The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

thought he discovered among them, from their gentle natures, and their ignorance of all warlike arts, he pronounces it an easy matter to make them devout members of the church and loyal subjects of the crown. He concludes his speculations upon the advantages to be derived from the colonization of these parts by anticipating a great trade for gold, which must abound in the interior; for pearls and precious stones, of which, though he had seen none, he had received frequent accounts; for gums and spices, of which he thought he had found indubitable traces; and for the cotton, which grew wild in vast quantities. Many of these articles, he observes, would probably find a nearer market than Spain, in the ports and cities of the Great Khan, at which he had no doubt of soon arriving.*


CHAPTER V
SEARCH AFTER THE SUPPOSED ISLAND OF BABEQUE—DESERTION
OF THE PINTA.

[ 1492.]

On the 12th of November, Columbus turned his course to the east-south-east, to follow back the direction of the coast. This may be considered another critical change in his voyage, which had a great effect upon his subsequent discoveries. He had proceeded far within what is called the old channel, between Cuba and the Bahamas. In two or three days more he would have discovered his mistake in supposing Cuba a part of terra firma; an error in which he continued to the day of his death. He might have had intimation also of the vicinity of the continent, and have stood for the coast of Florida, or have been carried thither by the gulf stream, or, continuing along Cuba where it bends to the south-west, might have struck over to the opposite coast of Yucatan, and have realized his most sanguine anticipations in becoming the discoverer of Mexico. It was sufficient glory for Columbus, however, to have discovered a new world. Its more golden regions were reserved to give splendor to succeeding enterprises.

He now ran along the coast for two or three days without

____________________
*
Primer Viage de Colon. Navarrete, tom. i.

-132-

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