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 AND NOW FOR THE NEW WORLD.( part3)

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مُساهمةموضوع: AND NOW FOR THE NEW WORLD.( part3)   الثلاثاء أغسطس 11, 2009 6:29 am

AND NOW FOR THE
NEW WORLD.



It was early morning on the 6th of September that Columbus again
set sail, steering due west, on an unknown sea. He need fear no
hostile fleets, and he was beyond the hindrance of plotting enemies
on shore; and yet so far from escaping trouble it seemed as if he
had but plunged into deeper tribulations and trials than ever.
As the last trace of land faded from view the hearts of the crews
failed them. They were going they knew not where; would they ever
return? Tears and loud lamentings followed, and Columbus and his
officers had all they could do to calm the men. After leaving the
Canaries the winds were light and baffling, but always from the
East. On the 11th of September, when about 450 miles west of Ferro,
they saw part of a mast floating by, which, from its size, appeared
to have belonged to a vessel of about 120 tons burden. To the crew
this meant the story of wreck; why not prophetic of their own? The
discovery only added to their fears. And now a remarkable and
unprecedented phenomenon presented itself. On the 13th of September,
at night fall, Columbus, for the first time in all his experience,
discovered that the needle did not point to the North star, but
varied about half a point, or five and a half degrees to the
northwest. As he gave the matter close attention Columbus found the
variation to increase with every day's advance. This discovery, at
first kept secret, was early noticed by the pilots, and soon the
news spread among the crews, exciting their alarm. If the compass
was to lose its virtues, what was to become of them on a trackless
sea? Columbus invented a theory which was ingenious but failed
wholly to allay the terror. He told them that the needle pointed to
an exact point, but that the star Polaris revolved, and described a
circle around the pole. Polaris does revolve around a given point,
but its apparent motion is slow, while the needle does not point to
a definite fixed point. The true explanation of the needle
variations sometimes it fluctuates thirty or forty degrees is to be
found in the flowing of the electrical currents through the earth in
different directions, upon which the sun seems to have an effect.
Columbus took observations of the sun every day, with an
Astrolabe, and shrewdly kept two logs every day (SEE
COLUMBUS JOURNAL). One of these,
prepared in secret, contained the true record of the daily advance;
the other, showing smaller progress, was for the crew, by which
means they were kept in ignorance of the great distance they were
from Spain.
INDICATIONS OF LAND.



On the 14th of September the voyagers discovered a water wagtail
and a heron hovering about the ships, signs which were taken as
indicating the nearness of land, and which greatly rejoiced the
sailors. On the night of the 15th a meteor fell within five lengths
of the Santa Maria. On the 16th the ships entered the region of the
trade winds; with this propitious breeze, directly aft, the three
vessels sailed gently but quickly over a tranquil sea, so that for
many days not a sail was shifted. This balmy weather Columbus
constantly refers to in his diary, and observes that "the air was so
mild that it wanted but the song of nightingales to make it like the
month of April in Andalusia." On the 18th of September the sea, as
Columbus tells us, was "as calm as the Guadalquiver at Seville." Air
and sea alike continued to furnish evidences of life and indications
of land, and Pinzon, on the Pinta, which, being the fastest sailer,
generally kept the lead, assured the admiral that indications
pointed to land the following day. On the 19th, soundings were taken
and no bottom found at two hundred fathoms. On the 20th, several
birds visited the ships; they were small song birds, showing they
could not have come a very long distance; all of which furnished
cause for encouragement.
But still discontent was growing. Gradually the minds of the men
were becoming diseased through terror, even the calmness of the
weather increasing their fears, for with such light winds, and from
the east, too, how were they ever to get back? However, as if to
allay their feelings, the wind soon shifted to the southwest.
A little after sunset on the 25th, Columbus and his officers were
examining their charts and discussing the probable location of the
island Cipango,* which the admiral had placed on his map, when from
the deck of the Pinta arose the cry of " Land ! Land ! " At once
Columbus fell on his knees and gave thanks to Heaven. Martin Alonzo
and his crew of the Pinta broke out into the Gloria in Excelsis," in
which the crew of the Santa Maria joined, while the men of the Nina
scrambled up to the masthead and declared that they, too, saw land.
At once Columbus ordered the course of the vessels to be changed
toward the supposed land. In impatience the men waited for the dawn,
and when the morning appeared, lo ! the insubstantial pageant had
faded, the cloud vision, for such it was, had vanished into thin
air. The disappointment was as keen as the enthusiasm had been
intense; silently they obeyed the admiral's order, and turned the
prows of their vessels to the west again.


* Cipango was an
imaginative island based upon the incorrect cosmography of
Toscanelli, whose map was accepted in Columbus's time as the
most nearly correct chart of any extant. The Ptolemaic
theory of 20,400 geographical miles as the Equatorial girth
was accepted by Columbus, which lessened his degrees of
latitude and shortened the distance he would have to sail to
reach Asia. The island Cipango was supposed to be over 1000
miles long, running north and south, and the distance placed
at 52 degrees instead of the 230 degrees which actually
separates the coast of Spain from the eastern coast of Asia.
The island was placed in about the latitude of the Gulf of
Mexico.

A week passed, marked by further variations of the needle and
flights of birds. The first day of October dawned with such amber
weather as is common on the Atlantic coast in the month of "mists
and yellow fruitfulness." The pilot on Columbus's ship announced
sorrowfully that they were then 520 leagues, or 1560 miles, from
Ferro. He and the crew were little aware that they had accomplished
707 leagues, or nearly 2200 miles. And Columbus had a strong
incentive for this deception; for, had he not often told them that
the length of his voyage would be 700 leagues? and had they known
that this distance had already been made, what might they not have
done! On the 7th of October the Nina gave the signal for land, but
instead of land, as they advanced the vision melted and their hopes
were again dissipated.
The ship had now made 750 leagues and no land appeared. Possibly
he had made a mistake in his latitude; and so it was that, observing
birds flying to the southward, Columbus changed his course and
followed the birds, recalling, as he says in his
journal, that by
following the flight of birds going to their nesting and feeding
grounds the Portuguese had been so successful in their discoveries.
On Monday, the 8th, the sea was calm, with fish sporting everywhere
in great abundance; flocks of birds and wild ducks passed by.
Tuesday and Wednesday there was a continual passage of birds. On the
evening of this day, while the vessels were sailing close together,
mutiny suddenly broke out. The men could trust to signs no longer.
With cursing and imprecation they declared they would not run on to
destruction, and insisted upon returning to Spain. Then Columbus
showed the stuff he was made of. He and they, he said, were there to
obey the commands of their Sovereigns; they must find the Indies.
With unruffled calmness he ordered the voyage continued.
On Thursday, the 11th, the spirit of mutiny gave way to a very
different feeling, for the signs of the nearness of land multiplied
rapidly. They saw a green fish known to feed on the rocks, then a
branch with berries on it, evidently recently separated from a tree,
floated by them, and above all, a rudely carved staff was seen. Once
more gloom and mutiny gave way to sanguine expectation. All the
indications pointing to land in the evening, the ships stood to the
west, and Columbus, assembling his men, addressed them. He thought
land might be made that night, and enjoined that a vigilant lookout
be kept, and ordered a double watch set. He promised a silken
doublet, in addition to the pension guaranteed by the Crown, to the
one first seeing land.
الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة اذهب الى الأسفل
معاينة صفحة البيانات الشخصي للعضو
 
AND NOW FOR THE NEW WORLD.( part3)
الرجوع الى أعلى الصفحة 
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