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vessels were called caravels, that is, ships without decks; and the whole fleet, which carried but one hundred and twenty men, put to sea from Palos, on Fri. day the third day of August, 1492.
On the next morning the rudder of the Pinta breaking loose, they made it fast in the best manner they were able with cords, till they had an opportunity effectually to repair it. Several of the seamen began to consider this as an ill omen; but the admiral told them that " no omen could be evil to those whose designs were good.”
They arrived at the Canaries on the eleventh of August, where they remained, refreshing themselves, till the sixth of September; when they weighed anchor, and proceeded on their voyage, for fear of the Portuguese, who had fitted out three caravels to attack them.
On the seventh they lost sight of land, and with it all their courage, bitterly bemoaning their fate, as that of wretches destined to certain destruction. Columbus comforted these cowards in the best manner he was able; setting before them the certain prospect of wealth and happiness, as the reward of their labors ; and that they might not think themselves so far from home, as they really were, he resolved, during the whole voyage, to deceive them in the reckoning; and having this day sailed eighteen leagues, he pretended they had made no more than fifteen.
On the fourteenth of September, they took notice of the variation of the compass, and the people on board the Nina saw a heron, and some tropic birds, and the next day the sea was covered with yellow and green weeds, among whicli they saw a live lobster; and as they advanced they found the sea-water less salt, from which circumstances they imagined they were near land.
Alonzo Pinzon, who had been ahead, lay by for the captain on the eighteenth, acquainting him that he had seen a large number of birds flying westward, and imagined he saw land fifteen leagues to the north ; but Columbus, having no doubt but he was mistaken, would not alter his course, though most earnestly solicited to do by the sailors.
On the r.ineteenth, the sight of a great number of sea-gulls, which it was imagined could not fly far, began to give the admiral himself some hopes of seeing land speedily; but on sounding with a line of two hundred fathoms, no bottom could be found. They now saw abundance of weeds, and three days afterward took a bird like a heron, web-footed, of a dark color, with a white tuft on the head; and in the evening, saw three small singing-birds, which flew away at break of day.
They now encountered such a quantity of weeds, that they were apprehensive the ships would not long be able to make their way. Till this time the wind had been always right astern; but now shifting to the southwest, gave the admiral an opportunity of exposing the groundless fears of the sailors, who had imagined they should never have a fair wind to carry them back; but notwithstanding all he could say to them, they loudly complained of the danger they were in of perishing at sea, and a mutiny would, in all probability, have been the consequence of their clamors, but for a strong gale, which sprung up at westnorthwest, and convinced them that there was no danger of their having no opportunity to return.
Several flights of small birds, which they observed coming from the west, and a pigeon, which flew over the ship, gave them fresh hopes of making land; but when they found themselves disappointed, their mortification was the greater, and their complaints increased.
They censured the admiral as a person, who, from an idle ambition of aggran dizing himself, and his own family, had led them into dangers and difficulties, in search of a country which nowhere existed; they said they had given suffis
cient proofs of their courage, by venturing so far from home, and began to entertain serious thoughts of compelling Columbus to return. In a word, so great were their fears, that some of them were for throwing the admiral overboard, and asserting, on their return to Spain, that he fell into the sea, as he was gazing at the stars.
Columbus was not insensible of the spirit of mutiny, by which they were actuated, and exerted himself, partly by representing their duty to the king, partly by threats of punishment in case of disobedience, and partly by promises of the reward of their perseverance; so that the enterprise received no detriment from their ill-grounded fears and apprehensions.
The men were, however, extremely anxious and disconsolate, till on the twenty-fifth of September, about sunsetting, while Columbus was talking to Vincent Yanez Pinzon, he cried, “ Land! Land! Let me not lose the reward for this good news !” and immediately pointed toward the southwest, where there was something which looked like an island, at the distance of twenty-five leagues.
This, which was afterward looked on as a contrivance between Columbus and Pinzon, so animated the men, that they returned thanks to God with the utmost fervency, and the admiral, at the earnest entreaty of the crew, steered toward the supposed island most part of the night; but in the morning no island was to be seen, and the men were as loud in their complaints as ever.
Columbus continued on his course with the utmost resolution ; and on the twenty-ninth they saw many flying fishes, some of which fell into the ship They also saw a gull, several wagtails, and other birds, and were encompassed with so great a quantity of weeds, that the men thought they were near lazienda and in danger of running aground.
On the thirtieth they also saw many wagtails, and observed that the weeds lay in a line from west-northwest, to east-southeast.
At break of day, on the first of October, a wagtail came on board the admiral, and that day the pilot told the admiral, that they were five handred and seventyeight leagues west of the island of Ferro; but by Columbus's account they were seven hundred and seven ; but he took no notice of the error, because he would not discourage the sailors.
On the second they killed a tunny fish, and some birds; but seeing no birds on the third day, they feared they had missed some islands, and the men begged the admiral to steer either to the right or left; but regardless of their entreaties, he resolved to keep right on his course, that the credit of his undertaking might not suffer by an idle compliance with their demands.
Hereupon the men began to mutiny, and would probably have taken some desperate measures, had not the flight of upward of forty sparrows, and other birds, from the west, again given them hopes that they were near land. Some signs of land appeared to the westward on the seventh of October, but the weather being hazy, no one would venture to cry land.
An annuity of ten thousand marvadies, or thirty crowns, for life, had been offered by their catholic majesties to the person who should first discover land; but if any one cried out land, and it did not prove to be so, he was to be exclu'ded from the reward, even though he should afterward discover it. But the people of the Nina, which was generally ahead, fired a gun, and hoisted colors, concluding it was certainly land ; but as they sailed farther they were soon undeceived.
Next day they saw many birds, both large and small, among which were some land-fowl, flying from the west to the southwest, and Columbus, thinking they could not fly far, imitated the Portuguese, who, by following such flights of birds, had discovered several islands; he therefore changed his course, and stood for the west ; and having already sailed seven hundred and twenty leagues to the westward of the Canaries, imagined he should soon find land ; and he had often told the sailors to expect it at that distance.
They saw twelve singing-birds, and many ducks, gulls, and jays, on the eighth of October; and on the eleventh, when all the admiral's skill and address would have been insufficient to withstand much longer the mutinous disposition of the crew, he was comforted with indubitable proofs of their being near land; for on this day they saw a green rush, and a large rock-fish swim near the admiral's ship; and those on board the Pinta took up a staff most curiously wrought, and saw a cane floating, and a number of weeds fresh torn from the shore.
On the evening of this day the admiral represented to his rnen, how merciful God had been to them, in conducting them safe so long a voyage; and said, that since the tokens he now saw were proofs they were near land, he would have them watch all night, and they would most likely discover it before the morning ; and he promised to give a velvet doublet, as an addition to their majesties' reward, to the person who should make the discovery.
Two hours before midnight, Columbus standing on the poop, saw a light on shore, and called Guitierres, groom of the privy chamber to the king, who also saw it. It appeared like a candle, or other light carried in a person's hand from one house to another.
About two o'clock in the morning land was discovered, at the distance of two leagues, by Roderic de Trians, on board the Pinta, which was considerably ahead; but the reward was afterward paid to Columbus, by order of their catholic majesties, for having first discovered the light. i
The ships now lay too, and the people waited with the utmost anxiety for a sight of that land of which they had been so long in search ; and at the break
of day they had the pleasure to behold an island about fifteen leagues in length; of a flat surface, well covered with wood and watered, with a large lake in the middle of it. It appeared to be full of inhabitants, who waited on the shore, astonished at the sight of the ships, which they took for prodigious sea monsters
The sailors were extremely eager to be on shore; and as soon as the vessels were brought to an anchor, the admiral went on shore, with the royal colors flying, as did the captains, carrying the colors of their enterprise, being a green cross with crowns, and the names of their catholic majesties.
They were no sooner on shore, than they fell on their knees, and kissing the ground, with tears of joy, gave thanks to God for his goodness, when the admiral stood up, and gave the island the name of St. Salvador, which the natives called Guanihani; but it is now known by the name of Cat-island..
Columbus having taken possession of the island, for the king and queen of Spain, the sailors acknowledged his authority, begged pardon for their former behavior, and promised the utmost obedience for the future.
On his return, when near the coast of Portugal, a terrible storm arose, and he found it expedient to anchor off Lisbon, where he was warmly solicited by the king of Portugal to re-enter his service, but this was declined. Columbus again made sail, and in a few days came to anchor in the port of Palos. .
Columbus gave their majesties an account of his voyages and discoveries, showed the Indians as they appeared in their own country, and exhibited all the curiosities he had brought. When he had concluded his account, their majesties knelt down, and with tears in their eyes, returned thanks to God, and immediately the choristers of the chapel sung Te Deum.
The articles heretofore concluded with the admiral were only in form of a contract; but as he had performed what he engaged to do, their majesties now passed grants, making good what they had before promised him.
When his majesty rode through Barcelona, he would make the admiral ride by his side, an honor, till then, peculiar to the princes of the blood. The importance of his discoveries induced their majesties to despatch an ambassador to Pope Alexander VI., requesting his authority for an exclusive title to the countries which had been, or might be discovered; this the pope readily complied with, drawing a line from pole to pole, one hundred leagues westward from the Cape de Verd islands, granting to their majesties all the dominions beyond that part of the globe..:
The son of the poor wool-comber of Genoa was laden with every honor that power could bestow. His patroness, Isabella, received him with open arms, the very courts that had denied him aid now solicited his presence, and at the tables of the noblest he became an honored guest.
Among many others of the grandees of Spain, Pedro Gonzales de Mendoza, the grand cardinal of Spain, invited Columbus to a banquet. He gave him the most honorable place at table, and, notwithstanding, etiquette to its fullest extent was at that time punctiliously observed, he served him with ceremonies which were observed toward sovereigns. It was at that banquet that the anecdote of the egg is said to have occurred, which scene is graphically delineated in our engraving. A courtier who was present, possessing more impudence than wit, and jealous of Columbus because he was a foreigner, and so highly honored by kis master, abruptly asked him whether he thought that in case he had not discovered the Indies, there were not other men who would have been capable of the enterprise ? Columbus, looking with proper contempt upon the fellow, deigned no reply, but taking an egg, invited the company to make it stand upon one end. All attempted it, but in vain, whereupon he struck it upon the table 80 as to break the end, and left it standing upon the broken part. This, in the most simple manner, illustrated the fact, that when he had once shown the way