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15. Fi-nan'-ces, s. pl. the amount of the taxes of a government, or
of the profits of a private person. 26. Cri"-mi-nal, s. a person who has wilfully acted contrary to any law. 33. E-mu-la-ti-on, s. a noble jealousy between persons, whereby
they endeavour to surpass each other in excellence and virtue.
1. The discovery of America is one of the most important events in history. 2. CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, a native of Genoa, settled at Lisbon, struck with the success of the Portuguese navigators, and reflecting on the figure of the earth, with the help of an inaccurate map, had formed a strong persuasion that the Atlantic Ocean comprehended unknown countries;or that a passage to the East-Indies and China might be found by the west. 3. Like a good citizen, he first proposed the attempt to his countrymen, as a means of depriving the Venetians, their rivals, of the rich commerce which they carried on with the Indies by the way of Egypt and the Red Sea. 4. But the Genoese rejected his proposal, as the dream of a visionary. 5. He next applied to John II. King of Portugal, a prince of an enterprising genius, and no incompetent judge of naval affairs, who listened to him with attention, and referred the consideration of his plan to some eminent cosmographers, whom he was accustomed to consult in matters of that kind. 6. They, from mean and interested views, having artfully tried, by captious questions, to draw from Columbus a full explanation of his system, advised the king to dispatch a vessel secretly, in order to attempt the proposed discovery, by exactly following the course which Columbus seemed to have pointed out. 7. John, on this occasion, forgetting the sentiments becoming a monarch, meanly adopted their perfidious counsel. The ship accordingly was dispatched, but soon returned without effecting any thing. 8. Columbus having discovered this dishonourable transaction, with that indignation which is natural to an ingenuous mind, left Portugal and went to Spain, A.D. 1484. 9. Here he addressed himself to Ferdinand and Isabella, who at that time governed the united kingdoms of Castile and Arragon. 10. But they submitted the matter to unskilful judges, who treated Columbus with contempt. 11. He therefore sent his brother Bartholomew to lay his scheme before Henry VII. of England; but Bartholomew, on his voyage, fell into the hands of pirates, who having stripped him of every thing, detained him a prisoner for several years. 12. At length he made his escape, and arrived in London : but in such extreme indigence, that he was obliged to employ himself for a considerable time in drawing and selling maps, in order to pick up as much money`as would purchase a decent dress, in which he might venture to appear at court. 13. He then laid the proposals of his brother before the king, who, notwithstanding his excessive caution and parsimony, received them with more approbation than any monarch to whom they had hitherto been presented.
14. Meanwhile Columbus, after bearing much raillery and abuse, for eight years, at the court of Spain, had at last, by means of Peres, a monk, and two other churchmen, Quintanilla and Santangel, prevailed on Queen Isabella, from a motive of religion, to favour his enterprize. 15. As her finances
were in a very low state, after the reduction of Granada,* she even offered to pledge her jewels in order to raise money to defray the expenses of the expedition. 16. But Santangel, overjoyed at her consent, engaged to advance the sum that was requisite. 17. Three vessels were equipped, of no great size, having on board only ninety men, mostly sailors, besides a few adventurers. 18. The whole expense did not exceed four thousand pounds sterling. 19. The largest vessel was commanded by Columbus himself, and the two smallest by two brothers, of the name of Pinzon.
20. Columbus set sail from Palos, a small seaport town of Andalusia, t 3d August 1492, and after surmounting many difficulties, on the thirty-third day he discovered one of the Bahama Islands; and after that Cuba and Hispaniola, or St. Domingo.f 21. At the end of about nine months he returned to Spain, *with a quantity of gold, and some of the natives, to the confusion of his enemies, and the astonishment of all. 22. Ferdinand and Isabella-loaded him with the highest honours, and appointed him Admiral of the West-Indies. 23. He set out on the second voyage September 1493; and after various delays, on a third, 1498, in which he discovered the Continent of South America, at the mouth of the Oronooko.§ 24. On his arrival at St. Domingo, his prudence and tem
• Granada is a province of Spain, bordering on the Mediterranean, † The province of Andalusia is the most rich and fertile in Spain.
| Cuba and St. Domingo are two islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Hispaniola was the ancient name of St. Domingo
9 A large river in the north of South America, discharging itself into the Atlantic Ocean.
per were put to the severest trial, by the mutinous behaviour of the colony which he had settled there. 25. His enemies, at court, misrepresented his conduct. Their artifice and malice prevailed. 26. A governor was sent to succeed him, who was not ashamed to put him in irons, and sent him, like a criminal, to Spain. 27. The injustice of this act was universally condemned. He was honourably acquitted; but would never part with his chains; and when he died, he ordered them to be buried with him. 28. He undertook a fourth voyage, 1502, in which he discovered the Isthmus of Darien. 29. Being forced on Jamaica, * by a storm, and in want of provisions, he procured supplies from the savages, by the terror of an eclipse of the moon,t which he knew was to happen at that time. 30. When Columbus returned to Spain, his protectress Isabella was dead. Ferdinand gave him fair words, but nothing else. 31. This truly great man died in 1506, weighed down by grief and infirmities. 32. After his death, the Indians were no longer treated with gentleness, but were almost entirely exterminated from St. Domingo and Cuba by the most horrid barbarity.
,* Jamaica now belongs to the English, and is said to be a very pleasant and delightful island, having an abundance of fine rivers and gentle meandering streams intersecting each other, which refresh the vallies as they glide along, and furnish the inhabitants with sweet and cool water.
The greater part of this island is covered with woods, which never lose their verdure, but look green at all times of the year, for here is an eternal spring.
† An eclipse of the moon is a privation of the sun's light by the interposition of the earth between them. When the moon intervenes between the sun and earth, it is vulgarly called an eclipse of the sun, when in reality it is the earth that is eclipsed and not the sun.
33. The fame of Columbus roused the emulation of many adventurers. 34. The coast of South America was discovered, 1499, by Americ Vispucci,* a Florentine,t in the service of Portugal, who having published an account of his voyage, had the good fortune, very unjustly, to give his name to near onehalf of the globe. 35. About the same time the coast of North America was discovered by Sebastian Cabot, a native of Bristol. · 36. The inhabitants of America, when first discovered by the Europeans, were all in the most savage state, except those of Mexico and Peru, who had made some small progress in the art of civilization, but in many respects were also quite uncultivated. 37. They knew nothing of letters, were wholly unacquainted with the use of iron, and had no horses, sheep, or oxen, nor any of the domestic animals of Europe.
CHAP. X. An Introduction to the Description of the Chief En
pires which have existed in the World.
7. Ark, s. the vessel built by Noah to preserve himself, family, and
the whole race of terrestrial and aerial animals, from the flood. Ter-res'-tri-al, a. earthly, belonging to the earth.
* It is from this man that America receives its name; but it is most extraordinary, that so vast a continent as the Western World should not be called after the name of the ingenious and enterprising man who first discovered it; if such an honour be due to any one, it certainly ought to have been given to " Columbus,"
+ From Florence, a celebrated and beautiful city of Italy, the capital of the province of Tuscany.