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 Columbus Reaches the New World ( part4)

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مُساهمةموضوع: Columbus Reaches the New World ( part4)   الثلاثاء أغسطس 11, 2009 6:32 am

Columbus
Reaches the New World



That night, the ever memorable night of Thursday, opening into
the morning of Friday, the 12th of October, not a soul slept on any
vessel. The sea was calm and a good breeze filled the sails, moving
the ships along at twelve miles an hour; they were on the eve of an
event such as the world had never seen, could never see again. The
musical rippling of the waves and the creaking of the cordage were
all the sounds that were audible, for the birds had retired to rest.
The hours passed slowly by. It was just past midnight when the
admiral, with restless eye, sought to penetrate the darkness. Then a
far off light came to his vision. Calling Guiterrez, a court
officer, he also saw it. At two in the morning a gun from the Pinta,
which led the other boats, gave notice that land was at last found.
A New World had indeed been discovered. The hopes of years had
attained their fruition. It was Rodrigo de Triana, a seaman, who
first saw land. He received neither promised doublet nor pension.
Friday, the 12th of October, 1492, corresponding to the 21st of
October, 1492, of the present calendar, was the ever memorable day.




The first sight of the
new world -
Columbus discovering America



The morning light came, and, lifting the veil that had concealed
the supreme object of their hopes, revealed a low, beautiful island,
not fifty miles long, and scarcely two leagues away. Columbus gave
the signal to cast anchor and lower the boats, the men to carry
arms. Dressed in a rich costume of scarlet, and bearing the royal
standard, upon which was painted the image of the crucified Christ,
he took the lead, followed by the other captains, Pinzon and Yanez.
Columbus was the first to land; and as soon as he touched the shore
he fell down upon his knees and fervently kissed the blessed ground
" three times, returning thanks to God for the great favor bestowed
upon him. The others followed his example; and then, recognizing the
Providence which had crowned his efforts with success, he gave the
name of the Redeemer San Salvador to the discovered island, which
was called by the natives " Guanahani." * And now the crews, who but
a few days previously had reviled and cursed Columbus, gathered
around, asking pardon for their conduct and promising complete
submission in future.


* It is simply impossible
to say which one of that long stretch of islands, some 3000
in number, extending from the coast of Florida to Haiti, as
if forming a breakwater for the island of Cuba, Guanahani
is. Opinion greatly varies. San Salvador, or Cat Island, was
in early favor Humboldt and Irving the latter having the
problem worked out for him by Captain A. S. Mackenzie, U. S.
N. favored that view. The objections are that it is not "a
small island " as Columbus called it, and it does not answer
to the description of having "a vast lake in the middle" as
Columbus says of Guanahani in his
journal. Navette advocates
the Grand Turk Island which has the lake. Watling's Island
was first advocated by Munoz and accepted by Captain
Beecher, R. N., in 1856, and Oscar Perchel in 1858. Major,
of the British Museum, has taken up with Watling's Island,
as did Lieutenant J. B. Murdoch, U. S. N., after a careful
examination in 1884. This view is accepted by C. A. Schott
of the U. S. Coast Survey. On the other hand, Captain G. V.
Fox, U. S. N., in 1880, put forth an elaborate claim for
Samana, based upon a very careful examination of the route
as given in Columbus's journal. This claim, with careful
consideration of other conditions, has been very carefully
examined by Mr. Charles H. Rockwell, an astronomer, of
Tarrytown, N. Y. Mr. Rockwell assents to Captain Fox's view,
which he finds confirmed by the course Columbus took in
bringing his ship to land. He also traverses Captain
Beecher's claim for Watling's Island, which he finds to be
inconsistent with Columbus's narrative. As we have said, the
problem is beset with difficulties, both as relates to the
sailing course, and the extent and topography of the island
; and at the present time it appears to be well nigh
insoluble. Where the external conditions are met, the
internal conditions, including the large lake, seem wanting
; the difficulties in the case seem to be irresistible.

Columbus supposed at last he had reached the opulent land of the
Indies, and so called the natives Indians. But it was an island, not
a continent or an Asiatic empire, he had found; an island very large
and level, clad with the freshest trees, with much water in it, a
vast lake in the middle, and no mountains."





Columbus
Landing in the New World



The natives dwelling on the island were found to be a well
proportioned people with fine bodies, simple in their habits and
customs, friendly, though shy in manner, and they were perfectly
naked. They thought the huge ships to be monsters risen from the sea
or gods come down from heaven. Presents were exchanged with them,
including gold bracelets worn by the natives. Inquiry was made as to
where the gold came from. For answer the natives pointed by gestures
to the southwest. Columbus tried to induce some of the natives to go
with him and show where the land of gold was to be found. But this
they refused to do; so on the next day (Sunday, the 14th), taking
along by force seven natives, that he might instruct them in Spanish
and make interpreters of them, he set sail to discover, if possible,
where gold was to be had in such abundance, and which, he thought,
must be Cipango. He was, of course, in the midst of the Bahama
group, and did not have to sail far to discover an island. On the
15th he discovered the island Conception. On the third day he
repeated the forms of landing and took possession, as he did also on
the 16th, when he discovered an island which he called Fernandina,
known to be the island at present called Exuma. On the 19th another
island was discovered, which Columbus named Isabella, and which he
declared to be " the most beautiful of all the islands " he had
seen. The breezes brought odors as spicy as those from Araby the
Blest; palm trees waved their fringed banners to the wind, and
flocks of parrots obscured the sky. It was a land where every
prospect pleased.
But no it was not a land of gold. Leaving Isabella after a five
days' sojourn, on Friday, the 26th of October, he entered the mouth
of a beautiful river on the northeast terminus of the island of
Cuba, where sky and sea seem to conspire to produce endless halcyon
days, for the air was a continual balm and the sea bathes the
grasses, which grow to the water's edge, whose tendrils and roots
are undisturbed by the sweep of the tides. Upon the delights that
came to Columbus in this new found paradise we cannot dwell;
admiration and rapture mingled with the sensations that swept over
the soul of the great navigator as he contemplated the virgin charms
of a new world won by his valor.
But the survey of succeeding events must be rapid. From the 28th
of October till November 12th Columbus explored the island, skirting
the shore in a westerly direction. He discovered during that time
tobacco, of which he thought little, but which, singularly enough,
proved more productive to the Spanish Crown than the gold which he
sought but did not find.
On the 20th of November Columbus was deserted by Martin Pinzon,
whose ship, the Pinta, could outsail all the others. Martin would
find gold for himself. This was a kind of treachery which too often
marred the story of Spanish exploration in the New World.
For two weeks after the Pinta's desertion Columbus skirted slowly
along the coast of Cuba eastwardly till he doubled the cape. Had he
only kept on what was now a westerly course he would have discovered
Mexico. But it was not to be. Before sailing he lured on board six
men, seven women, and three children, a proceeding which nothing can
justify. Taking a southwesterly course, on Wednesday, December 5th,
Columbus discovered Haiti and San Domingo, which he called
Hispaniola, or Little Spain. The next day he discovered the island
Tortuga, and at once returned to Haiti, exploring the island; there,
owing to disobedience of orders, on Christmas morning, between
midnight and dawn, the Santa Maria was wrecked upon a sand bank,
near the present site of Port au Paix. A sorry Christmas for
Columbus, indeed !
The situation was now critical. The Pinta, with her mutinous
commander and crew, was gone; the Santa Maria was a wreck. But one
little vessel remained, the little, undecked Nina. Suppose she
should be lost, too? how would Spain ever know of his grand
discoveries? Two things were necessary: he must at once set out on
his return voyage, and some men must be left behind. The first thing
he did was to build, on a bay now known as Caracola, a fort, using
the timbers of the wrecked Santa Maria. In this he placed thirty
nine men. Nature would surely give them all the shelter and
provisions they needed.
COLUMBUS RETURNS
TO SPAIN.



It was not until Friday, January 4, 1493, that the weather was
sufficiently favorable so that Columbus could hoist sail and stand
out of the harbor of the Villa de Navidad, as he named the fort,
because of his shipwreck, which occurred on the day of the Nativity.
Two days later the ship Pinta was encountered. Pinzon on the first
opportunity boarded the Nina, and endeavored, but unsuccessfully, to
explain his desertion and satisfy the admiral. The two vessels put
into a harbor on the island of Cuba for repairs, and continued to
sail along the coast, now and then making a harbor. On Wednesday,
the 16th day of January, 1493, they bade farewell to the Queen of
the Antilles, and then the prows of the Nina and the Pinta, the
latter the slower sailer because of an unsound mast, were turned
toward Spain, 1450 leagues away.
It is not possible within the limits of this chapter to follow
Columbus from day to day as he sails a sea now turbulent and
tempestuous, as if to show its other side, in marked contrast to the
soft airs and smooth waters that had greeted the voyagers when their
purpose held "To sail beyond the sunset and the baths Of all the
western stars."
Nor can we follow with minuteness Columbus in his subsequent
career. He had made the greatest discovery of his or any other age:
he had found the New World, and this, more than anything else, has
to do with "The Story of America."






Columbus
and Indians
from the New World
at the court of
Barcelona



It was on Friday, March 15, 1493, just seven months and twelve
days after leaving Palos, that Columbus dropped anchor near the
island of Saltes. It was not until the middle of April that he
reached Barcelona, where the Spanish Court was sitting. As he
journeyed to Court his procession was a most imposing one as it
thronged the streets, his Indians leading the line, with birds of
brilliant plumage, the skins of unknown animals, strange plants and
ornaments from the persons of the dusky natives shimmering in the
air. When he reached the Alcazar or palace of the Moorish Kings,
where Ferdinand and Isabella were seated on thrones, the sovereigns
rose and received him standing. Then they commanded him to sit, and
learned from him the story of his discovery. Then and there the
sovereigns confirmed all the dignities previously bestowed.
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Columbus Reaches the New World ( part4)
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