Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. III. by Robert Kerr

Part 5 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

the plates manufactured.

The next day he came to a town called Cubiga, where the Indians of Cariari
said that the trading country ended; this began at Carabora and extended
to Cubiga for 50 leagues along the coast. Without making any stay here,
the admiral proceeded on till he put into Porto Bello, to which he gave
that name because it is large, well peopled, and encompassed by a finely
cultivated country. He entered this place on the 2d of November, passing
between two small islands within which ships may lie close to the shore,
and can turn it out if they have occasion. The country about that harbour
and higher up is by no means rough, but cultivated and full of houses a
stone throw or a bow-shot only from each other, and forms the finest
landscape that can be imagined. We continued there seven days on account
of rain and bad weather, and canoes came constantly to the ships from all
the country round to trade with provisions and bottoms of fine spun cotton,
which they gave in exchange for points and pins and other trifles.

On Wednesday the ninth of November we sailed from Porto Bello eight
leagues to the eastwards, but were driven back four leagues next day by
stress of weather, and put in among some islands near the continent where
the town of Nombre de Dios now stands; and because all these small islands
were full of grain, the admiral called this place _Puerto de Bastimentos_,
or Port of Provisions. While here one of our boats pursued a canoe, and
the Indians imagining our men would do them some harm, and perceiving the
boat within less than a stones throw of them, they leapt into the sea to
swim away, which they all effected; for though the boat rowed hard it
could not overtake any of them, or if it did come up with one he would
dive like a duck and come up again a bow-shot or two distant. This chase
lasted above half a league, and it was very pleasant to see the boat
labour in vain and come back empty handed.

We continued here till the 23d of November, refitting the ships and
mending our casks, and sailed that day to a place called Guiga, there
being another of the same name between Veragua and Cerago. The boats went
ashore at this place, where they found above 300 persons ready to trade in
provisions and some small gold ornaments which they wore at their ears and
noses. On Saturday the 24th of November we put into a small port which was
called _Retrete_, or the Retired Place, because it could not contain above
five or six ships together; the mouth of it was not above 15 or 20 paces
over, and on both sides rocks appeared above water as sharp as diamonds.
The channel between was so deep that no bottom could be found, though if
the ships inclined only a little way to either side the men could leap on
shore. This sharpness of the rocks saved the ships in this narrow passage,
and the danger we were now in was owing to the covetousness of the people
who went in the boats to view it, as they were desirous of trafficking
with the Indians, and believed that the ships might be in safety close to
the shore. In this place we were detained nine days by bad weather. At
first the Indians came very familiarly to trade in such articles as they
had to dispose of; but our seamen used to steal privately on shore and
commit a thousand insolencies like covetous dissolute fellows, insomuch
that they provoked the Indians to break the peace, and several skirmishes
happened between them and our people. The Indians at length took courage
to advance to our ships which lay with their sides close to the shore,
intending to do us some harm; but their designs turned out to their own
detriment, although the admiral always endeavoured to gain them by
patience and civility. But perceiving their insolence to increase, he
caused some cannon to be discharged, thinking to frighten them; this they
answered with loud shouts, thrashing the trees with their clubs and staves,
and showed by threatening signs that they did not fear the noise.
Therefore to abate their pride and to surprise them with respect for the
Christians, the admiral ordered a shot to be fired at a company of them
that stood upon a hillock near the shore; and the ball falling among them
made them sensible that our thunder carried a bolt along with it, and in
future they dared not to show themselves even behind the hills.

The people of this country were the handsomest we had yet seen among the
Indians, being tall and thin, without large bellies, and with agreeable
countenances. The country was all plain, bearing little grass and few
trees. In the harbour there were crocodiles or alligators of a vast size,
which go on shore to sleep, and they scatter a scent as if all the musk in
the world were together: They are fierce and ravenous, so that if they
find a man asleep they drag him to the water and devour him, but they are
fearful and cowardly when attacked. These alligators are found in many
other parts of the continent, and some affirm that they are the same with
the crocodiles of the Nile.

Finding that the violent winds from the E. and N.E. did not cease, and
that no trade could be had with those people, the admiral resolved to go
back that he might make farther inquiry into the reports of the Indians
concerning the mines of Veragua, and therefore returned on Monday the 5th
of November to Porto Bello ten leagues westwards. Continuing his course
next day, he was encountered by a west wind which was quite contrary to
his new design, though favourable for that which he had been attempting
for three months past, but expecting that this wind would not last long
because the weather was unsettled, he bore up against the wind for some
days; but when the weather would seem a little favourable for going to
Veragua, another wind would start up and drive us back again to Porto
Bello, and when almost in hopes of getting into port we were quite beat
off again. Sometimes there were such incessant flashes of thunder and
lightning that the men durst hardly open their eyes, the ships seemed just
sinking, and the sky appeared as if it would come down upon us. At times
the thunder was so continued, that it was conceived some ship was firing
its guns for assistance. At other times there would fall such incessant
and heavy torrents of rain for two or three days together as if an
universal deluge were going to overwhelm the world. This almost unceasing
war of the elements perplexed the men and reduced them almost to despair,
so that they were continually wet and could not get half an hours rest at
a time, always beating up to windward. In such terrible tempests they
dreaded the _fire_ in flashes of lightning, the _air_ for its fury, _the
water_ for its mountainous waves, and the _earth_ for hidden rocks and
sands; where they expected safety in a near haven, often encountering
danger, and therefore preferring to contend against all the other elements
to avoid the land. In the midst of all these terrors there occurred
another no less wonderful and dangerous, which was a water-spout rising
from the sea on Thursday the 13th of December; which, if they had not
dissolved by reciting the gospel of St John, had certainly sunk whatever
it had fallen upon. This phenomenon draws the water up to the clouds like
a pillar and thicker than a butt, twisting it about like a whirlwind.

That same night we lost sight of the ship called the Biscaina, but had the
good fortune to see it again after three or four dreadful dark days. It
had lost its boat and had been in great danger, being so near the land as
to be forced to come to anchor, which it likewise lost by being obliged to
cut the cable. It now appeared that the currents on this coast follow the
prevailing wind, running westwards with the east wind, and eastwards with
the west. The ships being now almost shattered to pieces by the tempest,
and the men quite spent with incessant labour, a calm for a day or two
gave them some relief, and brought such multitudes of sharks about the
ships as were dreadful to behold, especially to such as were superstitious.
Ravens are reported to smell out dead bodies from a great distance, and
some think that sharks have the same perceptive faculty. They have two
rows of sharp teeth in the nature of a saw, with which if they lay hold of
a mans leg or arm they cut it off as with a razor. Multitudes of these
sharks were caught by a hook and chain, but being able to destroy no more,
they continued in vast numbers swimming about. They are so greedy that
they not only bite at carrion, but may be taken by means of a red rag upon
the hook. I have seen a tortoise taken out of the stomach of one of these
sharks that lived for some time afterwards aboard the ship; and out of
another was taken the head of one of its own kind, which we had cut off
and thrown into the water as not fit to be eaten, and the shark had
swallowed it, which to us seemed strange and unnatural that one creature
should swallow the head of another as large as its own; this however is
owing to the vast size of their mouth which reaches almost to the belly,
and the head is shaped like an olive. Though some of the people considered
these creatures as foreboding misfortune, and others thought them bad fish,
yet we were all thankful for them on account of the want we were now in:
We had been eight months at sea, so that all the flesh and fish we had
brought from Spain was consumed, and owing to the heat and moisture of the
atmosphere, the biscuit was become so full of maggots that many of the
people waited till night before they could eat the pottage made of it,
that they might not see the maggots; but others were so used to eat them
that they were not curious to throw them away, lest they might lose their

Upon Saturday the 17th of December we put into a large bay or port three
leagues to the eastwards of _Pennon_ called _Huiva_ by the Indians, where
we remained three days. We there saw the Indians dwelling upon the tops
of trees, like birds, laying sticks across the boughs upon which they
build a kind of huts. We conceived this might have been for fear of the
_griffins_ which are in that country, or to be out of reach of their
enemies; for all along that coast the little tribes at every league
distant are great enemies to each other and perpetually at war. We sailed
from this port on the 20th with fair weather but not settled, for as soon
as we were got put to sea the tempest rose again and drove us into another
port, whence we departed the third day, the weather being somewhat mended,
but like an enemy that lies in wait for a man, it rushed out again and
drove us to Pennon, but when we hoped to get in there the wind came quite
contrary and drove us again towards Veragua. Being at an anchor in the
river the weather became again very stormy, so that we had reason to be
thankful for having got into that port, where we had been before on the
12th of the same month. We continued here from the 26th of December to the
3d of January 1508; when, having repaired the ship Gallega and taken on
board a good store of Indian wheat, water, and wood, we turned back to
Veragua with bad weather and contrary winds, which changed crossly just as
the admiral altered his course. This continual changing of the wind gave
us so much trouble between Veragua and Porto Bello that the admiral named
this _Costo de Contrasses_, or the Coast of Thwartings.

Upon Thursday, being the feast of the Epiphany, 6th January, we cast
anchor near a river called _Yebra_ by the Indians, but which the admiral
named Belem or Bethlem, because we came to it on the festival of the three
kings. He caused the mouth of that river and of another to the westwards
to be sounded; in the latter, called _Veragua_ by the Indians, the water
was shoal, but in the river Belem there were four fathoms at high water.
The boats went up this river to the town where we had been informed the
gold mines of Veragua were situated. At first the Indians were so far from
conversing that they assembled with their weapons to hinder the Christians
from landing; and the next day on going up the river of Veragua, the
Indians did the same, not only on shore, but stood upon their guard with
their canoes in the water. But an Indian of that coast who understood them
a little went on shore and persuaded them that we were good people, and
desired nothing from them but what we would pay for; by this they were
pacified and trucked twenty plates of gold, likewise some hollow pieces
like the joints of reeds, and some unmelted grains. On purpose to enhance
the value of their gold they said it was gathered a great way off among
uncouth mountains, and that when they gathered it they did not eat, nor
did they carry their women along with them, a story similar to which was
told by the people of Hispaniola when it was first discovered.

On Monday the 9th of January the admirals ship and that called Biscaina
went up the river, and the Indians came presently on board to barter away
such things as they had, especially fish, which at certain times of the
year come up these rivers from the sea in such quantities as would seem
incredible to those who had not seen it. They likewise exchanged some gold
for pins, and what they most valued they gave for beads, or hawks-bells.
Next day the other two ships came in, having to wait for the flood, which
does not rise above half a fathom in these parts. As Veragua was famed for
mines and extraordinary wealth, the admirals brother went up the river the
third day after our arrival to the town of _Quibio_, the king or cacique
of this province; who, hearing of the lieutenants coming, came down the
river in his canoes to meet him. Quibio behaved in a very friendly manner,
and interchanged several articles with the lieutenant, and after a long
discourse they parted in peace. Next day Quibio came on board to visit the
admiral, and having discoursed together about an hour, his men trucked
some gold for bells, and he returned to his own place.

While we lay here as we thought in perfect ease and security, the river of
Belem suddenly swelled on the 24th of January so high, that before we
could get a cable on shore the fury of the water came so impetuously on
the admirals ship that it broke one of her anchors, and drove her with
such force against the Galega as to bring the foremast by the board, and
both ships were carried away foul of each other in the utmost danger of
perishing. Some judged that this sudden and mighty flood had been
occasioned by the heavy rains, which still continued incessantly; but in
that case the river would have swelled gradually and not all of a sudden,
which made us suppose that some extraordinary rain had fallen in the
mountains about 20 leagues up the country, which the admiral called the
mountains of St Christopher. The highest of that range was above the
region of the air in which meteors are bred, as no cloud was ever seen to
rise above, but all floated below its summit; this mountain of St
Christopher looks like a hermitage[13], and lies in the midst of a range
of woody mountains whence we believed that flood came which was so
dangerous to our ships; for had they been carried out to sea they must
have been shattered to pieces, as the wind was then extremely boisterous.
This tempest lasted so long that we had time to refit and caulk the ships;
and the waves broke so furiously on the mouth of the river, that the boats
could not go out to discover along the coast, to learn where the mines lay,
and to seek out for a proper place in which to build a town; for the
admiral had resolved to leave his brother in this place with most of the
men, that they might settle and subdue the country, while he should return
into Spain to send out supplies of men and provisions. With this prospect,
he sent his brother on Monday the 6th of February with 68 men by sea to
the mouth of the Veragua river, a league to the westward of the Belem
river, who went a league and a half up the river to the caciques town,
where he staid a day inquiring the way to the mines. On Wednesday they
travelled four leagues and half, and rested for the night on the side of a
river which they had crossed 44 times in the course of that days march;
next day they travelled a league and a half towards the mines, being
directed in their journey by some Indian guides who were furnished by
Quibio. In about two hours time they came thither, and every man gathered
some gold from about the roots of the trees, which were there very thick
and of prodigious height. This sample was much valued, because none of
those who went upon this expedition had any tools for digging, or had ever
been accustomed to gather gold; and as the design of this expedition was
merely to get information of the situation of the mines, they returned
very much satisfied that same day to Veragua, and the next day to the
ships. It was afterwards learnt that these were not the mines of Veragua
which lay much nearer, but belonged to the town of _Urira_ the people of
which being enemies to those of Veragua, Quibio had ordered the Christians
to be conducted thither to do a displeasure to his foes, and that his own
mines might remain untouched.

On Thursday the 14th of February, the lieutenant went into the country
with 40 men, a boat following with 14 more. The next day they came to the
river _Urira_ seven leagues west from Belem. The cacique came a league out
of this town to meet him with 20 men, and presented him with such things
as they feed on, and some gold plates were exchanged here. This cacique
and his chief men never ceased putting a dry herb into their mouths, which
they chewed and sometimes they took a sort of powder which they carried
along with that herb, which singular custom astonished our people very
much[14]. Having rested here a while, the Christians and Indians went to
the town, where they were met by great numbers of people, had a large
house appointed for their habitation, and were supplied with plenty of
provisions. Soon after came the cacique of _Dururi_, a neighbouring town,
with a great many Indians, who brought some gold plates to exchange. All
these Indians said that there were caciques farther up the country who had
abundance of gold, and great numbers of men armed as ours were. Next day
the lieutenant ordered part of his men to return to the ships, and with 30
whom he retained, beheld on his journey to _Zobraba_, where the fields for
six leagues were all full of maize like corn fields. Thence he went to
_Cateba_ another town, and was well entertained at both places with
abundance of provisions, and some gold plates were bartered. These are
like, the pattern of a chalice, some bigger and some less, and weighed
about twelve ducats more or less, and the Indians wear them hanging from
their necks by a string as we do relics. Being now very far from the ships,
without having found any port along the coast, or any river larger than
that of Belem on which to settle his colony, the lieutenant came back on
the 24th of February, bringing with him a considerable value in gold which
he had acquired by barter during his journey.

Immediately on his return preparations were made for his stay, and eighty
men were appointed to remain with him. These were divided into gangs of
ten men each, and began to build houses on the bank of the Belem river on
the right hand going up, about a cannon-shot from its mouth, and the
infant colony was protected by surrounding it with a trench. The mouth of
this river is marked by a small hill. The houses were all built of timber
and covered with palm leaves, which grew abundantly along the banks of the
river; and besides the ordinary houses for the colony, a large house was
built to serve as a magazine and store-house, into which several pieces of
cannon, powder, provisions, and other necessaries for the use and support
of the planters were put. But the wine, biscuit, oil, vinegar, cheese, and
a considerable supply of grain were left in the ship Gallega as the safest
place; which was to be left with the lieutenant for the service of the
colony, with all its cordage, nets, hooks and other tackle; for, as has
been already said, there is vast abundance of fish in every river of that
coast, several sorts at certain seasons running along the coast in shoals,
on which the people of the country live more than upon flesh, for though
there are some beasts of different sorts, there are by no means enough to
maintain the inhabitants.

The customs of these Indians are for the most part much the same as those
of Hispaniola and the neighbouring islands; but those people of Veragua
and the country about it, when they talk to one another are constantly
turning their backs and always chewing an herb, which we believed to be
the reson that their teeth were rotten and decayed. Their food is mostly
fish, which they take with nets, and with hooks made of tortoiseshell,
which they cut with a thread as if they were sawing, in the same manner as
is done in the islands. They have another way of catching some very small
fishes, which are called _Titi_ in Hispaniola. At certain times these are
driven towards the shore by the rains, and are so persecuted by the larger
fish that they are forced up to the surface in shoal water, where the
Indians take as many of them as they have a mind by means of little matts
or small meshed nets. They wrap these up singly in certain leaves, and
having dried them in an oven they will keep a great while. They also catch
pilchards in the same manner; for at certain times these fly with such
violence from the pursuit of the large fish, that they will leap out of
the water two or three paces on the dry land, so that they have nothing to
do but take them as they do the _Titi_. These pilchards are taken after
another manner: They raise a partition of palm-tree leaves two yards high
in the middle of a canoe, fore and aft as the seamen call it, or from stem
to stern; then plying about the river they make a great noise, beating the
shores with their paddles, and then the pilchards, to fly from the other
fish, leap into the canoe, where hitting against the partition they fall
in, and by this means they often take vast numbers[15]. Several sorts of
fish pass along the coast in vast shoals, whereof immense quantities are
taken; and these will keep a long time after being roasted or dried in the
way already mentioned.

These Indians have also abundance of maize, a species of grain which grows
in an ear or hard head like millet, and from which they make a white and
red wine, as beer is made in England, mixing it with their spice as it
suits their palate, having a pleasant taste like sharp brisk wine. They
also make another sort of wine from certain trees like palms which have
prickly trunks like thorns: This wine is made from the pith of these palms,
which resemble squeezed palmitoes, and from which they extract the juice
and boil it up with water and spice. They make another wine from a fruit
which grows likewise in Guadaloup, resembling a large pine-apple. This is
planted in large fields, and the plant is a sprout growing from the top of
the fruit, like that which grows from a cabbage or lettuce. One plant
lasts in bearing for three or four years. They likewise make wines from
other sorts of fruit; particularly from one that grows upon very high
trees, which is as big as a large lemon, and has several stones like nuts,
from two to nine in each, not round but long like chesnuts. The rind of
this fruit is like a pomegranate, and when first taken from the tree it
resembles it exactly, save only that it wants the prickly circle at the
top. The taste of it is like a peach; and of them some are better than
others, as is usual in other fruits. There are some of these in the
islands, where they are named _Mamei_ by the Indians.

All things being settled for the Christian colony and ten or twelve houses
built and thatched, the admiral wished to have sailed for Spain; but he
was now threatened by even a greater danger from want of water in the
river, than that he had formerly experienced by the inundation. For the
great rains in January being now over, the mouth of the river was so
choked up with sand, that though there were ten feet of water on the bar
when we came in, which was scant enough, there were now only two feet when
we wished to have gone out. We were thus shut up without prospect of
relief, as it was impossible to get over the sand; and even if we had
possessed any engine calculated for this purpose, the sea was so
boisterous that the smallest of the waves which broke upon the shore was
enough to have beat the ships in pieces, more especially as ours were now
all eaten through and through by the worms like a honeycomb. We had
nothing left therefore, but to pray to God for rain, as we had before
prayed for fair weather; as we knew that rain would swell the river and
clear away the sand.

In the meantime it was discovered by means of our interpreter, an Indian
whom we had taken not far off above three months before, and who willingly
went along with us, that Quibio the cacique of Veragua, intended to set
fire to the houses and destroy the Christians, as all the Indians were
averse to the settlement of our people in their country. It was therefore
thought proper, as a punishment to this cacique and a terror and example
to the other Indians, to take him and all his chief men prisoners into
Spain, that his town and tribe might remain subjected to the Christians.
Accordingly, the lieutenant went with a party of seventy-six men towards
Veragua, on the 30th of March, to execute this project. This town or
village is not built close together, but all the houses are built at
considerable distances as in Biscay. When Quibio understood that the
lieutenant was come near, he sent word for him not to come up to his house;
but the lieutenant, that he might not seem any way afraid of these people,
went up notwithstanding this message, accompanied only by five men;
ordering all the rest to halt at the foot of the hill on which the
caciques house was situated, and desiring them to come after him, two and
two together, at some distance from each other; and that when they should
hear a musket fired, they should all run up, and beset the house that none
of them might escape.

When the lieutenant came to the house, Quibio sent another message to
desire that he might not come in, for though wounded by an arrow, he would
come out to receive him, and he acted in this manner to prevent his women
from being seen, these Indians being exceedingly jealous on that score. He
came out accordingly and sat down at the door, requesting that the
lieutenant alone might approach; who did so, ordering the rest to fall on
whenever they saw him seize hold of the cacique by the arm. He asked
Quibio some questions concerning his wound, and the affairs of the country,
by means of the before-mentioned interpreter, who was exceedingly fearful,
as he knew the intentions of the cacique to destroy the Christians, which
he thought might easily be done by the great numbers of people in that
province, as he had as yet no experience of the strength of our people or
the power of their weapons. Pretending to look where the cacique had been
wounded; the lieutenant took hold of his arm, and kept so firm a grasp,
though Quibio was a strong man, that he held him fast till the other five
Christians came up to his assistance, one of whom fired off his musket,
upon which all the rest ran out from their ambush and surrounded the house,
in which there were thirty people old and young; most of whom were taken,
and none wounded, for on seeing their king a prisoner they made no
resistance. Among the prisoners there were some wives and children of the
cacique, and some inferior chiefs, who said they had a great treasure
concealed in the adjoining wood, and offered to give the whole of it for
the ransom of their cacique and themselves. But the lieutenant would not
listen to their proposals, and ordered Quibio, with his wives and children,
and the principal people who had been made prisoners, to be immediately
carried on board, before the country took the alarm, and remained with
most of his men to go after the kindred and subjects of the captured
cacique, many of whom had fled. John Sanchez of Cadiz, one of our pilots,
and a man of good reputation, was appointed to take charge of the
prisoners, and more especially of Quibio, who was bound hand and foot, and
on being charged to take particular care that he might not escape, he said
he would give them leave to pull his beard off if he got away. Sanchez and
his prisoners embarked with an escort in the boats to go down the river of
Veragua to the ships; and when within half a league of its mouth, Quibio
complained that his hands were bound too tight, on which Sanchez
compassionately loosened him from the seat of the boat to which he was
tied, and held the rope in his hand. A little after this, observing that
he was not very narrowly watched, Quibio sprung into the water, and
Sanchez let go the rope that he might not be dragged in after him. Night
was coming on, and the people in the boat were in such confusion that they
could not see or hear where he got on shore, for they heard no more of him
than if a stone had fallen into the water and disappeared. That the rest
of the prisoners might not likewise escape, they held on their way to the
ships much ashamed of their carelessness.

Next day, perceiving that the country was very mountainous and woody, and
that there were no regular towns, the houses being scattered about at
irregular distances, and consequently that it would be very difficult to
pursue the Indians from place to place, the lieutenant returned to the
ships. He presented to the admiral the plunder of Quibios house, worth
about 300 ducats in gold plates, little eagles, small quills which they
string and wear about their arms and legs, and gold twists which they wear
about their heads in the nature of a coronet. After deducting the fifth
part for their Catholic majesties, he divided all the rest among the
people who had been employed in the expedition, giving one of those crowns
or coronets to the lieutenant in token of victory.

All things being provided for the maintenance of the colony, and the rules
and regulations by which it was to be governed being settled, it pleased
GOD to send so much rain that the river swelled and opened the mouth
sufficiently to float the ships over the bar. Wherefore the admiral
resolved to depart for Hispaniola without delay, that he might forward
supplies for this place. Taking advantage of a calm that the sea might not
beat upon the month of the river, we went out with three of the ships, the
boats towing a-head. Yet though they were lightened as much as possible,
every one of the keels rubbed on the sand which was fortunately loose and
moving; and we then took in with all expedition every thing that was
unloaded for making the ships draw less water. While we lay upon the open
coast, about a league from the mouth of the river, it pleased GOD
miraculously to induce the admiral to send his boat on shore for water,
which proved the cause of preventing the loss of our people who had been
left at Belem. For when Quibio saw that the ships had withdrawn, and could
therefore give no aid to the people who were left, he assaulted the
Christian colony at the very time when our boat went ashore. The approach
of the Indians was not perceived, on account of the thickness of the wood,
and when they came within ten paces of the houses they set up a great
shout, and fell upon our people suddenly and violently, throwing their
javelins at all whom they espied, and even at the houses, which being only
covered with palm-tree leaves, were easily stuck through, and several of
our men were wounded within them. In the first surprize, four or five of
our people were wounded before they could put themselves into a posture of
defence; but the lieutenant being a man of great resolution; went out
against the Indians with a spear, with seven or eight followers, and
attacked the Indians so violently, that he soon made them retire to the
adjoining wood. Thence they returned skirmishing with our people,
advancing to throw their javelins and then retiring, as the Spaniards do
in the sport called _juego de cannas_; but after having experienced the
sharp edges of our swords, and being furiously assailed by a dog belonging
to the Christians, they at length fled, having killed one Christian, and
wounded seven, among whom was the lieutenant, who was wounded in the

From the foregoing danger two Christians took care to preserve themselves;
which I shall relate, to show the comicalness of the one who was an
Italian of Lombardy, and the gravity of the other who was a Spaniard. When
the Lombard was running away to hide himself, James Mendez called him to
turn back; let me alone you devil, said Sebastian, for I am going to
secure my person. The Spaniard was Captain James Tristan, whom the admiral
had sent in the boat, who never went out of it with his men though the
affray was close beside the river; and being blamed for not assisting the
Christians, he excused himself by saying that those on shore might run to
the boat for shelter, and so all might perish, for if the boat were lost
the admiral would be in danger at sea, and he would therefore do no more
than he had been commanded, which was to take in water, and to see if
those on shore needed any assistance. He resolved therefore to take in
water immediately, that he might carry an account to the admiral of what
had happened, and went up the river with that view, to where the salt
water did not mix with the fresh, though some advised him not to go for
fear of being attacked by the Indians in their canoes; but he answered
that he feared no danger since he was sent for that purpose by the admiral.
He accordingly went up the river which is very deep within the land, and
so closely beset on both sides with thick trees, that there is scarcely
any possibility to go on shore, except at some fishermens paths where they
hide their canoes. When the Indians perceived that he had got about a
league above the colony, they rushed from the thickets on both sides of
the river in their canoes, and assaulted him boldly on all sides, making
hideous shouts and blowing their horns. They had great odds against our
people, being in great numbers, and their canoes very swift and manageable,
especially the small ones belonging to the fishermen, which hold three or
four men in each, one of whom paddles and can easily turn it about as he
pleases, while the others threw their javelins at our boat. I call them
javelins because of their bigness, though they have no iron heads, but are
only pointed with fish bones. In our boat there were seven or eight men to
row, and three or four more with the captain to fight; and as the rowers
could not defend themselves from the javelins, they were forced to quit
the oars to handle their targets. But the Indians poured upon them in such
multitudes from all sides, advancing and retiring in good order as they
thought fit, that they wounded most of the Christians, especially Captain
Tristan who was hurt in many places; and though he stood unmoved,
encouraging his men, his bravery availed him nothing, for he was beset on
all sides and could not stir or make use of his musket, and at length he
was pierced by a javelin in the eye and fell down dead. All the rest
shared his fate except one man named John da Noia a native of Cadiz; he by
good fortune fell into the water in the height of the combat, and gaining
the shore by diving made his way through the thickest of the woods to the
colony, where he brought the melancholy news of the destruction of all his

This intelligence, joined to what had befallen themselves, so terrified
our people, who were likewise afraid that the admiral, being at sea
without a boat, might never reach a place from whence he could send them
assistance, that they determined to abandon the colony, and would
certainly have done so without orders, had not the mouth of the river been
rendered impassable by bad weather and a heavy surf in which no boat could
live, so that they could not even convey advice to the admiral of what had
occurred. The admiral was in no little danger and perplexity, riding in an
open road with no boat, and his complement much diminished. Those on
shore were in great confusion and dismay, seeing those who had been
killed in the boat, floating down the river, followed by the country crows,
and this they looked upon as an evil omen, dreading that the same fate
awaited themselves; and the more so as they perceived the Indians puffed
up by their late success, and gave them not a minutes respite by reason of
the ill chosen situation of the colony. There is no doubt that they would
all have been destroyed if they had not removed to an open strand to the
eastwards, where they constructed a defence of casks and other things,
planting their cannon in convenient situations to defend themselves, the
Indians not daring to come out of the wood because of the mischief that
the bullets did among them.

While things were in this situation, the admiral waited in the utmost
trouble and anxiety, suspecting what might have happened in consequence of
his boat not returning, and he could not send another to inquire till the
sea at the mouth of the river should become calmer. To add to our
perplexity the kindred and children of Quibio, who were prisoners on board
the Bermuda, found means to escape. They were kept under hatches all night,
and the hatchway being so high that they could not reach it, the watch
forgot one night to fasten it down in the usual manner by a chain, the
more especially as some seamen slept on the top of the grating. That night
the prisoners gathered the stone ballast in the hold into a heap under the
grating, and standing on the stones forced open the grating, tumbling our
people off, and several of the principal Indians leaped out and cast
themselves into the sea. Our seamen took the alarm and fastened the chain,
so that many of the Indians could not get out; but those who remained, in
despair for not being able to get off with their companions, hanged
themselves with such ropes as they could find, and they were all found
dead next morning, with their feet and knees dragging on the bottom of the
hold, the place not being high enough. Though this loss was not material
to the ships, yet it was feared it might be hurtful to our people on shore,
as Quibio would willingly have made peace to get his children restored,
and there being now no hostage left it was reasonable to suspect he would
now make war with the greater fury.

Being thus afflicted with many troubles, having nothing to trust to but
our anchors and cables, and in great perplexity to get intelligence from
the shore, it was proposed that, since the Indians to recover their
liberty had ventured to leap into the sea a league from shore, some of our
people to save themselves and so many more, might venture to swim on shore,
if carried by the boat which remained as far as where the waves did not
break. Only one boat now remained belonging to the Bermuda, that of the
Biscaina having been lost in the affray, so that we had only one boat
among three ships. Hearing of this bold proposal among the seamen, the
admiral agreed that it should be attempted, and the boat carried them
within a musket-shot of the land, not being able to go any nearer on
account of the heavy waves that broke on it. Here Peter de Ledesma, a
pilot of Seville, threw himself into the water and got on shore. He there
learnt the condition of our people, who had unanimously determined not to
remain in that forlorn condition, and therefore entreated the admiral not
to sail till he had taken them off, as to leave them there was sacrificing
them; more especially as dissensions had already arisen among them, and
they no longer obeyed the lieutenant or the other officers, all their care
being to get on board with the first fair wind; and as this could not be
done conveniently with the only boat which they had, they proposed to
endeavour to seize upon some canoes to assist in their embarkation. Should
the admiral refuse to receive them, they were resolved to attempt saving
their lives in the ship which had been left with them in the river, and
rather trust to fortune than remain at the mercy of the Indians, by whom
they were sure to be massacred. With this answer Ledesema returned by
swimming through the surf to the boat, and thence went to the admiral, to
whom he gave a full report of the state of affairs on shore.

Being fully informed of the disaster which had befallen the colony, and
the confusion and despair which reigned onshore, the admiral determined to
remain and take off the people, though not without great risk and danger,
as his ships lay in an open road without hopes of escape if the weather
had become boisterous. But it pleased GOD, that in the eight days we
continued here, the weather moderated so much that all the people on shore
got off in safety. This they effected by means of their boat, assisted by
several large canoes bound fast two and two together that they might not
overset; and they used such diligence after the surf disappeared, that in
two days they brought every thing away, leaving nothing but the hull of
the ship, which was become quite unserviceable in consequence of the
ravages of the worms. Rejoiced that we were all again together, we sailed
up that coast to the eastwards; for though all the pilots were of opinion
that we might make St Domingo by standing away to the north, yet the
admiral and his brother only knew that it was quite requisite to run a
considerable way along this coast to the eastwards before they should
attempt to strike across the gulf which intervenes between the continent
and Hispaniola. This was very displeasing to our people, who conceived
that the admiral meant to sail direct for Spain, for which his ships were
utterly unfit, neither had he a stock of provisions for so long a voyage.
He knew best what was fit to be done, and therefore continued the eastern
course till we came to Porto Bello, where we were forced to leave the
Biscaina, as she had become so leaky and worm-eaten that she could be no
longer kept above water. Continuing this course, we passed the port
formerly called the _Retrete_, and a country near which there were many
small islands, which the admiral called _Las Barbas_, but which the
Indians and pilots named the territory of the cacique _Pocorosa_.

From thence we held on ten leagues farther to the east to the last land
which we saw on the continent, called _Marmora_[16]; and on Monday the 1st
of May 1503, we stood to the northwards, having the wind and current from
the east, which made us lay our course as near the wind as possible.
Though all the pilots said we should be to the east of the Caribbee
islands, yet the admiral feared we should not be able to make Hispaniola,
as it afterwards proved. Upon Wednesday the 10th of May we were in sight
of two very small low islands called Tortugas or the Tortoises, on account
of the prodigious multitudes of these animals which so swarmed about these
islands, and in the sea about them that they resembled rocks. On the
Friday following, we came in sight about evening of that great cluster of
islands on the coast of Cuba, called Jardin de la Reinas or the Queens
Garden, about thirty leagues from the Tortugas. We came here to anchor
about ten leagues from the coast of Cuba, full of trouble and perplexity;
our men had now nothing to eat but biscuit, with some little oil and
vinegar, and our ships were so worm-eaten and leaky, as to keep the people
labouring at the pumps day and night. In this forlorn state a great storm
arose, and the Bermuda dragging her anchors ran foul of us, and broke in
our stem and her own stern. It pleased GOD that we got the ships loosened
again, though with much difficulty, owing to the rough sea and high wind.
Although we let go all our anchors none would hold but the sheet anchor,
and when day returned we discovered that its cable held only by one strand,
so that if the night had continued an hour longer it must have given way,
and the sea being all full of rocks, we could not fail to have been dashed
in pieces upon some of those astern. But it pleased GOD to deliver us here
as he had done before from many dangers.

Sailing from hence with great toil, we came to an Indian town on the coast
of Cuba named _Mataia_, where we procured some refreshments; and as the
winds and currents set so strong towards the west that we could not
possibly stand for Hispaniola, we now sailed for Jamaica as our only hope
of preserving our lives. The ships were now so worm-eaten and leaky that
we never ceased working day and night at all the three pumps in both ships;
and when any of the pumps gave way, we were forced to supply the
deficiency while it was mending by bailing out the water in buckets and
kettles. Notwithstanding all this labour, on the night before midsummer
eve, the water gained on as and came up almost to our deck. With infinite
labour we held on till day, when we put into a harbour on the north shore
of Jamaica called _Puerto Bueno_, or the Good Harbour; which, though good
to take shelter in against a storm, had no fresh water or any Indian town
in its neighbourhood. Having made the best shift we could, we removed on
the day after the festival of St John, 26th of June, from that harbour to
one farther eastwards called _Santa Gloria_, or Holy Glory, which is
inclosed by rocks. Being got in here, and no longer able to keep the ships
above water, we ran them on shore as far in as we could, stranding them
close together board and board and shoreing them up on both sides to
prevent them from falling over. In this situation they could not budge,
and as the water came up almost to the decks, sheds were erected on the
decks and the poops and forecastles for the men to sleep in, that we might
secure ourselves against any surprise from the Indians, that island being
not then subdued or inhabited by the Christians.

Having thus fortified ourselves in the ships about a bow-shot from the
land, the Indians, who were a peaceable good-natured people, came in their
canoes to sell provisions and such things as they had for our commodities.
To prevent any disorder among the Christians, that they might not take
more in exchange than was fit, and that the natives might be fairly dealt
with, the admiral appointed two persons to have the charge of buying what
might be brought by the Indians; these men were likewise directed to
divide what was purchased daily among the men, as there was now nothing
left on board for subsistence. Some of our provisions had been spoiled or
lost in the haste and confusion of leaving Belem, and almost all the rest
was spent during the voyage to Jamaica. It was the good providence of God
which directed us to this island, which abounds in provisions, and is
inhabited by a people who are willing enough to trade, and who resorted
from all quarters to barter such commodities as they possessed. For this
reason, and that the Christians might not disperse about the island, the
admiral chose to fortify himself upon the sea, and not to settle a
dwelling on shore; for being naturally mutinous and disobedient, no
punishment would have kept the people from running about the country and
going into the houses of the Indians to take away any thing they pleased,
which would have angered their wives and children, and have given occasion
to quarrels; the taking away their provisions by force would have made
them our enemies, and would have reduced us to great want and distress.
These disorders could not happen now, as the men were all kept on board,
and there was no going on shore without leave. By these precautions the
Indians were kept in good humour, and our market was well supplied. They
sold us two _Huties_, which are little creatures like rabbits, for a piece
of tin, cakes of their bread called _Zabi_ for two or three red or yellow
glass beads, and when they brought a quantity of any thing they were
gratified with a hawks-bell. Sometimes we gave a cacique or great man a
red cap, a small mirror, or a pair of scissars. This good order kept the
men plentifully supplied with provisions, and the Indians were well
pleased with our company.

As it was necessary to devise some means of returning into Spain, the
admiral frequently consulted with the captains and other officers how we
might best get out from our present situation of confinement, and at least
secure our return to Hispaniola. To stay here in hopes that some vessel
might arrive was altogether out of the question, and to think of building
a vessel was impossible, as we had neither tools nor workmen fit to do any
thing to the purpose; and we should spend a long time, and not be able
after all to construct a vessel calculated to sail against the winds and
currents that prevail among these islands. After many consultations, the
admiral at length resolved to send over to Hispaniola, to give an account
there of his having been cast away on the island of Jamaica, and to desire
that a ship might be sent to his relief with provisions and ammunition. To
effect this purpose, he made choice of two men in whom he could confide to
perform it with fidelity and courage, as it seemed next to an
impossibility to go over from one island to the other in canoes, and yet
there was no other resource. These canoes or boats are hollowed out of one
single trunk, and are so shallow that the gunwale is not a span above
water when they are loaded. Besides they must be tolerably large to
perform that long passage, the small ones being more dangerous, and the
largest too heavy and cumbrous for so long a voyage.

Two canoes that were deemed fit for the purpose being procured in July
1503, the admiral ordered James Mendez de Segura his chief secretary to go
in one of them, accompanied by six Christians, and having ten Indians to
row or paddle; and in the other he sent Bartholomew Fiesca, a Genoese
gentleman, with a similar crew of Spaniards and Indians. Their orders were,
that as soon as they reached Hispaniola which is 250 leagues from Jamaica,
Mendez was to go on to St Domingo to execute the commission with which he
was entrusted; and Fiesco was to return immediately with intelligence of
the safe arrival of Mendez, that we might not remain in fear lest some
disaster had befallen our messenger. Yet this was much to be dreaded,
considering how unfit a canoe is to live upon a rough sea, especially when
manned by Christians; for if there had only been Indians, the danger would
not have been so great, because they are so dextrous that though a canoe
oversets they can turn it right easily while swimming, and get into it
again. But honour and necessity often lead men to bolder attempts than
this. The two canoes took their way along the coast of Jamaica to its
eastern point named _Aoamaquique_ by the Indians, from a cacique of that
province so called, which is 33 leagues from Maima, where we were. As the
distance between the islands is about 90 leagues, and nothing in the way
but one little island or rock, 8 leagues from Hispaniola, it was necessary
to wait for calm weather in order to cross so great a sea in such
incompetent vessels. This it pleased God soon to give; and every Indian
having taken on board his calabash of water and a supply of _carrabi_ as
their provision, and the Christians armed with swords and targets and
provided with the necessary sustenance, they put to sea. The lieutenant
accompanied them to the eastern point of Jamaica to take care that they
should not be hindered by the Indians, and remained till night came on and
he lost sight of them. He then returned along shore to the ships,
conversing in a friendly manner with the Indians as he went along.

After the departure of our canoes from Jamaica, the people in the ships
began to fall sick, owing to the hardships they had endured in the voyage,
and the change of diet, as we had now no Spanish provisions remaining and
no wine; neither had we any flesh, except a few of the _huties_ already
mentioned, which were procured by barter from the Indians. Those who still
remained in health thought it very hard to be so long confined, and began
to cabal among themselves. They alleged that the admiral would never
return into Spain, as he had been turned off by their majesties; and would
far less go to Hispaniola, where he had been refused admittance on his
last coming from Spain: That he had sent the canoes to solicit in his own
private affairs in Spain, and not for the purpose of procuring ships or
succours for them; and that he intended, while these his messengers were
soliciting for him with their Catholic majesties, to fulfil the term of
his banishment where he then was: That if it had been otherwise, Fiesco
must have come back by this time, as it was given out he had been so
ordered: Besides, they knew not but that both he and Mendez had been
drowned by the way; and if that were the case they would never be relieved
if they did not take care of themselves, as the admiral appeared to
neglect using any means for their preservation, and was so ill of the gout
as to be scarcely able to stir from his bed, far less to undergo the
fatigue and danger of going over to Hispaniola in a canoe. For all these
reasons it was urged that they ought boldly to fix their resolutions
before they too should fall sick, while it was not in the admirals power
to hinder them; and that they would be so much the better received in
Hispaniola by how much the more danger they left him in, because of the
enmity and hatred which Lores the governor of Hispaniola bore towards him;
and that when they got to Spain they would be sure of the favour and
support of the bishop Fonseca, and of Morales the treasurer, who had as
his mistress the sister of the _Porras_, who were the leaders of this
mutiny, and who did not doubt of being well received by their Catholic
majesties, before whom all the blame would be laid upon the admiral, as
had formerly been in the affair of Roldan: And finally, it was alleged
that their majesties would the rather seize the admiral and all his
property, that they might be freed from the obligation of performing all
the articles of agreement between them.

By these and such like arguments, and by the persuasions and suggestions
of the Porras, one of whom was captain of the Bermuda and the other
controller of the squadron, they prevailed on 48 men to join in the
conspiracy under the command and direction of Francis de Porras, the
captain of the Bermuda. Being all ready armed on the morning of the 2nd
January 1504, Captain Francis de Porras came upon the quarter-deck of the
admirals ship, and addressed the admiral saying, "My lord, what is the
reason that you will not go to Hispaniola, and keep us all in this place
to perish?" On hearing these unusually insolent words, and suspecting what
might be hatching, the admiral calmly answered that he did not see how
this could be accomplished till those whom he had sent in the canoes
should send a ship; that no one could be more desirous to be gone than he
was himself, as well for his own interest as the good of them all, for
whom he was accountable; but that if Porras had any thing else to propose,
he was ready to call the captains and other principal people together,
that they might consult as had been done several times before. Porras
replied, that it was not now time to talk, and that the admiral must
either embark immediately or stay there by himself; and turning his back
upon the admiral he called out in a loud voice, I am bound for Spain with
those that are willing to follow me. On this all his followers who were
present shouted out, We will go with you! we will go with you! and running
about in great confusion crying, Let them die! let them die! For Spain!
for Spain! while others called on the captain for his orders, they took
possession of the poop, forecastle, and round tops.

Though the admiral was then so lame of the gout that he could not stand,
he yet endeavoured to rise and come out upon deck on hearing this uproar;
but two or three worthy persons his attendants laid hold upon him and
forcibly laid him again in bed, that the mutineers might not murder him;
they then ran to his brother, who was going out courageously with a
half-pike, and wresting it from his hands, they forced him into the cabin
beside the admiral, desiring Captain Porras to go where he liked, and not
commit a crime for which they might all suffer; that he might be satisfied
in meeting no opposition to his going away, but if he killed the admiral
he must lay his account with being severely punished for what could not
possibly be of the least benefit to his views. When the tumult was
somewhat appeased, the conspirators seized ten canoes that lay along-side,
which the admiral had purchased all about the island, and went aboard of
them as joyfully as if they had been in a Spanish port. Upon this many
more, who had no hand in the plot, in despair to see themselves forsaken,
took what they could lay hold of along with them and joined the
conspirators in the canoes, to the great sorrow and mortification of the
few faithful servants who remained with the admiral, and of all the sick,
who considered themselves as lost for ever and deprived of all hopes of
ever getting away. It is certain that if the people had been all in health,
not above twenty would have remained with the admiral, who went now out to
comfort the remaining men with the best arguments that he could devise in
the present posture of affairs.

Francis de Porras went away with his mutineers for the eastern point of
the island, whence Mendez and Fiesco had taken their departure for
Hispaniola, and wherever they came they insulted the Indians, taking away
their provisions and every thing else they pleased by force, desiring them
to go to the admiral for payment, or that they might kill him if he
refused, which was the best thing they could do, as he was not only hated
by the Christians but had been the cause of all the mischief which had
befallen the Indians in the other island, and would do the same in this if
he were not prevented by death, for his only reason of remaining was to
subjugate them as he had already enslaved the natives of Hispaniola.

The mutineers took the advantage of the first calm weather after their
arrival at the easternmost point of Jamaica to set out for Hispaniola,
taking several Indians in every canoe to row or paddle them, as had been
done by Mendez and Fiesco. But before they had been four leagues out to
sea, the weather became unsettled and they resolved to return. Being able
to make but very little way, as the wind came against them, and as the
water flashed in over the gunwales in consequence of their unskilful
management, they threw every thing overboard except their arms and as much
provisions as might enable them to get back to the island. The wind still
freshened and they thought themselves in so much danger that it was
resolved to murder the Indians and throw them into the sea. This was
accordingly done with several, but others who trusted to their swimming
threw themselves into the sea to avoid being murdered, and when weary of
swimming clung to the sides of the canoes to rest themselves; those poor
fellows had their hands cut off and were otherwise wounded; insomuch that
eighteen Indians were slaughtered or drowned, only a very few being spared
for each canoe to assist in steering. Being returned to Jamaica they
differed in opinion as to their future procedure: Some advised to go over
to Cuba in preference to Hispaniola, as they might take the east winds and
currents upon their quarter, and could afterwards go from that island to
Hispaniola, not considering that the distance was seventeen leagues
directly against wind and current: Some said it would be but to return to
the ships and make their peace with the admiral, or to take from him by
force what arms and commodities he had left; while others were for staying
where they were till another calm, when they might again attempt the
passage to Hispaniola. This advice prevailed, and they remained in the
town of Aoamaquique, waiting for fair weather and destroying the country.
When the fair weather came they embarked twice, but were unsuccessful both
times, owing to the winds being contrary. Thus foiled in their endeavours,
they travelled westwards from one town to another much dismayed and
comfortless, leaving their canoes behind; sometimes eating what they were
able to find, and sometimes taking provisions by force, according as they
found themselves sufficiently powerful to cope with the caciques through
whose territories they passed.

After the rebels were departed, the admiral took every possible care that
the sick should be furnished with all that could conduce towards their
recovery, and that the Indians might be civilly treated, to induce them to
continue to bring provisions in exchange for our commodities. All these
things were so well managed that the Christians soon recovered, and the
Indians continued to supply us plentifully for some time. But they being
an indolent race, who take little pains in sowing, while every one of our
people consumed as much provisions in one day as would have sufficed an
Indian for twenty, and besides having no longer any inclination for our
commodities, they began to listen to the advice of the mutineers, since
they saw so many of our men had revolted, and therefore did not bring such
plenty of provisions as we needed. This brought us into great distress, as
if it had been necessary to take these by force, the greatest part of us
must have gone on shore armed, leaving the admiral on board in great
danger, as he was still very ill of the gout; and if we waited till the
Indians brought provisions of their own accord, we must live in great
misery, or have paid them ten times the price we did at first, as they
were sensible of the advantages our necessities gave them. But God, who
never forsakes those who put their trust in him, inspired the admiral with
a device by which we became amply provided. Knowing that in three days
there was to be an eclipse of the moon in the early part of the night, he
sent an Indian of Hispaniola who was on board, to call the principal
Indians of that province to talk with him upon a matter which he said was
of great importance to them. These Indians came accordingly to wait upon
him on the day before the eclipse was to happen, and he desired the
interpreter to tell them, That we were Christians who believed in the God
of Heaven, who took care of the good and punished the wicked. That God
seeing the rebellion of the Spaniards against his faithful servant, would
not permit them to go over to Hispaniola, as had been done by Mendez and
Fiesco, but had visited them with all those sufferings and dangers which
were manifest to the whole island: And that God was angry with the Indians
for being negligent in bringing provisions for our commodities, and had
determined to punish them with pestilence and famine; and lest they might
not believe his words, had appointed to give them a manifest token of his
wrath that very night, that they might plainly know whence their
punishment was derived. Wherefore the admiral desired them carefully to
observe the moon that night when she arose, and they would see her angry
and of a bloody hue, as a sign of the punishments which were to fall on
them from God. Upon this the Indians were dismissed and sent away, some of
them rather afraid and others looking upon it as an idle threat. But on
observing the moon to rise in part obscured, and the obscurity increasing
as she rose higher, the Indians were so terrified that they hastened from
all parts loaded with provisions, crying and lamenting and imploring the
admiral to intercede for them with God not to make them undergo the weight
of his wrath, and promising to bring him every thing he wanted for the
future. The admiral pretended to be softened by their repentance, and said
that he would speak to God in their favour. He accordingly shut himself up
for some time, till he knew that the eclipse was about to go off, and then
coming out of his cabin, he told the Indians that he had prayed to God for
them, and had promised in their names that they would be good in future,
would use the Christians well, and bring them plenty of provisions and
other necessaries; that God therefore forgave them, of which they would he
convinced when they saw the anger and bloody colour of the moon go off.
And this beginning to take place while he was yet speaking, they gave the
admiral many thanks for his intercession, and praised the mercy of the God
of the Christians. From that time they always took care to provide every
thing which we required; and though they had before seen eclipses, they
believed they had portended evils that had befallen them, but thinking it
impossible for any one to know on earth what was to happen in the heavens,
they certainly concluded that the God of the Christians must have revealed
all this to the admiral.

Eight months had passed after Mendez and Fiesco went away, without any
intelligence of them, by which the men who remained with the admiral were
much cast down and suspected the worst. Some alleged that they were lost
at sea, some that they had been killed by the Indians of Hispaniola, and
others that they had died with sickness and hardships; for from the point
of that island which is next to Jamaica it is above 100 leagues to St
Domingo where they had to go in quest of succour, the way by land being
over uncouth mountains, and that by sea against the prevailing winds and
currents. To confirm their fears some Indians assured them that they had
seen a canoe overset and driven by the current on the coast of Jamaica;
which report had probably been spread by the mutineers to make those who
were with the admiral despair of getting off. Our people at length
concluded that no relief was ever to be expected, and became exceedingly
dispirited and discontented, and most of them conspired to revolt and join
the mutineers, in which they were principally encouraged by one Bernard an
apothecary from Valencia, and two others named Zamora and Villatoro. But
the Almighty, who knew how dangerous this second mutiny must be to the
admiral, was pleased to put a stop to it by the coming of a vessel sent by
the governor of Hispaniola. This vessel came one morning to anchor near
our grounded ships, and her captain, named James de Escobar, came on board
in his boat, saying that he was sent by the governor of Hispaniola to the
admiral with his commendations, and that as he had it not in his power to
send a ship as yet that could carry off all the men, he had sent to
inquire after his situation. Escobar then presented him with a cask of
wine and two flitches of bacon, and sailed away again that same night
without waiting for any letters.

Our men were somewhat comforted by the appearance of this vessel, and the
assurance that Mendez and Fiesco had got safe to St Domingo, and dropt
their intended conspiracy and revolt; yet they wondered much that Escobar
should have stolen away so privately and suddenly, suspecting that the
governor of Hispaniola was unwilling that the admiral should go to that
island. As the admiral was aware that the hasty departure of Escobar might
occasion speculations and inquiries among the people, he told them that it
was by his own directions, because that caravel not being large enough to
carry them all away, he would not go himself, as he was unwilling to leave
them liable to the disorders that might be occasioned by the mutineers in
his absence. But the truth is, that the governor was unwilling to aid the
return of the admiral into Spain, lest their Catholic majesties might
restore him to his authority as viceroy, by which he would lose his
government; wherefore he would not provide as he might have done for the
admirals voyage to Hispaniola, and had sent Escobar to Jamaica to espy the
condition he was in, and to know whether he might contrive to destroy him
with safety. He had learnt the situation in which the admiral was placed
from James Mendez, who sent the following account of his proceedings in
writing to the admiral by Escobar.

Mendez and Fuesco on the day they left Jamaica held on their way till
night, encouraging the Indians to exert themselves with their paddles. The
weather was extremely hot, so that the Indians sometimes leaped overboard
to refresh themselves by swimming and then came fresh again to their
paddles. At night they lost sight of the land, and half the Christians and
Indians took watch and watch alternately to sleep and row, taking great
care that the Indians might not prove treacherous. Advancing in this
manner all night, they were very weary when day appeared; but the
commanders encouraged the men, sometimes rowing themselves to give a good
example; and after eating to recruit their strength, they fell to their
work again, seeing nothing all around but the sky and the sea. Though this
was enough to distress them sufficiently, yet they were besides in the
predicament of Tantalus, who had water within a span of his mouth yet
could not quench his thirst; such was their distress, for, through the
improvidence of the Indians and the prodigious heat of the preceding day
and night, all their water was drank up without any regard to the future.
As heat and labour together are altogether intolerable without drink, and
as the heat and thirst increased the second day the higher the sun
ascended, their strength was entirely exhausted by noon. By good fortune
the captains had reserved two casks of water under their own management,
from which they sparingly relieved the Indians, and kept them up till the
cool of the evening, and encouraged them by the assurance that they would
soon see a small island called _Nabazza_, which lay in their way eight
leagues from Hispaniola. This and their extraordinary thirst quite cast
them down, and made them believe that they had lost their way, for
according to their reckoning they had now run twenty leagues and ought to
have been in sight of Hispaniola; but it was weariness that deceived them,
for a canoe that rows well cannot in a day and night proceed above ten
leagues, and they had been retarded by the currents which were adverse to
their course.

Night being come on they had to throw one into the sea who had died of
thirst, and others were lying stretched out in the bottom of the canoe
perfectly exhausted, those who were still able to bear up a little being
sunk almost in despair, and so weak and spent that they could hardly make
any way at all. Some took sea water to refresh their thirst, which may be
called a comfort of that kind which was offered to our Saviour when he
complained of thirst upon the cross. In this manner they feebly held on
their way at the commencement of the second night; but it pleased God to
send them succour in their utmost need, for when the moon began to rise,
James Mendez perceived that she got up over some land, as a little island
covered her in the nature of an eclipse, neither could they have seen this
island, it was so small, if it had not been for this circumstance, and
without the timely relief of water which it afforded they must all have
perished of thirst on the following day. Comforting and cheering them with
the joyful tidings and shewing them the land, he so encouraged them,
supplying them at the same time with a little water from the casks, that
the next morning they were very near the small island of Nabazza. They
found this island to be all round one hard rock, about half a league in
circumference, without either spring or tree; but searching about they
found rain water in holes and clefts of the rock, out of which they filled
their calabashes and casks; and though those of knowledge and experience
advised the rest to use moderation in drinking, yet thirst made some of
the Indians exceed all bounds, whereof some died there and others fell
into desperate distempers.

Having remained all day at this island to refresh themselves, and eating
such things as they found along the shore, for Mendez had all materials
for striking fire, by which they were enabled to cook the shell-fish, they
rejoiced at being now in sight of Hispaniola, and fearful lest bad weather
might arise to impede the prosecution of their voyage, about sun-set they
took their departure from Nabazza for Cape St Michael, the nearest land in
Hispaniola, where they happily arrived next morning. After resting there
two days Fiesco, who was a gentleman that stood much upon his honour,
would have returned to Jamaica in pursuance of the admirals commands and
his own engagements to that effect; but the people, who were all sailors
and Indians, being spent and indisposed by their past labour and by
drinking sea-water, considered themselves like Jonas delivered from the
whales belly, having been like him three days and three nights in
tribulation, none of them would consent to go with him. Mendez, being most
in haste, went up the coast of Hispaniola in his canoe, although suffering
under a quartan ague, occasioned by his great sufferings by sea and land.
After some time, quitting his canoe, he travelled over mountains and by
bad roads till he arrived at Xaragua, in the west of Hispaniola, where the
governor then was, who seemed rejoiced to see him, though he afterwards
was extremely tedious in dispatching him, owing to the reasons already
mentioned. After much importunity Mendez obtained permission to go to St
Domingo, where he bought and fitted out a vessel from the private funds of
the admiral, which was sent to Jamaica at the latter end of May 1504, and
sailed thence for Spain by the admirals direction, to give their Catholic
majesties an account of the incidents of the voyage[17].

The admiral and all his company had received much comfort from the
knowledge that Mendez had arrived in Hispaniola, and entertained full
assurance of being relieved through his exertions; he therefore thought
fit to communicate the information to the mutineers, that laying their
jealousies aside they might be induced to return to their duty. For this
purpose he sent two respectable officers to them who had friends among the
mutineers, and suspecting that they might disbelieve, or seem not to
credit the visit of the caravel under the command of Escobar, he sent them
part of the bacon which she had brought. When these two arrived where
Porras and his chief confidant resided, he came out to meet them that he
might prevent them from moving the men to return to their duty by the
offer of a general pardon, which he justly suspected had been sent by the
admiral. Yet it was not in the power of the two Porras to prevent their
adherents from learning the coming of the caravel, the returned health of
those who were with the admiral, and the offers which he sent them. After
several consultations among themselves and with their principal
confederates, the Porras refused to trust themselves to the offered pardon;
but said they would go peaceably to Hispaniola if he would promise to give
them a ship provided two came, or if only one, that he should assign them
the half; and as they had lost their clothes and the commodities which
they had for trade, they demanded that the admiral should share with them
those which he had. The messengers answered that these proposals were
utterly unreasonable and could not be granted. To which the Porras proudly
replied, that since these were refused by fair means they would take them
by force.

In this manner the ringleaders dismissed the admirals messengers,
misinterpreting his conciliatory offers, and telling their followers that
he was a cruel revengeful man; saying that they had no fears for
themselves, as the admiral would not dare to wrong them because of their
interest at court, yet they had reason to fear he would be revenged of the
rest under colour of just punishment, on which account Roldan and his
friends in Hispaniola had not trusted his offers, and it had succeeded
well with them, as they had found favour at court, whereas the admiral had
been sent home in irons. They even pretended that the arrival of the
caravel with news from Mendez was a mere phantom produced by magic, in
which the admiral was an adept; as it was not likely, had it been in
reality a caravel, that the people belonging to it would have had no
farther discourse with those about the admiral, neither would it have so
soon vanished; and it was more probable, if it had been a real caravel,
that the admiral would have gone on board of it with his son and brother.
By these and other similar persuasions, they confirmed their adherents in
their rebellion, and at length brought them to resolve upon repairing to
the ships to secure the admiral and to take all they found there by force.

Continuing obstinate in their wickedness, the mutineers came to a town
then named _Maima_, in the neighbourhood of the ships, at which place the
Christians afterwards built a town called Seville. Upon learning this
audacious procedure and their design to attack him, the admiral sent his
brother against them, with orders to endeavour in the first place to
persuade them to submission by fair words, but so attended that he might
be able to oppose them by force if they attempted to attack him. For this
purpose the lieutenant landed with fifty men well armed, and advanced to a
hill about a bow-shot from the town in which the rebels had taken up their
quarters, whence he sent the two messengers who had been with them before,
requiring the captain of the mutineers to enter into a conference for
ending all disputes. But they being equal in numbers to the party under
the lieutenant, and almost all seamen, persuaded themselves that those who
were come out against them were weak men and would not fight, and would
not therefore permit the messengers to talk with them. They brandished
their naked swords and spears calling out tumultuously, Kill! kill! and
fell upon the lieutenants party immediately. Six of them had bound
themselves by oath to stick close by each other, and to direct their
united efforts against the lieutenant alone, being confident of an easy
victory if they succeeded in killing him. But it pleased God that they
were disappointed, for they were so well received that five or six of them
fell at the first charge, most of whom were of the party who had sworn to
slay the lieutenant. He now charged the rebels so manfully and was so well
seconded by his party, that John Sanchez and John Barba were killed, some
others were brought to the ground by severe wounds, and Francis de Porras
their captain was made prisoner. Sanchez was the person from whom Quibio
escaped in the river of Veragua, and Barba was the first man whom I saw
draw his sword at the breaking out of this rebellion.

Finding themselves thus unexpectedly overpowered, the mutineers turned
their backs and fled as fast as they could. The lieutenant would have
pursued; but some of the principal people about him remonstrated, saying
that it was good to punish, but not to carry severity too far, lest when
he had killed many of the mutineers the Indians might think fit to fall
upon the victors, as they were all in arms waiting the event without
taking either side. This advice being approved of, the lieutenant returned
to the ships with Porras and the other prisoners, where he was joyfully
received by the admiral and those who remained with him, giving God thanks
for the victory in which the guilty had received their just measure of
punishment, while on our side the lieutenant was slightly wounded in the
hand, and one of the gentlemen of the chamber to the admiral had a small
wound in his hip from a spear, of which however he died.

Peter de Ledisma (that pilot who went with Vincent Yanez to Honduras, and
who so bravely swam on shore at Belem,) in his flight from the lieutenant,
fell down some steep rocks unperceived, where he lay all that day and the
next until evening, unperceived by any except some of the Indians. They
were amazed to see the terrible gashes which he had received in the fight,
having no idea that our swords could cut in such a manner, and opened up
his wounds with little sticks to examine them. One of his wounds was on
the head and the brain was distinctly laid bare; another on his shoulder
so large and deep that his arm hung as it were loose; the calf of one leg
was so deeply cut that the flesh hung down to his ancle, and one foot was
sliced open from the heel to the toe. Yet in this desperate state he would
threaten to rise and destroy the Indians when they disturbed him, and they
were so afraid as to fly away in consternation. His situation being
reported at the ships, he was removed to a hut in the neighbourhood, where
the dampness and the intolerable multitude of gnats were sufficient to
have destroyed him. Yet being properly attended to, although the surgeon
for the first eight days alleged that he discovered new wounds every day,
he at last recovered, and the gentleman of the chamber in whom he
apprehended no danger, died of his slight wound.

The day after the battle, 20th of May, all the mutineers who had escaped
sent a petition to the admiral, humbly repenting of their disobedience,
begging that he would mercifully pardon their past transgression, and
declaring their readiness to submit to his authority. The admiral granted
their request and passed a general pardon, on condition that their captain
should remain a prisoner lest he might stir up another mutiny. And as he
thought inconvenience might arise if they were admitted on board the ships,
by quarrels among the meaner people, and that it might even be difficult
to maintain the whole in one place, he sent out a person in whom he could
confide to take the command of those who had been in the mutiny, with
directions to go with them about the island and keep them in order till
the ships came, which he daily expected, and supplied them with a
sufficient quantity of commodities to exchange for provisions with the

The mutineers having all returned to their duty, the Indians became more
regular in their supply of provisions to us in exchange for our
commodities. We had been some days more than a year at Jamaica when a ship
arrived which had been fitted out at St Domingo by James Mendez from the
admirals private funds, in which we all embarked, enemies as well as
friends, and set sail from Jamaica on the 28th of June. Proceeding on our
voyage with much difficulty on account of the adverse winds and currents,
we arrived in great need of rest and refreshment at St Domingo on the 13th
of August 1504. The admiral was received with great demonstrations of
honour and respect by the governor, who lodged him in the palace, yet he
set Porras who had headed the mutineers at liberty, and even attempted to
punish those who had been instrumental in taking him prisoner, pretending
to arrogate an authority of trying causes and offences which belonged
solely to the jurisdiction of the admiral, who had been appointed by their
Catholic majesties admiral and captain-general of their fleet.
Notwithstanding of all this he fawned upon the admiral, using every
demonstration of kindness in his presence, yet acting treacherously in
undermining his character and authority; and this lasted all the time we
remained at St Domingo. Our own ship being refitted and supplied with all
necessaries for the voyage, and another hired in which the admiral and his
kindred, friends, and servants, embarked, we sailed on the 2d of September,
most of the other people who had been along with us in our late disastrous
voyage remaining at St Domingo. We had scarcely got two leagues from the
port when the mast of one of the ships came by the board, and was
immediately sent back by the admiral to refit, while we held on our way in
the other vessel to Spain.

Having run about a third part of the way, so terrible a storm arose that
our ships were in imminent danger; and next day, 19th of October, when the
weather was fair and the ship quite steady the mast flew into four pieces;
but by the ingenuity of the admiral who was unable to rise from his bed on
account of the gout, and by the exertions of the lieutenant, a jury-mast
was constructed out of a spare yard, strengthened with some planks taken
from the poop and stern, and firmly bound together with ropes. We lost our
foremast in another storm; and yet it pleased God that we arrived safe at
the port of St Lucar de Barrameda, and thence to Seville; where the
admiral took some rest after the many fatigues he had undergone.

In May 1505 he went to the court of King Ferdinand, the glorious Queen
Isabella having in the year before exchanged this life for a better. Her
loss was severely felt by the admiral, as she had always favoured and
supported him; whereas the king had proved unkind and adverse to his
honour and interest. This plainly appeared by the reception he met with at
court; for though King Ferdinand received him with the outward appearance
of favour and respect, and pretended to restore him to his full power, he
yet would have stript him of all if shame had not hindered, considering
the engagements which both he and the queen had come under to him when he
went out upon his last voyage. But the wealth and value of the Indies
appearing every day more obvious, and considering how great a share of
their produce would accrue to the admiral in virtue of the articles which
had been granted previous to his discovery, the king was anxious to
acquire the absolute dominion to himself, and to have the disposal of all
the employments in the new world according to his own will and pleasure,
which by the agreement were in the gift of the admiral as hereditary
viceroy, admiral, and governor-general of the Indies. The king therefore
began to propose new terms to the admiral by way of equivalent, which
negociation God did not permit to take effect; for just when Philip the
first came to reign in the kingdom of Castile, at the time when King
Ferdinand went from Valladolid to meet him, the admiral, much broken down
by the gout, and troubled to find himself deprived of his rights, was
attacked by other distempers, and gave up his soul to God upon Ascension
day, the 20th of May, 1506, at the city of Valladolid. Before his death he
devoutly partook of the holy sacraments of the church, and these were his
last words "_Into thy hands O Lord! I commend my Spirit._" And through
his infinite mercy, we do not question but he was received into glory, to
which may God admit us with him.

His body was conveyed to Seville, where it was magnificently buried in the
cathedral by the order of the Catholic king, and the following epitaph in
Spanish was engraven upon his tomb, in memory of his renowned actions and
the great discovery of the Indies.


_Columbus gave a New World to Castile and Leon._

These memorable words are worthy of observation, as nothing similar or any
way equivalent can be found either in the ancients or among the moderns.
It will therefore be ever had in remembrance, that he was the discoverer
of the Indies; though since then Ferdinand Cortes and Francis Pizarro have
found out many other provinces and vast kingdoms on the continent. Cortes
discovered the province of Yucutan and the empire of Mexico now called New
Spain, then possessed by the great emperor _Montezuma_; and Francis
Pizarro found out the kingdom of Peru which is of vast extent and full of
endless wealth, which was then under the dominion of the powerful king
_Atabalipa_. From these countries and kingdoms there come every year to
Spain many ships laden with gold and silver and rich commodities, as
Brazil wood, cochineal, indigo, sugar, and other articles of great value,
besides pearls and other precious stones: owing to which Spain and its
princes at this time flourish and abound in wealth beyond all other

[1] D. Ferdinand is surely mistaken here. Martinico, the island probably
indicated by the name of Matinino, is about ten leagues distant from
Dominca; but the course from the former to the latter is to the north,
with a very alight western tendency.--E.

[2] Now called Porto Rico.--E.

[3] He was formerly called Obando; and is named Nicholas de Ovando by
Herrera: Perhaps he had a commandary of the above name.--E.

[4] The historian of Columbus does not appear to have been at all
conversant in zoology. What the Saavina was cannot be conjectured from
his slight notices, unless a basking shark. The other, no way allied to
fish except by living in the water, is a real mammiferous quadruped,
the Trichechus Manati of naturalists, or the sea cow.--E.

[5] The author or his original translator, falls into a great error here.
The land first discovered in this voyage was the island of Guanaia off
Cape Casinas or Cape Honduras, therefore W.S.W. from Jamaica, not
south. Guanaia seems to be the island named Bonaea in our maps, about
ten leagues west from the isle of Ratan.--E.

[6] A blank is left here in the edition of this voyage published by

[7] This is an obvious error, as New Spain is to the west of Cape Casinas,
off which the admiral now was. If bounds _for_ New Spain, the canoe
must have come from the eastwards; if going with commodities from the
westwards it was bound _from_ New Spain.--E.

[8] The papal authority for subjugating the Indians to the holy church,
prevented D. Ferdinand from perceiving either avarice or robbery in
the conduct of the Christians.--E.

[9] It would appear, though not distinctly enunciated, that Columbus had
learnt from some of the natives, perhaps from Giumbe, that a great sea
lay beyond or to the westwards of this newly discovered continent, by
which he imagined he was now in the way to accomplish the original
object of his researches, the route westwards to India.--E.

[10] Now called the Mosquito shore, inhabited by a bold race of savage
Indians, whom the Spaniards have never been able to subdue.--E.

[11] It is utterly impossible that these people could have the smallest
idea whatever of the European art of writing. But they might have
heard of the Mexican representations of people and things by a rude
painting, and of their frequent and distant excursions in quest of
human victims to sacrifice upon their savage altars. This may possibly
have been the origin of the terror evinced by the inhabitants of
Cariari at the sight of the materials of writing, conceiving that the
Spaniards were emissaries from the sanguinary Mexicans, and about to
record the measure of the tribute in human blood.--E.

[12] A more charitable construction might be put on all this. The refusal
to accept presents, perhaps proceeded from manly pride because their
own had been refused. The powder and the smoke might be marks of
honour to the strangers, like the rose water and other honorary
perfumings of the east.--E.

[13] The similitude is not obvious, but may have been intended to comprae
this mountain with the lofty sharp pinnacle on which the hermitage is
built near St Jago de Compostella in Spain.--E.

[14] This is probably the first time that Europeans had seen tobacco
chewed and the use of snuff; practices which have now become almost
necessaries of life among many millions of the inhabitants of Europe
and its colonies.--E.

[15] It is probable that the fish, here called pilchards were of one of
the kinds of flying fish, which is of the same genus with the herring
and pilchard. Voyagers ignorant of natural history are extremely apt
to name new objects after corresponding resemblances in their own

[16] This appears to have been near Panama, or the western point of the
Gulf of Darien in 78 deg. 40' W. long. The pilots seem to have been
extremely ignorant, and the admiral to have yielded to their
importunity. The harbour of St Domingo being in 69 deg. 50' W. long they
ought to have proceeded about nine degrees, or 180 marine leagues
farther east, to have insured their run across the trade winds and
currents of the Caribbean sea.--E.

[17] Though not mentioned in the text, this vessel would certainly bring
refreshments of various kinds, but was probably too small to bring off
the people. Mendez appears to have remained at St Domingo in order to
fit out a larger vessel, which he accordingly carried to Jamaica in
June, as will be seen in the sequel.--E.

* * * * *




_Of the Knowledge of the Ancients respecting the New World._

With the generality of mankind, so far from imagining that there could be
any such country as the _new world_ or West Indies, the very notion of any
such thing being supposed to exist was considered as extravagant and
absurd, for every one believed that all to the westwards of the Canary
islands was an immense and unnavigable ocean. Yet some of the ancients
have left hints that such western lands existed. In the close of the
second act of his tragedy of Medea, Seneca says, "The time will come, when
the ocean shall become navigable, and a vast land or New World shall be
discovered." St Gregory, in his exposition of the Epistle of St Clement,
says, "There is a new world, or even worlds, beyond the ocean." We are
informed by other authors, that a Carthaginian merchant ship accidentally
discovered in the ocean, many days sail from our ancient continent, an
incredibly fruitful island, full of navigable rivers, having plenty of
wild beasts, but uninhabited by men, and that the discoverers were
desirous of settling there; but, having given an account of this discovery
to the senate of Carthage, they not only absolutely prohibited any one to
sail thither, but put all who had been there to death, the more
effectually to prevent any others from making the attempt. Yet all this is
nothing to the purpose, as there is no authentic memorial of this supposed
voyage, and those who have spoken of it incidentally have given no
cosmographical indications of its situation, by means of which the admiral
Christopher Columbus, who made the first discovery of the West Indies,
could have acquired any information to guide him in that great discovery.
Besides, that there were no wild beasts, either in the windward or leeward
islands which he discovered, those men who would rob Columbus, in part at
least, of the honour of his great discovery, misapply the following
quotation from the _Timaeus_ of Plato: "There is no sailing upon the ocean,
because its entrance is shut up by the Pillars of Hercules. Yet there had
formerly been an island in that ocean, larger than all Europe, Asia, and
Africa in one; and from thence a passage to other islands, for such as
went in search of them, and from these other inlands people might go to
all the opposite continent, near the true ocean." These detractors from
the honour of Columbus, in explaining the words of Plato after their own
manner, evince more wit than truth, when they insist that the shut up
passage is the strait of Gibraltar, the gulf the great ocean, the great
island _Atlantis_, the other islands beyond that the leeward and windward
islands, the continent opposite them the land of Peru, and the true ocean
the great South Sea, so called from its vast extent. It is certain that no
one had any clear knowledge of these matters: and what they now allege
consists merely of notions and guesses, patched together since the actual
discovery; for the ancients concluded there was no possibility of sailing
across the ocean on account of its vast extent. These men, however, labour
to confirm their opinions, by alleging that the ancients possessed much
knowledge of the torrid zone; as they insit that Hano the Carthaginian
coasted round Africa, from the straits of Gibraltar to the Red Sea, and
that Eudoxias navigated in the contrary direction from the Red Sea to the
Mediterranean. They allege farther, that both Ovid and Pliny make mention
of the island of _Trapobano_, now Zumatra[2] which is under the line.

All this however is nothing to the purpose. The expression of Seneca is
not applicable; for his proposed discovery is towards the north, whereas
ours is to the westwards. The coasting of Africa, as said to have been
performed by the ancients, is widely different from traversing the vast
ocean, as was accomplished by Columbus, and by the Spaniards after his
example. If any notice is due to ancient hints, that only is worthy of
observation which we find in the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Job,
in which it seems predicted that God would keep this new world concealed
from the knowledge of men, until it should please his inscrutable
providence to bestow its dominion to the Spaniards. No attention is due to
the opinions of those who would endeavour to establish the Ophir of the
Scriptures in Peru, and who even allege that it was called Peru at the
time when the holy text was penned. For, neither is that name of Peru so
ancient, nor does it properly belong to that great country as its
universal appellation. It has been a general practice among discoverers to
apply names to new found ports and lands, just as occasion offered, or
accident or caprice directed; and accordingly, the Spaniards who made the
first discovery of that kingdom, applied to it the name of the river they
first landed at, or that of the cacique who governed the district. Besides,
the similarity of words is too trivial a circumstance on which to
establish a foundation for a superstructure of such importance. The best
informed and most judicious historians affirm, that Ophir was in the East
Indies: For, if it had been in Peru, Solomons fleet must necessarily have
run past the whole of the East Indies and China, and across the immense
Pacific ocean, before it could reach the western shore of the new world;
which is quite impossible. Nothing can be more certain than that the fleet
of Solomon went down the Red Sea; and as the ancients were not acquainted
with those arts of navigation which are now used, they could not launch
out into the ocean to navigate so far from land; neither could those
distant regions be attained to by a land journey. Besides, we are told
that they carried from Ophir peacocks and ivory, articles that are not to
be found in the new world. It is therefore believed that it was the island
of Taprobana, from whence all those valuable commodities were carried to
Jerusalem; and the ancients may have very justly called their discovery
the _new world_, to express its vast extent, because it contained as much
land as was before known, and also because its productions differed so
much from those of our parts of the earth, or the _old world_. This
explanation agrees with the expressions of Seneca and St Jerome.

[1] Churchills Collection, V. 591. All that has been attempted in the
present article is to soften the asperity of the language, and to
illustrate the text by a few notes where these seemed necessary.--E.

[2] Trapobana, or rather Taprobana, is assuredly Ceylon, not Sumatra.--E.


_Of the Motives which led Columbus to believe that there were unknown

The admiral Christopher Columbus had many reasons for being of opinion
that there were new lands which might be discovered. Being a great
cosmographer, and well skilled in navigation, he considered that the
heavens were circular, moving round the earth, which in conjunction with
the sea, constitute a globe of two elements, and that all the land that
was then known could not comprise the whole earth, but that a great part
must have still remained undiscovered. The measure of the circumference of
the earth being 360 degrees, or 6300 leagues, allowing 17 leagues to the
degree, must be all inhabited, since God hath not created it to lie waste.
Although many have questioned whether there were land or water about the
poles, still it seemed requisite that the earth should bear the same
proportion to the water towards the antarctic pole, which it was known to
have at the arctic. He concluded likewise that all the five zones of the
earth were inhabited, of which opinion he was the more firmly persuaded
after he had sailed into 75 degrees of north latitude. He also concluded
that, as the Portuguese had sailed to the southwards, the same might be
done to the westwards, where in all reason land ought to be found: And
having collected all the tokens that had been observed by mariners, which
made for his purpose, he became perfectly satisfied that there were many
lands to the westwards of Cabo Verde and the Canaries, and that it was
practicable to sail over the ocean for their discovery; because, since the
world is round, all its parts must necessarily be so likewise. All the
earth is so fixed that it can never fail; and the sea, though shut in by
the land, preserves its rotundity, without ever falling away, being
preserved in its position by attraction towards the centre of gravity. By
the consideration of many natural reasons, and by perceiving that not
above the third part of a great circle of the sphere was discovered, being
the extent eastwards from Cabo Verde to the farthest then known land of
India, he concluded that there remained much room for farther discoveries
by sailing to the westwards, till they should come to meet with those
lands then known, the ends whereof to the eastwards had not been yet
explored. In this opinion he was much confirmed by his friend Martin de
Bohemia[1], a Portuguese and an able cosmographer, a native of the island
of Fayal.

Many other circumstances concurred to encourage Columbus in the mighty
enterprize of discovery towards the west, by discoursing with those who
used to sail to the westwards, particularly to the islands of the Azores.
In particular, Martin Vincente assured him, that, having been on one
occasion 450 leagues to the westwards of Cape St Vincent, he took up a
piece of wood which was very artificially wrought, and yet was supposed
not to have been fashioned with tools of iron: And, because the wind had
blown many days from the west, he inferred that this piece of wood must
have drifted from some land in that direction. Peter Correa, who had
married the sister of Columbuses wife, likewise assured him, that he had
seen another piece of wood similarly wrought, which had been drifted by
the west winds upon the island of Puerto Santo; and that canes also had
been floated thither, of such a size that every joint could contain a
gallon of liquor. Columbus had farther heard mention made of these canes
by the king of Portugal, who had some of them, which he ordered to be
shewn to the admiral, who concluded that they must have been drifted from
India by the west wind, more especially as there are none such in Europe.
He was the more confirmed in this opinion, as Ptolemy, in the 17th chapter
of the first book of his cosmography, describes such canes as being found
in India. He was likewise informed by some of the inhabitants of the
Azores, that when the wind continued long and violent from the west and
north-west, the sea used to throw pine trees on the coasts of the isles of
Gracioso and Fayal, in which no trees of that sort grew. The sea once cast
two dead bodies on the coast of Flores, having very broad faces, and quite
different features from those of the Christians. Two canoes were seen at
another time, having several articles in them, which might have been
driven out to sea by the force of the wind while passing from one island
to another, and thence to the Azores. Anthony Leme, who had married in
Madeira, declared that he once run a considerable way to the westwards of
that island in his caravel, and fancied that he saw three islands; and
many of the inhabitants of Gomera, Hierro, and the Azores, affirmed that
they every year saw islands to the westwards. These were considered by
Columbus as the same with those mentioned by Pliny in his Natural History,
where he says, "That the sea to the northwards cuts off some pieces of
woods from the land; and the roots being very large, they drift on the
water like floats, and looked at a distance like islands."

In the year 1484, an inhabitant of the island of Madeira asked permission
from the king of Portugal to go upon the discovery of a country, which he
declared he saw every year exactly in the same position, agreeable to what
had been reported by the people of the Azores. On these accounts, the
ancient sea-charts laid down certain islands in these seas, which they
called _Antilla_, and placed them about 200 leagues west from the Canaries
and Azores; which the Portuguese believed to be the island of the Seven
Cities, the fame of which has occasioned many to commit great folly from
covetousness, by spending much money to no purpose. The story is, that
this island of the Seven Cities was peopled by those who fled from the
persecution of the infidels, when Spain was conquered by the Moors, in the
reign of king Roderick; when seven bishops embarked with a great number of
people, and arrived in that island, where they burnt their ships to
prevent any one from thinking to return, and each of the bishops built a
separate city for his flock. It was reported, that in the days of Prince
Henry of Portugal, one of his ships was driven by a storm upon that island,
where the natives carried the sailors to church, to see whether they were
Christians observing the Roman ceremonies; and, finding them to be so,
desired them to remain till their lord should come; but, fearing they
might burn their ship and detain them, the Portuguese returned well
pleased into Portugal; expecting a considerable reward from the prince. He,
however, reproved them for bringing so imperfect an account, and ordered
them to return; which the master and sailors dared not attempt, but left
the kingdom, and were never more heard of. It is added, that these sailors,
while in the island of the Seven Cities, gathered some sand for their
cookroom, which turned out to be partly gold. Some adventurers from
Portugal, allured by this report, went out for the purpose of prosecuting
this discovery, one of whom was James de Tiene, and the pilot was James
Velasquez of Palos. This man affirmed to Columbus, at the monastery of St
Maria de Rabida, that they took a departure from Fyal, and sailed 150
leagues to the south-west, and at their return discovered the island of
Flores, following many birds flying in that direction, which they knew
were not water-fowl. He next said, that they sailed so far to the
north-west, that Cape Clare of Ireland bore east of them; where they found
the west wind blowing hard, yet with a smooth sea, which they believed was
occasioned by the nearness of some land sheltering the sea from the
violence of the wind; but that they dared not to proceed on their voyage,
it being then the month of August, and they feared the approach of winter.
This is said to have happened forty years before Columbus discovered the
West Indies.

A sailor belonging to Port St Mary affirmed, that in a voyage to Ireland
he saw a country to the westward, which he imagined to have been Tartary;
but which has since turned out to be _Bacallaos_, being a part of Canada,
but could not attain the coast by reason of stormy weather[2]. Peter de
Velasco of Galicia declared, that, in a voyage to Ireland, he stood so far
to the northward that he saw land west from that island. Vincent Diaz, a
Portuguese pilot of Tavira, said that one morning, on his return from
Guinea, he thought he saw an island under the parallel of Madeira. Diaz
discovered the secret to a merchant, who procured the leave of the king of
Portugal to fit out a ship for the discovery, and sent advice to his
brother Francis de Cazana to fit out one at Seville, and put it under the
command of Diaz. But Francis Cazana refusing, Diaz returned to Tercera,
where he procured a ship, with the assistance of Luke de Cazana, and went
out two or three times above an hundred leagues to the west, but found
nothing. To these may be added, the attempts made by Caspar and Michael de
Cortereal, sons to him who discovered the island of Tenera; but they were
lost in searching for this land. Yet all these particulars contributed to
encourage Columbus to undertake the enterprise; for, when Providence has
decreed the accomplishment of any thing, it disposes the means, and
provides the proper instruments.

[1] This is the person usually called Behain.--E.

[2] Rather Newfoundland.--E.


_Columbus proposes his Design to the King and Queen of Spain; which, after
many Repulses, is adopted by the Queen_[1].

The reason why Columbus gave the name of Indies to those new found
countries, was on purpose to excite the princes he had to deal with to
fall into his proposals, as he proposed to find gold, silver, and pearls,
and those drugs and spices which are not produced in our countries, and
therefore he concluded, that his discoveries might vie with the East
Indies, give reputation to his design, and add weight to his proposals.
Besides, it was his design to discover the east by way of the west; and as
the East Indies lay in the remotest part of the east, going eastwards,
which he meant to discover in a western course, it might well be called
India. After the actual discovery, and when both New Spain and Peru were
found out, the name was made plural, and the new world was called the West
Indies. These West Indies are the countries comprehended within the limits
assigned to the crown of Castile and Leon, consisting of one hemisphere,
or half the globe, being 180 degrees of longitude. These limits commenced
at a meridian, 30 or 40 degrees westwards from that of the city of Toledo,
and proceeded from thence to the west; so that allowing 17-1/2 leagues to
a degree, this allotment contains 3700 Spanish leagues in breadth, between
east and west[2].

Columbus, whom the Spaniards call Colon, to adapt his name to their
language, was born in Genoa, his fathers name being Dominick. As to the
original of his family, some derive it from Placentia, others from Cucureo,
a town on the coast near that city, others from the lords of the castle of
Cucaro, in Montferrat, near Alexandria de la Pagla. In 940, the Emperor
Otho II. confirmed to the brothers and earls, Peter, John, and Alexander
Columbus, the real and feudal estates which they possessed in the
liberties of the cities of Aqui, Savona, Asti, Montferrat, Turin, Vercelli,
Parma, Cremona, and Bergamo, with all the rest they held in Italy. By
other records, it appears that the Columbi of Cucaro, Cucureo, and
Placentia, were the same; and that the before-mentioned emperor granted,
in the same year 940, to the same three brothers, the castles of Cucaro,
Cowzana, Rosignano, and others, with the fourth part of Bistagno, which
belonged to the empire. This sufficiently demonstrates the antiquity and
importance of the family. When very young, Christopher Columbus came into
Spain, or Portugal rather, to seek his fortune like other men. He there
married Donna Philippa Moniz de Perestrello, by whom he had one son, Don
James Columbus; and afterwards, by a second wife, Donna Beatrix Henriquez
of the city of Cordova, he had another son, Don Ferdinand Columbus, a
gentleman excellently qualified and well learned.

Being entirely convinced that there were new lands to discover, which he
had been long revolving in his mind, he at length determined to attempt
carrying his design into execution; but knowing that such an undertaking
was fit only for some sovereign prince or state, he made the proposal, in
the first place, to the republic of Genoa, where it was looked upon as a
chimera. He then communicated his design to John II. of Portugal, who gave
him a favourable hearing, but was so much occupied with the discoveries
along the western coast of Africa, that he was unwilling to engage in
another enterprize of so much importance. King John, however, referred the
matter to three persons on whom he placed great reliance in matters
relating to cosmography and discovery; one of these was Don James Ortez,
bishop of Ceuta who was a Spaniard, born at Calzadilla in the commandary
of St Jago, and commonly called the Doctor Calzadilla; the other two were
Roderick and Joseph, two Jewish physicians. These persons pretended to
consider the design of Columbus as wild and impracticable; yet, after
hearing his reasonings, and an account of the course he proposed to steer,
they advised the king to send out a caravel upon the discovery, giving out
that it was destined for Cabo Verde. This was done accordingly, and the
vessel went many leagues to the westwards; but, encountering severe storms,
it returned without effecting any discovery, and holding out the notions
of Columbus to ridicule. He, not ignorant of this underhand dealing, was
much offended, and his wife being dead, he took a great aversion to
Portugal, and resolved upon going into Spain to offer his schemes at that
court. Lest he might be treated there as he had been in Portugal, he sent
his brother Bartholomew Columbus into England, where Henry VII. then
reigned. But Bartholomew spent much time by the way, being taken by
pirates; and after his release and arrival in England, he had to stay a
long time before he learnt how to solicit the affair with which he was
entrusted. In the mean time, Don Christopher Columbus departed privately
from Portugal in 1484 for Andalusia, knowing that the king of Portugal was
sensible that his scheme was well grounded, and was satisfied the people
of the caravel had not done their duty, so that he still inclined to
consult farther respecting the enterprize. Columbus landed at Palos de
Moguer, whence he went to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, or
Elizabeth, king and queen of Spain, then at Cordova, leaving his son James
in the monastery of Rabida, half a league from Palos, under the care of
John Perez de Marchena, the father guardian of that house, who was learned
in humanity, and had some skill in cosmography.

On his arrival at Cordova, Columbus made known the object of his journey,
and found most encouragement from Alonso de Quintanilla comptroller of
Castile, a wise man and fond of great undertakings, who, finding Columbus
a man of worth and merit, invited him to his table, without which he could
not have subsisted during his tedious solicitation. After some time, their
Catholic majesties, so far listened to the proposal, as to refer it to
Ferdinand de Talavera, prior of Prado, and confessor to the queen, who
afterwards became the first Christian archbishop of Granada. Columbus was
called before an assembly of cosmographers, of whom there were few then in
Spain, and those none of the ablest; and besides the admiral was unwilling
to explain himself too unreservedly, lest he might be served as already in
Portugal; wherefore the result of this consultation was adverse to his
expectations and wishes. Some said, that as there had been so many persons
well skilled in maritime affairs in all ages of the world, who never
dreamt of those lands which Columbus endeavoured to persuade them he
should find, it was not to be imagined that he was wiser than all who had
gone before his time. Others alleged that the world was so large, that it
would require a voyage of three years at least, to reach those farthest
parts of the east to which Columbus proposed to sail; and quoted Seneca in
confirmation of their opinion, who says, "That wise men were divided
whether the ocean might not be of infinite extent, so that it would be
impossible to sail across its bounds; and, even if navigable, it was
questionable if there were any inhabited land beyond, or if there were a
possibility of going to such a distance." They farther alleged that no
other part of our globe was inhabited, except that small parcel which
existed above the water in our hemisphere, all the rest being sea: Yet
they conceded, that, if it were found practicable to go from Spain to the
farthest parts of the world eastwards, it must likewise be granted, the
same might be done by a western course. Others contended, that should
Columbus sail directly westwards, it would be impossible for him ever to
get back to Spain, owing to the rotundity of the globe; for, whoever
should go beyond the hemisphere known to Ptolemy, must necessarily descend
so much that it would be impracticable to return, which in that case would
be like climbing up a steep mountain. Although Columbus answered all their
objections, they could not comprehend his reasonings, and the assembly
declared his project to be vain and impracticable, and unbecoming the
majesty of such mighty princes to be undertaken on such trivial
information. Thus, after much time spent in vain, their Catholic majesties
ordered Columbus to be informed, that, being engaged in several wars,
particularly in the conquest of Granada, they could not then venture upon
other expences; but, when that was over, they would again examine the
matter; and so dismissed him.

Having received this mortifying answer, Columbus went away to Seville,
much discontented, after having spent five years at court to no purpose.
He then had his project made known to the Duke of Medina Sidonia, and as
some say, to the Duke of Medina Celi likewise; and being rejected by them,
he wrote to the king of France on the subject, and intended, if rejected
by the French court, to have gone over himself into England in search of
his brother, from whom he had not heard of a long while. Having formed
this resolution, he went to the monastery of Rabida, intending to place
his son in Cordova during his absence; and, having discovered the nature
of his designs to Father J. Perez de Marchena, it pleased God that the
father guardian prevailed on him to postpone his journey. Associating with
himself Garcia Hernandez a physician, Perez and he conferred with Columbus
on the matter; and Hernandez being a philosopher, was much pleased at the
proposed discovery. Whereupon Father John Perez, who was known to the
queen as having sometimes heard her confession, wrote to her majesty on
the subject, and received orders to repair to court, then at the new city
of Santa Fe before Granada, and to leave Columbus at Palos, with some hope
of being successful. When John Perez had discoursed with the queen, she
ordered 20,000 _maravedies_[3] to be carried by James Prieto to Columbus
at Palos, to enable him to return to court.

On his coming back, the prior of Prado, and the others who were joined
with him in commission, were still averse from the undertaking; and
besides, as Columbus demanded high conditions, among which were to have
the titles of admiral and viceroy over all his discoveries, they thought
he required too much in case of success, and that such a grant would seem
dishonourable in case of failure. The treaty was therefore again entirely
broken off, and Columbus resolved to go away to Cordova, in order to
proceed for France, being positive not to go to Portugal on any account.
Alonzo de Quintanilla, and Lewis de Santangel, who was clerk of the green
cloth to the crown of Arragon, were much concerned that this enterprize
should be laid aside, and at their request, and that of John Perez, Don
Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza heard what Columbus had to say on the subject,
with which he was well pleased, valuing him as a man of worth. But the
adverse party still objected that Columbus ventured nothing of his own on
this discovery, requiring to be made admiral of a fleet by their Catholic
majesties, while it would be no loss to him even if the enterprize should
fail. To this he answered, that he would be at an eighth part of the
expence, provided he were entitled to a proportional share in the profits.
Yet nothing was concluded; whereupon Columbus left the city of Santa Fe in
January 1492, in great perplexity, on his way for Cordova. That same day,
Lewis de Santangel represented to the queen, that he was astonished she,
who had ever shewn much genius for great undertakings, should here fail
where so much might be gained, and so very little could be put to hazard;
and, should the enterprise be undertaken by any other prince, as Columbus
affirmed it would, her majesty might easily see how great an injury this
would prove to her crown, especially as Columbus seemed a person of worth,
and required no reward but what he should find, venturing even his own
person, and part of the charges. He farther urged that the thing was by no
means of an impracticable nature, as represented by the cosmographers, nor
ought the attempt to be considered as indiscreet, even if it should not
succeed. Besides, that Columbus only demanded a million of maravedies[4]
to fit himself out for the expedition; and he therefore earnestly
entreated that so small a sum might not obstruct so great an enterprize.
At the same time, the queen was much importuned by Alonzo de Quintanilla,
who had great credit with her majesty; she thanked them for their advice,
and said she would willingly embrace it, when she had a little recovered
from the expence of the war; or, if they thought it necessary to proceed
immediately, she was willing to have the money raised by pawning some of
her jewels. Quintanilla and Santangel kissed her hand, and expressed their
thanks that her majesty had been pleased to listen to their advice, after
the matter had been refused by the counsel of so many others; and
Santangel offered to lend the sum required out of his own money. All this
being settled, an alguazil or messenger was dispatched after Columbus,
with orders from the queen for his return. The messenger overtook him at
the bridge of Pinos, two leagues from Granada; and, though much concerned
to have been so much slighted, he returned to the city of Santa Fe, where
he was well received, and the secretary, John Coloma, was ordered to
prepare the contract and instructions, after he had spent eight years,
with much vexation and uneasiness, in soliciting to have his project

[1] We have here omitted two sections of very uninteresting cosmographical
observations on the antipodes, the torrid zone, the climate of the
Western hemisphere, and the peopling of America.--E.

[2] The author or translator has here committed a material arithmetical
error; as 180 degrees, multiplied by 17-1/2, only produce 3150

[3] This sum does not much exceed ten pounds of our present money; yet in
these days was thought a gift worthy of a queen.--Churchill.

The value of money must then have been much greater than now, perhaps
ten times; in which case this supply may have been equal to about 22
hundred guineas in effective value.--E.

[4] This is little above L.520 of our money, according to the present

Probably equal in effective value to L.5200 in the present time.--E.


_Conditions granted to Columbus by the Crown of Castile, and an Account of
his first Voyage, in which he discovered the New World._

Columbus and the Secretary Coloma conferred together upon the conditions,
which he had demanded from the beginning, and they at length agreed to the
following articles, which were signed on the 17th April 1492.

1. Their Catholic majesties, as sovereigns of the ocean, do from this time
constitute Don Christopher Columbus their admiral, throughout all those
islands or continents, that by his means shall be discovered and conquered
in the said ocean, for the term of his life, and after his death to his
heirs and successors for ever, with all the immunities and prerogatives
belonging to the said office, in the same manner as they have been enjoyed
by their admiral, Don Alonso Enriquez, and his predecessors, within their

2. Their highnesses do constitute and appoint the said D. C. Columbus
their viceroy and governor-general of all the islands or continents, which,
as has been said, he shall discover and conquer in the said seas; and that
he shall nominate three persons for the government of each of them, of
whom their highnesses shall choose one.

3. Their highnesses grant to the said D. C. Columbus, the tenth part of
all commodities whatsoever, whether pearls, precious stones, gold, silver,
spice, or any other, bought, bartered, found, taken, or otherwise had,
within the limits of the said admiralty, the charges being first deducted;
so that he shall take to himself the said tenth part, to use, enjoy, and
dispose of at his pleasure.

4. In case any controversies shall arise on account of the commodities he
may bring from the said islands or countries, so conquered or discovered
as aforesaid, or on account of those here taken of other merchants in
exchange for these, in the place where the said trade shall be settled; if
it shall belong of right to the admiral to try such causes, he shall be
allowed to do so by himself or deputy, as was allowed to the admiral Don
Alonso Enriquez, and his predecessors, within their districts.

5. It shall be lawful for the said D. C. Columbus, whenever any ships are
fitted out for the aforesaid trade, to contribute the eighth part of the
cargo, and accordingly to receive the eighth part of all the produce in

These articles were signed in the city of Santa Fe, in the plain of
Granada; with which, and with the before-mentioned sum of money, he
departed from that place on the 12th of May, and leaving his sons at
school in Cordova, he went himself to the port of Palos, in order to
expedite the preparations for his voyage, very few of the persons at court
believing that he would perform what he had promised. Their Catholic
majesties having strictly enjoined him not to touch at Guinea, nor to come
within an hundred leagues of the Portuguese conquests, gave him letters
patent to all kings and princes in the world, requiring them to receive,
honour, and relieve him as their admiral. He chose Palos, as a place where
there were many experienced seamen, and because he had friends among them;
as also for the sake of John Perez de Marchena, who greatly assisted him
in this affair, by disposing the minds of the seamen to accompany him, as
they were very unwilling to venture upon an unknown voyage. He had orders
for the town of Palos to furnish him with two caravels, with which that
place was obliged to serve the crown during three months of every year. He
fitted out a third vessel as admiral, which he called the _St Mary_. The
second was named the _Pinta_, commanded by Martin Alonso Pinzon, having
his brother, Francis Martinez Pinzon as master or pilot; and the third,
_La Vinna_, which had latine or triangular sails, was commanded by Vincent
Yanez Pinzon, who was both captain and pilot. This person advanced half a
million of maravedies, for the eighth part of the charges of the
expedition[1], the family of the Pinzons being of the first rank in Palos,
very wealthy, and excellent sailors; the common mariners, through their
example and influence, became willing to engage in the voyage, which at
first they were much averse from.

The vessels being ready for sea, were supplied with provisions for one
year, and took on board a complement of ninety men, most of whom were
inhabitants of Palos, except some friends of Columbus, and a few servants
of the court. They set sail half an hour before sun-rise on the 3d of
August 1492, going over the bar of the river Saltes, on which Palos is
situated, and directing their course for the Canaries; the whole crews of
all the three vessels, after the example of Columbus, having previously
made confession of their sins, and partaken of the holy sacrament. On the
very next day, the rudder of the caravel Pinta, which Martin Alonso Pinzon
commanded, broke loose; which was suspected to have happened by the
contrivance of Gomez Rascon and Christopher Quintero, her owners, and
serving as seamen on board, because they went on the voyage against their
inclination, and had endeavoured to throw obstacles in its way before
setting out. This obliged the Pinto to lie to, and the admiral made up to
the caravel, though he could not give any aid, on purpose to encourage the
men. Martin Alonso Pinzon being an experienced seaman, soon fastened the
rudder in such a manner with ropes as enabled her to continue the voyage:
But on the Tuesday following, it broke loose again through the violence of
the waves, and the whole of the small squadron was forced to lie to. This
early misfortune might have discouraged a superstitious person, more
especially considering the refractory conduct of M.A. Pinzon afterwards.
The rudder was again made fast as well as they could; and, continuing
their voyage, they discovered the Canaries about day-break of the 11th of
August. After endeavouring for two days to reach Gran Canaria, and always
baffled by contrary winds, Martin Alonso was left with orders to proceed
to land as soon as he could, to endeavour to procure another ship, and the
admiral went with the other two to Gomera with the same view. Not finding
any vessel for his purpose, he returned to Gran Canaria, where he got a
new rudder for the Pinta, and had her sails changed from latine or
triangular, into square, that she might labour less, and be able more
safely to keep up with the others. Leaving Gran Canaria on the afternoon
of the 1st September, he returned to Gomera, where he took in a supply of
flesh, and wood and water, with great haste in the course of four days; as
he had heard of some Portuguese caravels cruising in those parts to
intercept him, the king of Portugal being much concerned to learn that
Columbus had agreed with their Catholic majesties, by which he had missed
the opportunity of aggrandizing his own crown.

On Thursday the 6th of September, Columbus took his final departure from
Gomera, standing to the westwards in quest of his proposed discovery, and
made but little way for want of wind: Yet they lost sight of land next day,
when many bewailed their state with sighs and tears, believing they were
never more to see land; but Columbus did all in his power to raise their
hopes, by the promise of success, and of acquiring wealth. That day they
ran eighteen leagues, while the admiral gave out they had only advanced
fifteen; thinking it prudent to reckon the voyage short, on purpose to
lessen the apprehensions of the seamen. On the 11th of September, being
150 leagues to the westwards of Ferro, they saw a mast floating on the sea,
that seemed to have been drifted by the current, which a little farther on,

Book of the day: