Christopher Columbus and the New World by Filson Young - HTML preview
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The four ships that made up the Admiral's fleet on his fourth and last voyage were all small caravels, the largest only of seventy tons and the smallest only of fifty. Columbus chose for his flagship the Capitana, seventy tons, appointing Diego Tristan to be his captain. The next best ship was the Santiago de Palos under the command of Francisco Porras; Porras and his brother Diego having been more or less foisted on to Columbus by Morales, the Royal Treasurer, who wished to find berths for these two brothers-in-law of his. We shall hear more of the Porras brothers. The third ship was the Gallega, sixty tons, a very bad sailer indeed, and on that account entrusted to Bartholomew Columbus, whose skill in navigation, it was hoped, might make up for her bad sailing qualities. Bartholomew had, to tell the truth, had quite enough of the New World, but he was too loyal to Christopher to let him go alone, knowing as he did his precarious state of health and his tendency to despondency. The captain of the Gallega was Pedro de Terreros, who had sailed with the Admiral as steward on all his other voyages and was now promoted to a command. The fourth ship was called the Vizcaina, fifty tons, and was commanded by Bartolome Fieschi, a friend of Columbus's from Genoa, and a very sound, honourable man. There were altogether 143 souls on board the four caravels.
The fleet as usual made the Canary Islands, where they arrived on the 20th of May, and stopped for five days taking in wood and water and fresh provisions. Columbus was himself again—always more himself at sea than anywhere else; he was following a now familiar road that had no difficulties or dangers for him; and there is no record of the voyage out except that it was quick and prosperous, with the trade wind blowing so steadily that from the time they left the Canaries until they made land twenty days later they had hardly to touch a sheet or a halliard. The first land they made was the island of Martinique, where wood and water were taken in and the men sent ashore to wash their linen. To young Ferdinand, but fourteen years old, this voyage was like a fairy tale come true, and his delight in everything that he saw must have added greatly to Christopher's pleasure and interest in the voyage. They only stayed a few days at Martinique and then sailed westward along the chain of islands until they came to Porto Rico, where they put in to the sunny harbour which they had discovered on a former voyage.
It was at this point that Columbus determined, contrary to his precise orders, to stand across to Espanola. The place attracted him like a magnet; he could not keep away from it; and although he had a good enough excuse for touching there, it is probable that his real reason was a very natural curiosity to see how things were faring with his old enemy Bobadilla. The excuse was that the Gallega, Bartholomew's ship, was so unseaworthy as to be a drag on the progress of the rest of the fleet and a danger to her own crew. In the slightest sea-way she rolled almost gunwale under, and would not carry her sail; and Columbus's plan was to exchange her for a vessel out of the great fleet which he knew had by this time reached Espanola and discharged its passengers.
He arrived off the harbour of San Domingo on the 29th of June in very threatening weather, and immediately sent Pedro de Terreros ashore with a message to Ovando, asking to be allowed to purchase or exchange one of the vessels that were riding in the harbour, and also leave to shelter his own vessels there during the hurricane which he believed to be approaching. A message came back that he was neither permitted to buy a ship nor to enter the harbour; warning him off from San Domingo, in fact.
With this unfavourable message Terreros also brought back the news of the island. Ovando had been in San Domingo since the 15th of April, and had found the island in a shocking state, the Spanish population having to a man devoted itself to idleness, profligacy, and slave-driving. The only thing that had prospered was the gold-mining; for owing to the licence that Bobadilla had given to the Spaniards to employ native labour to an unlimited extent there had been an immense amount of gold taken from the mines. But in no other respect had island affairs prospered, and Ovando immediately began the usual investigation. The fickle Spaniards, always unfaithful to whoever was in authority over them, were by this time tired of Bobadilla, in spite of his leniency, and they hailed the coming of Ovando and his numerous equipment with enthusiasm. Bobadilla had also by this time, we may suppose, had enough of the joys of office; at any rate he showed no resentment at the coming of the new Governor, and handed over the island with due ceremony. The result of the investigation of Ovando, however, was to discover a state of things requiring exemplary treatment; friend Roldan was arrested, with several of his allies, and put on board one of the ships to be sent back to Spain for trial. The cacique Guarionex, who had been languishing in San Domingo in chains for a long time, was also embarked on one of the returning ships; and about eighteen hundred-weights of gold which had been collected were also stowed into cases and embarked. Among this gold there was a nugget weighing 35 lbs. which had been found by a native woman in a river, and which Ovando was sending home as a personal offering to his Sovereigns; and some further 40 lbs. of gold belonging to Columbus, which Carvajal had recovered and placed in a caravel to be taken to Spain for the Admiral. The ships were all ready to sail, and were anchored off the mouth of the river when Columbus arrived in San Domingo.
When he found that he was not to be allowed to enter the harbour himself Columbus sent a message to Ovando warning him that a hurricane was coming on, and begging him to take measures for the safety of his large fleet. This, however, was not done, and the fleet put to sea that evening. It had only got so far as the eastern end of Espanola when the hurricane, as predicted by Columbus, duly came down in the manner of West Indian hurricanes, a solid wall of wind and an advancing wave of the sea which submerged everything in its path. Columbus's little fleet, finding shelter denied them, had moved a little way along the coast, the Admiral standing close in shore, the others working to the south for sea-room; and although they survived the hurricane they were scattered, and only met several days later, in an extremely battered condition, at the westerly end of the island. But the large home-going fleet had not survived. The hurricane, which was probably from the north-east, struck them just as they lost the lee of the island, and many of them, including the ships with the treasure of gold and the caravels bearing Roldan, Bobadilla, and Guarionex, all went down at once and were never seen or heard of again. Other ships survived for a little while only to founder in the end; a few, much shattered, crept back to the shelter of San Domingo; but only one, it is said, survived the hurricane so well as to be able to proceed to Spain; and that was the one which carried Carvajal and Columbus's little property of gold. The Admiral's luck again; or the intervention of the Holy Trinity—whichever you like.
After the shattering experience of the storm, Columbus, although he did not return to San Domingo, remained for some time on the coast of Espanola repairing his ships and resting his exhausted crews. There were threatenings of another storm which delayed them still further, and it was not until the middle of July that the Admiral was able to depart on the real purpose of his voyage. His object was to strike the mainland far to the westward of the Gulf of Paria, and so by following it back eastward to find the passage which he believed to exist. But the winds and currents were very baffling; he was four days out of sight of land after touching at an island north of Jamaica; and finally, in some bewilderment, he altered his course more and more northerly until he found his whereabouts by coming in sight of the archipelago off the south-western end of Cuba which he had called the Gardens. From here he took a departure south-west, and on the 30th of July came in sight of a small island off the northern coast of Honduras which he called Isla de Pinos, and from which he could see the hills of the mainland. At this island he found a canoe of immense size with a sort of house or caboose built amidships, in which was established a cacique with his family and dependents; and the people in the canoe showed signs of more advanced civilisation than any seen by Columbus before in these waters. They wore clothing, they had copper hatchets, and bells, and palm-wood swords in the edges of which were set sharp blades of flint. They had a fermented liquor, a kind of maize beer which looked like English ale; they had some kind of money or medium of exchange also, and they told the Admiral that there was land to the west where all these things existed and many more. It is strange and almost inexplicable that he did not follow this trail to the westward; if he had done so he would have discovered Mexico. But one thing at a time always occupied him to the exclusion of everything else; his thoughts were now turned to the eastward, where he supposed the Straits were; and the significance of this canoe full of natives was lost upon him.
They crossed over to the mainland of Honduras on August 15th, Bartholomew landing and attending mass on the beach as the Admiral himself was too ill to go ashore. Three days later the cross and banner of Castile were duly erected on the shores of the Rio Tinto and the country was formally annexed. The natives were friendly, and supplied the ships with provisions; but they were very black and ugly, and Columbus readily believed the assertion of his native guide that they were cannibals. They continued their course to the eastward, but as the gulf narrowed the force of the west-going current was felt more severely. Columbus, believing that the strait which he sought lay to the eastward, laboured against the current, and his difficulties were increased by the bad weather which he now encountered. There were squalls and hurricanes, tempests and cross-currents that knocked his frail ships about and almost swamped them. Anchors and gear were lost, the sails were torn out of the bolt-ropes, timbers were strained; and for six weeks this state of affairs went on to an accompaniment of thunder and lightning which added to the terror and discomfort of the mariners.
This was in August and the first half of September—six weeks of the worst weather that Columbus had ever experienced. It was the more unfortunate that his illness made it impossible for him to get actively about the ship; and he had to have a small cabin or tent rigged up on deck, in which he could lie and direct the navigation. It is bad enough to be as ill as he was in a comfortable bed ashore; it is a thousand times worse amid the discomforts of a small boat at sea; but what must it have been thus to have one's sick-bed on the deck of a cockle-shell which was being buffeted and smashed in unknown seas, and to have to think and act not for oneself alone but for the whole of a suffering little fleet! No wonder the Admiral's distress of mind was great; but oddly enough his anxieties, as he recorded them in a letter, were not so much on his own account as on behalf of others. The terrified seamen making vows to the Virgin and promises of pilgrimages between their mad rushes to the sheets and furious clinging and hauling; his son Ferdinand, who was only fourteen, but who had to endure the same pain and fatigue as the rest of them, and who was enduring it with such pluck that "it was as if he had been at sea eighty years"; the dangers of Bartholomew, who had not wanted to come on this voyage at all, but was now in the thick of it in the worst ship of the squadron, and fighting for his life amid tempests and treacherous seas; Diego at home, likely to be left an orphan and at the mercy of fickle and doubtful friends—these were the chief causes of the Admiral's anxiety. All he said about himself was that "by my misfortune the twenty years of service which I gave with so much fatigue and danger have profited me so little that to-day I have in Castile no roof, and if I wished to dine or sup or sleep I have only the tavern for my last refuge, and for that, most of the time, I would be unable to pay the score." Not cheerful reflections, these, to add to the pangs of acute gout and the consuming anxieties of seamanship under such circumstances. Dreadful to him, these things, but not dreadful to us; for they show us an Admiral restored to his true temper and vocation, something of the old sea hero breaking out in him at last through all these misfortunes, like the sun through the hurrying clouds of a stormy afternoon.
Forty days of passage through this wilderness of water were endured before the sea-worn mariners, rounding a cape on September 12th, saw stretching before them to the southward a long coast of plain and mountain which they were able to follow with a fair wind. Gradually the sea went down; the current which had opposed them here aided them, and they were able to recover a little from the terrible strain of the last six weeks. The cape was called by Columbus 'Gracios de Dios'; and on the 16th of September they landed at the entrance to a river to take in water. The boat which was sent ashore, however, capsized on the sandy bar of the entrance, two men being drowned, and the river was given the name of Rio de Desastre. They found a better anchorage, where they rested for ten days, overhauled their stores, and had some intercourse with the natives and exploration on shore. Some incidents occurred which can best be described in the Admiral's own language as he recorded them in his letter to the Sovereigns.
" . . . When I reached there, they immediately sent me two young girls dressed in rich garments. The older one might not have been more than eleven years of age and the other seven; both with so much experience, so much manner, and so much appearance as would have been sufficient if they had been public women for twenty years. They bore with them magic powder and other things belonging to their art. When they arrived I gave orders that they should be adorned with our things and sent them immediately ashore. There I saw a tomb within the mountain as large as a house and finely worked with great artifice, and a corpse stood thereon uncovered, and, looking within it, it seemed as if he stood upright. Of the other arts they told me that there was excellence. Great and little animals are there in quantities, and very different from ours; among which I saw boars of frightful form so that a dog of the Irish breed dared not face them. With a cross-bow I had wounded an animal which exactly resembles a baboon only that it was much larger and has a face like a human being. I had pierced it with an arrow from one side to the other, entering in the breast and going out near the tail, and because it was very ferocious I cut off one of the fore feet which rather seemed to be a hand, and one of the hind feet. The boars seeing this commenced to set up their bristles and fled with great fear, seeing the blood of the other animal. When I saw this I caused to be thrown them the 'uegare,'—[Peccary]—certain animals they call so, where it stood, and approaching him, near as he was to death, and the arrow still sticking in his body, he wound his tail around his snout and held it fast, and with the other hand which remained free, seized him by the neck as an enemy. This act, so magnificent and novel, together with the fine country and hunting of wild beasts, made me write this to your Majesties."
The natives at this anchorage of Cariari were rather suspicious, but Columbus seized two of them to act as guides in his journey further down the coast. Weighing anchor on October 5th he worked along the Costa Rica shore, which here turns to the eastward again, and soon found a tribe of natives who wore large ornaments of gold. They were reluctant to part with the gold, but as usual pointed down the coast and said that there was much more gold there; they even gave a name to the place where the gold could be found—Veragua; and for once this country was found to have a real existence. The fleet anchored there on October 17th, being greeted by defiant blasts of conch shells and splashing of water from the indignant natives. Business was done, however: seventeen gold discs in exchange for three hawks' bells.
Still Columbus went on in pursuit of his geographical chimera; even gold had no power to detain him from the earnest search for this imaginary strait. Here and there along the coast he saw increasing signs of civilisation—once a wall built of mud and stone, which made him think of Cathay again. He now got it into his head that the region he was in was ten days' journey from the Ganges, and that it was surrounded by water; which if it means anything means that he thought he was on a large island ten days' sail to the eastward of the coast of India. Altogether at sea as to the facts, poor Admiral, but with heart and purpose steadfast and right enough.
They sailed a little farther along the coast, now between narrow islands that were like the streets of Genoa, where the boughs of trees on either hand brushed the shrouds of the ships; now past harbours where there were native fairs and markets, and where natives were to be seen mounted on horses and armed with swords; now by long, lonely stretches of the coast where there was nothing to be seen but the low green shore with the mountains behind and the alligators basking at the river mouths. At last (November 2nd) they arrived at the cape known as Nombre de Dios, which Ojeda had reached some time before in his voyage to the West.
The coast of the mainland had thus been explored from the Bay of Honduras to Brazil, and Columbus was obliged to admit that there was no strait. Having satisfied himself of that he decided to turn back to Veragua, where he had seen the natives smelting gold, in order to make some arrangement for establishing a colony there. The wind, however, which had headed him almost all the way on his easterly voyage, headed him again now and began to blow steadily from the west. He started on his return journey on the 5th of December, and immediately fell into almost worse troubles than he had been in before. The wood of the ships had been bored through and through by seaworms, so that they leaked very badly; the crews were sick, provisions were spoilt, biscuits rotten. Young Ferdinand Columbus, if he did not actually make notes of this voyage at the time, preserved a very lively recollection of it, and it is to his Historie, which in its earlier passages is of doubtful authenticity, that we owe some of the most human touches of description relating to this voyage. Any passage in his work relating to food or animals at this time has the true ring of boyish interest and observation, and is in sharp contrast to the second-hand and artificial tone of the earlier chapters of his book. About the incident of the howling monkey, which the Admiral's Irish hound would not face, Ferdinand remarks that it "frighted a good dog that we had, but frighted one of our wild boars a great deal more"; and as to the condition of the biscuits when they turned westward again, he says that they were "so full of weevils that, as God shall help me, I saw many that stayed till night to eat their sop for fear of seeing them."
After experiencing some terrible weather, in the course of which they had been obliged to catch sharks for food and had once been nearly overwhelmed by a waterspout, they entered a harbour where, in the words of young Ferdinand, "we saw the people living like birds in the tops of the trees, laying sticks across from bough to bough and building their huts upon them; and though we knew not the reason of the custom we guessed that it was done for fear of their enemies, or of the griffins that are in this island." After further experiences of bad weather they made what looked like a suitable harbour on the coast of Veragua, which harbour, as they entered it on the day of the Epiphany (January 9, 1503), they named Belem or Bethlehem. The river in the mouth of which they were anchored, however, was subject to sudden spouts and gushes of water from the hills, one of which occurred on January 24th and nearly swamped the caravels. This spout of water was caused by the rainy season, which had begun in the mountains and presently came down to the coast, where it rained continuously until the 14th of February. They had made friends with the Quibian or chief of the country, and he had offered to conduct them to the place where the gold mines were; so Bartholomew was sent off in the rain with a boat party to find this territory. It turned out afterwards that the cunning Quibian had taken them out of his own country and showed them the gold mined of a neighbouring chief, which were not so rich as his own.
Columbus, left idle in the absence of Bartholomew, listening to the continuous drip and patter of the rain on the leaves and the water, begins to dream again—to dream of gold and geography. Remembers that David left three thousand quintals of gold from the Indies to Solomon for the decoration of the Temple; remembers that Josephus said it came from the Golden Chersonesus; decides that enough gold could never have been got from the mines of Hayna in Espanola; and concludes that the Ophir of Solomon must be here in Veragua and not there in Espanola. It was always here and now with Columbus; and as he moved on his weary sea pilgrimages these mythical lands with their glittering promise moved about with him, like a pillar of fire leading him through the dark night of his quest.
The rain came to an end, however, the sun shone out again, and activity took the place of dreams with Columbus and with his crew. He decided to found a settlement in this place, and to make preparations for seizing and working the gold mines. It was decided to leave a garrison of eighty men, and the business of unloading the necessary arms and provisions and building houses ashore was immediately begun. Hawks' bells and other trifles were widely distributed among the natives, with special toys and delicacies for the Quibian, in order that friendly relations might be established from the beginning; and special regulations were framed to prevent the possibility of any recurrence of the disasters that overtook the settlers of Isabella.
Such are the orderly plans of Columbus; but the Quibian has his plans too, which are found to be of quite a different nature. The Quibian does not like intruders, though he likes their hawks' bells well enough; he is not quite so innocent as poor Guacanagari and the rest of them were; he knows that gold is a thing coveted by people to whom it does not belong, and that trouble follows in its train. Quibian therefore decides that Columbus and his followers shall be exterminated—news of which intention fortunately came to the ears of Columbus in time, Diego Mendez and Rodrigo de Escobar having boldly advanced into the Quibian's village and seen the warlike preparations. Bartholomew, returning from his visit to the gold mines, was informed of this state of affairs. Always quick to strike, Bartholomew immediately started with an armed force, and advanced upon the village so rapidly that the savages were taken by surprise, their headquarters surrounded, and the Quibian and fifty of his warriors captured. Bartholomew triumphantly marched the prisoners back, the Quibian being entrusted to the charge of Juan Sanchez, who was rowing him in a little boat. The Quibian complained that his bonds were hurting him, and foolish Sanchez eased them a little; Quibian, with a quick movement, wriggled overboard and dived to the bottom; came up again somewhere and reached home alive. No one saw him come up, however, and they thought had had been drowned.
Columbus now made ready to depart, and the caravels having been got over the shallow bar, their loading was completed and they were ready to sail. On April 6th Diego Tristan was sent in charge of a boat with a message to Bartholomew, who was to be left in command of the settlement; but when Tristan had rounded the point at the entrance to the river and come in sight of the shore he had an unpleasant surprise; the settlement was being savagely attacked by the resurrected Quibian and his followers. The fight had lasted for three hours, and had been going badly against the Spaniards, when Bartholomew and Diego Mendes rallied a little force round them and, calling to Columbus's Irish dog which had been left with them, made a rush upon the savages and so terrified them that they scattered. Bartholomew with eight of the other Spaniards was wounded, and one was killed; and it was at this point that Tristan's boat arrived at the settlement. Having seen the fight safely over, he went on up the river to get water, although he was warned that it was not safe; and sure enough, at a point a little farther up the river, beyond some low green arm of the shore, he met with a sudden and bloody death. A cloud of yelling savages surrounded his boat hurling javelins and arrows, and only one seaman, who managed to dive into the water and crawl ashore, escaped to bring the evil tidings.
The Spaniards under Bartholomew's command broke into a panic, and taking advantage of his wounded condition they tried to make sail on their caravel and join the ships of Columbus outside; but since the time of the rains the river had so much gone down that she was stuck fast in the sand. They could not even get a boat over the bar, for there was a heavy cross sea breaking on it; and in the meantime here they were, trapped inside this river, the air resounding with dismal blasts of the natives' conch-shells, and the natives themselves dancing round and threatening to rush their position; while the bodies of Tristan and his little crew were to be seen floating down the stream, feasted upon by a screaming cloud of birds. The position of the shore party was desperate, and it was only by the greatest efforts that the wounded Adelantado managed to rally his crew and get them to remove their little camp to an open place on the shore, where a kind of stockade was made of chests, casks, spars, and the caravel's boat. With this for cover, the Spanish fire-arms, so long as there was ammunition for them, were enough to keep the natives at bay.
Outside the bar, in his anchorage beyond the green wooded point, the Admiral meanwhile was having an anxious time. One supposes the entrance to the river to have been complicated by shoals and patches of broken water extending some considerable distance, so that the Admiral's anchorage would be ten or twelve miles away from the camp ashore, and of course entirely hidden from it. As day after day passed and Diego Tristan did not return, the Admiral's anxiety increased. Among the three caravels that now formed his little squadron there was only one boat remaining, the others, not counting one taken by Tristan and one left with Bartholomew, having all been smashed in the late hurricanes. In the heavy sea that was running on the bar the Admiral dared not risk his last remaining boat; but in the mean time he was cut off from all news of the shore party and deprived of any means of finding out what had happened to Tristan. And presently to these anxieties was added a further disaster. It will be remembered that when the Quibian had been captured fifty natives had been taken with him; and these were confined in the forecastle of the Capitana and covered by a large hatch, on which most of the crew slept at night. But one night the natives collected a heap of big stones from the ballast of the ship, and piled them up to a kind of platform beneath the hatch; some of the strongest of them got upon the platform and set their backs horizontally against the hatch, gave a great heave and, lifted it off. In the confusion that followed, a great many of the prisoners escaped into the sea, and swam ashore; the rest were captured and thrust back under the hatch, which was chained down; but when on the following morning the Spaniards went to attend to this remnant it was found that they had all hanged themselves.
This was a great disaster, since it increased the danger of the garrison ashore, and destroyed all hope of friendship with the natives. There was something terrible and powerful, too, in the spirit of people who could thus to a man make up their minds either to escape or die; and the Admiral must have felt that he was in the presence of strange, powerful elements that were far beyond his control. At any moment, moreover, the wind might change and put him on a lee shore, or force him to seek safety in sea-room; in which case the position of Bartholomew would be a very critical one. It was while things were at this apparent deadlock that a brave fellow, Pedro Ledesma, offered to attempt to swim through the surf if the boat would take him to the edge of it. Brave Pedro, his offer accepted, makes the attempt; plunges into the boiling surf, and with mighty efforts succeeds in reaching the shore; and after an interval is seen by his comrades, who are waiting with their boat swinging on the edge of the surf, to be returning to them; plunges into the sea, comes safely through the surf again, and is safely hauled on board, having accomplished a very real and satisfactory bit of service.
The story he had to tell the Admiral was as we know not a pleasant one—Tristan and his men dead, several of Bartholomew's force, including the Adelantado himself, wounded, and all in a state of panic and fear at the hostile natives. The Spaniards would do nothing to make the little fortress safer, and were bent only on escaping from the place of horror. Some of them were preparing canoes in which to come out to the ships when the sea should go down, as their one small boat was insufficient; and they swore that if the Admiral would not take them they would seize their own caravel and sail out themselves into the unknown sea as soon as they could get her floated over the bar, rather than remain in such a dreadful situation. Columbus was in a very bad way. He could not desert Bartholomew, as that would expose him to the treachery of his own men and the hostility of the savages. He could not reinforce him, except by remaining himself with the whole of his company; and in that case there would be no means of sending the news of his rich discovery to Spain. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to break up the settlement and return some other time with a stronger force sufficient to occupy the country. And even this course had its difficulties; for the weather continued bad, the wind was blowing on to the shore, the sea was—so rough as to make the passage of the bar impossible, and any change for the worse in the weather would probably drive his own crazy ships ashore and cut off all hope of escape.
The Admiral, whose health was now permanently broken, and who only had respite from his sufferings in fine weather and when he was relieved from a burden of anxieties such as had been continually pressing on him now for three months, fell into his old state of sleeplessness, feverishness, and consequent depression; and it, these circumstances it is not wonderful that the firm ground of fact began to give a little beneath him and that his feet began to sink again into the mire or quag of stupor. Of these further flounderings in the quag he himself wrote an account to the King and Queen, so we may as well have it in his own words.
"I mounted to the top of the ship crying out with a weak voice, weeping bitterly, to the commanders of your Majesties' army, and calling again to the four winds to help; but they did not answer me. Tired out, I fell asleep and sighing I heard a voice very full of pity which spoke these words: O fool! and slow to believe and to serve Him, thy God and the God of all. What did He more for Moses? and for David His servant? Since thou wast born He had always so great care for thee. When He saw thee in an age with which He was content He made thy name sound marvellously through the world. The Indies, which are so rich apart of the world, He has given to thee as thine. Thou hast distributed them wherever it has pleased thee; He gave thee power so to do. Of the bonds of the ocean which were locked with so strong chains He gave thee the keys, and thou wast obeyed in all the land, and among the Christians thou hast acquired a good and honourable reputation. What did He more for the people of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt? or yet for David, whom from being a shepherd He made King of Judea? Turn to Him and recognise thine error, for His mercy is infinite. Thine old age will be no hindrance to all great things. Many very great inheritances are in His power. Abraham was more than one hundred years old when he begat Isaac and also Sarah was not young. Thou art calling for uncertain aid. Answer me, who has afflicted thee so much and so many times—God or the world? The privileges and promises which God makes He never breaks to any one; nor does He say after having received the service that His intention was not so and it is to be understood in another manner: nor imposes martyrdom to give proof of His power. He abides by the letter of His word. All that He promises He abundantly accomplishes. This is His way. I have told thee what the Creator hath done for thee and does for all. Now He shows me the reward and payment of thy suffering and which thou hast passed in the service of others. And thus half dead, I heard everything; but I could never find an answer to make to words so certain, and only I wept for my errors. He, who ever he might be, finished speaking, saying: Trust and fear not, for thy tribulations are written in marble and not without reason."
Mere darkness of stupor; not much to be deciphered from it, nor any profitable comment to be made on it, except that it was our poor Christopher's way of crying out his great suffering and misery. We must not notice it, much as we should like to hold out a hand of sympathy and comfort to him; must not pay much attention to this dark eloquent nonsense—merely words, in which the Admiral never does himself justice. Acts are his true conversation; and when he speaks in that language all men must listen.