Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[graphic][merged small]

beautiful harbor, on the western extremity of quainted with the inhabitants. They were livthis island. The natives, seeing the approach ing in the same state of blissful simplicity with of the ships, fled in terror to the woods. For those upon the island of Cuba. The natives six days Columbus skirted the shore, occasion-called the island Hayti. Columbus named it ally penetrating the rivers with his boats, with-Hispaniola. The French and English have out being able to obtain any intercourse with since called it St. Domingo. The island is still the inhabitants. He frequently landed with burdened with its triple appellation. parties of the crew and entered their villages, If we are to credit the narratives of Columbus but ever found them empty, the natives having and his companions, the inhabitants were living escaped to the forest.

in truly an enviable state, free from the wants, On the 12th of December he landed in a the diseases, and the crushing cares of civilized pleasant harbor, at a point which he called La life. They had no party politics, no religious Navidad“The Nativity.” Here he took form- feuds. They needed no clothing, enjoying a al possession of the island in the name of the genial climate of perpetual summer. They Sovereigns of Spain, and with many imposing were neat in their persons and in their dwellceremonies erected the cross. As the sailors ings, graceful in form, and attractive in comwere rambling about they fell upon a party of plexion and in features. Their rivers were alive the islanders, who fled like deer. The sailors with fishes. Fruit of delicious flavor hung from pursued, and seeing a beautiful young girl per- almost every bough. Their food was thus alfectly naked and graceful as a fawn, who was ways ready, and life was to them apparently but unable to keep pace with the more athletic run- a long, pleasant sunimer's day. ners, they succeeded in capturing her. They! It would appear from the united and emphatic brought their fascinating prize triumphantly to testimony of the voyagers that there was no the ships. Columbus received her with the ut- other known portion of the globe at that time most kindness, and loaded her with presents, where there was so little wickedness, so little particularly with the little tinkling hawk's bells, sorrow, or where more true happiness was to which had for the natives an indescribable be found. Many of the sailors were so decharm. She found sympathizing friends in the lighted with the warm-hearted friendliness of native women who were on board, and in an the natives, with the climate, with the enchanthour was so perfectly at home and so happy ing scenery, the fruits, the bird - songs, that that she was quite indisposed to leave the ship they could not endure the idea of returning to return to the shore.

again to the anxieties of life in old Spain. This beautiful Indian maiden wore a ring of They entreated Columbus to allow them to gold, not through the ears, but more conspicu- settle upon the island. It so happened that ously suspended from the nose. The sight of the just at this time one of the vessels was wrecked precious metal greatly excited the adventurers, upon the coast. One of the other barks, the for it proved that there was gold in the country. Pinta, had parted company with the little squadBy the aid of this maiden they soon became acron, the captain having matinously separated from the Admiral in pursuit of adventures inducted his guests to a grove, whose overarchhis own name.

ing foliage shaded a smooth and verdant lawn. Columbus was now left with but one vessel, Here Guacanagari had collected a thousand nawhich was exposed to innumerable perils in tives to amuse the care-worn Admiral with an navigating unknown seas. Should that vessel exhibition of their games and dances. be wrecked they could never return to Spain, Columbus, then, to impress the natives with and the knowledge of their discovery would be an idea of his power, ordered a military display lost to the world. Under these circumstances of the Spaniards. As they wheeled to and fro Columbus decided that it was his first duty to in their martial mancuvres, their steel armor retrace his steps to Europe as speedily as pos- and their polished swords glittering in the rays sible, to announce the success of his enterprise, of the sun, the Haytiens gazed upon the specand that he might then return with a more ef- tacle in speechless admiration. But when one ficient fleet to prosecute further discoveries of the cannon was discharged, and they saw the

The wrecked caravel was broken up, the guns flash and heard the peal, and perceived the were taken to the shore, and a fortress was con- path of the invisible bolt through the forest, structed as the nucleus of a colony. A tribe crushing and rending the trees, they fell to the of natives resided in the immediate vicinity of ground in dismay. the fortress. They manifested the atmost kind- In a few days the fortress was completed, the ness and sympathy, and rendered efficient aid in guns mounted, and the ammunition stored saferearing the bastions and the buttresses which ly away. Columbus deemed the discipline of were to prove in the end the destruction of a garrison necessary to keep the Spaniards untheir race. The chieftain of this artless peo- der subjection, rather than as any protection ple, Guacanagari, wept in unaffected grief in against the natives. Having given the men contemplating the calamity which had befallen very minute directions respecting their conColumbus. He ordered all the effects from duct during his absence, on the 4th of January, the wreck to be placed near his own dwelling, 1493, he spread his sails for his return to Spain. guarded them with the utmost care, and had The hour of parting was one of much emobuildings reared to protect them from the weath- tion. Those who were to be left behind found er. Treasures of inconceivable value in the eyes their hearts failing thein. Should the one sinof the natives were strewed around, hawk's bells, gle shattered bark which bore Columbus and glittering beads, knives, gaudy ribbons, and yet his band founder beneath the storms of the there was not the least attempt made to pilfer. ocean there would be buried with it all knowlThough the natives aided in transporting these edge of the discovery of the New World, and valuables from the wreck to the shore, not an the colony at The Nativity would be left to its article was found missing. What was the basis fate. of this honesty ? The solution of this problem By a singular chance, when Columbus had will puzzle boch the philosopher and the Chris- advanced on his way along the coast but about tian.

fifty miles he met the Pinta, which had so “So loving," writes Columbus, “so tracta- shamefully abandoned him. He, however, ble, so peaceable are these people, that I declare deemed it prudent to overlook the crime, and to your Majesties that there is not in this world to appear satisfied with the lame apologies ofa better nation or a better land. They love fered by the captain. After a short delay to their neighbors as themselves. Their discourse prepare the Pinta for the long voyage the two is ever sweet and gentle, and accompanied with vessels again spread their sails for Spain. a smile. And though it is true that they are The voyage was extremely tempestuous. The naked, yet their manners are decorous and vessels were soon separated by darkness and the praiseworthy."

gale. Columbus, with intense anxiety, buffetWhile here considerable quantities of golded the waves, which often threatened to overwere brought in dust and in small lumps, any whelm him. A calm, bold man, he entirely foramount of which, almost, which the natives pos- I got his own life in his solicitude that the imsessed they would gladly exchange for a hawk's portant discovery which he had made should bell. The eagerness of the Spaniards for gold not be lost to Europe. After thirty-eight days induced the natives more earnestly to engage in of almost uninterrupted and terrific storms he its search, and they gave very glowing accounts reached the Azores. Here they encountered of mountains of gold in the interior, and of riv- humiliating indications of the vices of civilized ers whose sands were but the glittering dust of life. this precious metal.

| The King of Portugal, apprehensive that CoThe gentle and amiable cacique, Guacana- lumbus might make some important discovery gari, seeing that Columbus was much depressed which would redound to the glory of Spain, by the loss of his vessel, manifested true refine- had sent orders to all his colonies that Columment of sympathy in his attempts to cheer him bus, should he make his appearance, should be and to divert his melancholy. He invited Co- arrested and held as a prisoner. Consummate lumbus to dine with him, and prepared a very treachery was employed to ensnare the Adsumptuous entertainment, according to the cus- miral at the Azores; but by his vigilance he tom of the natives, of fish, fruits, and roots. I escaped, and again spread his sails.

After the collation the polite chieftain con- A week of pleasant weather and of favoring

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

winds brought his storm-shattered vessel with-, bringing back several of the inhabitants and in about three hundred miles of Cape St. Vin- many of the treasures of that distant world, it cent. Suddenly another fearful tempest arose, could hardly create more excitement in the city and for ten days they were at the mercy of the than was then created in Lisbon by the return waves, almost in hourly peril of being engulfed. of Columbus to the mouth of the Tagus. The During the gloomy hours of this voyage, when whole city was in commotion. Every thing it was often extremely doubtful whether Colum- that would float was brought into requisition bus would ever see Spain again, he wrote an ac- to sail down the river to the ship. The road count of his discovery upon parchment, wrapped was thronged with vehicles filled with multiit in a waxed cloth impervious to water, and tudes impelled by intensest curiosity. Columinclosing the whole in a water-tight empty bar- bus, who had not forgotten the days of anguish rel, set it -adrift. A copy similarly prepared when he was a rejected and despised adventurwas also kept on the poop of the ship, so that er at the Court of Lisbon, must have enjoyed should the vessel sink the barrel might float his triumph. But he was not a man for osten-, away, and thus, by some fortunate chance, the tatious exultation. knowledge of the great discovery might be pre- The King, who was at Valparaiso, about thirserved.

ty miles from Lisbon, immediately dispatched a On the morning of the 4th of March Colum-messenger inviting Columbus to his Court. The bus found himself at the mouth of the Tagus. Admiral was treated with great external deferA tempest still swept the ocean, and his vessel ence, but encountered many annoyances. The was in such a leaky condition that he was com- Portuguese Court endeavored to get from him pelled, at every hazard, to run into this Portu- all the information which could be obtained, guese river. He dropped anchor about ten that an expedition might be stealthily fitted out miles below Lisbon, and immediately sent a to take possession of the newly discovered lands. message to the King and Queen informing them The assassination of the heroic Admiral was seof his arrival, of the success of his expedition, riously deliberated. and asking permission to go up to Lisbon to re At length Columbus again spread his tattered pair his sinking vessel.

sails, and on the 15th of March, just seventyNo tongue can tell, no imagination can con- one days from the time he left “The Nativity," ceive the excitement which these tidings com-at Hayti, he entered the harbor of Palos, having municated. The King and Queen had almost been absent not quite seven months and a half. contemptuously dismissed Columbus as a hair- The appearance of the storm-battered vessel brained adventurer. And now he had returned sailing up the harbor was the first tidings the in perfect triumph, with a new world, teeming inhabitants had received of the adventurers. with inexhaustible wealth and resources, to pre One ship only was seen returning. Two had sent to a rival nation. The chagrin of the disappeared. It was an hour of great suspense, Portuguese Court was unutterable.

for there was hardly a family in Palos who had Should a balloon return to the vicinity of New not some friend or relative who had joined the York from an excursion to the planet Jupiter, expedition. As soon as the tidings reached

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the shore of the success of the enterprise the An envious guest impudently inquired of Columjoy was indescribable. A scene of universal bus if he thought that there was no man in Spain exultation ensued. Like a mighty billow the capable of discovering the Indies if he had not tidings surged over Spain, accompanied with made the discovery Columbus, without replybonfires, huzzas, pealing bells, and roaring can- ing to the question, took an egg from the table, non. We have no space to record these scenes and asked if there was any one who could make of national rejoicing. The King was at Barce- it stand upon one end. They all tried, but in lona, at the further extremity of the Peninsula. vain. Columbus then, by a slight blow, crushed

The Sovereigns immediately wrote to Colum- the end of the egg and left it standing before bus, in reply to the dispatch which he had sent them, thus teaching that it is easy to do a thing to them, requesting him to repair to the Court. after some one has shown how. Columbus probably could not regret that this We must briefly narrate the subsequent cainvolved the necessity of a triumphal route of reer of this illustrious man. It is but a melanseven hundred miles through the very heart of choly recital of toils, disappointments, and sorSpain. It was a delightful season of the year, rows. A new feet was speedily equipped of and the jubilant welcome which Columbus met seventeen vessels, large and small, laden with every mile of the way from Seville to Barcelona all such trinkets and merchandise as could be the world has probably never seen paralleled. valuable for trade with the Indians. Horses,

The Indians were conspicuously exhibited, cows, pigs, sheep, and poultry, with many seeds, decorated with gold and brilliant plumes from were taken to stock the islands. None of these tropical birds. All the most showy products of animals were found in the new world. Twelve the new world were presented to admiring eyes. missionaries were taken to convert the natives. A very imposing cavalcade surrounded the Ad- Twelve hundred adventurers crowded on board miral, who sat on horseback, attracting by his the fleet, and many more were anxious to go, majestic form, his pale and pensive features, but they could not be received. and his gray locks, universal admiration. Thus The fleet sailed from Cadiz in the midst of he entered Barcelona, and received the most universal rejoicing, on the 25th of September, cordial greeting from Ferdinand and Isabella. 1493. After a prosperous voyage of thirty

Great distinction ever excites great envy. eight days, in the early dawn of the morning Enemies to Columbus, bitter and unrelenting, of the 2d of November, the lofty mountains of sprung up around him. He was an Italian-a an unknown yet majestic island hove in sight. foreigner. The Spanish nobles were not well It was the morning of the Sabbath. The crews pleased at his elevation, and were very restive of all the vessels were assembled upon their when under any circumstances they were com- decks, and prayers and anthems of thanksgivpelled to yield to his authority. It was during ing floated over the peaceful solitudes of the his sojourn at Barcelona that the incident oc- ocean. Columbus, as the island was discovercurred which gave rise to the universally known ed on the Sabbath, gave it the name of Domianecdote of the egg. The Grand Cardinal of nica. He was now in the beautiful cluster called Spain had invited Columbus to dine with him. I the Antilles. During the day he passed six

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]

of these gems of the ocean, appearing on those appointed. Sickness broke out. Murmurs smooth waters beneath the bright sun of the loud and deep rose on every side. Columbus tropics like fairy islands in a fairy sea.

was denounced as a deceiver, and hardly an As he cruised along he gave to the more im- individual could be found to lend him any cordportant islands he met the names of Mariga-ial co-operation. Many of the haughty young lante, Guadaloupe, St. Juan Bautista, since nobles of Spain had accompanied him. They called Porto Rico. On these islands he found openly insulted the Admiral, refusing obedia fierce and warlike race, who were the terror ence to his commands. Columbus was not of the more peaceful inhabitants of the other sufficiently strong to enforce authority. islands. The evidence seemed indubitable that Harassed and perplexed in every conceivthey were cannibals, devouring the victims of able way, he organized an expedition to exwar. It now became manifest that the new plore the interior for gold, and commenced the world was by no means an Eden of primal in- establishment of another colonial city, which nocence, but that it was inhabited by the fallen he called Isabella. Twelve of the ships were race of Adam, who groaned beneath the burden sent back to Spain to obtain sopplies. Columof life.

bus was mortified that he could send so little On the 27th of November Columbus anchored gold. He, however, wrote a letter to Ferdiin the harbor of La Navidad. He expected to nand and Isabella full of brilliant anticipations. find a happy colony, and that by trading with His sanguine temperament ever inclined him the Indians they would have obtained by this to hope. Crushed by care and anxiety, he time a ton of gold for him to transfer immedi- was prostrated upon a sick-bed, which he could ately to his ships. Instead of this, to his great not leave for several weeks. During his sickdisappointment, he found but desolation and ness his mind retained all its vigor, and he ruin. The Spaniards had quarreled and fought gave his commands as usual. His enemies, among themselves. They had abandoned the taking advantage of his apparently helpless fortress that they might live among the natives, condition, formed a conspiracy to seize the where they soon excited intense disgust and five remaining ships and return to Spain, where hatred by their brutal licentiousness and their they would defend themselves for this mutihaughty disregard of all the feelings of the In- nous act by a combined assault upon the chardians. A fierce tribe from the interior fell upon acter of Columbus. With great energy and them as they were scattered about, and every sagacity the Admiral frustrated this plan. In man perished. The natives, also, who were the endeavor in some degree to divert the genfriendly to Columbus were overwhelmed by the eral discontent, he arranged an expedition, of assault of the fierce tribe, and nothing remained which he himself took the command, to explore of the colony vut desolation and mouldering the coast of Cuba. The vessels were soon ready, bones.

and some degree of enthusiasm animated the The sanguine adventurers who had accom-crews as they weighed their anchors and spread panied Columbus, lured by the account he had their sails. given of this golden realm, were bitterly dis- | After following along the southern coast

« AnteriorContinuar »