Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

1492, thirty-five days only after leaving the Canaries, when the mari. ners had sung their usual hymn to the Virgin, indications of land were so apparent, that Columbus ordered his sails to be furled, and a strict watch to be kept—and when the shades of evening had set in, he took his station on the top of the forecastle or cabin, from whence, at about 10 o'clock, he thought he beheld a light. His suspicions were afterward confirmed, and continuing on his course until about two in the morning, a gun from the Pinta (one of the vessels in his little fleet) announced the signal of land.

In spite of every obstacle, he had now accomplished his object. The mystery of the ocean was at once revealed. The truth of his theory, which had been the sport even of sages, was confirmed, and he was im. mortal.

As the morning dawned, an island of surpassing beauty,* verdant with forests, and loaded with fruits of a tempting hue, spread its treasures before him. Its inhabitants, issuing from the woods and running to all parts of the shore, were seen gazing on his fleet, and from their attitudes and gestures, appeared to be amazed. They had seen his vessels with their sails spread, hovering on their coast, and advancing in solemn majesty to their shores, and “had an army of Milton's celestial angels, robed in light, sporting in the bright beams of the sun, redoubling their splendor, and making divine harmony with their golden harps," issued from the deep, it would have excited no other or greater surprise.

On the 11th of October, 1492-a day ever memorable in the annals of our race-Columbus landed, with a drawn sword in his hand, (the fit emblem, though at that time undesigned, of what succeeded,) and took possession of the country in the names of Ferdinand and Isabella. Suppo. sing he had landed on an island at the extremity of India, he called the inhabitants by the appellation of Indians, which has since universally been adopted, and extended to the aboriginal inhabitants of the whole Western Continent.

In contemplating the effects of this discovery, the human imagination is perfectly bewildered. The emotions it created, no language can express. The consequences which followed, no pen can describe. Its original inhabitants have not been the only parties in interest. The inhabitants of other realms, and of other continents, sometimes with, and sometimes without their consent, have participated therein, either for weal or for wo.

The character and habits, origin and destination, of the aborigines, being at all times subjects of interest, and especially at the present time, demand, and of course will next receive, our attention.

NOTE.

Mr. Irving, in his biography of Columbus, having taken him up in boyhood, or as soon as he could find him—having sailed with him to the uttermost parts of the earth-having watched over him at sea, and messed with him on shore-having stood by him through

* St. Salvador, one of the Bahama islands.

all his crosses and losses, perplexities and achievements, great and small, even to his dying day-having also witnessed his last will and testament, and attended to all the ceremonies of his funeral, like an affectionate brother, or, as Grattan once said of Ireland, having "sat by its cradle, and followed its hearse :"— The American reader who has perused Mr. Irving's admirable work, who feels, or ought to feel a deep interest in all that appertains to Columbus's buffeting, toiling, and begging his way to success and glory, may desire, perhaps, to know something further in relation to the family and descendants of the great “ Discoverer.”

Colunbus, broken down by age and infirmity, worn out by toil and hardship, and having, as he says himself," no place to resort to but an inn, and frequently, not wherewithal to pay his bill," died a “broken down and shipwrecked man,” at Valladolid, in Spain. on the 20th of May, 1506, in the seventieth year of his age, ignorant of the real grandeur of his discovery.

His body was deposited in the convent of Saint Francisco, and his obsequies celebrated with funeral pomp, at Valladolid, in the parochial church of Santa Maria de la Antiqua. His remains were afterward, in 1513, conveyed to the Carthusian monastery of La Cuevas of Seville ; and in 1536, they were removed from thence to Hispaniola, and interred in the principal chapel of the Cathedral, of the city of St. Domingo.

The island of Hispaniola having been ceded to France in 1795, the Duke of Veragua, the lineal successor of Columbus, on the 20th of December, in that year, caused his remains to be removed from thence, with military pomp, to the Island of Cuba, and deposited with reverence in the wall, on the right side of the grand altar in the Cathedral church, at Havana.

“ When we reflect," says Mr. Irving, “ that it was from this very port, Columbus was carried off in his life-time, loaded with ignominious chains, blasted apparently in fame and fortune, and followed by the revilings and hootings of a fickle populace, we cannot fail to perceive, how triumphantly merit outlives detraction, and to observe that the removal of his remains, as national relics, after an interval of more than two hundred years, with civil and military pomp, (the most dignified and illustrious men, vieing with each other in manifestations of reverence,) speaks comfort to the illustrious, yet slandered and persecuted living."

The latter part of his life was full of peril. His last voyage, in particular, had shattered a frame, worn out by hardships in the service of an ungrateful king. The suspension of his honors—the violation of the articles of agreement between him and his sovereign-the enmity of his adversaries--the envy to which he was exposed, and the defamation which followed him at every turn, threw a dark and impenetrable shadow over that glory which had for years been the object of his ambition. Well might the most illustrious man of the age,

“ Ask from a thankless world a peaceful tomb."

On the death of Columbus, his son Diego succeeded, nominally, to his rights as viceroy and governor of the New World. Don Diego urged the restitution of the family offices and privileges which, during the latter part of his father's life, had been suspended. Ferdinand, however, turned a deaf ear to his solicitations. The young admiral, finding all appeals to equity and generosity unavailing, sought permission to pursue his claims in a court of law. This, the king could not reasonably deny. A suit was therefore com. menced by Diego Columbus, against the king, before the council for the Indies. This memorable action was brought in 1508, and continued for several years. A unanimous decision of the court was at length obtained in favor of Columbus; still, the wily monarch sought and found a pretext for refusing to carry it into execution, and the young admiral was finally indebted for success in this suit, to success in another suit of a different character. Donna Maria de Toledo, a young lady of rank and fortune, niece of the celebrated Duke of Alva, afterward so distinguished in the reign of Charles V., and cousin german of

the king, was at that time a favorite at the Spanish court. The glory which Columbus the elder, had acquired, rested upon his son. The claims of Don Diego, confirmed by the council of the Indies, raised him to a level with the proudest aristocracy in the land-he sought and obtained this lady in marriage, and the family of Columbus was thus ingrafted on one of the oldest and most respectable families in Spain. Diego, having in this manner secured that magical power, called “connections," the imperial favor withheld from the son of Columbus, fell in showers upon a relative of the Duke of Alva. In 1509, the young admiral embarked with his bride and a numerous retinue of cavaliers, for Hispaniola. The vice-queen, who was a lady of extraordinary intelligence, on her arrival thither, established a sort of court, which threw a degree of lustre over this then, semibarbarous island, and contributed materially to soften the rude manners which had grown up in a state of society destitute of those salutary restraints which are produced by female influence.

Don Diego, however, inherited not only the rank, but the troubles of his father. Involved in difficulties with the fiscal, he repaired to court in 1515, and was received with great honor by the king. On the 23rd of January, 1516, Ferdinand died, and was succeeded by his grandson, the celebrated Charles V. The emperor, after considerable delay, acknowledged Don Diego's right to exercise the office of viceroy and governor of Hispaniola, and in 1520 he returned thither, found its affairs in confusion, and in 1523, was informed that his presence was necessary in Spain. He repaired again to court, and plead his cause so well, that the sovereign and council acknowledged at once his innocence. The dispute, however, between the admiral and the fiscal, was protracted to such a length, that he, like his father, died in the pursuit. He left Toledo in a litter on the 21st of Feb. 1526, for Seville, and on the 23rd died at Montalvan, “ worn out by following up his claims, and defending himself from the calumnies of his competitors, who, with stratagems and devices, sought to obscure the glory of the father, and the virtue of the son."

At the time of his death, his wife and family were at St. Domingo. He left two sons, Louis and Christopher, and three daughters.

After the death of Diego, his noble-spirited vice-queen, left with a number of young children, determined to assert and maintain the rights of the family. She demanded a licence from the royal audience of Hispaniola, to recruit men and fit out an armada to colonize the province of Veragua, which she alleged had been discovered by Columbus. Being refused in this request, she appealed to the Emperor, (Charles V.) He directed the vice-queen to be kept in suspense, until the justice of her pretensions could be ascertained. She therefore embarked for Spain, in order to protect the claims of her eldest son, Don Louis, then a child six years old. Charles V. himself was absent, but she was graciously received by the empress, and the title of Admiral of the Indies immediately conferred on her son. Charles could not, however, be prevailed upon to give Don Louis the title of viceroy, although that dignity had been decreed to his father as a hereditary right. The young admiral, Don Louis, therefore instituted proceedings for its recovery, which were afterward settled by arbitration, and Don Louis, finding all his dignities and privileges sources of mere vexation, finally entered into a compromise. By this compromise he gave up all his pretensions to the viceroyalty of the New World, and received in its stead the titles of Duke of Veragua, and Marquis of Jamaica, and a pension of 1000 doubloons in gold. Don Louis soon after died, leaving two daughters, Philippa and Maria. He was succeeded by Diego his nephew, a son of his brother Christopher. His daughter, how. ever, laid claim to his titles, and a law-suit took place between the nephew and daughter, which threatening to prove tedious and expensive, was compromised by their intermar. riage. Their union, though happy, was not fruitful; and on Diego's death in 1578, the legitimate male line of Columbus became extinct.

Another law-suit now arose, for the estates and dignities descended from the “ great discoverer," which was finally decided by the council of the Indies, on the 2nd of December, 1608, in favor of Don Nuno Gelves de Portugallo, who became Duke of Veragua. He was grandson of Isabella, third daughter of Don Diego, son of the discoverer, by his vice-queen Donna Maria de Toledo. The Isabella above-named, had married Don George of Portugal, Count of Gelves. Thus the dignities and wealth of Columbus, passed into a branch of the Portuguese house of Braganza, established in Spain. It was a lineal deacendant of this Duke of Veragua, who caused the remains of Columbus, the admiral, to be removed from St. Domingo to Cuba, in 1795, as before related.

CHAPTER II.

Spirit of adventure excited—Colonization-Natives of this country-Difficulty in obtaining

correct information-Ancient Britons-Indians unacquainted with iron-Unused to animal labor-Unacquainted with any but the simplest arts-Skilled in hunting and fishing—No legal tribunals-Limited ideas of property-Are revengeful-Skilled in war-At times, eloquent-Sometimes torture their prisoners, sometimes receive and adopt them into their tribe-Savage warrior and Christian martyr compared-Hooper -Are fond of gambling—Are addicted to drunkenness—Are fond of dancing-Wardance described-His personal independence-His social relations-His religion-Is superstitious—Is eloquent-Logan-Philip—Tecumseh-Red Jacket-Reason why they refuse to become civilized.

INTELLIGENCE of the great discovery achieved by Columbus, was soon spread from court to court, from city to city, and from nation to nation, till the whole of Europe, in a short time, resounded with his fame.

It was like the accession of wealth to a miser. “Our minds,” says Peter Martyr, a cotemporary of Columbus, “ soiled and debased by the common concerns of life, were elevated by its contemplation.” “It was," said others, “a thing more divine than human.” Every one rejoiced in the occurrence, as one in which he was personally interested. To some it presented an unbounded field of inquiry, to others an immense theatre for enterprise ; and all awaited with intense eagerness, a further development of the new and unexplored regions still covered with mystery, the first glimpses of which filled every eye with wonder.

The spirit of adventure was at once roused to its highest pitch, and all Europe became enchanted.

Portugal, distinguished for her nautical enterprise, was mortified by the prospect which dawned upon her rival. England, which as yet had been a maritime power of inferior importance, heard the glad tidings from a distant shore, and awoke to enterprise and glory. France followed in her train. Holland and Sweden imitated their example, and in a short time, voyages of discovery were the theme of every tongue.

To rob and plunder the natives, and afterward to colonize these newly discovered realms, engrossed for a while the attention of Europe ; and, to effect the latter, its prison-doors were unbarred, its felons were let loose-its population, high and low, rich and poor, bond and free—the accomplished cavalier who had triumphed in every field of battle—the patriot soldier who had trampled crowns beneath his feet—the vagrant, the miser, the debtor, the adventurer, the enthusiast, the loafer, (a term till recently unknown,) and also, the patriot and Christian, embarked, in vast multitudes, for this fairy land; some in pursuit of fortune, others in

« FöregåendeFortsätt »