The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

several days, with a great quantity of gold, and with animating accounts of the country. He had found no port, however, equal to the river of Belen, and was convinced that gold was nowhere to be met with in such abundance as in the district of Veragua.*


CHAPTER VII.
COMMENCEMENT OF A SETTLEMENT ON THE RIVER BELEN—CON
SPIRACY OF THE NATIVES—EXPEDITION OF THE ADELANTADO
TO SURPRISE QUIBIAN.

[ 1503.]

The reports brought to Columbus, from every side, of the wealth of the neighborhood; the golden tract of twenty days' journey in extent, shown to his brother from the mountain; the rumors of a rich and civilized country at no great distance, all convinced him that he had reached one of the most favored parts of the Asiatic continent. Again his ardent mind kindled up with glowing anticipations. He fancied himself arrived at a fountain-head of riches, at one of the sources of the unbounded wealth of King Solomon. Josephus in his work on the antiquities of the Jews, had expressed an opinion that the gold for the building of the temple of Jerusalem had been procured from the mines of the Aurea Chersonesus. Columbus supposed the mines of Veragua to be the same. They lay, as he observed, "within the same distance from the pole, and from the line;" and if the information which he fancied he had received from the Indians was to be depended on, they were situated about the same distance from the Ganges.

Here, then, it appeared to him, was a place at which to found a colony, and establish a mart that should become the emporium of a vast tract of mines. Within the two first days after his arrival in the country, as he wrote to the sovereigns, he had seen more signs of gold than in Hispaniola during four years. That island, so long the object of his pride and hopes, had been

____________________
*
Las Casas, lib. ii. cap. 25. Hist. del Almirante, cap. 95.
Letter of Columbus from Jamaica.

-537-

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