Cruise in the West India Archipelago - Various Discoveries

The storm at length abated, and Columbus was able to reach the Azores. After being detained here for a short time by a dispute with the Portuguese governor of one of the islands, he continued his voyage, anxious to reach Spain before the Pinta, which had again parted company with him in the storm, with the design, he feared, of being the first to carry the news of his discovery to Spain. A second storm, however, obliged him to make for the coast of Portugal, and take refuge in the Tagus. Proceeding to Lisbon by the king's invitation, he was received with the highest honors - having thus the satisfaction of announcing the success of his , great scheme to the very persons who, fourteen years before, had scouted and rejected it. After remaining five days at Lisbon, he set out for Palos, having still heard no tidings of the Pinta. He reached the little Spanish seaport on the 15th of March, seven months and four days from the time of his departure from it. Great was the excitement among the inhabitants as they saw the little bark, which they instantly recognized, standing up the river. And when the news spread that the new world was discovered, that Columbus had returned with gold and specimens of the productions of the new lands, and, above all, with live natives on board his ship, the joy was indescribable. The bells were rung, the shops shut, all business was suspended, and the whole population hurried to the shore to receive the admiral with shouts and acclamations, such as usually attend the visits of royalty. Columbus' first act on landing was to march with his people to church, to return thanks for the success of his voyage. On the evening of the day of his arrival, the missing Pinta likewise entered the harbor, having been driven far to the north by the violence of the storm. The commander, Martin Alonzo Pinzon, full of remorse and chagrin for his past conduct, took to his bed almost immediately on reaching Palos, and died in a few days.

After the first expressions of joy and admiration, Columbus departed for Seville. From this place he sent a message to Barcelona, where the king and queen at that time resided, to lay before them a brief account of his voyage, and to receive from them an indication of their royal will. His reception at Barcelona was particularly gratifying. He made a sort of triumphal entry, surrounded by knights and nobles, who emulated each other in their efforts to swell his praise. He was received publicly by the sovereigns, in a splendid saloon, seated on the throne, and encircled by a magnificent court. On his entrance, they rose to greet him, and would hardly allow him to kiss their hands, considering it too unworthy a mark of vassalage. Columbus then gave an account of his discoveries, and exhibited the different articles which he had brought home with him. He described the quantity of spices, the promise of gold, the fertility of the soil, the delicious climate, the never-fading verdure of the trees, the brilliant plumage of the birds, in the new regions which his own enterprise had acquired for his sovereigns. He then drew their attention to six natives of the new world, whom he had brought, and who were present, and described their manners and dispositions. He exhibited their dresses and ornaments, their rude utensils, their feeble arms which corresponded with his description of them as naked and ignorant barbarians. To this he added, that he had observed no traces of idolatry or superstition among them, and that they all seemed to be convinced of the existence of a Supreme Being. The conclusion of his speech was in these words: That God had reserved for the Spanish monarchs not only all the treasures of the new world, but a still greater treasure, of inestimable value, in the infinite number of souls destined to be brought over into the bosom of the Christian church.'

After he had finished his address, the whole assembly fell upon their knees, while an anthem was chanted by the choir of the royal chapel. With songs of praise the glory was given to God for the discovery of a new world. Columbus and his adventures were for many days the wonder and delight of the people and the court. The sovereigns admitted the admiral to their audience at all hours, and loaded him with every mark of favor and distinction. Men of the highest rank were proud of the honor of his company.

The news of the great discovery which had been made soon spread over Europe, and the name of Columbus at once became celebrated over the whole of the civilized world. As it was universally believed that the lands which he had discovered were what he supposed them to be - the extremity of the Asiatic continent - they were spoken of as the Indies; and hence, even after the error was found out, the name of West Indies still continued to be applied to them.