SUBSEQUENT VOYAGES OF COLUMBUS
(From 1493 A.D. to 1506 A.D.)
Columbus and the Egg.—The Destruction of La Navidad.—Exploring
Tours.—The third Voyage.—Columbus superseded by Bobadilla.—Columbus in
Chains.—The fourth Voyage.—Wrecked upon the Island of Jamaica.—The
Eclipse of the Moon.—The Rescue.—Return to Spain.—Death and Burial.
 BEFORE Columbus left Barcelona to enter upon his second voyage he experienced many annoyances.
Distinction ever excites envy. Enemies to Columbus, bitter and unrelenting, sprang up
around him. He was an Italian, a foreigner. The Spanish nobles were not well pleased with
his elevation, and were very restive when, under any circumstances, they were compelled to
yield to his authority. It was during his sojourn at Barcelona that the incident occurred
which gave rise to the universally known anecdote of the egg. The Grand Cardinal of Spain
had invited Columbus to dine with him. An envious guest inquired of Columbus if he thought
that there was no man in Spain capable of discovering the Indies if he had not made the
discovery. Columbus, without replying to the question, took an egg from the table and
asked if there was any one who could make it stand on one end. They all tried, but in
vain. Columbus then, by a slight blow, crushed the end of the egg, and left it standing
before them, thus teaching that it is easy to do a thing after some one has shown how.
 We must briefly narrate the subsequent career of this illustrious man. It is but a
melancholy recital of toils, disappointments, and sorrows. As we have mentioned, Columbus
sailed from Cadiz, upon his second voyage, on the 25th of September, 1493. After a
prosperous sail of thirty-eight days, in the early dawn of the morning of the 2nd of
November the lofty mountains of an unknown but majestic island appeared in the distance.
It was the morning of the Sabbath. The crews of all the vessels were assembled upon
their decks, and prayers and anthems of thanksgiving floated over the peaceful solitudes
of the ocean. Columbus, as the island was discovered upon the Sabbath, gave it the name of
Dominica. He was now in
 the beautiful cluster called The Antilles. During the day he passed six of these gems of
the ocean, appearing on those smooth waters beneath the bright sun of the tropics, like
fairy islands in a fairy sea.
COLUMBUS AND THE EGG.
As he cruised along, he gave to the more important islands he met the names of
Marigalanti, Guadaloupe, St. Juan Bantistu, since called Porto Rico. On these islands he
found a fierce and warlike race, who were the terror of the more peaceful inhabitants of
the other islands. The evidence seemed indubitable that they were cannibals, devouring
the victims of war. It now became manifest that the New World was by no means an Eden of
primal innocence, but that it was inhabited by the fallen race of Adam, who groaned
beneath the burden of life.
On the 29th of November Columbus again cast anchor in the harbor of La Navidad. He
expected to find a happy colony, and that by trading with the natives they would have
obtained by this time a ton of gold for him to transfer immediately to his ships. Instead
of this, to his great disappointment he found but desolation and ruin. The Spaniards had
quarrelled and fought among themselves. They had abandoned the fortress, that they might
live among the natives, where they soon excited intense disgust and hatred by their brutal
licentiousness, and their haughty disregard of all the feelings of the Indians. A warlike
tribe from the interior fell upon them, as they were scattered about, and every man
perished. The natives also, who were friendly to Columbus, were overwhelmed by the assault
of the fierce tribe, and nothing remained of the colony but desolation and mouldering
The sanguine adventurers who had accompanied Columbus, lured by the account he had given
of this golden realm,
 were bitterly disappointed. Sickness broke out. Murmurs loud and deep rose on every side.
Columbus was denounced as a deceiver, and hardly an individual could be found to lend him
any cordial co-operation. Many of the haughty young nobles of Spain had accompanied him.
They openly insulted the admiral, refusing obedience to his commands. Columbus was not
sufficiently strong to enforce authority.
THE COLONY DESTROYED.
Harassed and perplexed in every conceivable way, he organized an expedition to explore the
interior for gold, and commenced the establishment of another colonial city, which he
called Isabella. Twelve of the ships were sent back to Spain to obtain supplies. Columbus
was mortified that he could send so little gold. He however wrote a
let-  ter to Ferdinand and Isabella full of brilliant anticipations, with which his sanguine
temperament ever inspired him. Crushed by care and anxiety, he was prostrated upon a sick
bed, which he could not leave for several weeks. During his sickness his mind retained all
its vigor, and he gave his commands as usual. His enemies, taking advantage of his
apparently helpless condition, formed a conspiracy to seize the five remaining ships and
return to Spain, where they would defend themselves for this mutinous act by a combined
assault upon the character of Columbus. With great energy and sagacity the admiral
frustrated their plans. In the endeavor, in some degree, to divert the general discontent,
he arranged an expedition, of which he himself took the command, to explore the coast of
Cuba. The vessels were soon ready, and some degree of enthusiasm animated the crews as
they weighed their anchors and spread their sails.
After following along the southern coast some sixty or seventy miles, meeting with many
pleasing incidents of the same general character which we have previously related, he
turned to the south, and sailed but a few leagues when the blue mountains of another
majestic island seemed to emerge from the sea. This was his first sight of Jamaica.
Fortunately the island has retained its original name. The natives, a bold and warlike
race, opposed the landing. The Spaniards, with cross-bow and bloodhound, put them all to
flight. This was probably the first time in which this animal, of execrable notoriety, was
employed in such services. But Columbus could find here no gold. He returned to Cuba and
sailed along its southern coast many days, and for so many leagues as to satisfy every one
on board the ships that Cuba could not be an island, but that
 it was the mainland. After continuing his tour for nearly five months, and having
discovered many new islands, Columbus returned to his colony at Isabella. Here he again
found that the arrogance and oppression of those he had left behind had so exasperated the
natives that a coalition was formed, of all the tribes, for the extermination of the
The wildest adventures of Indian warfare now ensued, a faithful narrative of which would
fill volumes. The flames of war swept over doomed Hayti, and the island at length being
entirely subjugated, the wretched inhabitants were enslaved. But the victors were
compelled to drink deeply of the cup of misery which they had mingled for others. The most
envenomed complaints were preferred against Columbus before the Spanish sovereigns. A
commission was sent out to investigate his conduct. These commissioners treated the
admiral with such contumely and insult that his situation became absolutely unendurable,
and on the 10th of March, 1496, he again set sail for Spain to seek the redress of his
wrongs. After a long and stormy passage of three months, he landed at Cadiz.
Ferdinand and Isabella received him with kindness. But all the plans and wishes of
Columbus were thwarted by a series of incessant and mortifying annoyances. He found his
popularity greatly on the wane. Many of the nobles, indulging in unworthy jealousy of him
as a foreigner, did every thing in their power to embarrass his movements. More than two
years passed away before Columbus could obtain another squadron. But on the 30th of May,
1498, he again sailed, on his third voyage, with six vessels.
Pursuing a more southerly course, the first land he
 made was a large island on the coast of South America, which he named La
Trinidad—The Trinity—from three lofty peaks, united at their bases, which
first hove in sight.
He coasted for many leagues along the shore of South America, supposing it to be an
island. The natives he found to be almost white. They were bold, but friendly. At length,
turning his prows towards the north, he made sail for Hayti, where he arrived on the 30th
of August. Though his mind remained vigorous as ever, his physical system was shattered by
care, toil, and suffering. Beautiful Hayti, which he had originally found so populous,
peaceful, and happy, was now war-scathed and desolate. The Spaniards had converted a
blooming Eden into a dreary wilderness. Sickness and famine brooded over the island, and
the conquered and the conquerors were alike
 wretched. The colony was in a state of anarchy, and the Spaniards were intensely
exasperated against each other.
SOUTH AMERICAN COAST.
It was long before Columbus could restore even the semblance of order. In the mean time
the disappointed and angry colonists were more bitter than ever in their denunciations of
the admiral, and the court was flooded with complaints against him. Columbus had left two
of his sons as pages in the household of the queen. These lads could not appear in public
without being followed and insulted by a crowd of vagabonds assailing them in the coarsest
language "as the sons of the adventurer who had led so many brave Spanish hidalgos to seek
their graves in the land of vanity and delusion which he had found out."
It was perhaps the general sentiment of the corrupt Christianity of those days that the
heathen were the inheritance of the Christian. This sentiment controlled the conduct of
the Spanish and Portuguese navigators. Columbus, a devout and humane man, deeply anxious
for the spiritual welfare of the poor pagans, was apparently sincere in his conviction
that to sell the natives as slaves in exchange for European commodities would be the most
effectual way of securing their conversion, and of thus conferring upon them the
blessings of an eternal home in heaven.
But Isabella, more enlightened, whose comprehensive and well-balanced mind had no superior
at that time, recoiled from such views. When a number of slaves were offered for sale in
the markets of Spain, she ordered the sale to be suspended until she could obtain the
opinion of a council of ecclesiastics upon the matter. Additional missionaries were sent
out, some of whom were truly good men. But their efforts were greatly paralyzed by the
 conduct of the vagabond Spaniards who disgraced the Christian name. It was not found
difficult to convert the simple-minded natives to Roman Catholic Christianity. The
pageants of the Church, its music, robes, censers, processions, and tinkling bells,
delighted them. The attractions of the new worship were far superior to their ancient
pagan rites. It was only necessary to be baptized to become Christians, with the assurance
Among the records of those days we read that "the Indians were so obedient, from their
fear of the admiral, and at the same tithe so desirous to oblige him, that they
voluntarily became Christians!" And again, "Among other things that the holy fathers
carried out was a little organ and several bells, which greatly delighted the simple
people, so that from one to two thousand persons were baptized every day."
In the summer of 1500 two vessels arrived in Spain from the West Indies with three hundred
natives on board, to be sold as slaves, whom the admiral had granted to the mutineers. The
queen was quite displeased, and exclaimed,
"By what authority does Columbus venture thus to dispose of my subjects?"
She immediately issued a decree that all the native Indians who had been enslaved in her
provinces should be without delay restored to their own country.
The complaints against Columbus had now become so loud and bitter that another commission
was sent out to Hayti, with authority to supersede him in command should he be found
guilty. An officer of the royal household, named Bobadilla, was intrusted with this
important commission. This man proved totally unfit for the delicate duty intrusted to
him. Immediately upon his arrival he
 assumed the supreme command, and the venerable admiral, to his utter amazement, was
summoned to his presence as a criminal. Bobadilla had the brutality to order Columbus to
be seized, aged and infirm as he was, and to be manacled with chains. The heroic admiral,
too proud to make unavailing remonstrances, submitted to his fate in dignified silence.
The iron had entered his soul.
He was plunged into a prison until a ship could be got ready to transport him across the
ocean. He was then placed on shipboard while still in chains and sent to Spain. The
commander of the ship, moved with grief and indignation in view of such indignities
heaped upon so noble a man, wished during the voyage to strike off his chains.
COLUMBUS IN CHAINS.
 "No," exclaimed Columbus; "their majesties commanded me by letter to submit to whatever
Bobadilla should order in their name. By their authority he has put these chains upon me.
I will wear them till he shall order them to be taken off. And I will preserve them ever
after, as relics and memorials of the rewards of my services."
These outrages inflicted upon a man so illustrious roused a general voice of indignation
throughout Christendom. Ferdinand and Isabella were not only shocked, but alarmed. They
feared that the voice of Christendom would attribute the crime to them. Immediately upon
learning that Columbus had arrived at Cadiz in irons, they dispatched a messenger in the
greatest haste, to release him from his fetters, to express to him their sympathy and
regret for the indignities to which he had been exposed, and to invite him to repair
immediately to the court, which was then assembled at Granada. An imposing escort was sent
to accompany him on the journey, and an ample sum of money to defray his expenses.
Upon his arrival at Granada he was at once favored with an audience by the king and queen.
Tears filled the eyes of Isabella as she greeted him with the warmest expressions of
sympathy and regret in view of the treatment he had received.
These words of kindness so touched the heart of the noble old man that his emotions
entirely overcame him. Throwing himself upon his knees, he wept and sobbed like a
heart-broken child. Both the king and queen did every thing in their power to soothe him,
assuring him that his injuries should be redressed, and that he should be reinstated in
all those dignities which were so justly his due.
An expedition was immediately fitted out to overawe the
 factions in the colony, and to prepare the way for the return of Columbus. A fleet of
thirty-two vessels, abundantly equipped, conveying twenty-five hundred persons, many of
them the most illustrious Spanish families, set sail in September,1501. Don Nicholas de
Ovando, a man in many respects well qualified for the position, was intrusted with the
command. He was commissioned with a decree declaring that the poor natives, who were
rapidly dwindling away, should no longer be enslaved; he was also directed to secure full
indemnification to Columbus and his brothers for all their losses, and to send Bobadilla
home for trial.
Some months after the sailing of this expedition Columbus was fitted out with a small
squadron for his fourth and last voyage. Supposing the lands he had discovered to be a
portion of the continent of Asia, he hoped to find some passage through the Isthmus of
Darien to the East Indies. His little fleet of four small vessels, the largest of which
was of but seventy tons' burden, sailed on the 9th of March, 1502. Columbus was now far
advanced in years, infirm, and weary of the toil and strife of life. It appears that it
was with some hesitancy that he undertook the command of this expedition.
"I have established," he wrote, "all that I proposed—the existence of land in the
west. I have opened the gate, and others may enter at their pleasure; as indeed they do,
arrogating to themselves the title of discoverers, to which they can have little claim,
following, as they do, in my track."
The leaky condition of his ships rendered it necessary for Columbus to touch at Hayti on
his outward passage, contrary to his intentions. The fleet which was to convey Bobadilla
to Spain was just about to weigh anchor. The
 experienced eye of Columbus foresaw a violent approaching hurricane. He advised that the
departure should be delayed. His counsel was disregarded. The fleet sailed. The hurricane
came. Only one ship survived its fury. The rest foundered. Bobadilla and his companions
sank to a fathomless grave. Columbus, riding safely through many tempests, at length
reached the continent at what is now called Central America, near Yucatan. Sailing by a
conspicuous headland, which he named Cape Gracias a Dios, he cruised southerly along the
coast for many leagues, hoping to find a passage through the Isthmus. Not succeeding, he
attempted to establish a colony at the mouth of a river called Belem. But the natives were
aroused by the licentiousness and oppression of his men, and the whole country was soon in
arms against the Spaniards. The colonists were attacked in such force that they were
driven to their ships.
This voyage was but a series of disappointments. "My people," writes Columbus, "are
dismayed and down-hearted. Almost all my anchors are lost, and my vessels are bored by
worms as full of holes as a honeycomb." One of his ships was left a wreck upon the
Isthmus. The other ships being in a sinking condition, he was compelled to run ashore upon
the island of Jamaica. He converted the wrecks into a fortress to protect himself from the
natives, who seem now to have become everywhere hostile.
Columbus found himself in as deplorable a situation as can well be imagined. He was, as it
were, imprisoned in his two wrecked vessels, which he had drawn side by side and
fortified. Severe sickness confined him to his bed, and he was suffering excruciating
pangs from gout. The natives were manifesting hostility. He was on a distant and
 unfrequented island one hundred and twenty miles from Hayti, with apparently no
possibility of sending there intelligence of his condition. The position of affairs was so
alarming that a bold mariner undertook the desperate enterprise of crossing the ocean in a
canoe to Hayti. Month after month lingered away, and there were no signs of relief.
Columbus, tortured with bodily pain, remained confined to his berth. His men, despairing
of ever again seeing their homes, broke away from all restraints, bade defiance to the
authority of the admiral, and in armed bands ranged the island, visiting upon the poor
natives every species of lawless violence.
The natives, exasperated beyond endurance, secretly united in a plan for the destruction
of the Spaniards. Columbus saw indications of the rising storm. But in this dark hour the
character of this marked man shone illustrious.
By his knowledge of astronomy he ascertained that a total eclipse of the moon was to occur
in a few days. He summoned the principal caciques, informed them that the Deity he
worshipped was in the skies; that this Deity was offended with the Indians for their
unfriendly feelings, and for withholding supplies; and that in token of the fearful
punishment which awaited them, they would soon see the moon fade away. Some scoffed, some
were frightened, and all felt secret solicitude.
The night came, brilliant in tropical splendor. The moon rose effulgent over the waves.
All eyes were fixed upon it. Soon some dark destruction seemed to be consuming it. The
beautiful luminary was rapidly wasting away. The terror of the natives became intense; and
when at last the whole moon had disappeared, and portentous
 gloom shrouded the face of
nature, the natives actually shrieked in their dismay. They ran to and fro, and implored
Columbus to intercede in their behalf. Columbus said he would retire and commune with the
Deity. When the eclipse was about to cease, he informed them that God would pardon them
upon condition that they would fulfill their promises and furnish supplies. The shadow
passed away, and the moon, with apparently renovated brilliance, shone forth in the serene
sky. The natives were completely vanquished. They regarded Columbus with unspeakable
awe, and were henceforth ready to do his bidding.
In this imprisonment, with but little hope of ever being rescued, Columbus, with a few men
who were still faithful
 to him, remained in the wrecked and shattered ships. Day after day they scanned the
horizon till their straining eyes ached, but no sail appeared. There was hardly a
possibility that the frail canoe could have reached its destined port; and as the months
wearily passed, bringing no relief, despair, to which the seamen had long since resigned
themselves, began to settle gloomily over the mind of Columbus. In one of those dismal
hours he wrote in his journal,
"Hitherto I have wept for others; but now have pity upon me, Heaven, and weep for me, O
Earth! In my temporal concerns, without a farthing to offer for a mass, cast away here in
the Indies, surrounded by cruel and hostile savages, isolated, infirm, expecting each day
will be my last, weep for me whoever has charity, truth, and justice!"
At length, after a year had passed, two vessels were seen approaching the island. Despair
was succeeded by delirium of joy. The mutineers, weary of license and crime, hastened
from their dispersion, and implored the forgiveness of the kind-hearted admiral. He
pardoned the wretches; and all who survived the dissipation and the hardships of the year
were transferred to Hayti.
Here an appalling spectacle of oppression and of wretchedness met the eye of Columbus.
New rulers were in command. The off-scouring of Spain had flocked as adventurers to the
doomed island. The natives, who had received Columbus with almost celestial kindness, were
converted into slaves, and were driven by the lash to the fields and the mines. If, in
irrepressible yearnings for liberty, they attempted to escape and fled to the mountains,
their brutal taskmasters, with guns and bloodhounds, pursued them and hunted them down as
if they were beasts of prey. Las Casas describes these outrages in terms which excite in
 humane heart emotions of grief and indignation. Many of the natives in despair
killed themselves; mothers destroyed their own children to save them from the doom of
slavery. In less than twelve years, under these atrocities, several hundred thousand of
the natives had perished, and before one short half century had passed the whole native
population had sunk in misery to the grave.
Columbus was by nature eminently a humane man. These awful calamities, which he had been
instrumental in bringing upon the island, lacerated his soul. His whole life had been a
sublime tragedy, with but here and there a gleam of joy. Again he embarked for Spain.
Disasters seemed to pursue him every step of his way. Storm after
 storm beat fiercely upon his crazy bark. When he arrived, he was so exhausted by pain and
mental suffering that he could not sit upon a horse. He was removed to Seville, where he
hoped to find a little repose. Poverty now stared him in the face. Isabella was upon her
death-bed, and soon breathed her last. Ferdinand was heartless, and incapable of generous
impulses. In a letter to his son, Columbus sadly writes:
"I live by borrowing. Little have I profited by twenty years of service with such toils
and perils, since at present I do not own a roof in Spain. If I desire to eat or sleep, I
have no resort but an inn, and for the most times have not wherewithal to pay my bill."
Still the fires of heroic enterprise glowed in the veins of this strange and indomitable
man. While helpless on his bed at Seville, and having already passed his three-score years
and ten, with undying enthusiasm he was still planning new and gigantic enterprises, when
death came with that summons which all must heed.
It was the 20th of May, 1506. With pious resignation he surrendered himself to the king of
terrors. He was perfectly willing to depart "beyond the cares of this rough and weary
world." Uttering devoutly the words, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit," he
breathed his last. His remains were deposited in the Convent of St. Francisco at Seville.
Thirty years afterwards they were removed to St. Domingo, on the island of Hayti. Upon the
cession of the island to the French, in 1795, they were transferred by the Spanish
authorities to the Cathedral of Havana in Cuba.
In this brief sketch of the career of Columbus, a career more full of wonderful adventure
than that of almost any
 other man, we have of course been compelled to omit many occurrences of great interest.
But we could not say less than we have done, consistently with our plan of giving a
faithful narrative of the Romance of Spanish History.