A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. III.
Robert Kerr

Part 1 out of 10

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CHAP. I. History of the discovery of America, by Christopher Columbus,
written by his son Don Ferdinand Columbus, Introduction, Epochs of
American discovery, Authors Preface.

I. Of the country, original, and name of Admiral Christopher
Columbus; with other particulars of his life previous to his arrival in

II. Of his first coming to Portugal, and the motives of his
proposing to discover the West Indies.

III. The Admiral, disgusted by the procedure of the King of
Portugal, in regard to the proposed discovery, offers his services
to the court of Spain.

IV. Narrative of the First Voyage of Columbus, in which he actually
discovered the New World[1].

VI. Second Voyage of Columbus to the West Indies.

VII. Account of the antiquities, ceremonies, and religion of the
natives of Hispaniola, collected by F. Roman, by order of the Admiral.

VIII. The Admiral returns to Spain from his second voyage.

IX. Account of the Admirals Third Voyage, during which he discovered
the continent of Paria; with the occurrences to his arrival in

X. An account of the Rebellion in Hispaniola, previous to the arrival
of the Admiral.

XI. Continuation of the troubles after the return of the Admiral to
Hispaniola, to their adjustment.

XII. Transactions in Hispaniola subsequent to the settlement of the
disturbances, until the sending of Columbus in irons to Spain.

XIII. Account of the Fourth Voyage of Columbus to the West Indies.

CHAP. II. Account of the Discovery of America, by Christopher Columbus;
by Antonio de Herrera.

I. Of the knowledge of the Ancients respecting the New World.

II. Of the motives which led Columbus to believe that there were
unknown countries.

III. Columbus proposes his design to the King and Queen of Spain; which,
after many repulses, is adopted by the Queen.

IV. Conditions granted to Columbus by the crown of Castile, and an
account of his First Voyage, in which he discovered the New World.

V. Continuation of the voyage; signs of approaching land; the people
mutiny, and the Admiral endeavours to appease them.

VI. Discovery of the Islands of San Salvador, the Conception,
Ferdinandina, Isabella, and others; with a description of these Islands,
and some account of the Natives.

VII. Discovery of Cuba and Hispaniola, and desertion of Martin Alonzo

VIII. Farther discovery of Hispaniola; simplicity of the natives; the
Admiral loses his ship, and resolves to settle a colony in the island.

IX. The Admiral builds a fort in Hispaniola, and prepares for his return
to Spain.

X. Account of the Voyage home from Hispaniola to Lisbon.

XI. From the arrival of Columbus at Lisbon till the commencement of his
Second Voyage to the New World.

XII. Second Voyage of Columbus to the West Indies, and establishment of
Isabella, the first European colony in the New World.

XIII. Columbus proceeds to explore the coast of Cuba, discovers the
island of Jamaica, and returns to Isabella in Hispaniola.

XIV. Summary of occurrences in Hispaniola, to the return of Columbus
into Spain from his Second Voyage.

XV. Conclusion of the discoveries of Columbus.

CHAP. III. The voyages of Americus Vespucius to the New World,

I. The First Voyage of Vespucius.

II. The Second Voyage of Americus Vespucius.

III. The Third voyage of Americus Vespucius.

IV. The Fourth voyage of Americus Vespucius.

CHAP. IV. Summary of the discoveries and settlements of the Spaniards in
the West Indies, from the death of Columbus to the expedition of Hernando
Cortes against Mexico, Introduction.

I. Improvements made in the colony of Hispaniola, by Nicholas de
Obando, and the great value of gold procured in that island during his

II. Settlement of Porto Rico under Juan Ponce de Leon.

III. Don James Columbus is appointed to the government of the Spanish
dominions in the West Indies.

IV. Settlement of a Pearl Fishery at the island of Cubagua.

V. Alonzo de Hojeda and Diego de Nicuessa are commissioned to make
discoveries and settlements in the New World, with an account of the
adventures and misfortunes of Hojeda.

VI. The history of Vasco Nugnez de Balboa, and the establishment, by
his means, of the colony of Darien.

VII. The adventures, misfortunes, and death of Don Diego de Nicuessa,
the founder of the colony of Nombre de Dios.

VIII. The conquest and settlement of the island of Cuba by Diego

IX. The strange expedition of Juan Ponce de Leon in search of the
Fountain of Youth, in which he discovered Florida and the Bahama

X. The martyrdom of two Dominican Friars on the coast of Venezuela,
through the avarice of the Spaniards.

XI. Discoveries on the continent of America, by command of Velasquez,
under the conduct of Francis Hernandez de Cordova.

XII. Farther discoveries on the continent by Juan Grijalva, under the
orders of Velasquez, by which a way is opened to Mexico or New Spain.

CHAP. V. History of the discovery and conquest of Mexico, written in the
year 1568, by Captain Bernal Diaz del Castillo, one of the conquerors,
Introduction, Preface by the Author.

I. Expedition of Hernandez de Cordova in 1517.

II. Expedition of Juan de Grijalva in 1518.

III. Commencement of the expedition of Hernando Cortes for the conquest
of Mexico, in 1518.

IV. Arrival of the armament at St Juan de Ulua, and account of
occurrences at that place.

V. The Spanish army advances into the country; an account of their
proceedings before commencing their march to Mexico.

[1] By error of the press, a considerable part of this Section is
marked in the running title as Section V. and the next is numbered
Section VI. so that, numerically only, Section V; is entirely omitted.

[Illustration: West Indies]





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[Illustration: West Indies]

The whole of this chapter contains an original record, being a distinct
narrative of the discovery of America by COLUMBUS, written by his own son,
who accompanied him in his latter voyages. It has been adopted into the
present work from the Collection of Voyages and Travels published at
London in 1704, by Awnsham and John Churchill, in four volumes folio; in
which it is said to have been translated from the original Italian of Don
Ferdinand Columbus, expressly for the use of that work. The language of
that translation is often obscure and ungrammatical, as if the work of a
foreigner; but, having no access to the original, has necessarily been
adopted for the present occasion, after being carefully revised and
corrected. No farther alteration has been taken with that version, except
a new division into sections, instead of the prolix and needlessly minute
subdivision of the original translation into a multitude of chapters;
which change was necessary to accommodate this interesting original
document to our plan of arrangement; and except in a few rare instances,
where uninteresting controversial argumentations have been somewhat
abridged, and even these chiefly because the original translator left the
sense obscure or unintelligible, from ignorance of the language or of the

It is hardly necessary to remark, that the new grand division of the world
which was discovered by this _great navigator_, ought from him to
have been named COLUMBIA. Before setting out upon this grand discovery,
which was planned entirely by his own transcendent genius, he was misled
to believe that the new lands he proposed to go in search of formed an
extension of the _India_, which was known to the ancients; and still
impressed with that idea, occasioned by the eastern longitudes of Ptolemy
being greatly too far extended, he gave the name of _West Indies_ to
his discovery, because he sailed to them westwards; and persisted in that
denomination, even after he had certainly ascertained that they were
interposed between the Atlantic ocean and Japan, the Zipangu, or Zipangri
of Marco Polo, of which and Cathay or China, he first proposed to go in

Between the _third_ and _fourth_ voyages of COLUMBUS, _Ojeda_, an officer
who had accompanied him in his _second_ voyage, was surreptitiously sent
from Spain, for the obvious purpose of endeavouring to curtail the vast
privileges which had been conceded to Columbus, as admiral and viceroy of
all the countries he might discover; that the court of Spain might have a
colour for excepting the discoveries made by others from the grant which
had been conferred on him, before its prodigious value was at all thought
of. Ojeda did little more than revisit some of the previous discoveries of
Columbus: Perhaps he extended the knowledge of the coast of Paria. In this
expedition, Ojeda was accompanied by an Italian named _Amerigo_ or
_Almerico Vespucci_, whose name was Latinized, according to the custom of
that age, into _Americus Vespucius_. This person was a Florentine, and
appears to have been a man of science, well skilled in navigation and
geography. On his return to Europe, he published the first description
that appeared of the newly discovered continent and islands in the west,
which had hitherto been anxiously endeavoured to be concealed by the
monopolizing jealousy of the Spanish government. Pretending to have been
the first discoverer of the _continent_ of the _New World_, he
presumptuously gave it the appellation of _America_ after his own name;
and the inconsiderate applause of the European literati has perpetuated
this usurped denomination, instead of the legitimate name which the new
quarter of the world ought to have received from that of the real

Attempts have been made in latter times, to rob COLUMBUS of the honour of
having discovered _America_, by endeavouring to prove that the _West
Indies_ were known in Europe before his first voyage. In some maps in the
library of St Mark at Venice, said to have been drawn in 1436, many
islands are inserted to the _west_ of Europe and Africa. The most
_easterly_ of these are supposed in the first place to be the Azores,
Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verds. Beyond these, but at no great
distance towards the _west_, occurs the _Ysola de Antillia_; which we may
conclude, even allowing the date of the map to be genuine, to be a mere
gratuitous or theoretic supposition, and to have received that strange
name, because the obvious and natural idea of _Antipodes_ had been
anathematized by Catholic ignorance. Still farther to the _north-west_,
another fabulous island is laid down, under the strange appellation of
_Delaman Satanaxia_, or the land created by the hand of Satan. This latter
may possibly have some reference to an ignorant position of Iceland. Both
were probably theoretic, for the fancied purpose of _preserving a balance_
on the globe with the continents and islands already known; an idea which
was transferred by learned theorists, and even persisted in for a
considerable part of the eighteenth century, under the name of the _Terra
Australis incognita_; and was only banished by the enlightened voyages of
scientific discovery, conducted under the auspices of our present
venerable sovereign.

The globe of Martin Behaim, in 1492, repeats the island of _Antillia_, and
inserts beyond it to the _west_, the isle of St Brandan or Ima, from a
fabulous work of the middle ages. Occasion has already occurred to notice
two other ancient pretended discoveries of the New World: the fabulous
voyages of the Zenos, another Venetian tale; and the equally fabulous
Portuguese island of the _Seven Churches_, abounding in gold, and
inhabited by Spanish or Portuguese Christians. Britain even had its Madoc
prince of North Wales; and a _white_ nomadic nation in North America,
speaking _Welsh_, is still among the puerile fancies of this nineteenth

All these pretended proofs of any previous knowledge of the _western_
world, resolve into complete demonstrations of perfect ignorance, even in
the art of deception and forgery. Not only is the world indebted to
COLUMBUS for this great and brilliant discovery, but every subsequent
improvement in navigation, geography and hydrography, is justly
attributable to his illustrious example. Much and deservedly as our COOK
and his coadjutors and followers have merited from their country and the
world, they are all to be considered as pupils of the truly great
archnavigator COLUMBUS; himself a worthy scholar from the nautical academy
of the truly illustrious and enlightened father of discoveries, DON HENRY.
All other discoveries, whether nautical or by land, dwindle into mere
ordinary events, when compared with his absolutely solitary exertion of
previous scientific views. The sagacious and almost prophetic induction,
persevering ardour, cosmographical, nautical, and astronomical skill,
which centered in COLUMBUS, from the first conception to the perfect
completion of this great and important enterprize, the discovery of a
large portion of the globe which had lain hid for thousands of years from
the knowledge of civilization and science, is altogether unexampled. He
was incontestibly the first bold and scientific mariner who ever dared to
launch out into the trackless ocean, trusting solely to the guidance of
the needle and the stars, and to his own transcendent skill and

There can be no doubt that Greenland, in some measure an appendage of
America, was discovered in 982, by the Norwegians or their Icelandic
colony; and that the same people accidentally fell in with Newfoundland,
or a part of Labradore, in 1003; of which early real discoveries
particular notices have been taken in the first part of this work. But
these were entirely accidental, and were lost to the world long before
COLUMBUS began his glorious career; and do not in the least degree detract
from the merit or originality of his discovery.

The name even of the great COLUMBUS has of late been fastidiously
endeavoured to be rejected, in favour of the Spanish appellation _Colon_,
which he adopted on entering into that service, which repaid him with base
ingratitude and cruel injuries for his transcendent services. It will be
seen, however, from the authority of his own son, that the original name
of his family was _Colombi_; though some branches in other parts of Italy
had adopted the modern or middle age Roman name of _Collona_. COLUMBUS,
therefore, ought certainly to remain in our language as the Latinized
original name of this illustrious person.

In supplement to the history of Columbus by his son, we have chosen to
give an account of the first Discovery of America, by _Herrera_ the royal
historiographer of Spain. To some readers this may appear superfluous: But,
as _Don Ferdinand Columbus_ may naturally enough be supposed to have
written under a degree of partial attachment to the glory of his immortal
father, it seems fortunate that we possess an authentic early history of
the same unparalleled event, from a more certainly impartial and well
informed author, having access to the public archives. That portion of our
work is given as an original record, almost without any remark; leaving it
to the ingenious industry of such of our readers as may be so disposed, to
make a critical comparison between the work of _Don Ferdinand Columbus_, a
rare and valuable monument of filial piety, and that of _Antonio de
Herrera_. We have only to regret, that the transcendent genius, who
possessed the unexampled sagacity to devise, and the singular good
fortune, perseverance, capacity, and conduct, to succeed in _Discovering
the Western Hemisphere_, had not sufficient health and leisure to have
favoured the world with his own _commentaries_ of this greatest
enterprise that was ever achieved by man.--_Ed_.

* * * * *

_Abridged Series of the Epochs of American Discovery_[2].

A.D. 982. East Greenland discovered by the Norwegians or Icelanders, who
planted a small colony. This was long afterwards shut in by the
accumulation of arctic ice, and entirely lost.

1003. Winland, either Newfoundland or Labradore, was discovered by the
Icelanders, but soon abandoned and forgotten.

1492, August 3d. COLUMBUS commenced his first voyage. 12th October
discovered _Guanahani_, one of the _Bahama_ group, which he named _St
Salvador_, now named _Cat Island_. In this voyage, besides several others
of the Bahama islands, he discovered _Cuba_ and _Hispaniola_, leaving a
colony in the latter, which was cut off by the natives. He returned to
Spain from this voyage on the 4th March 1493.

1494, September 25th. Second voyage of COLUMBUS began; in which he
discovered the _Carribbee_ islands, and founded a permanent colony in
_Hispaniola_ or Haiti. He returned from this voyage in 1496.

1497. _Giovanni Gabotta_, a Venetian, employed by Henry VII. of England,
discovered _Newfoundland_, and traced the eastern coast of North America
as far south as _Virginia_.

1498. Third voyage of COLUMBUS, in which he discovered _Trinidad_ and the
coast of Paria in _South America_; now called the _Spanish Main_ by the
English. He was _sent home in irons_ from Hispaniola in 1500.

1499. _Ojeda_ was sent from Spain to interfere with the great privileges
granted to COLUMBUS; but did very little more than retrace some of his
previous discoveries. In this voyage, as already mentioned, Ojeda was
accompanied by _Americus Vespucius_, who usurped the right of giving the
_New World_ his own name _America_, which still continues universal.

1500. _Cabral_, a Portuguese admiral, while on a voyage to India,
accidentally discovered Brazil.

In this year likewise, _Corte de Real_, a Portuguese navigator,
discovered Labradore, while in search of a _north-west_ passage to India.

1502. _Fourth_, voyage of COLUMBUS, in which he discovered the
continental coast, from _Honduras_ to near the Isthmus of _Darien_.

1513. _Vasco Nunez de Balboa_, descried the _Pacific Ocean_, or great
_South Sea_, and waded into the waves, taking formal possession for the
crown of Spain; and even embarked on that ocean in a canoe, as a more
formal act of conquest.

In the same year, _Florida_ was first discovered by _Ponce de Leon_, a
Spanish officer.

1515. The continent of _South America_ was explored down to the _Rio de
la Plata_.

1519. _Cortez_ began the conquest of _Mexico_, which he accomplished in

About the same time, _Magalhaens_, usually named Magellan, explored the
_Pacific Ocean_.

1526. _Pizarro_ visited the coast of _Peru_, which he invaded in 1530,
and _afterwards conquered_.

[1] Churchills Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol. II. 479.

[2] From Pinkertons Modern Geography.

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Because admiral DON CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, my father, was a person most
worthy to be held in eternal remembrance, it seems reasonable that _I his
son_, who sailed some time along with him, should to my other performances
add this my chiefest work: _The history of his life, and of his wonderful
discovery of the West Indies_.

In consequence of his great and continual sufferings, and the diseases he
long laboured under, my father had not time to reduce his own notes and
observations into historical order; and these having fallen to me, enable
me to execute the present undertaking. Knowing that many others had
undertaken to execute this task, I long delayed its performance. But,
having read those other narratives, I found that they exaggerated many
circumstances, had passed lightly over other matters of importance, and
had even entirely omitted much that was deserving of particular notice.
From these considerations I have been induced to publish this work;
thinking it more becoming that I should undergo the censure of wanting
skill, rather than to permit the truth respecting my noble father to
remain in oblivion. Whatever may be the faults in this performance, these
will not be owing to my ignorance of the truth; for I pledge myself to set
down nothing which I do not find in his own papers or letters, or of which
I have not actually been a witness.

In the following work, the reader will find a faithful record of all the
reasons which induced the admiral to enter upon his great and glorious
and successful enterprize, and will learn how far he personally proceeded
in his _four_ several voyages to the New World. He will see what great
and honourable articles were conceded to him, before going upon his great
discovery, by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, how basely all these
were violated, and he most unworthily and inhumanly treated, after
performing such unparalleled services; how far he established the affairs
of Hispaniola, the first settlement of the Spaniards in the New World;
and what care he took that the _Indians_ should not be oppressed, but
rather prevailed on by kind usage and good example, to embrace the
Catholic faith. In this work, likewise, will be found a faithful picture
of the manners and customs of the Indians, an account of their opinions
and practices respecting religion, and every thing that can reasonably be
looked for in a work like the present: The foundation for which was laid
by the great discoverer, and the superstructure raised by me his own son,
who possessed every advantage derivable from a liberal education and the
possession of authentic original documents, to fit me for executing a
work of such importance.


_Of the Country, Original, and Name of Admiral Christopher Columbus; with
other particulars of his Life previous to his arrival in Portugal._

It is a material circumstance in the history of a great man to make known
his country and original, as those are best esteemed in the world who are
derived from noble cities and born of illustrious parents. Wherefore some
would have engaged me to prove that the admiral my father was honourably
descended, although his parents, through the fickleness of fortune, had
fallen into great poverty. Those persons required me to prove that his
ancestors descended from _Junius Colomus_, who, as Tacitus relates,
brought Mithridates a prisoner to Rome, for which service he was raised
by the Roman people to the consulate. They would likewise have induced me
to give an account at large of the two illustrious _Colomi_ his
predecessors, who gained a great victory over the Venetians, as recorded
by Sabellius, and which shall be mentioned in this work. But considering
that my father seemed to have been peculiarly chosen by the Almighty for
the great work which he performed, and may be considered in some measure
as an apostle of the Lord by carrying the gospel among the heathen; and
that the other apostles were called upon from the sea and the rivers, and
not from courts and palaces, by him whose progenitors were of the royal
blood of the Jews, yet who was pleased that they should be in a low and
unknown estate: And seeing that God had gifted my father with those
personal qualities which so well fitted him for so great an undertaking,
he was himself inclined that his country and original might remain hidden
and obscure.

Some who would throw a cloud upon his fame, have alleged that he was from
Nerni, others from Cuguero, and others from Bugiesco, all small towns in
the Riviera of Genoa: While others again, who were disposed rather to
exalt his origin, say that he was a native of Savona, others of Genoa,
and some more vain, make him to have been a native of Placentia, where
there are some honourable persons of the name, and several tombs having
the arms and inscriptions of the family of Columbus, which was the usual
sirname of his predecessors; but he, in compliance with the country where
he went to reside, modelled the name in resemblance of the ancients to
Colon, thereby distinguishing the direct descent from the collateral

Many names have been given by secret impulse, to denote the effects those
persons were to produce; and as most of my fathers affairs were guarded by
some special providence, his name and sirname were not without some
mysterious significations. Thus, considering the sirname of his ancestors,
Columbus or Columba, since he conveyed the grace of the Holy Ghost into
that New World which he discovered, shewing the knowledge of the beloved
Son of God to those people who knew him not, as was done by the Holy Ghost
in the form of a _Dove_ at the baptism of St John; and because, like Noahs
dove, he carried the olive branch and the oil of baptism across the waters
of the ocean, to denote the peace and union of those people with the
church, which had long been shut up in the ark of darkness and ignorance.
So likewise of the sirname of Colon which he revived, which was
appropriate to him as signifying a member; and, in conjunction with his
sirname of Christopher, denoted that he was a member of Christ, by whom
salvation was to be conveyed to the heathen people whom he discovered.
Thus, as St Christopher received that name because he carried Christ over
the deep waters with great danger to himself; so the admiral Christopher
Colonus, imploring the protection of Christ, safely carried himself and
his people over the unknown ocean, that those Indian nations which he
discovered might become citizens and inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem.
For many souls, whom the Devil expected for his prey, were through his
means passed through the water of baptism, and made inhabitants of the
eternal glory of heaven.

To return to the quality and persons of his progenitors; however
considerable they may once have been, it is certain that they were reduced
to poverty and want, through the long wars and factions in Lombardy. I
have not been able to discover in what manner they lived; though in one of
his letters the admiral asserted that his ancestors and himself had always
traded by sea. While passing through Cuguero, I endeavoured to receive
some information on this subject from two brothers of the _Colombi_, who
were the richest in those parts, and who were reported to be somewhat
related to him; but the youngest of them being above an hundred years old,
they could give me no information. Neither do I conceive this any
dishonour to us his descendants; as I think it better that all our honour
be derived from his own person, without inquiring whether his father were
a merchant, or a nobleman who kept hawks and hounds. There have been
thousands such in all parts, whose memory was soon lost among their
neighbours and kindred, so that no memorials remain of there ever having
been such men. I am therefore of opinion, that the nobility of such men
would reflect less lustre upon me than the honour I receive from such a
father: And, since his honourable exploits made him stand in no need of
the wealth of predecessors, who though poor were not destitute of virtue,
he ought from his name and worth to have been raised by authors above the
rank of mechanics or peasants.

Should any one be disposed to affirm that the predecessors of my father
were handicrafts, founding upon the assertion of Justiniani, I shall not
engage to prove the contrary; for, as the writing of Justiniani is not to
be considered as an article of faith, so I have received the contrary from
a thousand persons. Neither shall I endeavour to prove the falsehood of
his history from those other authors who have written concerning my father;
but shall convict him of falsehood out of his own writings and by his own
testimony; thus verifying proverb which says "that _liars ought to have
good memories_," because otherwise they contradict themselves, as
Justiniani has done in this case, of which I propose to exhibit sufficient

In his comparison of the four languages, when commenting upon that passage
in the psalms, "In omnem terrarum exivit sonus eorum," he says, "This
Christopher Columbus having acquired some rudiments of learning in his
tender years, applied himself to navigation when he came to manhood, and
went to Lisbon, where he learned cosmography from a brother who there made
sea charts; in consequence of which improvement, and by discoursing with
those who had sailed to St George del Mina in Africa, and through his own
reading in cosmography, he entertained thoughts of sailing towards those
countries which he afterwards discovered." Hence, contrary to the
assertion of Justiniani, it appears from his own words that my father
followed no handicraft or mechanic employment, but devoted his childhood
to learning, his youth to navigation and cosmography, and his riper years
to discoveries. Thus Justiniani convicts himself of falsehood, and proves
himself inconsiderate, rash, and malicious. When he had occasion to speak
of so renowned a person who reflected so great honour on his country,
although the admirals parents had even been very mean, it had been more
decent in mentioning his origin, as other authors have done, to have said
that he was of low parentage or come of very poor people, instead of
falsely calling him a mechanic, as he did in his Psalter, and afterwards
in his Chronicle. Even supposing he had not contradicted himself, reason
might have shewn that a man who had been bred up in a mechanical
employment, must grow old in it to become a perfect master, and could not
from his youth have travelled into so many countries, or have attained so
much knowledge and learning as his actions demonstrate; more especially in
those four principal sciences which were so indispensably necessary to fit
him for what he performed, astronomy, cosmography, geometry, and
navigation. It is not much to be wondered that Justiniani should be guilty
of untruth in this circumstance, which is hidden, since he has inserted
above a dozen falsehoods in half a sheet of paper in his Psalter, in
matters concerning this discovery and navigation, which are well known.
These I shall briefly mention, without staying to give him any answer,
that I may not interrupt the series of the history; and because from its
tenor, and by what has been written by others on that subject, the
falsehood of his writing will distinctly appear.

The _first_ falsehood is, that the admiral went to Lisbon to learn
cosmography from a brother of his own who was settled in that place. This
is utterly contrary to the truth; since he lived in that city before the
arrival of his brother, and taught his brother what he knew instead of
learning from him. The _second_ falsehood is, that their Catholic
majesties Ferdinand and Isabella accepted his proposal at his first coming
to Castile, after it had been seven years bandied about and rejected by
all men. The _third_, that he set out upon his discovery with two ships;
whereas the truth is, that he had three caravels in his first voyage. The
_fourth_, that his first discovery was Hispaniola; whereas the first land
he came to was Guanahani, which he named St Salvador, or St Saviour. The
_fifth_, that the island of Hispaniola was inhabited by cannibals; while
the truth is, that its inhabitants were the best and most civilized people
in all those parts. The _sixth_, that he took the canoe or Indian boat
which he first saw by force of arms; whereas it is certain that he had no
hostilities in the first voyage with any of the Indians, and continued in
peace and amity with them until his departure from Hispaniola. The
_seventh_, that he returned by way of the Canary Islands, which is by no
means the proper route. The _eighth_, that he dispatched a messenger from
the Canaries to their Catholic majesties; whereas it is certain he was not
at these islands on his return, and that he was his own messenger. The
_ninth_, that he went with _twelve_ ships on his second voyage, while he
actually had _seventeen_. The _tenth_, that he arrived at Hispaniola in
twenty days, which is too short a time to reach the nearest islands; and
he certainly did not perform the second voyage in two months, and besides
went to other islands much farther distant before going to Hispaniola. The
_eleventh_, that he immediately afterwards went from Hispaniola with two
ships, whereas he certainly went to Cuba with three vessels. The _twelfth_
falsehood is, that Hispaniola is four hours (difference in longitude)
distant from Spain; while the admiral reckoned it to be five. The
_thirteenth_, to add one to the dozen, is that the western point of Cuba
is six hours distant from Hispaniola; making a farther distance of
longitude from Hispaniola to Cuba, than from Spain to Hispaniola.

By the foregoing examples of negligence, in inquiring into the truth of
those particulars which are plain and easy to have been learnt, we may
divine what inquiry he made into those which are obscure and in which he
contradicts himself, as already proved. But, laying aside this fruitless
controversy, I shall only add that, in consideration of the many
falsehoods in the Chronicle and Psalter of Justiniani, the senate of Genoa
have imposed a penalty upon any person within their jurisdiction who shall
read or keep those books, and have ordered that they shall be carefully
sought after and destroyed.

To conclude this disquisition, I assert that the admiral, so far from
being a person occupied with the vile employments of mechanics or
handicraft trades, was a man of learning and experience, and entirely
occupied in such studies and exercises as fitted him for and became the
glory and renown of his most wonderful discoveries; and I shall close this
chapter with an extract from a letter which he wrote to the nurse of
Prince John of Castile. "I am not the first admiral of my family, let them
give me what name they please. After all, that most prudent king David was
first a shepherd, and was afterwards chosen king of Jerusalem; and I am a
servant to the same Lord who raised him to so great dignity."

In his person the admiral was above the middle stature and well shaped,
having rather a long visage, with somewhat full cheeks, yet neither fat
nor lean. His complexion was very fair with delicately red cheeks, having
fair hair in his youth, which became entirely grey at thirty years of age.
He had a hawk nose, with fair eyes. In his eating and drinking, and in his
dress, he was always temperate and modest. In his demeanour he was affable
to strangers and kind and condescending to his domestics and dependents,
yet with a becoming modesty and dignified gravity of manner, tempered with
easy politeness. His regard for religion was so strict and sincere, even
in keeping the prescribed fasts and reciting all the offices of the church,
that he might have been supposed professed in one of the religious orders;
and so great was his abhorrence to profane swearing that I never heard him
use any other oath than by St Ferdinand; and even in the greatest passion,
his only imprecation was "God take you." When about to write, his usual
way of trying his pen was in these words, _Jesu cum Maria sit nobis in
via_; and in so fair a character as might have sufficed to gain his bread
by writing.

Passing over many particulars of his character, manners, and disposition,
which will appear in the course of this history, I shall now only mention
that, in his tender years he applied himself to such studies at Pavia as
fitted him to understand cosmography, his favourite science; for which
purpose he chiefly devoted himself to the study of geometry and astronomy,
without which, it is impossible to make any proficiency in cosmography.
And, because Ptolemy, in the preface to his cosmography, asserts that no
person can be a good cosmographer without a thorough knowledge of drawing;
he therefore learnt to draw, so as to be able to delineate not only the
exact outlines of countries, but to express their cosmographical features,
whether having plain surfaces or interspersed with hills and vallies.

Having laid a foundation in the before-mentioned sciences, he went to sea,
and made several voyages both to the east and west[1]: But of these, and
many other circumstances respecting his early years I have no perfect
knowledge. I was so young at his death, that owing to filial respect, I
had not the boldness to ask an account from him of the incidents of his
youth, and besides I was not then interested in such inquiries. But some
account of these things may be gleaned from his letters to their Catholic
majesties, to whom he would not dare to write any thing but the truth. In
one of these letters, written in the year 1501, he says,

"Most Serene Princes! I went to sea when very young, and have continued to
the present day; and this art of navigation inclines those who follow it
to be desirous of discovering the secrets of this world. It is now forty
years[2] that I have been sailing to all those parts of the world which
are frequented at present; and I have conversed with many wise and learned
men, both clergy and laity, Latins, Greeks, Indians and Moors, and of many
other sects and nations. God has been favourable to my inclination, and
has given me the spirit of understanding, so that I have become very
skilful in navigation, with a competent knowledge in arithmetic, geometry,
and astronomy, and both genius and skill to draw maps and charts of this
world, with its cities, rivers, islands, and ports, all in their proper
places and proportions. During my whole life, I have endeavoured to see
and understand all books of cosmography, history, and philosophy; by which
my understanding hath been enlightened so as to enable me to sail from
Europe to the Indies, and God hath inclined me to put this design into
execution. Filled with this desire I came to your highnesses; and after
all who had heard an account of my proposed undertaking had rejected it
with scorn and contempt as visionary and impracticable; in your highnesses
alone I found judgment to believe in the practicability of my proposal,
and constancy and spirit to put it into execution."

In another letter, written in January 1495 from Hispaniola, to their
Catholic majesties, in illustration of the errors and mistakes common in
voyages and the piloting of ships, he thus writes, "I was formerly sent to
Tunis by King _Renee_, whom God hath since taken to himself, to take the
galeasse called Fernandina; and, when near the island of St Peter off
Sardinia, I was informed that the Fernandina was accompanied by two ships
and a carack. This intelligence dismayed my people, who refused to proceed
in the enterprize, and demanded to go back to Marseilles for another ship
and more men. Finding that it was impossible to go on against their
inclinations, without a stratagem, I pretended to yield to their desires;
but having altered the card of the ships compass, I set sail when it was
late, under pretence of making for Marseilles. But next morning at
day-break, when all on board believed we had been sailing for Marseilles,
we found ourselves close in with Cape Carthagena[3]."

In a memorandum or observation tending to prove that all the five zones
are habitable by the experience of navigation, he thus writes: "In
February 1467, I sailed an hundred leagues beyond Thule, or Iceland, the
northern part of which is 73 degrees distant from the equinoctial, and not
63 degrees as some suppose; neither does it lie upon the line where
Ptolemy begins the West, but considerably more to the westwards. To this
island, which is as large as England, the English carry on trade,
especially from the port of Bristol. When I was there the sea was not
frozen, but the tides were so great that in some places it rose and fell
twenty-six fathoms[4]. I have likewise been in the Portuguese fort of St
George del Mina, under the equinoctial, and can witness that it is not
uninhabitable, as some have supposed." In his book respecting his first
voyage, he says that he saw some mermaids on the coast of _Menegueta_, but
that they were not by any means so like ladies as represented in paintings.
In another place he says, that, in several voyages between Lisbon and
Guinea, he had observed that a degree on the earth corresponds to 56 miles
and two thirds. He notices having seen mastick drawn from some trees in
the island of Scio, one of the isles in the Greek Archipelago.

In one place of his own writings he says that he had been at sea during
twenty-three years, without being on shore for any length of time; and had
seen all the countries of the east and west, and towards the north,
particularly England and Guinea; yet had never seen any harbours that
could be compared for goodness with those which he had discovered in the
West Indies. He says farther, "I went first to sea at fourteen years of
age, and have followed that profession ever since." In his note book of
his second voyage he says, "I had two ships, one of which I left at Porto
Sancto, for a certain reason, where it continued one day; and on the day
following, I rejoined it at Lisbon[5]; because I encountered a storm, and
had contrary winds at south-west, and the other ship had contrary winds at
south-east." From these instances it may be inferred that he had great
experience in sea affairs, and that he had visited many countries and
places, before he undertook his great discovery.

[1] This must be understood as referring to voyages in the Mediterranean,
in respect of the port of Genoa.--E.

[2] Supposing Columbus to have been 14 years of age on first going to sea,
it may be concluded that he was born in 1447. He must therefore have
been 45 years old when he set out in 1492 for the discovery of America;
and 59 years old at his death, in 1506.--E.

[3] Or rather Cape Carthago, on the coast of Barbary near Tunis.--E.

[4] It is highly probable that the original translator may have here
mistaken the braccio of 1.913 English feet, for the fathom of 6 feet.
In fathoms, this tide rises to the incredible height of 156 feet;
whereas in _braccios_, it amounts only to 49 feet: And besides there
are braccios considerably shorter than the one here assumed.--E.

[5] There is some inexplicable ambiguity in this passage, which the
original translator must have misunderstood, and which cannot now be

[Illustration: Chart of North Western Africa]


_Of his first coming to Portugal, and the cause or motives of his
proposing to discover the West Indies._

The occasion of his first coming into Portugal, arose from his attachment
to a famous man of his name and family, named Columbus, long renowned on
the sea as commander of a fleet against the infidels; insomuch that even
in his own country his name was used to frighten young children. This man,
known by the name of _Columbus the young_, to distinguish him from another
great sea captain of the same name, was a person of great prowess, and
must have commanded a goodly fleet, as he captured at one time four
Venetian galleys, of such size and strength as I could not have believed
unless I had seen them fitted out. Of this Columbus junior, Marc Anthony
Sabellicus, the Livy of our age, says, in the eighth book of his tenth
decade, that he lived at the time when Maximilian the son of the Emperor
Frederick III. was chosen king of the Romans; and that Jerom Donato was
sent ambassador from Venice to return thanks to John II. king of Portugal,
for having relieved and clothed the crews of their great galleys so as to
enable them to return to Venice. These galleys were returning from
Flanders, when they were encountered and taken by the famous corsair
Columbus junior, who stripped their whole crews and turned them ashore on
the coast of Portugal.

The authority of so grave an author as Sabellicus, sufficiently proves the
malice of Justiniani who makes no mention whatever of this incident,
evidently lest the family of Columbus might appear less obscure than he
was disposed to hold it out to the world. If in this he erred through
ignorance, he is not the less worthy of blame for having undertaken to
write the history of his country without making himself acquainted with so
signal a victory, of which even the enemies of Genoa make mention. Even
Sabellicus in his eighth book, mentions the great discovery of the admiral,
though less obliged to inquire into it, but without adding the twelve lies
which Justiniani inserted.

To return to the matter in hand. While the admiral my father sailed along
with Columbus junior, which he long did, they received intelligence of
four large Venetian galleys being on their voyage from Flanders, and going
in quest of them, came up with them near Cape St Vincent on the coast of
Portugal. A furious contest took place, in which the hostile vessels
grappled with each other, and the crews fought with the utmost rage, not
only using their hand weapons but artificial fire-works. The fight
continued with great fury from morning till night; when the vessel in
which my father was took fire, as did likewise a great Venetian galley to
which she was fast grappled by strong iron hooks and chains. In this
dreadful situation neither of them could be relieved, on account of the
confusion and terror of fire, which increased so rapidly that all who were
able of both crews leapt into the water, preferring that death to the
torture of fire. In this emergency, my father being an excellent swimmer,
and having the good fortune to lay hold of an oar, made for the land,
which was little more than two leagues distant. Sometimes swimming, and at
other times resting on the oar, it pleased God, who preserved him for the
accomplishment of greater designs, that he had sufficient strength to
attain the shore, but so exhausted by his exertions and by long
continuance in the water that he had much ado to recover. Being not far
from Lisbon, where he knew that many Genoese his countrymen then dwelt, he
made all haste to that city; where making himself known, he was
courteously received and entertained by the Genoese.

After remaining some time at Lisbon, where he behaved himself honourably,
being a man of comely appearance, it happened that Donna Felipa Moniz, a
lady of good family, then a boarder in the nunnery of All-Saints whether
my father used to go to mass, fell in love with him and married him. The
father of his lady, Peter Moniz Perestrello, being dead, the newly married
pair went to live with the widow; who seeing her son-in-law much addicted
to cosmography, informed him that her husband, Perestrello, had been a
great sea-faring man, and had gone with two other captains to make
discoveries with the license of the king of Portugal, and under an
agreement that they were to divide their discoveries into three portions,
and each to have a share by lot. That accordingly they had sailed from
Lisbon towards the south-west, where they discovered the islands of
Madeira and Porto Sancto, places which had never been seen before. And as
Madeira was the largest, they divided it into two portions, making Porto
Sancto the third, which had fallen to the lot of her husband Perestrello,
who continued in the government of that island till his death.

The admiral being much delighted with the relations of sea voyages, his
mother-in-law gave him the journals and sea charts which had been left by
her husband, which excited his curiosity to make inquiry respecting the
other voyages which the Portuguese had made to St George del Mina and the
coast of Guinea, and he enjoyed great delight in discoursing with such as
had sailed to those parts. I cannot certainly determine whether he ever
went to Mina or Guinea during the life of this wife. But while he resided
in Portugal he seriously reflected on the information he had thus received;
and concluded, as the Portuguese had made discoveries so far to the
southward, it was reasonable to conclude that land might be discovered by
sailing to the westwards. To assist his judgment, he again went over the
cosmographers which he had formerly studied, and considered maturely the
astronomical reasons which corroborated this new opinion. He carefully
weighed likewise the information and opinions on this subject of all with
whom he conversed, particularly sailors. From an attentive consideration
of all that occurred to him, he at length concluded that there must be
many lands to the west of the Canary and Cape de Verd islands; and that it
must be perfectly possible to sail to and discover them. But, that it may
distinctly appear by what train of arguments he came to deduce so vast an
undertaking, and that I may satisfy those who are curious to know the
motives which induced him to encounter so great danger, and which led him
to his great discovery, I shall now endeavour to relate what I have found
among his own papers respecting this matter.

The motives which induced my father to undertake the discovery of the West
Indies were three. Natural reason, authority of authors, and the testimony
of sailors. From natural reason my father concluded that the whole sea and
land of this world composed a globe or sphere, which might assuredly be
gone round, so that men should stand with their feet directly against the
feet of other men, in any precisely opposite parts whatever. _Secondly_,
he took it for granted upon the authority of approved authors that a great
portion of our globe had been already travelled over and explored; and
that it now only remained to discover the whole, so as to make known what
was contained in the vacant space which remained, between the eastern
boundaries of India which were known to Ptolemy and Marinus, and those our
newly discovered western parts of the coast of Africa and the Azores and
Cape Verd islands, the most westerly which were yet known. _Thirdly_, he
concluded that this still unknown space, between the eastern limits known
to Marinus and the Cape Verds, could not exceed a third part of the
circumference of the globe; since Marinus had already described 15 hours
towards the east, out of the 24 parts or hours into which the
circumference of the world is divided by the diurnal course of the sun;
and therefore to return in an easterly direction to the Cape Verd islands
from the limits discovered by Marinus, or to proceed westerly from these
islands to meet the eastern limits of Marinus, required only to pass over
about 8 parts in 24 of the circumference of the earth[1].

He reckoned, _fourthly_, that as the cosmography of Marinus had given an
account of fifteen hours or parts of the circumference of the globe
eastwards, and had not yet attained to a knowledge of the eastern
extremity of the land, it followed of course that this eastern extremity
must be considerably beyond those known limits; and consequently, that the
farther it extended eastwards, so much the nearer it must approach to the
Cape Verd islands, or the then known western limits of the globe: And, if
this space were sea, it might be easily sailed over in a short time; and
if land, that it would be much sooner discovered by sailing to the west,
since it must be much nearer to these islands in that direction. To this
may be added what is related by Strabo in his Fifteenth Book, that no army
ever penetrated to the eastern bounds of India, which according to Ctesias
is as extensive as all the rest of Asia. Onesicritus affirms that India is
a full third part of the world; and Nearchus says that it is four months
journey in a straight line from west to east. Pliny, in the 17th Chap, of
his 6th Book, says that India is a third part of the earth, and that
consequently it must be nearer Spain in the western than in the eastern

The fifth argument which induced the admiral to believe that the distance
in a western direction to India was small, was taken from the opinion of
Alfragranus and his followers, who computed the circumference of the
globe as much less than all other cosmographical writers, as they only
allowed 56-2/3 miles to a degree of longitude. Whence my father inferred,
that the whole globe being small, the extent of that third part which
remained to be discovered must necessarily be proportionally small
likewise; and might therefore be sailed over in a short time. And, as the
eastern bounds of India were not yet discovered, and must lie considerably
nearer us towards the west, he therefore considered that the lands which
he might discover in his proposed expedition westwards might properly be
denominated the Indies. Hence it appears how much Roderick the archdeacon
of Seville was wrong in blaming the admiral for calling those parts the
Indies which were not so. But the admiral did not call them the Indies as
having been seen or discovered by any other person; but as being in his
opinion the eastern part of India beyond the Ganges, to which no
cosmographer had ever assigned any precise limits, or made it to border
upon any other country farther to the east, considering those unknown
parts of eastern India to border on the ocean. And because he believed
those countries which he expected to discover formed the eastern and
formerly unknown lands of India, and had no appropriate name of their own,
he therefore gave them the name of the nearest known country, and called
them the _West Indies_. He was, so much the more induced to choose this
appellation that the riches and wealth of India were well known, and he
thereby expected the more readily to induce their Catholic Majesties to
accede to his proposed undertaking, of the success of which they were
doubtful; by saying that he intended to discover the way to India by the
west: And he was desirous of being employed in the service of the crown of
Castile, in preference to any other.

The second motive which encouraged the admiral to undertake his great
enterprize, and which might reasonably induce him to call the countries he
proposed to discover by the name of the Indies, was derived from the
authority of learned men; who had affirmed that it was possible to sail
from the western coast of Africa and Spain to the eastern bounds of India
by the westwards, and that the sea which lay between these limits was of
no great extent. This is affirmed by Aristotle, in his Second Book of the
Heaven and of the World, as explained by Averroes; in which he says that a
person may sail from India to Cadiz in a few days. Seneca, in his book of
Nature, reflecting upon the knowledge of this world as insignificant in
comparison with what shall be attained in a future life, says that a ship
may sail in a few days with a fair wind from Spain to India. And if, as
some suppose, the same Seneca were the author of the tragedies, he
expresses himself to the same purpose in the following chorus of the Medea:

Venient annis
Secula feris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxat, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Typhysque novos
Detegat orbes, nec sit terris
Ultima Thule.

"There will come an age in latter times, when the ocean shall loosen the
bonds of things, and a great country shall be discovered; when another
Typhys shall find out new worlds, and Thule shall no longer remain the
ultimate boundary of the earth."

This prophecy has now certainly been fulfilled by my father. In the first
book of his cosmography, Strabo says that the ocean encompasses the whole
earth; that in the east it washes the shores of India, and in the west
those of Mauritania and Spain; and that if it were not for the vast
magnitude of the Atlantic, men might easily sail in a short time from the
one to the other upon the same parallel; and he repeats the same opinion
in his second book. Pliny, in the Second Book of his Natural History, Chap.
iii. says that the ocean surrounds all the earth, and extends from east to
west between India and Cadiz. The same author, in his Sixth Book, Chap.
xxxi. and Solinus in the sixty-eight chapter of the Remarkable Things of
the World, say that, from the islands of the Gorgonides, which are
supposed to be those of Cape Verd, it was forty days sail across the
Atlantic Ocean to the Hesperides; which islands the admiral concluded were
those of the West Indies. Marco Polo the Venetian traveller, and Sir John
Mandeville, say that they went much farther eastward than was known to
Ptolemy and Marinus. Perhaps these travellers do not mention any eastern
sea beyond their discoveries; yet from the accounts which they give of the
east, it may be reasonably inferred that India is not far distant from
Spain and Africa. Peter Aliacus, in his treatise on the Figure of the
Earth, in the eighth Chapter respecting the extent of habitable land, and
Julius Capitolinus upon inhabitable places, and in several other treatises,
both assert that Spain and India are neighbours towards the west. The
latter author, in the nineteenth Chapter of his Cosmography says,
according to the opinion of Pliny and other philosophers, the ocean which
stretches from the western shores of Spain and Africa to the eastern
limits of India is of no great extent, and might certainly be sailed over
in a few days with a fair wind; and therefore that the beginning of India
eastwards cannot be far distant from the western limits of Africa.

From these and similar authorities of eminent writers, the admiral was led
to believe that he had formed a sound opinion on this subject; and he was
much encouraged to undertake his proposed voyage of discovery by his
contemporary Paul, physician to Signior Dominico of Florence. This Paul
corresponded with Ferdinand Lopez, a canon of Lisbon, concerning the
voyages which had been undertaken to Guinea in the reign of King Alphonzo
of Portugal, and concerning future discoveries which might be made to the
westwards. The admiral, who was always exceedingly ardent in inquiries on
these topics, came to the knowledge of this correspondence; and soon
afterwards, by means of Laurentio Girarde, a Florentine who then resided
in Lisbon, entered into correspondence with Paul on this subject,
acquainting him with his design, and sending him a small terrestrial globe.
The communications from Paul on this subject are as follow:

"To Christopher Columbus, Paul the Physician wisheth health. I perceive
the noble and earnest desire which you entertain to sail to those parts
which produce spices; and therefore, in answer to your letter, I send you
one which I wrote some time ago to a friend of mine, a servant to the king
of Portugal, before the wars of Castile, in answer to one he had written
to me by the order of his highness upon this same subject; and I send you
a sea chart similar to the one I sent to him, which will satisfy your
demands. The copy of that letter is this!"

"To Ferdinand Martinez, Paul the physician wisheth health.--I rejoice to
learn the familiarity which you have with your most serene and magnificent
king; and although I have often discoursed concerning the short way by sea
from hence to the Indies where spice is produced, which I consider to be
shorter than that you now take by the coast of Guinea; yet you now inform
me that his highness requires me to explain and demonstrate this my
opinion, so that it may be understood and reduced to practice. Therefore,
though I could better shew it with a globe in my hand, so as to make him
sensible of the figure and dimensions of the world; yet I have resolved to
make it as easy and intelligible as possible by delineating this way upon
a chart, such as is used in navigation. Wherefore I now send one to his
majesty, drawn by my own hand; in which I have set down the utmost bounds
of the west, from Ireland in the north to the farthest parts of Guinea,
with all the islands that lie in the way: Opposite to which western coast,
the beginning of the Indies is delineated, with the islands and places to
which you may go, and how far you may bend from the north pole towards the
equinoctial, and for how long a time; that is, how many leagues you must
sail before you arrive at those places which are most fruitful in all
sorts of spice, in jewels and precious stones.

"Do not wonder that I term the country where the spice is produced in the
_west_, because that production has been generally ascribed to the _east_:
Since those who may sail to the westward will always find those places in
the _west_, which those who travel by land eastwards must find in the
_east_. The straight lines that run lengthways in the chart shew the
distances from east to west, and the other lines which cross these at
right angles shew the distances from north to south. I have likewise
represented in the chart, several places in India where ships may take
shelter in any storm or contrary wind, or on occasion of any unforeseen
accident. Moreover, to give you full information respecting all those
places of which you inquire, you must understand that none but traders
reside in these islands, in which as great a number of ships and mariners,
and as great quantities of merchandize is to be found, as in any other
part of the world; more particularly in a most noble port called Zacton[2],
where there are every year 100 large ships loaded and unloaded with pepper,
besides many other ships which take in other kinds of spice. This country
is exceedingly populous, and contains many provinces and kingdoms and
cities innumerable, under the dominion of a sovereign called the Great
Cham, which title signifies the King of kings, who usually resides in the
province of Cathay[3].

"The predecessors of the great cham were very desirous to have amity and
commerce with the Christians; and 200 years ago sent ambassadors to the
pope, desiring him to send many learned men and doctors to instruct them
in our holy faith; but by reason of some obstacles which these ambassadors
encountered, they returned back without coming to Rome. There came however
in our day an ambassador from those parts to Pope Eugenius IV. who told him
of the great friendship which subsisted between these princes and their
people with the Christians. I discoursed at large with this person upon
several matters, respecting the splendour of their royal buildings, the
great length and breadth of their rivers, and many other topics. He told
me many wonderful things of the multitude of cities and towns along the
banks of the rivers; insomuch that there were 200 cities upon one river
alone, having marble bridges over it of wonderful length and breadth, and
adorned with numerous pillars. This country deserves as well as any other
to be explored; and great profit may be made by trading thither, as it
abounds in many valuable commodities, and with gold, silver, all kinds of
precious stones, and spices of all sorts. It is likewise certain that many
wise men, philosophers, astronomers, and others, exceedingly ingenious and
skilled in the arts and sciences, govern the numerous provinces of that
mighty empire, and command its armies.

"From Lisbon directly westwards, there are in the chart which I now
transmit twenty-six spaces, each of which contains 250 miles, or 6500
miles in all, to the vast and most noble city of _Quisay_[4], which is 100
miles or thirty-five leagues in compass. Its name signifies the heavenly
city, and wonderful things are reported respecting the magnificence of its
buildings, the prodigious amount of its revenues, and the multitude and
ingenuity of its inhabitants. This city is in, the province of Mango[5],
bordering on that of Cathay where the king resides. And the before
mentioned distance between Lisbon and that city westwards, is almost a
third part of the circumference of the globe. From the island of Antilia,
which you call the Seven Cities, and of which you have some knowledge,
there are ten spaces in the chart to the most noble island of Cipango,
which make 2500 miles or 875 leagues[6]. The island of Cipango abounds in
gold, pearls and precious stones, and the people even cover their temples
and palaces with plates of pure gold[7]. But, for want of knowing the way,
all these wonderful things remain hidden and concealed, although they
might easily be gone to with safety. Much more might be said, but as you
are a wise and judicious person, and I have already told you of what is
most material, I am satisfied that you will fully understand the whole,
and I shall not therefore be more prolix. What I have written may satisfy
your curiosity, and is as much as the shortness of the time and my
business will admit. Therefore I remain most ready to satisfy his majesty
to the utmost of my abilities in all commands which he may be pleased to
lay upon me."

Paul the Physician afterwards wrote the following letter to my father.--"I
received your letter with those things you sent me, which I esteem a great
favour, and I greatly commend your noble and ardent desire of sailing
from the east to the west, as marked out in the chart which I sent you;
but which would be much better demonstrated in the form of a globe. I am
rejoiced that it is well understood, that the voyage laid down is not
only possible but true, certain, honourable, advantageous, and most
glorious among Christians. You can only become perfect in the knowledge of
it by practice and experience, which I have had in some measure,
especially by the solid and true information of many worthy and wise men
who came from those parts to the court of Rome, and from merchants who
are persons of good reputation and have long traded to those regions.
Hence, when the voyage shall be performed, it will be to powerful kingdoms,
and to most noble provinces and cities, rich, flourishing, and abounding
in all those commodities of which we are in need: particularly in great
quantities of all sorts of spice, and in great store of jewels. It will
likewise be very grateful to the kings and princes of those parts, who are
exceedingly desirous to have intercourse and trade with the Christians;
whether that some of them are inclined to become Christians, or else
desire to communicate with the wise and learned men of Europe, as well in
regard to religion, as in all the sciences, by reason of the extraordinary
accounts they have received of the kingdoms and governments and learning
of our part of the world. On all which accounts, and others which might be
alleged, it is reasonable that your own magnanimity, and the whole
Portuguese nation, ever renowned for great men, and memorable in all their
undertakings, should be eagerly bent upon performing this voyage."

By this letter, as has been before observed, the admiral was greatly
encouraged to go upon his discovery, although the learned physician was
mistaken in believing that Cathay and the empire of the great Cham was the
first land to be met with in sailing towards the west; for experience has
made it appear, that the distance from the West Indies to that country is
greater than from Europe to the West Indies.

The _third_ and last motive by which the admiral was incited to the
discovery of the West Indies, was the hope of finding in his way to India
some very beneficial island or continent, from whence he might the better
be enabled to pursue his main design. This hope was founded upon the
authority and opinion of many wise and learned men, who believed that the
greatest part of the surface of the terraqueous globe was composed of land,
or that there certainly was more earth than sea. If that were the case, he
concluded that, between the coast of Spain and the then known bounds of
India, there must be many islands and a great extent of continent
interposed, which experience has since demonstrated to be true. In this
opinion he was confirmed by many fabulous stories which he had heard from
sailors and others who had sailed to the islands and western coast of
Africa, and to Madeira; and as these testimonies, though false, tended to
confirm the purpose he had so long and ardently cherished, they the more
readily gained his assent; and, to satisfy the curiosity of such as are
curious in these matters, I shall here relate them.

One Martin Vicente, a pilot in the service of the king of Portugal,
related to the admiral, that, being once 450 leagues to the westward of
Cape St Vincent, he had found a piece of wood most curiously curved, but
not with iron; and seeing that the winds had blown for many days
previously from the west, he conjectured that the carved wood must have
been drifted from some island in that direction. One Peter Correa, who had
married a sister of the admirals wife, told him of having seen another
piece of wood which had been brought to the island of Porto Sancto by the
same westerly wind, and of certain drifted canes, so thick that every
joint was large enough to contain four quarts of wine. These he alleged to
have shewn to the king of Portugal, and as there were no such canes in our
parts of the world, he believed that the winds must have wafted them from
some distant islands in the west, or else from India: More especially as
Ptolemy, in the first book of his cosmography, and chapter 17. says, that
such canes grow in the eastern parts of India; and some of the islanders,
particularly those in the Azores, informed Correa that when the west wind
blew long together, the sea sometimes drove pine trees on the islands
Gratioso and Fayal, where no such trees were otherwise to be found. He was
likewise told that the sea had cast upon the island of Flores, another of
the Azores, the dead bodies of two men, having very broad visages, and
very different in their appearance from Europeans.

It was likewise reported to the admiral that the people about Cape Verga
had once seen some almadias or covered boats, which it was believed had
been driven thither by stress of weather while going from one of these
supposed islands in the west to another island. One Anthony Leme, who was
married and settled in the island of Madeira, told the admiral that,
having once made a considerable run to the westward, he had descried three
islands. To this information, however, he gave little credit, as by his
own account Leme had not sailed above 100 leagues to the west, and might
have been deceived by some rocks; or what he had seen might have been some
of those floating islands, called Aguades by the sailors, of which Pliny
makes mention in the 97th chapter of the first book of his natural history.
Pliny says that some spots of land are seen in the northern parts of the
ocean on which there are deep-rooted trees, and that these parcels of land
are carried about like floats, or islands swimming upon the water. Seneca,
in his third book, endeavouring to give a probable reason for the
existence of such islands, alleges that there are certain rocks so light
and spongy in their substance, that islands in India which are composed of
such do actually swim upon the water. Therefore, even if it were actually
the case that Leme had seen the three islands, the admiral, was of opinion
that they must have been of that kind, such as those called the islands of
St Brandan are supposed to be, where many wonders are reported to have
been seen. Accounts have also been propagated of other islands, which are
continually burning, and which lie far to the northward[8].

Juventius Fortunatus mentions an account of two floating islands
considerably to the west, and more southward than those of Cape Verd.
These and such like reports, might induce several of the inhabitants of
Ferro and Gomera, and of the Azores, to affirm that they saw islands
towards the west every year; of which they were so thoroughly convinced,
that many reputable persons swore that it was true. The same Fortunatus
relates, that a person came from Madeira to Portugal in the year 1484, to
beg a caravel from the king in which he might go in quest of an island
which he made oath that he saw every year, and always after the exact same
manner; with whom others agreed, who declared that they had seen the same
land from the Azores.

On these grounds, in all the former maps and charts, certain islands were
placed in that direction. In his book concerning the wonderful things of
nature, Aristotle informs us of a report, that some Carthaginian merchants
had sailed across the Atlantic to a most beautiful and fertile island, of
which we shall give a more particular account hereafter. Some Portuguese
cosmographers have inserted this island in their maps under the name of
Antilla; though they do not agree with Aristotle in regard to its
situation, yet none have placed it more than 200 leagues due west from the
Canaries and Azores. This they assert to be certainly the island of the
seven cities, which is said to have been peopled by the Portuguese in the
year 714, at the time when Spain was conquered by the Moors. At that time,
according to the legend, seven bishops with their people sailed to this
island, where each of them built a city; and, that none of their people
might ever think of returning to Spain, they burnt their ships with all
the tackling, and destroyed every thing that was necessary for navigation.
There are who affirm that several Portuguese mariners have been to that
island, but could never find their way back to it again. It is said
particularly, that in the time of Don Henry, infant of Portugal, a
Portuguese ship was driven by stress of weather upon this island of
Antilla, where the men went on shore, and were led by the islanders to a
church, that they might see whether they were Christians and observed the
ceremonies of the Roman worship; and perceiving that they did, the
islanders requested them to remain till their lord should return, who
happened to be then absent, but who would be very kind to them, and give
them many presents. But the master and seamen were afraid of being
detained, and suspected that the islanders had no mind to be discovered,
and might burn their vessel; wherefore they sailed back to Portugal,
hoping to be rewarded for their discovery by Don Henry. But he reproved
them severely, and ordered them to return quickly; wherefore the master
and all his crew escaped from Portugal with their ship, and never
returned. It is likewise reported, that while the master and seamen of
this vessel were at church in the foresaid island, the boys of the ship
gathered sand for the cook room, a third part of which was found to be
pure gold.

Among others who set out to discover this island was one Jattes de Fiene,
whose pilot Peter Velasquez, of the town of Palos de Moguer, told the
admiral in the monastery of St Mary de la Rabida, that they sailed 150
leagues south-west from Fayal, and discovered the island of Flores in
their return, to which they were led by observing numbers of birds to fly
in that direction, and because these were land birds they concluded that
they were making for land, as they could not rest upon the waters. Leaving
Flores, they sailed so far to the north-east, that they came to Cape Clear
in the west of Ireland, where they met with a stiff western gale and yet a
smooth sea, whence they concluded that there must be land in that
direction by which the sea was sheltered from the effects of the west wind;
but it being then the month of August, they did not venture to proceed in
search of that supposed island, for fear of winter. This happened about
forty years before the discovery of the West Indies.

The foregoing account was confirmed to the admiral by the relation of a
mariner whom he met with at Port St Mary, who told him that, once in a
voyage to Ireland he saw that western land, which he then supposed to be a
part of Tartary stretching out towards the west, but could not come near
it on account of bad weather. But it is probable that this must have been
the land now called _Bacallaos_, or Newfoundland. This was farther
confirmed by what was related to him by one Peter de Velasco of Galicia,
whom he met with in the city of Murcia in Spain: who, in sailing for
Ireland, went so far to the north-west, that he discovered land far to the
west of Ireland; which he believes to have been the same which one
Femaldolmos endeavoured to discover in the following manner, as set down
in my fathers writings, that it may appear how some men build great and
important matters upon very slight foundations. Gonzalo Fernandez de
Oviedo, in his natural history of the Indies, says that the admiral had a
letter in which the Indies were described by one who had before discovered
them; which was by no means the case, but only thus: Vincent Diaz, a
Portuguese of Tavira, on his return from Guinea to the Tercera islands,
and having passed the island of Madeira, which he left to the east, saw,
or imagined that he saw something which he certainly concluded to be land.
On his arrival at Tercera, he told this to one Luke de Cazzana, a Genoese
merchant, his friend, and a very rich man, and endeavoured to persuade him
to fit out a vessel for the conquest of this place: This Cazzana agreed to,
and obtained a license from the king of Portugal for the purpose. He wrote
accordingly to his brother Francis de Cazzana, who resided at Seville, to
fit out a vessel with all expedition for Diaz; but Francis made light of
the matter, and Luke de Cazzana actually fitted out a vessel from Tercera,
in which the before named pilot sailed from 120 to 130 leagues, but all in
vain, for he found no land. Yet neither he nor his partner Cazzana
desisted from the enterprize till death closed their hopes. The before
mentioned Francis de Cazzana likewise informed the admiral, that he knew
two sons of the pilot who discovered the island of Tercera, named Michael
and Jasper Cortereal, who went several times in search of that land, and
at last perished one after the other in the year 1502, without having ever
been heard of since, as was well known to many credible persons.

If all that has been said above concerning so many imaginary islands and
continents appears to be mere fable and folly, how much more reason have
we to consider that as false which Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo conceits in
his Natural History of the Indies, "That there was another discoverer of
this navigation of the ocean, and that the Spaniards held anciently the
dominion of these lands." He pretended to make out this assertion from
what Aristotle wrote concerning the island of Atalantis, and Sebosus of
the Hesperides. Thus, looking upon his own imagination as a certain
standard of truth, he affirms upon the judgment of some persons whose
writings I have duly weighed and attentively examined. I should have
omitted to enlarge on this subject, to avoid tiring the reader, and that I
might not be obliged to condemn the opinions of others, were it not that
many persons, to detract from the honour and reputation of the admiral,
have made great account of these notions. Besides, it appeared that I
should not fully perform my duty by merely recounting with all sincerity
and truth, the motives and incitements which inclined the admiral my
father to undertake his unparalleled enterprize, if I should suffer what I
know to be a manifest falsehood to pass uncensured. Wherefore, the better
to detect the mistake of Oviedo, I shall first state what Aristotle has
said on this subject, as related by F. Theophilus de Ferrariis, among the
problems of Aristotle which he collected in a book entitled De Admirandis
in Natura auditis, in the following strain:

"Beyond the pillars of Hercules, it is reported that certain Carthaginian
merchants discovered an island in the Atlantic, which had never before
been inhabited except by beasts. This island was not many days sail from
the continent, was entirely covered over with trees, and abounded in all
the usual productions of nature, having a considerable number of navigable
rivers. Finding this a beautiful country, possessing it fertile soil and
salubrious atmosphere, these Carthaginians began to people it; but the
senate of Carthage, offended with this procedure, passed a decree
forbidding any person to go to that island under pain of death, and they
ordered all those who had already gone there to be slain; meaning thereby
to prevent all other nations from acquiring any knowledge of the place,
lest some other and more powerful state might take possession, to the
detriment of their liberty and commercial interest."

Oviedo had no just grounds for asserting that this island must have been
Hispaniola or Cuba. As he was ignorant of Latin, he was obliged to take
such interpretation of this story as he could procure from some other
person, who certainly was very ill qualified for the task, since the Latin
text has been altered and misinterpreted in several particulars. This may
have misled Oviedo, and induced him to believe that the foregoing
quotation referred to some island in the West Indies. In the Latin text we
do not read of the Carthaginian merchants going out of the straits of
Gibraltar as Oviedo writes[9]. Neither is it said that the island was
extensive, or its trees large, but only that it was much wooded. Nor do we
find that the rivers were wonderful, or the soil fat, or that the island
was more remote from Africa than from Europe; but merely that it was
remote from the continent. It is not said in the original that any towns
were built here, and indeed it is not likely that these traders should
build much; neither is the place said to have become famous, as we see on
the contrary that the Carthaginians were careful to prevent its fame from
spreading among the nations. Thus the translator being ignorant, led
Oviedo to believe quite a different story from the reality[10].

It is quite ridiculous to suppose that Carthaginian merchants could
possibly be carried so far out of their way as Hispaniola or Cuba; neither
could they have arrived at either of those islands without meeting with
the many other islands which surround them. It is more probable that the
island discovered by the Carthaginians was one of the Azores; for though
Ferrarius speaks of navigable rivers, he might possibly have written _ad
navigandum_ instead of _potandum_, and have thereby corrupted the meaning
of his author, that the island had plenty of streams fit for drinking,
into abundance of rivers adapted for navigation[11]. Oviedo falls into a
similar error in supposing this island of the Carthaginians to have been
the same with that mentioned by Seneca in his fourth book; where he tells
us that Seneca speaks of an island named Atlantica, which was entirely or
mostly drowned in the time of the Peloponnesian war; and of which island
Plato likewise makes mention in his Timaeus: But we have already dwelt too
long on these fables.

Oviedo insists that the Spaniards had the entire dominion of these islands,
which he was pleased to consider as the same with our West Indies. He
grounds this opinion on what is said by Statius and Sebosus, that certain
islands called _Hesperides_ lay forty days sail west from the Gorgonian
islands on the coast of Africa. Hence he argued, that these islands must
necessarily be the West Indies, and were called Hesperides from Hesperes
king of Spain, who consequently with the Spaniards his subjects were lords
of these islands. But I am quite tired of this dispute, and shall now
proceed to the history of the admirals discovery.

[1] In his reasoning, by some error which cannot be now corrected, a
twenty-fourth part, or one hour, is omitted.--E.

[2] Paul here evidently speaks of the empire of China, and the port here
named Zacton or Zaiton, may be that now called Canton, although spice
certainly is not the produce of that country.--E.

[3] Cathay seems here to denote northern China.--E.

[4] This is obviously the Quinsay of Marco Polo.--E.

[5] Mangi or southern China.--E.

[6] The island Antilia, the name of which has been since adopted by the
French for the smaller West India islands, was, like the more modern
Terra Australia incognita, a gratuitous supposition for preserving the
balance of the earth, before the actual discovery of America. Cipango
was the name by which Japan was then known in Europe, from the
relations of Marco Polo.--E.

[7] Such appeared to the early travellers the richly gilt and lackered
tile used in Japan and other parts of India.--E.

[8] This report must have proceeded from some very erroneous account of
Iceland, as it is the only place in the northern part of the Atlantic
which contains a volcano.--E.

[9] Don Ferdinand, or his translator, has forgot here that, in the extract
from Ferrarius, beyond the straits, and in the Atlantic, are the
distinctly expressed situation of the island.--E.

[10] There is a good deal more in the original, totally uninteresting to
the reader, in the same querulous strain of invective against Oviedo,
but which is here abridged as conveying no information.--E.

[11] Our author falls into a mistake in this chapter, supposing the Azores
to have been the Cassiterides of the ancients, well known to have been
the Scilly islands.--E.


_The Admiral, being disgusted by the procedure of the King of Portugal, in
regard to the proposed Discovery, offers his services to the Court of

Having fully satisfied himself of the practicability of his long
considered project of discovering the route to India by the west, as
already explained, the admiral resolved to put his scheme into execution;
and being sensible that the undertaking was only fit for a prince who was
able to go through with the expence, and to maintain the dominion of the
discovery when made, he thought it proper to propose it to the king of
Portugal, because he then lived under his government and protection. And,
though King John who then reigned gave a favourable ear to his arguments
and proposals, he yet seemed backward in acceding to them, on account of
the great expence and trouble he was then at in carrying on the discovery
and conquest of Guinea on the western coast of Africa, which had not yet
been crowned with any considerable success; not having been hitherto able
to double the Cape of Good Hope, which name had been given to this cape
instead of its original denomination, _Agesingue_; as some say because the
Portuguese had no hope of ever extending their discoveries and conquests
any farther, while others assert it was so called on account of their
hopes of better navigation and of discovering more valuable countries
beyond. However this may have been, the king of Portugal was little
inclined to expend more money in prosecuting discoveries; yet he was so
far prevailed upon by the excellent reasons adduced by the admiral in
favour of his proposed undertaking, that the only remaining difficulty was
in complying with the terms my father demanded for himself in case of
success: For my father, who was a man of a noble and dignified spirit,
insisted upon conditions which should redound to his honour and reputation;
being resolved to leave behind him such a reputation, and so considerable
a family as he deemed due to his merits and the actions which he
confidently expected to perform.

While matters were in this train, by the advice of one Doctor Calzadilla
in whom he reposed great confidence, the king of Portugal resolved to
dispatch a caravel in secret to attempt making the discovery which my
father had proposed to him; as, if he could make the discovery in this
clandestine manner, he should be freed from the obligation of bestowing
any great reward on the occasion. Accordingly, a caravel was fitted out
under pretence of carrying supplies to the Cape Verd islands, with private
instructions to sail in the direction in which my father had proposed to
go upon his intended discovery. But the people who were sent upon this
expedition did not possess sufficient knowledge or spirit; and, after
wandering many days in the Atlantic, they returned to the Cape Verd
islands, laughing at the undertaking as ridiculous and impracticable, and
declaring that there could not possibly be any land in that direction or
in those seas. When this scandalous underhand dealing came to my fathers
ears, he took a great aversion to Lisbon and the Portuguese nation; and,
his wife being dead, he resolved to repair into Castile, with his son Don
James Columbus, then a little boy, who has since inherited his fathers
estate. But, lest the sovereign of Castile might not consent to his
proposal, and he might be under the necessity of applying to some other
prince, by which much time might be lost, he dispatched his brother
Bartholomew Columbus from Lisbon to make similar proposals to the king of
England. Bartholomew, though no Latin scholar, was skilful and experienced
in sea affairs, and had been instructed by the admiral in the construction
of sea charts, globes, and other nautical instruments. While on his way to
England, Bartholomew Columbus had the misfortune to be taken by pirates,
who stript him and all the rest of the ships company of every thing they
had of value. On this account he arrived in England in such great poverty,
and that aggravated by sickness, that he was unable to deliver his message
until he had recruited his finances by the sale of sea charts of his own
construction, by which a long time was lost He then began to make
proposals to Henry VII. who then reigned in England, to whom he presented
a map of the world, on which the following verses and inscription were

Terrarum quicunque cupis feliciter oras
Noscere, cuncta decens docte pictura docebit,
Quando Strabo affirmat, Ptolomaeus, Plinius, atque
Isiodorus, non una tamen sententia quisque.
Pingitur hic etiam nuper sulcata carinis
Hispanis zona illa, prius incognita genti,
Torrida, quae tandem minet est notissima multis.

Pro Auctore, sive Pictore.
Janua cui patria est nomen, cui Bartholomaeus
Columbus de Terra-rubra, opus edidit istud,
Londiniis Ann. Dom. 1480, atque insuper anno,
Octavo decimaque die cum tertia mensis
Februarii. Laudes Christi cantentur abunde.

The sense of the first verses is to this effect: "Whosoever thou art who
desirest to know the coasts of countries, must be taught by this draught
what has been affirmed by Strabo, Ptolemy, Pliny, and Isiodorus; although
they do not in all things agree. Here is also set down the formerly
unknown torrid zone, lately visited by vessels from Spain, and now well
known to many." The second inscription has the following signification:
"As to the author or painter of this chart; he is Bartholomew Columbus of
the red earth, a Genoese, who published this work at London on the 21st of
February in the year 1480. Praised be Christ abundantly."

It may be observed here, that I have seen some subscriptions of my father,
the admiral, in which he designs himself Christopher Columbus de
Terra-rubra; but this was before he acquired his title of admiral. But to
return to Bartholomew: The king of England graciously received the map;
and having favourably listened to the admirals proposals, which my uncle
had laid before him, readily agreed to the conditions demanded, and
ordered my father to be invited into England. But Providence had
determined that the advantage of this great discovery should belong to
Castile; and by this time my father had gone upon his first voyage, from
which he was already returned with success, as shall be shewn in its
proper place.

About the end of the year 1484 the admiral stole away privately from
Lisbon with his son James, as he was afraid of being detained by the king
of Portugal. For, being sensible of the misconduct of the people whom he
had sent in the caravel already mentioned, the king was desirous to
restore the admiral to favour, and to renew the conferences respecting the
proposed discovery. But as he did not use as much diligence in executing
this new resolution as the admiral did in withdrawing himself, he lost the
opportunity, and the admiral got into Castile, where better fortune
awaited him. Leaving therefore his son James in the monastery of La Rabida
at Palos, he went to the court of their Catholic majesties at Cordova.
Being of affable manners and pleasant conversation, he soon acquired the
intimacy of such persons as he found best inclined to favour his views,
and fittest to persuade the king to embrace his proposed undertaking.
Among these was Lewis de Santangel an Arragonese gentleman, who was clerk
of the allowances in the royal household, a man of great prudence and
reputation. But, as a matter of such importance required to be learnedly
investigated, and not merely by empty words and the favourable reports of
courtiers, their majesties referred it to the consideration of the prior
of Prado, afterwards archbishop of Granada; ordering him to take the
assistance of some cosmographers, and after a full investigation of the
whole affair, to make a report of their opinion on its practicability.
There were few cosmographers then in Spain, and those who were convened on
this occasion were far from skilful: And besides, warned by the trick
which had been attempted in Portugal, the admiral did not explain himself
so fully as he might, lest he should lose his reward. On these accounts,
the report which they gave to their Catholic majesties was as various as
their several judgments and opinions, and by no means favourable to the
projected enterprize.

Some alleged, that since so many skilful sailors, during the many thousand
years which had elapsed from the creation of the world, had not acquired
any knowledge whatever of these countries, it was not at all probable that
he should know more of the matter than all who had gone before or who now
existed. Others, pretending to ground their opinion upon cosmographical
arguments, said that the world was of such prodigious size that they
questioned if it were possible to sail in three years to the eastern
extremity of India, whither he proposed to go; and they endeavoured to
confirm this opinion by the authority of Seneca, who says in one of his
works, "That many wise men disagreed about whether the ocean were of
infinite extent, and doubted whether it were navigable, and whether
habitable lands existed on its other side; and, even if so, whether it
were possible to go to these." They added, that only a small proportion of
this terraqueous globe, which had remained in our hemisphere above the
water, was habitable; and that all the rest was sea, which was not
sussceptible of being navigated, except near the coasts and rivers; and
that wise men denied the possibility of sailing from the coast of Spain to
the farthest parts of the west. Others argued nearly in the same manner as
had been formerly done by the Portuguese in regard to the navigation along
the western coast of Africa: That if any one should sail due westwards, as
proposed by the admiral, it would certainly be impossible to return again
to Spain; because whoever should sail beyond the hemisphere which was
known to Ptolemy, would then go downwards upon the rotundity of the globe,
and then it would be impossible to sail up again on their return, which
would necessarily be to climb up hill, and which no ship could accomplish
even with the stiffest gale. Although the admiral gave perfectly valid
answers to all these objections; yet, such was the ignorance of these
people, that the more his reasons were powerful and conclusive so much the
less were they understood: For when people have grown old in prejudices
and false notions of philosophy and mathematics, these get such firm hold
of the mind that true and just principles are utterly unintelligible.

The prior and his coadjutors were all influenced by a Spanish proverb,
which, though contradictory to reason and common sense, says _Dubitat
Augustinus_, or it is contradicted by St Augustine; who, in the 9th
chapter of the 21st book of his city of God, denies the possibility of the
_Antipodes_, or that any person should be able to go from one hemisphere
into the other. They farther urged against the admiral the commonly
received opinions concerning the five zones, by which the torrid zone is
declared utterly uninhabitable, and many other arguments equally absurd
and ridiculous. Upon the whole, they concluded to give judgment against
the enterprize as vain and impracticable, and that it did not become the
state and dignity of such great princes to act upon such weak information
as they conceived to have been communicated. Therefore, after much time
spent in the business, the admiral received for answer that their Catholic
majesties were then occupied in many other wars, and particularly in the
conquest of Granada then going on, and could not therefore conveniently
attend to this new undertaking; but that on some future opportunity of
greater leisure and convenience, they would have more time to examine into
his proposal. To conclude, their majesties refused to listen to the great
proposals which the admiral made to them.

While these matters were in agitation, their Catholic majesties had not
been always resident in one place, owing to the war of Granada in which
they were then engaged, by which a long time was lost before they had
formed a final resolution and given their answer. The admiral went
therefore to Seville, where he still found their majesties as unresolved
as before. He then gave an account of his projected expedition to the duke
of Medina Sidonia; but, after many conferences finding no likelihood of
success, he resolved to make application to the king of France, to whom he
had already written on the subject; and, if he should not succeed there,
he proposed to have gone next into England to seek his brother, from whom
he had not hitherto received any intelligence. In this resolution, he went
to the monastery of Rabida, whence he proposed to have sent his son James
to Cordova, and to have then proceeded on his journey into France. But
Providence having decreed otherwise, occasioned the cementation of so
great friendship between the admiral and John Perez, the father guardian
of that monastery, who was so thoroughly assured of the excellence and
practicability of the project, that he was deeply concerned at the
resolution my father had adopted, and for the loss which Spain would
sustain by his departure. Perez earnestly entreated the admiral to
postpone his intended departure; saying, that as he was confessor to the
queen, he was resolved to make an essay to persuade her to compliance, and
hoped that she would give credit to his representations.

Although the admiral was much disgusted with the irresolution and want of
judgment which he had encountered among the Spanish councillors, and was
quite out of hope of success; yet considering himself in a great measure
as a Spaniard, owing to his long residence in the country, he was desirous
that Spain rather than any other country, might reap the benefit of his
undertaking. Another reason of the preference was that his children were
then resident in Spain. In a letter which he wrote about this time to
their Catholic majesties he said: "That I might serve your highnesses, I
have refused the offers of France, England, and Portugal, as may be seen
by the letters of these princes, which I have deposited in the hands of
the doctor Villalan."

Gained by the pressing instances of Perez, the admiral departed from the
monastery of Rabida, accompanied by that ecclesiastic, and went to the
camp of St Faith, where their Catholic majesties were then carrying on the
siege of Granada. Perez here made such pressing instances to Isabella,
that she was pleased to order a renewal of the conferences, which were
still held with the prior of Prado and his former coadjutors, who were
still irresolute and contradictory in their opinions. Besides Columbus was
high in his demands of honour and emolument, requiring that he should be
appointed admiral and viceroy of all the countries he might discover,
together with other important concessions. The Spanish councillors deemed
his demands too high to be granted, as too considerable even in the event
of success; and, in case of disappointment, they thought it would reflect
ridicule and the imputation of folly upon the court to have conceded such
high titles. Owing to these considerations the business again came to

I cannot forbear expressing my sense of the admirals wisdom and high
spirit, as well as his foresight and resolution on this trying occasion.
Besides his earnest desire to go upon his great undertaking, and his wish
that it might be in the service of Spain for the reasons formerly
mentioned, he was now so exceedingly reduced in his circumstances, that
any ordinary person would have been glad to accept of almost any offer
whatever. But he would not accept any terms short of the high titles and
honours, and those other conditions of eventual emolument which he had
demanded, as if foreseeing with assured certainty the entire success of
his project. Hence by his spirited determination they were at the last
obliged to concede to all his demands: that he should be admiral on the
ocean of all the seas and lands which he might discorer, with all the
allowances, privileges, and prerogatives enjoyed by the admirals of
Castile and Leon in their several seas; that all civil employments, as
well of government as in the administration of justice, should be entirely
at his disposal in all the islands and continents which he was to discover;
that all governments should be given to one of three persons to be named
by him; and that he should appoint judges in all parts of Spain trading to
the Indies, to decide upon all causes relating to that trade and to those
parts. Besides the salary and perquisites belonging to the offices of
admiral, viceroy, and governor-general over all his discoveries, he
demanded to have one tenth of all that should be bought, bartered, found,
or procured in any manner of way within the bounds of his authority,
abating only the charges attending the discovery and conquest; so that if
1000 ducats were acquired in any island or place, 100 of these were to
belong to him. Besides all this, as his adversaries alleged that he
ventured nothing in the undertaking, and had the command of the fleet
during the expedition, he offered to be at one eighth part of the expence,
for which he demanded to receive the eighth part of what he should bring
home in the fleet. As these high conditions were refused, the admiral took
leave of all his friends, and began his journey to Cordova, with the
intention of making preparations for going to France; being resolved not
to return into Portugal, although the king had invited him back.

The admiral departed from the camp of St Faith in the month of January
1492 on his intended journey; and on the same day Lewis de Santangel,
formerly mentioned, who was exceedingly anxious to forward his project,
obtained an audience of the queen of Castile, and used every argument he
could devise to persuade her to adopt the undertaking and to comply with
the terms required. He expressed his astonishment that she, who had always
evinced much greatness of soul in all important matters, should now want
spirit to venture upon an undertaking where so little was to be risked,
and which might redound so highly to the glory of God and the propagation
of the faith, not without great benefit and honour to her kingdoms and
dominions. That, should any other prince accept the offer of Columbus, the
injury which her crown would sustain was very obvious; and that then she
would justly incur much blame from her friends and servants, and would be
reproached by her enemies, and all the world would say that she deserved
the misfortune and disappointment; and, although she might never be
sensible of the evil consequences of her refusal, her successors must.
That, since the proposal seemed well grounded in reason and sound argument,
and was made by a man of wisdom and knowledge, who demanded no other
reward but what might arise from his discoveries, and who was willing to
bear a proportion of the charges, and to adventure his own personal safety
on the event, her majesty ought certainly to make the attempt. That she
ought not to believe the undertaking was such an impossibility as had been
alleged by those learned men to whom the proposal had been referred,
neither to consider its possible failure as any reflection upon her wisdom;
for in his opinion it would be universally looked upon as a mark of
generous magnanimity to attempt discovering the secret wonders of the
world, as had been done by other monarchs to their great honour and
advantage. That, however uncertain the event might be, even a considerable
sum of money would be well employed in the endeavour to ascertain the
certainty of so very important an affair; whereas the admiral only
required 2500 crowns to fit out a fleet for the discovery; and that
therefore she ought not to allow it to be said hereafter that the fear of
losing so small a sum had kept her from patronizing the enterprise.

The queen was much impressed by these representations of Santangel, of
whose sincere attachment to her service and honour she was extremely
sensible. She thanked him for his good counsel, and said that she was
willing to accede to the proposed enterprise, providing that the execution
were delayed until she might have a little time to recruit her finances
after the conclusion of the present war. Yet, if he thought it necessary
to proceed immediately, she was willing that the requisite funds should be
borrowed on the credit of her jewels. Upon this condescension to his
advice which she had refused to all other persons, Santangel immediately
replied, that there was no necessity to pawn her jewels on the occasion,
as he would readily advance his own money to do such a service to her
majesty. Upon this resolution, the queen immediately sent an officer to
bring the admiral back, who had already reached the bridge of Pinos, two
leagues from Granada. Though much mortified at the difficulties and delays
he had met with hitherto, yet, on receiving intimation of the queens
willingness to comply with his proposals, he returned immediately to the
camp of St Faith, where he was honourably received by their majesties. The
dispatch of the articles of agreement was commited to John Coloma the
secretary, and every thing which he had demanded, as has been mentioned
before, without alteration or diminution, was granted under the hands and
seals of their Catholic majesties.


_Narrative of the first voyage of Columbus, in which he actually
discovered the New World._

All the conditions which the admiral demanded being conceded by their
Catholic majesties, he set out from Granada on the 21st May 1492 for Palos,
where he was to fit out the ships for his intended expedition. That town
was bound to serve the crown for three months with two caravels, which
were ordered to be given to Columbus; and he fitted out these and a third
vessel with all care and diligence. The ship in which he personally
embarked was called the St Mary; the second vessel named the Pinta, was
commanded by Martin Alonzo Pinzon; and the third named the Nina, which had
square sails, was under the command of Vincent Yanez Pinzon, the brother
of Alonzo, both of whom were inhabitants of Palos. Being furnished with
all necessaries, and having 90 men to navigate the three vessels, Columbus
set sail from Palos on the 3d of August 1492, shaping his course directly
for the Canaries.

During this voyage, and indeed in all the _four_ voyages which he made
from Spain to the West Indies, the admiral was very careful to keep an
exact journal of every occurrence which took place; always specifying what
winds blew, how far he sailed with each particular wind, what currents
were found, and every thing that was seen by the way, whether birds,
fishes, or any other thing. Although to note all these particulars with a
minute relation of every thing that happened, shewing what impressions and
effects answered to the course and aspect of the stars, and the
differences between the seas which he sailed and those of our countries,
might all be useful; yet as I conceive that the relation of these
particulars might now be tiresome to the reader, I shall only give an
account of what appears to me necessary and convenient to be known.

On Saturday the 4th of August, the next day after sailing from Palos, the
rudder of the Pinta broke loose. The admiral strongly suspected that this
was occasioned by the contrivance of the master on purpose to avoid
proceeding on the voyage, which he had endeavoured to do before they left
Spain, and he therefore ranged up along side of the disabled vessel to
give every assistance in his power, but the wind blew so hard that he was
unable to afford any aid. Pinzon, however, being an experienced seamen,
soon made a temporary repair by means of ropes, and they proceeded on
their voyage. But on the following Tuesday, the weather becoming rough and
boisterous, the fastenings gave way, and the squadron was obliged to lay
to for some time to renew the repairs. From this misfortune of twice
breaking the rudder, a superstitious person might have foreboded the
future disobedience of Pinzon to the admiral; as through his malice the
Pinta twice separated from the squadron, as shall be afterwards related.
Having applied the best remedy they could to the disabled state of the
rudder, the squadron continued its voyage, and came in sight of the
Canaries at daybreak of Thursday the 9th of August; but, owing to contrary
winds, they were unable to come to anchor at Gran Canaria until the 12th.
The admiral left Pinzon at Gran Canaria to endeavour to procure another
vessel instead of that which was disabled, and went himself with the Nina
on the same errand to Gomera.

The admiral arrived at Gomera on Sunday the 12th of August, and sent a
boat on shore to inquire if any vessel could be procured there for his
purpose. The boat returned next morning, and brought intelligence that no
vessel was then at that island, but that Donna Beatrix de Bobadilla, the
propriatrix of the island, was then at Gran Canaria in a hired vessel of
40 tons belonging to one Gradeuna of Seville, which would probably suit
his purpose and might perhaps be got. He therefore determined to await the
arrival of that vessel at Gomera, believing that Pinzon might have secured
a vessel for himself at Gran Canaria, if he had not been able to repair
his own. After waiting two days, he dispatched one of his people in a bark
which was bound from Gomera to Gran Canaria, to acquaint Pinzon where he
lay, and to assist him in repairing and fixing the rudder.

Having waited a considerable time for an answer to his letter, he sailed
with the two vessels from Gomera on the 23d August for Gran Canaria, and
fell in with the bark on the following day, which had been detained all
that time on its voyage by contrary winds. He now took his man from the
bark, and sailing in the night past the island of Teneriffe, the people
were much astonished at observing flames bursting out of the lofty
mountain called El Pico, or the peak of Teneriffe. On this occasion the
admiral was at great pains to explain the nature of this phenomenon to the
people, by instancing the example of Etna and several other known volcanos.

Passing by Teneriffe, they arrived at Gran Canaria on Saturday the 25th
August; and found that Pinzon had only got in there the day before. From
him the admiral was informed that Donna Beatrix had sailed for Gomera on
the 20th with the vessel which he was so anxious to obtain. His officers
were much troubled at the disappointment; but he, who always endeavoured
to make the best of every occurrence, observed to them that since it had
not pleased God that they should get this vessel it was perhaps better for
them; as they might have encountered much opposition in pressing it into
the service, and might have lost a great deal of time in shipping and
unshipping the goods. Wherefore, lest he might again miss it if he
returned to Gomera, he resolved to make a new rudder for the Pinta at Gran
Canaria, and ordered the square sails of the Nina to be changed to _round_
ones, like those of the other two vessels, that she might be able to
accompany them with less danger and agitation.

The vessels being all refitted, the admiral weighed anchor from Gran
Canaria on Saturday the first of September, and arrived next day at Gomera,
where four days were employed in completing their stores of provisions and
of wood and water. On the morning of Thursday the sixth of September 1492,
the admiral took his departure from Gomera, and commenced his great
undertaking by standing directly westwards, but made very slow progress at
first on account of calms. On Sunday the ninth of September, about
day-break, they were nine leagues west of the island of Ferro. Now losing
sight of land and stretching out into utterly unknown seas, many of the
people expressed their anxiety and fear that it might be long before they
should see land again; but the admiral used every endeavour to comfort
them with the assurance of soon finding the land he was in search of, and
raised their hopes of acquiring wealth and honour by the discovery. To
lessen the fear which they entertained of the length of way they had to
sail, he gave out that they had only proceeded fifteen leagues that day,
when the actual distance sailed was eighteen; and to induce the people to
believe that they were not so far from Spain as they really were, he
resolved to keep considerably short in his reckoning during the whole
voyage, though he carefully recorded the true reckoning every day in

On Wednesday the twelfth September, having got to about 150 leagues west
of Ferro, they discovered a large trunk of a tree, sufficient to have been
the mast to a vessel of 120 tons, and which seemed to have been a long
time in the water. At this distance from Ferro, and for somewhat farther
on, the current was found to set strongly to the north-east. Next day,
when they had run fifty leagues farther westwards, the needle was observed
to vary half a point to the eastward of north, and next morning the
variation was a whole point east. This variation of the compas had never
been before observed, and therefore the admiral was much surprised at the
phenomenon, and concluded that the needle did not actually point towards
the polar star, but to some other fixed point. Three days afterwards, when
almost 100 leagues farther west, he was still more astonished at the
irregularity of the variation; for having observed the needle to vary a
whole point to the eastwards at night, it pointed directly northwards in
the morning. On the night of Saturday the fifteenth of September, being
then almost 300 leagues west of Ferro, they saw a prodigious flash of
light, or fire-ball, drop from the sky into the sea, at four or five
leagues distance from the ships towards the south-west. The weather was
then quite fair and serene like April, the sea perfectly calm, the wind
favourable from the north-east, and the current setting to the north-east
The people in the Nina told the admiral that they had seen the day before
a heron, and another bird which they called _Rabo-de-junco_[1]. These were
the first birds which had been seen during the voyage, and were considered
as indications of approaching land.

But they were more agreeably surprised next day, Sunday sixteenth
September, by seeing great abundance of yellowish green sea weeds, which
appeared as if newly washed away from some rock or island. Next day the
sea weed was seen in much greater quantity, and a small live lobster was
observed among the weeds: From this circumstance many affirmed that they
were certainly near the land. The sea water was afterwards noticed to be
only half so salt as before; and great numbers of tunny fish were seen
swimming about, some of which came so near the vessel, that one was killed
by a bearded iron. Being now 360 leagues west from Ferro, another of the
birds called Rabo-de-junco was seen. On Tuesday the eighteenth September,
Martin Alonzo Pinzon, who had gone a-head of the admiral in the Pinta,
which was an excellent sailer, lay to for the admiral to come up, and told
him that he had seen a great number of birds fly away westwards, for which
reason he was in great hope to see land that night. Pinzon even thought
that he saw land that night about fifteen leagues distant to the
northwards, which appeared very black and covered with clouds. All the
people would have persuaded the admiral to try for land in that direction;
but, being certainly assured that it was not land, and having not yet
reached the distance at which he expected to find the land, he would not
consent to lose time in altering his course in that direction. But as the
wind now freshened, he gave orders to take in the top-sails at night,
having now sailed eleven days before the wind due westwards with all their


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