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Venient annis
SsDCula seris, quibus Oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Typhisque novos
Detegat Orbes, nee sit terris
Ultima Thule.

Seneca, Mcdrn,




E in







Chapter 1. — Departure of Columbus for St. Domingo. His

return to Spain 1

Chapter II. — Illness of Columbus at Seville. Application
to the Crown for a Restitution of his Honours. Death of
Isabella 12

Chapter III. — Columbus arrives at Court. Fruitless Appli-
cation to the King for Redress 25

Chapter IV, — Death of Columbus 38

Chapter V. — Observations on the Character of Columbus . 48


No. I. — Transportation of the Remains of Columbus from

St. Domingo to the Havanna 65

No. II. — Account of the Descendants of Columbus . . 75

No. III. — Fernando Columbus Ill

No. IV. — Lineage of Columbus 117

No. V. — Birthplace of Columbus ... ... 123

No. VI. — The Colombos 139





\'II. — Expedition of John of Aujou

. U.J

\' I II.— Capture of the Venetian Galleys by Colombo the
Younger 151

IX. — Amerigo Vespucci
X. — Martin Alonzo Pinzon

. 157
. 193

XL — Rumour of the Pilot said to have died in the House

of Columbus 197

XII.— Martin Behem

XIII. — Voyages of the Scandinavians
XIV. — Circumnavigation of Africa by the Ancients
XV. — Of the Ships of Columbus . . . .
XVI. — Route of Columbus in his first Voyage

No. XVII. — Principles upon which the Sums mentioned in

this "Work have been reduced into modern Currency
No. XVIII.— Marco Polo .
V/ No. XIX.— The Work of Marco Polo
No. XX. — Sir John Mandeville
No. XXL— The Zones
No. XXIL— Of the Atalantis of Plato
No. XXIII. — The imaginary Island of St. Brandan
No. XXIV.— The Island of the Seven Cities
No. XXV. — Discovery of the Island of Madeira
No. XXVI. -Las Casas ....
No. XXVI I.— Peter Martyr .
No. XXVIIL— Oviedo ....

No. XXIX. — Cura de Los Palacios





No. XXX. — " Navigatione del Re de Castiglia delle I solo e
Pacse Nuovamente Ritrovate." — " Navigatio Christophori
Colombi." ■■ . . . . 383

No. XXXI. — Antonio de Herrera 387

No. XXXII. — Bishop Fonseca 3.03

No. XXXIII.— Of the Situation of the Terrestrial Paradise . l-Ol

No. XXXIV.— Will of Columbus 415

No. XXXV. — Signature of Columbus 437

Index 441









On the 28th of June Columbus took a joyful leave
of the wreck in which he had been so long im-
mured, and all the Spaniards embarked, friend
and foe, on board of the vessels, which made sail
for St. Domingo. Oviedo says, that the Indians
wept when they beheld their departure ; for they
considered them as beings from the skies. From
the admiral, it is true, they had experienced no-
thing but kind treatment and continual benefits ;
and the idea of his immediate influence with the
Deity, manifested by his prediction of the eclipse

Vol. IV. B


of the moon, may have made them consider his
presence propitious to tlieir island ; but it is not
easy to believe that a lawless gang, like that of
Porras, could have been ranging for months among
their villages without giving cause for the greatest
joy at their departure.

The adverse winds and currents, which had
opposed Columbus throughout this ill-starred ex-
pedition, still continued to harass him. After a
weary struggle of several weeks, he reached, on
the 3d of August, the little island of Beata, on
the coast of Hispaniola. Between this place and
St. Domingo the currents are so violent, that vessels
are often detained months, waiting for sufficient
wind to enable them to stem the stream. From
hence Columbus despatched a letter by land to
Ovando, to inform him of his approach, and to
remove certain absurd suspicions of his views,
which he had learnt from Saleedo were still en-
tertained by the governor, who feared his arrival
in the island might lead to factions and dis-
turbances. In this letter he expresses, with his
usual warmth and simplicity, the joy he felt at his
deliverance, which was so great, he says, that, since

Chap. I.] FOR ST. DOMINGO. 3

the arrival of Diego de Saleedo with succour, he
had scarcely been able to sleep.

A favourable wind springing up, the vessels
again made sail, and on the 13th of August
anchored in the harbour of St. Domingo. What-
ever lurking enmity to Columbus there might be
in the place, it was overpowered by the popular
sense of his recent disasters. Misfortune atones
for a multitude of faults, whereas the very merits
of a prosperous man excite detraction. St. Do-
mingo, where Columbus in the day of his power
had been surrounded by foes ; from whence he had
been ignominiously sent in chains, amidst the
shouts and taunts of the rabble ; from whence lie
had been excluded in a time of peril, when com-
mander of a squadron ; now that he arrived in the
harbour of St. Domingo, a broken-down and ship-
wrecked man, all forgot their past hostility, and
were aroused to sudden enthusiasm in his favour.
What had been denied to his merits was granted to
his misfortunes ; and even the envious, appeased
by his present reverses, seemed to forgive him for
having once been so triumphant.

The governor and all the principal inhabitants

B 2


came forth to meet him, and received him with
signal distinction. He was lodged as a guest in
the house of Ovando, who treated him with the
utmost courtesy and attention. The governor was
a shrewd and discreet man, and much of a courtier ;
but there were too deep causes of jealousy and
distrust between him and Columbus for their inter-
course to be cordial. Both the admiral and his
son Fernando always pronounced the civility of
Ovando overstrained and hypocritical, intended to
obliterate the remembrance of past neglect, and to
conceal his lurking enmity. While he professed
the utmost friendship and sympathy for the ad-
miral, he set at liberty the traitor Porras, who was
still a prisoner, to be taken to Spain for trial. He
also talked of punishing those of the admiral's
people who had taken arms in his defence, had
killed several of the mutineers, and taken others
prisoners. These circumstances were loudly com-
plained of by Columbus ; but, in fact,, they rose
out of a question of jurisdiction between him and
the governor. Their powers were so undefined
as to clash with each other, and they were both in
a situation to be extremely punctilious. Ovando


assumed a right to take cognizance of all transac-
tions at Jamaica, as happening within the limits of
his government, which included all the islands and
terra firma. Columbus, on the other hand, as-
serted the absolute command, and the jurisdiction
both civil and criminal given to him by the so-
vereigns, over all persons who sailed in his ex-
pedition, from the time of departure until their
return to Spain. To prove this, he produced his
letter of instructions. The governor heard him
with great courtesy and a smiling countenance ;
but observed, that the letter of instructions gave
him no authority within the bounds of his govern-
ment*. He relinquished the idea, however, of
investityatino; the conduct of the followers of Co-
lumbus, and sent Porras to Spain, to be examined
by the board which had charge of the affairs of
the Indies.

The sojourn of Columbus at St. Domingo was
but little calculated to yield him satisfaction. He
was grieved at the desolation of the island by the
oppressive treatment of the natives, and the horri-

* Letter of Columbus to his son Diego, Scvill. Nov. 21, 1504. Navar-
rete Col. t. i.


ble massacre which had been perpetrated by Ovaiido
and his agents. Columbus had fondly hoped, at
one time, to have rendered the natives civilized,
industrious, and tributary subjects to the crown,
and to have derived from their well-regulated
labour a great and steady revenue. How different
had been the event ! The five great tribes which
had [peopled the mountains and the valleys at the
time of the discovery, and had rendered, by their
mingled towns and villages and tracts of cultiva-
tion, the rich levels of the Vegas so many " painted
gardens," had almost all passed away, and the na-
tive princes had perished chiefly by violent or
ignominious deaths. Columbus regarded the affairs
of the island with a different eye from Ovando.
He had a paternal feeling for its prosperity, and
his fortunes were implicated in its judicious ma-
nagement. He complained, in subsequent letters
to the sovereigns, that all the public affairs were
ill conducted ; that the ore which was collected
lay unguarded in large quantities in houses slightly
built and thatched, inviting depredation ; that
Ovando was unpopular, the people were dissolute,
and the property of the crown and the security

Chap. I.] FOR ST. DOMlNGO. <

of the island in continual risk from mutiny and
sedition*. While he saw all this, he had no
power to interfere, and any observation or re-
monstrance on his part was apt to be ill received
by the governor.

He found his own immediate concerns in great
confusion. His rents and dues were either un-
collected, or he could not obtain a clear account
and a full liquidation of them. Whatever he could
collect was appropriated to the fitting out of the
vessels which were to convey himself and his crews
to Spain. He accuses Ovando, in his subsequent
letters, of having neglected, if not sacrificed, his
interests during his long absence, and of having
impeded those who were appointed to attend to his
concerns. That he had some grounds for these
complaints would appear from two letters still ex-
tant t, written by Queen Isabella to Ovando, on
the 27th of November, 1503, in which she in-
forms him of the complaint of Alonzo Sanchez de
Carajal, that he was impeded in collecting the rents

* Letter of Columbus to his son Diego, dated Seville, 3 Dec. 1504.
Navarrete, t. i. p. 311.

f Navarrete CoUcc. t. ii. Pccad. 151, 152.


of the admiral ; and expressly commands Ovando
to observe the capitulations granted to Columbus,
to respect his agents, and to facilitate instead of >
obstructing his concerns. These letters, while
they imply ungenerous conduct on the part of the
governor towards his illustrious predecessor, evince
likewise the personal interest taken by Isabella in
the aifairs of Columbus, during his absence. She
had, in fact, signified her displeasure at his being
excluded from the port of vSt, Domingo, when he
applied there for succour for his squadron, and for
shelter from a storm; and had censured Ovando
for not taking his advice and detaining the fleet
of Bobadilla, by which it would have escaped its
disastrous fate*. And here it may be observed,
that the sanguinary acts of Ovando towards the
natives, in particular the massacre at Haragna,
and the execution of the unfortunate Anacoana,
awakened equal horror and indignation in Isa-
bella; she was languishing on her death-bed when
she received the intelligence, and with her dying
breath she exacted a promise from. King Ferdinand
that Ovando should immediately be recalled from

* Hcrrera, Hist. Ind. Dccad. I. 1. 5. c. 12.

t'hap. I.] FOR ST. DOMINGO. 9

his government The promise was tardily and
reluctantly fulfilled, after an interval of about four
years, and not until induced by other circum-
stances ; for Ovando contrived to propitiate the
monarch, by forcing a revenue from the island.

The continual misunderstandings which took
place between the admiral and the governor,
though always qualified on the part of the latter
with great complaisance, induced Columbus to
hasten as much as possible his departure from the
island. The ship in which he had returned from
Jamaica was repaired and fitted out, and put under
the command of the adelantado ; another vessel
>was freighted, in which Columbus embarked with
his son and his domestics. The greater part of
his late crews remained at St. Domingo j as they
were in great poverty, he relieved their necessities
with his own purse, and advanced the funds neces-
sary for the voyage home of those who chose to
return. Many thus relieved by his generosity
had been among the most violent of the rebels.

On the 12th of September, he set sail ; but
had scarcely left the harbour when, in a sudden
squall, the mast of his ship was carried away.


He immediately went with his family on board of
the vessel commanded by the adelantado, and,
sending back the damaged ship to port, continued
on his course. Throughout the voyage he ex-
perienced the most tempestuous weather. In one
storm the mainmast was sprung in four places.
The admiral was confined to his bed at the time
by the gout ; by his advice, however, and the
activity of the adelantado, the damage was skil-
fully repaired : the mast was shortened ; the weak
parts were fortified by wood taken from the castles
or cabins, which the vessels in those days carried
on the prow and stern ; and the whole was well
secured by cords. They were still more damaged
in a succeeding tempest ; in which the ship sprung
her foremast. In this crippled state, they had
yet to traverse seven hundred leagues of a stormy
ocean. Fortune continued to persecute Columbus
to the end of this, his last, and most disastrous,
expedition. For several weeks he was tempest
tost — suffering at the same time the most ex-
cruciating pains from his malady — until, at length,
on the seventh day of November, his crazy and
shattered bark anchored in the harbour of San

Chap. I.] TO SPAIN. 11

Liicar. From hence he had himself conveyed to
Seville, where he hoped to enjoy repose of mind
and body, and to recruit his health after such a
long series of fatigues, anxieties, and hardships*.

* Hist, del Almirante, c. 108. Las Casas, Hist. Ind. 1. ii. c. 36.





Broken by age and infirmities, and worn down
by the toils and hardships of his recent expedition,
Columbus had looked forward to Seville as to a
haven of rest, where he might repose awhile from
his troubles. Care and sorrow, however, were
destined to follow him by sea and land. In
varying the scene he but varied the nature of his
distress. " Wearisome days and nights" were ap-
pointed to him for the remainder of his life ; and
the very margin of his grave was destined to be
strewed with thorns.

On arriving at Seville, he found all his affairs
in confusion. Ever since he had been sent home
in chains from Saint Domingo, when his house
and effects had been taken possession of by Boba-
dilla, his rents and dues had never been properly
collected ; and such us had been gathered had

Chap, ri] AT SEVILLE. ' 13

been retained in the hands of the governor Ovando.
" I have much vexation from the governor," says
he, in a letter to his son Diego*. " All tell me
that I have there eleven or twelve thousand cas-
tellanos ; and I have not received a quarto. * * * *
I know well, that, since my departure, he must
have received upwards of five thousand castel-
lanos." He entreated that a letter might be
written by the king, commanding the payment of
these arrears without delay ; for his agents would
not venture even to speak to Ovando on the sub-
ject, unless empowered by a letter from the sove-

Columbus was not of a mercenary spirit ; but
his rank and situation required large expenditure.
The world thought him in the possession of sources
of inexhaustible wealth ; but to him, as yet, those
sources had furnished but precarious and scanty
streams. His last voyage had exhausted his
finances, and involved him in perplexities. All
that he had been able to collect of the money due
to him in Hispaniola, to the amount of twelve
hundred castellanos, had been expended in bring-

* Let. Seville, 13 Dec. 1504. Navarrete, v. i. p. 343.


ing home many of his late crew, who were in dis-
tress ; and for the greater part of the sum the
crown remained his debtor. While struggling to
obtain his mere pecuniary dues, he was absolutely
suffering a degree of penury. He repeatedly
urges the necessity of economy to his son, Diego,
until he can obtain a restitution of his property,
and the payment of his arrears. " I receive no-
thing of the revenue due to me,'* says he, in one
letter ; *' I live by borrowing." " Little have I
profited," he adds, in another, " by twenty years
of service, with such toils and perils ; since, at
present, I do not own a roof in Spain. If I desire
to eat or sleep, I have no resort but an inn ; and,
for the most times, have not wherewithal to pay
my bill."

Yet in the midst of these personal distresses, he
was still more solicitous for the payment of his
seamen than of himself. He wrote strongly and
repeatedly to the sovereigns, entreating the dis-
charge of their arrears ; and he urged his son,
Diego, who was at court, to exert himself likewise
in their behalf. " They are poor," said he, " and
it is now nearly three years since they left their


homes. They have endured infinite toils and
perils, and they bring invaluable tidings, for'
wliich their majesties ought to give thanks to
God and rejoice." Notwithstanding his generous
solicitude for these men, he knew several of them
to have been his enemies ; nay, that some of them
were at this very time disposed to do him harm
rather than good ; such was the magnanimity of
his spirit and his forgiving disposition.

The same zeal, also, for the interests of his
sovereigns, which had ever actuated his loyal
mind, mingled with his other causes of solicitude.
He represented in his letter to the king, the mis-
management of the royal rents in Hispaniola, under
the administration of Ovando. Immense quantities
of ore lay unprotected in slightly built houses, and
liable to depredations. It required a person of
vigour, and one who had an individual interest in
the property of the island, to restore its affairs to
order, and to draw from it the immense revenues
which it was capable of yielding ; and Columbus
plainly intimated that he was the proper person.

In fact, as to himself, it was not so much


pecuniary indemnification that he sought, as tlic
restoration of his offices and dignities. He had
received the royal promise that he should be re-
instated in them j he regarded them as the trophies
of his illustrious achievements ; and he felt that as
long as they were withheld, a tacit censure rested
upon his name. Had he not been proudly im-
patient on this subject he would have belied the
loftiest part of his character ; for he who can be
indifferent to the wreath of triumph, is deficient in
the noble ambition that incites to glorious deeds.
The unsatisfactory replies which he received to
his letters disquieted the mind of Columbus. He
knew that he had active enemies at court ready to
turn all things to his disadvantage ; and he felt
the importance of being there in person to defeat
their machinations : but his infirmities detained
him at Seville. . He made an attempt to set forth
on the journey, but the severity of the winter and
the virulence of his malady obliged him to re-
linquish it in despair. All that he could do was
to reiterate his letters to the sovereigns, and to
entreat the intervention of his few but faithful


friends. He feared the disastrous occurrences of
the hist voyage might be represented to his pre-
judice. The great object of the expedition, the
discovery of a strait in the Isthmus of Darien, had
failed. The secondary object, the acquisition of
gokl, had not been completed. He had discovered
the gold mines of Veragua, it is true, but he had
brought home no treasure ; because, as he said, in
one of his letters, " I would not rob or outrage
the country ; since reason requires that it should
be settled, and then the gold may be procured
without violence."

He was especially apprehensive that the violent
scenes in the island of Jamaica, might, by the
perversity of his enemies, and the effrontery of
the delinquents, be wrested into matters of ac-
cusation against him, as had been the case with
the rebellion of Roldan. Porras, the ringleader of
the late faction, had been sent home by Ovando,
to appear before the board of the Indies ; but with-
out any written process, setting forth the offences
charged against him. While at Jamaica, Columbus
had ordered an inquest of the affair to be taken ;
but the notary of the squadron who took it, and

Vol. IV. C


the papers which he drew up, were on board of a
ship in which the admiral had sailed from His-
paniola, and which had put back dismasted. No
cognizance of the case, therefore, was taken by the
council of the Indies ; and Porras went at large,
armed with the power and the disposition to do
mischief. Being related to Morales, the royal
treasurer, he had access to people in place, and
an opportunity of enlisting their opinions and pre-
judices on his side. Columbus wrote to Morales
enclosing him a copy of the petition which the
rebels had sent to him when in Jamaica, acknow-
ledging their culpability, and imploring his for-
giveness : and he entreated the treasurer not to
be swayed by the representations of his relation,
nor to pronounce an opinion unfavourable to him,
until he had an opportunity of being heard.

The faithful and indefatigable Diego Mendez
was at this time at the court, as well as Alonzo
Sanchez de Carrajal, and an active friend of Co-
lumbus named Geronimo. He requested his son
Diego to excite them all to support his interests,
being capable of bearing the most important testi-
mony as to his conduct. " I trust," said he.


** that the truth and diligence of Die":o Mendez
will be of as much avail as the lies of Porras."
Nothing can surpass the affecting earnestness and
simplicity of his general declaration of loyalty,
contained in one of his letters. " I have served
tlieir majesties," says he, " with as much zeal and
diligence as if it had been to gain Paradise ; and
if I have failed in any thing, it has been because
my knowledge and powers went no further."

Whilst reading these touching appeals, we can
scarcely realize the fact, that they should be writ-
ten by Columbus ; by the same extraordinary man
who but a few years before had been idolized at
this court as a benefactor, and received with almost
royal honours. We can scarcely believe, that
this is the discoverer of the New World, broken
down by infirmities, and impoverished in his old
age by his very success ; that the man who added
such vast and wealthy regions to the crown, is
the individual thus wearily and vainly applying to
the court of Spain for his rights, and pleading al-
most like a culprit, in cases wherein he had been
so flagrantly injured.



At length the caravel bringing the official pro-
ceedings relative to the brothers Porras arrived at
the Algarves, in Portugal, and Columbus looked
forward with hope that all matters would soon be
placed in a proper light. His anxiety to get to
court became every day more intense. A litter
was provided to convey him thither, and was
actually at the door, but he was again obliged to
abandon the journey from the inclemency of the
weather and his increasing infirmities. His re-
source of letter-writing began to fail him : he

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