Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Volume 5 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 55 pages of information about Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Volume 5.
for gold when a little of it was wanted for a pretty ornament, had now to work with frantic energy in the river sands; or in other cases, to toil through the heat of the day in the cotton fields which they had formerly only cultivated enough to furnish their very scant requirements of use and adornment.  One or two caciques, knowing that their people could not possibly furnish the required amount of gold, begged that its value in grain might be accepted instead; but that was not the kind of wealth that Columbus was seeking.  It must be gold or nothing; and rather than receive any other article from the gold-bearing districts, he consented to take half the amount.

Thus step by step, and under the banner of the Holy Catholic religion, did dark and cruel misery march through the groves and glades of the island and banish for ever its ancient peace.  This long-vanished race that was native to the island of Espanola seems to have had some of the happiest and most lovable qualities known to dwellers on this planet.  They had none of the brutalities of the African, the paralysing wisdom of the Asian, nor the tragic potentialities of the European peoples.  Their life was from day to day, and from season to season, like the life of flowers and birds.  They lived in such order and peaceable community as the common sense of their own simple needs suggested; they craved no pleasures except those that came free from nature, and sought no wealth but what the sun gave them.  In their verdant island, near to the heart and source of light, surrounded by the murmur of the sea, and so enriched by nature that the idea, of any other kind of riches never occurred to them, their existence went to a happy dancing measure like that of the fauns and nymphs in whose charmed existence they believed.  The sun and moon were to them creatures of their island who had escaped from a cavern by the shore and now wandered free in the upper air, peopling it with happy stars; and man himself they believed to have sprung from crevices in the rocks, like the plants that grew tall and beautiful wherever there was a handful of soil for their roots.  Poor happy children!  You are all dead a long while ago now, and have long been hushed in the great humming sleep and silence of Time; the modern world has no time nor room for people like you, with so much kindness and so little ambition . . . .  Yet their free pagan souls were given a chance to be penned within the Christian fold; the priest accompanied the gunner and the bloodhound, the missionary walked beside the slave-driver; and upon the bewildered sun-bright surface of their minds the shadow of the cross was for a moment thrown.  Verily to them the professors of Christ brought not peace, but a sword.



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Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Volume 5 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.