The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

not for the wealth it would bring to Europe, but for the field it would open for glorious and benevolent enterprise, and the blessings and improvements of civilized life, which it would widely dispense through barbarous and uncultivated regions.

Note.—Isabella at the present day is quite overgrown with forest, in the midst of which are still to be seen, partly standing, the pillars of the church, some remains of the king's storehouses, and part of the residence of Columbus, all built of hewn stone. The small fortress is also a prominent ruin; and a little north of it is a circular pillar about ten feet high and as much in diameter, of solid masonry, nearly entire; which appears to have had a wooden gallery or battlement round the top for the convenience of room, and in the centre of which was planted the flagstaff. Having discovered the remains of an iron clamp imbedded in the stone, which served to secure the dagstaff itself, I tore it out, and now consign to you this curious relic of first foothold of civilization in the New World, after it has been exposed to the elements nearly three hundred and fifty years.—From the Letter of T.S. Heneker.


CHAPTER VIII.
DISCONTENTS AT ISABELLA—MUTINY OF BERNAL DIAZ DE PISA.

[ 1494.]

The embryo city of Isabella was rapidly assuming a form. A dry stone wall surrounded it, to protect it from any sudden attack of the natives, although the most friendly disposition was evinced by the Indians of the vicinity, who brought supplies of their simple articles of food, and gave them in exchange for European trifles. On the day of the Epiphany, the 6th of February, the church being sufficiently completed, high mass was celebrated with great pomp and ceremony, by Friar Boyle and the twelve ecclesiastics. The affairs of the settlement being thus apparently in a regular train, Columbus, though still confined by indisposition, began to make arrangements for his contemplated expedition to the mountains of Cibao, when an unexpected disturbance in his little community for a time engrossed his attention.

The sailing of the fleet for Spain had been a melancholy sight to many whose terms of enlistment compelled them to remain on the island. Disappointed in their expectations of immediate wealth, disgusted with the labors imposed on them, and appalled by the maladies prevalent throughout the community, they began to look with horror upon the surrounding wilder-

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