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suading them and, in response to his demands, they provided him at the expense of the royal treasury with three ships"; the first having a covered deck, the other two being merchantmen without decks, of the kind called by the Spaniards caravels. When everything was ready Columbus sailed from the coast of Spain, about the calends of September in the year 1492, taking with him about 220 Spaniards.” The Fortunate Isles, or, as the Spaniards call them, the Canaries, were long since discovered in the middle of the ocean. They are distant from Cadiz about three hundred leagues; for, according to the masters of the art of navigation, each marine league is equal to four thousand paces.” In ancient times these islands were called Fortunate, because of the mild temperature they enjoyed. The islanders suffered neither from the heat of summer nor the rigours of winter: some authors consider that the real Fortunate Isles correspond to the archipelago which the Portuguese have named Cape Verde. If they are at present called the Canaries, it is because they are inhabited by men who are naked and have no religion. They lie to the south and are outside European climates. Columbus stopped there to replenish his supply of provisions and
* This statement is not absolutely exact, as the funds came from various sources. Columbus, assisted by the Pinzon brothers of Palos, furnished one eighth of the amount, or the cost of one vessel. Two vessels were supplied by the town of Palos, in response to a royal order; the town owing such service to the crown. The ready money required was advanced by Santangel, receiver of the ecclesiastical revenues of Aragon.
* From Palos on August 3d, 1492. The inscription on the floor of Seville Cathedral reads: con tres galeras y 90 personas. It follows that Peter Martyr's figures are exaggerated, for only Oviedo amongst early authorities exceeds the number ninety, and he numbers the united crews at I2O men.
• According to the computations of Columbus, four miles were equal to one marine league; the Italian mile, assumed to have been used by him, was equal to 1842 English feet. Fifty-six and two-thirds miles were equal to a degree.
water, and to rest his crew before starting on the difficult
* Maciot de Bethencourt. Consult Bergeron, Histoire de la première découverte et conquéte des fles Canaries; Pascal d'Avezac, Notice des découvertes . . . dans l'océan Atlantique, etc., Paris, 1845; Viera y Clavigo, Historia général de las islas de Canaria, 1773; also the works of Major, Barker-Webb, Sabin Berthelot, and Bory de St. Vincent.
soon, openly, desiring to get rid of their leader, whom they even planned to throw into the sea. They considered that they had been deceived by this Genoese, who was leading them to some place from whence they could never return. After the thirtieth day they angrily demanded that he should turn back and go no farther; Columbus, by using gentle words, holding out promises and flattering their hopes, sought to gain time, and he succeeded in calming their fears; finally also reminding them that if they refused him their obedience or attempted violence against him, they would be accused of treason by their sovereigns. To their great joy, the much-desired land was finally discovered." During this first voyage Columbus visited six islands, two of which were of extraordinary magnitude; one of these he named Hispaniola, and the other Juana,” though he was not positive that the latter was an island. While sailing along the coasts of these islands, in the month of November, the Spaniards heard nightingales singing in the dense forests, and they discovered great rivers of fresh water, and natural harbours sufficient for the largest fleets. Columbus reconnoitred the coast of Juana in a straight line towards the north-west for no less than eight hundred thousand paces or eighty leagues, which led him to believe that it was a continent, since as far as the eye could reach, no signs of any limits to the island were perceptible. He decided to return," also because of the tumultuous sea, for the coast of Juana towards the north is very broken, and at that winter season, the north winds were dangerous to his ships. Laying his course eastwards, he held towards an island which he believed to be the island of Ophir; examination of the maps, however, shows that it was the Antilles and neighbouring islands. He named this island Hispaniola. Having decided to land, Columbus put in towards shore, when the largest of his ships struck a concealed rock and was wrecked. Fortunately the reef stood high in the water, which saved the crew from drowning; the other two boats quickly approached, and all the sailors were taken safely on board. It was at this place that the Spaniards, on landing, first beheld the islanders. Upon seeing strangers approaching, the natives collected and fled into the depths of the forests like timid hares pursued by hounds. The Spaniards followed them, but only succeeded in capturing one woman, whom they took on board their ships, where they gave her plenty of food and wine and clothes (for both sexes lived absolutely naked and in a state of nature); afterwards this woman, who knew where the fugitives were concealed, returned to her people, to whom she showed her ornaments, praising the liberality of the Spaniards; upon which they all returned to the coast, convinced that the newcomers were descended from heaven. They swam out to the ships, bringing gold, of which they had a small quantity, which they exchanged gladly for trifles of glass or pottery. For a needle, a bell, a fragment of mirror, or any such thing, they gladly gave in exchange whatever gold was asked of them, or all that they had about them. As soon as more intimate relations were established and the Spaniards came to understand the local customs, they gathered by signs and by conjectures that the islanders were governed by kings. When they landed from their ships they were received with great honour by these kings and by all the natives, making every demonstration of homage of which they were capable. At sunset, the hour of the Angelus, the Spaniards knelt according to Christian custom, and their example was immediately followed by the natives. The latter likewise adored the Cross as they saw the Christians doing." These people also brought off the men from the wrecked ship, as well as all it contained, transporting everything in barques which they called canoes. They did this with as much alacrity and joy as though they were saving their own relatives; and certainly amongst ourselves greater charity could not have been displayed. Their canoes are constructed out of single tree-trunks, which they dig out with tools of sharpened stone. They are very long and narrow, and are made of a single piece of wood. It is alleged that some have been seen capable of carrying eighty rowers. It has been nowhere discovered that iron is used by the natives of Hispaniola. Their houses are most ingeniously constructed, and all the objects they manufacture for their own use excited the admiration of the Spaniards. It is positive that they make their tools out of very hard stones found in the streams, and which they polish. The Spaniards learned that there were other islands not far distant, inhabited by fierce peoples who live on human flesh; this explained why the natives of Hispaniola fled so promptly on their arrival. They told the Spaniards * The first report Columbus made to the Catholic sovereigns was most flattering to the American aborigines. Certifico a vuestras altezas que en el mundo creo que no hay mejor gente ni mejor tierra: ellos aman a sus projimos como a simismo. Like most generalisations, these were found, upon closer
* Land was discovered on the morning of October 12th, Julian calendar. Efforts to identify the island on which Columbus first landed have been numerous. The natives called it Guanahani and Columbus named it San Salvador. Muñoz believed it to be the present Watling's Island; Humboldt and Washington Irving thought Cat Island more likely, while Navarrete identified it as Grand Turk. Captain G. V. Fox, U.S. N., published in Appendix 18 to the Report for 1880, the conclusions he had reached after exhaustive examinations conducted in the Bahamas, with which islands and their seas long service had made him familiar. He selected Samana or Atwood Cay as the first land discovered.
• In honour of the Infante Don Juan, heir to the Castilian crown. I; has, however, always borne its native name of Cuba.
* But for this infelicitous change in his course, Columbus must have discovered the coast of Mexico.