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Children's Lives of Great Men
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THIS "True Story of Christopher Columbus" is offered and inscribed to the boys and girls of America as the opening volume in a series especially designed for their reading, and to be called "Children's Lives of Great Men." In this series the place of honor, or rather of position, is given to Columbus the Admiral, because had it not been for him and for his pluck and faith and perseverance there might have been no young Americans, such as we know to-day, to read or care about the world's great men.
Columbus led the American advance; he discovered the New World; he left a record of persistence in spite of discouragement and of triumph over all obstacles, that has been the inspiration and guide for Americans ever since his day, and that has led them to work on in faith and hope until the end they strove for was won.
"The True Story of Christopher Columbus" will be followed by the "true story" of others who have left names for us to honor and revere, who have made the world better because they lived, and who have helped to make and to develop American freedom, strength and progress.
It will be the endeavor to have all these presented in the simple, straightforward, earnest way that appeals to children, and shows how the hero can be the man, and the man the hero.
helped his father do this when he grew strong enough, but he went to
school, too, and learned to read and write and to draw maps and charts.
These charts were maps of the sea, to show the sailors where they could
steer without running on the rocks and sand, and how to sail safely
from one country to another.
This world was not as big then as it is now -- or, should say, people did not know it was as big. Most of the lands that Columbus had studied about in school, and most of the people he had heard about, were in Europe and parts of Asia and Africa. The city of Genoa where Columbus lived was a very busy and a very rich city. It was on the Mediterranean Sea, and many of the people who lived there were sailors who went in their ships on voyages to distant lands. They sailed to other places on the Mediterranean Sea, which is a very large body of water, you know, and to England, to France, to Norway, and even as far away as the cold northern island of Iceland. This was thought to be a great journey.
The time in which Columbus lived was not as nice a time as is this in which you live. People were always
But when Columbus lived, men did not think it was so very wicked to be a sort of half-way pirate, although they did know that they would be killed if they were caught. So almost every sailor was about half pirate. Every boy who lived near the seashore and saw the ships and the sailors, felt as though he would like to sail away to far-off lands and see all the strange sights and do all the brave things that the sailors told about. Many of them even said they would like to be pirates and fight with other sailors, and show how strong and brave and plucky they could be.
Columbus was one of these. He was what is called an adventurous boy. He did not like to stay quietly at home with his father and comb out the tangled wool. He thought it would be much nicer to sail away to sea and be a brave captain or a rich merchant.
When he was
about fourteen years old he really did go to sea. There was a captain
of a sailing vessel that sometimes came to Genoa who had the same last
name -- Columbus. He was no relation, but the little Christopher
somehow got acquainted with him among the wharves of Genoa. Perhaps he
had run on errands for him, or helped him with
are very fond of telling big stories about their own adventures or
about far-off lands and countries. Columbus,
you look in your geographies you will not find any such place on the
map as Cathay, but you will find China, and that was what men in the
time of Columbus called
This, of course, made the sailors and storekeepers, who were part pirate, very anxious to go to Cathay and get some of the gold and jewels and spices and splendor for themselves. But Cathay was miles and miles away from Italy and Spain and France and England. It was away across the deserts and mountains and seas and rivers, and they had to give it up because they could not sail there.
At last a man whose name was Marco Polo, and who was a very brave and famous traveler, really did go there, in spite of all the trouble it took. And when he got back his stories were so very surprising that men were all the more anxious to find a way to sail in their ships to Cathay and see it for themselves.
But of course they could
not sail over the deserts and mountains, and they were very much
troubled because they had to give up the idea, until the son of the
king of Portugal, named Prince Henry, said he believed that ships could
sail around Africa and so get to India or "the Indies" as they called
that land, and finally to Cathay.
Just look at your map again and see what a long, long voyage it would be to sail from Spain and around Africa to India, China and Japan. It is such a long sail that, as you know, the Suez Canal was dug some twenty years ago so that ships could sail through the Mediterranean Sea and out into the Indian Ocean, and not have to go away around Africa.
when Columbus was a boy it was even worse than now, for no one really
knew how long Africa was, or whether ships really could sail around it.
But Prince Henry said he knew they could, and he sent out ships to try.
He died before his Portuguese sailors, Bartholomew Diaz, in 1493, and
Vasco de Gama, in 1497, at last did sail around it and got as far as
So while Prince Henry was trying to see whether ships could sail around Africa and reach Cathay in that way, the boy Columbus was listening to the stories the sailors told and was wondering whether some other and easier way to Cathay might not be found.
he was at school he had studied about a certain man named Pythagoras,
who had lived in Greece thousands of years before he was born, and who
had said that the earth was round "like a ball or an orange. " As
By this time Columbus was a man. He was thirty years old and was a great sailor. He had been captain of a number of vessels; he had sailed north and south and east; he knew all about a ship and all about the sea. But, though he was so good a sailor, when he said that he believed the earth was round, everybody laughed at him and said that he was crazy. "Why, how can the earth be round?" they cried. "The water would all spill out if it were, and the men who live on the other side would all be standing on their heads with their feet waving in the air." And then they laughed all the harder.
But Columbus did
not think it was anything to laugh at. He believed it so strongly, and
felt so sure that he was right, that he set to work to find some king
or prince or great
Now this Atlantic Ocean, the
western waves of which break upon our rocks and beaches, was thought in
Columbus's day to be a dreadful place. People called it the Sea of
Darkness, because they did not know what was on the other side of it,
or what dangers lay beyond that distant blue rim where the sky and
water seem to meet, and which we call the horizon. They thought the
ocean stretched to the end of a flat world, straight away to a sort of
"jumping-off place," and that in this horrible jumping-off place were
giants and goblins and dragons and monsters and all sorts of terrible
things that would catch the ships and destroy them and the sailors.
So when Columbus said that he wanted to sail away toward this dreadful jumping-off place, the people said that he was worse than crazy. They said he was a wicked man and ought to be punished.
they could not frighten Columbus. He kept on trying. He went from place
to place trying to get the ships and sailors he wanted and was bound to
have. As you will see in the next chapter, he tried to get help
And so Columbus waited. And his hair grew white while he waited, though he was not yet an old man. He had thought and worked and hoped so much that he began to look like an old man when he was forty years old. But still he would never say that perhaps he was wrong, after all. He said he knew he was right, and that some day he should find the Indies and sail to Cathay.
DO not wish you to think that Columbus was the first man to say that
the earth was round, or the first to sail to the West over the Atlantic
Ocean. He was not. Other men had said that they believed the earth was
He even figured out how far it was around the world. Your geography, you know, tells you now that what is called the circumference of the earth -- that is, a straight line drawn right around it -- is nearly twenty-five thousand miles. Columbus had figured it up pretty carefully and he thought it was about twenty thousand miles. If I could start from Genoa, he said, and walk straight ahead until I got back to Genoa again, I should walk about twenty thousand miles. Cathay, he thought, would take up so much land on the other side of the world that, if he went west instead of east, he would only need to sail about twenty-five hundred or three thousand miles.
If you have studied your geography carefully you will see what a mistake he made.
is really about twelve thousand miles from Spain to China (or Cathay as
he called it). But America is just about three thousand miles from
Spain, and if you read all this story you will see how Columbus's
mistake really helped him to discover America.
I have told you that Columbus had a longing to do something great from the time when, as a little boy, he had hung around the wharves in Genoa and looked at the ships sailing east and west and talked with the sailors and wished that he could go to sea. Perhaps what he had learned at school -- how some men said that the earth was round -- and what he had heard on the wharves about the wonders of Cathay set him to thinking and to dreaming that it might be possible for a ship to sail around the world without falling off. At any rate, he kept on thinking and dreaming and longing until, at last, he began doing.
Some of the sailors sent out by Prince Henry of Portugal, of whom I have told you, in their trying to sail around Africa discovered two groups of islands out in the Atlantic that they called the Azores, or Isles of Hawks, and the Canaries, or Isles of Dogs. When Columbus was in Portugal in 1470 he became acquainted with a young woman whose name was Philippa Perestrelo. In 1473 he married her.
Now Philippa's father, before his death, had been governor of Porto Santo, one of the Azores, and Columbus and his wife went off there to live. In the governor's house Columbus found a lot of charts and maps that told him about parts of the ocean that he had never before seen, and made him feel certain that he was right in saying that if he sailed away to the West he should find Cathay.
At that time
there was an old man who lived in Florence, a city of Italy. His name
was Toscanelli. He was a
Toscanelli wrote to Columbus saying that he believed his idea was the right one, and he said it would be a grand thing to do, if Columbus dared to try it. Perhaps, he said, you can find all those splendid things that I know are in Cathay -- the great cities with marble bridges, the houses of marble covered with gold, the jewels and the spices and the precious stones, and all the other wonderful and magnificent things. I do not wonder you wish to try, he said, for if you find Cathay it will be a wonderful thing for you and for Portugal.
That settled it with Columbus. If this wise old scholar said he was right, he must be right. So he left his home in the Azores and went to Portugal. This was in 1475, and from that time on, for seventeen long years he was trying to get some king or prince to help him sail to the West to find Cathay.
But not one of the
people who could have helped him, if they had really wished to,
believed in Columbus. As I told you, they said that he was crazy. The
king of Portugal,
And when, in this way, Columbus found out that King John had tried to use his ideas without letting him know anything about it, he was very angry. His wife had died in the midst of this mean trick of the Portuguese king, and so, taking with him his little five-year-old son, Diego, he left Portugal secretly and went over into Spain.
the little town of Palos, in western Spain, is a green hill looking out
toward the Atlantic. Upon this hill stands an old building that, four
hundred years ago, was used as a a convent or home for priests. It was
called the Convent of
As they talked, the priest grew more and more interested in what Columbus said. He invited him into the convent to stay for a few days, and he asked some other people -- the doctor of Palos and some of the sea captains and sailors of the town -- to come and talk with this stranger who had such a singular idea about sailing across the Atlantic.
It ended in Columbus's staying some months in Palos, waiting for a chance to go and see the king and queen. At last, in 1485, he set out for the Spanish court with a letter to a priest who was a friend of Friar Juan's, and who could help him to see the king and queen.
At that time the king and queen of Spain were fighting to drive out of Spain the people called the Moors. These people came from Africa, but they had lived in Spain for many years and had once been a very rich and powerful nation. They were not Spaniards; they were not Christians. So all Spaniards and all Christians hated them and tried to drive them out of Europe.
The king and queen of Spain who were fighting the Moors were named Ferdinand and Isabella. They were
When Columbus first came to them, they were with the army in the camp near the city of Cordova. The king and queen had no time to listen to what they thought were crazy plans, and poor Columbus could get no one to talk with him who could be of any help. So he was obliged to go back to drawing maps and selling books to make enough money to support himself and his little Diego.
But at last, through the friend of good Friar Juan Perez of Rabida, who was a priest at the court, and named Talavera, and to whom he had a letter of introduction, Columbus found a chance to talk over his plans with a number of priests and scholars in the city of Salamanca where there was a famous college and many learned men.
Columbus told his story. He said what he wished to do, and asked these learned men to say a good word for him to Ferdinand and Isabella so that he could have the ships and sailors to sail to Cathay. But it was of no use.
sail away around the world? those wise men cried in horror. Why, you
are crazy. The world is not round; it is flat. Your ships would tumble
off the edge of the world and all the king's money and all the king's
men would be
So the most of them said. But one or two thought it might be worth trying. Cathay was a very rich country, and if this foolish fellow were willing to run the risk and did succeed, it would be a good thing for Spain, as the king and queen would need a great deal of money after the war with the Moors was over. At any rate, it was a chance worth thinking about.
And so, although Columbus was dreadfully disappointed, he thought that if he had only a few friends at Court who were ready to say a good word for him he must not give up, but must try, try again. And so he staid in Spain.
you wish very much to do a certain thing it is dreadfully hard to be
patient; it is harder still to have to wait. Columbus had to do both.
The wars against
He staid in Spain. He grew poorer and, poorer. He
As we have
seen, he tried to interest the rulers of different countries, but with
no success. He tried to get help from
He followed the king and queen of Spain as they went from place to place fighting the Moors. He hoped that some day, when they wished to think of something besides fighting, they might think of him and the gold and jewels and spices of Cathay.
The days grew into months, the months to years, and still the war against the Moors kept on; and still Columbus waited for the chance that did not come. People grew to know him as "the crazy explorer" as they met him in the streets or on the church steps of Seville or Cordova, and even ragged little boys of the town, sharp-eyed and shrill-voiced as all such ragged little urchins are, would run after this big man with the streaming white hair and the tattered cloak, calling him names or tapping their brown little foreheads with their dirty fingers to show that even they knew that he was "as crazy as a loon."
At last he decided to make one more attempt before giving
It was in the month of November, 1491, that he went back to the Convent of Rabida. If he could not get any encouragement there, he was determined to stay in Spain no longer but to go away and try the king of France.
Once more he talked over the finding of Cathay with the priests and the sailors of Palos. They saw how patient he was; how persistent he was; how he would never give up his ideas until he had tried them. They were moved by his determination. They began to believe in him more and more. They resolved to help him. One of the principal sea captains of Palos was named Martin Alonso Pinzon. He became so interested that he offered to lend Columbus money enough to make one last appeal to the king and queen of Spain, and if Columbus should succeed with them, this Captain Pinzon said that he would go into partnership with Columbus and help him out when it came to getting ready to sail to Cathay.
was a move in the right direction. At once a messenger was sent to the
splendid Spanish camp before the city of Granada, the last unconquered
city of the Moors of Spain. The king and queen of Spain had been so
long trying to capture Granada that this camp was really a city,
Christmas time, in the year 1491, Columbus, mounted upon his mule, rode
into the Spanish camp before the city of Granada. But even now, when he
had been told to come, he had to wait. Granada was almost captured; the
Moors were almost conquered. At last the end came. On the second of
January, 1492, the Moorish king gave up the keys of his beloved city,
and the great Spanish banner was hoisted on the highest tower of the
Alhambra -- the handsomest building in Granada and one of the most
beautiful in the world. The Moors were driven out of Spain and
Columbus's chance had come.
he appeared before Queen Isabella and her chief men and told them again
of all his plans and desires. The queen and her advisers sat in a great
room in that splendid Alhambra I have told you of. King Ferdinand was
not there. He did not believe in Columbus and did not wish to let him
have either money, ships or sailors to lose in such a
Then a singular thing happened. You would think if you wished for something very much that you would be
His few friends begged him to be more modest. Do not ask so much, they said, or you will get nothing. But Columbus was determined. I have worked and waited all these years, he replied. I know just what I can do and just how much I can do for the king and queen of Spain. They must pay me what I ask and promise what I say, or I will go somewhere else. Go, then! said the queen and her advisers. And Columbus turned his back on what seemed almost his last hope, mounted his mule and rode away.
Then something else happened. As
Columbus rode off to find the French king, sick and tired of all his
long and useless labor at the Spanish court, his few firm friends there
saw that, unless they did something right away, all the glory and all
the gain of this enterprise Columbus had taught them to believe in
would be lost to Spain. So two of them, whose
What if he does ask a great deal? they said. He has spent his life thinking his plan out; no wonder he feels that he ought to have a good share of what he finds. What he asks is really small compared with what Spain will gain. The war with the Moors has cost you ever so much; your money-chests are empty; Columbus will fill them up. The people of Cathay are heathen; Columbus will help you make them Christian men. The Indies and Cathay are full of gold and jewels; Columbus will bring you home shiploads of treasures. Spain has conquered the Moors; Columbus will help you conquer Cathay.
In fact, they talked to Queen Isabella so strongly and so earnestly, that she, too, became excited over this chance for glory and riches that she had almost lost, Quick! send for Columbus. Call him back! she said. I agree to his terms. If King Ferdinand cannot or will not take the risk, I, the queen, will do it all. Quick! do not let the man get into France. After him. Bring him back!
And without delay a royal messenger, mounted on a swift horse, was sent at full gallop to bring Columbus back.
All this time poor Columbus felt bad
enough. Everything had gone wrong. Now he must go away into a new land
and do it all over again. Kings and queens, he felt,
Just as he was riding across
the little bridge called the Bridge of Pinos, some six miles from
Granada, he heard the quick hoof-beats of a horse behind him. It was a
Columbus hesitated. Ought he to trust this promise, he
So, on the little Bridge of Pinos, he turned his mule around and rode back to Granada. And, sure enough, when he saw Queen Isabella she agreed to all that he asked. If he found Cathay, Columbus was to be made admiral for life of all the new seas and oceans into which he might sail; he was to be chief ruler of all the lands he might find; he was to keep one tenth part of all the gold and jewels and treasures he should bring away, and was to have his "say" in all questions about the new lands. For his part (and this was because of the offer of his friend at Palos, Captain Pinzon) he agreed to pay one eighth of all the expenses of this expedition and of all new enterprises, and was to have one eighth of all the profits from them.
So Columbus had
his wish at last. The queen's men figured up how much money they could
let him have; they called him "Don Christopher Columbus," "Your
Excellency" and "Admiral," and at once he set about getting ready for
THE agreement made between Columbus and the king and queen of Spain was signed on the seventeenth of April, 1492. But it was four months before he was quite ready to sail away.
He selected the town of Palos as the place to sail from, because there, as you know, Captain Pinzon lived; there, too, he had other acquaintances, so that he supposed it would be easy to get the sailors he needed for his ships. But in this he was greatly mistaken.
As soon as the papers had been signed that held the queen to her promise, Columbus set off for Palos. He stopped at the Convent of Rabida to tell the Friar Juan Perez how thankful he was to him for the help the good priest had given him, and how everything now looked promising and successful.
The town of Palos, as you can see
from your map of Spain, is situated at the mouth of the river Tinto on
a little bay in the southwestern part of Spain, not far from the
borders of Portugal. To-day the sea has gone away from it so much that
it is nearly high and dry; but four hundred
the time of Columbus's voyage the king and queen of Spain were angry
with the port of Palos for something its people had done that was wrong
-- just what this was we do not know. But to punish the town, and
because Columbus wished to sail from there, the king and queen ordered
that Palos should pay them a fine for their wrong-doing. And this fine
was to lend the king and queen of Spain, for one year, without pay, two
sailing vessels of the kind called caravel's, armed and equipped "for
the service of the crown" -- that is, for the use of the king and queen
of Spain, in the western voyage that Columbus was to make.
Columbus called together the leading people of Palos to meet him in the
church of St. George and hear the royal commands, they came; but at
first they did not understand just what they must do. But when they
knew that they must send two of their ships and some of their sailing
men on this dreadful voyage far out upon the terrible Sea of Darkness,
they were terribly distressed. Nobody was willing to go. They would
obey the commands of the king and queen and furnish the two ships, but
as for sailing off with this crazy sea captain -- that they would not
Then the king's officers went to work. They seized some sailors (impressed is the word for this), and made them go; they took some from the jails, and gave them their freedom as a reward for going; they begged and threatened and paid in advance, and still it was hard to get enough men for the two ships. Then Captain Pinzon, who had promised Columbus that he would join him, tried his hand. He added a third ship to the Admiral's "fleet." He made big promises to the sailors, and worked for weeks, until at last he was able to do what even the royal commands could not do, and a crew of ninety men was got together to man the three vessels. The names of these three vessels were the Capitana (changed before it sailed to the Santa Maria), the Pinta and the Nina or Baby. Captain de la Cosa commanded the Santa Maria, Captain Martin Alonso Pinzon the Pinta and his brother, Captain Vincent Pinzon, the Nina. The Santa Maria was the largest of the three vessels; it was therefore selected as the leader of the fleet -- the flag-ship, as it is called -- and upon it sailed the commander of the expedition, the Admiral Don Christopher Columbus.
When we think of a voyage across
the Atlantic nowadays, we think of vessels as large as the big
three-masted ships or the great ocean steamers -- vessels over six
hundred feet long and fifty feet wide. But these "ships" of Columbus
were not really ships. They were hardly larger than the "fishing
smacks" that sail up and down our coast to-day. Some of them were not
so large. The Santa Maria was, as
But finally the vessels were ready. The crews were selected. The time had come to go. Most of the sailors were Spanish men from the towns near to the sea, but somehow a few who were not Spaniards joined the crew.
One of the first men to land in America from one of the ships of Columbus was an Irishman named William, from the County Galway. And another was an Englishman named either Arthur Laws or Arthur Larkins. The Spanish names for both these men look very queer, and only a wise scholar who digs among names and words could have found out what they really were. But such a one did find it out, and it increases our interest in the discovery of America to know that some of our own northern blood -- the Irishman and the Englishman -- were in the crews of Columbus.
Admiral Columbus was so sure he was going to find a rich and civilized
country, such as India and Cathay
scholars have said that it cost about two hundred and thirty thousand
dollars to fit out this expedition. I do not think it cost nearly so
much. We do know that Queen Isabella gave sixty-seven thousand dollars
to help pay for it. Some people, however, reckoning the old Spanish
money in a different way, say that what Queen Isabella gave
It was just an hour before sunrise on Friday, the third
But how different Columbus must have felt as he stepped, into the rowboat that took him off to his "flag-ship," the Santa Maria. His dreams had come true. He had ships and sailors under his command, and was about to sail away to discover great and wonderful things. He who had been so poor that he could hardly buy his own dinner, was now called Don and Admiral. He had a queen for his friend and helper. He was given a power that only the richest and noblest could hope for. But more than all, he was to have the chance he had wished and worked for so long. He was to find the Indies; he was to see Cathay; he was to have his share in all the wealth he should discover and bring away. The son of the poor wool-weaver of Genoa was to be the friend of kings and princes; the cabin boy of a pirate was now Admiral of the Seas and Governor of the Colonies of Spain! Do you wonder that he felt proud?
So, as I have told you, just before sunrise on a Friday morning in August, be boarded the Santa Maria and gave
DID you ever set out, in the dark, to walk with your little brother or sister along a road you did not know much about or had never gone over before? It was not an easy thing to do, was it? And how did your little brother or sister feel when it was known that you were not just certain whether you were right or not? Do you remember what the Bible says about the blind leading the blind?
It was much the same with Columbus when he set out from Palos to sail over an unknown sea to find the uncertain land of Cathay. He had his own idea of the way there, but no one in all his company had ever sailed it, and he himself was not sure about it. He was very much in the dark. And the sailors in the three ships were worse than little children. They did not even have the confidence in their leader that your little brother or sister would probably have in you as you traveled that new road on a dark night. It was almost another case of the blind leading the blind, was it not?
Columbus first steered his ships
to the south so as to reach the Canary Islands and commence his real
the Canaries the troubles of Columbus commenced. And he did have a lot
of trouble before his voyage was over. While near the island called the
Grand Canary the rudder of the Pinta, in which Captain Alonso Pinzon sailed, somehow got loose, then broke and finally came off. It was said that two of the Pinta's
crew, who were really the owners of the vessel, broke the rudder on
purpose, because they had become frightened at the thoughts of the
perilous voyage, and hoped by damaging their vessel to be left behind.
Columbus had no thought of doing any such thing. He sailed to the
island of Gomera, where he knew some people, and had the Pinta
mended. And while lying here with his fleet the great mountain on the
island of Teneriffe, twelve thousand feet high, suddenly began to spit
out flame and smoke. It was, as of course you know, a volcano; but the
poor frightened sailors did not know what set this mountain
But these, too, Columbus escaped, although not before his crews had grown terribly nervous for fear of capture. At last they got away from the Canaries, and on Sunday, the ninth of September, 1492, with a fresh breeze filling their sails, the three caravels sailed away into the West. And as the shores of Ferro, the very last of the Canary Islands, faded out of sight, the sailors burst into sighs and murmurings and tears, saying that now indeed they were sailing off -- off -- off -- upon the awful Sea of Darkness and would never see land any more.
Columbus thought that he was sailing too slowly -- he had now been away
from Palos a month and was only about a hundred miles out at sea -- and
when he saw what babies his sailors were, he did something that was not
just right (for it is never right to do anything that is not true) but
which he felt he really must do. He made two records (or reckonings as
they are called) of his sailing. One of these records was a true one;
this he kept for himself. The other was a false one; this he kept to
show his sailors. So while they thought they were sailing slowly and
another thing happened to worry the sailors. The pilots were steering
by the compass. You know what that is -- a sort of big magnet-needle
perfectly balanced and pointing always to the north. At the time of
Columbus the compass was a new thing and was only understood by a few.
On the thirteenth of September they had really got into the middle of
the ocean, and the line of the north changed. Of course this made the
needle in the compass change its position also. Now the sailors had
been taught to believe so fully in the compass that they thought it
could never change its position. And here it was playing a cruel trick
upon them. We are trapped! they cried. The goblins in this dreadful sea
are making our compass point wrong so as to drag us to destruction. Go
back; take us back! they demanded.
But Columbus, though he knew that his explanation was wrong, said the compass was all right. The North Star, toward which the needle always pointed, had, so he said, changed its position. This quieted the sailors for a while.
When they had been about forty days out from Palos,
The sailors did not know this, of course, and when the ships began to sail slower and slower because the seaweed was so thick and heavy and because there was no current to carry them along, they were sure that they were somewhere near to the jumping-off place, and that the horrible monsters they had heard of were making ready to stop their ships, and when they had got them all snarled up in this weed to drag them all down to the bottom of the sea.
For nearly a week the ships sailed over these vast sea-meadows, and when they were out of them they struck what we call the trade-winds -- a never-failing breeze that blew them ever westward. Then the sailors cried out that they were in an enchanted land where there was but one wind and never a breeze to blow the poor sailors home again. Were they not fearfully "scarey?" But no doubt we should have been so, too, if we had been with them and knew no more than they did.
when they had been over fifty days from home on the twenty-fifth of
September, some one suddenly cried Land! Land! And all hands crowded to
the side. Sure enough, they all saw it, straight ahead of them -- fair
green islands and lofty hills and a city with castles and temples and
palaces that glittered beautifully in the sun.
they all cried for joy and sang hymns of praise and shouted to each
other that their troubles were over. Cathay, it is Cathay! they cried;
and they steered straight for the shining city. But, worst of all their
troubles, even as they sailed toward the land they thought to be
Cathay, behold! it all disappeared -- island and castle and palace and
temple and city, and nothing but the tossing sea lay all about them.
so with frights and imaginings and mysteries like these, with strange
birds flying about the ships and floating things in the water that told
of land somewhere about them, with hopes again and again disappointed,
and with the sailors growing more and more restless and discontented,
and muttering threats against this Italian adventurer who, was leading
the ships and sailors of the Spanish king to sure destruction, Columbus
still sailed on, as full of patience and of faith, as certain of
success as he had ever been.
the seventh of October, 1492, the true record that Columbus was keeping
showed that he had sailed twenty-seven hundred miles from the Canaries;
the false record that the sailors saw said they had sailed twenty-two
hundred miles. Had Columbus kept straight on, he would have landed very
soon upon the coast of Florida or South Carolina, and would really have
discovered the mainland of America. But Captain Alonso Pinzon saw what
looked like a flock of parrots flying south. This made him think the
land lay that way; so he begged the Admiral to change his course to the
southward as he was sure there
he thought he was steering for Cathay. The islands of Japan, were, he
thought, only a few leagues away to the west. They were really, as you
know, away across the
When they sailed from the
Canaries a reward had been offered to whomsoever should first see land.
This reward was to be a silken jacket and nearly five hundred dollars
in money; so all the sailors were on the watch.
At about ten o'clock on the evening of the eleventh of October, Columbus, standing on the high raised stern of the Santa Maria, saw a moving light, as if some one on the shore were running with a flaming torch. At two o'clock the next morning -- Friday, the twelfth of October, 1492 the sharp eyes of a watchful sailor on the Pinta (his name was Rodrigo de Triana) caught sight of a long low coastline not far away. He raised the joyful shout Land, ho! The ships ran in as near to the shore as they dared, and just ten weeks after the anchors had been hauled up in Palos Harbor they were dropped overboard, and the hips of Columbus were anchored in the waters of a new world.
Where was it? What was it? Was it Cathay? Columbus was sure that it was. He was certain that the morning sun would shine for him upon the marble towers and golden roofs of the wonderful city of the kings of Cathay.
LITTLE over three hundred years ago there was a Pope of Rome whose name
was Gregory XIII. He was greatly interested in learning and science,
and when the scholars and wise men of his day showed him that a mistake
So they all agreed to his plan of renumbering the days of the year, and a new reckoning of time was made upon the rule that most of you know by heart in the old rhyme:
And the order of the days of the months and the year is what is called, after Pope Gregory, the Gregorian Calendar.
This change in reckoning time made, of course, all past dates wrong. The old dates, which were called Old Style, had to be made to correspond with the new dates which were called New Style.
according to the Old Style, Columbus discovered the islands he thought
to be the Indies (and which have ever since been called the West
Indies) on the twelfth of October, 1492. But, according to the New
Style, adopted nearly one hundred years after his discovery, the right
date would be the twenty-first of October. And this is why, in the
Columbian memorial year of 1892, the world celebrated
But did Columbus discover America? What was this land that greeted his eyes as the daylight came on that Friday morning, and he saw the low green shores that lay ahead of his caravels?
As far as Columbus was concerned he was sure that he had found some one of the outermost islands of Cipango or Japan. So he dropped his anchors, ordered out his rowboat, and prepared to take possession of the land in the name of the queen of Spain, who had helped him in his enterprise.
why or by what right a man from one country could sail up to the land
belonging to another country and, planting in the ground the flag of
his king, could say, "This land belongs to my king!" is a hard question
to answer. But there is an old saying that tells us, Might makes right;
and the servants of the kings and queens -- the adventurers and
explorers of old -- used to go sailing about the world with this idea
in their heads, and as soon as they came to a land they, had never seen
before, up would go their flag, and they would say, This land is mine
and my king's! They would not of course do this in any of the
well-known or "Christian lands" of Europe; but they believed that all
"pagan lands" belonged by right to the first European king whose
sailors should discover and claim them.
So Columbus lowered a boat from the Santa Maria, and with two of his chief men and some sailors for rowers he pulled off toward the island.
But before he did so, he had to listen to the cheers and congratulations of the very sailors who, only a few days before, were ready to kill him. But, you see, this man whom they thought crazy had really brought them to the beautiful land, just as he had promised. It does make such a difference, you know, in what people say whether a thing turns out right or not.
Columbus, as I say, got into his rowboat with his chief inspector and his lawyer. He wore a crimson cloak over his armor, and in his hand he held the royal banner of Spain. Following him came Captain Alonso Pinzon in a rowboat from the Pinta, and in a rowboat from the Nina Captain Vincent Pinzon. Each of these captains carried the "banner of the green cross" on which were to be seen the initials of the king and queen of Spain.
As they rowed toward the land they saw some people on the shore. They were not dressed in the splendid clothes the Spaniards expected to find the people of Cathay wearing. In fact, they did not have on much of anything but grease and paint. And the land showed no signs of the marble temples and gold-roofed palaces the sailors expected to find. It was a little, low, flat green island, partly covered with trees and with what looked like a lake in the center.
This land was, in fact, one of the three thousand keys or
with the royal banner and the green-cross standards floating above him,
with his captains and chief officers and some of the sailors gathered
about him, while all the others watched him from the decks of his
fleet, Columbus stepped upon the shore. Then he took off his hat, and
holding the royal banner in one hand and his sword in the other he said
aloud: I take possession of this island, which I name
when he had done this the captains and sailors fell at his feet in
wonder and admiration, begging him to forgive them for all the hard
things they had said about him. For you have found Cathay, they cried.
You are our leader. You will make us rich and powerful. Hurrah for the
And when the naked and astonished people of the island saw all this -- the canoes with wings, as they called the ships, the richly-dressed men with white and bearded faces, the flags and swords, and the people kneeling about this grand-looking old man in the crimson cloak -- they said to one another: These men are gods; they have come from Heaven to see us. And then, they, too, fell on the ground and worshiped these men from Heaven, as they supposed Columbus and his sailors to be.
when they found that the men from Heaven did not offer to hurt them,
they came nearer; and the man in the crimson cloak gave them beads and
pieces of bright cloth and other beautiful things they had never seen
But Columbus, as we know, had come across the water for one especial reason. He was to find Cathay, and he was to find it so that he could carry back to Spain the gold and jewels and spices of Cathay. The first thing, therefore, that he tried to find out from the people of the island -- whom he called "Indians," because he thought he had come to a part of the coast of India -- was where Cathay might be.
course they did not understand him. Even Louis, the interpreter, who
knew a dozen languages and who tried them all, could not make out what
these "Indians" said. But from their signs and actions and from the
sound of the words they spoke, Columbus understood that Cathay was off
somewhere to the southwest, and that the gold he was bound to find came
from there. The "Indians" had little bits
The next day Columbus pulled up his anchors, and having seized and carried off to his ships some of the poor natives who had welcomed him so gladly, he commenced a cruise among the islands of the group he had discovered.
Day after day he sailed among these beautiful tropic islands, and of them and of the people who lived upon them he wrote to the king and queen of Spain: "This country excels all others as far as the day surpasses the night in splendor. The natives love their neighbors as themselves; their conversation is the sweetest imaginable; their faces smiling; and so gentle and so affectionate are they, that I swear to Your Highness there is not a better people in the world."
Does it not seem a pity that so great a man should have acted so meanly toward these innocent people who loved and trusted him so? For it was Columbus who first stole them away from their island homes and who first thought of making them slaves to the white men.
COLUMBUS kept sailing on from one island to another. Each new island he found would, he hoped, bring him nearer to Cathay and to the marble temples and golden palaces and splendid cities he was looking for.
the temples and palaces and cities did not appear. When the Admiral
came to the coast of Cuba he said: This, I know, is the mainland of
Asia. So he sent off Louis, the interpreter, with a letter to the
"great Emperor of Cathay." Louis was gone several days; but he found no
emperor, no palace, no city, no gold, no jewels, no spices, no Cathay
-- only frail houses of bark and reeds, fields of corn and grain, with
simple people who could tell him nothing about Cathay or Cipango or the
day after day Columbus kept on his search, sailing from island to
island, getting a little gold here and there, or some pearls and silver
and a lot of beautiful bird skins, feathers and trinkets.
Then Captain Alonso Pinzon, who was sailing in the Pinta, believed he could do better than follow the Admiral's lead. I know, he said, if I could go off on my own hook I could find plenty of gold and pearls, and perhaps I could find Cathay. So one day he sailed away and Columbus did not know what had become of him.
At last Columbus, sailing on and troubled at the way Captain Alonso Pinzon had acted, came one day to the island of Hayti. If Cuba was Cathay (or China), Hayti, he felt sure, must be Cipango (or Japan). So he decided to sail into one of its harbors to spend Christmas Day. But just before Christmas morning dawned, the helmsman of the Santa Maria, thinking that everything was safe, gave the tiller into the hands of a boy -- perhaps it was little Pedro the cabin boy -- and went to sleep. The rest of the crew also were asleep. And the boy who, I suppose, felt quite big to think that he was really steering the Admiral's flagship, was a little too smart; for, before he knew it, he had driven the Santa Maria plump upon a hidden reef. And there she was wrecked. They worked hard to get her off but it was no use. She keeled over on her side, her seams opened, the water leaked in, the waves broke over her, the masts fell out and the Santa Maria had made her last voyage.
Then Columbus was in distress. The Pinta had deserted him, the Santa Maria was a wreck, the Nina was not nearly large enough to carry all his men back to Spain. And to Spain he must return at once. What should he do?
was quick at getting out of a fix. So in this case he speedily decided
what to do. He set his men at work tearing the wreck of the Santa Maria
to pieces. Out of her timbers and woodwork, helped out with trees from
the woods and a few stones from the shore, he made quite a fort. It had
a ditch and a watch-tower and a drawbridge. It proudly floated the flag
of Spain. It was the first European fort in the new world. On its
ramparts Columbus mounted the cannons he had saved from the wreck and
named the fort La Navidad -- that is, Fort Nativity, because it
was made out of the ship that was wrecked on Christmas Day -- the day
of Christ's nativity, his birthday.
selected forty of his men to stay in the fort until he should return
from Spain. The most of them were quite willing to do this as they
thought the place was a beautiful one and they would be kept very busy
filling the fort with gold. Columbus told them they must have at least
a ton of gold before he came back. He left them provisions and powder
It was on the fourth of January, 1493, that Columbus turned the little Nina homeward. He had not sailed very far when what should he come across but the lost Pinta. Captain Alonso Pinzon seemed very much ashamed when he saw the Admiral, and tried to explain his absence. Columbus knew well enough that Captain Pinzon had gone off gold hunting and had not found any gold. But he did not scold him, and both the vessels sailed toward Spain.
The homeward voyage was a stormy and seasick one. Once it was so rough that Columbus thought surely the Nina would be wrecked. So he copied off the story of what he had seen and done, addressed it to the king and queen of Spain, put it into a barrel and threw the barrel overboard.
But the Nina was not shipwrecked, and on the eighteenth of February Columbus reached the Azores. The Portuguese governor was so surprised when he heard this crazy Italian really had returned, and was so angry to think it was Spain and not Portugal that was to profit by his voyage that he tried to make Columbus a prisoner. But the Admiral gave this inhospitable welcomer the slip and was soon off the coast of Portugal.
he was obliged to land and meet the king of Portugal -- that same King
John who had once acted so meanly
Then Columbus went on board the Nina again and sailed for Palos. But his old friend Captain Alonso Pinzon had again acted badly. For he had left the Admiral in one of the storms at sea and had hurried homeward. Then he sailed into one of the northern ports of Spain, and hoping to get all the credit for his voyage, sent a messenger post-haste to the king and queen with the word that he had returned from Cathay and had much to tell them. And then he, too, sailed for Palos.
On the fifteenth of March, 1493, just seven months after he had sailed away to the West, Columbus in the Nina
sailed into Palos Harbor. The people knew the little vessel at once.
And then what a time they made! Columbus has come back, they cried. He
has found Cathay. Hurrah! hurrah! And the bells rang and the cannons
boomed and the streets were full of people. The sailors were welcomed
with shouts of joy, and the big stories they told were listened to with
open mouths and many exclamations of surprise. So Columbus came back to
Palos. And everybody pointed
And in the midst of all this rejoicing what should sail into the harbor of Palos but the Pinta,
just a few hours late! And when Captain Alonso Pinzon heard the sounds
of rejoicing, and knew that his plans to take away from Columbus all
the glory of what had been done had all gone wrong, he did not even go
to see his old friend and ask his pardon. He went away to his own house
without seeing any one. And there he found a stern letter from the king
and queen of Spain scolding him for trying to get the best of Columbus,
and refusing to hear or see him. The way things had turned out made
Captain Alonso Pinzon feel so badly that he fell sick; and in a few
days he died.
Columbus, after he had seen his good friend Juan Perez, the friar at
Rabida, and told him all his adventures, went on to Barcelona where
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella were waiting for him. They had
already sent him letters telling him how pleased they were that he had
found Cathay, and ordering him to get ready for a second expedition at
once. Columbus gave his directions for this, and then, in a grand
procession that called everybody to the street or window or housetop,
he set off for Barcelona. He reached the court on a fine April day and
was at once received with much pleasure by the king and queen of Spain.
Columbus told them where he had been and what he had seen; he showed them the gold and the pearls and the birds and curiosities he had brought to Spain as specimens, of what was to be found in Cathay; he showed them the ten painted and "fixed-up" Indians he had stolen and brought back with him.
And the king and queen of Spain
said he had done well. They had him sit beside them while he told his
story, and treated this poor Italian wool-weaver as they would one of
their great princes or mighty lords. They told him he could put the
royal arms alongside his own on his shield or crest, and they bade him
get together at once ships and sailors for a second expedition to
Cathay -- ships and sailors enough, they said, to get away up to the
great cities of Cathay, where the marble temples and the golden palaces
must be. It was their wish, they said, to gain the friendship of the
great Emperor of Cathay, to trade with him and get a good share of his
gold and jewels and spices. For, you see, no one as yet imagined that
Columbus had discovered America. They did not even know that there was
such a continent. They thought he had sailed to Asia and found the rich
countries that Marco Polo had told such big stories about.
Columbus, you may be sure, was "all the rage" now. Wherever he went the people followed him, cheering and
was as anxious as any one to get back to those beautiful islands and
hunt for gold and jewels. He set to work at once, and on the
twenty-fifth of September, 1493, with a fleet of seventeen ships and a
company of fifteen hundred
DO you not think Columbus must have felt very fine as he sailed out of Cadiz Harbor on his second voyage to the West? It was just about a year before, you know, that his feeble fleet of three little ships sailed from Palos port. His hundred sailors hated to go; his friends were few; everybody else said he was crazy; his success was very doubtful. Now, as he stood on the high quarter-deck of his big flag-ship, the Maria Galante, he was a great man. By appointment of his king and queen he was "Admiral of the Ocean Seas" and "Viceroy of the Indies." He had servants, to do as he directed; he had supreme command over the seventeen ships of his fleet, large and small; fifteen hundred men joyfully crowded his decks, while thousands left at home wished that they might go with him, too. He had soldiers and sailors, horsemen and footmen; his ships were filled with all the things necessary for trading with the Indians and the great merchants of Cathay, and for building the homes of those who wished to live in the lands beyond the sea.
Everything looked so well and everybody was so full of
This was to be a hunt for gold. And so sure of success was Columbus that he promised the king and queen of
So, out into the western ocean sailed the great expedition of the Admiral. He sailed first to the Canary Isles, where he took aboard wood and water and many cattle, sheep and swine. Then, on the seventeenth of October, he steered straight out into the broad Atlantic, and on Sunday, the third of November, he saw the hill-tops of one of the West India Islands that he named Dominica. You can find it on your map of the West Indies.
For days he sailed on,
passing island after island, landing on some and giving them names.
Some of them were inhabited, some of them were not; some were very
large, some were very small. But none of them helped him in any way to
find Cathay, so at last he steered toward Hayti
On the twenty-seventh of November, the fleet of the Admiral cast anchor off the solitary fort. It was night. No light was to be seen on the shore; through the darkness nothing could be made out that looked like the walls of the fort. Columbus fired a cannon; then he fired another. The echoes were the only answer. They must be sound sleepers in our fortress there, said the Admiral. At last, over the water he heard the sound of oars -- or was it the dip of a paddle? A voice called for the Admiral; but it was not a Spanish voice. The interpreter -- who was the only one left of those ten stolen Indians carried by Columbus to Spain -- came to the Admiral's side; by the light of the ship's lantern they could make out the figure of an Indian in his canoe. He brought presents from his chief. But where are my men at the fort? asked the Admiral. And then the whole sad story was told.
The fort of La Navidad was destroyed; the Spaniards were all dead; the first attempt
After Columbus had left them, the forty men in the fort did not do as he told them or as they had solemnly promised. They were lazy; they were rough; they treated the Indians badly; they quarreled among themselves; some of them ran off to live in the woods. Then sickness came; there were two "sides," each one jealous of the other; the Indians became enemies. A fiery war-chief from the hills, whose name was Caonabo, led the Indians against the white men. The fort and village were surprised, surrounded and destroyed. And the little band of "conquerors" -- as the Spaniards loved to call themselves -- was itself conquered and killed.
It was a terrible disappointment to Columbus. The men in whom he had trusted had proved false. The gold he had told them to get together they had not even found. His plans had all gone wrong.
But Columbus was not the man to stay defeated. His fort was destroyed, his men were killed, his settlement was a failure. It can't be helped now, he said. I will try again.
This time he would not only build a fort, he would build a city. He had men and material enough to do this and to do it well. So he set to work.
But the place where he had built from the wreck of the unlucky Santa Maria his unlucky fort of La Navidad did
found here a good harbor for ships, a good place on the rocks for a
fort, and good land for gardens. Here Columbus laid out his new town,
and called it after his friend the queen of Spain, the city of
marked out a central spot for his park or square; around this ran a
street, and along this street he built large stone buildings for a
storehouse, a church and a house for himself, as governor of the
colony. On the side streets were built the houses for the people who
were to live in the new town, while on a rocky point with its queer
know that there are some very wise and very bright people who do not
agree to this. They say that nearly five hundred years before Columbus
landed, a Norwegian prince or viking, whose name was Leif Ericsson, had
built on the banks of the beautiful Charles River, some twelve miles
from Boston, a city which he called Norumbega.
But this has not really been proved. It is almost all the fancy of a wise man who has studied it out for himself, and says he believes there was such a city. But he does not really know it as we know of the city of Isabella, and so we must still say that Christopher Columbus really discovered America and built the first fort and the first city on its shores -- although he thought he was doing all this in Asia, on the shores of China or Japan.
When Columbus had his people nearly settled in their
So Columbus set to work gold-hunting. At first things seemed to promise success. The Indians told big stories of gold to be found in the mountains of Hayti; the men sent to the mountains discovered signs of gold, and at once Columbus sent home joyful tidings to the king and queen of Spain.
Then he and his men hunted
everywhere for the glittering yellow metal. They fished for it in the
streams; they dug for it in the earth; they drove the Indians to hunt
for it also until the poor redmen learned to hate the very sound of the
word gold, and believed that this was all the white men lived for,
cared for or worked for; holding up a piece of this hated gold the
Indians would say, one to another: "Behold the Christian's god!" And so
On the thirteenth of January, 1494, Columbus sent back to Spain twelve of his seventeen ships. He did not send back in them to the king, and queen, the gold he had promised. He sent back the letters that promised gold; he sent back as prisoners for punishment some of the most discontented and quarrelsome of his colonists; and, worst of all, he sent to the king and queen a note asking, them to permit him to send to Spain all the Indians he could catch, to be sold as slaves. He said that by doing this they could make "good Christians" of the Indians, while the money that came from selling the natives would buy cattle for the colony and leave some money for the royal money-chests.
is not pleasant to think this of so great a man as Columbus. But it is
true, and he is really the man who, started the slave-trade in America.
Of course things were very different in his time from what they are
to-day, and people did not think so badly of this horrible business.
But some good men did, and spoke out boldly against it. What they said
was not of much use, however, and slavery was started in the new world.
And from that act of Columbus came much sorrow and trouble for the land
he found. Even the great war between the northern and southern sections
So the twelve ships sailed back to Spain, and Columbus, with his five remaining ships, his soldiers and his colonists, remained in the new city of Isabella to keep up the hunt for gold or to become farmers in the new world.
BOTH the farmers and the gold hunters had a hard time of it in the land they had come to so hopefully. The farmers did not like to farm when they thought they could do so much better at gold hunting; the gold hunters found that it was the hardest kind of work to get from the water or pick from the rocks the yellow metal they were so anxious to obtain.
himself was not satisfied with the small amount of gold he got from the
streams and mines of Hayti; he was tired of the wrangling and grumbling
of his men. So, one day, he hoisted sail on his five ships and started
sailed to the south and discovered the island of Jamaica. Then he
coasted along the shores of Cuba. The great island stretched away so
many miles that Columbus was certain it was the mainland of Asia. There
was some excuse for this mistake. The great number of small islands he
had sailed by all seemed to lie just as the books about Cathay that he
had read said they did; the trees and fruits that he found in these
islands seemed to be just the same that travelers said grew in Cathay.
To be sure the marble temples, the golden-roofed palaces, the gorgeous cities had not yet appeared; but Columbus was so certain that he had found Asia that he made all his men sign a paper in which they declared that the land they had found (which was, as you know, the island of Cuba) was really and truly the coast of Asia.
did not make it so, of course; but it made the people of Spain, and the
king and queen, think it was so. And this was most important. So, to
keep the sailors from going back on their word and the statement they
Then Columbus, fearing another shipwreck or another mutiny, sailed back again to the city of Isabella. His men were discontented, his ships were battered and leaky, his hunt for gold and palaces had again proved a failure. He sailed around Jamaica; he got as far as the eastern end of Hayti, and then, just as he was about to run into the harbor of Isabella, all his strength gave out. The strain and the disappointment were too much for him; he fell very, very sick, and on the twenty-ninth of September, 1494, after just about five months of sailing and wandering and hunting, the Nina ran into Isabella Harbor with Columbus so sick from fever that he could not raise his hand or his head to give an order to his men.
For five long months Columbus lay in his stone house on the plaza or square of Isabella a very sick man. His brother Bartholomew had come across from Spain with three supply ships, bringing provisions for the colony. So Bartholomew took charge of affairs for a while.
while Columbus lay so sick, some of the leading men in the colony
seized the ships in which Bartholomew Columbus had come to his
brother's aid, and sailing back to Spain they told the king and queen
all sorts of bad stories
At last Columbus began to grow better. And when he knew what his enemies had done he was very much troubled for fear they should get the king and queen to refuse him any further aid. So, just as soon as he was able, on the tenth of March, 1496, he sailed home to Spain.
How different was this from his splendid setting out from Cadiz two years before. Then everything looked bright and promising; now everything seemed dark and disappointing. The second voyage to the Indies had been a failure.
So, tired of his hard work in
trying to keep his dissatisfied men in order, in trying to check the
Indians who were
The voyage had been a tedious one. Short of food, storm-tossed and full of aches and pains the starving company "crawled ashore," glad to be in their home land once more, and most of them full of complaints and grumblings at their commander, the Admiral.
And Columbus felt as
downcast as any. He came ashore dressed, not in the gleaming armor and
crimson robes of a conqueror, as on his first return, but in the garb
of what was known as a penitent -- the long, coarse gown, the knotted
girdle and peaked hood of a priest. For, you see, he did not know just
what terrible stories had been told by his enemies; he did not know how
the king and queen would receive him. He had promised them so much; he
had brought them so little. He had sailed away so hopefully; he had
come back humbled and hated. The greatest man in the world, he had been
in 1492; and in 1496 he was unsuccessful, almost friendless and very
unpopular. So you see,
as is often the case, Columbus was too full of fear. He was not really
in such disgrace as he thought he was. Though his enemies had said all
sorts of hard things against him, the king -- and especially the queen
-- could not forget that he was, after all, the man who, had found the
new land for Spain; they knew that even though he had not brought home
the great riches that were to have been gathered in the Indies, he had
still found for Spain a land that would surely, in time, give to it
riches, possessions and power.
So they sent knightly messengers to Columbus telling him
I am afraid the king and queen of Spain were beginning to feel a little doubtful as to this still undiscovered Cathay. At any rate, they had other matters to think of and they did not seem so very anxious to spend more money on ships and sailors. But they talked very nicely to Columbus; they gave him a new title (this time it was duke or marquis); they made him a present of a great tract of land in Hayti, but it was months and months before they would help him with the ships and money he kept asking for.
At last, however, the queen, Isabella, who had always had
There was not nearly so much
excitement among the people about this voyage. Cathay and its riches
had almost become an old story; at any rate it was a story that was not
altogether believed in. Great crowds did not now follow the Admiral
from place to place begging him to take them with him to the Indies.
The hundreds of sick, disappointed and angry men who had come home poor
when they expected to be rich, and sick when they expected to be
strong, had gone through the land, and folks began to think that Cathay
was after all only a dream, and that the stories of great gold and of
untold riches which they had heard were but "sailors' yarns" which no
one could believe.
it was hard to get together a crew large enough to man the six vessels
that made up the fleet. At last, however, all was ready, and with a
company of two hundred men, besides his sailors, Columbus hoisted
anchor in the little port of San Lucar just north of Cadiz, near the
mouth of the Guadalquivir river, and sailed away into the West.
This time he was determined to find the continent of Asia. Even though, as you remember, he made his men sign a paper saying that the coast of Cuba was Asia, he really seems to have doubted this himself. He felt that he had only found islands. If so, he said, Cathay must be the other side of those islands; and Cathay is what I must find.
with this plan in mind, he sent three of his ships to the little
settlement of Isabella, and with the other three he sailed more to the
southwest. On the first of August the
Look on your map of South America and you will see that Trinidad lies almost in the mouth of the Orinoco, a mighty river in the northern part of South America.
Columbus coasted about this
island, and as he did so, looking across to the west, he saw what he
supposed to be still another island. It was not. It was the coast of
South America. For the first time, but without knowing it, Columbus saw
the great continent he had so long been hunting for, though he had been
seeking it under another name.
So you see, the story of Columbus shows how his life was full of mistakes. In his first voyage he found an island and thought it was the mainland of the Eastern Hemisphere; in his third voyage he discovered the mainland of the New World and thought it only an island off the coast of the Old World. His life was full of mistakes, but those mistakes have turned out to be, for us, glorious successes.
IF you know a boy or a girl whose mind is set on any one thing, you will find that they are always talking about that thing. Is not this so? They have what people call a "hobby" (which is a kind of a horse, you know), and they are apt, as we say, to "ride their hobby to death."
If this is true of certain boys and girls, it is even more true of men and women. They get to be what we call people of one idea, and whatever they see or whatever they do always turns on that one idea.
was so with Columbus. All his life his one idea had been the finding of
Asia -- the Indies, or Cathay, as he called it -- by sailing to the
west. He did sail to the west. He did find land. And, because of this,
as we have seen, all his
So, when he looked toward the west, as he sailed around the island of Trinidad and saw the distant shore, he said it was a new part of Asia. He was as certain of this as he had before been certain that Cuba was a part of the Asiatic mainland.
But when he
sailed into the mouth of the great Orinoco River he was puzzled. For
the water was no longer salt; it grew fresher and fresher as he sailed
on. And it rushed out so furiously through the two straits at the
northern and southern ends of Trinidad (which because of the terrible
rush of their currents he called the Lion's Mouth and the Dragon's
Mouth) that he was at first unable to explain it all.
he had a curious idea. Columbus was a great reader of the Bible; some
of the Bible scholars of his day said that the Garden of Eden was in a
far Eastern land where a mighty river came down through it from the
hills of Paradise; as Columbus saw the beautiful
He would gladly have sailed across the broad bay and up the great river to explore this heavenly land; but he was ill with gout, he was nearly blind from his sore eyes, his ships were shaky and leaky, and he felt that he ought to hurry away to the city of Isabella where his brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, were in charge of affairs and were, he knew, anxiously waiting for him to come back.
So at last he turned away from the lovely land that he thought must be Paradise and steered toward Hayti. On the nineteenth of August he arrived off the coast of Hayti. He sent a messenger with news of his arrival, and soon greeted his brother Bartholomew, who, when he heard of the Admiral's arrival, sailed at once to meet him.
Bartholomew Columbus had a sad story to tell his brother Christopher. Things had been going badly in Hayti, and the poor Admiral grew sicker and sicker as he listened to what Bartholomew had to tell.
have heard it said that there are black sheep in every flock. There
were black sheep in this colony of Columbus. There were lazy men and
discontented men and jealous men, and they made great trouble, both in
the city of Isabella and in the new town which Bartholomew had built in
another part of the island and called Santo Domingo.
men are sure to make mischief, and these men in Hayti had made a lot of
it. Columbus had staid so long in Spain that these men began to say
that they knew he was certainly in trouble or disgrace there, that the
king and queen were angry with him, and that his offices of viceroy and
admiral were to be taken away from him. If this were so, they were
going to look out for themselves, they said. They would no longer obey
the commands of the Admiral's brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, whom he
had left in charge.
So they rose in rebellion, and made things so uncomfortable for the two brothers that the colony was soon full of strife and quarreling.
The leader of this revolt was one of the chief men in the colony. His name was Roldan. When Columbus and Bartholomew sailed into the harbor of Santo Domingo, on the thirtieth of August, they found that Roldan and his followers had set up a camp for themselves in another part of the island, and given out that they were determined never to have anything more to do with the three Columbus brothers.
This rebellion weakened the colony dreadfully. Things
So the Admiral wrote Roldan a letter in which he offered to forgive and forget all that he had done if he would come back and help make the colony strong and united again. Roldan agreed to do this, if he could have the same position he held before, and if Columbus would see that his followers had all the land they wanted. Columbus agreed to this and also gave the rebels permission to use the poor natives as slaves on their lands. So the trouble seemed to be over for a while, and Columbus sent two of his ships to Spain with letters to the king and queen. But in these letters he accused Roldan of rebellion and tried to explain why it was that things were going so badly in Hayti.
when these ships arrived in Spain the tidings they brought and the
other letters sent by them only made matters worse. People in Spain had
heard so many queer things from across the sea that they were beginning
to lose faith in Columbus. The men who had lost health and money in the
unlucky second voyage of the Admiral were now lazy loafers about the
docks, or they hung about the court and told how Columbus had made
beggars of them, while they hooted after and insulted the two sons of
came the ships with news of Roldan's rebellion, but with little or no
gold. And people said this was a fine viceroy who couldn't keep order
among his own men because, no doubt, he was too busy hiding away for
his own use the gold and pearls they knew he must have found in the
river of Paradise he said he had discovered.
Then came five shiploads of Indian slaves, sent to Spain by Columbus, and along with them came the story that Columbus had forgiven Roldan for his rebellion and given him lands and office in Hayti.
letters came from Columbus asking the king and queen to let him keep up
his slave-trade, and to send out some one to act as a judge of his
quarrel with Roldan. Then the king and queen decided that something
Bobadilla sailed at once. But before he got across the sea matters, as we know, had been straightened out by the Admiral; and when Bobadilla reached Hayti he found everything quiet there. Columbus had made friends with Roldan (or made believe that he had), and had got things into good running order again.
This was not what Bobadilla had reckoned upon. He had expected to find things in such a bad way that he would have to take matters into his own hand at once, and become a greater man than the Admiral. If everything was all right he would have his journey for nothing and everybody would laugh at him. So he determined to go ahead, even though there was no necessity for his taking charge of affairs. He had been sent to do certain things, and he did them at once. Without asking Columbus for his advice or his assistance, he took possession of the forts and told every one that he was governor now. He said that he had come to set things straight, and he listened to the complaints of all the black sheep of the colony -- and how they did crowd around him and say the worst things they could think of against the Admiral they had once been so anxious to follow.
listened to all their stories. He proceeded to use the power the king
and queen had given him to punish and disgrace Columbus -- which was
not what they meant him to do. He moved into the palace of the Admiral;
he ordered the Admiral and his brothers to come to him, and when they
came expecting to talk things over, Bobadilla
saddest day had come. The man who had found a new world for his king
and queen, who had worked so hard in their service and who had meant to
do right, although he had made many mistakes, was thrust into prison as
if he were a thief or a murderer. The Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the
Viceroy of the Indies, the grand man whom all Spain had honored and all
the world had envied, was held as a prisoner in the land he had found,
and all his powers were taken by a stranger. He was sick, he was
disappointed, he was defeated in all his plans. And now he was in
chains. His third voyage had ended the worst of all. He had sailed away
to find Cathay; he had, so he believed, found the Garden of Eden and
the river of Paradise. And here, as an end to it all, he was arrested
by order of the king and queen he had tried to serve, his power and
position were taken from him by an insolent and unpitying messenger
from Spain; he was thrown into prison and
I SUPPOSE you think Bobadilla was a very cruel man. He was. But in his time people were apt to be cruel to one another whenever they had the power in their own hands. The days in which Columbus lived were not like these in which we are living. You can never be too thankful for that, boys and girls. Bobadilla had been told to go over the water and set the Columbus matters straight. He had been brought up to believe that to set matters straight you must be harsh and cruel; and so he did as he was used to seeing other people in power do. Even Queen Isabella did not hesitate to do some dreadful things to certain people she did not like when she got them in her power. Cruelty was common in those days. It was what we call the "spirit of the age." So you must not blame Bobadilla too much, although we will all agree that it was very hard on Columbus.
So Columbus, as I have told you, sailed back to Spain.
It always makes us sad to see any one in great trouble. To hear of a great man who has fallen low or of a rich man who has become poor, always makes us say: Is not that too bad? Columbus had many enemies in Spain. The nobles of the court, the men who had lost money in voyages to the Indies, the people whose fathers and sons and brothers had sailed away never to return, could not say anything bad enough about "this upstart Italian," as they called Columbus.
But to the most of the people Columbus was still the
So when on a certain October day, in the year 1500, it was spread abroad that a ship had just come into the harbor of Cadiz, bringing home the great Admiral, Christopher Columbus, a prisoner and in chains, folks began to talk at once. Why, who has done this? they cried. Is this the way to treat the man who found Cathay for Spain, the man whom the king and the queen delighted to honor, the man who made a procession for us with all sorts of birds and animals and pagan Indians? It cannot be. Why, we all remember how he sailed into Palos Harbor eight years ago and was received like a prince with banners and proclamations and salutes. And now to bring him home in chains! It is a shame; it is cruel; it is wicked. And when people began to talk in this way, the very ones who had said the worst things against him began to change their tone.
As soon as the ship got into
Cadiz, Columbus sent off a letter to a friend of his at the court in
the beautiful city of Granada. This letter was, of course, shown to the
queen. And it told all about what Columbus had suffered, and was, so
full of sorrow and humbleness and yet of pride in what he had been able
to do, even though he had been disgraced, that
She took the letter to King Ferdinand, and at once both the king and the queen hastened to send a messenger to Columbus telling him how angry and sorry they were that Bobadilla should have dared to treat their good friend the Admiral so. They ordered his immediate release from imprisonment; they sent him a present of five thousand dollars and asked him to come to court at once.
On the seventeenth of December, 1500, Columbus came to the court at Granada in the beautiful palace of the Alhambra. He rode on a mule. At that time, in Spain, people were not allowed to ride on mules, because if they did the Spanish horses would not be bought and sold, as mules were so much cheaper and were easier to ride. But Columbus was sick and it hurt him to ride horseback, while he could be fairly comfortable on an easy-going mule. So the king and queen gave him special permission to come on mule-back.
When Columbus appeared
before the queen, looking so sick and troubled, Isabella was greatly
affected. She thought of all he had done and all he had gone through
and all he had suffered, and as he came to the steps of the throne the
queen burst into tears. That made Columbus cry too, for he thought a
great deal of the queen, and he fell at her feet and told her how much
he honored her, and how much he was ready to do for her, if he could
but have the chance.
the king and queen told him how sorry they were that any one should
have so misunderstood their desires and have treated their brave and
loyal Admiral so shamefully. They promised to make everything all right
for him again, and to show him that they were his good friends now as
they always had been since the day he first sailed away to find the
Indies for them and for Spain.
course this made Columbus feel much better. He had left Hayti in fear
and trembling. He had come home expecting something dreadful was going
to happen; he would not have been surprised at a long imprisonment; he
would not even have been surprised if he had been put to
Columbus, as you must have found out by this time, was as quick to feel
glad as he was to feel sad. And when he found that the king and queen
were his friends once more, he became full of hope again and began to
say where he would go and what he would do when he went back again as
Viceroy of the Indies and Admiral of the Ocean Seas. He begged the
queen to let him go back again at once, with ships and sailors and the
power to do as he pleased in the islands he had found and in the lands
he hoped to find.
They promised him everything, for promising is easy. But Columbus had once more to learn the truth of the old Bible warning that he had called to mind years before on the Bridge of Pinos: Put not your trust in princes.
The king and queen talked very nicely and promised much, but to one thing King Ferdinand had made up his mind -- Columbus should never go back again to the Indies as viceroy or governor. And King Ferdinand was as stubborn as Columbus was persistent.
Not very much gold had yet been brought back from the Indies, but the king and queen knew from the reports of those who had been over the seas and kept their eyes open that, in time, a great deal of gold and treasure would come from there. So they felt that if they kept their promises to Columbus he would take away too large a slice of their profits, and if they let him have everything to say there it would not be possible to let other people, who were ready to share the profits with them, go off discovering on their own hook.
So they talked and delayed and sent out other expeditions and kept Columbus in Spain, unsatisfied. Another governor was sent over to take the place of Bobadilla, for they soon learned that that ungentlemanly knight was not even so good or so strict a governor as Columbus had been.
two years passed in this way and still Columbus staid in Spain. At last
the king and queen said he might
Columbus did not relish being told where to go and where not to go like this; but he promised. And on the ninth of May, 1502, with four small caravels and one hundred and fifty men, Christopher Columbus sailed from Cadiz on his fourth and last voyage to the western world.
He was now fifty-six years old. That is not an age at which we would call any one an old man. But Columbus had grown old long before his time. Care, excitement, exposure, peril, trouble and worry had made him white-haired and wrinkled. He was sick, he was nearly blind, he was weak, he was feeble -- but his determination was just as firm, his hope just as high, his desire just as strong as ever. He was bound, this time, to find Cathay.
And he had one other wish. He had enemies in Hayti; they had laughed and hooted at him when he had been dragged off to prison and sent in chains on board the ship. He did wish to get even with them. He could not forgive them. He wanted to sail into the harbor of Isabella and Santo Domingo with his four ships and to say: See, all of you! Here I am again, as proud and powerful as ever. The king and queen have sent me over here once more with ships and sailors at my command. I am still the Admiral of the Ocean Seas and all you tried to do against me has amounted to nothing,
This is not the right sort of a spirit to have, either for
any rate, it was not to be gratified with Columbus. When his ships
arrived off the coast of Hayti, although his orders from the king and
queen were not to stop at the island going over, the temptation to show
himself was too strong. He could not resist it. So he sent word to the
new governor, whose name was Ovando, that he had arrived with his fleet
for the discovery of new lands in the Indies, and that he wished to
come into Santo Domingo Harbor as one of his ships needed repairs; he
would take the opportunity, he said, of mending his vessel and visiting
the governor at the same time.
it so happened that Governor Ovando was just about sending to Spain a
large fleet. And in these ships were to go some of the men who had
treated Columbus so badly. Bobadilla, the ex-governor, was one of them;
so was the rebel Roldan who had done so much mischief; and there were
others among the passengers and prisoners whom
We cannot altogether make out
whether Governor Ovando was a friend to Columbus or not. At any rate,
he felt that it would be unwise and unsafe for Columbus to come into
the harbor or show himself in the town when so many of his bitter
enemies were there. So he sent back word to Columbus that he was sorry,
but that really he could not let him come in.
How bad that must have made the old Admiral feel! To be refused admission to the place he had found and built up for Spain! It was unkind, he said; he must and would go in.
Columbus, who was a skillful sailor and knew all the signs of the sky,
and all about the weather, happened to notice the singular appearance
of the sky, and saw that there was every sign that a big storm was
coming on. So he sent word to Governor Ovando again, telling him of
among the twenty-six vessels of the gold fleet was one in which was
stored some of the gold that belonged to Columbus as his share,
according to his arrangement with
But the people in Santo Domingo
put no faith in the Admiral's "probabilities." There will be no storm,
But almost before they had reached the eastern end of the island of Hayti, the storm that Columbus had prophesied burst upon them.
was a terrible tempest. Twenty of the ships went to the bottom. The
great gold fleet was destroyed. The enemies of Columbus -- Bobadilla,
Roldan and the rest were drowned. Only a few of the ships managed to
get back into Santo Domingo Harbor, broken and shattered. And the only
ship of all the great fleet that got safely through the storm and
reached Spain all right was the one that carried on board the gold that
belonged to Columbus. Was not that singular?
Then all the friends of Columbus cried: How wonderful! Truly the Lord is on the side of the great Admiral!
But his enemies said: This Genoese is a wizard. He was mad because the governor would not let him come into the harbor, and he raised this storm in revenge. It is a dangerous thing to interfere with the Admiral's wishes.
For you see in those days people believed in witches and
WHILE the terrible storm that wrecked the great gold fleet of the governor was raging so furiously, Columbus with his four ships was lying as near shore as he dared in a little bay farther down the coast of Hayti. Here he escaped the full fury of the gale, but still his ships suffered greatly, and came very near being shipwrecked. They became separated in the storm, but the caravels met at last after the storm was over and steered away for the island of Jamaica.
several days they sailed about among the West India Islands; then they
took a westerly course, and on the thirtieth of July, Columbus saw
before him the misty outlines of certain high mountains which he
supposed to be
turn to the map of Central America in your geography and find Honduras.
The mountains, you see, are marked there; and on the northern coast, at
the head of a fine bay, you will notice the seaport town of Truxillo.
he sailed toward the coast a great canoe came close to the ship. It was
almost as large as one of his own caravels, for it was over forty feet
long and fully eight feet wide. It was paddled by twenty-five Indians,
while in the middle, under an awning of palm-thatch sat the chief
Indian, or cacique, as he was called. A curious kind of sail had been
rigged to catch the breeze, and the canoe was loaded with fruits and
This canoe surprised Columbus very much. He had seen nothing just like it among the other Indians he had visited. The cacique and his people, too, were dressed in clothes and had sharp swords and spears. He thought of the great galleys of Venice and Genoa; he remembered the stories that had come to him of the people of Cathay; he believed that, at last, he had come to the right place. The shores ahead of him were, he was sure, the coasts of the Cathay he was hunting for, and these people in "the galley of the cacique" were much nearer the kind of people he was expecting to meet than were the poor naked Indians of Hayti and Cuba.
In a certain way he was right. These people in the big canoe were, probably, some of the trading Indians of Yucatan, and beyond them, in what we know to-day as Mexico, was a race of Indians, known as Aztecs, who were what is called half-civilized; for they had cities and temples and stone houses and almost as much gold and treasure as Columbus hoped to find in his fairyland of Cathay. But Columbus was not to find Mexico. Another daring and cruel Spanish captain, named Cortez, discovered the land, conquered it for Spain, stripped it of its gold and treasure, and killed or enslaved its brave and intelligent people.
meeting this canoe, Columbus steered for the distant shore. He coasted
up and down looking for a good harbor, and on the seventeenth of
August, 1502, he landed as has been told you, near what is now the town
For the first time in his life Columbus stood on the real soil of the New World. All the islands he had before discovered and colonized were but outlying pieces of America. Now he was really upon the American Continent.
But he did not know it. To him it
was but a part of Asia. And as the main purpose of this fourth voyage
was to find a way to sail straight to India -- which he supposed lay
somewhere to the south -- he set off on his search. The
So he sailed along the coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua trying to find the strait he was hunting for. Just look at your map and see how near he was to the way across to the Pacific that men are now digging out, and which, as the Nicaragua Canal, will connect the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. And think how near he was to finding that Pacific Ocean over which, if he could but have got across the Isthmus of Panama, he could have sailed to the Cathay and the Indies he spent his life in trying to find. But if he had been fortunate enough to get into the waters of the Pacific, I do not believe it would have been so lucky for him, after all. His little ships, poorly built and poorly provisioned, could never have sailed that great ocean in safety, and the end might have proved even more disastrous than did the Atlantic voyages of the Admiral.
He soon understood that he had found a richer land than the islands he had thus far discovered. Gold and pearls were much more plentiful along the Honduras coast than they were in Cuba and Hayti, and Columbus decided that, after he had found India, he would come back by this route and collect a cargo of the glittering treasures.
The land was called by the Indians something that sounded very much like Veragua. This was the name
But as Columbus sailed south,
along what is called "the Mosquito Coast," the weather grew stormy and
the gales were severe. His ships were crazy and worm-eaten; the food
was running low; the sailors began to grumble and
too, began to grow uneasy. His youngest son, Ferdinand, a brave, bright
little fellow of thirteen, had come with him on this voyage, and
Columbus really began to be afraid that something might happen to the
boy, especially if the crazy ships should be wrecked, or if want of
food should make them all go hungry. So at last he decided to give
you see, was still another disappointing defeat for Columbus. For after
he had been on the American coast for almost a year; after he had come
so near to what he felt to be the long-looked-for path to the Indies;
after most wonderful adventures on sea and land, he turned his back on
it all, without really having accomplished what he set out to do and,
as I have told you, steered for Hayti.
it was not at all easy to get to Hayti in those leaky ships of his. In
fact it was not possible to get there with them at all; for on the
twenty-third of June, 1503, when he had reached the island of Jamaica
he felt that his ships would not hold out any longer. They were full of
worm-holes; they were leaking badly; they were strained and battered
from the storms. He determined, therefore, to find a good harbor
somewhere on the island of Jamaica and go in
castaways lashed the four wrecks together; they built deck-houses and
protections so as to make themselves as comfortable as possible, and
for a whole year Columbus and his men lived there at Sir Christopher's
Cove on the beautiful island of Jamaica.
proved anything but beautiful for them, however. It makes a good deal
of difference, you know, in enjoying things whether you are well and
happy. If you are hungry and can't get anything to eat, the sky does
not look so blue or the trees so green as if you were sitting beneath
them with a jolly picnic party and with plenty of lunch in the baskets.
It was no picnic for Columbus and his companions. That year on the island of Jamaica was one of horror, of peril, of sickness, of starvation. Twice, a brave comrade named Diego Mendez started in an open boat for Hayti to bring relief. The first time he was nearly shipwrecked, but the second time he got away all right. And then for months nothing was heard of him, and it was supposed that he had been drowned. But the truth was that Governor Ovando, had an idea that the king and queen of Spain were tired of Columbus and would not feel very bad if they never saw him again. He promised to send help, but did not do so for fear he should get into trouble. And the relief that the poor shipwrecked people on Jamaica longed for did not come.
Then some of the men who were with Columbus mutinied and ran away. In fact, more things happened during this remarkable fourth voyage of Columbus than I can begin to tell you about. The story is more wonderful than is that of Robinson Crusoe, and when you are older you must certainly read it all and see just what marvelous adventures Columbus and his men met with and how bravely the little Ferdinand Columbus went through them all. For when Ferdinand grew up he wrote a life of his father, the Admiral, and told the story of how they all played Robinson Crusoe at Sir Christopher's Cove.
At last the
long-delayed help was sent by Governor Ovando, and one day the brave
Diego Mendez came sailing into Sir Christopher's Cove. And Columbus
fifteenth of August, the rescued crews sailed into the harbor of Santo
Domingo. The governor, Ovando, who had reluctantly agreed to send for
Columbus, was now in a hurry to get him away. Whether the governor was
afraid of him, or ashamed because of the way he had treated him, or
whether he felt that Columbus was no longer held so high in Spain, and
that, therefore, it was not wise to make much of him, I cannot say. At
any rate he hurried him off to Spain, and on the twelfth of September,
1504, Columbus turned his back forever on the new world he had
discovered, and with two ships sailed for Spain.
had not been at sea but a day or two before he found that the ship in
which he and the boy Ferdinand were sailing was not good for much. A
sudden storm carried away its mast and the vessel was sent back to
Santo Domingo. Columbus and Ferdinand, with a few of the men, went on
board the other ship which was commanded by Bartholomew Columbus, the
brother of the Admiral, who had been with
He had been away from Spain for fully two years and a half. He had not accomplished a single thing he set out to do. He had met with disappointment and disaster over and over again, and had left the four ships that had been given him a total wreck upon the shores of Jamaica. He came back poor, unsuccessful, unnoticed, and so ill that he could scarcely get ashore.
And so the fourth voyage
of the great Admiral ended. It was his last. His long sickness had
almost made him crazy. He said and did many odd things, such as make us
think, nowadays, that people have, as we call it, "lost their minds."
But he was certain of one thing -- the king and queen of Spain had not
kept the promises they had made him, and he was determined, if he
lived, to have justice done him, and to make them do as they said they
had told him that only himself or one of his family should be Admiral
of the Ocean Seas and Viceroy of the New Lands; they had sent across
the water others, who were not of his family, to govern what he had
been promised for
So, when he was on land
once more, he tried hard to get to court and see the king and queen.
But he was too sick.
was not what would be considered in these days either a particularly
good woman, or an especially good queen. She did many cruel things; and
while she talked
Columbus was now a very sick man. He had to keep his bed most of the time, and this news of the queen's death made him still worse, for he felt that now no one who had the "say" would speak a good word for the man who had done so much for Spain, and given to the king and queen the chance to make their nation great and rich and powerful.
ANY one who is sick, as some of you may know, is apt to be anxious and fretful and full of fears as to how he is going to get along, or who will look out for his family. Very often there is no need for this feeling; very often it is a part of the complaint from which the sick person is suffering.
In the case of Columbus,
however, there was good cause for this depressed and anxious feeling.
Columbus had no friends at the king's court. Diego, his eldest son, was
still one of the royal pages, but he could do nothing. Without friends,
without influence, without opportunity, Columbus began to feel that he
should never get his rights unless he could see the king himself. And
sick though he was he determined to try it.
must have been sad enough to see this sick old man drag himself feebly
to the court to ask for justice from the king whom he had enriched. You
would think that when King Ferdinand really saw Columbus at the foot of
the throne, and when he remembered all that this man had done for him
and for Spain, and how brave and persistent and full of determination
But he would not. He smiled on the old sailor, and said many pleasant things and talked as if he were a friend, but he would not agree to anything Columbus asked him; and the poor Admiral crawled back to his sick bed again, and gave up the struggle. I have done all that I can do, he said to the few friends who remained faithful to him; I must leave it all to God. He has always helped me when things were at the worst.
And God helped him by taking him away from all the fret, and worry, and pain, and struggle that made up so much of the Admiral's troubled life. On the twentieth of May, 1506, the end came. In the house now known as Number 7 Columbus Avenue, in the city of Valladolid; in Northern Spain, with a few faithful friends at his side, he signed his will, lay back in bed and saying trustfully these words: Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit! the Admiral of the Ocean Seas, the Viceroy of the Indies, the Discoverer of a New World, ended his fight for life. Christopher Columbus was dead.
was but sixty years old. With Tennyson, and Whittier, and Gladstone,
and De Lesseps living to be over eighty, and with your own good
grandfather and grandmother, though even older than Columbus, by no
means ready to be called old people, sixty years seems an early age to
be so completely broken and bent and gray as was he. But trouble,
after he had died in that lonely house in Valladolid, the world seems
for a time to have almost forgotten him. A few friends followed him to
the grave; the king, for whom
the bones of Columbus inclosed in a leaden casket lie in the Cathedral
of Santo Domingo. People have disputed about the place where the
Discoverer of America was born; they are disputing about the place
where he is buried. But as it seems now certain that he was born in
Genoa, so it
At least a
dozen places in the Old World and the New have built monuments and
statues in his honor; in the United States, alone, over sixty towns and
villages bear his name, or the kindred one of Columbia. The whole world
honors him as the Discoverer of America; and yet the very name that the
Western Hemisphere bears comes not from the man who discovered it, but
from his friend and comrade Americus Vespucius.
Columbus, this Americus Vespucius was an Italian; like him, he was a
daring sailor and a fearless adventurer, sailing into strange seas to
see what he could find. He saw more of the American coast than did
Columbus, and not being so full of the gold-hunting and slave-getting
fever as was the Admiral,
And even the titles, and riches, and honors that the king and queen of Spain promised to Columbus came very near being lost by his family, as they had been by himself. It was only by the hardest work, and by keeping right at it all the time, that the Admiral's eldest son, Diego Columbus, almost squeezed out of King Ferdinand of Spain the things that had been promised to his father.
But Diego was as plucky, and as brave, and as persistent as his father had been; then, too, he had lived at court so long -- he was one of the queen's pages, you remember that he knew just what to do and how to act so as to get what he wanted. And at last he got it.
was made Viceroy over the Indies; he went across the seas to Hayti, and
in his palace in the city of Santo Domingo he ruled the lands his
father had found, and which for centuries were known as the Spanish
Main; he was called
If you have read this story of Christopher Columbus
Except for that little taste of glory, how full of trouble was his life! He set out to find Cathay and bring back its riches and its treasures. He did not get within five thousand miles of Cathay. He returned from his second voyage a penitent, bringing only tidings of disaster. He returned from his third voyage in disgrace, a prisoner and in chains, smarting under false charges of theft, cruelty and treason. He returned from his fourth voyage sick unto death, unnoticed, unhonored, unwelcomed.
From first to last he was misunderstood. His ideas were made fun of, his efforts were treated with contempt, and even what he did was not believed, or was spoken of as of not much account. A career that began in scorn ended in neglect. He died unregarded, and for years no one gave him credit for what he had done, nor honor for what he had brought about.
Such a life would, I am sure, seem to all boys and girls, but a dreary prospect if they felt it was to be theirs or that of any one they loved. And yet what man to-day is more highly honored than Christopher Columbus? People forget all the trials and hardships and sorrows of his life, and think of him only as one of the great successes of the world -- the man who discovered America.
And out of
his life of disaster and disappointment two things stand forth that all
of us can honor and all of us should
It was the faith and the persistence of Columbus that discovered America and opened the way for the millions who now call it their home. It is because of these qualities that we honor him to-day; it is because this faith and persistence ended as they did in the discovery of a new world, that to-day his fame is immortal.
Other men were as brave, as skillful and as wise as he. Following in his track they came sailing to the new lands; they explored its coasts, conquered its red inhabitants, and peopled its shores with the life that has made America today the home of millions of white men and millions of free men. But Columbus showed the way.
WHENEVER you start to read a story that you hope will be interesting, you always wonder, do you not, how it is going to turn out? Your favorite fairy tale or wonder story that began with "once upon a time," ends, does it not, "so the prince married the beautiful princess, and they lived happy ever after?"
Now, how does this story that we have been reading together turn out? You don't think it ended happily, do you? It was, in some respects, more marvelous than any fairy tale or wonder story; but, dear me! you say, why couldn't Columbus have lived happily, after he had gone through so much, and done so much, and discovered America, and given us who came after him so splendid a land to live in?
Now, just here
comes the real point of the story. Wise men tell us that millions upon
millions of busy little insects die to make the beautiful coral islands
of the Southern seas. Millions and millions of men and women have lived
and labored, died and been forgotten by the world they helped to make
the bright, and beautiful, and prosperous place to live in that it is
was one of these millions; but he was a leader among them and has not
been forgotten. As the world has got farther away from the time in
which he lived, the man Columbus, who did so much and yet died almost
unnoticed, has grown more and more famous; his name is immortal, and
to-day he is the hero Columbus -- one of the world's greatest men.
We, in America, are fond of celebrating anniversaries. I suppose the years that you boys and girls have thus far lived have been the most remarkable in the history of the world for celebrating anniversaries. For fully twenty years the United States has been keeping its birthday. The celebration commenced long before you were born, with the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lexington (in 1875). It has not ended yet. But in 1892, We celebrated the greatest of all our birthdays -- the discovery of the continent that made it possible for us to be here at all.
Now this has not always been so
with us. I suppose that in 1592 and in 1692 no notice whatever was
1792, people did think a little more about this, and there were a few
who did remember that, three hundred
We do not find, however, that in that year of 1792 there were many, if any, public celebrations of the Discovery of America, in America itself. A certain American clergyman, however, whose name was the Rev. Elhanan Winchester, celebrated the three hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America by Columbus. And he celebrated it not in America, but in England, where he was then living. On the twelfth of October, 1792, Winchester delivered an address on "Columbus and his Discoveries," before a great assembly of interested listeners. In that address he said some very enthusiastic and some very remarkable things about the America that was to be:
"I see the United States rise in all
their ripened glory before me," he said. "I look through and beyond
every yet peopled region of the New World, and behold period still
brightening upon period. Where one contiguous depth of gloomy
wilderness now shuts out even the beams of day, I see new States and
empires, new seats of wisdom and knowledge, new religious domes
spreading around. In places now untrod by any but savage beasts, or men
as savage as they, I hear the voices of happy labor, and see beautiful
cities rising to view. I behold the whole continent highly cultivated
and fertilized, full of cities, towns and villages, beautiful and
Of course, it was easy for a man to see and to hope and to say all this; but it is a little curious, is it not, that he should have seen things just as they have turned out?
Winchester's day, the United States of America had not quite four
millions of inhabitants. In his day
To-day, four hundred years after Columbus first saw
Columbus was a dreamer; he saw such wonderful visions of what was to be, that people, as we know, tapped their foreheads and called him "the crazy Genoese." But not even the wildest fancies nor the most wonderful dreams of Columbus came anywhere near to what he would really have seen if -- he could have visited the Exposition at Chicago, in the great White City by the lake -- a "show city" specially built for the World's Fair of 1893, given in his honor and as a monument to his memory.
he would say, the Cathay that I spent my life trying to find was but a
hovel alongside this! What would he have seen? A city stretching a mile
and a half in length, and more than half a mile in breadth; a space
covering over five hundred acres of ground, and containing seventeen
magnificent buildings, into any one of which could have been put
But, whether you saw the
Columbian Exhibition or not, you can say that. And then stop and think
what a parrot did. That is one of the most singular things in all this
wonder story you are reading. Do you not remember how, when Columbus
was slowly feeling his way westward, Captain Alonso Pinzon saw some
parrots flying southward, and believing from this that the land they
sought was off in that direction, he induced Columbus to change his
course from the west to the south? If Columbus had not changed his
course and followed the parrots, the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Nina,
would have sailed on until they had entered the harbor of Savannah or
Charleston, or perhaps the broad waters of Chesapeake Bay. Then the
United States of to-day would have been discovered and settled by
Spaniards, and the whole history of the land would have been quite
different from what it has been. Spanish blood has peopled, but not
uplifted, the countries of South America and the Spanish Main. English
this is what a flying parrot did: It turned the tide of lawless
adventure, of gold-hunting, of slave-driving, and of selfish strife for
gain to the south; it left the north yet unvisited until it was ready
for the strong, and sturdy, and determined men
And thus has
the story of Columbus really turned out. Happier than any fairy tale,
more marvelous than any wonder book, the story of the United States of
America is one that begins, "Once upon a time," and has come to the
point where it depends upon the boys and girls who read it, to say
whether or not they shall "live happily ever after."
four hundred years of the New World's life closed its chapter of
happiness in the electric lights and brilliant sunshine of the
marvelous White City by Lake Michigan. It is a continued story of
daring, devotion and progress, that the boys and girls of America
should never tire of reading. And this story was made possible and
turned out so well, because of the briefer, but no less interesting
story of the daring, the devotion and the faith of the determined
Genoese sailor of four hundred years ago, whom men knew as Don
Christopher Columbus, the Admiral of the Ocean Seas.
Seven 4to volumes of from 200 to 250 pages each, profusely illustrated and attractively bound in cloth, each $1.50.
"A series which contains the lives of Columbus, Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and Franklin, and worthy of hearty commendation. Every grown-up person who has read one of them will wish to buy the whole series for the young folks at home." -- The Christian Advocate.
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The True Story of Christopher Columbus, called the Admiral. Revised edition.
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The True Story of George Washington, called the Father of His Country.
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The True Story of Abraham Lincoln, the American.
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The True Story of U. S. Grant, the American soldier.
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The True Story of Benjamin Franklin, the American statesman.
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The True Story of Lafayette, the friend of America.
This volume, the sixth in the series of "Children's Lives of Great Men," will appeal to all young Americans. It is an absorbing, simply told, and stirring story of a remarkable character in American history, and is the "whole story," from the boyhood of the great Frenchman to the close of his long, dramatic, and romantic career.
The True Story of the United States of America. From 1492 to 1900.
This is in every sense a companion volume to the series of "Children's Lives of Great Men." It tells the true story of the beginnings, rise, and development of the republic of the United States. Its object is to tell the story of the people of America. It is largely used for home and supplementary reading, and is accepted as the most popular "story" of the United States yet told for young people.
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The American Soldier. New and revised edition. Cloth, 4to, illustrated, $1.50.
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The American Sailor. New and revised edition. Cloth, 4to, illustrated, $1.50.
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The American Indian. Profusely illustrated, cloth, 4to, $1.50.
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The Boy Life of Napoleon,
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An absorbing and attractive volume, and the only story life of the boy Napoleon extant. It includes all the latest information touching upon the childhood of the most remarkable man and military leader of the nineteenth century.
In Blue and White: A Story of the American Revolution. 8vo, illustrated, $1.50.
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In No Man's Land: A Wonder Story. Cloth, 12mo, illustrated, $1.00.
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In Leisler's Times: A Story of Knickerbocker New York, told for boys and girls. Cloth, 12mo, illustrated by W. T. Smedley, $1.50.
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The Story of New York. Cloth, 8vo, illustrated, $1.50.
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The Story of our War with Spain. Told for young Americans. One vol., 8vo, profusely illustrated, $1.50.
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Storied Holidays. Cloth, 12mo, illustrated by Howard Pyle, $1.50.
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