Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsThe Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 38
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 38 Post by :66301 Category :Nonfictions Author :Washington Irving Date :April 2012 Read :603

Click below to download : The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 38 (Format : PDF)

The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 38

Appendix. No. XXXVIII.

A Visit to Palos.


(The following narrative was actually commenced, by the author of this work, as a letter to a friend, but unexpectedly swelled to its present size. He has been induced to insert it here from the idea, that many will feel the same curiosity to know something of the present state of Falos and its inhabitants that led him to make the journey.)

Seville, 1828.

Since I last wrote to you, I have made what I may term an American pilgrimage, to visit the little port of Palos in Andalusia, where Columbus fitted out his ships, and whence he sailed for the discovery of the New World. Need I tell you how deeply interesting and gratifying it has been to me? I had long meditated this excursion, as a kind of pious, and, if I may so say, filial duty of an American, and my intention was quickened when I learnt that many of the edifices, mentioned in the History of Columbus, still remained in nearly the same state in which they existed at the time of his sojourn at Palos, and that the descendants of the intrepid Pinzons, who aided him with ships and money, and sailed with him in the great voyage of discovery, still flourished in the neighborhood.

The very evening before my departure from Seville on the excursion, I heard that there was a young gentleman of the Pinzon family studying law in the city. I got introduced to him, and found him of most prepossessing appearance and manners. He gave me a letter of introduction to his father, Don Juan Fernandez Pinzon, resident of Moguer, and the present head of the family.

As it was in the middle of August, and the weather intensely hot, I hired a calesa for the journey. This is a two-wheeled carriage, resembling a cabriolet, but of the most primitive and rude construction; the harness is profusely ornamented with brass, and the horse's hend decorated with tufts and tassels and dangling bobs of scarlet and yellow worsted. I had for calasero, a tall, long-legged Andalusian, in short jacket, little round-crowned hat, breeches decorated with buttons from the hip to the knees, and a pair of russet leather bottinas or spatterdashes. He was an active fellow, though uncommonly taciturn for an Andalusian, and strode along beside his horse, rousing him occasionally to greater speed by a loud malediction or a hearty thwack of his cudgel.

In this style, I set off late in the day to avoid the noontide heat, and, after ascending the lofty range of hills which borders the great valley of the Guadalquiver, and having a rough ride among their heights, I descended about twilight into one of those vast, silent, melancholy plains, frequent in Spain, where I beheld no other signs of life than a roaming flock of bustards, and a distant herd of cattle, guarded by a solitary herdsman, who, with a long pike planted in the earth, stood motionless in the midst of the dreary landscape, resembling an Arab of the desert. The night had somewhat advanced when we stopped to repose for a few hours at a solitary venta or inn, if it might so be called, being nothing more than a vast low-roofed stable, divided into several compartments for the reception of the troops of mules and arrieros (or carriers) who carry on the internal trade of Spain. Accommodation for the traveler there was none--not even for a traveler so easily accommodated as myself. The landlord had no food to give me, and as to a bed, he had none but a horse-cloth, on which his only child, a boy of eight years old, lay naked on the earthen floor. Indeed the heat of the weather and the fumes from the stables made the interior of the hovel insupportable; so I was fain to bivouac, on my cloak, on the pavement, at the door of the venta, where, on waking, after two or three hours of sound sleep, I found a contrabandista (or smuggler) snoring beside me, with his blunderbuss on his arm.

I resumed my journey before break of day, and had made several leagues by ten o'clock, when we stopped to breakfast, and to pass the sultry hours of mid-day in a large village; whence we departed about four o'clock, and after passing through the same kind of solitary country, arrived just after sunset at Moguer. This little city (for at present it is a city) is situated about a league from Palos, of which place it has gradually absorbed all the respectable inhabitants, and, among the number, the whole family of the Pinzons.

So remote is this little place from the stir and bustle of travel, and so destitute of the show and vainglory of this world, that my calesa, as it rattled and jingled along the narrow and ill-paved streets, caused a great sensation; the children shouted and scampered along by its side, admiring its splendid trappings of brass and worsted, and gazing with reverence at the important stranger who came in so gorgeous an equipage.

I drove up to the principal posada, the landlord of which was at the door. He was one of the very civilest men in the world, and disposed to do every thing in his power to make me comfortable; there was only one difficulty, he had neither bed nor bed-room in his house. In fact it was a mere venta for muleteers, who are accustomed to sleep on the ground, with their mule-cloths for beds and pack-saddles for pillows. It was a hard case, but there was no better posada in the place. Few people travel for pleasure or curiosity in these out-of-the-way parts of Spain, and those of any note are generally received into private houses. I had traveled sufficiently in Spain to find out that a bed, after all, is not an article of indispensable necessity, and was about to bespeak some quiet corner where I might spread my cloak, when fortunately the landlord's wife came forth. She could not have a more obliging disposition than her husband, but then --God bless the women!--they always know how to carry their good wishes into effect. In a little while a small room, about ten feet square, which had formed a thoroughfare between the stables and a kind of shop or bar-room, was cleared of a variety of lumber, and I was assured that a bed should be put up there for me. From the consultations I saw my hostess holding with some of her neighbor gossips, I fancied the bed was to be a kind of piecemeal contribution among them for the credit of the house.

As soon as I could change my dress, I commenced the historical researches which were the object of my journey, and inquired for the abode of Don Juan Fernandez Pinzon. My obliging landlord himself volunteered to conduct me thither, and I set off full of animation at the thoughts of meeting with the lineal representative of one of the coadjutors of Columbus.

A short walk brought us to the house, which was most respectable in its appearance, indicating easy, if not affluent, circumstances. The door, as is customary in Spanish villages during summer, stood wide open. We entered with the usual salutation or rather summons, "Ave Maria!" A trim Andalusian handmaid answered to the call, and, on our inquiring for the master of the house, led the way across a little patio or court, in the centre of the edifice, cooled by a fountain surrounded by shrubs and flowers, to a back court or terrace, likewise set out with flowers, where Don Juan Fernandez was seated with his family, enjoying the serene evening in the open air. I was much pleased with his appearance. He was a venerable old gentleman, tall, and somewhat thin, with fair complexion and gray hair. He received me with great urbanity, and on reading the letter from his son, appeared struck with surprise to find I had come quite to Moguer, merely to visit the scene of the embarkation of Columbus; and still more so on my telling him, that one of my leading objects of curiosity was his own family connection; for it would seem that the worthy cavalier had troubled his head but little about the enterprises of his ancestors.

I now took my seat in the domestic circle, and soon felt myself quite at home, for there is generally a frankness in the hospitality of Spaniards, that soon puts a stranger at his ease beneath their roof. The wife of Don Juan Fernandez was extremely amiable and affable, possessing much of that natural aptness for which the Spanish women are remarkable. In the course of conversation with them I learnt, that Don Juan Fernandez, who is seventy-two years of age, is the eldest of five brothers, all of whom are married, have numerous offspring, and live in Moguer and its vicinity, in nearly the same condition and rank of life as at the time of the discovery. This agreed with what I had previously heard, respecting the families of the discoverers. Of Columbus no lineal and direct descendant exists; his was an exotic stock which never took deep and lasting root in the country; but the race of the Pinzons continues to thrive and multiply in its native soil.

While I was yet conversing, a gentleman entered, who was introduced to me as Don Luis Fernandez Pinzon, the youngest of the brothers. He appeared between fifty and sixty years of age, somewhat robust, with fair complexion, gray hair, and a frank and manly deportment. He is the only one of the present generation that has followed the ancient profession of the family; having served with great applause as an officer of the royal navy, from which he retired, on his marriage, about twenty-two years since. He is the one, also, who takes the greatest interest and pride in the historical honors of his house, carefully preserving all the legends and documents of the achievements and distinctions of his family, a manuscript volume of which he lent to me for my inspection.

Don Juan now expressed a wish that, during my residence in Moguer, I would make his house my home. I endeavored to excuse myself, alleging, that the good people at the posada had been at such extraordinary trouble in preparing quarters for me, that I did not like to disappoint them. The worthy old gentleman undertook to arrange all this, and, while supper was preparing, we walked together to the posada. I found that my obliging host and hostess had indeed exerted themselves to an uncommon degree. An old rickety table had been spread out in a corner of the little room as a bedstead, on top of which was propped up a grand _cama de luxo_, or state bed, which appeared to be the admiration of the house. I could not, for the soul of me, appear to undervalue what the poor people had prepared with such hearty good-will, and considered such a triumph of art and luxury; so I again entreated Don Juan to dispense with my sleeping at his house, promising most faithfully to make my meals there whilst I should stay at Moguer, and as the old gentleman understood my motives for declining his invitation, and felt a good-humored sympathy in them, we readily arranged the matter. I returned therefore with Don Juan to his house and supped with his family. During the repast a plan was agreed upon for my visit to Palos, and to the convent La Kabida, in which Don Juan volunteered to accompany me and be my guide, and the following day was allotted to the expedition. We were to breakfast at a hacienda, or country-seat, which he possessed in the vicinity of Palos, in the midst of his vineyards, and were to dine there on our return from the convent. These arrangements being made, we parted for the night; I returned to the posada highly gratified with my visit, and slept soundly in the extraordinary bed which, I may almost say, had been invented for my accommodation.

On the following morning, bright and early, Don Juan Fernandez and myself set off in the caleea for Palos. I felt apprehensive at first that the kind-hearted old gentleman, in his anxiety to oblige, had left his bed at too early an hour, and was exposing himself to fatigues unsuited to his age. He laughed at the idea, and assured me that he was an early riser, and accustomed to all kinds of exercise on horse and foot, being a keen sportsman, and frequently passing days together among the mountains on shooting expeditions, taking with him servants, horses, and provisions, and living in a tent. He appeared, in fact, to be of an active habit, and to possess a youthful vivacity of spirit. His cheerful disposition rendered our morning drive extremely agreeable; his urbanity was shown to every one whom we met on the road; even the common peasant was saluted by him with the appellation of _caballero_, a mark of respect ever gratifying to the poor but proud Spaniard, when yielded by a superior.

As the tide was out, we drove along the flat grounds bordering the Tinto. The river was on our right, while on our left was a range of hills, jutting out into promontories, one beyond the other, and covered with vineyards and fig trees. The weather was serene, the air soft and balmy, and the landscape of that gentle kind calculated to put one in a quiet and happy humor. We passed close by the skirts of Palos, and drove to the hacienda, which is situated some little distance from the village, between it and the river. The house is a low stone building well whitewashed, and of great length; one end being fitted up as a summer residence, with saloons, bed-rooms, and a domestic chapel; and the other as a bodega or magazine for the reception of the wine produced on the estate.

The house stands on a hill, amidst vineyards, which are supposed to cover a part of the site of the ancient town of Palos, now shrunk to a miserable village. Beyond these vineyards, on the crest of a distant hill, are seen the white walls of the convent of La Babida rising above a dark wood of pine trees.

Below the hacienda flows the river Tinto, on which Columbus embarked. It is divided by a low tongue of land, or rather the sand-bar of Saltes, from the river Odiel, with which it soon mingles its waters, and flows on to the ocean. Beside this sand-bar, where the channel of the river runs deep, the squadron of Columbus was anchored, and thence he made sail on the morning of his departure.

The soft breeze that was blowing scarcely ruffled the surface of this beautiful river; two or three picturesque barks, called mystics, with long latine sails, were gliding down it. A little aid of the imagination might suffice to picture them as the light caravels of Columbus, sallying forth on their eventful expedition, while the distant bells of the town of Hnelva, which were ringing melodiously, might be supposed as cheering the voyagers with a farewell peal.

I cannot express to you what were my feelings on treading the shore which had once been animated with the bustle of departure, and whose sands had been printed by the last footstep of Columbus. The solemn and sublime nature of the event that had followed, together with the fate and fortunes of those concerned in it, filled the mind with vague yet melancholy ideas. It was like viewing the silent and empty stage of some great drama when all the actors had departed. The very aspect of the landscape, so tranquilly beautiful, had an effect upon me; and as I paced the deserted shores by the side of a descendant of one of the discoverers, I felt my heart swelling witfi emotions and my eyes filling with tears.

What surprised me was, to find no semblance of a sea-port; there was neither wharf nor landing-place--nothing but a naked river bank, with the hulk of a ferry-boat, which I was told carried passengers to Huelva, lying high and dry on the sands, deserted by the tide. Palos, though it has doubtless dwindled away from its former size, can never have been important as to extent and population. If it possessed warehouses on the beach, they have disappeared. It is at present a mere village of the poorest kind, and lies nearly a quarter of a mile from the river, in a hollow among hills. It contains a few hundred inhabitants, who subsist principally by laboring in the fields and vineyards. Its race of merchants and mariners is extinct. There are no vessels belonging to the place, nor any show of traffic, excepting at the season of fruit and wine, when a few mystics and other light barks anchor in the river to collect the produce of the neighborhood. The people are totally ignorant, and it is probable that the greater part of them scarce know even the name of America. Such is the place whence sallied forth the enterprise for the discovery of the western world!

We were now summoned to breakfast in a little saloon of the hacienda. The table was covered with natural luxuries produced upon the spot--fine purple and muscatel grapes from the adjacent vineyard, delicious melons from the garden, and generous wines made on the estate. The repast was heightened by the genial manners of my hospitable host, who appeared to possess the most enviable cheerfulness of spirit and simplicity of heart.

After breakfast we set off in the calesa to visit the convent of La Rabida, about half a league distant The road, for a part of the way, lay through the vineyards, and was deep and sandy. The calasero had been at his wit's end to conceive what motive a stranger like myself, apparently traveling for mere amusement, could have in coming so far to see so miserable a place as Palos, which he set down as one of the very poorest places in the whole world; but this additional toil and struggle through deep sand to visit the old convent of La Rabida completed his confusion-- "Hombre!" exclaimed he, "es una ruina! no hay mas que dos frailes!"-- "Zounds! why it's a ruin! there are only two friars there!" Don Juan laughed, and told him that I had come all the way from Seville precisely to see that old ruin and those two friars. The calasero made the Spaniard's last reply when he is perplexed--he shrugged his shoulders and crossed himself. After ascending a hill and passing through the skirts of a straggling pine wood, we arrived in front of the convent. It stands in a bleak and solitary situation, on the brow of a rocky height or promontory, overlooking to the west a wide range of sea and land, bounded by the frontier mountains of Portugal, about eight leagues distant. The convent is shut out from a view of the vineyard of Palos by the gloomy forest of pines already mentioned, which cover the promontory to the east, and darken the whole landscape in that direction.

There is nothing remarkable in the architecture of the convent; part of it is Gothic, but the edifice, having been frequently repaired, and being whitewashed, according to a universal custom in Andalusia, inherited from the Moors, has not that venerable aspect which might be expected from its antiquity.

We alighted at the gate where Columbus, when a poor pedestrian, a stranger in the land, asked bread and water for his child! As long as the convent stands, this must be a spot calculated to awaken the most thrilling interest. The gate remains apparently in nearly the same state as at the time of his visit, but there is no longer a porter at hand to administer to the wants of the wayfarer. The door stood wide open, and admitted us into a small court-yard. Thence we passed through a Gothic portal into the chapel, without seeing a human being. We then traversed two interior cloisters, equally vacant and silent, and bearing a look of neglect and dilapidation. From an open window we had a peep at what had once been a garden, but that had also gone to ruin; the walls were broken and thrown down; a few shrubs, and a scattered fig tree or two, were all the traces of cultivation that remained. We passed through the long dormitories, but the cells were shut up and abandoned; we saw no living thing except a solitary cat stealing across a distant corridor, which fled in a panic at the unusual sight of strangers. At length, after patrolling nearly the whole of the empty building to the echo of our own footsteps, we came to where the door of a cell, being partly open, gave us the sight of a monk within, seated at a table writing. He rose, and received us with much civility, and conducted us to the superior, who was reading in an adjacent cell. They were both rather young men, and, together with a novitiate and a lay-brother, who officiated as cook, formed the whole community of the convent.

Don Juan Fernandez communicated to them the object of my visit, and my desire also to inspect the archives of the convent, to find if there was any record of the sojourn of Columbus. They informed us that the archives had been entirely destroyed by the French. The younger monk, however, who had perused them, had a vague recollection of various particulars concerning the transactions of Columbus at Palos, his visit to the convent, and the sailing of his expedition. From all that he cited, however, it appeared to me that all the information on the subject contained in the archives had been extracted from Herrera and other well-known authors. The monk was talkative and eloquent, and soon diverged from the subject of Columbus, to one which he considered of infinitely greater importance--the miraculous image of the Virgin possessed by their convent, and known by the name of "Our Lady of La Rabida." He gave us a history of the wonderful way in which the image had been found buried in the earth, where it had lain hidden for ages, since the time of the conquest of Spain by the Moors; the disputes between the convent and different places in the neighborhood for the possession of it; the marvelous protection it extended to the adjacent country, especially in preventing all madness, either in man or dog, for this malady was anciently so prevalent in this place as to gain it the appellation of La Rabia, by which it was originally called; a name which, thanks to the beneficent influence of the Virgin, it no longer merited nor retained. Such are the legends and relics with which every convent in Spain is enriched, which are zealously cried up by the monks, and devoutly credited by the populace.

Twice a year, on the festival of our Lady of La Rabida and on that of the patron saint of the order, the solitude and silence of the convent are interrupted by the intrusion of a swarming multitude, composed of the inhabitants of Moguer, of Huelva, and the neighboring plains and mountains. The open esplanade in front of the edifice resembles a fair, the adjacent forest teems with the motley throng, and the image of our Lady of La Rabida is borne forth in triumphant procession.

While the friar was thus dilating upon the merits and renown of the image, I amused myself with those day-dreams, or conjurings of the imagination, to which I am a little given. As the internal arrangements of convents are apt to be the same from age to age, I pictured to myself this chamber as the same inhabited by the guardian, Juan Perez de Marchena, at the time of the visit of Columbus. Why might not the old and ponderous table before me be the very one on which he displayed his conjectural maps, and expounded his theory of a western route to India? It required but another stretch of the imagination to assemble the little conclave around the table; Juan Perez the friar, Garci Fernandez the physician, and Martin Alonzo Pinzon the bold navigator, all listening with rapt attention to Columbus, or to the tale of some old seaman of Palos, about islands seen in the western parts of the ocean.

The friars, as far as their poor means and scanty knowledge extended, were disposed to do every thing to promote the object of my visit. They showed us all parts of the convent, which, however, has little to boast of, excepting the historical associations connected with it. The library was reduced to a few volumes, chiefly on ecclesiastical subjects, piled promiscuously in the corner of a vaulted chamber, and covered with dust. The chamber itself was curious, being the most ancient part of the edifice, and supposed to have formed part of a temple in the time of the Romans.

We ascended to the roof of the convent to enjoy the extensive prospect it commands. Immediately below the promontory on which it is situated, runs a narrow but tolerably deep river, called the Domingo Rubio, which empties itself into the Tinto. It is the opinion of Don Luis Fernandez Pinzon, that the ships of Columbus were careened and fitted out in this river, as it affords better shelter than the Tinto, and its shores are not so shallow. A lonely bark of a fisherman was lying in this stream, and not far off, on a sandy point, were the ruins of an ancient watchtower. From the roof of the convent, all the windings of the Odiel and the Tinto were to be seen, and their junction into the main stream, by which Columbus sallied forth to sea. In fact the convent serves as a landmark, being, from its lofty and solitary situation, visible for a considerable distance to vessels coming on the coast. On the opposite side I looked down upon the lonely road, through the wood of pine trees, by which the zealous guardian of the convent, Fray Juan Perez, departed at midnight on his mule, when he sought the camp of Ferdinand and Isabella in the Vega of Granada, to plead the project of Columbus before the queen.

Having finished our inspection of the convent, we prepared to depart, and were accompanied to the outward portal by the two friars. Our calasero brought his rattling and rickety vehicle for us to mount; at sight of which one of the monks exclaimed, with a smile, "Santa Maria! only to think! A calesa before the gate of the convent of La Rabida!" And, indeed, so solitary and remote is this ancient edifice, and so simple is the mode of living of the people in this by-corner of Spain, that the appearance of even a sorry calesa might well cause astonishment. It is only singular that in such a by-corner the scheme of Columbus should have found intelligent listeners and coadjutors, after it had been discarded, almost with scoffing and contempt, from learned universities and splendid courts.

On our way back to the hacienda, we met Don Rafael, a younger son of Don Juan Fernandez, a fine young man, about twenty-one years of age, and who, his father informed me, was at present studying French and mathematics. He was well mounted on a spirited gray horse, and dressed in the Andalusian style, with the little round hat and jacket. He sat his horse gracefully, and managed him well. I was pleased with the frank and easy terms on which Don Juan appeared to live with his children. This I was inclined to think his favorite son, as I understood he was the only one that partook of the old gentleman's fondness for the chase, and that accompanied him in his hunting excursions.

A dinner had been prepared for us at the hacienda, by the wife of the capitaz, or overseer, who, with her husband, seemed to be well pleased with this visit from Don Juan, and to be confident of receiving a pleasant answer from the good-humored old gentleman whenever they addressed him. The dinner was served up about two o'clock, and was a most agreeable meal. The fruits and wines were from the estate, and were excellent; the rest of the provisions were from Moguer, for the adjacent village of Palos is too poor to furnish any thing. A gentle breeze from the sea played through the hall, and tempered the summer heat. Indeed I do not know when I have seen a more enviable spot than this country retreat of the Pinzons. Its situation on a breezy hill, at no great distance from the sea, and in a southern climate, produces a happy temperature, neither hot in summer nor cold in winter. It commands a beautiful prospect, and is surrounded by natural luxuries. The country abounds with game, the adjacent river affords abundant sport in fishing, both by day and night, and delightful excursions for those fond of sailing. During the busy seasons of rural life, and especially at the joyous period of vintage, the family pass some time here, accompanied by numerous guests, at which times, Don Juan assured me, there was no lack of amusements, both by land and water.

When we had dined, and taken the siesta, or afternoon nap, according to the Spanish custom in summer time, we set out on our return to Moguer, visiting the village of Palos in the way. Don Gabriel had been sent in advance to procure the keys of the village church, and to apprise the curate of our wish to inspect the archives. The village consists principally of two streets of low whitewashed houses. Many of the inhabitants have very dark complexions, betraying a mixture of African blood.

On entering the village, we repaired to the lowly mansion of the curate. I had hoped to find him some such personage as the curate in Don Quixote, possessed of shrewdness and information in his limited sphere, and that I might gain some anecdotes from him concerning the parish, its worthies, its antiquities, and its historical events. Perhaps I might have done so at any other time, but, unfortunately, the curate was something of a sportsman, and had heard of some game among the neighboring hills. We met him just sallying forth from his house, and, I must confess, his appearance was picturesque. He was a short, broad, sturdy little man, and had doffed his cassock and broad clerical beaver, for a short jacket and a little round Andalusian hat; he had his gun in hand, and was on the point of mounting a donkey which had been led forth by an ancient withered handmaid. Fearful of being detained from his foray, he accosted my companion the moment he came in sight. "God preserve you, Senor Don Juan! I have received your message, and have but one answer to make. The archives have all been destroyed. We have no trace of any thing you seek for--nothing--nothing. Don Rafael has the keys of the church. You can examine it at your leisure--Adios, caballero!" With these words the galliard little curate mounted his donkey, thumped his ribs with the butt end of his gun, and trotted off to the hills.

In our way to the church we passed by the ruins of what had once been a fair and spacious dwelling, greatly superior to the other houses of the village. This, Don Juan informed me, was an old family possession, but since they had removed from Palos it had fallen to decay for want of a tenant. It was probably the family residence of Martin Alonzo or Vicente Yafiez Pinzon, in the time of Columbus.

We now arrived at the Church of St. George, in the porch of which Columbus first proclaimed to the inhabitants of Palos the order of the sovereigns, that they should furnish him with ships for his great voyage of discovery. This edifice has lately been thoroughly repaired, and, being of solid mason-work, promises to stand for ages, a monument of the discoverers. It stands outside of the village, on the brow of a hill, looking along a little valley toward the river. The remains of a Moorish arch prove it to have been a mosque in former times; just above it, on the crest of the hill, is the ruin of a Moorish castle.

I paused in the porch, and endeavored to recall the interesting scene that had taken place there, when Columbus, accompanied by the zealous friar Juan Perez, caused the public notary to read the royal order in presence of the astonished alcaldes, regidors, and alguazils; but it is difficult to conceive the consternation that must have been struck into so remote a little community, by this sudden apparition of an entire stranger among them, bearing a command that they should put their persons and ships at his disposal, and sail with him away into the unknown wilderness of the ocean.

The interior of the church has nothing remarkable, excepting a wooden image of St. George vanquishing the Dragon, which is erected over the high altar, and is the admiration of the good people of Palos, who bear it about the streets in grand procession on the anniversary of the saint. This group existed in the time of Columbus, and now flourishes in renovated youth and splendor, having been newly painted and gilded, and the countenance of the saint rendered peculiarly blooming and lustrous.

Having finished the examination of the church, we resumed our seats in the calesa and returned to Moguer. One thing only remained to fulfill the object of my pilgrimage. This was to visit the chapel of the Convent of Santa Clara. When Columbus was in danger of being lost in a tempest on his way home from his great voyage of discovery, he made a vow, that, should he be spared, he would watch and pray one whole night in this chapel; a vow which he doubtless fulfilled immediately after his arrival.

My kind and attentive friend, Don Juan, conducted me to the convent. It is the wealthiest in Moguer, and belongs to a sisterhood of Franciscan nuns. The chapel is large, and ornamented with some degree of richness, particularly the part about the high altar, which, is embellished by magnificent monuments of the brave family of the Puerto Carreros, the ancient lords of Moguer, and renowned in Moorish warfare. The alabaster effigies of distinguished warriors of that house, and of their wives and sisters, lie side by side, with folded hands, on tombs immediately before the altar, while others recline in deep niches on either side. The night had closed in by the time I entered the church, which made the scene more impressive. A few votive lamps shed a dim light about the interior; their beams were feebly reflected by the gilded work of the high altar, and the frames of the surrounding paintings, and rested upon the marble figures of the warriors and dames lying in the monumental repose of ages. The solemn pile must have presented much the same appearance when the pious discoverer performed his vigil, kneeling before this very altar, and praying and watching throughout the night, and pouring forth heartfelt praises for having been spared to accomplish his sublime discovery.

I had now completed the main purpose of my journey, having visited the various places connected with the story of Columbus. It was highly gratifying to find some of them so little changed though so great a space of time had intervened; but in this quiet nook of Spain, so far removed from the main thoroughfares, the lapse of time produces but few violent revolutions. Nothing, however, had surprised and gratified me more than the contiuued stability of the Pinzon family. On the morning after my excursion to Palos, chance gave me an opportunity of seeing something of the interior of most of their households. Having a curiosity to visit the remains of a Moorish castle, once the citadel of Moguer, Don Fernandez undertook to show me a tower which served as a magazine of wine to one of the Pinzon family. In seeking for the key we were sent from house to house of nearly the whole connection. All appeared to be living in that golden mean equally removed from the wants and superfluities of life, and all to be happily interwoven by kind and cordial habits of intimacy. We found the females of the family generally seated in the patios, or central courts of their dwellings, beneath the shade of awnings and among shrubs and flowers. Here the Andalusian ladies are accustomed to pass their mornings at work, surrounded by their handmaids, in the primitive, or rather oriental style. In the porches of some of the houses I observed the coat-of-arms granted to the family by Charles V, hung up like a picture in a frame. Over the door of Don Luis, the naval officer, it was carved on an escutcheon of stone, and colored. I had gathered many particulars of the family also from conversation with Don Juan, and from the family legend lent me by Don Luis. From all that I could learn, it would appear that the lapse of nearly three centuries and a half has made but little change in the condition of the Pinzons. From generation to generation they have retained the same fair standing and reputable name throughout the neighborhood, filling offices of public trust and dignity, and possessing great influence over their fellow-citizens by their good sense and good conduct. How rare is it to see such an instance of stability of fortune in this fluctuating world, and how truly honorable is this hereditary respectability, which has been secured by no titles nor entails, but perpetuated merely by the innate worth of the race! I declare to you that the most illustrious descents of mere titled rank could never command the sincere respect and cordial regard with which I contemplated this stanch and enduring family, which for three centuries and a half has stood merely upon its virtues.

As I was to set off on my return to Seville before two o'clock, I partook of a farewell repast at the house of Don Juan, between twelve and one, and then took leave of his household with sincere regret. The good old gentleman, with the courtesy, or rather the cordiality, of a true Spaniard, accompanied me to the posada, to see me off. I had dispensed but little money in the posada--thanks to the hospitality of the Pinzons--yet the Spanish pride of my host and hostess seemed pleased that I had preferred their humble chamber, and the scanty bed they had provided me, to the spacious mansion of Don Juan; and when I expressed my thanks for their kindness and attention, and regaled mine host with a few choice segars, the heart of the poor man was overcome. He seized me by both hands and gave me a parting benediction, and then ran after the calasero, to enjoin him to take particular care of me during my journey.

Taking a hearty leave of my excellent friend Don Juan, who had been unremitting in his attentions to me to the last moment, I now set off on my wayfaring, gratified to the utmost with my visit, and full of kind and grateful feelings towards Moguer and its hospitable inhabitants.

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - Footnotes The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - Footnotes

The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - Footnotes
(1): Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. iv.(2): Ibid., lib. v.(3): Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. v.(4): Charlevoix, Hist. St. Domingo, lib. ii. p. 147. Munoz, Hist. N. Mundo, lib. vi. Sec. 6.(5): Peter Martyr, decad. i. lib. v.(6): "These serpentes are lyke unto crocodiles, saving in bygness; they call them guanas. Unto that day none of owre men durste adventure to taste of them, by reason of theyre horrible deformitie and lothsomnes. Yet the Adelantado being entysed by the pleasantnes of the king's sister, Anacaona, determined to taste the serpentes. But when he felte the flesh thereof to be so delycate
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 37 The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 37

The Life And Voyages Of Christopher Columbus_volume 2 - Appendix - No. 37
Appendix. No. XXXVII.Signature of Columbus.As every thing respecting Columbus is full of interest, his signature has been a matter of some discussion. It partook of the pedantic and bigoted character of the age, and perhaps of the peculiar character of the man, who, considering himself mysteriously elected and set apart from among men for certain great purposes, adopted a correspondent formality and solemnity in all his concerns. His signature was as follows:S. S. A. S. X. M. Y. EL ALMIRANTE.The first half of the signature, XPO, (for CHRISTO,) is in Greek letters; the second, FERENS, is in Latin. Such was
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT