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land! Faith, weary with watching, ceases to expect -Hope, worn by its vigils, no longer looks.
Never did a darker night overtake man, than the last night of that gloomy voyage. To-morrow, by mutual agreement between the Admiral and his crews, if no land appear, they are to turn their bows toward Spain. But even this scarcely afforded hope. Before they could reach the nearest port, their provisions might be exhausted, or the relentless tempest might send their shattered barques to the bottom.
They turn into their hammocks; but not to sleep. Sad remembrances, gloomy forebodings, weigh down their souls. They chide the folly which allured them from Spain. They think of the friends who stood on the beach and waved an ominous farewell; and, oh! they must meet them again no more, until the sea give up the dead that are in it. But, ah! as they turn on their faces and abandon themselves to despair, what sound is that which comes from the deck! It is the voice of their leader-it is the electric cry, "LAND! LAND!" Yes, "LAND! LAND!" rises for the first time over that unsounded sea.
They leap from their hammocks- they rush to the decks-and, gazing with strained eye-balls over the bows, see a faint light in the distance, moving, as it seems, from place to place. Hoping, hardly daring to hope, they wait for morning; when, lo! as it breaks, one of those fair isles which stud the ocean, rises from the shades of receding night. It rises in native loveliness, unmarred by man, unprofaned by the axe, its fields kissing the waters, its forests saluting the clouds. Transported with joy, forgetful of the past, anticipating the
glory of the future, they simultaneously break forth in praise to God. From every vessel, from every tongue, one glad song ascends to Heaven; and the "Te Deum" swells where waves had roared and wild winds wailed.
RETURN AND RECEPTION OF COLUMBUS.
THE fame of his discovery had resounded throughout the nation, and as his route lay through several of the finest and most populous provinces of Spain, his journey appeared like the progress of a sovereign. Wherever he passed, the surrounding country poured forth its inhabitants, who lined the road and thronged the villages. In the large towns, the streets, windows, and balconies, were filled with eager spectators, who rent the air with acclamations.
His journey was continually impeded by the multitude pressing to gain a sight of him, and of the Indians, who were regarded with as much admiration as if they were natives of another planet. It was impossible to satisfy the craving curiosity which assailed himself and his attendants, at every stage, with innumerable questions: popular rumor, as usual, had exaggerated the truth, and had filled the newly found country with all kinds of wonders.
It was about the middle of April, that Columbus arrived at Barcelona, where every preparation had
been made to give him a solemn and magnificent reception. The beauty and serenity of the weather, in that genial season and favored climate, contributed to give splendor to this memorable ceremony. As he drew near the place, many of the more youthful courtiers, together with a vast concourse of the populace, came forth to welcome him.
His entrance into this noble city has been compared to one of those triumphs, which the Romans were accustomed to decree to conquerors. First were paraded the Indians, painted according to their savage fashion, and decorated with tropical feathers, and with their national ornaments of gold; after these were borne various kinds of live parrots, together with stuffed birds and animals of unknown species, and rare plants, supposed to be of precious qualities: while great care was taken to make a conspicuous display of Indian coronets, bracelets, and other decorations of gold, which might give an idea of the wealth of the newly discovered regions. After these followed Columbus, on horseback, surrounded by a brilliant cavalcade of Spanish chivalry.
The streets were almost impassable from the countless multitude; the windows and balconies were crowded with the fair; the very roofs were covered with spectators. It seemed, as if the public eye could not be sated with gazing on these trophies of an unknown world, or on the remarkable man by whom it had been discovered. There was a sublimity in this event, that mingled a solemn feeling with the public joy,
To receive him with suitable pomp and distinction, the sovereigns had ordered their throne to be placed in public, under a rich canopy of brocade of gold, in a vast and splendid saloon. Here the king and queen awaited his arrival, seated in state with the prince Juan beside them, and attended by the dignitaries of their court, and the principal nobility of Castile.
At length Columbus entered the hall, surrounded by a brilliant crowd of cavaliers. A modest smile lighted up his features, showing that he enjoyed the state and glory in which he came; and certainly nothing could be more deeply moving, to a mind inflamed by noble ambition, and conscious of having greatly deserved, than were these testimonials of the admiration and gratitude of a nation, or rather of a world.
As Columbus approached, the sovereigns rose, as if receiving a person of the highest rank. Bending his knees, he requested to kiss their hands; but there was some hesitation on the part of their majesties to permit this act of vassalage. Raising him in the most gracious manner, they ordered him to seat himself in their presence; a rare honor in this proud and punctilious court.
At the request of their majesties, Columbus now gave an account of the most striking events of his voyage, and a description of the islands which he had discovered. He displayed the specimens he had brought of unknown birds and other animals; of rare plants, of medicinal and aromatic virtue; of native gold, in dust, in crude masses, or labored into barparic ornaments; and, above all, the natives of these
countries, who were objects of intense and inexhaustible interest; since there is nothing to man so curious as the varieties of his own species. All these he pronounced mere harbingers of greater discoveries he had yet to make, which would add realms of incalculable wealth to the dominions of their majesties, and whole nations of proselytes to the true faith.
The words of Columbus were listened to with profound emotion by the sovereigns. When he had finished, they sunk on their knees, and raising their clasped hands to heaven, their eyes filled with tears of joy and gratitude, they poured forth thanks and praises to God for so great a providence; all present followed their example; a deep and solemn enthusiasm pervaded that splendid assembly, and prevented all common acclamations of triumph. Such was the solemn and pious manner in which the brilliant court of Spain celebrated this sublime event.
When Columbus retired from the royal presence, he was attended to his residence by all the court, and followed by the shouting populace. For many days he was the object of universal curiosity, and wherever he appeared, he was surrounded by an admiring multitude.