From The Log of Christopher Columbus:


At midnight he despatched the boat to the island of Amiga to bring the rhubarb. It returned at vespers with a hamper of it. They did not bring more because they did not carry a spade to dig it. The Admiral carried what they brought to the Sovereigns as a specimen. The King of that country, he says, had sent many canoes for gold. The sailor, who had been sent with a canoe to learn of the Pinta returned, and they did not find her. That sailor said that at a distance of twenty leagues from there he had seen a king who wore upon his head two large plaques of gold, and when the Indians in the canoe spoke to him he took them off, and he says he saw also other persons with a great deal of gold. The Admiral believed that the King Guacanagari must have prohibited every one from selling gold to the Christians, so that it might all pass through his hands. But he had learned the places, as he said the day before yesterday, where they had gold in such a quantity that no price was attached to it. He had also learned where there were spices {as the Admiral says} of which there is a great quantity and it is worth more than pepper and "manegueta." He charged those persons who were to remain there to obtain as much as they could.


He went on land in the morning to take leave of the King Guacanagari and to depart in the name of the Lord: and he gave the King one of his shirts and showed him the force of the lombards and their effect. For this purpose he ordered one loaded and fired at the side of the ship which was aground. This happened as the result of a conversation in regard to the Caribs, with whom they were at war, and the King saw how far the lombard shot reached, and how it passed through the side of the ship and that the shot went a long way on the sea. He also had the people from the ships make a slight skirmish with their arms, telling the Cacique not to fear the cannibals if they should come. The Admiral says he did all this that the King might consider the Christians he was leaving as friends and also that he might fear them. The King conducted the Admiral and the other Christians who were with him to the house where he was lodged to eat with him. The Admiral many times charged Diego de Arana and Pedro Gutierrez and Rodrigo Escovedo, whom he was leaving as his joint lieutenants over the people who were to remain there to see that everything was well ruled and governed for the service of God and their Highnesses. The Cacique manifested much love for the Admiral and great feeling over his departure, especially when he saw them go to embark. A favourite of that King told the Admiral that he had ordered a statue of pure gold made as large as the Admiral himself and that at the end of ten days they were to bring it to him The Admiral embarked with the intention of departing then, but the wind would not allow him to do so.

He left on that island of Espanola, which the Indians say they called Bohio, thirty-nine men in the fortress, whom he says were very friendly with that King Guacanagari; and in command of these men as his lieutenants, Diego de Arana, native of Cordova and Pedro Gutierrez, "repostero de estrado" of the King, "criado del despensero mayor," and Rodrigo de Escovedo, native of Segovia, nephew of friar Rodrigo Perez, giving them all the powers which he had received from the Sovereigns. He left them all the merchandise which the Sovereigns had ordered purchased for trading, of which there was a large quantity, so that they might trade and barter it for gold, together with everything which the foundered ship carried. He also left them biscuit sufficient for a year and wine and much artillery: and the ship's boat in order that they, as they were most of them sailors, could go to discover the mine of gold when they should see that the time was favourable: so that the Admiral on his return might find much gold and a place to found a village that harbour not being to his liking: especially as the gold which was brought there he says came from the east and the more they went to the east, so much nearer were they to Spain. He also left them seeds for sowing and his officials, escribano and alguacil, and among the others a ship's carpenter and calker, and a good gunner who knows a great deal about engines, and a cooper and a physician and a tailor, and all, he says, are seamen.


He did not leave to-day because at night he says that thee of the Indians he had taken from the islands and who had remained on land, came and told him that the other Indians and their wives were coming at sunrise. The sea was also somewhat changed and the boat could not go to land. He determined to depart the next day, the grace of God permitting. He said that if he had had the caravel Pinta with him be would have been certain to obtain a cask of gold, because he would have dared to follow the coasts of these islands, which he did not dare to do because of being alone: as he did not wish anything inconvenient to happen to him and prevent his returning to Castile and informing the Sovereigns of all the things which he had found. And if he were certain that the caravel Pinta would reach Spain in safety with that Martin Alonso Pinzon, he said that he would not relinquish doing what he desired. But as he did not know about it, and as Pinzon in going would be able to tell falsehoods to the Sovereigns, to avoid the punishment which he merited for doing so much harm in going away without permission and preventing all the good which might have been done and learned at that time, the Admiral says he felt confident that our Lord would give him good weather and everything would be remedied.


At sunrise he weighed the anchors in a light wind and the boat went ahead on a course to the north-west to get outside of the bank, by another channel wider than that by which he entered. This channel and others are very suitable to go to the Villa de la Navidad and in all that channel the least depth was three fathoms up to nine fathoms, and these two channels extended from north-west to south-east along the banks which extend from Cabo Santo to Cabo de Sierpe, which is more than six leagues and out into the sea a good three leagues, and beyond Cabo Santo a good three: and a league beyond Cabo Santo the water is not more than eight fathoms in depth and inside the said cape to the east there are many shoals and channels to enter among them, and all that coast extends north-west and south-east and is all a beach, and the land is very level for a distance of four leagues island. Then there are very high mountains, and it is all well settled with large villages and good people, as had been shown to the Christians. He navigated thus to the east toward a very high mountain, which appears like an island but is not, because it connects with some very low land, which is shaped like a very beautiful "pavillion." He named this mountain Monte-Cristi and it is exactly east of Cabo Santo at a distance of about eighteen leagues. That day as there was a very light wind he was only able to arrive within six leagues of Monte-Cristi. He found four very low small sandy islets with a reef which projected well out to the north-west and extended well to the south-east. Inside there is a large gulf which extends from the said mountain to the south-east a good twenty leagues, which must all be very shallow and have many banks: and inside the gulf along all that coast there are many rivers which are not navigable although that sailor whom the Admiral sent with the canoe to learn news of the Pinta, said that he saw a river in which ships could enter. The Admiral anchored there at a distance of six leagues from Monte-Cristi in nineteen fathoms of water, having occasionally put out to sea to avoid the many shoals and banks which were found there, and he remained there all night. The Admiral says that whoever is obliged to go to the Villa de la Navidad must take his bearing from Monte-Cristi at a distance of two leagues on the sea, etc., but as the land is already known and that lying near there, he does not give all the details here. He concludes that Cipango was on that island and that there is a great deal of gold and a great quantity of spices and mastic and rhubarb.


As the sun was about to rise he made sail with a land breeze. Then it blew from the east and he saw that to the south-south-east of Monte-Cristi, between it and a small island, there appeared to be a good harbour to anchor this night and he took the course to the east-south-east and then to the south-south-east to within six leagues of the mountain: and having gone the six leagues he found the water seventeen fathoms in depth and very clear, and he went three leagues thus with the same depth. Then it was only twelve fathoms as far as the head of the mountain and beyond the head of the mountain at a distance of a league he found it nine, and clear, the bottom being all fine sand. He followed the route thus until he entered between the mountain and the small island where he found a depth of three and one-half fathoms at low tide, a very remarkable harbour where he anchored. He went with the boat to the small island where he found fire and signs that fishermen had been there. He saw there many stones tinted in colours, or a quarry of such stones, very beautiful and formed naturally he says, so that they would be suitable for church edifices and other royal works, being like those he found on the island of San Salvador. He also found on this small island many trunks of mastic trees. He says that this Monte-Cristi is very beautiful and high and accessible, and of very pretty shape: and all the country near it is low, forming a very pretty field, and it is so high that on seeing it from a distance it appears like an island which does not communicate with any land. Beyond the said mountain to the east at a distance of twenty-four miles he saw a cape which he called Cabo del Becerro: from this cape as far as the said mountain for a distance of two leagues a line of shoals appears in the sea, although it seemed to him that there were channels between them by which one could enter: but it is necessary to try it in the day-time and the boat must first make soundings. To the east from the said mountain toward the Cape of Becerro the four leagues are all a beach and the land is very low and beautiful, and the other is all a very high land with large mountains cultivated and beautiful: and a chain of mountains extends inland from the north-east to the south-east, the most beautiful that he had seen, as it appears exactly like the sierra of Cordova. Other very high mountains also appear very far toward the south and south-east and very large valleys very green and beautiful, and many rivers of water. All this is in such quantity and so pleasant that the Admiral said he did not believe he exaggerated it by the thousandth part. Then he saw to the east of the said mountain a country which appeared like another mountain, similar to Monte-Cristi in size and beauty. Then in the quarter of the east to the north-east the land is not as high, and must be about one hundred miles in extent.


That harbour is sheltered from all the winds except the north and north-west winds, and he says that they prevail very little in that country and refuge can be obtained from even these winds behind the small island: the water is from three to four fathoms in depth. After sunrise he made sail to go forward along the coast all of which extends to the east, but it is necessary to look out for many reefs of rock and sand which are on the said coast. It is true that inside them there are good harbours and good entrances through their channels. After mid-day the wind blew strongly from the east and he ordered a sailor to ascend to the top of the mast to look for shoals, and he saw the caravel Pinta coming from the east and she came up to the Admiral: and as there was no place to anchor on account of shallow water, the Admiral returned to Monte-Cristi, going back ten leagues which he had sailed, and the Pinta went with him. Martin Alonso Pinzon came to the caravel Nina upon which was the Admiral, to excuse himself, saying that he had separated from him against his will, and giving reasons for it: but the Admiral says that they were all false and that Martin Alonso Pinzon had acted with much pride and covetousness that night when he went away and left him: and that he did not know says the Admiral from whence had come the haughty actions and dishonesty he had shown toward himself on that voyage. But the Admiral wished to dissemble these actions in order not to give place to the bad deeds of Satan who wished to hinder that voyage, as he had done up to that time. An Indian from among those whom the Admiral had recommended to Martin Alonso Pinzon with others who were on his caravel, had told Pinzon that on an island which was called Baneque there was a great deal of gold, and as his ship was light and a good sailer, he wished to withdraw and go by himself, leaving the Admiral. But the Admiral wished to delay and coast along the island of Juana and the island of Espanola, since it was all on a course from the east. After Martin Alonso went to the island of Baneque he says that he found no gold, and he came to the coast of Espanola because of information from other Indians who told him that there was on that island of Espanola which the Indians called Bohio, a great quantity of gold and many mines: and through this cause he arrived near the Villa de la Navidad, within fifteen leagues, and it was then more than twenty days ago. From this it appeared that the news given by the Indians was true on account of which the King Guacanagari sent the canoe, when the Admiral despatched a sailor, and that the Nina must have been gone when the canoe arrived. And the Admiral says here that the caravel traded for a great deal of gold, and that for the end of a strap they were given good pieces of gold the size of two fingers, and at times as large as the hand, and Martin Alonso took the half and divided the other half among his people. The Admiral says further to the Sovereigns: "So that, Lords and Princes I know that our Lord miraculously ordered that the ship should remain there because it was the best place on all the island to make the settlement and is near to the mines of gold." He also says that he learned that behind the island of Juana to the south, there is another large island on which there is a larger quantity of gold than there is on this one, so that they find pieces of it larger than beans and on the island of Espanola pieces of gold were taken from the mines as large as kernels of wheat. That island, he says, was called Yamaye. He also says that he learned that yonder toward the east there was an island where there were only women, and he says that he learned this from many persons. And that the island of Espanola or the other island of Yamaye were near the mainland distant ten days' journeys in canoes which might be sixty or seventy leagues, and that the people were clothed there.


This day he caused the caravel, which was leaking, to be pumped out and calked and the sailors went on land to bring wood, and he says that they found a great quantity of mastic and aloes.


On account of the strong east and south-east wind which blew he did not start this day, so he ordered the caravel supplied with water and wood and everything necessary for all the voyage; because, although he was desirous of coasting all along the coast of Espanola which he could have done going on his course, yet as those he had placed on the caravels for captains were brothers, that is to say Martin Alonso Pinzon and Vicente Anes, and those who followed them were haughty and covetous and did not regard the honour which the Admiral had shown them and had not obeyed and did not obey his commands, but rather had done and said many unmerited things in opposition to him, and as Martin Alonso had left him from November 21 to January 6 without cause or reason but from disobedience: and all this the Admiral had suffered in silence, in order to finish his voyage successfully: on account of all this, in order to get out of such bad company, with whom he says it was necessary to dissemble, although they were a disobedient people, and although he says he had with him many good men yet it was not the time to occupy himself with matters of punishment,--he decided to return with the greatest possible haste and not stop longer. He entered the boat and went to the river which is near there, a long league from Monte-Cristi toward the south-south-west, where the sailors were going to take water for the ship, and he found that the sand at the mouth of the river which is very wide and deep, was, as he says, all full of gold in such quantity that it was wonderful, although it was in very small grains. The Admiral believed that in coming down that river it crumbled into small pieces on the way, although he says that in a short space he found many grains as large as lentils: but of the very smallest grains he says there was a great quantity. And as the sea was calm and the salt water entered with the fresh water, he ordered the boat to ascend the river a stone's throw. They filled the barrels from the boat and returning to the caravel they found caught in the hoops of the barrels little pieces of gold and the same in the hoops of the casks The Admiral named the river El Rio del Oro, which is very deep inside the entrance, although the entrance is shallow and the mouth very wide, and it is seventeen leagues from the river to the village of Navidad. There are many other large rivers between; three in especial, which he believed must have much more gold in them than that one, because they are larger although this one is almost as large as the Guadalquivir by Cordova: and from these rivers to the mines of gold it is not twenty a leagues. The Admiral says further that he would not take the said sand which contained so much gold, since their Highnesses had it all in their possession and at the door of their village of La Navidad; but that he wished to come at full speed to bring them the news, and to rid himself of the bad company which he had, and that he had always said they were a disobedient people.


At midnight he raised the sails with the wind south-east and navigated to the east-north-east: he arrived at a point which he called Punta Roja which is exactly to the east of the Monte-Cristi a distance of sixty miles, and in the shelter of this point he anchored in the afternoon, three hours before nightfall. He did not dare to go out from there in the night as there were many reefs, until they were investigated because afterward they would be useful if they had, as they must have, channels, and the water inside is very deep and forms a secure anchorage from all winds. These lands from Monte-Cristi as far as the place where he was anchored are high and smooth lands and are very pretty fields and back of them there are very beautiful mountains which extend from east to west, and are all cultivated and green, so that it is a wonderful thing to see their beauty, and they have many rivers of water. In all this land there are many tortoises, of which the sailors took a great many which came on land to lay their eggs, on Monte-Cristi, and they were very large like a great wooden shield. The day before this when the Admiral was going to the Rio del Oro, he said he saw three sirens which came up very high out of the sea: but they were not as beautiful as they are painted, as in some ways they are formed like a man in the face. He said that at other times he saw some in Guinea on the coast of Manegueta. He says that this night in the name of our Lord he will start on his journey without delaying himself further for any matter, since he had found what he had sought, and as he did not wish to have more trouble with that Martin Alonso until their Highnesses learned the news of the voyage and what he has done. "And then he says I will not suffer the bad deeds of persons without virtue, who, with little respect, presume to carry out their own wills in opposition to those who did them honour."


He started from the place where he had anchored and at sunset he reached a river which he named Rio de Gracia. it is distant three leagues to the south-east. He anchored at its mouth on the eastern side, which is a good place to anchor. On going inside, a bank is found which has but two fathoms of water and is very narrow. Within there is a good sheltered harbour but there are a great many ship-worms: and the caravel Pinta upon which was Martin Alonso, suffered very severely from them there because he says Martin Alonso remained there trading for sixteen days, and they traded for a great quantity of gold, which was what Martin Alonso desired. Martin Alonso, after he learned from the Indians that the Admiral was on the coast of the island of Espanola itself and that he could not avoid him, came to find him. And he says that Martin Monso would have liked to have all the people on the ship swear that he had been there only six days. But he says that his wickedness was so public that he could not hide it. The Admiral says, that Martin Alonso had made rules that half of the gold which was traded for or obtained should be for himself. And when he had to leave that place he took four Indian men and two young girls by force, whom the Admiral ordered given clothing and that they should be returned to their country that they might go to their houses. Which says the Admiral is for the service of your Highnesses, because men and women all belong to your Highnesses on this island especially as well as on the other islands. But here where your Highnesses already have a settlement honour and favour must be shown to the people, since there is so much gold on this island and such good lands and so much spice."


At midnight he went out from the Rio de Gracia with a land breeze, and navigated to the east as far as a cape which he called Belprado, a distance of four leagues: and from there to the south-east is the mountain which he called Monte de Plata, and he says it is a distance of eight leagues. Eighteen leagues from the cape of Belprado to the east, quarter south-east is the cape which is called Angel; and extending from this cape to the Monte de Plata there is a gulf and the best and most beautiful countries in the world, all high and beautiful fields, which extend a long distance inland, and beyond, there is a chain of mountains which extend from east to west, very high and beautiful; and at the foot of the mountain there is a very good harbour, and it is fourteen fathoms deep at the entrance and this mountain is very high and beautiful, and it is all well populated, and the Admiral believed it must have contained good rivers and much gold. Four leagues from the cape Angel to the east, quarter south-east there is a point which he named Hierro; and four leagues farther in the same direction there is a point which he named Punta Seca; and from there six leagues in the same direction is the Cape which he called Redondo; and from there to the east is the Cabo Frances and in this cape on the east there is a large bay but it did not appear to him to have anchorage. A league from there is the Cabo del Buen Tiempo: a long league from here to the south quarter south-east there is a cape which he called Tajado; toward the south from this cape he saw another cape and it appeared to him to be a distance of fifteen leagues. He made great head way to-day because the winds and the currents were favourable to him. He did not dare to anchor for fear of the shoals, and therefore he lay off and on all night.


At the quarter of the dawn he navigated to the east with a fresh wind, and went in that way all day and made twenty miles, and in two hours after that he went about twenty-four miles. From there he saw land to the south, and he went toward it and it was at a distance of about forty-eight miles and he says that after having made the ship secure he went this night twenty-eight miles to the north-north-east. When he saw the land he named a cape which he saw the Cabo de Padre e Hijo, because at the eastern point it has two small rocky points, one larger than the other. Then two leagues to the east he saw a large and very beautiful inlet between two large mountains, and he saw that it was a very large harbour, good and with a very fair entrance; but as it was very early in the morning and in order not to lose time because for the greater part of the time the wind there blows from the east and one is then carried north-north-west, he would not delay longer. He continued his course to the east as far as a very high and beautiful cape all of jagged rock, which he named Cabo del Enamorado {Lover's Cape}; this cape was thirty-two miles to the east of that harbour, which he named Puerto Sacro; and on reaching this cape he discovered another much more beautiful and higher and more rounding, all of rock like the Cabo de San Vicente in Portugal, and it was twelve miles to the east of the Enamorado. After he arrived off Enamorado he saw that there was a very large bay between it and the other cape which was three leagues wide, and in the middle of it an exceedingly small island. It is quite deep from the entrance as far as the land. He anchored there in twelve fathoms of water and sent the boat on land for water and to see if they could have speech with the people, but they all fled. He anchored to see also if all that land was one with Espanola; and what he called a gulf he suspected might be another island by itself. He was astonished to find that the island of Espanola was so large.

Columbus's Log: January, 1493 - continued

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