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which is carefully omitted in the relation of Vespucci, that he found traces of the admiral in the Isle of Trinidad, near the Dragon's Mouth.* In the legal proceedings above alluded to, it was proved by a hundred and nine witnesses, among whom were the Pinzons, Hojeda, Bastidas, Morales, Ledesma, and other distinguished navigators, that Christopher Columbus was the first discoverer of the West Indies, of Terra Firma, and of Darien : and it is worthy of remark, that while the grand object of this investigation was to determine the priority of discovery, no one ever thought of the claims of Amerigo Vespucci ; nor was he even alluded to by any of the witnesses except Hojeda. +
Notwithstanding the groundlessness of his pretensions, the ambition of the Florentine to give his name to the New World met with flattering success so early as 1507. In a treatise of cosmography printed in that year, and prefixed to his voyages, the writer, who was probably Vespucci's countryman, remarks,“ that the new continent ought to be called America, from its discoverer Americus, a man of rare ability ; inasmuch as Europe and Asia derived their names from women.” Thus it appears that the New World has silently and irrevocably assumed that general denomination which first appeared in print. Popular fables, and the enthusiastic dreams of Columbus, intercepted from him a portion of his glory. He fancied that he had reached the Indies, the favoured seat of luxury and wealth ; and would have felt sorry, perhaps, to relinquish that favourite idea for the honour of assuming the rich blazonry of fame to which he was truly entitled, and of giving his name to a new quarter of the world. The illiberal jealousy and reserve of the court of Spain, which throws a shade over the career of all
• Navarrete, tom. iii. p. 544.
+ Id. pp. 538-592. | Cosmographia cum quatuor itineribus Americi Vesputii, &c. printed in 1507, and again in 1509 : these rare little volumes are in the library of the British Museum. The author of this treatise shows his solicitude to give Amerigo's name to the new continent by repeating the above-cited observ. ation within the space of a few pages. May he not have been a near kins. man of the navigator, whose fame he wished to exalt? A commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco, written by one Bartolomeo Vespucci, was printed in 1508. Pinelo, Biblioteca orientale et occidentale, p. 964.
who engage in its service, has contributed not a little to the injustice with which posterity has treated that great man. Amerigo Vespucci was the first who published an account of the newly-discovered countries, and mankind has liberally repaid the information it received. *
EARLY DISCOVERIES IN AMERICA.
NAVIGATORS WHO EMULATED THE FAME OF COLUMBUS.
VINCENT YANEZ PINZON. — DISCOVERS BRAZIL. THE RIVER OF AMAZONS. — BRINGS HOME THE FIRST OPOSSUM SEEN IN EUROPE. — VOYAGE OF BASTIDAS. - EXPLORES VENEZUELA AND CARTHAGENA. —HIS DISTRESSES. - PROVINCES AWARDED TO HIM. - POLICY OF THE SPANISH COURT. - JEALOUSY EXCITED BY THE ENGLISH AND PORTUGUESE. - EXPEDITION OF PINZON AND SOLIS TO SOUTH AMERICA. --SECOND VOYAGE OF SOLIS. — ITS OBJECT. — HE REACHES THE RIVER LA PLATA. —DEVOURED BY THE SAVAGES. — EXERTIONS OF HOJEDA. — HIS EXPEDITION TO COLONISE URABA. -FINDS A RIVAL IN NICUESSA. -DEFEATED BY THE INDIANS. — BUILDS ST. SEBASTIAN. — HIS SUFFERINGS AND DEATH. - WRETCHED FATE OF NICUESSA. BALBOA REMAINS IN DARIEN, - MARCHES ACROSS THE ISTHMUS. - DISCOVERS THE SOUTH SEA. - SUPERSEDED BY PEDRARIAS. HIS UNHAPPY END.
The discovery of America filled mankind with astonishment, and awakened the lively curiosity of the learned. Countries of such vast extent, and which had remained so long unknown, held out attractions to the most active propensities—the love of novelty and of gain. The ardour of hope is so much nourished by imagination, and this faculty had such full scope to expand itself in the imperfectly descried regions of the New World, that we need not be surprised at the alacrity and perseverance with which expeditions were fitted out to undertake the dangerous voyage across the Atlantic, and pursue the tracks of ill-requited discovery.
* A letter of Columbus on his return from his first voyage was translated into Latin by Leander de Cosco, and printed in 1493, with the title Epistola de Insulæ Indiæ super Gangem nuper inventis, &c. But this evidently did 'not announce the discovery of a New World.
Yet, notwithstanding the multitude of adventurers who pressed forward in this new career of fame or fortune, the eminence of Columbus remained unobscured by rivalry; or rather, the lustre of his fame was rendered still more conspicuous by the boldness of navigators, who had almost all been his companions or disciples. Among the most distinguished of these was Vincent Yanez Pinzon, who had accompanied the admiral in his first voyage of discovery. His spirit of enterprise was roused by the intelligence that the continent was discovered ; and as great confidence was reposed in his ability and experience, he found no difficulty in equipping four caravels, and in inducing some of those who had visited the coast of Paria with Columbus to embark as pilots in the expedition. Thus prepared, he sailed from Palos in the beginning of December, 1499. From the Cape Verd islands he held his course three hundred leagues towards the south-west, the pole star being still visible above the horizon. In the midst of the ocean, however, a violent tempest came on, which drove the vessels along for some hours, at an unusually rapid rate ; and when the wind abated, and the clouds cleared away, so that the heavens might be observed, the seamen were astonished to find that the north pole was now completely concealed from their view, and that the starry hemisphere had changed its aspect. Unacquainted as yet with the constellations near the southern pole, and being consequently at a loss for some fixed point to guide them in their path through the seas, they became filled with superstitious terrors. Pinzon, however, persisted in his course to the south-west ; and on the 20th of January, 1500, when in eight degrees of south latitude, he discovered land, to which he gave the name of Santa Maria de la Consolacion. He immediately went on shore, and, with the usual formalities, took possession of the country in the name of the crown of Castile. No inhabitants were seen here; but the Spaniards imagined that they saw footsteps and other traces of men of gigantic stature.
Thus Pinzon was the first European who crossed the line in the western seas. To the same nagivator is also unquestionably due the discovery of Brazil, which is usually assigned, however, to Pedro Alvarez Cabral, a Portuguese admiral, who, while conducting a fleet to India, and standing out far to the west, in order to avoid the variable winds which prevail near the African continent, arrived unexpectedly on the same shore about three months later than Pinzon, and two degrees farther to the south. He took possession of the country for the crown of Portugal, and called it Santa Cruz, a name eventually supplanted by that of Brazil, which it obtained from the red dye-wood found there in great abundance. · The Spanish navigator steered northwards along the coast from Cape St. Augustin, and explored with wonder the mouths of the Maragnon, or river of Amazons, which pours down, through numerous mouths, such an immense body of water, as to freshen the sea to the distance of many leagues from land. From the size of this great stream, Pinzon justly inferred the vast magnitude of the continent from which it flows. The islands near the shore were inhabited by a simple and harmless people, who generously shared with their strange visitors every thing they possessed. In return for this kindness and hospitality, a number of them were treacherously seized by the Spaniards and carried off captive. Proceeding along the shore, Pinzon passed through the strait called the Dragon's Mouth, and steered for Hispaniola. Leaving this, he encountered a dreadful storm which sunk two of his vessels, and reached Palos in the end of September, many of his people having perished, and the remainder being worn out with fatigue. Nothing was gained by this voyage but the honour of having explored four hundred leagues of coast hitherto unknown. But the mind of Pinzon was still possessed with the magnificent fancies of Columbus. He fondly thought that he had arrived at the Indies, and brought home with him a variety of vegetable productions, which he looked upon as precious drugs and spices. About three thousand pounds' weight of dye-woods, of various colours, formed the only valuable part of his cargo. Among the specimens of strange animals which he brought with him from the New World was an individual of the opossum species, a tribe which nature has provided with the singular appendage of a pouch or bag attached close under the belly, in which the young are carried, until they acquire strength to shift for themselves. The young of the opossum which Pinzon took on board died during the voyage home; but the old one reached Spain in safety, and was sent from Seville to the court at Grenada, where it excited not a little astonishment by the novelty of its appearance. Diego de Lepe and Alonzo Velez de Mendoza followed soon after in the traces of Pinzon: they added but little to his discoveries, and were equally unsuccessful in collecting treasures.
Towards the close of the same year (1500), Roderigo de Bastidas, accompanied by the celebrated pilot Juan de la Cosa, set sail from Cadiz with two small vessels, to try his fortune in the career of discovery. Passing between the mainland and the island of Guadaloupe, he held a westerly course across the gulf of Venezuela to Cape Vela, where former discoveries in that direction had terminated. He followed the coast, however, to the west ; observed the mouth of the Magdalena, the harbour of Carthagena, and entered the gulf of Uraba, round which he sailed, to Cape St. Blas: he prosecuted his examination of the coast as far as Puerto del Retrete in ten degrees north latitude; the same haven at which Columbus, a few months later, desisted from the arduous struggles of his fourth voyage of discovery. From this place, Bastidas directed his course to Jamaica, in order to repair his ships, which length of service and the attacks of the teredo worm had rendered incapable of encountering the risks of a protracted voyage. Furious gales, however, overtook him in his