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about 200 leagues to the west of the Canary islands, Columbus 1492. observed that the magnetic needle in the compasses did not point w exactly to the polar star, but varied toward the west. This Variation discovery made an alarming impression on his pilots and mari- of the comners; but his fertile genius helped him to assign a plausible alarm. reason for this strange appearance, and to dispel their fears. Expedients, however, at length lost their effect. The crew, with loud and insolent clamour, insisted on his return, and some of the most audacious proposed to throw him into the sea.
When his invention was nearly exhausted, and his hope nearly abandoned, the only event that could appease the mariners happily occurred. A light, seen by Columbus at ten in the night of the eleventh of October, was viewed as the harbinger of the wished for land; and early the next morning, land was distinctly seen. The voyage from Gomera had been 35 days; a longer time Oct. 12. than any man had ever been known to be out of sight of Land disland. At sunrise, all the boats were manned and armed, and the adventurers rowed toward the shore with warlike music and other martial pomp. The coast, in the mean time, was covered with people, who were attracted by the novelty of the spectacle, and whose attitudes and gestures strongly expressed their astonishment. They appeared in primitive simplicity, entirely naked.? Columbus, richly dressed and holding a naked sword in his Columbus hand, went first on shore, and was followed by his men, who, and his men kneeling down with him, kissed the ground with tears of joy, and go on shore. returned thanks for the success of the voyage. The land was one of the islands of the New World, called by the natives, Guanahani. Columbus, assuming the title and authority of ad
number of persons in the three vessels was 120. Muñoz mentions, a physician, a surgeon, a few servants, and some other adventurers, in all 120 persons.” D. Spotorno, in his Historical Memoir of Christopher Columbus, prefixed to the “ Memorials,” says, “ it is probable that the smaller number (90) included only the persons aboard the royal caravels; the third being Columbus's private property.
1 Journal of Columbus, in Navarrete's Colleccion. Stow erroneously ascribes the discovery of the variation of the compass to Sebastian Cabot, five years after this voyage of Columbus. With the correction of name and date, the remark of the venerable antiquary is just : “ Before his time, ever since the first finding of the magneticall needle, it was generallie supposed to lie precisely in place of the meridian, and crosse the equator at right angels, respecting with the points dulie north and south.” Stow's Chronicle, p. 811.
2 Herrera, d. 1. lib. 1. c. 12.—“como gente que parecia de la primera simplicidad, ivan desnudos, hombres y mugeres, como nacieron.” Many of the American natives thus appeared; though some of them had cinctures of wrought cotton. Muñoz, b. 3. c. 10, 18. In other instances, these girdles were composed of feathers.
Such of late
Milton, Paradise Lost, b, 9.
1492. miral, called it San Salvador ; and, by setting up a cross, took
possession of it for their Catholic majesties.
Many of the natives stood around, and gazed at the strange ceremony in silent admiration. Though shy at first through fear, they soon became familiar with the Spaniards. The admiral, perceiving that they were simple and inoffensive, gave them hawksbells, strings of glass beads, and red caps, which, though of small intrinsic worth, were by them highly valued. The reason assigned for their peculiar estimation of these baubles is, that, confidently believing these visitants had come down from heaven, they ardently desired to have something left them as a memorial. In return, they gave the Spaniards such provisions as they had, and some cotton yarn, which was the only valuable commodity they could produce.?
Columbus, after visiting the coasts of the island, proceeded to make farther discoveries, taking with him several of the natives of San Salvador. He saw several islands, and touched at three of the largest of them, which he named St. Mary of the Conception, Fernandina, and Isabella. On the 27th of October, he discovered the island of Cuba, which, in honour of the prince, the son of the Spanish king and queen, he called Juanna. Entering the mouth of a large river with his squadron, he staid here to careen his ships, sending, in the mean time, some of his people with one of the natives of San Salvador, to view the interior parts of the country. Returning to him on the 5th of November,
27. Cuba discovered.
1 Life of Columbus, c. 16–23. Peter Martyr, De Orbe Novo, 2. Herrera, Historia General de las Indias Ocidentales, decada, 1. lib. 1. cap. 11, 12. Purchas, Pilgrimage, i. 729, 730. Muñoz, New World, b. 3. c. 2. Robertson's History of America, b. 2. European Settlements in America, Part i. c. 1. Belknap's American Biography, Art. COLUMBUS. Alcedo, Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America, Art. SALVADOR. Memorials of Columbus, Introductory Historical Memoir. Guanahani is one of the West India islands called Lucayos, or Bahamas, lying in 25° north latitude, above 3000 miles to the west of Gomera ; but which of those islands, is questioned to this day. Muñoz conjectured, that it was Watling's island; and Navarrete infers from the Journal of Columbus, that it was Turk's island- del Gran Turco. “ Sus circunstancias conforman con la descripcion que Colon hace de ella. Su situacion es por el paralelo de 21° 30', al Norte de la mediania de la isla de Santo Domingo." Primer Viage de Colon, p. 20, N. 4. It has generally been supposed, that Guanahani is the island now called St. Salvador, or Cat island. The origin of the last name does not appear in our historians; but it may be of the same derivation as Catwater, near Plymouth in England, which signifies a place for vessels to anchor; a harbour for xato, or ships. See Bryant's Ancient Mythology, iii. 550.
2 Life of Columbus, c. 23, 24. Robertson, b. 2. Herrera, d. 1. lib. 1. c. 13. P. Martyr says, “gentem esse missam è cælo autumant.” The natives long retained the belief, that these visitants descended from heaven. Columbus observed it after his return to Spain : “ Veniunt modo mecum qui semper putant me desiluisse e cælo, quamvis diu nobiscum versati fuerint hodieque versentur. et hi erant primi qui id quocumque appellabamus nunciabant: alii deinceps aliis elata voce dicentes, Venite, venite, et videbitis gentes ethereas." Letter of Columbus (Latin version) in his “Life” by Bossi. In the original it is, “Venite, venite, e vedrete gli vomini scesi dal cielo."
24. One of the
they reported that they had travelled above sixty miles from the 1492. shore; that the soil was richer and better than any they had hitherto discovered ; and that, beside many scattering cottages, they found one village of fifty houses, containing about a thousand inhabitants. Sailing from Cuba on the 5th of December, Dec. 6; he arrived the next day at an island, called by the natives Hayti, Hispaniola which, in honour of the kingdom by which he was employed, he named Hispaniola.”
On the shoals of this island, through the carelessness of his sailors, he lost one of his ships. The Indian cazique,or prince, ships lost Guacanahari, receiving intelligence of this loss, expressed much grief, and sent all his people with their canoes, to save what they could from the wreck. “ We lost not the value of a pin," says the admiral, “ for he caused all our clothes to be laid together near his palace, where he kept them till the houses, which he had appointed for us, were emptied. He placed armed men, to keep them, who stood there all day and all night; and all the people lamented, as if our loss had concerned them much.”
The port, where this misfortune happened, Columbus called Navidad (the Nativity], because he entered it on Christmas day. Resolving to leave a colony here, he obtained liberty of the cazique to erect a fort, which he accordingly built with the tim- Columbus
builds a fort, ber of the ship that was wrecked ; and, leaving it in the hands of three officers and thirty-eight men, prepared to return to Spain.4
COLUMBUS, having taken every precaution for the security of 1493. his colony, left Navidad on the 4th of January ; and, after discovering and naming most of the harbours on the northern coast Jan. 16. of Hispaniola, set sail
, on the 16th, for Spain, taking with him Columbus six of the natives. On the 14th of February, he was overtaken Spain. by a violent tempest, and, in the extremity of danger, united with the mariners in imploring the aid of Almighty God, mingled with supplications to the Virgin Mary, and accompanied by
1 Herrera says, a whole generation lived in a house—“porque en una casa mora todo un linage."
2 « Ab Hispania ... diminutivè Hispaniola.” P. Martyr.
3 This title, which signifies lord or prince, is rightly applied to the princes of Hayti; for, according to Clavigero, “it is derived from the Haitin tongue, which was spoken in the island of Hispaniola.” But it was afterwards inaccurately applied to the nobles of Mexico, who, though divided into several classes, with appropriate titles to each,“ were confounded together by the Spaniards under the general name of caziques.” Hist. Mexico, i. 346.
4 Life of Columbus, c. 27—36. Herrera, d. 1. lib. 1. Muñoz, lib. 3. § 32. Purchas, i. 730. Univ. Hist. xli. 487. Robertson, b. 2. In the Life of Columbus, the port is said to be named Navidad: but Herrera, and Robertson after him, say, that this name was given to the fort. This fortification was finished in ten days; the poor natives unwarily helping it forward; “ that simple race of men,' to use the words of Dr. Robertson, “ labouring with inconsiderate assiduity in erecting this first monument of their own servitude.”
1493. vows of pilgrimage. That his discoveries, in case of ship
wreck, might not be lost, he wrote an account of them on parchment, wrapped it in a piece of oiled cloth, and enclosed it in a cake of wax, which he put into a tight cask, and threw into the sea. Another parchment, secured in a similar manner, he placed on the stern, that, if the ship should sink, the cask might float, and one or the other might possibly be found. But his precaution, though prudent, was fruitless; for he was providentially saved from the expected destruction, and, on the 4th of Marcb, arrived safely at Lisbon. On his arrival at Palos on the 15th, he was received with the highest tokens of honour by the king and queen, who now constituted him admiral of Spain. Two of the natives died on the voyage; the other four were presented to his Catholic majesty by Columbus, together with a quantity of gold, which had been given to him by the cazique at Hispaniola.
Columbus adhering to his opinion, that the countries which he had discovered were a part of those vast regions of Asia comprehended under the name of India, and this opinion being adopted in Europe, Ferdinand and Isabella gave them the name
of Indies. The Portu
The Portuguese, having previously explored the Azores and guese Send for the other islands, instantly claimed the newly discovered world, and newly dis- contended for the exclusion of the Spaniards from the navigation covered
of the western ocean. Their competitors, however, were careful to obtain the highest confirmation possible of their own claim. While orders were given at Barcelona for the admiral's return to Hispaniola ; to strengthen the Spanish title to this island, and to other countries that were or should be discovered, their Catholic majesties, by the admiral's advice, applied to the pope, to obtain his sanction of their claims, and his consent for the conquest of the West Indies. An ambassador was sent to Rome. The
1 Herrera, dec. 1. lib. 2. c. 2, 3. Purchas, i. 730. Robertson, b. 2. Belknap, Biog. i. 102. Harris, Voy.i. 6. Univ. Hist. xli. 487. Peter Martyr thus describes the honour shown to Columbus by the king and queen: “ Sedere illum coram se publicè, quod est maximum apud reges Hispanos amoris et gratitudinis, supremique obsequii signum, fecerunt."
2 Life of Columbus, c. 6. As the eastern boundaries of India were not yet discovered, Columbus inferred, that those bounds must lie near to us westward, and therefore, that the lands which he should discover might properly be called * Indies. He therefore, considering them as the eastern unknown lands of India, gave them the name of the nearest country, calling them West Indies. Names, however improperly applied, are apt to be permanent.
“ Even after the error, which gave rise to this opinion, was detected, and the true position of the New World was ascertained, the name has remained, and the appellation of West Indies is given by all the people of Europe to the country, and that of Indians to its inhabitants." Robertson, b. 1.
3 Chalmers, Political Annals, b. 1. c. 1.
4 The second commission to Columbus was given by the Spanish king and queen, in the city of Barcelona, on the 28th day of May, A. D. 1493. A copỳ of it is in the Memorials of Columbus, DOCUMENT III, and in Hazard's Historical Collections, i. 6—9. The Letter of their majesties’ Instructions to captains, sailors of vessels, &c. and to all their subjects to whom their ~ Letter" should be presented, requiring obedience to “Don Christopher Columbus, our Viceroy and Governor, was dated the same day as the commission, 28th of May, at Barcelona. It is preserved in the Memorials of Columbus, DOCUMENT XXVII.
then in the chair, was Alexander VI, a Spaniard by birth, and a 1493. native of Valencia. Readily acceding to the proposal, he, on the third of May, adjudged the great process, and made the Adjudicacelebrated line of partition. He granted in full right to Ferdi- top of the nand and Isabella, all the countries, inhabited by infidels, which 3. they had discovered, or should discover, extending the assignment to their heirs and successors, the kings and queens of Castile and Leon. To prevent the interference of this grant with one formerly made to the crown of Portugal, he directed that a line, supposed to be drawn from pole to pole, at the distance of one hundred leagues westward of the Azores, should serve as a boundary; and bestowed all the countries to the east of this imaginary line, not actually possessed by any Christian prince, on the Portuguese, and all to the west of it, on the Spaniards.?
Not satisfied with supremacy in the church, the pope, at this period, aspired to be arbiter of the world. This sovereign pontiff, “ in virtue of that power which he received from Jesus Christ, conferred on the crown of Castile vast regions, to the possession of which he himself was so far from having any title, that he was unacquainted with their situation, and ignorant even of their existence.”2 Although neither the Spaniards, nor the Portuguese, now suspected the validity of the papal grant, yet the other nations of Europe would not suffer them quietly to enjoy their shares. In the sequel, we shall find different nations planting colonies in the New World, without leave of the Catholic king, or even of his Holiness. It early became a law among the European nations, that the countries, which each should explore, should be deemed the absolute property of the discoverer, from
1 Life of Columbus, c. 42. Herrera, d. 1. lib. 2. c. 4. Robertson, b. 2. Chalmers, b 1. 6. Belknap, Biog. i. 103; and the authorities at the close of this year. The Portuguese, it seems, were dissatisfied with the papal partition. The subject was therefore referred to six plenipotentiaries, three chosen from each nation, whose conferences issued in an agreement, That the line of partition, in the pope's bull, should be extended two hundred and seventy leagues farther to the west; that all westward of that line should fall to the share of the Spaniards, and all eastward of it, to the Portuguese; that there should be free sailing on both parts, but that neither should trade beyond the appointed bounds. This agreement was made 7 June, 1493. It was sealed by the king of Spain 2 July that year, and by the king of Portugal 27 February, 1494. Herrera, d. 1. lib. 2. c. 10. Harris' Voyages, i. 8. Muñoz, b. 4. c. 29. The map upon which this famous line of demarcation was drawn, was in the Museum of cardinal Borgia at Veletri, in the year 1797. Southey's Brazil, iii. c. 31. from N. de la Cruz, v. 4. See Note IV.
2 Robertson, b. 2.