THE FALSE HOPES OF COLUMBUS.
THE POPE APPORTIONS THE WORLD.
The court of Spain, however, did not abandon the researches which Columbus had instituted and in which many brave men afterwards perished, but whose fate only served to increase the ardor for further discovery. Portugal now entered the list, and in its rivalry with Spain, the two countries came into frequent collision. The discoveries of the earlier Portuguese navigators, along the coast of Africa and outlying islands, had been eclipsed by the more illustrious success of Columbus, who had now planted the
England and France refused to acknowledge the inherent right of the Pope to make gifts of unknown territory, and in the face of his edict the former power sent out explorers without so much as a consultation with his holiness. France acted with equal disrespect to the Pope, and, without any regard whatever for his desires, prepared to push her conquests in the new world.
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA BY CABOT.
In 1496 the English, indifferent to the Pope's charter of donation, fitted out a fleet, conducted under letters-patent from Henry VII., who gave the command to John Cabot, a native of Venice, who with his three sons, Sebastian, Louis and Sanctius, set forth to seek a western passage to the north of the new Spanish discoveries, by which he hoped to reach Cathay, which was supposed to be eastern India. In pursuit of this ambition, in 1497 Cabot discovered the American Continent, probably first landing in Newfoundland, but being unable to find the strait which Columbus had also sought for in vain, he returned to England, and was loaded with honors by Henry VII., who appreciated to the fullest extent the importance of the continental discovery. His son Sebastian made two voyages thereafter, one in 1498 and the other in 1517, on which he explored a great extent of the coast from Hudson Bay on the north, and as far as Virginia on the south. Like his father, he was compelled to return to England without having attained the immediate object of his voyage, but he had gained the greater honor and distinction of having coasted a large part of the Americana Continent and obtained an idea of its extent.
SHIPWRECK AND LOSS OF THE CORTEREAL BROTHERS.
Three years after the first voyage of Cabot, or in 1500, Caspar Cortereal, a Portuguese gentleman of high birth and great wealth, set sail under the sanction of King Emanuel, following in the track of the Cabots, and with the same object. But instead of pursuing the southerly course, after reaching Newfoundland, he believed that he might be able to reach India through a northwest passage,
His brother, Michael Cortereal, fitted out three ships, and sailed to the western continent in search of his lost brother. The vessels arrived at some portion of the coast where there were several inlets and river mouths, possibly in Chesapeake Bay, and each ship, in the hope of discovering the wrecked mariners, took a different course, with the understanding that they should meet again at an appointed rendezvous on a fixed day. Two of the vessels returned at the designated time, but Michael was as unfortunate as his brother, for nothing further was ever heard from him. That both perished is certain, but in what manner will always remain, a secret with the sea, which tells no tales of its dead.
The third brother had a great desire to set out in search of Caspar and Michael, but the King refused his permission, saying that he would not consent to a third sacrifice. In memory of the disastrous fortunes of the Cortereals, the mouth of the St. Lawrence was for a long while called by the Portuguese "The Gulf of the Three Brothers," not however, because they are supposed to have perished there.
The record of hardships and disasters attending many expeditions which Sailed about this time is a long one. Yet this fatality seemed to act as a stimulant upon resolute spirits and increased the effort to make a complete exploration of the new continent, and to reach India. No sooner then was one crew destroyed than another almost immediately embarked in the same perilous track
Among the most renowned voyagers of this period was Vincente Yanez Pinzon, one of three bold brothers, who by their means and influence assisted Columbus in overcoming the many obstacles which opposed him, and who became his companions on his first voyage. In December, 1499, Pinzon sailed from the port of Palos with a fleet of four caravels, or small vessels, taking with him two sons of his deceased brother and some of the seamen and pilots who had accompanied Columbus. After sailing three hundred leagues to the south-west and passing the equinoctial line, the fleet was overtaken by a fearful tempest which drove the vessels at a furious rate and so far south that when the storm abated the Polar Star was no longer to be seen. The dismay of the mariners, now deprived of their only guide, cannot be conceived. Their sole compass had been the stars, and having passed the equator, a new constellation, now known as the Southern Cross, had taken the place to them of the Polar star. Nevertheless, Pinzon continued on until at length he arrived at the coast of Brazil which he was resolutely bent upon exploring. At Cape San Augustine he went on shore, and with the usual formalities took possession of the country in the name of Spain. At the time of landing no natives were to be seen, though large footprints were noticed on the sand. The next day fires were observed lighted on the coast, and the Spaniards debarking were immediately encountered by a band of Indians of the most fierce and warlike character. They were men of great stature, armed with immense bows and poisonous arrows, while their features were ferocious, their looks haughty, and to the further astonishment of the Spaniards, they regarded the glittering toys and trinkets proffered them to gain their friendship with supreme contempt.
Considering these natives to be too dangerous for him to attempt any exploration of the inland, Pinzon again set sail, and proceeded southwesterly along the coast until he came to the mouth of a river too shallow to admit his ships. He sent several of his boats ashore, led by armed men, for the purpose of treating with the Indians whom he had observed on the right bank of the
This expedition, beyond the discovery of the Amazon river, was of small importance, as the only thing that Pinzon took back to Spain with him which excited any curiosity was an opossum, which aroused the liveliest curiosity of the court of Spain.
In 1500, Roderigo De Bastido, a Spanish gentleman, set out with two ships with John De La Casa, who had been a pilot under Columbus, and steering directly for the continent, discovered the land now called New Spain. Their object was to find the long sought for strait, but they were compelled to return disappointed like their predecessors. In the year following, Americus Vespucius, a Florentine who was in the service of the king of Portugal, set out upon a voyage and coasted South America for a distance of six hundred leagues. But his expedition resulted in no material benefits.
THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH AND DISCOVERY OF THE PACIFIC.
In the latter years of the fifteenth century and in the early years of the sixteenth, more than fifty voyages were undertaken to the American coast. While many of these were prepared with the hope and desire to reach India by a western passage, not a few were actuated by fantastic desires. Among the reputed wonders said to have been discovered in the New World was the fountain of youth, though Indian tradition had located it in the fabled Island of Bimini. This marvellous fountain was said to possess the power of renewing youth and restoring to vigor whoever dipped in its waters. It is reasonable to believe that not a few of the astonishing legends which were then told were employed by adventurous navigators to induce their often mutinous but credulous followers to engage in dangerous and difficult enterprises. It was in search of this fabled fountain that Juan Ponce De Leon discovered the coast of Florida, but though he endured almost incredible hardships by a penetration of the interior, he was unable to find the fountain that had lured him to the New World. In 1513, Vasco Nunez De Balboa, who had been made sub-governor of a colony at Santa Maria, in Darien, discovered the Pacific Ocean, the long sought for sea-route to India. His ecstasy was so great that he plunged into the sea, carrying aloft the standard of Spain, and had the presumption to lay claim to the great ocean itself in the name of his ambitious king, a claim which was presently contested by other powers, and which led directly to piracy and opened a field for the cruel and adventurous.
It was a passionate desire for gold, which seems to have actuated all the Spaniards in their expeditions to America, that led to the discovery of the South Sea. Balboa was a man not only of talents, but one of great courage and capacity, and was one of the most illustrious of the companions of Columbus. While living at Santa Maria, he made many journeys info the interior, and by his generous treatment of the natives gained the good will of the caciques (or Indian chiefs), whom he had conquered. By entertaining friendly relations with the Indians, he acquired considerable quantities of gold, and also a knowledge of the interior. The first intimation had of the great ocean which lay to the west, was given during a quarrel between some of the followers of Balboa, over some spoils which they had recently acquired, and about which they were unable to agree as to a fair division. Seeing them thus in dispute, a young cacique, throwing some of the gold out of the scales into which it had been placed for weighing, exclaimed, "Why do you quarrel for such trash. If you are so passionately fond of gold as for its sake to abandon your own country and disturb the tranquillity of ours, I will lead you to a region where the meanest utensils are formed of this metal, which seems so much the object of your desires." The avarice of Balboa was thus strongly excited, and following the indication of the young cacique, after the greatest hardships he crossed the Isthmus of Darien, and from a western summit beheld the South Sea stretching away in boundless perspective.
Having taken possession of the country in the name of Spain, he exacted contributions in gold and provisions from the natives; after which he departed southward in search of a country where he was told the people possessed the greatest abundance of gold and used beasts of burden, which he was led to believe was the camel, which served to confirm his opinion that he was in the vicinity of India. The animal, however, proved to be the llama of South America, and Balboa was doomed to disappointment, for he was unable to find the golden country to which the cacique had referred, or the civilized people whom he set out to seek.
EXECUTION OF BALBOA.
The failure of Balboa to realize the golden dreams which had moved all Spain gave opportunity for his inveterate enemy, Davila, governor of Darien, whose hatred was first inspired by the honors which Spain had conferred upon him, to wreak a vengeance which he had long contemplated. A short reconcilement of this bitter jealousy followed the marriage of Balboa to Davila's daughter;
After the death of Balboa, the Spaniards constructed some small barks, and making a voyage in the Gulf of St. Michael, they discovered and took possession of several small islands, which they named the Pearl Islands, and from the natives of which they exacted a large tribute of pearls. These were the first fruits of European dominion in the Pacific.
A proposition was soon afterwards made to cut a canal across the Isthmus, which seems to have been received with decided favor, but work was not begun, and the idea was relinquished, to be revived several times in the next fifty years, but always with the same result. The entrepot established at Panama was also presently abandoned, and the vessels which were sent to make an expedition into the Pacific returned again to Spain, owing to the death of De Solis, who in discovering the Rio de la Plata was murdered by the natives.
DISASTERS OVERTAKE LOYASA'S EXPEDITION.
The next important expedition was undertaken by Magellan, a Portuguese who had served with great reputation under Albuquerque in India. He sailed under the patronage of Charles V., full particulars of which voyage will be given in a subsequent chapter. The discoveries made by Magellan were claimed by Spain as its possession, an assumption of right which the other European powers were unwilling to concede. The old dispute of the boundary and partition-line was accordingly renewed, and referred to a
The strait discovered by Magellan was a subject of uncertainty and dispute, and in an effort to reach it one of the vessels was wrecked near Cape de las Virgines. Two of the other vessels were severely injured, and that on which de Loyasa sailed was separated from the rest and driven so far south that several of the seamen died of extreme cold. On the 26th of May following, the three vessels were again united and entered the South Sea, but were almost immediately dispersed in a storm. One of the vessels there upon steered for New Spain, while the other two held to the north-west. Both Loyasa and Sebastian del Cano, the second in command, fell sick, and on the 3rd of August the former died, and the latter expired a few days afterwards. The command of the fleet now devolved upon Alonzo de Salazar, who steered for the Ladrones, discovering the Island of St. Bartholomew on the way, which lies between Magellan's Strait and the Ladrones. But thirty-eight of the seamen died here, and the whole crew were so enfeebled by the hardships to which they had been so long subjected, that they were forced to land on the island, and to kidnap eleven Indians to work the pumps. A month later, Salazar also succumbed to the fatigues which he had suffered in common with his seamen. The remainder of the expedition finally succeeded in reaching Spain, but in a dilapidated condition.
In this same year, 1526, Papua, or the Island of New Guinea, was discovered by Don Meneses while attempting a passage from Malacca to the Moluccas, of which latter he had been appointed governor by the court of Portugal. It was also in this year that another Portuguese captain, Diego da Rocha, discovered the Pelew Islands.
In the year 1527, Hernando Cortez equipped three ships for the purpose of making a voyage to the Spice Islands in the Pacific, and the fleet set sail on All Saints Day (November 1), under the command of his relative, Alvaro de Saavedra. After the vessels had been three days at sea they separated, and the commander pursuing his course alone after leaving the Ladrones, discovered a cluster of islands to which he gave the name of Islands de los Reyes. The natives whom he met on those islands were an extremely savage people, destitute of clothes save a piece of matting about the loins. They were, however, robust and swarthy, with long hair and rough beards. They had large canoes, and being extremely brave and armed with lances of cane, Saavedra hastily sailed away from the islands in order to avoid an encounter which he felt must prove disastrous to his men. He succeeded in reaching the Moluccas without further adventure, but was attacked by the Portuguese there who claimed possession of the islands. But a re-enforcement came to his aid from the residue of Loyasa's fleet, --who had now built a brigantine, --which enabled him to overcome his adversaries. After completing his cargo he again sailed for New Spain on the 3d of June, and shortly afterwards discovered another island to which, on account of his belief that gold there abounded, he gave the name of Island del Oro. Historians since, however, have generally believed this land to have been New Guinea, from the resemblance which the natives bore to the negroes of the Guinea coast.
Saavedra made his return to Spain, bringing a cargo of valuable spices, and in the following year set sail again for the Moluccas. On this voyage he discovered a group of small islands in seven degrees north, which he named Los Pintados, in designation of the practice of the natives of tattooing and painting themselves. He found the people extremely fierce and warlike, and scarcely had he
To Saavedra is ascribed the bold project of cutting a canal from sea to sea through the Isthmus of Darien. An attempt might have been made to have put his plans into execution had it not been for Acosta's preposterous claim that the Pacific Ocean being higher than the Atlantic, the undertaking, if accomplished, must be followed by some awful calamity to the globe.
FURTHER DISCOVERIES IN THE PACIFIC.
In 1529 the Peninsula of California was discovered by Cortez, and its gulf and shores thoroughly explored. New settlements were now rapidly being made in both Mexico and Peru, which so engrossed the attention of the Spanish governor that it was not until the year 1542 that any fleet set out from that country to make further explorations. In that year, the Viceroy of Mexico entrusted the
A SETTLEMENT ESTABLISHED IN THE ASHES OF A BURNED CAPITAL.
Upon the accession of Philip the Second to the throne of Spain, he issued an order to the Viceroy of Mexico for the conquest of the Philippines, in which Portuguese influence had become dominant. The expedition was under the command of Lopez Legaspi, whose assistant was Friar Urdaneta, who was a celebrated navigator, and had been a companion of Loyasa. The expedition set sail in the latter part of 1564, and in January following discovered a small island which Legaspi named De los Barbudos. On the following morning they came in sight of a chain of islands which, because of the shoals that surrounded them, they called De los Plazeres. Two days later, another chain of islands was found, and which was called the The Sisters. These islands are supposed to be, the Piscadores and the Arrescifes of modern charts. The fleet finally landed at the Ladrones, where it was decided to form a settlement; but the sealed orders of the King being opened here, they found that the decree ordered the establishment of a settlement in the Philippines. The natives were found to be kindly and hospitable, but were such consummate thieves that from this propensity the islands received their European designation. Their dwellings were handsomely formed and lofty, being raised some distance from the ground by stone pillars, and divided into square chambers, which were usually occupied, by several families, living in a strictly communal state. The only creatures which they found among them were turtle doves, which the natives kept in cages and taught to speak, and a few chickens. The islanders had an extremely rude kind of religion, consisting, it would seem, of the worship of the bones of their ancestors. This would appear, however, to have been more of the nature, of reverence than a system of worship, as they seemed to have no idea of a spiritual existence. In February the fleet anchored off, the
Hostilities having now begun, they were waged for a considerable time between the islanders and the invaders with great fierceness, until at length mutual interest dictated peace, and the settlement was completed. The news of the occupation was carried back to America by the Friar Urdaneta, who, leaving the Philippines on the 1st of January, reached Acapulco on the 3d of October -- a passage which won for him great honor, as the voyage between the Philippines and the mother country had hitherto baffled every
AN ISLAND WHENCE SOLOMON DERIVED HIS RICHES.
Maritime science and discovery were now advancing surely, and individual sagacity and experience were anticipating its progress. Juan Fernandes, a Spanish pilot, who had made frequent passages from Peru to the new settlements in Chili, now ventured far out upon the high sea, and in the progress of his voyage discovered the island which bears his name, but which is best known as Robinson Crusoe's Island. In this inviting land he found everything that the seaman requires, wood, water, safe anchorage, and a great variety of palatable vegetables. About this time also Cocos Island, and the Galapagos, (which afterwards became the haunts of the English Buccaneers), and the Solomon Islands, were discovered. These latter islands were first seen by Mendana, who left Callao, a port of Lima, in 1567, on a voyage of discovery in the South Seas. After sailing 1450 leagues he discovered the Isle of Jesus, the island of St. Isabella and the Star, and then came upon a group to which he gave the name Solomon Isles, in the belief that it might attract attention by indicating great wealth in gold and other precious commodities. He also gave it out that it was from these islands that Solomon had obtained his gold, sandal-wood, and the rare materials employed in the erection of the temple.
AMONG THE CANNIBALS.
Mendana found the natives of these islands very savage in disposition, and practising cannibalism to an astonishing extent. They not only ate the enemies which they slew in battle, but upon occasion parents devoured their own children; and attacks of one tribe upon another were frequently made with no other object than to obtain bodies to satisfy their horrid appetites. The natives both young and old wore no clothing, and the only religion which they practised was the worship of reptiles and toads. When the Spaniards landed upon these shores they carried the cross and set it up as a sign of Spanish occupation; but during this ceremony they were savagely attacked by the natives, who fortunately were driven off after several were slain, though no serious damage was sustained by the invaders. After the Spaniards had remained a considerable time on the island a friendly intercourse was begun with the islanders, which was interrupted at length by the cruel violence of the Spaniards, who seized a native boy with the intention of carrying him back to Spain to exhibit as a sample of the new subjects which they had brought under Spanish rule. A chief accompanied by a large body of warriors, made a demand upon Mendana for the return of the boy, which being refused, he lay in wait until opportunity offered, when he set upon and murdered ten of the Spaniards whom he succeeded in surprising while they were on shore for a supply of water. This act aroused the vengeance of the Spaniards who, arming themselves, went on shore and spread a dreadful havoc among the natives, many of whom they killed, burned half their houses, and destroyed all their possessions.
Upon Mendana's return to Lima, he gave the most exaggerated accounts of the wealth and surprising fertility of this new Ophir, which led to several projects looking to a settlement of the islands; but none of them matured, and owing to the rapid extension of continental settlements remembrance of the Solomon group faded away. Thirty years afterwards Mendana undertook another voyage to the same islands, which after a search of many months he was unable to find; nor were they discovered again until two centuries later, when M. Surville, in 1769, happened upon them.
Juan Fernandes had laid claim to having seen the coast of New Zealand, and pretended to have visited a continent to the south, which all the navigators of that age believed to exist, but which none had been able to find. Fernandes' claim that he had found a fertile portion of this unknown country, inhabited by white people, who were dressed in woven cloth and whose manners were kind
The foregoing is a brief but complete record and results of the important voyages undertaken to the South Seas preceding that of Drake in the year 1577.