« VorigeDoorgaan »
a press, making a broad, thin cake, which was afterwards dried hard, and would keep for a long time, being steeped in water when eaten. It was insipid, but nourishing, though the water strained from it in the preparation was a deadly poison. There was another kind of yuca destitute of this poisonous quality, which was eaten in the root, either boiled or roasted.
The avarice of the discoverers was quickly excited by the sight of small ornaments of gold, worn by some of the natives in their noses. These the latter gladly exchanged for glass beads and hawks' bells; and both parties exulted in the bargain, no doubt admiring each other's simplicity. As gold, however, was an object of royal monopoly in all enterprises of discovery, Columbus forbade any traffic in it without his express sanction; and he put the same prohibition on the traffic for cotton, reserving to the crown all trade for it, wherever it should be found in any quantity.
He inquired of the natives where this gold was procured. They answered him by signs, pointing to the south, where, he understood them, dwelt a king of such wealth that he was served in vessels of wrought gold. He understood, also, that there was land to the south, the southwest, and the northwest ; and that the people from the last-mentioned quarter frequently proceeded to the southwest in quest of gold and precious stones, making in their way descents upon the islands, and carrying off the inhabitants. Several of the natives showed him scars of wounds received in battles with these invaders. It is evident that a great part of this fancied intelligence was selfdelusion on the part of Columbus; for he was under a spell of the imagination, which gave its own shapes and colors to every object.
He was persuaded that he had arrived among the islands described by Marco Polo,* as lying opposite Cathay, in the Chinese Sea, and he construed everything to accord with the account given of those opulent regions. Thus the enemies which the natives spoke of as coming from the northwest he concluded to be the people of the mainland of Asia, the subjects of the great Khan of Tartary, who were represented by the Venetian traveler as accustomed to make the islands, and to enslave their inhabitants.
The country to the south, abounding in gold, could be no other than the famous island of Cipango; and the king, who was served out of vessels of
* Marco Polo. A renowned Venetian traveler, born about 1252. He was the first European who entered China, or made any extended journey into Central Asia.
gold, must be the monarch whose magnificent city and gorgeous palace, covered with plates of gold, had been extolled in such splendid terms by Marco Polo.
The island where Columbus had thus, for the first time, set his foot upon the New World, was called by the natives Guanahane. It still retains the name of San Salvador, which he gave to it, though called, by the English, Cat Island. The light which he had seen the evening previous to his making land may have been on Watling's Island, which lies a few leagues to the east. San Salvador is one of the great cluster of the Lucayos or Bahama Islands, which stretch southeast and northwest, from the coast of Florida to Hispaniola, covering the northern coast of Cuba.
THE RETURN OF COLUMBUS.
AFTER a brief interval, the sovereigns requested of Columbus a recital of his adventures. His manner was sedate and dignified, but warmed by the glow of natural enthusiasm. He enumerated the several islands he had visited, expatiated on the temperate character of the climate, and the capacity of the soil for every variety of production, appealing to the samples imported by him as evidence of their natural productiveness. He dwelt more at large on the precious metals to be found in these islands, which he inferred less from the specimens actually obtained than from the uniform testimony of the natives to their abundance in the unexplored regions of the interior. Lastly, he pointed out the wide scope afforded to Christian zeal in the illumination of a race of men whose minds, far from being wedded to any system of idolatry, were prepared by their extreme simplicity for the reception of pure and uncorrupted doctrine. The last consideration touched Isabella's heart most sensibly; and the whole audience, kindled with various emotions by the speaker's eloquence, filled up the perspective with the gorgeous coloring of their own fancies, as ambition or avarice or devotional feeling predominated in their bosoms. When Columbus ceased, the king and queen, together with all present, prostrated themselves on their knees in grateful thanksgivings, while the solemn strains of the Te Deum were poured forth by the choir of the royal chapel, as in commemoration of some glorious victory.
1788 – 1824.
GEORGE GORDON, Lord Byron, was born in 1788 and died in 1824. In youth he was precocious, manifesting remarkable intellectual power, but giring evidence also of a wild and ungovernable temper. Leaving Trinity College, Cambridge, at the age
en, he prepared a volume of poems for publication, which, under the title of Hours of Idleness, was severely ridiculed by the Edinburgh Reriew. A year later appeared Byron's reply, English Bards and Scotch Recievers, one of the most powerful and scorching satires ever written. Having traveled for two years on the Continent, Byron returned to England, and in 1812 published the first two cantos of Childe Harold, which is generally esteemed his greatest work. In 1816 he left England, which he declared he would never revisit. He spent some time at Genera, with literary friends, and then settled himself in Italy, where he wrote Manfred, the concludiny canto of Childe Harold, Mazeppa, and the first part of Don Juan. In 1820 he was associated with Shelley and Leigh Hunt in the publication of a periodical called The Liberal, in which The Vision of Julgment was first printed. In 1823 he went to Greece, where he intended to aid the Greeks in their resistance to Turkish oppression. But his military career was brief; he was seized with epilepsy, and, rheumatic fever ensuing, he died April 19, 1824. Byron's character presents one of the most interesting studies to be found in literary history. As a man, we must censure eren while we pity liim ; as a poet, he claims our fervent admiration. His poems are marvels of energy and spirit, glittering with poetical beauties and epigrammatic expressions that have become “ household words.” But a profound morbidness pervades them, and the thoughtful reader feels liimself, as he ponders their passionate, defiant, almost savage philosophy, to be in the presence of an unhealthy mind. possess a peculiar fascination for the young; but their charms seem more hollow and unreal to the eye of age and experience. Byron's life was a series of mistakes; and, great poet though he was, his hours of happiness were, no doubt, fewer than those of the most illiterate peasant.
THERE were two fathers in this ghastly crew,
And with them their two sons, of whom the one
But he died early : and when he was gone,
One glance on him, and said, “Heaven's will be done!
He saw increasing on his father's heart,
And o’er him bent his sire, and never raised
His eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed :
And when the wished-for shower at length was come, And the boy's eyes, which the dull film half glazed,
Brightened, and for a moment seemed to roam, He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain Into his dying child's mouth ; but in vain !
The boy expired : the father held the clay,
And looked upon it long; and when at last Death left no doubt, and the dead burden lay
Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were past, He watched it wistfully until away
’T was borne by the rude wave wherein 't was cast; Then he himself sunk down, all dumb and shivering, And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering.
’T was twilight, for the sunless day went down
Over the waste of waters ; like a veil
Of one whose hate is masked but to assail.
And grimly darkled o'er their faces pale,
Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell,
Then shrieked the timid, and stood still the brave, – Then some leaped overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And down she sucked with her the whirling wave,
And first one universal shriek there rushed,
Louder than the loud ocean, - like a crash Of echoing thunder; and then all was hushed,
Save the wild wind and the remorseless dash Of billows; but at intervals there gushed,
Accompanied by a convulsive splash,
CLIME of the unforgotten brave !
Say, is not this Thermopylæ ? *
O servile offspring of the free,
* THERMOPYLA. A mountain defile in Greece where Leonidas (480 B. c.), at the head of three hundred Spartans withstood the whole force of the Persian army for three days. More than twenty thousand Persians perished in the memorable battle, and only one Greek survived. This battle is supposed to have commemorated the finest instance of heroic bravery on record.
+ SALAMIS. Refers to a celebrated naval battle between the Greeks and the Persians, where the latter were disastrously defeated.