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he concluded to be the people of the main land of Asia, subjects to the Grand Khan, who, according to Marco Polo, were accustomed to make war upon the islands, and make slaves of the natives. The rich country to the south could be no other than the island of Cipango; and the king who was served out of golden vessels must be the monarch whose magnificent palace was said to be covered with plates of gold.
Having explored the island of Guanahanì, and taken in a supply of wood and water, Columbus set sail in quest of the opulent country to the south, taking seven of the natives with him, to acquire the Spanish language, and serve as interpreters and guides.
He now beheld a number of beautiful islands, green, level, and fertile, and the Indians intimated by signs, that they were innumerable: he supposed them to be a part of the great archipelago described by Marco Polo as stretching along the coast of Asia, and abounding with spices and odoriferous trees. He visited three of them, to which he gave the names of Santa Maria de la Concepcion, Fernandina, and Isabella. The inhabitants gave the same proofs as those of San Salvador of being totally unaccustomed to the sight of civilized man. They regarded the Spaniards as superhuman beings, approached them with propitiatory offerings, of whatever their poverty, or rather their simple and natural mode of life, afforded; the fruits of their fields and groves, their cotton yarn, and their domesticated parrots. When the Spaniards landed in search of water, they took them to the coolest springs, the sweetest and freshest runs, filling their casks, rolling
them to the boats, and seeking in every way to gratify their celestial visiters.
Columbus was enchanted by the lovely scenery of some of these islands. "I know not," says he, "where first to go, nor are my eyes ever weary of gazing on the beautiful verdure. The singing of the birds is such, that it seems as if one would never desire to depart hence. There are flocks of parrots that obscure the sun, and other birds of many kinds, large and small, entirely different from ours. Trees, also, of a thousand species, each having its particular fruit, and all of marvellous flavour. I believe there are many herbs and trees which would be of great value in Spain for tinctures, medicines, and spices, but I know nothing of them, which gives me great vexation."
The fish, which abounded in these seas, partook of the novelty which characterized most of the objects in this new world. They rivalled the birds in the tropical brilliancy of their colours, the scales of some of them glanced back the rays of light like precious stones, and as they sported about the ships, they flashed gleams of gold and silver through the crystal
Columbus was disappointed in his hopes of finding any gold or spices in these islands; but the natives continued to point to the south as the region of wealth, and began to speak of an island in that direction, called Cuba, which, the Spaniards understood them to say, abounded in gold, pearls, and spices, and carried on an extensive commerce, and that large merchant-ships came to trade with the inhabitants. Columbus concluded this to be the desired Cipango, and the merchant-ships to be those
of the Grand Khan. and after being delayed for several days, by contrary winds and calms, among the small islands of the Bahama bank and channel, he arrived in sight of it on the 28th of October.
He set sail in search of it,
As he approached this noble island, he was struck with its magnitude, the grandeur of its mountains, its fertile valleys and long sweeping plains, covered by stately forests, and watered by noble rivers. He anchored in a beautiful river to the west of Nuevitas del Principe, and taking formal possession of the island, gave it the name of Juana, in honour of Prince Juan, and to the river the name of San Salvador.
Columbus spent several days coasting this part of the island, and exploring the fine harbours and rivers with which it abounds. From his continual remarks in his journal on the beauty of the scenery, and from the pleasure which he evidently derived from rural sounds and objects, he appears to have been extremely open to those delicious influences exercised over some spirits by the graces and wonders of nature. He was, in fact, in a mood to see every thing through a fond and favouring medium, for he was enjoying the fulfilment of his hopes, the hardearned but glorious reward of his toils and perils ; and it is difficult to conceive the rapturous state of his feelings, while thus exploring the charms of a virgin world, won by his enterprise and valour.
In the sweet smell of the woods, and the odour of the flowers, he fancied he perceived the fragrance of oriental spices, and along the shores he found shells of the oyster which produces pearls. He frequently deceived himself, in fancying that he
heard the song of the nightingale, a bird unknown in these countries. From the grass growing to the very edge of the water, he inferred the peacefulness of the ocean which bathes these islands, never lashing the shores with angry surges. Ever since his arrival among these Antilles, he had experienced nothing but soft and gentle weather, and he concluded that a perpetual serenity reigned over these seas, little suspicious of the occasional bursts of fury to which they are liable, and of the tremendous hurricanes which rend and devastate the face of nature.
While coasting the island, he landed occasionally and visited the villages, the inhabitants of which fied to the woods and mountains. The houses were constructed of branches of palm-trees, in the shape of pavilions, and were scattered under the spreading trees, like tents in a camp. They were better built than those he had hitherto visited, and extremely clean. He found in them rude images, and wooden masks, carved with considerable ingenuity. Finding implements for fishing in all the cabins, he concluded that the coasts were inhabited merely by fishermen, who supplied the cities in the interior.
After coasting to the north-west for some distance, Columbus came in sight of a great headland, to which, from the groves which covered it, he gave the name of the Cape of Palms. Here he learnt that behind this bay there was a river, from whence it was but four days' journey to Cubanacan. By this name the natives designated a province in the centre of Cuba; nacan, in their language, signifying the midst. Columbus fancied, however,
that they were talking of Cublay Khan, the Tartar sovereign, and understood them to say that Cuba was not an island, but terra firma. He concluded that this must be a part of the mainland of Asia, and that he could be at no great distance from Mangi and Cathay, the ultimate destination of his voyage. The prince, said to reign over the neighbouring country, might be some oriental potentate of consequence; he determined, therefore, to send a present to him, and one of his letters of recommendation from the Castilian sovereigns. For this purpose he chose two Spaniards, one of whom was a converted Jew, and knew Hebrew, Chaldaic, and a little Arabic, one or other of which languages, it was thought, must be known to this oriental prince. Two Indians were sent with them as guides: they were furnished with strings of beads, and various trinkets, for their travelling expenses, and enjoined to inform themselves accurately concerning the situation of certain provinces, ports, and rivers of Asia, and to ascertain whether drugs and spices abounded in the country. The ambassadors penetrated twelve leagues into the interior, when they came to a village of fifty houses, and at least a thousand inhabitants. They were received with great kindness, conducted to the principal house, and provisions placed before them, after which the Indians seated themselves on the ground around their visiters, and waited to hear what they had to communicate.
The Israelite found his Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Arabic of no avail, and the Lucayan interpreter had to be the orator. He made a regular speech after the Indian manner, extolling the power, wealth,