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sounding over the sea, a few hundred yards in advance of him, burst upon his ear the announcement of a new-born world, which made him tremble, and fall upon his knees. It was the signal of land in sight! made by firing a shot, as had been arranged with the Pinta, which was sailing in advance of the squadron, to guide their course and takǝ soundings.
8. At this signal a general shout of "Land ho!" aròse from all the yards and riggings of the ships. The sails were furled, and daybreak was anxiously awaited. The mystery of the ocean had breathed its first whisper in the bosom of night. Daybreak would clear it up openly to every eye. Delicious and unknown perfumes reached the vessels from the outline of the shore, with the roar of the waves upon the reefs and the soft land breeze.
9. The fire seen by Columbus indicated the presence of man, and of the first element of civilization. Never did the night appear so long in clearing away from the horizon; for this horizon was to Columbus and his companions a second creation of God. The dawn, as it spread over the sky, gradually raised the shores of an island from the waves. Its distant extremities were lost in the morning mist. It ascended gradually, like an amphitheater, from the low beach to the summit of the hills, whose dark-green covering contrasted strongly with the blue heavens.
10. Within a few paces from where the foam of the waves breaks on the yellow sand, forests of tall and unknown trees stretched away, one above another, over the successive terraces of the island. Green valleys and bright clefts in the hollows, afforded a half glimpse into these mysterious wilds. Here and there could be discovered a few scattered huts, which, with their outlines and roofs of dry leaves, looked like bee-hives, and thin columns of blue smoke rose above
the tops of the trees. Half-naked groups of men, women, and children, more astonished than frightened, appeared among the thickets near the shore, advancing timidly, and then drawing back, exhibiting, by their gestures and demeanor, as much fear as curiosity and wonder, at the sight of these strange vessels, which the previous night had brought to their shores.
11. Columbus, after gazing in silence on this foremost shore of the land so often determined by his calculations, and so magnificently colored by his imagination, found it to exceed even his own expectations. He burned with impatience to be the first European to set foot on the sand, and to plant the flag of Spain,-the standard of the conquest of God and of his sovereigns, effected by his genius. But he restrained the eagerness of himself and of his crew to land, being desirous of giving to the act of taking possession of a new world, a solemnity worthy of the greatest deed, perhaps, ever accomplished by a seaman; and, in default of men, to call God and His angels, sea, earth, and sky, as witnesses of his conquest of an unknown hemisphere.
12. He put on all the insignia of his dignities as Admiral of the Ocean, and the Viceroy of these future realms; he wrapped himself in his purple cloak, and, taking in his hand an embroidered flag, in which the initials of Ferdinand and Isabella were interlaced, like their two kingdoms, and, surmounted by a crown, he entered his boat, and pulled toward the shore, followed by the boats of his two lieutenants.
13. On landing, he fell on his knees, to acknowledge, by this act of humility and worship, the goodness and greatness of God in this new sphere of His works. He kissed the ground, and, with his face on the earth, he wept tears of double import, as they fell on the dust of this hemisphere, now, for the first time, visited by Europeans,-tears of joy
for the overflowing of a proud spirit, grateful and pious, — tears of sadness for this virgin soil, seeming to foreshadow the calamities, and devastation, with fire and sword, and blood and destruction, which the strangers were to bring with their pride, their knowledge, and their power.
14. It was the man that shed these tears; but it was the earth that was destined to weep. As Columbus raised his forehead from the dust, with a Latin prayer, which his companions have handed down to us, he thus addressed the Sovereign Ruler of the world: (sl.) "Almighty and eternal God, who, by the energy of Thy creative word, hast made the firmament, the earth, and sea, blessed and glorified be Thy name in all places! May Thy majesty and dominion be exalted forever and ever, as Thou hast permitted Thy holy name to be made known and spread by the most humble of Thy servants, in this hitherto unknown portion of Thy empire."
15. He then gave to this land the name of San Salvador. His lieutenants, his pilots, and his seamen, full of gladness, and impressed with a superstitious respect for him whose glance had pierced beyond the visible horizon, and whom they had offended by their unbelief,-overcome by the evidence of their eyes, and by that mental superiority which overawes the minds of men,-fell at the feet of the Admiral, kissed his hands and his clothes, and recognized, for a moment, the power and the almost divine nature of genius; yesterday the victims of his obstinacy,-now the companions of his success, and sharers in the glory which they had mocked. Such is humanity,-persecuting discoverers, yet reaping the fruits of their inventions.
QUESTIONS.-1. What evidences had Columbus that land was near? 2. What did the mutineers do? 3. In what month and year was the neu world discovered? 4. What is said of the natives? 5. What did Columbus do on landing? 6. What was the conduct of the officers and seamen?
FERMENT, heat; glow.
PRE POS' TER OUS, absurd; ridiculous.
DE LU' SION, deception.
THE RETURN OF COLUMBUS.
DON GOMEZ AND HIS SECRETARY.
Don Gomez. WHAT! what is this you tell me? lumbus returned? A new world discovered? Impossible! Secretary. It is even so, sir. A courier arrived at the palace but an hour since with the intelligence. Columbus was driven by stress of weather to anchor in the Tagus. All Portugal is in a ferment of enthusiasm, and all Spain will be equally excited soon. The sensation is prodigious!
Don G. Oh, it is a trick! It must be a trick!
Sec. But he has brought home the proofs of his visit, gold and precious stones, strange plants and animals; and, above all, specimens of a new race of men, copper-colored, with straight hair.
Don G. Still I say, a trick! He has been coasting along the African shore, and there collected a few curiosities, which he is passing off for proofs of his pretended discovery.
Sec. It is a little singular that all his men should be leagued with him in keeping up so unprofitable a falsehood. Don. G. But 'tis against reason, against common sense, that such a discovery should be made.
Sec. King John of Portugal has received him with royal magnificence, has listened to his accounts, and is persuaded that they are true.
Don G. We shall see, we shall see. Look you, sir, a plain matter-of-fact man, such as I, is not to be taken in by any such preposterous story! This vaunted discovery will turn out no discovery at all.
Sec. The king and queen have given orders for preparations on the most magnificent scale for the reception of Columbus.
Don. G. What delusion! Her majesty is so credulous! A practical, common-sense man, like myself, can find no points of sympathy in her nature.
Sec. The Indians on board the returned vessels, are said to be unlike any known race of men.
Don G. Very unreliable all that! I take the commonsense view of the thing. I am a matter-of-fact man, and do you remember what I say, it will all turn out a trick! The crews may have been deceived. Columbus may have steered a southerly course, instead of a westerly. Any thing is probable, rather than that a coast to the westward of us has been discovered,
Sec. I saw the courier, who told me he had conversed with all the sailors; and they laughed at the suspicion that there could be any mistake about the discovery, or that any other than a westerly course had been steered.
Don G. Still I say, a trick! An unknown coast reached by steering west? Impossible! The earth a globe, and men standing with their heads down in space? Folly! An ignorant sailor from Genoa in the right, and all our learned doctors and philosophers in the wrong? Nonsense! I'm a matter-of-fáct man, sir. I will believe what I can see, and handle, and understand. But as for believing in the antipodes, or that the earth is round, or that Columbus has discovered land to the west,- Ring the bell, sir; call my carriage; I will go to the palace and undeceive the king.