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Wilson, T / Peter Parley's Tales About America and Australia
E-text prepared by Robert Cicconetti, Janet Blenkinship, and the Project
Online Distributed Proofreading Team () from
images generously made available by the University of Florida and the
Internet Archive/Children's Library

Note: Project also has an HTML version of this
file which includes the original illustrations.
See 16891-h.htm or 16891-h.zip:

Images of the original pages are available through the Florida
Board of Education, Division of Colleges and Universities,
PALMM Project, 2001. (Preservation and Access for American and
British Children's Literature, 1850-1869.) See




A New Edition,

Brought Down to the Present Time.

Revised by The Rev. T. Wilson.

With Illustrations by S. Williams.

Darton and Hodge, Holborn Hill.























Now that I have given you an account of European cities in my "Tales
about Europe," I shall now furnish you with some description of America,
with its flourishing cities, and its multitude of ships, its fertile
fields, its mighty rivers, its vast forests, and its millions of happy
and industrious inhabitants, of which I am quite certain you must be
very curious to know something, when you are told that though the world
has been created nearly six thousand years, and many powerful nations
have flourished and decayed, and are now scarcely remembered, yet it is
only three hundred and seventy years ago since it was known that such a
country as America existed.

It was in the year 1492, which you know is only 370 years since, on the
third of August, a little before sunrise, that Christopher Columbus,
undertaking the boldest enterprise that human genius ever conceived, or
human talent and fortitude ever accomplished, set sail from Spain, for
the discovery of the Western World.

I will now give you a short account of Columbus, who was one of the
greatest men the world ever produced. He was born in the city of Genoa,
in Italy; his family were almost all sailors, and he was brought up for
a sailor also, and after being taught geography and various other things
necessary for a sea captain to know, he was sent on board ship at the
age of fourteen. Columbus was tall, muscular, and of a commanding
aspect; his hair, light in youth, turned prematurely grey, and ere he
reached the age of thirty was white as snow.

His first voyages were short ones, but after several years, desiring to
see and learn more of distant countries, and thinking there were still
new ones to be discovered, he went into the service of the King of
Portugal and made many voyages to the western coast of Africa, and to
the Canaries, and the Madeiras, and the Azores, islands lying off that
coast, which were then the most westerly lands known to Europeans.

In his visits to these parts, one person informed him that his ship,
sailing out farther to the west than usual, had picked up out of the sea
a piece of wood curiously carved, and that very thick canes, like those
which travellers had found in India, had been seen floating on the
waves; also that great trees, torn up by the roots, had often been cast
on shore, and once two dead bodies of men, with strange features,
neither like Europeans nor Africans, were driven on the coast of the

All these stories set Columbus thinking and considering that these
strange things had come drifting over the sea from the west, he looked
upon them as tokens sent from some unknown countries lying far distant
in that quarter: he was therefore eager to sail away and explore, but as
he had not money enough himself to fit out ships and hire sailors, he
determined to go and try to persuade some king or some state to be at
the expense of the trial.

First he went to his own countrymen the Genoese, but they would have
nothing to say to him: he then submitted his plan to the Portuguese, but
the King of Portugal, pretending to listen to him, got from him his
plan, and perfidiously attempted to rob him of the honour of
accomplishing it, by sending another person to pursue the same track
which he had proposed.

The person they so basely employed did not succeed, but returned to
Lisbon, execrating a plan he had not abilities to execute.

On discovering this treachery, Columbus quitted the kingdom in disgust
and set out for Spain, to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. He was now
so poor that he was frequently obliged to beg as he went along.

About half a league from Palos, a sea-port of Andalusia in Spain, on a
solitary height, overlooking the sea-coast, and surrounded by a forest
of pines, there stood, and now stands at the present day, an ancient
convent of Franciscan friars.


A stranger, travelling on foot, accompanied by a young boy, stopped one
day at the gate of the convent, and asked of the porter a little bread
and water for his child.--That stranger was Columbus, accompanied by his
son Diego.

While receiving this humble refreshment, the guardian of the convent,
Friar Juan Perez, happening to pass, was taken with the appearance of
the stranger, and being an intelligent man and acquainted with
geographical science, he became interested with the conversation of
Columbus, and was so struck with the grandeur of his project that he
detained him as his guest and invited a friend of his, Martin Alonzo
Pinzon, a resident of the town of Palos, to come and hear Columbus
explain his plan.

Pinzon was one of the most intelligent sea captains of the day, and a
distinguished navigator. He not only approved of his project, but
offered to engage in it, and to assist him.

Juan Perez now advised Columbus to repair to court. Pinzon generously
furnished him with the money for the journey, and the friar kindly took
charge of his youthful son Diego, to maintain and educate him in the
convent, which I am sure you will think was the greatest kindness he
could have done him at that time.

Ferdinand and Isabella gave him hopes and promises, then they made
difficulties and objections, and would do nothing. At last, after
waiting five years, he was just setting off for England, where he had
previously sent his brother Bartholomew, when he was induced to wait a
little longer in Spain.

This little longer was two years, but then at last he had his reward,
for queen Isabella stood his friend, and even offered to part with her
own jewels in order to raise money to enable him to make preparations
for the voyage, so that he contrived to fit out three very small vessels
which altogether carried but one hundred and twenty men.

Two of the vessels were light _barques_, or barges built high at the
prow and stern, with forecastles and cabins for the crew, but were
without deck in the centre; only one of the three, the Santa Maria, was
completely decked; on board of this, Columbus hoisted his flag. Martin
Alonzo Pinzon commanded the Pinta, and his brother, Vincente Yanez
Pinzon, the Nina. He set sail in the sight of a vast crowd, all praying
for the success, but never expecting and scarcely hoping to see either
him or any of his crews again.

Columbus first made sail for the Canaries, where he repaired his
vessels: then taking leave of these islands, he steered his course due
west, across the great Atlantic ocean, where never ship had ploughed the
waves before.

No sooner had they lost sight of land than the sailors' hearts began to
fail them, and they bewailed themselves like men condemned to die: but
Columbus cheered them with the hopes of the rich countries they were to

After awhile they came within those regions where the trade-wind, as it
is called, blows constantly from east to west without changing, which
carried them on at a vast rate; but he judiciously concealed from his
ignorant and timid crews the progress he made, lest they might be
alarmed at the speed with which they were receding from home. After
some time, they found the sea covered with weeds, as thick as a meadow
with grass, and the sailors fancied that they should soon be stuck
fast,--that they had reached the end of the navigable ocean, and that
some strange thing would befal them.

Still, however, Columbus cheered them on, and the sight of a flock of
birds encouraged them: but when they had been three weeks at sea and no
land appeared, they grew desperate with fear, and plotted among
themselves to force their commander to turn back again, lest all their
provisions should be spent, or, if he refused, to throw him overboard.

Columbus, however, made them a speech which had such an effect upon them
that they became tolerably quiet for a week longer; they then grew so
violent again that at last he was obliged to promise them that if they
did not see land in three days, he would consent to give it up and sail
home again.

But he was now almost sure that land was not far off: the sea grew
shallower, and early every morning flocks of land birds began to flutter
around them, and these all left the ship in the evening, as if to roost
on shore. One of the vessels had picked up a cane newly cut, and another
a branch covered with fresh red berries; and the air blew softer and
warmer, and the wind began to vary.

That very night, Columbus ordered the sails to be taken in, and strict
watch to be kept, in all the ships, for fear of running aground; he and
all his men remained standing on the deck, looking out eagerly: at
length he spied a distant light; he showed it to two of his officers,
and they all plainly perceived it moving, as if carried backwards and
forwards, from house to house.

Soon after the cry of "_Land! land!_" was heard from the foremost ship,
and, at dawn of day, they plainly saw a beautiful island, green and
woody, and watered with many pleasant streams, lying stretched before

As soon as the sun rose, the boats of the vessel were lowered and
manned, and Columbus, in a rich and splendid dress of scarlet, entered
the principal one. They then rowed towards the island, with their
colours displayed, and warlike music, and other martial pomp.


Columbus was the first to leap on shore, to kiss the earth, and to thank
God on his knees: his men followed, and throwing themselves at his feet
they all thanked him for leading them thither, and begged his
forgiveness for their disrespectful and unruly behaviour.



The poor inhabitants, a simple and innocent people, with copper-coloured
skins and long black hair, not curled, like the negroes, but floating on
their shoulders, or bound in tresses round their heads, came flocking
down to the beach and stood gazing in silent admiration.

The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness of their skins, their beards,
their arms, and the vast machines that seemed to move upon the waters
with wings, which they supposed had, during the night, risen out of the
sea, or come down from the clouds; the sound and flash of the guns,
which they mistook for thunder and lightning: all these things appeared
to them strange and surprising; they considered the Spaniards as
children of the sun, and paid homage to them as gods.

The Europeans were hardly less amazed at the scene now before them.
Every herb, and shrub, and tree, differed from those which flourished in
Europe: the inhabitants appeared in the simple innocence of nature,
entirely naked; their features were singular, but not disagreeable, and
their manners gentle and timid.


The first act of Columbus was to take solemn and formal possession of
the country in the name of his sovereign; this was done by planting the
Spanish flag on the coast, and other ceremonies, which the poor natives
looked upon with wonder, but could not understand.

Nor could there be an act of greater cruelty and injustice; for the
Spaniards could not have any right to drive these gentle and peaceful
inhabitants (as they afterwards did) from their peaceful abodes, which
had been theirs and their fathers before them, perhaps for thousands of
years, and in the end, utterly to destroy them, and take their land for

After performing this ceremony, of which Columbus himself could not
foresee the consequences to the Indians, for he was very kind to them,
he made them presents of trinkets and other trifles, with which they
were greatly delighted, and brought him in return the fruits of their
fields and groves, and a sort of bread called cassada, made from the
root of the yuca; with whatever else their own simple mode of life might

Columbus then returned to his ship, accompanied by many of the
islanders in their boats, which they called canoes; these simple and
undiscerning children of nature having no foresight of the calamities
and desolation which awaited their country.

This island was called by the natives Guanahini, and by the Spaniards
St. Salvador: it is one of that cluster of West India Islands called the
Bahamas, and if you look on the map you will see that it is the very
first island that would present itself to a ship sailing direct from

Columbus did not continue his voyage for some days, as he wished to give
all his sailors an opportunity of landing and seeing the wonders of the
new-discovered world, and to take in a fresh supply of water, in which
they were cheerfully assisted by the natives, who took them to the
clearest springs and the sweetest and freshest streams, filling their
casks and rolling them to the boats, and seeking in every way to gratify
(as they believed) their celestial visitors.

Columbus having thus refreshed his crews, and supplied his ships with
water, proceeded on his voyage. After visiting several smaller islands
he discovered a large island which the natives called Cuba, and which
still retains that name. This was so large an island that he at first
thought it to be a new continent.

In proceeding along the coast, having observed that most of the people
whom he had seen wore small plates of gold by way of ornament in their
noses, he eagerly inquired, by signs, where they got that precious

The Indians, as much astonished at his eagerness in quest of gold as the
Europeans were at their ignorance and simplicity, pointed towards the
east, to an island which they called Hayti, in which this metal was more

Columbus ordered his squadron to bend their course thither, but Martin
Alonzo Pinzon, impatient to be the first who should take possession of
the treasure which this country was supposed to contain, quitted his
companions with his ship, the Pinta, and though Columbus made signals
to slacken sail, he paid no regard to them.

When they came in sight of Hayti, which you will see was no great
distance, if you look on the map, Columbus having had no sleep the night
before, had gone to his cabin to lie down and rest himself, having first
given the charge of the vessel to an experienced sailor.

This careless man, (this lazy lubber, the sailors would call him,)
instead of performing his duty, and watching over the safety of the ship
and the lives of his companions, which were entrusted to him, deserted
his post and went to sleep, leaving the vessel to the management of a
young and thoughtless boy.

The rapid currents which prevail on that coast soon carried the vessel
on a shoal, and Columbus was roused from his sleep by the striking of
the ship and the cries of the terrified boy.

They first endeavoured, by taking out an anchor, to warp the vessel off,
but the strength of the current was more than a match for them, and the
vessel was driven farther and farther on the shoal; they then cut away
the mast and took out some of the stores to lighten her; but all their
efforts were vain.

Before sunset the next evening the vessel was a complete wreck.
Fortunately the Nina was close at hand, and the shipwrecked mariners got
on board of her; the inhabitants of the island came in their canoes and
assisted them in preserving part of their stores.

They found Hayti a very beautiful island, and were treated with the
greatest kindness by the inhabitants; but, though delighted with the
beauty of the scenes which everywhere presented themselves, and amazed
at the luxuriance and fertility of the soil, Columbus did not find gold
in such quantities as was sufficient to satisfy the avarice of his
followers; he was nevertheless anxious to prolong his voyage, and
explore those magnificent regions which seemed to invite them on every

But as the Pinta had never joined them again after parting from them, he
had no vessel now left but the Nina; he did not therefore think it
prudent to pursue his discoveries with one small vessel, and that a very
crazy one, lest, if any accident should befal it, he might be left
without the means of returning to Europe, and both the glory and benefit
of his great discoveries might be lost; so he determined to prepare for
his return.

But as it was impossible for so small a vessel as the Nina to contain
the crew of the ship that was wrecked in addition to its own, Columbus
was greatly perplexed what to do.

Many of his men were so delighted with the island and its inhabitants,
that they begged of him to let them remain there, and Columbus consented
to leave forty of them on the island, while he and the remainder made
the voyage back.

He promised to return to them speedily. He now built them a fort with
the timber of the wreck, and fortified it with the guns of the Santa
Maria, and did every thing in his power to provide for their comfort
during his absence, particularly enjoining them to be kind and peaceful
towards the Indians.

This was the first colony of Europeans that settled in the new world,
and Columbus gave it the name of Navidad.




Having obtained a certain quantity of the precious metals, and other
curious productions of the countries he had discovered, he set sail to
recross the wide Atlantic Ocean.

It was the second day after they had left the island that they saw a
sail at a distance, which proved to be the Pinta.

On joining the admiral, Pinzon made many excuses and endeavoured to
account for his desertion, saying he had been separated by stress of
weather. Columbus admitted his excuse, but he ascertained afterwards
that Pinzon parted company intentionally, and had steered directly east
in quest of a region where the Indians had assured him that he would
find gold in abundance.

They had guided him to Hayti, where he had been for some time, in a
river about fifteen leagues from the part of the coast where Columbus
had been wrecked.

He had collected a large quantity of gold by trading with the natives,
and on leaving the river he had carried off four Indian men and two
girls to be sold in Spain.


Columbus immediately sailed back for this river, and ordered the four
men and two girls to be dismissed well clothed and with many presents,
to atone for the wrong they had experienced. This resolution was not
carried into effect without great unwillingness and many angry words on
the part of Pinzon.

Columbus, being now joined by the Pinta, thought he might pursue his
discoveries a little further, and on leaving this part of the coast he
took with him four young Indians to guide him to the Carribean Islands,
of which they gave him a very interesting account, as well as of another
island said to be inhabited by Amazons.

A favourable breeze, however, sprang up for the voyage homewards, and
seeing gloom and impatience in the countenances of his men, he gave up
his intention of visiting these islands, and made all sail for Spain,
the young Indians having consented to accompany him that they might
learn the Spanish language, and be his guides and interpreters when they
should return.

His voyage homeward was much more tedious; for those trade winds which
had wafted him so rapidly westward, across the Atlantic, still blew
from east to west, and Columbus did not then know that their influence
only extends to a certain distance on each side of the Equator, so that
if he had sailed a little farther north, on his return, he would very
likely have met with a south-west wind, which was just what he wanted.

On the 12th of February they had made such progress as led them to hope
they should soon see land. The wind now came on to blow violently; on
the following evening there were three flashes of lightning in the
north-east, from which signs Columbus predicted an approaching tempest.

It soon burst upon them with frightful violence. Their small and crazy
vessels were little fitted for the wild storms of the Atlantic; all
night they were obliged to scud under bare poles, at the mercy of the
elements; as the morning dawned there was a transient pause and they
made a little sail, but the wind rose with redoubled fury from the south
and increased in the night, threatening each moment to overwhelm them or
dash them to pieces.

The admiral made signal-lights for the Pinta to keep in company, but
she was separated by the violence of the storm, and her lights gleamed
more and more distant till they ceased entirely.

When the day dawned the sea presented a frightful waste of wild and
broken waves. Columbus looked round anxiously for the Pinta, but she was
nowhere to be seen, and he became apprehensive that Pinzon had borne
away for Spain, that he might reach it before him, and by giving the
first account of his discoveries, deprive him of his fame.

Through a dreary day the helpless bark was driven along by the tempest.

Seeing all human skill baffled and confounded, Columbus endeavoured to
propitiate heaven by solemn vows, and various private vows were made by
the seamen. The heavens, however, seemed deaf to their vows: the storm
grew still more furious, and every one gave himself up for lost.

During this long and awful conflict of the elements, the mind of
Columbus was a prey to the most distressing anxiety.

He was harassed by the repinings of his crew, who cursed the hour of
their leaving their country.

He was afflicted also with the thought of his two sons, who would be
left destitute by his death.

But he had another source of distress more intolerable than death
itself. In case the Pinta should have foundered, as was highly probable,
the history of his discovery would depend upon his own feeble bark. One
surge of the ocean might bury it for ever in oblivion, and his name only
be recorded as that of a desperate adventurer.

At this crisis, when all was given up for lost, Columbus had presence of
mind enough to retire to his cabin and to write upon parchment a short
account of his voyage.

This he wrapped in an oiled cloth, which he enclosed in a cake of wax,
put it into a tight cask, and threw it into the sea, in hopes that some
fortunate accident might preserve a deposit of so much importance to the

But that being which had preserved him through so many dangers still
protected him; and happily these precautions were superfluous.

At sunset there was a streak of clear sky in the west; the wind shifted
to that quarter, and on the morning of the 15th of February they came in
sight of land.

The transports of the crew at once more beholding the old world, were
almost equal to those they had experienced on discovering the new. This
proved to be the island of St. Mary, the most southern of the Azores.

After remaining here a few days, the wind proving favourable he again
set sail, on the 24th of February.

After two or three days of pleasant sailing, there was a renewal of
tempestuous weather. About midnight of the 2nd of March the caravel was
struck by a squall, which rent all her sails and threatened instant
destruction. The crew were again reduced to despair, and made vows of
fasting and pilgrimages.

The storm raged through the succeeding day, during which, from various
signs they considered that land must be near. The turbulence of the
following night was dreadful; the sea was broken, wild, and mountainous,
the rain fell in torrents, and the lightning flashed and the thunder
pealed from various parts of the heavens.

In the first watch of this fearful night, the seamen gave the usual
welcome cry of land--but it only increased their alarm, for they dreaded
being driven on shore or dashed upon the rocks. Taking in sail,
therefore, they endeavoured to keep to sea as much as possible. At
day-break on the 4th of March they found themselves off the rock of
Cintra at the mouth of the Tagus, which you know is the principal river
of Portugal.

Though distrustful of the Portuguese, he had no alternative but to run
in for shelter. The inhabitants came off from various parts of the shore
to congratulate him on what they deemed a miraculous preservation, for
they had been watching the vessel the whole morning with great anxiety,
and putting up prayers for her safety. The oldest mariners of the place
assured him that they had never during the whole course of their lives
known so tempestuous a winter.

Such were the difficulties and perils with which Columbus had to contend
on his return to Europe. Had one tenth part of them beset his outward
voyage, his factious crew would have risen in arms against the
enterprise, and he never would have discovered the new world.

The king of Portugal must have been greatly mortified when he heard of
the arrival of Columbus and the wonderful discoveries he had made, for
he could not but reflect that all the advantages of these discoveries
might have belonged to him if he had not treated Columbus as he did.

But notwithstanding the envy which it was natural for the Portuguese to
feel, he was allowed to come to Lisbon, and was treated with all the
marks of distinction due to a man who had performed things so
extraordinary and unexpected. The king admitted him into his presence,
and listened with admiration to the account which he gave of his voyage,
while Columbus enjoyed the satisfaction of being able to prove the
solidity of his schemes to those very persons who had with disgraceful
ignorance rejected them as the projects of a visionary adventurer.

Columbus was so impatient to return to Spain that he remained only five
days in Lisbon. On the 15th of March he arrived at Palos, seven months
and eleven days from the time when he set out from thence upon his

When the prosperous issue of it was known, when they beheld the strange
people, the unknown animals, and singular productions brought from the
countries he had discovered, the joy was unbounded; all the bells were
rung, the cannons were fired, and he was welcomed with all the
acclamations which the people are ever ready to bestow on great and
glorious characters. They flocked in crowds to the harbour to see him
land, and nothing but Columbus and the New World, as the Spaniards
called it, was talked of.

He was desired by Ferdinand and Isabella in the most respectful terms to
repair to court, that they might receive from his own mouth, an account
of his wonderful discoveries.

On his arrival at Barcelona the king and queen received him clad in
their royal robes, seated upon a throne, and surrounded by their nobles.


When he approached, they commanded him to take his seat upon a chair
prepared for him, and to give a circumstantial account of his voyage,
which he related with a gravity suitable to the dignity of the audience
he addressed, and with that modesty which ever accompanies superior

Every mark of honour that gratitude or admiration could suggest, was
conferred upon him; his family was ennobled, and, as a mark of
particular favour, Isabella appointed his son Diego, the boy, who, you
remember, had been left at the convent, page to prince Juan, the heir
apparent, an honour only granted to sons of persons of distinguished

The king and queen, and, after their example, the courtiers treated him
with all the respect paid to persons of the highest rank. Yet some of
these courtiers were his bitterest enemies, and did every thing they
could, in his absence, to poison the minds of the king and queen against
him, and to cause his downfall.

The favour shown Columbus by the sovereigns insured him for a time the
caresses of the nobility, for in court every one is eager to lavish
attentions upon the man "whom the king delighteth to honour."

At one of the banquets which were given him occured the well known
circumstance of the egg.


A shallow courtier present, impatient of the honours paid to Columbus,
and meanly jealous of him as a foreigner, abruptly asked him, whether he
thought that, in case he had not discovered the Indies, there would have
been wanting men in Spain capable of the enterprise.

To this Columbus made no direct reply but, taking an egg, invited the
company to make it stand on one end. Every one attempted it, but in
vain; whereupon he struck it upon the table, broke one end, and left it
standing on the broken part; illustrating, in this simple manner, that
when he had once shown the way to the new world, nothing was easier than
to follow it.




Columbus was now anxious to set out on another voyage to proceed with
his discoveries, and the king and queen gave orders that every thing
should be done to further his wishes.

By his exertions a fleet of seventeen sail, large and small, was soon in
a state of forwardness; labourers and artificers of all kinds were
engaged for the projected colonies, and an ample supply was provided of
whatever was necessary for the cultivation of the soil, the working of
the mines, and for traffic with the natives.

He now found no difficulty in getting sailors to accompany him, and the
account he gave of the countries he had discovered, and particularly
the intelligence that they abounded with gold, excited the avarice and
rapacity of the Spaniards, and numbers of needy adventurers of ruined
fortunes and desperate circumstances, were eager to share in the spoil.

Many persons of distinction, thinking to become rich by the same means,
also volunteered to enlist, and many got on board of the ships by
stealth, so that about 1500 set sail in the fleet, though only a
thousand were originally permitted to embark.

The departure of Columbus on his second voyage presented a brilliant
contrast to his gloomy embarkation at Palos.

There were three large ships of heavy burden and fourteen smaller
vessels, and the persons on board, instead of being regarded by the
populace as devoted men, were looked upon with envy as favoured mortals,
destined to golden regions and delightful climes, where nothing but
wealth, and wonder, and enjoyment awaited them.

At sunrise the whole fleet was under sail, on the 13th of October he
lost sight of the Island of Ferro, and, favoured by the trade winds, was
borne pleasantly along, till, on the 2nd of November, a lofty island was
descried to the west, to which he gave the name of Dominica, from having
discovered it on the Lord's day.

As the ships moved gently onward, other islands arose to sight, one
after another, covered with forests and enlivened by the flight of
parrots and other tropical birds, while the whole air was sweetened by
the fragrance of the breezes which passed over them.

In one of these islands, to which the Spaniards gave the name of
Guadaloupe, they first met with the delicious fruit, the Anana or

Columbus now sailed in the direction of Hayti, to which he had given the
name of Hispaniola, where he shortly arrived.

In passing along the coast he set on shore one of the young Indians who
had been taken from that neighbourhood and had accompanied him to Spain.
He dismissed him finely apparelled, and loaded with trinkets, thinking
he would impress his countrymen with favourable feelings towards the
Spaniards, but he never heard anything of him afterwards.

When he arrived on that part of the island where he had built the fort
and taken leave of his companions, the evening growing dark, the land
was hidden from their sight. Columbus watched for the dawn of day with
the greatest anxiety; when at last the approach of the morning sun
rendering the objects on shore visible, in the place where the fort had
stood, nothing was to be seen. No human being was near, neither Indian
nor European; he ordered a boat to be manned, and himself went, at the
head of a party, to explore how things really were.

The crew hastened to the place where the fortress had been erected; they
found it burnt and demolished, the palisades beaten down, and the ground
strewed with broken chests and fragments of European garments.

The natives, at their approach, did not welcome them as they expected,
like friends, but fled and concealed themselves as if afraid to be seen.

Columbus, at length, with some difficulty, by signs of peace and
friendship, persuaded a few of them to come forth to him. From them he
learned, that scarcely had he set sail for Spain, when all his counsels
and commands faded from the minds of those who remained behind. Instead
of cultivating the good-will of the natives, they endeavoured, by all
kinds of wrongful means, to get possession of their golden ornaments and
other articles of value, and seduce from them their wives and daughters,
and had also quarrelled among themselves.

The consequences of this bad conduct were what might have been expected:
some died by sickness caused by intemperance, some fell in brawls
between themselves about their ill-gotten spoil, and others were cut off
by the Indians, whom they had so shamefully treated, and who afterwards
pulled dawn and burnt their fort.

The misfortunes which had befallen the Spaniards in the vicinity of
this harbour threw a gloom over the place, and it was considered by the
superstitious mariners as under some baneful influence. The situation
was low and unhealthy, and not capable of improvement; Columbus
therefore determined to remove the settlement.

With this view he made choice of a situation more healthy and commodious
than that of Navidad, and having ordered the troops and the various
persons to be employed in the colony to be immediately disembarked,
together with the stores, ammunition, and all the cattle and live-stock,
he traced out the plan of a town in a large plain near a spacious bay;
and obliging every person to put his hand to the work, the houses were
soon so far advanced as to afford them shelter, and forts were
constructed for their defence.

This rising city, the first that Europeans founded in the new world, he
named Isabella, in honour of his patroness the Queen of Castile.

As long as the Indians had any prospect that their sufferings might
terminate by the voluntary departure of the invaders, they submitted in
silence, and dissembled their sorrow; but now that the Spaniards had
built a town--now that they had dug up the ground and planted it with
corn--it became apparent that they came not to visit the country, but to
settle in it.

They were themselves naturally so abstemious and their wants so few,
that they were easily satisfied with the fruits of the island, which,
with a handful of maize or a little of the insipid bread made of the
cassava root, were sufficient for their support.

But it was with difficulty they could afford subsistence for the new
guests. The Spaniards, though considered an abstemious people, appeared
to them excessively voracious. One Spaniard consumed as much as several
Indians; this keenness of appetite appeared so insatiable, that they
supposed the Spaniards had left their own country because it did not
produce enough to gratify their immoderate appetites, and had come among
them in quest of nourishment.

Columbus having taken all the steps which he thought necessary to
ensure the prosperity of his new colony, entrusted the command of the
military force to Margaritta, and set sail with three vessels to extend
his discoveries; but, after a long and tedious voyage, in which he
endured every hardship, the most important discovery he made was the
island of Jamaica.

Having been absent much longer than he had expected, he returned to his
new settlement, but the colonists had become refractory and

No sooner had he left the island on his voyage of discovery, than the
soldiers under Margaritta dispersed in straggling parties over the
island, lived at discretion upon the natives, wasted their property, and
treated that inoffensive race with the insolence of military oppression.

During the absence of Columbus, several unfavourable accounts of his
conduct had been transmitted to Spain, and these accusations gained such
credit in that jealous court, that Aguado, a person in every way
unsuited for the purpose, was appointed to proceed to Hispaniola to
observe the conduct of Columbus.

This man listened with eagerness to every accusation of the discontented
Spaniards, and fomented still further the spirit of dissension in the

Columbus felt how humiliating it must be if he remained in the island
with such a partial inspector to observe his motions and control his
authority; he therefore took the resolution of returning to Spain, in
order to lay a full account of his transactions before Ferdinand and

Having committed the government of the colony during his absence to Don
Bartholomew, his brother, he appointed Roldan Chief Justice, a choice
which afterwards caused great calamities to the colony.

On his arrival in Spain, Columbus appeared at court with the confidence
of a man, not only conscious of having done no wrong, but of having
performed great services.

Ferdinand and Isabella, ashamed of having listened to ill-founded
accusations, received him with such marks of respect as silenced the
calumnies of his enemies, and covered them with shame and confusion.

The gold, the pearls, and other commodities of value which he had
brought home, and the mines which he had found, fully proved the value
and importance of his discoveries, though Columbus considered them only
as preludes to future and more important acquisitions.




Columbus, having been furnished with six vessels of no great burden,
departed on his third voyage.

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