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743
COLUMBUS, CHRISTOPHER

effect on the 7th of October, from the “Niña.” But on the 11th the “Pinta” fished up a cane, a pole, a stick which appeared to have been wrought with iron, and a board, while the “Niña” sighted a branch covered with berries; “and with these signs all of them breathed and were glad.” At ten o’clock on that America discovered. night Columbus himself perceived and pointed out a light ahead, and at two in the morning of Friday, the 12th of October 1492, Rodrigo de Triana, a sailor aboard the “Niña,” announced the appearance of what proved to be the New World. The land sighted was an island, called by the Indians Guanahani, and named by Columbus San Salvador. It is generally identified with Watling Island.

The same morning Columbus landed, richly clad, and bearing the royal banner of Spain. He was accompanied by the brothers Pinzon, bearing banners of the Green Cross (a device of the admiral’s), and by great part of the crew. When they all had “given thanks to God, kneeling upon the shore, and kissed the ground with tears of joy, for the great mercy received,” the admiral named the island, and took solemn possession of it for their Catholic majesties of Castile and Leon. At the same time such of the crews as had shown themselves doubtful and mutinous sought his pardon weeping, and prostrated themselves at his feet.

Into the remaining detail of this voyage, of highest interest as it is, it is impossible to go further. It will be enough to say that it resulted in the discovery of the islands of Santa Maria de la Concepcion (Rum Cay), Fernandina (Long Island), Isabella (Crooked Island), Cuba or Juana (named by Columbus in honour of the young prince of Spain), and Hispaniola, Haiti, or San Domingo. Off the last of these the “Santa Maria” went aground, owing to the carelessness of the steersman. No lives were lost, but the ship had to be unloaded and abandoned; and Columbus, who was anxious to return to Europe with the news of his achievement, resolved to plant a colony on the island, to build a fort out of the material of the stranded hulk, and to leave the crew. The fort was called La Navidad; 44 Europeans were placed in charge. On the 4th of January 1493 Columbus, who had lost sight of Martin Pinzon, set sail alone in the “Niña” for the east; and two days afterwards the “Pinta” joined her sister-ship. A storm, however, separated the vessels, and it was not until the 18th of February that Columbus reached the island of Santa Maria in the Azores. Here he was threatened with capture by the Portuguese governor, who could not for some time be brought to recognize his commission. On the 24th of February, however, he was allowed to proceed, and on the 4th of March the “Niña” dropped anchor off Lisbon. The king of Portugal received the admiral with the highest honours. On the 13th of March the “Niña” put out from the Tagus, and two days afterwards, Friday, the 15th of March, she reached Palos.

The court was at Barcelona; and thither, after despatching a letter announcing his arrival, Columbus proceeded in person. He entered the city in a sort of triumphal procession, was received by their majesties in full court, and, seated in their presence, related the story of his wanderings, exhibiting the “rich and strange” spoils of the new-found lands,—the gold, the cotton, the parrots, the curious arms, the mysterious plants, the unknown birds and beasts, and the Indians he had brought with him for baptism. All his honours and privileges were confirmed to him; the title of Don was conferred on himself and his brothers; he rode at the king’s bridle; he was served and saluted as a grandee of Spain. A new and magnificent scutcheon was also blazoned for him (4th May 1493), whereon the royal castle and lion of Castile and Leon were combined with the five anchors of his own coat of arms. Nor were their Catholic highnesses less busy on their own account than on that of their servant. On the 3rd and 4th of May Alexander VI. granted bulls confirming to the crowns of Castile and Leon all the lands discovered, or to be discovered, west of a line of demarcation drawn 100 leagues west of the Azores, on the same terms as those on which the Portuguese held their colonies along the African coast. A new expedition was got in readiness with all possible despatch, to secure and extend the discoveries already made.

After several delays the fleet weighed anchor on the 24th of September 1493 and steered westwards. It consisted of three great carracks (galleons) and fourteen caravels (light frigates), having on board over 1500 men, besides the Second voyage. animals and materials necessary for colonization. Twelve missionaries accompanied the expedition, under the orders of Bernardo Buil or Boil, a Benedictine; Columbus had been already directed (29th May 1493) to endeavour by all means in his power to Christianize the inhabitants of the islands, to make them presents, and to “honour them much”, while all under him were commanded to treat them “well and lovingly,” under pain of severe punishment. On the 13th of October the ships, which had put in at the Canaries, left Ferro; and on Sunday, the 3rd of November, after a single storm, “by the goodness of God and the wise management of the admiral” an island was sighted to the west, which was named Dominica. Northwards from this the isles of Marigalante and Guadalupe were next discovered and named; while on the north-western course to La Navidad those of Montserrat, Antigua, San Martin, Santa Cruz and the Virgin Islands were sighted, and the island now called Porto Rico was touched at, hurriedly explored, and named San Juan Bautista. On the 22nd of November Columbus came in sight of Hispaniola, and sailing westward to La Navidad, found the fort burned and the colony dispersed. He decided on building a second fort, and coasting on 30 m. east of Monte Cristi, he pitched on a spot where he founded the city of Isabella.

The climate proved unhealthy; the colonists were greedy of gold, impatient of control, proud, ignorant and mutinous; and Columbus, whose inclination drew him westward, was doubtless glad to escape the worry and anxiety of his post, and to avail himself of the instructions of his sovereigns as to further discoveries. On the 2nd of February 1494 he sent home, by Antonio de Torres, that despatch to their Catholic highnesses by which he may be said to have founded the West Indian slave trade. He established the mining camp of San Tomaso in the gold country of Central Hispaniola; and on the 24th of April 1494, having nominated a council of regency under his brother Diego, and appointed Pedro Margarit his captain-general, he again put to sea. After following the southern shore of Cuba for some days, he steered southwards, and discovered (May 14th) the island of Jamaica, which he named Santiago. He then resumed his exploration of the Cuban coast, threaded his way through a labyrinth of islets which he named the Garden of the Queen (Jardin de la Reyna), and, after coasting westwards for many days, became convinced that he had discovered continental land. He therefore caused Perez de Luna, the notary, to draw up a document to this effect (12th of June 1494), which was afterwards taken round and signed (the admiral’s steward witnessing) by the officers, men and boys of his three caravels, the “Niña,” the “Cordera,” and the “San Juan.” He then stood to the south-east, and sighted the island of Evangelista (now Isla de los Pinos), revisited Jamaica, coasted the south of Hispaniola, and on the 24th of September touched at and named the island of La Mona, in the channel between Hispaniola and Porto Rico. Thence he had intended to sail eastwards and complete the survey of the Caribbean Archipelago; but he was exhausted by the terrible tear and wear of mind and body he had undergone (he says himself that on this expedition he was three-and-thirty days almost without sleep), and on the day following his departure from La Mona he fell into a lethargy, that deprived him of sense and memory, and had well-nigh proved fatal to life. At last, on the 29th of September, the little fleet dropped anchor off Isabella, and in his new city the admiral lay sick for five months.

The colony was in a sad plight. Every one was discontented, and many were sick, for the climate was unhealthy and there was nothing to eat. Margarit and Boil had deserted the settlement and fled to Spain, but ere his departure the former, in his capacity of captain-general, had done much to outrage and alienate the Indians. The strongest measures were necessary to undo this mischief, and, backed by his brother Bartholomew, Columbus proceeded to reduce the natives under Spanish sway.