Title Page
 The Hakluyt society
 La lettera, etc.
 Half Title
 First voyage of Columbus
 Second voyage of Columbus
 Third voyage of Columbus
 Letter of the Admiral to the (quondam)...
 Fourth voyage of Columbus
 An account given by Diego Mendez...

Group Title: Select letters of Christopher Columbus : with other original documents, relating to his four voyages to the New World
Title: Select letters of Christopher Columbus
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00026725/00001
 Material Information
Title: Select letters of Christopher Columbus with other original documents, relating to his four voyages to the New world
Series Title: Works issued by the Hakluyt Society
Physical Description: xc, 240 p. : ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Columbus, Christopher
Major, Richard Henry, 1818-1891
Publisher: Printed for the Hakluyt Society
Place of Publication: London
Publication Date: 1847
Subject: Discovery and exploration -- Spanish -- America   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: translated and edited by R.H. Major.
General Note: English translations, with text at foot of page.
General Note: Includes index.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026725
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 001651354
oclc - 01876433
notis - AHW2962
lccn - 02012527

Table of Contents
        Cover 1
        Cover 2
    Title Page
        Title 1
        Title 2
    The Hakluyt society
        Unnumbered ( 5 )
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    La lettera, etc.
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    Half Title
        Title 1
        Title 2
    First voyage of Columbus
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    Second voyage of Columbus
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    Third voyage of Columbus
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    Letter of the Admiral to the (quondam) nurse of the Prince John, written near the end of the year 1500
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    Fourth voyage of Columbus
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    An account given by Diego Mendez in his will of some events that occurred in the last voyage of the Admiral Don Christopher Columbus
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Full Text


CDC wa&tdut ~ortet,





,Itr C(;,X LVII


Colombo ~ Qr0tV o~











Tu spiegherai, Colombo, a un novo polo
Lontans st le fortunate anteime,
Ch'a pena seguirA con gli occhi il volo
La Fama c'ha mille occhi e mille penne.
Canti ella Alcidle e Bacco, e di te solo
Basti ai poster tuoi ch'alquanto accenne;
Che quel poco dari lung memorial
Di pocma degnissima e d'istoria.
Tasso.-Gerusalemnip Liberafa.



10S. S LA56






Hon. Mem. Imp. Acad. Sc. St. Petersburg, &c. &c., PRESIDENT.


J. E. GRAY, ESQ., P.R.S.




SHOULD the reader of the following highly interesting
letters meet with some passages deficient in that ease
of expression, or that connectedness of construction
to which his ear and his taste are accustomed, he
is requested to bear in mind that the originals are
the compositions of men, who, though intelligent
observers of the facts they describe, and strongly
actuated by the feelings to which they give expression,
were yet far from being accomplished masters of the
use of the pen.
The Spanish scholar will readily perceive that the
inaccuracies of the original, both in spelling and
grammar, the frequent use of obsolete words, and the
,disjointed character of the sentences, must have ren-
dered it a matter of no inconsiderable difficulty to
avoid a certain harshness of style, in the endeavour to
give a correct version of the author's meaning. In
the execution of his task, however, the Editor has


never hesitated to sacrifice ease to accuracy, where
the two were incompatible with each other,
Since writing the following introduction to these
letters, the Editor has seen those passages in Kosmos
which refer to Columbus and to the antecedent
voyages to the New World, and is happy to find the
remarks of the illustrious Humboldt in this latter
work in no way contradictory to the statements in the
Geographie du nouveau Continent, to which the
Editor has been indebted in the progress of the
following pages.
R. H. M.


IN introducing these letters for the first time to the
English reader, it will perhaps be necessary to fore-
warn him that he is not to expect to find in them a
detailed history of all the events that occurred in the
four important voyages to which they refer. The
inducement to translate them has been, that though
falling far short of a complete history, they are yet
filled with a most interesting series of incidents,
described by the pens of those to whom these incidents
occurred; while at the same time they present us,
from Columbus's own mouth as it were, with a clear
view of his opinions and conjectures upon many
remarkable and important subjects; and of the mag-
nanimity with which he endured an accumulated
burthen of unmerited affliction.
The translated documents are seven in number. Five
of them are letters from the hand of Columbus him-
self, describing respectively his first, third, and fourth
voyages. Another, descriptive of the second voyage,
is by Dr. Chanca, the physician to the fleet during that
expedition; and the seventh document is an extract


from the will of Diego Mendez, one of Columbus's
officers during the fourth voyage, who gives a de-
tailed account of many most interesting adventures
undertaken by himself, but left undescribed by Co-
It will be requisite, however, for the satisfaction of
the reader, to enter more minutely into the history of
each of these documents individually.
The first and by far the most interesting of the let-
ters is that addressed by Columbus from Lisbon, under
date of the 14th of March, 1493, to Raphael Sanchez,
treasurer to Ferdinand and Isabella, and describes the
occurrences of his first great discovery. This letter,
the only one of the number now published that has
hitherto appeared in the English language, was trans-
lated very loosely and without comment in the Edin-
burgh Review for 1816.
It is not known whether the original, written by
Columbus, in Spanish, be now in existence or not,
but it is possible that it may still lie, like a dia-
mond in the mine, in some unexplored Archivo in
On its first appearance, in 1493, the astonishing
narrative it contained caused so much excitement
as to occasion numerous editions to be issued in
the same year from the various great printing cities
of Europe. Those at present known are the fol-
lowing :-
"Epistola Christofori Colom: cui etas nostra multum
debet: de insulis Indie supra Gangem nuper invetis.
Ad quas perquircndas octavo antea mense auspiciis et


ere invictissinorum Fernandi ac Helisabet Hispaniar
Regfi missus fuerat; ad magnificum dfim Gabrielem
Sanches; eorundem Serenissimorum Regum Tesaura-
rif missa: Qua' generous ac litteratus vir Leander
de Cosco ab Hispana idiomate in Latinui cSvertit;
tertio Kalefi Maii M.c.c.c.c.xc.III. Pontificatus Alex-
andri Sexti anno primo. Impressit Romee Eucharius
Argenteus anno dii M.c.c.c.c.xc.III." There are
copies of this edition in the Grenville Library, British
Museum; and in the libraries of Mr. James Lenox of
New York and Mr. John Carter Brown, of Providence,
Rhode Island.
Epistola Christofori Colom : cui etas nostra multum
debet: de Insulis Indie supra Gangem nuper invitis.
Ad quas perqrendas octavo antea mense auspiciis et
rere invictissimorum Fernandi et Helisabet Hispanie
Regfi missus fuerat, ad magnificum dfim Gabrielem
Sanchis eorunde Serenissimorum Regum Tesaurarif
missa: qua nobilis ac litteratus vir Leander de Cosco
ab Hispano idiomate in Latinum cSvertit tertio kal's
Maii. M.CCCC.XcIII. Pontificatus Alexandri Sexti Anno
primo. Sine loco et anno." Four leaves and thirty-
three lines in a full page.
Copies of this edition exist in the Grenville Library,
British Museum; in the Royal Library, Munich; and
in the libraries of Mr. James Lenox of New York, and
Mr. John Carter Brown of Providence.
Epistola Christofori Colum: cui etas nostra multfT
debet: de Insulis Indie supra Gangem nuper inventis.
Ad quas perquirendas octavo antea mense auspiciis et
ere invictissimi Fernandi Hispaniarum Regis. missus


fuerat: ad Magnificum dfim Raphaelem Sanxis: ejus-
dem serenissimi Regis Tesaurarif missa: quam no-
bilis ac litteratus vir Aliander de Cosco ab Hispano
ideomate in latinum convertit : tertio kal's Maii.
M.CCCC.XcIII. Pontificatus Alexandri Sexti anno Pri-
mo. Sine loco et anno et typ. n." Four leaves, thirty-
four lines in a full page.
Copies of this edition are in the Grenville Library,
British Museum; the Royal Library of Munich; and in
the libraries of Colonel Thomas Aspinwall, United
States, Consul-General at London, and Mr. John
Carter of Providence.
"De Insulis nuper inventis. Epistola Cristoferi
Colom (cui etas nostra multa debet: de Insulis in
Mari Indico nup'invetis. Ad quas perquirendas octavo
antea mense: auspiciis et ere Invictissimi Fernandi
Hispaniarum Regis missus fuerat) ad Magnificum dfim
Raphalez Sanxis: ejusde seremissimi Regis Thesau-
raria missa. Quam nobilis ac litterat' vir Aliander
d' Cosco: ab Hispano Ydeomate in latinfi convertit:
tercio kl's Maii. M.cccc.xcIn. Pontificatus Alexandri
Sexti anno primo. 8vo. s. 1. 1493." Six wood-cuts,
one of them (the Oceanica Classis) repeated; nine
leaves, twenty-seven words in a full page.
Copies of this edition are in the Grenville Li-
brary, British Museum; and in the library of Pro-
fessor Libri.
Another edition, 4to., was printed at Paris (1493),
the only known copy of which is in the library of Mr.
J. C. Brown of Providence.
There was likewise another edition printed in Paris


(1493), with a wood-cut on the title, one copy of
which is in the Bodleian Library, and another in the
University Library of G6ttingen.
Eyn sch6n hubsch lesen von etlichen insslen die do
in kurtzen zyten funden synd durch de' kiinig von
Hispania, und sagt v5 grossen wunderlichen dingen
die in de selbe insslen synd. Getruckt zu Strassburg
uff gruneek v5 meister Bartlomess Fiistler ym jar
M.CCCC.XCVI. uff sant Jeronymus tag." 4to. Seven
leaves, thirty lines in a full page.
The only known copy is in the Grenville Library,
British Museum.
"De insulis nuper inventis. Epistola Christoferi
Colom (cui etas nostra multum debet: de insulis in
maria Indico nuper inventis ad quas perquirendas
octavo antea mense: auspiciis et ere invictissimi Fer-
nandi Hispaniari Regis missus fuerat) ad magnificl
dominu' Raphaelem Sanxis: ejusdem serenissimi Re-
gis Thesaurarium missa: quam nobilis ac litteratus
vir Aliander de Cosco: ab Hispano ideomate: in lati-
num convertit : tercio Kalendas Maii. M.cccc.xcIm.
Pontificatus Alexandri Sexti anno primo." Seven
leaves, twenty-eight lines in a full page. Four
This book forms the sequel to "Verardus in laudem
Ferdinandi Regis."
There are copies of this edition in the Grenville
library, British Museum; and in the libraries of Mr.
John Carter Brown, Mr. James Lenox, Mr. Henry
Stevens, and Mr..O. Rich. It is less rare than the


Copies of another edition of the letter forming a
sequel to Verardus, folio, printed in Basle, 1533, are
in the British Museum, and in the libraries of Messrs.
Brown and Lenox; but are of no remarkable rarity.
No sooner did this letter make its appearance in
print, in the year 1493, than the narrative it contained
was put forth in Italian ottava rima by Giuliano Dati,
one of the most popular poets of the day, and there is
reason to believe that it was sung about the streets to
announce to the Italians the astounding news of the
discovery of a new world. The only known copy of
this curious and valuable poem has recently come into
the possession of the British Museum. Whether
regarded with reference to the bibliography of early
works relating to America, or of the early poetry of
Italy, this little work must be acknowledged to possess
the highest interest.
It consists of four leaves, comprising a title page
and sixty-eight stanzas. The title runs thus: La
letter, dell' isole che ha trovato nuovamente il re dis-
pagna." End of the volume.-" Finita la Storia della
invention delle nuove isole dicanaria indiane tracte
duna pistola di Christofano Colombo et per...Giu-
liano Dati tradocta. A di 26 doctubre 1493. Flo-
rentie." On the title-page is an engraving repre-
senting the arrival of Columbus with his fleet at one
of the newly discovered islands in the West Indies,
with the king of Spain sitting enthroned in the fore-
A copy of the poem is given as an appendix to this


All the remaining documents are taken from Navar-
rete's Coleccion de los viages y descubrimientos
que hicieron por mar los Espafioles desde fines del
siglo 15." The second letter, which is written by Dr.
Chanca, was copied by Navarrete (as he himself says
at the end of the letter in his work) from a manu-
script, in the possession of the Royal Academy of His-
tory at Madrid, written in the middle of the sixteenth
century, and was amongst the collection of papers
referring to the West Indies, collected by Father An-
tonio de Aspa, a monk of the order of St. Jerome, of
the monastery of the Mejorada, near Olmedo.-This
document was unpublished previous to Navarrete's
compilation. A copy was taken from the original
by Don Manuel Avella, and deposited in the col-
lection of Don Juan Bautista Mufioz, and from that
copy, after collation with the original manuscript, the
transfer was made by Navarrete into his valuable work.
This letter is followed by a Memorial respecting the
second voyage, addressed to the sovereigns by Colum-
bus, through the intervention of Antonio de Torres,
governor of the city of Isabella. At the close of each
chapter or item is affixed their higlhesses' reply. The
document was taken by Navarrete from the Archives
of Seville.
The two letters next in order in the present trans-
lation, are from the hand of Columbus himself, and
are descriptive of the events of the third voyage. The
first, addressed to the sovereigns, was taken by Navar-
rete, under careful collation by himself and Mufioz,
from a manuscript in 'the handwriting of the bishop
Bartholomew de las Casas, found in the archives of


the duke del Infantado. The second, addressed to the-
nurse of Prince John, is taken from a collection of
manuscripts, relating to the West Indies, made by
Mufioz, and deposited in the Real Academia de la
Historia at Madrid. The text was collated by Navar-
rete, with a copy inserted in the Codice Colombo
Americano, said to have been taken in the monastery
of Santa Maria de las Cuevas in Seville.
The letter by Columbus, descriptive of his fourth
voyage, was taken by Navarrete, from a manuscript
in the king's private library at Madrid, written in the
handwriting of the middle of the sixteenth century,
and probably the same copy as that which Pinelo, at
page 61 of his Biblioteca Occidental, 4to., 1629,
describes as having been made by Don Lorenzo
Ramirez de Prado, from an edition in 4to., which
does not appear to be now in existence. It was
translated into Italian, by Constanzo Baymera of
Brescia, and published at Venice, in 1505, and had
become extremely scarce, until republished, with some
learned comments, by Morelli, the librarian of St.
Mark's at Venice, in 1810.
That it had been printed in Spanish is asserted
both by Pinelo and by Fernando Columbus.
It is presumed that the manuscript from which
Navarrete made his copy was that made by Ramirez
de Prado, because it had been removed to the king's
library, from the Colegio Mayor de Cuenca, in Sala-
manca, where the papers of Ramirez had been depo-
It is impossible to read, without the deepest sym-
pathy, the occasional murmurings and half suppressed


complaints which are uttered in the course of this
touching letter. These murmurings and complaints
were wrung from the manly spirit of Columbus by
sickness and sorrow, and though reduced almost to
the brink of despair by the injustice of the king, yet
do we find nothing harsh or disrespectful in his lan-
guage to the sovereign. A curious contrast is pre-
sented to us. The gift of a world could not move the
monarch to gratitude; the infliction of chains, as a
recompense for that gift, could not provoke the sub-
ject to disloyalty. The same great heart which
through more than twenty wearisome years of disap-
pointment and chagrin, gave him strength to beg and
to buffet his way to glory, still taught him to bear
with majestic meekness the conversion of that glory
into unmerited shame.
Our list of translated documents concludes with an
extract from the will of the brave and faithful Diego
Mendez, without the aid of whose devoted and un-
flinching fidelity, Columbus must have inevitably
perished, under the overwhelming disasters of his
fourth voyage.
The will itself is deposited in the archives of the
Duke of Veragua, the lineal descendant of Columbus;
and the extract was made for Navarrete, by the
canonigo Tomas Gonzalez, on the 25th March, 1825.
A series of documents so highly interesting both for
originality and importance as those that have been
here enumerated, might appear to need but few words
either of introduction or recommendation, since the
entire history of civilization presents us with no event,


with the exception perhaps of the art of printing, so
momentous as the discovery of the western world;
and, independently of the lustre which the intrinsic
importance of that event confers upon the discoverer,
there is no individual who has rendered himself, on
the score of personal character and conduct, more
illustrious than Christopher Columbus. There have,
nevertheless, not been wanting those, who, from
various motives, and on grounds of various trustwor-
thiness, have endeavoured to lessen his glory, by
impeaching his claim to the priority of discovery, or
by arguing that the discovery itself has proved a mis-
fortune rather than advantage to the world at large.
In order, therefore, to vindicate the value of the
original documents here translated, it will not per-
haps be deemed superfluous that allusion be made as
briefly as possible to such pretensions to prior discovery
as have been at different times put forth, that thus a
fair estimate may be formed of the relative merits
of each.
Various have been the absurdities set forth by spe-
culative writers respecting the original colonization of
the western hemisphere. Athanasius Kircher, in his
Prodromus Coptus and (Edipus WEgyptiacus, gives
the Egyptians the credit of colonizing America, as
well as India, China, and Japan, grounding his argu-
ment upon the religious worship of the sun, moon,
stars, and animals. Edward Brerewood, at pages 96
and 97 of his Enquiries touching the Diversity of
Languages, contends that the Americans are the
progeny of the Tartars. Marc Lescarbot, in his


Histoire de la Nouvelle France, maintains that the
Canaanites, when routed by Joshua, were driven into
America by storms, and that Noah was born in
America, and after the flood showed his descendants
the way into their paternal country, and assigned to
some of them their places of abode there. But Hor-
nius, in his treatise De originibus Americanis, after
touching upon the various conjectures here quoted,
conceives that Paracelsus has reached the height of
presumption and folly, when he states, that a second
Adam and Eve were created for the peopling of the
western world.
The first specific statement, however, of a supposed
migration from the shores of the old world to those of
the new, is that which the learned De Guignes pre-
sumes to be demonstrable, from the relation-given by
a Chinese historian, Li-Yen, who lived at the com-
mencement of the seventh century. The said histo-
rian speaks of a country, named Fou-sang, more than
forty thousand li* to the east of China. He says that
they who went thither started from the province of
Lea-tong, situated to the north of Peking; that after
having made twelve thousand li, they came to Japan;
that travelling seven thousand li northward from that
place, they arrived at the country of Ven-chin, and at
five thousand li eastward of the latter, they found the
country of Tahan, whence they journeyed to Fou-
sang, which was twenty thousand li distant from
Tahan. From this account De Guignes endeavours,
by a long chain of argument, to prove that the Chinese
The li is about one-tenth of the common league.


had pushed their investigations into Jeso, Kamtschatka,
and into that part of America which is situated oppo-
site the most eastern coast of Asia.
This surmise of De Guignes has been answered by
Klaproth, in a paper which appeared in the Nouvelles
Annales des Voyages. His arguments go to show
that the country named Fousang is Japan; and that
the country of Tahan, situated to the west of Asiatic
Vinland, can only be the island of Saghalian. Hum-
boldt observes upon this subject that the number of
horses, the practice of writing, and the manufacture
of paper from the Fousang tree, mentioned in the ac-
count given by the Chinese historian, ought to have
shown De Guignes that the country of which he spoke
was not America.
The presumed discovery of America, which comes
next in chronological rotation, is that by the Scandi-
navians, the earliest printed allusion to which occurs
in Adam of Bremen's Historia Ecclesiastica Ecclesi-
arumr Hamburgensis et Bremensis, published at Co-
penhagen, 1579, 4to. The Baron von Humboldt has
asserted that the merit of first recognizing the disco-
very of America, by the northmen, belongs indis-
putably to Ortelius, who, in his Theatrum Orbis
Terrarum, with unjust severity says, that Christopher
Columbus had done nothing more than to place the
new world in a permanently useful and commercial
relationship with Europe. The ground upon which
the priority is claimed for Ortelius, is that the first
edition of his work came out in 1570, although the
reference which Humboldt himself gives is to an


edition of 1601, which was after the death of Ortelius,
and the earlier editions do not contain the chapter on
the Pacific Ocean, in which the passage occurs. It is
true that in the Bibliotheca Hulthemiana the edition
of 1601 is said to have been revised and augmented
by Ortelius before his death in 1598, but, even if the
assertion were made by Ortelius, and not by the
editor of his work after his death, it still leaves per-
fectly unimpeached the claim of Adam of Bremen to
having first mentioned the discovery in 1579. Abra-
ham Mylius, in his Treatise de Antiquitate Lingua?
Belgicce, Leyden, 1611, makes all Americans to be
sprung from Celts; stating that many Celtic words
were to be found in use there; and with more reason-
able showing affirms that the coast of Labrador was
visited by wanderers from Iceland. Hugo Grotius, in
his Dissertatio de Origine Gentium Americanarum,
(Paris, 1642, 8vo.), follows Mylius, and states that
America was colonized by a Norwegian race, who
came thither from Iceland, through Greenland, and
passed through North America down to the Isthmus.
. The earliest printed detail of these discoveries is
given by the Norwegian historian, Thormodus Tor-
fmeus, in a work entitled Historia Vinlandica Antiqu-e,
ex Antiquitatibus Islandicis in lucem product,
(Hanni.e, 1705, 12mo.) But in the invaluable work
by Professor Rafn, published in 1837 by the Danish
Royal Society of Antiquaries, under the title of Anti-
quitates Americanc, the manuscripts which record
these discoveries are given at length in the original,
accompanied by a Latin translation, and careful and


learned geographical illustrations. The following is
a summary of the principal events recorded, in this
highly interesting volume, and the geographical infer-
ences are those supplied by the professor himself.
One Eric Rauda, or Eric the Red, son of Thorwald,
a Norwegian noble, having been condemned to a
banishment of three years, for killing Eyolf his neigh-
bour, emigrated in the spring of the year 986, to a
country to the west of Iceland, which had been disco-
vered a short time previously by a man named
Gunbjorn. After two years absence, he returned to Ice-
land, and in order to hold out an inducement to colo-
nization, named the newly discovered country, Green-
land, intending by that name to express the richness
of the woods and meadows with which it abounded.
Amongst those who had accompanied Eric was a man
named Heriulf Bardson, who established himself at
Heriulfsnes. Biarne, the son of the latter, finding, on
his return home from a trading voyage to Norway,
that his father had quitted Iceland, resolved upon
following him, though he, as well as those who had
accompanied him, were quite unacquainted with the
Greenland sea. Soon after leaving Iceland they met
with northerly winds and fogs, and were carried they
knew not whither: the weather clearing they found
themselves near a flat woody country, which, not
corresponding with the descriptions of Greenland,
they left to larboard. After five days sailing with a
south-west wind, they came to a mountainous country,
covered with glaciers, which they found to be an
island; but as its appearance was not inviting, they


bore away from the island, and standing out to sea
with the same wind, after four days sailing with fresh
gales, they reached Heriulfsnes in Greenland.
Some time after this, in the year 1000, Lief, son of
Eric the Red, equipped a ship with thirty-five men to
make a voyage of discovery, with the view of exam-
ining the new found lands more accurately. They
came to a land where no grass was to be seen, but
everywhere there were vast glaciers, while the space
intervening between these ice mountains and the shore
appeared as one uninterrupted plain of slate. This
country they named Helluland (i. e. Slate-land.)
Thence they stood out to sea again, and reached a
level wooded country, with cliffs of white sand. They
called this country Markland (i. e. Woodland.) Again
they put to sea, and after two days sail reached an
island, to the eastward of the mainland, and passed
through the strait between this island and the main-
land. They sailed westward, and landed at a place
where a river, issuing from a lake, fell into the sea.
Here they-wintered and built houses, which were
afterwards called Leifsbuder (Leifsbooths.) During
their stay, one of their number, named Tyrker, a
German, happened to wander some distance from the
settlement, and on his return reported that he had
found vines and grapes. These proving to be plenti-
ful, Lief named the country Vinland (Yineland), and
in the ensuing spring returned to Greenland. In the
year 1002, Thorwald, Lief's brother, being of opinion
that the country had been too little explored, bor-
rowed his brother's ship, and with the assistance of his


advice and instructions, set out on a new voyage.
They arrived at Leifsbooths, in Vinland, remained
there for the winter, and, in the spring of 1003,
Thorwald sent a party in the ship's long-boat on a
voyage of discovery southwards. They found a beau-
tiful and well-wooded country, with extensive ranges
of white sand; but no traces of men, except a wooden
shed which they found on an island lying to the
westward. They returned to Leifsbooths in the
autumn. In the summer of 1004, Thorwald sailed
eastward and then northward, past a remarkable
headland enclosing a bay, and which was opposite to
another headland. They called it Kialarnes (Keel-
Cape.) Continuing along the east coast, they reached
a beautiful promontory, where they landed. Thorwald
was so pleased with the place that he exclaimed, Here
is a beautiful spot, and here I should like well to fix
my dwelling." He had scarcely spoken before they
encountered some Skrellings (Esquimaux) with whom
they fell to blows, and a sharp conflict ensuing, Thor-
wald received a mortal wound in his arm from an arrow.
He died and was buried by his own instructions on the
spot which had excited his admiring remark, the lan-
guage of which appeared prophetic of a longer stay
there than he had at first contemplated.
In the summer of 1006 two ships arrived in Green-
land from Iceland, one commanded by Thorfinn
Karlsfore and Snorre Thorbrandson, both men of
illustrious lineage; the other by Biarne Grimolfson
of Breidefiord, and Thorhall Gamlason of Austfiord;
and in the spring of 1007 these two ships, together


with a third (in which Thdrbiorn, a relative of Eric's
family, had formerly come to Greenland) set sail for
Vinland. .
They had in all one hundred and sixty men, and as
they went with the intention of colonizing, they took
with them a great variety and quantity of live stock.
They sailed, first, to the Tresterbygd, and afterwards
to Biarney (Disco); then to Helluland, where they
found an abundance of foxes; and thence to 'Mark-
land, which was overgrown with wood, and plentifully
stocked with a variety of animals. Proceeding still in a
south-westerly direction,with the land on the right, they
came to a place where a frith penetrated far into the
country; off the mouth of it was an island, on which
they found an immense number of eyder-ducks, so:that
it was scarcely possible to walk without treading on
their eggs. They called the island Straumey (Stream-
Isle) from the strong current which ran past it, and
the 'frith they called Straumfiordr; (Stream-Firth).
Here Thorhall and eight others left the party in quest
of Vinland, but were driven by westerly gales to the
coast of Iceland, where some say that they were
beaten, and put into servitude. Karlsefrie, however,
with the remaining one hundred and fifty men, sailed
southwards, and reached a place where. a river falls
into the sea from a lake ; large islands were -situated
opposite the mouth .of the river; passing these, they
steered into the lake, and called the place H6p. The
low grounds were covered with wheat growing wild ;
and therising ground with vines.'. Here they stayed
till the beginning, of the year 1008, when finding


their lives "in' constant jeopardy from the hostile
attacks of the natives, they quitted the place, and
returned to Eric's fiord. In 1011 a ship arrived in
Greenland, from Norway, coinmanided by two Ice-
landic brothers named Helge and Finnboge; to these
men, Freydisa, a natural daughter of Eric the Red,
proposed a voyage to Vinland, stipulating that they
should share equally with her the profits of the voy-
age. -To this they assented, and it was agreed that
each party should have thirty able-bodied men on
board the ship, besides women; but Freydisa secretly
took with her five men in addition to that number.
They reached Liefsbooths in 1012, and wintered
there; when a discussion arising, Freydisa had the
subtlety to prevail on her husband to massacre the
brothers and their followers; after the perpetration of
which base deed they returned to Greenland in the
spring of 1013.
A numerous and illustrious race descended from
Karlsefne, among whom may be mentioned the learned
Bishop Thorlak Runolfson, to whom we are prin-
cipally indebted for the oldest ecclesiastical code of
Iceland, written in the year 1123. It is also probable
that the accounts of the voyages were originally com-
piled by him.
It is fortunate that in these ancient accounts they
have preserved the statement of the course steered
and the distance sailed in a day. From various
ancient Icelandic geographical_ works, it may be
gathered that the distance of a day's sailing was esti-
mated at from twenty-seven to thirty geographical


mniles-Germari or Danish-of which fifteen are equal
to a degree, and. are consequently equivalent :to four
-English miles. From the island of HelluTand, after-
wards called Little Helluland, Biarne sailed to Herjul-
fones (Ikigeit), in Greenland, with strong !south-
westerly winds, in four days. The distance between
that cape and Newfoundland is about onelhundred and
fifty miles, which, if we allow for the strong south-
westerly gales, will correspond with Biarne's voyage;
while the well-known barrenness of the flats of New-
foundland corresponds with the Hellur, or slates which
suggested the name the northmen gave to the island.:
SMarkland being described as three days sail south-
west of Helluland, appears to be Nova Scotia; and the
low and level character of the country, covered with
woods, tallies precisely with the descriptions of later
Vinland was stated to be two days sail to the
south-west of Markland, which would be,from fifty-
four to sixty miles. The distance from Cape Sable to
Cape Cod is reckoned at about two hundred and ten
English miles, which answers to about fifty-two Danish
miles; and in the account given by Biarne of their
finding many shallows off the island to the eastward,
we recognize an accurate description of Nantucket,
and Kialarnes must consequently be Cape Cod, The
Straumfiirdr of the northmen is supposed to be Buz-
zard's Bay, and Straumey, Martha's Vineyard, though
the account of the many eggs found there, would
seem'to correspond more correctly with Egg Island,
,which lies off the entrance of Vineyard Sound.


Krossanes is probably Gurnet Point. The H6p
'answers to Mount Hope's Bay, through which the
-Taunton river flows, and it was here that the Leifs-
booths were situated.
SThe ancient documents likewise make mention of a
country called Huitramannaland (Whiteman's Land),
otherwise Irland it Mikla (Great Ireland) supposed to
be that part of the coast of North America, including
North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
There is a tradition among the Shawanese Indians,
who emigrated some years ago from Florida, and set-
tled in'Ohio, that Florida was once inhabited by white
people,who possessed iron instruments. The powerful
chieftain, Are Marson of Reykianes, in Iceland,-ac-
cording, to the account given by his contemporary
*Rafn, surnamed the Limerick-trader,-was driven to
Huitramannaland by storms in 983, and was baptized
there. Are Frode likewise (the first compiler of the
Landnama, and a descendant in the fourth degree
from Are Marson), states that his uncle, Thorkell
Gellerson, had been informed by Icelanders that Are
Marson had been recognized in Huitramannaland, and
was-held in high respect there. This statement there-
fore shows that there was an occasional intercourse in
those days between the Orkneys and Iceland, and this
part of America.
It is further recorded in the ancient MSS. that the
Greenland bishop Eric went over to Vinland in the
year 1121; but nothing more than the fact is stated,
and it simply corroborates the supposition of inter-
course between the countries. Again, in the year


166,'a voyage of discovery to the Arctic regions of
America, is said to have been performed, under the
auspices of some clergymen of the bishopric of Gardar
in Greenland; and from the recorded observations
made by the explorers, would seem to have been car-
ried to regions whose geographical position has been
more accurately determined by our own navigators,
Parry and the two Rosses. The next recorded disco-
very was made by Adalbrand and Thorwald Helgason,
two Icelandic clergymen, in the year 1285. Contem-
poraneous accounts state that they discovered a new
land to the westward of Iceland, supposed to have been
Newfoundland. The last record preserved in the an-
cient Icelandic MSS. relates a voyage from Greenland
to Markland, performed by a crew of seventeen men, in
the year 1347. The account written by a contempo-
rary, nine years after the event, induces the belief
that intercourse between Greenland and America had
been maintained as late as the period here mentioned,
for it speaks of Markland as a country still known and
visited in those days.
The obscurity of many portions of these narratives
leaves much to be cleared up, with reference to this
interesting subject; but their general truthfulness
being corroborated by the traces of the residence and
settlement of the ancient northmen exhibited in the
inscriptions discovered in Kinkigtorsoak, Greenland,
and Massachusetts, no room is left for disputing the
main fact of the discovery.
Between this period and the date of the first voyage
of Columbus, the coast of America is reported to have


been visited by the Arabians of the Spanish Peninsula,
the Welsh, the Venetians, the Portuguese, and also by
a Pole in the service of Denmark.
The Arabian expedition is described both by Edrisi
and by Ebn-al-ouardi. It appears to have been un-
dertaken by eight persons of the same family, called
the Almagrurins or the Wandering Brothers, who
-having provided themselves with everything requisite
for a long voyage, swore they would not return till
they had penetrated to the extreme limits of the
Dark Sea. They sailed from the port of Aschbona or
Lisbon, and steered towards the south-west, and at the
end of thirty-five days arrived at the island of Gana or
Sheep Island. The flesh of the sheep of this island
being too bitter for them to eat, they put to sea again,
and after sailing twelve days in a southerly direction,
reached an island inhabited by people of a red skin,
lofty stature, and with hair of thin growth, but long
and flowing over their shoulders. The inhabitants of
this island told them that persons had sailed twenty
days to the west without discovering land, and the
Arabian brothers, diverted from the pursuit of their
hardy enterprise by this discouraging account, retraced
their course, and returned safely to Lisbon. From
this description the elder de Guignes inferred that the
Arabs had either reached the eastern coast of America,
or at least one of the American islands; an opinion,
however, which appears to have as little to sanction it,
as his above mentioned conjecture that the Chifiese
had discovered the west coast of America in the fifth
century. The Baron von Humboldt concurs with the


opinion expressed by the learned orientalist Tychsen,
in his Neue oriental und exegetische Bibliothek, and
repeated by Malte Brun, that the island reached by
the Arab wanderers was one of the African islands.
This conclusion is drawn from the circumstance that
the Guanches, the original people of the Canary.
group, were a pastoral race, and also possessed the
same external characteristics as the islanders here
described. Moreover, the fact that the king of the
island had an interpreter who spoke Arabic, toge-
ther with the circumstance that the red men
had sailed westward for a month without seeing
land, strongly corroborates the opinion advanced.
The precise date of this voyage is unknown, but
Humboldt presumes that it must have been con-
siderably anterior to the expulsion of the Arabs from
Lisbon in 1147; because Edrisi, whose work was
finished in 1153, speaks of the occurrence as if it were
by no means recent.
It is but upon a slight foundation, that the Welsh
have pretended to raise a claim to the discovery; but
slight as it is, there is certainly enough to render a
decidedly negative assertion on the subject, to the full
as presumptuous, as one decidedly affirmative would
be. But as we have no concern with mere con-
jectures, we must in candour narrate, as succinctly as
possible, the grounds upon which these pretensions
have been founded.
The first account of this discovery is found in Hum-
phrey Llwyd's translation of the History of Wales, by
Caradoc of Llancarvan, published by Dr. Powell in


1584. According to him the occurrence took place as
follows:-On the death of Owen Gwynedd, prince of
North Wales, in' 1169, a contention arose amongst
his numerous sons, respecting the succession to the,
crown, when Madawe, or Madoc, one of their number,
seeing his native country was likely to be embroiled in
a civil war, deemed it more prudent to try his fortune,
abroad. In pursuance of this object, he sailed with a
small fleet of ships to the westward, and leaving
Iceland on the north, came at length to an unknown
country, where everything appeared new and uncom-
mon, and the manner of the natives different from all
that he had ever seen. The country appearing to him,
from its fertility and beauty, to be very desirable for
a settlement, he left most of his own men behind him,
(amounting, according to Sir Thomas Herbert, to a
hundred and twenty), and returning to Wales, per-
suaded a considerable number of the Welsh to go out
with him to the newly discovered country, and so
with ten ships he figain departed, and bade a final
adieu to his native soil. This account of the historian
Caradoc of Llancarvan is the only affirmative written
document the story has upon which to ground its
claim to authenticity, with the exception of an ode,
written by a Welsh bard, Meredyth ab Rhys, who
died in 1477, fifteen years before Columbus's first ex-
pedition, in which an allusion- is made to the event.*
The most strenuous advocate for the truth of the tradition,
that America was discovered by Prince Madoc, was Dr. John
Williams, of Sydenham, who wrote two tracts on the subject,
in the year 1791 and 1792, which, if betraying a little of the bias
of prejudice, yet manifest a degree of research that does great cre-
dit to his industry and zeal.


A circumstance which would appear to confirm the
truth of Madoc's voyages, is a peculiar resemblance
that has been found between some of the American
dialects and the Welsh language; but, as Dr. Robertson
reasonably remarks, the affinity has been observed in
so few instances, and in some of these is so obscure or
so fanciful, that no conclusion can be drawn from the
casual resemblance of a small number of words. Dr.
Williams adduces in confirmation of his favourite
idea the authorities of Lopez de Gomera, Hornius,
and Peter Martyr, pretending that they assert that
traces of Christianity were found among the Ame-
ricans by the Spaniards, as well as that there was
a tradition among the Mexicans, that many years
before a strange nation came amongst them, and
taught them the knowledge of God. His references
however appear entirely incorrect.
Another pretension to an early discovery of America
has been founded upon an account given in a work
published at Venice, in 1558, entitled Dello scopri-
mento dell' Isole Frislanda, Eslanda Engrovelanda,
Estotilanda, ed Icaria, fatto sotto il Polo Arctico da
duefratelli Zeni, M. Nicolo il K. e M. Antonio." The
substance of the account is, that in 1380, Nicolo Zeno,
a Venetian noble, fitted out a vessel at his own cost,
and made a voyage to the north, with the intention of
visiting England and Flanders, but was driven by a
storm to Friseland, supposed to be the Fceroe Archi-
pelago. Being rescued from an attack of the natives,
by Zichmni, a neighboring prince, Zeno entered into
the service of the latter, and assisted him in conqucr-


ing Friseland, and other northern islands. He shortly
after dispatched a letter to his brother Antonio,
requesting him to find means to join him; whereupon
the latter purchased a vessel, and succeeded in reach-
ing Friseland, where he remained fourteen years.
During his residence there he wrote to his brother
Carlo, in Venice, and gave an account of a report
brought by a certain fisherman, about a land to the
westward. This account stated, that about twenty-
six years before, the fisherman was overtaken at sea,
when out with four fishing boats, by a tempest, which
drove them about for many days, and at length cast
them on an island, called Estotiland, about a thousand
miles from Friseland. The inhabitants conveyed
them to a fair and populous city, where the king sent
for many interpreters to converse with them, but
none that they could understand, until a man was
found, who had likewise been cast away upon the
coast, and who spoke Latin. They remained several
days upon the island, which was rich and fruitful,
abounding with all kinds of metals, and especially
gold. Though much given to navigation, they were
ignorant of the use of the compass, and finding the
Friselanders acquainted with it, the king of the place
sent them with twelve barques to visit a country to the
south, called Drogeo. They had nearly perished in a
storm, but were cast away upon the coast of Drogeo.
The fisherman described this Drogeo as a country of
vast extent, and that the inhabitants were naked and
eaters of human flesh. He remained many years in
the country, and became rich with traffickingbetween


Estoliland and the main land, and subsequently fitted
out a vessel of his own, and made his way back to
Friseland. His narrative induced Zichmni to under-
take a voyage thither, in which he was accompanied
by Antonio Zeno. It was unsuccessful: landing on
an island called Icaria, they were roughly treated by
the inhabitants, and:a storm afterwards drove them on
the coast of Greenland.
This account is stated by its compiler, Francisco
Marcolini, a descendant of the Zeni, to have been
compiled from the fragments of letters written by
Antonio Zeno to Carlo, his brother.
SMalte Brun supposes the island of Estotiland to be
Newfoundland, and Drogeo to be Nova Scotia and
New England. In the library of St. Mark there is a
map,* by Andrea Bianco, bearing the date of 1436, on
which is laid down a large extent of land, five or six
hundred leagues west of Gibraltar, above which is
written the word "Antillia." With reference to this
subject, Malte Brun says, M. Pinkerton croit que
cette Antillia, qui se trouve aussi sur d'anciennes
cartes VWnitiennes, n'est qu'une creation systematique
des geographes, qui s'imaginaient qu'il devait y avoir
un continent oppose h celui de l'ancien monde, et des-
tine a contra-balancer celui-ci. Mais je ne vois pas que
M. Pinkerton donne aucune raison de son opinion."
The following passage occurs in Sir John Barrow's
Chronological History of Voyages in the Arctic
Regions, which, if it stated a defensible truth, would
A copy of this map is given in the second vol. of Sastre's.
Mercurio Italico, Lond. 1789, 8vo.


present another claim, anterior to that of Colombus, to
the discovery of America. The passage is headed
"Cortereals, 1500":-
The Portuguese,, not content with having dis-
covered a route to India, by sailing round the tem-
pestuous extremity of Africa, soon after engaged in
an equally dangerous enterprise: that of finding a
route to India and the Spice Islands, by sailing west-
ward round the northern extremity of America.
This bold undertaking was reserved for the COR-
TEREALS, the enlightened disciples of the school of
Sagres. The first navigator of the name of Cortereal,
who engaged in this enterprise, was John Vaz Costa
Cortereal, a gentleman of the household of the
infant Don Fernando, who, accompanied by Alvaro
Marteus Homem, explored the northern seas, by order
of king Alfonso the Fifth, and discovered the Terra de
Baccalhaos (the land of cod fish), afterwards called
This voyage is mentioned by Cordeiro,* but he
does not state the exact date, which however is ascer-
tained to have been in 1463 or 1464; for, in their
return from the discovery of Newfoundland, or Terra
Nova, they touched at the island of Terceira, the cap-
taincy of which island having become vacant, by the
death of Jacomo Bruges, they solicited the appoint-
ment, and in reward for their services the request was
granted, their patent commission being dated in
Evora, 2nd April, 1464."
The work quoted is Cordeyro's Historia Insulana das Ilhas a
Portugal sugeytas no Oceano Occidental, Lisbon, 1717.


It will be seen by the wording of this passage, that
Sir John Barrow has fallen into the inaccuracy of as-
serting, that in 1463 or 1464, Cortereal was engaged
in the enterprise of finding a route to India and the
Spice Islands, by sailing westward round the northern
extremities of America. We must presume that the
Portuguese were aware of the existence of the Ameri-
can continent, before they could conceive the idea of
sailing westward round its northern extremity. Mr.
Biddle (in his Memoir of Sebastian Cabot, London,
1831, folio 288), charges Sir John Barrow with not
having even looked into the work which he professes
to cite as his authority. It is just possible, from Sir
John's doubtful expression, if the patent should spe-
cify, rc.", that he had not consulted Cordeiro; but
should that be the case, he is nevertheless to be vindi-
cated from the imputation of having made any state-
ment not borne out by the work itself. Mr. Biddle is,
however, correct in saying the patent commission of
the appointment of Cortereal and Homem to the
government of Terceira, does not specify that the ser-
vice for which it was granted, was the discovery of
Newfoundland; and, moreover, at the end of Faria y
Sousa's Asia Portuguesa, there is a list of all the
armadas which sailed from Lisbon, on voyages of dis-
covery, between 1412 and 1640, and this expedition is
passed by in silence; so that the validity of the whole
statement hangs on the authority of Cordeiro. Bar-
bosa makes honourable mention of this writer, but the
account is altogether so extremely improbable, from
the very silence of the Portuguese, at the time, on so


important a subject, as to leave Cortereal but small
chance of a successful rivalry with Sebastian Cabot.
The last on the list of those who have been said to
precede Columbus, in the discovery of America, is a
Polish pilot, named John Szkolny, whose name has
been erroneously Latinized by Hornius, Zurla, Malte
Brun, Wytfliet, and Pontanus, Scolvus," or Sciol-
vus." He was in the service of Christian II of Den-
mark, in the year 1476. fHe is said to have landed on
the coast of Labrador, after having passed along Nor-
way, Greenland, and the Friseland of the Zeni. Upon
this subject the great Humboldt thus expresses him-
self: "I cannot hazard any opinion upon the state-
ment made to this effect by Wytfliet, Pontanus, and
Horn. A country seen after Greenland may, from the
direction indicated, have been Labrador. I am, how-
ever, surprised to find that Gomara, who published his
Historia de las Indias at Saragossa, in 1553, was
cognizant even at that time of this Polish pilot. It is
possible that when the codfishery began to bring the
seamen of southern Europe into more frequent con-
nexion with those of the north, a suspicion may have
arisen, that the land seen by Szkolny must have been
the same as that visited by John Sebastian Cabot in
1497, and by Gaspar Cortereal in 1500. Gomara
says what is in other respects not quite correct,
that the English took much pleasure in frequenting
the coast ofLabrador,for they found the latitude and
climate the same as that of their native land, and the
men of Norway have been there with the pilot, John
Scolvo, as well as the English with Sebastian Cabot.


Let us not forget that Gomara makes no mention of
the Polish pilot, with reference to the question of the
predecessors of Colombus, though he is malignant
enough to assert, that it is in fact impossible to say to
whom the discovery of the New Indies is due."*
In the American Philosophical Transactions for
1786, is a letter addressed to Dr. Franklin, by Mr. Otto
of New York, in which he not only asserts that the
illustrious cosmographer Martin Behaim discovered
the Azores, but quotes a passage, from what he calls
an authentic record, preserved in the archives of Nu-
remberg, the tenor of which is as follows:-" Martin
Behem, traversing the Atlantic Ocean for several
years, examined the American Islands, and discovered
the strait which bears the name of Magellan, before
either Christopher Columbus or Magellan navigated
those seas ; and even mathematically delineated, on a
geographical chart for the king of Lusitania, the situ-
ation of the coast around every part of that famous
and renowned strait." He also quotes passages from
Hartman Schedl, and from Cellarius, in confirmation
of this statement. Don Christobal Cladera, in his
Investigaciones Historicas, says that, in order to
refute these statements, he procured from Nuremberg
a description of Behaim's globe, together with his-
torical notes on the life and family of that geographer,
Humboldt has fallen into an error in saying that Joachim
Lelewel, in his Pisma pomniejsze geogr. historyczne, 1814, has
recently called up fresh attention to this Polish pilot. The editor
has examined the work carefully from beginning to end, and does
not find the name even once mentioned, although the page to which
reference is made contains allusions to early discoveries.


and upon examining these, and the unpublished works
of the Academia de las Ciencias de Lisboa, he became
convinced that the observations of Mr. Otto were
totally unfounded; and De Murr, who has well inves-
tigated the question, assures us that the passage
quoted by Mr. Otto from Schedl was not to be found
in the German translation of that work by George Alt,
in 1493. Moreover, the real globe of Behaim, made in
1492, does not contain any of the islands or shores of
the New World; a fact which sets at rest the two
questions of Behaim's earlier discovery, or of Colom-
bus gaining his information from Behaim.*
From the series of evidences contained in the pre-
ceding accounts, the fact that America had been
visited by European adventurers before the time of
Columbus, is rendered too probable to admit of con-
tradiction, even from the most sanguine advocate of
the glory of the great discoverer. But, on the other
side, it cannot be denied that the discovery of
Columbus, however much later in date, deserves the
meed of highest honour, as being the result of saga-
city and judgment, and as having been carried on
with an energetic endeavour to bring into active
operation the incalculable advantages which it opened
up to the world at large. To vindicate the correct-
ness of this statement, it will be well to give a brief
sketch of his eventful life, and to portray as briefly
as we may the high qualities to which, far more than
to accidental circumstances, the glory of this great
A copy of part of this globe is given in Cladera's Inves-


discoveryis due. The retrospect of hishistory will at the
same time shew, that while every previous discovery
was attributable to accident, the greater portion of the
accidental or uncontrollable circumstances in the life
of Columbus were such as, instead of assisting him,
tended to thwart him at every step of his painful
It is generally agreed that his father was a wool
weaver or carder. There is reason, however, to pre-
sume that though his parentage was humble, he was
descended from a family of consideration. On this
subject his son, Don Ferdinand, denies*.with great
indignation an assertion which occurs in a curious
life of the admiral, inserted in the Psalterium Octu-
plex Augustini Justiniani, Genoa, 1516, folio, under
the comments on the nineteenth psalm, that he was
"vilibus ortus parentibus," and complains that he is
falsely called a mechanic.
The date of his birth is a vexata qusestio," which
it would be out of our power in the limits of this in-
troduction to discuss. Washington Irving, relying
upon the evidence given by Bernaldez, the "Cura de
los Palacios," states it to be about 1435 or 1436.
This inference he draws from the remark of Bernaldez,
that he died in 1506, at the age of seventy, a little
more or less. Juan Bautista Mufiozf concludes that
he was born in 1446. Don Ferdinand, the admiral's
son, relates, that in a letter addressed by his father to
the king and queen, dated 1501, he states that he had
* Historic del S. D. Fernando Colombo, cap. iv. t Historie del
Nuevo Mundo, lib. ii, sec. 12.


then been forty years at sea, and in another letter
that he was fourteen years old when he went to sea;
so that allowing a year either way for probable inat-
tention to minuteness in these statements, we get the
date of his birth, fixed by his own hand, at about
1447. Navarrete, who recognizes these two passages,
translates the former, as if the forty years were only
to include the time passed by Columbus on the ocean,
and accordingly adds to this period the eight years
spent in Spain, between 1484 and 1492. Whether he
is justified in this rendering of the passage, the reader
may judge. The sentence runs thus: Di etd molto
tenera io entrai in mare navigando, ed vi ho contin-
uato fin' hoggi : ed l'istessa arti inclina a chi la segue
a desiderar di sapere i secret di questo mondo : ed
hoggimai passano quaranta anni, che io uso per tutte
quelle parti, che fin' hoggi si navigano." The conclu-
sion to be drawn from the right reading of this, and
the subsequent statement, that the admiral went to
sea at fourteen years of age, agrees with the inference
of the learned and judicious Mufioz.
With respect to the birthplace of our illustrious
navigator, were we to enter into the complex discus-
sions of those who, with different arguments of more
or less plausibility, place it in Genoa, Nervi, Savona,
Pradello, Cogoleto, Quinto, Bogliasco, Albisola, Chia-
vara, Oneglia, or the castle of Cuccaro in Monferrato,
-we should but launch upon a sea of difficulties,
with little hope of a successful voyage. We conceive
that the most pertinacious disputant ought to be con-
vinced by an assertion made twice by Columbus in his


will, dated 22nd February 1498, that he was born in
the city of Genoa; namely,-" I, being a native of
Genoa"; and I desire my said son Diego, or the per-
son who may succeed to the said inheritance, always
to keep and maintain one person of our lineage in the
city of Genoa...because from thence I came, and there
I was born."'
Having early evinced a strong inclination for the
study of geography, geometry, and astronomy, he
found at the college of Pavia an excellent opportunity
of gaining a more than superficial acquaintance with
the principles of those sciences, and at the same time
acquired considerable proficiency in the Latin lan-
guage. The maritime position and commercial en-
gagements of his native city, doubtless suggested and
fostered much of that propensity for a nautical life,
that he exhibited at so early an age ; and although it
appears from several historians that for a short time
he worked at his father's trade, yet this must have
been simply during his earliest boyhood, for by his own
account he commenced the life of a mariner at fourteen
years of age. The piratical character of the seafaring
life of those days necessarily exposed its followers to
unceasing hardships and dangers, and the severity of
this early discipline must have most materially tended
to render available and permanent those distinguished
qualities which have subsequently gained for him the

"Siendo yo nacido en Genova"; and mando al dicho Don
Diego, mi hijo, a la persona que heredare el dicho mayorazgo que
tenga y sostenga siempre en la Ciudad de Genova una persona de
nuestro linage ...pues que della sali y en ella naci."


admiration of the world: indeed no career could have
been better calculated to develop his peculiar genius,
or add fuel to those enthusiastic aspirations which cha-
racterized him to the close of his life.
From the period of his going to sea, which was
about the year 1460 until the year 1472, we meet
with no distinct mention of his name; though in a letter
written by him to their Majesties, in 1495, he says:
It happened to me that king Rene (whom God has
taken to himself) sent me to Tunis to capture the
galley Fernandina, and on arriving at the island of
San Pedro, in Sardinia, 1 learned that there were
two ships and a caracca with the galley, which so
alarmed the crew that they resolved to proceed no
further, but to return to Marseilles for another vessel
and more people; upon which, being unable toforce
their inclination, I yielded to their wish, and having
first changed the points of the compass, spread all
sail, for it was evening, and at daybreak we were
within the cape of Carthagena, while all believed for
a certainty that they were going to Marseilles." The
date of this occurrence is unknown, but the expedient
of Columbus to alter the point of the needle, reminds
us of his subsequent stratagem, of altering his reckon-
ing, to appease his discontented crew during his first
great voyage of discovery.
In the year 1472, however, we have evidence of his
having been in Savona, from the fact of his signature
having been found appended to the will of one Niccolo
Monleone, under date of the 20th March of that year.


The document is preserved in Savona, among the
notarial archives.
In 1474 we find his name mentioned in a letter
addressed by Ferdinand king of Sicily to Louis king
of France, the title of which runs thus: "Literw d
Ferdinando Rege Sicilice ad Ludovicum XI, Gallice
Regem, per Faecialem inisse, quibus quceritur, quod
Christophorus Columbus triremes suas depredatus
sit, postulatque sibi ablata restitui. Datum in Terra
Fogice did 8 Decembr. 1474." Then follows a letter
in five lengthy clauses, in which it is stated that the
said vessels were attacked and taken:-"A Columbo,
qui quibusdam navibus prceest, Majestatis vestre
The title of Louis's reply runs thus: "Responsio
Ludovici XI quibus promittit restitutionem, excusat
tamen Columbum, quod jus sit in Oceano capere
naves ab hostilibus terris venientes et saltem bona
hostium inde auferre." These letters are given by
Leibnitz, in his Codex Juris Gentium Diplomaticus,
Prodromus, art. 16 and 17; but on the correction of
Nicolas Toinard, he acknowledges, in the preface to
his Mantissa Codicis, that he had erroneously inserted
the Christian name Christophorus."
Toinard's correction went to shew that Leibnitz.
had confounded the name of Guillaume de Caseneuve,
surnamed Conlomp, Coulon, or Colon, as the Spaniards
called him, with that of the illustrious discoverer.
This acknowledgment by Leibnitz of his error might
seem to render useless any reference to the letters in
question; but as Christopher Columbus is stated by


his son, Don Ferdinand, to have been of the same
family as the pirate here mentioned, and also to have
been engaged at sea with him and his nephew, it
becomes interesting to examine what record exists of
these illustrious pirates, and to see how far the asser-
tion of Don Ferdinand bears the semblance of cor-
rectness. This Caseneuve, or Colon, is called by
Duclos, in speaking of the very circumstance which
occasioned these letters, in his Histoire de Louis II,
" Vice-Admiral de France, et le plus grand home de
mer de son temps." And Zurita, in his Libro 19 de
los Anales de Aragon, calls him, "Colon, capitan de
la Armada del Rey de Francia." Garnier, in his
iHistoire de France, thus relates the circumstance:
' Guillaume de Casenove, Vice-Amiral de Normandie,
connu dans notre histoire sous le nonm d'Amiral
Coulon, s'dtait rendu formidable sur toutes les mers
de l'Europe, ou il exercait le mgtier d'armateur :
dans une de ses courses il s'empara de deux riches
frigates charges pour le compete des plus riches
negocians de Naples, de Florence, et de plusieurs
autres villes d'ltalie, qui tout solliciterent vivement la
restitution de cette important prise."
Another exploit, in which this Colon was success-
fully engaged, was the taking of eighty Dutch ships
returning from the herring fishery, in the Baltic, in
1479. Again, another sea-fight related by Marc An-
tonio Sabelico, in the eighth book of his tenth Decade,
is quoted by Don Fernando, where Columbus the
younger (described by Sabelico as the nephew, but by
Zurita as-Francis, the son of the famous corsair),


intercepted, between Lisbon and Cape St. Vincent,
four richly laden Venetian galleys, on their return
from Flanders. Fernando further asserts that his
father (Christopher) was present 'in this engagement,
and that after a desperate contest, which lasted from
morning till evening, the hand-grenades and other
fiery missiles used in the battle, caused a general con-
flagration among the vessels, which having been lashed
together with iron grapplings, could not be separated,
and the crews were compelled to leap into the water
to escape the fire. He then goes on to say that his
father, who was a good swimmer, finding himself at
the distance of two leagues from the land, seized an
oar, and by its aid succeeded in reaching the shore.
Whereupon, learning that he was not far from Lisbon,
where he knew he should find many natives of Genoa,
he went thither, and meeting with a gratifying recep-
tion, took up his abode in that city." The engagement
here described is shown by various French historians
to have taken place in 1485, and as it is certain that
Columbus was in Lisbon prior to 1474, (for in that
year he has a letter addressed to him in the city, by
Paolo Toscanelli, in reply to one written by himself
from the same place), this relation by Don Ferdinand
assumes a very apocryphal aspect.
With respect to his other statement, that his father
was of the same name and family as these two re-
nowned corsairs, it is to be remarked, that neither he
nor any of the subsequent historians who have claimed
this needless honour for the great discoverer, appears
to have been acquainted with the real name of the


pirates; and as Caseneuve was the strict family name
of the latter, and Coulon merely a superadded sur-
name, we may fairly conclude that the claim to consan-
guinity has no other foundation than the identity in the
Spanish language of Columbus's patronymic with the
distinguishing surname of the French vice-admiral.
In the Chronique Scandaleuse (folio 109) this Ca-
seneuve is said to have had a very handsome man-
sion, named Gaillart-Bois, in the neighbourhood of
Notre Dame d'Escouys, in Normandy, at which Louis
XI made a stay of two or three days in the month of
June 1475, and returned thither also in the following
month and stayed there some time. Spotorno sug-
gests that his name of Coulon may have been derived
from a place so called in the province of Berri; so
that, in addition to the evidence that he was not of
the same name or family with Christopher Columbus,
there arises strong reason to believe that he was in
reality a Frenchman:* in which case it becomes pro-
bable that an event which has been generally attri-
buted to him, or to his still more renowned relative
Francois Caseneuve, would be with greater correctness
ascribed to the Genoese navigator, Christopher Co-
lumbus. It appears that, in a letter dated Terra
d'Otranto, 2nd October 1476 (preserved, according to
Bossi, in the royal archives at Milan), addressed to the
duke of Milan by two illustrious gentlemen of that
city,-the one Guid'Antonio Arcimboldo, and the

Another Caseneuve, probably of this family, is said by De
Bry to have been captain of the fourth expedition of the French to
Mexico, in the year 1567.


other Giovanni Giacomo Trivulzio-the following
story is related. It says that the captain of the Vene-
tian fleet, when stationed off Cyprus to defend the
island, had twice encountered a Genoese ship, called
the Nave Palavisina," which he had taken to be a
Turkish caracca; and in these two engagements one
hundred and twenty of the Turks and Genoese had
been killed, and in the Venetian squadron thirty had
been killed, and two hundred wounded. The captain
appears to have had doubts whether he might not
have done wrong, and caused offence to the duke of
Milan, who might perhaps be an ally of the Genoese:
he therefore goes on to say that his only desire had
been to meet with his enemies (the Turks) and plun-
der them; and adds, in confirmation of that assertion,
that "a year before he had met with three times as
many galleys, who spoke no evil of his good name, and
that he found Columbus with ships and galleys, and
had cheerfully let him pass by, upon which the cry was
raised of 'Viva San Georgio,' and nothing further
passed between them." The Columbus here mentioned
is shewn, by the cry of "Viva San Georgio," and by the
general tenour of the Venetian captain's letter, to have
been a Genoese, and with a Genoese crew; and as it
appears probable that the Caseneuves were Frenchmen,
and would in all probability sail with French crews, it
leaves strong reason to presume that the Genoese cap-
tain here mentioned was Christopher Columbus, who
is allowed by all his early historians to have been
engaged in the Mediterranean about the period
referred to.


Shortly after his arrival in Portugal he married
Dofia Felipa Mofiiz de Palestrello, whose father, then
dead, had been a distinguished navigator under prince
Henry, and governor of the island of Porto Santo.
This marriage was a fortunate occurrence for Colum-
bus; for, independently of its having been a match of
affection, he became by it possessor of his deceased
father-in-law's journals, charts, and memoranda. These
invaluable documents unfolded to his mind the ideas
and experience of the adventurous Portuguese, and
supplied food of the most delightful kind to his natural
appetite for cosmographical inquiry. He now began to
employ his time in making maps and charts, and
from the observations and comparisons into which he
was naturally led by this occupation, he soon began to
perceive how much of the world remained to be
explored. To aid the notions suggested by his daily
pursuits, the inflamed accounts given by seamen of the
recent discoveries of the Portuguese, all lent their
force to kindle up the native enthusiasm of his mind.
In one instance, he was informed by Antonio Leone,
an inhabitant of Madeira, that sailing westward one
hundred leagues, he had seen three islands at a
distance. Again, one Martin Vicenti, a pilot, related
that when at a distance of four hundred and fifty
leagues westward of Cape St. Vincent, he had found a
piece of wood, carved, but evidently not with an iron
His wife having inherited some property in Porto
Santo, he resided with her a short time there, and as
her sister was married to Pedro Correo, a Portuguese


navigator of distinction, the conversations arising out
of their mutual intercourse would naturally turn
upon the subjects which were now become engrossing
to the mind of Columbus. Meanwhile he studied
with deep and careful attention the works of such
geographical authors as supplied suggestions of the
feasibility of a short western passage to India.* These

Amongst all the authors consulted by Columbus, there was
none for whom he had a greater predilection than the Cardinal
Pierre d'Ailly (Petrus de Aliaco); and it is probable that from the
"Imago Mundi" of that author, he culled all he knew of the opinions
of Aristotle, Strabo, and Seneca, respecting the facility of reaching
India by a western route. His works consist of thirteen small
treatises, four of which,-the first, second, sixth, and seventh-are
on cosmography. There is a magnificent volume in the British
Museum of his works, embodying all these treatises, with the addi-
tion of three curious tracts on analogous subjects, by Jean Charlier
de Gerson, chancellor of the university of Paris. The date and
place of printing are wanting, but it is evidently from the types of
John of Westphalia, printed at Louvain about 1480, according to
Serna Santander, and 1483, according to Lambinet. Columbus's
own copy of this work is now in the cathedral of Seville, and forms
one of the most precious items in the valuable library originally
collected by his son Ferdinand, and bequeathed to the cathedral on
condition of its being constantly preserved for public use. The
" Tractatus de Imagine Mundi," which was composed in 1410,
contains a faithful and concise account of the ancient authors who
have given descriptions of the globe; namely, Plotemy, Aristotle,
Pliny, Lucretius, Isidorus de Chara, Averroes, Seneca, etc., whose
opinions the author contrasts with the narrative of Moses and his
commentators. Mr. George Sumner, who has made unwearied per-
sonal investigations in Spain for everything that might throw a
light upon the history of Columbus, and who has been privileged
with a sight of this valuable book, has kindly handed the editor
an extract from letter addressed by him to the Baron von Humboldt,
in which he says that Columbus's copy of Aliacus contains many
marginal notes in his own handwriting. Mr. Sumner's letter goes


suggestions were corroborated by the narratives of
Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville, whose reports of
the vast extent of Asia eastward led to the reasonable
inference, that the westward passage to the eastern
confines of that continent, could not demand any
considerable length of time.
The natural tendency of his thoughts to nautical
enterprise being thus fostered by the works that he
studied, and by the animating accounts of recent
adventurers, as well as by the glorious prospects
which the broad expanse of the unknown world
opened up to his view, we find that in the year 1474 his
ideas had formed for themselves a determined channel,
and his grand project of discovery was established in
his mind as a thing to be done, and done by himself.
The combined enthusiasm and tenacity of purpose
which distinguished his character, caused him to re-
gard his theory, when once formed, as a matter of such
undeniable certainty, that no doubts, opposition, or dis-
appointment, could divert him from the pursuit of it.

onto say: "This interesting discovery of the copy of Aliacus which
belonged to the admiral is due to Mr. Washington Irving, who
lighted upon it accidentally while searching in the library for some
other work, not however until he had closed his labours for the Lives
of Columbus and his Companions. The marginal notes have, I believe,
from the examination which I made of them, comparatively little
importance; the permission to copy them was however refused me
by the librarians. The archives of the Indies were freely opened
to me by orders from Madrid, but in the canonical officers of the
Columbian Library, I found much the samejealousy that the eastern
traveller is sure to encounter among Arab schieks,-a jealousy
founded on the belief that the-stranger comes among them only to
disenter the hidden treasure which lies buried under their ruins."-


With these views he commenced a correspondence
on the subject with the learned Paolo Toscanelli of
Florence, who, to demonstrate his approbation of the
design of Columbus, sent him a chart, the most im-
portant features of which were laid down from the
descriptions of Marco Polo. The coasts of Asia were
drawn at a moderate distance from the opposite coasts
of Europe and Africa, and the islands of Cipango,
Antilla, etc., of whose riches such astonishing accounts
had been given by this traveller, were placed at con-
venient spaces between the two continents.
While all these exciting accounts must have con-
spired to fan the flame of his ambition, one of the
noblest points in the character of Columbus had to be
put to the test by the difficulty of carrying his project
into effect. The political position of Portugal, en-
grossed as it was with its wars with Spain, rendered
the thoughts of an application for an expensive fleet of
discovery worse than useless, and several years elapsed
before a convenient opportunity presented itself for
making the proposition.
Meanwhile Columbus was not idle. In the year
1477, he tells us, in a letter quoted by his son, Don
Ferdinand, that "he sailed a hundred leagues beyond
the island of Thule, the southern part of which is dis-
tant from the equinoctial line seventy-three, degrees,
and not sixty-three, as some assert; neither does it lie
within the line which includes the west of Ptolemy,
but is much more westerly. To this island, which is
as large as England, the English, especially those
from Bristol, go with their merchandise. At the time


that I was there the sea was not frozen, but the tides
were so great as to rise and fall twenty-sixfathoms.
It is true that the Thule of which Ptolemy makes
mention lies where he says it does, and by the moderns
it is called Frislanda." This island is supposed to
have been Iceland, but nothing more is known of the
voyage than is contained in this letter. It is moreover
supposed by his son, as has been already stated, that
he passed a considerable portion of his time at sea,
with one or both of the famous pirates of the same
name, who were so many years engaged in the Levant;
but upon the whole of this portion of his history there
rests an impenetrable cloud of obscurity.
About the year 1480, by the joint labours of the cele-
brated Martin Behaim, and the prince's two physicians,
Roderigo and Josef, who were the most able geogra-
phers and astronomers in the kingdom, the astrolabe
was rendered serviceable for the purposes of navi-
gation, as by its use the seaman was enabled to ascer-
tain his distance from the aquator by the altitude of
the sun.
Shortly after this invaluable invention Columbus
submitted to the king of Portugal his proposition of a
voyage of discovery, and succeeded in obtaining an
audience, to advocate his cause. He explained his
views with respect to the facility of the undertaking,
from the form of the earth, and the comparatively
small space that intervened between Europe and the
eastern shores of Asia; he proposed, if the king would
supply him with ships and men, to take the direct
western route to India across the Atlantic; and his


application was received at first discouragingly, but
the king was at length induced, by the excellent argu-
ments of Columbus, to make a conditional concession,
and the result was that the proposition was referred to
a council of men supposed to be learned in maritime
affairs. This council, consisting of the above men-
tioned geographers, Roderigo and Joseph, and Caza-
dilla, bishop of Ceuta, the king's confessor, treated the
question as an extravagant absurdity. The king, not
satisfied with their judgment, then convoked a second
council, consisting of a considerable number of the most
learned men in the kingdom; but the result of their
deliberations was only confirmative of the verdict of
the first junto, and a general sentence of condemnation
was passed upon the proposition. As the king still
manifested an inclination to make a trial of the scheme
of Columbus, and expressed a proportionate dissatisfac-
tion with the decisions of these two juntos, some of
his councillors, who were inimical to Columbus and at
the same time unwilling to offend the king, suggested
a process which coincided with their own views, but
which was at once short-sighted, impolitic, and unge-
nerous. Their plan was to procure from Columbus a
detailed account of his design, under the pretence of
subjecting it to the examination of the council, and
then to dispatch a caravel on the voyage of discovery,
under the false pretext of conveying provision to the
Cape Verde Islands. King John, contrary to his
general character for prudence and generosity, yielded
to their insidious advice, and their plan was acted
upon. But the caravel which was sent out, after


keeping on its westward course for some days,
encountered a storm, and the crew, possessing none of
the lofty motives of Columbus to support their resolu-
tion, returned to Lisbon, ridiculing the scheme in
excuse of their own cowardice. So indignant was
Columbus at this unworthy manoeuvre, that he resolved
to leave Portugal and offer his services to some other
country, and towards the end of 1484 he left Lisbon
secretly with his son Diego. The learned and careful
Mufioz states his opinion that he went immediately to
Genoa, and made a personal proposition to that govern-
ment, but met with a contemptuous refusal; great
obscurity, however, hangs over his history during the
first year after his departure from Portugal.
Columbus, in the .letter to the nurse of prince John,
which is here translated, asserts that seven years had
been spent in treaty, and nine in execution; so that,
deducting seven years from 1492, the year in which
he started on his first journey, gives us 1485 as the
period of his first application to the court of Spain. A
curious surmise is expressed in a note to Sharon
Turner's History of England in the Middle Ages, in
which the supposition is propounded of the possible
identity of Christopher Columbus with a person named
Christofre Colyns, who is recorded in some grants in
the Harleian MSS. to have been military commandant
ofQueenborough castle, in the isle of Sheppy, in 1484
and 1485. This man is distinctly stated in the same
grants to have held that post in April 1485, and it
may be reasonably conjectured that the cessation of his
office would not take place till the accession of Henry


VII, in August of that year, which leaves but little
time for his making his way to Genoa, and subse-
quently reaching Spain, so as to make his application
to that court. Moreover, the impoverished condition
in which he presented himself at the convent de la
Rabida was very incompatible with the probable pecu-
niary position of a person, who is described by the
grants in question not only to have held the prominent
position already mentioned, but to have had a ship
given him, with an annuity of 100, and an especial
grant of money to enable him to supply himself with
habiliments of war. We venture, from these conside-
rations, to express an opinion that the supposition
proposed~by Mr. Turner can be no longer regarded as
The well known and interesting story of Colum-
bus's visit to the Franciscan convent of Santa
Maria de Rabida forms the first incident that we find
recorded of him after his arrival in Spain. It is well
known that the lively interest which the worthy prior
of that convent, Fray Juan Perez de Marchena, took
in his guest, was the means, through the anticipated
influence of his friend Fernando de Talavera, of first
leading Columbus to the Spanish court, under the
hope of obtaining the patronage of the king and queen.
Talavera, who was prior of the monastery of Prado,
and confessor to the queen, possessed great political in-
terest. Juan Perez took advantage of this influential
position of his friend, and addressed him a letter, by
the hands of Columbus, strongly recommending the
project of the latter to his favourable consideration,


and requesting his advocacy of it before the sove-
reigns. It was in the spring of 1486 that Columbus
first ventured to the Spanish court in the hope of
gaining a favourable audience. On reaching Cordova,
however, he had the mortification to find that Talavera,
upon whose influence he mainly relied, regarded his
design as unreasonable and preposterous. The court
also was at that time so engrossed with the war at
Granada, as to place any hope of gaining attention to
his novel and expensive proposition out of the ques-
tion. At length, at the close of 1486, the theory
of Columbus, backed as it was by his forcible argu-
ments and earnest manner, gained weight with the
most important personage at court next to the sove-
reigns themselves. This was Mendoza, archbishop of
Toledo, and grand cardinal of Spain; who, pleased
with the grandeur of the scheme, and the fervent but
clear-headed reasoning of Columbus, adopted his
cause, and became his staunch protector and friend.
Through his means an audience was procured with
the sovereigns, and the result of the interview was the
expression of a favourable opinion, qualified by the
necessity of an appeal to the judgment of the literati
of the country. But here again Columbus found
himself in a painful predicament, which it required all
his knowledge and prudence to escape from with
safety. He was to be examined at Salamanca by a
council of ecclesiastics, and had to propound opinions
which appeared to be at variance with the descriptions
contained in the sacred Scriptures, and that at a period
when the expression of any sentiment approaching to


heresy exposed its owner to the persecution of the
newly established Inquisition. The ignorance of cos-
mography, and the blind conclusions drawn from
various misinterpreted texts of Scripture, formed
mighty impediments to the pleadings of Columbus,
and he began to find himself in danger of being con-
victed not only of error, but of heresy. One learned
man of the number, however, Diego de Deza, tutor to
prince John, and afterwards archbishop of Seville, ap-
preciated the eloquent and lucid reasoning of the
adventurer, and aiding him with his own powers of
language. and erudition, not only gained for him a
hearing, but won upon the judgments of some of the
most learned of the council. Nevertheless, so impor,
tant a question could not be hastily decided; -and the
result of the united pedantry, and sluggish super-
stition of the learned body, was to expose the question
to protracted argumentation or neglect, while Talavera,
who was at its head, and from whom Columbus had
hoped to receive the greatest assistance, was too busied
with political matters to bring it to a conclusion. At
length, in the early part of 1487, the deliberations of
the council were brought to a stand-still, by the depar-
ture of the court to Cordova, and were not resumed
till the winter of 1491. During this wearisome period
the bustle and excitement of the memorable campaign
against the Moors, with its alternations of triumphant
festivity, together with the marriage of the princess
Isabella to the prince Alonzo, heir-apparent of Portu-
gal, were far too engrossing to admit of much attention


being given to the schemes of Columbus.* At the
close, however, of the year 1491, the learned conclave
appears to have recommended its consultations; but
upon being called upon by the sovereigns for a deci-
sion, a report was returned to Talavera that the
scheme was considered by the general vote of the
junto too groundless to be recommended to the inter-
ference of the sovereigns. Accordingly Talavera was
commanded to inform Columbus that the cares and
expenses of the war precluded the possibility of their
Highnesses engaging in any new enterprises, but'
that when it was concluded there would be both
the will and the opportunity to consider further upon
the subject. Regarding these as nothing better than
a courteous evasion of his application, he retired
wearied and disappointed from the court, and, but for
an attachment which he had formed at Cordova, which
made him reluctant to leave Spain, he would in all
probability have repaired to France, under the en-
couragement of a favourable letter which he had
received from that quarter.
The ensuing period till 1492 was spent in a succes-
sion of vexatious appeals to the Spanish court, during
which he had to contend with every obstacle that
ignorance, envy, or a pusillanimous economy could
It was shortly after this period that Bartholomew Columbus was
sent by his brother to king Henry VII, to offer his services in a
voyage of navigation; the king is said to have received the offer
"con allegro volto"--"with a cheerful countenance"; but his
acceptance of the proposition was rendered null by Columbus having
in the interim attached himself to the service of queen Isabella.


At length, having overcome all difficulties, he set
sail with a fleet of three ships on the 3rd of August
1492, on his unprecedented and perilous voyage. The
ordinary difficulties which might be expected to occur
in so novel and precarious an adventure were seriously
aggravated by the alarming discovery of the variation
of the needle, as well as by the mutinous behaviour of
his crew; and his life was upon the point of being sacri-
ficed to their impatience, when the fortunate appear-
ance of land, on the morning of the 12th of October,
converted their indignation into compunction, and
their despondency into unbounded joy.
With reference to the identity of the first landing
place of Columbus in America, the learned and indus-
trious Navarrete, whose steady judgment and patience
in investigation can be denied by none, uses the fol-
lowing expression: From a careful examination of
the diary of Columbus in his first voyage (inserted in
the Coleccion de Viages), its courses, descriptions of
lands, of islands, coasts and harbours, it appears that
this, the first island discovered and occupied by
Columbus, and named by him San Salvador, must be
the one situated most to the north of those called the
Turk Islands, and itself called the Great Turk. Its
latitude is 210 30' northward of the centre of the
island of San Domingo." A communication recently
made to the New York Historical Sooiety, by Mr.
Gibbs, a resident on Turk's Island, presents several
points of evidence strongly confirmative of the correct-
ness of Navarrete's deductions. The most important
of Mr. Gibbs's arguments are the following. Colum-


bus states in his journal that there were several
islands in sight from Guanahani. When Mr.:Gibbs
visited the island now called San Salvador, he sent
sailors aloft to look out for land, and himself ascended
the highest part of the island; but though the weather
was clear, no land was visible. The journal speaks of
soundings to the eastward of Guanahani: there are
none to the eastward of San Salvador. The Spaniards
sailed round Guanahani in one day: with San Salvador
this would be impossible. All the marks wanting at
San Salvador are found at Turk's Island. The journal
describes Guanahani as well wooded, and having much
water; a large lake in the centre, and two several
running streams flowing into the sea. Turk's Island
has about one-third of its surface covered with lakes
of salt and fresh water; and some of these formerly
communicated with the sea, except at certain seasons
when storms choked up the outlets with sand. A few
years ago vessels sailed into one of the ponds. The
island, though now without trees, is known to have
been formerly well wooded, and Mr. Gibbs recollects
some remains of the forest existing in his youth. It
is worthy of notice, too, that the journal makes no
allusion to the Great Bahama Bank, which must have
been passed in approaching San Salvador.*
It is needless to dwell upon the events which folb
lowed. They are. for the most part described in the
letter here translated, and are more amply given in
Washington Irving's elaborate and charmingly written
narrative. The main result of this voyage was the dis-
Vide AthenUeum for 1846, page 1274.


-covery of the islands of St. Salvador, Santa Maria de la
Concepcion, Exuma, Isabella, Cuba, Bohio, the Archi+
pelago off the south coast of Cuba (which he names the
Jardin del Rey, or King's Garden), the islands of St.
Catherine and Hispaniola, on which latter Columbus
erected the fortress of La Navidad, and established a
colony. He set sail on his return voyage on the 16th
January 1493, and, after suffering severely from a
storm and a wearisome struggle with the trade winds,
reached the island of St. Mary's on the 18th of Feb.
ruary. Scarcely had he and his tempest-tossed crew
commenced their thanksgivings for their safe return to
the abode of civilized men, when the governor of the
island, acting under the general orders of the king of
Portugal, surrounded them and took them all pri-
soners. This reception of the admiral on his return
to the Old World is well described by Washington
Irving, as an earnest of the crosses and troubles with
which he was to be requited through life, for one of
the greatest benefits that ever man had conferred
upon his fellow-beings. Being at length liberated,
with an apology, he was invited to the court, and re-
ceived most graciously by the king and queen, but not
without evident manifestations of jealousy and cha-
grin on the part of some of the courtiers, and propo-
sitions to take away his life. The magnanimity of the
king prevented this injustice, and leaving Portugal in
safety, on the 13th of March, Columbus arrived on
the 15th at the little port of Palos, from whence he
had sailed on the 3rd of August in the preceding
year. His reception in Spain was such as the gran-


deur and dignity of his unrivalled achievement de-
served, and his entrance into Barcelona was scarcely
inferior to a Roman triumph.*

The following remark by Mr. George Sumner has been kindly
supplied by that gentleman, as an interesting item connected with
this period of the history of Columbus:-
From the brilliant description given by Irving and Prescott of the
arrival of Columbus at Barcelona, and of his reception there by the
Catholic sovereigns, it seemed to me as probable that some contem-
porary account of this arrival and reception, as well as of the
sojourn of Columbus, might be found at Barcelona; and, while
there in the spring of 1844, I searched the admirably arranged ar-
chives of Aragon, and also those of the city of Barcelona, for such
notice, but without any success. I could not so much as find a
mention of the name of Columbus.
The Dietaria, or day-book, of Barcelona notices the arrival of
ambassadors, the movements of the king and queen, and even
records incidents of as trifling note as those which in our day serve
to fill the columns of a court journal; yet not a word appears in re-
gard to Columbus.
How account for this silence? Is it another evidence of the old
feeling of jealousy between the Aragonese and Castilians, of which
the student of Spanish history meets so many proofs? Such was
the opinion to which I was forced, and such I found also was the
interpretation given to it by the intelligent Archevero, who had
himself gone over this ground a few years since at the request of
Navarrete. The voyage of Columbus was undertaken at the
expense and for the benefit of the crown of Castile. It was not to
Aragon, but to Castilla of Leon, that Columbus gave a new world,
and as the Aragonese did not profit directly by this gift, they saw
fit to treat it and its donor with scornful silence.
In one of the notes to the great work of Capmany,-Memorias
sobre la ciudad de Barcelona, 1789-he gives a list of distinguished
men who have enjoyed the hospitality of the city, and among them
places the name of Columbus, making no allusion however to any
contemporary account of his sojourn there.
In the Dietaria of Barcelona, under date 15th November 1492,
is the following entry:-" The king, queen, and primogenito,


The seductive adulation of the court and the people
did not, however, divert his thoughts from the prepa-
rations for a second expedition. A stay of six months
sufficed to make all ready for this purpose; during
which period a papal bull was obtained, which fixed
the famous line of demarcation, determining the right
of the Spanish and Portuguese to discovered lands;
which line was drawn from the north to the south
pole, at a hundred leagues west of the Azores and
Cape de Verde islands; the discoveries to the west-
ward were to belong to Spain, and those to the east-
ward to Portugal. It may be well here to remark
that the preparations for Columbus's second armament
gave rise to a malignant feeling towards him on the
part of Juan Rodriguez Fonseca, bishop of Badajos,
which eventually led to such disgraceful ill-usage of
the admiral as will remain a stain upon the character
of Spain while the name of Columbus exists in the
memory of man.
On the 25th September 1493, Columbus took his

entered to-day the city, and lodged in the palace of the bishop of
Urgil in the Calle Ancha." This is followed by a description of the
festivities which followed. "1493, 4th February.-King and queen
went to Alserrat. 14th.-King and queen returned to Barcelona."
As there appears no notice of the king having changed his abode
after taking possession of the palace in the Calle Ancha, it was pro-
bably there that Columbus recounted to Isabella his adventures and
his success. The American pilgrim may still, in the beautiful
Alcazar of the Moorish kings, recall the figure of the discoverer of
his land, standing in the presence of the Catholic sovereigns of
Spain;-in the cotton-spinning town of Barcelona the besom of
modern improvement has long since swept away the palace of the
bishop of Urgil.


departure a second time from Palos, with a fleet of
three large ships of heavy burthen, and fourteen cara-
vels, and after a pleasant voyage reached the island of
Dominica on the 2nd of November. The letter of Dr.
Chanca, which we have here translated, gives an
interesting description of a considerable portion of the
events of this voyage, but it is to be regretted that his
account terminates so abruptly, and the "memorial"
of Columbus to the sovereigns adds but few incidents
of moment to the narrative. We should be strain-
ing the necessary limits of a mere introduction to
these translated documents, were we to undertake to
lead the reader through the various history of this
eventful period of the life of Columbus. Such a task
has been rendered perfectly unnecessary by the much
admired work of Washington Irving. Suffice it that
we state, that the principal geographical information
supplied by this voyage consists in the discovery of the
Caribbee Islands, Jamaica, an Archipelago (named by
Columbus the Queen's Gardens, supposed to be the
Morant Keys), Evangelista, or the Isle of Pines; and
the island of Mona.
He sailed with his fleet finally for Spain on the
28th of April, 1496, and after working their way for
nearly two months against the whole current of the
trade-winds (during which provisions became so re-
duced, that there was talk of killing, and even eating
the Indian prisoners), they reached the bay of Cadiz on
the 11th of June. The emaciated state of the crew
when they disembarked, presenting so mournful a
contrast with the joyous and triumphant appearance


:which they were expected to make, produced a very
discouraging impression upon the opinions of the pub-
lic, and reflected a corresponding depression upon the
spirits of Columbus himself. He was reassured, how-
ever, by the receipt of a gracious letter from the sove-
reigns, inviting him to the court; a letter the more
gratifying to him that he had feared he was fallen
into disgrace. He was received with distinguished
favour, and had a verbal concession of his request to
be furnished with eight ships for a third voyage. He
was doomed, however, to have his patience severely
tried by the delay which occurred in the performance
of this promise, which was partly attributable to the
engrossing character of the public events of the day,
and partly to the machinations of his inveterate
enemy, the bishop Fonseca.
It was not till the 30th of May 1498, that he set
sail from San Lucar, with six of the eight vessels pro-
mised, the other two having been despatched to Hispa-
niola, with provisions, in the beginning of the year.
When off Ferro, he despatched three of his six vessels
to the same island, with a store of fresh supplies for
the colony, while with his remaining three he steered
for the Cape Verde Islands, which he reached on the
27th of June. On the 5th of July he left Boavista,
and proceeded southward and westward. In the course
of this voyage the crews suffered intensely from the
heat, having at one time reached the fifth degree of
north latitude, but at length land was described on the
31st of July,-a most providential occurrence, as but
one cask of water remained in the ship. The island


they came to formed an addition to his discoveries;
and as the first land which appeared consisted of three
mountains, united at their base, he christened the
island, from the name of the Trinity, La Trinidad. It
was in this voyage that he discovered terra firma, and
the islands of Margarita and Cubagua. His supposi-
tion that Paria had formed the original abode of our
first parents, is curiously described in our translated
letter; and to a careful observer the sagacity of his
mode of reasoning is perceptible even in a speculation
so fanciful as this. On reaching Hispaniola (to which
he was drawn by his anxiety on account of the infant
colony), he had the mortification to find that his
authority had suffered considerable diminution, and
that the colony was in a state of organized rebellion.
He had scarcely, by his active, and at the same time
politic conduct, brought matters to a state of compa-
rative tranquillity, when a new storm gathered round
him from the quarter of the Spanish court. The
hatred of his ancient enemies availed itself of the cla-
mour raised against him by some of the rebels who
had recently returned to Spain, and charges of tyranny,
cruelty, and ambition, were heaped unsparingly upon
him. The king and queen, wearied with reiterated
complaints, at length resolved to send out a judge, to
inquire into his conduct,-injudiciously authorizing
him to seize the governorship in the place of Columbus,
should the accusations brought against him prove to
be valid. The person chosen was Don Francisco de
Bobadilla, whose character and qualifications for the
office are best demonstrated by the fact, that, on the


day after his arrival in Hispaniola, he seized upon the
government before he had investigated the conduct of
Columbus, who was then absent; he also took up his
residence in his house, and took possession of all his
property, public and private, even to his most secret
papers. A summons to appear before the new
governor was despatched to Columbus, who was at
Fort Concepcion; and in the interval, between the des-
patch of the summons and his arrival, his brother
(Don Diego) was seized, thrown into irons, and con-
fined on board of a caravel, without any reason being
assigned for his imprisonment. No sooner did the
admiral himself arrive, than he likewise was put in
chains, and thrown into confinement. The habitual
reverence due to his venerable person and exalted
character, made each bystander shrink from the task
of fixing the fetters on him, till one of his own domes-
tics, described by Las Casas as "a graceless and
shameless cook," filled up the measure of ingratitude
that he seemed doomed to experience, by riveting the
irons, not merely with apathy, but with manifest
alacrity. In this shackled condition he was conveyed,
in the early part of October, from prison to the ship
that was to convey him home; and when Andreas
Martin, the master of the caravel, touched with respect
for the years and great merit of Columbus, and deeply
moved at this unworthy treatment, proposed to take
off his irons, he declined the offered benefit, with the
following magnanimous reply: Since the king has
commanded that I should obey his governor, he shall
find me as obedient to this, as I have been to all his


other orders; nothing but his command shall release
me. If twelve years' hardship and fatigue; if con-
tinual dangers and frequent famine; if the ocean first
opened, and five times passed and repassed, to add a
new world, abounding with wealth, to the Spanish
monarchy; and if an infirm and premature old age,
brought on by these services, deserve these chains as a
reward, it is very fit I should wear them to Spain, and
keep them by me as memorials to the end of my life."
This in truth he did; for he always kept them hung
on the walls of his chamber, and desired that when he
died, they might be buried with him.
His arrival in Spain in this painful and degraded
condition produced so general a sensation of indigna-
tion and astonishment, that a warm manifestation in his
favour was the immediate consequence. A letter (here
translated), written by him to Dofia Juana de la Torre,
a lady of the court, detailing the wrongs he had suf-
fered, was read to queen Isabella, whose generous
mind was filled with sympathy and indignation at the
recital. The sovereigns hastened to order him to be
set at liberty, and ordered two thousand ducats to be
advanced, for the purpose of bringing him to court,
with all distinction and an honourable retinue. His
reception at the Alhambra was gracious and flattering
in the highest degree; the strongest indignation was
expressed against Bobadilla, with an assurance that he
should be immediately dismissed from his command,
while ample restitution and reward were promised to
Columbus, and he had every sanction for indulging
the fondest hopes of returning in honour and triumph


to St. Domingo. But here a grievous disappointment
awaited him; his re-appointment was postponed from
time to time with various plausible excuses. Though
Bobadilla was dismissed, it was deemed desirable to
refill his place for two years, by some prudent and
talented officer, who should be able to put a stop to
all remaining faction in the colony, and thus prepare
the way for Columbus to enjoy the rights and dignities
of his government, both peacefully and beneficially to
the crown. The newly-selected governor was Nicholas
de Ovando, who, though described by Las Casas as a
man of prudence, justice, and humility, certainly
betrayed a want both of generosity and justice, in his
subsequent transactions with Columbus. It is possible
that the delay manifested by the sovereigns in redeem-
ing their promise, might have continued until the
death of Columbus, had not a fresh stimulant to the
cupidity of Ferdinand been suggested, by a new project
of discovering a strait, of the existence of which
Columbus felt persuaded, from his own observations,
and which would connect the New World which he
had discovered with the wealthy shores of the east.
His enthusiasm on the subject was heightened by an
emulous consideration of the recent achievements of
Vasco de Gama and Cabral, the former of whom had,
in 1497, found a maritime passage to India by the
Cape, and the latter, in 1500, had discovered for Por-
tugal the vast and opulent empire of Brazil. The
prospect of a more direct and safe route to India than
that discovered by De Gama, at length gained Colum-
bus the accomplishment of his wish for another arma-


ment; and, finally, on the 9th of May 1502, he sailed
from Cadiz on his fourth and last voyage of dis-
It is painful to read the description given of the
splendour of the fleet with which Ovando left Spain to
assume the government of Hispaniola, and to contrast
it with the slender and inexpensive armament
granted to Columbus for the purpose of exploring
an unknown strait into an unknown ocean, the tra-
versing of whose unmeasured breadth would complete
the circumnavigation of the globe. Ovando's fleet
consisted of thirty sail, five of them from ninety to
one hundred and fifty tons burden, twenty-four caravels
of from thirty to ninety tons, and one bark of twenty-
five tons; and the number of souls amounted to about
two thousand five hundred. The heroic and injured
man, to whose unparalleled combination of noble qua-
lities, the very dignity which called for all this state
was indebted for its existence, had now in the decline
of his years and strength, and stripped both of honour
and emolument, to venture forth with four caravels,-
the largest of seventy, and the smallest of fifty tons
burthen-accompanied by one hundred and fifty men,
on one of the most toilsome and perilous enterprises
of which the mind can form a conception.
On the 20th of May he reached the Grand Canary,
and starting from thence on the 25th, took his depar-
ture for the west. Favoured by the trade winds, he
made a gentle and easy passage, and reached one of
the Caribbee Islands, called by the natives Mantinino
(in all probability Martinique), on the 15th of June.


After staying three days at this island, he steered
northwards, and touched at Dominica, and from thence
directed his course, contrary to his own original inten-
tion and the commands of the sovereigns, to St. Do-
mingo. His reason was that his principal vessel sailed
so ill as to delay the progress of the fleet, which he
feared might be an obstacle to the safety and success
of the enterprise, and held this as a sufficient motive
for infringing the orders he had received. On his
arrival at San Domingo, he found the ships which had
brought out" Ovando ready to put to sea on their
return to Spain. He immediately sent to the governor
to explain that his intention in calling at the island
was to procure a vessel in exchange for one of his
caravels, which was very defective; and further,
begged permission for his squadron to take shelter in
the harbour, from a hurricane, which, from his ac-
quaintance with the prognostics of the weather, he
had foreseen was rapidly approaching. This request
was ungraciously refused; upon which Columbus,
though denied shelter for himself, endeavoured to
avert the danger of the fleet, which was about to sail,
and sent back immediately to the governor to entreat
that he would not allow it to put to sea for some days.
His predictions and requests were treated with equal
contempt, and Columbus had not only to suffer these
insulting refusals, and the risk of life for himself and
squadron, but the loud murmurings of his own crew,
that they had sailed with a commander whose position
exposed them to such treatment. All he could do
was to draw his ships up as close as possible to the


shore, and seek the securest anchorage that chance
might present him with. Meanwhile the weather
appeared fair and tranquil, and the fleet of Bobadilla
put boldly out to sea. The predicted storm came on
the next night with terrific fury, and all the ships
belonging to the governor's fleet, with the exception
of one, were either lost, or put back to San Domingo
in a shattered condition. The only vessel that escaped
was the one which had been freighted with some four
thousand gold pieces, rescued from the pillage of Co-
lumbus's fortune. Bobadilla, Roldan, and a number
of the most inveterate enemies of the admiral, perished
in this tremendous hurricane, while his own fleet,
though separated -and considerably damaged by the
storm, all arrived safe at last at Port Hermoso, to the
west of San Domingo. He repaired his vessels at Port
Hermoso, but had scarcely left the harbour before
another storm drove him into Port Brazil. On the
14th of July he left this port, steering for terra
firma, and on the 30th discovered the small island of
Guanaga or Bonacca, a few leagues east of the bay of
Honduras. He continued an eastern course, and dis-
covered the cape now known as Cape Honduras.
While moving along this coast, he experienced one of
those terrific tempests to which the tropics are liable,
and of which he gives so impressive a description in
the letter we have translated. At length, after forty
days' struggle to make as much as seventy leagues
from the cape of Honduras, he reached a cape, by
doubling which he found a direct southward course
opened to them, offering at the same time an un,


obstructed navigation, and a favourable wind. To
commemorate this sudden relief from toil and danger,
Columbus named this point Cape Gracias a Dios, or
"thanks to God." A melancholy occurrence took place
on the 16th of September, while they were anchored
off this coast. The boats had been sent up a large
river to procure supplies of wood and water, when, on
returning, the encounter of the sea with the rapid cur-
rent of the river caused so violent and sudden a com-
motion, that one of the boats was swallowed up, and
all on board perished. On the 25th of September he
reached Cariay, or Cariari, where he stayed till the 5th
of October. The next point was the Bay of Carum-
baru, which was the first place on that coast where he
met with specimens of pure gold. Leaving this bay
on the 17th of October, he sailed along the coast
of Veragua, and here he was informed by the Indians
of the wealthy country of Ciguare, which he supposed
to be some province belonging to the Grand Khan,
and also of a river ten days' journey beyond Ciguare,
which he conceived to be the Ganges. On the 2nd of
November he discovered Puerto Bello, in which har-
bour he was detained till the 9th by stormy weather;
continuing his course eastward till, near the end of the
month, he reached a small harbour, to which he gave
the name of El Retrete, or the Cabinet. It was here
that a continuance of stormy weather, in addition to
the murmurs of his crew at being compelled to prose-
cute an indefinite search, with worm-eaten ships,
against opposing currents, determined Columbus on
relinquishing his eastward voyage for the present, and


to return in search of the gold mines of Veragua.
But on altering his course to the westward, he had
the mortification to find the wind for which he had
long been wishing came now, as if in direct opposition
to his adopted course, and for nine days he was
exposed to so terrific a storm, that it was a marvel
how his crazy vessels could outlive it. At length,
after a month's anxiety and suffering, they anchored,
on the day of the Epiphany, at the mouth of a river
called by the natives Yebra, but which Columbus
named Belem, or Bethlehem. Here a settlement was
formed, and here occurred the sad disasters and con-
flicts with the natives, which he describes in his letter
from Jamaica, and in which the faithful and zealous
Diego Mendez proved an eminently efficient assistant
to his much loved master. The history of this un-
happy voyage, the toils and perils of which were
aggravated to Columbus by extreme bodily suffering,
closes by his reaching Jamaica, where he would in all
probability have perished, but for the devotedness and
activity of Mendez. The highly interesting descrip-
tion of that brave man's exploits on behalf of Colum-
bus, has been quoted by Navarrete from his will, and
is here translated. When at length, through the
agency of Mendez, two ships arrived from Hispaniola
to the assistance of the admiral, he was enabled, on
the 28th of June, 1504, to leave his wrecked vessels
behind him, and start with revived hopes for San
Domingo, which he reached on the 13th of August.
His sojourn there was not, as may be judged, calculated
to afford him satisfaction or pleasure. The overstrained


courtesy of the governor offered but a poor alleviation
to the rush of rankling feelings which the past associa-
tions and present desolation of the place summoned up
to his mind.
On the 12th of September he set sail for Spain;
the same tempestuous weather, which had all along
tended to make this his last voyage the most disas-
trous, did not forsake him now. The ship in which
he came home sprung her mainmast in four places in
one tempest, and in a subsequent storm the foremast
was sprung, and, finally on the 7th of November, he
arrived, in a vessel as shattered as his own broken and
care-worn frame, in the welcome harbour of San Lucar.
The two years which intervened between this period
and his death present a picture of black ingratitude on
the part of the crown, to this distinguished benefactor
of the kingdom, which it is truly painful to contem-
plate. We behold an extraordinary man, the dis-
coverer of a second hemisphere, reduced by his very
success to so low a state of poverty, that in his prema-
turely infirm old age he is compelled to subsist by
borrowing, and to plead in the apologetic language of
a culprit for the rights of which the very sovereign
whom he has benefited has deprived him. The death
of the benignant and high-minded Isabella, in 1505,
gave a finishing blow to his hope of obtaining redress,
and we find him thus writing subsequent to this period
to his old and faithful friend Diego de Deza:-" It
appears that his majesty does not think fit to fulfil
that which he, with the queen, who is now in glory,
promised me by word and seal. For me to contend


for the contrary, would be to contend with the wind.
I have done all that I could do; I leave the rest to
God, whom I have ever found propitious to me in my
necessities." The selfish and cold-hearted Ferdinand
beheld his illustrious and loyal servant sink, without
relief, under bodily infirmity, and the palsying sick-
ness of hope deferred; and at length, on the 20th
of May 1506, the generous heart which had done so
much without reward and suffered so much without
upbraiding, found rest in a world where neither grati-
tude nor justice is either asked or withheld.
His body was in the first instance buried at Valla-
dolid, in the parish church of Santa Maria de la
Antigua, but was transferred, in 1513, to the Cartuja
de las Cuevas, near Seville, where a monument was
erected over his grave with the memorable inscrip-
In the year 1536, both his body, and that of his son
Diego, who had been likewise buried in the Cartuja,
were transported to St. Domingo, and deposited in the
cathedral of that city. From hence they were removed
to Havanna, in 1795, on the cession of Hispaniola to
the French, and the ashes of the immortal discoverer
now quietly repose in the cathedral church of that

I am indebted to Mr. Sumner for the following copy of the in-
scription on the tomb of Fernando Columbus, in the pavement of
the cathedral of Seville, and for the note which accompanies it:-
"Aqui yaze el M. Magnifico S. D. Hernando Colon, el qual


A tardy tribute has been at length paid to his
memory by his fellow-citizens of Genoa, and the first
stone of a monument in commemoration of his achieve-
ments was laid in that city on the 27th of September,
The Editor cannot close these remarks without ex-
pressing his thanks to Mr. Henry Stevens, than whom

aplic6 y gast6 today su vida y hazienda en aumento de las letras, y
juntar y perpetuar en este ciudad todos sus libros de todas las cien-
cias que en su tiempo hall y en reducirlo a quatro libros, falleci6
en esta ciudad a 12 de Julio de 1539 de edad de 50 ainos 9 meses y
14 dias, fue hijo del valeroso y memorable S. D. Christ. Colon pri-
mero que descubri6 las Yndias y nuevo mundo en vida de los Cat.
R. D. Fernando y D. Ysabel de gloriosa memorial a 11 de Oct. de
1492 con tres galeras y 90 personas, y parti del puerto de Palos a
descubrirlas a 3 de Agosto antes, y Bolvio a Castilla con victoria a
7 de illaio del Aio Siguiente y torno despues otras dos veces a po-
blarlo que descubrio fallecib en Valladolid t 20 de Agosto de 1506
Beneath this is described, in a circle, a globe, presenting the
western and part of the eastern hemispheres, surmounted by a pair
of compasses. Within the border of the circle is the same inscrip-
tion as that which was placed over Columbus himself at the Car-
tuja, with the exception of the word "mundo" being placed before
instead of after the word "nuevo."
Throughout all Spain I know of no other inscription to the me-
mory of Columbus. At Valladolid, where he died and where his
body lay for some years, there is none that I could discover, neither
is there any trace of any at the Cartuja, near Seville, to which his
body was afterwards transferred, and in which his brother was
It is a striking confirmation of the reproach of negligence, in re-
gard to the memory of this great man, that in this solitary inscrip-
tion in old Spain, the date of his death should be inaccurately given.
G. S.
See Atheneum, Oct. 24th, 1846.


few are better acquainted with the literature ofAmerica,
for minute information on the bibliography of the first
letter. He is also indebted to Washington Irving's
admirable life of Columbus for very many incidents in
the biography, with which no other work could have
supplied him.



(Referred to at p. vi of the Introduction.)

Omnipotente idio, che tucto regge,
donami gratia chio possa cantare
allaude tua & di tua sancta legge,
cosa che piaccia achi star ascoltare
maxim al popol tuo & alla tua grege,
el qual n5 resta mai magnificare,
como al psete ha fatto nella Spagna,
delle isole trovate cosa magna.

Io ho gia lecto degli antichi regi
& principi signori stanti in terra,
del re della soria & facti egregi,
& lebactaglie loro & la gran guerra,
& delle giostre gli acquistati pregi
di Bello lessi & selmio dir n5 erra,
de persi, medi, & degli ateniensi,
Dafinione & gli altri egregi immesi.

Et de lacedemoni le grand entrate,
di Labores di Oreste & daltri assai,
del Principe Gisippo cose late,
come si legge so che inteso lhai,
di Tholomeo pin cose smisurate,
& del gran Faraone come saprai,
di judici & de regi de giudei,
che afaccia parlavano con lei.


Et de latini lessi, & degli albani,
& di quel fiesolano Re Atalante,
de regi & consolati de romani,
& de tribuni lessi cose tante,
dedeci viri electi tanti human,
& degli imperadori potrei dir quite,
cose chi tengo nel mio pecto fisse.
p che sarian nel dir troppo plisse.

che sio volesse tucti efacti dire
disopra nominati & altri assai,
certo farei latua mente stupire
maximi alcuni che n5 ludiron mai,
qste cose alte degne magne et mire
che se tu leggi tu letroverrai
invernacula lingua & i latino,
si come narra un decto dagostino.

Ma chi potessi leggere nel future
duno Alexadro magno papa sexto,
della sua creation il modo puro,
grato a ciascio anessi mai molesto,
& del primanno suo il magno muro,
che n6 glipuo nessuno esser infesto
sesto alexadro pappa borgia ispano,
just nel giudicare & tucto human.

Et chi leggesi poi del sua Ferrado
christianissimo rege xPiani
che lisabella tiene al suo comado,
unica sposa sua, che nelle mani
tanti reami indota allui donando,
gliha dati itendi ben c6 pesier sani,
che glie re della spagna & di castella
& di leon tolecto villa bella.


Simile re di cordube chiamato,
& poi dimutia re mipar che sia
& digalitia re incoronato,
dalgarbe re & tienla in sua balia,
re digranata sai che conquistato
diragona signor & divalEzia pia
conte mipar che sia dibarzalona,
& disicilia re isola buona.

Di quata altura principle mipare
& disardigna tien la signoria,
& di corsica sifa simil chiamare,
di qlla parte che glha in sua balia
& conte di serdeina appellare,
& dirosello conte par che sia
simile re mi pare che dimaiorica,
l'altro reame e poi della minorica.

Et poi signor dibiscaia & molina,
delalsesiras signor chiamato,
dellasturias terra peregrina,
p. tucto il mondo qsto e nominate,
tucto fedele della legge divina,
chi altro crede e mal dallui trattato
come sivede che n5 e mai satio,
dimarrani giudei far ogni stratio.

Pero il signore Iha semp ivicto facto,
che si puo uno agusto nominare,
ogni sua lega triegua legge o pacto,
mai no sividde dallui maculare
lui no derise mai savio ne macto
limosine per dio sempre fa fare
della chiesa zeloso a tucte Ihore
come fedel, piano, & pio signore.


Come m5stra lamagna abascieria,
che glha mandate adar lubidieza
al suo sesto Alexadro anima pia
che mai sivide tal magnificenza
in tucte cose la sua signoria
dim6stra aver fra gli altri grd poteza
i qsti magni abascidor sispecchi
chi nol credessi n6ci psti orecchi.

Se io volessi e sua titoli dire,
o auditore io ti potrei tediare,
de sua reame io ti farei stupire,
sol que che lisabelela volse dare
indota a qsto Re o questo sire,
quando luso p marito pigliare
qsta isabella e dispagna Regina,
honest dofia savia & peregrina.

Hor vo tornar almio primo tractato
dellisole trovate incognite a te
in qsto anno present qsto e stato
nel millequatrocento novatatre,
uno che xpofan col5bo chiamato,
che e stato in corte der prefecto Re
ha molte volte questa stimolato,
el Re ch'cerchi acrescere il suo stato.

Dicendo, signor mio, io vo cercare
p che compredo che ce molta terra
che nostri antichi no sepp6 trovare
& spero dacquistarle senza guerra,
se vostra signoria si vuol degnare
ajuto darmi che so que non erra
lamente mia spera nel signore
chimbrieve cidara rengo & honore.


Voi mectete la roba io la persona
non sara vostra signoria disfacta,
ispesse volte la fortune dona
p piccol prezo assai & non e macta
che sua speraza tucto il modo sprona
savio e colni che dicercar sadacta
p che dice elvagelio i legge nuova
che chicercado va spesso truova.

H5 poi ch lebbe ilre pin volte udito
& facto carisposta sorridendo
xpofani ripigliando come ardito
qsto dno il re secodo ch' io coprEdo
prese di dargli aiuto per partito
& disse il tuo sperare oggi c6medo
piglia una nave c5 due carovelle
di qste mie armate le pin belle.

Et comado de poi che gli sia dato
danari & roba 1l che fa mestiero,
& poi dimolta gate accompagnato
divotamente & co bu5 pensiero,
al sommo dio che fu racomandato,
& alla madre sua & sancto piero,
& prese qste cose, & poi licentia
dalre & laregina & sua clementia.

Et navico piu giorni per perduto,
c5 pena, con affanni & grade stento,
pensa che ua in mare no e mai tuto,
ma semp c5bactEdo i acqua & ueto
pdesi spesso elguadagno eltrebuto,
& n6gli gioua dire io menepento
ma come piacq, adio ch mai noerra
in trentatre giornate pose in terra.

lxxviii LA LETTER, ETC.

Et messe dua desua huomini armati
a cercar pie terre che han trouate,
seforse siscoprissin qualche aguati,
ma caminaron ben per tre giornate
che nosi furon mai indrieto uolti,
& n5 trouaron mai uille o brigate,
si che simarauiglia che camina
& piu chi e restato alla marina.

Ma nifte di manco quella terra
era di uari fructi molto ornata,
se chi ha script i qua neldir noerra,
motagne e ue daltura ismisurata,
& molti fiumi lacircuda & serra,
doue trouorun poi molta brigata,
seza pani, uestite, o arme, o scudi,
ma tucti emEbri loro si erano nudi.

Saluo chalcuna donna che coperte
tiene leparte genitale immonde,
co bambagia tessuta, & di po certe
ihauen coperte con diverse frode,
& come uidon questi lediserte
forte fuggendo ciascun fina scode,
& questi dua in drieto si tornauano,
& axpofano lo facto racontauano.

Et xpofano & glialtri dismontati
armati tucti il paese cercando
isole molte & huomini trouati
come tu intenderai qui ascoltando
& glistendardi del Re ha rizati,
& a ciascuno il suo nome mutando,
come dira questa pistola magna,
da xposano scripta al Re di spagna.


Perchio so, signor mio, ch gr~ pace?
hara la uostra magna signoria
quando potra intendere o sapere,
delle cose che io presi in mia balia,
p uirtu del signore & suo potere,
& simil della madre sua maria,
dal partir mio a tretatre giornate,
molte isole & gra gEte iho trouate.

Lisola prima chio trouai, signore,
io Iho p nome fact nominare
isola magna di san Saluadore,
& la second poi feci chiamare
conceptio Marie a suo honore,
di poi laterza feci baptezare
per uostra signoria ch tato ornata
isola ferrandina lho nominate,

Et la quarta Isabella fo chiamare,
p la Regina che tanto honorata,
& alla quinta il nome uolsi dare
che lisola Giouanna fia chiamata,
& la festa dun nome uolsi ornare.
che cogruo miparse a qlla fiata,
che Laspagnuola qlla sichiamasse,
per che mipar che cosi meritasse.

Enomi son dellisole trouate
nel india, signor mio, como uiscriuo,
& quest & laltre sopra nominate
notitia auoi nedo signor mio diuo
treceto uEtun miglio ho caminate,
& peruenuto alfin colsancto uliuo
dalla giouana alla spagnuola elma?
ciquataquattro miglia largo apare.


Et per septentrione lanauicai
cinquantaquattro miglia dimarina,
done che alla spagna io arriuai,
inuerso loriente sauicina,
& per lalinea recta io caminai
da onde la spagnuola li confina
son Eiquecesessantaquattro miglia,
e lalargheza che qsta isola piglia.

Et qsta & tucte laltre e molto forte,
ma qsta sopra laltre par fortissima,
potresi inanzi dare a tucti morte
ch una part sacquisti piccolissima,
ccrto questo eildestino qsto e lesorte,
ch uostra signoria fan felicissima,
e dotata di fructe molte & uarie,
& liti, & porti, & cose necessarie,

Et molti fiumi, & maxime m5tagne,
che son dalteza molto smisurate,
arbori, fonte, uccegli, & cose magne,
chanostri tempi n5 san mai tronate,
certo lamente mia signor ne piagne,
per lalegreza delle cose ornate,
di tucte cose cie so io non erro,
saluo cli nosi truoua acciaio o ferro.

Sonci di septe o uer docto ragioni
di palme che mifan marauigliare,
& se alzando gliocchi poni
pini uison che laria par toccare,
passere lu signuoli & altri doni,
che nonsi potre mai tucto narrare,
della bambagia un pondo ce infinite
& daltre cose assai ce inquesto lito.


Arbori cison duna region fioriti
del mese di novembre chenoi siano
come i ispagna, & ne sno degno liti,
liarberi s5 elmagio, elmdte, elpiano,
si che no altri stiano tucti stupiti
p labodantia che trouata habbiano,
sonci gli arberi uerdi & lelor foglie,
chi credo che n5 pda mai lespoglie.

Di rcubararo ce tanta abodantia,
& dicenamo daltra spetieria,
loro & largento, el metallo ciaudza,
maxime un flume che per qsta uia,
che n6 puo quest terra fame senza,
done ho trouato c5 mia fantasia,
che dimoltoro e piena quella rena,
sicome lacqna di quel flume mena.

Simil, signore, io uinoglio auisarc,
che inqstisola ce molta pianura,
done difizi molti sipuon fare,
& castelle cipta co magne mura,
che n5 bisogna poi di dubitare,
ne dhauer chi cista nulla paura,
molte terre cison da feminare,
& depascer lebestie & nutricare.

Ho po trouati certi fiumicelli,
ch tucti menano oro & n5 gia poco,
& molti porti gradi & da far belli,
che abodanza ce dacqua diloco,
lherbe & leselue fact co pennelli
no son si belle & n6 cisusa foco,
glhuomini sono affabile format,
timidi semn & alfuggir parati.


Sonci assai uille ma son piccolecte,
dhuomini & d5ne son tucte calcate,
glihabitacoli qui son capanecte
semplici sono & credule brigate,
& ben che sieno nudi stino necte,
si che signor dibuona uoglia state,
& credon che no sis di cielo i terra,
madati per capargli dogni guerra.

Portano alcun certe cane appuntate,
socto lebraccia come noi lespade,
archi c5 frecce dicanne tagliate,
& unno isieme assai come lesquad?
di capegli & di barbe molto ornate,
no son micidial person o ladre,
ma tucto 1l ch glhiano i lor potere
celodarebbon p farci piacere.

Et parmi che cifia gra diferenza
da quest isola a qlla di Giouana
darbori, fructi, & dherbe & dipseza,
noci manca senon la sancta mana,
doro ce tanto cha uostra potenza
chi guerra far sipensa i uan safana
oltre alla roba acquistate Ihonore,
tucti son prati acreder al signore.

Questi popoli gridi & infiniti,
come p segni ci5no dimsstrato,
led5ne & lor figluoli & lor mariti
ciascuno spera desser baptezato,
priego il signor iesu che puo gliuiti
apossedere el suo regno beato
di quato ben cagion signor sarete
coluostro auxilio che dato mhauete.

LA LETTER, ETC. lxxxiii

Iho menati qui certi indiani
ch c5preda di qsta alcun liguaggio
tal che parlando con cEni dimani
qlci diqsti cie piu sperto & saggio
dicon di farsi a noi tucti xPiani
tal chiho Pso signor mio u5taggio
& di legname una bastia fo fare
& lagente uimecto per guardare.

Et forniti glilascio per uno anno
darme diuectouaglia ben chi spero
che n5 haranno molestia ne dino
p che gli lascio c5 un buon pensiero,
humili mansueti tucti stanno,
sich auxilio iluostro signor chiero,
mandimi uostra signoria piacente
allaude del signore omnipotente.

Chi n5 uede signor lisole degne,
& lericheze o nobil creature,
& lauarieta darbori & legne,
& deglhuomini & d5ne lor figure,
n5 sa ch sia delmado lesue i segne,
"chi no esce delcerchio di sua mura,
n6 puo perfectamente idio laudare
chi no gusta lecose che sa fare.

Signor mio dolce, lapiaceuoleza
di qsta gente io non saprei narrare,
per una string che poco sipreza
uolson tanto oro aun diquesti dare
ch tre ducati & mezo o che richeza
hare potuto inqueste parte fare,
ma io ho comadato alla mia gentle
che ciascun doni & no pigli nietc.

1xxxiv LA LETTER, ETC.

Per far lor grata uostra signoria
dimolta roba io ho facto donare
di.quella dimie gente & della mia,
come scodelle & piacti damagiare,
& uetri & panni chera in mia balia,
senza riserbo alcuno per me fare
p chio glho conosciuti tanto grati,
iglho come fedeli & bu6 tractati.

Vero e ch sono assai pr5ti alfugire
per che non sono usati di uedere
gente che usin panni da uestire,
ma per che uegan noi tucto sapere,
ciascun diloro ciadora come sire,
& lalor roba da mangiare o bere,
no ho ueduto fare ne tuo ne mio,
ma lauita comune alparer mio.

Volsano ancora p una bocte trista,
& per un pezo darco che n5 uale,
tre once doro darmi & similmista,
tanta bambagia che mezo quintale,
ma poi chi hebbi questa cosa uista
parsemi dipigliar niente male,
& ho comesso aciaschedun de mia
chedipigliare niente ardito sia.

N5 e fra loro alcuna briga o secta,
ma pacific tucti insieme stanno,
di parole & di facti mai saspecta,
di far uedecta alcuia igiuria o dano,
beato a qllo che seguir sidilecta,
acompagnati abraccio semp uano,
io gllo uisti si buoni recti & grati,
che abu6 fine idio glhara chiamati.


No e fra loro idolatria nessuna,
tucti lemani al ciel tengono alzate,
n5 adoran pianeti, o sole, o luna,
ma lelor mente al ciel tucte leuate,
dicon la gloria i ciel esser sol una,
dellaqual patria credon ch madate
lenostre barche siano & noi i terra,
a far pace colciel dogni lor guerra.

Io nho c5 meco semp alcui menato
equal feci per forza pigliare,
qndo alpricipio i terra fui smotato,
non potendo inaltra forma fare
pelueloce fuggir mai ascoltato
n5 era lemie uoci olmio parlare,
& qsti che per forza allhor pigliai,
son per amor uenuti sempre mai.

Semp mangiare, o bere, & adormire,
acanto a me io glho si ben tractati,
ch gliaferman p certo & usan dire
ch dalregno del ciel no sia madati,
uanocci inanzi gridando uenire,
debba ciascuno auedere ebeati,
si chalpresente ognii corre auedere
& portan tucti damagiare & bere.

Da luna isola allaltra qsti u~no
c5 certe barche che inquesta isola e,
equal dun legno solo facte stanno,
& son chiamate queste canoe,
s5 liighe strecte & par quasi uolddo
andare achiunche messo detro ce,
bench sien grossamente lauorate
co sassi & legni & ossi son cauate.


Et h5ne uista alcuna tito grade
che octanta person cista dentro,
& ciascUo hal suo remo & leumade
nauica qsti & con buon setimeto
la roba luno allaltro li sispande
41 chio uscriuo signor nulla meto
& uanno baractando tucti quati
come sefussin quasi mercatanti.

Inqueste isole tucte nominate
n6 ho ueduta nulla differenza
dincarnati dinisi o dibrigate,
ma tucti quasi son duna presenza
& dun costume tucti csstumate
huomini & d5ne s5 pie dicremEza,
tucti hano una loquela & un parlai
che uifare, signor, marauigliare.

Che par che util cosa questa sia
acouerrirgli a nostra sancta fede,
che come scriuo auostra signoria
ciascun disposto cc, & gia lacrede
dique che han uista lapresenza mia
no glho tucti ueduti ne siuede
chglie margior giouana senza sotia
che n5e linghilterra con lascotia.

Son duo puincie chio n5 ho cercate,
second che qsti altri decto hano,
una cene la qual questc brigate
dican che quelle gente che uistIno
son con le code tucte quante nate
& Anaan elnome posto lehanno,
poi caminai p la spagnuola ciglia
p cinquccsessantoquattro miglia.


Doue e lauilla laqual io pigliai,
done io feci lar.cca o ncr bustia
che la pin bella che io uedessi mai,.
come iho script a uostra signoria
non miricorda se adir uimandai
inquesta brieue epistolecta mia
elnoe ch io Iho posto & forse auisto
natiuita del nostro Iesu Xpo.

In queste isole tucti questi stino
content duna'dona ciascheduno,
ma qsti principal tucti mhanno
ueti lequal son date lor per uno,
& luno allaltro mai torto n6 fanno,
che a cio far n6 ce pronto nessuno,
& nelle cose tucte da mangiare
nulla division uiueggo fare.

Et ben che i-qste parti caldo sia,
lastate eluerno ce digran freddura,
ma p che mangia molta spetieria
lacarne loro alfreddo molto dura
inquesta parte nulla cosa ria,
sitruoua diche questi habbin paura,
saluo che ce unisola allentrare
dellindia per uoler qui arriuare.

In nella quale sta gente uillana
da qsti n5 mipar che siano amati,
p ch dice magid came humana,
pero n5 son da questi qui prezati,
hanno assai legni qsta gente strana,
da nauicare & hanno gio rubati,
aquesti di scorrendo dogni banna
c5 archi i mano & c5 frecce dicana.

lxxxviii LA LETTER, ETC.

Non e da qsti a quegli differenza,
sen5 innecapegli che qgli hanno
lunghi come ledone & dipresenza
son come qsti & fano molto ddno,
aqste ch son pprio essa clemenza,
si che ingelosia sempre nestanno,
ma spero che lauostra signoria
sapra purgare una tal maltaia.

Una isola cie decta mactanino,
nella qual le donne sole stanno,
& questo iniquo popol glie nicino,
& ausar con qste spesso uanno,
ma qsto popol tucto feminine
exercitio di d5ne mai n5 fanno,
ma co gliarchi trahedo tuctauia,
che par per certo una gri fantasia.

Et uanno queste ben tucte coperte,
no gia di pani lini, o lani, o ueli,
ma derbe & giiichi, & qste cose certe
son che di qua nre lEzuoli o teli
unaltra isola poi legente offered,
femine & maschi nasc5 senza peli,
manzi uoglio cofuso esser nel dire
chi uoglia alcuna cosa preterire.

Et dove qsti senza peli sono,
pin oro cie chihabbia acor trouata
di 41 chi scriuo o parlando ragiono,
signore, io ne son ben giustificato
auostra signoria un magno dono
iho per portar meco preparato
di tucti qsti luoghi iuo menare
gentle che possin cio testificare..


Pero, giusto signor, di Spagna degno,
stia uostra signoria dibuona uoglia
chiho cresciuto tato iluostro regno,
ch chi ua iuidia po crepar didoglia
doro & dargento passarete el segno
tal ch trarra elnimico di sua soglia,
ma 1l chi so cli molto piu prezate
son queste gate a xpo preparate.

Reubarbero assai & aloe,
mastice, cinamono, & spetierie,
tanta richeza, signor mio, qui e
che discaccia da me leuoglie rie,
piu allegreza, signor mio, fare,
si fussi certo che per tucte uie
qsta script uenissi asaluamento
nel m6do n6 sare huom piu coteto.

N5 miacascaltro degno mio signore
scriuere auostra magna signoria,
raccomandomi a qlla a tucte Ihore,
laqual caserui ilfigluol di Maria
parato sempmai per uostro more
amecter qsta breue uita mia
aquindici de febraio qsta sife
nel mille quattrocento nouita tre.

Magnifici & discreti circistanti
qsta e gran cosa certo da pensare,
chl nostro redepto? c5 tucti esancti
n6 resta mai legratie sue mandare
douerebbon di qsto tucti quanti
ebaptizati a ipo festa fare,
chi ue chi uimado & chi ue andato
prepari dio also regno beato.


Questa ha coposto de dati Giuliano
apreghiera del magno caualiere
messer Giouanphilippo ciciliano,
che fu di Sixto quarto suo scudiere
& commessario suo & capitano,
a qlle cose che fur di mestiere
allaude del signor sicanta & dice
che ciconduca al suo regno felice.


[ Finita lastoria della iuftione delle nuoue isole dicanaria
idiane tracto duna pistol dixlofano colobo, & pmesser
Giuliano dati tradocta dilatino i uersi uulgari allaude
della christiana religion & apghiera delmagnifico
caualiere messer Giouafilippo del ignamine
domestic familiar dello illustrissimo
Redispagna xpianissimo a
di. xxvi. doctobre.






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