Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“

while he was doing his best to run away from him. Some people, to whom I have told little Daffydowndilly's story, are of opinion that old Mr. Toil was a magician, and possessed the power of multiplying himself into as many shapes as he saw fit.

Be this as it may, little Daffydowndilly had learned a good lesson, and from that time forward was diligent at his task, because he knew that diligence is not a whit more toilsome than sport or idleness. And when he became better acquainted with Mr. Toil, he began to think his ways were not so very disagreeable, and that the old schoolmaster's smile of approbation made his face almost as pleasant as even that of Daffydowndilly's mother. N. HAWTHORNE.

[ocr errors]

POLYGLOT READER,

AND

GUIDE FOR TRANSLATION.

PART II.

HISTORY AND ROMANCE.

PART II.

HISTORY AND ROMANCE.

TXI-DISCOVERY OF AMERICA.

NEXT morning, being Friday the third day of August, in the year 1492, Columbus set sail, a little before sunrise, in presence of a vast crowd of spectators, who sent up their supplications to heaven for the prosperous issue of the voyage, which they wished rather than expected. Columbus steered directly for the Canary Islands, and arrived there without any occurrence that would have deserved notice on any other occasion. But in a voyage of such expectation and importance, every circumstance was the object of attention.

Upon the 1st of October they were, according to the admiral's reckoning, seven hundred and seventy leagues to the west of the Canaries; but lest his men should be intimidated by the prodigious length of the navigation, he gave out that he had proceeded only five hundred and eighty-four leagues; and fortunately for Columbus, neither his own pilot, nor those of the other ships, had skill sufficient to correct this error, and discover the deceit. They had now been above three weeks at sea; they had proceeded far beyond what former navigators had attempted, or deemed possible; all their prognostics of discovery, drawn from the flight of birds, and other circumstances, had proved fallacious; the appearances of land, with which their own credulity, or the artifice of their commander, had from time to time flattered and amused them, had been

altogether illusive, and their prospect of success seemed now to be as distant as ever. These reflections occurred often to men who had no other object or occupation than to reason and discourse, concerning the intention and circumstances of their expedition. They made impression at first upon the ignorant and timid, and extending by degrees to such as were better informed or more resolute, the contagion spread at length from ship to ship. From secret whispers or murmurings, they proceeded to open cabals and public complaints. They taxed their sovereign, with inconsiderate credulity, in paying such regard to the vain promises and rash conjectures of an indigent foreigner, as to hazard the lives of so many of her own subjects in prosecuting a chimerical scheme. They affirmed that they had fully performed their duty by venturing so far in an unknown and hopeless course, and could incur no blame for refusing to follow any longer a desperate adventurer to certain destruction. They contended that it was necessary to think of returning to Spain, while their crazy vessels were still in a condition to keep the sea, but expressed their fears that the attempt would prove vain, as the wind, which had hitherto been so favorable to their course, must render it impossible to sail in the opposite direction. All agreed that Columbus should be compelled by force to adopt a measure on which their common safety depended. Some of the more audacious proposed, as the most expeditious and certain method for getting rid at once, of his remonstrances, to throw him into the sea, being persuaded that, upon their return to Spain, the death of an unsuccessful projecter would excite little concern, and be inquired into with no curiosity.

Columbus was fully sensible of his perilous situation. He had observed, with great uneasiness, the fatal operation of ignorance, and of fear, in producing disaffection among his crew, and saw that it was now ready to burst out into open mutiny. He retained, however, perfect presence of mind. He affected to seem ignorant of their machinations. Notwithstanding the agitation and solicitude of his own mind, he appeared with a chcerful countenance, like a man satisfied with the progress he had made, and confident of success. Sometimes he employed all the arts of insinuation to soothe his men. Sometimes he endeavored to work upon their ambition or avarice, by magnificent descriptions of the fame and wealth which they were about to acquire. On other occasions he assumed a tone of authority, and threatened them with vengance from their sove

« AnkstesnisTęsti »