The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

BOOK X.

CHAPTER I.
DEPARTURE OF COLUMBUS FROM SPAIN ON HIS THIRD VOYAGE—
DISCOVERY OF TRINIDAD.

[ 1498.]

On the 30th of May, 1498, Columbus set sail from the port of San Lucar de Barrameda, with his squadron of six vessels, on his third voyage of discovery. The route he proposed to take was different from that pursued in his former voyages. He intended to depart from the Cape de Verde Islands, sailing to the south-west, until he should come under the equinoctial line, then to steer directly westward, with the favor of the trade- winds, until he should arrive at land, or find himself in the longitude of Hispaniola. Various considerations induced him to adopt this course. In his preceding voyage, when he coasted the southern side of Cuba, under the belief that it was the continent of Asia, he had observed that it swept off toward the south. From this circumstance, and from information gathered among the natives of the Caribbee Islands, he was induced to believe that a great tract of the main-land lay to the south of the countries he had already discovered. King John II. of Portugal appears to have entertained a similar idea; as Herrera records an opinion expressed by that monarch, that there was a continent in the southern ocean.* If this were the case, it was supposed by Columbus that, in proportion as he approached the equator, and extended his discoveries to climates more and more under the torrid influence of the sun, he should find the productions of nature sublimated by its rays to more perfect and precious qualities. He was strengthened in this belief by

____________________
Herrera, Hist. Ind., decad. i. lib. iii. cap. 9.

-366-

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