Изображения страниц

long prevailed in Portugal; not in stimulating the commercial thrift of Henry the Seventh, or the pious ambition of the Catholic King. His sorrowful perseverance touched the heart of a noble princess, worthy the throne which she adorned. The New World, which was just escaping the subtle45 kingcraft of Ferdinand, was saved to Spain by the womanly compassion of Isabella.

5. It is truly melancholy, however, to contemplate" the wretched equipment for which the most powerful princess in Christendom" was ready to pledge her jewels. Three small vessels, one of which was without a deck, and no one of them probably exceeding the capacity of a pilot-boat, and even these imprcssed,^, into the public service, composed the expedition fitted out under royal patronage, to realize that magnificent conception in which the creative mind of Columbus had planted the germs of a New World. No chapter of romance83 equals the interest of this expedition.

6. The departure from Palos," where, a few years before, he had begged a morsel of bread and a cup of water for his wayworn child; his final farewell to the Old World at the Cana'ries;" his entrance upon the trade-winds," which then for the first time filled a European sail; the portentous variation of the needle," never before observed; the fearful course westward and westward, day after day and night after night, over the unknown ocean; the mutinous and ill-appeased crew; at length the tokens of land; the cloud-banks on the western horizon; the logs of drift-wood; the fresh shrub floating with its leaves and berries; the flocks of land-birds; the shoals of fish that inhabit shallow water; the indescribable smell of the shore; the mysterious presentiment that ever goes before a great event; and, finally, on that ever-memorable night of the 12th of October, 1492, the moving light seen by the sleepless eye of the great discoverer himseli from the deck of the Santa Maria, and in the morning the real, undoubted land, swelling up from the bosom of the deep, with its plains, and hills, and forests, and rocks, and streams, and strange new races of men, — these are incidents in which the authentio history of the discovery of our continent excels the specious wonders of romance, as much as gold excels tinsel, or the sun in the heavens outshines the flickering taper. Bverktt


1. As they proceeded, the indications of approaching iand seemed to be more certain, and excited hope in proportion. The birds began to appear in flocks, making towards the south-west Columbus, in imitation of the Portuguese navigators, who had been guided in several of their discoveries by the motion of birds, altered his course from due west towards that quarter whither they pointed their flight. But, after holding on for several days in this new direction, without any better success than formerly, having seen no object during thirty days but the sea and the sky, the hopes of his companions subsided faster than they had risen; their fears revived with additional force; impatience, rage, and despair, appeared in every countenance.

2. All sense of subordination was lost. The officers, who had hitherto concurred with Columbus in opinion, and supported his authority, now took part with the private men; they assembled tumultuously on the deck, expostulated with their commander, mingled threats with their expostulations, and required him instantly 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 so often, had lost their effect; and that it was impossible to rekindle any zeal for the success of the expedition among men in whose breasts fear had extinguished every generous sentiment.

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

4. Enraged as the sailors were, and impatient to turn their faces again towards their native country, this proposition did not appear to them unreasonable. Nor did Columbus hazard much in confining himself to a term so sh'ort. The pres'ages of discovering land were now so numerous and promising, that he deemed them infallible. For some days the sounding-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 Nina took up the branch of a tiee with ted berries, perfectly fresh.

5. The ciouds around the setting sun assumed * a new appear ance; the air was milder and warmer; 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 sails to be furled, and the ships to lie to," keeping strict watch lust they should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man shut his eyes; all kept upon deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land which had been so long the object of their wishes.

6. About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle," observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez,D a page of the queen's wardrobe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo, comptroller58 of the fleet, all three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight the joyful sound of "Land! land !" was heard from the Pinta, which kept always ahead of the other ships. Kut, having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, every man was now become slow of beliet, and waited in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience for the return of day.

7. As soon as morning dawned (October 12, 1492), all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an islancT 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 delightful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began the Te Detim" as a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships, with tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to Heaven w.'is followed by an act of justice to their commander. They threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of selfcondeinnation mingled with reverence.

8. They implored him to pardon their ignorance, incredulity, and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, aad had so often obstructed the prosecution of his wellconcerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man whom they had so lately reviled and threatened to be a person inspired by Heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conceptions of all former ages.

* The mark of quantity over the u always indicates that it should have the long, diphthongal sound, as in cube, itc. In many words not markud, th« mmo sound should be given. See IT 73

9. As soon as the sun arose, all their boats were manned and armed. They rowed towards the island, with their colors 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, wherae attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themselves 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, kneeliua down, they all kissed the ground which they had so long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix," and, prostrating them Belves before it, returned thanks to God for conducting their voy age to such a happy issue. Robertson.


1. What did the ocean's waste supply
To soothe the mind or please the eye?

The rising morn through dim mist breaking,
The flickered east with purple streaking f3
The mid-day cloud through thin air flying,
* With deeper blue the blue sea dyeing;

Long ridgy waves their white manes rearing,
And in the broad gleam disappearing;
The broadened, blazing sun declining,
And western waves like fire-floods shining;
The sky's vast dome to darkness given,
And all the glorious host of heaven!

2. Full oft upon the deck — while others slept—
To mark the bearing of each well-known star
That shone aloft or on the horizon far,

The anxious Chief his lonely vigil kept.
The mournful wind, the hjarse wave breaking near,
The breathing groans of sleep, the plunging lead,"
The steersman's call, and his own stilly tread,
Are all the sounds of night that reach his ear.

3. But soon his dauntless soul, which naught could bend,—
Nor hope delayed uor adverse fate subdue, —

With a more threatening danger must contend
Than storm or wave — a fierce and angry crew!
"Dearly," say they, " may we those visions ruo
Which lured us from our native land,
A wretched, lost, devoted band,
Led on by hope's delusive gleam,

The victim of a madman's dream!
Nor gold shall e'er" be ours, nor fiimo;
Not even the remnant of a name
On some rudu-lettered stone to tell
On what strange coast our wreck befell.
For us no requiem shall be sung,
Nor prayer be said, nor passing knell
In holy church be rung."

4. To thoughts like these all forms give way"6
Of duty to a leader's sway;
And, as he moves, — ah! wretched cheer ! —
Their muttered curses reach his ear.
But all undaunted, firm, and sage,
He scorns their threats, yet thus he soothes their rage:
"That to some nearing coast we bear,
How many cheering signs declare!
Wayfaring birds the blue air ranging,
Their shadowy line to blue air changing,
Pass o'er our heads in frequent flocks;
While sea-weed from the parent rocks,

In wreaths are on the clear wave borne.
Nay, has not e'en the drifting current brought
Things of rude art, by human cunning wrought?
Be yet two days your patience tried,
And if no shore" is then descried, ,
E'en turn your dastard prows again,
And cast your leader to the main."

8 And thus a while, with steady hand,
He kept in check a wayward band,
Who but with half-expressed disdain
Their rebej spirit could restrain.
So passed the day, — the night, — the second day s
With its red setting sun's extinguished ray.

6 Dark, solemn midnight coped the ocean wide,
When from his watchful stand Columbus cried,
"A light, a light!" — blest sounds that rang
fn every ear. At once they sprang

With haste aloft, and, peering bright,
Descried afar the blessed sight.

7 "It moves! it slowly moves like ray

Of toroh that guides some wanderer's way!

Lo! other lights, more distant, seeming

As if from town or hamlet streaming!

'T is land, 't is peopled land! man dwelleth there,

And thou, O God of heaven, hast heard thy servant's prayer.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »