Front Cover
 Front Matter
 Title Page
 The New World
 Fifteenth century discoveries
 The boyhood of Columbus
 Columbus in Spain
 The first voyage
 The New World found
 Homeward bound
 Reception of Columbus at Palos
 Second voyage of discovery
 Criminals sent to the Indies
 Third voyage of Columbus
 Columbus in chains
 Columbus pleads his case at...
 New enterprises
 Falling fortunes - Conclusion
 Back Cover

Group Title: Altemus' young people's library
Title: Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00085074/00001
 Material Information
Title: Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America compiled from authoritative sources
Series Title: Altemus' young people's library
Alternate Title: Columbus and the discovery of America
Christopher Columbus
Physical Description: 169, 10 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 18 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Altemus, Henry ( Publisher )
Publisher: Henry Altemus
Place of Publication: Philadelphia
Publication Date: c1896
Subject: Explorers -- Biography -- Juvenile literature -- America   ( lcsh )
Discovery and exploration -- Spanish -- Juvenile literature -- America   ( lcsh )
Biographies -- 1896   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' advertisements -- 1896   ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1896
Genre: Biographies   ( rbgenr )
Publishers' advertisements   ( rbgenr )
individual biography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Statement of Responsibility: with 80 illustrations.
General Note: Frontispiece printed in colors.
General Note: Last ten pages consist of advertising material.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00085074
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002224202
notis - ALG4463
oclc - 41839886

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Front Matter
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Title Page
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    The New World
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Fifteenth century discoveries
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    The boyhood of Columbus
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
    Columbus in Spain
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
    The first voyage
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
    The New World found
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
    Homeward bound
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
    Reception of Columbus at Palos
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    Second voyage of discovery
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
    Criminals sent to the Indies
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
    Third voyage of Columbus
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
    Columbus in chains
        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    Columbus pleads his case at court
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
    New enterprises
        Page 150
        Page 151
        Page 152
        Page 153
        Page 154
        Page 155
        Page 156
        Page 157
        Page 158
        Page 159
        Page 160
        Page 161
        Page 162
        Page 163
        Page 164
        Page 165
        Page 166
    Falling fortunes - Conclusion
        Page 167
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

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Copyright 1896 by Henry Altemus


THERE are few of the great personages in history who
have been more talked about and written about than
Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America.
We are apt to look upon Columbus as a person who knew
that there existed a great undiscovered continent, and who
made his way directly to the discovery of that continent.
Whereas, the dream of Columbus's life was to make his way
by an unknown route to what was considered to be known.
The whole life of Columbus shows how rarely men of the
greatest insight and foresight, and also of the greatest perse.


verance, attain the exact ends they aim at. He did not find
the regions of the Khan; but he brought into relations the
New World and the Old.
It is impossible to read without the deepest interest the
account from day to day of his voyage. The first point of
land that Columbus saw, and landed at, is as nearly as possible
the central point of what must once have been the United
Continent of North and South America. The least change
of circumstance might have made an immense difference in
the result. The going to sleep of the helmsman, the unship-
ping of the rudder of the Pinzon, the slightest mistake in
taking an observation, might have made, and probably did
make, considerable change in the event. During the first
voyage of Columbus, the gentlest breeze carried with it the
destinies of future empires.
Had some breeze carried Columbus northwards, it would
not have been left for the English, more than a century
afterwards, to found those Colonies which have proved to be
the seeds of the greatest nation that the world is likely to
It was, humanly speaking, singularly unfortunate for
Spanish dominion in America, that the earliest discoveries
were those of the West India Islands. A number of gov-
ernors introduced confusion, feebleness, and want of system,


into Colonial government. The numbers, comparatively few,
of the original inhabitants of each island, were rapidly
removed from the scene of action; and the Spaniards lacked,
at the beginning, that compressing force which would have
been found in the existence of a body of natives who could
not have been removed by the outrages of Spanish cruelty.
The Monarchs of Spain, too, would have been compelled
to treat their new discoveries and conquests more seriously.
To have held the country at all they must have held it well.
It would not have been Ojedas, Bobadillas and Ovandos who
could have been employed to govern, discover, conquer,
colonize, and ruin by their folly the Spanish possessions in the
Indies. The work of discovery and conquest begun by
Columbus must then have been intrusted to men like Cortes,
the Pizarros, a Vasco de Nunez; and a colony or a kingdom
founded by any of these men might well have remained a
great colony, or a great kingdom to the present day.
The pictures found herein will throw light on the page in
more ways than one. They have been taken from "De Bry's
America" and "Herrara's West Indies," published in the
year 1730 by authority of the King of Spain.



~ ~-






MERICA was discovered by Christopher
Columbus on October 12, 1492. There
are traditions of much earlier discov-
eries. The Northmen, inhabitants of
Sweden and Norway, claim to have landed on
the Western Continent, about the year Iooo.
These wandering Northmen had reached the
shores of America first in the vicinity of Nan-
tucket, and had given the name of Vinland to the
region extending from beyond Boston to the south
of New York. But the memory of these voyages
seems totally to have passed away, or the lands
were confounded with Greenland, to which the
Pope had sent a bishop in 1448. This discovery
cannot diminish the claims of Columbus.
These old Northmen made their home upon
the sea, and lived by plundering from their neigh-
bors. The early Britons suffered terribly from
their raids. '"Foes are they," sang an old Eng-
lish poet, "fierce beyond all other foes; cunning


as they are fierce ; the sea is their school of war,
and the storm their friend; they are the sea-
wolves that live upon the pillage of the world."

The honor of discovering America, a few years
before the first voyage of Columbus, has been
claimed by the Spaniards for one of their country-



men, by the Germans for one of theirs, by the
Venetians, the Portuguese, and the Poles; but
on grounds the most vague and unsatisfactory.
Even allowing these discoveries to have taken
place it does not detract from the glory of Colum-
bus as the man who first really united America
and Europe. He was unaware of any previous
voyages to this quarter of the globe, and his
wonderful adventure has led to the most import-
ant results; while the Others, granting them to
have occurred, have been barren of results.
The discovery of America stirred Europe to its
deepest foundations. All classes of men were
affected. The people went wild at once with a
lust of gold, and a love of adventure.
Even the poor honor of giving his name to the
Continent he discovered was curiously filched
from him. Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navi-
gator, had made the acquaintance of Columbus
on his return from one of his early voyages. He
went out with Ojeda, in his voyage in 1500, and
explored several hundred miles of the coast of
South America. He wrote an account of this
voyage, and of a subsequent one to Brazil, which
were read before some noble families in Italy. A
German geographer on the strength of these
letters, in 1507, called the new Continent America
Terra, and hence our name of America.


The name of Columbus was written Columbo,
in Italian. He Latinized his name as was the cus-
tom in those days when Latin was the language
of learned correspondence. In Spanish history
he is known
as Christoval
never knew
the nature of
his own dis-
covery. He
died in the be-
lief that it was
some part of
Asia; and Ves-
puccci held the
same idea. If
Columbus fail-
ed in his at-
reach India by sailing to the west, Vasco de Gama
succeeded by sailing to the south.



Modern familiarity with navigation renders it
difficult for us to properly appreciate the great-
ness of the enterprise which was undertaken by
the discoverers of the New World. Seen by the
light of science and of experience, the ocean, if
it had some real terrors, had no imaginary ones.
It was different in the fifteenth century. Geo-
graphical knowledge was but just awaking, after
ages of slumber; and throughout those ages the
wildest dreams had mingled fiction with fact.
The half-decked vessels that crept along the
Mediterranean shores were but ill-fitted to bear
the brunt of the furious waves of the Atlantic.
The use of the compass had scarcely become
known to navigators; and who could tell, it was
objected, that a ship which might succeed in sail-
ing down the waste of waters would ever be able
to return, for would not the voyage home be a
steady journey up a mountain of sea ?
But the same traditions that set forth the diffi-
culties of reaching the unknown countries, prom-


ised a splendid reward to the successful voyager.
Rivers rolling down golden sand, mountains shin-
ing with priceless gems, forests fragrant with rich
spices were among the solid advantages to be
expected as a result of the enterprise. '" Our


quest there," says one of the old historians, "is
not for thevulgar products of Europe." And there
was another object besides gain, which was in the
minds of all the early explorers, namely, the
spread of the Christian religion.


The known world in the time of Prince Henry
of Portugal was a very small one indeed. With
the map before us we can see how small was our
infant world. First take away those two conti-
nents (each much larger than a Europe), to the
far west. Then cancel the big island on the ex-
treme south-east. Then turn to Africa. Instead
of the form which it now presents, make a scim-
iter shape of it by running a slightly curved line
from Jaba on the eastern side to Cape Nam on
the western. Declare all below that line unknown.
" Where you know nothing, place terrors," was
the rule of the early geographers.
Now looking at the map, we can hardly help
thinking to ourselves with a smile, what a small
space the known history of the world has been
done in, up to the last 400 years. The idea of the
universal dominion of Rome shrinks a little.
Prince Henry was born in Portugal, in 1394.
He was with his father at the capture of Centa,
in the year 1415. This town, which lies opposite
to Gibraltar, was of great magnificence, and one
of the chief marts in that age for the products ot
the eastern world. It was here that Portugal
first planted a firm foot in Africa; and the date
to this town's capture may be taken as the time
when Prince Henry began to plan further and far
greater conquests. He was very learned, for


that age of the world, and learned from the Moors
of Morocco such knowledge as could be gather-
ed of the re-
mote districts of
Vitt. a Africa.
Sai The Prince
ofi having got the
iAsa idea in his mind
that Africa did
not end at Cape
Nam, never rest-
ed until he had




made known that quarter of the world to his
own. He lived at Sagres, where for many a year


he could watch for the white sails bringing back
his captains to tell him of new countries and new
For a long time Cape Bojador (meaning out-
stretcher), which is 200 miles south of Cape Nam,
was the extreme limit of discovery. Beyond this
Cape, the mariners reported, "were no people
whatever; the lands bare, no water, no trees, or
grass on it; the sea is shallow, and the currents
fierce ; and the ship which passes that cape will
never return."
For twelve years the Prince kept sending out
ships and men; with little approval from his
people. The captains came back with no good
tidings; still he would not give up. At last one
of his captains passed the dreaded Cape Bojador,
and brought back the news that the soil appeared
to him unworked and fruitful ; and like a prudent
man he brought home a barrel of the new-found
earth, and some plants. The Prince rejoiced to
see them and gave thanks to God.
Stormy times now came upon Portugal, and the
Prince had to give his attention to home matters
for awhile. In 1441 a voyage was planned which
went 150 miles below Bojador. The captain seized
some Moors, to take home, as he said some of
the language of their country." The Prince now
applied to the Pope to grant Portugal all the


lands conquered from Bojador to the Indies.
The Pope
granted this List
request; al- jt rd
though after- f -_
wards as we Madelra
shall see, the Ca~ar b CNam
A. A A gcBojador
Spanish dis- AV o Bzeohi
coveries of C.lBtl *Ho en
Columbus Cde & .Fe
made it nec- aZofs Q.
essary that j 0
the terms of o-Cost Fos
thegranthad &. C
should be S.
modified. p.' c-
In 1444 a R.c rTp c
was formed J
for the pur- I
pose of *
coasting g
along Africa;
they to pay
to Portugal O
a portion of
any gains ofo
they might


make. Thus began the slave trade. Before this
time the slave had been the captive of war, who
lived with his conqueror, and toiled on his lands.
Now the slave became the object of war. He
was to be sought for, to be hunted out, to be
produced and this change gave rise to a new
branch of commerce.
In 1454, a ypung Venetian named Mosto was
detained by bad winds at Cape St. Vincent.
Prince Henry told him of the things he had done,
showed him samples of the goods that came from
the newly discovered lands; and finally induced
him to take charge of a vessel. From him we
learn that Arguim was the headquarters of the
trade. There came all kinds of goods to be ex-
changed for gold and slaves. Barbary horses
were taken to the negro country, and traded with
the chiefs for slaves, eighteen men being bartered
for one horse. Every year between 700 to 800
slaves are sent from here to Portugal.
Mosto sailed down to Jalofs, and describes the
negroes on the shores of the Senegal River. He
is said to have gone 8o0 miles farther, entering
the river Gambia, where he was attacked by the
natives. During his stay in this river he saw the
constellation of the Southern Cross, for the first
time. Finding the negroes would have nothing
to do with him, he returned to Portugal.


On a second voyage two years later he dis-
covered the Cape Verde Islands. He again went
up the Gambia River, this time making friends

with the negroes; but for want of a knowledge
of their language he could do no business with


them. In a voyage taken some time between 1460
and 1464 Sierra Leone (roaring thunder) was dis-
covered. In 1469 the Gold Coast was explored;
and a fort built there which Columbus afterwards
visited. Prince Henry died in 1463.
About this time came an officer from a territory
between the Gold Coast and the Congo, who
spoke about a greater power in Africa than his
master, to whom his master was but as a vassal.
This set the Portuguese King thinking about
Prester John, of whom legends spoke as a Christ-
ian King ruling over a Christian nation, some-
where in what was vaguely called the Indies.
The King sent out another expedition on further
discovery. They did not discover Prester John,
but after sailing more than Io00 miles they reached
a cape, which from their experience, they called
Cape Stormy, but which their master renamed the
Cape of Good Hope. Bartholomew Columbus,
a brother of Christopher, was engaged in this
The Prince of Jalof now came to Lisbon, to
seek the King's protection. He was well received
and made much of; and was sent back to his own
country with a Portuguese fleet, of twenty cara-
vels, with orders to build a fort on the bank of
the river Senegal.
We have now seen Portuguese discovery


making its way with quiet perseverance for 70
years from Cape Nam to the Cape of Good Hope,
a distance of 6000 miles. This long course of
discovery was thrown into the shade by the more
daring and brilliant discovery of America.
Prince Henry was hardly less a personage than
Columbus. They had different elements to con-
tend with, but the man with princely wealth and
position who had followed his purposes for 40
years, heedless of public clamor, is worthy to be
put in comparison with the other great discoverer
who worked out his enterprise through poverty,
neglect, sore travail and the changes of courts.
It must not be forgotten that Prince Henry was
the father of modern geographical discovery, and
that the result of his labors must have given much
impulse to Columbus, if it did not first move him
to his great discovery. His kinsman, too, deserves
merit for what he did, as do the many brave cap-
tains who distinguished themselves in those
It remained for Columbus, first to form a sound
theory of the various views of the cosmographers,
and to carryout that theory with the boldness and
resolution which have made his name one of
those beacon-fires which carry on from period to
period the tidings of the world's great history
through successive ages.



Of the early years of Columbus nothing certain
is known. A dozen different Italian cities claimed
the honor of giving him birth. It is only recently
that the will was found in which Columbus left
part of his property to the Bank of Genoa, and
settled the point in favor of that city. Thence
I came;" he says and there was I born."
As to the date of his birth there is no such
direct evidence ; and guesses founded on various
statements in his own writings, and in those
of people living at the same period, range over
the twenty years from 1436 to 1456. Washington
Irving adopts the earliest of these two dates upon
the report which speaks of the death of Columbus
in the year 1506, "at a good old age, being
seventy years old, a little more or less." This
statement does not tally with some passages in
Columbus's own letters. His son Fernando tells
us "his hair turned white before he was thirty."
This would add to his apparent age, and most
likely deceived those around him at the time of


his death. The evidence of the ancient authori-
ties, who seem most to be relied upon, points to
the year 1448 as being the probable date of his
More than one noble family laid claim to him
after his name had become so illustrious. His
son, Fernando, who wrote his history, made a
journey solely to inquire into the truth of this
subject, and gave up all claims of the kind. In
making this admission, he wisely said, "The glory
of Christopher is quite enough, without there
being a necessity to borrow any from his an-
The father of Columbus was a wool-carder, but
in a city of traders like Genoa this fact does not
imply, as some have thought, that his family was
of particularly humble origin. Columbus was the
eldest of four children, having two brothers, Bar-
tholomew and Diego. Christopher's education
was but limited, but as extensive as the circum-
stances of his parents would permit. While
quite a child he was taught to read and write, and
wrote so good a hand, says Las Casas, that
with it he might have earned his bread. To
this, at a somewhat later period, was added
arithmetic, drawing and painting, and in these,
as Las Casas has observed, he acquired sufficient
skill to have gained a livelihood.


He was sent for a short time to Pavia, the
great school of learning in Lombardy. Here he
studied grammar, and became well acquainted
with the Latin tongue. His education, however,
was mainly directed to those sciences needed to
fit him for maritime life. He was taught geom-
etry, geography, astronomy, or, as it was at that
time termed, astrology, and navigation. He had,
at a very early age, shown a strong passion for
geographical science, and an ever-longing desire
for the sea; and he pursued with ardor every
study that would help him in the aim of life that he
seems to have thus early mapped out for himself.
It is no wonder that, exposed to such influences,
he should have favored a life of adventure on the
sea to the the drudgery of his father's trade in
Genoa. After finishing his school studies, he
spent but a few months as a carder of wool, and
actually entered on his sailor career before he
was fifteen years old.
Considering how much more real the hero of a
story appears if we can picture him accurately in
our mind's eye, and see him "in his habit as he
lived," it is singularly unfortunate that the person-
al appearance of Columbus has been so variously
described by the old writers of history that it is
impossible to speak with any certainty on the
subject. Strangely enough, too, no really true



portrait of the great discoverer exists. Fernando
Columbus, who would be a good authority, fails
to give us. in telling of his father, any of those
little touches which make up a good literary
photograph. We learn, however, that he was a
man of fine presence, tall, well formed, strong,
active and full of energy. His face was long, but
neither full nor meagre ; his complexion fair and
freckled, his nose aquiline, his cheek bones rather
high, and his eyes light gray and full of expres-
sion. His hair was naturally light in color, but as
we have already stated, it turned nearly white
while he was yet a young man.
He was moderate and simple in his diet
and apparel, a good talker, humane, self-denying,
courteous, and had the happy faculty of readily
making friends with strangers.
He possessed an inquiring mind, and was
singularly resolute and enduring. He was rapt
in his designs, having a ringing for ever in his
ears of great projects, making him deaf to much,
perhaps, that prudence might have heeded ;-
one to be loved by those near to him, and likely
by his presence to inspire favor and respect.
Of his many voyages, which of them took place
before, and which after, his coming to Portugal,
we have no distinct record ; but we are sure that
he traveled over a large part of the known world,


that he visited England, and that he made his way
to Iceland, and Friesland (where he possibly heard
the vague tales of the discoveries by the North-
men in North America), that he had been on the
coast of Guinea, and that he had seen the Islands
of the Grecian Archipelago. I have been seek-
ing out the secrets of nature for forty years," he
says, and wherever ship has sailed, there have I
voyaged." But beyond a few vague hints of this
kind, we know scarcely anything of these early
He particularly mentions in his letters to Fer-
dinand and Isabella, that he was employed by
King Rdn6, of Provence, to cut out a galley from
the port of Tunis. This exploit showed his bold-
ness and his tact. During the voyage the news
was brought that there were three other vessels
with the galley. His crew did not wish to risk a
fight and insisted that Columbus should return
for more help. He made a show of doing so,
but craftily altered the point of the compass so
that it looked as though they were going back
while they were really steering right ahead, and
so arrived at Carthagena on the next morning,
thinking all the while they were in full sail for
Marseilles. It is a pity that no record exists of
how this bold enterprise turned out.
There is an interval of many years- during which


we have but one or two shadowy traces of Colum-
bus. He is supposed to have been engaged in
the Mediterranean and up the Levant, sometimes
on voyages of commerce, sometimes in warlike
contests between the Italian States, and some-
times in pious and plundering trips against the
At what precise period his great idea came into
his mind we have no means of learning. The
long series of Portuguese discoveries had excited
the mind of Europe, and must have greatly influ-
enced Columbus, living in the midst of them.
This may be said without in the least taking any-
thing away from his merits as a discoverer. In
real life people do not spring from something un-
real to something real, as they do in sick dreams.
A great invention or discovery is often like a
daring leap, but it is from land to land, not from
nothing to something; and if we look at the sub-
ject with this view fully before us, we shall be
forced to admit that Columbus had as large a
share in the merit of his discovery as most inven-
tors or discoverers can lay claim to. If the idea
which has made him famous was not in his mind
at the outset of his career of investigation, at any
rate he had from the first a desire for discovery,
or, as he says himself, the wish to know the
secrets of this world.

/- ./'^"*



We know that he arrived at a fixed belief that
there was a way by the west of the Indies; that
he could discover this way, and so come to the
places he had met with in the gorgeous descrip-
tions of Marco Polo, and other ancient travelers.
Up to this time each new discovery was but a
step beyond that which had gone before it. Col-
umbus was the first to steer boldly from shore
into the wild- and unknown waste of waters, an
originator, not a mere follower or improver of
what had been done before.
Fernando Columbus divides into three classes
the grounds on which his father's theory was
based: first, reasons from nature; second, the
authority of learned writers; and third, the re-
ports of sailors. He believed the world to be a
sphere; he under-estimated its size; and judged
that Asia was larger than it really was. The
farther Asia extended to the east the nearer it
came round towards Spain. And this had been the
view of all the old geographers; and the early
travelers in their accounts all had the same idea
of the vast extent of eastern Asia.
Of all the works of learned men that which had
the most weight with Columbus was the "Cosmo-
graphia" by Cardinal Aliaco. This book was full
of absurd fables of lion-bodied men and dog-
faced women; and the accounts of the earth's



surface were mixed up with the wildest stories of
monsters and salamanders, of giants and pigmies.
These quaint figures appear in the earliest pictures
of books of ocean travel. It is here we find the
original of the sea-serpent, described as being
" of huge size, so that he kills and devours large
stags, and is able to cross the ocean." Other
wonders of the unknown world are given, and
these must have easily won the trusting faith of a
willing disciple like Columbus.
He was confirmed in his views of the exist-
ence of a western route to the Indies by Tosca-
nelli, to whom much credit is due for' the kindly
aid he afforded to Columbus in his first great
That the notices of western lands were not
such as to have much weight with most other men
is proved by the trouble which Columbus had in
struggling with adverse geographers and men of
science, of whom, he says, he never was able to
convince any one. After the new world had been
discovered many scattered hints were then found
to have foreshown it. When he promised a new
world people said it could not exist, and when he
had found it, that it had been known a long time.
It was to show how little these people knew that
he resorted to the well known expedient of making
an egg stand on end.



Of the hints he received from sailors it is dif-
ficult to speak with any degree of accuracy.
Rumors of drift-wood, which appeared to be
carved with some savage implements; of great
reeds, like those which Ptolemy wrote about as
growing in India, even of two corpses, cast up on
one of the Azores, and presenting an appearance
quite unlike that of any race of Europe or Africa;
all seem to have come to the willing ears of Colum-
bus, and to have been looked upon by him as
strong proofs of the great theory. He felt that
as the winds had drifted these from the west, they
surely must have come from some unknown
land in that direction.
About the year 1470 Columbus arrived at
Lisbon. According to the account given by his
son, he was on a cruise trying to capture some
Venetian merchant vessels on their way home
richly laden from Flanders. At break of day a
battle began off Cape St. Vincent, and lasted till
nightfall. The vessel commanded by Columbus
grappled with a huge Venetian galley, which,
after a hand-to-hand fight, caught fire, and the
flames spread to Columbus's vessel. Friends
and enemies alike sought safety by jumping
into the sea, and Columbus, supporting himself
on an oar, succeeded, when nearly exhausted, in
gaining the land, which was some six miles dis-


tant. God saved him, says his son, for greater
While at Lisbon, he used to attend religious
service at the chapel of the Convent of All Saints.
Here he met Donna Palestrello. She was the
daughter of an Italian cavalier, who had been one
of the most noted sea captains under Prince
Henry, and had colonized and governed the
island of Porto Santo. His marriage with this
lady fixed his residence there. Her father being
dead, the newly married couple made their home
with the mother. She seeing the great interest
that Columbus took in all matters relating to the
sea, told him all she knew of the voyages of her
husband, and brought him all his papers, and
charts and journals. To Columbus these were
treasures. He studied over all the routes of the
Portuguese, and their plans and ideas, and when
the chance offered he sailed in the trips to Guinea.
When on shore, he made maps and charts, which
he sold for the support of his family.
We know but little of this period of his life. We
find a few vague stories of his unsuccessful efforts
to induce the Senate of Genoa to take up his
project. From the Portuguese crown he could not
look for help, as they were engaged in costly
wars, and already had a field for discovery along
the African coast. King John the Second, to


whom he applied, listened with attention to his
scheme, which he gave a sort of half promise to
support, but he seems to have disagreed with
Columbus about the terms. He referred Colum-
bus to his Council for Geographical Affairs. The
plans were laid before them, but they reported
against the rashness of the scheme. The King
was not entirely satisfied and secretly fitted out
a vessel and sent it out with instructions founded
on the plans that Columbus had explained. The
vessel returned without having done anything;
the sailors not having had the heart to venture
far enough westward. It was not an enterprise
to be carried out with success by mere hirelings,
or by men who had only stolen the idea of it.



Columbus, disgusted at the treatment he had
received from the Portuguese Court, quitted Lis-
bon, for Spain, probably in the year 1485, with
his son Diego, the only child of his marriage
with Donna Felipa, now no longer living.
The first trace we have of him in Spain was
given a few years after his death, by Garcia Fer-
nandez, a doctor in the little seaport town of
Palos, in Andalusia. About a mile from that town
stood, and stands at the present day, an ancient
convent of Franciscan friars, dedicated to Santa
Maria de Rabida. According to the report of
the doctor, a stranger, on foot, with a small boy,
stopped one day at the gate of the convent, and
asked of the porter a little bread and water for
the child. While receiving this humble refresh-
ment the prior of the convent, Friar Juan Perez,
passed by, and was struck by the appearance of
the stranger, and observing from his air and ac-
cent that he was a foreigner, entered into conver-
sation with him, and soon learned his story.


That stranger was Columbus, and his young son
Diego. That he was in poor circumstances is evi-
dent from the mode of his wayfaring.
Juan Perez was a man of large learning. He
possessed that hearty zeal in friendship which
carries good wishes into good deeds. He kept
Columbus as his guest, and sent for his friend
Doctor Fernandez to come and talk with him.
Several meetings took place at the old convent,
and the theory of Columbus was treated with a
respect which it had in vain sought amid the bustle
and pretension of Court sages and philosophers.
Hints, too, were gathered from the veteran sailors
which seemed to support the theory. Perez was
on good terms with Talavera, who was confessor
to the Queen, a man high in royal favor, and
having great weight in public affairs. To him he
gave Columbus a letter, strongly recommending
himself and his enterprise to the good 'will of
Talavera, and begging his friendly aid with the
King and Queen. As the influence of the Church
was very great in the Court of Castile, and as
Talavera had direct access to the Queen, much was
expected from his good offices. In the meantime,
Perez took charge of the young son of Columbus,
and kept and educated him at his convent.
Columbus arrived at Cordova early in the year
1486. Talavera was not friendly to the cause



of Columbus. He was taken up with military
concerns, and absent with the Court in its wars
against the Moors, as the clerical adviser of the
Queen in this, as it was termed, holy war.
Amid the clang of arms and the bustle of war,
it is not surprising that Colnmbus could get but
slight attention to a matterwhich seemed so remote
and uncertain.
During the summer and fall of 1486 Columbus
remained at Cordova, supporting himself by the
sale of maps and charts, and trusting to time and
exertion to make him converts and friends that
might prove useful. One of the best friends he
gained was Quintanilla, the Queen's treasurer, a
man who like himself "took delight in great
things," and who got him a hearing from the
Spanish monarchs. Ferdinand and Isabella lis-
tened kindly, and ended by referring the business
to Talavera, whom they instructed to call a meeting
of the most learned geographers and astronomers,
who were to confer with Columbus and inform
themselves of the grounds on which he founded
his theory; after which they were to consult to-
gether and make their report. This junta, as it
was called, met at Salamanca, the great seat of
learning in Spain, in the year 1487. This was the
first step gained.
The junta did not regard the scheme of Colum-




bus with much favor. They were nearly all con-
nected with the Church, and combined to crush
Columbus with theological objections; Texts of
Scripture were brought forward to refute the
theory of the round shape' of the earth, and the
weighty authority of the early fathers of the Church
was added to overthrow "the foolish idea of the
existence of the antipodes; of people who walk op-
posite to us, with their heels upwards and their heads
hanging down; where everything is topsy-turvy,
where the trees grow with their branches down-
wards, and where it rains, hails and snows up-
wards." The book of Genesis in the Bible, the
psalms of David, the orations of the prophets, the
epistles of the apostles, and the gospels of the
Evangelists, were all put in evidence agL:nst Col-
umbus. It was impossible that there should be
people on what was thus vainly asserted to be the
other side of the earth, since none such were
mentioned in the Bible. In fine, thejunta decided
that the project was "vain and impossible; and
that it did not belong to the royalty of such great
princes to determine anything upon such weak
grounds of information."
Columbus could not reconcile his plan with the
cosmography of Ptolemy, to which all scholars of
that time yielded implicit faith. None of them
knew that the man Copernicus was "hen in ex-

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istence, whose solar system should reverse the
grand theory of Ptolemy, which placed the earth
in the centre of the universe.
The junta were interrupted by the departure of
the Court to Cordova, early in the spring of 1487,
called away by the concerns of the war, in the
memorable battle against Malaga. Talavera
went with the Queen as her confessor.
Ferdinand and Isabella seem not to have taken
the extremely unfavorable report of the junta, or
were disposed to dismiss Columbus gently, for
they said that with the wars at present on their
hands, and especially that of Granada, they could
not undertake any new expenses, but when the
war was ended, they would examine his plan
more carefully."
Thus ended a solicitation at the Court of Ferdi-
nand and Isabella, which is said to have lasted five
years; for the facts here mentioned, though short
in the telling, occupied a long time in transaction.
During the whole of this period Columbus
appears to have followed the sovereigns in the
movements from place to place, which the war
made necessary, and to have been treated with
much consideration. Sums were from time to
time granted to him from the royal treasury for
his private expenses, and he was billeted as a
public officer in the various towns of Andalusia,


where the Court rested. But
must have been an up-hill task.

at the best, this
Las Casas com-

:zz -jT'

* -~0~


_ _


pares the suit of Columbus to a battle, "a ter-
rible, continuous, painful, prolix battle." The
tide of this long battle having turned against him,
Columbus went to Seville "with much sadness
and discomfiture."
Columbus had given up all hope of aid from
the Spanish monarchs, and now tried to find some
rich man who would engage in the enterprise.
Among others that he saw were the Duke of
Medina Sidonia, and the Duke of Medina Celi,
whose large possessions along the Spanish coast
were likely to lead them to help his views. He
must have received some encouragement, for
when he succeeded, the Duke Cell wrote to the
Cardinal of Spain, showing that he had kept
Columbus two years at his house, and was ready
to assist him in his enterprise, but that he saw
that it was one for the Queen herself, and even
then he wished to have some part of it.
Probably any man with whom Columbus lived
for two years would have caught some portion of
his enthusiasm, and been ready to take up his pro-
ject, but none of the nobles of Spain would have
been likely to have undertaken the matter without
the sanction of the King and Queen. Celi ad-
vised Columbus to apply once more to the Queen
and offered to use his influence with her in his


But some friends remained who shared his faith
and urged him onward. Juan Perez, now guar-
dian of the monastery at Rabida, had exchanged
the bustle of the Court for the learned leisure of
the cloister. The little town of Palos, with its sea-
faring population and maritime interests, was near
the monastery, and the principal men of the place
were glad to spend the long winter evenings in
the society of Perez, over questions of geography
and astronomy.
Among the visitors were Martin Alonzo Pin-
zon, the chief ship-owner of Palos, and Fernandez,
the village doctor. Fernandez, who was skilled
in the physical sciences, and therefore capable of
appreciating the arguments of Columbus, became
a warm believer in his project.
Columbus had given up his suit at Court in dis-
gust, and called at the monastery before quitting
Spain to fetch his son, Diego, whom he had left
with Juan Perez to be educated. All his griefs and
troubles he confided to Perez, who could not bear
to hear of his intention to leave the country for
France or England, and to make a foreign nation
greater by allowing it to adopt his project.
The affection of Perez, and the learning of
Fernandez, were not slow to follow in the track
which the enthusiasm of the great adventurer made
out before them, and they became as convinced


as Columbus himself of the feasibility of the un-
dertaking. But the difficulty was in persuading
those to believe who would have power to further
the enterprise. Their discussion of these points
ended in the conclusion that Perez, who was
known to the Queen, should write to her high-
ness. He did so, and owing to the honest zeal
with which he urged the cause of Columbus, the
result was favorable. The Queen sent for him,
and he journeyed on to Santa Fe by night; she
heard what he had to say, and in consequence,
sent money to Columbus to enable him to come
to Court, and renew his suit.
Columbus attended the Court again. He
arrived in time to witness the surrender of
Granada to the Spanish arms. He beheld the
last of the Moorish Kings sally forth from the
Alhambra, and yield up the keys of that great
seat of power. It was a great day for Spain.
After nearly 800 years of painful struggle the
Crescent was completely cast down, and the
Cross exalted in its place, and the flag of Spain
was seen floating on the highest tower of the
Alhambra. The moment had now arrived when
the Monarchs stood pledged to attend to his
proposals. They kept their word. Full of the
grandeur of his enterprise, he would listen to
none but princely conditions. The resumed deal-


ings were again broken off, this time on the
ground that the largeness of his conditions could

:-1: ', .- -"--

not be granted. His enemies said his conditions
were too large if he succeeded, and if he should


not succeed the conditions should come to noth-
ing; they thought there was an air of trifling in
granting such conditions at all.
And indeed they were very large; he was to be
made an admiral at once, to be appointed viceroy
of the countries he should discover, and to have
one-eighth of the profits of the expedition.
Columbus now resolved to go to France, when
Perez and Fernandez managed to get another
hearing for Columbus from Cardinal Mendoza,
who was pleased with him. The Cardinal was the
most important person about Court. The King
and Queen had him always at their side, in peace
and war. He followed with them in all their
wars, and they never took any measure of im-
portance without consulting him.
Columbus offered in order to meet the objection
to pay one-eighth part of the expenses of the
expedition. Still nothing was done, and now
finally Columbus determined to go to France, and
indeed actually set off one day in January 1492,
when Santangel, the receiver of the Church
revenues of the Crown of Aragon, a man much
devoted to the plans of Columbus, addressed the
Queen, with all the energy that a man throws into
his words when he is aware that it is his last time
for speaking in favor of a thing which he has much
at heart. He told her that he wondered that as



she always had a lofty mind for great things, it
should be wanting on this occasion. He tried to
raise her jealousy by saying that the enterprise
might fall into the hands of other princes, hinting
at the eternal fame that Portugal had gained in
this way.
He ended by saying that Columbus wanted
but two vessels and about $1500. in money and
that so great an enterprise ought not to be given
up for the sake of such a trifling sum. These
arguments falling in as they did, with those of
Quintanilla, the treasurer, who has great influence
with the Queen, prevailed. The Queen thanked
these lords for their counsel; and said she would
adopt it, but they must wait till the finances had
recovered a little from the drain upon them
caused by the conquest of Granada, or if it
were wiser to carry it out at once, she would
pledge her jewels to raise the needed money.
Santangel offered to advance the money
required. Upon this Quintanilla sent to bring
Columbus back to Court. He was overtaken six
miles from Granada, returned to Santa Fe, where
the Sovereigns were camped before Granada,
was well received by Queen Isabella, and finally
the agreement between him and their Catholic
highness was settled.
Not much of King Ferdinand is seen in all


these dealings. It was known that he had looked
coldly on the plans of Columbus. Henry the
Seventh, of England, refused to adopt the pro-
ject laid before him by Bartholomew Columbus,
who went to England, and it is said, was mocked
and jeered at the English Court."
King Ferdinand seems to have looked at the
whole affair as an instance of Isabella's good-
natured sympathy with enthusiasts. His own cool
and wary nature made him distrust this "pauper
pilot, promising rich realms."
The conditions of Columbus, that he had held
out so proudly for, were all "granted, by the King
and Queen, at Santa Fe, in the Vega of Granada,
April 17, 1492."
Thus gratified in his dearest wishes after delays
that would have driven the ordinary man to des-
pair, Columbus, on May 12, 1492, left the Court
and set out joyfully for Palos. Eighteen years
had passed from the time Columbus first got the
idea before he was enabled to carry it into effect.
Most of that time was passed in hopeless solicita-
tion, amid poverty, neglect, and ridicule; the
prime of his life had wasted away in the struggle,
and he was 56 years old, when success came to
him. His example should encourage the enter-
prising never to despair.
Armed with his Commission, Columbus left the


Court of Palos. His friends at the monastery
were delighted that the scheme upon which they
had pinned their faith was now to be launched.
There was no delay in furnishing the funds. The
town of Palos was ordered to provide two vessels
within ten days. The difficulty now was to get
sailors to man the vessels. The men did not
want to risk their lives on what they looked upon
as a crazy voyage. Columbus was allowed to
press men into the service, but still they could not
get enough men of the right stamp.
Juan Perez did much to get men to embark.
The Pinzons, rich men, and skillful seamen, join-
ed in the undertaking, and aided it with their
money, and by these united efforts three vessels
were manned with 90 sailors, and with provisions
for a year. The vessels were all of small size.
The Santa Maria, which Columbus commanded,
was the only one that was decked throughout.
The officers and crew were 16 in number. The
other two vessels were of that class called cara-
vels, and were decked fore and aft, but had no
deck in the middle; the stem and stern being
built so as to rise high out of the water. One
of them, the Pinta, was manned by a crew of
30 sailors, and was commanded by Martin Alonzo
Pinzon. The other, the Nina, had Vincent
Pinzon as Captain, and a crew of 24 men. The



whole number of adventurers amounted to 120
persons-men of various countries, one of them,
Arthur Lake, coming from England, and another
entered on the list as William Rice, native of
Galway, Ireland.
A deep gloom was spread over the whole town
of Palos. Almost every one had some relative or
friend on board the squadron. The spirits of the
sailors, depressed by their own fears, were still more
cast down at the sorrow of those they left behind,
who took leave of them with tears, as of men
they were never to behold again.
By the beginning of August every difficulty had
been overcome, and the vessels 'were ready for



It was Friday, August 3, 1492, at eight o'clock
in the morning, after they had all confessed and
received the sacrament, that Columbus set sail on
his first voyage of discovery. They sailed from
the Bar of Saltes, making for the Canary Islands,
from whence it was intended to sail west.
Columbus had now changed the long, weary,
dismal life of a suitor for the sharp, intense anxi-
ety of a struggle in which there was no choice to
success but deplorable, ridiculous, fatal failure.
Speaking afterwards of the time he had spent as
a suitor at Court, he says, Eight years I was torn
with disputes, and, in a word, my proposition was
a thing for mockery." It was now to be seen
what mockery was in it. The following account
of the voyage is mainly taken from an abridgment
of Columbus's own diary made by Las Casas, who
in some places gives the admiral's own words.
The little squadron reached the Canary Islands
in a few days with no event worth recording,
except that the caravel Pinta broke her rudder.


This was supposed to be no accident, but to have
been done by the owners of the vessel, who did not
like the voyage, and hoped she would be left be-
hind. The crew had been pressed into the service
greatly against their will, and the caravel had
been seized for the expedition by the royal orders.
Columbus was much disturbed by this occur-
rence. The wind was blowing strongly at the
time, so that he could not render any assistance
without running some risk to his own vessel.
Fortunately Martin Pinzon commanded the Pinta,
and being an adroit and able seaman, he suc-
ceeded in securing the rudder with cords, so as to
bring the vessel into management. They were
detained three weeks among these islands seeking
in vain to find another vessel. They were obliged
to make a new rudder for the Pinta, and to repair
her as well as they were able for the voyage.
The sails were changed into square sails, that
she might work more steadily and securely, and
be able to keep up with the other vessels.
While sailing among these islands they passed
in sight of Teneriffe, whose lofty peak was send-
ing out volumes of flame and smoke. The
crew were terrified at the sight of this eruption.
Columbus told them all about the causes of these
volcanic fires, telling them of Mount Etna and
other well-known volcanoes.



While taking in wood, water and provisions,
they were told that three Portuguese caravels
were hovering off the island, with the intention
to capture Columbus. On September 6, Colum-
bus sailed boldly out to sea, without meeting with
any of his enemies.
On losing sight of the last trace of land, the
hearts of the crews failed them. They seemed
to have taken leave of the world. Behind them
was everything dear to them; country, family,
friends, life itself; before them was chaos, mystery
and peril. Many of the rugged seamen shed
tears and broke out into loud wailings. Columbus
tried in every way to soothe their distress, and to
inspire them with his own glorious fancies. He
promised them land and riches, and everything
that could arouse them. And he did not do this
to deceive them; he believed that he should
realize all his promises.
For many days the diary is little more than a
log-book, giving the rate of sailing-or rather
two rates, one for Columbus' own private need,
and the other for the sailors. On September 13,
he noticed about nightfall that the needle, instead
of pointing to the north star, varied a trifle to the
north-west, and still more on the following morning.
He watched this attentively for three days, and
found that the variation increased as he advanced.


He said nothing, but it also attracted the attention
of the pilots, and filled them with dread. They
thought that the compass was about to lose its
virtue, and without this guide, what was to be-
come of them in a vast and trackless ocean?
It taxed all of Columbus's science and ingen-
uity for reasons with which to allay their terror.
The high opinion that they had of him as an
astronomer led them to accept his theories. On
the 14th, the sailors of the Nina saw two tropical
birds, which they said never went beyond sixty
miles from shore. On the 15th, they saw a meteor
fall from heaven, which made them very sad.
These meteors, common in warm climates, and
especially under the tropics, are always seen in
the clear, azure sky of these latitudes, falling as
it were from the heavens, but never beneath a
cloud. On the i6th, they first came across large
plains of seaweed. On one of these patches was
a live crab, which Columbus carefully preserved.
Tunny fish also played about the ships.
The wind had to this time been favorable. They
had made great progress each day, though Colum-
bus, according to his secret plan, managed to
suppress several miles in the -daily score left open
to the crew. On September i8th, they see many
birds, and a cloud in the distance; and that night
they expect to see land. On the i9th, in the


morning, comes a pelican (a bird not usually seen
fifty miles from the coast); in the evening, another,
also a drizzling rain without wind, a certain sign
of closeness to land.
Columbus will not beat around for land, as he
rightly thinks these signs give token only of
islands, as it proved to be. He will see these on
his return; but now he must press on to the
Indies. This resolve shows his strength of mind,
and also the almost scientific basis on which his
great idea reposed.
Columbus would not allow himself to be moved
from his main design by any partial success,
though by this time he well knew the fears of his
men, some of whom had already agreed," that it
would be their best plan to throw him quietly into
the sea, and say he fell in, while he stood ab-
sorbed in looking at the stars." Indeed, three
days after he had resolved to pass on to the
Indies, we find him saying : "Very needful for me
was this contrary wind, for the crews were very
much tormented with the idea that there were no
winds on these seas that would carry them back
to Spain."
On they go, having signs from time to time, in
the presence of birds and grass, and fish, that
land must be near; but land does not come.
Once they are all satisfied that they see land;



and they sing the "Gloria in Excelsis"; and even
Columbus goes out of his course towards this
land, which turns out to be no land.
On October I, they had sailed by the ship's
record 1,740 miles, while the real reckoning kept
by Columbus showed 2,121 miles. On the next
day the weeds floated from east to west, and on
the third day no birds were to be seen. The
crew began to fear that they had passed between
islands, from one to the other of which the birds had
been flying; Columbus had some doubts of the
same kind, but refused to alterh:s westward course.
The crews began to utter murmurs and threats,
but on the day following, they were visited by
such flights of birds, and the various signs of
land became so many that from a state of des-
pondency they passed into one of eager expecta-
A pension of thirty crowns had been promised
by Spain to him who should first discover land.
Eager to earn this reward, they were giving out
the cry of land on the least appearance of the
kind. To put a stop to these false alarms, Col-
umbus declared that should anyone give notice of
land, and it be not found for three days after-
wards, he should forfeit all claim to the reward.
On October 6 Martin Pinzon began to lose
confidence in their present course, and wanted


Columbus to steer more to the southward, but he
refused, and continued towards the west. On
the 7th land was thought to be seen in the west,
but no one ventured to proclaim it for fear of
losing the reward. The Nina being a good sailor,
pressed forward to ascertain the fact. In a little
while a flag was hoisted at her masthead, and a
gun fired, being the arranged signals for land.
New joy was awakened, and every eye was
turned towards the west. As they sailed on,
their cloud-built hopes faded away; and before
evening the fancied land had again melted into
The crews were again sadly dejected. Colum-
bus observed great flights of small field birds
going towards the southwest, and he made up his
mind that they must be secure of some near land,
where they would find food and a resting place.
He determined to alter his course and sail with
the birds, and go in that direction for at least two
days. This met the wishes of the Pinzons, and
inspired the crews generally.
For three days they sailed in this direction, and
the farther they went the more encouraging were
the signs of land; but when on the evening of the
third day, they beheld the sun go down upon a
shoreless horizon, they looked on all these signs
as so many delusions luring them on to destruc-


tion. They insisted upon turning homeward, and
giving up the voyage as hopeless. Columbus tried
to pacify them with gentle words and promises of
large rewards; and when these seemed useless,
he took a decided tone, and saying they were sent
to seek the Indies, happen what might, he would
go on, till by the blessing of God he should accom
plish the enterprise.
Columbus was now in open war with his crews,
and his situation was truly desperate. Happily,
on the next day, the signs of land were such as
to admit of no doubt. Besides fresh weeds, such
as grow in rivers, they saw a green fish, of a kind
which keeps about rocks ; then a branch of thorn
with berries on it; then they picked up a weed,
a small board, and above all, a staff artificially
carved. All gloom now gave way; and all day
each one was eagerly on the watch, in hopes of
being the first to discover the long sought for land.
In the evening after the vesper hymn to the
Virgin, Columbus made an address to the crew.
He thought it likely they should land that night,
and ordered a sharp look out. Not an eye was
closed that night. About ten o'clock Columbus
thought he saw a light glimmering at a great dis-
tance. He called the attention of two of his
officers to it. The light came and went, as though
in the hand of some person on shore. Columbus


looked on this as a certain sign of land, and
believed the land was inhabited.
They continued on their course till two o'clock
in the morning, when a gun from the Pinta gave
the joyful signal of land. The land was now
dimly seen about six miles off. They took in
sail, and waited impatiently for the dawn.
Land was first seen by Rodrigo de Triana.
We cannot but be sorry for this poor common
sailor, who got no reward, and of whom they tell
a story, that in sadness and despite, he passed
into Africa, after his return to Spain, and became
a Mohometan. The pension was judged to go to
Columbus, on the ground that he first saw the
light; and was paid to him on the day of his
The great mystery of the ocean was now at
at last revealed. His theory, which had been the
scoff even of sages, was now-established. He
had secured to.himself a glory which must be as
durable as the world itself.



The landing of Columbus in the New World
must ever be a conspicuous fact in the records of
mankind, and it was celebrated in a manner
worthy of the occasion. On Friday, October 12,
1492, Columbus, clad in a full suit of armor, and
carrying in his hand the royal banner of Spain,
descended upon the level shores of the small
island (San Salvador, one of the Bahamas), which
had first greeted him, and which he found to be
very fruitful, fresh and verdant, and "like a gar-
den full of roses." Martin Pinzon and his brother
Vincent went with him, each of them bearing a
banner with a green cross upon it, and with the
letters F. and Y. surmounted by their respective
crowns, the initials of the Spanish monarchs Fer-
nando and Ysabel. These chief officers were
followed by a large portion of the crews. In lines
along the shore stood the simple natives, all per-
fectly naked, looking on with innocent amazement.
On touching land, Columbus and all the Span-
iards who were present fell upon their knees, and



with tears poured forth their "immense thanks-
givings to Almighty God." Drawing his sword,
and displaying the royal standard, Columbus took
solemn possession in the name of the sovereigns,
giving the island the name of San Salvador.
After going through these forms and ceremonies,
he called on all present to take the oath of obedi-
ence to him, as admiral and viceroy.
When the natives saw the boats coming to the
shore with a number of strange beings, clad in
shining steel with clothes of various colors, they
fled off in fright to the woods. Finding that there
was no attempt made to pursue or molest them
they got over their terror and slowly came back.
They came up to the strangers, wondering at their
whiteness and at their beards. Columbus attracted
their attention, from his height, his air of
authority, his dress of scarlet, and the respect
paid to him by the others, all of which pointed
him out as the chief.
The natives were no less objects of curiosity
to the Spaniards, differing as they did from any
race of men they had ever seen. Their looks
did not give much promise of either riches or
learning, for they were entirely naked, and
painted with a variety of colors.
"I gave them," says Columbus, "some colored
caps, and some strings of glass beads for their


~____~_ __I


i ,4;1;:





necks and many other things of little value, with
which they were delighted. They came swimming
out to our boats, and brought us parrots, cotton
thread in balls, darts, and many other things, and
bartered them with us for bells and small glass
beads. In fine, they took and gave all of what-
ever they had with good will." These trifles
Columbus brought with him, because the Portu-
guese sailors found them useful in trading with
the negroes on the gold coast of Africa.
As Columbus supposed he had landed on an
island at the end of India, he gave to the natives
the name of Indians, and this name was adopted,
and has ever since been applied to the natives of
the New World.
Columbus tells us that these Indians were well
made, with very good faces, had hair like horse-
hair, and were yellow in color. They did not
carry any arms, and knew nothing of such things,
for when he showed them swords, they took hold
of them by the blades, and cut themselves. Some
of these Indians wore gold rings in their noses.
These they gladly exchanged for the hawks' bells,
Columbus asked where this gold was to be got.
They answered by signs, pointing to the south;
and he understood them that in that quarter there
was a king of great wealth, insomuch that he was
served in great vessels of wrought gold.

THE GRAND KHAN OF THE EAST. (From Alarco Polos travels.)


Columbus now felt satisfied that he had landed
among those islands described by Marco Polo,
as lying opposite Cathay, in the Chinese Sea,
and he thought everything accorded with the
account given of those rich regions of the great
Khan of the East.
On October 14, he set off at daybreak with
the boats of the ships to cruise along the islands.
They passed two or three villages, and the men
and women ran to the shores, and threw them-
selves upon the ground, lifting up their hands and
eyes, either giving thanks to Heaven, or worship-
ping the Spaniards. Their idea was that these
white men had come from the skies.
On October 16, Columbus went on shore, giving
the island the name of Santa Maria Concepcion.
Finding nothing here to induce delay, he returned
on board, and sailed to the west, landing at another
island which he called Fernandina, in honor of
the King. The natives here seemed more intel-
ligent. Some of the women wore scanty aprons
of cotton, others had cotton mantles, but for the
most part they were naked. For beds they had
nets of cotton, spread from two posts, which they
called hamacs, a name since used by seamen.
Here they found a noble harbor, large enough to
hold one hundred ships. Here the men landed
with the casks in search of water. Columbus says


in his diary, The country was as fresh and green
as the month of May in Andalusia; the trees,
fruits, flowers, herbs, the very stones, for the most
part, as different from those of Spain, as night
from day." The natives looked on their visitors
with awe; took them to the coolest springs, filled
their casks, rolled them to the boats, and in every
way tried to gratify them.
Leaving Fernandina on the i9th, they steered
to the south-west, where their guides told them
was a gold mine, with a king living in a large
city, with great riches, wearing clothes studded
with jewels and gold. They found the island,
but not the king, nor the mine. No animals had
been seen on these islands but lizards and a kind
of rabbit, called guanas, and a species of dog
that never barked.
To the constant inquiry of Columbus as to
where the natives got their gold, they always
pointed to the south. It was learned that an
island lay in that direction called Cuba, that was
rich in gold and jewels and spices, and did quite
a trade with ships that stopped there. Columbus
now made up his mind to leave the Bahamas and
go in quest of Cuba.
Owing to contrary winds and calms, followed
by heavy showers, it was October 28 before he
sighted the island of Cuba. He was struck with


the grandeur of its features; its high and airy
mountains reminding him of those of Sicily; its
fertile valleys and wide plains, watered by noble
rivers. In the diary Columbus says, One could
live here forever; it is the most beautiful island
that eyes ever beheld." The houses were better
built than those he had yet seen, and they were
kept clean. But the natives fled to the, mountains
or hid in the woods on his approach. In the
course of their searches, they met with the potato,
a humble root, little valued at the time, but more
precious to man than all the spices of the east.
They also beheld the natives going around with
firebrands in their hands, and certain dried herbs,
which they rolled up in a leaf, and lighting one
end, put the other end in their mouths, inhaling
and puffing out smoke. These rolls they called
tobacco. This discovery of tobacco proved of
more value to the Spanish crown than all the gold
mines of the Indies.
On November 12, Columbus turned his course,
to follow back the direction of the coast. Had he
proceeded far within the old channel, between
Cuba and the Bahamas, he would have discovered
his mistake in thinking Cuba a part of Terra
Firma; an error in which he continued to the day
of his death. He might have stood for the coast
of Florida, or have been carried there by the Gulf



Stream; or he might have struck over to the op-
posite coast of Yucatan, and realized his greatest
hopes, in being the discoverer of Mexico. It was
glory enough, however, for Columbus to have
found a new world. Its more golden regions were
reserved to give splendor to succeeding entter-
Martin Pinzon parted company with Columbus
while on the coast of Cuba. He grew tired of
taking orders from Columbus. His avarice was
suddenly awakened. His vessel being the best
sailor, he could easily ply to windward, while the
others could not. The Indian guides he had with
him offered to bring him to an island of great
riches. He might be the first, therefore, to discover
this golden region, and enrich himself with its first
fruits. Columbus was indignant at this deser-
tion ; but his heavy ship made all attempts at pur-
suit hopeless.
On December 6, Columbus entered a harbor
at the western end of the island, which he called
St. Nicholas, by which it is called to this day.
From the number of canoes seen in various parts
there were evidently large villages near, but the
natives fled with terror at the sight of the ships.
The interpreter was sent after them. He quieted
their terrors by saying that the strangers had
come from the skies, and went about the world


making beautiful presents. Thus assured, they
ventured back, about 2,000 of them. They were
a well formed race, fairer and handsomer than
the natives of the other islands. They brought
the Spaniards to their houses and set before them
casava bread, fish, roots, and fruits of many kinds.
They offered freely what they possessed. But
there were no signs of riches.
On December 14, Columbus visited an island
lying opposite to the harbor of Conception, to
which, from its abounding in turtle, he gave the
name of Tortugas. On the i6th he steered again
for Hispaniola, called by the natives Hayti. The
ships were visited by a Cacique of the neighbor-
hood. He was borne on a litter by four men,
and attended by 200 of his subjects. Columbus
entertained him at dinner on board his vessel.
After the dinner the Cacique presented Columbus
with a belt curiously made, and two pieces of
gold. Columbus gave him a piece of cloth,
several amber beads, colored shoes, and a flask
of orange flower water. They found but little
gold in this place. The region of promise still
lay further on. One of the old counsellers of the
Cacique told Columbus that he would soon arrive
at islands rich in the precious ore.
On December 20th, Columbus anchored in a
fine bay, to which he gave the name of St. Thomas.


On the 22d, a large canoe, filled with natives,
came on a mission from a grand Cacique named
Guacanagari who owned all that part of the
island. He resided in a town on a river called
Punta Santa. It was the largest and best built
town they had yet seen.
On December 24th, Columbus set sail from Con-
ception, intending to anchor at the harbor of the
Cacique Guacanagari. The wind was very light,
and the ship made but little progress. It was the
night before Christmas, and Columbus, who had
kept watch, retired to take a little rest, not having
slept the night before. On account of the great
calm he felt secure, and there was no report of
rocks or shoals in their course.
No sooner had the vigilant admiral retired, than
the steersman gave the helm in charge to one of
the ship boys, and went to sleep. The rest
of the sailors who had the watch took advantage
of the absence of Columbus, and in a little while
the whole crew were buried in sleep. While this
fancied security reigned over the ship, the cur-
rents, which ran swiftly along this coast, carried
her quietly, but with force, upon a sand-bank.
The heedless boy had not noticed the breakers,
but when he felt the rudder strike, he cried for
aid. Columbus was the first to take the alarm,
and mount the deck. The master of the ship,

M Mr M -: I Wil



whose duty it was to have been on watch, next
made his appearance, followed by others of the
crew, half awake, and not aware of their peril.
Columbus ordered them to take the boat, and
carry out an anchor astern, that they might try to
tow the vessel off. They sprang into the boat;
but were seized with a panic, and instead of obey-
ing their orders, sailed off to the other caravel.
When the boat arrived at the caravel, they were
refused admission, and reproached for their cow-
ardly desertion. The master and several of the
crew of the caravel got out their boat, and sailed
to the rescue; but were too late to save the ship,
which the strong current had set more and more
upon the bank; until her keel was firmly bedded
in the sand.
Columbus and his crew took refuge on board
the caravel. Messengers were sent on shore to
inform the Cacique of their disaster. He sent all
his people, with all the canoes that could be
gathered, and unloaded the vessel. On December
26, the Cacique came on board the Pinta, and
tried to cheer up Columbus. He gave him houses
to shelter the Spaniards, and to receive the effects
landed from the wreck.
The Cacique took Columbus to the beautiful
groves near his residence. They were attended
by over a thousand of the natives, all perfectly


naked. He assured Columbus, by signs, that
there was a place not far off where gold abounded
in such a degree that it was held in little value.
Columbus showed the Cacique a Moorish bow
and a quiver of arrows, and got a man who was
skillful in the use of them to show how these
weapons were used. The Cacique told him of
the Caribs, who often made descents upon his
lands and carried off his subjects; and how they
also were armed with these bows and arrows.
Columbus promised to destroy these Caribs;
knowing he had weapons against which there was
no defence. In proof of this, he ordered a heavy
cannon to be fired. At the sound of this gun the
Indians fell to the ground as though they had been
struck with a thunderbolt; and when they saw
the ball rending and shivering the trees like a
stroke of lightning, they were filled with dismay.
On being told that the Spaniards would defend
them with these weapons, their alarm changed
to joy, and they felt that they were under the
protection of the sons of heaven.
The Cacique presented Columbus with a mask
carved of wood, with the eyes, ears and other
parts of gold; he hung plates of the same metal
around his neck, and placed a kind of golden
coronet upon his head. He also made various
gifts to the crew.


The kindness of the Cacique, the gentleness of
the people, and the quantities of gold which were
daily brought to be exchanged for the commonest
trifles did much to console Columbus for the loss
he had suffered.
The shipwrecked crew lived on shore. When
they looked back upon their toilsome andpainful
life in Spain, and thought of the cares and hard-
ships that must still be their lot if they returned
to Europe, it is no wonder that they looked with
a wistful eye on the easy and idle life of these
Indians. 'Ihe men were simple, frank and cor-
dial; the women loving and willing to marry.
They saw gold around them to be had without
labor, and enjoyment to be got without cost.
Many of the seamen begged Columbus to allow
them to remain on the island.
Columbus resolved to found a colony in
Guacanagari's land, "having found such good
will and such signs of gold." With the timber of
the unfortunate Santa Maria he built a fort, and
called it La Natividad, because he entered the
port near there on Christmas day. The shipwreck
which Columbus looked upon as an act of divine
favor, to reveal to him the secrets of the land,
limited all his after discoveries. It linked his
fortunes for the rest of his life to this island,
which was doomed to be to him a scene of cares

S' A




and troubles, to tie him up in a thousand doubts,
and to cloud his last years with humiliation and
He remained on very friendly terms with this
good Cacique, and might have done well in that
part of the country if he could have been con-
tent to be a settler. But he had an anxious desire
to get back to Spain, and tell all he knew. At
times he feared that his grand secret might still
perish with him. So he resolved to return home.
He left the fort in trust to a small body of his
followers, whom he commended to the good will
of the Cacique. He advised the men to do no
violence to man or woman; but to act as if they
had really came from heaven. Then getting the
necessary provisions for his vessel from the
friendly Indians, he set sail for Spain on Janu-
ary 14, 1493.


The wind being light, they had to tow the cara-
vel out of the harbor, and clear of the reefs all
around it. They then stood eastward, towards a
lofty promontory, to which Columbus gave the
name of Monte Christo, by which it is still known.
On January 6, 1493, the lookout at the masthead
cried out that he saw the Pinta at a distance. The
two vessels steered back to the bay. Pinzon
went on board the Nina and stated to Columbus
that owing to the.storms he had been driven out
of his course, and out of sight of his leader. The
admiral accepted this explanation, fearing that a
quarrel with Pinzon, whose townsmen and rela-
tions formed the most part of the crew, might
cause a mutiny, which would be fatal to the under-
taking; but in his diary he noted his belief in Pin-
zon's bad faith. Pinzon had not found the gold
he went in search of, but he had met with some
natives and got, by bartering, a large quantity of
gold-dust. Half of this he kept for himself, and
half he gave to his crew as a bribe to them to say
nothing about the matter.


A few days were spent in refitting the vessels
for their homeward voyage. The Nina and the
Pinta again set sail, coasting St. Domingo in an
easterly direction as far as the Gulf of Samana.
It was here that the first fight took place. The
natives attacked an exploring party that had been
sent out by Columbus. This was smoothed over.
Pinzon had brought six Indians on board his ship,
intending to carry them to Spain, to be sold as
slaves. Columbus set them free, and sent them
back with presents.
On January 16, Columbus left Samana on his
homeward course, from which, however, he turned,
in the hope of finding the island peopled with
Amazons, described by Marco Polo, of which he
had heard something in St. Domingo.
Such a discovery would be a full proof of his
new country with Marco Polo's Indies, and when
four natives offered to act as guides, he thought
it worth while to steer (in the direction of Mar-
tinique) in quest of the fabled Amazons. But the
breeze blew towards Spain; the crews grew
homesick ; they grumbled at the length of the
voyage among the currents and reefs of strange
seas; and at last Columbus gave up all idea of
further discovery, and again took up his course
for Europe.
At first things went well; but the adverse trade-



winds, and the bad sailing of the Pinta delayed
the progress of both vessels. On February 12,
a storm came on, which became more and more
furious, until on the I4th, it became a hurricane,
and Pinzon's vessel could only drift helplessly,
while the Nina was able to keep ahead. In the
evening both caravels were sailing under bare
poles, and when darkness fell the signal light of
the Pinta gleamed far off, until at last it could be
seen no more. Then the panic-stricken crew
gave up in despair, the winds howled louder and
louder, and the sea burst over the frail vessel-
then, indeed, without a single skilled sailor to ad-
vise or to aid him, Columbus felt himself alone
with the tempest and the night. But his brave
heart kept up. As the stores were consumed,
the Nina felt the want of ballast, which Columbus
had intended to take on board at the Amazon
Island. Fill the empty casks with water," said
he, and let them serve as ballast," a plan which
has grown common enough now, but which then
was probably original.
Columbus'did all that human skill could sug-
gest for the safety of his vessel; and he prayed
to Heaven for help. With his crew he drew lots
to choose of one of their number to perform a
pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady at Guada-
loupe. He, himself, was chosen. Twice more


were lots drawn, and once again the lot fell to
Columbus. Then he and all the crew made a vow
to go in procession to the first church dedicated
to the Virgin which they should meet on reach-
ing land.
When he thought their chances of getting
through the storm were small indeed, Columbus,
fearing that the tidings of his discovery might
finish with him, wrote out an account of his voyage
on parchment, and this he tied up in wax and
placed in a flask, which he threw out on the waves.
On February I5th, the storm abated some, and
at last they came in sight of land, which Colum-
bus knew to be one of the Azores. As they
could not make head against the waves and the
sea, they lost sight of this island, but saw another,
lying more to the south, round which they sailed
on the night of the I7th, but lost an anchor in
trying to bring up near the land. Next day they
cast anchor, and learned from the people that
they had reached the island of St. Mary, belong-
ing to the Portuguese. The governor sent word
to Columbus that he would visit him. But, to
fulfil their vow, half the crew went, barefoot and
in their shirts, on the pilgrimage to the chapel of
St. Mary, which was not far from the harbor. The
governor captured the whole band of pilgrims.
Spain and Portugal were at this time at peace.


but the governor thought the capture would please
his king. Columbus could do nothing with the
governor, and as the weather would not allow
him to remain where he was, he put out to sea,
with only three able seamen. On February 21,
he came back, and showed his royal commission,
and the governor restored the crew. On the
24th, they again steered for Spain, but another
tempest came on, which lasted for more than a
In this last storm which raged with destructive
violence along the west coast of the Continent of
Europe, and which drove the Pinta almost help-
lessly towards a lee-shore, the dangers of the
voyage ended. I escaped," says Columbus, by
the greatest miracle in the world." On the after-
noon of March 4th, he came to anchor in the Tagus.
To the King of Portugal, who happened to be
near, he sent word of his arrival, and the result
of his voyage, and in reply, he received a press-
ing call to visit the Court. With this he thought
proper to comply, "in order not to show mistrust,
although he disliked it," and was received by the
King with great honors. The King put in a claim
to the newly found land, which Columbus in the
interest of his sovereign took care to repudiate as
decidedly as possible. The King offered to trans-
port Columbus by land, and to furnish a safe con-



duct or band of troops. This Columbus refused.
On March I3th, in the teeth of a bad wind and a
heavy sea, he left Tagus for the Bar of Saltes,
and safely reached his starting point at Palos on
the 15th, again a Friday-having taken not quite
seven months and a-half to accomplish this great-
est of all maritime enterprises.



The triumphant return of Columbus was a great
event in the history of the little port of Palos,
where everybody was more or less interested in
the fate of the expedition. The most important
and wealthy sea-captains of the place had engaged
in it, and scarcely a family but had some relative
or friend among the voyagers. The departure of
the ships on what was thought a crazy cruise had
spread gloom and dismay over the place; and
the storms which had raged made this feeling
worse. When they heard of the return, the whole
people burst forth into a transport of joy. The
bells were rung, and all the shops were closed;
and everywhere was bustle and excitement.
Every member of the crew was looked upon as a
The Court was at Barcelona. Columbus sent
a letter to the King and Queen, stating in general
terms the success of his project; and made ready
to present himself in person to their highnesses.
Almost at the same time, the Pinta reached the


port of Bayonne, and Pinzon sent a letter telling
of his" discoveries, and offering to come to
Court and give full intelligence of them. He
supposed that Columbus had been lost; and
when the King and Queen directed him not to
come to Court without the admiral, chagrin and
grief so overcame him that he took to his bed;
and if any man ever died of remorse and a broken
heart, that man was Martin Alonzo Pinzon.
The Court prepared a great reception for
Columbus at Barcelona, where the people turned
out in such numbers to see him that the streets
could not contain them. A procession like this
the world had never before seen. Here with
Columbus were beings of a New World. Ferdi-
nand and Isabella had their thrones placed in the
presence of the assembled Court. Columbus
approached the monarchs, and .then, "his face
beaming with modest satisfaction," he knelt at the
King's feet, and begged leave to kiss their high-
nesses' hands. They gave their hands; then
bade him rise and be seated before them. He
told the events of his voyage, and concluded his
story by showing what new things and new crea-
tures he had brought with him.
Ferdinand and Isabella fell on their knees, and
gave thanks to God with many tears; and then
the singers of the royal chapel closed the grand

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