CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, 1436-1506, III
Second Voyage: Flotilla of seventeen vessels—Island of Ferro—Dominica—Marie-Galante—Guadaloupe—The Cannibals—Montserrat—Santa-Maria-la-Rodonda—St. Martin and Santa Cruz—Archipelago of the Eleven Thousand Virgins—The island of St. John Baptist, or Porto Rico—Hispaniola—The first Colonists massacred—Foundation of the town of Isabella—Twelve ships laden with treasure sent to Spain—Fort St. Thomas built in the Province of Cibao—Don Diego, Columbus' brother, named Governor of the Island—Jamaica—The Coast of Cuba—The Remora—Return to Isabella—The Cacique made prisoner—Revolt of the Natives—Famine—Columbus traduced in Spain—Juan Aguado sent as Commissary to Isabella—Gold-mines—Departure of Columbus—His arrival at Cadiz.
The narrative of the adventures of the great Genoese navigator had over-excited the minds of the hearers. Imagination already caught glimpses of golden continents situated beyond the seas. All the passions which are engendered by cupidity were seething in the people's hearts. The admiral, under pressure of public opinion, must set forth again with the most brief delay. He was himself also, eager to return to the theatre of his conquests, and to yet enrich the maps of the day with more new discoveries. He declared himself, therefore, ready to start.
The king and queen placed at his disposal a flotilla composed of three large ships and fourteen caravels. Twelve hundred men were to sail in them. Several Castilian nobles, with firm faith in the lucky star of Columbus, decided to try their fortune with him beyond seas. In the holds of the vessels were horses, cattle, instruments of all kinds for collecting and purifying gold, grain of various kinds; in a word, everything that might be needful in the establishing an important colony. Of the ten natives brought to Europe, five returned to their country, three, who were ill, remained behind in Europe, the other two were dead. Columbus was named captain-general of the squadron, with unlimited powers.
On the 25th of September, 1493, the seventeen ships left Cadiz, with all sails set, amidst the acclamations of an immense crowd of people and on the 1st of October, they cast anchor at the island of Ferro, the most westerly of the Canary group. On sailing again, the fleet was favoured by wind and sea, and after twenty-three days of navigation came in sight of new land. At sunrise on the 3rd of November, being the Sunday in the octave of All Saints, the pilot of the flag-ship, the Marie-Galante, cried out, "Good news, there is land." This land proved to be an island covered with trees; the admiral, thinking it uninhabited, did not stop; but, after passing several scattered islets, he arrived before a second island. The first he named Dominica, the second Marie-Galante, names which they retain to the present day. The next day a still larger island was in sight, and, says the narrative of this voyage given by Peter Martyr, the contemporary of Columbus, "When they were arrived, they saw it was the island of the infamous cannibals, or Caribbees, of whom they had only heard a rumour during the first voyage."
The Spaniards, well armed, landed upon the shore, where they found about thirty circular houses built of wood and covered with palm leaves. In the interior of the huts were suspended hammocks made of cotton. In the centre of the village were placed two trees or posts around which were entwined the dead bodies of two serpents. At the approach of the strangers the natives fled in haste, leaving behind them several prisoners whom they were preparing to devour. The sailors searched the houses, and found both leg and arm bones, heads so newly cut off that the blood was still moist, and other human remains, which left no doubt as to the food consumed by these Caribbees. This island, which, with its principal rivers, the admiral caused to be partially explored, was named Guadaloupe, on account of the resemblance it bore to one of the Spanish provinces. Some Indian women were carried off by the sailors, but, after having been kindly treated on board the admiral's ship, they were sent back to land, Columbus hoping that this conduct towards the females would induce the men of the place to come on board, but in this he was disappointed.
|The sailors find some recently-severed heads.|
On the 8th of November the signal for departure was given, and the whole fleet sailed for Hispaniola, the present San Domingo, and the island upon which Columbus had left thirty-nine of the companions of his first voyage. In turning again towards the north, a large island was discovered, to which the natives who had been kept on board after having been saved from the jaws of the Caribbees, gave the name of Mandanino. They declared that it was inhabited only by women, and as Marco Polo had mentioned an Asiatic country which possessed an exclusively feminine population, Columbus was confirmed in the idea that he was sailing upon the coast of Asia. He felt a great desire to explore this island, but the contrary winds completely prevented his doing so. Thirty miles from thence an island was seen surrounded by high mountains; it received the name of Montserrat; on the next day another, which was called Santa-Maria la Rodonda; and on the day following two more islands, St. Martin and Santa Cruz.