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in the expedition. He and his brother Vicente Yañez Pinzon, who was likewise a navigator of great courage and ability, possessed vessels, and had seamen in their employ. They were related to many of the seafaring inhabitants of Palos and Moguer, and had great influence throughout the neighbourhood. It is supposed that they furnished Columbus with funds to pay the eighth share of the expense, which he had engaged to advance. They furnished two of the vessels required, and determined to sail in the expedition. Their example and persuasions had a wonderful effect; a great many of their relations and friends agreed to embark, and the vessels were ready for sea within a month after they had engaged in their enterprise.
During the equipment of the armament, various difficulties occurred. A third vessel, called the Pinta, had been pressed into the service, with its crew. The owners, Gomez Rascon and Christoval Quintero, were strongly repugnant to the voyage, as were most of the mariners under them. These people, and their friends, endeavoured in various ways to retard or defeat the voyage. The calkers did their work in a careless manner, and, on being ordered to do it over again, absconded; several of the seamen who had inlisted willingly, repented and deserted. Every thing had to be effected by harsh and arbitrary measures, and in defiance of popular opposition.
At length, by the beginning of August, every difficulty was vanquished, and the vessels were ready for sea. After all the objections made by various courts to undertake this expedition, it is surprising how inconsiderable an armament was re
quired. Two of the vessels were light barques, called caravals, not superior to river and coasting craft of modern days. They were built high at the prow and stern, with forecastles and cabins for the crew, but were without deck in the centre. Only one of the three, called the Santa Maria, was completely decked, on board of which Columbus hoisted his flag. Martin Alonzo Pinzon commanded one of the caravals, called the Pinta, and was accompanied by his brother, Francisco Martin, as mate or pilot. The other, called the Niña, had latine sails, and was commanded by Vicente Yañez Pinzon; on board of this vessel went Garcia Fernandez, the physician of Palos, in the capacity of steward. There were three other able pilots, Sancho Ruiz, Pedro Alonzo Niño, and Bartholomew Roldan, and the whole number of persons embarked was one hundred and twenty.
The squadron being ready to put to sea, Columbus confessed himself to the Friar Juan Perez, and partook of the communion, and his example was followed by the officers and crews, committing themselves, with the most devout and affecting ceremonials, to the especial guidance and protection of heaven, in this perilous enterprise. A deep gloom was spread over the whole community of Palos, for almost every one had some relation or friend on board of the squadron. The spirits of the seamen, already depressed by their own fears, were still more cast down, at beholding the affliction of those they left behind, who took leave of them with tears and lamentations and dismal forebodings, as of men they were never to behold again.
Events of the first Voyage-Discovery of Land.
It was early in the morning of Friday the 3d of August, 1492, that Columbus set sail from the bar of Saltes, a small island formed by the rivers Odiel and Tinto, in front of Palos, steering for the Canary Islands, from whence he intended to strike due west. As a guide by which to sail, he had the conjectural map or chart, sent him by Paolo Toscanelli of Florence. In this it is supposed the coasts of Europe and Africa, from the south of Ireland to the end of Guinea, were delineated as immediately opposite to the extremity of Asia, while the great island of Cipango, described by Marco Polo, lay between them, fifteen hundred miles from the Asiatic coast; at this island Columbus expected first to arrive.
On the third day after setting sail, the Pinta made signal of distress, her rudder being broken and unhung. This was suspected to have been done through the contrivance of the owners, Gomez Rascon and Christoval Quintero, to disable the vessel, and cause her to be left behind. Columbus was much disturbed at this occurrence. It gave him a foretaste of the difficulties to be apprehended, from people partly inlisted on compulsion, and full
of doubt and foreboding. Trivial obstacles might, in this early stage of the voyage, spread panic and mutiny through his crews, and induce them to renounce the prosecution of the enterprise.
Martin Alonzo Pinzon, who commanded the Pinta, secured the rudder with cords, but these fastenings soon gave way, and the caraval proving defective in other respects, Columbus remained three weeks cruising among the Canary Islands, in search of another vessel to replace her. Not being able to find one, the Pinta was repaired, and furnished with a new rudder. The latine sails of the Niña were also altered into square sails, that she might work more steadily and securely. While making these repairs, and taking in wood and water, Columbus was informed that three Portuguese caravals had been seen hovering off the island of Ferro. Dreading some hostile stratagem, on the part of the King of Portugal, in revenge for his having embarked in the service of Spain, he put to sea early on the morning of the 6th of September, but for three days a profound calm detained the vessels within a short distance of the land. This was a tantalizing delay, for Columbus trembled lest something should occur to defeat his expedition, and was impatient to find himself far upon the ocean, out of sight of either land or sail; which, in the pure atmospheres of these latitudes, may be descried at an immense distance.
On Sunday, the 9th of September, as day broke, he beheld Ferro about nine leagues distant; he was in the very neighbourhood, therefore, where the Portuguese caravals had been seen. Fortunately a breeze sprang up with the sun, and in the course of
the day, the heights of Ferro gradually faded from the horizon.
On losing sight of this last trace of land, the hearts of the crews failed them, for they seemed to have taken leave of the world. Behind them was every thing dear to the heart of man-country, family, friends, life itself; before them every thing was chaos, mystery, and peril. In the perturbation of the moment, they despaired of ever more seeing their homes. Many of the rugged seamen shed tears, and some broke into loud lamentations. Columbus tried in every way to soothe their distress, describing the splendid countries to which he expected to conduct them, and promising them land, riches, and every thing that could arouse their cupidity or inflame their imaginations; nor were these promises made for purposes of deception, for he certainly believed he should realize them all.
He now gave orders to the commanders of the other vessels, in case they should be separated by any accident, to continue directly westward; but that, after sailing seven hundred leagues, they should lay by from midnight until daylight, as at about that distance he confidently expected to find land. Foreseeing that the vague terrors already awakened among the seamen would increase with the space which intervened between them and their homes, he commenced a stratagem which he continued throughout the voyage. This was to keep two reckonings, one private, in which the true way of the ship was noted, and which he retained in secret for his own government; the other public, for general inspection, in which a number of leagues was daily subtracted from the sailing of the ships,