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At the place where he landed, 50 men with long hair, adorned with plumes of parrot feathers, and armed, formed a kind of ambuscade; and notwithstanding the exhortations of their countryman, refused to have any commerce with the Spaniards; and even began to commence hostilities. Though the Europeans were only seven in number, they met the savages with great intrepidity, cut one with a sword in the buttock, and shot another with an arrow in the breast, on which the whole party fled with precipitation. The admiral was not displeased at this skirmish, as he imagined its event might increase the security of the colony left on the coast.
Columbus, continuing his course with a fair wind, made such progress that, on the 9th of February, according to the pilot's reckoning, they were south of the Azores ; but by the admiral's account, which proved to be right, they were 150 leagues to the west. The favourable weather which had hitherto attended them, now began to change; the wind increased to a hurricane, and the billows ran mountains high. For some days, the vessels were tossed at the mercy of the storm, during which the two ships separated ; and each supposing that the other had perished, the crews betook themselves to acts of devotion, and the admiral vowed to go on a pilgrimage to our lady of Guadaloupe; but the crew went farther: they swore to walk barefoot in their shirts, to the first church dedicated to the virgin, they could find. In tempests and distress, the Spaniards are still known to seek refuge in such kind of superstition; it is the strong hold of ignorance and the last which it quits.
A scarcity of provisions increased their calamity; and the ship wanting ballast, was in danger of being overset. For this last defect, the ingenuity of Columbus discovered an expedient. He ordered his casks to be filled with sea-water ; and with a view to immortality, even when on the brink of destruction, he wrote a brief account of his discoveries on two skins of parchment, which he wrapped in oil-cloths covered with wax; and having inclosed them in two different casks, committed them to the sea.
- The storm continued till the 15th of February, when one of the sailors discovered land from the round-top, which proved to be St. Mary, one of the Azores, where, after four days spent in incessant labour, they came to an anchor. The inhabitants of this island humanely sent fresh provisions on board, and many compliments from their governor, who expressed his astonishment at the success of the expedition, and seemed to rejoice at the discoveries that had been made. Nor were the natives less surprised, that the ship had been able to weather a storm of 15 days continuance: these gave the admiral and his crew intimation of an heritage, in the vicinity, dedicated to the blessed virgin, and at this they resolved to perform their vows
...' No sooner, however, had the boat and one half of the company come on shore to fulfil this penance, and had begun their naked procession, than they were made prisoners by the governot, who had planted men in ambush on purpose. Columbus having waited in vain for the return of the boat, from day-break till soon, i began to suspect some treachery; and saibng round a point, to gain a view of the hermitage, perceived a mumber of Portuguese enter the boat, with a view, as he apprehended, of attacking the caraval. The prudence of Columbus was on its guard. He hoped to be able to secure the Portuguese commander as an hostage, by inviting him on Hoard; but finding he kept aloof, the admiral demanded the reason of such an outrage on the Spanish nation, and threatened the consequences.
The Portuguese captain declared that what had been done was by the express order of the king; on which Columbus supposed a rupture had taken place between the two crowns, and swore he would never quit his ship, till he had taken one hundred prisoners, and destroyed the whole island.
He now returned to the port he had left; but next day the the wind increasing, he lost his anchors, and was forced out to sea, with no more than three able sailors on board. The weather afterwards becoming mild, he endeavoured to recover the island of St. Mary, which he reached on the 21st. Soon after a boat was dispatched to him in the governor's name with
five men and a notary, to enquire whence the ship came, and if she actually carried the king of Spain's commission. Being satisfied in these particulars, they returned, and ordered the prisoners to be released. It seems the object and the orders of the Portuguese were to secure the admiral's person ; but this scheme was rendered abortive by his prudent caution...!
Columbus again set sail with a favourable wind; but soon another tempest overtook him; and he narrowly escaped shipwreck on the rock of Lisbon. Providence, however, still favoured him, and with great exertions, he at length anchored in the river Tagus. On this he dispatched an express by land to their catholic majesties with the news of his arrival, and another to the king of Portugal, requesting his permission to anchor before the city.
On the 5th of March, an armed boat came alongside of the the admiral, and required him to give an account of himself to the king's officers, as was customary on entering that river. The spirit of Columbus would not suffer him to submit to this indignity. As the king of Spain's admiral, he gave them to understand, that he could not reply. The Portuguese finding him resolute, demanded a sight of the Spanish monarch's letter: this was readily produced ; on which a suitable report being made, the commander immediately came on board with military music, and many expressions of friendly congratulation. No sooner was the nature of the voyage blazoned in Lisbon, than the whole river was covered with boats. The Indians and the particulars of the discovery were irresistible novelties and attractions. The king himself sent presents of necessaries and refreshments, accompanied with felicitations; and desired to see Columbus before he left his dominions.-The admiral at first hesitated; but reflecting that the two nations were at peace, he at last acceded to the sovereign's request, and waited on his majesty at the palace of Valparaiso, about nine leagues from Lisbon. The king ordered all the nobility of his court to advance and meet him ; and when the admiral was introduced into his presence, he insisted on his being covered, and sitting down. Having heard the recital of his adventures with apparent pleasure, he offered to supply
him with whatever he stood in need of; though he could not help observing, that the right of conquest belonged to him, as Columbus had first been in the service of Portugal. The admiral modestly assigned his reasons for being of a different opinion. It is very well, replied the king, justice will doubtless be done."
Considerable offers were made to re-engage the admiral ; and every honour and distinction was paid him. The king even sent to inform him, after the interview, that should he be disposed to travel to Castile by land, every accommodation on the road should be provided him. Columbus, with suitable acknowledgements, declined this flattering offers and setting sail from Lisbon, came to an anchor in the port of Palos, on the 15th of March, after an absence of more than seven months.
The people attended his landing in procession; and thanks to the Almighty, for his protection, were mixed with admiration of the hero who had successfully encountered so many dangers, and laid open new regions, of which, however, the importance could not even be conjectured. By this time, Pinzon was arrived in Galicia, and was eager to carry the first news of the discoveries to the court; but being forbid to proceed without the admiral under whose conduct he sailed, the repulse made such an impression on his mind, that he fell sick, and returning to his native place, in a few days breathed his last..
Meanwhile Columbus set out for Barcelona, where the court then resided; and his whole journey might be compared to a triumph. All ranks flocked round him, eager to see this intrepid adventurer, and the Indians in his train. He reached Barcelona about the middle of April, and new distinctions awaited him. The streets could scarcely contain the crowds that pressed on him; and to heighten publie curiosity, the productions of the new-discovered regions were carried uncovered. To do him more signal honour, their majesties ordered their royal throne to be placed in public, on which they seated themselves under a canopy of cloth of gold. When the admiral approached to kiss hands, they stood up, and caused him to be seated in their presence, and treated him as a gran
dee of the first class. Columbus then recited the principal particulars of his voyage, the discoveries he had made, and the hopes he entertained of finding still more inportant accessions to the dominions of Spain. He showed the Indians as they appeared in their native climes; and displayed the riches of the new world. Having finished his narrative, their majesties kneeling down, thanked God, with tears of gratitude, which act of devotion was immediately followed by a grand Te Deum.
Never was a man treated with more lionour and distinction than Columbus was at this period. In the king's excursions vound Barcelona, he kept him always by his side; an honour which had never been conferred but on princes of the blood; and which, perhaps, was more invidious than desirable.
But the regard of their majesties for the admiral was not confined to unsubstantial forms: he was gratified with new patents, confirming and enlarging his former privileges; and extending his viceroyalty and command over all the countries he had discovered, or might discover in future. The more the success of this expedition was canvassed, the more important it appeared ; and it was immediately resolved, that Columbus should return with a powerful armament, to prosecute his discoveries. Not satisfied with this, the king dispatched 'an ambassador to pope' Alexander VI. to obtain his apostolic sanction to the new dominions, and an exclusive title to future discoveries in the same quarter. The holy father made no difficulty in complying with this request; and as if he had been lord of the world, drew a line from pole to pole at the distance of 100 leagues to the westward of the Azores, and bestowed this extensive track of the globe on their catholic majesties. Such was the original title of Spain to America, superadded to the right of discovery. In vain shall we trace the foundation of either, to validity, from religion to justice; but ambition, entrenched behind power, is satisfied with the semblance of truth.
At this moment it is a question undecided, if Europe lost or gained more by the discovery of America, or rather by colonizing it. Columbus, however, will ever enjoy the pre