The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

temperature prevailed throughout the year, and neither nature nor custom prescribed the necessity of clothing?

The hospitality which characterizes men in such a simple and easy mode of existence, was evinced toward Columbus and his followers during their sojourn in the Vega. Wherever they went it was a continual scene of festivity and rejoicing. The natives hastened from all parts, bearing presents, and laying the treasures of their groves, and streams, and mountains, at the feet of beings whom they still considered as descended from the skies to bring blessings to their island.

Having accomplished the purposes of his residence in the Vega, Columbus, at the end of a few days, took leave of its hospitable inhabitants, and resumed his march for the harbor, returning with his little army through the lofty and rugged gorge of the mountains called the Pass of the Hidalgos. As we accompany him in imagination over the rocky height, whence the Vega first broke upon the eye of the Europeans, we cannot help pausing to cast back a look of mingled pity and admiration over this beautiful but devoted region. The dream of natural liberty, of ignorant content, and loitering idleness, was as yet unbroken, but the fiat had gone forth; the white man had penetrated into the land; avarice, and pride, and ambition, and pining care, and sordid labor, and withering poverty, were soon to follow, and the indolent paradise of the Indian was about to disappear forever.


CHAPTER XI.
ARRIVAL OF COLUMBUS AT ISABELLA—SICKNESS OF THE COLONY.

[ 1494.]

On the 29th of March Columbus arrived at Isabella, highly satisfied with his expedition into the interior. The appearance of everything in the vicinity of the harbor was calculated to increase his anticipations of prosperity. The plants and fruits of the Old World, which he was endeavoring to introduce into the island, gave promise of rapid increase. The orchards, fields, and gardens were in a great state of forwardness. The seeds of various fruits had produced young plants; the sugar-cane

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