The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

BOOK VI.

CHAPTER I.
DEPARTURE OF COLUMBUS ON HIS SECOND VOYAGE—DISCOVERY
OF THE CARIBBEE ISLANDS.

[ 1493.]

The departure of Columbus on his second voyage of discovery presented a brilliant contrast to his gloomy embarkation at Palos. On the 25th of September, at the dawn of day, the Bay of Cadiz was whitened by his fleet. There were three large ships of heavy burden,* and fourteen caravels, loitering with flapping sails, and awaiting the signal to get under way. The harbor resounded with the well-known note of the sailor, hoisting sail or weighing anchor; a motley crowd were hurrying on board, and taking leave of their friends in the confidence of a prosperous voyage and triumphant return. There was the high-spirited cavalier, bound on romantic enterprise; the hardy navigator, ambitious of acquiring laurels in these unknown seas; the roving adventurer, seeking novelty and excitement; the keen, calculating speculator, eager to profit by the ignorance of savage tribes; and the pale missionary from the cloister, anxious to extend the dominion of the church, or devoutly zealous for the propagation of the faith. All were full of animation and lively hope. Instead of being regarded by the populace as devoted men, bound upon a dark and desperate enterprise, they were contemplated with envy, as favored mortals, bound to golden regions and happy climes, where nothing but wealth and wonder and delights awaited

____________________
*
Peter Martyr says they were carracks (a large species of merchant vessel, principally used in coasting trade), of one hundred tons burden, and that two of the caravels were much larger than the rest, and more capable of bearing decks from the size of their masts.—Decad. i. lib. i.

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