publication to these several issues. The present writer has in the
second volume of the _Narrative and Critical History of America_ grouped
the varied views, so far as they had in 1885 been made known. The
bibliography to which Harrisse refers as being at the end of his work on
Columbus was crowded out of its place and has not appeared; but he
enters into a long examination of the question of priority in the second
chapter of his last volume. The earliest English translation of this
Latin text appeared in the _Edinburgh Review_ in 1816, and other issues
have been variously made since that date.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Additional sources respecting the first voyage.]

We get some details of this first voyage in Oviedo, which we do not find
in the journal, and Vicente Yañez Pinzon and Hernan Perez Matheos, who
were companions of Columbus, are said to be the source of this
additional matter. The testimony in the lawsuit of 1515, particularly
that of Garcia Hernandez, who was in the "Pinta," and of a sailor named
Francisco Garcia Vallejo, adds other details.

[Sidenote: Second voyage.]

There is no existing account by Columbus himself of his experiences
during his second voyage, and of that cruise along the Cuban coast in
which he supposed himself to have come in sight of the Golden
Chersonesus. The _Historie_ tells us that during this cruise he kept a
journal, _Libro del Segundo Viage_, till he was prostrated by sickness,
and this itinerary is cited both in the _Historie_ and by Las Casas. We
also get at second-hand from Columbus, what was derived from him in
conversation after his return to Spain, in the account of these
explorations which Bernaldez has embodied in his _Reyes Católicos_.
Irving says that he found these descriptions of Bernaldez by far the
most useful of the sources for this period, as giving him the details
for a picturesque narrative. On disembarking at Cadiz in June, 1495,
Columbus sent to his sovereigns two dispatches, neither of which is now

[Sidenote: Columbus's letters.]

It was in the collection of the Duke of Veragua that Navarrete
discovered fifteen autograph letters of Columbus, four of them addressed
to his friend, the Father Gaspar Gorricio, and the rest to his son
Diego. Navarrete speaks of them when found as in a very deplorable and
in parts almost unreadable condition, and severely taxing, for
deciphering them, the practiced skill of Tomas Gonzalez, which had been
acquired in the care which he had bestowed on the archives of Simancas.
It is known that two letters addressed to Gorricio in 1498, and four in
1501, beside a single letter addressed in the last year to Diego Colon,
which were in the iron chest at Las Cuevas, are not now in the archives
of the Duke of Veragua; and it is further known that during the great
lawsuit of Columbus's heirs, Cristoval de Cardona tampered with that
chest, and was brought to account for the act in 1580. Whatever he
removed may possibly some day be found, as Harrisse thinks, among the
notarial records of Valencia.

[Sidenote: Third voyage.]

Two letters of Columbus respecting his third voyage are only known in
early copies; one in Las Casas's hand belonged to the Duke of Orsuna,
and the other addressed to the nurse of Prince Juan is in the Custodia
collection at Genoa. Both are printed by Navarrete.

[Sidenote: Fourth voyage.]

Columbus, in a letter dated December 27, 1504, mentions a relation of
his fourth voyage with a supplement, which he had sent from Seville to
Oderigo; but it is not known. We are without trace also of other
letters, which he wrote at Dominica and at other points during this
voyage. We do know, however, a letter addressed by Columbus to Ferdinand
and Isabella, giving some account of his voyage to July 7, 1503. The
lost Spanish original is represented in an early copy, which is printed
by Navarrete. Though no contemporary Spanish edition is known, an
Italian version was issued at Venice in 1505, as _Copia de la Lettera
per Colombo mandata_. This was reprinted with comments by Morelli, at
Bassano, in 1810, and the title which this librarian gave it of _Lettera
Rarissima_ has clung to it, in most of the citations which refer to it.

Peter Martyr, writing in January, 1494, mentions just having received a
letter from Columbus, but it is not known to exist.

[Sidenote: Las Casas uses Columbus's papers.]

Las Casas is said to have once possessed a treatise by Columbus on the
information obtained from Portuguese and Spanish pilots, concerning
western lands; and he also refers to _Libros de Memorias del Almirante_.
He is also known by his own statements to have had numerous autograph
letters of Columbus. What has become of them is not known. If they were
left in the monastery of San Gregorio at Valladolid, where Las Casas
used them, they have disappeared with papers of the convent, since they
were not among the archives of the suppressed convents, as Harrisse
tells us, which were entrusted in 1850 to the Academy of History at

[Sidenote: Work on the Arctic pole.]

In his letter to Doña Juana, Columbus says that he has deposited a work
in the Convent de la Mejorada, in which he has predicted the discovery
of the Arctic pole. It has not been found.

[Sidenote: Missing letters.]

Harrisse also tells us of the unsuccessful search which he has made for
an alleged letter of Columbus, said in Gunther and Schultz's handbook of
autographs (Leipzig, 1856) to have been bought in England by the Duke of
Buckingham; and it was learned from Tross, the Paris bookseller, that
about 1850 some autograph letters of Columbus, seen by him, were sent to
England for sale.

[Sidenote: Columbus's maps.]

After his return from his first voyage, Columbus prepared a map and an
accompanying table of longitudes and latitudes for the new discoveries.
They are known to have been the subject of correspondence between him
and the queen.

There are various other references to maps which Columbus had
constructed, to embody his views or show his discoveries. Not one,
certainly to be attributed to him, is known, though Ojeda, Niño, and
others are recorded as having used, in their explorations, maps made by
Columbus. Peter Martyr's language does not indicate that Columbus ever
completed any chart, though he had, with the help of his brother
Bartholomew, begun one. The map in the Ptolemy of 1513 is said by
Santarem to have been drawn by Columbus, or to have been based on his
memoranda, but the explanation on the map seems rather to imply that
information derived from an admiral in the service of Portugal was used
in correcting it, and since Harrisse has brought to light what is
usually called the Cantino map, there is strong ground for supposing
that the two had one prototype.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Italian notarial records.]

Let us pass from records by Columbus to those about him. We owe to an
ancient custom of Italy that so much has been preserved, to throw in the
aggregate no small amount of light on the domestic life of the family in
which Columbus was the oldest born. During the fourteen years in which
his father lived at Savona, every little business act and legal
transaction was attested before notaries, whose records have been
preserved filed in _filzas_ in the archives of the town.

These _filzas_ were simply a file of documents tied together by a string
passed through each, and a _filza_ generally embraced a year's
accumulation. The photographic facsimile which Harrisse gives in his
_Columbus and the Bank of Saint George_, of the letter of Columbus
preserved by the bank, shows how the sheet was folded once lengthwise,
and then the hole was made midway in each fold.

We learn in this way that, as early as 1470 and later, Columbus stood
security for his father. We find him in 1472 the witness of another's
will. As under the Justinian procedure the notary's declaration
sufficed, such documents in Italy are not rendered additionally
interesting by the autograph of the witness, as they would be in
England. This notarial resource is no new discovery. As early as 1602,
thirteen documents drawn from similar depositaries were printed at
Genoa, in some annotations by Giulio Salinerio upon Cornelius Tacitus.
Other similar papers were discovered by the archivists of Savona, Gian
Tommaso and Giambattista Belloro, in 1810 (reprinted, 1821) and 1839
respectively, and proving the general correctness of the earlier
accounts of Columbus's younger days given in Gallo, Senarega, and
Giustiniani. It is to be regretted that the original entries of some of
these notarial acts are not now to be found, but patient search may yet
discover them, and even do something more to elucidate the life of the
Columbus family in Savona.

[Sidenote: Savona.]

There has been brought into prominence and published lately a memoir of
the illustrious natives of Savona, written by a lawyer, Giovanni
Vincenzo Verzellino, who died in that town in 1638. This document was
printed at Savona in 1885, under the editorial care of Andrea Astengo;
but Harrisse has given greater currency to its elucidations for our
purpose in his _Christophe Colomb et Savone_ (Genoa, 1877).

[Sidenote: Genoa notarial records.]

Harrisse is not unwisely confident that the nineteen documents--if no
more have been added--throwing light on minor points of the obscure
parts of the life of Columbus and his kindred, which during recent years
have been discovered in the notarial files of Genoa by the Marquis
Marcello Staglieno, may be only the precursors of others yet to be
unearthed, and that the pages of the _Giornale Ligustico_ may continue
to record such discoveries as it has in the past.

[Sidenote: Records of the Bank of St. George.]

The records of the Bank of Saint George in Genoa have yielded something,
but not much. In the state archives of Genoa, preserved since 1817 in
the Palazzetto, we might hope to find some report of the great
discovery, of which the Genoese ambassadors, Francesco Marchesio and
Gian Antonio Grimaldi, were informed, just as they were taking leave of
Ferdinand and Isabella for returning to Italy; but nothing of that kind
has yet been brought to light there; nor was it ever there, unless the
account which Senarega gives in the narrative printed in Muratori was
borrowed thence. We may hope, but probably in vain, to have these public
archives determine if Columbus really offered to serve his native
country in a voyage of discovery. The inquirer is more fortunate if he
explores what there is left of the archives of the old abbey of St.
Stephen, which, since the suppression of the convents in 1797, have been
a part of the public papers, for he can find in them some help in
solving some pertinent questions.

[Sidenote: Vatican archives.]

[Sidenote: Hidden manuscripts.]

[Sidenote: Letters about Columbus.]

Harrisse tells us in 1887 that he had been waiting two years for
permission to search the archives of the Vatican. What may yet be
revealed in that repository, the world waits anxiously to learn. It may
be that some one shall yet discover there the communication in which
Ferdinand and Isabella announced to the Pope the consummation of the
hopes of Columbus. It may be that the diplomatic correspondence covering
the claims of Spain by virtue of the discovery of Columbus, and leading
to the bull of demarcation of May, 1493, may yet be found, accompanied
by maps, of the highest interest in interpreting the relations of the
new geography. There is no assurance that the end of manuscript
disclosures has yet come. Some new bit of documentary proof has been
found at times in places quite unexpected. The number of Italian
observers in those days of maritime excitement living in the seaports
and trading places of Spain and Portugal, kept their home friends alert
in expectation by reason of such appetizing news. Such are the letters
sent to Italy by Hanibal Januarius, and by Luca, the Florentine
engineer, concerning the first voyage. There are similar transient
summaries of the second voyage. Some have been found in the papers of
Macchiavelli, and others had been arranged by Zorzi for a new edition of
his documentary collection. These have all been recovered of recent
years, and Harrisse himself, Gargiolli, Guerrini, and others, have been
instrumental in their publication.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Spanish archives.]

[Sidenote: Simancas and Seville.]

[Sidenote: Simancas.]

It was thirty-seven years after the death of Columbus before, under an
order of Charles the Fifth, February 19, 1543, the archives of Spain
were placed in some sort of order and security at Simancas. The great
masses of papers filed by the crown secretaries and the Councils of the
Indies and of Seville, were gradually gathered there, but not until many
had been lost. Others apparently disappeared at a later day, for we are
now aware that many to which Herrera refers cannot be found. New efforts
to secure the preservation and systematize the accumulation of
manuscripts were made by order of Philip the Second in 1567, but it
would seem without all the success that might have been desired. Towards
the end of the last century, it was the wish of Charles the Third that
all the public papers relating to the New World should be selected from
Simancas and all other places of deposit and carried to Seville. The act
was accomplished in 1788, when they were placed in a new building which
had been provided for them. Thus it is that to-day the student of
Columbus must rather search Seville than Simancas for new documents,
though a few papers of some interest in connection with the contests of
his heirs with the crown of Castile may still exist at Simancas. Thirty
years ago, if not now, as Bergenroth tells us, there was little comfort
for the student of history in working at Simancas. The papers are
preserved in an old castle, formerly belonging to the admirals of
Castile, which had been confiscated and devoted to the uses of such a
repository. The one large room which was assigned for the accommodation
of readers had a northern aspect, and as no fires were allowed, the
note-taker found not infrequently in winter the ink partially congealed
in his pen. There was no imaginable warmth even in the landscape as seen
from the windows, since, amid a treeless waste, the whistle of cold
blasts in winter and a blinding African heat in summer characterize the
climate of this part of Old Castile.

Of the early career of Columbus, it is very certain that something may
be gained at Simancas, for when Bergenroth, sent by the English
government, made search there to illustrate the relations of Spain with
England, and published his results, with the assistance of Gayangos, in
1862-1879, as a _Calendar of Letters, Despatches, and State Papers
relating to Negotiations between England and Spain_, one of the earliest
entries of his first printed volume, under 1485, was a complaint of
Ferdinand and Isabella against a Columbus--some have supposed it our
Christopher--for his participancy in the piratical service of the


[From Parcerisa and Quadrado's _España_.]]

[Sidenote: Seville.]

Harrisse complains that we have as yet but scant knowledge of what the
archives of the Indies at Seville may contain, but they probably throw
light rather upon the successors of Columbus than upon the career of the
Admiral himself.

[Sidenote: Seville notarial records.]

The notarial archives of Seville are of recent construction, the
gathering of scattered material having been first ordered so late as
1869. The partial examination which has since been made of them has
revealed some slight evidences of the life of some of Columbus's
kindred, and it is quite possible some future inquirer will be rewarded
for his diligent search among them.

It is also not unlikely that something of interest may be brought to
light respecting the descendants of Columbus who have lived in Seville,
like the Counts of Gelves; but little can be expected regarding the life
of the Admiral himself.

[Sidenote: Santa Maria de las Cuevas.]

The personal fame of Columbus is much more intimately connected with the
monastery of Santa Maria de las Cuevas. Here his remains were
transported in 1509; and at a later time, his brother and son, each
Diego by name, were laid beside him, as was his grandson Luis. Here in
an iron chest the family muniments and jewels were kept, as has been
said. It is affirmed that all the documents which might have grown out
of these transactions of duty and precaution, and which might
incidentally have yielded some biographical information, are nowhere to
be found in the records of the monastery. A century ago or so, when
Muñoz was working in these records, there seems to have been enough to
repay his exertions, as we know by his citations made between 1781 and

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Portuguese archives. Torre do Tombo.]

The national archives of the Torre do Tombo, at Lisbon, begun so far
back as 1390, are well known to have been explored by Santarem, then
their keeper, primarily for traces of the career of Vespucius; but so
intelligent an antiquary could not have forgotten, as a secondary aim,
the acts of Columbus. The search yielded him, however, nothing in this
last direction; nor was Varnhagen more fortunate. Harrisse had hopes to
discover there the correspondence of Columbus with John the Second, in
1488; but the search was futile in this respect, though it yielded not
a little respecting the Perestrello family, out of which Columbus took
his wife, the mother of the heir of his titles. There is even hope that
the notarial acts of Lisbon might serve a similar purpose to those which
have been so fruitful in Genoa and Savona. There are documents of great
interest which may be yet obscurely hidden away, somewhere in Portugal,
like the letter from the mouth of the Tagus, which Columbus on his
return in March, 1493, addressed to the Portuguese king, and the
diplomatic correspondence of John the Second and Ferdinand of Aragon,
which the project of a second voyage occasioned, as well as the
preliminaries of the treaty of Tordesillas.

[Sidenote: Santo Domingo archives.]

[Sidenote: Lawsuit papers.]

There may be yet some hope from the archives of Santo Domingo itself,
and from those of its Cathedral, to trace in some of their lines the
descendants of the Admiral through his son Diego. The mishaps of nature
and war have, however, much impaired the records. Of Columbus himself
there is scarce a chance to learn anything here. The papers of the
famous lawsuit of Diego Colon with the crown seem to have escaped the
attention of all the historians before the time of Muñoz and Navarrete.
The direct line of male descendants of the Admiral ended in 1578, when
his great-grandson, Diego Colon y Pravia, died on the 27th January, a
childless man. Then began another contest for the heritage and titles,
and it lasted for thirty years, till in 1608 the Council of the Indies
judged the rights to descend by a turn back to Diego's aunt Isabel, and
thence to her grandson, Nuño de Portugallo, Count of Gelves. The
excluded heirs, represented by the children of a sister of Diego,
Francisca, who had married Diego Ortegon, were naturally not content;
and out of the contest which followed we get a large mass of printed
statements and counter statements, which used with caution, offer a
study perhaps of some of the transmitted traits of Columbus. Harrisse
names and describes nineteen of these documentary memorials, the last of
which bears date in 1792. The most important of them all, however, is
one printed at Madrid in 1606, known as _Memorial del Pleyto_, in which
we find the descent of the true and spurious lines, and learn something
too much of the scandalous life of Luis, the grandson of the Admiral, to
say nothing of the illegitimate taints of various other branches.
Harrisse finds assistance in working out some of the lines of the
Admiral's descendants, in Antonio Caetano de Sousa's _Historia
Genealogica da Casa Real Portugueza_ (Lisbon, 1735-49, in 14 vols.).

[Sidenote: The Muñoz collection.]

The most important collection of documents gathered by individual
efforts in Spain, to illustrate the early history of the New World, was
that made by Juan Bautista Muñoz, in pursuance of royal orders issued to
him in 1781 and 1788, to examine all Spanish archives, for the purpose
of collecting material for a comprehensive History of the Indies. Muñoz
has given in the introduction of his history a clear statement of the
condition of the different depositories of archives in Spain, as he
found them towards the end of the last century, when a royal order
opened them all to his search. A first volume of Muñoz's elaborate and
judicious work was issued in 1793, and Muñoz died in 1799, without
venturing on a second volume to carry the story beyond 1500, where he
had left it. He was attacked for his views, and there was more or less
of a pamphlet war over the book before death took him from the strife;
but he left a fragment of the second volume in manuscript, and of this
there is a copy in the Lenox Library in New York. Another copy was sold
in the Brinley sale. The Muñoz collection of copies came in part, at
least, at some time after the collector's death into the hands of
Antonio de Uguina, who placed them at the disposal of Irving; and
Ternaux seems also to have used them. They were finally deposited by the
Spanish government in the Academy of History at Madrid. Here Alfred
Demersey saw them in 1862-63, and described them in the _Bulletin_ of
the French Geographical Society in June, 1864, and it is on this
description as well as on one in Fuster's _Biblioteca Valenciana_, that
Harrisse depends, not having himself examined the documents.

[Sidenote: The Navarrete collection.]

Martin Fernandez de Navarrete was guided in his career as a collector of
documents, when Charles the Fourth made an order, October 15, 1789, that
there should be such a work begun to constitute the nucleus of a library
and museum. The troublous times which succeeded interrupted the work,
and it was not till 1825 that Navarrete brought out the first volume of
his _Coleccion de los Viages y Descubrimientos que hicieron por Mar los
Españoles desde_ _Fines del Siglo XV._, a publication which a fifth
volume completed in 1837, when he was over seventy years of age.

Any life of Columbus written from documentary sources must reflect much
light from this collection of Navarrete, of which the first two volumes
are entirely given to the career of the Admiral, and indeed bear the
distinctive title of _Relaciones, Cartas y otros Documentos_, relating
to him.

[Sidenote: The researches of Navarrete.]

Navarrete was engaged thirty years on his work in the archives of Spain,
and was aided part of the time by Muñoz the historian, and by Gonzales
the keeper of the archives at Simancas. His researches extended to all
the public repositories, and to such private ones as could be thought to
illustrate the period of discovery. Navarrete has told the story of his
searches in the various archives of Spain, in the introduction to his
_Coleccion_, and how it was while searching for the evidences of the
alleged voyage of Maldonado on the Pacific coast of North America, in
1588, that he stumbled upon Las Casas's copies of the relations of
Columbus, for his first and third voyages, then hid away in the archives
of the Duc del Infantado; and he was happy to have first brought them to
the attention of Muñoz.

There are some advantages for the student in the use of the French
edition of Navarrete's _Relations des Quatre Voyages entrepris par
Colomb_, since the version was revised by Navarrete himself, and it is
elucidated, not so much as one would wish, with notes by Rémusat, Balbi,
Cuvier, Jomard, Letronne, St. Martin, Walckenaer, and others. It was
published at Paris in three volumes in 1828. The work contains
Navarrete's accounts of Spanish pre-Columbian voyages, of the later
literature on Columbus, and of the voyages of discovery made by other
efforts of the Spaniards, beside the documentary material respecting
Columbus and his voyages, the result of his continued labors. Caleb
Cushing, in his _Reminiscences of Spain_ in 1833, while commending the
general purposes of Navarrete, complains of his attempts to divert the
indignation of posterity from the selfish conduct of Ferdinand, and to
vindicate him from the charge of injustice towards Columbus. This plea
does not find to-day the same sympathy in students that it did sixty
years ago.

[Sidenote: Madrid Academy of History.]

Father Antonio de Aspa of the monastery of the Mejorada, formed a
collection of documents relating to the discovery of the New World, and
it was in this collection, now preserved in the Academy of History at
Madrid, that Navarrete discovered that curious narration of the second
voyage of Columbus by Dr. Chanca, which had been sent to the chapter of
the Cathedral, and which Navarrete included in his collection. It is
thought that Bernaldez had used this Chanca narrative in his _Reyes

[Sidenote: _Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos._]

Navarrete's name is also connected, as one of its editors, with the
extensive _Coleccion de Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de España_,
the publication of which was begun in Madrid in 1847, two years before
Navarrete's death. This collection yields something in elucidation of
the story to be here told; but not much, except that in it, at a late
day, the _Historia_ of Las Casas was first printed.

In 1864, there was still another series begun at Madrid, _Coleccion de
Documentos Ineditos relativos al Descubrimiento, Conquista y
Colonizacion de las Posesiones Españolas en América y Oceania_, under
the editing of Joaquin Pacheco and Francisco de Cárdenas, who have not
always satisfied students by the way in which they have done their work.
Beyond the papers which Navarrete had earlier given, and which are here
reprinted, there is not much in this collection to repay the student of
Columbus, except some long accounts of the Repartimiento in Española.

[Sidenote: Cartas de Indias.]

The latest documentary contribution is the large folio, with an appendix
of facsimile writings of Columbus, Vespucius, and others, published at
Madrid in 1877, by the government, and called _Cartas de Indias_, in
which it has been hinted some use has been made of the matter
accumulated by Navarrete for additional volumes of his _Coleccion_.


[From the copy in Harvard College Library.]]



[Sidenote: Contemporary notices.]

[Sidenote: Giustiniani.]

We may most readily divide by the nationalities of the writers our
enumeration of those who have used the material which has been
considered in the previous chapter. We begin, naturally, with the
Italians, the countrymen of Columbus. We may look first to three
Genoese, and it has been shown that while they used documents apparently
now lost, they took nothing from them which we cannot get from other
sources; and they all borrowed from common originals, or from each
other. Two of these writers are Antonio Gallo, the official chronicler
of the Genoese Republic, on the first and second voyages of Columbus,
and so presumably writing before the third was made, and Bartholomew
Senarega on the affairs of Genoa, both of which recitals were published
by Muratori, in his great Italian collection. The third is Giustiniani,
the Bishop of Nebbio, who, publishing in 1516, at Genoa, a polyglot
Psalter, added, as one of his elucidations of the nineteenth psalm, on
the plea that Columbus had often boasted he was chosen to fulfill its
prophecy, a brief life of Columbus, in which the story of the humble
origin of the navigator has in the past been supposed to have first been
told. The other accounts, it now appears, had given that condition an
equal prominence. Giustiniani was but a child when Columbus left Genoa,
and could not have known him; and taking, very likely, much from
hearsay, he might have made some errors, which were repeated or only
partly corrected in his Annals of Genoa, published in 1537, the year
following his own death. It is not found, however, that the sketch is in
any essential particular far from correct, and it has been confirmed by
recent investigations. The English of it is given in Harrisse's _Notes
on Columbus_ (pp. 74-79). The statements of the Psalter respecting
Columbus were reckoned with other things so false that the Senate of
Genoa prohibited its perusal and allowed no one to possess it,--at least
so it is claimed in the _Historie_ of 1571; but no one has ever found
such a decree, nor is it mentioned by any who would have been likely to
revert to it, had it ever existed.

[Sidenote: Bergomas.]

The account in the _Collectanea_ of Battista Fulgoso (sometimes written
Fregoso), printed at Milan in 1509, is of scarcely any original value,
though of interest as the work of another Genoese. Allegetto degli
Allegetti, whose _Ephemerides_ is also published in Muratori, deserves
scarcely more credit, though he seems to have got his information from
the letters of Italian merchants living in Spain, who communicated
current news to their home correspondents. Bergomas, who had published a
chronicle as early as 1483, made additions to his work from time to
time, and in an edition printed at Venice, in 1503, he paraphrased
Columbus's own account of his first voyage, which was reprinted in the
subsequent edition of 1506. In this latter year Maffei de Volterra
published a commentary at Rome, of much the same importance. Such was
the filtering process by which Italy, through her own writers, acquired
contemporary knowledge of her adventurous son.

The method was scarcely improved in the condensation of Jovius (1551),
or in the traveler's tales of Benzoni (1565).

[Sidenote: Casoni, 1708.]

[Sidenote: Bossi.]

Harrisse affirms that it is not till we come down to the Annals of
Genoa, published by Filippo Casoni, in 1708, that we get any new
material in an Italian writer, and on a few points this last writer has
adduced documentary evidence, not earlier made known. It is only when we
pass into the present century that we find any of the countrymen of
Columbus undertaking in a sustained way to tell the whole story of
Columbus's life. Léon had noted that at some time in Spain, without
giving place and date, Columbus had printed a little tract, _Declaration
de Tabla Navigatoria_; but no one before Luigi Bossi had undertaken to
investigate the writings of Columbus. He is precursor of all the modern
biographers of Columbus, and his book was published at Milan, in 1818.
He claimed in his appendix to have added rare and unpublished documents,
but Harrisse points out how they had all been printed earlier.

Bossi expresses opinions respecting the Spanish nation that are by no
means acceptable to that people, and Navarrete not infrequently takes
the Italian writer to task for this as for his many errors of statement,
and for the confidence which he places even in the pictorial designs of
De Bry as historical records.

There is nothing more striking in the history of American discovery than
the fact that the Italian people furnished to Spain Columbus, to England
Cabot, and to France Verrazano; and that the three leading powers of
Europe, following as maritime explorers in the lead of Portugal, who
could not dispense with Vespucius, another Italian, pushed their rights
through men whom they had borrowed from the central region of the
Mediterranean, while Italy in its own name never possessed a rood of
American soil. The adopted country of each of these Italians gave more
or less of its own impress to its foster child. No one of these men was
so impressible as Columbus, and no country so much as Spain was likely
at this time to exercise an influence on the character of an alien.
Humboldt has remarked that Columbus got his theological fervor in
Andalusia and Granada, and we can scarcely imagine Columbus in the garb
of a Franciscan walking the streets of free and commercial Genoa as he
did those of Seville, when he returned from his second voyage.

The latest of the considerable popular Italian lives of Columbus is G.
B. Lemoyne's _Colombo e la Scoperta dell' America_, issued at Turin, in

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Portuguese writers.]

We may pass now to the historians of that country to which Columbus
betook himself on leaving Italy; but about all to be found at first hand
is in the chronicle of João II. of Portugal, as prepared by Ruy de Pina,
the archivist of the Torre do Tombo. At the time of the voyage of
Columbus Ruy was over fifty, while Garcia de Resende was a young man
then living at the Portuguese court, who in his _Choronica_, published
in 1596, did little more than borrow from his elder, Ruy; and Resende in
turn furnished to João de Barros the staple of the latter's narrative in
his _Decada da Asia_, printed at Lisbon, in 1752.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Spanish writers.]

[Sidenote: Peter Martyr.]

We find more of value when we summon the Spanish writers. Although Peter
Martyr d'Anghiera was an Italian, Muñoz reckons him a Spaniard, since he
was naturalized in Spain. He was a man of thirty years, when, coming
from Rome, he settled in Spain, a few years before Columbus attracted
much notice. Martyr had been borne thither on a reputation of his own,
which had commended his busy young nature to the attention of the
Spanish court. He took orders and entered upon a prosperous career,
proceeding by steps, which successively made him the chaplain of Queen
Isabella, a prior of the Cathedral of Granada, and ultimately the
official chronicler of the Indies. Very soon after his arrival in Spain,
he had disclosed a quick eye for the changeful life about him, and he
began in 1488 the writing of those letters which, to the number of over
eight hundred, exist to attest his active interest in the events of his
day. These events he continued to observe till 1525. We have no more
vivid source of the contemporary history, particularly as it concerned
the maritime enterprise of the peninsular peoples. He wrote fluently,
and, as he tells us, sometimes while waiting for dinner, and necessarily
with haste. He jotted down first and unconfirmed reports, and let them
stand. He got news by hearsay, and confounded events. He had candor and
sincerity enough, however, not to prize his own works above their true
value. He knew Columbus, and, his letters readily reflect what interest
there was in the exploits of Columbus, immediately on his return from
his first voyage; but the earlier preparations of the navigator for that
voyage, with the problematical characteristics of the undertaking, do
not seem to have made any impression upon Peter Martyr, and it is not
till May of 1493, when the discovery had been made, and later in
September, that he chronicles the divulged existence of the newly
discovered islands. The three letters in which this wonderful
intelligence was first communicated are printed by Harrisse in English,
in his _Notes on Columbus_. Las Casas tells us how Peter Martyr got his
accounts of the first discoveries directly from the lips of Columbus
himself and from those who accompanied him; but he does not fail to tell
us also of the dangers of too implicitly trusting to all that Peter
says. From May 14, 1493, to June 5, 1497, in twelve separate letters, we
read what this observer has to say of the great navigator who had
suddenly and temporarily stepped into the glare of notice. These and
other letters of Peter Martyr have not escaped some serious criticism.
There are contradictions and anachronisms in them that have forcibly
helped Ranke, Hallam, Gerigk, and others to count the text which we have
as more or less changed from what must have been the text, if honestly
written by Martyr. They have imagined that some editor, willful or
careless, has thrown this luckless accompaniment upon them. The letters,
however, claimed the confidence of Prescott, and have, as regards the
parts touching the new discoveries, seldom failed to impress with their
importance those who have used them. It is the opinion of the last
examiner of them, J. H. Mariéjol, in his _Peter Martyr d'Anghera_
(Paris, 1887), that to read them attentively is the best refutation of
the skeptics. Martyr ceased to refer to the affairs of the New World
after 1499, and those of his earlier letters which illustrate the early
voyage have appeared in a French version, made by Gaffarel and Louvot
(Paris, 1885).

The representations of Columbus easily convinced Martyr that there
opened a subject worthy of his pen, and he set about composing a special
treatise on the discoveries in the New World, and, under the title of
_De Orbe Novo_, it occupied his attention from October, 1494, to the day
of his death. For the earlier years he had, if we may believe him, not a
little help from Columbus himself; and it would seem from his one
hundred and thirty-five epistles that he was not altogether prepared to
go with Columbus, in accounting the new islands as lying off the coast
of Asia. He is particularly valuable to us in treating of Columbus's
conflicts with the natives of Española, and Las Casas found him as
helpful as we do.

These _Decades_, as the treatise is usually called, formed enlarged
bulletins, which, in several copies, were transmitted by him to some of
his noble friends in Italy, to keep them conversant with the passing

[Sidenote: Trivigiano.]

A certain Angelo Trivigiano, into whose hands a copy of some of the
early sections fell, translated them into easy, not to say vulgar,
Italian, and sent them to Venice, in four different copies, a few months
after they were written; and in this way the first seven books of the
first decade fell into the hands of a Venetian printer, who, in April,
1504, brought out a little book of sixteen leaves in the dialect of that
region, known in bibliography as the _Libretto de Tutta la Navigation
de Re de Spagna de le Isole et Terreni novamente trovati_. This
publication is known to us in a single copy lacking a title, in the
Biblioteca Marciana. Here we have the first account of the new
discoveries, written upon report, and supplementing the narrative of
Columbus himself. We also find in this little narrative some personal
details about Columbus, not contained in the same portions when embodied
in the larger _De Orbe Novo_ of Martyr, and it may be a question if
somebody who acted as editor to the Venetian version may not have added
them to the translation. The story of the new discoveries attracted
enough notice to make Zorzi or Montalboddo--if one or the other were its
editor--include this Venetian version of Martyr bodily in the collection
of voyages which, as _Paesi novamente retrovati_, was published at
Vicentia somewhere about November, 1507. It is, perhaps, a measure of
the interest felt in the undertakings of Columbus, not easily understood
at this day, that it took fourteen years for a scant recital of such
events to work themselves into the context of so composite a record of
discovery as the _Paesi_ proved to be; and still more remarkable it may
be accounted that the story could be told with but few actual references
to the hero of the transactions, "Columbus, the Genoese." It is not only
the compiler who is so reticent, but it is the author whence he borrowed
what he had to say, Martyr himself, the observer and acquaintance of
Columbus, who buries the discoverer under the event. With such an
augury, it is not so strange that at about the same time in the little
town of St. Dié, in the Vosges, a sequestered teacher could suggest a
name derived from that of a follower of Columbus, Americus Vespucius,
for that part of the new lands then brought into prominence. If the
documentary proofs of Columbus's priority had given to the Admiral's
name the same prominence which the event received, the result might not,
in the end, have been so discouraging to justice.

Martyr, unfortunately, with all his advantages, and with his access to
the archives of the Indies, did not burden his recital with documents.
He was even less observant of the lighter traits that interest those
eager for news than might have been expected, for the busy chaplain was
a gossip by nature: he liked to retail hearsays and rumors; he enlivened
his letters with personal characteristics; but in speaking of Columbus
he is singularly reticent upon all that might picture the man to us as
he lived.

[Sidenote: Oviedo.]

[Sidenote: Ramusio.]

When, in 1534, these portions of Martyr's _Decades_ were combined with a
summary of Oviedo, in a fresh publication, there were some curious
personal details added to Martyr's narrative; but as Ramusio is supposed
to have edited the compilation, these particulars are usually accredited
to that author. It is not known whence this Italian compiler could have
got them, and there is no confirmation of them elsewhere to be found. If
these additions, as is supposed, were a foreign graft upon Martyr's
recitals, the staple of his narrative still remains not altogether free
from some suspicions that, as a writer himself, he was not wholly frank
and trustworthy. At least a certain confusion in his method leads some
of the critics to discover something like imposture in what they charge
as a habit of antedating a letter so as to appear prophetic; while his
defenders find in these same evidences of incongruity a sign of
spontaneity that argues freshness and sincerity.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Bernaldez.]

The confidence which we may readily place in what is said of Columbus in
the chronicle of Ferdinand and Isabella, written by Andrès Bernaldez, is
prompted by his acquaintance with Columbus, and by his being the
recipient of some of the navigator's own writings from his own hands. He
is also known to have had access to what Chanca and other companions of
Columbus had written. This country curate, who lived in the neighborhood
of Seville, was also the chaplain of the Archbishop of Seville, a
personal friend of the Admiral, and from him Bernaldez received some
help. He does not add much, however, to what is given us by Peter
Martyr, though in respect to the second voyage and to a few personal
details Bernaldez is of some confirmatory value. The manuscript of his
narrative remained unprinted in the royal library at Madrid till about
thirty-five years ago; but nearly all the leading writers have made use
of it in copies which have been furnished.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Oviedo.]

In coming to Oviedo, we encounter a chronicler who, as a writer,
possesses an art far from skillful. Muñoz laments that his learning was
not equal to his diligence. He finds him of little service for the times
of Columbus, and largely because he was neglectful of documents and
pursued uncritical combinations of tales and truths. With all his
vagaries he is a helpful guide. "It is not," says Harrisse, "that Oviedo
shows so much critical sagacity, as it is that he collates all the
sources available to him, and gives the reader the clues to a final
judgment." He is generally deemed honest, though Las Casas thought him
otherwise. The author of the _Historie_ looks upon him as an enemy of
Columbus, and would make it appear that he listened to the tales of the
Pinzons, who were enemies of the Admiral. His administrative services in
the Indies show that he could be faithful to a trust, even at the risk
of popularity. This gives a presumption in favor of his historic
fairness. He was intelligent if not learned, and a power of happy
judgments served him in good stead, even with a somewhat loose method of
taking things as he heard them. He further inspires us with a certain
amount of confidence, because he is not always a hero-worshiper, and he
does not hesitate to tell a story, which seems to have been in
circulation, to the effect that Columbus got his geographical ideas from
an old pilot. Oviedo, however, refrains from setting the tale down as a
fact, as some of the later writers, using little of Oviedo's caution,
and borrowing from him, did. His opportunities of knowing the truth were
certainly exceptional, though it does not appear that he ever had direct
communication with the Admiral himself. He was but a lad of fifteen when
we find him jotting down notes of what he saw and heard, as a page in
attendance upon Don Juan, the son of the Spanish sovereigns, when, at
Barcelona, he saw them receive Columbus after his first voyage. During
five years, between 1497 and 1502, he was in Italy. With that exception
he was living within the Spanish court up to 1514, when he was sent to
the New World, and passed there the greater part of his remaining life.
While he had been at court in his earlier years, the sons of Columbus,
Diego and Ferdinand, were his companions in the pages' anteroom, and he
could hardly have failed to profit by their acquaintance. We know that
from the younger son he did derive not a little information. When he
went to America, some of Columbus's companions and followers were still
living,--Pinzon, Ponce de Leon, and Diego Velasquez,--and all these
could hardly have failed to help him in his note-taking. He also tells
us that he sought some of the Italian compatriots of the Admiral, though
Harrisse judges that what he got from them was not altogether
trustworthy. Oviedo rose naturally in due time into the position of
chronicler of the Indies, and tried his skill at first in a descriptive
account of the New World. A command of Charles the Fifth, with all the
facilities which such an order implied, though doubtless in some degree
embarrassed by many of the documentary proofs being preserved rather in
Spain than in the Indies, finally set him to work on a _Historia General
de las Indias_, the opening portions of which, and those covering the
career of Columbus, were printed at Seville in 1535. It is the work of a
consistent though not blinded admirer of the Discoverer, and while we
might wish he had helped us to more of the proofs of his narrative, his
recital is, on the whole, one to be signally grateful for.

Gomara, in the early part of his history, mixed up what he took from
Oviedo with what else came in his way, with an avidity that rejected

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: _Historie_ ascribed to Ferdinand Columbus.]

But it is to a biography of Columbus, written by his youngest son,
Ferdinand, as was universally believed up to 1871, that all the
historians of the Admiral have been mainly indebted for the personal
details and other circumstances which lend vividness to his story. As
the book has to-day a good many able defenders, notwithstanding the
discredit which Harrisse has sought to place upon it, it is worth while
to trace the devious paths of its transmission, and to measure the
burden of confidence placed upon it from the days of Ferdinand to our

The rumor goes that some of the statements in the Psalter note of 1516,
particularly one respecting the low origin of the Admiral, disturbed the
pride of Ferdinand to such a degree that this son of Columbus undertook
to leave behind him a detailed account of his father's career, such as
the Admiral, though urged to do it, had never found time to write.
Ferdinand was his youngest son, and was born only three or four years
before his father left Palos. There are two dates given for his birth,
each apparently on good authority, but these are a year apart.

[Sidenote: Career of Ferdinand Columbus.]

The language of Columbus's will, as well as the explicit statements of
Oviedo and Las Casas, leaves no reasonable ground for doubting his
illegitimacy. Bastardy was no bar to heirship in Spain, if a testator
chose to make a natural son his heir, as Columbus did, in giving
Ferdinand the right to his titles after the failure of heirs to Diego,
his legitimate son. Columbus's influence early found him a place as a
page at court, and during the Admiral's fourth voyage, in 1502-1504, the
boy accompanied his father, and once or twice at a later day he again
visited the Indies. When Columbus died, this son inherited many of his
papers; but if his own avowal be believed, he had neglected occasions in
his father's lifetime to question the Admiral respecting his early life,
not having, as he says, at that time learned to have interest in such
matters. His subsequent education at court, however, implanted in his
mind a good deal of the scholar's taste, and as a courtier in attendance
upon Charles the Fifth he had seasons of travel, visiting pretty much
every part of Western Europe, during which he had opportunities to pick
up in many places a large collection of books. He often noted in them
the place and date of purchase, so that it is not difficult to learn in
this way something of his wanderings.

The income of Ferdinand was large, or the equivalent of what Harrisse
calls to-day 180,000 francs, which was derived from territorial rights
in San Domingo, coming to him from the Admiral, increased by slave labor
in the mines, assigned to him by King Ferdinand, which at one time
included the service of four hundred Indians, and enlarged by pensions
bestowed by Charles the Fifth.

It has been said sometimes that he was in orders; but Harrisse, his
chief biographer, could find no proof of it. Oviedo describes him in
1535 as a person of "much nobility of character, of an affable turn and
of a sweet conversation."

[Sidenote: Biblioteca Colombina.]

When he died at Seville, July 12, 1539, he had amassed a collection of
books, variously estimated in contemporary accounts at from twelve to
twenty thousand volumes. Harrisse, in his _Grandeur et Décadence de la
Colombine_ (2d ed., Paris, 1885), represents Ferdinand as having
searched from 1510 to 1537 all the principal book marts of Europe. He
left these books by will to his minor nephew, Luis Colon, son of Diego,
but there was a considerable delay before Luis renounced the legacy,
with the conditions attached. Legal proceedings, which accompanied the
transactions of its executors, so delayed the consummation of the
alternative injunction of the will that the chapter of the Cathedral of
Seville, which, was to receive the library in case Don Luis declined it,
did not get possession of it till 1552.

The care of it which ensued seems to have been of a varied nature. Forty
years later a scholar bitterly complains that it was inaccessible. It is
known that by royal command certain books and papers were given up to
enrich the national archives, which, however, no longer contain them.
When, in 1684, the monks awoke to a sense of their responsibility and
had a new inventory of the books made, it was found that the collection
had been reduced to four or five thousand volumes. After the librarian
who then had charge of it died in 1709, the collection again fell into
neglect. There are sad stories of roistering children let loose in its
halls to make havoc of its treasures. There was no responsible care
again taken of it till a new librarian was chosen, in 1832, who
discovered what any one might have learned before, that the money which
Ferdinand left for the care and increase of the library had never been
applied to it, and that the principal, even, had disappeared. Other
means of increasing it were availed of, and the loss of the original
inestimable bibliographical treasures was forgotten in the crowd of
modern books which were placed upon its shelves. Amid all this new
growth, it does not appear just how many of the books which descended
from Ferdinand still remain in it. Something of the old carelessness--to
give it no worse name--has despoiled it, even as late as 1884 and 1885,
when large numbers of the priceless treasures still remaining found a
way to the Quay Voltaire and other marts for old books in Paris, while
others were disposed of in London, Amsterdam, and even in Spain. This
outrage was promptly exposed by Harrisse in the _Revue Critique_, and in
two monographs, _Grandeur et Décadence_, etc., already named, and in his
_Colombine et Clément Marot_ (Paris, 1886); and the story has been
further recapitulated in the accounts of Ferdinand and his library,
which Harrisse has also given in his _Excerpta Colombiana: Bibliographie
de Quatre Cents Pièces Gothiques_ _Francaises, Italiennes et Latines du
Commencement du XVI Siecle_ (Paris, 1887), an account of book rarities
found in that library.


[From Harrisse's _Grandeur el Décadence de la Colombine_ (Paris,

[Sidenote: Perez de Oliva.]

We are fortunate, nevertheless, in having a manuscript catalogue of it
in Ferdinand's own hand, though not a complete one, for he died while he
was making it. This library, as well as what we know of his writings and
of the reputation which he bore among his contemporaries, many of whom
speak of him and of his library with approbation, shows us that a habit,
careless of inquiry in his boyhood, gave place in his riper years to
study and respect for learning. He is said by the inscription on his
tomb to have composed an extensive work on the New World and his
father's finding of it, but it has disappeared. Neither in his library
nor in his catalogue do we find any trace of the life of his father
which he is credited with having prepared. None of his friends, some of
them writers on the New World, make any mention of such a book. There is
in the catalogue a note, however, of a life of Columbus written about
1525, of which the manuscript is credited to Ferdinand Perez de Oliva, a
man of some repute, who died in 1530. Whether this writing bore any
significant relation to the life which is associated with the owner of
the library is apparently beyond discovery. It can scarcely be supposed
that it could have been written other than with Ferdinand's cognizance.
That there was an account of the Admiral's career, quoted in Las Casas
and attributed to Ferdinand Columbus, and that it existed before 1559,
seems to be nearly certain. A manuscript of the end of the sixteenth
century, by Gonzalo Argote de Molina, mentions a report that Ferdinand
had written a life of his father. Harrisse tells us that he has seen a
printed book catalogue, apparently of the time of Muñoz or Navarette, in
which a Spanish life of Columbus by Ferdinand Columbus is entered; but
the fact stands without any explanation or verification. Spotorno, in
1823, in an introduction to his collection of documents about Columbus,
says that the manuscript of what has passed for Ferdinand's memoir of
his father was taken from Spain to Genoa by Luis Colon, the Duke of
Veragua, son of Diego and grandson of Christopher Columbus. It is not
known that Luis ever had any personal relations with Ferdinand, who died
while Luis was still in Santo Domingo.

[Sidenote: Character of the _Historie_.]

It is said that it was in 1568 that Luis took the manuscript to Genoa,
but in that year he is known to have been living elsewhere. He had been
arrested in Spain in 1558 for having three wives, when he was exiled to
Oran, in Africa, for ten years, and he died in 1572. Spotorno adds that
the manuscript afterwards fell into the hands of a patrician, Marini,
from whom Alfonzo de Ullua received it, and translated it into Italian.
It is shown, however, that Marini was not living at this time. The
original Spanish, if that was the tongue of the manuscript, then
disappeared, and the world has only known it in this Italian _Historie_,
published in 1571. Whether the copy brought to Italy had been in any way
changed from its original condition, or whether the version then made
public fairly represented it, there does not seem any way of determining
to the satisfaction of everybody. At all events, the world thought it
had got something of value and of authority, and in sundry editions and
retranslations, with more or less editing and augmentation, it has
passed down to our time--the last edition appearing in
1867--unquestioned for its service to the biographers of Columbus. Muñoz
hardly knew what to make of some of "its unaccountable errors," and
conjectured that the Italian version had been made from "a corrupt and
false copy;" and coupling with it the "miserable" Spanish rendering in
Barcia's _Historiadores_, Muñoz adds that "a number of falsities and
absurdities is discernible in both." Humboldt had indeed expressed
wonder at the ignorance of the book in nautical matters, considering the
reputation which Ferdinand held in such affairs. It began the Admiral's
story in detail when he was said to be fifty-six years of age. It has
never been clear to all minds that Ferdinand's asseveration of a
youthful want of curiosity respecting the Admiral's early life was
sufficient to account for so much reticence respecting that formative
period. It has been, accordingly, sometimes suspected that a desire to
ignore the family's early insignificance rather than ignorance had most
to do with this absence of information. This seems to be Irving's
inference from the facts.

[Sidenote: Attacked by Harrisse.]

In 1871, Henry Harrisse, who in 1866 had written of the book, "It is
generally accepted with some latitude," made the first assault on its
integrity, in his _Fernando Colon_, published in Seville, in
Spanish, which was followed the next year by his _Fernand Colomb_, in
the original French text as it had been written, and published at Paris.
Harrisse's view was reënforced in the _Additions_ to his _Bibliotheca
Americana Vetustissima_, and he again reverted to the subject in the
first volume of his _Christophe Colomb_, in 1884. In the interim the
entire text of Las Casas's _Historia_ had been published for the first
time, rendering a comparison of the two books more easy. Harrisse
availed himself of this facility of examination, and made no abatement
of his confident disbelief. That Las Casas borrowed from the _Historie_,
or rather that the two books had a common source, Harrisse thinks
satisfactorily shown. He further throws out the hint that this source,
or prototype, may have been one of the lost essays of Ferdinand, in
which he had followed the career of his father; or indeed, in some way,
the account written by Oliva may have formed the basis of the book. He
further implies that, in the transformation to the Italian edition of
1571, there were engrafted upon the narrative many contradictions and
anachronisms, which seriously impair its value. Hence, as he contends,
it is a shame to impose its authorship in that foreign shape upon
Ferdinand. He also denies in the main the story of its transmission as
told by Spotorno.

So much of this book as is authentic, and may be found to be
corroborated by other evidence, may very likely be due to the manuscript
of Oliva, transported to Italy, and used as the work of Ferdinand
Columbus, to give it larger interest than the name of Oliva would carry;
while, to gratify prejudices and increase its attractions, the various
interpolations were made, which Harrisse thinks--and with much
reason--could not have proceeded from one so near to Columbus, so well
informed, and so kindly in disposition as we know his son Ferdinand to
have been.

[Sidenote: Defended by Stevens and others.]

So iconoclastic an outburst was sure to elicit vindicators of the
world's faith as it had long been held. In counter publications,
Harrisse and D'Avezac, the latter an eminent French authority on
questions of this period, fought out their battle, not without some
sharpness. Henry Stevens, an old antagonist of Harrisse, assailed the
new views with his accustomed confidence and rasping assertion. Oscar
Peschel, the German historian, and Count Circourt, the French student,
gave their opposing opinions; and the issue has been joined by others,
particularly within a few years by Prospero Peragallo, the pastor of an
Italian church in Lisbon, who has pressed defensive views with some
force in his _L'Autenticità delle Historie di Fernando Colombo_ (1884),
and later in his _Cristoforo Colombo et sua Famiglia_ (1888). It is held
by some of these later advocates of the book that parts of the original
Spanish text can be identified in Las Casas. The controversy has thus
had two stages. The first was marked by the strenuousness of D'Avezac
fifteen years ago. The second sprang from the renewed propositions of
Harrisse in his _Christophe Colomb_, ten years later. Sundry critics
have summed up the opposing arguments with more or less tendency to
oppose the iconoclast, and chief among them are two German scholars:
Professor Max Büdinger, in his _Acten zur Columbus' Geschichte_ (Wien,
1886), and his _Zur Columbus Literatur_ (Wien, 1889); and Professor
Eugen Gelcich, in the _Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu
Berlin_ (1887).

Harrisse's views cannot be said to have conquered a position; but his
own scrutiny and that which he has engendered in others have done good
work in keeping the _Historie_ constantly subject to critical caution.
Dr. Shea still says of it: "It is based on the same documents of
Christopher Columbus which Las Casas used. It is a work of authority."

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Las Casas.]

Reference has already been made to the tardy publication of the
narrative of Las Casas. Columbus had been dead something over twenty
years, when this good man set about the task of describing in this work
what he had seen and heard respecting the New World,--or at least this
is the generally accredited interval, making him begin the work in 1527;
and yet it is best to remember that Helps could not find any positive
evidence of his being at work on the manuscript before 1552. Las Casas
did not live to finish the task, though he labored upon it down to 1561,
when he was eighty-seven years old. He died five years later. Irving,
who made great use of Las Casas, professed to consult him with that
caution which he deemed necessary in respect to a writer given to
prejudice and overheated zeal. For the period of Columbus's public life
(1492-1506), no other one of his contemporaries gives us so much of
documentary proof. Of the thirty-one papers, falling within this
interval, which he transcribed into his pages nearly in their
entirety,--throwing out some preserved in the archives of the Duke of
Veragua, and others found at Simancas or Seville,--there remain
seventeen, that would be lost to us but for this faithful chronicler.
How did he command this rich resource? As a native of Seville, Las Casas
had come there to be consecrated as bishop in 1544, and again in 1547,
after he had quitted the New World forever. At this time the family
papers of Columbus, then held for Luis Colon, a minor, were locked up in
a strong box in the custody of the monks of the neighboring monastery of
Las Cuevas. There is no evidence, however, that the chest was opened for
the inspection of the chronicler. He also professes to use original
letters sent by Columbus to Ferdinand and Isabella, which he must have
found in the archives at Valladolid before 1545, or at Simancas after
that date. Again he speaks of citing as in his own collection attested
copies of some of Columbus's letters.

In 1550, and during his later years, Las Casas lived in the monastery of
San Gregorio, at Valladolid, leaving it only for visits to Toledo or
Madrid, unless it was for briefer visits to Simancas, not far off. Some
of the documents, which he might have found in that repository, are not
at present in those archives. It was there that he might have found
numerous letters which he cites, but which are not otherwise known. From
the use Las Casas makes of them, it would seem that they were of more
importance in showing the discontent and querulousness of Columbus than
as adding to details of his career. Again it appears clear that Las
Casas got documents in some way from the royal archives. We know the
journal of Columbus on his first voyage only from the abridgment which
Las Casas made of it, and much the same is true of the record of his
third voyage.

In some portion, at least, of his citations from the letters of
Columbus, there may be reason to think that Las Casas took them at
second hand, and Harrisse, with his belief in the derivative character
of the _Historie_ of Ferdinand Columbus, very easily conjectures that
this primal source may have been the manuscript upon which the compiler
of the _Historie_ was equally dependent. One kind of reasoning which
Harrisse uses is this: If Las Casas had used the original Latin of the
correspondence with Toscanelli, instead of the text of this supposed
Spanish prototype, it would not appear in so bad a state as it does in
Las Casas's book.

[Illustration: LAS CASAS.]

If this missing prototype of the _Historie_ was among Ferdinand's books
in his library, which had been removed from his house in 1544 to the
convent of San Pablo in Seville, and was not removed to the cathedral
till 1552, it may also have happened that along with it he used there
the _De Imagine Mundi_ of Pierre d'Ailly, Columbus's own copy of which
was, and still is, preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina, and shows the
Admiral's own manuscript annotations.

It was in the chapel of San Pablo that Las Casas had been consecrated as
bishop in 1544, and his associations with the monks could have given
easy access to what they held in custody,--too easy, perhaps, if
Harrisse's supposition is correct, that they let him take away the map
which Toscanelli sent to Columbus, and which would account for its not
being in the library now.

[Sidenote: His opportunities.]

We know, also, that Las Casas had use of the famous letter respecting
his third voyage, which the Admiral addressed to the nurse of the Infant
Don Juan, and which was first laid before modern students when Spotorno
printed it, in 1823. We further understand that the account of the
fourth voyage, which students now call, in its Italian form, the
_Lettera Rarissima_, was also at his disposal, as were many letters of
Bartholomew, the brother of Columbus, though they apparently only
elucidate the African voyage of Diaz.

In addition to these manuscript sources, Las Casas shows that, as a
student, he was familiar with and appreciated the decades of Peter
Martyr, and had read the accounts of Columbus in Garcia de Resende,
Barros, and Castañeda,--to say nothing of what he may have derived from
the supposable prototype of the _Historie_. It is certain that his
personal acquaintance brought him into relations with the Admiral
himself,--for he accompanied him on his fourth voyage,--with the
Admiral's brother, son, and son's wife; and moreover his own father and
uncle had sailed with Columbus. There were, among his other
acquaintances, the Archbishop of Seville, Pinzon, and other of the
contemporary navigators. It has been claimed by some, not accurately, we
suspect, that Las Casas had also accompanied Columbus on his third
voyage. Notwithstanding all these opportunities of acquiring a thorough
intimacy with the story of Columbus, it is contended by Harrisse that
the aid afforded by Las Casas disappoints one; and that all essential
data with which his narrative is supplied can be found elsewhere,
nearer the primal source.

[Sidenote: Character of his writings.]

This condition arises, as he thinks, from the fact that the one
engrossing purpose of Las Casas--his aim to emancipate the Indians from
a cruel domination--constantly stood in the way of a critical
consideration of the other aspects of the early Spanish contact with the
New World. It was while at the University of Salamanca that the father
of Las Casas gave the son an Indian slave, one of those whom Columbus
had sent home; and it was taken from the young student when Isabella
decreed the undoing of Columbus's kidnapping exploits. It was this event
which set Las Casas to thinking on the miseries of the poor natives,
which Columbus had planned, and which enables us to discover, in the
example of Las Casas, that the customs of the time are not altogether an
unanswerable defense of the time's inhumanity and greed.

As is well known, all but the most recent writers on Spanish-American
history have been forced to use this work of Las Casas in manuscript
copies, as a license to print such an exposure of Spanish cruelty could
not be obtained till 1875, when the _Historia_ was first printed at

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Herrera.]

Herrera, so far as his record concerns Columbus, simply gives us what he
takes from Las Casas. He was born about the time that the older writer
was probably making his investigations. Herrera did not publish his
results, which are slavishly chronological in their method, till half a
century later (1601-15). Though then the official historiographer of the
Indies, with all the chances for close investigation which that
situation afforded him, Herrera failed in all ways to make the record of
his _Historia_ that comprehensive and genuine source of the story of
Columbus which the reader might naturally look for. The continued
obscuration of Las Casas by reason of the long delay in printing his
manuscript served to give Herrera, through many generations, a
prominence as an authoritative source which he could not otherwise have
had. Irving, when he worked at the subject, soon discovered that Las
Casas stood behind the story as Herrera told it, and accordingly the
American writer resorted by preference to such a copy of the manuscript
of Las Casas as he could get. There is a manifest tendency in Herrera to
turn Las Casas's qualified statements into absolute ones.

[Sidenote: Later Spanish writers.]

The personal contributions of the later writers, Muñoz and Navarrete,
have been already considered, in speaking of the diversified mass of
documentary proofs which accompany or gave rise to their narratives.

The _Colon en España_ of Tomas Rodriguez Pinilla (Madrid, 1884) is in
effect a life of the Admiral; but it ignores much of the recent critical
and controversial literature, and deals mainly with the old established
outline of events.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: German writers.]

[Sidenote: Humboldt.]

Among the Germans there was nothing published of any importance till the
critical studies of Forster, Peschel, and Ruge, in recent days. De Bry
had, indeed, by his translations of Benzoni (1594) and Herrera (1623),
familiarized the Germans with the main facts of the career of Columbus.
During the present century, Humboldt, in his _Examen Critique de
l'Histoire et de la Geographie du Nouveau Continent_, has borrowed the
language of France to show the scope of his critical and learned
inquiries into the early history of the Spanish contact in America, and
has left it to another hand to give a German rendering to his labors.
With this work by Humboldt, brought out in its completer shape in
1836-39, and using most happily all that had been done by Muñoz and
Navarrete to make clear both the acts and environments of the Admiral,
the intelligence of our own time may indeed be said to have first
clearly apprehended, under the light of a critical spirit, in which
Irving was deficient, the true significance of the great deeds that gave
America to Europe. Humboldt has strikingly grouped the lives of
Toscanelli and Las Casas, from the birth of the Florentine physician in
1397 to the death of the Apostle to the Indians in 1566, as covering the
beginning and end of the great discoveries of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries.

[Sidenote: Henry Harrisse.]

It is also to be remarked that this service of broadly, and at the same
time critically, surveying the field was the work of a German writing in
French; while it is to an American citizen writing in French that we
owe, in more recent years, such a minute collation and examination of
every original source of information as set the labors of Henry
Harrisse, for thoroughness and discrimination, in advance of any
critical labor that has ever before been given to the career and
character of Christopher Columbus. Without the aid of his researches, as
embodied in his _Christophe Colomb_ (Paris, 1884), it would have been
quite impossible for the present writer to have reached conclusions on a
good many mooted points in the history of the Admiral and of his
reputation. Of almost equal usefulness have been the various subsidiary
books and tracts which Harrisse has devoted to similar fields.

Harrisse's books constitute a good example of the constant change of
opinion and revision of the relations of facts which are going on
incessantly in the mind of a vigilant student in recondite fields of
research. The progress of the correction of error respecting Columbus is
illustrated continually in his series of books on the great navigator,
beginning with the _Notes on Columbus_ (N. Y., 1866), which have been
intermittently published by him during the last twenty-five years.

Harrisse himself is a good deal addicted to hypotheses; but they fare
hard at his hands if advanced by others.

[Sidenote: French writers.]

[Sidenote: Attempted canonization of Columbus.]

[Illustration: ROSELLY DE LORGUES.]

The only other significant essays which have been made in French have
been a series of biographies of Columbus, emphasizing his missionary
spirit, which have been aimed to prepare the way for the canonization of
the great navigator, in recognition of his instrumentality in carrying
the cross to the New World. That, in the spirit which characterized the
age of discovery, the voyage of Columbus was, at least in profession,
held to be one conducted primarily for that end does not, certainly,
admit of dispute. Columbus himself, in his letter to Sanchez, speaks of
the rejoicing of Christ at seeing the future redemption of souls. He
made a first offering of the foreign gold by converting a mass of it
into a cup to hold the sacred host, and he spent a wordy enthusiasm in
promises of a new crusade to wrest the Holy Sepulchre from the Moslems.
Ferdinand and Isabella dwelt upon the propagandist spirit of the
enterprise they had sanctioned, in their appeals to the Pontiff to
confirm their worldly gain in its results. Ferdinand, the son of the
Admiral, referring to the family name of Colombo, speaks of his father
as like Noah's dove, carrying the olive branch and oil of baptism over
the ocean. Professions, however, were easy; faith is always exuberant
under success, and the world, and even the Catholic world, learned, as
the ages went on, to look upon the spirit that put the poor heathen
beyond the pale of humanity as not particularly sanctifying a pioneer of

[Sidenote: Roselly de Lorgues.]

It is the world's misfortune when a great opportunity loses any of its
dignity; and it is no great satisfaction to look upon a person of
Columbus's environments and find him but a creature of questionable
grace. So his canonization has not, with all the endeavors which have
been made, been brought about. The most conspicuous of the advocates of
it, with a crowd of imitators about him, has been Antoine François Félix
Valalette, Comte Roselly de Lorgues, who began in 1844 to devote his
energies to this end. He has published several books on Columbus, part
of them biographical, and all of them, including his _Christoph Colomb_
of 1864, mere disguised supplications to the Pope to order a deserved
sanctification. As contributions to the historical study of the life of
Columbus, they are of no importance whatever. Every act and saying of
the Admiral capable of subserving the purpose in view are simply made
the salient points of a career assumed to be holy. Columbus was in fact
of a piece, in this respect, with the age in which he lived. The
official and officious religious profession of the time belonged to a
period which invented the Inquisition and extirpated a race in order to
send them to heaven. None knew this better than those, like Las Casas,
who mated their faith with charity of act. Columbus and Las Casas had
little in common.

The _Histoire Posthume de Colomb_, which Roselly de Lorgues finally
published in 1885, is recognized even by Catholic writers as a work of
great violence and indiscretion, in its denunciations of all who fail to
see the saintly character of Columbus. Its inordinate intemperance gave
a great advantage to Cesario Fernandez Duro in his examination of De
Lorgues's position, made in his _Colon y la Historia Postuma_.

Columbus was certainly a mundane verity. De Lorgues tells us that if we
cannot believe in the supernatural we cannot understand this worldly
man. The writers who have followed him, like Charles Buet in his
_Christophe Colomb_ (Paris, 1886), have taken this position. The
Catholic body has so far summoned enough advocates of historic truth to
prevent the result which these enthusiasts have kept in view,
notwithstanding the seeming acquiescence of Pius IX. The most popular of
the idealizing lives of Columbus is probably that by Auguste, Marquis de
Belloy, which is tricked out with a display of engravings as idealized
as the text, and has been reproduced in English at Philadelphia (1878,
1889). It is simply an ordinary rendering of the common and conventional
stories of the last four centuries. The most eminent Catholic historical
student of the United States, Dr. John Gilmary Shea, in a paper on this
century's estimates of Columbus, in the _American Catholic Quarterly
Review_ (1887), while referring to the "imposing array of members of the
hierarchy" who have urged the beatification of Columbus, added, "But
calm official scrutiny of the question was required before permission
could be given to introduce the cause;" and this permission has not yet
been given, and the evidence in its favor has not yet been officially

France has taken the lead in these movements for canonization,
ostensibly for the reason that she needed to make some reparation for
snatching the honor of naming the New World from Columbus, through the
printing-presses of Saint Dié and Strassburg. A sketch of the literature
which has followed this movement is given in Baron van Brocken's _Des
Vicissitudes Posthumes de Christophe Colomb, et de sa Beatification
Possible_ (Leipzig et Paris, 1865).

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: English writers.]

[Sidenote: Robertson.]

Of the writers in English, the labors of Hakluyt and Purchas only
incidentally touched the career of Columbus; and it was not till Stevens
issued his garbled version of Herrera in 1725, that the English public
got the record of the Spanish historian, garnished with something that
did not represent the original. This book of Stevens is responsible for
not a little in English opinion respecting the Spanish age of discovery,
which needs in these later days to be qualified. Some of the early
collections of voyages, like those of Churchill, Pinkerton, and Kerr,
included the story of the _Historie_ of 1571. It was not till Robertson,
in 1777, published the beginning of a contemplated _History of America_
that the English reader had for the first time a scholarly and justified
narrative, which indeed for a long time remained the ordinary source of
the English view of Columbus. It was, however, but an outline sketch,
not a sixth or seventh part in extent of what Irving, when he was
considering the subject, thought necessary for a reasonable presentation
of the subject. Robertson's footnotes show that his main dependence for
the story of Columbus was upon the pages of the _Historie_ of 1571,
Peter Martyr, Oviedo, and Herrera. He was debarred the help to be
derived from what we now use, as conveying Columbus's own record of his
story. Lord Grantham, then the British ambassador at Madrid, did all the
service he could, and his secretary of legation worked asssiduously in
complying with the wishes which Robertson preferred; but no solicitation
could at that day render easily accessible the archives at Simancas.
Still, Robertson got from one source or another more than it was
pleasant to the Spanish authorities to see in print, and they later
contrived to prevent a publication of his work in Spanish.

[Sidenote: Jeremy Belknap.]

The earliest considerable recounting of the story of Columbus in America
was by Dr. Jeremy Belknap, who, having delivered a commemorative
discourse in Boston in 1792, before the Massachusetts Historical
Society, afterward augmented his text when it became a part of his
well-known _American Biography_, a work of respectable standing for the
time, but little remembered to-day.

[Sidenote: Washington Irving.]

It was in 1827 that Washington Irving published his _Life of Columbus_,
and he produced a book that has long remained for the English reader a
standard biography. Irving's canons of historical criticism were not,
however, such as the fearless and discriminating student to-day would
approve. He commended Herrera for "the amiable and pardonable error of
softening excesses," as if a historian sat in a confessional to deal out
exculpations. The learning which probes long established pretenses and
grateful deceits was not acceptable to Irving. "There is a certain
meddlesome spirit," he says, "which, in the garb of learned research,
goes prying about the traces of history, casting down its monuments, and
marring and mutilating its fairest trophies. Care should be taken to
vindicate great names from such pernicious erudition."

Under such conditions as Irving summoned, there was little chance that a
world's exemplar would be pushed from his pedestal, no matter what the
evidence. The _vera pro gratis_ in personal characterization must not
assail the traditional hero. And such was Irving's notion of the upright
intelligence of a historian.

Mr. Alexander H. Everett, who was then the minister of the United States
at Madrid, saw a chance of making a readable book out of the journal of
Columbus as preserved by Las Casas, and recommended the task of
translating it to Irving, then in Europe. This proposition carried the
willing writer to Madrid, where he found comfortable quarters, with
quick sympathy of intercourse, under the roof of a Boston scholar then
living there, Obadiah Rich. The first two volumes of the documentary
work of Navarrete coming out opportunely, Irving was not long in
determining that, with its wealth of material, there was a better
opportunity for a newly studied life of Columbus than for the proposed
task. So Irving settled down in Madrid to the larger endeavor, and soon
found that he could have other assistance and encouragement from
Navarrete himself, from the Duke of Veragua, and from the then possessor
of the papers of Muñoz. The subject grew under his hands. "I had no
idea," he says, "of what a complete labyrinth I had entangled myself
in." He regretted that the third volume of Navarrete's book was not far
enough advanced to be serviceable; but he worked as best he could, and
found many more facilities than Robertson's helper had discovered. He
went to the Biblioteca Colombina, and he even brought the annotations of
Columbus in the copy of Pierre d'Ailly, there preserved, to the
attention of its custodians for the first time; almost feeling himself
the discoverer of the book, though it was known to him that Las Casas,
at least, had had the advantage of using these minutes of Columbus.
Irving knew that his pains were not unavailing, at any rate, for the
English reader. "I have woven into my book," he says, "many curious
particulars not hitherto known concerning Columbus; and I think I have
thrown light upon some points of his character which have not been
brought out by his former biographers." One of the things that pleased
the new biographer most was his discovery, as he felt, in the account by
Bernaldez, that Columbus was born ten years earlier than had been
usually reckoned; and he supposed that this increase of the age of the
discoverer at the time of his voyage added much greater force to the
characteristics of his career. Irving's book readily made a mark.
Jeffrey thought that its fame would be enduring, and at a time when no
one looked for new light from Italy, he considered that Irving had done
best in working, almost exclusively, the Spanish field, where alone "it
was obvious" material could be found.

When Alexander H. Everett, pardonably, as a godfather to the work,
undertook in January, 1829, to say in the _North American Review_ that
Irving's book was a delight of readers, he anticipated the judgment of
posterity; but when he added that it was, by its perfection, the despair
of critics, he was forgetful of a method of critical research that is
not prone to be dazed by the prestige of demigods.

In the interval between the first and second editions of the book,
Irving paid a visit to Palos and the convent of La Rabida, and he got
elsewhere some new light in the papers of the lawsuit of Columbus's
heirs. The new edition which soon followed profited by all these

[Sidenote: Prescott.]

Irving's occupation of the field rendered it both easy and gracious for
Prescott, when, ten years later (1837), he published his _Ferdinand and
Isabella_, to say that his predecessor had stripped the story of
Columbus of the charm of novelty; but he was not quite sure, however, in
the privacy of his correspondence, that Irving, by attempting to
continue the course of Columbus's life in detail after the striking
crisis of the discovery, had made so imposing a drama as he would have
done by condensing the story of his later years. In this Prescott shared
something of the spirit of Irving, in composing history to be read as a
pastime, rather than as a study of completed truth. Prescott's own
treatment of the subject is scant, as he confined his detailed record to
the actions incident to the inception and perfection of the enterprise
of the Admiral, to the doings in Spain or at court. He was, at the same
time, far more independent than Irving had been, in his views of the
individual character round which so much revolves, and the reader is not
wholly blinded to the unwholesome deceit and overweening selfishness of

[Sidenote: Arthur Helps.]

Within twenty years Arthur Helps approached the subject from the point
of view of one who was determined, as he thought no one of the writers
on the subject of the Spanish Conquest had been, to trace the origin of,
and responsibility for, the devastating methods of Spanish colonial
government; "not conquest only, but the result of conquest, the mode of
colonial government which ultimately prevailed, the extirpation of
native races, the introduction of other races, the growth of slavery,
and the settlement of the _encomiendas_, on which all Indian society
depended." It is not to Helps, therefore, that we are to look for any
extended biography of Columbus; and when he finds him in chains, sent
back to Spain, he says of the prisoner, "He did not know how many
wretched beings would have to traverse those seas, in bonds much worse
than his; nor did he foresee, I trust, that some of his doings would
further all this coming misery." It does not appear from his footnotes
that Helps depended upon other than the obvious authorities, though he
says that he examined the Muñoz collection, then as now in the Royal
Academy of History at Madrid.

[Sidenote: R. H. Major.]

The last scholarly summary of Columbus's career previous to the views
incident to the criticism of Harrisse on the _Historie_ of 1571 was that
which was given by R. H. Major, in the second edition of his _Select
Letters of Columbus_ (London, 1870).

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Aaron Goodrich.]

There have been two treatments of the subject by Americans within the
last twenty years, which are characteristic. The _Life and Achievements
of the So-called Christopher Columbus_ (New York, 1874), by Aaron
Goodrich, mixes that unreasoning trust and querulous conceit which is so
often thrown into the scale when the merits of the discoverers of the
alleged Vinland are contrasted with those of the imagined Indies. With a
craze of petulancy, he is not able to see anything that cannot be
twisted into defamation, and his book is as absurdly constant in
derogation as the hallucinations of De Lorgues are in the other

[Sidenote: H. H. Bancroft.]

When Hubert Howe Bancroft opened the story of his Pacific States in his
_History of Central America_ (San Francisco, 1882), he rehearsed the
story of Columbus, but did not attempt to follow it critically except as
he tracked the Admiral along the coasts of Honduras, Nicaragua, and
Costa Rica. This writer's estimate of the character of Columbus conveys
a representation of what the Admiral really was, juster than national
pride, religious sympathy, or kindly adulation has usually permitted. It
is unfortunately, not altogether chaste in its literary presentation.
His characterization of Irving and Prescott in their endeavors to draw
the character of Columbus has more merit in its insight than skill in
its drafting.

[Sidenote: Winsor.]

[Sidenote: Bibliography of Columbus.]

The brief sketch of the career of Columbus, and the examination of the
events that culminated in his maritime risks and developments, as it was
included in the _Narrative and Critical History of America_ (vol. ii.,
Boston, 1885), gave the present writer an opportunity to study the
sources and trace the bibliographical threads that run through an
extended and diversified literature, in a way, it may be, not earlier
presented to the English reader. If any one desires to compass all the
elucidations and guides which a thorough student of the career and fame
of Columbus would wish to consider, the apparatus thus referred to, and
the footnotes in Harrisse's _Christophe Colomb_ and in his other germane
publications, would probably most essentially shorten his labors.
Harrisse, who has prepared, but not yet published, lists of the books
devoted to Columbus _exclusively_, says that they number about six
hundred titles. The literature which treats of him incidentally is of a
vast extent.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Varied estimates of Columbus.]

In concluding this summary of the commentaries upon the life of
Columbus, the thought comes back that his career has been singularly
subject to the gauging of opinionated chroniclers. The figure of the
man, as he lives to-day in the mind of the general reader, in whatever
country, comports in the main with the characterizations of Irving, De
Lorgues, or Goodrich. These last two have entered upon their works with
a determined purpose, the Frenchman of making a saint, and the American
a scamp, of the great discoverer of America. They each, in their twists,
pervert and emphasize every trait and every incident to favor their
views. Their narratives are each without any background of that mixture
of incongruity, inconsistency, and fatality from which no human being is
wholly free. Their books are absolutely worthless as historical records.
That of Goodrich has probably done little to make proselytes. That of De
Lorgues has infected a large body of tributary devotees of the Catholic

The work of Irving is much above any such level; but it has done more
harm because its charms are insidious. He recognized at least that human
life is composite; but he had as much of a predetermination as they, and
his purpose was to create a hero. He glorified what was heroic,
palliated what was unheroic, and minimized the doubtful aspects of
Columbus's character. His book is, therefore, dangerously seductive to
the popular sense. The genuine Columbus evaporates under the warmth of
the writer's genius, and we have nothing left but a refinement of his
clay. The _Life of Columbus_ was a sudden product of success, and it has
kept its hold on the public very constantly; but it has lost ground in
these later years among scholarly inquirers. They have, by their
collation of its narrative with the original sources, discovered its
flaccid character. They have outgrown the witcheries of its graceful
style. They have learned to put at their value the repetitionary changes
of stock sentiment, which swell the body of the text, sometimes,

[Sidenote: Portraits of Columbus.]

[Sidenote: Columbus's person.]

Out of the variety of testimony respecting the person of the adult
Columbus, it is not easy to draw a picture that his contemporaries would
surely recognize. Likeness we have none that can be proved beyond a
question the result of any sitting, or even of any acquaintance. If we
were called upon to picture him as he stood on San Salvador, we might
figure a man of impressive stature with lofty, not to say austere,
bearing, his face longer by something more than its breadth, his cheek
bones high, his nose aquiline, his eyes a light gray, his complexion
fair with freckles spotting a ruddy glow, his hair once light, but then
turned to gray. His favorite garb seems to have been the frock of a
Franciscan monk. Such a figure would not conflict with the descriptions
which those who knew him, and those who had questioned his associates,
have transmitted to us, as we read them in the pages ascribed to
Ferdinand, his son; in those of the Spanish historian, Oviedo; of the
priest Las Casas; and in the later recitals of Gomara and Benzoni, and
of the official chronicler of the Spanish Indies, Antonio Herrera. The
oldest description of all is one made in 1501, in the unauthorized
version of the first decade of Peter Martyr, emanating, very likely,
from the translator Trivigiano, who had then recently come in contact
with Columbus.

[Sidenote: La Cosa's St. Christopher.]

Turning from these descriptions to the pictures that have been put forth
as likenesses, we find not a little difficulty in reconciling the two.
There is nothing that unmistakably goes back to the lifetime of Columbus
except the figure of St. Christopher, which makes a vignette in colors
on the mappemonde, which was drawn in 1500, by one of Columbus's pilots,
Juan de la Cosa, and is now preserved in Madrid. It has been fondly
claimed that Cosa transferred the features of his master to the
lineaments of the saint; but the assertion is wholly without proof.

[Illustration: ST. CHRISTOPHER.

[The vignette of La Cosa's map.]]

[Sidenote: Jovius's gallery.]


Paolo Giovio, or, as better known in the Latin form, Paulus Jovius, was
old enough in 1492 to have, in later life, remembered the thrill of
expectation which ran for the moment through parts of Europe, when the
letter of Columbus describing his voyage was published in Italy, where
Jovius was then a schoolboy. He was but an infant, or perhaps not born
when Columbus left Italy. So the interest of Jovius in the Discoverer
could hardly have arisen from any other associations than those easily
suggestive to one who, like Jovius, was a student of his own times.
Columbus had been dead ten years when Jovius, as a historian, attracted
the notice of Pope Leo X., and entered upon such a career of prosperity
that he could build a villa on Lake Como, and adorn it with a gallery of
portraits of those who had made his age famous. That he included a
likeness of Columbus among his heroes there seems to be no doubt.
Whether the likeness was painted from life, and by whom, or modeled
after an ideal, more or less accordant with the reports of those who may
have known the Genoese, is entirely beyond our knowledge. As a
historian Jovius professed the right to distort the truth for any
purpose that suited him, and his conceptions of the truth of portraiture
may quite as well have been equally loose. Just a year before his own
death, Jovius gave a sketch of Columbus's career in his _Elogia Virorum
Illustrium_, published at Florence in 1551; but it was not till
twenty-four years later, in 1575, that a new edition of the book gave
wood-cuts of the portraits in the gallery of the Como villa, to
illustrate the sketches, and that of Columbus appeared among them. This
engraving, then, is the oldest likeness of Columbus presenting any
claims to consideration. It found place also, within a year or two, in
what purported to be a collection of portraits from the Jovian gallery;
and the engraver of them was Tobias Stimmer, a Swiss designer, who
stands in the biographical dictionaries of artists as born in 1534, and
of course could not have assisted his skill by any knowledge of
Columbus, on his own part. This picture, to which a large part of the
very various likenesses called those of Columbus can be traced, is done
in the bold, easy handling common in the wood-cuts of that day, and with
a precision of skill that might well make one believe that it preserves
a dashing verisimilitude to the original picture. It represents a
full-face, shaven, curly-haired man, with a thoughtful and somewhat sad
countenance, his hands gathering about the waist a priest's robe, of
which the hood has fallen about his neck. If there is any picture to be
judged authentic, this is best entitled to that estimation.

[Sidenote: The Florence picture.]

Connection with the Como gallery is held to be so significant of the
authenticity of any portrait of Columbus that it is claimed for two
other pictures, which are near enough alike to have followed the same
prototype, and which are not, except in garb, very unlike the Jovian
wood-cut. As copies of the Como original in features, they may easily
have varied in apparel. One of these is a picture preserved in the
gallery at Florence,--a well-moulded, intellectual head, full-faced,
above a closely buttoned tunic, or frock, seen within drapery that falls
off the shoulders. It is not claimed to be the Como portrait, but it may
have been painted from it, perhaps by Christofano dell' Altissimo, some
time before 1568. A copy of it was made for Thomas Jefferson, which,
having hung for a while at Monticello, came at last to Boston, and
passed into the gallery of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


[Sidenote: The Yanez picture.]

The picture resembling this, and which may have had equal claims of
association with the Jovian gallery, is one now preserved in Madrid, and
the oldest canvas representing Columbus that is known in Spain. It takes
the name of the Yanez portrait from that of the owner of it, from whom
it was bought in Granada, in 1763. Representing, when brought to notice,
a garment trimmed with fur, there has been disclosed upon it, and
underlying this later paint, an original, close-fitting tunic, much like
the Florence picture; while a further removal of the superposed pigment
has revealed an inscription, supposed to authenticate it as Columbus,
the discoverer of the New World. It is said that the Duke of Veragua
holds it to be the most authentic likeness of his ancestor.

[Illustration: THE YANEZ COLUMBUS.]

[Sidenote: De Bry's picture.]

[Illustration: COLUMBUS.

[A reproduction of the so-called Capriolo cut given in Giuseppe
Banchero's _La Tavola di Bronzo_, (Genoa, 1857), and based on the
Jovian type.]]

Another conspicuous portrait is that given by De Bry in the larger
series of his Collection of Early Voyages. De Bry claims that it was
painted by order of King Ferdinand, and that it was purloined from the
offices of the Council of the Indies in Spain, and brought to the
Netherlands, and in this way fell into the hands of that engraver and
editor. It bears little resemblance to the pictures already mentioned;
nor does it appear to conform to the descriptions of Columbus's person.
It has a more rugged and shorter face, with a profusion of closely waved
hair falling beneath an ugly, angular cap. De Bry engraved it, or rather
published it, in 1595, twenty years after the Jovian wood-cut appeared,
and we know of no engraving intervening. No one of the generation that
was old enough to have known the navigator could then have survived,
and the picture has no other voucher than the professions of the
engraver of it.

[Illustration: DE BRY'S COLUMBUS.]

[Sidenote: Other portraits.]

[Sidenote: Havana monument.]

[Sidenote: Peschiera's bust.]

These are but a few of the many pictures that have been made to pass,
first and last, for Columbus, and the only ones meriting serious study
for their claims. The American public was long taught to regard the
effigy of Columbus as that of a bedizened courtier, because Prescott
selected for an engraving to adorn his _Ferdinand and Isabella_ a
picture of such a person, which is ascribed to Parmigiano, and is
preserved in the Museo Borbonico, at Naples. Its claims long ago ceased
to be considered. The traveler in Cuba sees in the Cathedral at Havana a
monumental effigy, of which there is no evidence of authenticity worthy
of consideration. The traveler in Italy can see in Genoa, placed on the
cabinet which was made to hold the manuscript titles of Columbus, a
bust by Peschiera. It has the negative merit of having no relation to
any of the alleged portraits; but represents the sculptor's conception
of the man, guided by the scant descriptions of him given to us by his


If the reader desires to see how extensive the field of research is,
for one who can spend the time in tracing all the clues connected with
all the representations which pass for Columbus, he can make a
beginning, at least, under the guidance of the essay on the portraits
which the present writer contributed to the _Narrative and Critical
History of America_, vol. ii.

When Columbus, in 1502, ordered a tenth of his income to be paid
annually to the Bank of St. George, in Genoa, for the purpose of
reducing the tax upon corn, wine, and other provisions, the generous
act, if it had been carried out, would have entitled him to such a
recognition as a public benefactor as the bank was accustomed to bestow.
The main hall of the palace of this institution commemorates such
patriotic efforts by showing a sitting statue for the largest
benefactors; a standing figure for lesser gifts, while still lower
gradations of charitable help are indicated in busts, or in mere
inscriptions on a mural tablet. It has been thought that posterity,
curious to see the great Admiral as his contemporaries saw him, suffers
with the state of Genoa, in not having such an effigy, by the neglect or
inattention which followed upon the announced purpose of Columbus. We
certainly find there to-day no such visible proof of his munificence or
aspect. Harrisse, while referring to this deprivation, takes occasion,
in his _Bank of St. George_ (p. 108), to say that he does not "believe
that the portrait of Columbus was ever drawn, carved, or painted from
the life." He contends that portrait-painting was not common in Spain,
in Columbus's day, and that we have no trace of the painters, whose work
constitutes the beginning of the art, in any record, or authentic
effigy, to show that the person of the Admiral was ever made the subject
of the art. The same writer indicates that the interval during which
Columbus was popular enough to be painted extended over only six weeks
in April and May, 1493. He finds that much greater heroes, as the world
then determined, like Boabdil and Cordova, were not thus honored, and
holds that the portraits of Ferdinand and Isabella, which editions of
Prescott have made familiar, are really fancy pictures of the close of
the sixteenth century.



[Sidenote: The name Colombo.]

No one has mastered so thoroughly as Harrisse the intricacies of the
Columbus genealogy. A pride in the name of Colombo has been shared by
all who have borne it or have had relationship with it, and there has
been a not unworthy competition among many branches of the common stock
to establish the evidences of their descent in connection, more or less
intimate, with the greatest name that has signalized the family history.

This reduplication of families, as well as the constant recurrence of
the same fore-names, particularly common in Italian families, has
rendered it difficult to construct the genealogical tree of the Admiral,
and has given ground for drafts of his pedigree, acceptable to some, and
disputed by other claimants of kinship.

[Sidenote: The French Colombos.]

There was a Gascon-French subject of Louis XI., Guillaume de Casanove,
sometimes called Coulomp, Coullon, Colon, in the Italian accounts
Colombo, and Latinized as Columbus, who is said to have commanded a
fleet of seven sail, which, in October, 1474, captured two galleys
belonging to Ferdinand, king of Sicily. When Leibnitz published, for the
first time, some of the diplomatic correspondence which ensued, he
interjected the fore-name Christophorus in the references to the
Columbus of this narrative. This was in his _Codex Juris Gentium
Diplomaticus_, published at Hannover in 1693. Leibnitz was soon
undeceived by Nicolas Thoynard, who explained that the corsair in
question was Guillaume de Casanove, vice-admiral of France, and Leibnitz
disavowed the imputation upon the Genoese navigator in a subsequent
volume. Though there is some difference of opinion respecting the
identity of Casanove and the capturer of the galleys, there can no
longer be any doubt, in the light of pertinent investigations, that the
French Colombos were of no immediate kin to the family of Genoa and
Savona, as is abundantly set forth by Harrisse in his _Les Colombo de
France et d'Italie_ (Paris, 1874). Since the French Coullon, or Coulomp,
was sometimes in the waters neighboring to Genoa, it is not unlikely
that some confusion may arise in separating the Italian from the French
Colombos; and it has been pointed out that a certain entry of wreckage
in the registry of Genoa, which Spotorno associates with Christopher
Columbus, may more probably be connected with this Gascon navigator.

Bossi, the earliest biographer in recent times, considers that a Colombo
named in a letter to the Duke of Milan as being in a naval fight off
Cyprus, between Genoese and Venetian vessels, in 1476, was the
discoverer of the New World. Harrisse, in his _Les Colombo_, has printed
this letter, and from it it does not appear that the commander of the
Genoese fleet is known by name, and that the only mention of a Colombo
is that a fleet commanded by one of that name was somewhere encountered.
There is no indication, however, that this commander was Christopher
Columbus. The presumption is that he was the roving Casanove.

Leibnitz was doubtless misled by the assertion of the _Historie_ of
1571, which allows that Christopher Columbus had sailed under the orders
of an admiral of his name and family, and, particularly, was in that
naval combat off Lisbon, when, his vessel getting on fire, he swam with
the aid of an oar to the Portuguese shore. The doubtful character of
this episode will be considered later; but it is more to the purpose
here that this same book, in citing a letter, of which we are supposed
to have the complete text as preserved by Columbus himself, makes
Columbus say that he was not the only admiral which his family had
produced. This is a clear reference, it is supposed, to this
vice-admiral of France. It is enough to say that the genuine text of
this letter to the nurse of Don Juan does not contain this controverted
passage, and the defenders of the truth of the _Historie_, like
D'Avezac, are forced to imagine there must have been another letter, not
now known.

[Sidenote: The younger French admiral.]

Beside the elder admiral of France, the name of Colombo Junior belonged
to another of these French sea-rovers in the fifteenth century, who has
been held to be a nephew, or at least a relative, of the elder. He has
also sometimes been confounded with the Genoese Columbus.

[Sidenote: Genealogy.]

[Sidenote: Pretenders.]

To determine the exact relationship between the various French and
Italian Colombos and Coulons of the fifteenth century would be
hazardous. It is enough to say that no evidence that stands a critical
test remains to connect these famous mariners with the line of
Christopher Columbus. The genealogical tables which Spotorno presents,
upon which Caleb Cushing enlightened American readers at the time in the
_North American Review_, and in which the French family is made to issue
from an alleged great-grandfather of Christopher Columbus, are affirmed
by Harrisse, with much reason, to have been made up not far from 1583,
to support the claims of Bernardo and Baldassare (Balthazar) Colombo, as
pretenders to the rights and titles of the discoverer of the New World.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ferdinand is made in his own name to say of his father, "I think it
better that all the honor be derived to us from his person than to go
about to inquire whether his father was a merchant or a man of quality,
that kept his hawks and hounds." Other biographers, however, have
pursued the inquiry diligently.

[Sidenote: Columbus's family line.]

In one of the sections of his book on _Christopher Columbus and the Bank
of Saint George_, Harrisse has shown how the notarial records of Savona
and Genoa have been worked, to develop the early history of the
Admiral's family from documentary proofs. These evidences are distinct
from the narratives of those who had known him, or who at a later day
had told his story, as Gallo, the writer of the _Historie_, and Oviedo
did. Reference has already been made to the prevalence of Colombo as a
patronymic in Genoa and the neighboring country at that time. Harrisse
in his _Christophe Colomb_ has enumerated two hundred of this name in
Liguria alone, in those days, who seem to have had no kinship to the
family of the Admiral. There appear to have been in Genoa, moreover,
four Colombos, and in Liguria, outside of Genoa, six others who bore the
name of Christopher's father, Domenico; but the searchers have not yet
found a single other Christoforo. These facts show the discrimination
which those who of late years have been investigating the history of the
Admiral's family have been obliged to exercise. There are sixty notarial
acts of one kind and another, out of which these investigators have
constructed a pedigree, which must stand till present knowledge is
increased or overthrown.

[Sidenote: His grandfather.]

What we know in the main is this: Giovanni Colombo, the grandfather of
the Admiral, lived probably in Quinto al Mare, and was of a stock that
seemingly had been earlier settled in the valley of Fontanabuona, a
region east of Genoa. This is a parentage of the father of Columbus
quite different from that shown in the genealogical chart made by
Napione in 1805 and later; and Harrisse tells us that the notarial acts
which were given then as the authority for such other line of descent
cannot now be found, and that there are grave doubts of their

[Sidenote: His father.]

It was this Giovanni's son, Domenico, who came from Quinto (where he
left a brother, Antonio) at least as early as 1439, and perhaps earlier,
and settled himself in the wool-weaver's quarter, so called, in Genoa,
where in due time he owned a house. Thence he seems to have removed to
Savona, where various notarial acts recognize him at a later period as a
Genoese, resident in Savona.

The essential thing remaining to be proved is that the Domenico Colombo
of these notarial acts was the Domenico who was the father of
Christopher Columbus. For this purpose we must take the testimony of
those who knew the genuine Colombos, as Oviedo and Gallo did; and from
their statements we learn that the father of Christopher was a weaver
named Domenico, who lived in Genoa, and had sons, Christoforo,
Bartolomeo, and Giacomo. These, then, are the test conditions, and
finding them every one answered in the Savona-Genoa family, the proof
seems incontestable, even to the further fact that at the end of the
fifteenth century all three brothers had for some years lived under the
Spanish crown.

It is too much to say that this concatenation of identities may not
possibly be overturned, perhaps by discrediting the documents, not
indeed untried already by Peragallo and others, but it is safe to accept
it under present conditions of knowledge; though we have to trust on
some points to the statements of those who have seen what no longer can
be found. Domenico Colombo, who had removed to Savona in 1470, did not,
apparently, prosper there. He and his son Christopher pursued their
trade as weavers, as the notarial records show. Lamartine, in his _Life
of Columbus_, speaking of the wool-carding of the time, calls it "a
business now low, but then respectable and almost noble,"--an
idealization quite of a kind with the spirit that pervades Lamartine's
book, and a spirit in which it has been a fashion to write of Columbus
and other heroes. The calling was doubtless, then as now, simply
respectable. The father added some experience, it would seem, in keeping
a house of entertainment. The joint profit, however, of these two
occupations did not suffice to keep him free from debt, out of which his
son Christopher is known to have helped him in some measure. Domenico
sold and bought small landed properties, but did not pay for one of them
at least. There were fifteen years of this precarious life passed in
Savona, during which he lost his wife, when, putting his youngest son to
an apprenticeship, he returned in 1484, or perhaps a little earlier, to
Genoa, to try other chances. His fortune here was no better. Insolvency
still followed him. When we lose sight of him, in 1494, the old man may,
it is hoped, have heard rumors of the transient prosperity of his son,
and perhaps have read in the fresh little quartos of Plaanck the
marvelous tale of the great discovery. He lived we know not how much
longer, but probably died before the winter of 1499-1500, when the heirs
of Corrado de Cuneo, who had never received due payment for an estate
which Domenico had bought in Savona, got judgment against Christopher
and his brother Diego, the sons of Domenico, then of course beyond reach
in foreign lands.

[Sidenote: Domenico's house in Genoa.]

Within a few years the Marquis Marcello Staglieno, a learned antiquary
in Genoa, who has succeeded in throwing much new light on the early life
of Columbus from the notarial records of that city, has identified a
house in the Vico Dritto Ponticello, No. 37, as the one in which
Domenico Colombo lived during the younger years of Christopher's life.
The municipality bought this estate in June, 1887, and placed over its
door an inscription recording the associations of the spot. Harrisse
thinks it not unlikely that the great navigator was even born here. The
discovery of his father's ownership of the house seems to have been made
by carefully tracing back the title of the land to the time when
Domenico owned it. This was rendered surer by tracing the titles of the
adjoining estates back to the time of Nicolas Paravania and Antonio
Bondi, who, according to the notarial act of 1477, recording Domenico's
wife's assent to the sale of the property, lived as Domenico's next

[Sidenote: Columbus born.]

If Christopher Columbus was born in this house, that event took place,
as notarial records, brought to bear by the Marquis Staglieno, make
evident, between October 29, 1446, and October 29, 1451; and if some
degree of inference be allowed, Harrisse thinks he can narrow the range
to the twelve months between March 15, 1446, and March 20, 1447. This is
the period within which, by deduction from other statements, some of the
modern authorities, like Muñoz, Bossi, and Spotorno, among the Italians,
D'Avezac among the French, and Major in England, have placed the event
of Columbus's birth without the aid of attested documents. This
conclusion has been reached by taking an avowal of Columbus that he had
led twenty-three years a sailor's life at the time of his first voyage,
and was fourteen years old when he began a seaman's career. The question
which complicates the decision is: When did Columbus consider his
sailor's life to have ended? If in 1492, as Peschel contends, it would
carry his birth back no farther than 1455-56, according as fractions are
managed; and Peschel accepts this date, because he believes the
unconfirmed statement of Columbus in a letter of July 7, 1503, that he
was twenty-eight when he entered the service of Spain in 1484.

[Sidenote: 1445-1447.]

But if 1484 is accepted as the termination of that twenty-three years of
sea life, as Muñoz and the others already mentioned say, then we get the
result which most nearly accords with the notarial records, and we can
place the birth of Columbus somewhere in the years 1445-47, according as
the fractions are considered. This again is confirmed by another of the
varied statements of Columbus, that in 1501 it was forty years since, at
fourteen, he first took to the sea.

[Sidenote: 1435-1437.]

There has been one other deduction used, through which Navarrete,
Humboldt, Irving, Roselly de Lorgues, Napione, and others, who copy
them, determine that his birth must have taken place, by a similar
fractional allowance of margin, in 1435-37. This is based upon the
explicit statement of Andrès Bernaldez, in his book on the Catholic
monarchs of Spain, that Columbus at his death was about seventy years
old. So there is a twenty years' range for those who may be influenced
by one line of argument or another in determining the date of the
Admiral's birth. Many writers have discussed the arguments; but the
weight of authority seems, on the whole, to rest upon the records which
are used by Harrisse.

[Sidenote: His mother, brothers, and sister.]

The mother of Columbus was Susanna, a daughter of Giacomo de
Fontanarossa, and Domenico married her in the Bisagno country, a region
lying east of Genoa. She was certainly dead in 1489, and had, perhaps,
died as early as 1482, in Savona. Beside Christoforo, this alliance with
Domenico Colombo produced four other children, who were probably born in
one and the same house. They were Giovanni-Pellegrino, who, in 1501, had
been dead ten years, and was unmarried; Bartolomeo, who was never
married, and who will be encountered later as Bartholomew; and Giacomo,
who when he went to Spain became known as Diego Colon, but who is called
Jacobus in all Latin narratives. There was also a daughter,
Bianchinetta, who married a cheesemonger named Bavarello, and had one

[Sidenote: His uncle and cousins.]

Antonio, the brother of Domenico, seems to have had three sons,
Giovanni, Matteo, and Amighetto. They were thus cousins of the Admiral,
and they were so far cognizant of his fame in 1496 as to combine in a
declaration before a notary that they united in sending one of their
number, Giovanni, on a voyage to Spain to visit their famous kinsman,
the Admiral of the Indies; their object being, most probably, to profit,
if they could, by basking in his favor.

[Sidenote: Born in Genoa.]

[Sidenote: Claim for Savona,]

[Sidenote: and other places.]

If the evidences thus set forth of his family history be accepted, there
is no question that Columbus, as he himself always said, and finally in
his will declared, and as Ferdinand knew, although it is not affirmed in
the _Historie_, was born in Genoa. Among the early writers, if we except
Galindez de Carvajal, who claimed him for Savona, there seems to have
been little or no doubt that he was born in Genoa. Peter Martyr and Las
Casas affirm it. Bernaldez believed it. Giustiniani asserts it. But when
Oviedo, not many years after Columbus's death, wrote, it was become so
doubtful where Columbus was born that he mentions five or six towns
which claimed the honor of being his birthplace. The claim for Savona
has always remained, after Genoa, that which has received the best
recognition. The grounds of such a belief, however, have been pretty
well disproved in Harrisse's _Christophe Colomb et Savone_ (Genoa,
1887), and it has been shown, as it would seem conclusively, that, prior
to Domenico Colombo's settling in Savona in 1470-71, he had lived in
Genoa, where his children, taking into account their known or computed
ages, must have been born. It seems useless to rehearse the arguments
which strenuous advocates have, at one time or another, offered in
support of the pretensions of many other Italian towns and villages to
have furnished the great discoverer to the world,--Plaisance, Cuccaro,
Cogoleto, Pradello, Nervi, Albissola, Bogliasco, Cosseria, Finale,
Oneglia, Quinto, Novare, Chiavari, Milan, Modena. The pretensions of
some of them were so urgent that in 1812 the Academy of History at Genoa
thought it worth while to present the proofs as respects their city in a
formal way. The claims of Cuccaro were used in support of a suit by
Balthazar Colombo, to obtain possession of the Admiral's legal rights.
The claim of Cogoleto seems to have been mixed up with the supposed
birth of the corsairs, Colombos, in that town, who for a long while were
confounded with the Admiral. There is left in favor of any of them,
after their claims are critically examined, nothing but local pride and

The latest claimant for the honor is the town of Calvi, in Corsica, and
this cause has been particularly embraced by the French. So late as
1882, President Grévy, of the French Republic, undertook to give a
national sanction to these claims by approving the erection there of a
statue of Columbus. The assumption is based upon a tradition that the
great discoverer was a native of that place. The principal elucidator of
that claim, the Abbé Martin Casanova de Pioggiola, seems to have a
comfortable notion that tradition is the strongest kind of historical
proof, though it is not certain that he would think so with respect to
the twenty and more other places on the Italian coast where similar
traditions exist or are said to be current. Harrisse seems to have
thought the claim worth refuting in his _Christophe Colomb et La Corse_
(Paris, 1888), to say nothing of other examinations of the subject in
the _Revue de Paris_ and the _Revue Critique_, and of two very recent
refutations, one by the Abbé Casabianca in his _Le Berceau de Christophe
Colomb et la Corse_ (Paris, 1889), and the last word of Harrisse in the
_Revue Historique_ (1890, p. 182).



The condition of knowledge respecting Columbus's early life was such,
when Prescott wrote, that few would dispute his conclusion that it is
hopeless to unravel the entanglement of events, associated with the
opening of his career. The critical discernment of Harrisse and other
recent investigators has since then done something to make the confusion
even more apparent by unsettling convictions too hastily assumed. A
bunch of bewildering statements, in despite of all that present
scholarship can do, is left to such experts as may be possessed in the
future of more determinate knowledge. It may well be doubted if absolute
clarification of the record is ever to be possible.

[Sidenote: His education.]


The student naturally inquires of the contemporaries of Columbus as to
the quality and extent of his early education, and he derives most from
Las Casas and the _Historie_ of 1571. It has of late been ascertained
that the woolcombers of Genoa established local schools for the
education of their children, and the young Christopher may have had his
share of their instruction, in addition to whatever he picked up at his
trade, which continued, as long as he remained in Italy, that of his
father. We know from the manuscripts which have come down to us that
Columbus acquired the manual dexterity of a good penman; and if some
existing drawings are not apocryphal, he had a deft hand, too, in making
a spirited sketch with a few strokes. His drawing of maps, which we are
also told about, implies that he had fulfilled Ptolemy's definition of
that art of the cosmographer which could represent the cartographic
outlines of countries with supposable correctness. He could do it with
such skill that he practiced it at one time, as is said, for the gaining
of a livelihood. We know, trusting the _Historie_, that he was for a
brief period at the University of Pavia, perhaps not far from 1460,
where he sought to understand the mysteries of cosmography, astrology,
and geometry.

[Sidenote: At Pavia.]

Bossi has enumerated the professors in these departments at that time,
from whose teaching Columbus may possibly have profited. Harrisse with
his accustomed distrust, throws great doubt on the whole narrative of
his university experiences, and thinks Pavia at this time offered no
peculiar advantages for an aspiring seaman, to be compared with the
practical instruction which Genoa in its commercial eminence could at
the same time have offered to any sea-smitten boy. It was at Genoa at
this very time (1461), that Benincasa was producing his famous

[Illustration: ANDREAS BENINCASA, 1476.

[From St. Martin's _Atlas_.]]

[Sidenote: Goes to sea.]

After his possible, if not probable, sojourn at Pavia, made transient,
it has been suggested but not proved, by the failing fortunes of his
father, Christopher returned to Genoa, and then after an uncertain
interval entered on his seafaring career. If what passes for his own
statement be taken he was at this turn of his life not more than
fourteen years old. The attractions of the sea at that period of the
fifteenth century were great for adventurous youths. There was a spice
of piracy in even the soberest ventures of commerce. The ships of one
Christian state preyed on another. Private ventures were buccaneerish,
and the hand of the Catalonian and of the Moslem were turned against
all. The news which sped from one end of the Mediterranean to the other
was of fight and plunder, here and everywhere. Occasionally it was mixed
with rumors of the voyages beyond the Straits of Hercules, which told of
the Portuguese and their hazards on the African coast towards the

[Sidenote: Prince Henry, the Navigator.]

Not far from the time when our vigorous young Genoese wool-comber may be
supposed to have embarked on some of these venturesome exploits of the
great inland sea, there might have come jumping from port to port,
westerly along the Mediterranean shores, the story of the death of that
great maritime spirit of Portugal, Prince Henry, the Navigator, and of
the latest feats of his captains in the great ocean of the west.


[From the _Isolario_, 1547.]]

[Sidenote: Anjou's expedition.]

It has been usual to associate the earliest maritime career of our
dashing Genoese with an expedition fitted out in Genoa by John of Anjou,
Duke of Calabria, to recover possession of the kingdom of Naples for his
father, Duke René, Count of Provence. This is known to have been
undertaken in 1459-61. The pride of Genoa encouraged the service of the
attacking fleet, and many a citizen cast in his lot with that naval
armament, and embarked with his own subsidiary command. There is mention
of a certain doughty captain, Colombo by name, as leading one part of
this expeditionary force. He was very likely one of those French
corsairs of that name, already mentioned, and likely to have been a man
of importance in the Franco-Genoese train. He has, indeed, been
sometimes made a kinsman of the wool-comber's son. There is little
likelihood of his having been our Christopher himself, then, as we may
easily picture him, a red-haired youth, or in life's early prime, with a
ruddy complexion,--a type of the Italian which one to-day is not without
the chance of encountering in the north of Italy, preserving, it may be,
some of that northern blood which had produced the Vikings.

The _Historie_ of 1571 gives what purports to be a letter of Columbus
describing some of the events of this campaign. It was addressed to the
Spanish monarchs in 1495. If Anjou was connected with any service in
which Columbus took part, it is easy to make it manifest that it could
not have happened later than 1461, because the reverses of that year
drove the unfortunate René into permanent retirement. The rebuttal of
this testimony depends largely upon the date of Columbus's birth; and if
that is placed in 1446, as seems well established, Columbus, the Genoese
mariner, could hardly have commanded a galley in it at fourteen; and it
is still more improbable if, as D'Avezac says, Columbus was in the
expedition when it set out in 1459, since the boy Christopher was then
but twelve. As Harrisse puts it, the letter of Columbus quoted in the
_Historie_ is apocryphal, or the correct date of Columbus's birth is not

It is, however, not to be forgotten that Columbus himself testifies to
the tender age at which he began his sea-service, when, in 1501, he
recalled some of his early experiences; but, unfortunately, Columbus was
chronically given to looseness of statement, and the testimony of his
contemporaries is often the better authority. In 1501, his mind,
moreover, was verging on irresponsibility. He had a talent for deceit,
and sometimes boasted of it, or at least counted it a merit.

Much investigation has wonderfully confirmed the accuracy of that
earliest sketch of his career contained in the Giustiniani Psalter in
1516; and it is learned from that narrative that Columbus had
attained an adult age when he first went to sea,--and this was one of
the statements which the _Historie_ of 1571 sought to discredit. If the
notarial records of Savona are correct in calling Columbus a wool-comber
in 1472, and he was of the Savona family, and born in 1446, he was then
twenty-six years old, and of the adult age that is claimed by the
Psalter and by other early writers, who either knew or mentioned him,
when he began his seafaring life. In that case he could have had no part
in the Anjou-René expedition, whose whole story, even with the
expositions of Harrisse and Max Büdinger, is shrouded in uncertainties
of time and place. That after 1473 he disappears from every notarial
record that can be found in Genoa shows, in Harrisse's opinion, that it
was not till then that he took to the sea as a profession.

We cannot say that the information which we have of this early seafaring
life of Columbus, whenever beginning, is deserving of much credit, and
it is difficult to place whatever it includes in chronological order.

We may infer from one of his statements that he had, at some time, been
at Scio observing the making of mastic. Certain reports which most
likely concern his namesakes, the French corsairs, are sometimes
associated with him as leading an attack on Spanish galleys somewhere in
the service of Louis XI., or as cruising near Cyprus.

So everything is misty about these early days; but the imagination of
some of his biographers gives us abundant precision for the daily life
of the school-boy, apprentice, cabin boy, mariner, and corsair, even to
the receiving of a wound which we know troubled him in his later years.
Such a story of details is the filling up of a scant outline with the
colors of an unfaithful limner.



[Sidenote: 1473.]

[Sidenote: Maritime enterprise in Portugal.]

Columbus, disappearing from Italy in 1473, is next found in Portugal,
and it is a natural inquiry why an active, adventurous spirit, having
tested the exhilaration of the sea, should have made his way to that
outpost of maritime ambition, bordering on the great waters, that had
for many ages attracted and puzzled the discoverer and cosmographer. It
is hardly to be doubted that the fame of the Portuguese voyaging out
upon the vasty deep, or following the western coast of Africa, had for
some time been a not unusual topic of talk among the seamen of the
Mediterranean. It may be only less probable that an intercourse of
seafaring Mediterranean people with the Arabs of the Levant had brought
rumors of voyages in the ocean that washed the eastern shores of Africa.
These stories from the Orient might well have induced some to speculate
that such voyages were but the complements of those of the Portuguese in
their efforts to solve the problem of the circumnavigation of the great
African continent. It is not, then, surprising that a doughty mariner
like Columbus, in life's prime, should have desired to be in the thick
of such discussions, and to no other European region could he have
turned as a wanderer with the same satisfaction as to Portugal.

Let us see how the great maritime questions stood in Portugal in 1473,
and from what antecedents they had arisen.

[Sidenote: Portuguese seamanship.]

[Sidenote: Explorations on the Sea of Darkness.]

[Sidenote: Marino Sanuto, 1306.]

The Portuguese, at this time, had the reputation of being the most
expert seamen in Europe, or at least they divided it with the Catalans
and Majorcans. Their fame lasted, and at a later day was repeated by
Acosta. These hardy mariners had pushed boldly out, as early as we have
any records, into the enticing and yet forbidding Sea of Darkness, not
often perhaps willingly out of sight of land; but storms not
infrequently gave them the experience of sea and sky, and nothing else.
The great ocean was an untried waste for cartography. A few straggling
beliefs in islands lying westward had come down from the ancients, and
the fantastic notions of floating islands and steady lands, upon which
the imagination of the Middle Ages thrived, were still rife, when we
find in the map of Marino Sanuto, in 1306, what may well be considered
the beginning of Atlantic cartography.

[Sidenote: The Canaries.]

There is no occasion to make it evident that the Islands of the West
found by the Phoenicians, the Fortunate Islands of Sertorius, and the
Hesperides of Pliny were the Canaries of later times, brought to light
after thirteen centuries of oblivion; but these islands stand in the
planisphere of Sanuto at the beginning of the fourteenth century, to be
casually visited by the Spaniards and others for a hundred years and
more before the Norman, Jean de Béthencourt, in the beginning of the
fifteenth century (1402), settled himself on one of them. Here his
kinspeople ruled, till finally the rival claims of sovereignty by Spain
and Portugal ended in the rights of Spain being established, with
compensating exclusive rights to Portugal on the African coast.

[Sidenote: The Genoese in Portugal.]

But it was by Genoese in the service of Portugal, the fame of whose
exploits may not have been unknown to Columbus, that the most important
discoveries of ocean islands had been made.

[Sidenote: Madeira.]

It was in the early part of the fourteenth century that the Madeira
group had been discovered. In the Laurentian portolano of 1351,
preserved at Florence, it is unmistakably laid down and properly named,
and that atlas has been considered, for several reasons, the work of
Genoese, and as probably recording the voyage by the Genoese Pezagno for
the Portuguese king,--at least Major holds that to be demonstrable. The
real right of the Portuguese to these islands, rests, however, on their
rediscovery by Prince Henry's captains at a still later period, in
1418-20, when Madeira, seen as a cloud in the horizon from Porto Santo,
was approached in a boat from the smaller island.

[Sidenote: Azores.]

[Sidenote: Maps.]

It is also from the Laurentian portolano of 1351 that we know how, at
some anterior time, the greater group of the Azores had been found by
Portuguese vessels under Genoese commanders. We find these islands also
in the Catalan map of 1373, and in that of Pizigani of the same period
(1367, 1373).


[From Major's _Prince Henry_.]]

[Sidenote: Robert Machin.]

It was in the reign of Edward III. of England that one Robert Machin,
flying from England to avoid pursuit for stealing a wife, accidentally
reached the island of Madeira. Here disaster overtook Machin's company,
but some of his crew reached Africa in a boat and were made captives by
the Moors. In 1416, the Spaniards sent an expedition to redeem Christian
captives held by these same Moors, and, while bringing them away, the
Spanish ship was overcome by a Portuguese navigator, Zarco, and among
his prisoners was one Morales, who had heard, as was reported, of the
experiences of Machin.

[Sidenote: Porto Santo and Madeira rediscovered.]

Zarco, a little later, being sent by Prince Henry of Portugal to the
coast of Guinea, was driven out to sea, and discovered the island of
Porto Santo; and subsequently, under the prompting of Morales, he
rediscovered Madeira, then uninhabited. This was in 1418 or 1419, and
though there are some divergences in the different forms of the story,
and though romance and anachronism somewhat obscure its truth, the main
circumstances are fairly discernible.

[Sidenote: The Perestrello family.]

This discovery was the beginning of the revelations which the navigators
of Prince Henry were to make. A few years later (1425) he dispatched
colonists to occupy the two islands, and among them was a gentleman of
the household, Bartolomeo Perestrello, whose name, in a descendant, we
shall again encounter when, near the close of the century, we follow
Columbus himself to this same island of Porto Santo.

[Sidenote: Maps.]

It is conjectured that the position of the Azores was laid down on a map
which, brought to Portugal from Venice in 1428, instigated Prince Henry
to order his seamen to rediscover those islands. That they are laid down
on Valsequa's Catalan map of 1439 is held to indicate the accomplishment
of the prince's purpose, probably in 1432, though it took twenty years
to bring the entire group within the knowledge of the Portuguese.

[Sidenote: Bianco's map, 1436.]

[Sidenote: Other maps.]

The well-known map of Andrea Bianco in 1436, preserved in the Biblioteca
Marciana at Venice, records also the extent of supposition at that date
respecting the island-studded waste of the Atlantic. Between this date
and the period of the arrival of Columbus in Portugal, the best known
names of the map makers of the Atlantic are those of Valsequa (1439),
Leardo (1448, 1452, 1458), Pareto (1455), and Fra Mauro (1459). This
last there will be occasion to mention later.

[Sidenote: Flores.]

In 1452, Pedro de Valasco, in sailing about Fayal westerly, seeing and
following a flight of birds, had discovered the island of Flores. From
what Columbus says in the journal of his first voyage, forty years
later, this tracking of the flight of birds was not an unusual way, in
these early exploring days, of finding new islands.

[Illustration: MAP OF ANDREA BIANCO.

[From _Allgem. Geog. Ephemeriden_, Weimar, 1807.]]

Thus it was that down to a period a very little later than the middle of
the fifteenth century the Portuguese had been accustoming themselves to
these hazards of the open ocean. Without knowing it they had, in the
discovery of Flores, actually reached the farthest land westerly, which
could in the better knowledge of later years be looked upon as the
remotest outpost of the Old World.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The African route to India.]

There was, as they thought, a much larger cosmographical problem lying
to the south,--a route to India by a supposable African cape.

For centuries the Orient had been the dream of the philosopher and the
goal of the merchant. Everything in the East was thought to be on a
larger scale than in Europe,--metals were more abundant, pearls were
rarer, spices were richer, plants were nobler, animals were statelier.
Everything but man was more lordly. He had been fed there so luxuriously
that he was believed to have dwindled in character. Europe was the world
of active intelligence, the inheritor of Greek and Roman power, and its
typical man belonged naturally with the grander externals of the East.
There was a fitness in bringing the better man and the better nature
into such relations that the one should sustain and enjoy the other.

[Sidenote: China.]

The earliest historical record of the peoples of Western Asia with China
goes back, according to Yule, to the second century before Christ. Three
hundred years later we find the first trace of Roman intercourse (A. D.
166). With India, China had some trade by sea as early as the fourth
century, and with Babylonia possibly in the fifth century. There were
Christian Nestorian missionaries there as early as the eighth century,
and some of their teachings had been found there by Western travelers in
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The communication of Ceylon
with China was revived in the thirteenth century.

[Sidenote: Cathay.]

[Sidenote: Marco Polo.]

It was in the twelfth century, under the Mongol dynasty, that China
became first generally known in Europe, under the name of Cathay, and
then for the first time the Western nations received travelers' stories
of the kingdom of the great Khan. Two Franciscans, one an Italian, Plano
Carpini, the other a Fleming, Rubruquis, sent on missions for the
Church, returned to Europe respectively in 1247 and 1255. It was not,
however, till Marco Polo returned from his visit to Kublai Khan, in the
latter part of the thirteenth century, that a new enlargement of the
ideas of Europe respecting the far Orient took place. The influence of
his marvelous tales continued down to the days of Columbus, and
when the great discoverer came on the scene it was to find the public
mind occupied with the hopes of reaching these Eastern realms by way of
the south. The experimental and accidental voyagings of the Portuguese
on the Atlantic were held to be but preliminary to a steadier
progression down the coast of Africa.

[Sidenote: The African route and the ancients.]

[Sidenote: The African cape.]

Whether the ancients had succeeded in circumnavigating Africa is a
question never likely to be definitely settled, and opposing views, as
weighed by Bunbury in his _History of Ancient Geography_, are too evenly
balanced to allow either side readily to make conquest of judicial
minds. It is certain that Hipparchus had denied the possibility of it,
and had supposed the Indian Ocean a land-bound sea, Africa extending at
the south so as to connect with a southern prolongation of eastern Asia.
This view had been adopted by Ptolemy, whose opinions were dominating at
this time the Western mind. Nevertheless, that Africa ended in a
southern cape seems to have been conceived of by those who doubted the
authority of Ptolemy early enough for Sanuto, in 1306, to portray such a
cape in his planisphere. If Sanuto really knew of its existence the
source of his knowledge is a subject for curious speculation. Not
unlikely an African cape may have been surmised by the Venetian sailors,
who, frequenting the Mediterranean coasts of Asia Minor, came in contact
with the Arabs. These last may have cherished the traditions of maritime
explorers on the east coast of Africa, who may have already discovered
the great southern cape, perhaps without passing it.

[Sidenote: African coast discovery, 1393.]

Navarrete records that as early as 1393 a company had been formed in
Andalusia and Biscay for promoting discoveries down the coast of Africa.
It was an effort to secure in the end such a route to Asia as might
enable the people of the Iberian peninsula to share with those of the
Italian the trade with the East, which the latter had long conducted
wholly or in part overland from the Levant. The port of Barcelona had
indeed a share in this opulent commerce; but its product for Spain was
insignificant in comparison with that for Italy.

Prince Henry, the Navigator.]

The guiding spirit in this new habit of exploration was that scion of
the royal family of Portugal who became famous eventually as Prince
Henry the Navigator, and whose biography has been laid before the
English reader within twenty years, abundantly elucidated by the
careful hand of Richard H. Major. The Prince had assisted King João
in the attack on the Moors at Ceuta, in 1415, and this success had
opened to the Prince the prospect of possessing the Guinea coast, and of
ultimately finding and passing the anticipated cape at the southern end
of Africa.

[Sidenote: Cape Bojador.]

This was the mission to which the Prince early in the fifteenth century
gave himself. His ships began to crawl down the western Barbary coast,
and each season added to the extent of their explorations, but Cape
Bojador for a while blocked their way, just as it had stayed other hardy
adventurers even before the birth of Henry. "We may wonder," says Helps,
"that he never took personal command of any of his expeditions, but he
may have thought that he served the cause better by remaining at home,
and forming a centre whence the electric energy of enterprise was
communicated to many discoverers and then again collected from them."

[Sidenote: Sagres.]

Meanwhile, Prince Henry had received from his father the government of
Algaroe, and he selected the secluded promontory of Sagres, jutting into
the sea at the southwestern extremity of Portugal, as his home, going
here in 1418, or possibly somewhat later. Whether he so organized his
efforts as to establish here a school of navigation is in dispute, but
it is probably merely a question of what constitutes a school. There
seems no doubt that he built an observatory and drew about him skillful
men in the nautical arts, including a somewhat famous Majorcan, Jayme.
He and his staff of workers took seamanship as they found it, with its
cylindrical charts, and so developed it that it became in the hands of
the Portuguese the evidence of the highest skill then attainable.

[Sidenote: Art of seamanship.]

Seamanship as then practiced has become an interesting study. Under the
guidance of Humboldt, in his remarkable work, the _Examen Critique_, in
which he couples a consideration of the nautical astronomy with the
needs of this age of discovery, we find an easy path among the
intricacies of the art. These complications have, in special aspects,
been further elucidated by Navarrete, Margry, and a recent German
writer, Professor Ernst Mayer.

[Sidenote: Lully's _Arte de Navegar_.]

It was just at the end of the thirteenth century (1295) that the _Arte
de Navegar_ of Raymond Lully, or Lullius, gave mariners a handbook,
which, so far as is made apparent, was not superseded by a better even
in the time of Columbus.


[From a Chronicle in the National Library at Paris.]]

[Sidenote: Sacrobosco.]

Another nautical text-book at this time was a treatise by John Holywood,
a Yorkshire man, who needs to be a little dressed up when we think of
him as the Latinized Sacrobosco. His _Sphera Mundi_ was not put into
type till 1472, just before Columbus's arrival in Portugal,--a work
which is mainly paraphrased from Ptolemy's _Almagest_. It was one of the
books which, by law, the royal cosmographer of Spain, at a later day,
was directed to expound in his courses of instruction.

[Sidenote: The loadstone.]

The loadstone was known in western and northern Europe as early as the
eleventh century, and for two or three centuries there are found in
books occasional references to the magnet. We are in much doubt,
however, as to the prevalence of its use in navigation. If we are to
believe some writers on the subject, it was known to the Norsemen as
early as the seventh century. Its use in the Levant, derived, doubtless,
from the peoples navigating the Indian Ocean, goes back to an antiquity
not easily to be limited.

[Sidenote: Magnetic needle.]

By the year 1200, a knowledge of the magnetic needle, coming from China
through the Arabs, had become common enough in Europe to be mentioned in
literature, and in another century its use did not escape record by the
chroniclers of maritime progress. In the fourteenth century, the
adventurous spirit of the Catalans and the Normans stretched the scope
of their observations from the Hebrides on the north to the west coast
of tropical Africa on the south, and to the westward, two fifths across
the Atlantic to the neighborhood of the Azores,--voyages made safely
under the direction of the magnet.

[Sidenote: Observations for latitude.]

[Sidenote: The astrolabe.]

There was not much difficulty in computing latitude either by the
altitude of the polar star or by using tables of the sun's declination,
which the astronomers of the time were equal to calculating. The
astrolabe used for gauging the altitude was a simple instrument, which
had been long in use among the Mediterranean seamen, and had been
described by Raymond Lullius in the latter part of the thirteenth
century. Before Columbus's time it had been somewhat improved by
Johannes Müller of Königsberg, who became better known from the Latin
form of his native town as Regiomontanus. He had, perhaps, the best
reputation in his day as a nautical astronomer, and Humboldt has
explained the importance of his labors in the help which he afforded in
an age of discovery.

[Sidenote: Dead reckoning.]

It is quite certain that the navigators of Prince Henry, and even
Columbus, practiced no artificial method for ascertaining the speed of
their ships. With vessels of the model of those days, no great rapidity
was possible, and the utmost a ship could do under favorable
circumstances was not usually beyond four miles an hour. The hourglass
gave them the time, and afforded the multiple according as the eye
adjusted the apparent number of miles which the ship was making hour by
hour. This was the method by which Columbus, in 1492, calculated the
distances, which he recorded day by day in his journal. Of course the
practiced seaman made allowances for drift in the ocean currents, and
met with more or less intelligence the various deterrent elements in
beating to windward.

[Sidenote: The seaman's log.]

Humboldt, with his keen insight into all such problems concerning their
relations to oceanic discoveries, tells us in his _Cosmos_ how he has
made the history of the log a subject of special investigation in the
sixth volume of his _Examen Critique de l'Histoire de la Géographie_,
which, unfortunately, the world has never seen; but he gives,
apparently, the results in his later _Cosmos_.


It is perhaps surprising that the Mediterranean peoples had not
perceived a method, somewhat clumsy as it was, which had been in use by
the Romans in the time of the republic. Though the habit of throwing the
log is still, in our day, kept up on ocean steamers, I find that
experienced commanders quite as willingly depend on the report of their
engineers as to the number of revolutions which the wheel or screw has
made in the twenty-four hours. In this they were anticipated by these
republicans of Rome who attached wheels of four feet diameter to the
sides of their ships and let the passage of the water turn them. Their
revolutions were then recorded by a device which threw a pebble into a
tally-pot for each revolution.


[After an original in the museum at Nuremberg, shown in E. Mayer's _Die
Hilfsmittel der Schiffahrtskunde_.]]

From that time, so far as Humboldt could ascertain, down to a period
later than Columbus, and certainly after the revival of long ocean
voyages by the Catalans, Portuguese, and Normans, there seems to have
been no skill beyond that of the eyes in measuring the speed of vessels.
After the days of Columbus, it is only when we come to the voyages of
Magellan that we find any mention of such a device as a log, which
consisted, as his chronicler explains, of some arrangements of
cog-wheels and chains carried on the poop.

[Sidenote: Prince Henry's character.]

Such were in brief the elements of seamanship in which Prince Henry the
Navigator caused his sailors to be instructed, and which more or less
governed the instrumentalities employed in his career of discovery. He
was a man who, as his motto tells us, wished, and was able, to do well.
He was shadowed with few infirmities of spirit. He joined with the pluck
of his half-English blood--for he was the grandson of John of Gaunt--a
training for endurance derived in his country's prolonged contests with
the Moor. He was the staple and lofty exemplar of this great age of
discovery. He was more so than Columbus, and rendered the adventitious
career of the Genoese possible. He knew how to manage men, and stuck
devotedly to his work. He respected his helpers too much to drug them
with deceit, and there is a straightforward honesty of purpose in his
endeavors. He was a trainer of men, and they grew courageous under his
instruction. To sail into the supposed burning zone beyond Cape Bojador,
and to face the destruction of life which was believed to be inevitable,
required a courage quite as conspicuous as to cleave the floating
verdure of the Sargasso Sea, on a western passage. It must be confessed
that he shared with Columbus those proclivities which in the instigators
of African slavery so easily slipped into cruelty. They each believed
there was a merit, if a heathen's soul be at stake, in not letting
commiseration get the better of piety.

[Sidenote: Cape Bojador passed, 1434.]

It was not till 1434 that Prince Henry's captains finally passed Cape
Bojador. It was a strenuous and daring effort in the face of conceded
danger, and under the impulse of the Prince's earnest urging. Gil Eannes
returned from this accomplished act a hero in the eyes of his master.
Had it ever been passed before? Not apparently in any way to affect the
importance of this Portuguese enterprise. We can go back indeed, to the
expedition of Hanno the Carthaginian, and in the commentaries of Carl
Müller and Vivien de St. Martin track that navigator outside the Pillars
of Hercules, and follow him southerly possibly to Cape Verde or its
vicinity; and this, if Major's arguments are to be accepted, is the only
antecedent venture beyond Cape Bojador, though there have been claims
set up for the Genoese, the Catalans, and the Dieppese. That the map of
Marino Sanuto in 1306, and the so-called Laurentian portolano of 1351,
both of which establish a vague southerly limit to Africa, rather give
expression to a theory than chronicle the experience of navigators is
the opinion of Major. It is of course possible that some indefinite
knowledge of oriental tracking of the eastern coast of Africa, and
developing its terminal shape southerly, may have passed, as already
intimated, with other nautical knowledge, by the Red Sea to the
Mediterranean peoples. To attempt to settle the question of any
circumnavigation of Africa before the days of Diaz and Da Gama, by the
evidence of earlier maps, makes us confront very closely geographical
theories on the one hand, and on the other a possible actual knowledge
filtered through the Arabs. All this renders it imprudent to assume any
tone of certainty in the matter.


The captains of Prince Henry now began, season by season, to make a
steady advance. The Pope had granted to the Portuguese monarchy the
exclusive right to discovered lands on this unexplored route to India,
and had enjoined all others not to interfere.

[Sidenote: Cape Blanco passed, 1441.]

In 1441 the Prince's ships passed beyond Cape Blanco, and in succeeding
years they still pushed on little by little, bringing home in 1442 some
negroes for slaves, the first which were seen in Europe, as Helps
supposes, though this is a matter of some doubt.

[Sidenote: Cape Verde reached, 1445.]

Cape Verde had been reached by Diniz Dyàz (Fernandez) in 1445, and the
discovery that the coast beyond had a general easterly trend did much to
encourage the Portuguese, with the illusory hope that the way to India
was at last opened. They had by this time passed beyond the countries of
the Moors, and were coasting along a country inhabited by negroes.

[Sidenote: Cadamosto, 1445.]

[Sidenote: Cape Verde Islands.]

In 1455, the Venetian Cadamosto, a man who proved that he could write
intelligently of what he saw, was induced by Prince Henry to conduct a
new expedition, which was led to the Gambia; so that Europeans saw for
the first time the constellation of the Southern Cross. In the following
year, still patronized by Prince Henry, who fitted out one of his
vessels, Cadamosto discovered the Cape Verde Islands, or at least his
narrative would indicate that he did. By comparison of documents,
however, Major has made it pretty clear that Cadamosto arrogated to
himself a glory which belonged to another, and that the true discoverer
of the Cape Verde Islands was Diogo Gomez, in 1460. It was on this
second voyage that Cadamosto passed Cape Roxo, and reached the Rio

[Illustration: FRA MAURO'S WORLD, 1439.]

[Sidenote: Fra Mauro's maps, 1457.]


[From Major's _Prince Henry_.]]

[Sidenote: Prince Henry dies, 1460.]

In 1457, Prince Henry sent, by order of his nephew and sovereign,
Alfonso V., the maps of his captains to Venice, to have them combined in
a large mappemonde; and Fra Mauro was entrusted with the making of it,
in which he was assisted by Andrea Bianco, a famous cartographer of the
time. This great map came to Portugal the year before the Prince died,
and it stands as his final record, left behind him at his death,
November 13, 1460, to attest his constancy and leadership. The
pecuniary sacrifices which he had so greatly incurred in his
enterprises had fatally embarrassed his estate. His death was not as
Columbus's was, an obscuration that no one noted; his life was prolonged
in the school of seamanship which he had created.


[From Major's _Prince Henry_.]]

The Prince's enthusiasm in his belief that there was a great southern
point of Africa had been imparted to all his followers. Fra Mauro gave
it credence in his map by an indication that an Indian junk from the
East had rounded the cape with the sun in 1420. In this Mauro map the
easterly trend of the coast beyond Cape Verde is adequately shown, but
it is made only as the northern shore of a deep gulf indenting the
continent. The more southern parts are simply forced into a shape to
suit and fill out the circular dimensions of the map.

[Sidenote: Sierra Leone, Gold Coast.]

[Sidenote: La Mina.]

Within a few years after Henry's death--though some place it
earlier--the explorations had been pushed to Sierra Leone and beyond
Cape Mezurada. When the revenues of the Gold Coast were farmed out in
1469, it was agreed that discovery should be pushed a hundred leagues
farther south annually; and by 1474, when the contract expired, Fernam
Gomez, who had taken it, had already found the gold dust region of La
Mina, which Columbus, in 1492, was counseled by Spain to avoid while
searching for his western lands.

This, then, was the condition of Portuguese seamanship and of its
exploits when Columbus, some time, probably, in 1473, reached Portugal.
He found that country so content with the rich product of the Guinea
coast that it was some years later before the Portuguese began to push
still farther to the south. The desire to extend the Christian faith to
heathen, often on the lips of the discoverers of the fifteenth century,
was never so powerful but that gold and pearls made them forget it.



[Sidenote: Date of his arrival.]

[Sidenote: 1470.]

It has been held by Navarrete, Irving, and other writers of the older
school that Columbus first arrived in Portugal in 1470; and his coming
has commonly been connected with a naval battle near Lisbon, in which he
escaped from a burning ship by swimming to land with the aid of an oar.
It is easily proved, however, that notarial entries in Italy show him to
have been in that country on August 7, 1473. We may, indeed, by some
stretch of inference, allow the old date to be sustained, by supposing
that he really was domiciled in Lisbon as early as 1470, but made
occasional visits to his motherland for the next three or four years.

[Sidenote: Supposed naval battle.]

The naval battle, in its details, is borrowed by the _Historie_ of 1571
from the _Rerum Venitiarum ab Urbe Condita_ of Sabellicus. This author
makes Christopher Columbus a son of the younger corsair Colombo, who
commanded in the fight, which could not have happened either in 1470,
the year usually given, or in 1473-74, the time better determined for
Columbus's arrival in Portugal, since this particular action is known to
have taken place on August 22, 1485. Those who defend the _Historie_,
like D'Avezac, claim that its account simply confounds the battle of
1485 with an earlier one, and that the story of the oar must be accepted
as an incident of this supposable anterior fight. The action in 1485
took place when the French corsair, Casaneuve or Colombo, intercepted
some richly laden Venetian galleys between Lisbon and Cape St. Vincent.
History makes no mention of any earlier action of similar import which
could have been the occasion of the escape by swimming; and to sustain
the _Historie_ by supposing such is a simple, perhaps allowable,

[Sidenote: Probable
arrival in 1473-1474.]

Rawdon Brown, in the introduction to his volumes of the _Calendar of
State Papers in the Archives of Venice_, has connected Columbus
with this naval combat, but, as he later acknowledged to Harrisse,
solely on the authority of the _Historie_. Irving has rejected the
story. There seems no occasion to doubt its inconsistencies and
anachronisms, and, once discarded, we are thrown back upon the
notarial evidence in Italy, by which we may venture to accept the date
of 1473-74 as that of the entrance of Columbus into Portugal. Irving,
though he discards the associated incidents, accepts the earlier date.
Nevertheless, the date of 1473-74 is not taken without some hazard. As
it has been of late ascertained that when Columbus left Portugal it was
not for good, as was supposed, so it may yet be discovered that it was
from some earlier adventure that the buoyancy of an oar took him to the

[Sidenote: Italians as maritime discoverers.]

This coming of an Italian to Portugal to throw in his lot with a foreign
people leads the considerate observer to reflect on the strange
vicissitudes which caused Italy to furnish to the western nations so
many conspicuous leaders in the great explorations of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries, without profiting in the slightest degree through
territorial return. Cadamosto and Cabot, the Venetians, Columbus, the
Genoese, Vespucius and Verrazano, the Florentines, are, on the whole,
the most important of the great captains of discovery in this virgin age
of maritime exploration through the dark waters of the Atlantic; and yet
Spain and Portugal, France and England, were those who profited by their
genius and labors.

It is a singular fact that, during the years which Columbus spent in
Portugal, there is not a single act of his life that can be credited
with an exact date, and few can be placed beyond cavil by undisputed
documentary evidence.

[Sidenote: Occupation in Portugal.]

It is the usual story, given by his earliest Italian biographers, Gallo
and his copiers, that Columbus had found his brother Bartholomew already
domiciled in Portugal, and earning a living by making charts and selling
books, and that Christopher naturally fell, for a while, into similar
occupations. He was not, we are also told, unmindful of his father's
distresses in Italy, when he disposed of his small earnings. We likewise
know the names of a few of his fellow Genoese settled in Lisbon in
traffic, because he speaks of their kindnesses to him, and the help
which they had given him (1482) in what would appear to have been
commercial ventures.

It seems not unlikely that he had not been long in the country when the
incident occurred at Lisbon which led to his marriage, which is thus
recorded in the _Historie_.

[Sidenote: His marriage.]

During his customary attendance upon divine worship in the Convent of
All Saints, his devotion was observed by one of the pensioners of the
monastery, who sought him with such expressions of affection that he
easily yielded to her charms. This woman, Felipa Moñiz by name, is said
to have been a daughter, by his wife Caterina Visconti, of Bartolomeo
Perestrello, a gentleman of Italian origin, who is associated with the
colonization of Madeira and Porto Santo. From anything which Columbus
himself says and is preserved to us, we know nothing more than that he
desired in his will that masses should be said for the repose of her
soul; for she was then long dead, and, as Diego tells us, was buried in
Lisbon. We learn her name for the first time from Diego's will, in 1509,
and this is absolutely all the documentary evidence which we have
concerning her. Oviedo and the writers who wrote before the publication
of the _Historie_ had only said that Columbus had married in Portugal,
without further particulars.

[Sidenote: The Perestrellos.]

But the _Historie_, with Las Casas following it, does not wholly satisfy
our curiosity, neither does Oviedo, later, nor Gomara and Benzoni, who
copy from Oviedo. There arises a question of the identity of this
Bartolomeo Perestrello, among three of the name of three succeeding
generations. Somewhere about 1420, or later, the eldest of this line was
made the first governor of Porto Santo, after the island had been
discovered by one of the expeditions which had been down the African
coast. It is of him the story goes that, taking some rabbits thither,
their progeny so quickly possessed the island that its settlers deserted
it! Such genealogical information as can be acquired of this earliest
Perestrello is against the supposition of his being the father of Felipa
Moñiz, but rather indicates that by a second wife, Isabel Moñiz by name,
he had the second Bartolomeo, who in turn became the father of our
Felipa Moñiz. The testimony of Las Casas seems to favor this view. If
this is the Bartolomeo who, having attained his majority, was assigned
to the captaincy of Porto Santo in 1473, it could hardly be that a
daughter would have been old enough to marry in 1474-75.

The first Bartolomeo, if he was the father-in-law of Columbus, seems to
have died in 1457, and was succeeded in 1458, in command of the island
of Porto Santo, by another son-in-law, Pedro Correa da Cunha, who
married a daughter of his first marriage,--or at least that is one
version of this genealogical complication,--and who was later succeeded
in 1473 by the second Bartolomeo.

The Count Bernardo Pallastrelli, a modern member of the family, has of
late years, in his _Il Suocero e la Moglie di Cristoforo Colombo_ (2d
ed., Piacenza, 1876), attempted to identify the kindred of the wife of
Columbus. He has examined the views of Harrisse, who is on the whole
inclined to believe that the wife of Columbus was a daughter of one
Vasco Gill Moñiz, whose sister had married the Perestrello of the
_Historie_ story. The successive wills of Diego Columbus, it may be
observed, call her in one (1509) Philippa Moñiz, and in the other (1523)
Philippa Muñiz, without the addition of Perestrello. The genealogical
table of the count's monograph, on the other hand, makes Felipa to be
the child of Isabella Moñiz, who was the second wife of Bartolomeo
Pallastrelli, the son of Felipo, who came to Portugal some time after
1371, from Plaisance, in Italy. Bartolomeo had been one of the household
of Prince Henry, and had been charged by him with founding a colony at
Porto Santo, in 1425, over which island he was long afterward (1446)
made governor. We must leave it as a question involved in much doubt.

[Sidenote: Columbus's son Diego born.]

The issue of this marriage was one son, Diego, but there is no distinct
evidence as to the date of his birth. Sundry incidents go to show that
it was somewhere between 1475 and 1479. Columbus's marriage to Doña
Felipa had probably taken place at Lisbon, and not before 1474 at the
earliest, a date not difficult to reconcile with the year (1473-74) now
held to be that of his arrival in Portugal. It is supposed that it was
while Columbus was living at Porto Santo, where his wife had some
property, that Diego was born, though Harrisse doubts if any evidence
can be adduced to support such a statement beyond a sort of conjecture
on Las Casas's part, derived from something he thought he remembered
Diego to have told him.

[Sidenote: Perestrello's MSS.]

The story of Columbus's marriage, as given in the _Historie_
and followed by Oviedo, couples with it the belief that it was among the
papers of his dead father-in-law, Perestrello, that Columbus found
documents and maps which prompted him to the conception of a western
passage to Asia. In that case, this may perhaps have been the motive
which induced him to draw from Paolo Toscanelli that famous letter,
which is usually held to have had an important influence on the mind of

[Sidenote: Story of a sailor dying in Columbus's house.]

The fact of such relationship of Columbus with Perestrello is called in
question, and so is another incident often related by the biographers of
Columbus. This is that an old seaman who had returned from an
adventurous voyage westward had found shelter in the house of Columbus,
and had died there, but not before he had disclosed to him a discovery
he had made of land to the west. This story is not told in any writer
that is now known before Gomara (1552), and we are warned by Benzoni
that in Gomara's hands this pilot story was simply an invention "to
diminish the immortal fame of Christopher Columbus, as there were many
who could not endure that a foreigner and Italian should have acquired
so much honor and so much glory, not only for the Spanish kingdom, but
also for the other nations of the world."

[Sidenote: Pomponius Mela, Strabo, etc.]

[Sidenote: Manilius, Solinus, Ptolemy.]

It is certain, however, that under the impulse of the young art of
printing men's minds had at this time become more alive than they had
been for centuries to the search for cosmographical views. The old
geographers, just at this time, were one by one finding their way into
print, mainly in Italy, while the intercourse of that country with
Portugal was quickened by the attractions of the Portuguese discoveries.
While Columbus was still in Italy, the great popularity of Pomponius
Mela began with the first edition in Latin, which was printed at Milan
in 1471, followed soon by other editions in Venice. The _De Situ Orbis_
of Strabo had already been given to the world in Latin as early as 1469,
and during the next few years this text was several times reprinted at
Rome and Venice. The teaching of the sphericity of the earth in the
astronomical poem of Manilius, long a favorite with the monks of the
Middle Ages, who repeated it in their labored script, appeared in type
at Nuremberg at the same time. The _Polyhistor_ of Solinus did not long
delay to follow. A Latin version of Ptolemy had existed since 1409, but
it was later than the rest in appearing in print, and bears the date of
1475. These were the newer issues of the Italian and German presses,
which were attracting the notice of the learned in this country of the
new activities when Columbus came among them, and they were having their
palpable effect.

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's theory.]

[Sidenote: His letter to Columbus.]

Just when we know not, but some time earlier than this, Alfonso V. of
Portugal had sought, through the medium of the monk Fernando Martinez
(Fernam Martins), to know precisely what was meant by the bruit of
Toscanelli's theory of a westward way to India. To an inquiry thus
vouched Toscanelli had replied to Fernando Martinez (June 25, 1474),
some days before a similar inquiry addressed to Toscanelli reached
Florence, from Columbus himself, and through the agency of an aged
Florentine merchant settled in Lisbon. It seems probable that no
knowledge of Martinez's correspondence with Toscanelli had come to the
notice of Columbus; and that the message which the Genoese sent to the
Florentine was due simply to the same current rumors of Toscanelli's
views which had attracted the attention of the king. So in replying to
Columbus Toscanelli simply shortened his task by inclosing, with a brief
introduction, a copy of the letter, which he says he had sent "some days
before" to Martinez. This letter outlined a plan of western discovery;
but it is difficult to establish beyond doubt the exact position which
the letter of Toscanelli should hold in the growth of Columbus's views.
If Columbus reached Portugal as late as 1473-74, as seems likely, it is
rendered less certain that Columbus had grasped his idea anterior to the
spread of Toscanelli's theory. In any event, the letter of the
Florentine physician would strengthen the growing notions of the

As Toscanelli was at this time a man of seventy-seven, and as a belief
in the sphericity of the earth was then not unprevalent, and as the
theory of a westward way to the East was a necessary concomitant of such
views in the minds of thinking men, it can hardly be denied that the
latent faith in a westward passage only needed a vigilant mind to
develop the theory, and an adventurous spirit to prove its correctness.
The development had been found in Toscanelli and the proof was waiting
for Columbus,--both Italians; but Humboldt points out how the
Florentine very likely thought he was communicating with a Portuguese,
when he wrote to Columbus.

This letter has been known since 1571 in the Italian text as given in
the _Historie_, which, as it turns out, was inexact and overladen with
additions. At least such is the inference when we compare this Italian
text with a Latin text, supposed to be the original tongue of the
letter, which has been discovered of late years in the handwriting of
Columbus himself, on the flyleaf of an Æneas Sylvius (1477), once
belonging to Columbus, and still preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina
at Seville. The letter which is given in the _Historie_ is accompanied
by an antescript, which says that the copy had been sent to Columbus at
his request, and that it had been originally addressed to Martinez, some
time "before the wars of Castile." How much later than the date June 25,
1474, this copy was sent to Columbus, and when it was received by him,
there is no sure means of determining, and it may yet be in itself one
of the factors for limiting the range of months during which Columbus
must have arrived in Portugal.

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's visions of the East.]

The extravagances of the letter of Toscanelli, in his opulent
descriptions of a marvelous Asiatic region, were safely made in that age
without incurring the charge of credulity. Travelers could tell tales
then that were as secure from detection as the revealed arcana of the
Zuñi have been in our own days. Two hundred towns, whose marble bridges
spanned a single river, and whose commerce could incite the cupidity of
the world, was a tale easily to stir numerous circles of listeners in
the maritime towns of the Mediterranean, wherever wandering mongers of
marvels came and went. There were such travelers whose recitals
Toscanelli had read, and others whose tales he had heard from their own
lips, and these last were pretty sure to augment the wonders of the
elder talebearers.

Columbus had felt this influence with the rest, and the tales lost
nothing of their vividness in coming to him freshened, as it were, by
the curious mind of the Florentine physician. The map which accompanied
Toscanelli's letter, and which depicted his notions of the Asiatic coast
lying over against that of Spain, is lost to us, but various attempts
have been made to restore it, as is done in the sketch annexed. It will
be a precious memorial, if ever recovered, worthy of study as a reflex,
in more concise representation than is found in the text of the letter,
of the ideas which one of the most learned cosmographers of his day had
imbibed from mingled demonstrations of science and imagination.


[Sidenote: The passage westward.]

It is said that in our own day, in the first stages of a belief in the
practicability of an Atlantic telegraphic cable, it was seriously
claimed that the vast stretch of its extension could be broken by a
halfway station on Jacquet Island, one of those relics of the Middle
Ages, which has disappeared from our ocean charts only in recent years.

[Sidenote: Antillia.]

Just in the same way all the beliefs which men had had in the island of
Antillia, and in the existence of many another visionary bit of land,
came to the assistance of these theoretical discoverers in planning the
chances of a desperate voyage far out into a sea of gorgons and chimeras
dire. Toscanelli's map sought to direct the course of any one who dared
to make the passage, in a way that, in case of disaster to his ships, a
secure harbor could be found in Antillia, and in such other havens as no
lack of islands would supply.

Ferdinand claimed to have found in his father's papers some statements
which he had drawn from Aristotle of Carthaginian voyages to Antillia,
on the strength of which the Portuguese had laid that island down in
their charts in the latitude of Lisbon, as one occupied by their people
in 714, when Spain was conquered by the Moors. Even so recently as the
time of Prince Henry it had been visited by Portuguese ships, if records
were to be believed. It also stands in the Bianco map of 1436.

[Sidenote: Fabulous islands of the Atlantic.]

There are few more curious investigations than those which concern these
fantastic and fabulous islands of the Sea of Darkness. They are
connected with views which were an inheritance in part from the classic
times, with involved notions of the abodes of the blessed and of
demoniacal spirits. In part they were the aërial creation of popular
mythologies, going back to a remoteness of which it is impossible to
trace the beginning, and which got a variable color from the popular
fancies of succeeding generations. The whole subject is curiously
without the field of geography, though entering into all surveys of
mediæval knowledge of the earth, and depending very largely for its
elucidation on the maps of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
whose mythical traces are not beyond recognition in some of the best
maps which have instructed a generation still living.

[Sidenote: St. Brandan.]

To place the island of the Irish St. Brandan--whose coming there with
his monks is spoken of as taking place in the sixth century--in the
catalogue of insular entities is to place geography in such a marvelous
guise as would have satisfied the monk Philoponus and the rest of the
credulous fictionmongers who hang about the skirts of the historic
field. But the belief in it long prevailed, and the apparition sometimes
came to sailors' eyes as late as the last century.

[Sidenote: Antillia, or the Seven Cities.]

The great island of Antillia, or the Seven Cities, already referred to,
was recognized, so far as we know, for the first time in the Weimar map
of 1424, and is known in legends as the resort of some Spanish bishops,
flying from the victorious Moors, in the eighth century. It never quite
died out from the recognition of curious minds, and was even thought to
have been seen by the Portuguese, not far from the time when Columbus
was born. Peter Martyr also, after Columbus had returned from his first
voyage, had a fancy that what the Admiral had discovered was really the
great island of Antillia, and its attendant groups of smaller isles, and
the fancy was perpetuated when Wytfliet and Ortelius popularized the
name of Antilles for the West Indian Archipelago.

[Sidenote: Brazil Island.]

Another fleeting insular vision of this pseudo-geographical realm was a
smaller body of floating land, very inconstant in position, which is
always given some form of the name that, in later times, got a constant
shape in the word Brazil. We can trace it back into the portolanos of
the middle of the fourteenth century; and it had not disappeared as a
survival twenty or thirty years ago in the admiralty charts of Great
Britain. The English were sending out expeditions from Bristol in search
of it even while Columbus was seeking countenance for his western
schemes; and Cabot, at a little later day, was instrumental in other

[Sidenote: Travelers in the Orient.]

Foremost among the travelers who had excited the interest of Toscanelli,
and whose names he possibly brought for the first time to the attention
of Columbus, were Marco Polo, Sir John Mandeville, and Nicolas de Conti.


[From Yule's _Cathay_.]]

[Sidenote: Marco Polo,]

It is a question to be resolved only by critical study as to what was
the language in which Marco Polo first dictated, in a Genoese prison in
1298, the original narrative of his experiences in Cathay. The inquiry
has engaged the attention of all his editors, and has invited the
critical sagacity of D'Avezac. There seems little doubt that it was
written down in French.

[Illustration: EASTERN ASIA, CATALAN MAP, 1375.

[From Yule's _Cathay_, vol. i.]]

[Illustration: MARCO POLO.

[From an original at Rome.]]

There are no references by Columbus himself to the Asiatic travels of
Marco Polo, but his acquaintance with the marvelous book of the Venetian
observer may safely be assumed. The multiplication of texts of the
_Milione_ following upon his first dictation, and upon the subsequent
revision in 1307, may not, indeed, have caused it to be widely known in
various manuscript forms, be it in Latin or Italian. Nor is it likely
that Columbus could have read the earliest edition which was put in
type, for it was in German in 1477; but there is the interesting
possibility that this work of the Nuremberg press may have been known to
Martin Behaim, a Nuremberger then in Lisbon, and likely enough to have
been a familiar of Columbus. The fact that there is in the Biblioteca
Colombina at Seville a copy of the first Latin printed edition (1485)
with notes, which seem to be in Columbus's handwriting, may be taken as
evidence, that at least in the later years of his study the inspiration
which Marco Polo could well have been to him was not wanting; and the
story may even be true as told in Navarrete, that Columbus had a copy
of this famous book at his side during his first voyage, in 1492.

At the time when Humboldt doubted the knowledge of Columbus in respect
to Marco Polo, this treasure of the Colombina was not known, and these
later developments have shown how such a question was not to be settled
as Humboldt supposed, by the fact that Columbus quoted Æneas Sylvius
upon Cipango, and did not quote Marco Polo.

[Sidenote: Sir John Mandeville.]

Neither does Columbus refer to the journey and strange stories of Sir
John Mandeville, whose recitals came to a generation which was beginning
to forget the stories of Marco Polo, and which, by fostering a passion
for the marvelous, had readily become open to the English knight's
bewildering fancies. The same negation of evidence, however, that
satisfied Humboldt as respects Marco Polo will hardly suffice to
establish Columbus's ignorance of the marvels which did more, perhaps,
than the narratives of any other traveler to awaken Europe to the
wonders of the Orient. Bernaldez, in fact, tells us that Columbus was a
reader of Mandeville, whose recital was first printed in French at Lyons
in 1480, within a few years after Columbus's arrival in Portugal.

[Sidenote: Nicolo di Conti.]

It was to Florence, in Toscanelli's time, not far from 1420, that Nicolo
di Conti, a Venetian, came, after his long sojourn of a quarter of a
century in the far East. In Conti's new marvels, the Florentine scholar
saw a rejuvenation of the wonders of Marco Polo. It was from Conti,
doubtless, that Toscanelli got some of that confidence in a western
voyage which, in his epistle to Columbus, he speaks of as derived from a
returned traveler.

Pope Eugene IV., not far from the time of the birth of Columbus,
compelled Conti to relate his experiences to Poggio Bracciolini. This
scribe made what he could out of the monstrous tales, and translated the
stories into Latin. In this condition Columbus may have known the
narrative at a later day. The information which Conti gave was eagerly
availed of by the cosmographers of the time, and Colonel Yule, the
modern English writer on ancient Cathay, thinks that Fra Mauro got for
his map more from Conti than that traveler ventured to disclose to

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's death, 1482.]

Toscanelli, at the time of writing this letter to Columbus, had long
enjoyed a reputation as a student of terrestrial and celestial
phenomena. He had received, in 1463, the dedication by Regiomontanus of
his treatise on the quadrature of the circle. He was, as has been said,
an old man of seventy-seven when Columbus opened his correspondence with
him. It was not his fate to live long enough to see his physical views
substantiated by Diaz and Columbus, for he died in 1482.

[Sidenote: Columbus confers with others.]

In two of the contemporary writers, Bartholomew Columbus is credited
with having incited his brother Christopher to the views which he
developed regarding a western passage, and these two were Antonio Gallo
and Giustiniani, the commentator of the Psalms. It has been of late
contended by H. Grothe, in his _Leonardo da Vinci_ (Berlin, 1874), that
it was at this time, too, when that eminent artist conducted a
correspondence with Columbus about a western way to Asia. But there is
little need of particularizing other advocates of a belief which had
within the range of credible history never ceased to have exponents. The
conception was in no respect the merit of Columbus, except as he grasped
a tradition, which others did not, and it is strange, that Navarrete in
quoting the testimony of Ferdinand and Isabella, of August 8, 1497, to
the credit of the discovery of Columbus, as his own proper work, does
not see that it was the venturesome, and as was then thought foolhardy,
deed to prove the conception which those monarchs commended, and not the
conception itself.

[Sidenote: Columbus writes out reasons for his belief.]

We learn from the _Historie_ that its writer had found among the papers
of Columbus the evidence of the grounds of his belief in the western
passage, as under varying impressions it had been formulated in his
mind. These reasons divide easily into three groups: First, those based
on deductions drawn from scientific research, and as expressed in the
beliefs of Ptolemy, Marinus, Strabo, and Pliny; second, views which the
authority of eminent writers had rendered weightier, quoting as such the
works of Aristotle, Seneca, Strabo, Pliny, Solinus, Marco Polo,
Mandeville, Pierre d'Ailly, and Toscanelli; and third, the stories of
sailors as to lands and indications of lands westerly.

From these views, instigated or confirmed by such opinions, Columbus
gradually arranged his opinions, in not one of which did he prove to be
right, except as regards the sphericity of the earth; and the last was a
belief which had been the common property of learned men, and at
intervals occupying even the popular mind, from a very early date.

[Sidenote: Sphericity of the earth.]

[Sidenote: Transmission of the belief in it.]

The conception among the Greeks of a plane earth, which was taught in
the Homeric and Hesiodic poems, began to give place to a crude notion of
a spherical form at a period that no one can definitely determine,
though we find it taught by the Pythagoreans in Italy in the sixth
century before Christ. The spherical view and its demonstration passed
down through long generations of Greeks, under the sanction of Plato and
their other highest thinkers. In the fourth century before Christ,
Aristotle and others, by watching the moon's shadow in an eclipse, and
by observing the rising and setting of the heavenly bodies in different
latitudes, had proved the roundness of the earth to their satisfaction;
Eratosthenes first measured a degree of latitude in the third century;
Hipparchus, in the second century, was the earliest to establish
geographical positions; and in the second century of the Christian era
Ptolemy had formulated for succeeding times the general scope of the
transmitted belief. During all these centuries it was perhaps rather a
possession of the learned. We infer from Aristotle that the view was a
novelty in his time; but in the third century before Christ it began to
engage popular attention in the poem of Aratus, and at about 200 B. C.
Crates is said to have given palpable manifestation of the theory in a
globe, ten feet in diameter, which he constructed.

The belief passed to Italy and the Latins, and was sung by Hyginus and
Manilius in the time of Augustus. We find it also in the minds of Pliny,
Cicero, Virgil, and Ovid. So the belief became the heirloom of the
learned throughout the classic times, and it was directly coupled in the
minds of Aristotle, Eratosthenes, Strabo, Seneca, and others with a
conviction, more or less pronounced, of an easy western voyage from
Spain to India.

[Sidenote: Seneca's _Medea_.]

[Sidenote: Cosmas.]

[Sidenote: Bacon, Albertus Magnus, Pierre d'Ailly.]

No one of the ancient expressions of this belief seems to have clung
more in the memory of Columbus than that in the _Medea_ of Seneca; and
it is an interesting confirmation that in a copy of the book which
belonged to his son Ferdinand, and which is now preserved in Seville,
the passage is scored by the son's hand, while in a marginal note he has
attested the fact that its prophecy of a western passage had been made
good by his father in 1492. Though the opinion was opposed by St.
Chrysostom in the fourth century, it was taught by St. Augustine and
Isidore in the fifth. Cosmas in the sixth century was unable to
understand how, if the earth was a sphere, those at the antipodes could
see Christ at his coming. That settled the question in his mind. The
Venerable Bede, however, in the eighth century, was not constrained by
any such arguments, and taught the spherical theory. Jourdain, a modern
French authority, has found distinct evidence that all through the
Middle Ages the belief in the western way was kept alive by the study of
Aristotle; and we know how the Arabs perpetuated the teachings of that
philosopher, which in turn were percolated through the Levant to
Mediterranean peoples. It is a striking fact that at a time when Spain
was bending all her energies to drive the Moor from the Iberian
peninsula, that country was also engaged in pursuing those discoveries
along the western way to India which were almost a direct result of the
Arab preservation of the cosmographical learning of Aristotle and
Ptolemy. A belief in an earth-ball had the testimony of Dante in the
twelfth century, and it was the well-known faith of Albertus Magnus,
Roger Bacon, and the schoolmen, in the thirteenth. It continued to be
held by the philosophers, who kept alive these more recent names, and
came to Columbus because of the use of Bacon which Pierre d'Ailly had

The belief in the sphericity of the earth carried with it of necessity
another,--that the east was to be found in the west. Superstition,
ignorance, and fear might magnify the obstacles to a passage through
that drear Sea of Darkness, but in Columbus's time, in some learned
minds at least, there was no distrust as to the accomplishment of such a
voyage beyond the chance of obstacles in the way.

[Illustration: ALBERTUS MAGNUS.

[From Reusner's _Icones_.]]

[Sidenote: The belief opposed by the Church.]

It is true that in this interval of very many centuries there had been
lapses into unbelief. There were long periods, indeed, when no one dared
to teach the doctrine. Whenever and wherever the Epicureans supplanted
the Pythagoreans, the belief fell with the disciples of Pythagoras.
There had been, during the days of St. Chrysostom and other of the
fathers, a decision of the Church against it. There were doubtless, as
Humboldt says, conservers, during all this time, of the traditions of
antiquity, since the monasteries and colleges--even in an age when to be
unlearned was more pardonable than to be pagan--were of themselves quite
a world apart from the dullness of the masses of the people.

[Sidenote: Pierre D'Ailly's _Imago Mundi_.]

[Sidenote: Roger Bacon's _Opus Majus_.]

A hundred years before Columbus, the inheritor of much of this
conservation was the Bishop of Cambray, that Pierre d'Ailly whose _Imago
Mundi_ (1410) was so often on the lips of Columbus, and out of which it
is more than likely that Columbus drank of the knowledge of Aristotle,
Strabo, and Seneca, and to a degree greater perhaps than he was aware of
he took thence the wisdom of Roger Bacon. It was through the _Opus
Majus_ (1267) of this English philosopher that western Europe found
accessible the stories of the "silver walls and golden towers" of
Quinsay as described by Rubruquis, the wandering missionary, who in the
thirteenth century excited the cupidity of the Mediterranean merchants
by his accounts of the inexhaustible treasures of eastern Asia, and
which the reader of to-day may find in the collections of Samuel

Pierre d'Ailly's position in regard to cosmographical knowledge was
hardly a dominant one. He seems to know nothing of Marco Polo, Bacon's
contemporary, and he never speaks of Cathay, even when he urges the
views which he has borrowed from Roger Bacon, of the extension of Asia
towards Western Europe.

Any acquaintance with the _Imago Mundi_ during these days of Columbus in
Portugal came probably through report, though possibly he may have met
with manuscripts of the work; for it was not till after he had gone to
Spain that D'Ailly could have been read in any printed edition, the
first being issued in 1490.

[Sidenote: Rotundity and gravitation.]

The theory of the rotundity of the earth carried with it one objection,
which in the time of Columbus was sure sooner or later to be seized
upon. If, going west, the ship sank with the declivity of the earth's
contour, how was she going to mount such an elevation on her return
voyage?--a doubt not so unreasonable in an age which had hardly more
than the vaguest notion of the laws of gravitation, though some, like
Vespucius, were not without a certain prescience of the fact.

[Sidenote: Size of the earth.]

By the middle of the third century before Christ, Eratosthenes,
accepting sphericity, had by astronomical methods studied the extent of
the earth's circumference, and, according to the interpretation of his
results by modern scholars, he came surprisingly near to the actual
size, when he exceeded the truth by perhaps a twelfth part. The
calculations of Eratosthenes commended themselves to Hipparchus, Strabo,
and Pliny. A century later than Eratosthenes, a new calculation, made by
Posidonius of Rhodes, reduced the magnitude to a globe of about four
fifths its proper size. It was palpably certain to the observant
philosophers, from the beginning of their observations on the size of
the earth, that the portion known to commerce and curiosity was but a
small part of what might yet be known. The unknown, however, is always a
terror. Going north from temperate Europe increased the cold, going
south augmented the heat; and it was no bold thought for the naturalist
to conclude that a north existed in which the cold was unbearable, and a
south in which the heat was too great for life. Views like these stayed
the impulse for exploration even down to the century of Columbus, and
magnified the horrors which so long balked the exploration of the
Portuguese on the African coast. There had been intervals, however, when
men in the Indian Ocean had dared to pass the equator.

[Sidenote: Unknown regions.]

[Sidenote: Strabo and Marinus on the size of the earth.]

Therefore it was before the age of Columbus that, east and west along
the temperate belt, men's minds groped to find new conditions beyond the
range of known habitable regions. Strabo, in the first century before
Christ, made this habitable zone stretch over 120 degrees, or a third of
the circumference of the earth. The corresponding extension of Marinus
of Tyre in the second century after Christ stretched over 225 degrees.
This geographer did not define the land's border on the ocean at the
east, but it was not unusual with the cosmographers who followed him to
carry the farthest limits of Asia to what is actually the meridian of
the Sandwich Islands. On the west Marinus pushed the Fortunate Islands
(Canaries) two degrees and a half beyond Cape Finisterre, failing to
comprehend their real position, which for the westernmost, Ferro, is
something like nine degrees beyond the farther limits of the main land.

[Sidenote: Ptolemy's view.]

The belt of the known world running in the direction of the equator was,
in the conception of Ptolemy, the contemporary of Marinus, about
seventy-nine degrees wide, sixteen of these being south of the
equatorial line. This was a contraction from the previous estimate of
Marinus, who had made it over eighty-seven degrees.

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's view.]

Toscanelli reduced the globe to a circumference of about 18,000 miles,
losing about 6,000 miles; and the untracked ocean, lying west of Lisbon,
was about one third of this distance. In other words, the known world
occupied about 240 of the 360 degrees constituting the equatorial
length. Few of the various computations of this time gave such scant
dimensions to the unknown proportion of the line. The Laon globe, which
was made ten or twelve years later than Toscanelli's time, was equally
scant. Behaim, who figured out the relations of the known to the unknown
circuit, during the summer before Columbus sailed on his first voyage,
reduced what was known to not much more than a third of the whole. It
was the fashion, too, with an easy reliance on their genuineness, to
refer to the visions of Esdras in support of a belief in the small
part--a sixth--of the surface of the globe covered by the ocean.

[Illustration: LAON GLOBE.

[After D'Avezac.]]

[Sidenote: Views of Columbus.]

The problem lay in Columbus's mind thus: he accepted the theory of the
division of the circumference of the earth into twenty-four hours, as it
had come down from Marinus of Tyre, when this ancient astronomer
supposed that from the eastern verge of Asia to the western extremity of
Europe there was a space of fifteen hours. The discovery of the Azores
had pushed the known limit a single hour farther towards the setting
sun, making sixteen hours, or two thirds of the circumference of 360
degrees. There were left eight hours, or one hundred and twenty degrees,
to represent the space between the Azores and Asia. This calculation in
reality brought the Asiatic coast forward to the meridian of California,
obliterating the width of the Pacific at that latitude, and reducing by
so much the size of the globe as Columbus measured it, on the assumption
that Marinus was correct. This, however, he denied. If the _Historie_
reports Columbus exactly, he contended that the testimony of Marco Polo
and Mandeville carried the verge of Asia so far east that the land
distance was more than fifteen hours across; and by as much as this
increased the distance, by so much more was the Asiatic shore pushed
nearer the coasts of Europe. "We can thus determine," he says, "that
India is even neighboring to Spain and Africa."

[Sidenote: Length of a degree.]

The calculation of course depended on what was the length of a degree,
and on this point there was some difference of opinion. Toscanelli had
so reduced a degree's length that China was brought forward on his
planisphere till its coast line cut the meridian of the present

[Sidenote: Quinsay.]

We can well imagine how this undue contraction of the size of the globe,
as the belief lay in the mind of Columbus, and as he expressed it later
(July 7, 1503), did much to push him forward, and was a helpful illusion
in inducing others to venture upon the voyage with him. The courage
required to sail out of some Iberian port due west a hundred and twenty
degrees in order to strike the regions about the great Chinese city of
Quinsay, or Kanfu, Hangtscheufu, and Kingszu, as it has been later
called, was more easily summoned than if the actual distance of two
hundred and thirty-one degrees had been recognized, or even the two
hundred and four degrees necessary in reality to reach Cipango, or
Japan. The views of Toscanelli, as we have seen, reduced the duration of
risk westward to so small a figure as fifty-two degrees. So it had not
been an unusual belief, more or less prominent for many generations,
that with a fair wind it required no great run westward to reach Cathay,
if one dared to undertake it. If there were no insurmountable obstacles
in the Sea of Darkness, it would not be difficult to reach earlier that
multitude of islands which was supposed to fringe the coast of China.

[Sidenote: Asiatic islands.]

[Sidenote: Cipango.]

[Sidenote: Spanish and Portuguese explorations.]

It was a common belief, moreover, that somewhere in this void lay the
great island of Cipango,--the goal of Columbus's voyage. Sometimes
nearer and sometimes farther it lay from the Asiatic coast. Pinzon saw
in Rome in 1491 a map which carried it well away from that coast; and if
one could find somewhere in the English archives the sea-chart with
which Bartholomew Columbus enforced the views of his brother, to gain
the support of the English king, it is supposed that it would reveal a
somewhat similar location of the coveted island. Here, then, was a
space, larger or smaller, as men differently believed, interjacent along
this known zone between the ascertained extreme east in Asia and the
accepted most distant west at Cape St. Vincent in Spain, as was thought
in Strabo's time, or at the Canaries, as was comprehended in the days of
Ptolemy. What there was in this unknown space between Spain and Cathay
was the problem which balked the philosophers quite as much as that
other uncertainty, which concerned what might possibly be found in the
southern hemisphere, could one dare to enter the torrid heats of the
supposed equatorial ocean, or in the northern wastes, could one venture
to sail beyond the Arctic Circle. These curious quests of the
inquisitive and learned minds of the early centuries of the Christian
era were the prototypes of the actual explorations which it was given in
the fifteenth century to the Spaniards and Portuguese respectively to
undertake. The commercial rivalry which had in the past kept Genoa and
Venice watchful of each other's advantage had by their maritime ventures
in the Atlantic passed to these two peninsular nations, and England was
not long behind them in starting in her race for maritime supremacy.

[Sidenote: Sea of Darkness.]

It was in human nature that these unknown regions should become those
either of enchantment or dismay, according to personal proclivities. It
is not necessary to seek far for any reason for this. An unknown stretch
of waters was just the place for the resorts of the Gorgons and to find
the Islands of the Blest, and to nurture other creations of the literary
and spiritual instincts, seeking to give a habitation to fancies. It is
equally in human nature that what the intellect has habilitated in this
way the fears, desires, and superstitions of men in due time turn to
their own use. It was easy, under the stress of all this complexity of
belief and anticipation, for this supposable interjacent oceanic void to
teem in men's imaginations with regions of almost every imaginable
character; and when, in the days of the Roman republic, the Canaries
were reached, there was no doubt but the ancient Islands of the Blest
had been found, only in turn to pass out of cognizance, and once more to
fall into the abyss of the Unknown.

[Sidenote: Story of Atlantis.]

[Sidenote: Land of the Meropes.]

[Sidenote: Saturnian continent.]

There are, however, three legends which have come down to us from the
classic times, which the discovery of America revived with new interest
in the speculative excursions of the curiously learned, and it is one of
the proofs of the narrow range of Columbus's acquaintance with original
classic writers that these legends were not pressed by him in support of
his views. The most persistent of these in presenting a question for the
physical geographer is the story of Atlantis, traced to a tale told by
Plato of a tradition of an island in the Atlantic which eight thousand
years ago had existed in the west, opposite the Pillars of Hercules; and
which, in a great inundation, had sunken beneath the sea, leaving in mid
ocean large mud shoals to impede navigation and add to the terrors of a
vast unknown deep. There have been those since the time of Gomara who
have believed that the land which Columbus found dry and inhabited was a
resurrected Atlantis, and geographers even of the seventeenth century
have mapped out its provinces within the usual outline of the American
continents. Others have held, and some still hold, that the Atlantic
islands are but peaks of this submerged continent. There is no evidence
to show that these fancies of the philosopher ever disturbed even the
most erratic moments of Columbus, nor could he have pored over the
printed Latin of Plato, if it came in his way, till its first edition
appeared in 1483, during his stay in Portugal. Neither do we find that
he makes any references to that other creation, the land of the Meropes,
as figured in the passages cited by Ælian some seven hundred years after
Theopompus had conjured up the vision in the fourth century before
Christ. Equally ignorant was Columbus, it would appear, of the great
Saturnian continent, lying five days west from Britain, which makes a
story in Plutarch's _Morals_.

[Sidenote: Earlier voyages on the Atlantic.]

[Sidenote: Phoenicians.]

[Sidenote: Carthaginians.]

[Sidenote: Romans.]

We deal with a different problem when we pass from these theories and
imaginings of western lands to such records as exist of what seem like
attempts in the earliest days to attain by actual exploration the secret
of this interjacent void. The Phoenicians had passed the Straits of
Gibraltar and found Gades (Cadiz), and very likely attempted to course
the Atlantic, about 1100 years before the birth of Christ. Perhaps they
went to Cornwall for tin. It may have been by no means impossible for
them to have passed among the Azores and even to have reached the
American islands and main, as a statement in Diodorus Siculus has been
interpreted to signify. Then five hundred years later or more we observe
the Carthaginians pursuing their adventurous way outside the Pillars of
Hercules, going down the African coast under Hanno to try the equatorial
horrors, or running westerly under Hamilko to wonder at the Sargasso
sea. Later, the Phoenicians seem to have made some lodgment in the
islands off the coasts of northwestern Africa. The Romans in the fourth
century before Christ pushed their way out into the Atlantic under
Pytheas and Euthymenes, the one daring to go as far as Thule--whatever
that was--in the north, and the other to Senegal in the south. It was in
the same century that Rome had the strange sight of some unknown
barbarians, of a race not recognizable, who were taken upon the shores
of the German Ocean, where they had been cast away. Later writers have
imagined--for no stronger word can be used--that these weird beings were
North American Indians, or rather more probably Eskimos. About the same
time, Sertorius, a Roman commander in Spain, learned, as already
mentioned, of some salubrious islands lying westward from Africa, and
gave Horace an opportunity, in the evil days of the civil war, to
picture them as a refuge.

When the Romans ruled the world, commerce lost much of the hazard and
enterprise which had earlier instigated international rivalry. The
interest in the western ocean subsided into merely speculative concern;
and wild fancy was brought into play in depicting its horrors, its
demons and shoals, with the intermingling of sky and water.

[Sidenote: Knowledge of such early attempts.]

[Sidenote: Maps XVth cent.]

[Sidenote: Genoese voyages, 1291.]

It is by no means certain that Columbus knew anything of this ancient
lore of the early Mediterranean people. There is little or nothing in
the early maps of the fifteenth century to indicate that such knowledge
was current among those who made or contributed to the making of such of
these maps as have come down to us. The work of some of the more famous
chart makers Columbus could hardly have failed to see, or heard
discussed in the maritime circles of Portugal; and indeed it was to his
own countrymen, Marino Sanuto, Pizignani, Bianco, and Fra Mauro, that
Portuguese navigators were most indebted for the broad cartographical
treatment of their own discoveries. At the same time there was no dearth
of legends of the venturesome Genoese, with fortunes not always
reassuring. There was a story, for instance, of some of these latter
people, who in 1291 had sailed west from the Pillars of Hercules and had
never returned. Such was a legend that might not have escaped Columbus's
attention even in his own country, associating with it the names of the
luckless Tedisio Doria and Ugolino Vivaldi in their efforts to find a
western way to India. Harrisse, however, who has gone over all the
evidence of such a purpose, fails to be satisfied.

These stories of ocean hazards hung naturally about the seaports of

[Sidenote: Antillia.]

Galvano tells us of such a tale concerning a Portuguese ship, driven
west, in 1447, to an island with seven cities, where its sailors found
the people speaking Portuguese, who said they had deserted their country
on the death of King Roderigo. This is the legend of Antillia, already
referred to.

[Sidenote: Islands seen.]

Columbus recalled, when afterwards at the Canaries on his first voyage,
how it was during his sojourn in Portugal that some one from Madeira
presented to the Portuguese king a petition for a vessel to go in quest
of land, occasionally seen to the westward from that island. Similar
stories were not unknown to him of like apparitions being familiar in
the Azores. A story which he had also heard of one Antonio Leme having
seen three islands one hundred leagues west of the Azores had been set
down to a credulous eye, which had been deceived by floating fields of

[Sidenote: The Basques.]

There was no obstacle in the passing of similar reports around the Bay
of Biscay from the coasts of the Basques, and the story might be heard
of Jean de Echaide, who had found stores of stockfish off a land far
oceanward,--an exploit supposed to be commemorated in the island of
Stokafixia, which stands far away to the westward in the Bianco map of
1436. All these tales of the early visits of the Basques to what
imaginative minds have supposed parts of the American coasts derive much
of their perennial charm from associations with a remarkable people.
There is indeed nothing improbable in a hardy daring which could have
borne the Basques to the Newfoundland shores at almost any date earlier
than the time of Columbus.

[Sidenote: Newfoundland banks possibly visited.]

Fructuoso, writing as late as 1590, claimed that a Portuguese navigator,
João Vaz Cortereal, had sailed to the codfish coast of Newfoundland as
early as 1464, but Barrow seems to be the only writer of recent times
who has believed the tale, and Biddle and Harrisse find no evidence to
sustain it.

[Sidenote: Tartary supposed to be seen.]

There is a statement recorded by Columbus, if we may trust the account
of the _Historie_, that a sailor at Santa Maria had told him how, being
driven westerly in a voyage to Ireland, he had seen land, which he then
thought to be Tartary. Some similar experiences were also told to
Columbus by Pieter de Velasco, of Galicia; and this land, according to
the account, would seem to have been the same sought at a later day by
the Cortereals (1500).

[Sidenote: Dubious pre-Columbian voyages.]

It is not easy to deal historically with long-held traditions. The
furbishers of transmitted lore easily make it reflect what they bring to
it. To find illustrations in any inquiry is not so difficult if you
select what you wish, and discard all else, and the result of this
discriminating accretion often looks very plausible. Historical truth is
reached by balancing everything, and not by assimilating that which
easily suits. Almost all these discussions of pre-Columbian voyagings to
America afford illustrations of this perverted method. Events in which
there is no inherent untruth are not left with the natural defense of
probability, but are proved by deductions and inferences which could
just as well be applied to prove many things else, and are indeed
applied in a new way by every new upstart in such inquiries. The story
of each discoverer before Columbus has been upheld by the stock
intimation of white-bearded men, whose advent is somehow
mysteriously discovered to have left traces among the aborigines of every
section of the coast.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: OCEANIC CURRENTS.

[From Reclus's _Amérique Boréale_.]]

[Sidenote: Traces of a western land in drift.]

There was another class of evidence which, as the _Historie_ informs us,
served some purpose in bringing conviction to the mind of Columbus. Such
were the phenomenal washing ashore on European coasts of unknown pines
and other trees, sculptured logs, huge bamboos, whose joints could be
made into vessels to hold nine bottles of wine, and dead bodies with
strange, broad faces. Even canoes, with living men in them of wonderful
aspects, had at times been reported as thrown upon the Atlantic islands.
Such events had not been unnoticed ever since the Canaries and the
Azores had been inhabited by a continental race, and conjectures had
been rife long before the time of Columbus that westerly winds had
brought these estrays from a distant land,--a belief more
comprehensible at that time than any dependence upon the unsuspected
fact that it was the oceanic currents, rather, which impelled these
migratory objects.

[Sidenote: Gulf Stream.]

It required the experiences of later Spanish navigators along the Bahama
Channel, and those of the French and English farther north upon the
Banks of Newfoundland, before it became clear that the currents of the
Atlantic, grazing the Cape of Good Hope and whirling in the Gulf of
Mexico, sprayed in a curling fringe in the North Atlantic. This in a
measure became patent to Sir Humphrey Gilbert sixty or seventy years
after the death of Columbus.

If science had then been equal to the microscopic tasks which at this
day it imposes on itself, the question of western lands might have been
studied with an interest beyond what attached to the trunks of trees,
carved timbers, edible nuts, and seeds of alien plants, which the Gulf
Stream is still bringing to the shores of Europe. It might have found in
the dust settling upon the throngs of men in the Old World, the shells
of animalcules, differing from those known to the observing eye in
Europe, which, indeed, had been carried in the upper currents of air
from the banks of the Orinoco.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Influence of Portuguese discoveries upon Columbus.]

[Sidenote: _Ephemerides_ of Regiomontanus.]

Once in Portugal, Columbus was brought in close contact with that eager
spirit of exploration which had survived the example of Prince Henry and
his navigators. If Las Casas was well informed, these Portuguese
discoveries were not without great influence upon the Genoese's
receptive mind. He was now where he could hear the fresh stories of
their extending acquaintance with the African coast. His wife's sister,
by the accepted accounts, had married Pedro Correa, a navigator not
without fame in those days, and a companion in maritime inquiry upon
whom Columbus could naturally depend,--unless, as Harrisse decides, he
was no navigator at all. Columbus was also at hand to observe the
growing skill in the arts of navigation which gave the Portuguese their
preëminence. He had not been long in Lisbon when Regiomontanus gave a
new power in astronomical calculations of positions at sea by publishing
his _Ephemerides_, for the interval from 1475 to 1506, upon which
Columbus was yet to depend in his eventful voyage.

[Sidenote: Martin Behaim.]

The most famous of the pupils of this German mathematician was himself
in Lisbon during the years of Columbus's sojourn. We have no distinct
evidence that Martin Behaim, a Nuremberger, passed any courtesies with
the Genoese adventurer, but it is not improbable that he did. His
position was one that would attract Columbus, who might never have been
sought by Behaim. The Nuremberger's standing was, indeed, such as to
gain the attention of the Court, and he was thought not unworthy to be
joined with the two royal physicians, Roderigo and Josef, on a
commission to improve the astrolabe. Their perfected results mark an
epoch in the art of seamanship in that age.


[Illustration: THE AFRICAN COAST, 1478.

[From Nordenskiöld's _Facsimile Atlas_.]]

[Sidenote: Guinea coast, 1482.]

[Sidenote: The Congo reached, 1484.]

It was a new sensation when news came that at last the Portuguese had
crossed the equator, in pushing along the African coast. In January,
1482, they had said their first mass on the Guinea coast, and the castle
of San Jorge da Mina was soon built under the new impulse to enterprise
which came with the accession of João II. In 1484 they reached the
Congo, under the guidance of Diogo Cam, and Martin Behaim was of his

[Illustration: MARTIN BEHAIM.]

These voyages were not without strong allurements to the Genoese sailor.
He is thought to have been a participant in some of the later cruises.
The _Historie_ claims that he began to reason, from his new experiences,
that if land could be discovered to the south there was much the same
chance of like discoveries in the west. But there were experiences of
other kinds which, in the interim, if we believe the story, he underwent
in the north.



[Sidenote: Columbus supposed to have sailed beyond Iceland, 1477.]

There is, in the minds of some inquirers into the early discovery of
America, no more pivotal incident attaching to the career of Columbus
than an alleged voyage made to the vicinity of what is supposed to have
been Iceland, in the assigned year of 1477. The incident is surrounded
with the confusion that belongs to everything dependent on Columbus's
own statements, or on what is put forth as such.

Our chief knowledge of his voyage is in the doubtful Italian rendering
of the _Historie_ of 1571, where, citing a memoir by Columbus himself on
the five habitable zones, the translator or adapter of that book makes
the Admiral say that "in February, 1477, he sailed a hundred leagues
beyond the island Tile, which lies under the seventy-third parallel, and
not under the sixty-third, as some say." The only evidence that he saw
Tile, in sailing beyond it, is in what he further says, that he was able
to ascertain that the tide rose and fell twenty-six fathoms, which
observation necessitates the seeing of some land, whether Tile or not.

[Sidenote: Inconsistencies in the statement.]

There is no land at all in the northern Atlantic under 73°. Iceland
stretches from 64° to 67°; Jan Mayen is too small for Columbus's further
description of the island, and is at 71°, and Spitzbergen is at 76°.
What Columbus says of the English of Bristol trading at this island
points to Iceland; and it is easy, if one will, to imagine a misprint of
the figures, an error of calculation, a carelessness of statement, or
even the disappearance, through some cataclysm, of the island, as has
been suggested.

[Illustration: MAP OF OLAUS MAGNUS, 1539.

[From Dr. Brenner's Essay.]]

Humboldt in his _Cosmos_ quotes Columbus as saying of this voyage near
Thule that "the sea was not at that time covered with ice," and he
credits that statement to the same _Tratado de las Cinco Zonas
Habitables_ of Columbus, and urges in proof that Finn Magnusen had found
in ancient historical sources that in February, 1477, ice had not set in
on the southern coast of that island.

[Sidenote: Thyle.]

Speaking of "Tile," the same narrative adds that "it is west of the
western verge of Ptolemy [that is, Ptolemy's world map], and larger than
England." This expression of its size could point only to Iceland, of
all islands in the northern seas.

There are elements in the story, however, not easily reconcilable with
what might be expected of an experienced mariner; and if the story is
true in its main purpose, there is little more in the details than the
careless inexactness, which characterizes a good many of the
well-authenticated asseverations of Columbus.

[Sidenote: The Zeni's Frisland.]

Again the narrative says, "It is true that Ptolemy's Thule is where that
geographer placed it, but that it is now called Frislande." Does this
mean that the Zeni story had been a matter of common talk forty years
after the voyage to their Frisland had been made, and eighty-four years
before a later scion of the family published the remarkable narrative in
Venice, in 1558? It is possible that the maker of the _Historie_ of
1571, in the way in which it was given to the world, had interpolated
this reference to the Frisland of the Zeni to help sustain the credit of
his own or the other book.

A voyage undertaken by Columbus to such high latitudes is rendered in
all respects doubtful, to say the least, from the fact that in 1492
Columbus detailed for the eyes of his sovereigns the unusual advantages
of the harbors of the new islands which he had discovered, and added
that he was entitled to express such an opinion, because his exploration
had extended from Guinea on the south to England on the north. It was an
occasion when he desired to make his acquaintance seem as wide as the
facts would warrant, and yet he does not profess to have been farther
north than England. A hundred leagues, moreover, beyond Iceland might
well have carried him to the upper Greenland coast, but he makes no
mention of other land being seen in those high latitudes.

[Sidenote: Thyle and Iceland.]

Thyle and Iceland are made different islands in the Ptolemy of 1486,
which, if it does not prove that Iceland was not then the same as Thyle
in the mind of geographers, shows that geographical confusion still
prevailed at the north. It may be further remarked that Muñoz and others
have found no time in Columbus's career to which this voyage to the
north could so easily pertain as to a period anterior to his going to
Portugal, and consequently some years before the 1477 of the _Historie_.

[Sidenote: The English in Iceland.]

[Sidenote: Kolno.]

[Sidenote: The Zeni.]

A voyage to Iceland was certainly no new thing. The English traded
there, and a large commerce was maintained with it by Bristol, and had
been for many years. A story grew up at a later day, and found
expression in Gomara and Wytfliet, that in 1476, the year before this
alleged voyage of Columbus, a Danish expedition, under the command of
the Pole Kolno, or Skolno, had found in these northern regions an
entrance to the straits of Anian, which figure so constantly in later
maps, and which opened a passage to the Indies; but there seems to be no
reason to believe that it had any definite foundation, and it could
hardly have been known to Columbus. It is also easy to conjecture that
Columbus had been impelled to join some English trading vessel from
Bristol, through mere nautical curiosity, and even been urged by reports
which may have reached him of the northern explorations of the Zeni,
long before the accounts were printed. But if he knew anything, he
either treasured it up as a proof of his theories, not yet to be
divulged,--why is not clear,--or, what is vastly more probable, it never
occurred to him to associate any of these dim regions with the coasts of
Marco Polo's Cathay.

[Sidenote: Madoc.]

There was no lack of stories, even at this time, of venturesome voyages
west along the latitude of England and to the northwest, and of these
tales Columbus may possibly have heard. Such was the story which had
been obscurely recorded, that Madoc, a Welsh chieftain, in the later
years of the twelfth century had carried a colony westerly. Nor can it
be positively asserted that the Estotiland and Drogeo of the Zeni
narrative, then lying in the cabinet of an Italian family unknown, had
ever come to his knowledge.

There are stories in the _Historie_ of reports which had reached him,
that mariners sailing for Ireland had been driven west, and had sighted
land which had been supposed to be Tartary, which at a later day was
thought to be the Baccalaos of the Cortereals.

[Sidenote: Bresil, or Brazil, Island.]

The island of Bresil had been floating about the Atlantic, usually in
the latitude of Ireland, since the days when the maker of the Catalan
planisphere, in 1375, placed it in that sea, and current stories of its
existence resulted, at a later day (1480), in the sending from Bristol
of an expedition of search, as has already been said.

[Sidenote: Did Columbus land on Thule?]

Finn Magnusen among the Scandinavian writers, and De Costa and others
among Americans, have thought it probable that Columbus landed at
Hualfiord, in Iceland. Columbus, however, does not give sufficient
ground for any such inference. He says he went beyond Thule, not to it,
whatever Thule was, and we only know by his observations on the tides,
that he approached dry land.

[Sidenote: Bishop Magnus in Iceland.]

Laing, in his introduction to the _Heimskringla_, says confidently that
Columbus "came to Iceland from Bristol, in 1477, on purpose to gain
nautical information,"--an inference merely,--"and must have heard of
the written accounts of the Norse discoveries recorded in" the _Codex
Flatoyensis_. Laing says again that as Bishop Magnus is known to have
been in Iceland in the spring of 1477, "it is presumed Columbus must
have met and conversed with him"!

A great deal turns on this purely imaginary conversation, and the
possibilities of its scope.

[Sidenote: The Norse in Iceland.]

[Sidenote: Eric the Red.]

[Sidenote: Greenland.]

The listening Columbus might, indeed, have heard of Irish monks and
their followers, who had been found in Iceland by the first Norse
visitors, six hundred years before, if perchance the traditions of them
had been preserved, and these may even have included the somewhat vague
stories of visits to a country somewhere, which they called Ireland the
Great. Possibly, too, there were stories told at the firesides of the
adventures of a sea-rover, Gunnbiorn by name, who had been driven
westerly from Iceland and had seen a strange land, which after some
years was visited by Eric the Red; and there might have been wondrous
stories told of this same land, which Eric had called Greenland, in
order to lure settlers, where there is some reason to believe yet
earlier wanderers had found a home.

[Sidenote: _Heimskringla._]

[Sidenote: Position of Greenland.]

[Sidenote: Thought to be a part of Europe.]

There mightpossibly have been shown to Columbus an old manuscript
chronicle of the kings of Norway, which they called the _Heimskringla_,
and which had been written by Snorre Sturlason in the thirteenth
century; and if he had turned the leaves with any curiosity, he could
have read, or have had translated for him, accounts of the Norse
colonization of Greenland in the ninth century. Where, then, was this
Greenland? Could it possibly have had any connection with that Cathay of
Marco Polo, so real in the vision of Columbus, and which was supposed to
lie above India in the higher latitudes? As a student of contemporary
cartography, Columbus would have answered such a question readily, had
it been suggested; for he would have known that Greenland had been
represented in all the maps, since it was first recognized at all, as
merely an extended peninsula of Scandinavia, made by a southward twist
to enfold a northern sea, in which Iceland lay. One certainly cannot
venture to say how far Columbus may have had an acquaintance with the
cartographical repertories, more or less well stocked, as they doubtless
were, in the great commercial centres of maritime Europe, but the
knowledge which we to-day have in detail could hardly have been
otherwise than a common possession among students of geography then. We
comprehend now how, as far back as 1427, a map of Claudius Clavus showed
Greenland as this peninsular adjunct to the northwest of Europe,--a view
enforced also in a map of 1447, in the Pitti palace, and in one which
Nordenskiöld recently found in a Codex of Ptolemy at Warsaw, dated in
1467. A few years later, and certainly before Columbus could have gone
on this voyage, we find a map which it is more probable he could have
known, and that is the engraved one of Nicholas Donis, drawn presumably
in 1471, and later included in the edition of Ptolemy published at Ulm
in 1482. The same European connection is here maintained. Again it is
represented in the map of Henricus Martellus (1489-90), in a way that
produced a succession of maps, which till long after the death of
Columbus continued to make this Norse colony a territorial appendage of
Scandinavian Europe, betraying not the slightest symptom of a belief
that Eric the Red had strayed beyond the circle of European connections.

[Illustration: CLAUDIUS CLAVUS, 1427.

[From Nordenskiöld's _Studien_.]]

[Illustration: BORDONE, 1528.

[Greenland is the Northernmost Peninsula of N. W. Europe.]]

[Sidenote: Made a Part of Asia.]

It is only when we get down to the later years of Columbus's life that
we find, on a Portuguese chart of 1503, a glimmer of the truth, and this
only transiently, though the conception of the mariners, upon which this
map was based, probably associated Greenland with the Asiatic main, as
Ruysch certainly did, by a bold effort to reconcile the Norse traditions
with the new views of his time, when he produced the first engraved map
of the discoveries of Columbus and Cabot in the Roman Ptolemy of 1508.

[Sidenote: Again made a part of Europe.]

It is thus beyond dispute that if Columbus entertained any views as to
the geographical relations of Greenland, which had been practically lost
to Europe since communication with it ceased, earlier in the fifteenth
century, they were simply those of a peninsula of northern Europe, which
could have no connection with any country lying beyond the Atlantic; for
it was not till after his death that any general conception of it
associated with the Asiatic main arose. It is quite certain, however,
that as the conception began to prevail, after the discovery of the
South Sea by Balboa, in 1513, that an interjacent new world had really
been found, there was a tendency, as shown in the map of Thorne (1527),
representing current views in Spain, and in those of Finæus (1531),
Ziegler (1532), Mercator (1538), and Bordone (1528-1547), to relegate
the position of Greenland to a peninsular connection with Europe.

There is a curious instance of the evolution of the correct idea in the
Ptolemy of 1525, and repeated in the same plate as used in the editions
of 1535 and 1545. The map was originally engraved to show "Gronlandia"
as a European peninsula, but apparently, at a later stage, the word
Gronlandia was cut in the corner beside the sketch of an elephant, and
farther west, as if to indicate its transoceanic and Asiatic situation,
though there was no attempt to draw in a coast line.

[Sidenote: Later diverse views.]

Later in the century there was a strife of opinion between the
geographers of the north, as represented in the Olaus Magnus map of
1567, who disconnected the country from Europe, and those of the south,
who still united Greenland with Scandinavia, as was done in the Zeno map
of 1558. By this time, however, the southern geographers had begun to
doubt, and after 1540 we find Labrador and Greenland put in close
proximity in many of their maps; and in this the editors of the Ptolemy
of 1561 agreed, when they altered their reëngraved map--as the plate
shows--in a way to disconnect Greenland from Scandinavia.

It is not necessary to trace the cartographical history of Greenland to
a later day. It is manifest that it was long after Columbus's death when
the question was raised of its having any other connection than with
Europe, and Columbus could have learned in Iceland nothing to suggest to
him that the land of Eric the Red had any connection with the western
shores of Asia, of which he was dreaming.

[Sidenote: Discovery of Vinland.]

If any of the learned men in Iceland had referred Columbus once more to
the _Heimskringla_, it would have been to the brief entry which it shows
in the records as the leading Norse historian made it, of the story of
the discovery of Vinland. There he would have read, "Leif also found
Vinland the Good," and he could have read nothing more. There was
nothing in this to excite the most vivid imagination as to place or

[Sidenote: Scandinavian views of Vinland.]

[Sidenote: Stephanius's map, 1570.]

It was not till a time long after the period of Columbus that, so far as
we know, any cartographical records of the discoveries associated with
the Vinland voyages were made in the north; and not till the discoveries
of Columbus and his successors were a common inheritance in Europe did
some of the northern geographers, in 1570, undertake to reconcile the
tales of the sagas with the new beliefs. The testimony of these later
maps is presumably the transmitted view then held in the north from the
interpretation of the Norse sagas in the light of later knowledge. This
testimony is that the "America" of the Spaniards, including Terra
Florida and the "Albania" of the English, was a territory south of the
Norse region and beyond a separating water, very likely that of Davis'
Straits. The map of Sigurd Stephanius of this date (1570) puts Vinland
north of the Straits of Belle Isle, and makes it end at the south in a
"wild sea," which separates it [B of map] from "America." Torfæus quotes
Torlacius as saying that this map of Stephanius's was drawn from ancient
Icelandic records. If this cartographical record has its apparent value,
it is not likely that Columbus could have seen in it anything more than
a manifestation of that vague boreal region which was far remote from
the thoughts which possessed him, in seeking a way to India over
against Spain.

[Illustration: SIGURD STEPHANIUS, 1570.]

[Sidenote: Dubious sagas.]

Beside the scant historic record respecting Vinland which has been cited
from the _Heimskringla_, it is further possible that Columbus may have
seen that series of sagas which had come down in oral shape to the
twelfth century. At this period put into writing, two hundred years
after the events of the Vinland voyages, there are none of the
manuscript copies of these sagas now existing which go back of the
fourteenth century. This rendering of the old sagas into script came at
a time when, in addition to the inevitable transformations of long oral
tradition, there was superadded the romancing spirit then rife in the
north, and which had come to them from the south of Europe. The result
of this blending of confused tradition with the romancing of the period
of the written preservation has thrown, even among the Scandinavians
themselves, a shade of doubt, more or less intense at times, which
envelops the saga record with much that is indistinguishable from myth,
leaving little but the general drift of the story to be held of the
nature of a historic record. The Icelandic editor of Egel's saga,
published at Reikjavik in 1856, acknowledges this unavoidable reflex of
the times when the sagas were reduced to writing, and the most
experienced of the recent writers on Greenland, Henrik Rink, has allowed
the untrustworthiness of the sagas except for their general scope.

[Sidenote: Codex Flatoyensis.]

[Sidenote: Leif Erikson.]

Less than a hundred years before the alleged visit of Columbus to Thule,
there had been a compilation of some of the early sagas, and this _Codex
Flatoyensis_ is the only authority which we have for any details of the
Vinland voyages. It is possible that the manuscript now known is but one
copy of several or many which may have been made at an early period, not
preceding, however, the twelfth century, when writing was introduced.
This particular manuscript was discovered in an Icelandic monastery in
the seventeenth century, and there is no evidence of its being known
before. Of course it is possible that copies may have been in the hands
of learned Icelanders at the time of Columbus's supposed voyage to the
north, and he may have heard of it, or have had parts of it read to him.
The collection is recognized by Scandinavian writers as being the most
confused and incongruous of similar records; and it is out of such
romancing, traditionary, and conflicting recitals that the story of the
Norse voyages to Vinland is made, if it is made at all. The sagas say
that it was sixteen winters after the settlement of Greenland that Leif
went to Norway, and in the next year he sailed to Vinland. These are the
data from which the year A. D. 1000 has been deduced as that of the
beginning of the Vinland voyages. The principal events are to be traced
in the saga of Eric the Red, which, in the judgment of Rask, a leading
Norse authority, is "somewhat fabulous, written long after the event,
and taken from tradition."

[Sidenote: Peringskiöld's edition of the sagas.]

Such, then, was the record which, if it ever came to the notice of
Columbus, was little suited to make upon him any impression to be
associated in his mind with the Asia of his dreams. Humboldt, discussing
the chances of Columbus's gaining any knowledge of the story, thinks
that when the Spanish Crown was contesting with the heirs of the Admiral
his rights of discovery, the citing of these northern experiences of
Columbus would have been in the Crown's favor, if there had been any
conception at that time that the Norse discoveries, even if known to
general Europe, had any relation to the geographical problems then under
discussion. Similar views have been expressed by Wheaton and Prescott,
and there is no evidence that up to the time of Columbus an acquaintance
with the Vinland story had ever entered into the body of historical
knowledge possessed by Europeans in general. The scant references in the
manuscripts of Adam of Bremen (A. D. 1073), of Ordericus Vitalis (A. D.
1140), and of Saxo Grammaticus (A. D. 1200), were not likely to be
widely comprehended, even if they were at all known, and a close
scrutiny of the literature of the subject does not seem to indicate that
there was any considerable means of propagating a knowledge of the sagas
before Peringskiöld printed them in 1697, two hundred years after the
time of Columbus. This editor inserted them in an edition of the
_Heimskringla_ and concealed the patchwork. This deception caused it
afterwards to be supposed that the accounts in the _Heimskringla_ had
been interpolated by some later reviser of the chronicle; but the truth
regarding Peringskiöld's action was ultimately known.

[Sidenote: Probabilities.]

Basing, then, their investigation on a narrative confessedly confused
and unauthentic, modern writers have sought to determine with precision
the fact of Norse visits to British America, and to identify the
localities. The fact that every investigator finds geographical
correspondences where he likes, and quite independently of all others,
is testimony of itself to the confused condition of the story. The soil
of the United States and Nova Scotia contiguous to the Atlantic may now
safely be said to have been examined by competent critics sufficiently
to affirm that no archæological trace of the presence of the Norse here
is discernible. As to such a forbidding coast as that of Labrador, there
has been as yet no such familiarity with it by trained archæologists as
to render it reasonably certain that some trace may not be found there,
and on this account George Bancroft allows the possibility that the
Norse may have reached that coast. There remains, then, no evidence
beyond a strong probability that the Norse from Greenland crossed Davis'
Straits and followed south the American coast. That indisputable
archæological proofs may yet be found to establish the fact of their
southern course and sojourn is certainly possible. Meanwhile we must be
content that there is no testimony satisfactory to a careful historical
student, that this course and such sojourn ever took place. A belief in
it must rest on the probabilities of the case.

Many writers upon the Norseman discovery would do well to remember the
advice of Ampère to present as doubtful what is true, sooner than to
give as true what is doubtful.

"Ignorance," says Muñoz, in speaking of the treacherous grounds of
unsupported narrative, "is generally accompanied by vanity and

[Sidenote: Did Columbus hear of the saga stories?]

It is an obvious and alluring supposition that this story should have
been presented to Columbus, whatever the effect may have been on his
mind. Lowell in a poem pardonably pictures him as saying:--

"I brooded on the wise Athenian's tale Of happy Atlantis; and heard
Björne's keel Crunch the gray pebbles of the Vinland shore, For I
believed the poets."

But the belief is only a proposition. Rafn and other extreme advocates
of the Norse discovery have made as much as they could of the
supposition of Columbus's cognizance of the Norse voyages. Laing seems
confident that this contact must have happened. The question, however,
must remain unsettled; and whether Columbus landed in Iceland or not,
and whether the bruit of the Norse expeditions struck his ears elsewhere
or not, the fact of his never mentioning them, when he summoned every
supposable evidence to induce acceptance of his views, seems to be
enough to show at least that to a mind possessed as his was of the
scheme of finding India by the west the stories of such northern
wandering offered no suggestion applicable to his purpose. It is,
moreover, inconceivable that Columbus should have taken a course
southwest from the Canaries, if he had been prompted in any way by
tidings of land in the northwest.



[Sidenote: Columbus's obscure record, 1473-1487.]

It is a rather striking fact, as Harrisse puts it, that we cannot place
with an exact date any event in Columbus's life from August 7, 1473,
when a document shows him to have been in Savona, Italy, till he
received at Cordoba, Spain, from the treasurer of the Catholic
sovereigns, his first gratuity on May 5, 1487, as is shown by the entry
in the books, "given this day 3,000 maravedis," about $18, "to Cristobal
Colomo, a stranger." The events of this period of about fourteen years
were those which made possible his later career. The incidents connected
with this time have become the shuttlecocks which have been driven
backward and forward in their chronological bearings, by all who have
undertaken to study the details of this part of Columbus's life. It is
nearly as true now as it was when Prescott wrote, that "the
discrepancies among the earliest authorities are such as to render
hopeless any attempt to settle with precision the chronology of
Columbus's movements previous to his first voyage."

[Sidenote: His motives for leaving Portugal.]

[Sidenote: Chief sources of our knowledge.]

The motives which induced him to abandon Portugal, where he had married,
and where he had apparently found not a little to reconcile him to his
exile, are not obscure ones as detailed in the ordinary accounts of his
life. All these narratives are in the main based, first, on the
_Historie_ (1571); secondly, on the great historical work of Joam de
Barros, pertaining to the discoveries of the Portuguese in the East
Indies, first published in 1552, and still holding probably the loftiest
position in the historical literature of that country; and, finally, on
the lives of João II., then monarch of Portugal, by Ruy de Pina and by
Vasconcellos. The latter borrowing in the main from the former, was
exclusively used by Irving. Las Casas apparently depended on Barros as
well as on the _Historie_. It is necessary to reconcile their
statements, as well as it can be done, to get even an inductive view of
the events concerned.

The treatment of the subject by Irving would make it certain that it was
a new confidence in the ability to make long voyages, inspired by the
improvements of the astrolabe as directed by Behaim, that first gave
Columbus the assurance to ask for royal patronage of the maritime scheme
which had been developing in his mind.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Behaim.]

Just what constituted the acquaintance of Columbus with Behaim is not
clearly established. Herrera speaks of them as friends. Humboldt thinks
some intimacy between them may have existed, but finds no decisive proof
of it. Behaim had spent much of his life in Lisbon and in the Azores,
and there are some striking correspondences in their careers, if we
accept the usual accounts. They were born and died in the same year.
Each lived for a while on an Atlantic island, the Nuremberger at Fayal,
and the Genoese at Porto Santo; and each married the daughter of the
governor of his respective island. They pursued their nautical studies
at the same time in Lisbon, and the same physicians who reported to the
Portuguese king upon Columbus's scheme of westward sailing were engaged
with Behaim in perfecting the sea astrolabe.

[Sidenote: Columbus and the king of Portugal.]

The account of the audience with the king which we find in the
_Historie_ is to the effect that Columbus finally succeeded in inducing
João to believe in the practicability of a western passage to Asia; but
that the monarch could not be brought to assent to all the titular and
pecuniary rewards which Columbus contended for as emoluments of success,
and that a commission, to whom the monarch referred the project,
pronounced the views of Columbus simply chimerical. Barros represents
that the advances of Columbus were altogether too arrogant and fantastic
ever to have gained the consideration of the king, who easily disposed
of the Genoese's pretentious importunities by throwing the burden of
denial upon a commission. This body consisted of the two physicians of
the royal household, already mentioned, Roderigo and Josef, to whom was
added Cazadilla, the Bishop of Ceuta.

Vasconcellos's addition to this story, which he derived almost entirely
from Ruy de Pina, Resende, and Barros, is that there was subsequently
another reference to a royal council, in which the subject was discussed
in arguments, of which that historian preserves some reports. This
discussion went farther than was perhaps intended, since Cazadilla
proceeded to discourage all attempts at exploration even by the African
route, as imperiling the safety of the state, because of the money which
was required; and because it kept at too great a distance for an
emergency a considerable force in ships and men. In fact the drift of
the debate seems to have ignored the main projects as of little moment
and as too visionary, and the energy of the hour was centered in a
rallying speech made by the Count of Villa Real, who endeavored to save
the interests of African exploration. The count's speech quite
accomplished its purpose, if we can trust the reports, since it
reassured the rather drooping energies of the king, and induced some
active measures to reach the extremity of Africa.

[Sidenote: Diaz's African voyage, 1486.]

[Sidenote: Passes the Cape.]

[Illustration: PORTUGUESE MAPPEMONDE, 1490.

[Sketched from the original MS. in the British Museum.]]

In August, 1486, Bartholomew Diaz, the most eminent of a line of
Portuguese navigators, had departed on the African route, with two
consorts. As he neared the latitude of the looked-for Cape, he was
driven south, and forced away from the land, by a storm. When he was
enabled to return on his track he struck the coast, really to the
eastward of the true cape, though he did not at the time know it. This
was in May, 1487. His crew being unwilling to proceed farther, he
finally turned westerly, and in due time discovered what he had done.
The first passage of the Cape was thus made while sailing west, just as,
possibly, the mariners of the Indian seas may have done. In December he
was back in Lisbon with the exhilarating news, and it was probably
conveyed to Columbus, who was then in Spain, by his brother Bartholomew,
the companion of Diaz in this eventful voyage, as Las Casas discovered
by an entry made by Bartholomew himself in a copy of D'Ailly's _Imago
Mundi_. Thirty years before, as we have seen, Fra Mauro had prefigured
the Cape in his map, but it was now to be put on the charts as a
geographical discovery; and by 1490, or thereabouts, succeeding
Portuguese navigators had pushed up the west coast of Africa to a point
shown in a map preserved in the British Museum, but not far enough to
connect with what was supposed with some certainty to be the limit
reached during the voyages of the Arabian navigators, while sailing
south from the Red Sea. There was apparently not a clear conception in
the minds of the Portuguese, at this time, just how far from the Cape
the entrance of the Arabian waters really was. It is possible that
intelligence may have thus early come from the Indian Ocean, by way of
the Mediterranean, that the Oriental sailors knew of the great African
cape by approaching it from the east.

[Sidenote: Portuguese missionaries to Egypt.]

Such knowledge, if held to be visionary, was, however, established with
some certainty in men's minds before Da Gama actually effected the
passage of the Cape. This confirmation had doubtless come through some
missionaries of the Portuguese king, who in 1490 sent such a positive
message from Cairo.

But while the new exertions along the African coast, thus inadvertently
instigated by Columbus, were making, what was becoming of his own
westward scheme?

[Sidenote: The Portuguese send out an expedition to forestall Columbus.]

The story goes that it was by the advice of Cazadilla that the
Portuguese king lent himself to an unworthy device. This was a project
to test the views of Columbus, and profit by them without paying him his
price. An outline of his intended voyage had been secured from him in
the investigation already mentioned. A caravel, under pretense of a
voyage to the Cape de Verde Islands, was now dispatched to search for
the Cipango of Marco Polo, in the position which Columbus had given it
in his chart. The mercenary craft started out, and buffeted with head
seas and angry winds long enough to emasculate what little courage the
crew possessed. Without the prop of conviction they deserted their
purpose and returned. Once in port, they began to berate the Genoese for
his foolhardy scheme. In this way they sought to vindicate their own
timidity. This disclosed to Columbus the trick which had been played
upon him. Such is the story as the _Historie_ tells it, and which has
been adopted by Herrera and others.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus leaves Portugal, 1484.]

At this point there is too much uncertainty respecting the movements of
Columbus for even his credulous biographers to fill out the tale. It
seems to be agreed that in the latter part of 1484 he left Portugal with
a secrecy which was supposed to be necessary to escape the vigilance of
the government spies. There is beside some reason for believing that it
was also well for him to shun arrest for debts, which had been incurred
in the distractions of his affairs.

[Sidenote: Supposed visit of Columbus to Genoa.]

There is no other authority than Ramusio for believing with Muñoz that
Columbus had already laid his project before the government of Genoa by
letter, and that he now went to reënforce it in person. That power was
sorely pressed with misfortunes at this time, and is said to have
declined to entertain his proposals. It may be the applicant was
dismissed contemptuously, as is sometimes said. It is not, however, as
Harrisse has pointed out, till we come down to Cassoni, in his _Annals
of Genoa_, published in 1708, that we find a single Genoese authority
crediting the story of this visit to Genoa. Harrisse, with his skeptical
tendency, does not believe the statement.

[Sidenote: Supposed visit to Venice.]

Eagerness to fill the gaps in his itinerary has sometimes induced the
supposition that Columbus made an equally unsuccessful offer to Venice;
but the statement is not found except in modern writers, with no other
citations to sustain it than the recollections of some one who had seen
at some time in the archives a memorial to this effect made by Columbus.
Some writers make him at this time also visit his father and provide for
his comfort,--a belief not altogether consonant with the supposition of
Columbus's escape from Portugal as a debtor.

[Sidenote: The death of his wife.]

[Sidenote: Shown to be uncertain.]

Irving and the biographers in general find in the death of Columbus's
wife a severing of the ties which bound him to Portugal; but if there is
any truth in the tumultuous letter which Columbus wrote to Doña Juana de
la Torre in 1500, he left behind him in Portugal, when he fled into
Spain, a wife and children. If there is the necessary veracity in the
_Historie_, this wife had died before he abandoned the country. That he
had other children at this time than Diego is only known through this
sad, ejaculatory epistle. If he left a wife in Portugal, as his own
words aver, Harrisse seems justified in saying that he deserted her, and
in the same letter Columbus himself says that he never saw her again.

[Sidenote: Convent of Rabida.]

Ever since a physician of Palos, Garcia Fernandez, gave his testimony in
the lawsuit through which, after Columbus's death, his son defended his
titles against the Crown, the picturesque story of the convent of
Rabida, and the appearance at its gate of a forlorn traveler accompanied
by a little boy, and the supplication for bread and water for the child,
has stood in the lives of Columbus as the opening scene of his career in

This Franciscan convent, dedicated to Santa Maria de Rabida, stood on a
height within sight of the sea, very near the town of Palos, and after
having fallen into a ruin it was restored by the Duke of Montpensier in
1855. A recent traveler has found this restoration "modernized,
whitewashed, and forlorn," while the refurnishing of the interior is
described as "paltry and vulgar," even in the cell of its friar, where
the visitor now finds a portrait of Columbus and pictures of scenes in
his career.


[As given by Roselly de Lorgues.]]

[Sidenote: Friar Marchena.]

This friar, Juan Perez de Marchena, was at the time of the supposed
visit of Columbus the prior of the convent, and being casually attracted
by the scene at the gate, where the porter was refreshing the vagrant
travelers, and by the foreign accent of the stranger, he entered into
talk with the elder of them and learned his name. Columbus also told him
that he was bound to Huelva to find the home of one Muliar, a Spaniard
who had married the youngest sister of his wife. The story goes further
that the friar was not uninformed in the cosmographical lore of the
time, had not been unobservant of the maritime intelligence which had
naturally been rife in the neighboring seaport of Palos, and had kept
watch of the recent progress in geographical science. He was
accordingly able to appreciate the interest which Columbus manifested in
such subjects, as he unfolded his own notions of still greater
discoveries which might be made at the west. Keeping the wanderer and
his little child a few days, Marchena invited to the convent, to join
with them in discussion, the most learned man whom the neighborhood
afforded, the physician of Palos,--the very one from whose testimony our
information comes. Their talks were not without reënforcements from the
experiences of some of the mariners of that seaport, particularly one
Pedro de Velasco, who told of manifestation of land which he had himself
seen, without absolute contact, thirty years before, when his ship had
been blown a long distance to the northwest of Ireland.

[Sidenote: Columbus goes to Cordoba.]

The friendship formed in the convent kept Columbus there amid congenial
sympathizers, and it was not till some time in the winter of 1485-86,
and when he heard that the Spanish sovereigns were at Cordoba, gathering
a force to attack the Moors in Granada, that, leaving behind his boy to
be instructed in the convent, Columbus started for that city. He went
not without confidence and elation, as he bore a letter of credentials
which the friar had given him to a friend, Fernando de Talavera, the
prior of the monastery of Prado, and confessor of Queen Isabella.

[Sidenote: Doubts about the visits to Rabida.]

This story has almost always been placed in the opening of the career of
Columbus in Spain. It has often in sympathizing hands pointed a moral in
contrasting the abject condition of those days with the proud expectancy
under which, some years later, he sailed out of the neighboring harbor
of Palos, within eyeshot of the monks of Rabida. Irving, however, as he
analyzed the reports of the famous trial already referred to, was quite
sure that the events of two visits to Rabida had been unwittingly run
into one in testimony given after so long an interval of years. It does
indeed seem that we must either apply this evidence of 1513 and 1515 to
a later visit, or else we must determine that there was great similarity
in some of the incidents of the two visits.

The date of 1491, to which Harrisse pushes the incidents forward,
depends in part on the evidence of one Rodriguez Cobezudo that in 1513
it was about twenty-two years since he had lent a mule to Juan Perez de
Marchena, when he went to Santa Fé from Rabida to interpose for
Columbus. The testimony of Garcia Fernandez is that this visit of
Marchena took place after Columbus had once been rebuffed at court, and
the words of the witness indicate that it was on that visit when Juan
Perez asked Columbus who he was and whence he came; showing, perhaps,
that it was the first time Perez had seen Columbus. Accordingly this, as
well as the mule story, points to 1491. But that the circumstances of
the visit which Garcia Fernandez recounts may have belonged to an
earlier visit, in part confounded after fifteen years with a later one,
may yet be not beyond a possibility. It is to be remembered that the
_Historie_ speaks of two visits, one later than that of 1484. It is not
easy to see that all the testimony which Harrisse introduced to make the
visit of 1491 the first and only visit of Columbus to the convent is
sufficient to do more than render the case probable.

[Sidenote: 1486. Enters the service of Spain.]

We determine the exact date of the entering of Columbus into the service
of Spain to be January 20, 1486, from a record of his in his journal on
shipboard under January 14, 1493, where he says that on the 20th of the
same month he would have been in their Highnesses' service just seven
years. We find almost as a matter of course other statements of his
which give somewhat different dates by deduction. Two statements of
Columbus agreeing would be a little suspicious. Certain payments on the
part of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon do not seem to have begun,
however, till the next year, or at least we have no earlier record of
such than one on May 5, 1487, and from that date on they were made at
not great intervals, till an interruption came, as will be later shown.

[Sidenote: Changes his name to Colon.]

In Spain the Christoforo Colombo of Genoa chose to call himself
Cristoval Colon, and the _Historie_ tells us that he sought merely to
make his descendants distinct of name from their remote kin. He argued
that the Roman name was Colonus, which readily was transformed to a
Spanish equivalent. Inasmuch as the Duke of Medina-Celi, who kept
Columbus in his house for two years during the early years of his
Spanish residence, calls him Colomo in 1493, and Oviedo calls him Colom,
it is a question if he chose the form of Colon before he became famous
by his voyage.

[Sidenote: The Genoese in Spain.]

The Genoese had been for a long period a privileged people in Spain,
dating such acceptance back to the time of St. Ferdinand. Navarrete has
instanced numerous confirmations of these early favors by successive
monarchs down to the time of Columbus. But neither this prestige of his
birthright nor the letter of Friar Perez had been sufficient to secure
in the busy camp at Cordoba any recognition of this otherwise unheralded
and humble suitor. The power of the sovereigns was overtaxed already in
the engrossing preparations which the Court and army were making for a
vigorous campaign against the Moors. The exigencies of the war carried
the sovereigns, sometimes together and at other times apart, from point
to point. Siege after siege was conducted, and Talavera, whose devotion
had been counted upon by Columbus, had too much to occupy his attention,
to give ear to propositions which at best he deemed chimerical.

[Sidenote: Columbus in Cordoba.]

We know in a vague way that while the Court was thus withdrawn from
Cordoba the disheartened wanderer remained in that city, supporting
himself, according to Bernaldez, in drafting charts and in selling
printed books, which Harrisse suspects may have been publications, such
as were then current, containing calendars and astronomical predictions,
like the _Lunarios_ of Granollach and Andrès de Li.

[Sidenote: Makes acquaintances.]

It was probably at this time, too, that he made the acquaintance of
Alonso de Quintanilla, the comptroller of the finances of Castile. He
attained some terms of friendship with Antonio Geraldini, the papal
nuncio, and his brother, Alexander Geraldini, the tutor of the royal
children. It is claimed that all these friends became interested in his
projects, and were advocates of them.

[Sidenote: Writes out the proofs of a western land.]

We are told by Las Casas that Columbus at one time gathered and placed
in order all the varied manifestations, as he conceived them, of some
such transatlantic region as his theory demanded; and it seems probable
that this task was done during a period of weary waiting in Cordoba. We
know nothing, however, of the manuscript except as Las Casas and the
_Historie_ have used its material, and through them some of the details
have been gleaned in the preceding chapter.

[Sidenote: Mendoza.]

These accessions of friends, aided doubtless by some such systemization
of the knowledge to be brought to the question as this lost manuscript
implies, opened the way to an acquaintance with Pedro Gonzales de
Mendoza, Archbishop of Toledo and Grand Cardinal of Spain. This prelate,
from the confidence which the sovereigns placed in him, was known in
Martyr's phrase as "the third king of Spain," and it could but be seen
by Columbus that his sympathies were essential to the success of plans
so far reaching as his own. The cardinal was gracious in his
intercourse, and by no means inaccessible to such a suitor as Columbus;
but he was educated in the exclusive spirit of the prevailing theology,
and he had a keen scent for anything that might be supposed heterodox.
It proved necessary for the thought of a spherical earth to rest some
time in his mind, till his ruminations could bring him to a perception
of the truths of science.

[Sidenote: Gets the ear of Ferdinand for Columbus.]

According to the reports which Oviedo gives us, the seed which Columbus
sowed, in his various talks with the cardinal, in due time germinated,
and the constant mentor of the sovereigns was at last brought to prepare
the way, so that Columbus could have a royal audience. Thus it was that
Columbus finally got the ear of Ferdinand, at Salamanca, whither the
monarchs had come for a winter's sojourn after the turmoils of a
summer's campaign against the Moors.

[Sidenote: Characters of the sovereigns of Spain.]

We cannot proceed farther in this narrative without understanding, in
the light of all the early and late evidence which we have, what kind of
beings these sovereigns of Aragon and Castile were, with whom Columbus
was to have so much intercourse in the years to come. Ferdinand and
Isabella, the wearers of the crowns of Aragon and Castile, were linked
in common interests, and their joint reign had augured a powerful,
because united, Spain. The student of their characters, as he works
among the documents of the time, cannot avoid the recognition of
qualities little calculated to satisfy demands for nobleness and
devotion which the world has learned to associate with royal
obligations. It may be possibly too much to say that habitually, but not
too much to assert that often, these Spanish monarchs were more ready at
perfidy and deceit than even an allowance for the teachings of their
time would permit. Often the student will find himself forced to grant
that the queen was more culpable in these respects than the king. An
anxious inquirer into the queen's ways is not quite sure that she was
able to distinguish between her own interests and those of God. The
documentary researches of Bergenroth have decidedly lowered her in the
judgments of those who have studied that investigator's results. We need
to plead the times for her, and we need to push the plea very far.

[Sidenote: Isabella.]

"Perhaps," says Helps, speaking of Isabella, "there is hardly any great
personage whose name and authority are found in connection with so much
that is strikingly evil, all of it done, or rather assented to, upon the
highest and purest motives." To palliate on such grounds is to believe
in the irresponsibility of motives, which should transcend times and

She is not, however, without loyal adulators of her own time and race.

We read in Oviedo of her splendid soul. Peter Martyr found commendations
of ordinary humanity not enough for her. Those nearest her person spoke
as admiringly. It is the fortune, however, of a historical student, who
lies beyond the influence of personal favor, to read in archives her
most secret professions, and to gauge the innermost wishes of a soul
which was carefully posed before her contemporaries. It is mirrored
to-day in a thousand revealing lenses that were not to be seen by her
contemporaries. Irving and Prescott simply fall into the adulation of
her servitors, and make her confessors responsible for her acquiescence
in the expulsion of the Jews and in the horrors of the Inquisition.

[Sidenote: Ferdinand.]

The king, perhaps, was good enough for a king as such personages went in
the fifteenth century; but his smiles and remorseless coldness were
mixed as few could mix them, even in those days. If the Pope regarded
him from Italy, that Holy Father called him pious. The modern student
finds him a bigot. His subjects thought him great and glorious, but they
did not see his dispatches, nor know his sometimes baleful domination in
his cabinet. The French would not trust him. The English watched his
ambition. The Moors knew him as their conqueror. The Jews fled before
his evil eye. The miserable saw him in his inquisitors. All this
pleased the Pope, and the papal will made him in preferred phrase His
Most Catholic Majesty,--a phrase that rings in diplomatic formalities

Every purpose upon which he had set his heart was apt to blind him to
aught else, and at times very conveniently so. We may allow that it is
precisely this single mind which makes a conspicuous name in history;
but conspicuousness and justness do not always march with a locked step.

He had, of course, virtues that shone when the sun shone. He could be
equable. He knew how to work steadily, to eat moderately, and to dress
simply. He was enterprising in his actions, as the Moors and heretics
found out. He did not extort money; he only extorted agonized
confessions. He said masses, and prayed equally well for God's
benediction on evil as on good things. He made promises, and then got
the papal dispensation to break them. He juggled in state policy as his
mind changed, and he worked his craft very readily. Machiavelli would
have liked this in him, and indeed he was a good scholar of an existing
school, which counted the act of outwitting better than the arts of
honesty; and perhaps the world is not loftier in the purposes of
statecraft to-day. He got people to admire him, but few to love him.

[Sidenote: Columbus's views considered by Talavera and others.]

[Sidenote: At Salamanca.]

The result of an audience with the king was that the projects of
Columbus were committed to Talavera, to be laid by him before such a
body of wise men as the prior could gather in council. Las Casas says
that the consideration of the plans was entrusted to "certain persons of
the Court," and he enumerates Cardinal Mendoza, Diego de Deza, Alonso de
Cardenas, and Juan Cabrero, the royal chamberlain. The meeting was
seemingly held in the winter of 1486-87. The Catholic writers accuse
Irving, and apparently with right, of an unwarranted assumption of the
importance of what he calls the Council at Salamanca, and they find he
has no authority for it, except a writer one hundred and twenty years
after the event, who mentions the matter but incidentally. This source
was Remesal's _Historia de Chyapa_ (Madrid, 1619), an account of one of
the Mexican provinces. There seems no reason to suppose that at best it
was anything more than some informal conference of Talavera with a few
councilors, and in no way associated with the prestige of the university
at Salamanca. The registers of the university, which begin back of the
assigned date for such Council, have been examined in vain for any
reference to it.


[_España_, p. 132]]


The "Junta of Salamanca" has passed into history as a convocation of
considerable extent and importance, and a representation of it is made
to adorn one of the bas-reliefs of the Admiral's monument at Genoa. We
have, however, absolutely no documentary records of it. Of whatever
moment it may have been, if the problem as Columbus would have presented
it had been discussed, the reports, if preserved, could have thrown
much light upon the relations which the cosmographical views of its
principal character bore to the opinions then prevailing in learned
circles of Spain. We know what the _Historie_, Bernaldez, and Las Casas
tell us of Columbus's advocacy, but we must regret the loss of his own
language and his own way of explaining himself to these learned men.
Such a paper would serve a purpose of showing how, in this period of
courageous and ardent insistence on a physical truth, he stood manfully
for the light that was in him; and it would afford a needed foil to
those pitiful aberrations of intellect which, in the years following,
took possession of him, and which were so constantly reiterated with
painful and maundering wailing.

[Sidenote: Find favor with Deza.]

Discarding, then, the array of argument which Irving borrows from
Remesal, and barely associating a little conference, in which Columbus
is a central figure, with that St. Stephen's convent whose wondrous
petrifactions of creamy and reticulated stone still hold the admiring
traveler, we must accept nothing more about its meetings than the scant
testimony which has come down to us. It is pleasant to think how it was
here that the active interest which Diego de Deza, a Dominican friar,
finally took in the cause of Columbus may have had its beginning; but
the extent of our positive knowledge regarding the meeting is the
deposition of Rodriguez de Maldonado, who simply says that several
learned men and mariners, hearing the arguments of Columbus, decided
they could not be true, or at least a majority so decided, and that this
testimony against Columbus had no effect to convince him of his errors.
This is all that the "Junta of Salamanca" meant. A minority of unknown
size favored the advocate.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1487. The Court at Cordoba.]

[Sidenote: Malaga surrenders, 1487.]

When the spring of 1487 came, and the court departed to Cordoba, and
began to make preparations for the campaign against Malaga, there was no
hope that the considerations which had begun in the learned sessions at
Salamanca would be followed up. Columbus seems to have journeyed after
the Court in its migrations: sometimes lured by pittances doled out to
him by the royal treasurer; sometimes getting pecuniary assistance from
his new friend, Diego de Deza; selling now and then a map that he had
made, it may be; and accepting hospitality where he could get it, from
such as Alonso de Quintanilla. In these wandering days, he was for a
while, at least, in attendance on the Court, then surrounded with
military parade, before the Moorish stronghold at Malaga. The town
surrendered on August 18, 1487, and the Court then returned to Cordoba.

[Illustration: SPAIN, 1482.

[From the _Ptolemy_ of 1482.]]

[Sidenote: 1487. Intimacy of Columbus with Beatrix Enriquez.]

[Sidenote: Ferdinand Columbus born, 1488.]

It was in the autumn of 1487, at Cordoba, that Columbus fell into such
an intimacy as spousehood only can sanction with a person of good
condition as to birth, but poor in the world's goods. Whether this
relation had the sanction of the Church or not has been a subject of
much inquiry and opinion. The class of French writers, who are aiming to
secure the canonization of Columbus, have found it essential to clear
the moral character of Columbus from every taint, and they confidently
assert, and doubtless think they show, that nothing but conjugal right
is manifest in this connection,--a question which the Church will in due
time have to decide, if it ever brings itself to the recognition of the
saintly character of the great discoverer. Even the ardent supporters of
the cause of beatification are forced to admit that there is no record
of such a marriage. No contemporary recognition of such a relation is
evinced by any family ceremonies of baptism or the like, and there is no
mention of a wife in all the transactions of the crowning endeavors of
his life. As viceroy, at a later day, he constantly appears with no
attendant vice-queen. She is absolutely out of sight until Columbus
makes a significant reference to her in his last will, when he
recommends this Beatrix Enriquez to his lawful son Diego; saying that
she is a person to whom the testator had been under great obligations,
and that his conscience is burdened respecting her, for a reason which
he does not then think fitting to explain. This testamentary behest and
acknowledgment, in connection with other manifestations, and the absence
of proof to the contrary, has caused the belief to be general among his
biographers, early and late, that the fruit of this intimacy, Ferdinand
Columbus, was an illegitimate offspring. He was born, as near as can be
made out, on the 15th of August, 1488. The mother very likely received
for a while some consolation from her lover, but Columbus did not
apparently carry her to Seville, when he went there himself; and the
support which he gave her was not altogether regularly afforded, and was
never of the quality which he asked Diego to grant to her when he died.
She unquestionably survived the making of Diego's will in 1523, and then
she fades into oblivion. Her son, Ferdinand, if he is the author of the
_Historie_, makes no mention of a marriage to his mother, though he is
careful to record the one which was indisputably legal, and whose fruit
was Diego, the Admiral's successor. The lawful son was directed by
Columbus, when starting on his third voyage, to pay to Beatrix ten
thousand maravedis a year; but he seems to have neglected to do so for
the last three or four years of her life. Diego finally ordered these
arrears to be paid to her heirs. Las Casas distinctly speaks of
Ferdinand as a natural son, and Las Casas had the best of opportunities
for knowing whereof he wrote.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus sends his brother to England.]

[Sidenote: Relations of England to the views of Columbus.]

While all this suspense and amorous intrigue were perplexing the ardent
theorist, he is supposed to have dispatched his brother Bartholomew to
England to disclose his projects to Henry VII. Hakluyt, in his _Westerne
Planting_, tells us that it "made much for the title of the kings of
England" to the New World that Henry VII. gave a ready acceptance to the
theory of Columbus as set forth somewhat tardily by his brother
Bartholomew, when escaping from the detention of the pirates, he was at
last able, on February 13, 1488, to offer in England his sea-card,
embodying Christopher's theories, for the royal consideration.

[Sidenote: The Cabots in England.]

William Castell, in his _Short Discovery of America_, says that Henry
VII. "unhappily refused to be at any charge in the discovery, supposing
the learned Columbus to build castles in the air." It is a common story
that Henry finally brought himself to accede to the importunities of
Bartholomew, but only at a late day, and after Christopher had effected
his conquest of the Spanish Court. Columbus himself is credited with
saying that Henry actually wrote him a letter of acceptance. This
epistle was very likely a fruition of the new impulses to oceanic
discovery which the presence, a little later, of the Venetian Cabots,
was making current among the English sailors; for John Cabot and his
sons, one of whom, Sebastian, being at that time a youth of sixteen or
seventeen, had, according to the best testimony, established a home in
Bristol, not far from 1490.

If the report of the Spanish envoy in England to his sovereigns is
correct as to dates, it was near this time that the Bristol merchants
were renewing their quests oceanward for the islands of Brazil and the
Seven Cities. We have seen that these islands with others had for some
time appeared on the conjectural charts of the Atlantic, and very likely
they had appeared on the sea-card shown by Bartholomew Columbus to Henry
VII. These efforts may perhaps have been in a measure instigated by that
fact. At all events, any hazards of further western exploration could be
met with greater heart if such stations of progress could be found in
mid ocean. Of the report of all this which Bartholomew may have made to
his brother we know absolutely nothing, and he seems not to have
returned to Spain till after a sojourn in France which ended in 1494.

[Sidenote: Columbus invited back to Portugal.]

It was believed by Irving that Columbus, having opened a correspondence
with the Portuguese king respecting a return to the service of that
country, had received from that monarch an epistle, dated March 20,
1488, in which he was permitted to come back, with the offer of
protection against any suit of civil or criminal nature, and that this
had been declined. We are left to conjecture of what suits of either
kind he could have been apprehensive.

Humboldt commends the sagacity of Navarrete in discerning that it was
not so much the persuasion of Diego de Deza which kept Columbus at this
time from accepting such royal offers, as the illicit connection which
he had formed in Cordoba with Doña Beatrix Enriquez, who before the
summer was over had given birth to a son.

On the other hand, that the permission was not neglected seems proved by
a memorandum made by Columbus's own hand in a copy of Pierre d'Ailly's
_Imago Mundi_, preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina at Seville, where,
under date of December, 1488, "at Lisbon," he speaks of the return of
Diaz from his voyage to the Cape of Good Hope. This proof is indeed
subject to the qualification that Las Casas has considered the
handwriting of the note to be that of Bartholomew Columbus, but Harrisse
has no question of its identity with the chirography of Columbus. This
last critic ventures the conjecture that it was in some way to settle
the estate of his wife that Columbus at this time visited Portugal.

[Sidenote: Spanish subsidies withheld.]

Columbus had ceased to receive the Spanish subsidies in June, 1488, or
at least we know no record of any later largess. Ferdinand was born to
him in August. It was very likely subsequent to this last event
that Columbus crossed the Spanish frontier into Portugal, if Harrisse's
view of his crossing at all be accepted. His stay was without doubt a
short one, and from 1489 to 1492 there is every indication that he never
left the Spanish kingdom.

[Sidenote: Duke of Medina-Celi harbors Columbus.]

We know on the testimony of a letter of Luis de la Cerda, the Duke of
Medina-Celi, given in Navarrete, that for two years after the arrival of
Columbus from Portugal he had been a guest under the duke's roof in
Cogulludo, and it seems to Harrisse probable that this gracious help on
the part of the duke was bestowed after the return to Spain. All that we
know with certainty of its date is that it occurred before the first
voyage, the duke himself mentioning it in a letter of March 19, 1493.

[Sidenote: 1489. Columbus ordered to Cordoba.]

It was not till May, 1489, when the court was again at Cordoba,
according to Diego Ortiz de Zuñiga, in his work on Seville, that the
sovereigns were gracious enough to order Columbus to appear there, when
they furnished him lodgings. They also, perhaps, at the same time,
issued a general order, dated at Cordoba May 12, in which all cities and
towns were directed to furnish suitable accommodations to Columbus and
his attendants, inasmuch as he was journeying in the royal service.

[Sidenote: Columbus at the siege of Baza.]

[Sidenote: Friars from the Holy Sepulchre.]

The year 1489 was a hazardous but fruitful one. The sovereigns were
pushing vigorously their conquest of the Moor. Isabella herself attended
the army, and may have appeared in the beleaguering lines about Baza, in
one of those suits of armor which are still shown to travelers. Zuñiga
says that Columbus arrayed himself among the combatants, and was
doubtless acquainted with the mission of two friars who had been
guardians of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. These priests arrived
during the siege, bringing a message from the Grand Soldan of Egypt, in
which that potentate threatened to destroy all Christians within his
grasp, unless the war against Granada should be stopped. The point of
driving the Moors from Spain was too nearly reached for such a threat to
be effective, and Isabella decreed the annual payment of a thousand
ducats to support the faithful custodians of the Sepulchre, and sent a
veil embroidered with her own hand to decorate the shrine. Irving traces
to this circumstance the impulse, which Columbus frequently in later
days showed, to devote the anticipated wealth of the Indies to a crusade
in Palestine, to recover and protect the Holy Sepulchre.

[Sidenote: Boabdil surrenders, December 22, 1489.]

[Sidenote: Columbus's views again considered.]

The campaign closed with the surrender on December 22 of the fortress of
Baza, when Spain received from Muley Boabdil, the elder of the rival
Moorish kings, all the territory which he claimed to have in his power.
In February, 1490, Ferdinand and Isabella entered Seville in triumph,
and a season of hilarity and splendor followed, signalized in the spring
by the celebration with great jubilation of the marriage of the Princess
Isabella with Don Alonzo, the heir to the crown of Portugal. These
engrossing scenes were little suited to give Columbus a chance to press
his projects on the Court. He soon found nothing could be done to get
the farther attention of the monarchs till some respites occurred in the
preparations for their final campaign against the younger Moorish king.
It was at this time, as Irving and others have conjectured, that the
consideration of the project of a western passage, which had been
dropped when events moved the Court from Salamanca, was again taken up
by such investigators as Talavera had summoned, and again the result was
an adverse decision. This determination was communicated by Talavera
himself to the sovereign, and it was accompanied by the opinion that it
did not become great princes to engage in such chimerical undertakings.

[Sidenote: Deza impressed.]

[Sidenote: Delays.]

It is supposed, however, that the decision was not reached without some
reservation in the minds of certain of the reviewers, and that
especially this was the case with Diego de Deza, who showed that the
stress of the arguments advanced by Columbus had not been without
result. This friar was tutor to Prince Juan, and it was not difficult
for him to modify the emphatic denial of the judges. It was the pride of
those who later erected the tombstone of Deza, in the cathedral at
Seville, to inscribe upon it that he was the generous and faithful
patron of Columbus. A temporizing policy was, therefore, adopted by the
monarchs, and Columbus was informed that for the present the perils and
expenses of the war called for an undivided attention, and that further
consideration of his project must be deferred till the war was over. It
was at Cordoba that this decision reached Columbus.

[Sidenote: Columbus goes to Seville; but is repelled.]

In his eagerness of hope he suspected that the judgment had received
some adverse color in passing through Talavera's mind, and so he
hastened to Seville, but only to meet the same chilling repulse from the
monarchs themselves. With dashed expectations he left the city, feeling
that the instrumentality of Talavera, as Peter Martyr tells us, had
turned the sovereigns against him.


[From Parcerisa and Quadrado's _España_.]]


[From Parcerisa and Quadrado's _España_.]]

[Sidenote: Seeks the grandees of Spain.]

[Sidenote: Medina-Sidonia and Medina-Celi.]

Columbus now sought to engage the attention of some of the powerful
grandees of Spain, who, though subjects, were almost autocratic in their
own regions, serving the Crown not so much as vassals as sympathetic
helpers in its wars. They were depended upon to recruit the armies from
their own trains and dependents; money came from their chests,
provisions from their estates, and ships from their own marine; their
landed patrimonies, indeed, covered long stretches of the coast, whose
harbors sheltered their considerable navies. Such were the dukes of
Medina-Sidonia and Medina-Celi. Columbus found in them, however, the
same wariness which he had experienced at the greater court. There was a
willingness to listen; they found some lures in the great hopes of
Eastern wealth which animated Columbus, but in the end there was the
same disappointment. One of them, the Duke of Medina-Celi, at last
adroitly parried the importunities of Columbus, by averring that the
project deserved the royal patronage rather than his meaner aid. He,
however, told the suitor, if a farther application should be made to the
Crown at some more opportune moment, he would labor with the queen in
its behalf. The duke kept his word, and we get much of what we know of
his interest in Columbus from the information given by one of the duke's
household to Las Casas. This differs so far as to make the duke, perhaps
as Harrisse thinks in the spring of 1491, actually fit out some caravels
for the use of Columbus; but when seeking a royal license, he was
informed that the queen had determined to embark in the enterprise
herself. Such a decision seems to carry this part of the story, at
least, forward to a time when Columbus was summoned from Rabida.

[Sidenote: Columbus at Rabida.]

A consultation which now took place at the convent of Rabida affords
particulars which the historians have found difficulty, as already
stated, in keeping distinct from those of an earlier visit, if there was
such. Columbus, according to the usual story, visited the convent
apparently in October or November, 1491, with the purpose of reclaiming
his son Diego, and taking him to Cordoba, where he might be left with
Ferdinand in the charge of the latter's mother. Columbus himself
intended to pass to France, to see if a letter, which had been received
from the king of France, might possibly open the way to the fulfillment
of his great hopes. It is represented that it was this expressed
intention of abandoning Spain which aroused the patriotism of Marchena,
who undertook to prevent the sacrifice.

[Sidenote: Marchena encourages him.]

[Sidenote: Talks with Pinzon.]

We derive what we know of his method of prevention from the testimony of
Garcia Fernandez, the physician of Palos, who has been cited in respect
to the alleged earlier visit. This witness says that he was summoned to
Rabida to confer with Columbus. It is also made a part of the story that
the head of a family of famous navigators in Palos, Martin Alonso
Pinzon, was likewise drawn into the little company assembled by the
friar to consider the new situation. Pinzon readily gave his adherence
to the views of Columbus. It is claimed, however, that the presence of
Pinzon is disproved by documents showing him to have been in Rome at
this time.

[Sidenote: Cousin's alleged voyage, 1488,]

[Sidenote: and Pinzon's supposed connection with it.]

An alleged voyage of Jean Cousin, in 1488, two years and more before
this, from Dieppe to the coast of Brazil, is here brought in by certain
French writers, like Estancelin and Gaffarel, as throwing some light on
the intercourse of Columbus and Pinzon, later if not now. It must be
acknowledged that few other than French writers have credited the voyage
at all. Major, who gave the story careful examination, utterly
discredits it. It is a part of the story that one Pinzon, a Castilian,
accompanied Cousin as a pilot, and this man is identified by these
French writers as the navigator who is now represented as yielding a
ready credence to the views of Columbus, and for the reason that he knew
more than he openly professed. They find in the later intercourse of
Columbus and this Pinzon certain evidence of the estimation in which
Columbus seemed to hold the practiced judgment, if not the knowledge, of
Pinzon. This they think conspicuous in the yielding which Columbus made
to Pinzon's opinion during Columbus's first voyage, in changing his
course to the southwest, which is taken to have been due to a knowledge
of Pinzon's former experience in passing those seas in 1488. They trace
to it the confidence of Pinzon in separating from the Admiral on the
coast of Cuba, and in his seeking to anticipate Columbus by an earlier
arrival at Palos, on the return, as the reader will later learn. Thus it
is ingeniously claimed that the pilot of Cousin and colleague of
Columbus were one and the same person. It has hardly convinced other
students than the French. When the Pinzon of the "Pinta" at a later day
was striving to discredit the leadership of Columbus, in the famous
suit of the Admiral's heirs, he could hardly, for any reason which the
French writers aver, have neglected so important a piece of evidence as
the fact of the Cousin voyage and his connection with it, if there had
been any truth in it.

[Sidenote: Pinzon aids Columbus,]

So we must be content, it is pretty clear, in charging Pinzon's
conversion to the views of Columbus at Rabida upon the efficacy of
Columbus's arguments. This success of Columbus brought some substantial
fruit in the promise which Pinzon now made to bear the expenses of a
renewed suit to Ferdinand and Isabella.

[Sidenote: and Rodriguez goes to Santa Fé, with a letter to the queen.]

[Sidenote: Marchena follows.]

[Sidenote: The queen invites Columbus once more.]

A conclusion to the deliberation of this little circle in the convent
was soon reached. Columbus threw his cause into the hands of his
friends, and agreed to rest quietly in the convent while they pressed
his claims. Perez wrote a letter of supplication to the Queen, and it
was dispatched by a respectable navigator of the neighborhood, Sebastian
Rodriguez. He found the Queen in the city of Santa Fé, which had grown
up in the military surroundings before the city of Granada, whose siege
the Spanish armies were then pressing. The epistle was opportune, for it
reënforced one which she had already received from the Duke of
Medina-Celi, who had been faithful to his promise to Columbus, and who,
judging from a letter which he wrote at a later day, March 19, 1493,
took to himself not a little credit that he had thus been instrumental,
as he thought, in preventing Columbus throwing himself into the service
of France. The result was that the pilot took back to Rabida an
intimation to Marchena that his presence would be welcome at Santa Fé.
So mounting his mule, after midnight, fourteen days after Rodriguez had
departed, the friar followed the pilot's tracks, which took him through
some of the regions already conquered from the Moors, and, reaching the
Court, presented himself before the Queen. Perez is said to have found a
seconder in Luis de Santangel, a fiscal officer of Aragon, and in the
Marchioness of Moya, one of the ladies of the household. The friar is
thought to have urged his petition so strongly that the Queen, who had
all along been more open to the representations of Columbus than
Ferdinand had been, finally determined to listen once more to the
Genoese's appeals.

[Sidenote: Columbus reaches Santa Fé, December, 1491.]

[Sidenote: Quintanilla and Mendoza.]

Learning of the poor plight of Columbus, she ordered a gratuity to be
sent to him, to restore his wardrobe and to furnish himself with the
conveniences of the journey. Perez, having borne back the happy news,
again returned to the Court, with Columbus under his protection. Thus
once more buoyed in hope, and suitably arrayed for appearing at Court,
Columbus, on his mule, early in December, 1491, rode into the camp at
Santa Fé, where he was received and provided with lodgings by the
accountant-general. This officer was one whom he had occasion happily to
remember, Alonso de Quintanilla, through whose offices it was, in the
end, that the Grand Cardinal of Spain, Mendoza, was at this time brought
into sympathy with the Genoese aspirant.

[Sidenote: Boabdil the younger submits.]

[Sidenote: The Moorish wars end.]

Military events were still too imposing, however, for any immediate
attention to his projects, and he looked on with admiration and a
reserved expectancy, while the grand parade of the final submission of
Boabdil the younger, the last of the Moorish kings, took place, and a
long procession of the magnificence of Spain moved forward from the
beleaguering camp to receive the keys of the Alhambra. Wars succeeding
wars for nearly eight centuries had now come to an end. The Christian
banner of Spain floated over the Moorish palace. The kingdom was alive
in all its provinces. Congratulation and jubilation, with glitter and
vauntings, pervaded the air.

[Sidenote: Talavera and Columbus.]

Few observed the humble Genoese who stood waiting the sovereigns'
pleasure during all this tumult of joy; but he was not forgotten. They
remembered, as he did, the promise given him at Seville. The war was
over, and the time was come. Talavera had by this time gone so far
towards an appreciation of Columbus's views that Peter Martyr tells him,
at a later day, that the project would not have succeeded without him.
He was directed to confer with the expectant dreamer, and Cardinal
Mendoza became prominent in the negotiations.

Columbus's position was thus changed. He had been a suitor. He was now
sought. He had been persuaded from his purposed visit to France, in
order that he might by his plans rehabilitate Spain with a new glory,
complemental to her martial pride. This view as presented by Perez to
Isabella had been accepted, and Columbus was summoned to present his

[Sidenote: The mistake of Columbus.]

Here, when he seemed at last to be on the verge of success, the poor
man, unused to good fortune, and mistaking its token, repeated the
mistake which had driven him an outcast from Portugal. His arrogant
spirit led him to magnify his importance before he had proved it; and he
failed in the modesty which marks a conquering spirit.

True science places no gratulations higher than those of its own
conscience. Copernicus was at this moment delving into the secrets of
nature like a nobleman of the universe. So he stands for all time in
lofty contrast to the plebeian nature and sordid cravings of his

[Sidenote: His pretensions.]

When, at the very outset of the negotiations, Talavera found this
uplifted suitor making demands that belonged rather to proved success
than to a contingent one, there was little prospect of accommodation,
unless one side or the other should abandon its position. If Columbus's
own words count for anything, he was conscious of being a
laughing-stock, while he was making claims for office and emoluments
that would mortgage the power of a kingdom. A dramatic instinct has in
many minds saved Columbus from the critical estimate of such
presumption. Irving and the French canonizers dwell on what strikes them
as constancy of purpose and loftiness of spirit. They marvel that
poverty, neglect, ridicule, contumely, and disappointment had not
dwarfed his spirit. This is the vulgar liking for the hero who is
without heroism, and the martyr who makes a trade of it. The honest
historian has another purpose. He tries to gauge pretense by wisdom.
Columbus was indeed to succeed; but his success was an error in
geography, and a failure in policy and in morals. The Crown was yet to
succumb; but its submission was to entail miseries upon Columbus and his
line, and a reproach upon Spain. The outcome to Columbus and to Spain is
the direst comment of all.

Columbus would not abate one jot of his pretensions, and an end was put
to the negotiations. Making up his mind to carry his suit to France, he
left Cordoba on his mule, in the beginning of February, 1492.



[Sidenote: Columbus leaves the Court.]

Columbus, a disheartened wanderer, with his back turned on the Spanish
Court, his mule plodding the road to Cordoba, offered a sad picture to
the few adherents whom he had left behind. They had grown to have his
grasp of confidence, but lacked his spirit to clothe an experimental
service with all the certainties of an accomplished fact.

[Sidenote: The Queen relents.]

The sight of the departing theorist abandoning the country, and going to
seek countenance at rival courts, stirred the Spanish pride. He and his
friends had, in mutual counsels, pictured the realms of the Indies made
tributary to the Spanish fame. It was this conception of a chance so
near fruition, and now vanishing, that moved Luis de Santangel and
Alonso de Quintanilla to determine on one last effort. They immediately
sought the Queen. In an audience the two advocates presented the case
anew, appealing to the royal ambition, to the opportunity of spreading
her holy religion, to the occasions of replenishing her treasure-chests,
emptied by the war, and to every other impulse, whether of pride or
patriotism. The trivial cost and risk were contrasted with the glowing
possibilities. They repeated the offer of Columbus to share an eighth of
the expense. They pictured her caravels, fitted out at a cost of not
more than 3,000,000 crowns, bearing the banner of Spain to these regions
of opulence. The vision, once fixed in the royal eye, spread under their
warmth of description, into succeeding glimpses of increasing splendor.
Finally the warmth and glory of an almost realized expectancy filled the
Queen's cabinet.

The conquest was made. The royal companion, the Marchioness of Moya, saw
and encouraged the kindling enthusiasm of Isabella; but a shade came
over the Queen's face. The others knew it was the thought of Ferdinand's
aloofness. The warrior of Aragon, with new conquests to regulate, with
a treasury drained almost to the last penny, would have little heart for
an undertaking in which his enthusiasm, if existing at all, had always
been dull as compared with hers. She solved the difficulty in a flash.
The voyage shall be the venture of Castile alone, and it shall be

[Sidenote: Columbus brought back.]

Orders were at once given for a messenger to overtake Columbus. A
horseman came up with him at the bridge of Pinòs, two leagues from
Granada. There was a moment's hesitancy, as thoughts of cruelly
protracted and suspended feelings in the past came over him. His
decision, however, was not stayed. He turned his mule, and journeyed
back to the city. Columbus was sought once more, and in a way to give
him the vantage which his imperious demands could easily use.

The interview with the Queen which followed removed all doubt of his
complete ascendency. Ferdinand in turn yielded to the persuasions of his
chamberlain, Juan Cabrero, and to the supplications of Isabella; but he
succumbed without faith, if the story which is told of him in relation
to the demand for similar concessions made twenty years later by Ponce
de Leon is to be believed. "Ah," said Ferdinand, to the discoverer of
Florida, "it is one thing to give a stretch of power when no one
anticipates the exercise of it; but we have learned something since
then; you will succeed, and it is another thing to give such power to
you." This story goes a great way to explain the later efforts of the
Crown to counteract the power which was, in the flush of excitement,
unwittingly given to the new Admiral.

[Sidenote: The Queen's jewels.]

The ensuing days were devoted to the arrangement of details. The usual
story, derived from the _Historie_, is that the Queen offered to pawn
her jewels, as her treasury of Castile could hardly furnish the small
sum required; but Harrisse is led to believe that the exigencies of the
war had already required this sacrifice of the Queen, though the
documentary evidence is wanting. Santangel, however, interposed. As
treasurer of the ecclesiastical revenues in Aragon, he was able to show
that while Isabella was foremost in promoting the enterprise, Ferdinand
could join her in a loan from these coffers; and so it was that the
necessary funds were, in reality, paid in the end from the revenues of
Aragon. This is the common story, enlarged by later writers upon the
narrative in Las Casas; but Harrisse finds no warrant for it, and judges
the advance of funds to have been by Santangel from his private
revenues, and in the interests of Castile only. And this seems to be
proved by the invariable exclusion of Ferdinand's subjects from
participating in the advantages of trade in the new lands, unless an
exception was made for some signal service. This rule, indeed,
prevailed, even after Ferdinand began to reign alone.

[Sidenote: Aims of the expedition.]

[Sidenote: End of the world approaching.]

There is something quite as amusing as edifying in the ostensible
purposes of all this endeavor. To tap the resources of the luxuriant
East might be gratifying, but it was holy to conceive that the energies
of the undertaking were going to fill the treasury out of which a new
crusade for the rescue of the Holy Sepulchre could be sustained. The
pearls and spices of the Orient, the gold and precious jewels of its
mines, might conduce to the gorgeous and luxurious display of the
throne, but there was a noble condescension in giving Columbus a
gracious letter to the Great Khan, and in hoping to seduce his subjects
to the sway of a religion that allowed to the heathen no rights but
conversion. There was at least a century and a half of such holy
endeavors left for the ministrants of the church, as was believed, since
the seven thousand years of the earth's duration was within one hundred
and fifty-five years of its close, as the calculations of King Alonso
showed. Columbus had been further drawn to these conclusions from his
study of that conglomerating cardinal, Pierre d'Ailly, whose works, in a
full edition, had been at this time only a few months in the book
stalls. Humboldt has gone into an examination of the data to show that
Columbus's calculation was singularly inexact; but the labor of
verification seems hardly necessary, except as a curious study of
absurdities. Columbus's career has too many such to detain us on any

[Sidenote: 1492. April 17. Agreement with Columbus.]

On April 17, 1492, the King and Queen signed at Santa Fé and delivered
to Columbus a passport to all persons in unknown parts, commending the
Admiral to their friendship. This paper is preserved in Barcelona. On
the same day the monarchs agreed to the conditions of a document which
was drawn by the royal secretary, Juan de Coloma, and is preserved
among the papers of the Duke of Veragua. It was printed from that copy
by Navarrete, and is again printed by Bergenroth as found at Barcelona.
As formulated in English by Irving, its purport is as follows:--

1. That Columbus should have for himself during his life, and for his
heirs and successors forever, the office of Admiral in all the lands and
continents which he might discover or acquire in the ocean, with similar
honors 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 of
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 or
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.

[Sidenote: 1492. April 30. Colummbus allowed to use the prefix Don.]

These capitulations were followed on the 30th of April by a commission
which the sovereigns signed at Granada, in which it was further granted
that the Admiral and his heirs should use the prefix Don.

[Sidenote: Arranges his domestic affairs.]

It is supposed he now gave some heed to his domestic concerns. We know
nothing, however, of any provision for the lonely Beatrix, but it is
said that he placed his boy Ferdinand, then but four years of age, at
school in Cordoba near his mother. He left his lawful son, Diego, well
provided for through an appointment by the Queen, on May 8, which made
him page to Prince Juan, the heir apparent.

[Sidenote: 1492. May. Reaches Palos.]

Columbus himself tells us that he then left Granada on the 12th of May,
1492, and went direct to Palos; stopping, however, on the way at Rabida,
to exchange congratulations with its friar, Juan Perez, if indeed he did
not lodge at the convent during his stay in the seaport.

[Sidenote: Palos described.]

Palos to-day consists of a double street of lowly, whitened houses, in a
depression among the hills. The guides point out the ruins of a larger
house, which was the home of the Pinzons. The Moorish mosque, converted
into St. George's church in Columbus's day, still stands on the hill,
just outside the village, with an image of St. George and the dragon
over its high altar, just as Columbus saw it, while above the church are
existing ruins of an old Moorish castle.

[Sidenote: Ships fitted out.]

The story which Las Casas has told of the fitting out of the vessels
does not agree in some leading particulars with that which Navarrete
holds to be more safely drawn from the documents which he has published.
The fact seems to be that two of the vessels of Columbus were not
constructed by the Duke of Medina-Sidonia, and later bought by the
Queen, as Las Casas says; but, it happening that the town of Palos, in
consequence of some offense to the royal dignity, had been mulcted in
the service of two armed caravels for twelve months, the opportunity was
now taken by royal order, dated April 30, 1492, of assigning this
service of crews and vessels to Columbus's fateful expedition.

[Sidenote: The Pinzons aid him.]

The royal command had also provided that Columbus might add a third
vessel, which he did with the aid, it is supposed, of the Pinzons,
though there is no documentary proof to show whence he acquired the
necessary means. Las Casas and Herrera, however, favor the supposition,
and it is of course sustained in the evidence adduced in the famous
trial which was intended to magnify the service of the Pinzons. It was
also directed that the seamen of the little fleet should receive the
usual wages of those serving in armed vessels, and be paid four months
in advance. All maritime towns were enjoined to furnish supplies at a
reasonable price. All criminal processes against anybody engaged for the
voyage were to be suspended, and this suspension was to last for two
months after the return.

[Sidenote: 1492. May 23. Demands two ships of Palos.]

[Sidenote: 1492. June 20. Vessels and crews impressed.]

[Sidenote: The Pinzons.]

It was on the 23d of May that, accompanied by Juan Perez, Columbus met
the people of Palos assembled in the church of St. George, while a
notary read the royal commands laid upon the town. It took a little time
for the simple people to divine the full extent of such an order,--its
consignment of fellow-creatures to the dreaded evils of the great
unknown ocean. The reluctance to enter upon the undertaking proved so
great, except among a few prisoners taken from the jails, that it became
necessary to report the obstacle to the Court, when a new peremptory
order was issued on June 20 to impress the vessels and crews. Juan de
Peñalosa, an officer of the royal household, appeared in Palos to
enforce this demand. Even such imperative measures availed little, and
it was not till Martin Alonso Pinzon came forward, and either by an
agreement to divide with Columbus the profits, or through some other
understanding,--for the testimony on the point is doubtful, and Las
Casas disbelieves any such division of profits,--exerted his influence,
in which he was aided by his brother, also a navigator, Vicente Yañez
Pinzon. There is a story traceable to a son of the elder Pinzon, who
testified in the Columbus lawsuit that Martin Alonso had at one time
become convinced of the existence of western lands from some documents
and charts which he had seen at Rome. The story, like that of his
companionship with Cousin, already referred to, has in it, however, many
elements of suspicion.

This help of the Pinzons proved opportune and did much to save the
cause, for it had up to this time seemed impossible to get vessels or
crews. The standing of these navigators as men and their promise to
embark personally put a new complexion on the undertaking, and within a
month the armament was made up. Harrisse has examined the evidence in
the matter to see if there is any proof that the Pinzons contributed
more than their personal influence, but there is no apparent ground for
believing they did, unless they stood behind Columbus in his share of
the expenses, which are computed at 500,000 maravedis, while those of
the Queen, arranged through Santangel, are reckoned at 1,140,000 of that
money. The fleet consisted, as Peter Martyr tells us, of two open
caravels, "Nina" and "Pinta"--the latter, with its crew, being pressed
into the service,--decked only at the extremities, where high prows and
poops gave quarters for the crews and their officers. A large-decked
vessel of the register known as a carack, and renamed by Columbus the
"Santa Maria," which proved "a dull sailer and unfit for discovery," was
taken by Columbus as his flagship. There is some confusion in the
testimony relating to the name of this ship. The _Historie_ alone calls
her by this name. Las Casas simply styles her "The Captain." One of the
pilots speaks of her as the "Mari Galante." Her owner was one Juan de la
Cosa, apparently not the same person as the navigator and cosmographer
later to be met, and he had command of her, while Pero Alonso Nino and
Sancho Ruis served as pilots.

[Sidenote: Character of the ships.]

Captain G. V. Fox has made an estimate of her dimensions from her
reputed tonnage by the scale of that time, and thinks she was
sixty-three feet over all in length, fifty-one feet along her keel,
twenty feet beam, and ten and a half in depth.

[Sidenote: The crews.]

The two Pinzons were assigned to the command of the other
caravels,--Martin Alonso to the "Pinta," the larger of the two, with a
third brother of his as pilot, and Vicente Yañez to the "Nina." Many
obstacles and the natural repugnances of sailors to embark in so
hazardous a service still delayed the preparations, but by the beginning
of August the arrangements were complete, and a hundred and twenty
persons, as Peter Martyr and Oviedo tell us, but perhaps the _Historie_
and Las Casas are more correct in saying ninety in all, were ready to be
committed to what many of them felt were most desperate fortunes. Duro
has of late published in his _Colón y Pinzon_ what purports to be a list
of their names. It shows in Tallerte de Lajes a native of England who
has been thought to be one named in his vernacular Arthur Lake; and
Guillemio Ires, called of Galway, has sometimes been fancied to have
borne in his own land the name perhaps of Rice, Herries, or Harris.
There was no lack of the formal assignments usual in such important
undertakings. There was a notary to record the proceedings and a
historian to array the story; an interpreter to be prepared with Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Coptic, and Armenian, in the hopes that one of
these tongues might serve in intercourse with the great Asiatic
potentates, and a metallurgist to pronounce upon precious ores. They
were not without a physician and a surgeon. It does not appear if their
hazards should require the last solemn rites that there was any priest
to shrive them; but Columbus determined to start with all the solemnity
that a confession and the communion could impart, and this service was
performed by Juan Perez, both for him and for his entire company.

[Sidenote: Sailing directions from the Crown.]

The directions of the Crown also provided that Columbus should avoid the
Guinea coast and all other possessions of the Portuguese, which seems to
be little more than a striking manifestation of a certain kind of
incredulity respecting what Columbus, after all, meant by sailing west.
Indeed, there was necessarily more or less vagueness in everybody's mind
as to what a western passage would reveal, or how far a westerly course
might of necessity be swung one way or the other.

[Sidenote: Islands first to be sought.]

The _Historie_ tells us distinctly that Columbus hoped to find some
intermediate land before reaching India, to be used, as the modern
phrase goes, as a sort of base of operations. This hope rested on the
belief, then common, that there was more land than sea on the earth, and
consequently that no wide stretch of ocean could exist without
interlying lands.

There was, moreover, no confidence that such things as floating islands
might not be encountered. Pliny and Seneca had described them, and
Columbus was inclined to believe that St. Brandan and the Seven Cities,
and such isles as the dwellers at the Azores had claimed to see in the
offing, might be of this character.

There seems, in fact, to be ground for believing that Columbus thought
his course to the Asiatic shores could hardly fail to bring him in view
of other regions or islands lying in the western ocean. Muñoz holds that
"the glory of such discoveries inflamed him still more, perhaps, than
his chief design."

[Sidenote: Asiatic archipelago.]

That a vast archipelago would, be the first land encountered was not
without confident believers. The Catalan map of 1374 had shown such
islands in vast numbers, amounting to 7,548 in all; Marco Polo had made
them 12,700, or was thought to do so; and Behaim was yet to cite the
latter on his globe.

[Sidenote: Behaim's globe.]

It was, indeed, at this very season that Behaim, having returned from
Lisbon to his home in Nuremberg, had imparted to the burghers of that
inland town those great cosmographical conceptions, which he was
accustomed to hear discussed in the Atlantic seaports. Such views were
exemplified in a large globe which Behaim had spent the summer in
constructing in Nuremberg. It was made of pasteboard covered with
parchment, and is twenty-one inches in diameter.

[Illustration: BEHAIM'S GLOBE, 1492.

_Note._ The curved sides of these cuts divide the Globe in the mid

[Illustration: BEHAIM'S GLOBE, 1492.

[Taken from Ernest Mayer's _Die Hilfsmittel der Schiffahrtkunde_ (Wein,


[Sidenote: Laon globe.]

It shows the equator, the tropics, the polar circle, in a latitudinal
way; but the first meridian, passing through Madeira, is the only one of
the longitudinal sectors which it represents. Behaim had in this work
the help of Holtzschner, and the globe has come down to our day,
preserved in the town hall at Nuremberg, one of the sights and honors of
that city. It shares the credit, however, with another, called the Laon
globe, as the only well-authenticated geographical spheres which date
back of the discovery of America. This Laon globe is much smaller, being
only six inches in diameter; and though it is dated 1493, it is thought
to have been made a few years earlier,--as D'Avezac thinks, in 1486.


Clements K. Markham, in a recent edition of Robert Hues' _Tractatus de
Globis_, cites Nordenskiöld as considering Behaim's globe, without
comparison, the most important geographical document since the atlas of
Ptolemy, in A. D. 150. "He points out that it is the first which
unreservedly adopts the existence of antipodes; the first which clearly
shows that there is a passage from Europe to India; the first which
attempts to deal with the discoveries of Marco Polo. It is an exact
representation of geographical knowledge immediately previous to the
first voyage of Columbus."

The Behaim globe has become familiar by many published drawings.

[Sidenote: Toscanelli's map.]

It has been claimed that Columbus probably took with him, on his voyage,
the map which he had received from Toscanelli, with its delineation of
the interjacent and island-studded ocean, which washed alike the shores
of Europe and Asia, and that it was the subject of study by him and
Pinzon at a time when Columbus refers in his journal to the use they
made of a chart.

That Toscanelli's map long survived the voyage is known, and Las Casas
used it. Humboldt has not the same confidence which Sprengel had, that
at this time it crossed the sea in the "Santa Maria;" and he is inclined
rather to suppose that the details of Toscanelli's chart, added to all
others which Columbus had gathered from the maps of Bianco and
Benincasa--for it is not possible he could have seen the work of Behaim,
unless indeed, in fragmentary preconceptions--must have served him
better as laid down on a chart of his own drafting. There is good reason
to suppose that, more than once, with the skill which he is known to
have possessed, he must have made such charts, to enforce and
demonstrate his belief, which, though in the main like that of
Toscanelli, were in matters of distance quite different.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1492, August 3, Columbus sails.]

So, everything being ready, on the third of August, 1492, a half hour
before sunrise, he unmoored his little fleet in the stream and,
spreading his sails, the vessels passed out of the little river
roadstead of Palos, gazed after, perhaps, in the increasing light, as
the little crafts reached the ocean, by the friar of Rabida, from its
distant promontory of rock.


(From Medina's _Arte de Navegar_, 1545.)]

[Sidenote: On Friday.]

The day was Friday, and the advocates of Columbus's canonization have
not failed to see a purpose in its choice, as the day of our Redemption,
and as that of the deliverance of the Holy Sepulchre by Geoffrey de
Bouillon, and of the rendition of Granada, with the fall of the Moslem
power in Spain. We must resort to the books of such advocates, if we
would enliven the picture with a multitude of rites and devotional
feelings that they gather in the meshes of the story of the departure.
They supply to the embarkation a variety of detail that their holy
purposes readily imagine, and place Columbus at last on his poop, with
the standard of the Cross, the image of the Saviour nailed to the holy
wood, waving in the early breezes that heralded the day. The
embellishments may be pleasing, but they are not of the strictest

[Illustration: SHIP, 1486.]

[Sidenote: Keeps a journal.]

In order that his performance of an embassy to the princes of the East
might be duly chronicled, Columbus determined, as his journal says, to
keep an account of the voyage by the west, "by which course," he says,
"unto the present time, we do not know, _for certain_, that any one has
passed." It was his purpose to write down, as he proceeded, everything
he saw and all that he did, and to make a chart of his discoveries, and
to show the directions of his track.

[Illustration: [From Bethencourt's _Canarian_, London, 1872.]]

[Sidenote: The "Pinta" disabled.]

Nothing occurred during those early August days to mar his run to the
Canaries, except the apprehension which he felt that an accident,
happening to the rudder of the "Pinta,"--a steering gear now for some
time in use, in place of the old lateral paddles,--was a trick of two
men, her owners, Gomez Rascon and Christopher Quintero, to impede a
voyage in which they had no heart. The Admiral knew the disposition of
these men well enough not to be surprised at the mishap, but he tried to
feel secure in the prompt energy of Pinzon, who commanded the "Pinta."

[Sidenote: Reaches the Canaries.]

As he passed (August 24-25, 1492) the peak of Teneriffe, it was the time
of an eruption, of which he makes bare mention in his journal. It is to
the corresponding passages of the _Historie_, that we owe the somewhat
sensational stories of the terrors of the sailors, some of whom
certainly must long have been accustomed to like displays in the
volcanoes of the Mediterranean.

[Sidenote: 1492. September 6, leaves Gomera.]

At the Gran Canaria the "Nina" was left to have her lateen sails changed
to square ones; and the "Pinta," it being found impossible to find a
better vessel to take her place, was also left to be overhauled for her
leaks, and to have her rudder again repaired, while Columbus visited
Gomera, another of the islands. The fleet was reunited at Gomera on
September 2. Here he fell in with some residents of Ferro, the
westernmost of the group, who repeated the old stories of land
occasionally seen from its heights, lying towards the setting sun.
Having taking on board wood, water, and provisions, Columbus finally
sailed from Gomera on the morning of Thursday, September 6. He seems to
have soon spoken a vessel from Ferro, and from this he learned that
three Portuguese caravels were lying in wait for him in the neighborhood
of that island, with a purpose as he thought of visiting in some way
upon him, for having gone over to the interests of Spain, the
indignation of the Portuguese king. He escaped encountering them.

[Sidenote: Sunday, September 9, 1492.]

[Sidenote: Falsifies his reckoning.]

Up to Sunday, September 9, they had experienced so much calm weather,
that their progress had been slow. This tediousness soon raised an
apprehension in the mind of Columbus that the voyage might prove too
long for the constancy of his men. He accordingly determined to falsify
his reckoning. This deceit was a large confession of his own timidity in
dealing with his crew, and it marked the beginning of a long struggle
with deceived and mutinous subordinates, which forms so large a part of
the record of his subsequent career.


[Taken from the map in Blanchero's _La Tavola di Bronzo_ (Geneva,

[Illustration: COLUMBUS'S TRACK IN 1492.] The result of Monday's sail,
which he knew to be sixty leagues, he noted as forty-eight, so that the
distance from home might appear less than it was. He continued to
practice this deceit.

[Sidenote: His dead reckoning.]

The distances given by Columbus are those of dead reckoning beyond any
question. Lieutenant Murdock, of the United States navy, who has
commented on this voyage, makes his league the equivalent of three
modern nautical miles, and his mile about three quarters of our present
estimate for that distance. Navarrete says that Columbus reckoned in
Italian miles, which are a quarter less than a Spanish mile. The Admiral
had expected to make land after sailing about seven hundred leagues from
Ferro; and in ordering his vessels in case of separation to proceed
westward, he warned them when they sailed that distance to come to the
wind at night, and only to proceed by day.

The log as at present understood in navigation had not yet been devised.
Columbus depended in judging of his speed on the eye alone, basing his
calculations on the passage of objects or bubbles past the ship, while
the running out of his hour glasses afforded the multiple for long

[Sidenote: 1492. September 13.]

[Sidenote: Reaches point of no variation of the needle.]

[Sidenote: Knowledge of the magnet.]

On Thursday, the 13th of September, he notes that the ships were
encountering adverse currents. He was now three degrees west of Flores,
and the needle of the compass pointed as it had never been observed
before, directly to the true north. His observation of this fact marks a
significant point in the history of navigation. The polarity of the
magnet, an ancient possession of the Chinese, had been known perhaps for
three hundred years, when this new spirit of discovery awoke in the
fifteenth century. The Indian Ocean and its traditions were to impart,
perhaps through the Arabs, perhaps through the returning Crusaders, a
knowledge of the magnet to the dwellers on the shores of the
Mediterranean, and to the hardier mariners who pushed beyond the Pillars
of Hercules, so that the new route to that same Indian Ocean was made
possible in the fifteenth century. The way was prepared for it
gradually. The Catalans from the port of Barcelona pushed out into the
great Sea of Darkness under the direction of their needles, as early at
least as the twelfth century. The pilots of Genoa and Venice, the hardy
Majorcans and the adventurous Moors, were followers of almost equal

[Illustration: [From the _United States Coast Survey Report_, 1880, No.

[Sidenote: Variation of the needle.]

A knowledge of the variation of the needle came more slowly to be known
to the mariners of the Mediterranean. It had been observed by Peregrini
as early as 1269, but that knowledge of it which rendered it greatly
serviceable in voyages does not seem to be plainly indicated in any of
the charts of these transition centuries, till we find it laid down on
the maps of Andrea Bianco in 1436.

[Illustration: [From Hirth's _Bilderbuch_, vol. iii.]]

It was no new thing then when Columbus, as he sailed westward, marked
the variation, proceeding from the northeast more and more westerly; but
it was a revelation when he came to a position where the magnetic north
and the north star stood in conjunction, as they did on this 13th of
September, 1492.

[Sidenote: Columbus's misconception of the line of no variation.]

[Sidenote: Sebastian Cabot's observations of its help in determining

As he still moved westerly the magnetic line was found to move farther
and farther away from the pole as it had before the 13th approached it.
To an observer of Columbus's quick perceptions, there was a ready guess
to possess his mind. This inference was that this line of no variation
was a meridian line, and that divergences from it east and west might
have a regularity which would be found to furnish a method of
ascertaining longitude far easier and surer than tables or water clocks.
We know that four years later he tried to sail his ship on observations
of this kind. The same idea seems to have occurred to Sebastian Cabot,
when a little afterwards he approached and passed in a higher latitude,
what he supposed to be the meridian of no variation. Humboldt is
inclined to believe that the possibility of such a method of
ascertaining longitude was that uncommunicable secret, which Sebastian
Cabot many years later hinted at on his death-bed.

The claim was made near a century later by Livio Sanuto in his
_Geographia_, published at Venice, in 1588, that Sebastian Cabot had
been the first to observe this variation, and had explained it to Edward
VI., and that he had on a chart placed the line of no variation at a
point one hundred and ten miles west of the island of Flores in the

[Sidenote: Various views.]

These observations of Columbus and Cabot were not wholly accepted during
the sixteenth century. Robert Hues, in 1592, a hundred years later,
tells us that Medina, the Spanish grand pilot, was not disinclined to
believe that mariners saw more in it than really existed and that they
found it a convenient way to excuse their own blunders. Nonius was
credited with saying that it simply meant that worn-out magnets were
used, which had lost their power to point correctly to the pole. Others
had contended that it was through insufficient application of the
loadstone to the iron that it was so devious in its work.


[From R. Mercator's Atlas of 1595.]]

[Sidenote: Better understood.]

What was thought possible by the early navigators possessed the minds of
all seamen in varying experiments for two centuries and a half. Though
not reaching such satisfactory results as were hoped for, the
expectation did not prove so chimerical as was sometimes imagined when
it was discovered that the lines of variation were neither parallel, nor
straight, nor constant. The line of no variation which Columbus found
near the Azores has moved westward with erratic inclinations, until
to-day it is not far from a straight line from Carolina to Guiana.
Science, beginning with its crude efforts at the hands of Alonzo de
Santa Cruz, in 1530, has so mapped the surface of the globe with
observations of its multifarious freaks of variation, and the changes
are so slow, that a magnetic chart is not a bad guide to-day for
ascertaining the longitude in any latitude for a few years neighboring
to the date of its records. So science has come round in some measure to
the dreams of Columbus and Cabot.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus remarks on changes of temperature and aberrations of

But this was not the only development which came from this ominous day
in the mid Atlantic in that September of 1492. The fancy of Columbus was
easily excited, and notions of a change of climate, and even aberrations
of the stars were easily imagined by him amid the strange phenomena of
that untracked waste.

While Columbus was suspecting that the north star was somewhat willfully
shifting from the magnetic pole, now to a distance of 5° and then of
10°, the calculations of modern astronomers have gauged the polar
distance existing in 1492 at 3° 28´, as against the 1° 20´ of to-day.
The confusion of Columbus was very like his confounding an old world
with a new, inasmuch as he supposed it was the pole star and not the
needle which was shifting.

[Sidenote: Imagines a protuberance on the earth.]

He argued from what he saw, or thought he saw, that the line of no
variation marked the beginning of a protuberance of the earth, up which
he ascended as he sailed westerly, and that this was the reason of the
cooler weather which he experienced. He never got over some notions of
this kind, and believed he found confirmation of them in his later

[Sidenote: The magnetic pole.]

Even as early as the reign of Edward III. of England, Nicholas of Lynn,
a voyager to the northern seas, is thought to have definitely fixed the
magnetic pole in the Arctic regions, transmitting his views to Cnoyen,
the master of the later Mercator, in respect to the four circumpolar
islands, which in the sixteenth century made so constant a surrounding
of the northern pole.

[Sidenote: 1492. September 14.]

[Sidenote: September 15.]

[Sidenote: September 16.]

[Sidenote: Sargasso Sea.]

The next day (September 14), after these magnetic observations, a water
wagtail was seen from the "Nina,"--a bird which Columbus thought
unaccustomed to fly over twenty-five leagues from land, and the ships
were now, according to their reckoning, not far from two hundred leagues
from the Canaries. On Saturday, they saw a distant bolt of fire fall
into the sea. On Sunday, they had a drizzling rain, followed by pleasant
weather, which reminded Columbus of the nightingales, gladdening the
climate of Andalusia in April. They found around the ships much green
floatage of weeds, which led them to think some islands must be near.
Navarrete thinks there was some truth in this, inasmuch as the charts of
the early part of this century represent breakers as having been seen in
1802, near the spot where Columbus can be computed to have been at this
time. Columbus was in fact within that extensive _prairie_ of floating
seaweed which is known as the Sargasso Sea, whose principal longitudinal
axis is found in modern times to lie along the parallel of 41° 30´, and
the best calculations which can be made from the rather uncertain data
of Columbus's journal seem to point to about the same position.

There is nothing in all these accounts, as we have them abridged by Las
Casas, to indicate any great surprise, and certainly nothing of the
overwhelming fear which, the _Historie_ tells us, the sailors
experienced when they found their ships among these floating masses of
weeds, raising apprehension of a perpetual entanglement in their
swashing folds.

[Sidenote: 1492. September 17.]

[Sidenote: September 18.]

The next day (September 17) the currents became favorable, and the weeds
still floated about them. The variation of the needle now became so
great that the seamen were dismayed, as the journal says, and the
observation being repeated Columbus practiced another deceit and made it
appear that there had been really no variation, but only a shifting of
the polar star! The weeds were now judged to be river weeds, and a live
crab was found among them,--a sure sign of near land, as Columbus
believed, or affected to believe. They killed a tunny and saw others.
They again observed a water wagtail, "which does not sleep at sea." Each
ship pushed on for the advance, for it was thought the goal was near.
The next day the "Pinta" shot ahead and saw great flocks of birds
towards the west. Columbus conceived that the sea was growing fresher.
Heavy clouds hung on the northern horizon, a sure sign of land, it was

[Sidenote: 1492. September 19.]

On the next day two pelicans came on board, and Columbus records that
these birds are not accustomed to go twenty leagues from land. So he
sounded with a line of two hundred fathoms to be sure he was not
approaching land; but no bottom was found. A drizzling rain also
betokened land, which they could not stop to find, but would search for
on their return, as the journal says. The pilots now compared their
reckonings. Columbus said they were 400 leagues, while the "Pinta's"
record showed 420, and the "Nina's" 440.

[Sidenote: 1492. September 20.]

[Sidenote: September 22. Changes his course.]

[Sidenote: Head wind.]

[Sidenote: September 25.]

On September 20, other pelicans came on board; and the ships were again
among the weeds. Columbus was determined to ascertain if these indicated
shoal water and sounded, but could not reach bottom. The men caught a
bird with feet like a gull; but they were convinced it was a river bird.
Then singing land-birds, as was fancied, hovered about as it darkened,
but they disappeared before morning. Then a pelican was observed flying
to the southwest, and as "these birds sleep on shore, and go to sea in
the morning," the men encouraged themselves with the belief that they
could not be far from land. The next day a whale could but be another
indication of land; and the weeds covered the sea all about. On
Saturday, they steered west by northwest, and got clear of the weeds.
This change of course so far to the north, which had begun on the
previous day, was occasioned by a head wind, and Columbus says that he
welcomed it, because it had the effect of convincing the sailors that
westerly winds to return by were not impossible. On Sunday (September
23), they found the wind still varying; but they made more westering
than before,--weeds, crabs, and birds still about them. Now there was
smooth water, which again depressed the seamen; then the sea arose,
mysteriously, for there was no wind to cause it. They still kept their
course westerly and continued it till the night of September 25.

[Sidenote: Appearances of land.]

[Sidenote: Again changes his course.]

[Sidenote: September 26.]

[Sidenote: 1492. September 27.]

[Sidenote: September 30.]

[Sidenote: October 1.]

[Sidenote: October 3.]

[Sidenote: October 6.]

[Sidenote: October 7.]

[Sidenote: Shifts his course to follow some birds.]

Columbus at this time conferred with Pinzon, as to a chart which they
carried, which showed some islands, near where they now supposed the
ships to be. That they had not seen land, they believed was either due
to currents which had carried them too far north, or else their
reckoning was not correct. At sunset Pinzon hailed the Admiral, and said
he saw land, claiming the reward. The two crews were confident that such
was the case, and under the lead of their commanders they all kneeled
and repeated the _Gloria in Excelsis_. The land appeared to lie
southwest, and everybody saw the apparition. Columbus changed the
fleet's course to reach it; and as the vessels went on, in the smooth
sea, the men had the heart, under their expectation, to bathe in its
amber glories. On Wednesday, they were undeceived, and found that the
clouds had played them a trick. On the 27th their course lay more
directly west. So they went on, and still remarked upon all the birds
they saw and weed-drift which they pierced. Some of the fowl they
thought to be such as were common at the Cape de Verde Islands, and were
not supposed to go far to sea. On the 30th September, they still
observed the needles of their compasses to vary, but the journal records
that it was the pole star which moved, and not the needle. On October 1,
Columbus says they were 707 leagues from Ferro; but he had made his crew
believe they were only 584. As they went on, little new for the next few
days is recorded in the journal; but on October 3, they thought they saw
among the weeds something like fruits. By the 6th, Pinzon began to urge
a southwesterly course, in order to find the islands, which the signs
seemed to indicate in that direction. Still the Admiral would not swerve
from his purpose, and kept his course westerly. On Sunday, the "Nina"
fired a bombard and hoisted a flag as a signal that she saw land, but it
proved a delusion. Observing towards evening a flock of birds flying to
the southwest, the Admiral yielded to Pinzon's belief, and shifted his
course to follow the birds. He records as a further reason for it that
it was by following the flight of birds that the Portuguese had been so
successful in discovering islands in other seas.

[Sidenote: Cipango.]

Columbus now found himself two hundred miles and more farther than the
three thousand miles west of Spain, where he supposed Cipango to lie,
and he was 25-1/2° north of the equator, according to his astrolabe. The
true distance of Cipango or Japan was sixty-eight hundred miles still
farther, or beyond both North America and the Pacific. How much beyond
that island, in its supposed geographical position, Columbus expected to
find the Asiatic main we can only conjecture from the restorations which
modern scholars have made of Toscanelli's map, which makes the island
about 10° east of Asia, and from Behaim's globe, which makes it 20°. It
should be borne in mind that the knowledge of its position came from
Marco Polo, and he does not distinctly say how far it was from the
Asiatic coast. In a general way, as to these distances from Spain to
China, Toscanelli and Behaim agreed, and there is no reason to believe
that the views of Columbus were in any noteworthy degree different.

[Sidenote: Relations of Pinzon to the change of course.]

In the trial, years afterwards, when the Fiscal contested the rights of
Diego Colon, it was put in evidence by one Vallejo, a seaman, that
Pinzon was induced to urge the direction to be changed to the southwest,
because he had in the preceding evening observed a flight of parrots in
that direction, which could have only been seeking land. It was the main
purpose of the evidence in this part of the trial to show that Pinzon
had all along forced Columbus forward against his will.

How pregnant this change of course in the vessels of Columbus was has
not escaped the observation of Humboldt and many others. A day or two
further on his westerly way, and the Gulf Stream would, perhaps,
insensibly have borne the little fleet up the Atlantic coast of the
future United States, so that the banner of Castile might have been
planted at Carolina.

[Sidenote: October 7.]

[Sidenote: October 8-10.]

On the 7th of October, Columbus was pretty nearly in latitude 25°
50',--that of one of the Bahama Islands. Just where he was by longitude
there is much more doubt, probably between 65° and 66°. On the next day
the land birds flying along the course of the ships seemed to confirm
their hopes. On the 10th the journal records that the men began to lose
patience; but the Admiral reassured them by reminding them of the
profits in store for them, and of the folly of seeking to return, when
they had already gone so far.

[Sidenote: Story of a mutiny.]

It is possible that, in this entry, Columbus conceals the story which
later came out in the recital of Oviedo, with more detail than in the
_Historie_ and Las Casas, that the rebellion of his crew was threatening
enough to oblige him to promise to turn back if land was not discovered
in three days. Most commentators, however, are inclined to think that
this story of a mutinous revolt was merely engrafted from hearsay or
other source by Oviedo upon the more genuine recital, and that the
conspiracy to throw the Admiral into the sea has no substantial basis in
contemporary report. Irving, who has a dramatic tendency throughout his
whole account of the voyage to heighten his recital with touches of the
imagination, nevertheless allows this, and thinks that Oviedo was misled
by listening to a pilot, who was a personal enemy of the Admiral.

The elucidations of the voyage which were drawn out in the famous suit
of Diego with the Crown in 1513 and 1515, afford no ground for any
belief in this story of the mutiny and the concession of Columbus to it.

It is not, however, difficult to conceive the recurrent fears of his men
and the incessant anxiety of Columbus to quiet them. From what Peter
Martyr tells us,--and he may have got it directly from Columbus's
lips,--the task was not an easy one to preserve subordination and to
instill confidence. He represents that Columbus was forced to resort in
turn to argument, persuasion, and enticements, and to picture the
misfortunes of the royal displeasure.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 11.]

The next day, notwithstanding a heavier sea than they had before
encountered, certain signs sufficed to lift them out of their
despondency. These were floating logs, or pieces of wood, one of them
apparently carved by hand, bits of cane, a green rush, a stalk of rose
berries, and other drifting tokens.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 11. Steer west.]

[Sidenote: Columbus sees a light.]

Their southwesterly course had now brought them down to about the
twenty-fourth parallel, when after sunset on the 11th they shifted their
course to due west, while the crew of the Admiral's ship united, with
more fervor than usual, in the _Salve Regina_. At about ten o'clock
Columbus, peering into the night, thought he saw--if we may believe
him--a moving light, and pointing out the direction to Pero Gutierrez,
this companion saw it too; but another, Rodrigo Sanchez, situated
apparently on another part of the vessel, was not able to see it. It was
not brought to the attention of any others. The Admiral says that the
light seemed to be moving up and down, and he claimed to have got other
glimpses of its glimmer at a later moment. He ordered the _Salve_ to be
chanted, and directed a vigilant watch to be set on the forecastle. To
sharpen their vision he promised a silken jacket, beside the income of
ten thousand maravedis which the King and Queen had offered to the
fortunate man who should first descry the coveted land.

This light has been the occasion of much comment, and nothing will ever,
it is likely, be settled about it, further than that the Admiral, with
an inconsiderate rivalry of a common sailor who later saw the actual
land, and with an ungenerous assurance ill-befitting a commander,
pocketed a reward which belonged to another. If Oviedo, with his
prejudices, is to be believed, Columbus was not even the first who
claimed to have seen this dubious light. There is a common story that
the poor sailor, who was defrauded, later turned Mohammedan, and went to
live among that juster people. There is a sort of retributive justice in
the fact that the pension of the Crown was made a charge upon the
shambles of Seville, and thence Columbus received it till he died.

Whether the light is to be considered a reality or a fiction will depend
much on the theory each may hold regarding the position of the landfall.
When Columbus claimed to have discovered it, he was twelve or fourteen
leagues away from the island where, four hours later, land was
indubitably found. Was the light on a canoe? Was it on some small,
outlying island, as has been suggested? Was it a torch carried from hut
to hut, as Herrera avers? Was it on either of the other vessels? Was it
on the low island on which, the next morning, he landed? There was no
elevation on that island sufficient to show even a strong light at a
distance of ten leagues. Was it a fancy or a deceit? No one can say.
It is very difficult for Navarrete, and even for Irving, to rest
satisfied with what, after all, may have been only an illusion of a
fevered mind, making a record of the incident in the excitement of a
wonderful hour, when his intelligence was not as circumspect as it might
have been.

[Illustration: THE LANDFALL OF COLUMBUS, 1492.

[After Ruge.]]

[Sidenote: 1492, October 12, land discovered.]

[Sidenote: Guanahani.]

Four hours after the light was seen, at two o'clock in the morning, when
the moon, near its third quarter, was in the east, the "Pinta" keeping
ahead, one of her sailors, Rodrigo de Triana, descried the land, two
leagues away, and a gun communicated the joyful intelligence to the
other ships. The fleet took in sail, and each vessel, under backed
sheets, was pointed to the wind. Thus they waited for daybreak. It was a
proud moment of painful suspense for Columbus; and brimming hopes,
perhaps fears of disappointment, must have accompanied that hour of
wavering enchantment. It was Friday, October 12, of the old chronology,
and the little fleet had been thirty-three days on its way from the
Canaries, and we must add ten days more, to complete the period since
they left Palos. The land before them was seen, as the day dawned, to be
a small island, "called in the Indian tongue" Guanahani. Some naked
natives were descried. The Admiral and the commanders of the other
vessels prepared to land. Columbus took the royal standard and the
others each a banner of the green cross, which bore the initials of the
sovereign with a cross between, a crown surmounting every letter. Thus,
with the emblems of their power, and accompanied by Rodrigo de Escoveda
and Rodrigo Sanchez and some seamen, the boat rowed to the shore. They
immediately took formal possession of the land, and the notary recorded

[Illustration: COLUMBUS'S ARMOR.]

[Illustration: BAHAMA ISLANDS

[From Major's _Select Letters of Columbus_, 2d Edition.]]

[Illustration: BAHAMA ISLANDS

[From Major's _Select Letters of Columbus_, 2d Edition.]]

[Sidenote: Columbus lands and utters a prayer.]

The words of the prayer usually given as uttered by Columbus on taking
possession of San Salvador, when he named the island, cannot be traced
farther back than a collection of _Tablas Chronologicas_, got together
at Valencia in 1689, by a Jesuit father, Claudio Clemente. Harrisse
finds no authority for the statement of the French canonizers that
Columbus established a form of prayer which was long in vogue, for such
occupations of new lands.

Las Casas, from whom we have the best account of the ceremonies of the
landing, does not mention it; but we find pictured in his pages the
grave impressiveness of the hour; the form of Columbus, with a crimson
robe over his armor, central and grand; and the humbleness of his
followers in their contrition for the hours of their faint-heartedness.

[Sidenote: The island described.]

Columbus now enters in his journal his impressions of the island and its
inhabitants. He says of the land that it bore green trees, was watered
by many streams, and produced divers fruits. In another place he speaks
of the island as flat, without lofty eminence, surrounded by reefs, with
a lake in the interior.

The courses and distances of his sailing both before and on leaving the
island, as well as this description, are the best means we have of
identifying the spot of this portentous landfall. The early maps may
help in a subsidiary way, but with little precision.

[Sidenote: Identification of the landfall.]

There is just enough uncertainty and contradiction respecting the data
and arguments applied in the solution of this question, to render it
probable that men will never quite agree which of the Bahamas it was
upon which these startled and exultant Europeans first stepped. Though
Las Casas reports the journal of Columbus unabridged for a period after
the landfall, he unfortunately condenses it for some time previous.
There is apparently no chance of finding geographical conditions that in
every respect will agree with this record of Columbus, and we must
content ourselves with what offers the fewest disagreements. An obvious
method, if we could depend on Columbus's dead reckoning, would be to see
for what island the actual distance from the Canaries would be nearest
to his computed run; but currents and errors of the eye necessarily
throw this sort of computation out of the question, and Capt. G. A. Fox,
who has tried it, finds that Cat Island is three hundred and seventeen,
the Grand Turk six hundred and twenty-four nautical miles, and the other
supposable points at intermediate distances out of the way as compared
with his computation of the distance run by Columbus, three thousand
four hundred and fifty-eight of such miles.

[Sidenote: The Bahamas.]

[Sidenote: San Salvador, or Cat Island.]

[Sidenote: Other islands.]

[Sidenote: Methods of identification.]

[Sidenote: Acklin Island.]

The reader will remember the Bahama group as a range of islands, islets,
and rocks, said to be some three thousand in number, running southeast
from a point part way up the Florida coast, and approaching at the other
end the coast of Hispaniola. In the latitude of the lower point of
Florida, and five degrees east of it, is the island of San Salvador or
Cat Island, which is the most northerly of those claimed to have been
the landfall of Columbus. Proceeding down the group, we encounter
Watling's, Samana, Acklin (with the Plana Cays), Mariguana, and the
Grand Turk,--all of which have their advocates. The three methods of
identification which have been followed are, first, by plotting the
outward track; second, by plotting the track between the landfall and
Cuba, both forward and backward; third, by applying the descriptions,
particularly Columbus's, of the island first seen. In this last test,
Harrisse prefers to apply the description of Las Casas, which is
borrowed in part from that of the _Historie_, and he reconciles
Columbus's apparent discrepancy when he says in one place that the
island was "pretty large," and in another "small," by supposing that he
may have applied these opposite terms, the lesser to the Plana Cays, as
first seen, and the other to the Crooked Group, or Acklin Island, lying
just westerly, on which he may have landed. Harrisse is the only one who
makes this identification; and he finds some confirmation in later maps,
which show thereabout an island, Triango or Triangulo, a name said by
Las Casas to have been applied to Guanahani at a later day. There is no
known map earlier than 1540 bearing this alternative name of Triango.

[Sidenote: San Salvador.]

San Salvador seems to have been the island selected by the earliest of
modern inquirers, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and it
has had the support of Irving and Humboldt in later times. Captain
Alexander Slidell Mackenzie of the United States navy worked out the
problem for Irving. It is much larger than any of the other islands, and
could hardly have been called by Columbus in any alternative way a
"small" island, while it does not answer Columbus's description of
being level, having on it an eminence of four hundred feet, and no
interior lagoon, as his Guanahani demands. The French canonizers stand
by the old traditions, and find it meet to say that "the English
Protestants not finding the name San Salvador fine enough have
substituted for it that of Cat, and in their hydrographical atlases the
Island of the Holy Saviour is nobly called Cat Island."

[Sidenote: Watling's Island.]

The weight of modern testimony seems to favor Watling's island, and it
so far answers to Columbus's description that about one third of its
interior is water, corresponding to his "large lagoon." Muñoz first
suggested it in 1793; but the arguments in its favor were first spread
out by Captain Becher of the royal navy in 1856, and he seems to have
induced Oscar Peschel in 1858 to adopt the same views in his history of
the range of modern discovery. Major, the map custodian of the British
Museum, who had previously followed Navarrete in favoring the Grand
Turk, again addressed himself to the problem in 1870, and fell into line
with the adherents of Watling's. No other considerable advocacy of this
island, if we except the testimony of Gerard Stein in 1883, in a book on
voyages of discovery, appeared till Lieut. J. B. Murdoch, an officer of
the American navy, made a very careful examination of the subject in the
_Proceedings of the United States Naval Institute_ in 1884, which is
accepted by Charles A. Schott in the _Bulletin of the United States
Coast Survey_. Murdoch was the first to plot in a backward way the track
between Guanahani and Cuba, and he finds more points of resemblance in
Columbus's description with Watling's than with any other. The latest
adherent is the eminent geographer, Clements R. Markham, in the bulletin
of the Italian Geographical Society in 1889. Perhaps no cartographical
argument has been so effective as that of Major in comparing modern
charts with the map of Herrera, in which the latter lays Guanahani down.

[Sidenote: Samana.]

[Sidenote: Grand Turk Island.]

An elaborate attempt to identify Samana as the landfall was made by the
late Capt. Gustavus Vasa Fox, in an appendix to the _Report of the
United States Coast Survey_ for 1880. Varnhagen, in 1864, selected
Mariguana, and defended his choice in a paper. This island fails to
satisfy the physical conditions in being without interior water. Such a
qualification, however, belongs to the Grand Turk Island, which was
advocated first by Navarrete in 1826, whose views have since been
supported by George Gibbs, and for a while by Major.

It is rather curious to note that Caleb Cushing, who undertook to
examine this question in the _North American Review_, under the guidance
of Navarrete's theory, tried the same backward method which has been
later applied to the problem, but with quite different results from
those reached by more recent investigators. He says, "By setting out
from Nipe [which is the point where Columbus struck Cuba] and proceeding
in a retrograde direction along his course, we may surely trace his
path, and shall be convinced that Guanahani is no other than Turk's



[Sidenote: The natives of Guanahani.]

We learn that, after these ceremonies on the shore, the natives began
fearlessly to gather about the strangers. Columbus, by causing red caps,
strings of beads, and other trinkets to be distributed among them, made
an easy conquest of their friendship. Later the men swam out to the ship
to exchange their balls of thread, their javelins, and parrots for
whatever they could get in return.

The description which Columbus gives us in his journal of the appearance
and condition of these new people is the earliest, of course, in our
knowledge of them. His record is interesting for the effect which the
creatures had upon him, and for the statement of their condition before
the Spaniards had set an impress upon their unfortunate race.

They struck Columbus as, on the whole, a very poor people, going naked,
and, judging from a single girl whom he saw, this nudity was the
practice of the women. They all seemed young, not over thirty, well
made, with fine shapes and faces. Their hair was coarse, and combed
short over the forehead; but hung long behind. The bodies of many were
differently colored with pigments of many hues, though of some only the
face, the eyes, or the nose were painted. Columbus was satisfied that
they had no knowledge of edged weapons, because they grasped his sword
by the blade and cut themselves. Their javelins were sticks pointed with
fishbones. When he observed scars on their bodies, they managed to
explain to him that enemies, whom the Admiral supposed to come from the
continent, sometimes invaded their island, and that such wounds were
received in defending themselves. They appeared to him to have no
religion, which satisfied him that the task of converting them to
Christianity would not be difficult. They learned readily to pronounce
such words as were repeated to them.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 13.]

[Sidenote: Affinities of the Lucayans.]

On the next day after landing, Saturday, Columbus describes again the
throng that came to the shore, and was struck with their broad
foreheads. He deemed it a natural coincidence, being in the latitude of
the Canaries, that the natives had the complexion prevalent among the
natives of those islands. In this he anticipated the conclusions of the
anthropologists, who have found in the skulls preserved in caves both in
the Bahamas and in the Canaries, such striking similarities as have led
to the supposition that ocean currents may have borne across the sea
some of the old Guanche stock of the Canaries, itself very likely the
remnant of the people of the European river-drift.

Professor W. K. Brooks, of the Johns Hopkins University, who has
recently published in the _Popular Science Monthly_ (November, 1889) a
study of the bones of the Lucayans as found in caves in the Bahamas,
reports that these relics indicate a muscular, heavy people, about the
size of the average European, with protuberant square jaws, sloping
eyes, and very round skulls, but artificially flattened on the
forehead,--a result singularly confirming Columbus's description of
broader heads than he had ever seen.

[Sidenote: Hammocks.]

"The Ceboynas," says a recent writer on these Indians, "gave us the
hammock, and this one Lucayan word is their only monument," for a
population larger than inhabits these islands to-day were in twelve
years swept from the surface of the earth by a system devised by

[Sidenote: Canoes.]

The Admiral also describes their canoes, made in a wonderful manner of a
single tree-trunk, and large enough to hold forty or forty-five men,
though some were so small as to carry a single person only. Their oars
are shaped like the wooden shovels with which bakers slip their loaves
into ovens. If a canoe upsets, it is righted as they swim.

[Sidenote: Gold among them.]

Columbus was attracted by bits of gold dangling at the nose of some
among them. By signs he soon learned that a greater abundance of this
metal could be found on an island to the south; but they seemed unable
to direct him with any precision how to reach that island, or at least
it was not easy so to interpret any of their signs. "Poor wretches!"
exclaims Helps, "if they had possessed the slightest gift of prophecy,
they would have thrown these baubles into the deepest sea."

[Sidenote: Columbus traffics with them.]

They pointed in all directions, but towards the east as the way to other
lands; and implied that those enemies who came from the northwest often
passed to the south after gold. He found that broken dishes and bits of
glass served as well for traffic with them as more valuable articles,
and balls of threads of cotton, grown on the island, seemed their most
merchantable commodity.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 14, sails towards Cipango.]

With this rude foretaste, Columbus determined to push on for the richer
Cipango. On the next day he coasted along the island in his boats,
discovering two or three villages, where the inhabitants were friendly.
They seemed to think that the strangers had come from heaven,--at least
Columbus so interpreted their prostrations and uplifted hands. Columbus,
fearful of the reefs parallel to the shore, kept outside of them, and as
he moved along, saw a point of land which a ditch might convert into an
island. He thought this would afford a good site for a fort, if there
was need of one.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 14.]

[Sidenote: Columbus proposes to enslave the natives.]

[Sidenote: 1492. October 15.]

[Sidenote: 1492. October 16.]

It was on this Sunday that Columbus, in what he thought doubtless the
spirit of the day in dealing with heathens, gives us his first
intimation of the desirability of using force to make these poor
creatures serve their new masters. On returning to the ships and setting
sail, he soon found that he was in an archipelago. He had seized some
natives, who were now on board. These repeated to him the names of more
than a hundred islands. He describes those within sight as level,
fertile, and populous, and he determined to steer for what seemed the
largest. He stood off and on during the night of the 14th, and by noon
of the 15th he had reached this other island, which he found at the
easterly end to run five leagues north and south, and to extend east and
west a distance of ten leagues. Lured by a still larger island farther
west he pushed on, and skirting the shore reached its western extremity.
He cast anchor there at sunset, and named the island Santa Maria de la
Concepcion. The natives on board told him that the people here wore gold
bracelets. Columbus thought this story might be a device of his
prisoners to obtain opportunities to escape. On the next day, he
repeated the forms of landing and taking possession. Two of the
prisoners contrived to escape. One of them jumped overboard and was
rescued by a native canoe. The Spaniards overtook the canoe, but not
till its occupants had escaped. A single man, coming off in another
canoe, was seized and taken on board; but Columbus thought him a good
messenger of amity, and loading him with presents, "not worth four
maravedis," he put him ashore. Columbus watched the liberated savage,
and judged from the wonder of the crowds which surrounded him that his
ruse of friendship had been well played.

[Sidenote: Columbus sees a large island.]

Another large island appeared westerly about nine leagues, famous for
its gold ornaments, as his prisoners again declared. It is significant
that in his journal, since he discovered the bits of gold at San
Salvador, Columbus has not a word to say of reclaiming the benighted
heathen; but he constantly repeats his hope "with the help of our Lord,"
of finding gold. On the way thither he had picked up a second single man
in a canoe, who had apparently followed him from San Salvador. He
determined to bestow some favors upon him and let him go, as he had done
with the other.

[Sidenote: 1492. October 16.]

This new island, which he reached October 16, and called Fernandina, he
found to be about twenty-eight leagues long, with a safer shore than the
others. He anchored near a village, where the man whom he had set free
had already come, bringing good reports of the stranger, and so the
Spaniards got a kind reception. Great numbers of natives came off in
canoes, to whom the men gave trinkets and molasses. He took on board
some water, the natives assisting the crew. Getting an impression that
the island contained a mine of gold, he resolved to follow the coast,
and find Samaot, where the gold was said to be. Columbus thought he saw
some improvement in the natives over those he had seen before, remarking
upon the cotton cloth with which they partly covered their persons. He
was surprised to find that distinct branches of the same tree bore
different leaves. A single tree, as he says, will show as many as five
or six varieties, not done by grafting, but a natural growth. He
wondered at the brilliant fish, and found no land creatures but parrots
and lizards, though a boy of the company told him that he had seen a
snake. On Wednesday he started to sail around the island. In a little
haven, where they tarried awhile, they first entered the native houses.

[Sidenote: Hammocks.]

They found everything in them neat, with nets extended between posts,
which they called _hamacs_,--a name soon adopted by sailors for
swinging-beds. The houses were shaped like tents, with high chimneys,
but not more than twelve or fifteen together. Dogs were running about
them, but they could not bark. Columbus endeavored to buy a bit of gold,
cut or stamped, which was hanging from a man's nose; but the savage
refused his offers.

[Illustration: INDIAN BEDS.]

[Sidenote: 1492. October 19.]

The ships continued their course about the island, the weather not
altogether favorable; but on October 19 they veered away to another
island to the west of Fernandina, which Columbus named Isabella, after
his Queen. This he pronounced the most beautiful he had seen; and he
remarks on the interior region of it being higher than in the other
islands, and the source of streams. The breezes from the shore brought
him odors, and when he landed he became conscious that his botanical
knowledge did not aid him in selecting such dyestuffs, medicines, and
spices as would command high prices in Spain. He saw a hideous reptile,
and the canonizers, after their amusing fashion, tell us that "to see
and attack him were the same thing for Columbus, for he considered it of
importance to accustom Spanish intrepidity to such warfare."

[Sidenote: To find gold Columbus's main object.]

[Sidenote: 1492. October 21.]

The reptile proved inoffensive. The signs of his prisoners were
interpreted to repeat here the welcome tale of gold. He understood them
to refer to a king decked with gold. "I do not, however," he adds, "give
much credit to these accounts, for I understand the natives but
imperfectly." "I am proceeding solely in quest of gold and spices," he
says again.

[Sidenote: Cuba heard of.]

[Sidenote: 1492. October 24. Isabella.]

On Sunday they went ashore, and found a house from which the occupants
had recently departed. The foliage was enchanting. Flocks of parrots
obscured the sky. Specimens were gathered of wonderful trees. They
killed a snake in a lake. They cajoled some timid natives with beads,
and got their help in filling their water cask. They heard of a very
large island named Colba, which had ships and sailors, as the natives
were thought to say. They had little doubt that these stories referred
to Cipango. They hoped the native king would bring them gold in the
night; but this not happening, and being cheered by the accounts of
Colba, they made up their minds that it would be a waste of time to
search longer for this backward king, and so resolved to run for the big

[Sidenote: October 26.]

Starting from Isabella at midnight on October 24, and passing other
smaller islands, they finally, on Sunday, October 26, entered a river
near the easterly end of Cuba.

[Sidenote: Cuba.]

The track of Columbus from San Salvador to Cuba has been as variously
disputed as the landfall; indeed, the divergent views of the landfall
necessitate such later variations.

[Sidenote: Pearls.]

They landed within the river's mouth, and discovered deserted houses,
which from the implements within they supposed to be the houses of
fishermen. Columbus observed that the grass grew down to the water's
edge; and he reasoned therefrom that the sea could never be rough. He
now observed mountains, and likened them to those of Sicily. He finally
supposed his prisoners to affirm by their signs that the island was too
large for a canoe to sail round it in twenty days. There were the old
stories of gold; but the mention of pearls appears now for the first
time in the journal, which in this place, however, we have only in Las
Casas's abridgment.

[Sidenote: Columbus supposes himself at Mangi.]

When the natives pointed to the interior and said, "Cubanacan," meaning,
it is supposed, an inland region, Columbus imagined it was a reference
to Kublai Khan; and the Cuban name of Mangon he was very ready to
associate with the Mangi of Mandeville.

As he still coasted westerly he found river and village, and made more
use of his prisoners than had before been possible. They seem by this
time to have settled into an acquiescent spirit. He wondered in one
place at statues which looked like women. He was not quite sure whether
the natives kept them for the love of the beautiful, or for worship.

[Sidenote: Columbus supposes himself on the coast of Cathay.]

He found domesticated fowl; and saw a skull, which he supposed was a
cow's, which was probably that of the sea-calf, a denizen of these
waters. He thought the temperature cooler than in the other islands, and
ascribed the change to the mountains. He observed on one of these
eminences a protuberance that looked like a mosque. Such interpretation
as the Spaniards could make of their prisoners' signs convinced them
that if they sailed farther west they would find some potentate, and so
they pushed on. Bad weather, however, delayed them, and they again
opened communication with the natives. They could hear nothing of gold,
but saw a silver trinket; and learned, as they thought, that news of
their coming had been carried to the distant king. Columbus felt
convinced that the people of these regions were banded enemies of the
Great Khan, and that he had at last struck the continent of Cathay, and
was skirting the shores of the Zartun and Quinsay of Marco Polo. Taking
an observation, Columbus found himself to be in 21° north latitude, and
as near as he could reckon, he was 1142 leagues west of Ferro. He really
was 1105.

[Sidenote: 1492. November 2-5.]

[Sidenote: Cuba explored.]

[Sidenote: Tobacco.]

[Sidenote: Potatoes.]

From Friday, November 2, to Monday, November 5, two Spaniards, whom
Columbus had sent into the interior, accompanied by some Indians, had
made their way unmolested in their search for a king. They had been
entertained here and there with ceremony, and apparently worshiped as
celestial comers. The evidences of the early Spanish voyagers give
pretty constant testimony that the whites were supposed to have come
from the skies. Columbus had given to his envoys samples of cinnamon,
pepper, and other spices, which were shown to the people. In reply, his
messengers learned that such things grew to the southeast of them.
Columbus later, in his first letter, speaks of cinnamon as one of the
spices which they found, but it turned out to be the bark of a sort of
laurel. Las Casas, in mentioning this expedition, says that the
Spaniards found the natives smoking small tubes of dried leaves, filled
with other leaves, which they called _tobacos_. Sir Arthur Helps aptly
remarks on this trivial discovery by the Spaniards of a great financial
resource of modern statesmen, since tobacco has in the end proved more
productive to the Spanish crown than the gold which Columbus sought. The
Spaniards found no large villages; but they perceived great stores of
fine cotton of a long staple. They found the people eating what we must
recognize as potatoes. The absence of gold gave Columbus an opportunity
to wish more fervently than before for the conversion of some of these

[Sidenote: One-eyed and dog-faced men.]

[Sidenote: Cannibals.]

While this party was absent, Columbus found a quiet beach, and careened
his ships, one at a time. In melting his tar, the wood which he used
gave out a powerful odor, and he pronounced it the mastic gum, which
Europe had always got from Chios. As this work was going on, the
Spaniards got from the natives, as best they could, many intimations of
larger wealth and commerce to the southeast. Other strange stories were
told of men with one eye, and faces like dogs, and of cruel,
bloodthirsty man-eaters, who fought to appease their appetite on the
flesh of the slain.

[Sidenote: 1492. November 12.]

[Sidenote: Babeque.]

It was not till the 12th of November that Columbus left this hospitable
haven, at daybreak, in search of a place called Babeque, "where gold was
collected at night by torch-light upon the shore, and afterward hammered
into bars." He the more readily retraced his track, that the coast to
the westward seemed to trend northerly, and he dreaded a colder climate.
He must leave for another time the sight of men with tails, who
inhabited a province in that direction, as he was informed.

Again the historian recognizes how a chance turned the Spaniards away
from a greater goal. If Columbus had gone on westerly and discovered the
insular character of Cuba, he might have sought the main of Mexico and
Yucatan, and anticipated the wonders of the conquest of Cortez. He
never was undeceived in believing that Cuba was the Asiatic main.

[Sidenote: Columbus captures some natives.]

Columbus sailed back over his course with an inordinate idea of the
riches of the country which he was leaving. He thought the people
docile; that their simple belief in a God was easily to be enlarged into
the true faith, whereby Spain might gain vassals and the church a
people. He managed to entice on board, and took away, six men, seven
women, and three children, condoning the act of kidnapping--the
canonizers call it "retaining on board"--by a purpose to teach them the
Spanish language, and open a readier avenue to their benighted souls. He
allowed the men to have women to share their durance, as such ways, he
says, had proved useful on the coast of Guinea.

The Admiral says in his first letter, referring to his captives, "that
we immediately understood each other, either by words or signs." This
was his message to expectant Europe. His journal is far from conveying
that impression.

[Sidenote: 1492. November 14.]

The ships now steered east-by-south, passing mountainous lands, which on
November 14 he tried to approach. After a while he discovered a harbor,
which he could enter, and found it filled with lofty wooded islands,
some pointed and some flat at the top. He was quite sure he had now got
among the islands which are made to swarm on the Asiatic coast in the
early accounts and maps. He now speaks of his practice in all his
landings to set up and leave a cross. He observed, also, a promontory in
the bay fit for a fortress, and caught a strange fish resembling a hog.
He was at this time embayed in the King's Garden, as the archipelago is

[Sidenote: Pinzon deserts.]

[Sidenote: 1492. November 23.]

Shortly after this, when they had been baffled in their courses, Martin
Alonso Pinzon, incited, as the record says, by his cupidity to find the
stores of gold to which some of his Indian captives had directed him,
disregarded the Admiral's signals, and sailed away in the "Pinta." The
flagship kept a light for him all night, at the mast-head; but in the
morning the caravel was out of sight. The Admiral takes occasion in his
journal to remark that this was not the first act of Pinzon's
insubordination. On Friday, November 23, the vessels approached a
headland, which the Indians called Bohio.

[Sidenote: 1492. November 24.]

The prisoners here began to manifest fear, for it was a spot where the
one-eyed people and the cannibals dwelt; but on Saturday, November 24,
the ships were forced back into the gulf with the many islands, where
Columbus found a desirable roadstead, which he had not before

[Sidenote: 1492. November 25.]

On Sunday, exploring in a boat, he found in a stream "certain stones
which shone with spots of a golden hue; and recollecting that gold was
found in the river Tagus near the sea, he entertained no doubt that this
was the metal, and directed that a collection of the stones should be
made to carry to the King and Queen." It becomes noticeable, as Columbus
goes on, that every new place surpasses all others; the atmosphere is
better; the trees are more marvelous. He now found pines fit for masts,
and secured some for the "Nina."

As he coasted the next day along what he believed to be a continental
coast, he tried in his journal to account for the absence of towns in so
beautiful a country. That there were inhabitants he knew, for he found
traces of them on going ashore. He had discovered that all the natives
had a great dread of a people whom they called Caniba or Canima, and he
argued that the towns were kept back from the coast to avoid the chances
of the maritime attacks of this fierce people. There was no doubt in the
mind of Columbus that these inroads were conducted by subjects of the
Great Khan.

While he was still stretching his course along this coast, observing its
harbors, seeing more signs of habitation, and attempting to hold
intercourse with the frightened natives, now anchoring in some haven,
and now running up adjacent rivers in a galley, he found time to jot
down in this journal for the future perusal of his sovereigns some of
his suspicions, prophecies, and determinations. He complains of the
difficulty of understanding his prisoners, and seems conscious of his
frequent misconceptions of their meaning. He says he has lost confidence
in them, and somewhat innocently imagines that they would escape if they
could! Then he speaks of a determination to acquire their language,
which he supposes to be the same through all the region. "In this way,"
he adds, "we can learn the riches of the country, and make endeavors to
convert these people to our religion, for they are without even the
faith of an idolater." He descants upon the salubrity of the air; not
one of his crew had had any illness, "except an old man, all his life a
sufferer from the stone." There is at times a somewhat amusing innocence
in his conclusions, as when finding a cake of wax in one of the houses,
which Las Casas thinks was brought from Yucatan, he "was of the opinion
that where wax was found there must be a great many other valuable

[Sidenote: 1492. December 4.]

[Sidenote: Leaves Cuba or Juana.]

[Sidenote: Bohio. Española.]

[Sidenote: Tortuga.]

The ships were now detained in their harbor for several days, during
which the men made excursions, and found a populous country; they
succeeded at times in getting into communication with the natives.
Finally, on December 4, he left the Puerto Santo, as he called it, and
coasting along easterly he reached the next day the extreme eastern end
of what we now know to be Cuba, or Juana as he had named it, after
Prince Juan. Cruising about, he seems to have had an apprehension that
the land he had been following might not after all be the main, for he
appears to have looked around the southerly side of this end of Cuba and
to have seen the southwesterly trend of its coast. He observed, the same
day, land in the southeast, which his Indians called Bohio, and this was
subsequently named Española. Las Casas explains that Columbus here
mistook the Indian word meaning house for the name of the island, which
was really in their tongue called Haiti. It is significant of the
difficulty in identifying the bays and headlands of the journal, that at
this point Las Casas puts on one side, and Navarrete on the opposite
side, of the passage dividing Cuba from Española, one of the capes which
Columbus indicates. Changing his course for this lofty island, he
dispatched the "Nina" to search its shore and find a harbor. That night
the Admiral's ship beat about, waiting for daylight. When it came, he
took his observations of the coast, and espying an island separated by a
wide channel from the other land, he named this island Tortuga. Finding
his way into a harbor--the present St. Nicholas--he declares that a
thousand caracks could sail about in it. Here he saw, as before, large
canoes, and many natives, who fled on his approach. The Spaniards soon
began as they went on to observe lofty and extensive mountains, "the
whole country appearing like Castile." They saw another reminder of
Spain as they were rowing about a harbor, which they entered, and which
was opposite Tortuga, when a skate leaped into their boat, and the
Admiral records it as a first instance in which they had seen a fish
similar to those of the Spanish waters. He says, too, that he heard on
the shore nightingales "and other Spanish birds," mistaking of course
their identity. He saw myrtles and other trees "like those of Castile."
There was another obvious reference to the old country in the name of
Española, which he now bestowed upon the island. He could find few of
the inhabitants, and conjectured that their towns were back from the
coast. The men, however, captured a handsome young woman who wore a bit
of gold at her nose; and having bestowed upon her gifts, let her go.
Soon after, the Admiral sent a party to a town of a thousand houses,
thinking the luck of the woman would embolden the people to have a
parley. The inhabitants fled in fear at first; but growing bolder came
in great crowds, and brought presents of parrots.

[Sidenote: Columbus finds his latitude.]

It was here that Columbus took his latitude and found it to be
17°,--while in fact it was 20°. The journal gives numerous instances
during all these explorations of the bestowing of names upon headlands
and harbors, few of which have remained to this day. It was a common
custom to make such use of a Saint's name on his natal day.

[Sidenote: Saints' names.]

Dr. Shea in a paper which he published in 1876, in the first volume of
the _American Catholic Quarterly_, has emphasized the help which the
Roman nomenclature of Saints' days, given to rivers and headlands,
affords to the geographical student in tracking the early explorers
along the coasts of the New World. This method of tracing the progress
of maritime discovery suggested itself early to Oviedo, and has been
appealed to by Henry C. Murphy and other modern authorities on this

[Sidenote: 1492. December 14.]

[Sidenote: Tortuga.]

Finally, on Friday, December 14, they sailed out of the harbor toward
Tortuga. He found this island to be under extensive cultivation like a
plain of Cordoba. The wind not holding for him to take the course which
he wished to run, Columbus returned to his last harbor, the Puerto de la
Concepcion. Again on Saturday he left it, and standing across to Tortuga
once more, he went towards the shore and proceeded up a stream in his
boats. The inhabitants fled as he approached, and burning fires in
Tortuga as well as in Española seemed to be signals that the Spaniards
were moving.

[Sidenote: Babeque.]

During the night, proceeding along the channel between the two islands,
the Admiral met and took on board a solitary Indian in his canoe. The
usual gifts were put upon him, and when the ships anchored near a
village, he was sent ashore with the customary effect. The beach soon
swarmed with people, gathered with their king, and some came on board.
The Spaniards got from them without difficulty the bits of gold which
they wore at their ears and noses. One of the captive Indians who talked
with the king told this "youth of twenty-one," that the Spaniards had
come from heaven and were going to Babeque to find gold; and the king
told the Admiral's messenger, who delivered to him a present, that if he
sailed in a certain course two days he would arrive there. This is the
last we hear of Babeque, a place Columbus never found, at least under
that name. Humboldt remarks that Columbus mentions the name of Babeque
more than fourteen times in his journal, but it cannot certainly be
identified with Española, as the _Historie_ of 1571 declares it to be.
D'Avezac has since shared Humboldt's view. Las Casas hesitatingly
thought it might have referred to Jamaica.

Then the journal describes the country, saying that the land is lofty,
but that the highest mountains are arable, and that the trees are so
luxuriant that they become black rather than green. The journal further
describes this new people as stout and courageous, very different from
the timid islanders of other parts, and without religion. With his usual
habit of contradiction, Columbus goes on immediately to speak of their
pusillanimity, saying that three Spaniards were more than a match for a
thousand of them. He prefigures their fate in calling them "well-fitted
to be governed and set to work to till the land and do whatsoever is

[Sidenote: 1492. December 17.]

[Sidenote: Cannibals.]

It was on Monday, December 17, while lying off Española, that the
Spaniards got for the first time something more than rumor respecting
the people of Caniba or the cannibals. These new evidences were certain
arrows which the natives showed to them, and which they said had
belonged to those man-eaters. They were pieces of cane, tipped with
sticks which had been hardened by fire.

[Sidenote: Cacique.]

"They were exhibited by two Indians who had lost some flesh from their
bodies, eaten out by the cannibals. This the Admiral did not believe."
It was now, too, that the Spaniards found gold in larger quantities than
they had seen it before. They saw some beaten into thin plates. The
cacique--here this word appears for the first time--cut a plate as big
as his hand into pieces and bartered them, promising to have more to
exchange the next day. He gave the Spaniards to understand that there
was more gold in Tortuga than in Española. It is to be remarked, also,
in the Admiral's account, that while "Our Lord" is not recorded as
indicating to him any method of converting the poor heathen, it was "Our
Lord" who was now about to direct the Admiral to Babeque.

[Sidenote: 1492. December 18.]

The next day, December 18, the Admiral lay at anchor, both because wind
failed him, and because he would be able to see the gold which the
cacique had promised to bring. It also gave him an opportunity to deck
his ships and fire his guns in honor of the Annunciation of the Blessed

In due time the king appeared, borne on a sort of litter by his men, and
boarding the ship, that chieftain found Columbus at table in his cabin.
The cacique was placed beside the Admiral, and similar viands and drinks
were placed before him, of which he partook. Two of his dusky followers,
sitting at his feet, followed their master in the act. Columbus,
observing that the hangings of his bed had attracted the attention of
the savage, gave them to him, and added to the present some amber beads
from his own neck, some red shoes, and a flask of orange-flower water.
"This day," says the record, "little gold was obtained; but an old man
indicated that at a distance of a hundred leagues or more were some
islands, where much gold could be found, and in some it was so plentiful
that it was collected and bolted with sieves, then melted and beaten
into divers forms. One of the islands was said to be all gold, and the
Admiral determined to go in the direction which this man pointed."

[Sidenote: 1492. December 20.]

[Sidenote: St. Thomas Island.]

That night they tried in vain to stand out beyond Tortuga, but on the
20th of December, the record places the ships in a harbor between a
little island, which Columbus called St. Thomas, and the main island.
During the following day, December 21, he surveyed the roadstead, and
going about the region in his boats, he had a number of interviews with
the natives, which ended with an interchange of gifts and courtesies.

[Sidenote: 1492. December 22.]

On Saturday, December 22, they encountered some people, sent by a
neighboring cacique, whom the Admiral's own Indians could not readily
understand, the first of this kind mentioned in the journal. Writing in
regard to a party which Columbus at this time sent to visit a large town
not far off, he speaks of having his secretary accompany them, in order
to repress the Spaniards' greediness,--an estimate of his followers
which the Admiral had not before suffered himself to record, if we can
trust the Las Casas manuscript. The results of this foray were three fat
geese and some bits of gold. As he entered the adventure in his journal,
he dwelt on the hope of gold being on the island in abundance, and if
only the spot could be found, it might be got for little or nothing.
"Our Lord, in whose hands are all things, be my help," he cries. "Our
Lord, in his mercy, direct me where I may find the gold mine."

[Sidenote: Cibao.]

The Admiral now learns the name of another chief officer, Nitayno, whose
precise position was not apparent, but Las Casas tells us later that
this word was the title of one nearest in rank to the cacique. When an
Indian spoke of a place named Cibao, far to the east, where the king had
banners made of plates of gold, the Admiral, in his eager confidence,
had no hesitation in identifying it with Cipango and its gorgeous
prince. It proved to be the place where in the end the best mines were

[Sidenote: 1492. December 23.]

In speaking of the next day, Sunday, December 23, Las Casas tells us
that Columbus was not in the habit of sailing on Sunday, not because he
was superstitious, but because he was pious; but that he did not omit
the opportunity at this time of coursing the coast, "in order to display
the symbols of Redemption."

[Sidenote: Columbus shipwrecked.]

Christmas found them in distress. The night before, everything looking
favorable, and the vessel sailing along quietly, Columbus had gone to
bed, being much in need of rest. The helmsman put a boy at the tiller
and went to sleep. The rest of the crew were not slow to do the same.
The vessel was in this condition, with no one but the boy awake, when,
carried out of her course by the current, she struck a sand bank. The
cry of the boy awakened the Admiral, and he was the first to discover
the danger of their situation. He ordered out a boat's crew to carry an
anchor astern, but, bewildered or frightened, the men pulled for the
"Nina." The crew of that caravel warned them off, to do their duty, and
sent their own boat to assist. Help, however, availed nothing. The
"Santa Maria" had careened, and her seams were opening. Her mast had
been cut away, but she failed to right herself. The Admiral now
abandoned her and rowed to the "Nina" with his men. Communicating with
the cacique in the morning, that chieftain sent many canoes to assist in
unloading the ship, so that in a short time everything of value was
saved. This assistance gave occasion for mutual confidences between the
Spaniards and the natives. "They are a loving, uncovetous people," he
enters in his journal. One wonders, with the later experience of his new
friends, if the cacique could have said as much in return. The Admiral
began to be convinced that "the Lord had permitted the shipwreck in
order that he might choose this place for a settlement." The canonizers
go further and say, "the shipwreck made him an engineer."

Irving, whose heedless embellishments of the story of these times may
amuse the pastime reader, but hardly satisfy the student, was not blind
to the misfortunes of what Columbus at the time called the divine
interposition. "This shipwreck," Irving says, "shackled and limited all
Columbus's future discoveries. It linked his fortunes for the remainder
of his life to this island, which was doomed to be to him a source of
cares and troubles, to involve him in a thousand perplexities, and to
becloud his declining years with humiliation and disappointment."

[Sidenote: Fort built.]

The saving of his stores and the loss of his ship had indeed already
suggested what some of his men had asked for, that they might be left
there, while the Admiral returned to Spain with the tidings of the
discovery, if--as the uncomfortable thought sprung up in his mind--he
had not already been anticipated by the recreant commander of the
"Pinta." Accordingly Columbus ordered the construction of a fort, with
tower and ditch, and arrangements were soon made to provide bread and
wine for more than a year, beside seed for the next planting-time. The
ship's long-boat could be left; and a calker, carpenter, cooper,
engineer, tailor, and surgeon could be found among his company, to be of
the party who were to remain and "search for the gold mine." He says
that he expected they would collect a ton of gold in the interval of his
absence; "for I have before protested to your Highnesses," he adds as he
makes an entry for his sovereigns to read, "that the profits shall go to
making a conquest of Jerusalem."

[Sidenote: Garrison of La Navidad.]

We know the names of those who agreed to stay on the island. Navarrete
discovered the list in a proclamation made in 1507 to pay what was due
them to their next of kin. This list gives forty names, though some
accounts of the voyage say they numbered a few less. The company
included the Irishman and Englishman already mentioned.

[Sidenote: 1492. December 27.]

[Sidenote: December 30.]

[Sidenote: December 31.]

On the 27th of December, Columbus got the first tidings of the "Pinta"
since she deserted him; and he sent a Spaniard, with Indians to handle
the canoe, to a harbor at the end of the island, where he supposed
Pinzon's ship to be. Columbus was now perfecting his plans for the fort,
and tried to make out if Guacanagari, the king, was not trying to
conceal from him the situation of the mines. On Sunday, December 30, the
Spanish and native leaders vied with each other in graciousness. The
savage put his crown upon the Admiral. Columbus took off his necklace
and scarlet cloak and placed them on the king. He clothed the savage's
naked feet with buskins and decked the dusky hand with a silver ring. On
Monday, work was resumed in preparing for their return to Spain, for,
with the "Pinta" gone--for the canoe sent to find her had returned
unsuccessful--and the "Nina" alone remaining, it was necessary to
diminish the risk attending the enterprise.

[Sidenote: 1493. January 2.]

On January 2, 1493, there was to be leave-taking of the cacique. To
impart to him and to his people a dread of Spanish power, in the
interests of those to be left, he made an exhibition of the force of his
bombards, by sending a shot clean through the hull of the dismantled
wreck. It is curious to observe how Irving, with a somewhat cheap
melodramatic instinct, makes this shot tear through a beautiful grove
like a bolt from heaven!

The king made some return by ordering an effigy of Columbus to be
finished in gold, in ten days,--as at least so Columbus understood
one of his Indians to announce the cacique's purpose.

[Sidenote: 1493. January 4.]

[Sidenote: January 6.]

Having commissioned Diego de Arana as commander and Pedro Gutierrez and
Roderigo de Escoveda to act as his lieutenants of the fort and its
thirty-nine men, Columbus now embarked, but not before he had addressed
all sorts of good advice to those he was to leave behind,--advice that
did no good, if the subsequent events are clearly divined. It was not,
however, till Friday, January 4, 1493, that the wind permitted him to
stand out of the harbor of the Villa de Navidad, as he had named the
fort and settlement from the fact of his shipwreck there on the day of
the nativity. Two days later they met the "Pinta," and Pinzon, her
commander, soon boarded the Admiral to explain his absence, "saying he
had left against his will." The Admiral doubted such professions; but
did not think it prudent to show active resentment, as Las Casas tells
us. The fact apparently was that Pinzon had not found the gold he went
in search of and so he had returned to meet his commander. He had been
coasting the island for over twenty days, and had been seen by the
natives, who made the report to the Admiral already mentioned. Some
Indians whom he had taken captive were subsequently released by the
Admiral, for the usual ulterior purpose. It is curious to observe how an
act of kidnapping which emulated the Admiral's, if done by Pinzon, is
called by the canonizers, "joining violence to rapine."

[Sidenote: Jamaica.]

At this time Columbus records his first intelligence respecting an
island, Yamaye, south of Cuba, which seems to have been Jamaica, where,
as he learned, gold was to be found in grains of the size of beans,
while in Española the grains were nearly the size of kernels of wheat.
He was also informed of an island to the east, inhabited by women only.
He also understood that the people of the continent to the south were
clothed, and did not go naked like those of the islands.

Both vessels now having made a harbor, and the "Nina" beginning to leak,
a day was spent in calking her seams. Columbus was not without
apprehension that the two brothers, Martin Alonso Pinzon of the "Pinta,"
and Vicente Jañez Pinzon who had commanded the "Nina," might now with
their adherents combine for mischief. He was accordingly all the more
anxious to hasten his departure, without further following the coast of
Española. Going up a river to replenish his water, he found on taking
the casks on board that the crevices of the hoops had gathered fine bits
of gold from the stream. This led him to count the neighboring streams,
which he supposed might also contain gold.

[Sidenote: Columbus sees mermaids.]

It was not only gold which he saw. Three mermaids stood high out of the
water, with not very comely faces to be sure, but similar to those of
human beings; and he recalled having seen the like on the pepper coast
in Guinea. The commentators suppose they may have been sea-calves
indistinctly seen.

[Sidenote: 1493. January 10. The ships sail for Spain.]

[Sidenote: January 12. Caribs.]

The two ships started once more on the 10th, sometimes lying to at night
for fear of shoals, making and naming cape after cape. On the 12th,
entering a harbor, Columbus discovered an Indian, whom he took for a
Carib, as he had learned to call the cannibals which he so often heard
of. His own Indians did not wholly understand this strange savage. When
they sent him ashore the Spaniards found fifty-five Indians armed with
bows and wooden swords. They were prevailed upon at first to hold
communication; but soon showed a less friendly spirit, and Columbus for
the first time records a fight, in which several of the natives were
wounded. An island to the eastward was now supposed to be the Carib
region, and he desired to capture some of its natives. Navarrete
supposes that Porto Rico is here referred to. He also observed, as his
vessels went easterly, that he was encountering some of the same sort of
seaweed which he had sailed through when steering west, and it occurred
to him that perhaps these islands stretched easterly, so as really to be
not far distant from the Canaries. It may be observed that this
propinquity of the new islands to those of the Atlantic, longer known,
was not wholly eradicated from the maps till well into the earlier years
of the sixteenth century.

[Sidenote: Caribs and Amazons.]

They had secured some additional Indians near where they had had their
fight, and one of them now directed Columbus towards the island of the
Caribs. The leaks of the vessels increasing and his crews desponding,
Columbus soon thought it more prudent to shift his course for Spain
direct, supposing at the same time that it would take him near Matinino,
where the tribe of women lived. He had gotten the story somehow, very
likely by a credulous adaptation of Marco Polo, that the Caribs visited
this island once a year and reclaimed the male offspring, leaving the
female young to keep up the tribe.

In following the Admiral along these coasts of Cuba and Española, no
attempt has here been made to identify all his bays and rivers.
Navarrete and the other commentators have done so, but not always with

[Sidenote: 1493. January 16.]

On the 16th, they had their last look at a distant cape of Española, and
were then in the broad ocean, with seaweed and tunnies and pelicans to
break its monotony. The "Pinta," having an unsound mast, lagged behind,
and so the "Nina" had to slacken sail.

[Sidenote: Homeward voyage.]

Columbus now followed a course which for a long time, owing to defects
in the methods of ascertaining longitude, was the mariner's readiest
recourse to reach his port. This was to run up his latitudes to that of
his destination, and then follow the parallel till he sighted a familiar

[Sidenote: 1493. February 10.]

[Sidenote: February 13.]

[Sidenote: A gale.]

By February 10, when they began to compare reckonings, Columbus placed
his position in the latitude of Flores, while the others thought they
were on a more southern course, and a hundred and fifty leagues nearer
Spain. By the 12th it was apparent that a gale was coming on. The next
day, February 13, the storm increased. During the following night both
vessels took in all sail and scudded before the wind. They lost sight of
each other's lights, and never joined company. The "Pinta" with her weak
mast was blown away to the north. The Admiral's ship could bear the gale
better, but as his ballast was insufficient, he had to fill his water
casks with sea-water. Sensible of their peril, his crew made vows, to be
kept if they were saved. They drew lots to determine who should carry a
wax taper of five pounds to St. Mary of Guadalupe, and the penance fell
to the Admiral. A sailor by another lot was doomed to make a pilgrimage
to St. Mary of Lorette in the papal territory. A third lot was drawn for
a night watch at St. Clara de Mogues, and it fell upon Columbus. Then
they all vowed to pay their devotions at the nearest church of Our Lady
if only they got ashore alive.

[Sidenote: A narrative of his voyage thrown overboard.]

There was one thought which more than another troubled Columbus at this
moment, and this was that in case his ship foundered, the world might
never know of his success, for he was apprehensive that the "Pinta" had
already foundered. Not to alarm the crew, he kept from them the fact
that a cask which they had seen him throw overboard contained an account
of his voyage, written on parchment, rolled in a waxed cloth. He trusted
to the chance of some one finding it. He placed a similar cask on the
poop, to be washed off in case the ship went down. He does not mention
this in the journal.

[Sidenote: 1493. January 15.]

[Sidenote: January 16. Land seen.]

[Sidenote: At the Azores.]

[Sidenote: 1493. February 18.]

After sunset on the 15th there were signs of clearing in the west, and
the waves began to fall. The next morning at sunrise there was land
ahead. Now came the test of their reckoning. Some thought it the rock of
Cintra near Lisbon; others said Madeira; Columbus decided they were near
the Azores. The land was soon made out to be an island; but a head wind
thwarted them. Other land was next seen astern. While they were saying
their _Salve_ in the evening, some of the crew discerned a light to
leeward, which might have been on the island first seen. Then later they
saw another island, but night and the clouds obscured it too much to be
recognized. The journal is blank for the 17th of February, except that
under the next day, the 18th, Columbus records that after sunset of the
17th they sailed round an island to find an anchorage; but being
unsuccessful in the search they beat out to sea again. In the morning of
the 18th they stood in, discovered an anchorage, sent a boat ashore, and
found it was St. Mary's of the Azores. Columbus was right!

[Sidenote: 1493. February 21.]

After sunset he received some provisions, which Juan de Casteñeda, the
Portuguese governor of the island, had sent to him. Meanwhile three
Spaniards whom Columbus sent ashore had failed to return, not a little
to his disturbance, for he was aware that there might be among the
Portuguese some jealousy of his success. To fulfill one of the vows made
during the gale, he now sent one half his crew ashore in penitential
garments to a hermitage near the shore, intending on their return to go
himself with the other half. The record then reads: "The men being at
their devotion, they were attacked by Casteñeda with horse and foot,
and made prisoners." Not being able to see the hermitage from his
anchorage, and not suspecting this event, but still anxious, he made
sail and proceeded till he got a view of the spot. Now he saw the
horsemen, and how presently they dismounted, and with arms in their
hands, entering a boat, approached the ship. Then followed a parley, in
which Columbus thought he discovered a purpose of the Portuguese to
capture him, and they on their part discovered it to be not quite safe
to board the Admiral. To enforce his dignity and authority as a
representative of the sovereigns of Castile, he held up to the boats his
commission with its royal insignia; and reminded them that his
instructions had been to treat all Portuguese ships with respect, since
a spirit of amity existed between the two Crowns. It behooved the
Portuguese, as he told them, to be wary lest by any hostile act they
brought upon themselves the indignation of those higher in authority.
The lofty bearing of Casteñeda continuing, Columbus began to fear that
hostilities might possibly have broken out between Spain and Portugal.
So the interview ended with little satisfaction to either, and the
Admiral returned to his old anchorage. The next day, to work off the lee
shore, they sailed for St. Michael's, and the weather continuing stormy
he found himself crippled in having but three experienced seamen among
the crew which remained to him. So not seeing St. Michael's they again
bore away, on Thursday the 21st, for St. Mary's, and again reached their
former anchorage.

The storms of these latter days here induced Columbus in his journal to
recall how placid the sea had been among those other new-found islands,
and how likely it was the terrestrial] paradise was in that region, as
theologians and learned philosophers had supposed. From these thoughts
he was aroused by a boat from shore with a notary on board, and
Columbus, after completing his entertainment of the visitors, was asked
to show his royal commission. He records his belief that this was done
to give the Portuguese an opportunity of retreating from their
belligerent attitude. At all events it had that effect, and the
Spaniards who had been restrained were at once released. It is surmised
that the conduct of Casteñeda was in conformity with instructions from
Lisbon, to detain Columbus should he find his way to any dependency of
the Portuguese crown.

[Sidenote: 1493. February 24.]

[Sidenote: February 25.]

[Sidenote: Rock of Cintra seen.]

[Sidenote: In the Tagus.]

[Sidenote: Sends letter to the king of Portugal.]

On Sunday, the 24th, the ship again put out to sea; on Wednesday, they
encountered another gale; and on the following Sunday, they were again
in such peril that they made new vows. At daylight the next day, some
land which they had seen in the night, not without gloomy apprehension
of being driven upon it, proved to be the rock of Cintra. The mouth of
the Tagus was before them, and the people of the adjacent town,
observing the peril of the strange ship, offered prayers for its safety.
The entrance of the river was safely made and the multitude welcomed
them. Up the Tagus they went to Rastelo, and anchored at about three
o'clock in the afternoon. Here Columbus learned that the wintry
roughness which he had recently experienced was but a part of the
general severity of the season. From this place he dispatched a
messenger to Spain to convey the news of his arrival to his sovereigns,
and at the same time he sent a letter to the king of Portugal, then
sojourning nine leagues away. He explained in it how he had asked the
hospitality of a Portuguese port, because the Spanish sovereigns had
directed him to do so, if he needed supplies. He further informed the
king that he had come from the "Indies," which he had reached by sailing
west. He hoped he would be allowed to bring his caravel to Lisbon, to be
more secure; for rumors of a lading of gold might incite reckless
persons, in so lonely a place as he then lay, to deeds of violence.

[Sidenote: Name of India.]

The _Historie_ says that Columbus had determined beforehand to call
whatever land he should discover, India, because he thought India was a
name to suggest riches, and to invite encouragement for his project.

While this letter to the Portuguese king was in transit, the attempt was
made by certain officers of the Portuguese navy in the port of Rastelo
to induce Columbus to leave his ship and give an account of himself; but
he would make no compromise of the dignity of a Castilian admiral. When
his resentment was known and his commission was shown, the Portuguese
officers changed their policy to one of courtesy.

The next day, and on the one following, the news of his arrival being
spread about, a vast multitude came in boats from all parts to see him
and his Indians.

[Sidenote: 1493. March 8.]

[Sidenote: Columbus visits the king.]

On the third day, a royal messenger brought an invitation from the king
to come and visit the court, which Columbus, not without apprehension,
accepted. The king's steward had been sent to accompany him and provide
for his entertainment on the way. On the night of the following day, he
reached Val do Paraiso, where the king was. This spot was nine leagues
from Lisbon, and it was supposed that his reception was not held in that
city because a pest was raging there. A royal greeting was given to him.
The king affected to believe that the voyage of Columbus was made to
regions which the Portuguese had been allowed to occupy by a convention
agreed upon with Spain in 1479. The Admiral undeceived him, and showed
the king that his ships had not been near Guinea.

We have another account of this interview at Val do Paraiso, in the
pages of the Portuguese historian, Barros, tinged, doubtless, with
something of pique and prejudice, because the profit of the voyage had
not been for the benefit of Portugal. That historian charges Columbus
with extravagance, and even insolence, in his language to the king. He
says that Columbus chided the monarch for the faithlessness that had
lost him such an empire. He is represented as launching these rebukes so
vehemently that the attending nobles were provoked to a degree which
prompted whispers of assassination. That Columbus found his first harbor
in the Tagus has given other of the older Portuguese writers, like Faria
y Sousa, in his _Europa Portuguesa_, and Vasconcelles and Resende, in
their lives of João II., occasion to represent that his entering it was
not so much induced by stress of weather as to seek a triumph over the
Portuguese king in the first flush of the news. It is also said that the
resolution was formed by the king to avail himself of the knowledge of
two Portuguese who were found among Columbus's men. With their aid he
proposed to send an armed expedition to take possession of the new-found
regions before Columbus could fit out a fleet for a second voyage.
Francisco de Almeida was even selected, according to the report, to
command this force. We hear, however, nothing more of it, and the Bull
of Demarcation put an end to all such rivalries.

If, on the contrary, we may believe Columbus himself, in a letter which
he subsequently wrote, he did not escape being suspected in Spain of
having thus put himself in the power of the Portuguese in order to
surrender the Indies to them.

[Sidenote: 1493. March 11. Columbus leaves the court.]

[Sidenote: Sails from the Tagus.]

[Sidenote: Reaches Palos, March 15, 1493.]

Spending Sunday at court, Columbus departed on Monday, March 11, having
first dispatched messages to the King and Queen of Spain. An escort of
knights was provided for him, and taking the monastery of Villafranca on
his way, he kissed the hand of the Portuguese queen, who was there
lodging, and journeying on, arrived at his caravel on Tuesday night. The
next day he put to sea, and on Thursday morning was off Cape St.
Vincent. The next morning they were off the island of Saltes, and
crossing bar with the flood, he anchored on March 15, 1493, not far from
noon, where he had unmoored the "Santa Maria" over seven months before.

"I made the passage thither in seventy-one days," he says in his
published letter; "and back in forty-eight, during thirteen of which
number I was driven about by storms."

[Sidenote: The "Pinta's" experiences.]

The "Pinta," which had parted company with the Admiral on the 14th of
February, had been driven by the gale into Bayona, a port of Gallicia,
in the northwest corner of Spain, whence Pinzon, its commander, had
dispatched a messenger to give information of his arrival and of his
intended visit to the Court. A royal order peremptorily stayed, however,
his projected visit, and left the first announcement of the news to be
proclaimed by Columbus himself. This is the story which later writers
have borrowed from the _Historie_.

[Sidenote: She reaches Palos.]

[Sidenote: Death of Pinzon.]

Oviedo tells us that the "Pinta" put to sea again from the Gallician
harbor, and entered the port of Palos on the same day with Columbus, but
her commander, fearing arrest or other unpleasantness, kept himself
concealed till Columbus had started for Barcelona. Not many days later
Pinzon died in his own house in Palos. Las Casas would have us believe
that his death arose from mortification at the displeasure of his
sovereigns; but Harrisse points out that when Charles V. bestowed a
coat-armor on the family, he recognized his merit as the discoverer of
Española. There is little trustworthy information on the matter, and
Muñoz, whose lack of knowledge prompts inferences on his part,
represents that it was Pinzon's request to explain his desertion of
Columbus, which was neglected by the Court, and impressed him with the
royal displeasure.



Peter Martyr tells us of the common ignorance and dread pervading the
ordinary ranks of society, before and during the absence of Columbus, in
respect to all that part of the earth's circumference which the sun
looked upon beyond Gades, till it again cast its rays upon the Golden
Chersonesus. During this absence from the known and habitable regions of
the globe, that orb was thought to sweep over the ominous and foreboding
Sea of Darkness. No one could tell how wide that sea was. The learned
disagreed in their estimates. A conception, far under the actual
condition, had played no small part in making the voyage of Columbus
possible. Men possessed legends of its mysteries. Fables of its many
islands were repeated; but no one then living was credibly thought to
have tested its glooms except by sailing a little beyond the outermost
of the Azores.

[Sidenote: Palos aroused at the return of Columbus.]

It calls for no stretch of the imagination to picture the public
sentiment in little Palos during the months of anxiety which many
households had endured since that August morning, when in its dim light
Columbus, the Pinzons, and all their companions had been wafted gently
out to sea by the current and the breeze. The winter had been unusually
savage and weird. The navigators to the Atlantic islands had reported
rough passages, and the ocean had broken wildly for long intervals along
the rocks and sands of the peninsular shores. It is a natural movement
of the mind to wrap the absent in the gloom of the present hour; and
while Columbus had been passing along the gentle waters of the new
archipelago, his actual experiences had been in strange contrast to the
turmoil of the sea as it washed the European shores. He had indeed
suffered on his return voyage the full tumultuousness of the elements,
and we can hardly fail to recognize the disquiet of mind and falling of
heart which those savage gales must have given to the kin and friends
of the untraceable wanderers.

The stories, then, which we have of the thanksgiving and jubilation of
the people of Palos, when the "Nina" was descried passing the bar of the
river, fall readily among the accepted truths of history. We can imagine
how despondency vanished amid the acclaims of exultation; how multitudes
hung upon the words of strange revelations; how the gaping populace
wondered at the bedecked Indians; and how throngs of people opened a way
that Columbus might lead the votive procession to the church. The
canonizers of course read between the lines of the records that it was
to the Church of Rabida that Columbus with his men now betook
themselves. It matters little.

There was much to mar the delight of some in the households. Comforting
reports must be told of those who were left at La Navidad. No one had
died, unless the gale had submerged the "Pinta" and her crew. She had
not been seen since the "Nina" parted with her in the gale.

The story of her rescue has already been told. She entered the river
before the rejoicings of the day were over, and relieved the remaining

[Sidenote: The Court at Barcelona.]

The Spanish Court was known to be at this time at Barcelona, the Catalan
port on the Mediterranean. Columbus's first impulse was to proceed
thither in his caravel; but his recent hazards made him prudent, and so
dispatching a messenger to the Court, he proceeded to Seville to wait
their majesties' commands. Of the native prisoners which he had brought
away, one had died at sea, three were too sick to follow him, and were
left at Palos, while six accompanied him on his journey.

[Sidenote: 1493. March 30. Columbus summoned to Court.]

The messenger with such startling news had sped quickly; and Columbus
did not wait long for a response to his letter. The document (March 30)
showed that the event had made a deep impression on the Court. The new
domain of the west dwarfed for a while the conquests from the Moors.
There was great eagerness to complete the title, and gather its wealth.
Columbus was accordingly instructed to set in motion at once measures
for a new expedition, and then to appear at Court and explain to the
monarchs what action on their part was needful. The demand was promptly
answered; and having organized the necessary arrangements in Seville for
the preparation of a fleet, he departed for Barcelona to make homage to
his sovereigns. His Indians accompanied him. Porters bore his various
wonders from the new islands. His story had preceded him, and town after
town vied with each other in welcoming him, and passing him on to new
amazements and honors.

[Sidenote: 1493. April. In Barcelona.]

[Sidenote: Received by the sovereigns.]

By the middle of April he approached Barcelona, and was met by throngs
of people, who conducted him into the city. His Indians, arrayed in
effective if not accustomed ornament of gold, led the line. Bearers of
all the marvels of the Indies followed, with their forty parrots and
other strange birds of liveliest plumage, with the skins of unknown
animals, with priceless plants that would now supplant the eastern
spices, and with the precious ornaments of the dusky kings and princes
whom he had met. Next, on horseback, came Columbus himself, conspicuous
amid the mounted chivalry of Spain. Thus the procession marched on,
through crowded streets, amid the shouts of lookers-on, to the alcazar
of the Moorish kings in the Calle Ancha, at this time the residence of
the Bishop of Urgil, where it is supposed Ferdinand and Isabella had
caused their thrones to be set up, with a canopy of brocaded gold
drooping about them. Here the monarchs awaited the coming of Columbus.

[Sidenote: King Ferdinand.]

[Sidenote: Queen Isabella.]

Ferdinand, as the accounts picture him, was a man whose moderate stature
was helped by his erectness and robes to a decided dignity of carriage.
His expression in the ruddy glow of his complexion, clearness of eye,
and loftiness of brow, grew gracious in any pleasurable excitement. The
Queen was a very suitable companion, grave and graceful in her demeanor.
Her blue eyes and auburn tresses comported with her outwardly benign
air, and one looked sharply to see anything of her firmness and courage
in the prevailing sweetness of her manner. The heir apparent, Prince
Juan, was seated by their side. The dignitaries of the Court were
grouped about.

[Sidenote: Columbus before the Court.]

Las Casas tells us how commanding Columbus looked when he entered the
room, surrounded by a brilliant company of cavaliers. When he approached
the royal dais, both monarchs rose to receive him standing; and when he
stooped to kiss their hands, they gently and graciously lifted him, and
made him sit as they did. They then asked to be told of what he had

As Columbus proceeded in his narrative, he pointed out the visible
objects of his speech,--the Indians, the birds, the skins, the barbaric
ornaments, and the stores of gold. We are told of the prayer of the
sovereigns at the close, in which all joined; and of the chanted _Te
Deum_ from the choir of the royal chapel, which bore the thoughts of
every one, says the narrator, on the wings of melody to celestial
delights. This ceremony ended, Columbus was conducted like a royal guest
to the lodgings which had been provided for him.

It has been a question if the details of this reception, which are put
by Irving in imaginative fullness, and are commonly told on such a
thread of incidents as have been related, are warranted by the scant
accounts which are furnished us in the _Historie_, in Las Casas, and in
Peter Martyr, particularly since the incident does not seem to have made
enough of an impression at the time to have been noticed at all in the
_Dietaria_ of the city, a record of events embodying those of far
inferior interest as we would now value them. Mr. George Sumner
carefully scanned this record many years ago, and could find not the
slightest reference to the festivities. He fancies that the incidents in
the mind of the recorder may have lost their significance through an
Aragonese jealousy of the supremacy of Leon and Castile.

It is certainly true that in Peter Martyr, the contemporary observer of
this supposed pageantry, there is nothing to warrant the exuberance of
later writers. Martyr simply says that Columbus was allowed to sit in
the sovereigns' presence.

Whatever the fact as to details, it seems quite evident that this season
at Barcelona made the only unalloyed days of happiness, freed of
anxiety, which Columbus ever experienced. He was observed of all, and
everybody was complacent to him. His will was apparently law to King and
subject. Las Casas tells us that he passed among the admiring throngs
with his face wreathed with smiles of content. An equal complacency of
delight and expectation settled upon all with whom he talked of the
wonders of the land which he had found. They dreamed as he did of
entering into golden cities with their hundred bridges, that might
cause new exultations, to which the present were as nothing. It was a
fatal lure to the proud Spanish nature, and no one was doomed to expiate
the folly of the delusion more poignantly than Columbus himself.

[Sidenote: Spread of the news.]

Now that India had been found by the west, as was believed, and
Barcelona was very likely palpitating with the thought, the news spread
in every direction. What were the discoveries of the Phoenicians to
this? What questions of ethnology, language, species, migrations,
phenomena of all sorts, in man and in the natural world, were pressing
upon the mind, as the results were considered? Were not these parrots
which Columbus had exhibited such as Pliny tells us are in Asia?

The great event had fallen in the midst of geographical development, and
was understood at last. Marco Polo and the others had told their marvels
of the east. The navigators of Prince Henry had found new wonders on the
sea. Regiomontanus, Behaim, and Toscanelli had not communed in vain with
cosmographical problems. Even errors had been stepping-stones; as when
the belief in the easterly over-extension of Asia had pictured it near
enough in the west to convince men that the hazard of the Sea of
Darkness was not so great after all.

[Sidenote: Peter Martyr records the event.]

Spain was then the centre of much activity of mind. "I am here," records
Peter Martyr, "at the source of this welcome intelligence from the new
found lands, and as the historian of such events, I may hope to go down
to posterity as their recorder." We must remember this profession when
we try to account for his meagre record of the reception at Barcelona.

That part of the letter of Peter Martyr, dated at Barcelona, on the ides
of May, 1493, which conveyed to his correspondent the first tidings of
Columbus's return, is in these words, as translated by Harrisse: "A
certain Christopher Colonus, a Ligurian, returned from the antipodes. He
had obtained for that purpose three ships from my sovereigns, with much
difficulty, because the ideas which he expressed were considered
extravagant. He came back and brought specimens of many precious things,
especially gold, which those regions naturally produce." Martyr also
tells us that when Pomponius Laetus got such news, he could scarcely
refrain "from tears of joy at so unlooked-for an event." "What more
delicious food for an ingenious mind!" said Martyr to him in return. "To
talk with people who have seen all this is elevating to the mind." The
confidence of Martyr, however, in the belief of Columbus that the true
Indies had been found was not marked. He speaks of the islands as
adjacent to, and not themselves, the East.

[Sidenote: The news in England.]

Sebastian Cabot remembered the time when these marvelous tidings reached
the court of Henry VII. in London, and he tells us that it was accounted
a "thing more divine than human."

[Sidenote: Columbus's first letter.]

A letter which Columbus had written and early dispatched to Barcelona,
nearly in duplicate, to the treasurers of the two crowns was promptly
translated into Latin, and was sent to Italy to be issued in numerous
editions, to be copied in turn by the Paris and Antwerp printers, and a
little more sluggishly by those of Germany.

[Sidenote: Influence of the event.]

There is, however, singularly little commenting on these events that
passed into print and has come down to us; and we may well doubt if the
effect on the public mind, beyond certain learned circles, was at all
commensurate with what we may now imagine the recognition of so
important an event ought to have been. Nordenskiöld, studying the
cartography and literature of the early discoveries in America in his
_Facsimile Atlas_, is forced to the conclusion that "scarcely any
discovery of importance was ever received with so much indifference,
even in circles where sufficient genius and statesmanship ought to have
prevailed to appreciate the changes they foreshadowed in the development
of the economical and political conditions of mankind."

[Sidenote: 1493. June 19. Carjaval's oration.]

It happened on June 19, 1493, but a few weeks after the Pope had made
his first public recognition of the discovery, that the Spanish
ambassador at the Papal Court, Bernardin de Carjaval, referred in an
oration to "the unknown lands, lately found, lying towards the Indies;"
and at about the same time there was but a mere reference to the event
in the _Los Tratados_ of Doctor Alonso Ortis, published at Seville.

[Sidenote: Columbus in favor.]

While this strange bruit was thus spreading more or less, we get some
glimpses of the personal life of Columbus during these days of his
sojourn in Barcelona. We hear of him riding through the streets on
horseback, on one side of the King, with Prince Juan on the other.

[Sidenote: Reward for first seeing land.]

We find record of his being awarded the pension of thirty crowns, as the
first discoverer of land, by virtue of the mysterious light, and Irving
thinks that we may condone this theft from the brave sailor who
unquestionably saw land the first, by remembering that "Columbus's whole
ambition was involved." It seems to others that his whole character was

[Sidenote: Story of the egg.]

We find him a guest at a banquet given by Cardinal Mendoza, and the
well-known story of his making an egg stand upright, by chipping one end
of it, is associated with this merriment of the table. An impertinent
question of a shallow courtier had induced Columbus to show a table full
of guests that it was easy enough to do anything when the way was
pointed out. The story, except as belonging to a traditional stock of
anecdotes, dating far back of Columbus, always ready for an application,
has no authority earlier than Benzoni, and loses its point in the
destruction of the end on which the aim was to make it stand. This has
been so palpable to some of the repeaters of the story that they have
supposed that the feat was accomplished, not by cracking the end of the
egg, but by using a quick motion which broke the sack which holds the
yolk, so that that weightier substance settled at one end, and balanced
the egg in an upright position.

So passed the time with the new-made hero, in drinking, as Irving
expresses it, "the honeyed draught of popularity before enmity and
detraction had time to drug it with bitterness."

[Sidenote: 1493. May 20. Receives a coat of arms.]

We find the sovereigns bestowing upon him, on the 20th of May, a coat of
arms, which shows a castle and a lion in the upper quarters, and in
those below, a group of golden islands in a sea of waves, on the one
hand, and the arms to which his family had been entitled, on the other.
Humboldt speaks of this archipelago as the first map of America, but he
apparently knew only Oviedo's description of the arms, for the latter
places the islands in a gulf formed by a mainland, and in this fashion
they are grouped in a blazon of the arms which is preserved at the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Paris--a duplicate being at Genoa.
Harrisse says that this design is the original water-color, made under
Columbus's eye in 1502. In this picture,--which is the earliest blazonry
which has come down to us,--the other lower quarter has the five golden
anchors on a blue ground, which it is claimed was adjudged to Columbus
as the distinctive badge of an Admiral of Spain. The personal arms are
relegated to a minor overlying shield at the lower point of the
escutcheon. Oviedo also says that trees and other objects should be
figured on the mainland.

[Illustration: THE ARMS OF COLUMBUS.

[From Oviedo's _Cosmica_.]]

The lion and castle of the original grant were simply reminders of the
arms of Leon and Castile; but Columbus seems, of his own motion, so far
as Harrisse can discover, to have changed the blazonry of those objects
in the drawing of 1502 to agree with those of the royal arms. It was by
the same arrogant license, apparently, that he introduced later the
continental shore of the archipelago; and Harrisse can find no record
that the anchors were ever by any authority added to his blazon, nor
that the professed family arms, borne in connection, had any warrant

The earliest engraved copy of the arms is in the _Historia General_ of
Oviedo in 1535, where a profile helmet supports a crest made of a globe
topped by a cross. In Oviedo's _Coronica_ of 1547, the helmet is shown
in front view. There seems to have been some wide discrepancies in the
heraldic excursions of these early writers. Las Casas, for instance,
puts the golden lion in a silver field,--when heraldry abhors a
conjunction of metals, as much as nature abhors a vacuum. The discussion
of the family arms which were added by Columbus to the escutcheon made a
significant part of the arguments in the suit, many years later, of
Baldassare (Balthazar) Colombo to possess the Admiral's dignities; and
as Harrisse points out, the emblem of those Italian Colombos of any
pretensions to nobility was invariably a dove of some kind,--a device
quite distinct from those designated by Columbus. This assumption of
family arms by Columbus is held by Harrisse to be simply a concession to
the prejudices of his period, and to the exigencies of his new position.

The arms have been changed under the dukes of Veragua to show
silver-capped waves in the sea, while a globe surmounted by a cross is
placed in the midst of a gulf containing only five islands.

[Sidenote: His alleged motto.]

There is another later accompaniment of the arms, of which the origin
has escaped all search. It is far more familiar than the escutcheon, on
which it plays the part of a motto. It sometimes represents that
Columbus found for the allied crowns a new world, and at other times
that he gave one to them.

    Por Castilla é por Leon
    Nuevo Mundo halló Colon.

    A Castilla, y a Leon
    Nuevo Mundo dió Colon.

Oviedo is the earliest to mention this distich in 1535. It is given in
the _Historie_, not as a motto of the arms, but as an inscription placed
by the king on the tomb of Columbus some years after his death. If this
is true, it does away with the claims of Gomara that Columbus himself
added it to his arms.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Diplomacy of the Bull of Demarcation.]

But diplomacy had its part to play in these events. As the Christian
world at that time recognized the rights of the Holy Father to confirm
any trespass on the possessions of the heathen, there was a prompt
effort on the part of Ferdinand to bring the matter to the attention of
the Pope. As early as 1438, bulls of Martin V. and Eugene IV. had
permitted the Spaniards to sail west and the Portuguese south; and a
confirmation of the same had been made by Pope Nicholas the Fifth. In
1479, the rival crowns of Portugal and Spain had agreed to respect their
mutual rights under these papal decisions.

The messengers whom Ferdinand sent to Rome were instructed to intimate
that the actual possession which had been made in their behalf of these
new regions did not require papal sanction, as they had met there no
Christian occupants; but that as dutiful children of the church it would
be grateful to receive such a benediction on their energies for the
faith as a confirmatory bull would imply. Ferdinand had too much of
wiliness in his own nature, and the practice of it was too much a part
of the epoch, wholly to trust a man so notoriously perverse and
obstinate as Alexander VI. was. Though Muñoz calls Alexander the friend
of Ferdinand, and though the Pope was by birth an Aragonese, experience
had shown that there was no certainty of his support in a matter
affecting the interest of Spain.

[Sidenote: 1493. May 3. The Bull issued.]

A folio printed leaf in Gothic characters, of which the single copy sold
in London in 1854 is said to be the only one known to bibliographers,
made public to the world the famous Bull of Demarcation of Alexander
VI., bearing date May 3, 1493. If one would believe Hakluyt, the Pope
had been induced to do this act by his own option, rather than at the
intercession of the Spanish monarchs. Under it, and a second bull of the
day following, Spain was entitled to possess, "on condition of planting
the Catholic faith," all lands not already occupied by Christian powers,
west of a meridian drawn one hundred leagues west of the Azores and Cape
de Verde Islands, evidently on the supposition that these two groups
were in the same longitude, the fact being that the most westerly of the
southern, and the most easterly of the northern, group possessed nearly
the same meridian. Though Portugal was not mentioned in describing this
line, it was understood that there was reserved to her the same
privilege easterly.

[Illustration: POPE ALEXANDER VI.

[A bust in the Berlin Museum.]]

There was not as yet any consideration given to the division which this
great circle meridian was likely to make on the other side of the globe,
where Portugal was yet to be most interested. The Cape of Good Hope had
not then been doubled, and the present effect of the division was to
confine the Portuguese to an exploration of the western African coast
and to adjacent islands. It will be observed that in the placing of this
line the magnetic phenomena which Columbus had observed on his recent
voyage were not forgotten, if the coincidence can be so interpreted.
Humboldt suggests that it can.

[Sidenote: Line of no variation.]

To make a physical limit serve a political one was an obvious recourse
at a time when the line of no variation was thought to be unique and of
a true north and south direction; but within a century the observers
found three other lines, as Acosta tells us in his _Historia Natural de
las Indias_, in 1589; and there proved to be a persistent migration of
these lines, all little suited to terrestrial demarcations. Roselly de
Lorgues and the canonizers, however, having given to Columbus the
planning of the line in his cell at Rabida, think, with a surprising
prescience on his part, and with a very convenient obliviousness on
their part, that he had chosen "precisely the only point of our planet
which science would choose in our day,--a mysterious demarcation made by
its omnipotent Creator," in sovereign disregard, unfortunately, of the
laws of his own universe!

[Sidenote: Suspicious movements in Portugal.]

Meanwhile there were movements in Portugal which Ferdinand had not
failed to notice. An ambassador had come from its king, asking
permission to buy certain articles of prohibited exportation for use on
an African expedition which the Portuguese were fitting out. Ferdinand
suspected that the true purpose of this armament was to seize the new
islands, under a pretense as dishonorable as that which covered the
ostensible voyage to the Cape de Verde Islands, by whose exposure
Columbus had been driven into Spain. The Spanish monarch was alert
enough to get quite beforehand with his royal brother. Before the
ambassador of which mention has been made had come to the Spanish Court,
Ferdinand had dispatched Lope de Herrera to Lisbon, armed with a
conciliatory and a denunciatory letter, to use one or the other, as he
might find the conditions demanded. The Portuguese historian Resende
tells us that João, in order to give a wrong scent, had openly bestowed
largesses on some and had secretly suborned other members of Ferdinand's
cabinet, so that he did not lack for knowledge of the Spanish intentions
from the latter members. He and his ambassadors were accordingly found
by Ferdinand to be inexplicably prepared at every new turn of the

In this way João had been informed of the double mission of Herrera, and
could avoid the issue with him, while he sent his own ambassadors to
Spain, to promise that, pending their negotiations, no vessel should
sail on any voyage of discovery for sixty days. They were also to
propose that instead of the papal line, one should be drawn due west
from the Canaries, giving all new discoveries north to the Spaniards,
and all south to the Portuguese. This new move Ferdinand turned to his
own advantage, for it gave him the opportunity to enter upon a course of
diplomacy which he could extend long enough to allow Columbus to get off
with a new armament. He then sent a fresh embassy, with instructions to
move slowly and protract the discussion, but to resort, when compelled,
to a proposition for arbitration. João was foiled and he knew it. "These
ambassadors," he said, "have no feet to hurry and no head to propound."
The Spanish game was the best played, and the Portuguese king grew
fretful under it, and intimated sometimes a purpose to proceed to
violence, but he was restrained by a better wisdom. We depend mainly
upon the Portuguese historians for understanding these complications,
and it is to be hoped that some time the archives of the Vatican may
reveal the substance of these tripartite negotiations of the papal court
and the two crowns.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1493. May. Honors of Columbus confirmed.]

[Sidenote: May 28. Columbus leaves Barcelona.]

[Sidenote: June. In Seville.]

[Sidenote: Fonseca.]

Before Columbus had left Barcelona, a large gratuity had been awarded to
him by his sovereigns; an order had been issued commanding free lodgings
to be given to him and his followers, wherever he went, and the original
stipulations as to honors and authority, made by the sovereigns at Santa
Fé, had been confirmed (May 28). A royal seal was now confided to his
keeping, to be set to letters patent, and to commissions that it might
be found necessary to issue. It might be used even in appointing a
deputy, to act in the absence of Columbus. His appointments were to hold
during the royal pleasure. His own power was defined at the same time,
and in particular to hold command over the entire expedition, and to
conduct its future government and explorations. He left Barcelona, after
leavetakings, on May 28; and his instructions, as printed by Navarrete,
were signed the next day. It is not unlikely they were based on
suggestions of Columbus made in a letter, without date, which has
recently been printed in the _Cartas de Indias_ (1877). Early in June,
he was in Seville, and soon after he was joined by Juan Rodriguez de
Fonseca, archdeacon of Seville, who, as representative of the Crown, had
been made the chief director of the preparations. It is claimed by
Harrisse that this priest has been painted by the biographers of
Columbus much blacker than he really was, on the strength of the
objurgations which the _Historie_ bestows upon him. Las Casas calls him
worldly; and he deserves the epithet if a dominating career of thirty
years in controlling the affairs of the Indies is any evidence of
fitness in such matters. His position placed him where he had purposes
to thwart as well as projects to foster, and the record of this age of
discovery is not without many proofs of selfish and dishonorable
motives, which Fonseca might be called upon to repress. That his
discrimination was not always clear-sighted may be expected; that he was
sometimes perfidious may be true, but he was dealing mainly with those
who could be perfidious also. That he abused his authority might also go
without dispute; but so did Columbus and the rest. In the game of
diamond-cut-diamond, it is not always just to single out a single victim
for condemnation, as is done by Irving and the canonizers.

It was while at Seville, engaged in this work of preparation, that
Fonseca sought to check the demands of Columbus as respects the number
of his personal servitors. That these demands were immoderate, the
character of Columbus, never cautious under incitement, warrants us in
believing; and that the official guardian of the royal treasury should
have views of his own is not to be wondered at. The story goes that the
sovereigns forced Fonseca to yield, and that this was the offense of
Columbus which could neither be forgotten nor forgiven by Fonseca, and
for which severities were visited upon him and his heirs in the years to
come. Irving is confident that Fonseca has escaped the condemnation
which Spanish writers would willingly have put upon him, for fear of the
ecclesiastical censors of the press.

[Sidenote: Council for the Indies.]

The measures which were now taken in accordance with the instructions
given to Columbus, already referred to, to regulate the commerce of the
Indies, with a custom house at Cadiz and a corresponding one in Española
under the control of the Admiral, ripened in time into what was known as
the Council for the Indies. It had been early determined (May 23) to
control all emigration to the new regions, and no one was allowed to
trade thither except under license from the monarchs, Columbus, or

[Sidenote: New fleet equipped.]

A royal order had put all ships and appurtenances in the ports of
Andalusia at the demand of Fonseca and Columbus, for a reasonable
compensation, and compelled all persons required for the service to
embark in it on suitable pay. Two thirds of the ecclesiastical tithes,
the sequestered property of banished Jews, and other resources were set
apart to meet these expenses, and the treasurer was authorized to
contract a loan, if necessary. To eke out the resources, this last was
resorted to, and 5,000,000 maravedis were borrowed from the Duke of
Medina-Sidonia. All the transactions relating to the procuring and
dispensing of moneys had been confided to a treasurer, Francisco Pinelo;
with the aid of an accountant, Juan de Soria. Everything was hurriedly
gathered for the armament, for it was of the utmost importance that the
preparations should move faster than the watching diplomacy.

Artillery which had been in use on shipboard for more than a century and
a half was speedily amassed. The arquebuse, however, had not altogether
been supplanted by the matchlock, and was yet preferred in some hands
for its lightness. Military stores which had been left over from the
Moorish war and were now housed in the Alhambra, at this time converted
into an arsenal, were opportunely drawn upon.

[Sidenote: Beradi and Vespucius.]

The labor of an intermediary in much of this preparation fell upon
Juonato Beradi, a Florentine merchant then settled in Seville, and it is
interesting to know that Americus Vespucius, then a mature man of two
and forty, was engaged under Beradi in this work of preparation.

[Sidenote: 1493. June 20.]

From the fact that certain horsemen and agriculturists were ordered to
be in Seville on June 20, and to hold themselves in readiness to embark,
it may be inferred that the sailing of some portion of the fleet may at
that time have been expected at a date not much later.

[Illustration: CROSSBOW-MAKER.

[From Jost Amman's _Beschreibung_, 1586.]]

[Sidenote: Isabella's interest.]

[Sidenote: Indians baptized.]

The interest of Isabella in the new expedition was almost wholly on its
emotional and intellectual side. She had been greatly engrossed with the
spiritual welfare of the Indians whom Columbus had taken to Barcelona.
Their baptism had taken place with great state and ceremony, the King,
Queen, and Prince Juan officiating as sponsors. It was intended that
they should reëmbark with the new expedition. Prince Juan, however,
picked out one of these Indians for his personal service, and when the
fellow died, two years later, it was a source of gratification, as
Herrera tells us, that at last one of his race had entered the gates of
heaven! Only four of the six ever reached their native country. We know
nothing of the fate of those left sick at Palos.

[Sidenote: Father Buil.]

The Pope, to further all methods for the extension of the faith, had
commissioned (June 24) a Benedictine monk, Bernardo Buil (Boyle), of
Catalonia, to be his apostolic vicar in the new world, and this priest
was to be accompanied by eleven brothers of the order. The Queen
intrusted to them the sacred vessels and vestments from her own altar.
The instructions which Columbus received were to deal lovingly with the
poor natives. We shall see how faithful he was to the behest.

Isabella's musings were not, however, all so piously confined. She wrote
to Columbus from Segovia in August, requiring him to make provisions for
bringing back to Spain specimens of the peculiar birds of the new
regions, as indications of untried climates and seasons.

[Sidenote: Astronomy and navigation.]

Again, in writing to Columbus, September 5, she urged him not to rely
wholly on his own great knowledge, but to take such a skillful
astronomer on his voyage as Fray Antonio de Marchena,--the same whom
Columbus later spoke of as being one of the two persons who had never
made him a laughing-stock. Muñoz says the office of astronomer was not

Dealing with the question of longitude was a matter in which there was
at this time little insight, and no general agreement. Columbus, as we
have seen, suspected the variation of the needle might afford the basis
of a system; but he grew to apprehend, as he tells us in the narrative
of his fourth voyage, that the astronomical method was the only
infallible one, but whether his preference was for the opposition of
planets, the occultations of stars, the changes in the moon's
declination, or the comparisons of Jupiter's altitude with the lunar
position,--all of which were in some form in vogue,--does not appear.
The method by conveyance of time, so well known now in the use of
chronometers, seems to have later been suggested by Alonso de Santa
Cruz,--too late for the recognition of Columbus; but the instrumentality
of water-clocks, sand-clocks, and other crude devices, like the timing
of burning wicks, was too uncertain to obtain even transient sanction.

[Sidenote: Astrolabe.]

The astrolabe, for all the improvements of Behaim, was still an awkward
instrument for ascertaining latitude, especially on a rolling or
pitching ship, and we know that Vasco da Gama went on shore at the Cape
de Verde Islands to take observations when the motion of the sea balked
him on shipboard.

[Illustration: THE CLOCK-MAKER.

[From Jost Amman's _Beschreibung_, Frankfort.]]

[Sidenote: Cross-staff and Jackstaff.]

Whether the cross-staff or Jackstaff, a seaboard implement somewhat more
convenient than the astrolabe, was known to Columbus is not very
clear,--probably it was not; but the navigators that soon followed him
found it more manageable on rolling ships than the older instruments. It
was simply a stick, along which, after one end of it was placed at the
eye, a scaled crossbar was pushed until its two ends touched, the lower,
the horizon, and the upper, the heavenly body whose altitude was to be
taken. A scale on the stick then showed, at the point where the bar was
left, the degree of latitude.

[Sidenote: Errors in latitude.]

The best of such aids, however, did not conduce to great accuracy, and
the early maps, in comparison with modern, show sometimes several
degrees of error in scaling from the equator. An error once committed
was readily copied, and different cartographical records put in service
by the professional map makers came sometimes by a process of averages
to show some surprising diversities, with positive errors of
considerable extent. The island of Cuba, for instance, early found place
in the charts seven and eight degrees too far north, with dependent
islands in equally wrong positions.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Seventeen vessels ready.]

As the preparations went on, a fleet of seventeen vessels, large and
small, three of which were called transports, had, according to the best
estimates, finally been put in readiness. Scillacio tells us that some
of the smallest had been constructed of light draft, especially for
exploring service. Horses and domestic animals of all kinds were at last
gathered on board. Every kind of seed and agricultural implement, stores
of commodities for barter with the Indians, and all the appurtenances of
active life were accumulated. Muñoz remarks that it is evident that
sugar cane, rice, and vines had not been discovered or noted by Columbus
on his first voyage, or we would not have found them among the
commodities provided for the second.

[Sidenote: Ojeda.]

[Sidenote: Their companies.]

In making up the company of the adventurers, there was little need of
active measures to induce recruits. Many an Hidalgo and cavalier took
service at their own cost. Galvano, who must have received the reports
by tradition, says that such was the "desire of travel that the men were
ready to leap into the sea to swim, if it had been possible, into these
new found parts." Traffic, adventure, luxury, feats of arms,--all were
inducements that lured one individual or another. Some there were to
make names for themselves in their new fields. Such was Alonso de Ojeda,
a daring youth, expert in all activities, who had served his ambition in
the Moorish wars, and had been particularly favored by the Duke of
Medina-Celi, the friend of Columbus.

[Sidenote: Las Casas, Ponce de Leon, La Cosa, etc.]

We find others whose names we shall again encounter. The younger brother
of Columbus, Diego Colon, had come to Spain, attracted by the success of
Christopher. The father and uncle of Las Casas, from whose conversations
with the Admiral that historian could profit in the future, Juan Ponce
de Leon, the later discoverer of Florida, Juan de la Cosa, whose map is
the first we have of the New World, and Dr. Chanca, a physician of
Seville, who was pensioned by the Crown, and to whom we owe one of the
narratives of the voyage, were also of the company.

[Sidenote: 1,500 souls embark.]

The thousand persons to which the expedition had at first been limited
became, under the pressure of eager cavaliers, nearer 1,200, and this
number was eventually increased by stowaways and other hangers-on, till
the number embarked was not much short of 1,500. This is Oviedo's
statement. Bernaldez and Peter Martyr make the number 1,200, or
thereabouts. Perhaps these were the ordinary hands, and the 300 more
were officers and the like, for the statements do not render it certain
how the enumerations are made. So far as we know their names, but a
single companion of Columbus in his first voyage was now with him. The
twenty horsemen, already mentioned are supposed to be the only mounted
soldiers that embarked. Columbus says, in a letter addressed to their
majesties, that "the number of colonists who desire to go thither
amounts to two thousand," which would indicate that a large number were
denied. The letter is undated, and may not be of a date near the
sailing; if it is, it probably indicates to some degree the number of
persons who were denied embarkation. As the day approached for the
departure there was some uneasiness over a report of a Portuguese
caravel sailing westward from Madeira, and it was proposed to send some
of the fleet in advance to overtake the vessel; but after some
diplomatic fence between Ferdinand and João, the disquiet ended, or at
least nothing was done on either side.

At one time Columbus had hoped to embark on the 15th of August; but it
was six weeks later before everything was ready.




[Sidenote: The embarkation.]

The last day in port was a season of solemnity and gratulation. Coma, a
Spaniard, who, if not an eyewitness, got his description from observers,
thus describes the scene in a letter to Scillacio in Pavia: "The
religious rites usual on such occasions were performed by the sailors;
the last embraces were given; the ships were hung with brilliant cloths;
streamers were wound in the rigging; and the royal standard flapped
everywhere at the sterns of the vessels. The pipers and harpers held in
mute astonishment the Nereids and even the Sirens with their sweet
modulations. The shores reëchoed the clang of trumpets and the braying
of clarions. The discharge of cannon rolled over the water. Some
Venetian galleys chancing to enter the harbor joined in the jubilation,
and the cheers of united nations went up with prayers for blessings on
the venturing crews."

[Sidenote: 1493. September 25. The fleet sails.]

Night followed, calm or broken, restful or wearisome, as the case might
be, for one or another, and when the day dawned (September 25, 1493) the
note of preparation was everywhere heard. It was the same on the three
great caracks, on the lesser caravels, and on the light craft, which had
been especially fitted for exploration. The eager and curious mass of
beings which crowded their decks were certainly a motley show. There
were cavalier and priest, hidalgo and artisan, soldier and sailor. The
ambitious thoughts which animated them were as various as their habits.
There were those of the adventurer, with no purpose whatever but
pastime, be it easy or severe. There was the greed of the speculator,
counting the values of trinkets against stores of gold.

[Sidenote: Columbus's character.]

There was the brooding of the administrators, with unsolved problems of
new communities in their heads. There were ears that already caught the
songs of salvation from native throats. There was Columbus himself,
combining all ambitions in one, looking around this harbor of Cadiz
studded with his lordly fleet, spreading its creaking sails, lifting its
dripping anchors. It was his to contrast it with the scene at Palos a
little over a year before. This needy Genoese vested with the
viceroyalty of a new world was more of an adventurer than any. He was a
speculator who overstepped them all in audacious visions and golden
expectancies. He was an administrator over a new government, untried and
undivined. To his ears the hymns of the Church soared with a militant
warning, dooming the heathen of the Indies, and appalling the Moslem
hordes that imperiled the Holy Sepulchre.

[Sidenote: 1493. October 1. Canaries.]

Under the eye of this one commanding spirit, the vessels fell into a
common course, and were wafted out upon the great ocean under the lead
of the escorting galleys of the Venetians. The responsibility of the
captain-general of the great armament had begun. He had been instructed
to steer widely clear of the Portuguese coast, and he bore away in the
lead directly to the southwest. On the seventh day (October 1) they
reached the Gran Canaria, where they tarried to repair a leaky ship. On
the 5th they anchored at Gomera. Two days were required here to complete
some parts of their equipment, for the islands had already become the
centre of great industries and produced largely. "They have enterprising
merchants who carry their commerce to many shores," wrote Coma to

There were wood and water to be taken on board. A variety of domestic
animals, calves, goats, sheep, and swine; some fowls, and the seed of
many orchard and garden fruits, oranges, lemons, melons, and the like,
were gathered from the inhabitants and stowed away in the remaining
spaces of the ships.

[Sidenote: 1493. October 13. At sea.]

On the 7th the fleet sailed, but it was not till the 13th that the
gentle winds had taken them beyond Ferro and the unbounded sea was about
the great Admiral. He bore away much more southerly than in his first
voyage, so as to strike, if he could, the islands that were so
constantly spoken of, the previous year, as lying southeasterly from

[Sidenote: St. Elmo's light.]

His ultimate port was, of course, the harbor of La Navidad, and he had
issued sealed instructions to all his commanders, to guide any one who
should part company with the fleet. The winds were favorable, but the
dull sailing of the Admiral's ship restrained the rest. In ten days they
had overshot the longitude of the Sargossa Sea without seeing it,
leaving its floating weeds to the north. In a few days more they
experienced heavy tempests. They gathered confidence from an old belief,
when they saw St. Elmo waving his lambent flames about the upper
rigging, while they greeted his presence with their prayers and songs.

"The fact is certain," says Coma, "that two lights shone through the
darkness of the night on the topmast of the Admiral's ship. Forthwith
the tempest began to abate, the sea to remit its fury, the waves their
violence, and the surface of the waves became as smooth as polished
marble." This sudden gale of four hours' duration came on St. Simon's

The same authority represents that the protracted voyage had caused
their water to run low, for the Admiral, confident of his nearness to
land, and partly to reassure the timid, had caused it to be served
unstintingly. "You might compare him to Moses," adds Coma, "encouraging
the thirsty armies of the Israelites in the dry wastes of the

[Sidenote: 1493. November 2.]

[Sidenote: November 3.]

[Sidenote: Dominica Island.]

[Sidenote: Marigalante.]

[Sidenote: 1493. November 3. Guadaloupe.]

On Saturday, November 2, the leaders compared reckonings. Some thought
they had come 780 leagues from Ferro; others, 800. There were anxiety
and weariness on board. The constant fatigue of bailing out the leaky
ships had had its disheartening effect. Columbus, with a practiced eye,
saw signs of land in the color of the water and the shifting winds, and
he signaled every vessel to take in sail. It was a waiting night. The
first light of Sunday glinted on the top of a lofty mountain ahead,
descried by a watch at the Admiral's masthead. As the island was
approached, the Admiral named it, in remembrance of the holy day,
Dominica. The usual service with the _Salve Regina_ was chanted
throughout the fleet, which moved on steadily, bringing island after
island into view. Columbus could find no good anchorage at Dominica, and
leaving one vessel to continue the search, he passed on to another
island, which he named from his ship, Marigalante. Here he landed, set
up the royal banner in token of possession of the group,--for he had
seen six islands,--and sought for inhabitants. He could find none, nor
any signs of occupation. There was nothing but a tangle of wood in every
direction, a sparkling mass of leafage, trembling in luxurious beauty
and giving off odors of spice. Some of the men tasted an unknown fruit,
and suffered an immediate inflammation about the face, which it required
remedies to assuage. The next morning Columbus was attracted by the
lofty volcanic peak of another island, and, sailing up to it, he could
see cascades on the sides of this eminence.


[From Henrique's _Les Colonies Françoises_, Paris, 1889.]]

"Among those who viewed this marvelous phenomena at a distance from the
ships," says Coma, "it was at first a subject of dispute whether it were
light reflected from masses of compact snow, or the broad surface of a
smooth-worn road. At last the opinion prevailed that it was a vast

[Sidenote: November 4.]

Columbus remembered that he had promised the monks of Our Lady of
Guadaloupe, in Estremadura, to place some token of them in this strange
world, and so he gave this island the name of Guadaloupe. Landing the
next day, a week of wonders followed.

[Sidenote: Cannibals.]

The exploring parties found the first village abandoned; but this had
been done so hastily that some young children had been left behind.
These they decked with hawks' bells, to win their returning parents. One
place showed a public square surrounded by rectangular houses, made of
logs and intertwined branches, and thatched with palms. They went
through the houses and noted what they saw. They observed at the
entrance of one some serpents carved in wood. They found netted
hammocks, beside calabashes, pottery, and even skulls used for utensils
of household service. They discovered cloth made of cotton; bows and
bone-tipped arrows, said sometimes to be pointed with human shin-bones;
domesticated fowl very like geese; tame parrots; and pineapples, whose
flavor enchanted them. They found what might possibly be relics of
Europe, washed hither by the equatorial currents as they set from the
African coasts,--an iron pot, as they thought it (we know this from the
_Historie_), and the stern-timber of a vessel, which they could have
less easily mistaken. They found something to horrify them in human
bones, the remains of a feast, as they were ready enough to believe, for
they were seeking confirmation of the stories of cannibals which
Columbus had heard on his first voyage. They learned that boys were
fattened like capons.

[Illustration: [From Philoponus's _Nota Typis Transacta Navigatio_.]]

The next day they captured a youth and some women, but the men eluded
them. Columbus was now fully convinced that he had at last discovered
the cannibals, and when it was found that one of his captains and eight
men had not returned to their ship, he was under great apprehensions. He
sent exploring parties into the woods. They hallooed and fired their
arquebuses, but to no avail. As they threaded their way through the
thickets, they came upon some villages, but the inhabitants fled,
leaving their meals half cooked; and they were convinced they saw human
flesh on the spit and in the pots. While this party was absent, some
women belonging to the neighboring islands, captives of this savage
people, came off to the ships and sought protection. Columbus decked
them with rings and bells, and forced them ashore, while they begged to
remain. The islanders stripped off their ornaments, and allowed them to
return for more. These women said that the chief of the island and most
of the warriors were absent on a predatory expedition.

[Sidenote: Ojeda's expedition.]

The party searching for the lost men returned without success, when
Alonso de Ojeda offered to lead forty men into the interior for a more
thorough search. This party was as unsuccessful as the other. Ojeda
reported he had crossed twenty-six streams in going inland, and that the
country was found everywhere abounding in odorous trees, strange and
delicious fruits, and brilliant birds.

While this second party was gone, the crews took aboard a supply of
water, and on Ojeda's return Columbus resolved to proceed, and was on
the point of sailing, when the absent men appeared on the shore and
signaled to be taken off. They had got lost in a tangled and pathless
forest, and all efforts to climb high enough in trees to see the stars
and determine their course had been hopeless. Finally striking the sea,
they had followed the shore till they opportunely espied the fleet. They
brought with them some women and boys, but reported they had seen no

[Sidenote: Cannibals.]

Among the accounts of these early experiences of the Spaniards with the
native people, the story of cannibalism is a constant theme. To
circulate such stories enhanced the wonder with which Europe was to be

[Sidenote: Caribs.]

The cruelty of the custom was not altogether unwelcome to warrant a
retaliatory mercilessness. Historians have not wholly decided that this
is enough to account for the most positive statements about man-eating
tribes. Fears and prejudices might do much to raise such a belief, or at
least to magnify the habits. Irving remarks that the preservation of
parts of the human body, among the natives of Española, was looked upon
as a votive service to ancestors, and it may have needed only prejudice
to convert such a custom into cannibalism when found with the Caribs.
The adventurousness of the nature of this fierce people and their
wanderings in wars naturally served to sharpen their intellects beyond
the passive unobservance of the pacific tribes on which they preyed; so
they became more readily, for this reason, the possessors of any passion
or vice that the European instinct craved to fasten somewhere upon a
strange people.

[Sidenote: Caribs and Lucayans.]

The contiguity of these two races, the fierce Carib and the timid tribes
of the more northern islands, has long puzzled the ethnologist. Irving
indulged in some rambling notions of the origin of the Carib, derived
from observations of the early students of the obscure relations of the
American peoples. Larger inquiry and more scientific observation has
since Irving's time been given to the subject, still without bringing
the question to recognizable bearings. The craniology of the Caribs is
scantily known, and there is much yet to be divulged. The race in its
purity has long been extinct. Lucien de Rosny, in an anthropological
study of the Antilles published by the French Society of Ethnology in
1886, has amassed considerable data for future deductions. It is a
question with some modern examiners if the distinction between these
insular peoples was not one of accident and surroundings rather than of

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1493. November 10. Columbus leaves Guadaloupe.]

When Columbus sailed from Guadaloupe on November 10, he steered
northwest for Española, though his captives told him that the mainland
lay to the south. He passed various islands, but did not cast anchor
till the 14th, when he reached the island named by him Santa Cruz, and
found it still a region of Caribs. It was here the Spaniards had their
first fight with this fierce people in trying to capture a canoe filled
with them. The white men rammed and overturned the hollowed log; but
the Indians fought in the water so courageously that some of the Spanish
bucklers were pierced with the native poisoned arrows, and one of the
Spaniards, later, died of such a wound inflicted by one of the savage
women. All the Caribs, however, were finally captured and placed in
irons on board ship. One was so badly wounded that recovery was not
thought possible, and he was thrown overboard. The fellow struck for the
shore, and was killed by the Spanish arrows. The accounts describe their
ferocious aspect, their coarse hair, their eyes circled with red paint,
and the muscular parts of their limbs artificially extended by tight
bands below and above.

[Sidenote: Porto Rico.]

Proceeding thence and passing a group of wild and craggy islets, which
he named after St. Ursula and her Eleven Thousand Virgins, Columbus at
last reached the island now called Porto Rico, which his captives
pointed out to him as their home and the usual field of the Carib
incursions. The island struck the strangers by its size, its beautiful
woods and many harbors, in one of which, at its west end, they finally
anchored. There was a village close by, which, by their accounts, was
trim, and not without some pretensions to skill in laying out, with its
seaside terraces. The inhabitants, however, had fled. Two days later,
the fleet weighed anchor and steered for La Navidad.

[Sidenote: 1493. November 22. Española.]

It was the 22d of November when the explorers made a level shore, which
they later discovered to be the eastern end of Española. They passed
gently along the northern coast, and at an attractive spot sent a boat
ashore with the body of the Biscayan sailor who had died of the poisoned
arrow, while two of the light caravels hovered near the beach to protect
the burying party. Coming to the spot where Columbus had had his armed
conflict with the natives the year before, and where one of the Indians
who had been baptized at Barcelona was taken, this fellow, loaded with
presents and decked in person, was sent on shore for the influence he
might exert on his people. This supposable neophyte does not again
appear in history. Only one of these native converts now remained, and
the accounts say that he lived faithfully with the Spaniards. Five of
the seven who embarked had died on the voyage.

[Sidenote: 1493. November 25.]

[Sidenote: 1493. November 27. Off La Navidad.]

On the 25th, while the fleet was at anchor at Monte Christo, where
Columbus had found gold in the river during his first voyage, the
sailors discovered some decomposed bodies, one of them showing a beard,
which raised apprehensions of the fate of the men left at La Navidad.
The neighboring natives came aboard for traffic with so much readiness,
however, that it did much to allay suspicion. It was the 27th when,
after dark, Columbus cast anchor opposite the fort, about a league from
land. It was too late to see anything more than the outline of the
hills. Expecting a response from the fort, he fired two cannons; but
there was no sound except the echoes. The Spaniards looked in vain for
lights on the shore. The darkness was mysterious and painful. Before
midnight a canoe was heard approaching, and a native twice asked for the
Admiral. A boat was lowered from one of the vessels, and towed the canoe
to the flag-ship. The natives were not willing to board her till
Columbus himself appeared at the waist, and by the light of a lantern
revealed his countenance to them. This reassured them. Their leader
brought presents--some accounts say ewers of gold, others say masks
ornamented with gold--from the cacique, Guacanagari, whose friendly
assistance had been counted upon so much to befriend the little garrison
at La Navidad.

[Sidenote: Its garrison killed.]

These formalities over, Columbus inquired for Diego de Arana and his
men. The young Lucayan, now Columbus's only interpreter, did the best he
could with a dialect not his own to make a connected story out of the
replies, which was in effect that sickness and dissension, together with
the withdrawal of some to other parts of the island, had reduced the
ranks of the garrison, when the fort as well as the neighboring village
of Guacanagari was suddenly attacked by a mountain chieftain, Caonabo,
who burned both fort and village. Those of the Spaniards who were not
driven into the sea to perish had been put to death. In this fight the
friendly cacique had been wounded. The visitors said that this
chieftain's hurt had prevented his coming with them to greet the
Admiral; but that he would come in the morning. Coma, in his account of
this midnight interview, is not so explicit, and leaves the reader to
infer that Columbus did not get quite so clear an apprehension of the
fate of his colony.

When the dawn came, the harbor appeared desolate. Not a canoe was seen
where so many sped about in the previous year. A boat was sent ashore,
and found every sign that the fort had been sacked as well as destroyed.
Fragments of clothing and bits of merchandise were scattered amid its
blackened ruins. There were Indians lurking behind distant trees, but no
one approached, and as the cacique had not kept the word which he had
sent of coming himself in the morning, suspicions began to arise that
the story of its destruction had not been honestly given. The new-comers
passed a disturbed night with increasing mistrust, and the next morning
Columbus landed and saw all for himself. He traveled farther away from
the shore than those who landed on the preceding day, and gained some
confirmation of the story in finding the village of the cacique a mass
of blackened ruins. Cannon were again discharged, in the hopes that
their reverberating echoes might reach the ears of those who were said
to have abandoned the fort before the massacre. The well and ditch were
cleaned out to see if any treasure had been cast into it, as Columbus
had directed in case of disaster. Nothing was found, and this seemed to
confirm the tale of the suddenness of the attack. Columbus and his men
went still farther inland to a village; but its inmates had hurriedly
fled, so that many articles of European make, stockings and a Moorish
robe among them, had been left behind, spoils doubtless of the fort.
Returning nearer the fort, they discovered the bodies of eleven men
buried, with the grass growing above them, and enough remained of their
clothing to show they were Europeans. This is Dr. Chanca's statement,
who says the men had not been dead two months. Coma says that the bodies
were unburied, and had lain for nearly three months in the open air; and
that they were now given Christian burial.

[Sidenote: Guacanagari and Caonabo.]

Later in the day, a few of the natives were lured by friendly signs to
come near enough to talk with the Lucayan interpreter. The story in much
of its details was gradually drawn out, and Columbus finally possessed
himself of a pretty clear conception of the course of the disastrous
events. It was a tale of cruelty, avarice, and sensuality towards the
natives on the part of the Spaniards, and of jealousy and brawls among
themselves. No word of their governor had been sufficient to restrain
their outbursts of passionate encounter, and no sense of insecurity
could deter them from the most foolhardy risks while away from the
fort's protection. Those who had been appointed to succeed Arana, if
there were an occasion, revolted against him, and, being unsuccessful in
overthrowing him, they went off with their adherents in search of the
mines of Cibao. This carried them beyond the protection of Guacanagari,
and into the territory of his enemy, Caonabo, a wandering Carib who had
offered himself to the interior natives as their chieftain, and who had
acquired a great ascendency in the island. This leader, who had learned
of the dissensions among the Spaniards, was no sooner informed of the
coming of these renegades within his reach than he caused them to be
seized and killed. This emboldened him to join forces with another
cacique, a neighbor of Guacanagari, and to attempt to drive the
Spaniards from the island, since they had become a standing menace to
his power, as he reasoned. The confederates marched stealthily, and
stole into the vicinity of the fort in the night. Arana had but ten men
within the stockade, and they kept no watch. Other Spaniards were
quartered in the adjacent village. The onset was sudden and effective,
and the dismal ruins of the fort and village were thought to confirm the

[Sidenote: Doña Catalina.]

Other confirmations followed. A caravel was sent to explore easterly,
and was soon boarded by two Indians from the shore, who invited the
captain, Maldonado, to visit the cacique, who lay ill at a neighboring
village. The captain went, and found Guacanagari laid up with a bandaged
leg. The savage told a story which agreed with the one just related, and
on its being repeated to Columbus, the Admiral himself, with an imposing
train, went to see the cacique. Guacanagari seemed anxious, in repeating
the story, to convince the Admiral of his own loyalty to the Spaniards,
and pointed to his wounds and to those of some of his people as proof.
There was the usual interchange of presents, hawks' bells for gold, and
similar reckonings. Before leaving, Columbus asked to have his surgeon
examine the wound, which the cacique said had been occasioned by a stone
striking the leg. To get more light, the chieftain went out-of-doors,
leaning upon the Admiral's arm. When the bandage was removed, there was
no external sign of hurt; but the cacique winced if the flesh was
touched. Father Boyle, who was in the Admiral's train, thought the wound
a pretense, and the story fabricated to conceal the perfidy of the
cacique, and urged Columbus to make an instant example of the traitor.
The Admiral was not so confident as the priest, and at all events he
thought a course of pacification and procrastination was the better
policy. The interview did not end, according to Coma, without some
strange manifestations on the part of the cacique, which led the
Spaniards for a moment to fear that a trial of arms was to come. The
chief was not indisposed to try his legs enough to return with the
Admiral to his ship that very evening. Here he saw the Carib prisoners,
and the accounts tell us how he shuddered at the sight of them. He
wondered at the horses and other strange creatures which were shown to
him. Coma tells us that the Indians thought that the horses were fed on
human flesh. The women who had been rescued from the Caribs attracted,
perhaps, even more the attention of the savage, and particularly a lofty
creature among them, whom the Spaniards had named Doña Catalina.
Guacanagari was observed to talk with her more confidingly than he did
with the others.

Father Boyle urged upon the Admiral that a duress similar to that of
Catalina was none too good for the perfidious cacique, as the priest
persisted in calling the savage, but Columbus hesitated. There was,
however, little left of that mutual confidence which had characterized
the relations of the Admiral and the chieftain during the trying days of
the shipwreck, the year before. When the Admiral offered to hang a cross
on the neck of his visitor, and the cacique understood it to be the
Christian emblem, he shrank from the visible contact of a faith of which
the past months had revealed its character. With this manifestation they
parted, and the cacique was set ashore. Coma seems to unite the
incidents of this interview on the ship with those of the meeting

[Sidenote: The cacique and Catalina.]

There comes in here, according to the received accounts, a little
passage of Indian intrigue and gallantry. A messenger appeared the next
day to inquire when the Admiral sailed, and later another to barter
gold. This last held some talk with the Indian women, and particularly
with Catalina. About midnight a light appeared on the shore, and
Catalina and her companions, while the ship's company, except a watch,
were sleeping, let themselves down the vessel's side, and struck out
for the shore. The watch discovered the escape, but not in time to
prevent the women having a considerable start. Boats pursued, but the
swimmers touched the beach first. Four of them, however, were caught,
but Catalina and the others escaped.

When, the next morning, Columbus sent a demand for the fugitives, it was
found that Guacanagari had moved his household and all his effects into
the interior of the island. The story got its fitting climax in the
suspicious minds of the Spaniards, when they supposed that the fugitive
beauty was with him. Here was only a fresh instance of the savage's

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus abandons La Navidad.]

Columbus had before this made up his mind that the vicinity of his
hapless fort was not a good site for the town which he intended to
build. The ground was low, moist, and unhealthy. There were no building
stones near at hand. There was need of haste in a decision. The men were
weary of their confinement on shipboard. The horses and other animals
suffered from a like restraint. Accordingly expeditions were sent to
explore the coast, and it soon became evident that they must move beyond
the limits of Guacanagari's territory, if they would find the conditions
demanded. Melchior Maldonado, in command of one of these expeditions,
had gone eastward until he coasted the country of another cacique. This
chief at first showed hostility, but was won at last by amicable signs.
From him they learned that Guacanagari had gone to the mountains. From
another they got the story of the massacre of the fort, almost entirely
accordant with what they had already discovered.

[Sidenote: Isabella founded.]

[Sidenote: Cibao gold mines.]

Not one of the reports from these minor explorations was satisfactory,
and December 7, the entire fleet weighed anchor to proceed farther east.
Stress of weather caused them to put into a harbor, which on examination
seemed favorable for their building project. The roadstead was wide. A
rocky point offered a site for a citadel. There were two rivers winding
close by in an attractive country, and capable of running mills. Nature,
as they saw it, was variegated and alluring. Flowers and fruits were in
abundance. "Garden seeds came up in five days after they were sown,"
says Coma of their trial of the soil, "and the gardens were speedily
clothed in green, producing plentifully onions and pumpkins, radishes
and beets." "Vegetables," wrote Dr. Chanca, "attain a more luxuriant
growth here in eight days than they would in Spain in twenty." It was
also learned that the gold mines of the Cibao mountains were inland from
the spot, at no great distance.

The disembarkation began. Days of busy exertion followed. Horses,
livestock, provisions, munitions, and the varied merchandise were the
centre of a lively scene about their encampment. This they established
near a sheet of water. Artificers, herdsmen, cavaliers, priests,
laborers, and placemen made up the motley groups which were seen on all

[Sidenote: Sickness in the colony.]

In later years, the Spaniards regulated all the formalities and
prescribed with precision the proceedings in the laying out of towns in
the New World, but Columbus had no such directions. The planting of a
settlement was a novel and untried method. It was a natural thought to
commemorate in the new Christian city the great patroness of his
undertaking, and the settlement bore from the first the name of
Isabella. His engineers laid out square and street. A site for the
church was marked, another for a public storehouse, another for the
house of the Admiral,--all of stone. The ruins of these three buildings
are the most conspicuous relics in the present solitary waste. The great
mass of tenements, which were stretched along the streets back from the
public square, where the main edifice stood, were as hastily run up as
possible, to cover in the colony. It was time enough for solider
structures later to take their places. Parties were occupied in clearing
fields and setting out orchards. There were landing piers to be made at
the shore. So everybody tasked bodily strength in rival endeavors. The
natural results followed in so incongruous a crowd. Those not accustomed
to labor broke down from its hardships. The seekers for pleasure, not
finding it in the common toil, rushed into excesses, and imperiled all.
The little lake, so attractive to the inexperienced, was soon, with its
night vapors, the source of disease. Few knew how to protect themselves
from the insidious malaria. Discomfort induced discouragement, and the
mental firmness so necessary in facing strange and exacting
circumstances gave way.

[Sidenote: Columbus sick.]

Forebodings added greater energy to the disease. It was not long before
the colony was a camp of hospitals, about one half the people being
incapacitated for labor. In the midst of all this downheartedness
Columbus himself succumbed, and for some weeks was unable to direct the
trying state of affairs, except as he could do so in the intervals of
his lassitude.

But as the weeks went on a better condition was apparent. Work took a
more steady aspect. The ships had discharged their burdens. They lay
ready for the return voyage.

[Sidenote: Sends Ojeda to seek the Cibao mines.]

Columbus had depended on the exertions of the little colony at La
Navidad to amass a store of gold and other precious commodities with
which to laden the returning vessels. He knew the disappointment which
would arise if they should carry little else than the dismal tale of
disaster. Nothing lay upon his mind more weightily than this
mortification and misfortune. There was nothing to be done but to seek
the mines of Cibao, for the chance of sending more encouraging reports.
Gold had indeed been brought in to the settlement, but only scantily;
and its quantity was not suited to make real the gorgeous dreams of the
East with which Spain was too familiar.

So an expedition to Cibao was organized, and Ojeda was placed in
command. The force assigned to him was but fifteen men in all, but each
was well armed and courageous. They expected perils, for they had to
invade the territory of Caonabo, the destroyer of La Navidad.

[Sidenote: 1494. January. First mass.]

The march began early in January, 1494; perhaps just after they had
celebrated their first solemn mass in a temporary chapel on January 6.
For two days their progress was slow and toilsome, through forests
without a sign of human life, for the savage denizens had moved back
from the vicinity of the Spaniards. The men encamped, the second night,
on the top of a mountain, and when the dawn broke they looked down on
its further side over a broad valley, with its scattered villages. They
boldly descended, and met nothing but hospitality from the villagers.
Their course now lay towards and up the opposite slope of the valley.
They pushed on without an obstacle.

[Sidenote: Gold found.]

[Sidenote: Gorvalan's expedition.]

The rude inhabitants of the mountains were as friendly as those of the
valley. They did not see nor did they hear anything of the great
Caonabo. Every stream they passed glittered with particles of gold in
its sand. The natives had an expert way of separating the metal, and the
Spaniards flattered them for their skill. Occasionally a nugget was
found. Ojeda picked up a lump which weighed nine ounces, and Peter
Martyr looked upon it wonderingly when it reached Spain. If all this was
found on the surface, what must be the wealth in the bowels of these
astounding mountains? The obvious answer was what Ojeda hastened back to
make to Columbus. A similar story was got from a young cavalier,
Gorvalan, who had been dispatched in another direction with another
force. There was in all this the foundation of miracles for the glib
tongue and lively imagination. One of these exuberant stories reached
Coma, and Scillacio makes him say that "the most splendid thing of all
(which I should be ashamed to commit to writing, if I had not received
it from a trustworthy source) is that, a rock adjacent to a mountain
being struck with a club, a large quantity of gold burst out, and
particles of gold of indescribable brightness glittered all around the
spot. Ojeda was loaded down by means of this outburst." It was stories
like these which prepared the way for the future reaction in Spain.

[Sidenote: Columbus writes to the sovereigns.]

There was material now to give spirit to the dispatch to his sovereigns,
and Columbus sat down to write it. It has come down to us, and is
printed in Navarrete's collection, just as it was perused by the King
and Queen, who entered in the margins their comments and orders.
Columbus refers at the beginning to letters already written to their
Highnesses, and mentions others addressed to Father Buele and to the
treasurer, but they are not known. Then, speaking of the expeditions of
Ojeda and Gorvalan, he begs the sovereigns to satisfy themselves of the
hopeful prospects for gold by questioning Gorvalan, who was to return
with the ships. He advises their Highnesses to return thanks to God for
all this. Those personages write in the margin, "Their Highnesses return
thanks to God!" He then explains his embarrassment from the sickness of
his men,--the "greater part of all," as he adds,--and says that the
Indians are very familiar, rambling about the settlement both day and
night, necessitating a constant watch. As he makes excuses and gives his
reasons for not doing this or that, the compliant monarchs as
constantly write against the paragraphs, "He has done well." Columbus
says he is building stone bulwarks for defense, and when this is done he
shall provide for accumulating gold. "Exactly as should be done," chime
in the monarchs. He then asks for fresh provisions to be sent to him,
and tells how much they have done in planting. "Fonseca has been ordered
to send further seeds," is the comment. He complains that the wine casks
had been badly coopered at Seville, and that the wine had all run out,
so that wine was their prime necessity. He urges that calves, heifers,
asses, working mares, be sent to them; and that above all, to prevent
discouragement, the supplies should arrive at Isabella by May, and that
particularly medicines should come, as their stock was exhausted. He
then refers to the cannibals whom he would send back, and asks that they
may be made acquainted with the true faith and taught the Spanish
tongue. "His suggestions are good," is the marginal royal comment.

[Sidenote: Columbus proposes a trade in slaves.]

Now comes the vital point of his dispatch. We want cattle, he says. They
can be paid for in Carib slaves. Let yearly caravels conduct this trade.
It will be easy, with the boats which are building, to capture a plenty
of these savages. Duties can be levied on these importations of slaves.
On this point he urges a reply. The monarchs see the fatality of the
step, and, according to the marginal comment, suspend judgment and ask
the Admiral's further thoughts. "A more distinct suggestion for the
establishment of a slave trade was never proposed," is the modern
comment of Arthur Helps. Columbus then adds that he has bought for the
use of the colony certain of the vessels which brought them out, and
these would be retained at Isabella, and used in making further
discoveries. The comment is that Fonseca will pay the owners. He then
intimates that more care should be exercised in the selection of
placemen sent to the colony, for the enterprise had suffered already
from unfitness in such matters. The monarchs promise amends. He
complains that the Granada lancemen, who offered themselves in Seville
mounted on fine horses, had subsequently exchanged these animals to
their own personal advantage for inferior horses. He says the footmen
made similar exchanges to fill their own pockets.

[Sidenote: 1404. January 30. Signs his letter.]

[Sidenote: Gold, the Christians' God!]

[Sidenote: 1494. February 2. The fleet returns to Spain.]

[Sidenote: Chanca's narrative.]

So, dating this memorial on January 30, 1494, the man who was ambitious
to become the first slave-driver of the New World laid down his quill,
praising God, as he asked his sovereigns to do. The poor creatures who
wandered in and about among the cabins of the Spaniards were fast
forming their own comments, which were quite as astute as those of the
Admiral's royal masters. Holding up a piece of gold, the natives learned
to say,--and Columbus had given them their first lesson in such
philosophy,--"Behold the Christians' God!" Benzoni, the first traveler
who came among them with his eyes open, and daring to record the truth,
heard them say this. Intrusting his memorial to Antonio de Torres, and
putting him in command of the twelve ships that were to return to Spain,
Columbus saw the fleet sail away on February 2, 1494. There would seem
to have been committed to some one on the ships two other accounts of
the results of this second voyage up to this time, which have come down
to us. One of these is a narrative by Dr. Chanca, the physician of the
colony, whom Columbus, in his memorial to the monarchs, credits with
doing good service in his profession at a sacrifice of the larger
emoluments which the practice of it had brought to him in Seville. The
narrative of Chanca had been sent by him to the cathedral chapter of
Seville. The original is thought to be lost; but Navarrete used a
transcript which belonged to a collection formed by Father Antonio de
Aspa, a monk of the monastery of the Mejorada, where Columbus is known
to have deposited some of his papers. Major has given us an English
translation of it in his _Select Letters of Columbus_. Major's text will
also be found in the late James Lenox's English version of the other
account, which he gave to scholars in 1859.

[Sidenote: Coma's narrative.]

There is a curious misconception in this last document, which represents
that Columbus had reached these new regions by the African route of the
Portuguese,--a confusion doubtless arising from the imperfect knowledge
which the Italian translator, Nicholas Scillacio, had of the current
geographical developments. A Spaniard, Guglielmo Coma, seems to have
written about the new discoveries in some letters, apparently revived in
some way from somebody's personal observation, which Scillacio put into
a Latin dress, and published at Pavia, or possibly at Pisa. This little
tract is of the utmost rarity, and Mr. Lenox, considering the suggestion
of Ronchini, that the blunder of Scillacio may have caused the
destruction of the edition, replies by calling attention to the fact
that it is scarcely rarer than many other of the contemporary tracts of
Columbus's voyage, about which there exists no such reason.

[Sidenote: Verde's letters.]

We get also some reports by Torres himself on the affairs of the colony
in various letters of a Florentine merchant, Simone Verde, to whom he
had communicated them. These letters have been recently (1875) found in
the archives of Florence, and have been made better known still later by




[Sidenote: Life in Isabella.]

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

[Sidenote: Mutinous factions.]

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

[Sidenote: Their schemes discovered.]

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus goes to the gold mines.]

[Sidenote: Diego Colon.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. March 12.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus makes a road.]

[Sidenote: The Vega Real.]

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

[Sidenote: Erects a cross.]

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

[Sidenote: Cibao mountains.]

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

[Sidenote: Fort St. Thomas.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Country examined.]

[Sidenote: Columbus returns to Isabella.]

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

[Sidenote: Natives of the valley.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. March 29. Columbus in Isabella.]

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

[Sidenote: Condition of the town.]

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

[Sidenote: Ojeda sent to St. Thomas.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. April 9.]

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

[Sidenote: Diego and the junto.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. April 24. Columbus sails for Cuba.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. May 1. On the Cuban coast.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. May 3. Steers for Jamaica.]

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

[Sidenote: Natives of Jamaica.]

[Sidenote: A dog set upon them.]

[Sidenote: Santiago or Jamaica.]

[Sidenote: Character of natives.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Columbus returns to Cuba.]

[Sidenote: 1494. May 18.]

[Sidenote: The Queen's Gardens.]

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

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

[Sidenote: 1494. June 3.]

[Sidenote: Men with tails.]

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

[Sidenote: Gulf of Xagua.]

[Sidenote: White-robed men.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus believes he sees the Golden Chersonesus,]

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

[Sidenote: by which he would return to Spain.]

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

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

[Sidenote: His crew rebel.]

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

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

[Sidenote: 1494. June 12. He turns back.]

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

[Sidenote: Enforces an oath upon his men]

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

[Sidenote: that Cuba is a continent.]

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: MASS ON SHORE.

[From Philoponus's _Nova Typis Transacta Navigatio_.]]

[Sidenote: 1494. June 13.]

[Sidenote: 1494. June 30.]

[Sidenote: 1494. July 7.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. July 16.]

[Sidenote: 1494. July 18.]

[Sidenote: On the coast of Jamaica.]

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

[Sidenote: 1494. August 19.]

[Sidenote: Española.]

[Sidenote: 1494. August 23.]

[Sidenote: Alto Velo.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus observes eclipse of the moon.]

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

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

[Sidenote: 1494. September 24.]

[Sidenote: Columbus reaches Isabella.]

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

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




[Sidenote: 1494. September 29. Columbus in Isabella.]

It was the 29th of September, 1494, when the "Nina," with the senseless
Admiral on board, and her frail consorts stood into the harbor of
Isabella. Taken ashore, the sick man found no restorative like the
presence of his brother Bartholomew, who had reached Isabella during the
Admiral's absence.

[Sidenote: Finds Bartholomew Columbus there.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew's career in England.]

Several years had elapsed since the two congenial brothers had parted.
We have seen that this brother had probably been with Bartholomew Diaz
when he discovered the African cape. It is supposed, from the
inscriptions on it, that the map delivered by Bartholomew to Henry VII.
had shown the results of Diaz's discoveries. This chart had been taken
to England, when Bartholomew had gone thither, to engage the interest of
Henry VII. in Columbus's behalf. There is some obscurity about the
movements of Bartholomew at this time, but there is thought by some to
be reason to believe that he finally got sufficient encouragement from
that Tudor prince to start for Spain with offers for his brother. The
_Historie_ tells us that the propositions of Bartholomew were speedily
accepted by Henry, and this statement prevails in the earlier English
writers, like Hakluyt and Bacon; but Oviedo says the scheme was derided,
and Geraldini says it was declined. Bartholomew reached Paris just at
the time when word had come there of Columbus's return from his first
voyage. His kinship to the Admiral, and his own expositions of the
geographical problem then attracting so much attention, drew him within
the influence of the French court, and Charles VIII. is said to have
furnished him the means--as Bartholomew was then low in purse--to
pursue his way to Spain.

[Sidenote: In Spain.]

He was, however, too late to see the Admiral, who had already departed
from Cadiz on this second voyage. Finding that it had been arranged for
his brother's sons to be pages at Court, he sought them, and in company
with them he presented himself before the Spanish monarchs at
Valladolid. These sovereigns were about fitting out a supply fleet for
Española, and Bartholomew was put in command of an advance section of
it. Sailing from Cadiz on April 30, 1494, with three caravels, he
reached Isabella on St. John's Day, after the Admiral had left for his
western cruise.

[Sidenote: His character.]

[Sidenote: Created Adelantado.]

If it was prudent for Columbus to bring another foreigner to his aid, he
found in Bartholomew a fitter and more courageous spirit than Diego
possessed. The Admiral was pretty sure now to have an active and
fearless deputy, sterner, indeed, in his habitual bearing than Columbus,
and with a hardihood both of spirit and body that fitted him for
command. These qualities were not suited to pacify the haughty hidalgos,
but they were merits which rendered him able to confront the discontent
of all settlers, and gave him the temper to stand in no fear of them. He
brought to the government of an ill-assorted community a good deal that
the Admiral lacked. He was soberer in his imagination; not so prone to
let his wishes figure the future; more practiced, if we may believe Las
Casas, in the arts of composition, and able to speak and write much more
directly and comprehensibly than his brother. He managed men better, and
business proceeded more regularly under his control, and he contrived to
save what was possible from the wreck of disorder into which his
brother's unfitness for command had thrown the colony. This is the man
whom Las Casas enables us to understand, through the traits of character
which he depicts. Columbus was now to create this brother his
representative, in certain ways, with the title of Adelantado.

It was also no small satisfaction to the Admiral, in his present
weakness, to learn of the well-being of his children, and of the
continued favor with which he was held at Court, little anticipating the
resentment of Ferdinand that an office of the rank of Adelantado should
be created by any delegated authority.

[Sidenote: Papal Bull of Extension.]

Columbus had pursued his recent explorations in some measure to
forestall what he feared the Portuguese might be led to attempt in the
same direction, for he had not been unaware of the disturbance in the
court at Lisbon which the papal line of demarcation had created. He was
glad now to learn from his brother that his own fleet had hardly got to
sea from Cadiz, in September, 1493, when the Pope, by another bull on
the 26th of that month, had declared that all countries of the eastern
Indies which the Spaniards might find, in case they were not already in
Christian hands, should be included in the grant made to Spain. This
Bull of Extension, as it was called, was a new thorn in the side of
Portugal, and time would reveal its effect. Alexander had resisted all
importunities to recede from his position, taken in May.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Events in Española during the absence of Columbus.]

Let us look now at what had happened in Española during the absence of
Columbus; but in the first place, we must mark out the native division
of the island with whose history Columbus's career is so associated.
Just back of Isabella, and about the Vega Real, whose bewildering
beauties of grove and savanna have excited the admiration of modern
visitors, lay the territory tributary to a cacique named Guarionex,
which was bounded south by the Cibao gold mountains. South of these
interior ridges and extending to the southern shore of the island lay
the region (Maguana) of the most warlike of all the native princes,
Caonabo, whose wife, Anacaona, was a sister of Behechio, who governed
Xaragua, as the larger part of the southern coast, westward of Caonabo's
domain, including the long southwestern peninsula, was called. The
northeastern part of the island (Marien) was subject to Guacanagari, the
cacique neighboring to La Navidad. The eastern end (Higuay) of the
island was under the domination of a chief named Cotabanana.

It will be remembered that before starting for Cuba the Admiral had
equipped an expedition, which, when it arrived at St. Thomas, was to be
consigned to the charge of Pedro Margarite. This officer had
instructions to explore the mountains of Cibao, and map out its
resources. He was not to harass the natives by impositions, but he was
to make them fear his power. It was also his business to avoid reducing
the colony's supplies by making the natives support this exploring
force. If he could not get this support by fair means, he was to use
foul means. Such instructions were hazardous enough; but Margarite was
not the man to soften their application. He had even failed to grasp the
spirit of the instructions which had been given by Columbus to ensnare
Caonabo, which were "as thoroughly base and treacherous as could well be
imagined," says Helps, and the reader can see them in Navarrete.


[From Charlevoix's _L'Isle Espagnole_, Amsterdam, 1733.]]

This commander had spent his time mainly among the luxurious scenes of
the Vega Real, despoiling its tribes of their provisions, and
squandering the energies of his men in sensual diversions. The natives,
who ought to have been his helpers, became irritated at his extortions
and indignant at the invasion of their household happiness. The
condition in the tribes which this riotous conduct had induced looked so
threatening that Diego Columbus, as president of the council, wrote to
Margarite in remonstrance, and reminded him of the Admiral's
instructions to explore the mountains.

[Sidenote: Factions.]

The haughty Spaniard, taking umbrage at what he deemed an interference
with his independent command, readily lent himself to the faction
inimical to Columbus. With his aid and with that of Father Boyle, a
brother Catalonian, who had proved false to his office as a member of
the ruling council and even finally disregardful of the royal wishes
that he should remain in the colony, an uneasy party was soon banded
together in Isabella. The modern French canonizers, in order to
reconcile the choice by the Pope of this recusant priest, claim that his
Holiness, or the king for him, confounded a Benedictine and Franciscan
priest of the same name, and that the Benedictine was an unlucky
changeling--perhaps even purposely--for the true monk of the

In the face of Diego, this cabal found little difficulty in planning to
leave the island for Spain in the ships which had come with Bartholomew
Columbus. Diego had no power to meet with compulsion the defiance of
these mutineers, and was subjected to the sore mortification of seeing
the rebels sail out of the harbor for Spain. There was left to Diego,
however, some satisfaction in feeling that such dangerous ringleaders
were gone; but it was not unaccompanied with anxiety to know what effect
their representations would have at Court. A like anxiety now became
poignant in the Admiral's mind, on his return.

The stories which Diego and Bartholomew were compelled to tell Columbus
of the sequel of this violent abandonment of the colony were sad ones.
The license which Pedro Margarite had permitted became more extended,
when the little armed force of the colony found itself without military
restraint. It soon disbanded in large part, and lawless squads of
soldiers were scattered throughout the country, wherever passion or
avarice could find anything to prey upon. The long-suffering Indians
soon reached the limits of endurance. A few acts of vengeance encouraged
them to commit others, and everywhere small parties of the Spaniards
were cut off as they wandered about for food and lustful conquests. The
inhabitants of villages turned upon such stragglers as abused their
hospitalities. Houses where they sheltered themselves were fired.
Detached posts were besieged.

[Sidenote: Caonabo and Fort St. Thomas.]

While this condition prevailed, Caonabo planned to surprise Fort St.
Thomas. Ojeda, here in control with fifty men, commanded about the only
remnant of the Spanish forces which acknowledged the discipline of a
competent leader. The vigilant Ojeda did not fail to get intelligence of
Caonabo's intentions. He made new vows to the Virgin, before an old
Flemish picture of Our Lady which hung in his chamber in the fort, and
which never failed to encourage him, wherever he tarried or wherever he
strayed. Every man was under arms, and every eye was alert, when their
commander, as great in spirit as he was diminutive in stature, marshaled
his fifty men along his ramparts, as Caonabo with his horde of naked
warriors advanced to surprise him. The outraged cacique was too late. No
unclothed natives dared to come within range of the Spanish crossbows
and arquebuses. Ojeda met every artful and stealthy approach by a sally
that dropped the bravest of Caonabo's warriors.

The cacique next tried to starve the Spaniards out. His parties infested
every path, and if a foraging force came out, or one of succor
endeavored to get in, multitudes of the natives foiled the endeavor.
Famine was impending in the fort. The procrastinations of the arts of
beleaguering always help the white man behind his ramparts, when the
savage is his enemy. The native force dwindled under the delays, and
Caonabo at last abandoned the siege.

[Sidenote: Caonabo's league.]

The native leader now gave himself to a larger enterprise. His spies
told him of the weakened condition of Isabella, and he resolved to form
a league of the principal caciques of the island to attack that
settlement. Wherever the Spaniards had penetrated, they had turned the
friendliest feelings into hatred, and in remote parts of the island the
reports of the Spanish ravages served, almost as much as the experience
of them, to embitter the savage. It was no small success for Caonabo to
make the other caciques believe that the supernatural character of the
Spaniards would not protect them if a combined attack should be
arranged. He persuaded all of them but Guacanagari, for that earliest
friend of Columbus remained firm in his devotion to the Spaniards. The
Admiral's confidence in him had not been misplaced. He was subjected to
attacks by the other chieftains, but his constancy survived them all. In
these incursions of his neighbors, his wives were killed and captured,
and among them the dauntless Catalina, as is affirmed; but his zeal for
his white neighbors did not abate.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Guacanagari.]

When Guacanagari heard that Columbus had returned, he repaired to
Isabella, and from this faithful ally the Admiral learned of the plans
which were only waiting further developments for precipitate action.

[Sidenote: Fort Conception.]

Columbus, thus forewarned, was eager to break any confederacy of the
Indians before it could gather strength. He had hardly a leader
disengaged whom he could send on the warpath. It was scarcely politic
to place Bartholomew in any such command over the few remaining Spanish
cavaliers whose spirit was so necessary to any military adventure. He
sent a party, however, to relieve a small garrison near the villages of
Guatiguana, a tributary chief to the great cacique Guarionex; but the
party resorted to the old excesses, and came near defeating the purposes
of Columbus. Guatiguana was prevailed upon, however, to come to the
Spanish settlement, and Columbus, to seal his agreement of amity with
him, persuaded him to let the Lucayan interpreter marry his daughter. To
this diplomatic arrangement the Admiral added the more powerful argument
of a fort, called La Concepcion, which he later built where it could
command the Vega Real.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Torres's ships arrive.]

It was not long before four ships, with Antonio Torres in command,
arrived from Spain, bringing a new store of provisions, another
physician, and more medicines, and, what was much needed, artificers and
numerous gardeners. There was some hope now that the soil could be made
to do its part in the support of the colony.

[Sidenote: 1494. June 7. Treaty of Tordesillas.]

To the Admiral came a letter, dated August 16, from Ferdinand and
Isabella, giving him notice that all the difficulties with Portugal had
been amicably adjusted. The court of Lisbon, finding that Pope Alexander
was not inclined to recede from his position, and Spain not courting any
difference that would lead to hostilities, both countries had easily
been brought to an agreement, which was made at Tordesillas, June 7,
1494, to move the line of demarcation so much farther as to fall 370
leagues west of the Cape de Verde Islands. Each country then bound
itself to respect its granted rights under the bull thus modified. The
historical study of this diplomatic controversy over the papal division
of the world is much embarrassed by the lack of documentary records of
the correspondence carried on by Spain, Portugal, and the Pope.

[Sidenote: The sovereign's letter to Columbus,]

This letter of August 16 must have been very gratifying to Columbus.
Their Majesties told him that one of the principal reasons of their
rejoicing in his discoveries was that they felt it all due to his genius
and perseverance, and that the events had justified his foreknowledge
and their expectations. So now, in their desire to define the new line
of demarcation, and in the hope that it might be found to run through
some ocean island, where a monument could be erected, they turned to him
for assistance, and they expected that if he could not return to assist
in these final negotiations, he would dispatch to them some one who was
competent to deal with the geographical problem.

[Sidenote: and to the colonists.]

Torres had also brought a general letter of counsel to the colonists,
commanding them to obey all the wishes and to bow to the authority of
the Admiral. Whatever his lack of responsibility, in some measure at
least, for the undoubted commercial failure of the colony, its want of a
product in any degree commensurate both with expectation and outlay
could not fail, as he well understood, to have a strong effect both on
the spirit of the people and on the constancy of his royal patrons, who
might, under the urging of Margarite and his abettors, have already
swerved from his support.

[Sidenote: 1495. February 24. The fleet returns to Spain.]

[Sidenote: Carrying slaves.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

Reasons of this kind made it imperative that the newly arrived ships
should be returned without delay, and with such reassuring messages and
returns as could be furnished. The fleet departed on February 24, 1495.
Himself still prostrate, and needing his brother Bartholomew to act
during this season of his incapacity, there was no one he could spare so
well to meet the wishes of the sovereigns as his other brother. So armed
with maps and instructions, and with the further mission of protecting
the Admiral's interest at Court, Diego embarked in one of the caravels.
All the gold which had been collected was consigned to Diego's care, but
it was only a sorry show, after all. There had been a variety of new
fruits and spices, and samples of baser metals gathered, and these
helped to complete the lading. There was one resource left. He had
intimated his readiness to avail himself of it in the communication of
his views to the sovereigns, which Torres had already conveyed to them.
He now gave the plan the full force of an experiment, and packed into
the little caravels full five hundred of the unhappy natives, to be sold
as slaves. "The very ship," says Helps, "which brought that admirable
reply from Ferdinand and Isabella to Columbus, begging him to seek some
other way to Christianity than through slavery, even for wild
man-devouring Caribs, should go back full of slaves taken from among the
mild islanders of Hispaniola." The act was a long step in the miserable
degradation which Columbus put upon those poor creatures whose existence
he had made known to the world. Almost in the same breath, as in his
letter to Santangel, he had suggested the future of a slave traffic out
of that very existence. It is an obvious plea in his defense that the
example of the church and of kings had made such heartless conduct a
common resort to meet the financial burdens of conquest. The Portuguese
had done it in Africa; the Spaniards had done it in Spain. The
contemporary history of that age may be said to ring with the wails and
moans of such negro and Moorish victims. A Holy Religion had
unblushingly been made the sponsor for such a crime. Theologians had
proved that the Word of God could ordain misery in this world, if only
the recompense came--or be supposed to come--in a passport to the
Christian's heaven.

The merit which Columbus arrogated to himself was that he was superior
to the cosmographical knowledge of his time. It was the merit of Las
Casas that he threw upon the reeking passions of the enslaver the light
of a religion that was above sophistry and purer than cupidity. The
existence of Las Casas is the arraignment of Columbus.

It may be indeed asking too much of weak humanity to be good in all
things, and therein rests the pitiful plea for Columbus, the originator
of American slavery.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Attacked by bloodhounds.]

Events soon became ominous. A savage host began to gather in the Vega
Real, and all that Columbus, now recovering his strength, could marshal
in his defense was about two hundred foot and twenty horse, but they
were cased in steel, and the natives were naked. In this respect, the
fight was unequal, and the more so that the Spaniards were now able to
take into the field a pack of twenty implacable bloodhounds. The bare
bodies of the Indians had no protection against their insatiate thirst.

[Sidenote: 1495. March 27. Columbus marches,]

[Sidenote: and fights in the Vega Real.]

It was the 27th of March, 1495, when Columbus, at the head of this
little army, marched forth from Isabella, to confront a force of the
natives, which, if we choose to believe the figures that are given by
Las Casas, amounted to 100,000 men, massed under the command of
Manicaotex. The whites climbed the Pass of the Hidalgos, where Columbus
had opened the way the year before, and descended into that lovely
valley, no longer a hospitable paradise. As they approached the hostile
horde, details were sent to make the attacks various and simultaneous.
The Indians were surprised at the flashes of the arquebuses from every
quarter of the woody covert, and the clang of their enemies' drums and
the bray of their trumpets drowned the savage yells. The native army had
already begun to stagger in their wonder and perplexity, when Ojeda,
seizing the opportune moment, dashed with his mounted lancemen right
into the centre of the dusky mass. The bloodhounds rushed to their
sanguinary work on his flanks. The task was soon done. The woods were
filled with flying and shrieking savages. The league of the caciques was
broken, and it was only left for the conquerors to gather up their
prisoners. Guacanagari, who had followed the white army with a train of
his subjects, looked on with the same wonder which struck the Indians
who were beaten.

[Sidenote: 1495. April 25.]

There was no opportunity for him to fight at all. The rout had been
complete. This notable conflict taking place on April 25, 1495, is a
central point in a somewhat bewildering tangle of events, as our
authorities relate them, so that it is not easy in all cases to
establish their sequence.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Caonabo captured by Ojeda.]

The question of dealing with Caonabo was still the most important of
all. It was solved by the cunning and dash of Ojeda. Presenting his plan
to the Admiral, he was commanded to carry it out. Taking ten men whom he
could trust, Ojeda boldly sought the village where Caonabo was
quartered, and with as much intrepidity as cunning put himself in the
power of that cacique. The chieftain was not without chivalry, and the
confidence and audacity of Ojeda won him. Hospitality was extended, and
the confidences of a mutual respect soon ensued. Ojeda proposed that
Caonabo should accompany him to Isabella, to make a compact of
friendship with the Viceroy. All then would be peaceful. Caonabo, who
had often wondered at the talking of the great bell in the chapel at
Isabella, as he had heard it when skulking about the settlement, eagerly
sprang to the lure, when Ojeda promised that he should have the bell.
Ojeda, congratulating himself on the success of his bait, was
disconcerted when he found that the cacique intended that a large force
of armed followers should make the visit with him. To prevent this,
Ojeda resorted to a stratagem, which is related by Las Casas, who says
it was often spoken of when that priest first came to the island, six
years later. Muñoz was not brought to believe the tale; but Helps sees
no obstacle to giving it credence.

The Spaniards and the Indians were all on the march together, and had
encamped by a river. Ojeda produced a set of burnished steel manacles,
and told the cacique that they were ornaments such as the King of Spain
wore on solemn occasions, and that he had been commanded to give them to
the most distinguished native prince. He first proposed a bath in the
river. The swim over, Caonabo was prevailed upon to be put behind Ojeda
astride the same horse. Then the shining baubles were adjusted,
apparently without exciting suspicion, amid the elation of the savage at
his high seat upon the wondrous beast. A few sweeping gallops of the
horse, guided by Ojeda, and followed by the other mounted spearmen,
scattered the amazed crowd of the cacique's attendants. Then at a
convenient gap in the circle Ojeda spurred his steed, and the whole
mounted party dashed into the forest and away. The party drew up only
when they had got beyond pursuit, in order to bind the cacique faster in
his seat. So in due time, this little cavalcade galloped into Isabella
with its manacled prisoner.

[Sidenote: Meets Columbus.]

The meeting of Columbus and his captive was one of very different
emotions in the two,--the Admiral rejoicing that his most active foe was
in his power, and the cacique abating nothing of the defiance which
belonged to his freedom. Las Casas tells us that, as Caonabo lay in his
shackles in an outer apartment of the Admiral's house, the people came
and looked at him. He also relates that the bold Ojeda was the only one
toward whom the prisoner manifested any respect, acknowledging in this
way his admiration for his audacity. He would maintain only an
indifferent haughtiness toward the Admiral, who had not, as he said, the
courage to do himself what he left to the bravery of his lieutenant.

[Sidenote: Ojeda attacks the Indians.]

Ojeda presently returned to his command at St. Thomas, only to find that
a brother of Caonabo had gathered the Indians for an assault. Dauntless
audacity again saved him. He had brought with him some new men, and so,
leaving a garrison in the fort, he sallied forth with his horsemen and
with as many foot as he could muster and attacked the approaching host.
A charge of the glittering horse, with the flashing of sabres, broke the
dusky line. The savages fled, leaving their commander a prisoner in
Ojeda's hands.

Columbus followed up these triumphs by a march through the country.
Every opposition needed scarce more than a dash of Ojeda's cavalry to
break it. The Vega was once more quiet with a sullen submission. The
confederated caciques all sued for peace, except Behechio, who ruled the
southwestern corner of the island. The whites had not yet invaded his
territory, and he retired morosely, taking with him his sister,
Anacaona, the wife of the imprisoned Caonabo.

[Sidenote: Repartimientos and encomiendas.]

The battle and the succeeding collapse had settled the fate of the poor
natives. The policy of subjecting men by violence to pay the tribute of
their lives and property to Spanish cupidity was begun in earnest, and
it was shortly after made to include the labor on the Spanish farms,
which, under the names of repartimientos and encomiendas, demoralized
the lives of master and slave. When prisoners were gathered
in such numbers that to guard them was a burden, there could be but
little delay in forcing the issue of the slave trade upon the Crown as a
part of an established policy. To the mind of Columbus, there was now
some chance of repelling the accusations of Margarite and Father Boyle
by palpable returns of olive flesh and shining metal. A scheme of
enforced contribution of gold was accordingly planned. Each native above
the age of fourteen was required to pay every three months, into the
Spanish coffers, his share of gold, measured by the capacity of a hawk's
bell for the common person, and by that of a calabash for the cacique.
In the regions distant from the gold deposits, cotton was accepted as a
substitute, twenty-five pounds for each person. A copper medal was put
on the neck of every Indian for each payment, and new exactions were
levied upon those who failed to show the medals. The amount of this
tribute was more than the poor natives could find, and Guarionex tried
to have it commuted for grain; but the golden greed of Columbus was
inexorable. He preferred to reduce the requirements rather than vary the
kind. A half of a hawk's bell of gold was better than stores of grain.
"It is a curious circumstance," says Irving, "that the miseries of the
poor natives should thus be measured out, as it were, by the very
baubles which first fascinated them."

[Sidenote: Forts built.]

To make this payment sure, it was necessary to establish other armed
posts through the country; and there were speedily built that of
Magdalena in the Vega, one called Esperanza in Cibao, another named
Catalina, beside La Concepcion, which has already been mentioned.

[Sidenote: The natives debased.]

The change which ensued in the lives of the natives was pitiable. The
labor of sifting the sands of the streams for gold, which they had
heretofore made a mere pastime to secure bits to pound into ornaments,
became a depressing task. To work fields under a tropical sun, where
they had basked for sportive rest, converted their native joyousness
into despair. They sang their grief in melancholy songs, as Peter Martyr
tells us. Gradually they withdrew from their old haunts, and by hiding
in the mountains, they sought to avoid the exactions, and to force the
Spaniards, thus no longer supplied by native labor with food, to abandon
their posts and retire to Isabella, if not to leave the island.

[Sidenote: Guacanagari disappears.]

Scant fare for themselves and the misery of dank lurking-places were
preferable to the heavy burdens of the taskmasters. They died in their
retreats rather than return to their miserable labors. Even the
long-tried friend of the Spaniards, Guacanagari, was made no exception.
He and his people suffered every exaction with the rest of their
countrymen. The cacique himself is said eventually to have buried
himself in despair in the mountain fastnesses, and so passed from the
sight of men.

The Spaniards were not so easily to be thwarted. They hunted the poor
creatures like game, and, under the goading of lashes, such as survived
were in time returned to their slavery. So thoroughly was every instinct
of vengeance rooted out of the naturally timid nature of the Indians
that a Spaniard might, as Las Casas tells us, march solemnly like an
army through the most solitary parts of the island and receive tribute
at every demand.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus's interests in Spain.]

It is time to watch the effect of the representations of Margarite and
Father Boyle at the Spanish Court. Columbus had been doubtless impelled,
in these schemes of cruel exaction, by the fear of their influence, and
with the hope of meeting their sneers at his ill success with
substantial tribute to the Crown. The charges against Columbus and his
policy and against his misrepresentation had all the immediate effect of
accusations which are supported by one-sided witnesses. Every sentiment
of jealousy and pride was played upon, and every circumstance of
palliation and modification was ignored. The suspicious reservation
which had more or less characterized the bearing of Ferdinand towards
the transactions of the hero could become a background to the newer
emotions. Fonseca and the comptroller Juan de Soria are charged with an
easy acceptance of every insinuation against the Viceroy. The canonizers
cannot execrate Fonseca enough. They make him alternately the creature
and beguiler of the King. His subserviency, his trading in bishoprics,
and his alleged hatred of Columbus are features of all their portraits
of him.

[Sidenote: Aguado sent to Española.]

The case against the Admiral was thus successfully argued. Testimony
like that of the receiver of the Crown taxes in rebuttal of charges
seemed to weigh little. Movements having been instituted at once (April
7, 1495) to succor the colony by the immediate dispatch of supplies, it
was two days later agreed with Beradi--the same with whom Vespucius had
been associated, as we have seen--to furnish twelve ships for Española.
The resolution was then taken to send an agent to investigate the
affairs of the colony. If he should find the Admiral still absent,--for
the length of his cruise to Cuba had already, at that time, begun to
excite apprehension of his safety,--this same agent was to superintend
the distribution of the supplies which he was to take. At this juncture,
in April, 1495, Torres, arriving with his fleet, reported the Admiral's
safe return, and submitted the notarial document, in which Columbus had
made it clear to his own satisfaction that the Golden Chersonesus was in
sight. Whether that freak of geographical prescience threw about his
expedition a temporary splendor, and again wakened the gratitude of the
sovereigns, as Irving says it did, may be left to the imagination; but
the fact remains that the sovereigns did not swerve from their purpose
to send an inquisitor to the colony, and the same Juan Aguado who had
come back with credentials from the Admiral himself was selected for the

[Sidenote: 1495. April 10. All Spaniards allowed to explore.]

[Sidenote: Nameless voyagers.]

There were some recent orders of the Crown which Aguado was to break to
the Admiral, from which Columbus could not fail to discover that the
exclusiveness of his powers was seriously impaired. On the 10th of
April, 1495, it had been ordered that any native-born Spaniard could
invade the seas which had been sacredly apportioned to Columbus, that
such navigator might discover what he could, and even settle, if he
liked, in Española. This order was a ground of serious complaint by
Columbus at a later day, for the reason that this license was availed of
by unworthy interlopers. He declares that after the way had been shown
even the very tailors turned explorers. It seems tolerably certain that
this irresponsible voyaging, which continued till Columbus induced the
monarchs to rescind the order in June, 1497, worked developments in the
current cartography of the new regions which it is difficult to trace to
their distinct sources. Gomara intimates that during this period there
were nameless voyagers, of whose exploits we have no record by which to
identify them, and Navarrete and Humboldt find evidences of
explorations which cannot otherwise be accounted for.

[Sidenote: Enemies of Columbus.]

How far this condition of affairs was brought about by the importunities
of the enemies of Columbus is not clear. The surviving Pinzons are said
to have been in part those who influenced the monarchs, but doubtless a
share of profits, which the Crown required from all such private
speculation, was quite as strong an incentive as any importunities of
eager mariners. The burdens of the official expeditions were onerous for
an exhausted treasury, and any resource to replenish its coffers was not
very narrowly scrutinized in the light of the pledges which Columbus had
exacted from a Crown that was beginning to understand the impolicy of
such concessions.

[Sidenote: Fonseca and Diego Colon.]

There was also at this time a passage of words between Fonseca and Diego
Colon that was not without irritating elements. The Admiral's brother
had brought some gold with him, which he claimed as his own. Fonseca
withheld it, but in the end obeyed the sovereign's order and released
it. It was no time to add to the complications of the Crown's relations
with the distant Viceroy.

[Sidenote: Royal letter to Columbus.]

Aguado bore a royal letter, which commanded Columbus to reduce the
dependents of the colony to five hundred, as a necessary retrenchment.
There had previously been a thousand. Directions were also given to
control the apportionment of rations. A new metallurgist and
master-miner, Pablo Belvis, was sent out, and extraordinary privileges
in the working of the mines were given to him. Muñoz says that he
introduced there the quicksilver process of separating the gold from the
sand. A number of new priests were collected to take the place of those
who had returned, or who desired to come back.

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

Such were the companions and instructions that Aguado was commissioned
to bear to Columbus. There was still another movement in the policy of
the Crown that offered the Viceroy little ground for reassurance. The
prisoners which he had sent by the ships raised a serious question. It
was determined that any transaction looking to the making slaves of them
had not been authorized; but the desire of Columbus so to treat them had
at first been met by a royal order directing their sale in the marts of
Andalusia. A few days later, under the influence of Isabella, this
order had been suspended, till an inquiry could be made into the cause
of the capture of the Indians, and until the theologians could decide
upon the justifiableness of such a sale. If we may believe Bernaldez,
who pictures their misery, they were subsequently sold in Seville.
Muñoz, however, says that he could not find that the trouble which
harassed the theologians was ever decided. Such hesitancy was calculated
to present a cruel dilemma to the Viceroy, since the only way in which
the clamor of the Court for gold could be promptly appeased came near
being prohibited by what Columbus must have called the misapplied mercy
of the Queen. He failed to see, as Muñoz suggests, why vassals of the
Crown, entering upon acts of resistance, should not be subjected to
every sort of cruelty. Humboldt wonders at any hesitancy when the grand
inquisitor, Torquemada, was burning heretics so fiercely at this time
that such expiations of the poor Moors and Jews numbered 8,800 between
1481 and 1498!

[Sidenote: 1495. October. Aguado at Isabella.]

Aguado, with four caravels, and Diego Columbus accompanying him, having
sailed from Cadiz late in August, 1495, reached the harbor of Isabella
some time in October. The new commissioner found the Admiral absent,
occupied with affairs in other parts of the island. Aguado soon made
known his authority. It was embraced in a brief missive, dated April 9,
1495, and as Irving translates it, it read: "Cavaliers, esquires, and
other persons, who by our orders are in the Indies, we send to you Juan
Aguado, our groom of the chambers, who will speak to you on our part. We
command you to give him faith and credit." The efficacy of such an order
depended on the royal purpose that was behind it, and on the will of the
commissioner, which might or might not conform to that purpose. It has
been a plea of Irving and others that Aguado, elated by a transient
authority, transcended the intentions of the monarchs. It is not easy to
find a definite determination of such a question. It appears that when
the instrument was proclaimed by trumpet, the general opinion did not
interpret the order as a suspension of the Viceroy's powers. The
Adelantado, who was governing in Columbus's absence, saw the new
commissioner order arrests, countermand directions, and in various ways
assume the functions of a governor. Bartholomew was in no condition to
do more than mildly remonstrate. It was clearly not safe for him to
provoke the great body of the discontented colonists, who professed now
to find a champion sent to them by royal order.

[Sidenote: Meets Columbus.]

Columbus heard of Aguado's arrival, and at once returned to Isabella.
Aguado, who had started to find him with an escort of horse, missed him
on the road, and this delayed their meeting a little. When the
conference came, Columbus, with a dignified and courteous air, bowed to
a superior authority. It has passed into history that Aguado was
disappointed at this quiet submission, and had hoped for an altercation,
which might warrant some peremptory force. It is also said that later he
endeavored to make it appear how Columbus had not been so complacent as
was becoming.

It was soon apparent that this displacement of the Admiral was restoring
even the natives to hope, and their caciques were not slow in presenting
complaints, not certainly without reason, to the ascendant power, and
against the merciless extortions of the Admiral.

[Sidenote: Accuses Columbus.]

The budget of accusations which Aguado had accumulated was now full
enough, and he ordered the vessels to make ready to carry him back to
Spain. The situation for Columbus was a serious one. He had in all this
trial experienced the results of the intrigues of Margarite and Father
Boyle. He knew of the damaging persuasiveness of the Pinzons. He had not
much to expect from the advocacy of Diego. There was nothing for him to
do but to face in person the charges as reënforced by Aguado. He
resolved to return in the ships. "It is not one of the least singular
traits in his history," says Irving, "that after having been so many
years in persuading mankind that there was a new world to be discovered,
he had almost an equal trouble in proving to them the advantage of the
discovery." He himself never did prove it.

[Sidenote: Ships wrecked in the harbor.]

The ships were ready. They lay at anchor in the roadstead. A cloud of
vapor and dust was seen in the east. It was borne headlong before a
hurricane such as the Spaniards had never seen, and the natives could
not remember its equal. It cut a track through the forests. It lashed
the sea until its expanse seethed and writhed and sent its harried
waters tossing in a seeming fright. The uplifted surges broke the
natural barriers and started inland. The ships shuddered at their
anchorage; cables snapped; three caravels sunk, and the rest were dashed
on the beach. The tumult lasted for three hours, and then the sun shone
upon the havoc.


[From Charlevoix's _L'Isle Espagnole_ (Amsterdam, 1733).]]

There was but one vessel left in the harbor, and she was shattered. It
was the "Nina," which had borne Columbus in his western cruise. As soon
as the little colony recovered its senses, men were set to work
repairing the solitary caravel, and constructing another out of the
remnants of the wrecks.

[Sidenote: Miguel Diaz finds gold.]

[Sidenote: Hayna mines.]

[Sidenote: Solomon's Ophir.]

While this was going on, a young Spaniard, Miguel Diaz by name,
presented himself in Isabella. He had been in the service of the
Adelantado, and was not unrecognized. He was one who had some time
before wounded another Spaniard in a duel, and, supposing that the wound
was mortal, he had, with a few friends, fled into the woods and wandered
away till he came to the banks of the Ozema, a river on the southern
coast of the island, at the mouth of which the city of Santo Domingo now
stands. Here, as he said, he had attracted the attention of a female
cacique, there reigning, and had become her lover. She confided to him
the fact that there were rich gold mines in her territory, and to make
him more content in her company, she suggested that perhaps the Admiral,
if he knew of the mines, would abandon the low site of Isabella, and
find a better one on the Ozema. Acting on this suggestion, Diaz, with
some guides, returned to the neighborhood of Isabella, and lingered in
concealment till he learned that his antagonist had survived his wound.
Then, making bold, he entered the town, as we have seen. His story was a
welcome one, and the Adelantado was dispatched with a force to verify
the adventurer's statement. In due time, the party returned, and
reported that at a river named Hayna they had found such stores of gold
that Cibao was poor in comparison. The explorers had seen the metal in
all the streams; they observed it in the hillsides. They had discovered
two deep excavations, which looked as if the mines had been worked at
some time by a more enterprising people, since of these great holes the
natives could give no account. Once more the Admiral's imagination was
fired. He felt sure that he had come upon the Ophir of Solomon. These
ancient mines must have yielded the gold which covered the great Temple.
Had the Admiral not discovered already the course of the ships which
sought it? Did they not come from the Persian gulf, round the Golden
Chersonesus, and so easterly, as he himself had in the reverse way
tracked the very course? Here was a new splendor for the Court of Spain.
If the name of India was redolent of spices, that of Ophir could but be
resplendent with gold! That was a message worth taking to Europe.

The two caravels were now ready. The Adelantado was left in command,
with Diego to succeed in case of his death. Francisco Roldan was
commissioned as chief magistrate, and the Fathers Juan Berzognon and
Roman Pane remained behind to pursue missionary labors among the
natives. Instructions were left that the valley of the Ozema should be
occupied, and a fort built in it. Diaz, with his queenly Catalina, had
become important.

[Sidenote: 1496. March 10. Columbus and Aguado sail for Spain, carrying

There was a motley company of about two hundred and fifty persons,
largely discontents and vagabonds, crowded into the two ships. Columbus
was in one, and Aguado in the other. So they started on their
adventurous and wearying voyage on March 10, 1496. They carried about
thirty Indians in confinement, and among them the manacled Caonabo, with
some of his relatives. Columbus told Bernaldez that he took the
chieftain over to impress him with Spanish power, and that he intended
to send him back and release him in the end. His release came otherwise.
There is some disagreement of testimony on the point, some alleging that
he was drowned during the hurricane in the harbor, but the better
opinion seems to be that he died on the voyage, of a broken spirit. At
any rate, he never reached Spain, and we hear of him only once while on

[Sidenote: 1496. April 6.]

We have seen that on his return voyage in 1492 Columbus had pushed north
before turning east. It does not appear how much he had learned of the
experience of Torres's easterly passages. Perhaps it was only to make a
new trial that he now steered directly east. He met the trade winds and
the calms of the tropics, and had been almost a month at sea when, on
April 6, he found himself still neighboring to the islands of the
Caribs. His crew needed rest and provisions, and he bore away to seek
them. He anchored for a while at Marigalante, and then passed on to

[Sidenote: At Guadaloupe.]

[Sidenote: 1496. June.]

[Sidenote: 1496. June 11. Cadiz.]

He had some difficulty in landing, as a wild, screaming mass of natives
was gathered on the beach in a hostile manner. A discharge of the
Spanish arquebuses cleared the way, and later a party scouring the woods
captured some of the courageous women of the tribe. These were all
released, however, except a strong, powerful woman, who, with a
daughter, refused to be left, for the reason, as the story goes, that
she had conceived a passion for Caonabo. By the 20th, the ships again
set sail; but the same easterly trades baffled them, and another month
was passed without much progress. By the beginning of June, provisions
were so reduced that there were fears of famine, and it began to be
considered whether the voyagers might not emulate the Caribs and eat the
Indians. Columbus interfered, on the plea that the poor creatures were
Christian enough to be protected from such a fate; but as it turned out,
they were not Christian enough to be saved from the slave-block in
Andalusia. The alert senses of Columbus had convinced him that land
could not be far distant, and he was confirmed in this by his reckoning.
These opinions of Columbus were questioned, however, and it was not at
all clear in the minds of some, even of the experienced pilots who were
on board, that they were so near the latitude of Cape St. Vincent as the
Admiral affirmed. Some of these navigators put the ships as far north as
the Bay of Biscay, others even as far as the English Channel. Columbus
one night ordered sail to be taken in. They were too near the land to
proceed. In the morning, they saw land in the neighborhood of Cape St.
Vincent. On June 11, they entered the harbor of Cadiz.


IN SPAIN, 1496-1498.


[Sidenote: 1496. Columbus arrives at Cadiz,]

"The wretched men crawled forth," as Irving tells us of their
debarkation, "emaciated by the diseases of the colony and the hardships
of the voyage, who carried in their yellow countenances, says an old
writer, a mockery of that gold which had been the object of their
search, and who had nothing to relate of the New World but tales of
sickness, poverty, and disappointment." This is the key to the contrasts
in the present reception of the adventurers with that which greeted
Columbus on his return to Palos.

When Columbus landed at Cadiz, he was clothed with the robe and girdled
with the cord of the Franciscans. His face was unshaven. Whether this
was in penance, or an assumption of piety to serve as a lure, is not
clear. Oviedo says it was to express his humility; and his humbled pride
needed some such expression.

[Sidenote: and learns the condition of the public mind.]

He found in the harbor three caravels just about starting for Española
with tardy supplies. It had been intended to send some in January; but
the ships which started with them suffered wreck on the neighboring
coasts. He had only to ask Pedro Alonso Niño, the commander of this
little fleet, for his dispatches, to find the condition of feeling which
he was to encounter in Spain. They gave him a sense, more than ever
before, of the urgent necessity of making the colony tributary to the
treasury of the Crown. It was clear that discord and unproductiveness
were not much longer to be endured. So he wrote a letter to the
Adelantado, which was to go by the ships, urging expedition in quieting
the life of the colonists, and in bringing the resources of the island
under such control that it could be made to yield a steady flow of

[Sidenote: 1496. June 17. Columbus writes to Bartholomew.]

To this end, the new mines of Hayna must be further explored, and the
working of them started with diligence. A port of shipment should be
found in their neighborhood, he adds. With such instructions to
Bartholomew, the caravels sailed on June 17, 1496. It must have been
with some trepidation that Columbus forwarded to the Court the tidings
of his arrival. If the two dispatches which he sent could have been
preserved, we might better understand his mental condition.

[Sidenote: Invited to Court.]

As soon as the messages of Columbus reached their Majesties, then at
Almazan, they sent, July 12, 1496, a letter inviting him to Court, and
reassuring him in his despondency by expressions of kindness. So he
started to join the Court in a somewhat better frame of mind. He led
some of his bedecked Indians in his train, not forgetting "in the towns"
to make a cacique among them wear conspicuously a golden necklace.

Bernaldez tells us that it was in this wily fashion that Columbus made
his journey into the country of Castile,--"the which collar," that
writer adds, "I have seen and held in these hands;" and he goes on to
describe the other precious ornaments of the natives, which Columbus
took care that the gaping crowds should see on this wandering mission.

It is one of the anachronisms of the _Historie_ of 1571 that it places
the Court at this time at Burgos, and makes it there to celebrate the
marriage of the crown prince with Margaret of Austria. The author of
that book speaks of seeing the festivities himself, then in attendance
as a page upon Don Juan. It was a singular lapse of memory in Ferdinand
Columbus--if this statement is his--to make two events like the arrival
of his father at Court, with all the incidental parade as described in
the book, and the ceremonies of that wedding festival identical in time.
The wedding was in fact nine months later, in April, 1497.

[Sidenote: Received by the sovereigns.]

[Sidenote: Makes new demands.]

Columbus's reception, wherever it was, seems to have been gracious, and
he made the most of the amenities of the occasion to picture, in his old
exaggerating way, the wealth of the Ophir mines. He was encouraged by
the effect which his enthusiasm had produced to ask to be supplied with
another fleet, partly to send additional supplies to Española, but
mainly to enable him to discover that continental land farther
south, of which he had so constantly heard reports.

It was easy for the monarchs to give fair promises, and quite as easy to
forget them, for a while at least, in the busy scenes which their
political ambitions were producing. Belligerent relations with France
necessitated a vigilant watch about the Pyrenees. There were fleets to
be maintained to resist, both in the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic
coast, attacks which might unexpectedly fall. An imposing armada was
preparing to go to Flanders to carry thither the Princess Juana to her
espousal with Philip of Austria. The same fleet was to bring back
Philip's sister Margaret to become the bride of Prince Juan, in those
ceremonials to which reference has already been made.

[Sidenote: 1496. Autumn. A new expedition ordered.]

These events were too engrossing for the monarchs to give much attention
to the wishes of Columbus, and it was not till the autumn of 1496 that
an appropriation was made to equip another little squadron for him. The
hopes it raised were soon dashed, for having some occasion to need money
promptly, at a crisis of the contest which the King was waging with
France, the money which had been intended for Columbus was diverted to
the new exigency. What was worse in the eyes of Columbus, it was to be
paid out of some gold which it was supposed that Niño had brought back
from the mines of Hayna. This officer on arriving at Cadiz had sent to
the Court some boastful messages about his golden lading, which were not
confirmed when in December the sober dispatch of the Adelantado, which
Niño had kept back, came to be read. The nearest approach to gold which
the caravels brought was another crowd of dusky slaves, and the
dispatches of Bartholomew pictured the colony in the same conditions of
destitution as before. There was no stimulant in such reports either for
the Admiral or for the Court, and the New World was again dismissed from
the minds of all, or consigned to their derision.

[Sidenote: 1497. Spring. Columbus's rights reaffirmed.]

[Sidenote: New powers.]


[From an ancient medallion given in Buckingham Smith's _Coleccion_.]]

When the spring months of 1497 arrived, there were new hopes. The
wedding of Prince Juan at Burgos was over, and the Queen was left more
at liberty to think of her patronage of the new discoveries. The King
was growing more and more apathetic, and some of the leading spirits of
the Court were inimical, either actively or reservedly. By the Queen's
influence, the old rights bestowed upon Columbus were reaffirmed (April
23, 1497), and he was offered a large landed estate in Española, with a
new territorial title; but he was wise enough to see that to accept it
would complicate his affairs beyond their present entanglement. He was
solicitous, however, to remove some of his present pecuniary
embarrassments, and it was arranged that he should be relieved from
bearing an eighth of the cost of the ventures of the last three years,
and that he should surrender all rights to the profits; while for the
three years to come he should have an eighth of the gross income, and a
further tenth of the net proceeds. Later, the original agreement was to
be restored. His brother Bartholomew was created Adelantado, giving thus
the royal sanction to the earlier act of the Admiral.

[Sidenote: Fonseca allowed to grant licenses.]

In the letters patent made out previous to Columbus's second voyage, the
Crown distinctly reserved the right to grant other licenses, and
invested Fonseca with the power to do so, allowing to Columbus nothing
more than one eighth of the tonnage; and in the ordinance of June 2,
1497, in which they now revoked all previous licenses, the revocation
was confined to such things as were repugnant to the rights of Columbus.
It was also agreed that the Crown should maintain for him a body of
three hundred and thirty gentlemen, soldiers, and helpers, to accompany
him on his new expedition, and this number could be increased, if the
profits of the colony warranted the expenditure. Power was given to him
to grant land to such as would cultivate the soil for four years; but
all brazil-wood and metals were to be reserved for the Crown.


[From Barcia's _Herrera_.]]

All this seemed to indicate that the complaints which had been made
against the oppressive sternness of the Admiral's rule had not as yet
broken down the barriers of the Queen's protection. Indeed, we find up
to this time no record of any serious question at Court of his
authority, and Irving thinks nothing indicates any symptom of the royal
discontent except the reiterated injunctions, in the orders given to him
respecting the natives and the colonists, that leniency should govern
his conduct so far as was safe.

[Sidenote: 1498. February 22. Makes a will.]

Permission being given to him to entail his estates, he marked out in a
testamentary document (February 22, 1498) the succession of his
heirs,--male heirs, with Ferdinand's rights protected, if Diego's line
ran out; then male heirs of his brothers; and if all male heirs failed,
then the estates were to descend by the female line. The title Admiral
was made the paramount honor, and to be the perpetual distinction of his
representatives. The entail was to furnish forever a tenth of its
revenues to charitable uses. Genoa was placed particularly under the
patronage of his succeeding representatives, with injunctions always to
do that city service, as far as the interests of the Church and the
Spanish Crown would permit. Investments were to be made from time to
time in the bank of St. George at Genoa, to accumulate against the
opportune moment when the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre seemed
feasible, either to help to that end any state expedition or to fit out
a private one. He enjoined upon his heirs a constant, unwavering
devotion to the Papal Church and to the Spanish Crown. At every season
of confession, his representative was commanded to lay open his heart to
the confessor, who must be prompted by a perusal of the will to ask the
crucial questions.

It was in the same document that Columbus prescribed the signature of
his representatives in succeeding generations, following a formula which
he always used himself.

[Sidenote: Columbus's signature.]

   X M Y
   [Greek: Chr~o] FERENS.

The interpretation of this has been various: _Servus Supplex Altissimi
Salvatoris, Christus, Maria, Yoseph, Christo ferens_, is one solution;
_Servidor sus Altezas sacras, Christo, Maria Ysabel_, is another; and
these are not all.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Unpopularity of Columbus.]

The complacency of the Queen was soothing; her appointment of his son
Ferdinand as her page (February 18, 1498) was gratifying, but it could
not wholly compensate Columbus for the condition of the public mind, of
which he was in every way forcibly reminded. There were both the whisper
of detraction spreading abroad, and the outspoken objurgation. The
physical debility of his returned companions was made a strong contrast
to his reiterated stories of Paradise. Fortunes wrecked, labor wasted,
and lives lost had found but a pitiable compensation in a few cargoes of
miserable slaves. The people had heard of his enchanting landscapes, but
they had found his aloes and mastic of no value. Hidalgoes said there
was nothing of the luxury they had been told to expect. The gorgeous
cities of the Great Khan had not been found. Such were the kind of
taunts to which he was subjected.

[Sidenote: His sojourn with Bernaldez.]

Columbus, during this period of his sojourn in Spain, spent a
considerable interval under the roof of Andres Bernaldez, and we get in
his history of the Spanish kings the advantage of the talks which the
two friends had together.

The Admiral is known to have left with Bernaldez various documents which
were given to him in the presence of Juan de Fonseca. From the way in
which Bernaldez speaks of these papers, they would seem to have been
accounts of the voyage of Columbus then already made, and it was upon
these documents that Bernaldez says he based his own narratives.

[Sidenote: Bernaldez's opinions.]

This ecclesiastic had known Columbus at an earlier day, when the Genoese
was a vender of books in Andalusia, as he says; in characterizing him,
he calls his friend in another place a man of an ingenious turn, but not
of much learning, and he leaves one to infer that the book-vender was
not much suspected of great familiarity with his wares.

We get as clearly from Bernaldez as from any other source the measure of
the disappointment which the public shared as respects the conspicuous
failure of these voyages of Columbus in their pecuniary relations.

[Sidenote: Scant returns of gold.]

The results are summed up by that historian to show that the cost of the
voyages had been so great and the returns so small that it came to be
believed that there was in the new regions no gold to speak of. Taking
the first voyage,--and the second was hardly better, considering the
larger opportunities,--Harrisse has collated, for instance, all the
references to what gold Columbus may have gathered; and though there are
some contradictory reports, the weight of testimony seems to confine the
amount to an inconsiderable sum, which consisted in the main of personal
ornaments. There are legends of the gold brought to Spain from this
voyage being used to gild palaces and churches, to make altar ornaments
for the cathedral at Toledo, to serve as gifts of homage to the Pope,
but we may safely say that no reputable authority supports any such

Notwithstanding this seeming royal content of which the signs have been
given, there was, by virtue of a discontented and irritated public
sentiment, a course open to Columbus in these efforts to fit out his new
expedition which was far from easy. There was so much disinclination in
the merchants to furnish ships that it required a royal order to seize
them before the small fleet could be gathered.

[Sidenote: Difficulties in fitting out the new expedition.]

[Sidenote: Criminals enlisted.]

The enlistments to man the ships and make up the contingent destined for
the colony were more difficult still. The alacrity with which everybody
bounded to the summons on his second voyage had entirely gone, and it
was only by the foolish device which Columbus decided upon of opening
the doors of the prisons and of giving pardon to criminals at large,
that he was enabled to help on the registration of his company.

[Sidenote: 1498. Two caravels sail.]

Finding that all went slowly, and knowing that the colony at Española
must be suffering from want of supplies, the Queen was induced to order
two caravels of the fleet to sail at once, early in 1498, under the
command of Pedro Fernandez Coronel. This was only possible because the
Queen took some money which she had laid aside as a part of a dower
which was intended for her daughter Isabella, then betrothed to
Emmanuel, the King of Portugal.

[Sidenote: Fonseca's lack of heart.]

So much was gratifying; but the main object of the new expedition was to
make new discoveries, and there were many harassing delays yet in store
for Columbus before he could depart with the rest of his fleet. These
delays, as we shall see, enabled another people, under the lead of
another Italian, to precede him and make the first discovery of the
mainland. The Queen was cordial, but an affliction came to distract her,
in the death of Prince Juan. Fonseca, who was now in charge of the
fitting out of the caravels, seems to have lacked heart in the
enterprise; but it serves the purpose of Columbus's adulatory
biographers to give that agent of the Crown the character of a
determined enemy of Columbus.

[Sidenote: Columbus's altercation with Fonseca's accountant.]

Even the prisons did not disgorge their vermin, as he had wished, and
his company gathered very slowly, and never became full. Las Casas tells
us that troubles followed him even to the dock. The accountant of
Fonseca, one Ximeno de Breviesca, got into an altercation with the
Admiral, who knocked him down and exhibited other marks of passion. Las
Casas further tells us that this violence, through the representations
of it which Fonseca made, produced a greater effect on the monarchs than
all the allegations of the Admiral's cruelty and vindictiveness which
his accusers from Española had constantly brought forward, and that it
was the immediate cause of the change of royal sentiment towards him,
which soon afterwards appeared. Columbus seems to have discovered the
mistake he had made very promptly, and wrote to the monarchs to
counteract its effect. It was therefore with this new anxiety upon his
mind that he for the third time committed himself to his career of
adventure and exploration. The canonizers would have it that their
sainted hero found it necessary to prove by his energy in personal
violence that age had not impaired his manhood for the trials before

       *       *       *       *       *

Before following Columbus on this voyage, the reader must take a glance
at the conditions of discovery elsewhere, for these other events were
intimately connected with the significance of Columbus's own voyagings.

[Sidenote: Da Gama's passage of the African cape.]

The problem which the Portuguese had undertaken to solve was, as has
been seen, the passage to India by the Stormy Cape of Africa. Even
before Columbus had sailed on his first voyage, word had come in 1490
to encourage King João II. His emissaries in Cairo had learned from the
Arab sailors that the passage of the cape was practicable on the side of
the Indian Ocean. The success of his Spanish rivals under Columbus in
due time encouraged the Portuguese king still more, or at least piqued
him to new efforts.

[Illustration: VASCO DA GAMA.

[From Stanley's _Da Gama_.]]

[Sidenote: Reaches Calicut May 20, 1498.]

Vasco da Gama was finally put in command of a fleet specially equipped.
It was now some years since his pilot, Pero de Alemquer, had carried
Diaz well off the cape. On Sunday, July 8, 1497, Da Gama sailed from
below Lisbon, and on November 22 he passed with full sheets the
formidable cape. It was not, however, till December 17 that he reached
the point where Diaz had turned back. His further progress does not
concern us here. Suffice it to say that he cast anchor at Calicut May
20, 1498, and India was reached ten days before Columbus started a third
time to verify his own beliefs, but really to find them errors.

Towards the end of August, or perhaps early in September, of the next
year (1499), Da Gama arrived at Lisbon on his return voyage,
anticipated, indeed, by one of his caravels, which, separated from the
commander in April or May, had pushed ahead and reached home on the 10th
of July. Portugal at once resounded with jubilation. The fleet had
returned crippled with disabled crews, and half the vessels had
disappeared; but the solution of a great problem had been reached.

The voyage of Da Gama, opening a trade eagerly pursued and eagerly met,
offered, as we shall see, a great contrast to the small immediate
results which came from the futile efforts of Columbus to find a western
way to the same regions.


[From the Ptolemy of 1513.]]

[Sidenote: Supposed voyage of Vespucius.]

There have been students of these early explorers who have contended
that, while Columbus was harassed in Spain with these delays in
preparing for his third voyage, the Florentine Vespucius, whom we have
encountered already as helping Berardi in the equipment of Columbus's
fleets, had, in a voyage of which we have some confused chronology,
already in 1497 discovered and coursed the northern shores of the
mainland south of the Caribbean Sea.


[From Stevens's reproduction in his _American Bibliographer_.]]

Bernaldez tells us that, during the interval between the second and
third voyages of Columbus, the Admiral "accorded permission to other
captains to make discoveries at the west, who went and discovered
various islands." Whether we can connect this statement with any such
voyage as is now to be considered is a matter of dispute.

[Sidenote: Who discovered South America?]

This question of the first discovery of the mainland of South
America,--we shall see that North America's mainland had already been
discovered,--whether by Columbus or Vespucius, is one which has long
vexed the historian and still does perplex him, though the general
consensus of opinion at the present day is in favor of Columbus, while
pursuing the voyage through which we are soon to follow him. The
question is much complicated by the uncertainties and confusion of the
narratives which are our only guides. The discovery, if not claimed by
Vespucius, has been vigorously claimed for him. Its particulars are also
made a part of the doubt which has clouded the recitals concerning the
voyage of Pinzon and Solis to the Honduras coast, which are usually
placed later; but by Oviedo and Gomara this voyage is said to have
preceded that of Columbus.

[Sidenote: Claimed for Vespucius.]

The claim for Vespucius is at the best but an enforced method of
clarifying the published texts concerning the voyages, in the hopes of
finding something like consistency in their dates. Any commentator who
undertakes to get at the truth must necessarily give himself up to some
sort of conjecture, not only as respects the varied inconsistencies of
the narrative, but also as regards the manifold blunders of the printer
of the little book which records the voyages. Muñoz had it in mind, it
is understood, to prove that Vespucius could not have been on the coast
at the date of his alleged discovery; but in the opinions of some the
documents do not prove all that Muñoz, Navarrete, and Humboldt have
claimed, while the advocacy of Varnhagen in favor of Vespucius does not
allow that writer to see what he apparently does not desire to see. The
most, perhaps, that we can say is that the proof against the view of
Varnhagen, who is in favor of such a voyage in 1497, is not wholly
substantiated. The fact seems to be, so far as can be made out, that
Vespucius passed from one commander's employ to another's, at a date
when Ojeda, in 1499, had not completed his voyage, and when Pinzon
started. So supposing a return to Spain in order for Vespucius to
restart with Pinzon, it is also supposable that the year 1499 itself may
have seen him under two different leaders. If this is the correct view,
it of course carries forward the date to a time later than the
discovery of the mainland by Columbus. It is nothing but plausible
conjecture, after all; but something of the nature of conjecture is
necessary to dissipate the confusion. The belief of this sharing of
service is the best working hypothesis yet devised upon the question.

If Vespucius was thus with Pinzon, and this latter navigator did, as
Oviedo claims, precede Columbus to the mainland, there is no proof of it
to prevent a marked difference of opinion among all the writers, in that
some ignore the Florentine navigator entirely, and others confidently
construct the story of his discovery, which has in turn taken root and
been widely believed.

[Sidenote: Alleged voyage of 1497.]

A voyage of 1497 does not find mention in any of the contemporary
Portuguese chroniclers. This absence of reference is serious evidence
against it. It seems to be certain that within twenty years of their
publication, there were doubts raised of the veracity of the narratives
attributed to Vespucius, and Sebastian Cabot tells us in 1505 that he
does not believe them in respect to this one voyage at any rate, and Las
Casas is about as well convinced as Cabot was that the story was
unfounded. Las Casas's papers passed probably to Herrera, who, under the
influence of them, it would seem, formulated a distinct allegation that
Vespucius had falsified the dates, converting 1499 into 1497. To destroy
all the claims associated with Pinzon and Solis, Herrera carried their
voyage forward to 1506. It was in 1601 that this historian made these
points, and so far as he regulated the opinions of Europe for a century
and a half, including those of England as derived through Robertson,
Vespucius lived in the world's regard with a clouded reputation. The
attempt of Bandini in the middle of the last century to lift the shadow
was not very fortunate, but better success followed later, when Canovai
delivered an address which then and afterwards, when it was reinforced
by other publications of his, was something like a gage thrown to the
old-time defamatory spirit. This denunciatory view was vigorously
worked, with Navarrete's help, by Santarem in the _Coleccion_ of that
Spanish scholar, whence Irving in turn got his opinions. Santarem
professed to have made most extensive examinations of Portuguese and
French manuscripts without finding a trace of the Florentine.

Undaunted by all such negative testimony, the Portuguese Varnhagen, as
early as 1839, began a series of publications aimed at rehabilitating
the fame of Vespucius, against the views of all the later writers,
Humboldt, Navarrete, Santarem, and the rest. Humboldt claimed to adduce
evidence to show that Vespucius was all the while in Europe. Varnhagen
finally brought himself to the belief that in this disputed voyage of
1497 Vespucius, acting under the orders of Vicente Yañez Pinzon and Juan
Diaz de Solis, really reached the main at Honduras, whence he followed
the curvatures of the coast northerly till he reached the capes of
Chesapeake. Thence he steered easterly, passed the Bermudas, and arrived
at Seville. If this is so, he circumnavigated the archipelago of the
Antilles, and disproved the continental connection of Cuba. Varnhagen
even goes so far as to maintain that Vespucius had not been deceived
into supposing the coast was that of Asia, but that he divined the
truth. Varnhagen stands, however, alone in this estimate of the

Valentini, in our day, has even supposed that the incomplete Cuba of the
Ruysch map of 1508 was really the Yucatan shore, which Vespucius had

The claim which some French zealots in maritime discovery have attempted
to sustain, of Norman adventurers being on the Brazil coast in 1497-98,
is hardly worth consideration.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The English expedition under Cabot.]

We turn now to other problems. The Bull of Demarcation was far from
being acceptable as an ultimate decision in England, and the spirit of
her people towards it is well shown in the _Westerne Planting_ of
Hakluyt. This chronicler mistrusts that its "certain secret
causes"--which words he had found in the papal bull, probably by using
an inaccurate version--were no other than "the feare and jelousie that
King Henry of England, with whom Bartholomew Columbus had been to deal
in this enterprise, and who even now was ready to send him into Spain to
call his brother Christopher to England, should put a foot into this
action;" and so the Pope, "fearing that either the King of Portugal
might be reconciled to Columbus, or that he might be drawn into England,
thought secretly by his unlawful division to defraud England and
Portugal of that benefit." So England and Portugal had something like a
common cause, and the record of how they worked that cause is told in
the stories of Cabot first, and of Cortereal later. We will examine at
this point the Cabot story only.

[Sidenote: Newfoundland fisheries.]

Bristol had long been the seat of the English commerce with Iceland, and
one of the commodities received in return for English goods was the
stockfish, which Cabot was to recognize on the Newfoundland banks. These
stories of the codfish noticed by Cabot recalled in the mind of Galvano
in 1555, and again more forcibly to Hakluyt a half century later, when
Germany was now found to be not far from the latitude of Baccalaos, that
there was a tale of some strange men, in the time of Frederick
Barbarossa (A. D. 1153), being driven to Lubec in a canoe.

It is by no means beyond possibility that the Basque and other fishermen
of Europe may have already strayed to these fishing grounds of
Newfoundland, at some period anterior to this voyage of Cabot, and even
traces of their frequenting the coast in Bradore Bay have been pointed
out, but without convincing as yet the careful student.

[Sidenote: John Cabot.]

A Venetian named Zuan Caboto, settling in England, and thenceforward
calling himself John Cabot, being a man of experience in travel, and
having seen at one time at Mecca the caravans returning from the east,
was impressed, as Columbus had been, with a belief in the roundness of
the earth. It is not unlikely that this belief had taken for him a
compelling nature from the stories which had come to England of the
successful voyage of the Spaniards. Indeed, Ramusio distinctly tells us
that it was the bruit of Columbus's first voyage which gave to Cabot "a
great flame of desire to attempt some notable thing."

[Sidenote: 1496. March 5. Cabot's patent.]

[Sidenote: 1497. May. Cabot sails.]

When Cabot had received for himself and his three sons--one of whom was
Sebastian Cabot--a patent (March 5, 1496) from Henry VII. to discover
and trade with unknown countries beyond the seas, the envoy of Ferdinand
and Isabella at the English court was promptly instructed to protest
against any infringement of the rights of Spain in the western regions.
Whether this protest was accountable for the delay in sailing, or not,
does not appear, for Cabot did not set sail from Bristol till May,

[Sidenote: Ruysch with Cabot.]

It is inferred from what Beneventanus says in his _Ptolemy_ of 1508 that
Ruysch, who gives us the earliest engraved map of Cabot's discoveries,
was a companion of Cabot in this initial voyage. When that editor says
that he learned from Ruysch of his experiences in sailing from the south
of England to a point in 53 degrees of north latitude, and thence due
west, it may be referred to such participancy in this expedition from
Bristol. We know from a conversation which is reported in
Ramusio--unless there is some mistake in it--that Cabot apprehended the
nature of what we call great circle sailing, and claimed that his course
to the northwest would open India by a shorter route than the westerly
run of Columbus.

[Sidenote: 1497. June 24. Cabot sees land.]

[Sidenote: Date of the voyage, 1494 or 1497?]

When Cabot had ventured westerly 700 leagues, he found land, June 24,
1497. There has been some confidence at different times, early and late,
that the date of this first Cabot voyage was in reality three years
before this. The belief arose from the date of 1494 being given in what
seem to have been early copies of a map ascribed to Sebastian Cabot,
whence the date 1494 was copied by Hakluyt in 1589, though eleven years
later he changed it to 1497. It is sufficient to say that few of the
critics of our day, except D'Avezac, hold to this date of 1494. Major
supposes that the map of 1544, now in the Paris library and ascribed to
Cabot, was a re-drawn draft from the lost Spanish original, in which the
date in Roman letters, VII, may have been so carelessly made in joining
the arms of the V that it was read IIII; and some such inference was
apparently in the mind of Henry Stevens when he published his little
tract on Sebastian Cabot in 1870.

The country which Cabot thus first saw was supposed by him to be a part
of Asia, and to be occupied, though no inhabitants were seen.

[Sidenote: Cabot's landfall.]

Cabot was for over three hundred years considered as having made his
landfall on the coast of Labrador, or at least we find no record that
the legend of the map of 1544, placing it at Cape Breton, had impressed
itself authoritatively upon the minds of Cabot's contemporaries and
successors. Biddle and Humboldt, in the early part of the present
century, accepted the Labrador landfall with little question. So it
happened that when, in 1843, the Cabot mappemonde of 1544 was
discovered, and it was found to place the landfall at the island of Cape
Breton, a certain definiteness, where there had been so much vagueness,
afforded the student some relief; but as the novelty of the sensation
wore off, confidence was again lost, inasmuch as the various
uncertainties of the document give much ground for the rejection of all
parts of its testimony at variance with better vouched beliefs. It is
quite possible that more satisfactory proofs can be adduced of another
region for the landfall, but none such have yet been presented to

It is commonly held now that, sighting land at Cape Breton, Cabot
coursed northerly, passed the present Prince Edward Island, and then
sailed out of the Strait of Belle Isle,--or at least this is as
reasonable a route to make out of the scant record as any, though there
is nothing like a commonly received opinion on his track. There is some
ground for thinking that he could not have entered the Gulf of St.
Lawrence at all. He landed nowhere and saw no inhabitants. If he struck
the mainland, it was probably the coasts of New Brunswick or Labrador
bordering on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The two islands which he observed
on his right may have been headlands of Newfoundland, seeming to be

[Sidenote: 1497. August. Cabot returns.]

He reached Bristol in August, having been absent about three months.
Raimondo de Soncino, under date of the 24th of that month, wrote to
Italy of Cabot's return, and a fortnight earlier (August 10) we find
record of a gratuity of ten pounds given to Cabot in recognition of this
service. It proved to be an expedition which was to create a greater
sensation of its kind than the English had before known. Bristol had
nurtured for some years a race of hardy seamen. They had risked the
dangers of the great unknown ocean in efforts to find the fabulous
island of Brazil, and they had pushed adventurously westward at times,
but always to return without success. The intercourse of England with
the northern nations and with Iceland may have given them tidings of
Greenland; but there is no reason to believe that they ever supposed
that country to be other than an extended peninsula of Europe, enfolding
the North Atlantic.

[Sidenote: Cabot in England.]

Cabot's telling of a new land, his supposing it the empire of the Great
Khan, his tales of the wonderful fishing ground thereabouts, where the
water was so dense with fish that his vessels were impeded, and his
expectation of finding the land of spices if he went southward from the
region of his landfall, were all stories calculated to incite wonder and
speculation. It was not strange, then, that England found she had her
new sea-hero, as Spain had hers in Columbus; that the king gave him
money and a pension; and that, conscious of a certain dignity, Cabot
went about the city, drawing the attention of the curious by reason of
the fine silks in which he arrayed himself.

[Sidenote: Spain jealous of England.]

Cabot had no sooner returned than Pedro de Ayala, the Spanish envoy in
London, again entered a protest, and gave notice to the English king
that the land which had been discovered belonged to his master. There is
some evidence that Spain kept close watch on the country at the north
through succeeding years, and even intended settlement.

[Sidenote: Cabot in Seville?]

This Spanish ambassador wrote home from London, July 25, 1498, that
after his first voyage, Cabot had been in Seville and Lisbon. This
renders somewhat probable the suspicion that he may have had conferences
with La Cosa and Columbus.

[Sidenote: Cabot's charts.]

That John Cabot, on returning from his first voyage, produced a chart
which he had made, and that on this and on a solid globe, also of his
construction, he had laid down what he considered to be the region he
had reached, now admit of no doubt. Foreign residents at the English
court reported such facts to the courts of Italy and of Spain. In the
map of La Cosa (1500), we find what is considered a reflex of this Cabot
chart, in the words running along a stretch of the northeast coast of
Asia, which announce the waters adjacent as those visited by the
English, and a neighboring headland as the Cape of the English. Even La
Cosa's use of the Cabot map was lost sight of before long, and this
record of La Cosa remained unknown till Humboldt discovered the map in
Paris, in 1832, in the library of Baron Walckenaer, whence it passed in
1853 into the royal museum at Madrid. The views of Cabot respecting this
region seem to have been soon obscured by the more current charts
showing the voyages of the Cortereals, when the Cape of the English
readily disappeared in the "Cabo de Portogesi," a forerunner, very
likely, of what we know to-day as Cape Race.

[Sidenote: 1497-98. February. The second Cabot voyage.]

Such an appetizing tale as that of the first Cabot expedition was not
likely to rest without a sequel. On the 3d of February, 1497-98, nearly
four months before Columbus sailed on his third voyage, the English king
granted a new patent to John Cabot, giving him the right to man six
ships if he could, and in May he was at sea. Though his sons were not
mentioned in the patent, it is supposed that Sebastian Cabot accompanied
his father. One vessel putting back to Ireland, five others went on,
carrying John Cabot westward somewhere and to oblivion, for we never
hear of him again. Stevens ventures the suggestion that John Cabot may
have died on the voyage of 1498, whereby Sebastian came into command,
and so into a prominence in his own recollections of the voyage, which
may account for the obscuration of his father's participancy in the
enterprise. One of the ships would seem to have been commanded by
Lanslot Thirkill, of London.

What we know of this second voyage are mentions in later years, vague in
character, and apparently traceable to what Sebastian had said of it,
and not always clearly, for there is an evident commingling of events of
this and of the earlier voyage. We get what we know mainly from Peter
Martyr, who tells us that Cabot called the region Baccalaos, and from
Ramusio, who reports at second hand Sebastian's account, made forty
years after the event. From such indefinite sources we can make out that
the little fleet steered northwesterly, and got into water packed with
ice, and found itself in a latitude where there was little night. Thence
turning south they ran down to 36° north latitude. The crews landed here
and there, and saw people dressed in skins, who used copper implements.
When they reached England we do not know, but it was after October,

[Sidenote: Extent of this voyage.]

The question of this voyage having extended down the Atlantic seaboard
of the present United States to the region of Florida, as has been
urged, seems to be set at rest in Stevens's opinion, from the fact that,
had Cabot gone so far, he would scarcely have acquiesced in the claims
of Ponce de Leon, Ayllon, and Gomez to have first tracked parts of this
coast, when Sebastian Cabot as pilot major of Spain (1518), and as
president of the Congress of Badajoz (1524), had to adjudicate on such
pretensions. There are some objections to this view, in that the results
of _unofficial_ explorers as shown in the Portuguese map of Cantino--if
that proposition is tenable--and the rival English discoverers, of whom
Cabot had been one, might easily have been held to be beyond the Spanish
jurisdiction. It is not difficult to demonstrate in these matters the
Spanish constant unrecognition of other national explorations.

It has also sometimes been held that the wild character of the coast
along which Cabot sailed must have convinced him that he was bordering
some continental region intervening between him and the true coast of
Asia; that with the "great displeasure" he had felt in finding the land
running north, Cabot, in fact, must have comprehended the geographical
problem of America long before it was comprehended by the Spaniards. The
testimony of the La Cosa and Ruysch maps is not favorable to such a

[Sidenote: England rests her claim on it.]

It seems pretty certain that the success of the Cabot voyage in any
worldly gain was not sufficient to move the English again for a long
period. Still, the political effect was to raise a claim for England to
a region not then known to be a new continent, but of an appreciable
acquisition, and England never afterwards failed to rest her rights upon
this claim of discovery; and even her successors, the American people,
have not been without cause to rest valuable privileges upon the same.
The geographical effect was seen in the earliest map which we possess of
the new lands as discovered by Spain and England, the great oxhide map
of Juan de la Cosa, the companion of Columbus on his second voyage, and
the cartographer of his discoveries, which has already been mentioned,
and of which a further description will be given later.

[Sidenote: Scant knowledge of the Cabot voyages.]

Why is it that we know no more of these voyages of the Cabots? There
seems to be some ground for the suspicion that the "maps and discourses"
which Sebastian Cabot left behind him in the hands of William
Worthington may have fallen, through the subornation by Spain of the
latter, into the hands of the rivals of England at a period just after
the publication (1582) of Hakluyt's _Divers Voyages_, wherein the
possession of them by Worthington was made known; at least, Biddle has
advanced such a theory, and it has some support in what may be
conjectured of the history of the famous Cabot map of 1544, only brought
to light three hundred years later.

[Sidenote: The Cabot mappemonde.]

Here was a map evidently based in part on such information as was known
in Spain. It was engraved, as seems likely, though purporting to be the
work of Cabot, in the Low Countries, and was issued without name of
publisher or place, as if to elude responsibility. Notwithstanding it
was an engraved map, implying many copies, it entirely disappeared, and
would not have been known to exist except that there are references to
such a map as having hung in the gallery at Whitehall, as used by
Ortelius before 1570, and as noted by Sanuto in 1588. So thorough a
suppression would seem to imply an effort on the part of the Spanish
authorities to prevent the world's profiting by the publication of
maritime knowledge which in some clandestine way had escaped from the
Spanish hydrographical office. That this suppression was in effect
nearly successful may be inferred from the fact that but a single copy
of the map has come down to us, the one now in the great library at
Paris, which was found in Germany by Von Martius in 1843.

[Sidenote: Writers on Cabot.]

There has been a good deal done of late years--beginning with Biddle's
_Sebastian Cabot_ in 1831, a noteworthy book, showing how much the
critical spirit can do to unravel confusion, and ending with the chapter
on Cabot by the late Dr. Charles Deane in the _Narrative and Critical
History of America_, and with the _Jean et Sébastien Cabot_ of Harrisse
(Paris, 1882)--to clear up the great obscurity regarding the two voyages
of John Cabot in 1497 and 1498, an obscurity so dense that for two
hundred years after the events there was no suspicion among writers that
there had been more than a single voyage. It would appear that this
obscurity had mainly arisen from the way in which Sebastian Cabot
himself spoke of his explorations, or rather from the way in which he is
reported to have spoken.




[Sidenote: Sources. Columbus's letters and journal.]

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

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

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

[Sidenote: Columbus's son Diego.]

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

[Sidenote: 1498. May 30. Columbus sails.]

[Sidenote: Rumors of a southern continent.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Jayme Ferrer.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus steers southerly.]

[Sidenote: 1498. June 16. At Gomera.]

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

[Sidenote: Sends three ships direct to Española.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus at the Cape de Verde Islands.]

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

[Sidenote: 1498. July 15.]

[Sidenote: Calms and torrid heats.]

[Sidenote: 1498. July 31. Trinidad seen.]

[Sidenote: August 1.]

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

[Sidenote: First sees the South American coast.]

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

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

[Sidenote: 1498. August 2.]

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

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

[Sidenote: The Gulf Stream.]

[Sidenote: Boca del Sierpe.]

[Sidenote: Gulf of Paria.]

[Sidenote: Boca del Drago.]

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

[Illustration: GULF OF PARIA.]

[Sidenote: Paria.]

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

[Sidenote: The natives.]

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

[Sidenote: 1498. August 10.]

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

[Sidenote: Passes the Boca del Drago.]

[Sidenote: Tobago and Grenada.]

[Sidenote: Cubagua and Margarita.]

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

[Sidenote: Pearls.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus's geographical delusions.]

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


[Sidenote: Paradise found.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus and Vespucius.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1498. August 19. Columbus sees Española.]

[Sidenote: His observations of nature.]

[Sidenote: Meets the Adelantado.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Events in Española during the absence of Columbus.]

[Sidenote: Santo Domingo founded.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

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

[Sidenote: Santo Domingo named.]

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

[Sidenote: Xaragua conquered.]

[Sidenote: Behechio and Anacaona.]

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

[Sidenote: Native conspiracy.]

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

[Sidenote: Roldan's revolt.]

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

[Sidenote: The mutineers in the Vega Real.]

[Sidenote: At Isabella.]

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

[Sidenote: Coronel arrives.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Bartholomew's new honors.]

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

[Sidenote: The rebels go to Xaragua.]

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

[Sidenote: Guarionex's revolt.]

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

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

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

[Sidenote: 1498. August 30. Columbus arrives.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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

[Sidenote: Roldan and the belated ships.]

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

[Sidenote: 1498. September 12.]

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

[Sidenote: Roldan and Ballester.]

[Sidenote: 1498. October 18. The ships sail for Spain.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus seeks to quiet the colony.]

[Sidenote: 1498. October 20.]

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

[Sidenote: Conferences with Roldan.]

[Sidenote: 1498. November 6. Roldan's terms.]

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

[Illustration: ESPAÑOLA, RAMUSIO, 1555.]

[Sidenote: Columbus agrees to them.]

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

[Sidenote: Delays in carrying out the agreement.]

[Sidenote: New agreement.]

[Sidenote: Signed September 28, 1499.]

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

[Sidenote: Roldan reinstated.]

[Sidenote: Repartimientos.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

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

[Sidenote: Roldan's demands.]

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

[Sidenote: 1499. October. Caravels sent to Spain.]

[Sidenote: Columbus sends Ballester to support his cause in Spain.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Royal infringements of Columbus's privileges.]

[Sidenote: 1499. Ojeda's voyage.]

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

[Sidenote: Vespucius with Ojeda.]

[Sidenote: Juan de la Cosa.]

[Sidenote: 1499. May 20. Ojeda sails.]

[Sidenote: At Venezuela.]

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

[Sidenote: 1499. September 5. Ojeda touches at Española.]

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

[Sidenote: Columbus sends Roldan to warn Ojeda off.]

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

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

[Sidenote: 1500. June. Ojeda reaches Cadiz.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Niño's voyage to the pearl coast.]

[Sidenote: Guerra aids him.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: V. Y. Pinzon's voyage.]

[Sidenote: 1499. December.]

[Sidenote: Pinzon crosses the equator.]

[Sidenote: The southern sky.]

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

[Sidenote: 1500. January 20. Sees Cape Consolation.]

[Sidenote: Coasts north.]

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

[Sidenote: 1500. June. Pinzon at Española.]

[Sidenote: Reaches Palos, September, 1500.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1500. January. Diego de Lepe's voyage.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Portuguese explorations by the African route.]

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

[Sidenote: 1500. March 9.]

[Sidenote: Cabral discovers the Brazil coast.]

[Sidenote: 1500. May 1.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Cabral at Calicut, September 13, 1500.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Date of Cabral's discovery.]

[Sidenote: His landfall.]

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

[Sidenote: Cabral and Pinzon.]

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

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

[Sidenote: The results of the African route.]

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

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The Columbus lawsuit.]

[Sidenote: La Cosa's map, 1500.]

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


[Illustration: SKETCH OF LA COSA'S MAP.]

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

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

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

[Sidenote: Objections to La Cosa's map.]

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

[Sidenote: Insularity of Cuba.]

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

[Illustration: RIBERO'S ANTILLES, 1529.]

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

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

[Illustration: WYTFLIET'S CUBA.]

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

[Illustration: WYTFLIET'S CUBA.]

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

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

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

[Sidenote: La Cosa's coast of Asia.]

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

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

[Sidenote: Columbus and the Cabot voyages.]

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

[Sidenote: The Cantino map.]

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

[Sidenote: Minor expeditions.]

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




Columbus, writing to the Spanish sovereigns from Española, said, in
reference to the lifelong opposition which he had encountered:--

[Sidenote: Opponents of Columbus.]

"May it please the Lord to forgive those who have calumniated and still
calumniate this excellent enterprise of mine, and oppose and have
opposed its advancement, without considering how much glory and
greatness will accrue from it to your Highnesses throughout all the
world. They cannot state anything in disparagement of it except its
expense, and that I have not immediately sent back the ships loaded with

[Sidenote: Charges against Columbus.]

Was this an honest statement? Columbus knew perfectly well that there
had been much else than disappointment at the scant pecuniary returns.
He knew that there was a widespread dissatisfaction at his personal
mismanagement of the colony; at his alleged arrogance and cupidity as a
foreigner; at his nepotism; at his inordinate exaltation of promise, and
at his errant faith that brooked no dispute. He knew also that his
enthusiasm had captivated the Queen, and that as long as she could be
held captive he could appeal to her not in vain. If there had been any
honesty in the Queen's professions in respect to the selling of slaves,
he knew that he had outraged them. Even when he was writing this letter,
it came over him that there was a fearful hazard for him both in the
persistency of this denunciation of others against him and in the
heedless arrogance of such perverseness on his own part.

"I know," he says, "that water dropping on a stone will at length make a
hole." We shall see before long that foreboding cavity.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Roldan.]

[Sidenote: Guevara.]

[Sidenote: Anacaona's daughter.]

[Sidenote: Adrian do Moxica.]

The defection of Roldan turned so completely into servility is but one
of the strange contrasts of the wonderful course of vicissitudes in the
life of Columbus. There presently came a new trial for him and for
Roldan. A young well-born Spaniard, Fernando de Guevara, had appeared in
Española recently, and by his dissolute life he had created such
scandals in Santo Domingo that Columbus had ordered him to leave the
island. He had been sent to Xaragua to embark in one of Ojeda's ships;
but that adventurer had left the coast when the outlaw reached the port.
While waiting another opportunity to embark, Guevara was kept in that
part of the island under Roldan's eye. This implied no such restraint as
to deny him access to the society of Anacaona, with whose daughter,
Higuamota, who seems to have inherited something of her mother's
commanding beauty and mental qualities, he fell in love, and found his
passion requited. He sought companionship also with one of the
lieutenants of Roldan, who had been a leader in his late revolt, Adrian
de Moxica, then living not far away, who had for him the additional
attachment of kinship, for the two were cousins. Las Casas tells us that
Roldan had himself a passion for the young Indian beauty, and it may
have been for this as well as for his desire to obey the Admiral that he
commanded the young cavalier to go to a more distant province. The
ardent lover had sought to prepare his way for a speedy marriage by
trying to procure a priest to baptize the maiden. This caused more
urgent commands from Roldan, which were ostentatiously obeyed, only to
be eluded by a clandestine return, when he was screened with some
associates in the house of Anacaona. This queenly woman seems to have
favored his suit with her daughter. He was once more ordered away, when
he began to bear himself defiantly, but soon changed his method to
suppliancy. Roldan was appeased by this. Guevara, however, only made it
the cloak for revenge, and with some of his friends formed a plot to
kill Roldan. This leaked out, and the youth and his accomplices were
arrested and sent to Santo Domingo. This action aroused Roldan's old
confederate, Moxica, and, indignant at the way in which the renegade
rebel had dared to turn upon his former associates, Moxica resolved upon

[Sidenote: Moxica's plot.]

[Sidenote: Moxica taken.]

To carry it out he started on a tour through the country where the late
mutineers were settled, and readily engaged their sympathies. Among
those who joined in his plot was Pedro Riquelme, whom Roldan had made
assistant alcalde. The old spirit of revolt was rampant. The
confederates were ready for any excess, either upon Roldan or upon the
Admiral. Columbus was at Conception in the midst of the aroused
district, when a deserter from the plotters informed him of their plan.
With a small party the Admiral at once sped in the night to the
unguarded quarters of the leaders, and Moxica and several of his chief
advisers were suddenly captured and carried to the fort. The execution
of the ringleader was at once ordered. Impatient at the way in which the
condemned man dallied in his confessions to a priest, Columbus ordered
him pushed headlong from the battlements. The French canonists screen
Columbus for this act by making Roldan the perpetrator of it. The other
confederates were ironed in confinement at Conception, except Riquelme,
who was taken later and conveyed to Santo Domingo.

The revolt was thus summarily crushed. Those who had escaped fled to
Xaragua, whither the Adelantado and Roldan pursued them without mercy.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus and his colony.]

Columbus had perhaps never got his colony under better control than
existed after this vigorous exhibition of his authority. Such a show of
prompt and audacious energy was needed to restore the moral supremacy
which his recusancy under the threats of Roldan had lost. The fair
weather was not to last long.

[Sidenote: 1500. August 23. Bobadilla arrives.]

Early in the morning of August 23, 1500, two caravels were descried off
the harbor of Santo Domingo. The Admiral's brother Diego was in
authority, Columbus being still at Conception, and Bartholomew absent
with Roldan. Diego sent out a canoe to learn the purpose of the
visitors. It returned, and brought word that a commissioner was come to
inquire into the late rebellion of Roldan. Diego's messengers had at the
same time informed the newcomer of the most recent defection of Moxica,
and that there were still other executions to take place, particularly
those of Riquelme and Guevara, who were confined in the town. As the
ships entered the river, the gibbets on either bank, with their dangling
Spaniards, showed the commissioner that there were other troublous times
to inquire into than those named in his warrant. While the commissioner
remained on board his ship, receiving the court of those who early
sought to propitiate him, and while he was getting his first information
of the condition of the island, mainly from those who had something to
gain by the excess of their denunciations, it is necessary to go back a
little in time, and ascertain who this important personage was, and what
was the mission on which he had been sent.

[Illustration: VILLE DE S^T. DOMINGUE.


[Sidenote: Growth of the royal dissatisfaction with Columbus.]

The arrangements for sending him had been made slowly. They were even
outlined when Ojeda had started on his voyage, for he had, in his
interviews with Roldan, blindly indicated that some astonishment of this
sort was in store. Evidently Fonseca had not allowed Ojeda to depart
without some intimations.

[Sidenote: Charges against Columbus.]

Notwithstanding Columbus professed to believe that nothing but the lack
of pecuniary return for the great outlays of his expeditions could be
alleged against them, he was well aware, and he had constantly acted as
if well aware, of the great array of accusations which had been made
against him in Spain, with a principal purpose of undermining the
indulgent regard of the Queen for him. He had known it with sorrow
during his last visit to Spain, and had found, as we have seen, that he
could not secure men to accompany him and put themselves under his
control unless he unshackled criminals in the jails. He little thought
that such utter disregard of the morals and self-respect of those whom
he had settled in the New World would, by a sort of retributive justice,
open the way, however unjustly, to put the displaced gyves on himself,
amid the exultant feelings of these same criminals. Such reiterated
criminations were like the water-drops that wear the stone, and he had,
as we have noted, felt the certainty of direful results.

[Sidenote: His exaggerations of the wealth of the Indies.]

[Sidenote: Columbus deceives the Crown.]

[Sidenote: Columbus's sons hooted at in the Alhambra.]

How much the disappointment at the lack of gold had to do with
increasing the force of these charges, it is not difficult to imagine.
Columbus was certainly not responsible for that; but he was responsible
for the inordinate growth of the belief in the profuse wealth of the
new-found Indies. His constantly repeated stories of the wonderful
richness of the region had done their work. His professions of a purpose
to enrich the world with noble benefactions, and to spend his treasure
on the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, were the vain boastings of a man
who thought thereby to enroll his name among the benefactors of the
Church. He did not perceive that the populace would wonder whence these
resources were to come, unless it was by defrauding the Crown of its
share, and by amassing gold while they could not get any. There is
something ludicrous in the excuse which he later gave for concealing
from the sovereigns his accumulation of pearls. He felt it sufficient to
say that he thought he would wait till he could make as good a show of
gold! There were some things that even fifteenth-century Christians held
to be more sacred than wresting Jerusalem from the Moslem, and these
were money in hand when they had earned it, and food to eat when their
misfortunes had beggared their lives. It was not an uncalled-for strain
on their loyalty to the Crown, when the notion prevailed that the
sovereigns and their favorite were gathering riches out of their
despair. There was little to be wondered at, in the crowd of these
hungry and debilitated victims, wandering about the courts of the
Alhambra, under the royal windows, and clamoring for their pay. There
was nothing to be surprised at in the hootings that followed the
Admiral's sons, pages of the Queen, if they passed within sight of these
embittered throngs.

[Sidenote: Ferdinand's confessed blunder.]

It was quite evident that Ferdinand, who had never warmed to the
Admiral's enthusiasm, had long been conscious that in the exclusive and
extended powers which had been given to Columbus a serious
administrative blunder had been made. He said as much at a later day to
Ponce de Leon.

The Queen had been faithful, but the recurrent charges had given of late
a wrench to her constancy. Was it not certain that something must be
wrong, or these accusations would not go on increasing? Had not the
great discoverer fulfilled his mission when he unveiled a new world? Was
it quite sure that the ability to govern it went along with the genius
to find it? These were the questions which Isabella began to put to

[Sidenote: Isabella begins to doubt.]

[Sidenote: Columbus to be superseded.]

[Sidenote: Witnesses against Columbus.]

She was not a person to hesitate at anything, when conviction came. She
had shown this in the treatment of the Jews, of the Moors, and of other
heretics. The conviction that Columbus was not equal to his trust was
now coming to her. The news of the serious outbreak of Roldan's
conspiracy brought the matter to a test, and in the spring of 1499 the
purpose to send out some one with almost unlimited powers for any
emergency was decided upon. Still the details were not worked out, and
there were occurrences in the internal and external affairs of Spain
that required the prior attention of the sovereigns. Very likely the
news of Columbus's success in finding a new source of wealth in the
pearls of Paria may have had something to do with the delay. When the
ships which carried to Spain a crowd of Roldan's followers arrived, the
question took a fresh interest. Columbus's friends, Ballester and
Barrantes, now found their testimony could make little headway against
the crowd of embittered witnesses on the other side. Isabella, besides,
was forced to see in the slaves that Columbus had sent by the same ships
something of an obstinate opposition to her own wishes. Las Casas tells
us that so great was the Queen's displeasure that it was only the
remembrance of Columbus's services that saved him from prompt disgrace.
To be sure, the slaves had been sent in part by virtue of the
capitulation which Columbus had made with the rebels, but should the
Viceroy of the Indies be forced to such capitulations? Had he kept the
colony in a condition worthy of her queenly patronage, when it could be
reported to her that the daughters of caciques were found among these
natives bearing their hybrid babes? "What authority had my viceroy to
give my vassals to such ends?" she asked.

[Sidenote: Columbus and the slave trade.]

[Sidenote: Bobadilla appointed commissioner.]

There were two things in recent letters of Columbus which damaged his
cause just at this juncture. One was his petition for a new lease of the
slave trade. This Isabella answered by ordering all slaves which he had
sent home to be sought out and returned. Her agents found a few. The
other was the request of Columbus for a judge to examine the dispute
between himself and Roldan. This Ferdinand answered by appointing the
commissioner whose arrival at Santo Domingo we have chronicled. He
was Francisco de Bobadilla, an officer of the royal household.

Before disclosing what Bobadilla did in Santo Domingo, it is best to try
to find out what he was expected to do.

[Sidenote: His character.]

There is no person connected with the career of Columbus--hardly
excepting Fonseca--more generally defamed than this man, who was,
nevertheless, if we may believe Oviedo, a very honest and a very
religious man. The historians of Columbus need to mete out to Bobadilla
what very few have done, the same measure of palliation which they are
more willing to bestow on Columbus. With this parallel justice, it may
be that he will not bear with discredit a comparison with Columbus
himself, in all that makes a man's actions excusable under provocation
and responsibility. An indecency of haste may come from an excess of
zeal quite as well as from an unbridled virulence.

It may be in some ways a question if the conditions this man was sent to
correct were the result of the weakness or inadaptability of Columbus,
or merely the outcome of circumstances, enough beyond his control to
allow of excuses. There is, however, no question that the Spanish
government had duties to perform towards itself and its subjects which
made it properly disinclined to jeopardize the interests which accompany
such duties.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla's powers.]

Bobadilla was, to be sure, invested with dangerous powers, but not with
more dangerous ones than Columbus himself had possessed. When two such
personations of unbridled authority come in antagonism, the possessor of
the greater authority is sure to confirm himself by commensurate
exactions upon the other. Bobadilla's commission was an implied warrant
to that end. He might have been more prudent of his own state, and
should have remembered that a trust of the nature of that with which he
was invested was sure to be made accountable to those who imparted to
him the power, and perhaps at a time when they chose to abandon their
own instructions. He ought to have known that such an abandonment comes
very easy to all governments in emergencies. He might have been more
considerate of the man whom Spain had so recently flattered. He should
not have forgotten, if almost everybody else had, that the Admiral had
given a new world to Spain.

[Sidenote: Columbus and the criminals.]

He should not have been unmindful, if almost every one else was, that
this new world was a delusion now, but might dissolve into a beatific
vision. But all this was rather more than human nature was capable of in
an age like that. It is to be said of Bobadilla that when he summoned
Columbus to Santo Domingo and prejudged him guilty, he had shown no more
disregard of a rival power, which he was sent to regulate, than Columbus
had manifested for a deluded colony, when he selfishly infected it with
the poison of the prisons. It must not, indeed, be forgotten that the
strongest support of the new envoy came from the very elements of vice
which Columbus had implanted in the island. He grew to understand this,
and later he was forced to give a condemnation of his own act when he
urged the sending of such as are honorably known, "that the country may
be peopled with honest men."

[Sidenote: Bobadilla's character.]

[Sidenote: Did he exceed his powers?]

Las Casas tells us of Bobadilla that his probity and disinterestedness
were such that no one could attack them. If it be left for posterity to
decide between the word of Las Casas and Columbus, in estimates of
virtue and honesty, there is no question of the result. When Bobadilla
was selected to be sent to Española, there was every reason to choose
the most upright of persons. There was every reason, also, to instruct
him with a care that should consider every probable attendant
circumstance. After this was done, the discretion of the man was to
determine all. We can read in the records the formal instructions; but
there were beside, as is expressly stated, verbal directions which can
only be surmised. Bobadilla was accused of exceeding the wishes of the
Queen. Are we sure that he did? It is no sign of it that the monarchs
subsequently found it politic to disclaim the act of their agent. Such a
desertion of a subordinate was not unusual in those times, nor indeed
would it be now.

If Isabella, "for the love of Christ and the Virgin Mary," could
depopulate towns, as she said she did, by the ravages of the
inquisition, and fill her coffers by the attendant sequestrations, it is
not difficult to conceive that, with a similar and convenient conviction
of duty, she would give no narrow range to her vindictiveness and
religious zeal when she came to deal with an Admiral whom she had
created, and who was not very deferential to her wishes.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla's powers.]

A synopsis of the powers confided to Bobadilla in writing needs to be
presented. They begin with a letter of March 21, 1499, referring to
reports of the Roldan insurrection, and directing him, if on inquiry he
finds any persons culpable, to arrest them and sequestrate their
effects, and to call upon the Admiral for assistance in carrying out
these orders. Two months later, May 21, a circular letter was framed and
addressed to the magistrates of the islands, which seems to have been
intended to accredit Bobadilla to them, if the Admiral should be no
longer in command. This order gave notice to these magistrates of the
full powers which had been given to Bobadilla in civil and criminal
jurisdiction. Another order of the same date, addressed to the "Admiral
of the ocean sea," orders him to surrender all royal property, whether
forts, arms, or otherwise, into Bobadilla's hands,--evidently intended
to have an accompanying effect with the other. Of a date five days later
another letter addressed to the Admiral reads to this effect:--

"We have directed Francisco de Bobadilla, the bearer of this, to tell
you for us of certain things to be mentioned by him. We ask you to give
faith and credence to what he says, and to obey him. May 26, 1499."

[Sidenote: His verbal orders.]

[Sidenote: 1500. July. Bobadilla leaves Spain.]

This is an explicit avowal on the sovereigns' part of having given
verbal orders. In addition to these instructions, a royal order required
the commissioner to ascertain what was due from the Crown for unpaid
salaries, and to compel the Admiral to join in liquidating such
obligations so far as he was bound for them, "that there may be no more
complaints." If one may believe Columbus's own statements as made in his
subsequent letter to the nurse of Prince Juan, it had been neglect, and
not inability, on his part which had allowed these arrears to accrue.
Bobadilla was also furnished with blanks signed by the sovereigns, to be
used to further their purposes in any way and at his discretion. With
these extraordinary documents, and possessed of such verbal and
confidential directions as we may imagine rather than prove, Bobadilla
had sailed in July, 1500, more than a year after the letters were dated.
His two caravels brought back to Española a number of natives, who were
in charge of some Franciscan friars.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla lands at Santo Domingo.]

We left Bobadilla on board his ship, receiving court from all who
desired thus early to get his ear. It was not till the next day that he
landed, attended by a guard of twenty-five men, when he proceeded to the
church to mass.

[Sidenote: His demands.]

This over, the crowd gathered before the church. Bobadilla ordered a
herald to read his original commission of March 21, 1499, and then he
demanded of the acting governor, Diego, who was present, that Guevara,
Riquelme, and the other prisoners should be delivered to him, together
with all the evidence in their cases, and that the accusers and
magistrates should appear before him. Diego referred him to the Admiral
as alone having power in such matters, and asked for a copy of the
document just read to send to Columbus. This Bobadilla declined to give,
and retired, intimating, however, that there were reserved powers which
he had, before which even the Admiral must bow.

The peremptoriness of this movement was, it would seem, uncalled for,
and there could have been little misfortune in waiting the coming of the
Admiral, compared with the natural results of such sudden overturning of
established authority in the absence of the holder of it. Urgency may
not, nevertheless, have been without its claims. It was desirable to
stay the intended executions; and we know not what exaggerations had
already filled the ears of Bobadilla. At this time there would seem to
have been the occasion to deliver the letter to Columbus which had
commanded his obedience to the verbal instructions of the sovereigns;
and such a delivery might have turned the current of these hurrying
events, for Columbus had shown, in the case of Agueda, that he was
graciously inclined to authority. Instead of this, however, Bobadilla,
the next day, again appeared at mass, and caused his other commissions
to be read, which in effect made him supersede the Admiral. This
superiority Diego and his councilors still unadvisedly declined to
recognize. The other mandates were read in succession; and the gradual
rise to power, which the documents seemed to imply, as the progress of
the investigations demanded support, was thus reached at a bound. This
is the view of the case which has been taken by Columbus's biographers,
as naturally drawn from the succession of the powers which were given
to Bobadilla. It is merely an inference, and we know not the directions
for their proclamations, which had been verbally imparted to Bobadilla.
It is this uncertainty which surrounds the case with doubt. It is
apparent that the reading of these papers had begun to impress the
rabble, if not those in authority. That order which commanded the
payment of arrears of salaries had a very gratifying effect on those who
had suffered from delays. Nothing, however, moved the representatives of
the Viceroy, who would not believe that anything could surpass his
long-conceded authority.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla assaults the fort.]

There is nothing strange in the excitement of an officer who finds his
undoubted supremacy thus obstinately spurned, and we must trace to such
excitement the somewhat overstrained conduct which made a show of
carrying by assault the fortress in which Guevara and the other
prisoners were confined. Miguel Diaz, who commanded the fort,--the same
who had disclosed the Hayna mines,--when summoned to surrender had
referred Bobadilla to the Admiral from whom his orders came, and asked
for copies of the letters patent and orders, for more considerate
attention. It was hardly to be expected that Bobadilla was to be
beguiled by any such device, when he had a force of armed men at his
back, aided by his crew and the aroused rabble, and when there was
nothing before him but a weak citadel with few defenders. There was
nothing to withstand the somewhat ridiculous shock of the assault but a
few frail bars, and no need of the scaling ladders which were
ostentatiously set up. Diaz and one companion, with sword in hand, stood
passively representing the outraged dignity of command. Bobadilla was
victorious, and the manacled Guevara and the rest passed over to new and
less stringent keepers.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla in full possession.]

Bobadilla was now in possession of every channel of authority. He
domiciled himself in the house of Columbus, took possession of all his
effects, including his papers, making no distinction between public and
private ones, and used what money he could find to pay the debts of the
Admiral as they were presented to him. This proceeding was well
calculated to increase his popularity, and it was still more enhanced
when he proclaimed liberty to all to gather gold for twenty years, with
only the payment of one seventh instead of a third to the Crown.

[Sidenote: Columbus hears of Bobadilla.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and the Franciscans.]

Let us turn to Columbus himself. The reports which reached him at Fort
Conception did not at first convey to him an adequate notion of what he
was to encounter. He associated the proceedings with such unwarranted
acts as Ojeda's and Pinzon's in coming with their ships within his
prescribed dominion. The greater audacity, however, alarmed him, and the
threats which Bobadilla had made of sending him to Spain in irons, and
the known success of his usurpation within the town, were little
calculated to make Columbus confident in the temporary character of the
outburst. He moved his quarters to Bonao to be nearer the confusion, and
here he met an officer bearing to him a copy of the letters under which
the government had been assumed by Bobadilla. Still the one addressed to
Columbus, commanding him to acquiesce, was held back. It showed palpably
that Bobadilla conceived he had passed beyond the judicial aim of his
commission. Columbus, on his part, was loath to reach that conclusion,
and tried to gain time. He wrote to Bobadilla an exculpating and
temporizing letter, saying that he was about to leave for Spain, when
everything would pass regularly into Bobadilla's control. He sent other
letters, calculated to create delays, to the Franciscans who had come
with him. He had himself affiliated with that order, and perhaps thought
his influence might not be unheeded. He got no replies, and perhaps
never knew what the spirit of these friars was. They evidently reflected
the kind of testimony which Bobadilla had been accumulating. We find
somewhat later, in a report of one of them, Nicholas Glassberger,--who
speaks of the 1,500 natives whom they had made haste to baptize in Santo
Domingo,--some of the cruel insinuations which were rife, when he speaks
of "a certain admiral, captain, and chief, who had ill treated these
natives, taking their goods and wives, and capturing their virgin
daughters, and had been sent to Spain in chains."

[Sidenote: Bobadilla sends the sovereigns' letter to Columbus.]

Columbus as yet could hardly have looked forward to any such indignity
as manacles on his limbs. Nor did he probably suspect that Bobadilla was
using the signed blanks, entrusted to him by the sovereigns, to engage
the interests of Roldan and other deputies of the Viceroy scattered
through the island. Columbus, in these uncertainties, caused it to be
known that he considered his perpetual powers still unrevoked, if indeed
they were revocable at all. This state of his mind was rudely jarred by
receiving a little later, at the hands of Francisco Velasquez, the
deputy treasurer, and of Juan de Trasierra, one of the Franciscans, the
letter addressed to him by the sovereigns, commanding him to respect
what Bobadilla should tell him. Here was tangible authority; and when it
was accompanied by a summons from Bobadilla to appear before him, he
hesitated no longer, and, with the little state befitting his disgrace,
proceeded at once to Santo Domingo.

[Sidenote: Columbus approaches Santo Domingo.]

[Sidenote: 1500. August 23. Columbus is imprisoned in chains.]

The Admiral's brother Diego had already been confined in irons on one of
the caravels; and Bobadilla, affecting to believe, as Irving holds, that
Columbus would not come in any compliant mood, made a bustle of armed
preparation. There was, however, no such intention on Columbus's part,
nor had been, since the royal mandate of implicit obedience had been
received. He came as quietly as the circumstances would permit, and when
the new governor heard he was within his grasp, his orders to seize him
and throw him into prison were promptly executed (August 23, 1500). In
the southeastern part of the town, the tower still stands, with little
signs of decay, which then received the dejected Admiral, and from its
summit all approaching vessels are signaled to-day. Las Casas tells us
of the shameless and graceless cook, one of Columbus's own household,
who riveted the fetters. "I knew the fellow," says that historian, "and
I think his name was Espinosa."

While the Adelantado was at large with an armed force, Bobadilla was not
altogether secure in his triumph. He demanded of Columbus to write to
his brother and counsel him to come in and surrender. This Columbus did,
assuring the Adelantado of their safety in trusting to the later justice
of the Crown. Bartholomew obeyed, as the best authorities say, though
Peter Martyr mentions a rumor that he came in no accommodating spirit,
and was captured while in advance of his force. It is certain he also
was placed in irons, and confined on one of the caravels. It was
Bobadilla's purpose to keep the leaders apart, so there could be no
concert of action, and even to prevent their seeing any one who could
inform them of the progress of the inquest, which was at once begun.

[Sidenote: Charges against Columbus.]

It seems evident that Bobadilla, either of his own impulse or in
accordance with secret instructions, was acting with a secrecy and
precipitancy which would have been justifiable in the presence of armed
sedition, but was uncalled for with no organized opposition to embarrass
him. Columbus at a later day tells us that he was denied ample clothing,
even, and was otherwise ill treated. He says, too, he had no statement
of charges given to him. It is a later story, started by Charlevoix,
that such accusations were presented to him in writing, and met by him
in the same method.

The trial was certainly a remarkable procedure, except we consider it
simply an _ex parte_ process for indictment only, as indeed it really
was. Irving lays stress on the reversal by Bobadilla of the natural
order of his acts, amounting, in fact, to prejudging a person he was
sent to examine. He also thinks that the governor was hurried to his
conclusions in order to make up a show of necessity for his precipitate
action. It has something of that look. "The rebels he had been sent to
judge became, by this singular perversion of rule," says Irving,
"necessary and cherished evidences to criminate those against whom they
had rebelled." This is the mistake of the apologists for Columbus.
Bobadilla seems to have been sent to judge between two parties, and not
to assume that only one was culpable. Even Irving suspects the true
conditions. He allows that Bobadilla would not have dared to go to this
length, had he not felt assured that "certain things," as the mandate to
Columbus expressed it, would not be displeasing to the king.

The charges against the Admiral had been stock ones for years, and we
have encountered them more than once in the progress of this narrative.
They are rehearsed at length in the documents given by Navarrete, and
are repeated and summarized by Peter Martyr. It is perhaps true that
there was some novelty in the asseveration that Columbus's recent
refusal to have some Indians baptized was simply because it deprived him
of selling them as slaves. This accusation, considering Columbus's
relations to the slave trade which he had created, is as little to be
wondered at as any.

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

Las Casas tells us how indignant Isabella had been with his presumptuous
way of dealing with what she called her subjects; and by a royal order
of June 20, 1500, she had ordered, as we have seen, the return in
Bobadilla's fleet of nineteen of the slaves who had been sold. There was
no better way of commending Bobadilla's action to the Queen, apparently,
than by making the most of Columbus's unfortunate relations to the slave

As the accusations were piled up, Bobadilla saw the inquest leading, in
his mind, to but one conclusion, the unnatural character of the Viceroy
and his unfitness for command,--a phrase not far from the truth, but
hardly requiring the extraordinary proceedings which had brought the
governor to a recognition of it. There is little question that the
public sentiment of the colony, so far at least as it dare manifest
itself, commended the governor. Columbus in his dungeon might not see
this with his own eyes, but if the reports are true, his ears carried it
to his spirit, for howls and taunts against him came from beyond the
walls, as the expression of the hordes which felt relieved by his fate.
Columbus himself confessed that Bobadilla had "succeeded to the full" in
making him hated of the people. All this was matter to brood upon in his
loneliness. He magnified slight hints. He more than suspected he was
doomed to a violent fate. When Alonso de Villejo, who was to conduct him
to Spain, in charge of the returning ships, came to the dungeon,
Columbus saw for the first time some recognition of his unfortunate
condition. Las Casas, in recounting the interview, says that Villejo was
"an hidalgo of honorable character and my particular friend," and he
doubtless got his account of what took place from that important

"Villejo," said the prisoner, "whither do you take me?"

"To embark on the ship, your excellency."

"To embark, Villejo? Is that the truth?"

"It is true," said the captain.

For the first time the poor Admiral felt that he yet might see Spain and
her sovereigns.

[Sidenote: 1500. October. Columbus sent to Spain.]

[Sidenote: His chains.]

The caravels set sail in October, 1500, and soon passed out of earshot
of the hootings that were sent after the miserable prisoners. The new
keepers of Columbus were not of the same sort as those who cast such
farewell taunts. If the _Historie_ is to be believed, Bobadilla had
ordered the chains to be kept on throughout the voyage, since, as the
writer of that book grimly suggests, Columbus might at any time swim
back, if not secured. Villejo was kind. So was the master of the
caravel, Andreas Martin. They suggested that they could remove the
manacles during the voyage; but the Admiral, with that cherished
constancy which persons feel, not always wisely, in such predicaments,
thinking to magnify martyrdom, refused. "No," he said; "my sovereigns
ordered me to submit, and Bobadilla has chained me. I will wear these
irons until by royal order they are removed, and I shall keep them as
relics and memorials of my services."

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Degradation of Columbus.]

[Sidenote: His letter to the nurse of Prince Juan analyzed.]

[Sidenote: Charges against Columbus.]

The relations of Columbus and Bobadilla bring before us the most
startling of the many combinations of events in the history of a career
which is sadder, perhaps, notwithstanding its glory, than any other
mortal presents in profane history. The degradation of such a man
appeals more forcibly to human sympathy than almost any other event in
the record of humanity. That sympathy has obscured the import of his
degradation, and that mournful explanation of the events, which, either
on his voyage or shortly after his return, Columbus wrote and sent to
the nurse of Prince Juan, has long worked upon the sensibilities of a
world tender for his misfortunes. We cannot indeed read this letter
without compassion, nor can we read it dispassionately without
perceiving that the feelings of the man who wrote it had been despoiled
of a judicial temper by his errors as well as by his miseries. His
statements of the case are wholly one-sided. He never sees what it pains
him to see. He forgets everything that an enemy would remember. He finds
it difficult to tell the truth, and trusts to iterated professions to be
taken for truths. He claims to have no conception why he was imprisoned,
when he knew perfectly well, as he says himself, that he had endeavored
to create an opposition to constituted authority "by verbal and written
declarations;" and he reiterates this statement after he had bowed to
royal commands that were as explicit as his own treatment of them had
been recalcitrant. Indeed, he puts himself in the rather ridiculous
posture of answering a long series of charges, of which at the same time
he professes to be ignorant.

In the course of this letter, Columbus set up a claim that he had been
seriously misjudged in trying to measure his accountability by the laws
that govern established governments rather than by those which grant
indulgences to the conqueror of a numerous and warlike nation. The
position is curiously inconsistent with his professed intentions, as the
sole ruler of a colony, to be just in the eyes of God and men. The Crown
had given him its authority to establish precisely what he claims had
not been established, a government of laws kindly disposed to protect
both Spaniard and native, and yet he did not understand why his doings
were called in question. He had boasted repeatedly how far from warlike
and dangerous the natives were, so that a score of Spaniards could put
seven thousand to rout, as he was eager to report in one case. The chief
of the accusations against him did not pertain to his malfeasance in
regard to the natives, but towards the Spaniards themselves, and it was
begging the question to consider his companions a conquered nation. If
there were no established government as respects them, he would be the
last to admit it; and if it were proved against him, there was no one so
responsible for the absence of it as himself. Again he says: "I ought to
be judged by cavaliers who have gained victories themselves,--by
gentlemen, and not by lawyers." The fact was that the case had been
judged by hidalgoes without number, and to his disgrace, and it was
taken from them to give him the protection of the law, such as it was;
and, as he himself acknowledges, there is in the Indies "neither civil
right nor judgment seat." As he was the source of all the bulwarks of
life and liberty in these same Indies, he thus acknowledges the
deficiencies of his own protective agencies. There is something
childishly immature in the proposition which he advances that he should
be judged by persons in his own pay.

[Sidenote: Palliation.]

It is of course necessary to allow the writer of this letter all the
palliation that a man in his distressed and disordered condition might
claim. Columbus had in fact been perceptibly drifting into a state of
delusion and aberration of mind ever since the sustaining power of a
great cause had been lifted from him. From the moment when he turned his
mule back at the instance of Isabella's message, the lofty purpose had
degenerated to a besetting cupidity, in which he made even the Divinity
a constant abettor. In this same letter he tells of a vision of the
previous Christmas, when the Lord confronted him miraculously, and
reminded him of his vow to amass treasure enough in seven years to
undertake his crusade to Jerusalem. This visible Godhead then comforted
him with the assurance that his divine power would see that it came to
pass. "The seven years you were to await have not yet passed. Trust in
me and all will be right." It is easy to point to numerous such
instances in Columbus's career, and the canonizers do not neglect to do
so, as evincing the sublime confidence of the devoted servant of the
Lord; but one can hardly put out of mind the concomitants of all such
confidence. The most that we can allow is the unaccountableness of a
much-vexed conscience.




[Sidenote: 1500. October. Columbus reaches Cadiz.]

[Sidenote: Public sympathy at his degradation.]

It was in October, 1500, after a voyage of less discomfort than usual,
that the ships of Villejo, carrying his manacled prisoners, entered the
harbor of Cadiz. If Bobadilla had precipitately prejudged his chief
prisoner, public sentiment, when it became known that Columbus had
arrived in chains, was not less headlong in its sympathetic revulsion.
Bobadilla would at this moment have stood a small chance for a
dispassionate examination. The discoverer of the New World coming back
from it a degraded prisoner was a discordant spectacle in the public
mind, filled with recollections of those days of the first return to
Palos, when a new range had been given to man's conceptions of the
physical world. This common outburst of indignation showed, as many
times before and since, how the world's sense of justice has in it more
of spirit than of steady discernment. The hectic flush was sure to
pass,--as it did.

[Sidenote: Columbus's letter to the nurse of Prince Juan.]

It was while on his voyage, or shortly after his return, that Columbus
wrote the letter to the lady of the Court usually spoken of as the nurse
of Prince Juan, which has been already considered. Before the
proceedings of the inquest which Bobadilla had forwarded by the ship
were sent to the Court, then in the Alhambra, Columbus, with the
connivance of Martin, the captain of his caravel, had got this
exculpatory letter off by a special messenger. The lady to whom it was
addressed was, it will be remembered, Doña Juana de la Torre, an
intimate companion of the Queen, with whom the Admiral's two sons, as
pages of the Queen, had been for some months in daily relations. The
text of this letter has long been known. Las Casas copied it in his
_Historia_. Navarrete gives it from another copy, but corrected by the
text preserved at Genoa; while Harrisse tells us that the text in Paris
contains an important passage not in that at Genoa.

[Sidenote: The sovereigns order Columbus to be released.]

While its ejaculatory arguments are not well calculated to impose on the
sober historian, there was enough of fervor laid against its background
of distressing humility to work on the sympathies of its recipient, and
of the Queen, to whom it was early and naturally revealed. "I have now
reached that point that there is no man so vile, but thinks it his right
to insult me," was the language, almost at its opening, which met their
eyes. The further reading of the letter brought up a picture of the
manacled Admiral. Very likely the rumor of the rising indignation
spreading from Cadiz to Seville, and from Seville elsewhere, as well as
the letters of the alcalde of Cadiz, into whose hands Columbus had been
delivered, and of Villejo, who had had him in custody, added to the
tumult of sensations mutually shared in that little circle of the
monarchs and the Doña Juana. If we take the prompt action of the
sovereigns in ordering the immediate release of Columbus, their letter
of sympathy at the baseness of his treatment, the two thousand ducats
put at his disposal to prepare for a visit to the Court, and the cordial
royal summons for him to come,--if all these be taken at their apparent
value, the candid observer finds himself growing distrustful of
Bobadilla's justification through his secret instructions. As the
observer goes on in the story and notes the sequel, he is more inclined
to believe that the sovereigns, borne on the rising tide of indignant
sympathy, had defended themselves at the expense of their commissioner.
We may never know the truth.

[Sidenote: 1500. December 17. Columbus at Court.]

That was a striking scene when Columbus, delivered from his irons on the
17th of December, 1500, held his first interview with the Spanish
monarchs. Oviedo was an eyewitness of it; but we find more of its
accompaniments in the story as told by Herrera than in the scant
narrative of the _Historie_. Humboldt fancies that it was the Admiral's
son who wrote it. The author of that book had no heart to record at much
length the professions of regret on the part of the King, since they
were not easily reconcilable with what, in that writer's judgment, would
have been the honorable reception of Bobadilla and Roldan, had they
escaped the fate of the tempests which later overwhelmed them. When the
first warmth of Columbus's reception had subsided, there would have been
no reason to suspect that those absent servants of the Crown would have
been denied a suitable welcome.

Herrera tells us of the touching character of this interview of December
17; how the Queen burst into tears, and the emotional Admiral cast
himself on the ground at her feet. When Columbus could speak, he began
to recall the reasons for which he had been imprisoned, and rehearsed
them with humble and exculpatory professions. He forgot that in the
letter which so excited their sympathy he had denied that he knew any
such reasons, and the sovereigns forgot it too. The meeting had awakened
the tenderer parts of their natures, and their hearts went out to him.
They made verbal promises of largesses and professions of restitution,
but Harrisse could find no written expressions of this kind, till in the
instructions of March 14, 1502, when they expressed their directions for
his guidance during his next voyage. The Admiral grew confident, as of
old, in their presence. He had always reached a coign of vantage in his
personal intercourse with the Queen. He had evidently not lost that
power. He began to picture his return to Santo Domingo with the triumph
that he now enjoyed. It was a hollow hope. He was never again to be
Viceroy of the Indies.

[Sidenote: Columbus suspended from power.]

[Sidenote: Other explorers in American waters.]

[Sidenote: Portuguese claims.]

The disorders in Española were but a part of the reasons why it was now
decided to suspend the patented rights of the Admiral, if not
permanently to deny the further exercise of them. We have seen how the
government had committed itself to other discoveries, profiting, as it
did, by the maps which Columbus had sent back to Spain. These
discoveries were a new source of tribute which could not be neglected.
Rival nations too were alert, and ships of the Portuguese and of the
English had been found prowling about within the unquestioned limits
allowed to Spain by the new treaty line of Tordesillas. At the north and
at the south these same powers were pushing their search, to see if
perchance portions of the new regions could not be found to project so
far east as to bring them on the Portuguese side of that same line.
Portugal had already claimed that Cabral had found such territory under
the equator and south of it. An eastward projection of Brazil at the
south, twenty degrees and more, is very common in the contemporary
Portuguese maps.

[Sidenote: 1501. May 13. Coelho's voyage.]

[Sidenote: Was Vespucius on this voyage?]

On the 13th of May, 1501, a new Portuguese fleet of three ships, under
the command of Gonçalo Coelho, sailed from Lisbon to develop the coast
of the southern Vera Cruz, as South America was now called, and to see
if a way could be found through it to the Moluccas. In June, the fleet,
while at the Cape de Verde Islands, met Cabral with his vessels on their
return from India. Here it was that Cabral's interpreter, Gasparo,
communicated the particulars of Cabral's discovery to Vespucius, who
was, as seems pretty clear, though by no means certain, on board this
outward-bound fleet. A letter exists, brought to light by Count Baldelli
Boni, not, however, in the hand of Vespucius, in which the writer, under
date of June 4, gave the results of his note-takings with Cabral to Pier
Francisco de Medici. Varnhagen is in some doubt about the genuineness of
this document. Indeed, the historian, if he weighs all the testimony
that has been adduced for and against the participancy of Vespucius in
this voyage, can hardly be quite sure that the Florentine was aboard at
all, and Santarem is confident he was not. Navarrete thinks he was
perhaps there in some subordinate capacity. Humboldt is staggered at the
profession of Vespucius in still keeping the Great Bear above the
horizon at 32° south, since it is lost after reaching 26°.

[Sidenote: The _Mundus Novus_ of Vespucius.]

With all this doubt, we have got to make something out of another
letter, which in the published copy purports to have been written in
1503 about this voyage by Vespucius himself, and from it we learn that
his ship had struck the coast at Cape St. Roque, on August 17, 1501. The
discoverers reached and named Cape St. Augustine on August 28. On
November 1, they were at Bahia. By the 3d of April, 1502, they had
reached the latitude of 52° south, when, driven off the coast in a
severe gale, they made apparently the island of Georgia, whence they
stood over to Africa, and reached Lisbon on September, 7, 1502. By what
name Vespucius called this South American coast we do not know, for his
original Italian text is lost, but the _Mundus Novus_ of the Latin
paraphrase or version raised a feeling of expectancy that something new
had really been found, distinct from the spicy East. Varnhagen is
convinced that Vespucius, different from Columbus, had awakened to the
conception of an absolutely new quarter of the earth. There is little
ground for the belief, however, in its full extent and confidence. The
little tract had in it the elements of popularity, and in 1504 and 1505
the German and French presses gave it currency in several editions in
the Latin tongue, whence it was turned into Italian, German, and Dutch,
spreading through Europe the fame of Vespucius. We trace to this voyage
the origin of the nomenclature of the coast of the South American
continent which then grew up, and is represented in the earlier maps,
like that of Lorenz Fries, for instance, in 1504.

[Illustration: MUNDUS NOVUS, first page.]

[Sidenote: Discoveries of Vespucius.]

[Sidenote: Maps of early voyages.]

A letter dated August 12, 1507, preserved in Tritemius's _Epistolarum
familiarum libri duo_ (1536), has been thought to refer to a printed map
which showed the discoveries of Vespucius down to 10° south. This map is
unknown, apparently, as the particulars given concerning it do not agree
with the map of Ruysch, the only one, so far as known, to antedate that
epistle. It is possibly the missing map which Waldseemüller is thought
to have first made, and which became the prototype of the recognized
Waldseemüller map of the Ptolemy of 1513, and was possibly the one from
which the Cantino map, yet to be described, was perfected in other parts
than those of the Cortereal discoveries. This anterior map may have been
merely an early state of the plate, and Lelewel gives reasons for
believing that early impressions of this map were in the market in 1507.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Vespucius.]

Thus while Columbus was nurturing his deferred hopes, neglected and
poor, and awaiting what after all was but a tantalizing revival of royal
interest, the rival Portuguese, acting most probably under the
influences of Columbus's own countryman, this Florentine, were
stretching farther towards the true western route to the Moluccas than
the Admiral had any conception of. Vespucius was also at the same time
unwittingly asserting claims which should in the end rob the Great
Discoverer of the meed of bestowing his name on the new continent which
he had just as unwittingly discovered. The contrast is of the same
strange impressiveness which marks so many of the improbable turns in
the career of Columbus.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1500. Spanish purposes at the north.]

Meanwhile, what was going on in the north, where Portugal was pushing
her discoveries in the region already explored by Cabot? The Spaniards
had been dilatory here. The monarchs, May 6, 1500, while they were
distracted with the reports of the disquietude of Española, had turned
their attention in this direction, and had thought of sending ships into
the seas which "Sebastian Cabot had discovered." They had done nothing,
however, though Navarrete finds that explorations thitherward, under
Juan Dornelos and Ojeda, had been planned.


[After Reclus's _L'Amerique_.]]


[From Harrisse's _Cortereal_, _Postscriptum_, 1883.]]

[Sidenote: Bretons and Normans at the north.]

If we may believe some of the accounts of explorations this way on the
part of the Bretons and Normans, they had founded a settlement called
Brest on the Labrador coast, just within the Straits of Belle Isle, on a
bay now called Bradore, as early as 1500. It is said that traces of
their houses can be still seen there. But there is no definite
contemporary record of their exploits. We have such records of the
Portuguese movements, though not through Spanish sources. Unaccountably,
Peter Martyr, who kept himself alert for all such impressions, makes no
reference to any Portuguese voyages; and it is only when we come down to
Gomara (1551) that we find a Spanish writer reverting to the narratives.
In doing so, Gomara makes, at the same time, some confusion in the

[Sidenote: Cortereal voyages.]

Portugal had missed a great opportunity in discrediting Columbus, but
she had succeeded in finding one in Da Gama. She was now in wait for a
chance to mate her southern route with a western, or rather with a
northern,--at any rate, with one which would give her some warrant for
efforts not openly in violation of the negotiations which had followed
upon the Bull of Demarcation. Opportunely, word came to Lisbon of the
successes of the Cabot voyages, and there was the probability of islands
and interjacent passages at the north very like the geographical
configuration which the Spaniards had found farther south. To
appearances, Cabot had met with such land on the Portuguese side of the
division line of the treaty of Tordesillas.

[Sidenote: 1500. Gaspar Cortereal.]

[Sidenote: 1501. Gaspar Cortereal again.]

King Emanuel had a vassal in Gaspar Cortereal, who at this time was a
man about fifty years old, and he had already in years past conducted
explorations oceanward, though we have no definite knowledge of their
results. It has been conjectured that Columbus may have known him; but
there is nothing to make this certain. At any rate, there was little in
the surroundings of Columbus at Española, when he was subjected to
chains in the summer of 1500, to remind him of any northern rivalry,
though the visits of Ojeda and Pinzon to that island were foreboding. It
was just at that time that Cortereal sailed away from Portugal to the
northwest. He discovered the Terra do Labrador, which he named
apparently because he thought its natives would increase very handily
the slave labor of Portugal. To follow up this quest, Gaspar sailed
again with three ships, May 15, 1501, which is the date given by Damian
de Goes. Harrisse is not so sure, but finds that Gaspar was still in
port April 21, 1501. Cortereal ran a course a little more to the west,
and came to a coast, two thousand miles away, as was reckoned, and
skirted it without finding any end. He decided from the volume of its
rivers, that it was probably a continental area. The voyagers found in
the hands of some natives whom they saw a broken sword and two silver
earrings, evidently of Italian make. The natural inference is that they
had fallen among tribes which Cabot had encountered on his second
voyage, if indeed these relics did not represent earlier visitors.
Cortereal also found in a high latitude a country which he called _Terra
Verde_. Two of the vessels returned safely, bringing home some of the
natives, and the capture of such, to make good the name bestowed during
the previous voyage, seems to have been the principal aim of the
explorers. The third ship, with Gaspar on board, was never afterwards
heard of.


[From Harrisse's _Cortereal, Postscriptum_.]]

[Sidenote: Original sources on the Cortereal voyages.]

[Sidenote: Portuguese habit of concealing information.]

It so happened that Pasqualigo, the Venetian ambassador in Lisbon, made
record of the return of the first of these vessels, in a letter which he
wrote from Lisbon, October 19, 1501; and it is from this, which made
part of the well-known _Paesi novamente retrovati_ (Vicenza, 1507), that
we derive what little knowledge we have of these voyages. The reports
have fortunately been supplemented by Harrisse in a dispatch dated
October 17, 1501, which he has produced from the archives of Modena, in
which one Alberto Cantino tells how he heard the captain of the vessel
which arrived second tell the story to the king. This dispatch to the
Duke of Ferrara was followed by a map showing the new discoveries. This
cartographical record had been known for some years before it was
reproduced by Harrisse on a large scale. It is apparent from this that
the discoverers believed, or feigned to believe, that the new-found
regions lay westward from Ireland half-way to the American coasts. The
evidence that they feigned to believe rather than that they knew these
lands to be east of their limitary line may not be found; but it was
probably some such doubt of their honesty which induced Robert Thorne,
of Bristol, to speak of the purpose which the Portuguese had in
falsifying their maps. Nor were the frauds confined to maps.
Translations were distorted and narratives perverted. Biddle, in his
_Life of Cabot_, points out a marked instance of this, where the simple
language of Pasqualigo is twisted so as to convey the impression of a
long acquaintance of the natives with Italian commodities, as proving
that the Italians had formerly visited the region,--a hint which Biddle
supposed the Zeni narrative at a later date was contrived to sustain, so
as to deceive many writers. We shall soon revert to this Cantino map.

[Sidenote: 1501. Miguel Cortereal.]

The voyage which Miguel Cortereal is known to have undertaken in the
summer of 1501, which has been connected with this series of northwest
voyages, is held by Harrisse, in his revised opinions, not to have been
to the New World at all, but to have been conducted against the Grand
Turk, and Cortereal returned from it on November 4, 1501.

[Sidenote: 1502. Miguel Cortereal again.]

To search for the missing Gaspar Cortereal, Miguel, on May 10, 1502,
again sailed to the northwest with two or three ships. They found the
same coast as before, searched it without success, and returned again
without a leader; for Miguel's ship missed the others at a rendezvous
and was never again heard of.

[Sidenote: Terre des Cortereal.]

[Sidenote: Straits of Anian.]

The endeavors of the Portuguese in this direction did not end here; and
the region thus brought by them to the attention of the cartographer
soon acquired in their maps the name of _Terre des Cortereal_, or _Terra
dos Corte reals_, or, as Latinized by Sylvanus, _Regalis Domus_. There
is little, however, to connect these earliest ventures with later
history, except perhaps that from their experiences it is that a vague
cartographical conception of the fabled Straits of Anian confronts us in
many of the maps of the latter half of the sixteenth century. No one has
made it quite sure whence the appellation or even the idea of such a
strait came. By some it has been thought to have grown out of Marco
Polo's Ania, which was conceived to be in the north. By Navarrete,
Humboldt, and others it has been made to grow in some way out of these
Cortereal voyages, and Humboldt supposes that the entrance to Hudson
Bay, under 60° north latitude, was thought at that time to lead to some
sort of a transcontinental passage, going it is hardly known where. The
name does not seem at first to have been magnified into all its later
associations of a kingdom, or "regnum" of Anian, as the Latin
nomenclature then had it. Its great city of Quivira did not appear till
some time after the middle of the sixteenth century, and then it was not
always quite certain to the cosmographical mind whether all this
magnificence might not better be placed on the Asiatic side of such a
strait. This imaginary channel was made for a long period to run along
the parallels of latitudes somewhere in the northern regions of the New
World, after America had begun generally to have its independent
existence recognized, south of the Arctic regions at least. The next
stage of the belief violently changed the course of the straits across
the parallels, prefiguring the later discovered Bering's Straits; and
this is made prominent in maps of Zalterius (1566) and Mercator (1569),
and in the maps of those who copied these masters.

[Sidenote: Spanish maps.]

[Sidenote: Maps of the Cortereal discoveries.]

It took thirty years for the Cortereal discoveries to work their way
into the conceptions of the Spanish map makers. Whether this dilatory
belief came from lack of information, obliviousness, or simply from an
heroic persistence in ignoring what was not their boast, is a question
to be decided through an estimate of the Spanish character. There seems,
however, to have been interest enough on the part of a single Italian
noble to seek information at once, as we see from the Cantino map; but
the knowledge was not, nevertheless, apparently a matter of such
interest but it could escape Ruysch in 1508. Not till Sylvanus issued
his edition of Ptolemy, in 1511, did any signs of these Cortereal
expeditions appear on an engraved map.

[Illustration: THE CANTINO MAP.]

[Sidenote: The Cantino map. 1502.]

Only a few years have passed since students of these cartographical
fields were first allowed free study of this Cantino map. It is, after
La Cosa, the most interesting of all the early maps of the American
coast as its configuration had grown to be comprehended in the ten years
which followed the first voyage of Columbus.

[Sidenote: The Cortereal discoveries east of the line of demarcation.]

[Sidenote: Terra Verde.]

There are three special points of interest in this chart. The first is
the evident purpose of the maker, when sending it (1502) to his
correspondent in Italy, to render it clear that the coasts which the
Portuguese had tracked in the northwest Atlantic were sufficiently
protuberant towards the rising sun to throw them on the Portuguese side
of the revised line of demarcation. It is by no means certain, however,
in doing so, that they pretended their discoveries to have been other
than neighboring to Asia, since a peninsula north of these regions is
called a "point of Asia." The ordinary belief of geographers at that
time was that our modern Greenland was an extension of northern Europe.
So it does not seem altogether certain that the _Terra Verde_ of
Cortereal can be held to be identical with its namesake of the Sagas.

[Sidenote: Columbus and the Cantino map in the Paria region.]

[Sidenote: Columbus in want.]

The second point of interest is what seems to be the connection between
this map and those which had emanated from the results of the Columbus
voyages, directly or indirectly. Columbus had made a chart of his track
through the Gulf of Paria, and had sent it to Spain, and Ojeda had
coursed the same region by it. We know from a letter of Angelo
Trivigiano, the secretary of the Venetian ambassador in Spain, dated at
Granada, August 21, 1501, and addressed to Domenico Malipiero, that at
that time Columbus, who had ingratiated himself with the writer of the
letter, was living without money, in great want, and out of favor with
the sovereigns. This letter-writer then speaks of his intercession with
Peter Martyr to have copies of his narrative of the voyages of Columbus
made, and of his pleading with Columbus himself to have transcripts of
his own letters to his sovereigns given to him, as well as a map of the
new discoveries from the Admiral's own charts, which he then had with
him in Granada.

There are three letters of Trivigiano, but the originals are not known.
Foscarini in 1752 used them in his _Della Letteratura veneziana_, as
found in the library of Jacopo Soranzo; but both these originals and
Foscarini's copies have eluded the search of Harrisse, who gives them
as printed or abstracted by Zurla.

What we have is not supposed to be the entire text, and we may well
regret the loss of the rest. Trivigiano says of the map that he expected
it to be extremely well executed on a large scale, giving ample details
of the country which had been discovered. He refers to the delays
incident to sending to Palos to have it made, because persons capable of
such work could only be found there.

No such copy as that made for Malipiero is now known. Harrisse thinks
that if it is ever discovered it will be very like the Cantino map, with
the Cortereal discoveries left out. This same commentator also points
out that there are certainly indications in the Cantino map that the
maker of it, in drafting the region about the Gulf of Paria at least,
worked either from Columbus's map or from some copy of it, for his
information seems to be more correct than that which La Cosa followed.

[Sidenote: What is the coast north of Cuba?]

The third point of interest in this Cantino map, and one which has given
rise to opposing views, respects that coast which is drawn in it north
of the completed Cuba, and which at first glance is taken with little
question for the Atlantic coast of the United States from Florida up. Is
it such? Did the cartographers of that time have anything more than
conjecture by which to run such a coast line?

A letter of Pasqualigo, dated at Lisbon, October 18, 1501, and found by
Von Ranke at Venice in the diary of Marino Sanuto,--a running record of
events, which begins in 1496,--has been interpreted by Humboldt as
signifying that at this time it was known among the Portuguese observers
of the maritime reports that a continental stretch of coast connected
the Spanish discoveries in the Antilles with those of the Portuguese at
the north. Harrisse questions this interpretation, and considers that
what Humboldt thinks knowledge was simply a tentative conjecture. If
this knowledge is represented in the Cantino map, there is certainly too
great remoteness in the regions of the Cortereal discoveries to form
such a connection. It is of course possible that the map is a
falsification in this respect, to make the line of demarcation serve the
Portuguese interests, and such falsification is by no means improbable.

[Sidenote: The Cantino and La Cosa maps at variance.]

[Sidenote: Bimini.]

It will be remembered that the La Cosa map showed no hesitancy in
placing the Antilles on the coast of Asia, and put the region of the
Cabot landfall on the coast of Cathay. Consequently, the difference
between the La Cosa and the Cantino maps for this region north of Cuba
is phenomenal. In these two or three years (1500-1502), something had
come to pass which seemed to raise the suspicion that this northern
continental line might possibly not be Asiatic after all, or at least it
might not have the trend or contour which had before been given it on
the Asiatic theory. It is an interesting question from whom this
information could have come. Was this coast in the Cantino map indeed
not North American, but the coast of Yucatan, misplaced, as one
conjecture has been? But this involves a recognition of some voyage on
the Yucatan coast of which we have no record. Was it the result of one
of the voyages of Vespucius, and was Varnhagen right in tracking that
navigator up the east Florida shore? Was it drawn by some unauthorized
Spanish mariners, who were--we know Columbus complained of
such--invading his vested rights, or perhaps by some of those to whom he
was finally induced to concede the privilege of exploration? Was it
found by some English explorer who answers the description of Ojeda in
1501, when he complains that people of this nation had been in these
regions some years before? Was it the discovery of some of those against
whom a royal prohibition of discovery was issued by the Catholic kings,
September 3, 1501? Was it anything more than the result of some vague
information from the Lucayan Indians, aided by a sprinkling of
supposable names, respecting a land called Bimini lying there away?
Eight or nine years later, Peter Martyr, in the map which he published
in 1511, seems to have thought so, and certain stories of a fountain of
youth in regions lying in that direction were already prevalent, as
Martyr also shows us. The fact seems to be that we have no Spanish map
between the making of La Cosa's in 1500 and this one of Peter Martyr in
1511, to indicate any Spanish acquaintance with such a northern coast.

[Sidenote: Peter Martyr's map. 1511.]

This map of 1511, if it is honest enough to show what the Spanish
government knew of Florida, is indicative of but the vaguest
information, and its divulgence of that coast may, in Brevoort's
opinion, account for the rarity of the chart, in view of the
determination of Spain to keep control as far as she could of all
cartographical records of what her explorers found out.

It is evident, if we accept the theory of this Cantino map showing the
coast of the United States, that we have in it a delineation nearer the
source by several years than those which modern students have longer
known in the Waldseemüller map of 1508, the Stobnicza map of 1512, the
Reisch map of 1515, and the so-called Admiral's map of 1513,--all which
arose, it is very clear, from much the same source as this of Cantino.
What is that source? There are some things that seem to indicate that
this source was the description of Portuguese rather than of other
seamen. This belief falls in with what we know of the cordial relations
of Portugal and Duke René, under whose auspices Waldseemüller at least
worked. Thus it would seem that while Spain was impeding cartographical
knowledge through the rest of Europe, Portugal was so assiduously
helping it that for many years the Ptolemies and other central and
southern European publications were making known the cosmographical
ideas which originated in Portugal.

It has been already said that Humboldt in his _Examen Critique_ (iv.
262) refers to a letter which indicates that in October, 1501, the
Portuguese had already learned, or it may be only conjectured, that the
coast from the region of the Antilles ran uninterruptedly north till it
united with the snowy shores of the northern discoveries. This, then,
seems to indicate that it was a Portuguese source that supplied
conjecture, if not fact, to the maker of the Cantino map. Harrisse's
solution of this matter, as also mentioned already, is that the letter
found by Von Ranke and the letter which we know Pasqualigo sent to
Venice about the Cortereal voyages were one and the same, and that it
was rather conjecture than fact that the Portuguese possessed at this

The obvious difficulty in the cartographical problem for the Portuguese
was, as has been said, to make it appear that they were not disregarding
the agreement at Tordesillas while they were securing a region for
sovereignty. We have already said that this accounts for the extreme
eastern position found in the Cantino and the cognate maps of the
Newfoundland region, which, as thus drawn, it was not easy to connect
with the coast line of eastern Florida. Hence the open sea-gap which
exists between them in the maps, while the evidence of the descriptions
would make the coast line continuous.

We have thus suggested possible solutions of this continental shore
above Florida. It must be confessed that the truth is far from patent,
and we must yet wait perhaps a long time before we discover, if indeed
we ever do, to whom this mapping of the coast, as shown in the Cantino
map, was due.

[Sidenote: Was the Florida coast known?]

There are evidences other than those of this Cantino map that the
Portuguese were in this Floridian region in the early years of the
sixteenth century, and Lelewel tried to work out their discoveries from
scattered data, in a conjectural map, which he marks 1501-1504, and
which resembles the Ptolemy map of 1513. The bringing forward of the
Cantino map confirms much of the supposed cartography.

There is one theory which to some minds gives a very easy solution of
this problem, without requiring belief in any knowledge, clandestine or
public, of such a land.

Brevoort in his _Verrazano_ had already been inclined to the view later
emphasized by Stevens in his _Schöner_, and reiterated by Coote in his
editorial revision of that posthumous work.

Stevens is content to allow Ocampo, in 1508, to have been the earliest
probable discoverer of this coast, and Ponce de Leon as the original
attested finder in 1513.

[Sidenote: This Cantino coast a duplicated Cuba.]

The Stevens theory is that this seeming Florida arose from a Portuguese
misconception of the first two voyages of Columbus, by which two regions
were thought to have been coasted instead of different sides of the
same, and that what others consider an early premonition of Florida and
the upper coasts was simply a duplicated Cuba, to make good the
Portuguese conception. It is not explained how so strange a
misconception of very palpable truths could have arisen, or how a coast
trending north and south so far could have been confounded with one
stretching at right angles to such a course for so short a distance.

Stevens traces the influence of his "bogus Cuba" in a long series of
maps based on Portuguese notions, in which he names those of
Waldseemüller (1513), Stobnicza (1512), Schöner (1515, 1520), Reisch
(1515), Bordone (1528), Solinus (1520), Friess (1522), and Grynæus
(1532--made probably earlier), as opposed to the Spanish and more
truthful view, which is expressed by Ruysch (1507-8) and Peter Martyr,

It is a proposition not to be dismissed lightly nor accepted
triumphantly on our present knowledge. We must wait for further

The fancy that this coast was Asia and that Cuba was Asia might, indeed,
have led to the transfer to it at one time of the names which Columbus
had placed along the north coast of his supposed peninsular Cuba; but
that proves a misplacement of the names, and not a creation of the
coast. For a while this continental land was backed up on the maps
against a meridian scale, which hid the secret of its western limits,
and left it a possible segment of Asia. Then it stood out alone with a
north and southwestern line, but with Asia beyond, just as if it were no
part of it, and this delineation was common even while there was a
division of geographical belief as to North America and Asia being one.

[Sidenote: Cuba an island.]

The fact that Cuba, in the drafting of the La Cosa and Cantino maps, is
represented as an island has at times been held to signify that the
views of Columbus respecting its peninsular rather than its insular
character were not wholly shared by his contemporaries. That foolish act
by which, under penalty, the Admiral forced his crew to swear that it
was a part of the main might well imply that he expected his assertions
would be far from acceptable to other cosmographers. If Varnhagen's
opinion as to the track of Vespucius in his voyage of 1497, following
the contour of the Gulf of Mexico, be accepted as knowledge of the time,
the insularity of Cuba was necessarily proved even at that early day;
but it is the opinion of Henry Stevens, as has been already shown, that
the green outline of the western parts of Cuba in La Cosa's chart was
only the conventional way of expressing an uncertain coast. Consequently
it did not imply insularity. If it is to be supposed that the Portuguese
had a similar method of expressing uncertainties of coast, they did not
employ it in the Cantino map, and Cuba in 1502 is unmistakably an
island. It is, moreover, sufficiently like the Cuba of La Cosa to show
it was drawn from one and the same prototype. If the maker of the
Cantino map followed La Cosa, or a copy of La Cosa, or the material
from which La Cosa worked, there is no proof that he ever suspected the
peninsularity of Cuba.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus looking on at other explorations.]

Columbus, in his hours of neglect, and amid his unheeded pleas for
recognition, during these two grewsome years in Spain, may never have
comprehended in their full significance these active efforts of the
Portuguese to anticipate his own hopes of a western passage beyond the
Golden Chersonesus; but the doings of Mendoza, Cristobal Guerra, and
other fellow-subjects of Spain were not wholly unknown to him.

[Sidenote: 1500. October. Bastidas's expedition.]

In October, 1500, and before Columbus knew just what his reception in
Spain was going to be, Rodrigo de Bastidas, accompanied by La Cosa and
Vasco Nuñez Balboa, sailed from Cadiz on an expedition that had for its
object to secure to the Crown one quarter of the profits, and to make an
examination of the coast line beyond the bay of Venezuela, in order that
it might be made sure that no channel to an open sea lay beyond. The two
caravels followed the shore to Nombre de Dios, and at the narrowest part
of the isthmus, without suspecting their nearness to the longed-for sea,
the navigators turned back. Finding their vessels unseaworthy, for the
worms had riddled their bottoms, they sought a harbor in Española, near
which their vessels foundered after they had saved a part of their
lading. A little later, this gave Bobadilla a chance to arrest the
commander for illicit trade with the natives. This transaction was
nothing more, apparently, than the barter of trinkets for provisions, as
he was leading his men across the island to the settlements.

[Sidenote: Portuguese and English in these regions.]

It was while with Bastidas, in 1501-2, that La Cosa reports seeing the
Portuguese prowling about the Caribbean and Mexican waters, seeking for
a passage to Calicut. It was while on a mission of remonstrance to
Lisbon that La Cosa was later arrested and imprisoned, and remained till
August, 1504, a prisoner in Portugal.

[Sidenote: 1502. January. Ojeda's voyage.]

We have seen that in 1499 Ojeda had met or heard of English vessels on
the coast of Terra Firma, or professed that he had. The Spanish
government, suspecting they were but precursors of others who might
attempt to occupy the coast, determined on thwarting such purposes, if
possible, by anticipating occupation. Ojeda was given the power to lead
thither a colony, if he could do it without cost to the Crown, which
reserved a due share of his profits. He obtained the assistance of Juan
de Vegara and Garcia de Ocampo, and with this backing he sailed with
four ships from Cadiz in January, 1502, while Columbus was preparing his
own little fleet for his last voyage. It was a venture, however, that
came to naught. The natives, under ample provocation, proved hostile,
food was lacking, the leaders quarreled, and the partners of Ojeda,
combining, overpowered (May, 1502) their leader, and sent him a prisoner
to Española, where he arrived in September, 1502.

[Sidenote: English in the West Indies.]

There has never been any clear definition as to who these Englishmen
were, or what was their project, during these earliest years of the
sixteenth century. There is evidence that Henry VII. about this time
authorized some ventures in which his countrymen were joint sharers with
the Portuguese, but we know nothing further of the regions visited than
that the Privy Purse expenses show how some Bristol men received a
gratuity for having been at the "Newefounde Launde." There is also a
vague notion to be formed from an old entry that Sebastian Cabot himself
again visited this region in 1503, and brought home three of the
natives,--to say nothing of additional even vaguer suspicions of other
ventures of the English at this time.

       *       *       *       *       *

In enumerating the ocean movements that were now going on, some
intimation has been given of the tiresome expectancy of something better
which was intermittently beguiling the spirits of Columbus during the
eighteen months that he remained in Spain. It is necessary to trace his
unhappy life in some detail, though the particulars are not abundant.

[Sidenote: Columbus's life in Spain. 1500-1502.]

Ferdinand had not been unobservant of all these expeditionary movements,
and they were quite as threatening to the Spanish supremacy in the New
World as his own personal defection was to the dejected Admiral. It had
become very clear that by tying his own hands, as he had in the compact
which Columbus was urging to have observed, the King had allowed
opportunities to pass by which he could profit through the newly aroused
enthusiasm of the seaports.

[Sidenote: Ferdinand allows other expeditions.]

We have seen that he had, nevertheless, through Fonseca sanctioned the
expeditions of Ojeda, Pinzon, and others, and had notably in that of
Niño got large profits for the exchequer. He had done this in defiance
of the vested rights of Columbus, and there is little doubt that to
bring Columbus into disgrace by the loss of his Admiral's power served
in part to open the field of discovery more as Ferdinand wished. With
the Viceroy dethroned and become a waiting suitor, there was little to
stay Ferdinand's ambition in sending out other explorers. His experience
had taught him to allow no stipulations on which explorers could found
exorbitant demands upon the booty and profit of the ventures. Anybody
could sail westward now, and there was no longer the courage of
conviction required to face an unknown sea and find an opposite shore.
Columbus, who had shown the way, was now easily cast off as a useless

It was not difficult for the King to frame excuses when Columbus urged
his reinstatement. There was no use in sending back an unpopular viceroy
before the people of the colony had been quieted. Give them time. It
might be seasonable enough to send to them their old master when they
had forgotten their misfortunes under him. Perhaps a better man than
Bobadilla could be found to still the commotions, and if so he might be
sent. In the face of all this and the King's determination, Columbus
could do nothing but acquiesce, and so he gradually made up his mind to
bide his time once more. It was not a new discipline for him.

[Sidenote: Bobadilla's rule in Española.]

It was clear from the intelligence which was reaching Spain that
Bobadilla would have to be superseded. Freed from the restraints which
had created so much complaint during the rule of Columbus, and even
courted with offers of indulgence, the miserable colony at Española
readily degenerated from bad to worse. The new governor had hoped to
find that a lack of constraint would do for the people what an excess of
it had failed to do. He erred in his judgment, and let the colony slip
beyond his control. Licentiousness was everywhere. The only exaction he
required was the tribute of gold. He reduced the proportion which must
be surrendered to the Crown from a third to an eleventh, but he so
apportioned the labor of the natives to the colonists that the yield of
gold grew rapidly, and became more with the tax an eleventh than it had
been when it was a third. This inhuman degradation of the poor natives
had become an organized misery when, a little later, Las Casas arrived
in the colony, and he depicts the baleful contrasts of the Indians and
their attractive island. Gold was potent, but it was not potent enough
to keep Bobadilla in his place. The representations of the agony of life
among the natives were so harrowing that it was decided to send a new
governor at once.

[Sidenote: Ovando sent to Española.]

The person selected was Nicholas de Ovando, a man of whom Las Casas, who
went out with him, gives a high character for justice, sobriety, and
graciousness. Perhaps he deserved it. The sympathizers with Columbus
find it hard to believe such praise. Ovando was commissioned as governor
over all the continental and insular domains, then acquired or
thereafter to be added to the Crown in the New World. He was to have his
capital at Santo Domingo. He was deputed, with about as much authority
as Bobadilla had had, to correct abuses and punish delinquents, and was
to take one third of all gold so far stored up, and one half of what was
yet to be gathered. He was to monopolize all trade for the Crown. He was
to segregate the colonists as much as possible in settlements. No
supplies were to be allowed to the people unless they got them through
the royal factor. New efforts were to be made through some Franciscans,
who accompanied Ovando, to convert the Indians. The natives were to be
made to work in the mines as hired servants, paid by the Crown.

[Sidenote: Negro slaves to be introduced.]

It had already become evident that such labor as the mining of gold
required was too exhausting for the natives, and the death-rate among
them was such that eyes were already opened to the danger of
extermination. By a sophistry which suited a sixteenth-century
Christian, the existence of this poor race was to be prolonged by
introducing the negro race from Africa, to take the heavier burden of
the toil, because it was believed they would die more slowly under the
trial. So it was royally ordered that slaves, born of Africans, in
Spain, might be carried to Española. The promise of Columbus's letter to
Sanchez was beginning to prove delusive. It was going to require the
degradation of two races instead of one. That was all!

[Sidenote: 1501. Columbus's property restored.]

[Sidenote: His factor.]

To assuage the smart of all this forcible deprivation of his power,
Columbus was apprised that under a royal order of September 27, 1501,
Ovando would see to the restitution of any property of his which
Bobadilla had appropriated, and that the Admiral was to be allowed to
send a factor in the fleet to look after his interests under the
articles which divided the gold and treasure between him and the Crown.
To this office of factor Columbus appointed Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal.

[Sidenote: Ovando's fleet.]

[Sidenote: 1502. February 3. It sails.]

The pomp and circumstance of the fleet were like a biting sarcasm to the
poor Admiral. One might expect he could have no high opinions of its
pilots, for we find him writing to the sovereigns, on February 6, a
letter laying before them certain observations on the art of navigation,
in which he says: "There will be many who will desire to sail to the
discovered islands; and if the way is known those who have had
experience of it may safest traverse it." Perhaps he meant to imply that
better pilots were more important than much parade. He in his most
favored time had never been fitted out with a fleet of thirty sail, so
many of them large ships. He had never carried out so many cavaliers,
nor so large a proportion of such persons of rank, as made a shining
part of the 2,500 souls now embarked. He could contrast his Franciscan
gown and girdle of rope with Ovando's brilliant silks and brocades which
the sovereigns authorized him to wear. There was more state in the new
governor's bodyguard of twenty-two esquires, mounted and foot, than
Columbus had ever dreamed of in Santo Domingo. Instead of vile convicts
there were respectable married men with their families, the guaranty of
honorable living. So that when the fleet went to sea, February 13, 1502,
there were hopes that a right method of founding a colony on family life
had at last found favor.

[Sidenote: 1502. April. Reaches Santo Domingo.]

The vessels very soon encountered a gale, in which one ship foundered,
and from the deck-loads which were thrown over from the rest and floated
to the shore it was for a long time apprehended that the fleet had
suffered much more severely. A single ship was all that failed finally
to reach Santo Domingo about the middle of April, 1502.

Let us turn now to Columbus himself. He had not failed, as we have said,
to reach something like mental quiet in the conviction that he could
expect nothing but neglect for the present. So his active mind engaged
in those visionary and speculative trains of thought wherein, when his
body was weary and his spirits harried, he was prone to find relief.

[Sidenote: Columbus's _Libros de las proficias_.]

He set himself to the composition of a maundering and erratic paper,
which, under the title of _Libros de las proficias_, is preserved in the
Biblioteca Colombina at Seville. The manuscript, however, is not in the
handwriting of Columbus, and no one has thought it worth while to print
the whole of it.

[Sidenote: Isaiah's prophecy.]

[Sidenote: Conquest of the Holy Land.]

In it there is evidence of his study, with the assistance of a
Carthusian friar, of the Bible and of the early fathers of the Church,
and it shows, as his letter to Juan's nurse had shown, how he had at
last worked himself into the belief that all his early arguments for the
westward passage were vain; that he had simply been impelled by
something that he had not then suspected; and that his was but a
predestined mission to make good what he imagined was the prophecy of
Isaiah in the Apocalypse. This having been done, there was something yet
left to be accomplished before the anticipated eclipse of all earthly
things came on, and that was the conquest of the Holy Land, for which he
was the appointed leader. He addressed this driveling exposition,
together with an urgent appeal for the undertaking of the crusade, to
Ferdinand and Isabella, but without convincing them that such a
self-appointed instrument of God was quite worthy of their employment.

[Sidenote: End of the world.]

The great catastrophe of the world's end was, as Columbus calculated,
about 155 years away. He based his estimate upon an opinion of St.
Augustine that the world would endure for 7,000 years; and upon King
Alfonso's reckoning that nearly 5,344 years had passed when Christ
appeared. The 1,501 years since made the sum 6,845, leaving out of the
7,000 the 155 years of his belief.

[Sidenote: Defeated by Satan.]

He also fancied, or professed to believe, in a letter which he
subsequently wrote to the Pope, that the present deprivation of his
titles and rights was the work of Satan, who came to see that the
success of Columbus in the Indies would be only a preparation for the
Admiral's long-vaunted recovery of the Holy Land. The Spanish government
meanwhile knew, and they had reason to know, that their denial of his
prerogatives had quite as much to do with other things as with a legion
of diabolical powers. Unfortunately for Columbus, neither they nor the
Pope were inclined to act on any interpretation of fate that did not
include a civil policy of justice and prosperity.

[Sidenote: His geographical whimsies.]

[Sidenote: Would seek a passage westerly through the Caribbean Sea.]

[Sidenote: Columbus misunderstands the currents.]

These visions of Columbus were harmless, and served to beguile him with
pious whimsies. But the mood did not last. He next turned to his old
geographical problems. The Portuguese were searching north and south for
the passage that would lead to some indefinite land of spices, and
afford a new way to reach the trade with Calicut and the Moluccas, which
at this time, by the African route, was pouring wealth into the
Portuguese treasury in splendid contrast to the scant return from the
Spanish Indies. He harbored a belief that a better passage might yet be
found beyond the Caribbean Sea. La Cosa, in placing that vignette of St.
Christopher and the infant Christ athwart the supposed juncture of Asia
and South America, had eluded the question, not solved it. Columbus
would now go and attack the problem on the spot. His expectation to find
a desired opening in that direction was based on physical phenomena, but
in fact on only partial knowledge of them. He had been aware of the
strong currents which set westward through the Caribbean Sea, and he had
found them still flowing west when he had reached the limit of his
exploration of the southern coast of Cuba. Bastidas, who had just pushed
farther west on the main coast, had turned back while the currents were
still flowing on, along what seemed an endless coast beyond. Bastidas
did not arrive in Spain till some months after Columbus had sailed, for
he was detained a prisoner in Española at this time. Some tidings of his
experiences may have reached Spain, however, or the Admiral may not have
got his confirmation of these views till he found that voyager at Santo
Domingo, later. Columbus had believed Cuba to be another main, confining
this onward waste of waters to the south of it.

[Sidenote: Gulf Stream.]

It was clear to him that such currents must find an outlet to the west,
and if found, such a passage would carry him on to the sea that washed
the Golden Chersonesus. He indeed died without knowing the truth. This
same current, deflected about Honduras and Yucatan, sweeps by a
northerly circuit round the great Gulf of Mexico, and, passing out by
the Cape of Florida, flows northward in what we now call the Gulf

There is nothing in all the efforts of the canonizers more absurdly
puerile than De Lorgues's version of the way in which Columbus came to
believe in this strait. He had a vision, and saw it! The only difficulty
in the matter was that the poor Admiral was so ecstatic in his
hallucination that he mistook the narrowness of an isthmus for the
narrowness of a strait!

[Sidenote: A convenient relief to Ferdinand to send Columbus on such a

[Sidenote: 1501. Columbus prepares to equip his ships.]

[Sidenote: 1502. February. Columbus writes to the Pope.]

The proposition of such a search was not inopportune in the eyes of
Ferdinand. There were those about the Court who thought it unwise to
give further employment to a man who was degraded from his honors; but
to the King it was a convenient way of removing a persistent and
active-minded complainant from the vicinity of the Court, to send him on
some quest or other, and no one could tell but there was some truth in
his new views. It was worth while to let him try. So once again, by the
royal permission, Columbus set himself to work equipping a little fleet.
It was the autumn of 1501 when he appeared in Seville with the
sovereign's commands. He varied his work of preparing the ships with
spending some part of his time on his treatise on the prophecies, while
a friar named Gaspar Gorricio helped him in the labor. Early in 1502 he
had got it into shape to present to the sovereigns, and in February he
wrote the letter to Pope Alexander VII. which has already been

[Sidenote: Forbidden to touch at Española.]

As the preparations went on, he began to think of Española, and how he
might perhaps be allowed to touch there; but orders were given to him
forbidding it on the outward passage, though suffering it on the return,
for it was hoped by that time that the disorders of the island would be
suppressed. It was arranged that the Adelantado and his own son
Ferdinand should accompany him, and some interpreters learned in Arabic
were put on board, in case his success put him in contact with the
people of the Great Khan.

The suspension of his rights lay heavily on his mind, and early in
March, 1502, he ventured to refer to the subject once more in a letter
to the sovereigns. They replied, March 14, in some instructions which
they sent from Valencia de Torre, advising him to keep his mind at ease,
and leave such things to the care of his son Diego. They assured him
that in due time the proper restitution of all would be made, and that
he must abide the time.

[Sidenote: 1502. January 5. Columbus's care to preserve his titles,

He had already taken steps to secure a perpetuity of the record of his
honors and deeds, if nothing else could be permanent. It was at Seville,
January 5, 1502, that Columbus, appearing before a notary in his own
house, attested that series of documents respecting his titles and
prerogatives which are so religiously preserved at Genoa. These papers,
as we have seen, were copies which Columbus had lately secured from the
documents in the Spanish Admiralty, among which he was careful to
include the revocation of June 2, 1497, of the licenses which, much to
Columbus's annoyance, had been granted in 1495, to allow others than
himself to explore in the new regions. We may not wonder at this, but we
can hardly conjecture why a transaction of his which had caused as much
as anything his wrongs, mortification, and the loss of his dignities
should have been as assiduously preserved. These are the royal orders
which enabled Columbus, at his request, to fill up his colony with
unshackled convicts. This he might as well have let the world forget.
The royal order requiring Bobadilla or his successor to restore all the
sequestered property of Columbus, and the new declaration of his rights,
he might well have been anxious to preserve.

[Sidenote: Columbus and the Bank of St. George.]

There was one other act to be done which lay upon his mind, now that the
time of sailing approached. He wished to make provision that his heirs
should be able to confer some favor on his native city, and he directed
that investments should be made for that purpose in the Bank of St.
George at Genoa. He then notified the managers of that bank of his
intention in a letter which is so characteristic of his moods of
dementation that it is here copied as Harrisse translates it:--

HIGH NOBLE LORDS:--Although the body walks about here, the heart is
constantly over there. Our Lord has conferred on me the greatest favor
to any one since David. The results of my undertaking already appear,
and would shine greatly were they not concealed by the blindness of the
government. I am going again to the Indies under the auspices of the
Holy Trinity, soon to return; and since I am mortal, I leave it with my
son Diego that you receive every year, forever, one tenth of the entire
revenue, such as it may be, for the purpose of reducing the tax upon
corn, wine, and other provisions. If that tenth amounts to something,
collect it. If not, take at least the will for the deed. I beg of you to
entertain regard for the son I have recommended to you. Nicolo de
Oderigo knows more about my own affairs than I do myself, and I have
sent him the transcripts of any privileges and letters for safe-keeping.
I should be glad if you could see them. My lords, the King and Queen
endeavor to honor me more than ever. May the Holy Trinity preserve your
noble persons and increase your most magnificent House. Done in Sevilla,
on the second day of April, 1502.

The chief Admiral of the ocean, Viceroy and Governor-General of the
islands and continent of Asia and the Indies, of my lords, the King and
Queen, their Captain-General of the sea, and of their Council.

   X M Y
   [Greek: Chr~o] FERENS.

[Sidenote: 1502. December 8. The bank's reply.]

The letter was handed by Columbus to a Genoese banker, then in Spain,
Francisco de Rivarolla, who forwarded it to Oderigo; but as this
ambassador was then on his way to Spain, Harrisse conjectures that he
did not receive the letter till his return to Genoa, for the reply of
the bank is dated December 8, 1502, long after Columbus had sailed. This
response was addressed to Diego, and inclosed a letter to the Admiral.
The great affection and good will of Columbus towards "his first
country" gratified them inexpressibly, as they said to the son; and to
the father they acknowledged the act of his intentions to be "as great
and extraordinary as that which has been recorded about any man in the
world, considering that by your own skill, energy, and prudence, you
have discovered such a considerable portion of this earth and sphere of
the lower world, which during so many years past and centuries had
remained unknown to its inhabitants."

The letter of Columbus to the bank remained on the files of that
institution--a single sheet of paper, written on one side only, and
pierced in the centre for the thread of the file--undiscovered till the
archivist of the bank, attracted by the indorsement, M D II, EPLA D.
ADMIRATI DON XROPHORI COLUMBI, identified it in 1829, when, at the
request of the authorities of Genoa, it was transferred to the keeping
of its archivists. It is to be seen at the city hall, to-day, placed
between two glass plates, so that either side of the paper can be read.




[Sidenote: 1502. March. Columbus commanded to sail.]

[Sidenote: May 9-11. Sailed.]

Their Majesties, in March, 1502, were evidently disturbed at Columbus's
delays in sailing, since such detentions brought to them nothing but the
Admiral's continued importunities. They now instructed him to sail
without the least delay. Nevertheless, Columbus, who had given out, as
Trivigiano reports, that he expected his discoveries on this voyage to
be more surprising and helpful than any yet made, his purpose being, in
fact, to circumnavigate the globe, did not sail from Cadiz till May 9 or
11, 1502,--the accounts vary. He had four caravels, from fifty to
seventy tons each, and they carried in all not over one hundred and
fifty men.

[Sidenote: His instructions.]

Apparently not forgetting the Admiral's convenient reservation
respecting the pearls in his third voyage, their Majesties in their
instructions particularly enjoined upon him that all gold and other
precious commodities which he might find should be committed at once to
the keeping of François de Porras, who was sent with him to the end that
the sovereigns might have trustworthy evidence in his accounts of the
amount received. Equally mindful of earlier defections, their further
instructions also forbade the taking of any slaves.

[Sidenote: The physical and mental condition of Columbus.]

Years had begun to rest heavily on the frame of Columbus. His
constitution had been strained by long exposures, and his spirits had
little elasticity left. Hope, to be sure, had not altogether departed
from his ardent nature; but it was a hope that had experienced many
reverses, and its pinions were clipped. There was still in him no lack
of mental vitality; but his reason had lost equipoise, and his
discernment was clouded with illusory visions.

There was the utmost desire at this time on the part of their Majesties
that no rupture should break the friendly relations which were sustained
with the Portuguese court, and it had been arranged that, in case
Columbus should fall in with any Portuguese fleet, there should be the
most civil interchange of courtesies. The Spanish monarchs had also
given orders, since word had come of the Moors besieging a Portuguese
post on the African coast, that Columbus should first go thither and
afford the garrison relief.

[Sidenote: Columbus stops on the African coast.]

[Sidenote: 1502. May. At the Canaries.]

It was found, on reaching that African harbor on the 15th, that the
Moors had departed. So, with no longer delay than to exchange
civilities, he lifted anchor on the same day and put to sea. It was
while he was at the Canaries, May 20-25, taking in wood and water, that
Columbus wrote to his devoted Gorricio a letter, which Navarrete
preserves. "Now my voyage will be made in the name of the Holy Trinity,"
he says, "and I hope for success."

[Sidenote: 1502. June 15. Reaches Martinico.]

There is little to note on the voyage, which had been a prosperous one,
and on June 15 he reached Martinino (Martinico). He himself professes to
have been but twenty days between Cadiz and Martinino, but the statement
seems to have been confused, with his usual inaccuracy. He thence pushed
leisurely along over much the same track which he had pursued on his
second voyage, till he steered finally for Santo Domingo.

[Sidenote: Determines to go to Española.]

It will be recollected that the royal orders issued to him before
leaving Spain were so far at variance with Columbus's wishes that he was
denied the satisfaction of touching at Española. There can be little
question as to the wisdom of an injunction which the Admiral now
determined to disregard. His excuse was that his principal caravel was a
poor sailer, and he thought he could commit no mistake in insuring
greater success for his voyage by exchanging at that port this vessel
for a better one. He forgot his own treatment of Ojeda when he drove
that adventurer from the island, where, to provision a vessel whose crew
was starving, Ojeda dared to trench on his government. When we view this
pretense for thrusting himself upon an unwilling community in the light
of his unusually quick and prosperous voyage and his failure to make
any mention of his vessel's defects when he wrote from the Canaries, we
can hardly avoid the conclusion that his determination to call at
Española was suddenly taken. His whole conduct in the matter looks like
an obstinate purpose to carry his own point against the royal commands,
just as he had tried to carry it against the injunctions respecting the
making of slaves. We must remember this when we come to consider the
later neglect on the part of the King. We must remember, also, the
considerate language with which the sovereigns had conveyed this
injunction: "It is not fit that you should lose so much time; it is much
fitter that you should go another way; though if it appears necessary,
and God is willing, you may stay there a little while on your return."

Roselly de Lorgues, with his customary disingenuousness, merely says
that Columbus came to Santo Domingo, to deliver letters with which he
was charged, and to exchange one of his caravels.

[Sidenote: 1502. June 29. Columbus arrives off Santo Domingo.]

[Sidenote: Columbus forbidden to enter the harbor.]

It was the 29th of June when the little fleet of Columbus arrived off
the port. He sent in one of his commanders to ask permission to shelter
his ships, and the privilege of negotiating for another caravel, since,
as he says, "one of his ships had become unseaworthy and could no longer
carry sail." His request came to Ovando, who was now in command. This
governor had left Spain in February, only a month before Columbus
received his final instructions, and there can be little doubt that he
had learned from Fonseca that those instructions would enjoin Columbus
not to complicate in any way Ovando's assumption of command by
approaching his capital. Las Casas seems to imply this. However it may
be, Ovando was amply qualified by his own instructions to do what he
thought the circumstances required. Columbus represented that a storm
was coming on, or rather the _Historie_ tells us that he did. It is to
be remarked that Columbus himself makes no such statement. At all
events, word was sent back to Columbus by his boat that he could not
enter the harbor. Irving calls this an "ungracious refusal," and it
turned out that later events have opportunely afforded the apologists
for the Admiral the occasion to point a moral to his advantage,
particularly since Columbus, if we may believe the doubtful story,
confident of his prognostications, had again sent word that the
fleet lying in the harbor, ready to sail, would go out at great peril in
view of an impending storm. It seems to be quite uncertain if at the
time his crew had any knowledge of his reasons for nearing Española, or
of his being denied admittance to the port. At least Porras, from the
way he describes the events, leaves one to make such an inference.

[Sidenote: Ovando's fleet.]

[Sidenote: Bobadilla, Roldan, and others on the fleet.]

[Sidenote: Columbus's factor had placed his gold on one of the ships.]

This fleet in the harbor was that which had brought Ovando, and was now
laden for the return. There was on board of it, as Columbus might have
learned from his messengers, the man of all men whom he most hated,
Bobadilla, who had gracefully yielded the power to Ovando two months
before, and of whom Las Casas, who was then fresh in his inquisitive
seeking after knowledge respecting the Indies and on the spot, could not
find that any one spoke ill. On the same ship was Columbus's old
rebellious and tergiversating companion, Roldan, whose conduct had been
in these two months examined, and who was now to be sent to Spain for
further investigations. There was also embarked, but in chains, the
unfortunate cacique of the Vega, Guarionex, to be made a show of in
Seville. The lading of the ships was the most wonderful for wealth that
had ever been sent from the island. There was the gold which Bobadilla
had collected, including a remarkable nugget which an Indian woman had
picked up in a brook, and a large quantity which Roldan and his friends
were taking on their own account, as the profit of their separate
enterprises. Carvajal, whom Columbus had sent out with Ovando as his
factor, to look after his pecuniary interests under the provisions which
the royal commands had made, had also placed in one of the caravels four
thousand pieces of the same precious metal, the result of the settlement
of Ovando with Bobadilla, and the accretions of the Admiral's share of
the Crown's profits.

[Sidenote: Ovando's fleet puts to sea and is wrecked;]

Undismayed by the warnings of Columbus, this fleet at once put to sea,
the Admiral's little caravels having meanwhile crept under the shore
at a distance to find such shelter as they could. The larger fleet stood
homeward, and was scarcely off the easterly end of Española when a
furious hurricane burst upon it. The ship which carried Bobadilla,
Roldan, and Guarionex succumbed and went down.

[Sidenote: but ship with Columbus's gold is saved.]

Others foundered later. Some of the vessels managed to return to Santo
Domingo in a shattered condition. A single caravel, it is usually
stated, survived the shock, so that it alone could proceed on the
voyage; and if the testimony is to be believed, this was the weakest of
them all, but she carried the gold of Columbus. Among the caravels which
put back to Santo Domingo for repairs was one on which Bastidas was
going to Spain for trial. This one arrived at Cadiz in September, 1502.

[Sidenote: Columbus's ships weather the gale.]

The ships of Columbus had weathered the gale. That of the Admiral, by
keeping close in to land, had fared best. The others, seeking sea-room,
had suffered more. They lost sight of each other, however, during the
height of the gale; but when it was over, they met together at Port
Hermoso, at the westerly end of the island. The gale is a picture over
which the glow of a retributive justice, under the favoring dispensation
of chance, is so easily thrown by sympathetic writers that the effusions
of the sentimentalists have got to stand at last for historic verity. De
Lorgues does not lose the opportunity to make the most of it.

[Sidenote: 1502. July 14. Columbus sails away.]

[Sidenote: July 30. At Guanaja.]

[Sidenote: Meets a strange canoe.]

Columbus, having lingered about the island to repair his ships and
refresh his crews, and also to avoid a second storm, did not finally get
away till July 14, when he steered directly for Terra Firma. The
currents perplexed him, and, as there was little wind, he was swept west
further than he expected. He first touched at some islands near Jamaica.
Thence he proceeded west a quarter southwest, for four days, without
seeing land, as Porras tells us, when, bewildered, he turned to the
northwest, and then north. But finding himself (July 24) in the
archipelago near Cuba, which on his second voyage he had called The
Gardens, he soon after getting a fair wind (July 27) stood southwest,
and on July 30 made a small island, off the northern coast of Honduras,
called Guanaja by the natives, and Isla de Pinos by himself. He was now
in sight of the mountains of the mainland. The natives struck him as of
a physical type different from all others whom he had seen. A large
canoe, eight feet beam, and of great length, though made of a single
log, approached with still stranger people in it.

[Sidenote: On the Honduras coast.]

They had apparently come from a region further north; and under a canopy
in the waist of the canoe sat a cacique with his dependents. The boat
was propelled by five and twenty men with paddles. It carried various
articles to convince Columbus that he had found a people more advanced
in arts than those of the regions earlier discovered. They had with them
copper implements, including hatchets, bells, and the like. He saw
something like a crucible in which metal had been melted. Their wooden
swords were jagged with sharp flints, their clothes were carefully made,
their utensils were polished and handy. Columbus traded off some
trinkets for such specimens as he wanted. If he now had gone in the
direction from which this marvelous canoe had come, he might have thus
early opened the wondrous world of Yucatan and Mexico, and closed his
career with more marvels yet. His beatific visions, which he supposed
were leading him under the will of the Deity, led him, however, south.
The delusive strait was there. He found an old man among the Indians,
whom he kept as a guide, since the savage could draw a sort of chart of
the coast. He dismissed the rest with presents, after he had wrested
from them what he wanted. Approaching the mainland, near the present
Cape of Honduras, the Adelantado landed on Sunday, August 14, and mass
was celebrated in a grove near the beach. Again, on the 17th,
Bartholomew landed some distance eastward of the first spot, and here,
by a river (Rio de la Posesion, now Rio Tinto), he planted the Castilian
banner and formally took possession of the country. The Indians were
friendly, and there was an interchange of provisions and trinkets. The
natives were tattooed, and they had other customs, such as the wearing
of cotton jackets, and the distending of their ears by rings, which were
new to the Spaniards.

[Sidenote: Seeking a strait.]

[Sidenote: Columbus oppressed with the gout.]

[Illustration: BELLIN'S HONDURAS.]

Tracking the coast still eastward, Columbus struggled against the
current, apparently without reasoning that he might be thus sailing away
from the strait, so engrossed was he with the thought that such a
channel must be looked for farther south. His visions had not helped him
to comprehend the sweep of waters that would disprove his mock oaths of
the Cuban coast. So he wore ship constantly against the tempest and
current, and crawled with bewildered expectation along the shore. All
this tacking tore his sails, racked his caravels, and wore out his
seamen. The men were in despair, and confessed one another. Some made
vows of penance, if their lives were preserved. Columbus was himself
wrenched with the gout, and from a sort of pavilion, which covered his
couch on the quarter deck, he kept a good eye on all they encountered.
"The distress of my son," he says, "grieved me to the soul, and the more
when I considered his tender age; for he was but thirteen years old,
and he enduring so much toil for so long a time." "My brother," he adds
further, "was in the ship that was in the worst condition and the most
exposed to danger; and my grief on this account was the greater that I
brought him with me against his will."

[Sidenote: 1502. September. Cape Gracios à Dios.]

[Sidenote: Loses a boat's crew.]

[Sidenote: 1502. September 25. The Garden.]

It was no easy work to make the seventy leagues from Cape Honduras to
Cape Gracios à Dios, and the bestowal of this name denoted his
thankfulness to God, when, after forty days of this strenuous endeavor,
his caravels were at last able to round the cape, on September 12 (or
14). A seaboard stretching away to the south lay open before him,--now
known as the Mosquito Coast. The current which sets west so persistently
here splits and sends a branch down this coast. So with a "fair wind and
tide," as he says, they followed its varied scenery of crag and lowland
for more than sixty leagues, till they discovered a great flow of water
coming out of a river. It seemed to offer an opportunity to replenish
their casks and get some store of wood. On the 16th of September, they
anchored, and sent their boats to explore. A meeting of the tide and the
river's flow raised later a tumultuous sea at the bar, just as the boats
were coming out. The men were unable to surmount the difficulty, and one
of the boats was lost, with all on board. Columbus recorded their
misfortune in the name which he gave to the river, El Rio del Desastre.
Still coasting onward, on September 25 they came to an alluring
roadstead between an island and the main, where there was everything to
enchant that verdure and fragrance could produce. He named the spot The
Garden (La Huerta). Here, at anchor, they had enough to occupy them for
a day or two in restoring the damage of the tempest, and in drying their
stores, which had been drenched by the unceasing downpour of the clouds.
The natives watched them from the shore, and made a show of their
weapons. The Spaniards remaining inactive, the savages grew more
confident of the pacific intent of their visitors, and soon began
swimming off to the caravels. Columbus tried the effect of largesses,
refusing to barter, and made gifts of the Spanish baubles. Such
gratuities, however, created distrust, and every trinket was returned.

[Sidenote: Character of the natives.]

Two young girls had been sent on board as hostages, while the Spaniards
were on shore getting water; but even they were stripped of their
Spanish finery when restored to their friends, and every bit of it was
returned to the givers. There seem to be discordant statements by
Columbus and in the _Historie_ respecting these young women, and
Columbus gives them a worse character than his chronicler. When the
Adelantado went ashore with a notary, and this official displayed his
paper and inkhorn, it seemed to strike the wondering natives as a spell.
They fled, and returned with something like a censer, from which they
scattered the smoke as if to disperse all baleful spirits.

These unaccustomed traits of the natives worked on the superstitions of
the Spaniards. They began to fancy they had got within an atmosphere of
sorceries, and Columbus, thinking of the two Indian maiden hostages, was
certain there was a spell of witchcraft about them, and he never quite
freed his mind of this necromantic ghost.

The old Indian whom Columbus had taken for a guide when first he touched
the coast, having been set ashore at Cape Gracios à Dios, enriched with
presents, Columbus now seized seven of this new tribe, and selecting two
of the most intelligent as other guides, he let the rest go. The seizure
was greatly resented by the tribe, and they sent emissaries to negotiate
for the release of the captives, but to no effect.

[Sidenote: 1502. October. Cariari.]

[Sidenote: Gold sought at Veragua.]

Departing on October 5 from the region which the natives called Cariari,
and where the fame of Columbus is still preserved in the Bahia del
Almirante, the explorers soon found the coast trending once more towards
the east. They were tracking what is now known as the shore of Costa
Rica. They soon entered the large and island-studded Caribaro Bay. Here
the Spaniards were delighted to find the natives wearing plates of gold
as ornaments. They tried to traffic for them, but the Indians were loath
to part with their treasures. The natives intimated that there was much
more of this metal farther on at a place called Veragua. So the ships
sailed on, October 17, and reached that coast. The Spaniards came to a
river; but the natives sent defiance to them in the blasts of their
conch-shells, while they shook at them their lances. Entering the tide,
they splashed the water towards their enemies, in token of contempt.
Columbus's Indian guides soon pacified them, and a round of barter
followed, by which seventeen of their gold disks were secured for three
hawks' bells. The intercourse ended, however, in a little hostile bout,
during which the Spanish crossbows and lombards soon brought the savages
to obedience.

[Illustration: BELLINI'S VERAGUA.]

[Sidenote: Ciguare.]

[Sidenote: At the isthmus.]

Still the caravels went on. The same scene of startled natives, in
defiant attitude, soon soothed by the trinkets was repeated everywhere.
In one place the Spaniards found what they had never seen before, a wall
laid of stone and lime, and Columbus began to think of the civilized
East again. Coast peoples are always barbarous, as he says; but it is
the inland people who are rich. As he passed along this coast of
Veragua, as the name has got to be written, though his notary at the
time caught the Indian pronunciation as Cobraba, his interpreters
pointed out its villages, and the chief one of all; and when they had
passed on a little farther they told him he was sailing beyond the gold
country. Columbus was not sure but they were trying to induce him to
open communication again with the shore, to offer chances for their
escape. The seeker of the strait could not stop for gold. His vision led
him on to that marvelous land of Ciguare, of which these successive
native tribes told him, situated ten days inland, and where the people
reveled in gold, sailed in ships, and conducted commerce in spices and
other precious commodities. The women there were decked, so they said,
with corals and pearls. "I should be content," he says, "if a tithe of
this which I hear is true." He even fancied, from all he could
understand of their signs and language, that these Ciguare people were
as terrible in war as the Spaniards, and rode on beasts. "They also say
that the sea surrounds Ciguare, and that ten days' journey from thence
is the river Ganges." Humboldt seems to think that in all this Columbus
got a conception of that great western ocean which was lying so much
nearer to him than he supposed. It may be doubted if it was quite so
clear to Columbus as Humboldt thinks; but there is good reason to
believe that Columbus imagined this wonderful region of Ciguare was
half-way to the Ganges. If, as his canonizers fondly suppose, he had not
mistaken in his visions an isthmus for a strait, he might have been
prompted to cross the slender barrier which now separated him from his

[Sidenote: 1502. November 2.]

[Sidenote: Porto Bello.]

[Sidenote: Nombre de Dios.]

On the 2d of November, the ships again anchored in a spacious harbor, so
beautiful in its groves and fruits, and with such deep water close to
the shore, that Columbus gave it the name of Puerto Bello (Porto
Bello),--an appellation which has never left it. It rained for seven
days while they lay here, doing nothing but trading a little with the
natives for provisions. The Indians offered no gold, and hardly any was
seen. Starting once more, the Spaniards came in sight of the cape known
since as Nombre de Dios, but they were thwarted for a while in their
attempts to pass it. They soon found a harbor, where they stayed till
November 23; then going on again, they secured anchorage in a basin so
small that the caravels were placed almost beside the shore. Columbus
was kept here by the weather for nine days. The basking alligators
reminded him of the crocodiles of the Nile. The natives were uncommonly
gentle and gracious, and provisions were plenty. The ease with which the
seamen could steal ashore at night began to be demoralizing, leading to
indignities at the native houses. The savage temper was at last aroused,
and the Spanish revelries were brought to an end by an attack on the
ships. It ceased, as usual, after a few discharges of the ships' guns.

[Sidenote: Bastidas's exploration of this coast.]

Columbus had not yet found any deflection of that current which sweeps
in this region towards the Gulf of Mexico. He had struggled against its
powerful flow in every stage of his progress along the coast. Whether
this had brought him to believe that his vision of a strait was delusive
does not appear. Whether he really knew that he had actually joined his
own explorations, going east, to those which Bastidas had made from the
west is equally unknown, though it is possible he may have got an
intimation of celestial and winged monsters from the natives. If he
comprehended it, he saw that there could be no strait, this way at
least. Bastidas, as we have seen, was on board Bobadilla's fleet when
Columbus lay off Santo Domingo. There is a chance that Columbus's
messenger who went ashore may have seen him and his charts, and may have
communicated some notes of the maps to the Admiral. Some of the
companions of Bastidas on his voyage had reached Spain before Columbus
sailed, and there may have been some knowledge imparted in that way. If
Columbus knew the truth, he did not disclose it.

Porras, possibly at a later day, seems to have been better informed, or
at least he imparts more in his narrative than Columbus does. He says he
saw in the people of these parts many of the traits of those of the
pearl coast at Paria, and that the maps, which they possessed, showed
that it was to this point that the explorations of Ojeda and Bastidas
had been pushed.

[Sidenote: Columbus turns back.]

[Sidenote: 1502. December 5.]

[Sidenote: A gale.]

There were other things that might readily have made him turn back, as
well as this despair of finding a strait. His crew were dissatisfied
with leaving the gold of Veragua. His ships were badly bored by the
worms, and they had become, from this cause and by reason of the heavy
weather which had so mercilessly followed them, more and more
unseaworthy. So on December 5, 1502, when he passed out of the little
harbor of El Retrete, he began a backward course. Pretty soon the wind,
which had all along faced him from the east, blew strongly from the
west, checking him as much going backward as it had in his onward
course. It seemed as if the elements were turned against him. The gale
was making sport of him, as it veered in all directions. It was indeed a
Coast of Contrasts (La Costa de los Contrastes), as Columbus called it.
The lightning streaked the skies continually. The thunder was appalling.
For nine days the little ships, strained at every seam, leaking at every
point where the tropical sea worm had pierced them, writhed in a
struggle of death. At one time a gigantic waterspout formed within
sight. The sea surged around its base. The clouds stooped to give it
force. It came staggering and lunging towards the fragile barks. The
crews exorcised the watery spirit by repeating the Gospel of St. John
the Evangelist, and the crazy column passed on the other side of them.

Added to their peril through it all were the horrors of an impending
famine. Their biscuit were revolting because of the worms. They caught
sharks for food.

[Sidenote: 1502. December 17.]

[Sidenote: Bethlehem River.]

[Sidenote: 1503. January 24.]

[Sidenote: Bartholomew seeks the mines.]

At last, on December 17, the fleet reunited,--for they had, during the
gales, lost sight of each other,--and entered a harbor, where they found
the native cabins built in the tree tops, to be out of the way of
griffins, or some other beasts. After further buffeting of the tempests,
they finally made a harbor on the coast of Veragua, in a river which
Columbus named Santa Maria de Belen (Bethlehem), it being Epiphany Day;
and here at last they anchored two of the caravels on January 9, and the
other two on the 10th (1503). Columbus had been nearly a month in
passing thirty leagues of coast. The Indians were at first quieted in
the usual way, and some gold was obtained by barter. The Spaniards had
not been here long, however, when they found themselves (January 24,
1503) in as much danger by the sudden swelling of the river as they had
been at sea. It was evidently occasioned by continued falls of rain in
distant mountains, which they could see. The caravels were knocked about
like cockboats. The Admiral's ship snapped a mast. "It rained without
ceasing," says the Admiral, recording his miseries, "until the 14th of
February;" and during the continuance of the storm the Adelantado was
sent on a boat expedition to ascend the Veragua River, three miles along
the coast, where he was to search for mines. The party proceeded on
February 6 as far as they could in the boats, and then, leaving part of
the men for a guard, and taking guides, which the Quibian--that being
the name, as he says, which they gave to the lord of the country--had
provided, they reached a country where the soil to their eyes seemed
full of particles of gold. Columbus says that he afterwards learned that
it was a device of the crafty Quibian to conduct them to the mines of a
rival chief, while his own were richer and nearer, all of which,
nevertheless, did not escape the keen Spanish scent for gold.
Bartholomew made other excursions along the coast; but nowhere did it
seem to him that gold was as plenty as at Veragua.

[Sidenote: Mines of Aurea.]

Columbus now reverted to his old fancies. He remembered that Josephus
has described the getting of gold for the Temple of Jerusalem from the
Golden Chersonesus, and was not this the very spot? "Josephus thinks
that this gold of the Chronicles and the Book of Kings was found in the
Aurea," he says. "If it were so, I contend that these mines of the Aurea
are identical with those of Veragua. David in his will left 3,000
quintals of Indian gold to Solomon, to assist in building the Temple,
and according to Josephus it came from these lands." He had seen, as he
says, more promise of gold here in two days than in Española in four
years. It was very easy now to dwarf his Ophir at Hayna! Those other
riches were left to those who had wronged him. The pearls of the Paria
coast might be the game of the common adventurer. Here was the princely
domain of the divinely led discoverer, who was rewarded at last!

[Sidenote: Columbus seeks to make a settlement.]

A plan was soon made of founding a settlement to hold the region and
gain information, while Columbus returned to Spain for supplies. Eighty
men were to stay. They began to build houses. They divided the stock of
provisions and munitions, and transferred that intended for the colony
to one of the caravels, which was to be left with them. Particular pains
were taken to propitiate the natives by presents, and the Quibian was
regaled with delicacies and gifts. When this was done, it was found that
a dry season had come on, and there was not water enough on the bar to
float the returning caravels.

[Sidenote: Diego Mendez's exploits.]

[Sidenote: The Quibian taken,]

[Sidenote: but escapes.]

Meanwhile the Quibian had formed a league to exterminate the intruders.
Columbus sent a brave fellow, Diego Mendez, to see what he could learn.
He found a force of savages advancing to the attack; but this single
Spaniard disconcerted them, and they put off the plan. Again, with but a
single companion, one Rodrigo de Escobar, Mendez boldly went into the
Quibian's village, and came back alive to tell the Admiral of all the
preparations for war which he had seen, or which were inferred at least.
The news excited the quick spirits of the Adelantado, and, following a
plan of Mendez, he at once started (March 30) with an armed force. He
came with such celerity to the cacique's village that the savages were
not prepared for their intrusion, and by a rapid artifice he surrounded
the lodge of the Quibian, and captured him with fifty of his followers.
The Adelantado sent him, bound hand and foot, and under escort, down the
river, in charge of Juan Sanchez, who rather resented any intimation of
the Adelantado to be careful of his prisoner. As the boat neared the
mouth of the river, her commander yielded to the Quibian's importunities
to loosen his bonds, when the chief, watching his opportunity, slipped
overboard and dove to the bottom. The night was dark, and he was not
seen when he came to the surface, and was not pursued. The other
prisoners were delivered to the Admiral. The Adelantado meanwhile had
sacked the cacique's cabin, and brought away its golden treasures.

[Sidenote: 1503. April 6.]

[Sidenote: The settlement attacked.]

Columbus, confident that the Quibian had been drowned, and that the
chastisement which had been given his tribe was a wholesome lesson,
began again to arrange for his departure. As the river had risen a
little, he succeeded in getting his lightened caravels over the bar, and
anchored them outside, where their lading was again put on board. To
offer some last injunctions and to get water, Columbus, on April 6, sent
a boat, in command of Diego Tristan, to the Adelantado, who was to be
left in command. When the boat got in, Tristan found the settlement in
great peril. The Quibian, who had reached the shore in safety after his
adventure, had quickly organized an attacking party, and had fallen upon
the settlement. The savages were fast getting their revenge, for the
unequal contest had lasted nearly three hours, when the Adelantado and
Mendez, rallying a small force, rushed so impetuously upon them that,
with the aid of a fierce bloodhound, the native host was scattered in a
trice. Only one Spaniard had been killed and eight wounded, including
the Adelantado; but the rout of the Indians was complete.

[Sidenote: Tristan murdered.]

It was while these scenes were going on that Tristan arrived in his boat
opposite the settlement. He dallied till the affair was ended, and then
proceeded up the river to get some water. Those on shore warned him of
the danger of ambuscade; but he persisted. When he had got well beyond
the support of the settlement, his boat was beset with a shower of
javelins from the overhanging banks on both sides, while a cloud of
canoes attacked him front and rear. But a single Spaniard escaped by
diving, and brought the tale of disaster to his countrymen.

The condition of the settlement was now alarming. The Indians,
encouraged by their success in overcoming the boat, once more gathered
to attack the little group of "encroaching Spaniards," as Columbus could
but call them. The houses which sheltered them were so near the thick
forest that the savages approached them on all sides under shelter. The
woods rang with their yells and with the blasts of their conch-shells.
The Spaniards got, in their panic, beyond the control of the Adelantado.
They prepared to take the caravel and leave the river; but it was found
she would not float over the bar. They then sought to send a boat to the
Admiral, lying outside, to prevent his sailing without them; but
the current and tide commingling made such a commotion on the bar that
no boat could live in the sea. The bodies of Tristan and his men came
floating down stream, with carrion crows perched upon them at their
ghastly feast. It seemed as if nature visited them with premonitions. At
last the Adelantado brought a sufficient number of men into such a
steady mood that they finally constructed out of whatever they could get
some sort of a breastwork near the shore, where the ground was open.
Here they could use their matchlocks and have a clear sweep about them.
They placed behind this bulwark two small falconets, and prepared to
defend themselves. They were in this condition for four days. Their
provisions, however, began to run short, and every Spaniard who dared to
forage was sure to be cut off. Their ammunition, too, was not abundant.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Columbus at anchor outside the bar.]

Meanwhile Columbus was in a similar state of anxiety. "The Admiral was
suffering from a severe fever," he says, "and worn with fatigue." His
ships were lying at anchor outside the bar, with the risk of being
obliged to put to sea at any moment, to work off a lee shore. Tristan's
prolonged absence harassed him. Another incident was not less ominous.
The companions of the Quibian were confined on board in the forecastle;
and it was the intention to take them to Spain as hostages, as it was
felt they would be, for the colony left behind. Those in charge of them
had become careless about securing the hatchway, and one night they
failed to chain it, trusting probably to the watchfulness of certain
sailors who slept upon the hatch. The savages, finding a footing upon
some ballast which they piled up beneath, suddenly threw off the cover,
casting the sleeping sailors violently aside, and before the guard could
be called the greater part of the prisoners had jumped into the sea and
escaped. Such as were secured were thrust back, but the next morning it
was found that they all had strangled themselves.

[Sidenote: Ledesma's exploit.]

After such manifestations of ferocious determination, Columbus began to
be further alarmed for the safety of his brother's companions and of
Tristan's. For days a tossing surf had made an impassable barrier
between him and the shore. He had but one boat, and he did not dare to
risk it in an attempt to land. Finally, his Sevillian pilot, Pedro
Ledesma, offered to brave the dangers by swimming, if the boat would
take him close to the surf. The trial was made; the man committed
himself to the surf, and by his strength and skill so surmounted wave
after wave that he at length reached stiller water, and was seen to
mount the shore. In due time he was again seen on the beach, and
plunging in once more, was equally successful in passing the raging
waters, and was picked up by the boat. He had a sad tale to tell the
Admiral. It was a story of insubordination, a powerless Adelantado, and
a frantic eagerness to escape somehow. Ledesma said that the men were
preparing canoes to come off to the ships, since their caravel was
unable to pass the bar.

[Sidenote: Resolve to abandon the region.]

There was long consideration in these hours of disheartenment; but the
end of it was a decision to rescue the colony and abandon the coast. The
winds never ceased to be high, and Columbus's ships, in their weakened
condition, were only kept afloat by care and vigilance. The loss of the
boat's crew threw greater burdens and strains upon those who were left.
It was impossible while the surf lasted to send in his only boat, and
quite as impossible for the fragile canoes of his colony to brave the
dangers of the bar in coming out. There was nothing for Columbus to do
but to hold to his anchor as long as he could, and wait.

[Sidenote: Columbus in delirium hears a voice.]

Our pity for the man is sometimes likely to unfit us to judge his own
record. Let us try to believe what he says of himself, and watch him in
his delirium. "Groaning with exhaustion," he says, "I fell asleep in the
highest part of the ship, and heard a compassionate voice address me."
It bade him be of good cheer, and take courage in the service of God!
What the God of all had done for Moses and David would be done for him!
As we read the long report of this divine utterance, as Columbus is
careful to record it, we learn that the Creator was aware of his
servant's name resounding marvelously throughout the earth. We find,
however, that the divine belief curiously reflected the confidence of
Columbus that it was India, and not America, that had been revealed.
"Remember David," said the Voice, "how he was a shepherd, and was made a
king. Remember Abraham, how he was a hundred when he begat Isaac, and
that there is youth still for the aged." Columbus adds that when the
Voice chided him he wept for his errors, and that he heard it all as in
a trance.

The obvious interpretation of all this is either that by the record
Columbus intended a fable to impress the sovereigns, for whom he was
writing, or that he was so moved to hallucinations that he believed what
he wrote. The hero worship of Irving decides the question easily. "Such
an idea," says Irving, referring to the argument of deceit, and
forgetting the Admiral's partiality for such practices, "is inconsistent
with the character of Columbus. In recalling a dream, one is
unconsciously apt to give it a little coherency." Irving's plea is that
it was a mere dream, which was mistaken by Columbus, in his feverish
excitement, for a revelation. "The artless manner," adds that
biographer, "in which he mingles the rhapsodies and dreams of his
imagination with simple facts and sound practical observations, pouring
them forth with a kind of Scriptural solemnity and poetry of language,
is one of the most striking illustrations of a character richly
compounded of extraordinary and apparently contradictory elements." We
may perhaps ask, Was Irving's hero a deceiver, or was he mad? The
chances seem to be that the whole vision was simply the product of one
of those fits of aberration which in these later years were no strangers
to Columbus's existence. His mind was not infrequently, amid
disappointments and distractions, in no fit condition to ward off

Humboldt speaks of Columbus's letter describing this vision as showing
the disordered mind of a proud soul weighed down with dead hopes. He has
no fear that the strange mixture of force and weakness, of pride and
touching humility, which accompanies these secret contortions will ever
impress the world with other feelings than those of commiseration.

It is a hard thing for any one, seeking to do justice to the agonies of
such spirits, to measure them in the calmness of better days. "Let those
who are accustomed to slander and aspersion ask, while they sit in
security at home, Why dost thou not do so and so under such
circumstances?" says Columbus himself. It is far easier to let one's
self loose into the vortex and be tossed with sympathy. But if four
centuries have done anything for us, they ought to have cleared the air
of its mirages. What is pitiable may not be noble.

[Sidenote: The colony embark.]

The Voice was, of course, associated in Columbus's mind with the good
weather which followed. During this a raft was made of two canoes lashed
together beneath a platform, and, using this for ferrying, all the
stores were floated off safely to the ships, so that in the end nothing
was left behind but the decaying and stranded caravel. This labor was
done under the direction of Diego Mendez, whom the Admiral rewarded by
kissing him on the cheek, and by giving him command of Tristan's
caravel, which was the Admiral's flagship.

[Sidenote: 1503. April, Columbus sails away.]

It is a strange commentary on the career and fame of Columbus that the
name of this disastrous coast should represent him to this day in the
title of his descendant, the Duke of Veragua. Never a man turned the
prow of his ship from scenes which he would sooner forget, with more
sorrow and relief, than Columbus, in the latter days of April, 1503,
with his enfeebled crews and his crazy hulks, stood away, as he thought,
for Española. And yet three months later, and almost in the same breath
with which he had rehearsed these miseries, with that obliviousness
which so often caught his errant mind, he wrote to his sovereigns that
"there is not in the world a country, whose inhabitants are more timid;
added to which there is a good harbor, a beautiful river, and the whole
place is capable of being easily put into a state of defense. Your
people that may come here, if they should wish to become masters of the
products of other lands, will have to take them by force, or retire
empty-handed. In this country they will simply have to trust their
persons in the hands of a savage." The man was mad.

It was easterly that Columbus steered when his ships swung round to
their destined course. It was not without fear and even indignation that
his crews saw what they thought a purpose to sail directly for Spain in
the sorry plight of the ships. Mendez, indeed, who commanded the
Admiral's own ship, says "they thought to reach Spain." The Admiral,
however, seems to have had two purposes. He intended to run eastward far
enough to allow for the currents, when he should finally head for Santo
Domingo. He intended also to disguise as much as he could the route
back, for fear that others would avail themselves of his crew's
knowledge to rediscover these golden coasts. He remembered how the
companions of his Paria voyage had led other expeditions to that region
of pearls. He is said also to have taken from his crew all their
memoranda of the voyage, so that there would be no such aid available to
guide others. "None of them can explain whither I went, nor whence I
came," he says. "They do not know the way to return thither."

[Sidenote: At Puerto Bello.]

[Sidenote: At the Gulf of Darien.]

[Sidenote: 1503. May 10.]

[Sidenote: May 30. On the Cuban coast.]

[Sidenote: 1503. June 23. Reaches Jamaica.]

By the time he reached Puerto Bello, one of his caravels had become so
weakened by the boring worms that he had to abandon her and crowd his
men into the two remaining vessels. His crews became clamorous when he
reached the Gulf of Darien, where he thought it prudent to abandon his
easterly course and steer to the north. It was now May 1. He hugged the
wind to overcome the currents, but when he sighted some islands to the
westward of Española, on the 10th, it was evident that the currents had
been bearing him westerly all the while. They were still drifting him
westerly, when he found himself, on May 30, among the islands on the
Cuban coast which he had called The Gardens. "I had reached," he says in
his old delusion, "the province of Mago, which is contiguous to that of
Cathay." Here the ships anchored to give the men refreshment. The labor
of keeping the vessels free from water had been excessive, and in a
secure roadstead it could now be carried on with some respite of toil,
if the weather would only hold good. This was not to be, however. A gale
ensued in which they lost their anchors. The two caravels, moreover,
sustained serious damage by collision. All the anchors of the Admiral's
ship had gone but one, and though that held, the cable nearly wore
asunder. After six days of this stormy weather, he dared at last to
crawl along the coast. Fortunately, he got some native provisions at one
place, which enabled him to feed his famished men. The currents and
adverse winds, however, proved too much for the power of his ships to
work to windward. They were all the while in danger of foundering. "With
three pumps and the use of pots and kettles," he says, "we could
scarcely clear the water that came into the ship, there being no remedy
but this for the mischief done by the ship worm." He reluctantly,
therefore, bore away for Jamaica, where, on June 23, he put into Puerto
Buono (Dry Harbor).

[Sidenote: 1503. July, August. His ships stranded].

Finding neither water nor food here, he went on the next day to Port San
Gloria, known in later days as Don Christopher's Cove. Here he found it
necessary, a little later (July 23 and August 12), to run his sinking
ships, one after the other, aground, but he managed to place them side
by side, so that they could be lashed together. They soon filled with
the tide. Cabins were built on the forecastles and sterns to live in,
and bulwarks of defense were reared as best they could be along the
vessels' waists. Columbus now took the strictest precautions to prevent
his men wandering ashore, for it was of the utmost importance that no
indignity should be offered the natives while they were in such
hazardous and almost defenseless straits.

It became at once a serious question how to feed his men. Whatever scant
provisions remained on board the stranded caravels were spoiled. His
immediate savage neighbors supplied them with cassava bread and other
food for a while, but they had no reserved stores to draw upon, and
these sources were soon exhausted.

[Sidenote: Mendez seeks food for the company.]

Diego Mendez now offered, with three men, carrying goods to barter, to
make a circuit of the island, so that he could reach different caciques,
with whom he could bargain for the preparation and carriage of food to
the Spaniards. As he concluded his successive impromptu agreements with
cacique after cacique, he sent a man back loaded with what he could
carry, to acquaint the Admiral, and let him prepare for a further
exchange of trinkets. Finally, Mendez, left without a companion, still
went on, getting some Indian porters to help him from place to place. In
this way he reached the eastern end of the island, where he ingratiated
himself with a powerful cacique, and was soon on excellent terms with
him. From this chieftain he got a canoe with natives to paddle, and
loading it with provisions, he skirted westerly along the coast, until
he reached the Spaniards' harbor. His mission bade fair to have
accomplished its purpose, and provisions came in plentifully for a while
under the arrangements which he had made.

[Sidenote: Mendez prepares to go to Española.]

Columbus's next thought was to get word, if possible, to Ovando, at
Española, so that the governor could send a vessel to rescue them.
Columbus proposed to Mendez that he should attempt the passage with the
canoe in which he had returned from his expedition. Mendez pictured the
risks of going forty leagues in these treacherous seas in a frail canoe,
and intimated that the Admiral had better make trial of the courage of
the whole company first. He said that if no one else offered to go he
would shame them by his courage, as he had more than once done before.
So the company were assembled, and Columbus made public the proposition.
Every one hung back from the hazards, and Mendez won his new triumph, as
he had supposed he would. He then set to work fitting the canoe for the
voyage. He put a keel to her. He built up her sides so that she could
better ward off the seas, and rigged a mast and sail. She was soon
loaded with the necessary provisions for himself, one other Spaniard,
and the six Indians who were to ply the paddles.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: 1503. July 7. Letter of Columbus to the sovereigns.]

The Admiral, while the preparations were making, drew up a letter to his
sovereigns, which it was intended that Mendez, after arranging with
Ovando for the rescue, should bear himself to Spain by the first
opportunity. At least it is the reasonable assumption of Humboldt that
this is the letter which has come down to us dated July 7, 1503.

[Sidenote: _Lettera rarissima._]

It is not known that this epistle was printed at the time, though
manuscript copies seem to have circulated. An Italian version of it was,
however, printed at Venice a year before Columbus died. The original
Spanish text was not known to scholars till Navarrete, having discovered
in the king's library at Madrid an early transcript of it, printed it in
the first volume of his _Coleccion_. It is the document usually referred
to, from the title of Morelli's reprint (1810) of the Italian text, as
the _Lettera rarissima di Cristoforo Colombo_. This letter is even more
than his treatise on the prophets a sorrowful index of his wandering
reason. In parts it is the merest jumble of hurrying thoughts, with no
plan or steady purpose in view. It is in places well calculated to
arouse the deepest pity. It was, of course, avowedly written at a
venture, inasmuch as the chance of its reaching the hands of his
sovereigns was a very small one. "I send this letter," he says, "by
means of and by the hands of Indians; it will be a miracle if it reaches
its destination."

He not only goes back over the adventures of the present expedition, in
a recital which has been not infrequently quoted in previous pages, but
he reverts gloomily to the more distant past. He lingers on the
discouragements of his first years in Spain. "Every one to whom the
enterprise was mentioned," he says of those days, "treated it as
ridiculous, but now there is not a man, down to the very tailors, who
does not beg to be allowed to become a discoverer." He remembers the
neglect which followed upon the first flush of indignation when he
returned to Spain in chains. "The twenty years' service through which I
have passed with so much toil and danger have profited me nothing, and
at this very day I do not possess a roof in Spain that I can call my
own. If I wish to eat or sleep I have nowhere to go but to a low tavern,
and most times lack wherewith to pay the bill. Another anxiety wrings my
very heartstrings, when I think of my son Diego, whom I have left an
orphan in Spain, stripped of the house and property which is due to him
on my account, although I had looked upon it as a certainty that your
Majesties, as just and grateful princes, would restore it to him in all
respects with increase."

"I was twenty-eight years old," he says again, "when I came into your
Highnesses' services, and now I have not a hair upon me that is not
gray, my body is infirm, and all that was left to me, as well as to my
brother, has been taken away and sold, even to the frock that I wore, to
my great dishonor."

And then, referring to his present condition, he adds: "Solitary in my
trouble, sick, and in daily expectation of death, I am surrounded by
millions of hostile savages, full of cruelty. Weep for me, whoever has
charity, truth, and justice!"

He next works over in his mind the old geographical problems. He recalls
his calculation of an eclipse in 1494, when he supposed, in his error,
that he had "sailed twenty-four degrees westward in nine hours." He
recalls the stories that he had heard on the Veragua coast, and thinks
that he had known it all before from books. Marinus had come near the
truth, he gives out, and the Portuguese have proved that the Indies in
Ethiopia is, as Marinus had said, four and twenty degrees from the
equinoctial line. "The world is but small," he sums up; "out of seven
divisions of it, the dry part occupies six, and the seventh is entirely
covered by water. I say that the world is not so large as vulgar
opinion makes it, and that one degree from the equinoctial line measures
fifty-six miles and two thirds, and this may be proved to a nicety."

[Sidenote: Columbus on gold.]

And then, in his thoughts, he turns back to his quest for gold, just as
he had done in action at Darien, when in despair he gave up the search
for a strait. It was gold, to his mind, that could draw souls from
purgatory. He exclaims: "Gold is the most precious of all commodities.
Gold constitutes treasure, and he who possesses it has all he needs in
this world, as also the means of rescuing souls from purgatory, and
restoring them to the enjoyment of paradise."

Then his hopes swell with the vision of that wealth which he thought he
had found, and would yet return to. He alone had the clues to it, which
he had concealed from others. "I can safely assert that to my mind my
people returning to Spain are the bearers of the best news that ever was
carried to Spain.... I had certainly foreseen how things would be. I
think more of this opening for commerce than of all that has been done
in the Indies. This is not a child to be left to the care of a

These were some of the thoughts, in large part tumultuous, incoherent,
dispirited, harrowing, weakening, and sad, penned within sound of the
noise of Mendez's preparations, and disclosing an exultant and
bewildered being, singularly compounded.

This script was committed to Mendez, beside one addressed to Ovando, and
another to his friend in Spain, Father Gorricio, to whom he imparts some
of the same frantic expectations. "If my voyage will turn out as
favorable to my health," he says, "and to the tranquillity of my house,
as it is likely to be for the glory of my royal masters, I shall live

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Mendez starts.]

Mendez started bravely. He worked along the coast of the island towards
its eastern end; not without peril, however, both from the sea and from
the Indians. Finally, his party fell captives to a startled cacique; but
while the savages were disputing over a division of the spoils, Mendez
succeeded in slipping back to the canoe, and, putting off alone, paddled
it back to the stranded ships.

[Sidenote: Mendez starts again.]

Another trial was made at once, with larger preparation. A second canoe
was added to the expedition, and the charge of this was given to
Bartholomew Fiesco, a Genoese, who had commanded one of the caravels.
The daring adventurers started again with an armed party under the
Adelantado following them along the shore.

The land and boat forces reached the end of the island without
molestation, and then, bidding each other farewell, the canoes headed
boldly away from land, and were soon lost to the sight of the Adelantado
in the deepening twilight. The land party returned to the Admiral
without adventure. There was little now for the poor company to do but
to await the return of Fiesco, who had been directed to come back at
once and satisfy the Admiral that Mendez had safely accomplished his

[Sidenote: The revolt of Porras.]

Many days passed, and straining eyes were directed along the shore to
catch a glimpse of Fiesco's canoe; but it came not. There was not much
left to allay fear or stifle disheartenment. The cramped quarters of the
tenements on the hulks, the bad food which the men were forced to depend
upon, and the vain watchings soon produced murmurs of discontent, which
it needed but the captious spirit of a leader to convert into the
turmoil of revolt. Such a gatherer of sedition soon appeared. There were
in the company two brothers, Francisco de Porras, who had commanded one
of the vessels, and Diego de Porras, who had, as we have seen, been
joined to the expedition to check off the Admiral's accounts of
treasures acquired. The very espionage of his office was an offense to
the Admiral. It was through the caballing of these two men that the
alien spirits of the colony found in one of them at last a determined
actor. It is not easy to discover how far the accusations against the
Admiral, which these men now began to dwell upon, were generally
believed. It served the leaders' purposes to have it appear that
Columbus was in reality banished from Spain, and had no intention of
returning thither till Mendez and Fiesco had succeeded in making favor
for him at Court; and that it was upon such a mission that these
lieutenants had been sent. It was therefore necessary, if those who were
thus cruelly confined in Jamaica wished to escape a lingering death, to
put on a bold front, and demand to be led away to Española in such
canoes as could be got of the Indians.

[Sidenote: 1504. January 2. Demands of Porras.]

[Sidenote: The flotilla of Porras sails.]

It was on the 2d of January, 1504, that, with a crowd of sympathizers
watching within easy call, Francisco de Porras suddenly presented
himself in the cabin of the weary and bedridden Admiral. An altercation
ensued, in which the Admiral, propped in his couch, endeavored to
assuage the bursting violence of his accuser, and to bring him to a
sense of the patient duty which the conditions demanded. It was one of
the times when desperate straits seemed to restore the manhood of
Columbus. It was, however, of little use. The crisis was not one that,
in the present temper of the mutineers, could be avoided. Porras,
finding that the Admiral could not be swayed, called out in a loud
voice, "I am for Castile! Those who will may come with me!" This signal
was expected, and a shout rang in the air among those who were awaiting
it. It aroused Columbus from his couch, and he staggered into sight; but
his presence caused no cessation of the tumult. Some of his loyal
companions, fearing violence, took him back to his bed. The Adelantado
braced himself with his lance for an encounter, and was pacified only by
the persuasions of the Admiral's friends. They loyally said, "Let the
mutineers go. We will remain." The angry faction seized ten canoes,
which the Admiral had secured from the Indians, and putting in them what
they could get, they embarked for their perilous voyage. Some others who
had not joined in their plot being allured by the flattering hope of
release, there were forty-eight in all, and the little flotilla, amid
the mingled execrations and murmurs of despair among the weak and the
downcast who stayed behind, paddled out of that fateful harbor.

The greater part of all who were vigorous had now gone. There were a few
strong souls, with some vitality left in them, among the small company
which remained to the Admiral; but the most of them were sorry objects,
with dejected minds and bodies more or less prostrate from disease and
privation. The conviction soon settled upon this deserted community that
nothing could save them but a brotherly and confident determination to
help one another, and to arouse to the utmost whatever of cheer and good
will was latent in their spirits. They could hardly have met an attack
of the natives, and they knew it. This made them more considerate in
their treatment of their neighbors, and the supply of provisions which
they could get from those who visited the ship was plentiful for a
while. But the habits of the savages were not to accumulate much beyond
present needs, and when the baubles which the Spaniards could distribute
began to lose their strange attractiveness, the incentive was gone to
induce exertion, and supplies were brought in less and less frequently.
It was soon found that hawks' bells had diminished in value. It took
several to appease the native cupidity where one had formerly done it.

[Sidenote: Porras's men still on the island.]

There was another difficulty. There were failures on the part of the
more distant villages to send in their customary contributions, and it
soon came to be known that Porras and his crew, instead of having left
the island, were wandering about, exacting provisions and committing
indignities against the inhabitants wherever they went.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: His voyage a failure.]

It seems that the ten canoes had followed the coast to the nearest point
to Española, at the eastern end of the island, and here, waiting for a
calm sea, and securing some Indians to paddle, the mutineers had finally
pushed off for their voyage. The boats had scarcely gone four leagues
from land, when the wind rose and the sea began to alarm them. So they
turned back. The men were little used to the management of the canoes,
and they soon found themselves in great peril. It seemed necessary to
lighten the canoes, which were now taking in water to a dangerous
extent. They threw over much of their provisions; but this was not
enough. They then sacrificed one after another the natives. If these
resisted, a swoop of the sword ended their miseries. Once in the water,
the poor Indians began to seize the gunwales; but the sword chopped off
their hands. So all but a few of them, who were absolutely necessary to
manage the canoes, were thrown into the sea. Such were the perils
through which the mutineers passed in reaching the land.

A long month was now passed waiting for another calm sea; but when they
tempted it once more, it rose as before, and they again sought the land.
All hope of success was now abandoned. From that time Porras and his
band gave themselves up to a lawless, wandering life, during which they
created new jealousies among the tribes. As we have seen, by their
exactions they began at last to tap the distant sources of supplies for
the Admiral and his loyal adherents.

[Sidenote: 1504. February 29. Eclipse of the moon.]

Columbus now resorted to an expedient characteristic of the ingenious
fertility of his mind. His astronomical tables enabled him to expect the
approach of a lunar eclipse (February 29, 1504), and finding it close at
hand he hastily summoned some of the neighboring caciques. He told them
that the God of the Spaniards was displeased at their neglect to feed
his people, and that He was about to manifest that displeasure by
withdrawing the moon and leaving them to such baleful influences as they
had provoked. When night fell and the shadow began to steal over the
moon, a long howl of horror arose, and promises of supplies were made by
the stricken caciques. They hurled themselves for protection at the feet
of the Admiral. Columbus retired for an ostensible communion with this
potent Spirit, and just as the hour came for the shadow to withdraw he
appeared, and announced that their contrition had appeased the Deity,
and a sign would be given of his content. Gradually the moon passed out
of the shadow, and when in the clear heavens the luminary was again
swimming unobstructed in her light, the work of astonishment had been
done. After that, Columbus was never much in fear of famine.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The canoe voyage of Mendez.]

[Sidenote: At Navasa Island.]

It is time now to see how much more successful Mendez and Fiesco had
been than Porras and his crew. They had accomplished the voyage to
Española, it is true, but under such perils and sufferings that Fiesco
could not induce a crew sufficient to man the canoe to return with him
to the Admiral. The passage had been made under the most violent
conditions of tropical heat and unprotected endurance. Their supply of
water had given out, and the tortures of thirst came on. They looked out
for the little island of Navasa, which lay in their track, where they
thought that in the crevices of the rocks they might find some water.
They looked in vain. The day when they had hoped to see it passed, and
night came on. One of the Indians died, and was dropped overboard.
Others lay panting and exhausted in the bottom of the canoes. Mendez sat
watching a glimmer of light in the eastern horizon that betokened the
coming of the moon.

[Sidenote: They see Española.]

[Sidenote: Mendez lands at Española.]

Presently a faint glisten of the real orb grew into a segment. He could
see the water line as the illumination increased. There was a black
stretch of something jagging the lower edge of the segment. It was land!
Navasa had been found. By morning they had reached the island. Water was
discovered among the rocks; but some drank too freely, and paid the
penalty of their lives. Mussels were picked up along the shore; they
built a fire and boiled them. All day long they gazed longingly on the
distant mountains of Española, which were in full sight. Refreshed by
the day's rest, they embarked again at nightfall, and on the following
day arrived at Cape Tiburon, the southwestern peninsula of Española,
having been four days on the voyage from Jamaica. They landed among
hospitable natives, and having waited two days to recuperate, Mendez
took some savages in a canoe, and started to go along the coast to Santo
Domingo, one hundred and thirty leagues distant. He had gone nearly two
thirds of the distance when, communicating with the shore, he learned
that Ovando was not in Santo Domingo, but at Xaragua. So Mendez
abandoned his canoe, and started alone through the forests to seek the

[Sidenote: Ovando delays sending relief to Columbus.]

Ovando received him cordially, but made excuses for not sending relief
to Columbus at once. He was himself occupied with the wars which he was
conducting against the natives. There was no ship in Santo Domingo of
sufficient burden to be dispatched for such a rescue. So excuse after
excuse, and promises of attention unfulfilled, kept Mendez in the camp
of Ovando for seven months. The governor always had reasons for denying
him permission to go to Santo Domingo, where Mendez had hopes of
procuring a vessel. This procrastinating conduct has naturally given
rise to the suspicion that Ovando was not over-anxious to deliver
Columbus from his perils; and there can be little question that for the
Admiral to have sunk into oblivion and leave no trace would have
relieved both the governor and his royal master of some embarrassments.

At length Ovando consented to the departure of Mendez to Santo Domingo.
There was a fleet of caravels expected there, and Mendez was anxious to
see if he could not procure one of them on the Admiral's own account to
undertake the voyage of rescue. His importunities became so pressing
that Ovando at last consented to his starting for that port, seventy
leagues distant.

[Sidenote: Ovando sends Escobar to observe Columbus.]

No sooner was Mendez gone than Ovando determined to ascertain the
condition of the party at Jamaica without helping them, and so he
dispatched a caravel to reconnoitre. He purposely sent a small craft,
that there might be no excuse for attempting to bring off the company;
and to prevent seizure of the vessel by Columbus, her commander was
instructed to lie off the harbor, and only send in a boat, to
communicate with no one but Columbus; and he was particularly enjoined
to avoid being enticed on board the stranded caravels. The command of
this little craft of espionage was given to one of Columbus's enemies,
Diego de Escobar, who had been active as Roldan's lieutenant in his

When the vessel appeared off the harbor where Columbus was, eight months
had passed since Mendez and Fiesco had departed. All hopes of hearing of
them had been abandoned. A rumor had come in from the natives that a
vessel, bottom upwards, had been seen near the island, drifting with the
current. It is said to have been a story started by Porras that its
effect might be distressing to Columbus's adherents. It seems to have
had the effect to hasten further discontent in that stricken band, and a
new revolt was almost ready to make itself known when Escobar's tiny
caravel was descried standing in towards shore.

The vessel was seen to lie to, when a boat soon left her side. As it
came within hailing, the figure of Escobar was recognized. Columbus knew
that he had once condemned the man to death. Bobadilla had pardoned him.
The boat bumped against the side of one of the stranded caravels; the
crew brought it sidewise against the hulk, when a letter for the Admiral
was handed up. Columbus's men made ready to receive a cask of wine and
side of bacon, which Escobar's companions lifted on board. All at once a
quick motion pushed the boat from the hulks, and Escobar stopped her
when she had got out of reach. He now addressed Columbus, and gave him
the assurances of Ovando's regret that he had no suitable vessel to send
to him, but that he hoped before long to have such. He added that if
Columbus desired to reply to Ovando's letter, he would wait a brief
interval for him to prepare an answer.

The Admiral hastily made his reply in as courteous terms as possible,
commending the purposes of Mendez and Fiesco to the governor's kind
attention, and closed with saying that he reposed full confidence in
Ovando's expressed intention to rescue his people, and that he would
stay on the wrecks in patience till the ships came. Escobar received the
letter, and returned to his caravel, which at once disappeared in the
falling gloom of night.

Columbus was not without apprehension that Escobar had come simply to
make sure that the Admiral and his company still survived, and Las
Casas, who was then at Santo Domingo, seems to have been of the opinion
that Ovando had at this time no purpose to do more. The selection of
Escobar to carry a kindly message gave certainly a dubious ostentation
to all expressions of friendly interest. The transaction may possibly
admit of other interpretations. Ovando may reasonably have desired that
Columbus and his faithful adherents should not abide long in Española,
as in the absence of vessels returning to Spain the Admiral might be
obliged to do. There were rumors that Columbus, indignant at the wrongs
which he felt he had received at the hands of his sovereigns, had
determined to hold his new discoveries for Genoa, and the Admiral had
referred to such reports in his recent letter to the Spanish monarchs.
Such reports easily put Ovando on his guard, and he may have desired
time to get instructions from Spain. At all events, it was very palpable
that Ovando was cautious and perhaps inhuman, and Columbus was to be
left till Escobar's report should decide what action was best.

[Sidenote: Columbus communicates with Porras.]

Columbus endeavored to make use of the letter which Escobar had brought
from Ovando to win Porras and his vagabonds back to loyalty and duty. He
dispatched messengers to their camp to say that Ovando had notified him
of his purpose to send a vessel to take them off the island. The Admiral
was ready to promise forgiveness and forgetfulness, if the mutineers
would come in and submit to the requirements of the orderly life of his
people. He accompanied the message with a part of the bacon which
Escobar had delivered as a present from the governor. The lure, however,
was not effective. Porras met the ambassadors, and declined the
proffers. He said his followers were quite content with the freedom of
the island. The fact seemed to be that the mutineers were not quite sure
of the Admiral's sincerity, and feared to put themselves in his power.
They were ready to come in when the vessels came, if transportation
would be allowed them so that their band should not be divided; and
until then they would cause the Admiral's party no trouble, unless
Columbus refused to share with them his stores and trinkets, which they
must have, peacefully or forcibly, since they had lost all their
supplies in the gales which had driven them back.

It was evident that Porras and his company were not reduced to such
straits that they could be reasoned with, and the messengers returned.

[Sidenote: Bartholomew and his men confront the Porras mutineers.]

The author of the _Historie_, and others who follow his statements,
represent that the body of the mutineers was far from being as arrogant
as their leaders, was much more tractable in spirit, and was inclined to
catch at the chance of rescue. The leaders labored with the men to keep
them steady in their revolt. Porras and his abettors did what they could
to picture the cruelties of the Admiral, and even accused him of
necromancy in summoning the ghost of a caravel by which to make his
people believe that Escobar had really been there. Then, to give some
activity to their courage, the whole body of the mutineers was led
towards the harbor on pretense of capturing stores. The Adelantado went
out to meet them with fifty armed followers, the best he could collect
from the wearied companions of the Admiral. Porras refused all offers of
conference, and led his band to the attack. There was a plan laid among
them that six of the stoutest should attack the Adelantado
simultaneously, thinking that if their leader should be overpowered the
rest would flee. The Adelantado's courage rose with the exigency, as it
was wont to do. He swung his sword with vigor, and one after another the
assailants fell. At last Porras struck him such a blow that the
Adelantado's buckler was cleft and his hand wounded. The blow was too
powerful for the giver of it. His sword remained wedged in the buckler,
affording his enemy a chance to close, while an attempt was made to
extricate the weapon. Others came to the loyal leader's assistance, and
Porras was secured and bound.

[Sidenote: Porras taken.]

[Sidenote: Sanchez killed.]

[Sidenote: Ledesma wounded.]

This turned the current of the fight. The rebels, seeing their leader a
prisoner, fled in confusion, leaving the field to the party of the
Adelantado. The fight had been a fierce one. They found among the rebel
dead Juan Sanchez, who had let slip the captured Quibian, and among the
wounded Pedro Ledesma, who had braved the breakers at Veragua. Las
Casas, who knew the latter at a later day, deriving some help from him
in telling the story of these eventful months, speaks of the many and
fearful wounds which he bore in evidence of his rebellion and courage,
and of the sturdy activity of his assailants. We owe also to Ledesma and
to some of his companions, who, with himself, were witnesses in the
later lawsuit of Diego Colon with the Crown, certain details which the
principal narrators fail to give us.

A charm had seemed throughout the conflict to protect the Admiral's
friends. None were killed outright, and but one other beside their
leader was wounded. This man, the Admiral's steward, subsequently died.

[Sidenote: 1504. March 20. The rebels propose to submit.]

The victors returned to the ships with their prisoners; and in the midst
of the gratulations which followed on the next day, March 20, 1504, the
fugitives sent in an address to the Admiral, begging to be pardoned and
received back to his care and fortunes. They acknowledged their errors
in the most abject professions, and called upon Heaven to show no mercy,
and upon man to know no sympathy, in dealing retribution, if they failed
in their fidelity thereafter. The proposition of surrender was not
without embarrassment. The Admiral was fearful of the trial of their
constancy when they might gather about him with all the chances of
further cabaling. He also knew that his provisions were fast running
out. Accordingly, in accepting their surrender, he placed them under
officers whom he could trust, and supplying them with articles of
barter, he let them wander about the island under suitable discipline,
hoping that they would find food where they could. He promised, however,
to recall them when the expected ships arrived.

[Sidenote: Ships come to rescue them.]

It was not long they had to wait. One day two ships were seen standing
in towards the harbor. One of them proved to be a caravel which Mendez
had bought on the Admiral's account, out of a fleet of three, just then
arrived from Spain, and had victualed for the occasion. Having seen it
depart from Santo Domingo, Mendez, in the other ships of this opportune
fleet, sailed directly for Spain, to carry out the further instructions
of the Admiral.

The other of the approaching ships was in command of Diego de Salcedo,
the Admiral's factor, and had been dispatched by Ovando. Las Casas tells
us that the governor was really forced to this action by public
sentiment, which had grown in consequence of the stories of the trials
of Columbus which Mendez had told. It is said that even the priests did
not hesitate to point a moral in their pulpits with the governor's
dilatory sympathy.

[Sidenote: 1504. June 28. Columbus leaves Jamaica.]

Finally, on June 28, everything was ready for departure, and Columbus
turned away from the scene of so much trouble. "Columbus informed me
afterwards, in Spain," says Mendez, recording the events, "that in no
part of his life did he ever experience so joyful a day, for he had
never hoped to have left that place alive." Four years later, under
authority from the Admiral's son Diego, the town of Sevilla Nueva, later
known as Sevilla d'Oro, was founded on the very spot.

[Sidenote: Events at Española during the absence of Columbus.]

[Sidenote: Ovando's rule.]

The Admiral now committed himself once more to the treacherous currents
and adverse winds of these seas. We have seen that Mendez urged his
canoe across the gap between Jamaica and the nearest point of Española
in four days; but it took the ships of Columbus about seven weeks to
reach the haven of Santo Domingo. There was much time during this long
and vexatious voyage for Columbus to learn from Salcedo the direful
history of the colony which had been wrested from him, and which even
under the enlarged powers of Ovando had not been without manifold
tribulations. We must rehearse rapidly the occurrences, as Columbus
heard of them. He could have got but the scantiest inkling of what had
happened during the earliest months of Ovando's rule, when he applied by
messenger, in vain, for admission to the harbor, now more than two years
ago. The historian of this period must depend mainly upon Las Casas, who
had come out with Ovando, and we must sketch an outline of the tale, as
Columbus heard it, from that writer's _Historia_. It was the old sad
story of misguided aspirants for wealth in their first experiences with
the hazards and toils of mining,--much labor, disappointed hopes,
failing provisions, no gold, sickness, disgust, and a desponding return
of the toilers from the scene of their infatuation. It took but eight
days for the crowds from Ovando's fleet, who trudged off manfully to the
mountains on their landing, to come trooping back, dispirited and

[Sidenote: Columbus and slavery.]

[Sidenote: 1503. December 20. Forced labor of the natives.]

Columbus could hardly have listened to what was said of suffering among
the natives during these two years of his absence without a vivid
consciousness of the baleful system which he had introduced when he
assigned crowds of the poor Indians to be put to inhuman tasks by
Roldan's crew. The institution of this kind of distribution of labor had
grown naturally, but it had become so appalling under Bobadilla that,
when Ovando was sent out, he was instructed to put an end to it. It was
not long before the governor had to confront the exasperated throngs
coming back from the mines, dejected and empty-handed. It was apparent
that nothing of the expected revenue to the Crown was likely to be
produced from half the yield of metal when there was no yield at all.
So, to induce greater industry, Ovando reduced the share of the Crown to
a third, and next to a fifth, but without success. It was too apparent
that the Spaniards would not persist in labors which brought them so
little. At a period when Columbus was flattering himself that he was
laying claim to far richer gold fields at Veragua, Ovando was devising a
renewal of the Admiral's old slave-driving methods to make the mines of
Hayna yield what they could. He sent messages to the sovereigns
informing them that their kindness to the natives was really
inconsiderate; that the poor creatures, released from labor, were giving
themselves up to mischief; and that, to make good Christians of them,
there was needed the appetizing effect of healthful work upon the native
soul. The appeal and the frugal returns to the treasury were quite
sufficient to gain the sovereigns to Ovando's views; and while bewailing
any cruelty to the poor natives, and expressing hopes for their
spiritual relief, their Majesties were not averse, as they said
(December 20, 1503), to these Indians being made to labor as much as was
needful to their health. This was sufficient. The fatal system of
Columbus was revived with increased enormities. Six or eight months of
unremitting labor, with insufficient food, were cruelly exacted of every
native. They were torn from their families, carried to distant parts of
the island, kept to their work by the lash, and, if they dared to
escape, almost surely recaptured, to work out their period under the
burden of chains. At last, when they were dismissed till their labor was
again required, Las Casas tells us that the passage through the island
of these miserable creatures could be traced by their fallen and
decaying bodies. This was a story that, if Columbus possessed any of the
tendernesses that glowed in the heart of Las Casas, could not have been
a pleasant one for his contemplation.

[Sidenote: Anacaona treacherously treated.]

[Sidenote: The Indians slaughtered.]

There was another story to which Columbus may have listened. It is very
likely that Salcedo may have got all the particulars from Diego Mendez,
who was a witness of the foul deeds which had indeed occurred during
those seven months when Ovando, then on an expedition in Xaragua, kept
that messenger of Columbus waiting his pleasure. Anacaona, the sister of
Behechio, had succeeded to that cacique in the rule of Xaragua. The
licentious conduct and the capricious demands of the Spaniards settled
in this region had increased the natural distrust and indignation of the
Indians, and some signs of discontent which they manifested had been
recounted to Ovando as indications of a revolt which it was necessary to
nip in the bud. So the governor had marched into the country with three
hundred foot and seventy horse. The chieftainess, Anacaona, came forth
to meet him with much native parade, and gave all the honor which her
savage ceremonials could signify to her distinguished guest. She lodged
him as well as she could, and caused many games to be played for his
divertisement. In return, Ovando prepared a tournament calculated to
raise the expectation of his simple hosts, and horseman and foot came to
the lists in full armor and adornment for the heralded show. On a signal
from Ovando, the innocent parade was converted in an instant into a
fanatical onslaught. The assembled caciques were hedged about with armed
men, and all were burned in their cabins. The general populace were
transfixed and trampled by the charging mounted spearmen, and only those
who could elude the obstinate and headlong dashes of the cavalry
escaped. Anacaona was seized and conveyed in chains to Santo Domingo,
where, with the merest pretense of a trial for conspiracy, she was soon

[Sidenote: Xaragua and Higuey over-run.]

[Sidenote: Esquibel's campaign.]

And this was the pacification of Xaragua. That of Higuey, the most
eastern of the provinces, and which had not yet acknowledged the sway of
the Spaniards, followed, with the same resorts to cruelty. A cacique of
this region had been slain by a fierce Spanish dog which had been set
upon him. This impelled some of the natives living on the coast to seize
a canoe having eight Spaniards in it, and to slaughter them; whereupon
Juan de Esquibel was sent with four hundred men on a campaign against
Cotabanama, the chief cacique of Higuey. The invaders met more heroism
in the defenders of this country than they had been accustomed to, but
the Spanish armor and weapons enabled Esquibel to raid through the land
with almost constant success. The Indians at last sued for peace, and
agreed to furnish a tribute of provisions. Esquibel built a small
fortress, and putting some men in it, he returned to Santo Domingo; not,
however, until he had received Cotabanama in his camp. The Spanish
leader brought back to Ovando a story of the splendid physical power of
this native chief, whose stature, proportions, and strength excited the
admiration of the Spaniards.

[Sidenote: New revolt in Higuey.]

The peace was not of long duration. The reckless habits of the garrison
had once more aroused the courage of the Indians, and some of the latest
occurrences which Salcedo could tell of as having been reported at Santo
Domingo just before his sailing for Jamaica were the events of a new
revolt in Higuey.

[Sidenote: 1504. August 3. Columbus at Beata.]

[Sidenote: 1504. August 15. At Santo Domingo.]

Such were the stories which Columbus may have listened to during the
tedious voyage which was now, on August 3, approaching an end. On that
day his ships sailed under the lea of the little island of Beata, which
lies midway of the southern coast of Española. Here he landed a
messenger, and ordered him to convey a letter to Ovando, warning the
governor of his approach. Salcedo had told Columbus that the governor
was not without apprehension that his coming might raise some factious
disturbances among the people, and in this letter the Admiral sought to
disabuse Ovando's mind of such suspicions, and to express his own
purpose to avoid every act of irritation which might possibly embarrass
the administration of the island. The letter dispatched, Columbus again
set sail, and on August 15 his ship entered the harbor of Santo Domingo.
Ovando received him with every outward token of respect, and lodged him
in his own house. Columbus, however, never believed that this officious
kindness was other than a cloak to Ovando's dislike, if not hatred.
There was no little popular sympathy for the misfortunes which Columbus
had experienced, but his relations with the governor were not such as to
lighten the anxieties of his sojourn. It is known that Cortes was at
this time only recently arrived at Santo Domingo; but we can only
conjecture what may have been his interest in Columbus's recitals.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Ovando.]

There soon arose questions of jurisdiction. Ovando ordered the release
of Porras, and arranged for sending him to Spain for trial. The governor
also attempted to interfere with the Admiral's control of his own crew,
on the ground that his commission gave him command over all the regions
of the new islands and the main. Columbus cited the instructions, which
gave him power to rule and judge his own followers. Ovando did not push
his claims to extremities, but the irritation never subsided; and
Columbus seems to have lost no opportunity, if we may judge from his
later letters, to pick up every scandalous story and tale of
maladministration of which he could learn, and which could be charged
against Ovando in later appeals to the sovereigns for a restitution of
his own rights. The Admiral also inquired into his pecuniary interests
in the island, and found, as he thought, that Ovando had obstructed his
factor in the gathering of his share. Indeed, there may have been some
truth in this; for Carvajal, Columbus's first factor, had complained of
such acts to the sovereigns, which elicited an admonishment from them to

[Sidenote: 1504. September 12. Columbus sails for Spain.]

[Sidenote: 1504. November 7. Reaches San Lucar.]

Such money as Columbus could now collect he used in refitting the ship
which had brought him from Jamaica, and he put her under the order of
the Adelantado. Securing also another caravel for his own conveyance, he
embarked on her with his son, and on September 12 both ships started on
their homeward voyage. They were scarcely at sea, when the ship which
bore the Admiral lost her mast in a gale. He transferred himself and his
immediate dependents to the other vessel, and sent the disabled caravel
back to Santo Domingo. His solitary vessel now went forward, amid all
the adversities that seemed to cling inevitably to this last of
Columbus's expeditions. Tempest after tempest pursued him. The masts
were sprung, and again sprung; and in a forlorn and disabled condition
the little hapless bark finally entered the port of San Lucar on
November 7, 1504. He had been absent from Spain for two years and a




[Sidenote: Columbus in Seville till May, 1505.]

[Sidenote: Letters to his son.]

From San Lucar, Columbus, a sick man in search of quiet and rest, was
conveyed to Seville. Unhappily, there was neither repose nor peace of
mind in store for him. He remained in that city till May, 1505, broken
in spirits and almost helpless of limb. Fortunately, we can trace his
varying mental moods during these few months in a series of letters,
most of which are addressed by him to his son Diego, then closely
attached to the Court. These writings have fortunately come down to us,
and they constitute the only series of Columbus's letters which we have,
showing the habits of his mind consecutively for a confined period, so
that we get a close watch upon his thoughts. They are the wails of a
neglected soul, and the cries of one whose hope is cruelly deferred.
They have in their entirety a good deal of that haphazard jerkiness
tiresome to read, and not easily made evident in abstract. They are,
however, not so deficient in mental equipoise as, for instance, the
letter sent from Jamaica. This is perhaps owing to the one absorbing
burden of them, his hope of recovering possession of his suspended

[Sidenote: 1504. November 21.]

He writes on November 21, 1504, a fortnight after his landing at San
Lucar, telling his son how he has engaged his old friend, the Dominican
Deza, now the Bishop of Palencia, to intercede with the sovereigns, that
justice may be done to him with respect to his income, the payment of
which Ovando had all along, as he contends, obstructed at Española. He
tries to argue that if their Highnesses but knew it, they would, in
ordering restitution to him, increase their own share. He hopes they
have no doubt that his zeal for their interests has been quite as much
as he could manifest if he had paradise to gain, and hopes they
will remember, respecting any errors he may have committed, that the
Lord of all judges such things by the intention rather than by the
outcome. He seems to have a suspicion that Porras, now at liberty and
about the Court, might be insidiously at work to his old commander's
disadvantage, and he represents that neither Porras nor his brother had
been suitable persons for their offices, and that what had been done
respecting them would be approved on inquiry. "Their revolt," he says,
"surprised me, considering all that I had done for them, as much as the
sun would have alarmed me if it had shot shadows instead of light." He
complains of Ovando's taking the prisoners, who had been companions of
Porras, from his hands, and that, made free, they had even dared to
present themselves at Court. "I have written," he adds, "to their
Highnesses about it, and I have told them that it can't be possible that
they would tolerate such an offense." He says further that he has
written to the royal treasurer, begging him to come to no decision of
the representations of such detractors until the other side could be
heard, and he adds that he has sent to the treasurer a copy of the oath
which the mutineers sent in after Porras had been taken. "Recall to all
these people," he writes to his son, "my infirmities, and the recompense
due to me for my services."

Diego was naturally, from his residence at Court, a convenient medium to
bring all Columbus's wishes to the notice of those about the sovereigns.
The Admiral writes to Diego again that he hopes their Highnesses will
see to the paying of his men who had come home. "They are poor, and have
been gone three years," he says. "They bring home evidences of the
greatest of expectations in the new gold fields of Veragua;" and then he
advises his son to bring this fact to the attention of all who are
concerned, and to urge the colonizing of the new country as the best way
to profit from its gold mines. For a while he harbored the hope that he
might at once go on to the Court, and a litter which had served in the
obsequies of Cardinal Mendoza was put at his disposal; but this plan was
soon given up.

[Sidenote: 1504. November 28.]

A week later, having in the interim received a letter of the 15th, from
Diego, Columbus writes again, under date of November 28. In this epistle
he speaks of the severity of his disease, which keeps him in Seville,
from which, however, he hopes to depart the coming week, and of his
disappointment that the sovereigns had not replied to his inquiries. He
sends his love to Diego Mendez, hoping that his friend's zeal and love
of truth will enable him to overcome the deceits and intrigues of

[Sidenote: 1504. November 26. Queen Isabella dies.]

[Sidenote: Isabella's character.]

Columbus was not at this time aware that the impending death of the
Queen had something to do with the delays in his own affairs at Court.
Two days (November 26) before the Admiral wrote this note, Isabella had
died, worn out by her labors, and depressed by the afflictions which she
had experienced in her domestic circle. She was an unlovely woman at the
best, an obstructor of Christian charity, but in her wiles she had
allured Columbus to a belief in her countenance of him. The conventional
estimate of her character, which is enforced in the rather cloying
descriptions of Prescott, is such as her flatterers drew in her own
times; but the revelations of historical research hardly confirm it. It
was with her much as with Columbus,--she was too largely a creature of
her own age to be solely judged by the criteria of all ages, as lofty
characters can be.

The loss of her influence on the king removed, as it proved, even the
chance of a flattering delusiveness in the hopes of Columbus. As the
compiler of the _Historie_ expresses it, "Columbus had always enjoyed
her favor and protection, while the King had always been indifferent, or
rather inimical." She had indeed, during the Admiral's absence on his
last voyage, manifested some new appreciation of his services, which
cost her little, however, when she made his eldest son one of her
bodyguard and naturalized his brother Diego, to fit him for
ecclesiastical preferment.

[Sidenote: 1504. December 1.]

On December 1, ignorant of the sad occurrences at Court, Columbus writes
again, chiding Diego that he had not in his dutifulness written to his
poor father. "You ought to know," he says, "that I have no pleasure now
but in a letter from you." Columbus by this time had become, by the
constant arrival of couriers, aware of the anxiety at Court over the
Queen's health, and he prays that the Holy Trinity will restore her to
health, to the end that all that has been begun may be happily finished.
He reiterates what he had previously written about the increasing
severity of his malady, his inability to travel, his want of money, and
how he had used all he could get in Española to bring home his poor
companions. He commends anew to Diego his brother Ferdinand, and speaks
of this younger son's character as beyond his years. "Ten brothers would
not be too many for you," he adds; "in good as in bad fortune, I have
never found better friends than my brothers."

Nothing troubles him more than the delays in hearing from Court. A rumor
had reached him that it was intended to send some bishops to the Indies,
and that the Bishop of Palencia was charged with the matter. He begs
Diego to say to the bishop that it was worth while, in the interests of
all, to confer with the Admiral first. In explaining why he does not
write to Diego Mendez, he says that he is obliged to write by night,
since by day his hands are weak and painful. He adds that the vessel
which put back to Santo Domingo had arrived, bringing the papers in
Porras's case, the result of the inquest which had been taken at
Jamaica, so that he could now be able to present an indictment to the
Council of the Indies. His indignation is aroused at the mention of it.
"What can be so foul and brutal! If their Highnesses pass it by, who is
going again to lead men upon their service!"

[Sidenote: 1504. December 3.]

Two days later (December 3), he writes again to Diego about the neglect
which he is experiencing from him and from others at Court. "Everybody
except myself is receiving letters," he says. He incloses a memoir
expressing what he thought it was necessary to do in the present
conjunction of his affairs. This document opens with calling upon Diego
zealously to pray to God for the soul of the Queen. "One must believe
she is now clothed with a sainted glory, no longer regretting the
bitterness and weariness of this life." The King, he adds, "deserves all
our sympathy and devotion." He then informs Diego that he has directed
his brother, his uncle, and Carvajal to add all their importunities to
his son's, and to the written prayers which he himself has sent, that
consideration should be given to the affairs of the Indies. Nothing, he
says, can be more urgent than to remedy the abuses there. In all this he
curiously takes on the tone of his own accusers a few years before. He
represents that pecuniary returns from Española are delayed; that the
governor is detested by all; that a suitable person sent there could
restore harmony in less than three months; and that other fortresses,
which are much needed, should be built, "all of which I can do in his
Highness's service," he exclaims, "and any other, not having my personal
interests at stake, could not do it so well!" Then he repeats how,
immediately after his arrival at San Lucar, he had written to the King a
very long letter, advising action in the matter, to which no reply had
been returned.

[Sidenote: 1503. January 20. The _Casa de Contratacion_ established.]

It was during Columbus's absence on this last voyage that, by an
ordinance made at Alcalá, January 20, 1503, the famous _Casa de
Contratacion_ was established, with authority over the affairs of the
Indies, having the power to grant licenses, to dispatch fleets, to
dispose of the results of trade or exploration, and to exercise certain
judicial prerogatives. This council was to consist of a treasurer, a
factor, and a comptroller, to whom two persons learned in the law were
given as advisers. Alexander VI. had already, by a bull of November 16,
1501, authorized the payment to the constituted Spanish officials of all
the tithes of the colonies, which went a long way in giving Spain
ecclesiastical supremacy in the Indies, in addition to her political

It was to this council that Columbus refers, when he says he had told
the gentlemen of the _Contratacion_ that they ought to abide by the
verbal and written orders which the King had given, and that, above all,
they should watch lest people should sail to the Indies without
permission. He reminded them of the sorry character of the people
already in the New World, and of the way in which treasure was stored
there without protection.

[Sidenote: 1504. December 13.]

Ten days later (December 13), he writes again to Diego, recurring to his
bitter memories of Ovando, charging him with diverting the revenues, and
with bearing himself so haughtily that no one dared remonstrate.
"Everybody says that I have as much as 11,000 or 12,000 castellanos in
Española, and I have not received a quarter. Since I came away he must
have received 5,000." He then urges Diego to sue the King for a
mandatory letter to be sent to Ovando, forcing immediate payment.
"Carvajal knows very well that this ought to be done. Show him this
letter," he adds. Then referring to his denied rights, and to the
best way to make the King sensible of his earlier promises, he next
advises Diego to lessen his expenses; to treat his uncle with the
respect which is due to him; and to bear himself towards his younger
brother as an older brother should. "You have no other brother," he
says; "and thank God this one is all you could desire. He was born with
a good nature." Then he reverts to the Queen's death. "People tell me,"
he writes, "that on her death-bed she expressed a wish that my
possession of the Indies should be restored to me."

[Sidenote: 1504. December 21.]

A week later (December 21), he once more bewails the way in which he is
left without tidings. He recounts the exertions he had made to send
money to his advocates at Court, and tells Diego how he must somehow
continue to get on as best he can till their Highnesses are content to
give them back their power. He repeats that to bring his companions home
from Santo Domingo he had spent twelve hundred castellanos, and that he
had represented to the King the royal indebtedness for this, but it
produced no reimbursement. He asks Diego to find out if the Queen, "now
with God, no doubt," had spoken of him in her will; and perhaps the
Bishop of Palencia, "who was the cause of their Majesties' acquiring the
Indies, and of my returning to the Court when I had departed," or the
chamberlain of the King could find this out. Columbus may have lived to
learn that the only item of the Queen's will in which he could possibly
have been in mind was the one in which she showed that she was aroused
to the enormities which Columbus had imposed on the Indians, and which
had come to such results that, as Las Casas says, it had been endeavored
to keep the knowledge of it from the Queen's ears. She earnestly
enjoined upon her successors a change of attitude towards the poor

[Sidenote: Columbus writes to the Pope.]

Columbus further says that the Pope had complained that no account of
his voyage had been sent to Rome, and that accordingly he had prepared
one, and he desired Diego to read it, and to let the King and the bishop
also peruse it before it was forwarded to Rome. It is possible that the
Adelantado was dispatched with the letter. The canonizers say that the
mission to Rome had also a secret purpose, which was to counteract the
schemes of Fonseca to create bishoprics in Española, and that the
advice of Columbus in the end prevailed over the "cunning of diplomacy."

[Sidenote: 1505. February 23. Columbus allowed to ride a mule.]

There had been some time before, owing to the difficulty which had been
experienced in mounting the royal cavalry, an order promulgated
forbidding the use of mules in travel, since it was thought that the
preference for this animal had brought about the deterioration and
scarcity of horses. It was to this injunction that Columbus now referred
when he asked Diego to get a dispensation from the King to allow him to
enjoy the easier seat of a mule when he should venture on his journey
towards the Court, which, with this help, he hoped to be able to begin
within a few weeks. Such an order was in due time issued on February 23,

[Sidenote: 1504. December 29.]

On December 29, Columbus wrote again. The letter was full of the same
pitiful suspense. He had received no letters. He could but repeat the
old story of the letters of credit which he had sent and which had not
been acknowledged. No one of his people had been paid, he said, neither
the faithful nor the mutineers. "They are all poor. They are going to
Court," he adds, "to press their claims. Aid them in it." He excepts,
however, from the kind interest of his friends two fellows who had been
with him on his last voyage, one Camacho and Master Bernal, the latter
the physician of the flagship. Bernal was the instigator of the revolt
of Porras, he says, "and I pardoned him at the prayer of my brother."

[Sidenote: Columbus and the Bank of St. George.]

It will be remembered that, previous to starting on his last voyage,
Columbus had written to the Bank of St. George in Genoa, proposing a
gift of a tenth of his income for the benefit of his native town. The
letter was long in reaching its destination, but a reply was duly sent
through his son Diego. It never reached Columbus, and this apparent
spurning of his gift by Genoa caused not a small part of his present
disgust with the world.

[Sidenote: 1504. December 27.]

On December 27, 1504, he wrote to Nicolo Oderigo, reminding him of the
letter, and complaining that while he had expected to be met on his
return by some confidential agent of the bank, he had not even had a
letter in response. "It was uncourteous in these gentlemen of St. George
not to have favored me with an answer." The intention was, in fact, far
from being unappreciated, and at a later day the promise became so far
magnified as to be regarded as an actual gift, in which the Genoese were
not without pride. The purpose never, however, had a fulfillment.

[Sidenote: 1505. January 4.]

On January 4, 1505, the Admiral wrote to his friend Father Gorricio,
telling him that Diego Mendez had arrived from the Court, and asking the
friar to encase in wax the documentary privileges of the Admiral which
had been intrusted to him, and to send them to him. "My disease grows
better day by day," he adds.

[Sidenote: 1505. January 18.]

On January 18, 1505, he again wrote. The epistle was in some small
degree cheery. He had heard at last from Diego. "Zamora the courier has
arrived, and I have looked with great delight upon thy letter, thy
uncle's, thy brother's, and Carvajal's." Diego Mendez, he says, sets out
in three or four days with an order for payment. He refers with some
playfulness, even, to Fonseca, who had just been raised to the bishopric
of Placentia, and had not yet returned from Flanders to take possession
of the seat. "If the Bishop of Placentia has arrived, or when he comes,
tell him how much pleased I am at his elevation; and that when I come to
Court I shall depend on lodging with his Grace, whether he wishes it or
not, that we may renew our old fraternal bonds." His biographers have
been in some little uncertainty whether he really meant here Fonseca or
his old friend Deza, who had just left that bishopric vacant for the
higher post of Archbishop of Seville. A strict application of dates
makes the reference to Fonseca. One may imagine, however, that Columbus
was not accurately informed. It is indeed hard to understand the
pleasantry, if Fonseca was the bitter enemy of Columbus that he is
pictured by Irving.

Some ships from Española had put into the Tagus. "They have not arrived
here from Lisbon," he adds. "They bring much gold, but none for me."

[Sidenote: Conference with Vespucius.]

[Sidenote: Vespucius's account of his voyage.]

We next find Columbus in close communion with a contemporary with whose
fame his own is sadly conjoined. Some account of the events of the
voyage which Vespucius had made along the coast of South America with
Coelho, from which he had returned to Lisbon in September, 1502, has
been given on an earlier page. Those events and his descriptions had
already brought the name of Vespucius into prominence throughout
Europe, but hardly before he had started on another voyage in the
spring or early summer of 1503, just at the time when Columbus was
endeavoring to work his way from the Veragua coast to Española. The
authorities are not quite agreed whether it was on May 10, 1503, or
a month later, on June 10, that the little Portuguese fleet in which
Vespucius sailed left the Tagus, to find a way, if possible, to the
Moluccas somewhere along the same great coast. This expedition had
started under the command of Coelho, but meeting with mishaps, by
which the fleet was separated, Vespucius, with his own vessel, joined
later by another with which he fell in, proceeded to Bahia, where a
factory for storing Brazil-wood was erected; thence, after a stay
there, they sailed for Lisbon, arriving there after an absence of
seventy-seven days, on June 18, 1504. It was later, on September 4,
that Vespucius wrote, or rather dated, that account of his voyage
which was to work such marvels, as we shall see, in the reputation of
himself and of Columbus. There is no reason to suppose that Columbus
ever knew of this letter of September 4, so subversive as it turned
out of his just fame; nor, judging from the account of their interview
 which Columbus records, is there any reason to suppose that Vespucius
himself had any conception of the work which that fateful letter was
already accomplishing, and to which reference will be made later.

[Sidenote: 1505. February 5.]

On February 5, 1505, Columbus wrote to Diego: "Within two days I have
talked with Americus Vespucius, who will bear this to you, and who is
summoned to Court on matters of navigation. He has always manifested a
disposition to be friendly to me. Fortune has not always favored him,
and in this he is not different from many others. His ventures have not
always been as successful as he would wish. He left me full of the
kindliest purposes towards me, and will do anything for me which is in
his power. I hardly knew what to tell him would be helpful in him to do
for me, because I did not know what purpose there was in calling him to
Court. Find out what he can do, and he will do it; only let it be so
managed that he will not be suspected of rendering me aid. I have told
him all that it is possible to tell him as to my own affairs, including
what I have done and what recompense I have had. Show this letter to
the Adelantado, so that he may advise how Vespucius can be made
serviceable to us."

[Sidenote: 1505. April 24. Vespucius naturalized.]

We soon after this find Vespucius installed as an agent of the Spanish
government, naturalized on April 24 as a Castilian, and occupied at the
seaports in superintending the fitting out of ships for the Indies, with
an annual salary of thirty thousand maravedis. We can find no trace of
any assistance that he afforded the cause of Columbus.

[Sidenote: Columbus's effects sold.]

Meanwhile events were taking place which Columbus might well perhaps
have arrested, could he have got the royal ear. An order had been sent
in February to Española to sell the effects of Columbus, and in April
other property of the Admiral had been seized to satisfy his creditors.

[Sidenote: 1505. May. Columbus goes to Segovia.]

[Sidenote: August 25. Attests his will.]

[Sidenote: Columbus and Ferdinand.]

In May, 1505, Columbus, with the friendly care of his brother
Bartholomew, set out on his journey to Segovia, where the Court then
was. This is the statement of Las Casas, but Harrisse can find no
evidence of his being near the Court till August, when, on the 25th, he
attested, as will appear, his will before a notary. The change bringing
him into the presence of his royal master only made his mortification
more poignant. His personal suit to the King was quite as ineffective as
his letters had been. The sovereign was outwardly beneficent, and
inwardly uncompliant. The Admiral's recitals respecting his last voyage,
both of promised wealth and of saddened toil, made little impression.
Las Casas suspects that the insinuations of Porras had preoccupied the
royal mind. To rid himself of the importunities of Columbus, the King
proposed an arbiter, and readily consented to the choice which Columbus
made of his old friend Deza, now Archbishop of Seville; but Columbus was
too immovably fixed upon his own rights to consent that more than the
question of revenue should be considered by such an arbiter. His
recorded privileges and the pledged word of the sovereign were not
matters to be reconsidered. Such was not, however, the opinion of the
King. He evaded the point in his talk with bland countenance, and did
nothing in his acts beyond referring the question anew to a body of
counselors convened to determine the fulfillment of the Queen's will.
They did nothing quite as easily as the King. Las Casas tells us that
the King was only restrained by motives of outward decency from a
public rejection of all the binding obligations towards the Admiral into
which he had entered jointly with the Queen.

[Sidenote: 1505. August 25. His will.]

[Sidenote: Columbus pleads for his son.]

[Sidenote: Rejects offers of estates.]

Columbus found in all this nothing to comfort a sick and desponding man,
and sank in despair upon his couch. He roused enough to have a will
drafted August 25, which confirmed a testament made in 1502, before
starting on his last voyage. His disease renewed its attacks. An old
wound had reopened. From a bed of pain he began again his written
appeals. He now gave up all hopes for himself, but he pleaded for his
son, that upon him the honors which he himself had so laboriously won
should be bestowed. Diego at the same time, in seconding the petition,
promised, if the reinstatement took place, that he would count those
among his counselors whom the royal will should designate. Nothing of
protest or appeal came opportunely to the determined King. "The more he
was petitioned," says Las Casas, "the more bland he was in avoiding any
conclusion." He hoped by exhausting the patience of the Admiral to
induce him to accept some estates in Castile in lieu of such powers in
the Indies. Columbus rejected all such intimations with indignation. He
would have nothing but his bonded rights. "I have done all that I can
do," he said in a pitiful, despairing letter to Deza. "I must leave the
issue to God. He has always sustained me in extremities."

"It argued," says Prescott, in commenting on this, "less knowledge of
character than the King usually showed, that he should have thought the
man who had broken off all negotiations on the threshold of a dubious
enterprise, rather than abate one tittle of his demands, would consent
to such abatement, when the success of that enterprise was so gloriously

[Sidenote: Columbus at Salamanca.]

[Sidenote: Mendez and Columbus.]

The Admiral was, during this part of his suit, apparently at Salamanca,
for Mendez speaks of him as being there confined to his bed with the
gout, while he himself was doing all he could to press his master's
claims to have Diego recognized in his rights. In return for this
service, Mendez asked to be appointed principal Alguazil of Española for
life, and he says the Admiral acknowledged that such an appointment
was but a trifling remuneration for his great services, but the requital
never came.

[Sidenote: Columbus unable to leave Valladolid to greet Philip and

There broke a glimmer of hope. The death of the Queen had left the
throne of Castile to her daughter Juana, the wife of Philip of Austria,
and they had arrived from Flanders to be installed in their inheritance.
Columbus, who had followed the Court from Segovia to Salamanca, thence
to Valladolid, was now unable to move further in his decrepitude, and
sent the Adelantado to propitiate the daughter of Isabella, with the
trust that something of her mother's sympathy might be vouchsafed to his
entreaties. Bartholomew never saw his brother again, and was not
privileged to communicate to him the gracious hopes which the benignity
of his reception raised.

[Sidenote: Negroes sent to Española.]

A year had passed since the Admiral had come to the neighborhood of the
Court, wherever it was, and nothing had been accomplished in respect to
his personal interests. Indeed, little touching the Indies at all seems
to have been done. There had been trial made of sending negro slaves to
Española as indicating that the native bondage needed reinforcement; but
Ovando had reported that the experiment was a failure, since the negroes
only mixed with the Indians and taught them bad habits. Ferdinando cared
little for this, and at Segovia, September 15, 1505, he notified Ovando
that he should send some more negroes. Whether Columbus was aware of
this change in the methods of extracting gold from the soil we cannot

[Sidenote: 1506. May 4. Codicil to his will.]

As soon as Bartholomew had started on his mission the malady of Columbus
increased. He became conscious that the time had come to make his final
dispositions. It was on May 4, 1506, according to the common story, that
he signed a codicil to his will on a blank page in a breviary which had
been given to him, as he says, by Alexander VI., and which had
"comforted him in his battles, his captivities, and his misfortunes."
This document has been accepted by some of the commentators as genuine;
Harrisse and others are convinced of its apocryphal character. It was
not found till 1779. It is a strange document, if authentic.

[Sidenote: Thought to be spurious.]

Itholds that such dignities as were his under the Spanish Crown,
acknowledged or not, were his of right to alienate from the Spanish
throne. It was, if anything, a mere act of bravado, as if to flout at
the authority which could dare deprive him of his possessions. He
provides for the descent of his honors in the male line, and that
failing, he bequeaths them to the republic of Genoa! It was a gauge of
hostile demands on Spain which no one but a madman would imagine that
Genoa would accept if she could. He bestowed on his native city, in the
same reckless way, the means to erect a hospital, and designated that
such resources should come from his Italian estates, whatever they were.
Certainly the easiest way to dispose of the paper is to consider it a
fraud. If such, it was devised by some one who entered into the spirit
of the Admiral's madness, and made the most of rumors that had been
afloat respecting Columbus's purposes to benefit Genoa at the expense of

[Sidenote: 1506. May 19. Ratified his will.]

About a fortnight later (May 19), he ratified an undoubted will, which
had been drafted by his own hand the year before at Segovia, and
executed it with the customary formalities. Its testamentary provisions
were not unnatural. He made Diego his heir, and his entailed property
was, in default of heirs to Diego, to pass to his illegitimate son
Ferdinand, and from him, in like default, to his own brother, the
Adelantado, and his male descendants; and all such failing, to the
female lines in a similar succession. He enjoined upon his
representatives, of whatever generation, to serve the Spanish King with
fidelity. Upon Diego, and upon later heads of the family, he imposed the
duty of relieving all distressed relatives and others in poverty. He
imposed on his lawful son the appointment of some one of his lineage to
live constantly in Genoa, to maintain the family dignity. He directed
him to grant due allowances to his brother and uncle; and when the
estates yielded the means, to erect a chapel in the Vega of Española,
where masses might be said daily for the repose of the souls of himself
and of his nearest relatives. He made the furthering of the crusade to
recover the Holy Sepulchre equally contingent upon the increase of his
income. He also directed Diego to provide for the maintenance of Donna
Beatrix Enriquez, the mother of Ferdinand, as "a person to whom I am
under great obligations," and "let this be done for the discharge of my
conscience, for it weighs heavy on my soul,--the reasons for which I
am not here permitted to give;" and this was a behest that Diego, in his
own will, acknowledges his failure to observe during the last years of
the lady's life. Then, in a codicil, Columbus enumerates sundry little
bequests to other persons to whom he was indebted, and whose kindness he
wished to remember. He was honest enough to add that his bequests were
imaginary unless his rights were acknowledged. "Hitherto I neither have
had, nor have I now, any positive income." He failed to express any wish
respecting the spot of his interment. The documents were committed at
once to a notary, from whose archives a copy was obtained in 1524 by his
son Diego, and this copy exists to-day among the family papers in the
hands of the Duke of Veragua.

[Sidenote: 1506. May 20. Columbus dies.]

This making of a will was almost his last act. On the next day he
partook of the sacrament, and uttering, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I
commit my spirit," he gasped his last. It was on the 20th of May,
1506,--by some circumstances we might rather say May 21,--in the city of
Valladolid, that this singular, hopeful, despondent, melancholy life
came to its end. He died at the house No. 7 Calle de Colon, which is
still shown to travelers.


[From Ruge's _Geschichte des Zeitalters der Entdeckungen_.]]

[Sidenote: His death unnoticed.]

There was a small circle of relatives and friends who mourned. The tale
of his departure came like a sough of wind to a few others, who had seen
no way to alleviate a misery that merited their sympathy. The King could
have but found it a relief from the indiscretion of his early promises.
The world at large thought no more of the mournful procession which bore
that wayworn body to the grave than it did of any poor creature
journeying on his bier to the potter's field.

It is hard to conceive how the fame of a man over whose acts in 1493
learned men cried for joy, and by whose deeds the adventurous spirit had
been stirred in every seaport of western Europe, should have so
completely passed into oblivion that a professed chronicler like Peter
Martyr, busy tattler as he was, should take no notice of his illness and
death. There have come down to us five long letters full of news and
gossip, which Martyr wrote from Valladolid at this very time, with not a
word in them of the man he had so often commemorated. Fracanzio da
Montalboddo, publishing in 1507 some correction of his early voyages,
had not heard of Columbus's death; nor had Madrignano in dating his
Latin rendering of the same book in 1508. It was not till twenty-seven
days after the death-bed scene that the briefest notice was made in
passing, in an official document of the town, to the effect that "the
said Admiral is dead!"

[Sidenote: His burial.]

[Sidenote: His coffin carried to Seville.]

It is not even certain where the body was first placed, though it is
usually affirmed to have been deposited in the Franciscan convent in
Valladolid. Nor is there any evidence to support another equally
prevalent story that King Ferdinand had ordered the removal of the
remains to Seville seven years later, when a monument was built bearing
the often-quoted distich,--


it being pretty evident that such an inscription was never thought of
till Castellanos suggested it in his _Elegias_ in 1588. If Diego's will
in 1509 can be interpreted on this matter, it seems pretty sure that
within three years (1509) after the death of Columbus, instead of seven,
his coffin had been conveyed to Seville and placed inside the convent of
Las Cuevas, in the vault of the Carthusians, where the bodies of his
son Diego and brother Bartholomew were in due time to rest beside his
own. Here the remains were undisturbed till 1536, when the records of
the convent affirm that they were given up for transportation, though
the royal order is given as of June 2, 1537. From that date till 1549
there is room for conjecture as to their abiding-place.

[Sidenote: 1541. Removed to Santo Domingo.]

[Sidenote: Remains removed to Havana.]

It was during this interval that his family were seeking to carry out
what was supposed to be the wish of the Admiral to rest finally in the
island of Española. From 1537 to 1540 the government are known to have
issued three different orders respecting the removal of the remains, and
it is conjectured the transference was actually made in 1541, shortly
after the completion of the cathedral at Santo Domingo. If any record
was made at the time to designate the spot of the reëntombment in that
edifice, it is not now known, and it was not till 1676 that somebody
placed an entry in its records that the burial had been made on the
right of the altar. A few years later (1683), the recollections of aged
people are quoted to substantiate such a statement. We find no other
notice till a century afterwards, when, on the occasion of some repairs,
a stone vault, supposed in the traditions to be that which held the
remains, was found on "the gospel side" of the chancel, while another on
"the epistle side" was thought to contain the remains of Bartholomew
Columbus. This was the suspected situation of the graves when the treaty
of Basle, in 1795, gave the Santo Domingo end of the island to France,
and the Spanish authorities, acting in concert with the Duke of Veragua,
as the representative of the family of Columbus, determined on the
removal of the remains to Havana. It is a question which has been raised
since 1877 whether the body of Columbus was the one then removed, and
over which so much parade was made during the transportation and
reinterment in Cuba. There has been a controversy on the point, in which
the Bishop of Santo Domingo and his adherents have claimed that the
remains of Columbus are still in their charge, while it was those of his
son Diego which had been removed. The Academy of History at Madrid have
denied this, and in a long report to the Spanish government have
asserted that there was no mistake in the transfer, and that the
additional casket found was that of Christopher Colon, the grandson.


[Sidenote: Question of the identity of his remains.]

It was represented, moreover, that those features of the inscription on
the lately found leaden box which seemed to indicate it as the casket of
the first Admiral of the Indies had been fraudulently added or altered.
The question has probably been thrown into the category of doubt, though
the case as presented in favor of Santo Domingo has some recognizably
weak points, which the advocates of the other side have made the most
of, and to the satisfaction perhaps of the more careful inquirers. The
controversial literature on the subject is considerable. The repairs of
1877 in the Santo Domingo cathedral revealed the empty vault from which
the transported body had been taken; but they showed also the occupied
vault of the grandson Luis, and another in which was a leaden case which
bore the inscriptions which are in dispute.

[Sidenote: Alleged burial of his chains with him.]

It is the statement of the _Historie_ that Columbus preserved the chains
in which he had come home from his third voyage, and that he had them
buried with him, or intended to do so. The story is often repeated, but
it has no other authority than the somewhat dubious one of that book;
and it finds no confirmation in Las Casas, Peter Martyr, Bernaldez, or

Humboldt says that he made futile inquiry of those who had assisted in
the reinterment at Havana, if there were any trace of these fetters or
of oxide of iron in the coffin. In the accounts of the recent discovery
of remains at Santo Domingo, it is said that there was equally no trace
of fetters in the casket.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: The age of Columbus.]

The age of Columbus is almost without a parallel, presenting perhaps the
most striking appearances since the star shone upon Bethlehem. It saw
Martin Luther burn the Pope's bull, and assert a new kind of
independence. It added Erasmus to the broadeners of life. Ancient art
was revivified in the discovery of its most significant remains. Modern
art stood confessed in Da Vinci, Michael Angelo, Titian, Raphael,
Holbein, and Dürer. Copernicus found in the skies a wonderful
development without great telescopic help. The route of the Portuguese
by the African cape and the voyage of Columbus opened new worlds to
thought and commerce. They made the earth seem to man, north and south,
east and west, as man never before had imagined it. It looked as if
mercantile endeavor was to be constrained by no bounds. Articles of
trade were multiplied amazingly. Every movement was not only new and
broad, but it was rapid beyond conception. It was more like the
remodeling of Japan, which we have seen in our day, than anything that
had been earlier known.


The long sway of the Moors was disintegrating. The Arab domination in
science and seamanship was yielding to the Western genius. The Turks had
in the boyhood (1453) of Columbus consummated their last great triumph
in the capture of Constantinople, thus placing a barrier to Christian
commerce with the East. This conquest drove out the learned Christians
of the East, who had drunk of the Arab erudition, and they fled with
their stores of learning to the western lands, coming back to the heirs
of the Romans with the spirit which Rome in the past had sent to the

But what Christian Europe was losing in the East Portugal and Prince
Henry were gaining for her in the great and forbidding western waste of
waters and along its African shores. As the hot tide of Mahometan
invasion rolled over the Bosphorus, the burning equatorial zone was
pierced from the north along the coasts of the Black Continent.

[Sidenote: Italian discoverers.]

[Sidenote: His growing belief in the western passage.]

Italy, seeing her maritime power drop away as the naval supremacy of the
Atlantic seaboard rose, was forced to send her experienced navigators to
the oceanic ports, to maintain the supremacy of her name and genius in
Cadamosto, Columbus, Vespucius, Cabot, and Verrazano. Those
cosmographical views which had come down the ages, at times obscured,
then for a while patent, and of which the traces had lurked in the minds
of learned men by an almost continuous sequence for many centuries, at
last possessed by inheritance the mind of Columbus. By reading, by
conference with others, by noting phenomena, and by reasoning, in the
light of all these, upon the problem of a western passage to India,
obvious as it was if once the sphericity of the earth be acknowledged,
he gradually grew to be confident in himself and trustful in his agency
with others. He was far from being alone in his beliefs, nor was his age
anything more than a reflection of long periods of like belief.

[Sidenote: Deficiencies of character.]

There was simply needed a man with courage and constancy in his
convictions, so that the theory could be demonstrated. This age produced
him. Enthusiasm and the contagion of palpable though shadowy truths gave
Columbus, after much tribulation, the countenance in high quarters that
enabled him to reach success, deceptive though it was. It would have
been well for his memory if he had died when his master work was done.
With his great aim certified by its results, though they were far from
being what he thought, he was unfortunately left in the end to be laid
bare on trial, a common mortal after all, the creature of buffeting
circumstances, and a weakling in every element of command. His
imagination had availed him in his upward course when a serene habit in
his waiting days could obscure his defects. Later, the problems he
encountered were those that required an eye to command, with tact to
persuade and skill to coerce, and he had none of them.

[Sidenote: Roger Bacon and Columbus.]

[Sidenote: Pierre d'Ailly's _Imago Mundi_.]

The man who becomes the conspicuous developer of any great
world-movement is usually the embodiment of the ripened aspirations of
his time. Such was Columbus. It is the forerunner, the man who has
little countenance in his age, who points the way for some hazardous
after-soul to pursue. Such was Roger Bacon, the English Franciscan. It
was Bacon's lot to direct into proper channels the new surging of the
experimental sciences which was induced by the revived study of
Aristotle, and was carrying dismay into the strongholds of Platonism.
Standing out from the background of Arab regenerating learning, the name
of Roger Bacon, linked often with that of Albertus Magnus, stood for the
best knowledge and insight of the thirteenth century. Bacon it was who
gave that tendency to thought which, seized by Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly,
and incorporated by him in his _Imago Mundi_ (1410), became the link
between Bacon and Columbus. Humboldt has indeed expressed his belief
that this encyclopædic Survey of the World exercised a more important
influence upon the discovery of America than even the prompting which
Columbus got from his correspondence with Toscanelli. How well Columbus
pored over the pages of the _Imago Mundi_ we know from the annotations
of his own copy, which is still preserved in the Biblioteca Colombina.
It seems likely that Columbus got directly from this book most that he
knew of those passages in Aristotle, Strabo, and Seneca which speak of
the Asiatic shores as lying opposite to Hispania. There is some evidence
that this book was his companion even on his voyages, and Humboldt
points out how he translates a passage from it, word for word, when in
1498 he embodied it in a letter which he wrote to his sovereigns from

[Sidenote: His acquaintance with the elder writers.]

If we take the pains, as Humboldt did, to examine the writings of
Columbus, to ascertain the sources which he cited, we find what appears
to be a broad acquaintance with books. It is to be remembered, however,
that the Admiral quoted usually at second hand, and that he got his
acquaintance with classic authors, at least, mainly through this _Imago
Mundi_ of Pierre d'Ailly. Humboldt, in making his list of Columbus's
authors, omits the references to the Scriptures and to the Church
fathers, "in whom," as he says, "Columbus was singularly versed," and
then gives the following catalogue:--

Aristotle; Julius Cæsar; Strabo; Seneca; Pliny; Ptolemy; Solinus; Julius
Capitolinus; Alfrazano; Avenruyz; Rabbi Samuel de Israel; Isidore,
Bishop of Seville; the Venerable Bede; Strabus, Abbé of Reichenau; Duns
Scotus; François Mayronis; Abbé Joachim de Calabre; Sacrobosco, being in
fact the English mathematician Holywood; Nicholas de Lyra, the Norman
Franciscan; King Alfonso the Wise, and his Moorish scribes; Cardinal
Pierre d'Ailly; Gerson, Chancellor of the University of Paris; Pope Pius
II., otherwise known as Æneas Sylvius Piccolomini; Regiomontanus, as the
Latinized name of Johann Müller of Königsberg is given, though Columbus
does not really name him; Paolo Toscanelli, the Florentine physician;
and Nicolas de Conti, of whom he had heard through Toscanelli, perhaps.

Humboldt can find no evidence that Columbus had read the travels of
Marco Polo, and does not discover why Navarrete holds that he had,
though Polo's stories must have permeated much that Columbus read; nor
does he understand why Irving says that Columbus took Marco Polo's book
on his first voyage.

[Sidenote: Columbus and Toscanelli.]

We see often in the world's history a simultaneousness in the
regeneration of thought. Here and there a seer works on in ignorance of
some obscure brother elsewhere. Rumor and circulating manuscripts bring
them into sympathy. They grow by the correlation. It is just this
correspondence that confronts us in Columbus and Toscanelli, and it is
not quite, but almost, perceptible that this wise Florentine doctor was
the first, despite Humboldt's theory, to plant in the mind of Columbus
his aspirations for the truths of geography. It is meet that Columbus
should not be mentioned without the accompanying name of Toscanelli. It
was the Genoese's different fortune that he could attempt as a seaman a
practical demonstration of his fellow Italian's views.

Many a twin movement of the world's groping spirit thus seeks the light.
Progress naturally pushes on parallel lines. Commerce thrusts her
intercourse to remotest regions, while the Church yearns for new souls
to convert, and peers longingly into the dim spaces that skirt the
world's geography. Navigators improve their methods, and learned men in
the arts supply them with exacter instruments. The widespread
manifestations of all this new life at last crystallize, and Gama and
Columbus appear, the reflex of every development.

[Sidenote: Opportuneness of his discoveries.]

Thus the discovery of Columbus came in the ripeness of time. No one of
the anterior accidents, suggesting a western land, granting that there
was some measure of fact in all of them, had come to a world prepared to
think on their developments. Vinland was practically forgotten, wherever
it may have been. The tales of Fousang had never a listener in Europe.
Madoc was as unknown as Elidacthon. While the new Indies were not in
their turn to be forgotten, their discoverer was to bury himself in a
world of conjecture. The superlatives of Columbus soon spent their
influence. The pioneer was lost sight of in the new currents of thought
which he had started. Not of least interest among them was the
cognizance of new races of men, and new revelations in the animal and
physical kingdoms, while the question of their origins pressed very soon
on the theological and scientific sense of the age.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Not above his age.]

[Sidenote: Claims for palliation.]

No man craves more than Columbus to be judged with all the palliations
demanded of a difference of his own age and ours. No child of any age
ever did less to improve his contemporaries, and few ever did more to
prepare the way for such improvements. The age created him and the age
left him. There is no more conspicuous example in history of a man
showing the path and losing it.

It is by no means sure, with all our boast of benevolent progress, that
atrocities not much short of those which we ascribe to Columbus and his
compeers may not at any time disgrace the coming as they have blackened
the past years of the nineteenth century. This fact gives us the right
to judge the infirmities of man in any age from the high vantage-ground
of the best emotions of all the centuries. In the application of such
perennial justice Columbus must inevitably suffer. The degradation of
the times ceases to be an excuse when the man to be judged stands on the
pinnacle of the ages. The biographer cannot forget, indeed, that
Columbus is a portrait set in the surroundings of his times; but it is
equally his duty at the same time to judge the paths which he trod by
the scale of an eternal nobleness.

[Sidenote: Test of his character.]

[Sidenote: Not a creator of ideas.]

The very domination of this man in the history of two hemispheres
warrants us in estimating him by an austere sense of occasions lost and
of opportunities embraced. The really great man is superior to his age,
and anticipates its future; not as a sudden apparition, but as the
embodiment of a long growth of ideas of which he is the inheritor and
the capable exemplar. Humboldt makes this personal domination of two
kinds. The one comes from the direct influence of character; the other
from the creation of an idea, which, freed from personality, works its
controlling mission by changing the face of things. It is of this last
description that Humboldt makes the domination of Columbus. It is
extremely doubtful if any instance can be found of a great idea changing
the world's history, which has been created by any single man. None such
was created by Columbus. There are always forerunners whose agency is
postponed because the times are not propitious. A masterful thought has
often a long pedigree, starting from a remote antiquity, but it will be
dormant till it is environed by the circumstances suited to fructify it.
This was just the destiny of the intuition which began with Aristotle
and came down to Columbus. To make his first voyage partook of
foolhardiness, as many a looker-on reasonably declared. It was none the
less foolhardy when it was done. If he had reached the opulent and
powerful kings of the Orient, his little cockboats and their brave souls
might have fared hard for their intrusion. His blunder in geography very
likely saved him from annihilation.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: His character differently drawn.]

[Sidenote: Prescott.]

[Sidenote: Irving.]

The character of Columbus has been variously drawn, almost always with a
violent projection of the limner's own personality. We find Prescott
contending that "whatever the defects of Columbus's mental constitution,
the finger of the historian will find it difficult to point to a single
blemish in his moral character." It is certainly difficult to point to a
more flagrant disregard of truth than when we find Prescott further
saying, "Whether we contemplate his character in its public or private
relations, in all its features it wears the same noble aspects. It was
in perfect harmony with the grandeur of his plans, and with results more
stupendous than those which Heaven has permitted any other mortal to
achieve." It is very striking to find Prescott, after thus speaking of
his private as well as public character, and forgetting the remorse of
Columbus for the social wrongs he had committed, append in a footnote to
this very passage a reference to his "illegitimate" son. It seems to
mark an obdurate purpose to disguise the truth. This is also nowhere
more patent than in the palliating hero-worship of Irving, with his
constant effort to save a world's exemplar for the world's admiration,
and more for the world's sake than for Columbus's.

Irving at one time berates the biographer who lets "pernicious
erudition" destroy a world's exemplar; and at another time he does not
know that he is criticising himself when he says that "he who paints a
great man merely in great and heroic traits, though he may produce a
fine picture, will never present a faithful portrait." The commendation
which he bestows upon Herrera is for precisely what militates against
the highest aims of history, since he praises that Spanish historian's
disregard of judicial fairness.

In the being which Irving makes stand for the historic Columbus, his
skill in softened expression induced Humboldt to suppose that Irving's
avoidance of exaggeration gave a force to his eulogy, but there was
little need to exaggerate merits, if defects were blurred.

[Sidenote: Humboldt.]

The learned German adds, in the opening of the third volume of his
_Examen Critique_, his own sense of the impressiveness of Columbus. That
impressiveness stands confessed; but it is like a gyrating storm that
knows no law but the vagrancy of destruction.

One need not look long to discover the secret of Humboldt's estimate of
Columbus. Without having that grasp of the picturesque which appeals so
effectively to the popular mind in the letters of Vespucius, the Admiral
was certainly not destitute of keen observation of nature, but
unfortunately this quality was not infrequently prostituted to ignoble
purposes. To a student of Humboldt's proclivities, these traits of
observation touched closely his sympathy. He speaks in his _Cosmos_ of
the development of this exact scrutiny in manifold directions,
notwithstanding Columbus's previous ignorance of natural history, and
tells us that this capacity for noting natural phenomena arose from his
contact with such. It would have been better for the fame of Columbus if
he had kept this scientific survey in its purity. It was simply, for
instance, a vitiated desire to astound that made him mingle theological
and physical theories about the land of Paradise. Such jugglery was
promptly weighed in Spain and Italy by Peter Martyr and others as the
wild, disjointed effusions of an overwrought mind, and "the reflex of a
false erudition," as Humboldt expresses it. It was palpably by another
effort, of a like kind, that he seized upon the views of the fathers of
the Church that the earthly Paradise lay in the extreme Orient, and he
was quite as audacious when he exacted the oath on the Cuban coast, to
make it appear by it that he had really reached the outermost parts of

[Sidenote: Observations of nature.]

Humboldt seeks to explain this errant habit by calling it "the sudden
movement of his ardent and passionate soul; the disarrangement of ideas
which were the effect of an incoherent method and of the extreme
rapidity of his reading; while all was increased by his misfortunes and
religious mysticism." Such an explanation hardly relieves the subject of
it from blunter imputations. This urgency for some responsive wonderment
at every experience appears constantly in the journal of Columbus's
first voyage, as, for instance, when he makes every harbor exceed in
beauty the last he had seen. This was the commonplace exaggeration
which in our day is confined to the calls of speculating land companies.
The fact was that Humboldt transferred to his hero something of the
superlative love of nature that he himself had experienced in the same
regions; but there was all the difference between him and Columbus that
there is between a genuine love of nature and a commercial use of it.
Whenever Columbus could divert his mind from a purpose to make the
Indies a paying investment, we find some signs of an insight that shows
either observation of his own or the garnering of it from others, as,
for example, when he remarks on the decrease of rain in the Canaries and
the Azores which followed upon the felling of trees, and when he
conjectures that the elongated shape of the islands of the Antilles on
the lines of the parallels was due to the strength of the equatorial

[Sidenote: Roselly de Lorgues and his school.]

[Sidenote: Harrisse.]

Since Irving, Prescott, and Humboldt did their work, there has sprung up
the unreasoning and ecstatic French school under the lead of Roselly de
Lorgues, who seek to ascribe to Columbus all the virtues of a saint.
"Columbus had no defect of character and no worldly quality," they say.
The antiquarian and searching spirit of Harrisse, and of those writers
who have mainly been led into the closest study of the events of the
life of Columbus, has not done so much to mould opinion as regards the
estimate in which the Admiral should be held as to eliminate confusing
statements and put in order corroborating facts. The reaction from the
laudation of the canonizers has not produced any writer of consideration
to array such derogatory estimates as effectually as a plain recital of
established facts would do it. Hubert Bancroft, in the incidental
mention which he makes of Columbus, has touched his character not
inaptly, and with a consistent recognition of its infirmities. Even
Prescott, who verges constantly on the ecstatic elements of the
adulatory biographer, is forced to entertain at times "a suspicion of a
temporary alienation of mind," and in regard to the letter which
Columbus wrote from Jamaica to the sovereigns, is obliged to recognize
"sober narrative and sound reasoning strangely blended with crazy dreams
and doleful lamentations."

[Sidenote: Aaron Goodrich.]

"Vagaries like these," he adds, "which came occasionally like clouds
over his soul to shut out the light of reason, cannot fail to fill the
mind of the reader, as they doubtless did those of the sovereigns, with
mingled sentiments of wonder and compassion." An unstinted denunciatory
purpose, much weakened by an inconsiderate rush of disdain,
characterizes an American writer, Aaron Goodrich, in his _Life of the
so-called Christopher Columbus_ (New York, 1875); but the critic's
temper is too peevish and his opinions are too unreservedly biased to
make his results of any value.

[Sidenote: Humboldt.]

The mental hallucinations of Columbus, so patent in his last years, were
not beyond recognition at a much earlier age, and those who would get
the true import of his character must trace these sorrowful
manifestations to their beginnings, and distinguish accurately between
Columbus when his purpose was lofty and unselfish and himself again when
he became mercenary and erratic. So much does the verdict of history
lodge occasionally more in the narrator of events than in the character
of them that, in Humboldt's balancing of the baser with the nobler
symptoms of Columbus's nature, he does not find even the most degraded
of his actions other than powerful in will, and sometimes, at least,
clear in intelligence. There were certainly curiously transparent, but
transient gleams of wisdom to the last. Humboldt further says that the
faith of Columbus soothed his dreary and weary adversities by the charm
of ascetic reveries. So a handsome euphuism tries to save his fame from
harsher epithets.

It was a faith, says the same delineator, which justified at need, under
the pretext of a religious object, the employment of deceit and the
excess of a despotic power; a tenderer form, doubtless, of the vulgar
expression that the end sanctifies the means. It is not, however, within
the practice of the better historical criticism of our day to let such
elegant wariness beguile the reader's mind. If the different, not to say
more advanced, condition of the critical mind is to be of avail to a new
age through the advantage gained from all the ages, it is in precisely
this emancipation from the trammels of traditionary bondage that the
historian asserts his own, and dispels the glamour of a conventionalized

[Sidenote: Dr. J. G. Shea.]

Dr. Shea, our most distinguished Catholic scholar, who has dealt with
the character of Columbus, says: "He accomplished less than some
adventurers with poor equipped vessels. He seems to have succeeded in
attaching but few men to him who adhered loyally to his cause. Those
under him were constantly rebellious and mutinous; those over him found
him impracticable. To array all these as enemies, inspired by a satanic
hostility to a great servant of God, is to ask too much for our belief;"
and yet this is precisely what Irving by constant modifications, and De
Lorgues in a monstrous degree, feel themselves justified in doing.

[Sidenote: The French canonizers.]

There is nothing in Columbus's career that these French canonizers do
not find convertible to their purpose, whether it be his wild vow to
raise 4,000 horse and 50,000 foot in seven years, wherewith to snatch
the Holy Sepulchre from the infidel, or the most commonplace of his
canting ejaculations. That Columbus was a devout Catholic, according to
the Catholicism of his epoch, does not admit of question, but when tried
by any test that finds the perennial in holy acts, Columbus fails to
bear the examination. He had nothing of the generous and noble spirit of
a conjoint lover of man and of God, as the higher spirits of all times
have developed it. There was no all-loving Deity in his conception. His
Lord was one in whose name it was convenient to practice enormities. He
shared this subterfuge with Isabella and the rest. We need to think on
what Las Casas could be among his contemporaries, if we hesitate to
apply the conceptions of an everlasting humanity.

[Sidenote: Converts and slaves.]

The mines which Columbus went to seek were hard to find. The people he
went to save to Christ were easy to exterminate. He mourned bitterly
that his own efforts were ill requited. He had no pity for the misery of
others, except they be his dependents and co-sharers of his purposes. He
found a policy worth commemorating in slitting the noses and tearing off
the ears of a naked heathen. He vindicates his excess by impressing upon
the world that a man setting out to conquer the Indies must not be
judged by the amenities of life which belong to a quiet rule in
established countries. Yet, with a chance to establish a humane life
among peoples ready to be moulded to good purposes, he sought from the
very first to organize among them the inherited evils of "established
countries." He talked a great deal about making converts of the poor
souls, while the very first sight which he had of them prompted him to
consign them to the slave-mart, just as if the first step to
Christianize was the step which unmans.

The first vicar apostolic sent to teach the faith in Santo Domingo
returned to Spain, no longer able to remain, powerless, in sight of the
cruelties practiced by Columbus. Isabella prevented the selling of the
natives as slaves in Spain, when Columbus had dispatched thither five
shiploads. Las Casas tells us that in 1494-96 Columbus was generally
hated in Española for his odiousness and injustice, and that the
Admiral's policy with the natives killed a third of them in those two
years. The Franciscans, when they arrived at the island, found the
colonists exuberant that they had been relieved of the rule which
Columbus had instituted; and the Benedictines and Dominicans added their
testimony to the same effect.

[Sidenote: He urges enslaving the natives from the first.]

The very first words, as has been said, that he used, in conveying to
expectant Europe the wonders of his discovery, suggested a scheme of
enslaving the strange people. He had already made the voyage that of a
kidnapper, by entrapping nine of the unsuspecting natives.

On his second voyage he sent home a vessel-load of slaves, on the
pretense of converting them, but his sovereigns intimated to him that it
would cost less to convert them in their own homes. Then he thought of
the righteous alternative of sending some to Spain to be sold to buy
provisions to support those who would convert others in their homes. The
monarchs were perhaps dazed at this sophistry; and Columbus again sent
home four vessels laden with reeking cargoes of flesh. When he returned
to Spain, in 1496, to circumvent his enemies, he once more sought in his
turn, and by his reasoning, to cheat the devil of heathen souls by
sending other cargoes. At last the line was drawn. It was not to save
their souls, but to punish them for daring to war against the Spaniards,
that they should be made to endure such horrors.

It is to Columbus, also, that we trace the beginning of that monstrous
guilt which Spanish law sanctioned under the name of _repartimientos_,
and by which to every colonist, and even to the vilest, absolute power
was given over as many natives as his means and rank entitled him to
hold. Las Casas tells us that Ferdinand could hardly have had a
conception of the enormities of the system. If so, it was because he
winked out of sight the testimony of observers, while he listened to
the tales prompted of greed, rapine, and cruelty. The value of the
system to force heathen out of hell, and at the same time to replenish
his treasury, was the side of it presented to Ferdinand's mind by such
as had access to his person. In 1501, we find the Dominicans entering
their protest, and by this Ferdinand was moved to take the counsel of
men learned in the law and in what passed in those days for Christian
ethics. This court of appeal approved these necessary efforts, as was
claimed, to increase those who were new to the faith, and to reward
those who supported it.

Peter Martyr expressed the comforting sentiments of the age: "National
right and that of the Church concede personal liberty to man. State
policy, however, demurs. Custom repels the idea. Long experience shows
that slavery is necessary to prevent those returning to their idolatry
and error whom the Church has once gained." All professed servants of
the Church, with a few exceptions like Las Casas, ranged themselves with
Columbus on the side of such specious thoughts; and Las Casas, in
recognizing this fact, asks what we could expect of an old sailor and
fighter like Columbus, when the wisest and most respectable of the
priesthood backed him in his views. It was indeed the misery of Columbus
to miss the opportunity of being wiser than his fellows, the occasion
always sought by a commanding spirit, and it was offered to him almost
as to no other.

[Sidenote: Progress of slavery in the West Indies.]

There was no restraining the evil. The cupidity of the colonists
overcame all obstacles. The Queen was beguiled into giving equivocal
instructions to Ovando, who succeeded to Bobadilla, and out of them by