« PreviousContinue »
ultra of the ancient world! Such was the soaring meditation of Columbus, as recorded by one of his intimate associates.
“The Journal of Columbus,” says Mr. Clements R. Markham, the president of the Hakluyt Society, in the introduction to his critical edition of the Journal of Columbus during his First Voyage, “is the most important document in the whole range of the history of geographical discovery, because it is a record of the enterprise which changed the whole face, not only of that history, but of the history of mankind." The Journal covered the whole period of the first voyage, from Aug. 3, 1492, when Columbus sailed from Palos, to March 15, 1493, when he arrived in Spain upon his weeks in exploring the north-eastern coast, sailing from the eastern point for Hayti, December 6. The portion of his Journal which gives the account of the discovery and exploration of the historic and beautiful island, which has now come into such close relations with the United States, is given in the present leaflet. In these pages we see Cuba through the first European eyes to which it was revealed.
There was a prologue, addressed to the king and queen, in which he wrote: “As part of my duty, I thought it well to write an account of all the voyage very punctually, noting from day to day all that I should do and see and that should happen. I resolved to describe each night what passed in the day, and to know each day how I navigated.” The Journal was duly forwarded to Ferdinand and Isabella; but it is now lost. It was used by Ferdinand Columbus in his Life of Columbus ; and his version is in places more full than that of Las Casas, appearing to be copied word for word. Las Casas had access to the Journal when he wrote his history, and gives a very full abstract, which was printed by Navarrete in 1825. The prologue, or covering letter to Ferdinand and Isabella, is given in full. The rest is an abstract of the entries of each day; but there are long and frequent quotations, word for word, which are shown by the phrases, “ The Admiral says,” or “ These are the Admiral's words."
“It must be remembered,” says Markham, “that the letter of Toscanelli was his guide, and that the gold, pearls, and spices were the marks by which he was to know the provinces of the great Kaan, so that he was bound to make constant inquiries for these commodities. This search, however, only occupied part of his thoughts. Nothing seems to escape his observation. The feature which comes out most prominently is his enthusiastic admiration of scenery and of the natural beauties of the strange land. The Journal is a mirror of the man. It shows his failings and his virtues. It records his lofty aims, his unswerving loyalty, his deep religious feeling, his kindliness and gratitude. It impresses us with his knowledge and genius as a leader, with his watchful care of his people, and with the richness of his imagination. Few will read the Journal without a feeling of admiration for the marvellous ability and simple faith of the great genius whose mission it was to reveal the mighty secret of the ages.”
It was on the 12th of October, 1492, that Columbus landed on San Salvador. He continued to cruise among the Bahamas for a fortnight, hearing from the natives about a great and wonderful island to the south, which they called Cuba, and which he believed must be the Cipango (Japan) described by Marco Polo. “On the spheres [the globe of Martin Behaim, made in 1492] I saw, and on the delineations of the map of the world [the map of Toscanelli], Cipango is in this region.” On Saturday evening, October 27, Cuba was sighted; and Columbus spent nearly six
The best edition of the Journal of Columbus is that prepared by Markham, and published by the Hukluyt Society. It is from this that the present leaflet is taken. The translation is from the text of Navarrete. An earlier translation by Samuel Kettell was published in Boston in 1827. In the present leaflet the foot-notes marked N. are by Navarrete: the others are by Markham.
On his second voyage, Columbus touched Cuba again, exploring the southern coast for a great distance, and becoming convinced at last that it was the mainland of Asia. The interesting accounts of this exploration are well summarized by Irving in his Life of Columbus ; and a brief selection from this summary is given in the present leaflet. Irving here follows Bernaldez. Andrez Bernaldez, generally known by the title of the Cura de los Palacios, was a friend of Columbus, who in 1496 left many of his manuscripts with him, which the curate made use of in an account of the voyages of Columbus. This account gives the most accurate description of the Admiral's sailing along the southern side of Cuba, on the second voyage, in 1494.
In the series of Old South Leaflets there have already been printed three valuable Columbus leaflets: The Discovery of America, from the Life of Columbus by his son Ferdinand Columbus (No. 29); Columbus's Letter to Gabriel Sanchez, describing the first voyage and discovery (No. 33); and Columbus's Memorial to Ferdinand and Isabella, sent from the new “ city” of Isabella in Hayti in 1494.
THE DIRECTORS OF THE OLD SOUTH WORK,
Old South Meeting-house, Boston, Mass.
When it was first perceived, in early times, that no middle course for America remained between unlimited submission to a foreign legislature and a total independence of its claims, men of reflection were less apprehensive of danger from the formidable power of fleets and armies they must determine to resist than from those contests and dissensions which would certainly arise concerning the forms of government to be instituted over the whole and over the parts of this extensive country. Relying, however, on the purity of their intentions, the justice of their cause, and the integrity and intelligence of the people, under an overruling Providence which had so signally protected this country from the first, the representatives. of this nation, then consisting of little more than half its present number, not only broke to pieces the chains which were forging and the rod of iron that was lifted up, but frankly cut: asunder the ties which had bound them, and launched into an. ocean of uncertainty.
The zeal and ardor of the people during the Revolutionary War, supplying the place of government, commanded a degree of order sufficient at least for the temporary preservation of society. The Confederation which was early felt to be necessary was prepared from the models of the Batavian and Helvetic confederacies, the only examples which remain with any detail and precision in history, and certainly the only ones which the people at large had ever considered. But, reflecting on the striking difference in so many particulars between this
country and those where a courier may go from the seat of government to the frontier in a single day, it was then certainly foreseen by some who assisted in Congress at the formation of it that it could not be durable.
Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommendations, if not disobedience to its authority, not only in individuals but in States, soon appeared with their melancholy consequences, - universal languor, jealousies and rivalries of States, decline of navigation and commerce, discouragement of necessary manufactures, universal fall in the value of lands and their produce, contempt of public and private faith, loss of consideration and credit with foreign nations, and at length in discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection, threatening some great national calamity.
In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty. The public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations issued in the present happy Constitution of Government.
Employed in the service of my country abroad during the whole course of these transactions, I first saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of good heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better adapted to the genius, character, situation, and relations of this nation and country than any which had ever been proposed or suggested. In its general principles and great outlines it was conformable to such a system of government as I had ever most esteemed, and in some States, my own native State in particular, had contributed to establish. Claiming a right of suffrage, in common with my fellow-citizens, in the adoption or rejection of a constitution which was to rule me and my posterity, as well as them and theirs, I did not hesitate to express my approbation of it on all occasions, in public and in private. It was not then, nor has been since, any objection to it in my mind that the Executive and Senate were not more permanent. Nor have I ever entertained a thought of promoting any alteration in it but such as the people
themselves, in the course of their experience, should see and feel to be necessary or expedient, and by their representatives in Congress and the State legislatures, according to the Constitution itself, adopt and ordain.
Returning to the bosom of my country after a painful separation from it for ten years, I had the honor to be elected to a station under the new order of things; and I have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the Constitution. The operation of it has equalled the most sanguine expectations of its friends, and from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its administration, and delight in its effects upon the peace, order, prosperity, and happiness of the nation I have acquired an habitual attachment to it and veneration for it.
What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our esteem and love ?
There may be little solidity in an ancient idea that congregations of men into cities and nations are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences; but this is very certain, that to a benevolent human mind there can be no spectacle presented by any nation more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other Chamber of Congress, of a Government in which the Executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the Legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors to make and execute laws for the general good. Can anything essential, anything more than mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes and diamonds ? Can authority be more amiable and respectable when it descends from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people ? For it is the people only that are represented. It is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear. The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind? If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable, it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.