First voyage: The Great Canary—Gomera—Magnetic variation—Symptoms of revolt—Land, land—San Salvador—Taking possession—Conception—Fernandina or Great Exuma—Isabella, or Long Island—The Mucaras—Cuba—Description of the island—Archipelago of Notre-Dame—Hispaniola or San Domingo—Tortuga Island—The cacique on board the Santa-Maria—The caravel of Columbus goes aground and cannot be floated off—Island of Monte-Christi—Return—Tempest—Arrival in Spain—Homage rendered to Christopher Columbus.

During the first day's voyage, the admiral—the title by which he is usually known in the various accounts of his exploits—bearing directly southwards, sailed forty-five miles before sunset; turning then to the south-east, he steered for the Canaries, in order to repair the Pinta, which had unshipped her rudder, an accident caused perhaps by the ill-will of the steersman, who dreaded the voyage. Ten days later Columbus cast anchor before the Great Canary Island, where the rudder of the caravel was repaired. Nineteen days afterwards he arrived before Gomera, where the inhabitants assured him of the existence of an unknown land in the west of the Archipelago. He did not leave Gomera until the 6th of September. He had received warning that three Portuguese ships awaited him in the open sea, with the intention of barring his passage; however, without taking any heed of this news, he put to sea, cleverly avoided meeting his enemies, and steering directly westward, he lost all sight of land. During the voyage the admiral took care to conceal from his companions the true distance traversed each day; he made it appear less than it really was in the daily abstracts of his observations, that he might not add to the fear already felt by the sailors, by letting them know the real distance which separated them from Europe. Each day he watched the compasses with attention, and it is to him we owe the discovery of the magnetic variation, of which he took account in his calculations. The pilots, however, were much disturbed on seeing the compasses all "north-westers," as they expressed it.

Christopher Columbus on board his caravel
Christopher Columbus on board his caravel.

On the 14th of September the sailors saw a swallow and some tropic-birds. The sight of these birds was an evidence of land being near, for they do not usually fly more than about seventy miles out to sea. The temperature was very mild, the weather magnificent; the wind blew from the east and wafted the caravels in the desired direction. But it was exactly this continuance of east wind which frightened the greater part of the sailors, who saw in this persistence, so favourable for the outward voyage, the promise of a formidable obstacle to their return home. On the 16th of September some tufts of seaweed, still fresh, were seen floating on the waves. But no land was to be seen, and this seaweed might possibly indicate the presence of submarine rocks, and not of the shores of a continent. On the 17th, thirty-five days after the departure of the expedition, floating weeds were frequently seen, and upon one mass of weed was found a live cray-fish, a sure sign this of the proximity of land.

During the following days a large number of birds, such as gannets, sea-swallows, and tropic-birds, flew around the caravels. Columbus turned their presence to account as a means of reassuring his companions, who were beginning to be terribly frightened at not meeting with land after six weeks of sailing. His own confidence never abated, but putting firm trust in God, he often addressed energetic words of comfort to those around him, and made them each evening chant the Salve Regina, or some other hymn to the Virgin. At the words of this heroic man, so noble, so sure of himself, so superior to all human weaknesses, the courage of the sailors revived, and they again went onwards.

We can well imagine how anxiously both officers and men scanned the western horizon towards which they were steering. Each one had a pecuniary motive for wishing to be the first to descry the New Continent, King Ferdinand having promised a reward of 10,000 maravédis, or 400 pounds sterling, to the first discoverer. The latter days of the month of September were enlivened by the presence of numerous large birds, petrels, man-of-war birds, and damiers, flying in couples, a sign that they were not far away from home. So Columbus retained his unshaken conviction that land could not be far off.

On the 1st of October, the admiral announced to his companions that they had made 1272 miles to the west since leaving Ferro; in reality, the distance traversed exceeded 2100 miles, and of this Columbus was quite aware, but persisted in his policy of disguising the truth in this particular. On the 7th of October, the crews were excited by hearing discharges of musketry from the Nina, the commanders of which, the two brothers Pinzon, thought they had descried the land; they soon found, however, that they had been mistaken. Still, on their representing that they had seen some parroquets flying in a south-westerly direction, the admiral consented to change his route so far as to steer some points to the south, a change which had happy consequences in the future, for had they continued to run directly westward, the caravels would have been aground upon the great Bahama Bank, and would probably have been altogether destroyed.

Still the ardently desired land did not appear. Each evening the sun as it went down dipped behind an interminable horizon of water. The crews who had several times been the victims of an optical illusion, now began to murmur against Columbus, "the Genoese, the foreigner," who had enticed them so far away from their country. Some symptoms of mutiny had already shown themselves on board the vessels, when, on the 10th of October, the sailors openly declared that they would go no further. In treating of this part of the voyage, the historians would seem to have drawn somewhat upon their imagination; they narrate scenes of serious import which took place upon the admiral's caravel, the sailors going so far as even to threaten his life. They say also, that the recriminations ended by a kind of arrangement, granting a respite of three days to Columbus, at the end of which time, should land not have been then discovered, the fleet was to set out on its return to Europe. All these statements we may look upon as pure fiction; there is nothing in the accounts given by Columbus himself which lends them the smallest credibility. But it has been needful to touch upon them, for nothing must be omitted relating to the great Genoese Navigator, and some amount of legend mixed up with history does not ill beseem the grand figure of Christopher Columbus. Still, it is an undoubted fact that there was much murmuring on board the caravels, but it would seem that the crews, cheered by the words of the admiral, and by his brave attitude in the midst of uncertainty, did not refuse to do their duty in working the ships.

On the 11th of October, the admiral noticed alongside of his vessel, a reed still green, floating upon the top of a large wave: at the same time the crew of the Pintahoisted on board another reed, a small board, and a little stick, which appeared to have been cut with an instrument of iron; it was evident that human hands had been employed upon these things. Almost at the same moment, the men of the Nina perceived a branch of some thorny tree covered with blossoms. At all this every one rejoiced exceedingly; there could be no doubt now of the proximity of the coast. Night fell over the sea. The Pinta, the best sailor of the three vessels, was leading. Already, Columbus himself, and one Rodrigo Sanchez, comptroller of the expedition, had thought they had seen a light moving amidst the shadows of the horizon, when a sailor named Rodrigo, on board the Pinta, cried out, "Land, land."

What must have been the feelings in the breast of Columbus at that moment?
What must have been the feelings in the breast of Columbus at that moment?

What must have been the feelings in the breast of Columbus at that moment? Never had any man, since the first creation of the human race experienced a similar emotion to that now felt by the great navigator. Perhaps even it is allowable to think that the eye which first saw this New Continent, was indeed that of the admiral himself. But what matters it? The glory of Columbus consisted not in the having arrived, his glory was in the having set out. It was at two o'clock in the morning that the land was first seen, when the caravels were not two hours' sail away from it. At once all the crews deeply moved, joined in singing together the Salve Regina. With the first rays of the sun they saw a little island, six miles to windward of them. It was one of the Bahama group; Columbus named it San Salvador, and immediately falling on his knees, he began to repeat the hymn of Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine: "Te Deum laudamus, Te Deum confitemur."

At this moment, some naked savages appeared upon the newly discovered coast. Columbus had his long boat lowered, and got into it with Alonzo and Yanez Pinzon, the comptroller Rodrigo, the secretary Descovedo, and some others. He landed upon the shore, carrying in his hand the royal banner, whilst the two captains bore between them the green banner of the Cross, upon which were interlaced, the initials of Ferdinand and Isabella. Then the admiral solemnly took possession of the island in the name of the King and Queen of Spain, and caused a record of the act to be drawn up. During this ceremony the natives came round Columbus and his companions. M. Charton gives the account of the scene in the very words of Columbus: "Desiring to inspire them (the natives) with friendship for us, and being persuaded, on seeing them, that they would confide the more readily in us, and be the better disposed towards embracing our Holy Faith, if we used mildness in persuading them, rather than if we had recourse to force, I caused to be given to several amongst them, coloured caps, and also glass beads, which they put around their necks. I added various other articles of small value; they testified great joy, and showed so much gratitude that we marvelled greatly at it. When we were re-embarking, they swam towards us, to offer us parroquets, balls of cotton thread, zagayes (or long darts), and many other things; in exchange we gave them some small glass beads, little bells, and other objects. They gave us all they had, but they appeared to me to be very poor. The men and women both were as naked as when they were born. Amongst those whom we saw, one woman was rather young, and none of the men appeared to be more than thirty years of age. They were well made, their figures handsome, and their faces agreeable. Their hair, coarse as that of a horse's tail, hung down in front as low as their eyebrows, behind it formed a long mass, which they never cut. There are some who paint themselves with a blackish pigment; their natural colour being neither black nor white, but similar to that of the inhabitants of the Canary islands; some paint themselves with white, some with red, or any other colour, either covering the whole body with it, or the whole face, or perhaps only the eyes, or the nose. They do not carry arms like our people, and do not even know what they are. When I showed them some swords, they laid hold of them by the blades, and cut their fingers. They have no iron; their zagayes are sticks, the tip is not of iron, but sometimes made of a fish tooth, or of some other hard substance. They have much grace in their movements. I remarked that several had scars upon their bodies, and I asked them by means of signs, how they had been wounded. They answered in the same manner, that the inhabitants of the neighbouring islands had come to attack them, and make them prisoners, and that they had defended themselves. I thought then and I still think that they must have come from the mainland to make them prisoners for slaves; they would be faithful and gentle servants. They seem to have the power of repeating quickly what they hear. I am persuaded that they might be converted to Christianity without difficulty, for I believe that they belong to no sect."

When Columbus returned on board, several of the savages swam after his boat; the next day, the 13th, they came in crowds around the ships, on board of enormous canoes shaped out of the trunks of trees; they were guided by means of a kind of baker's shovel, and some of the canoes were capable of holding forty men. Several natives wore little plates of gold hanging from their nostrils; they appeared much surprised at the arrival of the strangers, and quite believed that these white men must have fallen from the skies. It was with a mixture of respect and curiosity that they touched the garments of the Spaniards, considering them doubtless, a kind of natural plumage. The scarlet coat of the admiral excited their admiration above everything, and it was evident they looked upon Columbus as a parroquet of a superior species; at once they seemed to recognize him as the chief amongst the strangers.

So Columbus and his followers visited this new island of San Salvador. They were never tired of admiring the beauty of its situation, its magnificent groves, its running streams, and verdant meadows. The fauna of the island offered little variety; parroquets of radiant plumage abounded amongst the trees, but they appeared to be the only species of birds upon the island. San Salvador presented an almost flat plateau of which no mountain broke the uniformity; a small lake occupied the centre of the island. The explorers imagined that San Salvador must contain great mineral riches, since the inhabitants were adorned with ornaments of gold. But was this precious metal derived from the island itself? Upon this point the admiral questioned one of the natives, and succeeded in learning from him by means of signs, that in turning the island and sailing towards the south, the admiral would find a country of which the king possessed great vessels of gold and immense riches. The next morning, at daybreak, Columbus gave orders to have the ships prepared for sea; he set sail, and steered towards the continent of which the natives had spoken, which, as he imagined, could be none other than Cipango.

Here an important observation must be made, showing the state of geographical knowledge at this period: viz. that Columbus now believed himself to have arrived at Asia, Cipango being the name given by Marco Polo to Japan. This error of the admiral, shared in by all his companions, was not rectified for many years afterwards, and thus, as we have already remarked, the great navigator after four successive voyages to the islands, died, without knowing that he had discovered a new world. It is beyond doubt that the sailors of Columbus, and Columbus himself, imagined that they had arrived, during that night of the 12th October, 1492, either at Japan, or China, or the Indies. This is the reason why America so long bore the name of the "Western Indies," and why the aborigines of this continent, in Brazil and in Mexico, as well as in the United States, are still classed under the general appellation of "Indians."

So Columbus dreamt only of reaching the shores of Japan. He coasted along San Salvador, exploring its western side. The natives, running down to the shore, offered him water and cassava bread, made from the root of a plant called the "Yucca." Several times the admiral landed upon the coast at different points, and with a sad want of humanity, he carried away some of the natives, that he might take them with him to Spain. Poor men! already the strangers began to tear them from their country; it would not be long before they began to sell them! At last the caravels lost sight of San Salvador, and were again upon the wide ocean.

Fortune had favoured Columbus in thus guiding him into the centre of one of the most beautiful archipelagos which the world contains. These new lands which he discovered were as a casket of precious stones, which needed only to be opened, and the hands of the discoverer were full of treasures. On the 15th October, at sunset, the flotilla came to anchor near the western point of a second island, at a distance of only fifteen miles from San Salvador; this island was named Conception; on the morrow the admiral landed upon the shore, having his men well armed for fear of surprise; the natives, however, proved to be of the same race as those of San Salvador, and gave a kind welcome to the Spaniards. A south-easterly wind having arisen, Columbus soon put to sea again, and twenty-seven miles further westward, he discovered a third island, which he called Fernandina, but which now goes by the name of the Great Exuma. All night they lay-to, and next day, the 17th October, large native canoes came off to the vessels. The relations with the natives were excellent, the savages peacefully exchanging fruit, and small balls of cotton for glass beads, tambourines, needles, which took their fancy greatly, and some molasses, of which they appeared very fond. These natives of Fernandina wore some clothing, and appeared altogether more civilized than those of San Salvador; they inhabited houses made in the shape of tents and having high chimneys; the interiors of these dwellings were remarkably clean and well kept. The western side of the island, with its deeply indented shore, formed a grand natural harbour, capable of containing a hundred vessels.

But Fernandina did not afford the riches so much coveted by the Spaniards as spoils to take back to Europe; there were no gold-mines here; the natives who were on board the flotilla always spoke, however, of a larger island, situated to the south and called Saometo, in which the precious metal was found. Columbus steered in the direction indicated, and during the night of Friday, the 19th of October, he cast anchor near this Saometo, calling it Isabella; in modern maps it goes by the name of Long Island. According to the natives of San Salvador, there was a powerful king in this island, but the admiral for several days awaited in vain the advent of this great personage; he did not show himself. The island of Isabella was beautiful of aspect, with its clear lakes, and thick forests; the Spaniards were never tired of admiring the new type of nature presented to their view, and of which the intense verdure was wonderful to European eyes. Parroquets in innumerable flocks were flying amongst the thick trees, and great lizards, doubtless iguanas, glided with rapid movements in the high grass. The inhabitants of the island fled at first at the sight of the foreigners, but soon becoming bolder, they trafficked with the Spaniards in the productions of their country.

Still Columbus held firmly to the notion of reaching the shores of Japan. The natives had mentioned to him a large island a little to the west which they called Cuba, and this the admiral supposed must form part of the kingdom of Cipango; he felt little doubt but that he would soon arrive at the town of Quinsay, or Hang-tchoo-foo, formerly the capital of China. With this object, as soon as the winds permitted, the fleet weighed anchor. On Thursday, the 25th of October, seven or eight islands lying in a straight line were sighted, these were probably the Mucaras. Columbus did not stop to visit them, and on the Sunday he came in sight of Cuba. The caravels were moored in a river, to which the Spaniards gave the name of San Salvador; after a short stay, they sailed again towards the west, and entered a harbour situated at the mouth of a large river which was afterwards called the harbour of Las Nuevitas del Principe.

Numerous palm-trees were growing upon the shores of the island, having leaves so broad that only one was required for roofing a native hut. The natives had fled at the approach of the Spaniards, who found upon the shore idols of female form, tame birds, bones of animals, also dumb dogs, and some fishing instruments. The Cuban savages, however, were ready to be enticed like the others, and they consented to barter their goods with the Spaniards. Columbus believed himself to be now on the mainland, and only a few leagues from Hang-tchoo-foo; this idea being so rooted in his mind, that he even busied himself in despatching some presents to the great Khan of China. On the 2nd of November he desired one of the officers of his ship, and a Jew who could speak Hebrew, Chaldee, and Arabic, to set out to seek this native monarch. The ambassadors, carrying with them strings of beads, and having six days given to them for the fulfilment of their mission, started, taking a route leading towards the interior of this so-called continent.

In the meantime, Columbus explored for nearly six miles a splendid river which flowed beneath the shade of woods of odoriferous trees. The inhabitants freely bartered their goods with the Spaniards, and frequently mentioned to them a place named Bohio, where gold and pearls might be obtained in abundance. They added that men lived there who had dogs' heads, and who fed upon human flesh.

The admiral's envoys returned to the port on the 6th of November, after a four days' absence. Two days had sufficed to bring them to a village composed of about fifty huts, where they were received with every mark of respect; the natives kissing their feet and hands, and taking them for deities descended from the skies. Among other details of native customs, they reported that both men and women smoked tobacco by means of a forked pipe, drawing up the smoke through their nostrils. These savages were acquainted with the secret of obtaining fire by rubbing briskly two pieces of wood against each other. Cotton was found in large quantities in the houses, made up into the form of tents, one of these containing as much as 11,000 pounds of the material. As to the grand khan they saw no vestige of him.

Another consequence of the error of Columbus must be noticed here, one which, according to Irving, changed the whole series of his discoveries. He believed himself to be on the coast of Asia, and therefore looked upon Cuba as a portion of that continent. In consequence, he never thought of making the tour of Cuba, but decided on returning towards the east. Now, had he not been deceived on this occasion, and had he continued to follow the same direction as at first, the results of his enterprise would have been greatly modified. He might then have drifted towards Florida at the south-eastern point of North America, or he might have run direct to Mexico. In this latter case, instead of ignorant and savage natives, what would he have found? The inhabitants of the great Aztec Empire, of the half-civilized kingdom of Montezuma. There he would have seen towns, armies, enormous wealth, and his rôle would no doubt have been the same as that afterwards played by Fernando Cortès. But it was not to be thus, and the admiral, persevering in his mistake, directed his flotilla towards the east, weighing anchor on the 12th of November, 1492.

Columbus tacked in and out along the Cuban coast; he saw the two mountains—Cristal and Moa; he explored a harbour to which he gave the name of Puerto del Principe, and an archipelago which he called the Sea of Nuestra Señora. Each night the fishermen's fires were seen upon the numerous islands, the inhabitants of which lived upon spiders and huge worms. Several times the Spaniards landed upon different points of the coast, and there planted the cross as a sign of taking possession of the country. The natives often spoke to the admiral about a certain island of Babeque, where gold abounded, and thither Columbus resolved to go, but Martin-Alonzo Pinzon, the captain of the Pinta, the best sailer of the three ships, was beforehand with him, and at day-break on the 21st of November, he had completely disappeared from sight. The admiral was very angry at this separation, his feelings on the subject appearing plainly in his narrative, where he says, "Pinzon has said and done to me many like things." Continuing his exploration of the coast of Cuba, Columbus discovered the Bay of Moa, the Point of Mangle, Point Vaez, and the harbour of Barracoa, but nowhere did he meet with cannibals, although the huts of the natives were often to be seen adorned with human skulls, a sight which appeared to give great satisfaction to the islanders on board the fleet. On the following days, they saw the Boma River, and the caravels, doubling the point of Los Azules, found themselves upon the eastern part of the island, whose coast they had now reconnoitred for a distance of 375 miles. But Columbus instead of continuing his route to the south turned off to the east, and on the 5th of December perceived a large island, called by the natives Bohio. This was Hayti, or San Domingo.

In the evening, the Nina by the admiral's orders, entered a harbour which was named Port Mary; it is situated at the north-western extremity of the island, and, with the cape near which it lies, is now called St. Nicholas. The next day the Spaniards discovered a number of headlands, and an islet, called Tortuga Island. Everywhere on the appearance of the ships, the Indian canoes took to flight. The island, along which they were now coasting, appeared very large and very high, from which latter peculiarity it gained, later on, its name of Hayti, which signifies High Land. The coast was explored by the Spaniards as far as Mosquito Bay; its natural features, its plains and hills, its plants and the birds which fluttered amongst the beautiful trees of the island, all recalled to the memory the landscapes of Castille, and for this reason Columbus named it Hispaniola, or Spanish Island. The inhabitants were extremely timid and distrustful; they fled away into the interior and no communication could be held with them. Some sailors, however, succeeded in capturing a young woman, whom they carried on board with them. She was young and rather pretty. The admiral gave her, besides rings and beads, some clothing, of which she had great need, and after most generous treatment, he sent her back to shore.

This good conduct had the result of taming the natives, and the next day, when nine of the sailors, well armed, ventured as far as sixteen miles inland, they were received with respect, the savages running to them in crowds, and offering them everything which their country produced. The sailors returned to the ships enchanted with their excursion. The interior of the island they had found rich in cotton plants, mastic-trees and aloes, while a fine river, named afterwards the Three Rivers, flowed gently along its limpid course. On December 15th, Columbus again set sail, and was carried by the wind towards Tortuga Island, upon which he saw a navigable stream of water, and a valley so beautiful that he called it the Vale of Paradise. The day following, having tacked into a deep gulf, an Indian was seen who, notwithstanding the violence of the wind, was skilfully manoeuvring a light canoe. This Indian was invited to come on board, was loaded with presents by the admiral, and then put on shore again, at one of the harbours of Hispaniola, now called the Puerto de Paz. This kindness tended to attach the natives to the admiral, and from that day they came in numbers round the caravels; their king came with them, a strong, vigorous, and somewhat stout young man of twenty years of age; he was naked, like his subjects of both sexes, who showed him much respect, but with no appearance of servility. Columbus ordered royal honours to be rendered to him, and in return, the king, or rather cacique, informed the admiral that the provinces to the east abounded in gold.

Columbus named it the Vale of Paradise
Columbus named it the Vale of Paradise.

Next day another cacique arrived, offering to place all the treasures of his country at the service of the Spaniards. He was present at a fête in honour of the Virgin Mary, that Columbus caused to be celebrated with great pomp on board his vessel, which was gaily dressed with flags on the occasion. The cacique dined at the admiral's table, apparently enjoying the repast; after he had himself tasted of the different viands and beverages, he sent the dishes and goblets to the members of his suite; he had good manners, spoke little, but showed great politeness. After the feast, he gave the admiral some thin leaves of gold, while Columbus, on his side, presented him with some coins, upon which were engraved the portraits of Ferdinand and Isabella, and after explaining to him by signs that these were the representations of the most powerful sovereigns in the world, he caused the royal banners of Castille to be displayed before the savage prince. When night fell, the cacique retired, highly delighted with his visit; and on his departure he was saluted with a salvo of artillery. On the day following, the crews before quitting this hospitable coast, set up a large cross in the middle of the little town. In issuing from the gulf formed by Tortuga Island and Hispaniola, they discovered several harbours, capes, bays, and rivers; at the point of Limbé, a small island which Columbus named St. Thomas, and finally, an enormous harbour safe and sheltered, hidden between the island and the Bay of Acul, and to which access was given by a canal surrounded by high mountains covered with trees.

The admiral often disembarked upon this coast, the natives receiving him as an ambassador from heaven, and imploring him to remain among them. Columbus gave them quantities of little bells, brass rings, glass beads, and other toys, which they eagerly accepted. A cacique named Guacanagari, reigning over the province of Marien, sent to the admiral a belt adorned with the figure of an animal with large ears, of which the nose and tongue were made of beaten gold. Gold appeared to be abundant in the island, and the natives soon brought a considerable quantity of it to the strangers. The inhabitants of this part of Hispaniola seemed to be superior in intelligence and appearance to those of that portion of the island which had been first visited; in the opinion of Columbus, the paint, red, black, or white, with which the natives covered their bodies, served to protect them from sunstroke. The huts of these savages were pretty and well built. Upon Columbus questioning them as to the country which produced gold, they always indicated one towards the east, a country which they called Cibao, and which the admiral continued to identify with Cipango or Japan.

On Christmas Day a serious accident occurred to the admiral's caravel, the first damage sustained in this hitherto prosperous voyage. An inexperienced steersman was at the helm of the Santa-Maria during an excursion outside the Gulf of St. Thomas; night came on, and he allowed the vessel to be caught in some currents which threw her upon the rocks; the caravel grounded and her rudder stuck fast. The admiral, awakened by the shock, ran upon deck; he ordered an anchor to be fastened forward, by which the ship might warp herself off and so float again. The master and some of the sailors charged with the execution of this order, jumped into the long boat, but seized with a sudden panic, they rowed away in haste to the Nina. Meantime the tide fell, and the Santa-Maria ran further aground; it became necessary to cut away the masts to lighten her, and soon it was evident that everything on board must be removed to the other ship. The cacique Guacanagari, quite understanding the dangerous situation of the caravel, came with his brothers and other relations, accompanied by a great number of the Indians, and helped in unlading the ship. Thanks to this prince, not a single article of the cargo was stolen, and during the whole night armed natives kept watch around the stores of provisions.

The next day Guacanagari went on board the Nina, to console the admiral, and to place all his own possessions at his disposal, at the same time offering him a repast of bread, doe's flesh, fish, roots, and fruit. Columbus, much moved by these tokens of friendship, formed the design of founding an establishment on this island. With this purpose in view, he addressed himself to gain the hearts of the Indians by presents and kindness, and wishing also to give them an adequate notion of his power, he ordered the discharge of an arquebuse and a small cannon, of which the reports frightened the poor savages terribly. On December 26th, the Spaniards commenced the construction of a fort upon this part of the coast, the intention of the admiral being to leave there a certain number of men, with a year's provision of bread, wine, and seed, and to give them the long boat belonging to the Santa-Maria. The works at the fort were pushed forward with rapidity. It was also on the 26th that they received news of the Pinta, which had been separated from the flotilla since November 21st. The natives announced that she was at anchor in a river at the extreme point of the island, but a canoe despatched by Guacanagari returned without having found her. Then Columbus, not wishing to continue his explorations under the present conditions, since the loss of the Santa-Maria, which could not be floated again, left him but one caravel, decided to return to Spain, and preparations for the departure began.

On the 2nd of January Columbus caused his soldiers to act a mimic battle, greatly to the admiration of the cacique and his subjects. Afterwards the admiral chose out thirty-nine men to form the garrison of the fortress during his absence, naming Rodrigo de Escovedo as their commander. The greater part of the cargo of the Santa-Maria was to be left behind with them, for their year's provision. Amongst these first colonists of the New World were included a writer, an alguazil, a cooper, a doctor, and a tailor. These Spaniards were charged with the mission of seeking for gold-mines, and of choosing a suitable site for the building of a town. On the 3rd of January, after solemn leave-takings of the cacique and the new colonists, the Nina weighed anchor and sailed out of the harbour. An island was soon discovered, having upon it a very high mountain; to this was given the name of Monte-Christi. Columbus had already sailed for two days along the coast, when he was aware of the approach of thePinta, and very soon her captain, Martin Alonzo Pinzon, came on board the Nina, endeavouring to excuse his conduct. The real truth was that Pinzon had taken the lead with the view of being the first to reach the pretended island of Babeque, of which the riches had been described in glowing colours by the natives. The admiral was very ready to accept the bad reasons given him by Captain Pinzon, and learnt from him that the Pinta had done nothing but coast along the shores of Hispaniola, without discovering any new island.

On the 7th of January the ships lay to, to stop a leak which had sprung in the hold of the Nina. Columbus profited by this delay to explore a wide river, situated about three miles from Monte-Christi, and which carried so much gold-dust along with it, that he gave it the name of the Golden River. The admiral would have desired to visit this part of Hispaniola with greater care, but the crews were in haste to return home, and under the influence of the brothers Pinzon, began to murmur against his authority.

On the 9th of January the caravels set sail and steered towards the east-south-east, skirting the coast, and distinguishing by names even its smallest sinuosities; of such were point Isabella, the cape of La Roca, French Cape, Cape Cabron, and the Bay of Samana, situated at the eastern extremity of the island, where was a port, in which the fleet, being becalmed, came to anchor. At first the relations between the foreigners and the natives were excellent, but a change was suddenly perceived, the savages ceasing to barter, and making some hostile demonstrations, which left no doubt of the bad intentions entertained by them. On the 13th of January the savages made a sudden and unexpected attack upon the Spaniards, who, however, put a bold face on the matter, and by the aid of their weapons, put their enemies to flight after a few minutes' combat. Thus, for the first time, the blood of the Indian flowed beneath the hand of the European.

On the morrow Columbus again set sail, having on board four young natives, whom, notwithstanding their objections, he persisted in carrying off with him. His crews, embittered and fatigued, caused him great uneasiness, and in his narrative of the voyage, this great man, superior though he were to all human weaknesses, and a being whom adverse fate could not humble, bemoans himself bitterly over this trial. It was on the 16th of January that the homeward voyage commenced in good earnest, and Cape Samana, the extreme point of Hispaniola, disappeared below the horizon. The passage proved a quick one, and no incident is recorded until the 12th of February, when the vessels encountered a fearful storm lasting three days, with furious wind, enormous waves, and much lightning from the north-north-east. Three times did the terrified sailors make a vow of pilgrimage to St. Mary of Guadalupe, to our Lady of Loretto, and to St. Clara of Moguer, and at length, in extremity of fear, the whole crew swore to go and pray in their shirts and with naked feet in some church dedicated to the Virgin. But in spite of all, the storm raged with redoubled fury, and even the admiral feared for the result. In case of a catastrophe, he thought it well hastily to write upon a parchment an abstract of his discoveries, with a request that who ever should find the document would forward it to the King of Spain; wrapping the parchment in oil-cloth, he enclosed it in a wooden barrel, which was thrown into the sea.

At sunrise on the 15th of February the hurricane abated, the two caravels which had been separated by the storm again joined company, and after three days they cast anchor at the island of St. Mary, one of the Azores; as soon as they arrived there, the admiral sought to further the accomplishment of the vows made during the storm, and with this object, sent half of his people on shore; but these were unhappily made prisoners by the Portuguese, who did not restore them to liberty for five days, notwithstanding the urgent remonstrances made by Columbus. The admiral put to sea again on the 23rd of February; again the winds were contrary, and again, amidst a violent tempest, he took fresh vows in company with all his crew, promising to fast on the first Saturday which should follow their arrival in Spain. At last, on the 4th of March, the pilots sighted the mouth of the Tagus, in which the Nina took refuge, whilst the Pinta, caught by the wind, was carried away into the Bay of Biscay.

The Portuguese welcomed the admiral kindly, the king even admitting him to an audience. Columbus was in haste to return to Spain; as soon as the weather permitted, the Nina again set sail, and at mid-day on the 15th of March, she cast anchor in the port of Palos, after seven months and a half of navigation, during which Columbus had discovered the islands of San Salvador, Conception, Great Exuma, Long Island, the Mucaras, Cuba, and San Domingo.

The court of Ferdinand and Isabella was then at Barcelona, whither the admiral was summoned. He set out immediately, taking with him the Indians whom he had brought from the New World. The enthusiasm he excited was extreme; from all parts the people ran to look at him as he passed, rendering him royal honours. His entry into Barcelona was magnificent. The king and queen, with the grandees of Spain, received him with great pomp at the palace of the Deputation. He there gave an account of his wonderful voyage, and presented the specimens of gold which he had brought with him; then all the assembly knelt down and chanted the Te Deum. Christopher Columbus was afterwards ennobled by letters patent, and the king granted him a coat of arms bearing this device: "To Castille and Leon, Columbus gives a New World." The fame of the Genoese navigator rang through the whole of Europe; the Indians whom he had brought with him were baptized in presence of the whole court; and thus, the man of genius, so long poor and unknown, had now risen to the highest point of celebrity.