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thanks to God, for thus conducting their voyage to so happy an issue.
They then, in a solemn manner, took possession of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the formalities usual with the Portuguese to observe in all their discoveries. While the Spaniards were thus employed, they were surrounded by the natives, who, in silent admiration, gazed upon actions, the meaning of which they could not comprehend, or foresee the consequences.
The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness of their skin, their beards, arms and accoutrements, appeared strange and surprizing. The vast machines, in which they traversed the ocean, that appeared to move upon the waters with wings uttering a dreadful sound, like thunder accompanied with lightning and smoke, filled them with terror, and in-spired them with a belief that their new guests were a superior order of beings, concluding they were children of the sun, who had descended to visit the earth.
The Spaniards were as much amazed at the scene before them. The trees, the shrubs, the herbage, were all different from those which were of European growth. The climate was warm, though extremely delightful. The inhabitants appeared in the simple innocence of nature, en-tirely naked. Their black hair, long and uncurled, floated upon their shoulders, or was bound in tresses round their: heads. They had no beards, and every part of their bodies was perfectly smooth, of a copper colour, their features not disagreeable, of a gentle and timid aspect. They were well shaped and active. Their faces and bodies were : painted in a fantastical manner, with glaring colours. They appeared shy at first, but soon became familiar, and with transports of joy received glass beads and other baubles, in return for which they gave such provisions as they lrad, and some cotton yarn, the only commodity of value they had to trade with.
In the evening Columbus returned to his ships in company with many of the islanders in their canoes, which they managed with surprizing dexterity.
Every circumstance relating to this first interview, between the inhabitants of the old and new world was conducted with harmony and satisfaction. The former enlightened, and influenced by ambition, formed vasi ideas respecting the future advantages that would likely accrue
from the discovery. The latter, simple and unsuspecti. had no forethought of the calamities and desolations whic were soon to overwhelm their country. Columbus, as admiral and viceroy, called the island San Salvador. It is nevertheless better known by the name of Guanahani, which the natives gave to it, and is one of the Bahama isles. It is situated above three thousand miles to the west of Gomera, from which the squadron took its departure, and only four degrees south of it. Columbus employed the next day in visiting the coasts of the island, and from the general poverty of the inhabitants, he was assured that this was not the rich country which he sought.
Having observed small plates of gold, which most of the people wore by way of ornament, pendent in their nostrils, he eagerly enquired where they found that precious metal. They pointed towards the south and south-west, and made him comprehend by signs, that there was abundance of gold, in countries situated in that quarter.
Animated with hope, he determined to direct his course, thither, in full expectation of finding those wealthy regions which had been the main object of his voyage.
With this view he again set sail, taking with him seven of the innocent natives, to serve as interpreters, who esteemed it a mark of distinction when they were selected to accompany him.
In his course he passed several islands, and touched at three of them which he called Mary, Ferdinanda, and Isabella. But as the soil and inhabitants resembled those of San Salvador, he made no stay there. He enquired every where for gold, and was answered as before that it was brought from the south. Following that course he soon discovered a country of vast extent diversified with rising grounds....hills, rivers, woods, and plains. He was uncertain whether it would prove an island or part of the continent. The natives he had on board called it Cuba ; Columbus gave it the name of Juanna. He entered the mouth of a large river with his squadron, and the natives all fled to the mountains as he approached the shore.
Intending to careen his ships in that place, Columbus sent some Spaniards, together with one of San Salvador Indians, to view the interior parts of the country.
Having advanced above sixty miles from the shore, they reported upon their return, that the soil was richer and more cultivated, than what they had already discovered ;
that, besides scattered cottages, they had found one village containing one thousand inhabitants ; that the people, though naked, were more intelligent than those of San Salvador, but had treated them with the same respectful attention, kissing their feet, and honouring them as sacred beings, allied to Heaven ; that they gave them a certain root, which in taste resembled roasted chesnuts, and likewise a singular species of corn, called maize, that was very palatable ; and that there seemed to be no four-footed animals, except a species of dogs which could not bark, and a creature resembling a rabbit, but smaller: that they had observed some ornaments of gold among the people, but of no great value.
Some of the natives accompanied these messengers ;they informed Columbus as the others had done, that the gold he was so anxiously solicitous about, was to be found to the southward ; often mentioning the word Cubanacan by which they meant the inland part of Cuba ; Columbus ignorant of their pronunciation, and believing the country he had discovered, to be a part of the East-Indies. Under the influence of this idea, he thought they spoke of the great Khan, and imagined the opulent kingdom of Cathay was not very remote.
The natives as much astonished, at the eagerness of the Spaniards for gold, as the Europeans were at their ignorance and simplicity, pointed towards the east, where was an island called Hayti, in which that metal was more abundant. Columbus ordered his squadron to steer its course thither;. but Martin Alonzo Pinzon, eager to be the first in taking possession of the rich treasure, which the island was supposed to contain, quitted his companions, and paid no regard to the admiral's signals to slacken sail, until they should come up with him. Retarded by contrary winds, Columbus did not reach Hayti, until the sixth of December. He called the port where he first landed St. Nicholas, and the island itself Espagnola, in honour of the kingdom by. which he was employed; and it is the only country that he discovered; that still bears the name which he gave it.
As he could not have any intercourse with the inhabitants, who fled in great consternation, he soon left St. Nicholas, and sailed along the northern coast of the island : he entered another harbour which he called Conception: Here he was more fortunate ;. a woman who was flying
from them was overtaken ; and after treating her kindly, she was dismissed with presents of such toys as to an Indian were considered most valuable. When she returned to her countrymen with her imagination heated with what she liad seen, she gave such a flattering description of the new comers ; at the same time producing the trinkets she had received ; they were eager to partake of the same favours. Their fears being removed, many of them repaired to the harbour. Here their curiosity and wishes were amply gratified. They nearly resembled the other natives they had already seen, naked, ignorant, and simple, credulous and timid to a degree, which made it easy to acquire an ascendant over them; they were led into the same error as the other inhabitants who believed them to be more than mortals, descended immediately from Heaven. They possessed gold in greater abundance than their neighbours, which they cheerfully parted with for bells, beads, or pins; and in this unequal traffic, both parties were highly pleased, each considering themselves as gainers by the transaction. A prince or cazique of the country made Columbus a visit at this place. He appear. ed in all the pomp of Indian magnificence : he was carried in a sort of palanquin by four men, and a numerous train of attendants, who approached him with respectful attention. His deportment was grave, and stately ; to his own people very reserved, but to the Spaniards open and extremely courteous. He gave the admiral some thin plates of gold, and a girdle curiously wrought after the Indian fashion. Columbus in return, made him presents of small value to an European, but highly prized by the savage chief. Columbus's thoughts continually occupied with the prospect of discovering gold mines, interrogated all the natives he met with concerning their situation..... All his interrogatives were answered by their pointing to a mountainous country which in their language was called Ciboa, at some distance from the sea, towards the east. Struck with the name, he no longer doubted but that it was Cipango, a name by which Marco Polo distinguished the islands of Japan : which strengthened him in that erroneous opinion he had embraced, that the country he had discovered was a remote part of Asia.
In full confidence of the rectitude of this opinion, he directed his course towards the east. He put into a commodious harbour which he named St. Thomas : this part of the country was governed by a powerful cazique named Guacanahari, who was one of the five sovereigns among whom the whole island was divided. He immediately sent messengers to Columbus with a present of a mask of beaten gold, curiously fashioned, and invited him to his town near the harbour now called cape Francois. Columbus returned the cazique's civilities by a deputation of some of his own people ; who returned with such favourable accounts of the country and people, as made Columbus impatient for that interview which Guacanahari had desired.
For this purpose he sailed from St. Thomas on the twenty-fourth of December with a fair wind and smooth sea ; and as he had not slept for two days, at midnight he retired to take some repose, committing the helm to the Pilot, strictly enjoining him not to quit it for a moment. But he, dreading no danger, incautiously gave the helm in charge to a cabin boy, and the ship was carried away by the current, and dashed against a rock. The violence of the concussion awakened Columbus. He immediately went upon deck, and there he found all was confusion and despair. He alone retained presence of mind. He immediately ordered some sailors to take a boat and carry out an anchor astern ; but they, instead of complying with the orders of their admiral, made off to La Nigna, about half a league distant. He then commanded the masts to be cut down, but all his endeavours were too late ; the vessel filled so fast with water, that it was impossible to save her. The smoothness of the sea, and the timely assistance from La Nigna, enabled the crew to save their lives. The natives as soon as they heard of this disaster, crowded to the shore with Guacanahari at their head, and lamented their misfortune with tears of sincere condolence. But they did not rest satisfied with this unavailing expression of their sorrow; they launched a vast number of canoes, and under the direction of the Spaniards rendered important services, in saving the property out of the wreck; Guacanahari in person took charge of the goods as they were landed ; and by his orders were all deposited in one place, and posted centinels to keep the multitude at a distance.
Next morning this prince visited Columbus, who was on board of La Nigna, and in the warmth of affection offered all he had to repair his loss. Such tender assiduity and sincere condolence in a savage, afforded Columbus