De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 385 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).

Sometimes the bodies of their ancestors are burned and the bones buried, and sometimes they are preserved entire in their boios, that is to say houses, and treated with great respect; or again, they may be ornamented with gold and precious stones.  It was noted that the breast ornaments, which they call guanines were made of copper rather than gold, and it was surmised that they dealt with tricky strangers who sold them these guanines, palming off upon them vile metal for gold.  Neither did the Spaniards discover the trick till they melted these supposed valuables.

Some architects who had wandered a short distance from the coast came upon some fragments of white marble, and they think that strangers must at some time have landed there and quarried this marble from the mountains, leaving these fragments scattered about the plain.  It was at this place that the Spaniards learned that the river Maragnon flows from the snow-covered mountains, its volume being increased by numerous streams flowing into it.  Its great size is due to the fact that its course is long, and that it only reaches the sea after having traversed well-watered regions.

The signal for departure was finally given.  Nine hundred men who had been landed, assembled shouting joyfully, marching in order, loaded with plunder, and quite showy with crowns, mantles, feathers, and native military ornaments.  The anchor was hoisted on the sixteenth day of the calends of July.  The ships, damaged in frequent gales, had been repaired, the flag-ship having especially suffered the loss of her rudder, as we have already mentioned.  The fleet put out to sea in the direction of Carthagena, and in obedience to the King’s instructions ravaged some islands inhabited by ferocious cannibals which lay in the course.  The strong currents deceived Juan Serrano, chief pilot of the flag-ship, and his colleagues, though they boasted that they were well acquainted with the nature of these currents.  In one night, and contrary to the general expectation, they made forty leagues.


The time has come, Most Holy Father, to philosophise a little, leaving cosmography to seek the causes of Nature’s secrets.  The ocean currents in those regions run towards the west, as torrents rushing down a mountain side.  Upon this point the testimony is unanimous.  Thus I find myself uncertain when asked where these waters go which flow in a circular and continuous movement from east to west, never to return to their starting-place; and how it happens that the west is not consequently overwhelmed by these waters, nor the east emptied.  If it be true that these waters are drawn towards the centre of the earth, as is the case with all heavy objects, and that this centre, as some people affirm, is at the equinoctial line, what can be the central reservoir capable of holding such a mass of waters?  And what will be the circumference filled with water, which will yet

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