網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

at was now triumphantly established; and Columbus had secured to himself a glory as lasting as the world itself. The land thus reached proved to be the island Guanahani—now called Cat Jsland, one of the Bahamas”—which Columbus named SAN SALVADOR, in token of his devout gratitude to God our Saviour. Of the further and important voyages and discoveries of Columbus, and of the varied fortune which it was his lot to meet with, it is not our present purpose to speak. Envy, detraction, injustice and cruelty embittered his latter days. Deprived of the honor, which was only his just due, of giving his name to the newly discovered world, and rendered hopeless of all redress by the death, in 1504, of his patron and fast friend, the good queen Isabella, Columbus died at Walladolid, May 20th, 1506, at peace with the world, and sustained in his last hours by the hopes and consolations of the Christian religion. The Selfish Ferdinand did indeed order a monument to his memory, with the motto taken from Columbus's coat of arms—A CASTILLA. Y. A LEON NUEvo MUNDO DIO CoION: To Castile and Leon, Columbus gave a new world—but it could add nothing to the fame of Columbus; it simply serves to stamp the character and conduct of Ferdinand as one who was an unfeeling, ungene. rous, ungrateful king.

[ocr errors]

to

The name AMERICA which was applied to a portion of the Western Continent soon after its discovery, and which has now become its unalterable title, took its rise from a voyage made in 1499° by Amerigo Vespucci, a distinguished Florentine navigator. Vespucci wrote several letters in Latin to Lorenzo de Medici, one of which was printed in 1505, being the first of his narratives that was published. He also wrote a letter, dated Lisbon, September 4th, 1504, addressed to René, duke of Lorraine, in which it is claimed that he discovered the main land in 1497. Now, as he was a man of superior learning and intelligence, and as his name was thus publicly con

H.499.

[blocks in formation]

* Mr. George Gibbs, in an interesting paper read before the New York Historical Society, Oct. 6th, 1846, presents several cogent reasons for believing that the Grand Turk Island was the one which Columbus first touched at: his paper is worth examining.

* Mr. C. E. Lester (“Dife and Voyages of Americus Vespucius,” pp. 93–108,) argues in favor of an earlier voyage, said to have been made in 1497 : Mr. Irving has, however, successfully controverted this view, and his authority is followed in the text. (See

“Iife of Columbus,” vol. iii., pp. 330–345.)

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The marvellous discovery of a new world aroused the spirit of maritime enterprise in England, and to one of her sons indisputably belongs the glory of having first reached the Continent of NoFTH AMERICA. England had not yet assumed that position of prečmi

mence in naval affairs which she after

wards acquired. Long and exhausting civil wars had prevented the development of that active energy and hardy endurance which have since characterized the natives of England on the ocean. Yet when the news of what Columbus had done reached England, Henry VII, a shrewd and thrifty monarch, was ready at Once to enter into competition for the prizes which the new world might disclose. ingly he availed himself with eagerness of the offer of John Cabot, a Venetian” merchant, residing in Bristol, to fit out several vessels for discovery which might be made any where north of the route originally taken by Columbus. In a patent obtained from the king, and signed at Westminster, March 5th, 1496, Cabot was authorized, with his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian and Sancius, “to saile to all parts, countreys and seas of the IEast, of the West, and of the North,

under our banners and ensigns, with

Il 496

Accord

five ships, of what burden or quantitie soever they may be, and as many mariners and men as they will have with them in the said ships, upon their own proper cost and charges, to seeke out, discover and find whatsoever isles, countreys, regions or provinces of the heathen and infidels, whatsoever they may be, and in what part of the world soever they may be, which before this time have been unknown to all Christians.” The expedition sailed under the command of Sebastian Cabot, who was born in Bristol, England, a youthful but sagacious mariner, and On June 24th, 1497, they discov

ered land, which was a part of the coast of Labrador, and which they named Prima Vista: they saw also an island, which they called St. John's Island, from the day on which it was discovered: it was “full of white bears, and stagges, far greater than the English.”f Disappointed in his expectation of finding a north-west passage to the land of

497.

Cathay, or the Indies, with its marvels

and wonders, as old Marco Polo tells them, Cabot returned to England. He made a second voyage to America, the particulars of which have been but scantily preserved. On a third voyage, in 1517, Hudson's Bay was undoubtedly entered, and Cabot penetrated to about the sixty-seventh degree of north

latitude; but his crew, terrified by the

fields of ice, in the month of July, clamored for a return, and Cabot reluctantly sailed back to England. This

eminent navigator, having lived to a good old age, after many and various adventures, died in the city of London. It is an instructive lesson of the uncertainty of human distinction, that although he gave a continent to England, neither the date of his death is known, nor does the humblest monument show where his remains lie interred.

* Charlevoix (“Travels, &c., in 1720,”) notices a point connected with early discoveries in America well worth remembering :—“I cannot dispense with a passing remark. It is very glorious to Italy, that the three powers which now divide between them almost the whole of America, owe their first discove

ries to Italians—the Spanish to Columbus, a Genoese,

the English to John Cabot and his sons, Venetians, and the French to Verrazzani, a citizen of Florence.” Sebastian Cabot, however, as noted above, was a mative of England.

|

* Hakluyt's “Voyages and Discoveries,” vol. iii.,

p. 6. . † See Hayward’s “Life of Sebastian Cabot,” p. 8.

In 1498, Vasco de Gama, under

the patronage of Emanuel, king of Portugal, an able and enterprising monarch, doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and opened to the Portuguese a new and most important route to the Indies. The same king sent Gaspar Cortereal with two vessels to explore the north-western Ocean. This navigator sailed some seven hundred miles along the shores of North America. His only exploit was the kidnapping a number of the natives, and carrying them to Portugal as slaves. Juan Ponce de Leon, a hardy old Spanish warrior, and one of the companions of Columbus, having conquered Porto Rico, greatly enriched himself by the compulsory labor of the unhappy natives. But, growing in years, and ill content to let go his grasp upon the possessions for which he had fought and toiled, he listened to the romantic story of that miraculous fountain fabled to restore to youth and vigor all who bathed in its waters. He actually set out to find this wonder of nature. In the course of his voyage, on Easter Sunday, March 27th, which the Spaniards call Pascua de Flores, he discovered that peninsula which separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Atlantic. It was the beautiful season of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

previous injustice and ill usage. It was about this date that another famous Spanish captain, Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, discovered the Pacific Ocean. This memorable event took place on the 26th September, 1513. It certainly was one of the most sublime discoveries that had yet been made in the New World, and must, as Mr. Irving says, have opened a boundless field of conjecture to the wondering Spanish adventurers who from the mountain summit gazed down upon the vast ocean, with its waters glittering in the morning sun. The hardy English and French mariners had engaged with zeal and success in the productive fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland at the beginning of the century. Fishermen from Brittany discovered and named CAPE BRETON in 1504. “This fishery,” says Hildreth, “on the coast and bank of NEW FOUNDLAND formed the first link between Europe and North America, and, for a century, almost the only one. Francis I. of France, although busily occupied in his contests with the astute and powerful Charles V. of Spain and Germany, was not wholly unaware of

15 # 3.

H594.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small]

World. Accordingly, he engaged Juan Verrazzani, a Florentine, to explore, on

his behalf, new regions in the un* known West. Withasingle vessel, the Dolphin, this mariner left Madeira, and wrote to the king a description of his discoveries, which was the earliest ever penned, and which is remarkable for its freshness and graphic clearness. After “as sharp and terrible a tempest as ever sailors suffered, whereof with the Divine help and merciful assistance of Almighty God, and the goodness of our ship, accompanied with the good-hap of her fortunate name—the Dolphin—we were delivered, and with a prosperous wind followed our course west by north, and in other twenty-five days we made above 400 leagues more, when we discovered a new land, never before seen of any, either ancient or modern.” This was the low, level coast of North Carolina, along which, illumined at night by great fires, they sailed fifty leagues in search of a harbor;-at length they cast anchor and sent a boat on shore. The wandering natives at first fled to the woods, yet still would stand and look back, beholding the ship and sailors “with great admiration,” and at the friendly signs of the latter, came down to the shore, “marvelling greatly at their apparel, shape, and whiteness.” Beyond the sandy coast, intersected “with rivers and arms of the sea,” they saw “the open country rising in height with many fair fields and plains, full of mightie great woods,” some dense and others more open, replenished with dif. ferent trees, “as pleasant and delectable to behold as it is possible to imagine. And your Majesty may not think,” says

152

Verrazzani, “that these are like the woods of Hercynia, or the wild deserts of Tartary, and the northern coasts, full of fruitless trees; but they are full of palm trees, bay trees, and high cypress trees, and many other sorts unKnown in Europe, which yield most sweet savors far from the shore.” The land he represents as “not void of drugs or spicery, and of other riches of gold,

seeing that the color of the land doth

so much argue it.” He dwells upon the luxury of the vegetation, the wild vines which clustered upon the ground or trailed in rich festoons from tree to tree, the tangled roses, violets, and lilies, and sweet and odoriferous flowers, different from those of Europe. He speaks of the wild deer in the woods, and of the birds that haunt the pools and lagoons of the coast. But, after his rude tossing on the stormy Atlantic, he is beyond measure transported with the calmness of the sea, the gentleness of the waves, the summer beauty of the climate, the pure and wholesome and temperate air, and the serenity and purity of the blue sky, which, “if covered for a while with clouds brought by the southern wind, they are soon dissolved, and all is clear and fair again.” Verrazzani also entered the harbors of New York and Newport, and coasted northwardly to the fiftieth degree of north latitude. No settlement, however, resulted from this voyage of Werrazzani to America. The first attempt at colonization by the English was disastrous in the extreme. A London merchant, named Hore, with others who joined him, undertook to found a set

A5836.

tlement in Newfoundland. But they hardly escaped from starvation, and seizing a French fishing vessel which had just arrived, they returned again to England. While the Spaniards were engrossed with plans and efforts for conquest in South America, Chabot, admiral of France, dispatched Jacques Cartier, an able mariner of St. Malo, on an exploring expedition to the north-west coast of America. After a rapid passage over the Atlantic, he sailed across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and entered a bay which he called Des Chaleurs, from the extreme summer heat then prevailing; but he soon after returned to France. The next year, with three large ships and a number of colonists, Cartier revisited the scene of his former discoveries, entered the Gulf on St. Lawrence's Day, and so gave it that name which it now bears, ascended the river to the isle of Bacchus, now Orleans, and thence advanced to Hochelaga or Montreal. Cartier wintered on the isle of Orleans; but his company suffering much from the scurvy, they took a disgust at the prospects of colonization, and Cartier was compelled to return home. With that too common disregard for the rights of others, he also must needs carry off Some of the natives to France. Some years afterwards, Francis de la Roque, lord of Robertval, in Picardy, attempted to colonize the same Hi544}. e o so no. "999". Cartier was furnished by the king with five vessels, and had associated with him Robertval to act as governor in Canada and Hochelaga. Delays and misunderstanding prevented

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

this effort likewise from being successful, and France gave up for a long time all further attempts at founding colonies in North America. What had been done, however, served in later days as a basis for claims, on the part of France, to the northern portion of the American Continent. The disastrous attempt of Narvaez, in 1528, to conquer and obtain possession of Florida did not deter other bold spirits from efforts of a like character. Ferdinand de Soto had been one of the most distinguished companions of PiZarro, and a main instrument in annexing to Spain the golden regions of Peru; but in the conquest of Peru his part had been secondary—the first prize had been carried off by another; and he now sought to find a country, the glory of conquering which should be wholly his ; and Charles V. was quite willing to gratify his desires. He was created Adelantado of Florida, combining the offices of governorgeneral and commander-in-chief. In May, 1539, Soto sailed from Havanna with six hundred men in the bloom of life, a number of priests, besides sailors, more than two hundred horses, and a herd of swine. Arriving on the 30th of May at the bay of Spiritu Santo, on the western coast of Florida, he landed three hundred men, and pitched his camp ; but, about the break of day the next morning, they were attacked by a numerous body of natives, and obliged to retire. Having marched several hundred miles, he passed through a number of Indian towns, to Mavila, a village enclosed

[ocr errors]

with wooden walls, standing near the

« 上一頁繼續 »