The Life of Columbus; in his own words eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Life of Columbus; in his own words.

Third.  The second island, Santa Maria, is described as having two sides which made a right angle, and the length of each is given.  This points directly to Crooked and Acklin.  Both form one island, so fitted to the words of the journal as cannot be done with any other land of the Bahamas.

Fourth.  The course and distance from Crooked to Long Island is that which the Admiral gives from Santa Maria to Fernandina.

Fifth.  Long Island, the third, is accurately described.  The trend of the shores, “north-northwest and south-southeast;” the “marvelous port” and the “coast which runs east (and) west,” can nowhere be found except at the southeast part of Long Island.

Sixth.  The journal is obscure in regard to the fourth island.  The best way to find it is to “plot” the courses forward from the third island and the courses and distances backward from the fifth.  These lead to Fortune for the fourth.

Seventh.  The Ragged Islands are the fifth.  These he named las islas de Arena—­Sand Islands.

They lie west-southwest from the fourth, and this is the course the Admiral adhered to.  He did not “log” all the run made between these islands; in consequence the “log” falls short of the true distance, as it ought to.  These “seven or eight islands, all extending from north to south,” and having shoal water “six leagues to the south” of them, are seen on the chart at a glance.

Eighth.  The course and distance from these to Port Padre, in Cuba, is reasonable.  The westerly current, the depth of water at the entrance of Padre, and the general description, are free of difficulties.  The true distance is greater than the “logged,” because Columbus again omits part of his run.  It would be awkward if the true distances from the fourth to the fifth islands, and from the latter to Padre, had fallen short of the “log,” since it would make the unexplainable situation which occurs in Irving’s course and distance from Mucaras Reef to Boca de Caravela.

From end to end of the Samana track there are but three discrepancies.  At the third island, two leagues ought to be two miles.  At the fourth island twelve leagues ought to be twelve miles.  The bearing between the third and fourth islands is not quite as the chart has it, nor does it agree with the courses he steered.  These three are fairly explained, and I think that no others can be mustered to disturb the concord between this track and the journal.

Rev. Mr. Cronan, in his recent voyage, discovered a cave at Watling’s island, where were many skeletons of the natives.  It is thought that a study of the bones in these skeletons will give some new ethnological information as to the race which Columbus found, which is now, thanks to Spanish cruelty, entirely extinct.


The letter to the Lady Juana, which gives Columbus’s own statement of the indignities put upon him in San Domingo, is written in his most crabbed Spanish.  He never wrote the Spanish language accurately, and the letter, as printed from his own manuscript, is even curious in its infelicities.  It is so striking an illustration of the character of the man that we print here an abstract of it, with some passages translated directly from his own language.

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The Life of Columbus; in his own words from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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