De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 449 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).
neighbourhood of Santa Marta, here is another proof.  A certain Andreas Morales, a pilot of these seas, who was a friend and companion of Juan de la Cosa during his lifetime, possessed a diamond which a young native of Paria in Cumana had discovered.  It was of the greatest rarity and is described as being as long as two middle finger joints.  It was as thick as the first thumb joint, was pointed at both ends, and had eight well-cut facets.  When struck upon an anvil, it wore the files and hammers, itself remaining intact.  This young man of Cumana wore it hanging round his neck, and he sold it to Andreas Morales for five green glass beads because their colour pleased him.  The Spaniards also found topazes on the beach, but as they only think of gold, they turn their backs on these precious stones; for only gold attracts them, only gold do they seek.  Thus the majority of Spaniards despise people who wear rings and precious stones, regarding it as almost a contemptible thing to decorate one’s self with precious stones.  Our people above all hold this opinion.  Sometimes the nobles, for a wedding ceremony or a royal festival, like to display jewels in their golden necklaces, or to embroider their costumes with pearls mixed with diamonds; but on all other occasions they abstain, for it is considered effeminate to decorate one’s self in this wise, just as it would be to be perfumed with the odours of Araby.  Any one they meet smelling of musk or castor, they suspect of being given to guilty passions.

Fruit plucked from a tree argues that the tree bears fruit; a fish taken from a river warrants the affirmation that fish live in the river.  In like manner a bit of gold or a single precious stone justifies the belief that the earth where they are found, produces gold and precious stones.

This must certainly be admitted.  We have already related what the companions of Pedro Arias and some officials discovered at the port of Santa Marta in the Cariai region when they penetrated there with the whole fleet.  Every day the harvest increases, and overtops that of the last.  The exploits of Saturn and Hercules and other heroes, glorified by antiquity, are reduced to nothing.  If the incessant efforts of the Spaniards result in new discoveries, we shall give our attention to them.  May Your Holiness fare well, and let me know your opinion upon these aggrandisements of your Apostolic Chair, and thus encourage me in my future labours.


Every creature in this sublunary world, Most Holy Father, that gives birth to something, either immediately afterwards closes the womb or rests for a period.  The new continent, however, is not governed by this rule, for each day it creates without ceasing and brings forth new products, which continue to furnish men gifted with power and an enthusiasm for novelties, sufficient material to satisfy their curiosity.  Your Holiness may ask, “Why this preamble?”

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De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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