A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 756 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03.
the weeds were a sign of near land, but alleged that it was under water.  On Sunday 30th September, four water-wagtails came near the admiral at once, from which it was concluded the land could not be far off.  Many weeds appeared in a line from W.N.W. to E.S.E; likewise many of those fishes which are called emperors, having a hard skin, and not good eating.  Though the admiral carefully noted all these circumstances, he ceased not to observe the heavens.  He perceived that the needles varied two points at night-fall, and returned due north in the morning, which much perplexed the pilots; till he told them this proceeded from the north star moving round the pole, with which gratuitous explanation they were partly satisfied, for this hitherto unusual variation at such a distance from land, made them fearful of some unknown danger.

On Monday the 1st October, at day-break a gull was seen, and some others before noon resembling bitterns; and the weeds now set from east to west.  Many now feared they might come to some place where the land was so closely beset with weeds that they might stick fast among them and perish.  This morning the pilot told Columbus that they were 588 leagues to the west of Ferro; but the admiral answered that they were only 584, though his reckoning was actually 707.  On the Wednesday following, the pilot of the Ninna reported his westing to be 650 leagues; and he of the Pinta 630; in all of which they had reckoned short, having sailed right before the wind, but Columbus refrained from setting them right, lest he might increase the dismay of the people, by letting them know how far they were from land.  On the 2d October, they killed a tunny and saw many other sorts, as also a white bird and many grey ones, and the weeds looked withered, as if almost reduced to powder.  No birds appearing next day, they feared having passed some island unseen, supposing all the birds that appeared to have been passing from one island to another, and the men were eager to change their course to one hand or the other; but Columbus did not choose to lose the advantage of the wind, which served for a due west course, which he particularly wished, and he thought it would lessen his reputation to sail up and down in search of land, which he always asserted he was certain to find.  On this the men again mutinied, which was not wonderful, considering that so many were led by one of whom they had so little knowledge, and that they had already sailed long on so vast an ocean, seeing nothing but sky and water, without knowing what might be the end of all their labours.  But it pleased God to show fresh signs of land, by which they were somewhat appeased; for, in the afternoon of the 4th October, they saw above forty sparrows and two gulls, which came so close to the ships that a sailor killed one with a stone; likewise many flying fishes were seen, some of which fell upon the decks of the ships.  Next day, a gull, a water-wagtail, and many sparrows appeared to the westwards near the

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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