Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

tions above; and it is 'a crime to have undertaken and performed too much! As my misery makes my life a burthen to myself, so far the empty title of vice-roy and admiral render me obnoxious to the hatred of the Spanili nation. It is visible that all methods are adopted to cut the thread that is breaking; for I am in my old age oppressed with insupportable pains of the gout, and am now languilhing and expiring with that and other infirmities, among favages, where I have neither medi. cines nor provisions for the body-priest nor sacrament for the foul. My men in a state of revolt-my brother, my son, and those that are faitnful, sick, starving, and dying; the Indians have abandoned us, and the governor of St. Domingo has sent rather to see if I am dead, than to succour us, or carry me alive hence ; for his boat neither delivered a letter nor spoke with us, nor would receive any letter from us, so I conclude your Highness's officers intend that here my voyages and life thould terminate. O blessed Mother of God! that compassionates the miferable and oppressed, why did not cruel Bovadilla kill me, when he robbed me and my brother of our dearly purchased gold, and sent us to Spain, without trial, crime, or ihadow of misconduct? There chains are all the treasures I have, and they shall be buried with me, if I chance to have a coffin or grave; for í would have the remem. brance of so unjust an action perish with me, and, for the glory of the Spanish name, be eternally forgotten. Let it nut bring a farther infamy on the Cattilian name; nor let ages to come, know there were any wretches fo vile in this, that think to recommend themselves to your Majesty, by destroying the unfortunate and miser. able CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, not for his crimes, but for his services in discovering and giving Spain a NEW WORLD! As it was heaven itfelt that inspired and conducted me to it! the heavens will weep for me, and thew pity! Let the earth, and every foul in it, that loves justice and mercy, weep for mel And you,

O glo. O glorified saints of God, that know my innocence and see my sufferings here, have mercy! for though this present age is envious and obdurate, furely those that are to come will pity me, when they are told that CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, with his own fortune, ran the hazard of his own and brother's life and with little or no expence to the crown of Spain, in ten years and four voyages, rendered greater services than ever mortal man did to prince or kingdom, yet was left to perish, without being charged with the least crime, in poverty and misery--all but his chains being taken from him, so that he who gave Spain another world, had neither safety in it, nor yet a cottage for himlelf nor his wretched family. But should heaven still persecuse me, and feem displeased with what I have done, as if the discovery of this new world may be fatal to the old ; and, as a punilhment, bring my life to a period in this miserable place ; yet do you, good angels, you that succour the oppressed and innocent, bring this paper to my great mistress.

She knows how much I have done, and wiil believe what I have suffered for her glory and service ; and will be so just and pious as not to let the children of him that has brought to Spain such immense riches, and added to it valt and unknown kingdoms and empire, want bread, or subsist only on alms. She, if the lives, will consider that cruelty and ingratitude will bring down the wrath of heaven; so that the wealth I have discovered shall be the means of stirring

all mankind to revenge and rapine, and the Spanish nation suffer hereafter for what envious, malicious, ungrateful people do now *.

* COLUMBUS was cleared from the above accusation, of which he so bitterly and justly complains. He died in Spain 1506.-Edit.

up

THE THE ASSES OF EGYPT.

[From Sonnini's Travels.] the horses of Egypt claim distinction by their

I ,

country are not less remarkable. It is indisputable, that the hottest and driest climates are most favourable to horses, since those of Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Barbary, and Spain, stand foremost in beauty and vigour. Affes, likewise, of a species nearly related to them, attain the greatest excellence of figure and qualities in the same climates, which appear to be natural to them. In proportion to their distance from these they degenerate, fo that those of northern countries lose all resemblance to those of the south. If this degeneration be not so perceptible with regard to horses, very fine ones being to be found in the north, it is because Europeans have changed the nature of these animals in their country, by procuring mares and stallions from abroad, forming ftuds, crossing breeds, and lavishing the minuteft attentions upon them, while they have not only been carelefs respecting the breed of their asses, but have degraded it by almost total neglect and uninerited contempt. Badly fed, still worse attended, oppressed by heavy burdens, and ill-treated by blows, the ass of our country is unquestionably a wretched slave. Degraded as low as possible, he serves only the meanest of men, for whom he performs every thing his impaired condition will allow. His name is become that of dullness and stupidity. Yet he is docile, gentle, patient, and temperate to ex. cess. Did neither the horse nor the ox exist in cur country, he would be held there in the highest estimation. But this is not the only instance where modeft and useful fimplicity, placed by the side of more bril. Jiant and active qualities, has been rewarded by ingratitude, and excited derision.

How their

How different this forry and degraded animal from the affes of Egypt and Arabia, which, as well as the horses of those countries, are superior to any in the universe! Some are to be found there of great height; and these are most valued and esteemed, occasionally selling at a higher price than even horses themselves. Still, whatever be their height, their head is well placed, their eyes are brisk, and their body is plump. They have elegance in their attitudes, gracefulneis in their movements, and nobleness and almost haughtiness in their carriage. Their foot is sure, their step is light, and

paces quick, brisk, and easy. In short, they are very pleasing to ride. All travellers have praised this fine species of animal. Peter della Vale, who paraded his pride a long time in the East, relates, that the peo, ple there do not scruple to ride upon affes, that they trot wonderfully, and that he has been ready to die with laughing at the fight *. For my part I was greatly surprised at it. In Egypt, people not only ride on asses without hesitation, but, as I have already observed, they were the only animals on which Christians of any country were allowed to appear in the capital. The Mahometan merchants, and the most opulent of the inhabitants, used them likewise : and carriages being unknown in this country, ladies of the highest rank, even the wives of the beys themselves, had no other equipages.

I once happened to meet the whole haram of a bey, taking an airing in the environs of Cairo. An equivocal figure, an eunuch with a mean and ferocious countenance, preceded the ladies on a fine horse, covered with gold, filver, and embroidery. The ladies were mounted on asses of the highest price. The bridles of these animals glittered with silver and gold, and a magnificent piece of tapestry covering the saddle and crupper reached down to the ground. It is to be presumed,

* Voyages, tome i. p. 142. VOL. VIII.

Hh

that

that the ladies were not deficient in charms : but they were masqued with thick veils, and bundled up, as it were, in pieces of stuffs, which did not allow either the face or even figure to be seen, and exhibited nothing but a shapeless mass. Such meetings had nothing in them very pleasant to an European : he was not only obliged to alight in token of respect, but he must also take care to avoid, I will not say looking the ladies in the face, for this was invisible, but even looking at them; the most he could do being to eye them askance as they passed. If he ventured beyond this, it would have afforded a pretence for an avanie, or been attended with consequences still worse.

The affes of Egypt have at least as much vigour as beauty. They readily perform the longest journeys. More' hardy than the horses, and less difficult with regard to the quality or quantity of their food, they are preferred for long journeys acrofs the desert. Most of the Musulman pilgrims use them for the long and laborious journey to Mecca; and the chiefs of the Nubian caravans, which are fixty days in paffing immense folitudes, ride upon afses, that do not appear fatigued when they arrive in Egypt.

The crust of their hoofs is defended by thin and light shoes. The saddles they wear are shaped like packsaddles, rounded, and heightened by a pad softly stuffed, on which the rider fits much farther back than on a horse. The ftirrups, which are shaped nearly like ours, have only a single flat bar at bottom, the breadth of three fingers. Men ride without any housings; but for women a piece of tapestry, more or less rich, and sometimes reaching to the ground, is laid over this faddle. The asses are bridled in the same manner as the horses. In the principal streets of Cairo, and in the squares, they stand for hire ready bridled and saddled, being the hackney coaches of this city. The person who lets them accompanies his ass, running behind to goad him on, and cry out to rhose who walk on foot to

make

« ZurückWeiter »