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entrance of the port, towards the S. E. point, there is a reef of rocks above water,* sufficiently far from the shore to be able to pass between if it is necessary; for both on the side of the rock and the shore there is a depth of 12 to 15 fathoms; and on entering, a ship's head should be turned S.W.
Sunday, 2nd of December. The wind was still contrary, and they could not depart. Every night the wind blows on the land, but no vessel need be alarmed at all the gales in the world, for they cannot blow home by reason of a reef of rocks at the opening to the haven. A sailor-boy found, at the mouth of the river, some stones which looked as if they contained gold; so they were taken to be shown to the Sovereigns. The Admiral says that there are great rivers at the distance of a lombard-shot.
Monday, 3rd of December.—By reason of the continuance of an easterly wind the Admiral did not leave this port. He arranged to visit a very beautiful headland a quarter of a league to the S.E. of the anchorage. He went with the boats and some armed men. At the foot of the cape there was the mouth of a fair river, and on entering it they found the width to be a hundred paces, with a depth of one fathom. Inside they found 12, 5, 4, and 2 fathoms, so that it would hold all the ships there are in Spain. Leaving the river, they came to a cove in which were five very large canoes, so well constructed that it was a pleasure to look at them. They were under spreading trees, and a path led from them to a very well-built boat-house, so thatched that neither sun nor rain could do any harm. Within it there was another canoe made out of a single tree like the others, like a galley with 17 benches. It was a pleasant sight to look upon such goodly work. The Admiral ascended a mountain, and afterward found the country level, and cultivated with many things of that land, including such calabashes, as it was a glory to look upon them. In the middle there was a large village, and they came upon the people suddenly; but, as soon as they were seen, men and women took to flight. The Indian from on board, who was with the Admiral, cried out to them that they need not be afraid, as the strangers were good people. The Admiral made him give them bells, copper ornaments, and glass beads, green and yel
This reef actually exists on the S.E. side of the entrance to this port, which is described with great accuracy by Columbus.-N.
† Here Las Casas puts "&c.," evidently omitting some valuable sailing directions.
low, with which they were well content. He saw that they had no gold, nor any other precious thing, and that it would suffice to leave them in peace. The whole district was well peopled, the rest having fled from fear. The Admiral assures the Sovereigns that ten thousand of these men would run from ten, so cowardly and timid are they. No arms are carried by them, except wands, on the point of which a short piece of wood is fixed, hardened by fire, and these they are very ready to exchange. Returning to where he had left the boats, he sent back some men up the hill, because he fancied he had seen a large apiary. Before those he had sent could return, they were joined by many Indians, and they went to the boats, where the Admiral was waiting with all his people. One of the natives advanced into the river near the stern of the boat, and made a long speech which the Admiral did not understand. At intervals the other Indians raised their hands to heaven, and shouted. The Admiral thought he was assuring him that he was pleased at his arrival; but he saw the Indian who came from the ship change the colour of his face, and turn as yellow as wax, trembling much, and letting the Admiral know by signs that he should leave the river, as they were going to kill him. He pointed to a cross-bow which one of the Spaniards had, and showed it to the Indians, and the Admiral let it be understood that they would all be slain, because that cross-bow carried far and killed people. He also took a sword and drew it out of the sheath, showing it to them, and saying the same, which, when they had heard, they all took to flight; while the Indian from the ship still trembled from cowardice, though he was a tall, strong man. The Admiral did not want to leave the river, but pulled toward the place where the natives had assembled in great numbers, al painted, and as naked as when their mothers bore them. Some had tufts of feathers on their heads, and all had their bundles of darts.
The Admiral says: "I came to them, and gave them some mouthfuls of bread, asking for the darts, for which I gave in exchange copper ornaments, bells, and glass beads. This made them peaceable, so that they came to the boats again, and gave us what they had. The sailors had killed a turtle, and the shell was in the boat in pieces. The sailor-boys gave them some in exchange for a bundle of darts. These are like the other people we have seen, and with the same belief that we came from heaven. They are ready to give whatever thing they have in
exchange for any trifle without saying it is little; and I believe they would do the same with gold and spices if they had any. I saw a fine house, not very large, and with two doors, as all the rest have, On entering, I saw a marvellous work, there being rooms made in a peculiar way, that I scarcely know how to describe it. Shells and other things were fastened to the ceiling. I thought it was a temple, and I called them and asked, by signs, whether prayers were offered up there. They said that they were not, and one of them climbed up and offered me all the things that were there, of which I took some."
Tuesday, 4th of December.— The Admiral made sail with little wind, and left that port, which he called Puerto Santo. After going two leagues, he saw the great river✶ of which he spoke yesterday. Passing along the land, and beating to windward on S.E. and W.N.W. courses, they reached Cabo Lindo,† which is E.S.E. 5 leagues from Cabo del Monte. A league and a half from Cabo del Monte there is an important but rather narrow river, which seemed to have a good entrance, and to be deep. Three-quarters of a league further on, the Admiral saw another very large river, and he thought it must have its source at a great distance. It had a hundred paces at its mouth, and no bar, with a depth of 8 fathoms. The Admiral sent the boat in, to take soundings, and they found the water fresh until it enters the sea.
This river had great volume, and must have a large population on its banks. Beyond Cabo Lindo there is a great bay, which would be open for navigation to E.N.E. and S. E. and S.S.W.
Wednesday, 5th of December. All this night they were beating to windward off Cape Lindo, to reach the land to the east, and at sunrise the Admiral sighted another cape, two and a half leagues to the east. Having passed it, he saw that the land trended S. and S. W., and presently saw a fine high cape in that direction, 7 leagues distant. § He would have wished to go there, but his object was to reach the island of Babeque, which, according to the Indians, bore N.E.; so he gave up the intention. He could not go to Babeque either,
† Punta del Fraile.- N.
Punta de los Azules.- N.
§ The eastern end of Cuba, called Punta del Maici.- N. Las Casas says that Punta del Maici was not the extreme point. It was the point named by the Admiral “Cabo de Cuba."
He must be correct, for he had the chart drawn by the Admiral himself, in his posThe Admiral named the extreme east point of Cuba "Alpha et Omega"; and Las Casas says that in his time it had the native name of "Punta de Bayatiquiri.”
because the wind was N.E.* Looking to the S.E., he saw land, which was a very large island, according to the information of the Indians, well peopled, and called by them Bohio,† The Admiral says that the inhabitants of Cuba, or Juana,‡ and of all the other islands, are much afraid of the inhabitants of Bohio, because they say that they eat people. The Indians relate other things, by signs, which are very wonderful; but the Admiral did not believe them. He only inferred that those of Bohio must have more cleverness and cunning to be able to capture the others, who, however, are very poor-spirited. The wind veered from N.E. to North, so the Admiral determined to leave Cuba, or Juana, which, up to this time, he had supposed to be the mainland, on account of its size, having coasted along it for 120 leagues. §
COLUMBUS ON THE SOUTH COAST OF CUBA.
From Irving's Account of the Second Voyage, 1494.
Animated by one of the pleasing illusions of his ardent imagination, Columbus pursued his voyage, with a prosperous breeze, along the supposed continent of Asia. He was now opposite to that part of the southern side of Cuba where, for nearly thirty-five leagues, the navigation is unembarrassed by banks and islands. To his left was the broad and open sea, whose dark blue color gave token of ample depth; to his right extended the richly wooded province of Ornofay, gradually sweeping up into a range of interior mountains; the verdant coast watered by innumerable streams, and studded with Indian villages. The appearance of the ships spread wonder and joy along the seaboard. The natives hailed with acclamations the arrival on their shores of these wonderful beings, whose fame had circulated more or less throughout the island, and who brought with them the blessings of the skies. They came off swimming, or in their canoes, to offer the fruits and
* Babeque is a name that does not occur again. Probably its use by the Admiral arose from some word that had been misunderstood.
† Hayti, or Española. The name Bohio is a mistake (Las Casas).
The Admiral gave the name of Juana to Cuba, in honour of Prince Juan, only son of Ferdinand and Isabella.
"I found it so large that I thought it must be the mainland - the province of Cathay" (Letter to Santangel). Further on he says: "I learnt from Indians whom I seized, that their land was certainly an island" (Ibid.). But he remained in doubt.
productions of the land, and regarded the white men almost with adoration. After the usual evening shower, when the breeze blew from the shore, and brought off the sweetness of the land, it bore with it also the distant songs of the natives, and the sound of their rude music, as they were probably celebrating, with their national chants and dances, the arrival of the white men. So delightful were these spicy odors and cheerful sounds to Columbus, who was at present open to all pleasurable influences, that he declared the night passed away as a single hour. . . .
The information derived from these people concerning the coast to the westward was entirely vague. They said that it continued for at least twenty days' journey, but whether it terminated there they did not know. . .
For several days Columbus continued exploring this perplexed and lonely coast. . . . As he proceeded, however, he found that the coast took a general bend to the south-west. This accorded precisely with the descriptions given by Marco Polo of the remote coast of Asia. He now became fully assured that he was on that part of the Asiatic continent which lies beyond the boundaries of the old world, as laid down by Ptolemy. He had but to continue on, to arrive before long to where this range of coast towards the south-west terminated in the Aurea Chersonesus of the ancients.
The ardent imagination of Columbus was always sallying in the advance, and suggesting some splendid track of enterprise. Combining his present conjectures as to his situation with the imperfect lights of geography, he conceived a triumphant route for his return to Spain. Doubling the Aurea Chersonesus, he should emerge into the seas frequented by the ancients, and bordered by the luxurious nations of the east. Stretching across the gulf of the Ganges, he might pass by Trapoban, and, continuing on to the straits of Babelmandel, arrive on the shores of the Red Sea. From thence he might make his way by land to Jerusalem, take shipping at Joppa, and traverse the Mediterranean to Spain. Or should the route from Ethiopia to Jerusalem be deemed too perilous from savage and warlike tribes, or should he not choose to separate from his vessels, he might sail round the whole coast of Africa, pass triumphantly by the Portuguese, in their midway groping along the shores of Guinea, and, after having thus circumnavigated the globe, furl his adventurous sails at the pillars of Hercules, the ne plus