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Life of Columbus.
(ABRIDGED FROM IRVING'S LIFE.)
HEY continued in their course till two in the morning, when a gun from the Pinta gave the joyful signal of land. It was first discovered by a mariner named Rodriguez Bermejo; but the reward was afterwards adjudged to the admiral (Columbus) for having previously perceived the light. The land was now clearly seen about two leagues distant, whereupon they took in sail, and
laid-to, impatiently waiting for the dawn.
The thoughts and feelings of Columbus in this little space of time must have been tumultuous and intense. At length, in spite of every difficulty and danger, he had accomplished his object. The great mystery of the ocean was revealed; his theory, which had been the scoff of sages, was triumphantly established; he had secured to himself a glory which must be as durable as the world itself.
When the day dawned, Columbus saw before him a level and beautiful island, several leagues in extent, of great freshness and verdure, and covered with trees like a continual orchard. The island was evidently populous, for the inhabitants were seen issuing from the woods, and running from all parts to the shore. They were perfectly naked, and from their attitudes and gestures appeared lost in astonishment at the sight of the ships. Columbus made signal to cast anchor, and to man the boats. He entered his own boat, richly attired in scarlet, and bearing the royal standard. Martin Alonzo Pinzo and his brother likewise put off in their boats, each bearing the banner of the enterprise, emblazoned with a green cross, having on each side, surmounted by crowns, the letters F. and Y., the Spanish initials of the Castilian monarchs, Ferdinand and Ysabel.
As they approached the shore they were delighted by the beauty and grandeur of the forests, the variety of unknown
fruits on the trees which overhung the shores, the purity of the atmosphere, and the crystal transparency of the seas which bathe these islands. On ianding, Columbus threw himself upon his knees, kissed the earth, and returned thanks to God with tears of joy. His example was followed by his companions, whose breasts, indeed, were full to overflowing. Columbus then rising, drew his sword, displayed the royal standard, and took possession in the names of the Castilian sovereigns, giving the island the name of San Salvador. He then called upon all present to take the oath of obedience to him as admiral and viceroy, and representative of the sovereigns.
His followers now burst forth into the most extravagant transports. They thronged around him, some embracing him, others kissing his hands. Those who had been most mutinous and turbulent during the voyage, were now most devoted and enthusiastic. Some begged favours of him, as of a man who had already wealth and honours in his gift. Many abject spirits, who had outraged him by their insolence, now crouched at his feet, begging his forgiveness, and offering for the future the blindest obedience to his commands.
The natives of the island, when, at the dawn of day, they had beheld the ships hovering on the coast, had supposed them to be some monsters, which had come out of the deep during the night. Their veering about, without any apparent effort, and the shifting and furling of their sails, filled them with astonishment. When they beheld the boats approach the shore, and a number of strange beings, clad in glittering steel, or raiment of various colours, landing upon the beach, they fled in affright to the woods. Finding, however, that there was no attempt to pursue or molest them, they gradually recovered from their terror, and approached the Spaniards with great awe, frequently prostrating themselves, and making signs of adoration. During the ceremony of taking possession, they remained gazing in timid admiration at the complexion, the beards, the shining armour, and splendid dress of the Spaniards. The admiral particularly attracted their attention, from his commanding height, his air of authority, his scarlet dress, and the deference paid to him by his companions; all of which pointed him out to be the commander.
When they had still further recovered from their fears, they approached the Spaniards, touched their beards, and examined their hands and faces, admiring their whiteness. Columbus, pleased with their simplicity, their gentleness, and the confidence they reposed in beings who must have appeared so strange and formidable, submitted to their scrutiny with perfect acquiescence. The wondering savages were won by this kindness. They now supposed that the ships had sailed out of the crystal firmament which bounded their horizon, or that they had descended from above on their ample wings, and that these marvellous beings were inhabitants of the skies.
The natives of the island were no less objects of curiosity to the Spaniards, differing, as they did, from any race of men they had ever seen. They were entirely naked, and their bodies painted with various colours and devices, so as to have a wild and fantastic appearance. Their natural complexion was of a tawny or copper hue, and they were entirely destitute of beards. Their features, though disfigured by paint, were agreeable; they had lofty foreheads, and remarkably fine eyes. They were of moderate stature, and well shaped; most of them appeared to be under thirty years of age. They appeared to be a simple and artless people, and of friendly and gentle dispositions. Their only arms were lances, hardened at the end by fire, or pointed with a flint or the bone of a fish. There was no iron to be seen among them, nor did they know what kind of a thing it was; for when a drawn sword was presented to them, they unguardedly took it by the edge. Columbus distributed among them coloured caps, glass beads, hawks and ells, and other trifles, which they received as most valuable gifts, and, decorating themselves with them, were wonderfully delighted with their finery.
As Columbus supposed himself to have landed on an island at the extremity of India, he called the natives Indians, a name which was universally adopted before the nature of his discovery was known.
The Spaniards remained all day on shore, refreshing themselves, after their anxious voyage, amid the beautiful groves of the island. They returned to their ships late in the evening, delighted with all they had seen.
The island where Columbus had thus, for the first time, set his foot upon the New World, is one of the Bahama Islands. It still retains the name of San Salvador, which he gave it. The light which he had seen the evening previous to his making land may have been on Watling's Island, which lies a few leagues to
The Palace and the Caravansary.
DERVISE, travelling through Tartary, having arrived at the town of Balk, went into the king's palace by mistake, thinking it to be a public inn or caravansary. Having looked about him for some time, he entered into a long gallery, where he laid down his wallet and spread his carpet, in order to repose upon it, after the manner of the eastern nations. He had not long been in this posture, when he was discovered by some of the guards, who asked him what was his business in that place? The dervise told them he intended to take up his night's lodging in that caravansary. The guards let him know in a very angry manner that the house he was in was not a caravansary, but the king's palace.
It happened that the king himself passed through the gallery during this debate, and, smiling at the mistake of the dervise, asked him how he could possibly be so dull as not to distinguish a palace from a caravansary? "Sir," says the dervise, "give me leave to ask your majesty a question or two. Who were the persons that lodged in this house when it was first built?" The king replied, "My ancestors." "And who," said the dervise,
was the last person that lodged here?" The king replied, My father." "And who is it," said the dervise, "that lodges here at present?" The king replied, "It is myself." who," said the dervise, “will be here after you?" The king answered, "The young prince, my son." "Ah, sir," said the dervise, "a house that changes its inhabitants so often, and receives such a perpetual succession of guests, is not a palace but a caravansary."
Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.-
IS gone, that bright and orbid blaze,
The traveller on his way must press,
Let not my heart within me burn,
When the soft dews of kindly sleep
Abide with me from morn till eve,
Thou framer of the light and dark,
Steer through the tempest Thine own ark :
Amid the howling wintry sea
We are in port if we have Thee. *
*Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the
ship was at the land whither they went.-St. John vi., 21.