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fon. His brother Bartholomew, and his second son Ferdinand, the historian of his actions, accompanied him.
He sailed from Cadiz on the ninth of May, 1502, and touched as usual at the Canary islands ; from thence it was his intention to have directed his course for the continent: but his largest vessel was so heavy a sailer, and unfit for the expedition, that he was obliged to bear away for Hispaniola, that he might, if possible, exchange her for some ship of the fleet that had carried over Ovando.
When he arrived off St. Domingo, he found eighteen of these ships ready loaded, and on the eve of their de. parture for Spain. Columbus immediately acquainted the governor with the destination of his voyage, and the accident which had obliged him to alter his route. He requested to enter the harbour, not only that he might have permission to negociate the exchange of his ship, but that he might take shelter, during a violent hurricane which he discerned was approaching : on that account he also advised the governor to put off the departure of the fleet bound for Spain. But Ovando refused his request and despised his counsel. Under circumstances in which humanity would have afforded refuge to a stranger, Columbus was denied admittance into a country of which he had discovered the existence, and had acquired possession. He was regarded as a visionary prophet, arrogating to himself the power to predict beyond the reach of human foresight.
The fleet set sail June 29th, 1502, for Spain : and the ensuing night the hurricane came on, with dreadful impetuosity and violence. Columbus alone, aware of the danger, look precautions against it; and saved his little squadron. The fleet bound to Spain met with the fate which the rashness and obstinacy of its commanders merited. Of eighteen ships, two or three only escaped. In this general wreck perished Bovadilla, and Roldan), and the greater part of those who had been the most active .in persecuting Columbus, and oppressing the Indians; together with all the wealth which they had acquired by injustice and cruelty. It exceeded in value two hundred thousand Pesos ; an immense sum at that period, and would have been sufficient to screen them from punishment, and secure them a gracious reception at the Spanish court,
One of the ships that escaped had on board all the effects of Columbus, which had been recovered from the wreck of his fortune. Historians, universally attribute this event to an immediate interposition of divine Providence, in order to avenge the wrongs of an injured man, as well as to punish the oppressors of an innocent people. The ignorant and superstitious formed an opinion, which the vulgar are apt to entertain with respect to persons acting in a sphere far above their comprehensions; they believed Columbus to possess supernatural powers, and that he had conjured up this dreadful storm by magical art, and incantations, in order to be revenged on his enemies.
The inhospitable reception which Columbus met with at Hispaniola hastened his departure for the continent. He set sail July 14th, 1502, and after a tedious and dangerous voyage, he discovered Guanara, an island not far from Honduras. There he had an interview with some of the inhabitants, who arrived in a large canoe. They appeared more civilized, and had acquired more knowledge in the arts than any he had hitherto conversed with.
In return to the eager enquiries of the Spaniards concerning the places where they got the gold, of which their ornaments were made; they directed them to countries situated to the west, which they described as abounding in that precious metal, in such profusion as to be made use of in common domestic materials.
Instead of steering in search of a country so inviting, which would have conducted them along the coast of Yucatan, to the rich empire of Mexico, Columbus was so intent upon his favourite scheme of discovering that inlet to the Indian ocean, that he bore away to the east towards the gulf of Darien.
In this navigation he discovered all the coast of the continent, from cape Gracios a Dios, to a harbour which for its beauty and security, he named Puerto Bello. He searched in vain for the imaginary strait or inlet, through which he expected to make his way into an unknown sea ; and though he went on shore several times, and advanced into the country, he did not penetrate so far as to cross the narrow isthmus which separates the gulf of Mexico from the great southern ocean.
He was, however, so delighted with the country, and conceived such an idea of its wealth, from the specimens of gold produced by the natives, that he resolved to leave
a small colony upon the river Belem, in the province of Veragua, under the command of his brother, and to return himself to Spain, in order to procure what was requisite to render it a permanent establishment. But the ungovernable spirit of the people under his command, deprived Columbus of the glory of planting the first colony on the continent of America.
Their insolence and rapaciousness provoked the natives to take arms; and as they were a more hardy and warlike race of med than the inhabitants of the islands, they cut off a part of the Spaniards, and obliged the rest to abandon a station they were no longer able to maintain.
This was not the only misfortune that icel Columbus: it was followed by a succession of disasters. Furious horricanes, with violent storms of thunder and lightning, threatened his leaky vessels with destruction ; while his disconsolate crew, exhausted with fatigue, and destitute of provisions, were unwilling, or unable, to execute his commands. One of his ships was lost; he was obliged to abandon another totally unfit for service; and with the two which remained, he quitted that part of the contie dent which in his anguish he named the coast of vexation, and bore away for Hispaniola.
New distresses awaited him in this voyage : he was driven back by a violent tempest from the coast of Cuba; his ships fell foul of each other, and were so much shattered by the shock, that with the utmost difficulty they reached Jamaica; where he was obliged to run them aground to prevent them from sinking. The measure of his calamities seemed now to be full. He was cast on shore upon an island at a considerable distance from the only settlement of the Spaniards, in America. His ships were disabled beyond the possibility of repair. To convey an account of his situation to Hispaniola seemed impracticable; and without this it was in vain lo expect relief. His genius, ever fertile in resources, and most vigorous in those perilous extremities, when weak minds abandon themselves to despair, discovered the only expedient which aflorded any prospect of deliverance. He had recourse to the hospitality of the natives, who considering the Spaniards as superior beings, were eager on all occasions to administer to their wants; from them he obtained two of their canoes; in these, which were only fit for creeping along the coast, or crossing from one bay to another,
Mendez, a Spaniard, and Fieschi, a Genoese, two gentlemen particularly attached to Columbus, gallantly offered to set out for Hispaniola; a voyage of above thirty leagues. This they accomplished in ten days, after encountering incredible dangers, and such fatigue, that several of the Indians who accompanied them, sunk under it and do2d.
The attention paid them by the governor of Hispaniola, was neither such as their courage merited, or the distress of Columbus and his associates required. Ovando, from a mean jealousy of Columbus, was afraid of permitting him to set his foot in the island, under his government.
This ungenerous passion absorbed every tender sentiment for the misfortunes of that great man; and his own fellow citizens were involved in the same calamity. Mendez, and Fieschi, spent eight months in fruitless petitions, and seeking relief for their commander and associates.
During this period, the mind of Columbus was agitated by various passions. At first, the speedy deliverance expected from the success of Mendez and Fieschi's voyage, cheered the spirits of the most desponding; after some time, they began to suspect that they had miscarried in the attempt. At length they all concluded, that Mendez and Fieschi had perished.
Hope, the last resource of the wretched, now forsook them, and made their situation appear more dismal. The only alternative that appeared, was to end their miserable days among naked savages, far from their native country and friends. The seamen transported with rage, rose in open mutiny, threatened the life of Columbus, whom they reproached as the author of their calamities; seized ten canoes, which he had purchased of the Indians, and despising his remonstrances and entreaties, made off with them to a distant part of the island. At the same time, the natives murmured at the long residence of the Spaniards in their country.
Like their neighbours, in Hispaniola, they considered the supporting so many strangers to be an intolerable burden. They brought in provisions with reluctance, and with a sparing hand, and threatened to withdraw these supplies altogether. Such a resolution would have been fatal to the Spaniards. Their safety depended upon the good-will of the natives; and, unless they could revive the admiration and reverence with which these simple people at first beheld them, destruction appeared unavoidable.
Though the disorderly proceedings of the mutincers, had, in a great measure, effaced those favourable impressions, the ingenuity of Columbus suggested an artifice that completely answered their purpose; and not only restored, but encreased the high opinion which the Indians had formerly conceived of them.
By his skill in astronomy he knew there would be a total eclipse of the moon. He assembled all the principal persons of the district around him on the day before it happened ; and after reproaching them for their ficklcness in withdrawing their affection and assistance from men, whom they lately had revered; he told them the Spaniards were servants of the great Spirit, who dwells in heaven, who made and governed the world ; that he was offended at their refusing to support men who were the objects of his peculiar favour; was preparing to punish this crime with exemplary severity: and that very night the moon should withhold her light, and appear of a bloody hue, as a sign of divine wrath, and an emblem of the vengeance ready to fall on them.
To this marvellous prediction some of them listened with careless indifference, others with credulous astonishment. But when the moon began gradually to be darkened, and at length appeared of a red colour, all were struck with terror. They ran with consternation to their houses, and returning instantly to Columbus loaded with provisions, threw them at his feet, conjuring him to intercede with the great Spirit to avert the destruction with which they were threatened. Columbus, seeming to be moved by their entreaties, promised to comply with their desire.
The eclipse went off, the moon recovered its splendour, and from that day the Spaniards were not only profusely furnished with provisions, but the Indians avoided every thing that could give them offence; and paid a superstitious attention to them as long as they staid upon the island.
During these transactions, the mutineers enraged at their disappointments, marched to that part of the island whe Columbus remained, threatening him with new danger and insults. While they were advancing, an event more cruel and afflicting than any which he dreaded from them, happened. The governor of Hispaniola, still under the influence of dark suspicions, sent a small bark to Jamai