The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

without judges. They take him for an evil and mischievous man, who taketh pleasure in doing hurt to another; and albeit they delight not in superfluities, yet they make provision for the increase of such roots whereof they make their bread, contented with such simple diet, whereby health is preserved and disease avoided."*

Much of this picture may be overcolored by the imagination, but it is generally confirmed by contemporary historians. They all concur in representing the life of these islanders as approaching to the golden state of poetical felicity; living under the absolute but patriarchal and easy rule of their caciques, free from pride, with few wants, an abundant country, a happily-tempered climate, and a natural disposition to careless and indolent enjoyment.


CHAPTER VII.
COASTING OF HISPANIOLA.

[ 1492.]

When the weather became favorable, Columbus made another attempt, on the 14th of December, to find the island of Babeque, but was again baffled by adverse winds. In the course of this attempt he visited an island lying opposite to the harbor of Conception, to which, from its abounding in turtle, he gave the name of Tortugas. The natives had fled to the rocks and forests, and alarm fires blazed along the heights. The country was so beautiful that he gave to one of the valleys the name of Valle de Paraiso, or the Vale of Paradise, and called a fine stream the Guadalquiver, after that renowned river which flows through some of the fairest provinces of Spain.

Setting sail on the 16th of December at midnight, Columbus steered again for Hispaniola. When half way across the gulf which separates the islands, he perceived a canoe navigated by a single Indian, and, as on a former occasion, was astonished at his hardihood in venturing so far from land in so frail a bark,

____________________
*
P. Martyr, decad. i. lib. iii. Transl. of Richard Eden, 1555.
This island in after times became the headquarters of the famous Buccaneers.
Journal of Columbus. Navarrete, Colec., tom. i. p. 91.

-142-

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