Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

lated with their commander, mingled threats with their expoftulations, and required him inftantly to tack about and to return to Europe. Columbus perceived that it would be of no avail to have recourse to any of his former arts, which having been tried fo often , had loft their efe fect; and that it was impossible to rekindle any zeal for the success of the expedition among men, in whose breaft fear had extinguished every generous sentiment.

Ditress of Columbus. He saw that it was no less vain to think of employing either gentle or severe measures, to quell a mutiny so general and fo violent. It was neceffary, on all these accounts, to foothe passions which he could no longer command and to give way to a torrent too impetuous to be checked. He promised folemnly to his men that he would comply with their request, provided they would accompany him, and obey his commands for three days longer, and if, during that time, land were not discovered, he would then abandon the enterprise, and direct his course towards Spain r).

Encouraging appearances of success. Enraged as the sailors were, and impatient to turn their faces again towards their native country, this proposition did not appear to thern

ty Oviedo , Hin. ap. Ramus. vol. iii. p. 81. E.

[ocr errors]

unreasonable. Nor did Columbus hazard much in confining himself to a term fo short. The presages of discovering land were now so numerous and promising , that he deemed them infallible. For some days the founding line reached the bottom, and the soil which it brought up indicated land to be at no great distance. The flocks of birds increased, and were composed not only of sea fowl, but of such land birds as could not be supposed to fly far from the shore. The crew of the Pinta observed a cane floating, which seemed to have been newly cut, and likewise a piece of timber artificially carved. The sailors aboard the Nigna took up the branch of a tree with red berries, perfectly fresh. The clouds around the setting fun assumed a new appearance ; the air was more mild and warm, and, during night, the wind became unequal and variable. From all these symptoms, Columbus was so confident of being near land, that on the evening of the eleventh of October, after public prayers for success, he ordered the fails to be furled, and the ships to lie by, keeping strict watch , left they should be driven ashore in the night. Du. ring this interval of suspence and expectation, no man fhut his eyes, all kept upon deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land, which had been fa long the object of their wishes.

If wish, which has they

Land discovered.

About two hours before midnight, Colum. bus standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez, a page of the queen's ward. robe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo , comptroller of the fleet, all three saw it in motion as if it were carried from pla, ce to place. A little after midnight, the joya ful sound of land , land , was heard from the Pinta, which kept always ahead of the other ships. But, having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances , every man was now become flow of belief, and waited, in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience, for the return of day.

Friday 0A. 12. As soon as morning dawned, all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an island was seen about two leagues to the north, whose flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented the aspect of a deligthful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began Te Deum, as a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other fhips, with tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to Heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They

of a delitu berada, and

threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of self-condemnation mingled with reverence. They implored him to pardon their ignorance, incredulity; and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obftructed the profecution of his well - concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man, whom they had fo lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired by Heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design, fo far beyond the ideas and conception of all former ages.

First interview with the natives.

As soon as the sun arose, all their boats were manned and armed. They rowed towards the island with their colours displayed, with warlike music, and other martial pomp. As they approached the coast, they saw it covered with a multitude of people, whom the novelty of the spectacle had drawn together, whose attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themfelves to their view. Columbus was the first European who set foot in the New World which he had discovered. He landed in a rich dress, and with a naked sword in his hand. His men followed, and kneeling down, they all kissed the ground which they

them,ext eren

[ocr errors]

ks to

had so long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix, and proftratting themselves before id, returned thanks to God for conducting their voyage to such an happy issue. They then took folemn poffeffion of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the formalities which the Portuguese were accustomed to observe in acts of this kind, in their new discoveries s). .

Their mutual astonishment. The Spaniards, while thus employed, were surrounded by many of the natives, who gazet, in silent admiration, upon actions which they could not comprehend, and of which they y did not foresee the consequences. The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness of their skins, their beards, their arms, appeared strange and surprising. The vast machines in which they had traversed the ocean, that seemed to move upon the waters with wings, and uttered a dreadful sound resembling thunder, accompa-, nied with lightning and smoke, struck them with such terror, that they began to respect their new guests as a superior order of beigns, and concluded that they were children of the Sun, who had descended to visit the earth...

The Europeans were hardly less amazed at the scene now before them. Every herb, and shrub, and tree, was different from those which

s) Life of Columbus, 6.22. 23. Herrera , dec, s. lib. 1. c. 13.

« ElőzőTovább »