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lourished in Europe. The soil seemed to be rich, but bore few marks of cultivation. The climate, even to Spaniards, felt warm, though extremely delightful. The inhabitants appeared in the simple innocence of nature, entirely naked. Their black hair, long and uncurled, floated upon
their shoulders, or was bound in treffes around their heads. They had no beards, and every part of their bodies was perfectly smooth. Their complexion was of a dusky copper colour, their features fingular, rather than disagreeable, their aspect gentle and timid. Though not tall, they were well shaped, and active. Their faces, and several parts of their body, were fantastically painted with glaring colours. They were shy at first through fear, but soon became familiar with the Spaniards, and with transports of joy received from them hawks-bells, glass beads, or other baubles, in return for which they gave such provisions as they had, and some cotton yarn, the only commodity of value that they could produce. Towards evening, Columbus returned to his ships, accompanied by many of the islanders in their boats, which they called canoes, and though rudely formed out of the trunk of a fingle tree, they rowed them with surprising dexterity. Thus, in the first interview between the inhabitants of the old and new worlds, every thing was conducted amicably, and to their mutual fatisfaction. The former, enlightened and ambitious, formed already vast ideas with respect to the advantages which they might derive from the regions that began to open to their view. The latter, fimple and undiscerning, had no foresight of the calamities and desolation which were approaching
Columbus, who now assumed the title and authority of admiral and viceroy, called the island which he had discovered San Salvador. It is better known by the name of Guanahani, which the natives gave to it, and is one of that large cluster of islands called the Lucaya or Bahama ifles. It is situated above three thousand miles to the west of Gomera, from which the squadron took its departure, and only four degrees to the south of it; so little had Columbus deviated from the westerly course, which he had chosen as the most proper.
Columbus employed the next day in visiting the coasts of the island; and from the universal poverty of the inhabitants, he perceived that this was not the rich country for which he fought. But, comformably to his theory concerning the discovery of those regions of Afia which stretched towards the east, he concluded that San Salvador was one of the illes which geographers described as situated in the great ocean adjacent to India. Having observed that most of the people whom he had seen wore small plates of gold, by way of ornament, in their nofE
trils, he eagerly inquired where they got that precious metal. They pointed towards the south, and made him comprehend by figns, that gold abounded in countries situated in that quarter. Thither he immediately determined to direct his course, in full confidence of finding there those opulent regions which had been the object of his voyage, and would be a recompence for all his toils and dangers. He took along with him seven of the natives of San Salvador, that, by acquiring the Spanish language, they might ferve as guides and interpreters; and those innocent people considered it as a mark of distinction when they were selected to accompany him.
He saw several islands, and touched at three of the largest, on which he bestowed the names of St. Mary of the Conception, Fernandina, and Isabella. But as their foil, productions, and inhabitants, nearly refembled those of San Salvador, he made no stay in any of them. He inquired every where for gold, and the signs that were uniformly made by way of answer, confirmed him in the opinion that it was brought from the fouth. He followed that course, and soon discovered a country which appeared very extensive, not perfectly level, like those which he had already visited, but so diversified with rising grounds, hills, rivers, woods, and plains, that he was uncertain whether it might prove an island, or part of the continent. The natives of San Salvador, whom 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 all the inhabitants fed to the mountains as he approached the shore. But as he resolved to eareen his tips in that place, he sent some Spaniards, together with one of the people of San Salvador, to view the interior parts of the country. They, having advanced above fixty miles from the shore, reported upon their return, that the soil was sicher and more cultivated than any they had hitherto discovered ; that, befides many scattered cottages, they had found one village, containing above a thousand inhabitants; that the people, though naked, seemed to be more intelligent than those of San Salvador; but had treated them with the same respectful attention, kissing their feet, and honouring them as faered beings allied to Heaven; that they had given them to eat a certain root, the taste of which resembled roasted chesnuts, and likewise a singular fpecies of corn called maize, which, either wheb. roasted whole or ground into meal, was abundantly palatable ; that there feemed to be no four-footed animals in the country, but a fpecies of dogs, which could not bark, and a creature resembling a rabbit, but of a much smaller size; that they had observed fome ornaments of gold among the people, but of no great value,
These messengers had prevailed with some of the natives to accompany them, who informed Columbus, that the gold of which they made their ornaments was found in Cubanacan. By this word they meant the middle or inland part of Cuba; but Columbus, being ignotant of their language, as well as unaccustomed to their pronunciation, and his thoughts running continually upon his own theory concerning the discovery of the East Indies, he was led, by the resemblance of found, to suppose that they spoke of the Great Khan, and imagined that the opulent kingdom of Cathay, described by Marco Polo, was not very remote. This induced him to employ some time in viewing the country. He visited almost every harbour, from Porto del Principe, on the north coast of Cuba, to the eastern extremity of the island; but though delighted with the beauty of the scenes, which every where presented themselves, and amazed at the luxuriant fertility of the soil, both which, from their novelty, made a more lively impression upon his imagination, he did not find gold in such quantity as was fufficient to satisfy either the avarice of his followers, or the expectations of the court to which he was to return.
The people of the country, as much astonished at his eagerness in quest of gold, as the Europeans were at their ignorance and fimplicity, pointed towards the eaft, where an island which they called Hayti was situated, in which that metal was more abundant than among them. Columbus ordered his squadron to bend its course thither ; but Martin Alonso Pinzon, impatient to be the first who should take possession of the trea. fures which this country was supposed to contain, quitted his com panions, regardless of all the admiral's fignals to placken fail until they
with him. Columbus, retarded by contrary winds, did not reach Hayti till the sixth of December. He called the port where he first touched St.
* In a letter of the admiral's to Ferdinand and Isabella, he describes one of the barbours in Cuba, with all the enthusiastic admiration of a discoverer. "I discovered a river which a galley might easily enter; the beauty of it induced me to sound, and I found from five to eight fathoms of water. Having proceeded a considerable way up the river, every thing invited me to settle there. The beauty of the river, the clearness of the water, through which I could see the sandy bottom, the multitude of palmtrees of different kinds, the tallest and finest I had seen, and an infinite number of other large and Aourishing trees, the birds, and the verdure of the plains, are fo wonderfully beautiful, that this country excels all others as far as the day surpasses the night in brightness and splendour, so that I often faid, that it would be in vain for me to attempt to give your highnesses a full account of it, for neither my tongue nor my pen could come up to the truth, and indeed I am so much amazed at the light of such beauty, that I know not how to describe it.” Life of Columb. c. 30.
Nicholas, and the island itself Espagnola, in honour of the kingdom by which he was employed; and it is the only country, of those he had yet discovered, which has retained the name that he gave it. As he could 'neither meet with the Pinta, nor have any intercourse with the inhabitants, who fled in great consternation towards the woods, he soon quitted St. Nicholas, and failing along the northern coast of the island, he entered another harbour, which he called the Conception. Here he was more fortunate; his people overtook a woman who was flying from them, and after treating her with great gentleness, dismissed her with a present of such toys as they knew were most valued in those regions. The description which she gave to her countrymen of the humanity and wonderful qualities of the strangers; their admiration of the trinkets, which she shewed with exultation; and their eagerness to participate of the same favours; removed all their fears, and induced many of them to repair to the harbour. The strange objects which they beheld, and the baubles, which Columbus bestowed upon them, amply gratified their curiofity and their wishes. They nearly resembled the people of Guanahani and Cuba. They were naked like them, ignorant, and simple; and seemed to be equally unacquainted with all the arts which appear most necessary in polished societies; but they were gentle, credulous, and timid, to a degree which rendered it easy to acquire the af, cendant over them, especially as their excessive admiration led them into the fame error with the people of the other islands, in believing the Spaniards to be more than mortals, and descended immediately from Heaven. They possessed gold in greater abundance than their neighbours, which they readily exchanged for bells, beads, or pins; and in this unequal traffic both parties were highly pleased, each considering themselves as gainers by the transaction. Here Columbus was visited by a prince or cazique of the country. He appeared with all the pomp known among a simple people, being carried in a sort of palanquin upon the shoulders of four men, and attended by many of his subjects, who ferved him with great respect. His deportment was grave and stately, very reserved towards his own people, but with Columbus and the Spaniards extremely courteous. He
the admiral some thin plates of gold, and a girdle of curious workmansbip, receiving in return presents of small value, but highly acceptable to him.
Columbus, ftill intent on discovering the mines which yielded gold, continued to interrogate all the natives with whom he had any intercourse concerning their fituation. They concurred in pointing out a mountainous country, which they called Cibao, at some distance from the fea, and farther towards the eaft. Struck with this found, which
appeared to him the same with Cipango, the name by which Marca Polo, and other travellers to the east, diftinguished the islands of Japan, he no longer doubted with respect to the vicinity of the countries which he had discovered to the remote parts of Asia; and, in full expectation of reaching soon those regions which had been the object of his voyage, he directed his course towards the east. He
put into a commodious harbour, which he called St. Thomas, and found that district to be under the government of a powerful cazique, named Guacanahari, who, as he afterwards learned, was one of the five sovereigns among whom the whole island was divided. He immediately sent messengers to Columbus, who, in his name, delivered to him the present of a mask curiously fashioned, with the ears, nose, and mouth of beaten gold, and invited him to the place of his residence, near the harbour now called Cape Francois, some leagues towards the east. Columbus dispatched some of his officers to visit this prince, who, as he behaved himself with greater dignity, seemed to claim more attention. They returned, with such favourable accounts both of the country and of the people, as made Columbus impatient for that interview with Guacanahari to which he had been invited.
He failed for this purpose from St. Thomas, on the twenty-fourth of December with a fair wind, and the fea perfectly calm ; and as, amidst the multiplicity of his occupations, he had not shut his eyes for two days, he retired at midnight in order to take some repose, having committed the helm to the pilot, with strict injunctions not to quit it for a moment. The pilot, dreading no danger, carelessly left the helm to an unexperienced cabin boy, and the ship, carried away by a current, was dashed against a rock. The violence of the shock awakened Columbus. He ran up to the deck. There, all was confusion and despair. He alone retained presence of mind. He ordered some of the sailors to take a boat, and carry out an anchor aftern; but, instead of obeying, they made off towards the Nigna, which was about half a league distant. He then commanded the masts to be cut down, in order to lighten the ship; but all his endeavours were too late; the vessel opened near the keel, and filled so fast with water that its loss was inevitable. The smoothness of the sea, and the timely assistance of boats from the Nigna, enabled the crew to save their lives. As soon as the islanders heard of this disaster, they crowded to the shore, with their prince Guacanahari at their head. Instead of taking advantage of the distress in which they beheld the Spaniards, to attempt any thing to their detriment, they lamented their misfortune with tears of sincere şondolance. Not satisfied with this unavailing expression of their