Bartolomé de Las Casas, was just 15 years old, when he joined Columbus on his 3rd voyage of discovery to the continent.
His confident sense of truth and justice evident in this detailed account written later in his career, began early as the first priest of the New World and the Americas first human rights activist.
Selected Highlights
Portugal's King John is certain of South American continent >author notes this has escaped writers
Canoes from coast of Guinea which are known to have traded with the Americas
Aug 2, Encounter with Caribes at Galera Point, Trinidad
Gold tipped spear from Guinea
Gold for Brass tradition noted at Macuro
August 8, 6 natives taken prisoner by Columbus which de Las Casas finds unjust.
Next Page
Day of the Americas
Carupano-Paria Peninsual
_May 30-August 31, 1498

He started then (our First Admiral)[319-1] "in the name of the Most Holy Trinity" (as he says and as he was always accustomed to say) from the port of San Lucar de Barrameda, Wednesday, May 30, 1498, with the intention of discovering new land not yet discovered, with his six ships, "greatly fatigued," he says, "with my voyage, since as I was hoping for some quietude, when I left the Indies, I experienced double hardships;" they being the result of the labors, new obstacles and difficulties with which he obtained the funds for his starting upon the expedition and the annoyances in connection therewith received from the royal officials and the hindrance and the evil reports the people around about the Sovereigns gave concerning the affairs in the Indies, wherefore it appeared to him that what he already had done was not sufficient but that he must renew his labors to gain new credit. And because war had then broken out with France,[319-2] he had news of a French fleet which was waiting for the Admiral beyond the Cape of St. Vincent, to capture him. On this account he decided to steal away as they say and make a detour, directing his course straight to the island of Madeira.

He arrived at the island of Puerto Sancto, Thursday, June 7, where he stopped to take wood, water and supplies and to hear mass, and he found all the island disturbed and all the farms, goods and flocks guarded, fearing that the new-comers might be French; and then that night he left for the island of Madeira and arrived there the following Sunday, June 10. He was very well received in the town[320-1] and with much rejoicing, because he was well known there, having been a citizen thereof during some time.[320-2] He remained there six days, providing himself fully with water and wood and the other necessities for his journey. Saturday, June 16, he left the island of Madeira with his six ships and arrived at the island of Gomera[320-3] the following Tuesday. At this island he found a French corsair with a French vessel and two large ships which the corsair had taken from the Castilians, and when the Frenchman saw the six vessels of the Admiral he left his anchors and one vessel and fled with the other vessel. The Admiral sent a ship after him and when the six Spaniards who were being carried away on the captured ship saw this ship coming to their aid, they attacked six Frenchmen who were guarding them and by force they placed them below decks and thus brought them back.  

Bartolomé de Las Casas, O.P. (1484 – July 17, 1566) was a 16th century Spanish priest, and the first resident Bishop of Chiapas. Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, was the first priest ordained in the new World and later known as the "Protector of the Indians," As a settler in the New World, he was galvanized by witnessing the brutal torture and genocide of the Native Americans by the Spanish colonists.

The book was dedicated to King Philip II of Spain. Las Casas explained that he had supported the acts of barbarism when he first arrived in the New World, but that he soon became convinced that the horrendous acts would eventually lead to the collapse of Spain itself in an act of Divine retribution. According to Las Casas, it was the responsibility of the Spanish to convert the Indians, who would then be loyal subjects of Spain, rather than to kill them. To avoid the burden of slavery on them, Las Casas proposed that Africans be brought to America instead, though he later changed his mind about this when he saw the effects of slavery on Africans. Largely due to his efforts, the New Laws were adopted in 1542 to protect the Indians in colonies.

Las Casas also wrote the monumental Historia de las Indias and was the editor of Christopher Columbus's published journal. He was instrumental, on his repeated return trips to Spain, in gaining the temporary repeal of the encomienda regulations that established virtual slave labor gangs in Spanish America. Las Casas returned to Spain and was eventually able to bring about the great debate of 1550 in Valladolid between himself and the advocate for the colonists, Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda. Though the encomienda system triumphed, championed by the colonial Spanish classes who were profiting from it, the writings of Las Casas were translated and republished across Europe. His published accounts are central documents in the "Black Legend" of Spanish colonial atrocities. They influenced the essayist Montaigne's views of the New World.

INTRODUCTION                                                       317
  The Start. Arrival at Madeira                                    319
  Three Ships despatched direct to Española                        320
  Columbus goes to the Canary Islands                              323
  The Lepers' Colony on the Island of Boavista, one of the Cape
  Verde Islands                                                    324
  Columbus at the Island of Santiago                               325
  He sails Southwest from the Cape Verdes. Intense Heat            327
  Signs of Land                                                    327
  The Course is changed to the West                                328
  Discovery of Trinidad                                            331
  August 1, 1498, the Mainland of South America Sighted            332
  The Dangers of the Serpent's Mouth                               334
  Intercourse with Indians of the Mainland                         335
  Their Appearance and Arms                                        336
  Fauna and Flora                                                  338
  Exploring the Gulf of Paria                                      340
  Trading with the Indians                                         343
  Columbus retains Six Indians as Captives                         343
  Nuggets and Ornaments of Gold                                    345
  Indian Cabins                                                    346
  Exploring the Western End of the Gulf                            347
  Columbus's Reflections upon his Discoveries                      348
  The Terrors and Perils of the Boca del Drago                     354
  The Northern Coast of Paria                                      355
  Columbus suffers from Inflammation of the Eyes                   357
  Columbus begins to believe the Land is Mainland                  358
  His Reasons for not Exploring It                                 360
  Observations of the Declination of the Needle                    363
  The Products of the Country                                      364
  Arrival at Santo Domingo, August 31, 1498                        366


Here in the island of Gomera the Admiral determined to send three ships
directly to the island of Española, so that, if he should be detained
here, they might give news of him and cheer and console the Christians
with the supplies: and principally that they might give joy to his
brothers, the Adelantado[321-1] and Don Diego, who were very desirous of
hearing from him. He named Pedro de Arana, a native of Cordova, as
captain of one ship,--a very honorable and prudent man, whom I knew very
well, brother of the mother of Don Ferdinand Columbus,[321-2] the second
son of the Admiral, and cousin of that Arana who remained in the fortress
with the 38 men whom the Admiral on his return found dead. The other
captain of the second ship was called Alonso Sanchez de Carvajal,
governor of the city of Baçea, an honorable gentleman. The third captain
for the remaining ship was Juan Antonio Columbo,[321-3] a Genoese, a
relation of the Admiral, a very capable and prudent man and one of
authority, with whom I had frequent conversation.

He gave them suitable instructions, in which instructions he ordered
that, one week one captain, and another week another, each by turns
should be captain-general of all the ships, as regarded the navigation
and the placing of the night lantern, which is a lighted lantern placed
in the stern of the ship in order that the other ships may know and
follow where the captain guides. He ordered them to go to the west,
quarter south-west,[321-4] for 850 leagues and told them that then they
would arrive at the island of Dominica. From Dominica they should go
west-north-west and they would then reach the island of Sant Juan,[321-5]
and it would be the southern part of it, because that was the direct way
to go to the New Isabella,[321-6] which now is Santo Domingo. Having
passed the island of Sant Juan, they should leave the island of Mona to
the north and from there they should make for the point of this
Española,[322-1] which he called Sant Raphael, which now is the Cabo del
Engaño, from there to Saona, which he says makes a good harbor between it
and this Española. Seven leagues farther there is another island, which
is called Santa Catherina, and from there to the New Isabella, which is
the port of Santo Domingo, the distance is 25 leagues. And he told the
captains that wherever they should arrive and land they should purchase
all that they needed by barter and that for the little they might give
the Indians, although they might be the canibales,[322-2] who are said to
eat human flesh, they would obtain what they wished and the Indians would
give them all that they had; and if they should undertake to procure
things by force, the Indians would conceal themselves and remain hostile.
He says further in the instructions that he was going by the Cape Verde
Islands (which he says were called in ancient times Gorgodes[322-3] or
according to others Hesperides) and that he was going in the name of the
Holy Trinity with the intention of navigating to the south of these
islands so as to arrive below the equinoctial line and to follow the
course to the west until this island of Española should lie to the
northwest, to see if there are islands or lands. "Our Lord," he says,
"guides me and gives me things which may serve Him and the King and
Queen, our Lords, and which may be for the honor of the Christians, for I
believe that no one has ever gone this way and that this sea is entirely
unknown."[323-1] And here the Admiral finished his instructions.

Having then taken water and wood and other provisions, especially cheese,
of which there are many and good ones there, the Admiral made sail with
his six ships on Thursday, June 21, towards the island of Hierro,[323-2]
which is distant from Gomera about fifteen leagues, and of the seven
Canaries is the one farthest to the west. Passing it, the Admiral took
his course with one ship and two caravels for the islands of Cape Verde,
and dismissed the other three ships in the name of the Holy Trinity; and
he says that he entreated the Holy Trinity to care for him and for all of
them; and at the setting of the sun they separated and the three ships
took their course for this island. Here the Admiral makes mention to the
Sovereigns of the agreement they had made with the King of Portugal that
the Portuguese should not go to the westward of the Azores and Cape Verde
Islands, and also mentions how the Sovereigns sent for him that he should
be present at the meetings in regard to the partition,[323-3] and that he
could not go on account of the grave illness which he had incurred in the
discovery of the mainland of the Indies, that is to say of Cuba, which he
always regarded as the mainland even until the present time as he could
not circumnavigate it. He adds further that then occurred the death of
Don Juan, before he could carry out the matter.[323-4]

Then the Admiral continuing on his way arrived at the Cape Verde Islands,
which according to what he says, have a false name, because he never saw
anything green but all things dry and sterile. The first thing he saw was
the island of La Sal, Wednesday, June 27: and it is a small island. From
there he went to another which is called Buenavista and is very sterile,
where he anchored in a bay, and near it is a very small island. To this
island come all the lepers of Portugal to be cured and there are not more
than six or seven houses on it. The Admiral ordered the boats to go to
land to provide themselves with salt and flesh, because there are a great
number of goats on the island. There came to the ships a steward[324-1]
to whom that island belonged, named Roderigo Alonso, notary public of the
exchequer[324-2] of the King of Portugal, who offered to the Admiral what
there was on the island of which he might be in need. The Admiral thanked
him and ordered that he should be given some supplies from Castile, which
he enjoyed very much.

Here he relates how the lepers came there to be cured because of the
great abundance of turtles on that island, which commonly are as large as
shields. By eating the flesh and constantly bathing in the blood of these
turtles, the lepers become cured.[324-3] The turtles in infinite number
come there three months in the year, June, July, and August, from the
mainland, which is Ethiopia,[324-4] to lay eggs in the sand and with the
claws and legs they scratch places in the sand and spawn more than five
hundred eggs, as large as those of a hen except that they have not a hard
shell but a tender membrane which covers the yolk, like the membrane
which covers the yolk of the hen's egg after taking off the hard shell.
They cover the eggs in the sand as a person would do, and there the sun
hatches them, and the little live turtles come out and then run in search
of the sea as if they had come out of it alive. They take the turtles
there in this manner: At night with lights which are torches of dry wood,
they go searching for the track of the turtle which is easily traced, and
find the turtle tired and sleeping. They come up quickly and turn it over
with the belly up and leave it, sure that it cannot turn itself back, and
go in search of another. And the Indians do the same in the sea; if they
come upon one asleep and turn it over it remains safe for them to take it
whenever they wish. The Indians, however, have another greater device for
taking them on the sea, which will be explained God willing when we give
a description of Cuba.[325-1]

The healthy persons on that island of Buenavista who lead a laborious
life were six or seven residents who have no water except brackish water
from wells and whose employment is to kill the big goats and salt the
skins and send them to Portugal in the caravels which come there for
them, of which in one year they kill so many and send so many skins that
they are worth 2000 ducats to the notary public, to whom the island
belonged. Such a great multitude of goats, male and female, have been
grown there, from only eight original head. Those who live there neither
eat bread nor drink wine during four or five months, nor anything else
except goat flesh or fish or turtles. All this they told to the Admiral.

He left there Saturday, June 30, at night for the island of Santiago,
where he arrived on Sunday at the hour of vespers, because it is distant
28 leagues: and this is the principal one of the Cape Verde Islands. He
wished to take from this island a herd of black cattle in order to carry
them to Española as the Sovereigns had ordered, and he was there eight
days and could not get them; and because the island is very unhealthy
since men are burned with heat there and his people commenced to fall
ill, he decided to leave it. The Admiral says again that he wishes to go
to the south, because he intends with the aid of the Most Holy Trinity,
to find islands and lands, that God may be served and their Highnesses
and Christianity may have pleasure, and that he wishes to see what was
the idea of King Don Juan of Portugal, who said that there was mainland
to the south: and because of this, he says that he had a contention with
the Sovereigns of Castile, and finally the Admiral says that it was
concluded that the King of Portugal should have 370 leagues to the west
from the islands of the Azores[326-1] and Cape Verde, from north to
south, from pole to pole. And the Admiral says further that the said King
Don Juan was certain that within those limits famous lands and things
must be found.[326-2] Certain principal inhabitants of the island of
Santiago came to see them and they said that to the south-west of the
island of Huego, which is one of the Cape Verde Islands distant 12
leagues from this, may be seen an island, and that the King Don Juan was
greatly inclined to send to make discoveries to the south-west, and that
canoes had been found which start from the coast of Guinea and navigate
to the west with merchandise. Here the Admiral says again as if he was
speaking with the Sovereigns,--"He that is Three and One guides me by His
pity and mercy that I may serve Him and give great pleasure to your
Highnesses and to all Christianity, as was done in the discovery of the
Indies which resounded throughout all the world."

Wednesday, July 4, he ordered sail made from that island in which he says
that since he arrived there he never saw the sun or the stars, but that
the heavens were covered with such a thick mist that it seemed they could
cut it with a knife and the heat was so very intense that they were
tormented, and he ordered the course laid to the way of the south-west,
which is the route leading from these islands to the south, in the name,
he says, of the Holy and Indivisible Trinity, because then he would be on
a parallel with the land of the sierra of Loa[327-1] and cape of Sancta
Ana in Guinea, which is below the equinoctial line, where he says that
below that line of the world are found more gold and things of value; and
that after, he would navigate, the Lord pleasing, to the west, and from
there would go to this Española, in which route he would prove the theory
of the King John aforesaid; and that he thought to investigate the report
of the Indians of this Española who said that there had come to Española
from the south and south-east, a black people who have the tops of their
spears made of a metal which they call _guanin_, of which he had sent
samples to the Sovereigns to have them assayed, when it was found that of
32 parts, 18 were of gold, 6 of silver and 8 of copper.

Following this course to the south-west he commenced to find grasses like
those encountered in the direct way to these Indies; and the Admiral says
here that after having gone 480 miles which make 120 leagues, that at
nightfall he took the latitude and found that the North Star was in five
degrees. Yet it seems to me that he must have gone more than 200 leagues,
and that the text is in error because it is necessary to traverse more
than 200 leagues on that course from the Cape Verde Islands and Santiago
whence he started to put a ship within five degrees of the equator, as
any sailor will observe who will judge it by the map and by the latitude.
And he says that there, Friday, July 13, the wind deserted him and he
entered into heat so great and so ardent that he feared the ships would
take fire and the people perish. The ceasing of the wind and coming of
the excessive and consuming heat was so unexpected and sudden that there
was no person who dared to descend below to care for the butts of wine
and water, which swelled, breaking the hoops of the casks; the wheat
burned like fire; the pork and salted meat roasted and putrefied. This
ardent heat lasted eight days. The first day was clear with a sun which
burned them. God sent them less suffering because the seven following
days it rained and was clouded; however with all this, they could not
find any hope of saving themselves from perishing and from being burned,
and if the other seven days had been like the first, clear and with the
sun, the Admiral says here that it would have been impossible for a man
of them to have escaped alive. And thus they were divinely succored by
the coming of some showers and by the days being cloudy. He determined
from this, if God should give him wind in order to escape from this
suffering, to run to the west some days, and then if he found himself in
any moderation of temperature to return to the south, which was the way
he desired to follow. "May our Lord," says he, "guide me and give me
grace that I may serve Him, and bring pleasing news to your Highnesses."
He says he remembered, being in this burning latitude, that when he came
to the Indies in the past voyages, always when he reached 100 leagues
toward the west from the Azores Islands he found a change in the
temperature from north to south, and for this he wished to go to the west
to reach the said place.

The Admiral must have been on that same parallel or rather meridian, on
which Hanno the Carthaginian was with his fleet, who departing from Cadiz
and going out into the Ocean to the left[328-1] of Lybia or Ethiopia
after thirty days' voyaging toward the south, among other distresses that
he suffered the heat and fire were so intense that it seemed as if they
were roasting; they heard such thundering and lightning that their ears
pained them and their eyes were blinded and it appeared no otherwise than
as if flames of fire fell from heaven. Amianus narrates this--a Greek
historian, a follower of the truth, and very famous--in the _History of
India_ near the end, and Ludovico Celio quotes it in Book I., ch. XXII.,
of the _Lectiones Antiguas_.[329-1] Returning to these days of toil:--

Saturday, which they counted July 14, the Guards[329-2] being on the left
hand, he says the _North_ was in seven degrees: he saw black and white
jays,[329-3] which are birds that do not go far from land, and from this
he considered it a sign of land. He was sick at this point of the
journey, from gout and from not sleeping; but because of this he did not
cease to watch and work with great care and diligence.

Sunday and Monday, they saw the same birds and more swallows, and some
fish appeared which they called _botos_,[329-4] which are little smaller
than great calves, and which have the head very blunt. The Admiral says
here incidentally that the Azores Islands which in ancient times were
called Casetérides,[329-5] were situated at the end of the fifth

Thursday, July 19, there was such intense and ardent heat that they
thought the men and ships would burn, but as our Lord at sight of the
afflictions which He gives is accustomed by interfering to the contrary
to alleviate them, He succored him by His mercy at the end of seven or
eight days, giving him very good weather to get away from that fire; with
which good weather he navigated towards the west 17 days, always
intending to return to the south, and place himself, as above said, in
such a region, that this Española should be to the north or
_septentrion_, where he thought he must find land before or beyond the
said place: and thus he intended to repair the ships which were already
opening from the past heat, and the supplies, of which he had a large
quantity, because of the necessity of taking them to this island and the
great difficulty in getting them from Castile, and which were becoming
worthless and damaged.

Sunday, July 22, in the afternoon, as they were going with good weather,
they saw innumerable birds pass from the west-south-west to the
north-east: he says that they were a great sign of land. They saw the
same the Monday following and the days after, on one of which days a
pelican came to the ship of the Admiral, and many others appeared another
day, and there were other birds which are called "frigate

On the seventeenth day of the good weather which they were experiencing,
the Admiral was hoping to see land, because of the said signs of the
birds, and as he did not see it Monday, or the next day, Tuesday, July
31, as they lacked water, he decided to change his route, and this was to
the west, and to go to the right, and make for the island of Dominica, or
some of the islands of the Canibales, which to-day are called the
Caribes, and thus he ordered the course to the north, quarter north-east,
and went that way until midday. "But as His Divine Majesty," he says,
"has always used mercy with me, a sailor from Guelva,[330-2] my servant,
who was called Alonso Pérez, by chance and conjecture ascended to the
round top and saw land to the west, and he was 15 leagues from it, and
that part which appeared were three rocks or mountains." These are his
words. He named this land "The Island of the Trinity,"[331-1] because he
had determined that the first land he discovered should be named thus.
"And it pleased our Lord," he says, "by His Exalted Majesty, that the
first lands seen were three rocks all united at the base, I say three
mountains, all at one time and in one glance." "His High Power by His
pity guides me," he says, "in such a manner, that He may have much
service, and your Highnesses much pleasure: as it is certain that the
discovery of this land in this place was as great a miracle as the
discovery of the first voyage." These are his words. He gave infinite
thanks to God as was his custom, and all praised the divine goodness, and
with great rejoicings and merriment the _Salve Regina_[331-2] was sung
with other devout songs which contain praises of God and our Lady,
according to the custom of sailors, at least our sailors of Spain, who in
tribulations and rejoicings are accustomed to say them.

Here he makes a digression and recapitulation of the services he has
rendered the Sovereigns, and of the will he always had keen to serve
them, "not as false tongues," says he, "and as false witnesses from envy
said."[331-3] And surely, I believe that such as these God took for
instruments to chasten him because he loved him since many without cause
and without object maligned him and disturbed these efforts, and brought
it about that the Sovereigns grew lukewarm and wearied of expense and of
keeping up their attachment and expectation that these Indies were likely
to be of profit, at least that it should be more than the expenses with
increase that came to them. He repeats a mention of the heat he suffered,
and how they were nevertheless now going by the same parallel, except
they had drawn near to the land when he ordered the course directed to
the west, because the land emits coolness from its fountains and rivers,
and by its waters causes moderation and softness; and because of this he
says the Portuguese who go to Guinea which is below the equinoctial line
are able to navigate because they go along the coast. He says further,
that now he was in the same parallel from which the King of Portugal
brought gold, from which he believed that whoever would search those seas
would find things of value. He confesses here that there is no man in the
world for whom God has shown so much grace, and entreats Him that He will
furnish something from which their Highnesses and Christianity may
receive great pleasure; and he says that, although he should not find any
other thing of benefit except these beautiful lands, which are so green
and full of groves and palms, that they are superior to the gardens of
Valencia in May, they would deserve to be highly valued. And in this he
speaks the truth and later on he will place a still higher value on it
with much reason. He says that it is a miraculous thing that the
Sovereigns of Castile should have lands so near the equinoctial as 6
degrees, Ysabela being distant from the said line 24 degrees.

Having seen the land then to the great consolation of all, he left the
course which he desired to follow in search of some of the islands of the
Canibales in order to provide himself with water, of which he was greatly
in need, and made a short excursion towards the land which he had seen,
towards a cape which appeared to be to the west, which he called "Cabo de
la Galera,"[332-1] from a great rock which it had, which from a distance
appeared like a galley sailing. They arrived there at the hour of
compline.[332-2] They saw a good harbor but it was not deep, and the
Admiral regretted that they could not enter it. He pursued his course to
the point he had seen, which was seven leagues toward the south. He did
not find a harbor. On all the coast he found that the groves reached to
the sea, the most beautiful coast that eyes ever saw. He says that this
island must be large; a canoe appeared at a distance filled with people
who must have been fishing, and made towards the land to some houses
which appeared there. The land was very cultivated and high and

Wednesday, August 1, he ran down the coast toward the west, five leagues,
and arrived at a point, where he anchored with all three ships, and took
water from fountains and streams. They found signs of people, instruments
for fishing, signs of goats, but they were only of deer of which there
are many in those lands. He says that they found aloes and great groves
of palms, and very beautiful lands: "for which infinite thanks may be
given to the Holy Trinity." These are his words. He saw much tilled land
along the coast and many settlements. He saw from there towards the
south, another island, which is distant more than 20 leagues. (And he
might well say five hundred since this is the mainland which, as he saw a
part of it, seemed to him to be an island); to this he gave the name of
"Ysla Sancta." He says here that he would not take any Indians in order
not to disturb the land. From the Cape of Galera to the point where he
took the water, which I believed he named "Punta de la Playa," he says
that having been a great way, and running east-west (he should say that
he went from east to west) there was no port in all that way, but the
land was well populated and tilled, and with many trees and thick groves,
the most beautiful thing in the world, the trees reaching to the sea.
Here it may be remarked that when the trees of the country grow down to
the water's edge it indicates that such a coast is not exposed to high
seas, because when the coast is so exposed trees do not grow down to the
water, but there is an open sandy shore. The current, _surgente_, which
is that which comes down, and the _montante_, which is that which ascends
from below, he says appear to be great. The island which lies to the
south he says is very large, because he was already going along with the
mainland in sight although he did not think so, but that it was an

He says that he came to search for a harbor along the island of Trinidad,
Thursday, August 2, and arrived at the cape of the island of Trinidad,
which is a point, to which he gave the name "Punta del Arenal,"[334-1]
which is to the west: so that he had in a sense already entered in the
gulf which he called "de la Ballena,"[334-2] where he underwent great
danger of losing his ships, and he as yet did not know that he was
becoming encircled by land as will be seen. This gulf is a wonderful
thing and dangerous on account of the very great river that flows into it
which is called the Yuyapari,[334-3] the last syllable long. It comes
from more than 300 and I believe more than 400 leagues, and it has been
traversed for 300 leagues up stream partly with a ship, partly with
brigantines and partly with large canoes. And since the force of the
water is very great at all times and particularly so in this season of
July and August in which the Admiral was there, which is the season of
high water as in Castile in October and November, and since it wants
naturally to get to the sea, and the sea with its great mass under the
same natural impulse wants to break upon the land, and since this gulf is
enclosed by the mainland on one side and on the other by the island of
Trinidad, and since it is very narrow for such a violent force of
contrary waters, it must needs be that when they meet a terrific struggle
takes place and a conflict most perilous for those that find themselves
in that place.

He says here that the island of Trinidad is large, because from the Cape
of Galera to the Point of Arenal, where he was at the present time, he
says it is 35 leagues. I say that it is more than 45, as he that desires
may see by the charts, although now those names are not written on the
charts as they have been forgotten, and to understand the matter they
must consider the course the Admiral pursued until he arrived there, and
at what point he first saw land, and from there where he went till he
stopped, and in that way, one will find out what he called the Cape of
Galera and what the Point of Arenal. It is not a matter of surprise that
the Admiral did not make an accurate estimate of the leagues of the
island because he went along it piece by piece.

He ordered that his people should land on this Point of Arenal, the end
of the island toward the west, to enjoy themselves and obtain recreation,
because they had become wearied and fatigued; who found the land very
much trampled by deer, although they believed they were goats. This
Thursday, August 2, a large canoe came from towards the east, in which
came twenty-five men, and having arrived at the distance of a lombard
shot, they ceased to row, and cried out many words. The Admiral believed,
and I also believe, that they were asking what people they were, as the
others of the Indies were accustomed to do, to which they did not respond
in words, but by showing them certain small boxes of brass and other
shining things, in order that they should come to the ship, coaxing them
with motions of the body and signs. They approached somewhat, and
afterwards became terrified by the ship; and as they would not approach,
the Admiral ordered a tambourine player to come up to the poop deck of
the ship and that the young boys of the ship should dance, thinking to
please them. But they did not understand it thus, but rather, as they saw
dancing and playing, taking it for a signal of war, they distrusted them.
They left all their oars and laid hold of their bows and arrows; and each
one embracing his wooden shield, they commenced to shoot a great cloud of
arrows. Having seen this, the Admiral ordered the playing and dancing to
cease, and that some cross-bows should be drawn on deck and two of them
shot off at them, nothing more than to frighten them. The Indians then,
having shot the arrows, went to one of the two caravels, and suddenly,
without fear, placed themselves below the poop, and the pilot of the
caravel, also without any fear, glided down from the poop and entered
with them in the canoe with some things which he gave them; and when he
was with them he gave a smock frock and a bonnet to one of them who
appeared to be the principal man. They took them and as if in gratitude
for what had been given them, by signs said to him that he should go to
land with them, and there they would give him what they had. He accepted
and they went away to land. The pilot entered the boat and went to beg
permission of the Admiral on the ship, and when they saw that he did not
go directly with him, they did not expect him longer, and so they went
away and neither the Admiral nor any other ever saw them more. From the
sudden change in their bearing because of the playing on the tambourine
and the dancing, it appears that this must be considered among them a
sign of hostility.

A servant of the Admiral, called Bernaldo de Ibarro, who was on this
voyage with him, told me and gave it to me in writing and I have this
writing in my possession to-day, that a cacique came to the ship of the
Admiral and was wearing upon his head a diadem of gold; and he went to
the Admiral who was wearing a scarlet cap and greeted him and kissed his
own diadem, and with the other hand he removed the cap of the Admiral and
placed upon-him the diadem, and he himself put upon his own head the
scarlet cap, appearing very content and pleased.

The Admiral says here that these were all youths and very well shaped and
adorned, although I do not believe they wore much silk or brocade, with
which, also, I believe the Spaniards and the Admiral might be more
pleased; but they came armed with bows and arrows and wooden shields.
They were not as short as others he had seen in the Indies and they were
whiter, and of very good movements and handsome bodies, the hair long and
smooth and cut in the manner of Castile. They had the head tied with a
large handkerchief of cotton, symmetrically woven in colors, which the
Admiral believed to be the _almaiçar_;[336-1] he says that others had
this cloth around them, and they covered themselves with it in place of
trousers. He says that they are not black although they are near the
equinoctial,[337-1] but of an Indian color like all the others he has
found. They are of very fine stature, go naked, are warlike, wear the
hair very long like the women in Castile, carry bows and arrows with
plumes, and at the end of the arrows a sharp bone with a point like a
fish-hook, and they carry wooden shields, which he had not seen before;
and according to the signs and gestures which they made, he says he could
understand from them that they believed the Admiral came from the south,
from which he judged that there must be great lands toward the south, and
he said well since the mainland is so large that it occupies a large part
of the south.

The temperature of this land, he says, is very high, and according to him
this causes the color of the people, and the hair which is all flowing,
and the very thick groves which abound everywhere. He says it must be
believed that when once the boundary is passed, 100 leagues to the west
of the Azores, that many times he has said that there is a change in the
sky and the sea and the temperature, "and this," he says, "is manifest,"
because here where he was, so near to the equinoctial line, each morning,
he says, it was cool and the sun was in Leo. What he says is very true,
since I who write this have been there and required a robe nights and
mornings especially at Navidad.[337-2]

The waters were running toward the west with a current stronger than the
river of Seville; the water of the sea rose and fell 65 paces and more,
as in Barrameda so that they are able to beach carracks;[337-3] he says
that the current flows very strongly going between these two islands,
Trinidad and that one which he called Sancta, and the land which
afterwards and farther on he called Isla de Gracia. And he calls the
mainland an island, since he was already between the two which are two
leagues apart which [_i.e._, the channel] is like a river as it appears
on the map. They found fruits[338-1] like those of this Española, and the
trees and the soil, and the temperature of the sky. In this Española they
found few fruits native to the soil. The temperature of that country is
much higher than it is in this Española, except in the mines of Cibao and
in some other districts, as has been said above.

They found _hostias_ or oysters, very large, infinite fish, parrots as
large as hens, he says. In this land and in all the mainland the parrots
are larger than any of those in these islands and are green, the color
being very light, but those of the islands are of a green somewhat
darker. Those of the mainland have the yellow with spots and the upper
part of the wings with reddish spots, and some are of yellow plumage;
those of the islands have no yellow, the neck being red with spots. The
parrots of Española have a little white over the back; those of Cuba have
that part red and they are very pretty. Those of the island of San Juan I
believe are similar to those of this island [Española] and I have not
observed this feature in those of Jamaica. Finally it appears that those
of each island are somewhat different. In this mainland where the Admiral
is now, there is a species of parrots which I believe are found nowhere
else, very large, not much smaller than hens, reddish with blue and
black feathers in the wings. These never speak nor are attractive except
in appearance. They are called by the Indians _guacamayas_. It is
marvellous how all the other kinds can speak except the smallest, which
are called _xaxaues_.

Being at this Point of Arenal, which is the end of the island of
Trinidad, they saw toward the north, quarter north-east,[339-1] a
distance of 15 leagues, a cape or point of the same mainland, and this is
that which is called Paria. The Admiral believing that it was another
distinct island named it "Isla de Gracia": which island he says goes to
the west [Oeste] which is the west [_poniente_], and that it is a very
high land. And he says truly, for through all that land run great chains
of very high mountains.

Saturday, August 4, he determined to go to the said island of Gracia and
raised the anchors and made sail from the said Point of Arenal, where he
was anchored; and because that strait by which he entered into the Gulf
of Ballena was not more than two leagues wide between Trinidad on one
side and the mainland on the other, the fresh water came out very
swiftly. There came from the direction of the Arenal, on the island of
Trinidad, such a great current from the south, like a mighty flood (and
it was because of the great force of the river Yuyaparí which is toward
the south and which he had not yet seen), with such great thundering and
noise, that all were frightened and did not think to escape from it, and
when the water of the sea withstood it, coming in opposition, the sea was
raised making a great and very high swell[339-2] of water which raised
the ship and placed it on top of the swell, a thing which was never heard
of nor seen, and raised the anchors of the other ship which must have
been already cast and forced it toward the sea, and the Admiral made sail
to get away from the said slope. "It pleased God not to injure us," says
the Admiral here, and when he wrote this thing to the Sovereigns he said,
"even to-day I feel the fear in my body which I felt lest it should
upset the ship when it came under her."[340-1] For this great danger, he
named the mouth "Boca de la Sierpe."[340-2]

Having reached that land which he saw in that direction and believed was
an island, he saw near that cape two small islands in the middle of
another channel which is made by that cape which he called Cabo de Lapa
and another cape of the Trinidad which he called Cabo Boto, because of
being thick and blunt,--the one island he named El Caracol, the other El
Delfin.[340-3] It is only five leagues in this strait between the Point
of Paria and Cape Boto of Trinidad, and the said islands are in the
middle of the strait. The impetus of the great river Yuyaparí and the
tempestuous waves of the sea make the entrance and exit by this strait
greatly dangerous, and because the Admiral experienced this difficulty
and also danger, he called that difficult entrance Boca del Drago[340-4]
and thus it is called to this day. He went along the coast of the
mainland of Paria,[340-5] which he believed to be an island, and named it
Isla de Gracia, towards the west in search of a harbor. From the point of
the Arenal, which is one cape of Trinidad as has been said, and is
towards the south, as far as the other Cape Boto, which is of the same
island and is towards the sea, the Admiral says it is 26 large leagues,
and this part appears to be the width of the island, and these two said
capes are north and south. There were great currents, the one against the
other; there came many showers as it was the rainy season, as aforesaid.
The Isla de Gracia is, as has been said, mainland. The Admiral says that
it is a very high land and all full of trees which reach to the sea; this
is because the gulf being surrounded by land, there is no surf and no
waves which break on the land as where the shores are uncovered. He says
that, being at the point or end of it, he saw an island of very high
land to the north-east, which might be 26 leagues from there. He named it
"Belaforma," because it must have looked very well from a distance, yet
all this is the mainland, which, as the ships changed their position from
one side to the other within the gulf enclosed by land, some inlets
appeared as if they separated lands which might be detached, and these
the Admiral called islands; for such was his opinion.[341-1]

He navigated Sunday, August 5, five leagues from the point of the Cape of
Lapa, which is the eastern end of the island of Gracia. He saw very good
harbors adjacent to each other, and almost all this sea he says is a
harbor, because it is surrounded by islands and there are no waves. He
called the parts of the mainland which disclosed themselves to him
"islands," but there are only the island of Trinidad and the mainland,
which inclose the gulf which he now calls the sea. He sent the boats to
land and found fish and fire, and traces of people, and a great house
visible to the view. From there he went eight leagues where he found good
harbors. This part of this island of Gracia he says is very high land,
and there are many valleys, and "all must be populated," says he, because
he saw it all cultivated. There are many rivers because each valley has
its own from league to league; they found many fruits, and grapes like
[our] grapes and of good taste, and myrobolans[341-2] very good, and
others like apples, and others, he says, like oranges, and the inside is
like figs. They found numberless monkeys.[341-3] The waters, he says, are
the best that they saw. "This island," he says, "is all full of harbors,
this sea is fresh, although not wholly so, but brackish like that of
Carthagena"; farther down he says that it is fresh like the river of
Seville, and this was caused when it encountered some current of water
from the sea, which made that of the river salty.

He sailed to a small port Monday, August 6, five leagues from whence he
went out and saw people, and then a canoe with four men came to the
caravel which was nearest the land and the pilot called the Indians as if
he wished to go to land with them, and in drawing near and entering he
submerged the canoe, and they commenced swimming; he caught them and
brought them to the Admiral. He says that they are of the color of all
the others of the Indies. They wear the hair (some of them) very long,
others as with us; none of them have the hair cut as in Española and in
the other lands. They are of very fine stature and all well grown; they
have the genital member tied and covered, and the women all go naked as
their mothers gave them birth. This is what the Admiral says, but I have
been, as I said above, within 30 leagues of this land yet I never saw
women that did not have their private parts, at least, covered.[342-1]
The Admiral must have meant that they went as their mothers bore them as
to the rest of the body.

"To these Indians," says the Admiral, "as soon as they were here, I gave
hawks' bells and beads and sugar, and sent them to land, where there was
a great battle among them, and after they knew the good treatment, all
wished to come to the ships. Those who had canoes came and they were
many, and to all we gave a good welcome and held friendly conversation
with them, giving them the things which pleased them." The Admiral asked
them questions and they replied, but they did not understand each other.
They brought them bread and water and some beverage like new wine; they
are very much adorned with bows and arrows and wooden shields, and they
almost all carry arrows poisoned.

Tuesday, August 7, there came an infinite number of Indians by land and
by sea and all brought with them bread and maize and things to eat and
pitchers of beverages, some white, like milk, tasting like wine, some
green, and some of different colors; he believes that all are made from
fruits. Most or all of it is made from maize but as the maize itself is
white or violet and reddish, it causes the wine to be of different
colors. I do not know of what the green wine is made. They all brought
their bows and poisoned arrows, very pointed;[343-1] they gave nothing
for beads, but would give as much as they had for hawks' bells, and asked
nothing else. They gave a great deal for brass. It is certain that they
hold this in high estimation and they gave in this Española for a little
brass as much gold as any one would ask, and I believe that in the
beginning it was always thus in all these Indies. They called it _turey_
as if it came from Heaven because they called Heaven _hureyo_.[343-2]
They find in it I do not know what odor, but one which is agreeable to
them. Here the Admiral says whatever they gave them from Castile they
smelled it as soon as it was given them. They brought parrots of two or
three kinds, especially the very large ones like those in the island of
Guadeloupe, he says, with the large tail. They brought handkerchiefs of
cotton very symmetrically woven and worked in colors like those brought
from Guinea, from the rivers of the Sierra Leona and of no difference,
and he says that they cannot communicate with the latter, because from
where he now is to Guinea the distance is more than 800 leagues; below he
says that these handkerchiefs resemble _almayzars_.[343-3] He desired, he
says, to take a half-dozen Indians, in order to carry them with him, and
says that he could not take them because they all went away from the
ships before nightfall.

But Wednesday, August 8, a canoe came with 12 men to the caravel and they
took them all, and brought them to the ship of the Admiral, and from them
he chose six and sent the others to land. From this it appears that the
Admiral did it without scruple as he did many other times in the first
navigation, it not appearing to him that it was an injustice and an
offence against God and his neighbor to take free men against their will,
separating fathers from their sons and wives from their husbands and [not
reflecting] that according to natural law they were married, and that
other men could not take these women, or those men other women, without
sin and perhaps a mortal sin of which the Admiral was the efficient
cause--and there was the further circumstance that these people came to
the ships under tacit security and promised confidence which should have
been observed toward them; and beyond this, the scandal and the hatred of
the Christians not only there, but in all the earth and among the peoples
that should hear of this.

He made sail then towards a point which he calls "de l'Aguja,"[344-1] he
does not say when he gave it this name, and from there he says that he
discovered the most beautiful lands that have been seen and the most
populated, and arriving at one place which for its beauty he called
Jardines,[344-2] where there were an infinite number of houses and
people, and those whom he had taken told him there were people who were
clothed, for which reason he decided to anchor, and infinite canoes came
to the ships. These are his words. Each one, he says, wore his cloth so
woven in colors, that it appeared an _almayzar_, with one tied on the
head and the other covering the rest, as has been already explained. Of
these people who now came to the ships, some he says wore gold
leaf[344-3] on the breast, and one of the Indians he had taken told him
there was much gold there, and that they made large mirrors of it, and
they showed how they gathered it. He says mirrors, wherefore the Admiral
must have given some mirrors and the Indian must have said by signs that
of the gold they made those things, for they did not understand the
language. He says that, as he was going hastily along there, because he
was losing the supplies which it had cost him so much labor to obtain,
and this island Española is more than 300 leagues from there, he did not
tarry, which he would have wished very much in order to discover much
more land, and says that it is all full of very beautiful islands, much
populated, and very high lands and valleys and plains, and all are very
large. The people are much more politic than those of Española and
warlike, and there are handsome houses. If the Admiral had seen the
kingdom of Xaraguá as did his brother the Adelantado and the court of the
King Behechio[345-1] he would not have made so absolute a statement.

Arriving at the point of Aguja, he says that he saw another island to the
south 15 leagues which ran south-east and north-west, very large, and
very high land, and he called it Sabeta, and in the afternoon he saw
another to the west, very high land. All these islands I understand to be
pieces of the mainland which by reason of the inlets and valleys that
separate them seem to be distinct islands notwithstanding that he went
clear inside the gulf which he called Ballena enclosed as is said by
land; and this seems clear since when one is, as he was, within the said
gulf no land bears off to the south, except the mainland; next, the
islands which he mentioned were not islands but pieces of the mainland
which he judged to be islands.

He anchored at the place he had named the Jardines, and then there came
an infinite number of canoes, large and small, full of people, according
to what he says. Afterwards in the afternoon there came more from all the
territory, many of whom wore at the neck pieces of gold of the size of
horseshoes. It appeared that they had a great deal of it: but they gave
it all for hawks' bells and he did not take it. And this is strange that
a man as provident as the Admiral and desiring to make discoveries should
not have seized this opportunity for trading, as he did on his first
voyage. Yet he had some specimens from them and it was of very poor
quality so that it appeared plated. They said, as well as he could
understand by signs, that there were some islands there where there was
much of that gold, but that the people were canibales, and the Admiral
says here that this word "Canibales" every one there held as a cause for
enmity, or perhaps they said so because they did not wish the Christians
to go yonder, but that they should remain there all their life. The
Christians saw one Indian with a grain of gold as large as an apple.

Another time there came an infinite number of canoes loaded with people,
and all wore gold and necklaces, and beads of infinite kinds, and had
handkerchiefs tied on their heads as they had hair well cut, and they
appeared very well. It rained a great deal, and for this reason the
people ceased to go and come. Some women came who wore on the arms
strings of beads, and mingled with them were pearls or _aljofars_,[346-1]
very fine, not like the colored ones which were found on the islands of
Babueca; they traded for some of them, and he says that he would send
them to their Highnesses.

I never knew of these pearls that were found in the islands of Babueca,
which are near Puerto de Plata, in this Española; and these besides are
low under the water and not islands, and they are very dangerous to ships
that pass that way if they are not aware of them; and so they have the
name Abre el Ojo.[346-2]

The Admiral asked the Indians where they found them or fished them, and
they showed him some mother-of-pearl where they are formed; and they
replied to him by very clear signs, that they grow and are gathered
towards the west, behind that island, which was the Cape of Lapa, the
Point of Paria and mainland, which he believed to be an island, but it
was the mainland. He sent the boats to land to know if there was any new
thing which he had not seen, and they found the people so tractable, says
the Admiral, that, "although the sailors did not go intending to land,
there came two principal persons with all the village, who induced them
to descend and who took them to a large house, built near two streams
and not round, like a camp-tent, in the manner of the houses of the
islands, where they received them very well and made them a feast and
gave them a collation, bread and fruit of many kinds; and the drink was a
white beverage which had a great value, which every one brought there, at
this time, and some of it is tinted and better than the other, as the
wine with us. The men were all together at one end of the house and the
women at the other. Having taken the collation at the house of the older
man, the younger conducted them to the other house, where they went
through the same function. It appeared that one must be the cacique and
lord, and the other must be his son. Afterwards the sailors returned to
the boats and with them went back to the ships, very pleased with this
people." These are all the words of the Admiral. He says further: "They
are of very handsome stature, and all uniformly large," and whiter than
any other he had seen in these Indies, and that yesterday he saw many as
white as we are, and with better hair and well cut, and of very good
speech. "No lands in the world can be more green and beautiful or more
populated; moreover the temperature since I have been in this island,"
says he, "is, I say, cool enough each morning for a lined gown, although
it is so near the equinoctial line; the sea is however fresh. They called
the island Paria." All are the words of the Admiral. He called the
mainland an island, however, because so he believed it to be.

Friday, August 10, he ordered sail to be made and went to the west of
that which he thought to be an island, and travelled five leagues and
anchored. For fear of not finding bottom, he went to search for an
opening [mouth] by which to get out of that gulf, within which he was
going, encircled by mainland and islands, although he did not believe it
to be mainland, and he says it is certain that that was an island,
because the Indians said thus, and thus it appears he did not understand
them. From there he saw another island facing the south, which he called
Ysabeta,[347-1] which extends from the south-east to north-west,
afterwards another which he called La Tramontana,[348-1] a high land and
very beautiful, and it seemed that it ran from north to south. It
appeared very large. This was the mainland. The Indians whom he had taken
said--according to what he understood--that the people there were
_Canibales_ and that yonder was where the gold was found and that the
pearls which they had given the Admiral they had sought and found on the
northern part of Paria toward the west. The water of that sea he says was
as fresh as that of the river of Seville and in the same manner muddy. He
would have wished to go to those islands except for turning backward
because of the haste he felt in order not to lose the supplies that he
was taking for the Christians of Española, which with so much labor,
difficulty and fatigue he had gathered for them; and as being a thing for
the sake of which he had suffered much, he repeats this about the
provisions or supplies many times. He says he believes that in those
islands he had seen, there must be things of value because they are all
large and high lands with valleys and plains and with many waters and
very well cultivated and populated and the people of very good speech, as
their gestures showed. These are the words of the Admiral.

He says also that if the pearls are born as Pliny[348-2] says from the
dew which falls in the oysters while they are open, there is good reason
for having them there because much dew falls in that place and there are
an infinite number of oysters and very large ones and because there are
no tempests there, but the sea is always calm, a sign of which is that
the trees enter into the sea, which shows there is never a storm there,
and every branch of the trees which were in the water (and there are also
roots of certain trees in the sea, which according to the language of
this Española are called _mangles_[348-3]) was full of an infinite number
of oysters so that breaking a branch, it comes out full of oysters
attached to it. They are white within, and their flesh also, and very
savory, not salt but fresh and they require some salt, and he says that
they do not know or spring from mother-of-pearl. Wherever the pearls are
generated, he says, they are extremely fine and they pierce them as in
Venice. As for this that the Admiral says that the branches were full of
oysters there, we say that those oysters that he saw and that are on the
branches above the water and a little under the water are not those that
produce pearls, but another species; because those that bear pearls are
more careful from their natural instinct to hide themselves as much
further under water as they can than those he saw on the

Returning to where I dropped the thread of the history, at this place the
Admiral mentions many points of land and islands and the names he had
given them, but it does not appear when. In this and elsewhere the
Admiral shows himself to be a native of another country and of another
tongue, because he does not apprehend all the signification of the
Castilian words nor the manner of using them. He gave names to the Punta
Seca, the Ysla Ysabeta, the Ysla Tramontana, the Punta Llana, Punta Sara,
assuming them to be known, although he has said nothing of them or of any
of them. He says that all that sea is fresh, and he does not know from
whence it proceeds, because it did not appear to have the flow from great
rivers, and that, if it had them, he says it would not cease to be a
marvel. But he was mistaken in thinking there were no rivers, since the
river Yuyaparí furnished so great a flow of fresh water, as well as
others which come from near there.

Desiring to get out of this Gulf of Ballena, where he was encircled by
mainland and La Trinidad, as already said, in going to the west by that
coast of the mainland, which he called "de Gracia" towards the point
Seca, although he does not say where it was, he found two fathoms of
water, no more. He sent the small caravel to see if there was an outlet
to the north, because, in front of the mainland and of the other which
he called Ysabeta, to the west, there appeared a very high and beautiful
island. The caravel returned, and said that they found a great gulf, and
in it four great openings which appeared small gulfs, and at the end of
each one a river. This gulf he named Golpho de las Perlas, although I
believe there are no pearls there. It appears that this was the inside
corner of all this great gulf,[350-1] in which the Admiral was going
enclosed by the mainland and the island of Trinidad; those four bays or
openings, the Admiral believed were four islands, and that there did not
appear to be a sign of a river, which would make all that gulf, of 40
leagues, of sea, all fresh; but the sailors affirmed that those openings
were mouths of rivers. And they say true, at least in regard to two of
these openings, because by one comes the great river Yuyaparí and by the
other comes another great river which to-day is called the river of

The Admiral would have liked very much to find out the truth of this
secret, which was the cause of this great gulf being 40 leagues in length
by 26 in width, containing fresh water, which was a thing, he says, for
wonder, (and he was certainly right), and also to penetrate the secrets
of those lands, where he did not believe it to be possible that there
were not things of value, or that they were not in the Indies, especially
from having found there traces of gold and pearls and the news of them,
and discovered such lands, so many and such people in them; from which
the things there and their riches might easily be known; but because the
supplies he was carrying for the people who were in this Española, and
which he carried that they who were in the mines gathering gold might
have food, were being lost, which food and supplies he had gathered with
great difficulty and fatigue, he did not allow himself to be detained,
and he says that, if he had the hope of having more as quickly, he would
postpone delivering them, in order to discover more lands and see the
secrets of them; and finally he resolves to follow that which is most
sure, and come to this island, and send from it moneys to Castile to
bring supplies and people under hire, and at the earliest opportunity to
send also his brother, the Adelantado, to prosecute his discovery and
find great things, as he hoped they would be found, to serve our Lord and
the Sovereigns.

Yet, just at the best time, the thread was cut, as will appear, of these
his good desires, and he says thus: "Our Lord guides me by His pity and
presents me things with which He may be served, and your Highnesses may
have great pleasure, and certainly they ought to have pleasure, because
here they have such a noble thing and so royal for great princes. And it
is a great error to believe any one who speaks evil to them of this
undertaking, but to abhor them, because there is not to be found a prince
who has had so much grace from our Lord, and so much victory from a thing
so signal and of so much honor to their high estate and realms, and by
which God may receive endlessly more services and the people of Spain
more refreshment and gains. Because it has been seen that there are
infinite things of value, and although now this that I say may not be
known, the time will come when it will be accounted of great excellence,
and to the great reproach of those persons who oppose this project to
your Highnesses; and although they may have expended something in this
matter, it has been in a cause more noble and of greater account than any
undertaking of any other prince until now, nor was it proper to withdraw
from it hastily, but to proceed and give me aid and favor; because the
Sovereigns of Portugal spent and had courage to spend in Guinea, for four
or five years, money and people, before they received any benefit, and
afterward God gave them advantages and gold. For certainly, if the people
of the kingdom of Portugal be counted, and those of them who died in this
undertaking of Guinea be enumerated, it would be found that they are more
than half of the kingdom;[352-1] and certainly, it would be the greatest
thing to have in Spain a revenue which would come from this undertaking.
Your Highnesses would leave nothing of greater memory; and they may
examine, and discover that no prince of Castile may be found, and I have
not found such by history or by tradition,--who has ever gained land
outside of Spain. And your Highnesses will gain these lands, so very
great, which are another world,[352-2] and where Christianity will have
so great pleasure, and our faith in time so great an increase.[352-3] All
this I say with very honest intention, and because I desire that Your
Highnesses may be the greatest Lords in the world,[352-4] I say Lords of
it all; and that it may all be with great service and contentment of the
Holy Trinity, for which at the end of their days they may have the glory
of Paradise, and not for that which concerns me myself, whose hope is in
His High Majesty, that Your Highnesses will soon see the truth of it,
and this is my ardent desire." All these are the actual words of the

So, in order to get out of this gulf, within which he was surrounded by
land on all parts, with the intention already told of saving the supplies
which he carried, which were being lost, in coming to this island of
Española,--Saturday, August 11, at the appearance of the moon, he raised
the anchors, spread the sails, and navigated toward the east (_el
leste_), that is towards the place where the sun rises,[353-2] because he
was in the corner of the gulf where was the river Yuyaparí as was said
above, in order to go out between the Point of Paria and the mainland,
which he called the Punta or Cabo de Lapa, and the land he named Ysla de
Gracia, and between the cape which he called Cabo Boto of the island of

He arrived at a very good harbor, which he called Puerto de Gatos,[353-3]
which is connected with the mouth where are the two little islands of the
Caracol and Delfin, between the capes of Lapa and Cape Boto. And this
occurred Sunday, August 12.

He anchored near the said harbor, in order to go out by the said mouth in
the morning. He found another port near there, to examine which he sent a
boat. It was very good. They found certain houses of fishermen, and much
water and very fresh. He named it Puerto de las Cabañas.[353-4] They
found, he says, myrobolans on the land: near the sea, infinite oysters
attached to the branches of the trees which enter into the sea, the
mouths open to receive the dew which drops from the leaves and which
engenders the pearls, as Pliny says and as is alleged in the vocabulary
which is called _Catholicon_.[353-5]

Monday, August 13, at the rising of the moon, he weighed anchor from
where he was, and came towards the Cape of Lapa, which is Paria, in order
to go to the north by the mouth called Del Drago, for the following cause
and danger in which he saw himself there; the Mouth of the Dragon, he
says, is a strait which is between the Point of Lapa, the end of the
island of Gracia, which is at the east end of the land of Paria and
between Cape Boto which is the western end of the island of Trinidad. He
says it is about a league and a half between the two capes. This must be
after having passed four little islands which he says lie in the centre
of the channel, although now we do not really see more than two, by which
he could not go out, and there remained of the strait only a league and a
half in the passage. From the Punta de la Lapa to the Cabo de Boto it is
five leagues. Arriving at the said mouth at the hour of tierce,[354-1] he
found a great struggle between the fresh water striving to go out to the
sea and the salt water of the sea striving to enter into the gulf, and it
was so strong and fearful, that it raised a great swell, like a very high
hill, and with this, both waters made a noise and thundering, from east
to west, very great and fearful, with currents of water, and after one
came four great waves one after the other, which made contending
currents; here they thought to perish, no less than in the other mouth of
the Sierpe by the Cape of Arenal when they entered into the gulf. This
danger was doubly more than the other, because the wind with which they
hoped to get out died away, and they wished to anchor, because there was
no remedy other than that, although it was not without danger from the
fierceness of the waters, but they did not find bottom, because the sea
was very deep there. They feared that the wind having calmed, the fresh
or salt water might throw them on the rocks with their currents, when
there would be no help. It is related that the Admiral here said,
although I did not find it written with his own hand as I found the
above, that if they escaped from that place they could report that they
escaped from the mouth of the dragon, and for this reason that name was
given to it and with reason.

It pleased the goodness of God that from the same danger safety and
deliverance came to them and the current of the fresh water overcame the
current of the salt water and carried the ships safely out, and thus they
were placed in security; because when God wills that one or many shall be
kept alive, water is a remedy for them.[355-1] Thus they went out,
Monday, August 13, from the said dangerous Gulf and Mouth of the Dragon.
He says that there are 48 leagues from the first land of La Trinidad to
the gulf which the sailors discovered whom he sent in the caravel, where
they saw the rivers and he did not believe them, which gulf he called "de
las Perlas," and this is the interior angle of all the large gulf, which
he called "de la Ballena," where he travelled so many days encircled by
land. I add that it is a good 50 leagues, as appears from the chart.

Having gone out of the gulf and the Boca del Drago and having passed his
danger, he decides to go to the west by the coast below[355-2] of the
mainland, believing yet that it was the island of Gracia, in order to get
abreast, on the right, of the said Gulf of the Pearls, north and south,
and to go around it,[355-3] and see whence comes so great abundance of
water, and to see if it proceeded from rivers, as the sailors affirmed
and which he says he did not believe because he had not heard that either
the Ganges, the Nile or the Euphrates[355-4] carried so much fresh
water. The reason which moved him was because he did not see lands large
enough to give birth to such great rivers, "unless indeed," he says,
"that this is mainland." These are his words. So that he was already
beginning to suspect that the land of Gracia which he believed to be an
island is mainland, which it certainly was and is, and the sailors had
been right, from which land there came such a quantity of water from the
rivers, Yuyaparí and the other which flows out near it, which we now call
Camarí, and others which must empty there, so that, going in search of
that Gulf of the Pearls, where the said rivers empty, thinking to find it
surrounded by land, considering it an island and to see if there was an
entrance there, or an outlet to the south, and if he did not find it, he
says he would affirm then that it was a river, and that both were a great
wonder,--he went down the coast that Monday until the setting of the sun.

He saw that the coast was filled with good harbors and a very high land;
by that lower coast he saw many islands toward the north and many capes
on the mainland, to all of which he gave names: to one, Cabo de Conchas;
to another, Cabo Luengo; to another, Cabo de Sabor; to another, Cabo
Rico. A high and very beautiful land. He says that on that way there are
many harbors and very large gulfs which must be populated, and the
farther he went to the west he saw the land more level and more
beautiful. On going out of the mouth, he saw an island to the north,
which might be 26 leagues from the north, and named it La Isla de la
Asuncion; he saw another island and named it La Concepcion, and three
other small islands together he called Los Testigos.[356-1] They are
called this to-day. Another near them he called El Romero, and three
other little small islands he called Las Guardias. Afterwards he arrived
near the Isla Margarita, and called it Margarita, and another near it he
named El Martinet.

This Margarita is an island 15 leagues long, and 5 or 6 wide, and is very
green and beautiful on the coast and is very good within, for which
reason it is inhabited; it has near it extending lengthwise east and
west, three small islands, and two behind them extending north and south.
The Admiral did not see more than the three, as he was going along the
southern part of Margarita. It is six or seven leagues from the mainland,
and this makes a small gulf between it and the mainland, and in the
middle of the gulf are two small islands, east and west, beside each
other: the one is called Coche, which means deer, and the other Cubagua,
which is the one we have described in chapter 136, and said that there
are an infinite quantity of pearls gathered there. So that the Admiral,
although he did not know that the pearls were formed in this gulf,
appears to have divined that fact in naming it Margarita; he was very
near it, although he does not express it, because he says he was nine
leagues from the island of Martinet, which he says was near Margarita, on
the northern part, and he says near it, because as he was going along the
southern part of Margarita, it appeared to be near, although it was eight
or nine leagues away; and this is the small island to the north, near
Margarita, which is now called Blanca, and is distant eight or nine
leagues from Margarita as I said. For here it seems that the Admiral must
have been close to or near Margarita and I believe that he anchored
because the wind failed him. Finally of all the names that he gave to the
islands and capes of the mainland which he took for the island of Gracia
none have lasted or are used to-day except Trinidad, Boca del Drago, Los
Testigos, and Margarita.

There the eyes of the Admiral became very bad from not sleeping. Because
always, as he was in so many dangers sailing among islands, it was his
custom himself to watch on deck, and whoever takes ships with cargo
should for the most part do that very thing, like the pilots, and he says
that he found himself more fatigued here than when he discovered the
other mainland, which is the island of Cuba, (which he regarded as
mainland even until now), because his eyes were bloodshot; and thus his
labors on the sea were incomparable. For this reason he was in bed this
night, and therefore he found himself farther out in the sea than he
would have been if he had himself watched, from which he did not trust
himself to the sailors, nor should any one who is a diligent and perfect
pilot trust to anybody, because dependent on him and on his head are all
those who go in the ship, and that which is most necessary and proper to
his office is to watch and not sleep all the time while he navigates.

The Admiral appears to have gone down the coast after he came out of the
Mouth of the Dragon, yesterday Monday and to-day Tuesday, 30 or 40
leagues at least, although he does not say so, as he complains that he
did not write all that he had to write, as he could not on account of his
being so ill here. And as he saw that the land was becoming very extended
below to the west, and appeared more level and more beautiful, and the
Gulf of the Pearls which was in the back part of the gulf, or fresh-water
sea, whence the river of Yuyaparí flowed, in the search of which he was
going, had no outlet, which he hoped to see, believing that this mainland
was an island, he now became conscious that a land so great was not an
island, but mainland, and as if speaking with the Sovereigns, he says
here: "I believe that this is mainland, very great, which until to-day
has not been known. And reason aids me greatly because of this being such
a great river and because of this sea which is fresh, and next the saying
of Esdras aids me, in the 4th book, chapter 6th, which says that the six
parts of the world are of dry land and the one of water.[358-1] Which
book St. Ambrose approves in his Examenon[358-2] and St. Augustine on the
passage, 'Morietur filius meus Christus,' as Francisco de Mayrones
alleges.[359-1] And further, I am supported by the sayings of many
Canibales Indians, whom I took at other times, who said that to the south
of them was mainland, and at that time I was on the island of Guadeloupe,
and also I heard it from others of the island of Sancta Cruz and of Sant
Juan, and they said that in it there was much gold, and, as your
Highnesses know, a very short time ago, there was no other land known
than that which Ptolemy wrote of, and there was not in my time any one
who would believe that one could navigate from Spain to the Indies; about
which matter I was seven years in your Court, and there were few who
understood it; and finally the very great courage of your Highnesses
caused it to be tried, against the opinion of those who contradicted it.
And now the truth appears, and it will appear before long, much greater;
and if this is mainland, it is a thing of wonder, and it will be so among
all the learned, since so great a river flows out that it makes a
fresh-water sea of 48 leagues." These are his words....[359-2]

Having finished this digression let us return then to our history and to
what the Admiral resolved to do in the place where he was, and that is,
going as fast as possible, he wished to come to this Española, for some
reasons which impelled him greatly: one, because he was going with great
anxiety and affliction, as he had not had news of the condition of this
island for so many days; and it would seem that he had some, premonition
of the disorder and the losses and the travail which with the rising of
Francisco Roldan[360-1] all this land and his brothers were suffering;
the other in order to despatch immediately the Adelantado, his brother,
with three ships, to continue his discovery of the mainland which he had
already begun to explore; and it is certain that if Francisco Roldan with
his rebellion and shamelessness had not prevented him, the Admiral or his
brother for him would have discovered the mainland as far as New Spain;
but, according to the decree of Divine Providence, the hour of its
discovery had not come, nor was the permission recalled[360-2] by which
many were being enabled to distinguish themselves in unjust works under
color of making discoveries.

The third cause which hastened him in coming to this island, was from
seeing that the supplies were spoiling and being lost, of which he had
such great need for the relief of those who were here, which made him
weep again, considering that he had obtained them with great difficulties
and fatigues, and he says that, if they are lost, he has no hope of
getting others, from the great opposition he always encountered from
those who counselled the Sovereigns, "who," he says here, "are not
friends nor desire the honor of the high condition of their Highnesses,
the persons who have spoken evil to them of such a noble undertaking. Nor
was the cost so great that it should not be expended, although benefits
might not be had quickly to recompense it, since the service was very
great which was rendered our Lord in spreading His Holy Name through
unknown lands. And besides this, it would be a much greater memorial
than any Prince had left, spiritual and temporal." And the Admiral says
further, "And for this the revenue of a good bishopric or archbishopric
would be well secured, and I say," says he, "as good as the best in
Spain, since there are here so many resources and as yet no priesthood.
They may have heard that here there are infinite peoples, which may have
determined the sending here of learned and intelligent persons and
friends of Christ to try and make them Christians and commence the work;
the establishment of which bishopric I am very sure will be made, please
our Lord, and the revenues will soon come from here and be carried
there." These are his words. How much truth he spoke and how clear a case
there was of inattention and remissness and lukewarmness of charity in
the men of that day, spiritual or ecclesiastical and temporal, who held
the power and resources, not to make provision for the healing and
conversion of these peoples, so disposed and ready to receive the faith,
the day of universal judgment will reveal.

The fourth cause for coming to this island and not stopping to discover
more, which he would have very much wished, as he says, was because the
seamen did not come prepared to make discoveries, since he says that he
did not dare to say in Castile that he came with intention to make
discoveries, because they would have placed some impediments in his way,
or would have demanded more money of him than he had, and he says that
the people were becoming very tired. The fifth cause, was because the
ships he had were large for making discoveries, as the one was of more
than 100 tons and the other more than 70, and only smaller ones are
needed to make discoveries; and because of the ship which he took on his
first voyage being large, he lost it in the harbor of Navidad, kingdom of
the King Guacanagarí.[361-1] Also the sixth reason which very much
constrained him to leave the discoveries and come to this island, was
because of having his eyes almost lost from not sleeping, from the long
and continued watches or vigils he had had; and in this place he says
thus: "May it please our Lord to free me from this malady," he says. "He
well knows that I did not suffer these fatigues in order to find
treasures for myself, since surely I recognize that all is vanity which
is done in this age, save that which is for the honor and service of God,
which is not to amass pomps or riches, nor the many other things we use
in this world, in which we are more inclined than to the things which can
save us." These are his words.

Truly this man had a good Christian purpose and was very contented with
his own estate and desired in a moderate degree to maintain himself in
it, and to rest from such sore travail, which he fully merited; yet the
result of his sweat and toil was to impose a greater burden on the
Sovereigns, and I do not know what greater was necessary than had already
fallen to them, and even he had imposed obligations on them, except that
he kept seeing that little importance was made of his distinguished
services that he had performed, and that all at once the estimation of
these Indies which was held at first was declining and coming to naught,
through those that had the ears of the Sovereigns, so that he feared each
day greater disfavors and that the Sovereigns might give up the whole
business and thus his sweat and travail be entirely lost.

Having determined, then, to come as quickly as he could to this island,
Wednesday, August 15, which was the day of the Assumption of Our Lady,
after the rising of the sun, he ordered the anchors weighed from where he
was anchored, which must have been within the small gulf which Margarita
and the other islands make with the mainland (and he must have been near
Margarita as we said above, ch. 139), and sailed on the way to this
island; and, pursuing his way, he saw very clearly Margarita and the
little islands which were there, and also, the farther away he went, he
discovered more high land of the continent. And he went that day from
sunrise to sunset 63 leagues, because of the great currents which
supplemented the wind....[362-1]

Let us return to the voyage of the Admiral, whom we left started from the
neighborhood of the island of Margarita, and he went that day, Wednesday,
63 leagues from sun to sun, as they say. The next day, Thursday, August
16, he navigated to the north-west, quarter of the north,[363-1] 26
leagues, with the sea calm, "thanks be to God," as he always said. He
tells here a wonderful thing, that when he left the Canaries for this
Española, having gone 300 leagues to the west, then the needles declined
to the north-west[363-2] one quarter, and the North Star did not rise but
5 degrees, and now in this voyage it has not declined to the
north-west[363-2] until last night, when it declined more than a quarter
and a half, and some needles declined a half wind which are two
quarters;[363-3] and this happened suddenly last night. And he says each
night he was marvelling at such a change in the heavens, and of the
temperature there, so near the equinoctial line, which he experienced in
all this voyage, after having found land; especially the sun being in
Leo, where, as has been told, in the mornings a loose gown was worn, and
where the people of that place--Gracia--were actually whiter than the
people who have been seen in the Indies. He also found in the place where
he now came, that the North Star was in 14 degrees when the
Guardians[363-4] had passed from the head after two hours and a half.
Here he again exhorted the Sovereigns to esteem this affair highly, since
he had shown them that there was in this land gold, and he had seen in it
minerals without number, which will have to be extracted with
intelligence, industry and labor, since even the iron, as much as there
is, cannot be taken out without these sacrifices; and he has taken them a
nugget of 20 ounces and many others, and where this is, it must be
believed there is plenty, and he took their Highnesses a lump of copper
originally of six _arrobas_,[364-1] lapis-lazuli, gum-lac, amber, cotton,
pepper, cinnamon, a great quantity of Brazil-wood, aromatic gum,[364-2]
white and yellow sandalwood, flax, aloes, ginger, incense, myrobolans of
all kinds, very fine pearls and pearls of a reddish color, which Marco
Polo says are worth more than the white ones,[364-3] and that may well be
so in some parts just as it is the case with the shells that are gathered
in Canaria and are sold for so great a price in the Mine of Portugal.
"There are infinite kinds of spices which have been seen of which I do
not care to speak for fear of prolixity." All these are his words.

As to what he says of cinnamon, and aloes and ginger, incense,
myrobolans, sandal woods, I never saw them in this island, at least I did
not recognize them; what he says of flax must mean _cabuya_[364-4] which
are leaves like the _cavila_ from which thread is made and cloth or linen
can be made from it, but it is more like hemp cloth than linen. There are
two sorts of it, _cabuya_ and _nequen_; _cabuya_ is coarse and rough and
_nequen_ is soft and delicate. Both are words of this island Española.
Storax gum I never smelled except in the island of Cuba, but I did not
see it, and this is certain that in Cuba there must be trees of it, or of
a gum that smells like it, because we never smelled it except in the
fires that the Indians make of wood that they burn in their houses. It is
a most perfect perfume, certainly. I never knew of incense being found in
these islands.

Returning to the journey, Friday, August 17, he went 37 leagues, the sea
being smooth, "to God our Lord," he says, "may infinite thanks be given."
He says that not finding islands now, assures him that that land from
whence he came is a vast mainland, or where the Earthly Paradise is,
"because all say that it is at the end of the east, and this is the
Earthly Paradise,"[365-1] says he.

Saturday, between day and night, he went 39 leagues.

Sunday, August 19, he went in the day and the night 33 leagues, and
reached land; and this was a very small island which he called Madama
Beata, and which is now commonly so called. This is a small island of a
matter of a league and a half close by this island of Española, and
distant from this port of Sancto Domingo about 50 leagues and distant 15
leagues from the port of Yaquino, which is more to the west. There is
next to it another smaller one which has a small but somewhat high
mountain, which from a distance looks like a sail, and he named it Alto
Velo.[365-2] He believed that the Beata was a small island which he
called Sancta Catherina when he came by this southern coast, from the
discovery of the island of Cuba, and distant from this port of Sancto
Domingo 25 leagues, and is next to this island. It weighed upon him to
have fallen off in his course so much, and he says it should not be
counted strange, since during the nights he was from caution beating
about to windward, for fear of running against some islands or shoals;
there was therefore reason for this error, and thus in not following a
straight course, the currents, which are very strong here, and which flow
down towards the mainland and the west, must have carried the ships,
without realizing it, so low. They run so violently there toward La Beata
that it has happened that a ship has been eight months in those waters
without being able to reach this port and that much of delay in coming
from there here, has happened many times.

Therefore he anchored now between the Beata and this island, between
which there are two leagues of sea, Monday, August 20. He then sent the
boats to land to call Indians, as there were villages there, in order to
write of his arrival to the Adelantado; having come at midday, he
despatched them. Twice there came to the ship six Indians, and one of
them carried a crossbow with its cord, and nut and rack,[366-1] which
caused him no small surprise, and he said, "May it please God that no one
is dead." And because from Sancto Domingo the three ships must have been
seen to pass downward, and concluding that it certainly was the Admiral
as he was expecting him each day, the Adelantado started then in a
caravel and overtook the Admiral here. They both were very much pleased
to see each other. The Admiral having asked him about the condition of
the country, the Adelantado recounted to him how Francisco Roldan had
arisen with 80 men, with all the rest of the occurrences which had passed
in this island, since he left it. What he felt on hearing such news,
there is small need to recite.

He left there, Wednesday, August 22, and finally with some difficulty
because of the many currents and the north-east breezes which are
continuous and contrary there he arrived at this port of Sancto Domingo,
Friday, the last day of August of the said year 1498, having set out from
Isabela for Castile, Thursday the tenth day of March, 1496, so that he
delayed in returning to this island two years and a half less nine days.


[319-1] _I.e._, the first Admiral of the Ocean and the Indies where Las Casas was when he was writing.deLasCasas.jpg

[319-2] This clause is probably an explanatory remark by Las Casas. It is misleading. The war in Naples growing out of the invasion of Italy by
Charles VIII. of France, in which Ferdinand had taken an active part against the French, had been brought to a close so far as concerned
France and Spain by a truce in March, 1497. The treaty of peace was signed August 5, 1498.
[320-1] Funchal.

[320-2] This positive assertion that Columbus had lived in Funchal,
Madeira, has been overlooked by Vignaud and Harrisse. Vignaud, _Études
Critiques sur la Vie de Colomb avant ses Découvertes_ (Paris, 1905), p.
443, note 9, rejects as unauthenticated the tradition that Columbus lived
in Madeira, without adequate grounds it seems to me. Diego Columbus told
Las Casas in 1519 that he was born in the neighboring island of Puerto
Santo and that his father had lived there. Las Casas, _Historia de las
Indias_, I. 54. This passage is not noted by Vignaud.

[320-3] One of the Canary Islands.

[321-1] The Adelantado was Bartholomew Columbus. The title Adelantado was
given in Spain to the military and political governors of border
provinces. In this use it was transplanted to America in the earlier
days. _Cf._ Moses, _The Establishment of Spanish Rule in America_, pp.

[321-2] Beatrix Enriquez.

[321-3] This Juan Antonio Columbo seems to have been a first cousin of
the admiral. _Cf._ Markham, _Christopher Columbus_, pp. 2 and 187. It is
to be noted that he retained in Spain his family name and did not follow
the discoverer in changing his name to Colon. On this change of name, see
above, p. 77, note 2.

[321-4] _I.e._, west by south.

[321-5] Porto Rico.

[321-6] Founded in the summer of 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus in
accordance with the directions of the Admiral to establish a new
settlement on the south side of the island. Las Casas, II. 136.

[322-1] "This Española," so frequently repeated, is one of the
indications that Las Casas was writing in Española.

[322-2] _Canibales_, here used still as a tribal name equivalent to

[322-3] The correct form of this name is Gargades. Columbus's knowledge
of them was derived indirectly from Pliny's _Natural History_, book VI.,
XXXVII., through Cardinal d'Ailly's _Imago Mundi_. _Cf._ Columbus's
marginal note to ch. XXXXI. of that work: "_De situ Gorgodum insule nunc
de Capite Viride vel Antonii dicitur." Raccolta Colombiana_, parte I.,
vol. II., p. 395. According to Pliny's location of them they were
probably the Canaries. Pliny's knowledge of the location of the
Hesperides is naturally vague, but his text would support their
identification with the Cape Verde Islands.

[323-1] In this Columbus was mistaken, although he had no means of
knowing it in 1498. Vasco da Gama had sailed in that sea the preceding
summer. _Cf._ Bourne, _Spain in America_, p. 72.

[323-2] Ferro.

[323-3] August 16, 1494, the sovereigns included in the letter despatched
to Columbus by Torres the essential articles of the Treaty of
Tordesillas, signed June 7, 1494, and asked him if he could not
co-operate in locating the Demarcation Line. Navarrete, _Coleccion de
Viages_, II. 155; Harrisse, _Diplomatic History of America_, pp. 80-81.

[323-4] Columbus's illness began in September, 1494, and it was five
months before he was fully recovered. Ferdinand Columbus, _Historie_, ed.
1867, p. 177. The death of Prince John took place October 4, 1497. No
actual scientific conference to locate the line took place till that at
Badajoz in 1524. See Bourne, _Essays in Historical Criticism_, pp.

[324-1] _Mayordomo._

[324-2] _Escribano de la hacienda._ In 1497 Rodrigo Affonso, a member of
the king's council, was granted the northern of the two captaincies into
which São Thiago was divided and also the wild cattle on the island of
Boavista (Buenavista in Spanish). D'Avezac, _Ils de l'Afrique_ (Paris,
1848), p. 218. The word _mayordomo_, translated "steward," here stands
for the high Portuguese title of honor _Mordomo môr da Casa Real_, a
title in its origin similar to the _majores domus_ or mayors of the
palace of the early French kings. _Escribano de la hacienda del Rey_
means rather the king's treasurer.

[324-3] This account of Boavista and its lepers is not noticed in the
histories of the Cape Verde Islands so far as I know.

[324-4] From Pliny's time through the Middle Ages the name Ethiopia
embraced all tropical Africa. He calls the Atlantic in the tropics the
"Ethiopian Sea." Pliny's _Natural History_, book VI., chs. XXXV. and

[325-1] A remark by Las Casas, of which many are interspersed with the
material from Columbus's Journal of this voyage.

[326-1] The Tordesillas line was 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde
Islands alone.

[326-2] This reason for the desire of King John of Portugal to have the
Demarcation Line moved further west has escaped all the writers on the
subject. If Columbus reported the king's ideas correctly, we may have
here a clew to one of the reasons why Cabral went so far to the southwest
in 1500 that he discovered Brazil when on his voyage to India, and
perhaps also one of the reasons why Vasco da Gama struck off so boldly
into the South Atlantic. _Cf._ Bourne, _Spain in America_, pp. 72, 74.

[327-1] Sierra Leone.

[328-1] As one faces north.

[329-1] On Hanno's voyage see _Encyclopædia Britannica_ under his name.
There was no Greek historian Amianus; the name should be Arrianus, who
wrote the history of Alexander the Great's expedition to India and a
history of India. The reference is to the latter work, ch. XLIII., sects.
11, 12.

Ludovico Celio: Ludovico Ricchieri, born about 1450. He was for a time a
professor in the Academy at Milan. He took the Latin name Rhodiginus from
his birthplace Rovigo, and sometimes his name appears in full as
Ludovicus Coelius Richerius Rhodiginus. His _Antiquarum Lectionum Libri
XVI._ was published at Venice in 1516, at Paris in 1517, and in an
extended form at Basel, 1542. It is a collection of passages from the
classical authors relating to all branches of knowledge, with a critical

[329-2] The Guards, "the two brightest stars in Ursa Minor." (Tolhausen.)

[329-3] _Grajos._ The meaning given in the dictionaries for _grajo_ is

[329-4] This word, as a name of a fish, is Portuguese. It means

[329-5] See Pliny, _Natural History_, book IV., ch. XXXVI. The
Cassiterides are commonly identified with the Scilly Islands.

[329-6] The fifth clime or climate is a term in Ptolemy's geographical
system. The fifth climate was a strip 255 Roman miles in width lying
between 41° and 45° north latitude. _Cf._ _Raccolta Columbiana_,[TN-7]
Parte I., Tomo 2, p. 293. The latitude of the Azores is about 37°-40°.

[330-1] The names are _alcatraz_ and _rabihorcado_. See above, note to
Journal of First Voyage, p. 98, note 1, and p. 103, note 1.

[330-2] Huelva, near Palos.

[331-1] Trinidad.

[331-2] Salve Regina, one of the great hymns to the Virgin in the
Catholic service. "The antiphon said after Lauds and Compline from
Trinity Sunday to Advent." Addis and Arnold, _Catholic Dictionary_.

[331-3] _I.e._, that his will was not to serve the sovereigns but to
advance himself.

[332-1] Cape of the Galley. To-day, Cape Galeota.

[332-2] The last of the canonical hours of prayer, after sunset or early

[334-1] Sandy Point.

[334-2] Of the whale.

[334-3] One of the native names of the Orinoco, here referring to one of
the northern branch mouths. A detailed map of the region is given
Winsor's _Columbus_, p. 353.

[336-1] "A sort of veil, or head attire used by the Moorish women, made
of thin silk, striped of several colors, and shagged at the ends, which
hangs down on the back." John Stevens, _A New Dictionary, Spanish and
English_, etc. (London. 1726.)

[337-1] The exploration of the west coast of Africa, the only equatorial
regions then known to Europeans, had led to the conclusion that black was
the natural color of the inhabitants of the tropics.

[337-2] The Navidad referred to by Las Casas was near the Gulf of Paria.

[337-3] _Poner á monte carracas._ _Poner á monte_ is not given in the
Spanish dictionaries, and is apparently a sea phrase identical with the
Portuguese "pôr um navio a monte," to beach or ground a vessel. The
translator went entirely astray in this passage. See Thacher's
_Columbus_, II. 388. The figure here given and the use of word _pasos_,
normally, a land measure of length, instead of _braza_, "fathom," would
seem to indicate that the 65 paces refers to the extent of shore laid
bare, and not to the height of the tide. The corresponding passage in the
_Historie_ reads: "so that it seemed a rapid river both day and night and
at all hours, notwithstanding the fact that the water rose and fell along
the shore (_per la spiaggia_) more than sixty paces between the waves
(_alle marette_) as it is wont to do in San Lucar di Barrameda where the
waters [of the river] are high since although the water rises and falls
it never ceases to run toward the sea," _Historie_ (London ed.), p. 229.
In this passage _maree_, "tides," should be read instead of _marette_.

[338-1] Accepting the emendation of de Lollis which substitutes _fructas_
for _fuentes_, "springs."

[339-1] _I.e._, north by east.

[339-2] _Loma._

[340-1] Las Casas here quotes Columbus's letter to Ferdinand and Isabella
on this voyage. See Major, _Select Letters of Columbus_, p. 123.

[340-2] Serpent's mouth. The name is still retained.

[340-3] _Lapa_ means barnacle; _caracol_, periwinkle; and _delfin_,

[340-4] Dragon's mouth. The name is still retained.

[340-5] _I.e._, along the south shore of the peninsula of Paria in the
Gulf of Paria.

[341-1] The grammatical form of this sentence follows the original, which
is irregular.

[341-2] See p. 311, note 2.

[341-3] _Galos paules_ (Cat-Pauls). A species of African monkey was so
called in Spain. The name occurs in Marco Polo. On its history and
meaning, see Yule's _Marco Polo_, II. 372.

[342-1] Im Thurn, _Among the Indians of Guiana_, p. 193, says, "Indians
after babyhood are never seen perfectly naked."

[343-1] _Flechas con hierba muy á punto_, literally, arrows with grass
very sharp. Gaffarel, _Histoire de la Découverte de l'Amérique_, II. 196,
interprets this to mean arrows feathered with grass; but _hierba_ used in
connection with arrows usually means poison. _Cf._ Oviedo, lib. IX.,
title of cap. XII., "_Del árbol ó mançanillo con cuya fructa los indios
caribes flecheros haçen la hierba con que tiran é pélean_."

[343-2] _Hureyos_ is _Tureyos_ in the printed edition of Las Casas, an
obvious correction of the manuscript reading. On _turey_, see above, p.

[343-3] See above, p. 336, note 1.

[344-1] Needle. Alcatrazes, to-day. (Navarrete.)

[344-2] Gardens.

[344-3] _Ojas de oro._ The translator took _ojas_ (_hojas_) for _ojos_
and rendered it "eyes of gold." See Thacher, _Columbus_, II. 393.

[345-1] _I.e._, in Española.

[346-1] Irregularly shaped pearls, seed pearls.

[346-2] "Keep your eyes open."

[347-1] Isabela in the printed text.

[348-1] The north wind.

[348-2] Pliny, _Natural History_, book IX., ch. LIV.

[348-3] The name is still used. It is the _Rhicopharia mangle_. See the
description of it in Thompson's Alcedo's _Geographical and Historical
Dictionary of America and the West Indies_, Appendix.

[349-1] Las Casas here inserts a long disquisition on pearls which is
omitted. It covers pp. 246-252 of the printed edition, Vol. II.

[350-1] _I.e._, the western end of the Gulf of Paria.

[350-2] These mouths of the Orinoco supplied the fresh water, but they
can hardly be the streams referred to by the sailors who explored the
western end of the Gulf of Paria. Las Casas had no good map of this

[352-1] Columbus elaborated this point in his letter to Ferdinand and
Isabella. Major, _Select Letters of Columbus_, p. 113. Columbus's
estimate of the sacrifice of lives in the exploration of the west coast
of Africa must be considered a most gross exaggeration. The contemporary
narratives of those explorations give no such impression.

[352-2] _Cf._ Columbus's letter to the sovereigns, "Your Highnesses have
here another world." Major, _Select Letters of Columbus_, p. 148, and the
letter to the nurse of Prince John, p. 381, _post_. "I have placed under
the dominion of the King and Queen our sovereigns another world." These
passages clearly show that Columbus during and after this voyage realized
that he accomplished something quite different from merely reaching Asia
by a western route. He had found a hitherto unknown portion of the world,
unknown to the ancients or to Marco Polo, but not for that reason
necessarily physically detached from the known Asia. For a fuller
discussion of the meaning of the phrase "_another world_," "_New World_,"
and of Columbus's ideas of what he had done, see Bourne, _Spain in
America_, pp. 94-98, and the facsimile of the Bartholomew Columbus map,
opposite p. 96.

[352-3] A noteworthy prediction. In fact the discovery of the New World
has effected a most momentous change in the relative strength and range
of Christianity among the world-religions. During the Middle Ages
Christianity lost more ground territorially than it gained. Since the
discovery of America its gain has been steady.

[352-4] Such in fact their Highnesses' grandson, Charles I. (V. as
Emperor), was during his long reign, and such during a part of his reign
if not the whole, was their great-grandson Philip II. See Oviedo's
reflections upon Columbus's career. Bourne, _Spain in America_, p. 82.

[353-1] Las Casas here comments at some length on these remarks of
Columbus and the great significance of his discoveries. The passage
omitted takes up pp. 255 (line six from bottom) to 258.

[353-2] Las Casas explains _leste_, which would seem to have been either
peculiar to sailors or at least not in common usage then for "east."

[353-3] Probably _gatos_ in the sense of _gatos paules_, monkeys, noted
above, p. 341, as very plentiful.

[353-4] Port of the Cabins.

[353-5] The _Catholicon_ was one of the earliest Latin lexicons of modern
times and the first to be printed. It was compiled by Johannes de Janua
(Giovanni Balbi of Genoa) toward the end of the thirteenth century and
first printed at Mainz in 1460, and very frequently later.

[354-1] The third of the canonical hours of prayer, about nine o'clock in
the morning.

[355-1] _El agua les es medicina_, _i.e._, a means of curing the ill.

[355-2] _Abajo._ Las Casas views the mainland as extending up from the
sea. Columbus was going west along the north shore of the peninsula of

[355-3] _I.e._, to go west along the north shore of this supposed island
until looking south he was to the right of it and abreast of the Gulf of

[355-4] Three of the greatest known rivers, each of which drained a vast
range of territory. This narrative reveals the gradual dawning upon
Columbus of the fact that he had discovered a hitherto unknown
continental mass. In his letter to the sovereigns his conviction is
settled and his efforts to adjust it with previous knowledge and the
geographical traditions of the ages are most interesting. See Major,
_Select Letters of Columbus_, pp. 134 _et seqq._ "Ptolemy," he says, on
p. 136, "and the others who have written upon the globe had no
information respecting this part of the world, for it was most unknown."

[356-1] The Witnesses.

[358-1] The reference is to _II. Esdras_, VI. 42, in the Apocrypha of the
English Bible. The Apocryphal books of I. and II. Esdras were known as
III. and IV. Esdras in the Middle Ages, and the canonical books in the
Vulgate called I. and II. Esdras are called Ezra and Nehemiah in the
English Bible. II. Esdras is an apocalyptic work and dates from the close
of the first century A.D. The passage to which Columbus referred reads as
follows: "Upon the third day thou didst command that the waters should be
gathered in the seventh part of the earth; six parts hast thou dried up,
and kept them, to the intent that of these some being planted of God and
tilled might serve thee."

[358-2] The reference is wrong, as Las Casas points out two or three
pages further on (II. 266); it should be to the treatise _De Bono
Mortis_, cap. 10

[359-1] Francis de Mayrones was an eminent Scotist philosopher. He died
in 1327. Columbus here quotes from his _Theologicae Veritates_ (Venice,
1493). See _Raccolta Colombiana_, Parte I., tomo II., p. 377. Las Casas
(II. 266) was unable to verify the citation from St. Augustine.

[359-2] The passage omitted, Las Casas, II. 265-307, consists first, pp.
265-267, of his comments on these words of Columbus, and second, pp.
268-274, of a criticism of Vespucci's claim to have made a voyage in 1497
to this region of Paria, and of his narratives and the naming of America
from him. This criticism is translated with Las Casas's other trenchant
criticisms of Vespucci's work and claims by Sir Clements R. Markham in
his _Letters of Amerigo Vespucci_ (London, 1894), pp. 68 _et seq._[TN-8]
These passages are very interesting as perhaps the earliest piece of
detailed critical work relating to the discoveries, and they still
constitute the cornerstone of the case against Vespucci. The third
portion of the omitted passage, pp. 275-306, is a long essay on the
location of the earthly paradise which Columbus placed in this new
mainland he had just discovered. _Cf._ Columbus's letter on the Third
Voyage. Major, _Select Letters of Columbus_, pp. 140-146.

[360-1] On the Roldan revolt, see Irving, _Christopher Columbus_, II. 199
_et seqq._

[360-2] April 10, 1495, the sovereigns authorized independent exploring
expeditions. Columbus protested that such expeditions infringed upon his
rights, and so, June 2, 1497, the sovereigns modified their ordinance and
prohibited any infringements. Apparently Las Casas is in error in saying
the permission had not been recalled in 1498, but the independent voyages
of Hojeda and Pinzon, who first explored the northern coast of South
America (Paria) in 1499-1500, may have led him to conclude that the
authorization had not been recalled.

[361-1] See Journal of First Voyage, December 25.

[362-1] The passage omitted, II. 309-313, of the printed edition, gives
an account of the voyage and arrival of the vessels which came to
Española directly from the Canaries.

[363-1] Northwest by north.

[363-2] Northeast in the printed text.

[363-3] The circle of the horizon, represented by the compass card, was
conceived of as divided into eight winds and each wind into halves and
quarters, the quarters corresponding to the modern points of the compass,
which are thirty-two in number. The declination observed was two points
of the compass, or 22° 30'.

[363-4] See above, p. 329, note 2.

[364-1] An arroba was twenty-five pounds.

[364-2] _Estoraque_, officinal storax, a gum used for incense.

[364-3] _Cf._ Marco Polo, bk. III., ch. II.

[364-4] Pita, the fibre of the American agave.

[365-1] _Cf._ the letter on the Third Voyage, Major, _Select Letters of
Columbus_, p. 140, for Columbus's reasoning and beliefs about the Earthly
Paradise or Garden of Eden; for Las Casas's discussion of the question,
see _Historia de las Indias_, II. 275-306.

[365-2] High sail.

[366-1] The rack was used to bend the crossbow.


[ more] & From a scholarly book compiling and translating source material originally published in 1906 and made available by Project Gutenburg
Project Gutenberg's The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, 985-1503, by Various

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
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Title: The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot, 985-1503

Author: Various

Editor: Julius E. Olson and Edward Gaylord Bourne

Release Date: June 13, 2006 [EBook #18571]

Language: English

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complete list is found at the end of the text.












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