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Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic

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Author Topic: Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic  (Read 2623 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2008, 04:43:22 am »

p. 134

The prosperous farmer Conall Ua Corra in the province of Connaught had everything to make him happy except that he and his wife had no children to cheer their old age and inherit their estate. Conall had prayed for children, and one day said in his impatience that he would rather have them sent by Satan than not have them at all. A year or two later his wife had three sons at a birth, and when these sons came to maturity, they were so ridiculed by other young men, as being the sons of Satan, that they said, "If such is really our parentage, we will do Satan's work." So they collected around them a few villains and began plundering and destroying the churches in the neighborhood and thus injuring half the church buildings in the country. At last they resolved to visit also the church of Clothar, to

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destroy it, and to kill if necessary their mother's father, who was the leading layman of the parish. When they came to the church, they found the old man on the green in front of it, distributing meat and drink to his tenants and the people of the parish. Seeing this, they postponed their plans until after dark and in the meantime went home with their grandfather, to spend the night at his house. They went to rest, and the eldest, Lochan, had a terrible dream in which he saw first the joys of heaven and then the terrors of future punishment, and then he awoke in dismay. Waking his brothers, he told them his dream, and that he now saw that they had been serving evil masters and making war upon a good one. Such was his bitterness of remorse that he converted them to his views, and they agreed to go to their grandfather in the morning, renounce their sinful ways and ask his pardon.

This they did, and he advised them to go to a celebrated saint, Finnen of Clonard, and take him as their spiritual guide. Laying aside their armor and weapons, they went to Clonard, where all the people, dreading them and knowing

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their wickedness, fled for their lives, except the saint himself, who came forward to meet them. With him the three brothers undertook the most austere religious exercises, and after a year they came to St. Finnen and asked his punishment for their former crimes. "You cannot," he said, "restore to life those you have slain, but you can at least restore the buildings you have devastated and ruined." So they went and repaired many churches, after which they resolved to go on a pilgrimage upon the great Atlantic Ocean. They built for themselves therefore a curragh or coracle, covered with hides three deep. It was capable of carrying nine persons, and they selected five out of the many who wished to join the party. There were a bishop, a priest, a deacon, a musician, and the man who had modelled the boat; and with these they pushed out to sea.

It had happened some years before that in a quarrel about a deer hunt, the men of Ross had killed the king. It had been decided that, by way of punishment, sixty couples of the people of Ross should be sent out to sea, two

p. 137

and two, in small boats, to meet what fate they might upon the deeps. They were watched that they might not land again, and for many years nothing more had been heard from them. The most pious task which these repenting pilgrims could undertake, it was thought, would be to seek these banished people. They resolved to spread their sail and let Providence direct their course. They went, therefore, northwest on the Atlantic, where they visited several wonderful islands, on one of which there was a great bird which related to them, the legend says, the whole history of the world, and gave them a great leaf from a tree--the leaf being as large as an ox-hide, and being preserved for many years in one of the churches after their return. At the next island they heard sweet human voices, and found that the sixty banished couples had established their homes there.

The pilgrims then went onward in their hidebound boat until they reached the coast of Spain, and there they landed and dwelt for a time. The bishop built a church, and the priest officiated in it, and the organist took

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charge of the music. All prospered; yet the boat-builder and the three brothers were never quite contented, for they had roamed the seas too long; and they longed for a new enterprise for their idle valor. They thought they had found this when one day they found on the sea-coast a group of women tearing their hair, and when they asked the explanation, "Señor," said an old woman, "our sons and our husbands have again fallen into the hand of Satan." At this the three brothers were startled, for they remembered well how they used, in youth, to rank themselves as Satan's children. Asking farther, they learned that a shattered boat they saw on the beach was one of a pair of boats which had been carried too far out to sea, and had come near an islet which the sailors called Isla de la Man Satanaxio, or The Island of Satan's Hand. It appeared that in that region there was an islet so called, always surrounded by chilly mists and water of a deadly cold; that no one had ever reached it, as it constantly changed place; but that a demon hand sometimes uprose from it,

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2008, 04:43:57 am »

''A demon hand sometimes uprose from the islet and plucked away men and even whole boats, which when once grasped, usually by night, where never seen again, but perished helplessly.''--p. 139
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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2008, 04:44:12 am »

p. 139

and plucked away men and even whole boats, which, when once grasped, usually by night, were never seen again, but perished helplessly, victims of Satan's Hand.

When the voyagers laughed at this legend, the priest of the village showed them, on the early chart of Bianco, the name of "De la Man Satanagio," and on that of Beccaria the name "Satanagio" alone, both these being the titles of islands. Not alarmed at the name of Satan, as being that of one whom they had supposed, in their days of darkness, to be their patron, they pushed boldly out to sea and steered westward, a boat-load of Spanish fishermen following in their wake. Passing island after island of green and fertile look, they found themselves at last in what seemed a less favored zone--as windy as the "roaring forties," and growing chillier every hour. Fogs gathered quickly, so that they could scarcely see the companion boat, and the Spanish fishermen called out to them, "Garda da la Man do Satanaxio!" ("Look out for Satan's hand!")

As they cried, the fog became denser yet,

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and when it once parted for a moment, something that lifted itself high above them, like a gigantic hand, showed itself an instant, and then descended with a crushing grasp upon the boat of the Spanish fishermen, breaking it to pieces, and dragging some of the men below the water, while others, escaping, swam through the ice-cold waves, and were with difficulty taken on board the coracle; this being all the harder because the whole surface of the water was boiling and seething furiously. Rowing away as they could from this perilous neighborhood, they lay on their oars when the night came on, not knowing which way to go. Gradually the fog cleared away, the sun rose clearly at last, and wherever they looked on the deep they saw no traces of any island, still less of the demon hand. But for the presence among them of the fishermen they had picked up, there was nothing to show that any casualty had happened.

That day they steered still farther to the west with some repining from the crew, and at night the same fog gathered, the same deadly

p. 141

chill came on. Finding themselves in shoal water, and apparently near some island, they decided to anchor the boat; and as the man in the bow bent over to clear away the anchor, something came down upon him with the same awful force, and knocked him overboard. His body could not be recovered, and as the wind came up, they drove before it until noon of the next day, seeing nothing of any land and the ocean deepening again. By noon the fog cleared, and they saw nothing, but cried with one voice that the boat should be put about, and they should return to Spain. For two days they rowed in peace over a summer sea; then came the fog again and they laid on their oars that night. All around them dim islands seemed to float, scarcely discernible in the fog; sometimes from the top of each a point would show itself, as of a mighty hand, and they could hear an occasional plash and roar, as if this hand came downwards. Once they heard a cry, as if of sailors from another vessel. Then they strained their eyes to gaze into the fog, and a whole island seemed to be turning

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itself upside down, its peak coming down, while its base went uppermost, and the whole water boiled for leagues around, as if both earth and sea were upheaved.

The sun rose upon this chaos of waters. No demon hand was anywhere visible, nor any island, but a few icebergs were in sight, and the frightened sailors rowed away and made sail for home. It was rare to see icebergs so far south, and this naturally added to the general dismay. Amid the superstition of the sailors, the tales grew and grew, and all the terrors became mingled. But tradition says that there were some veteran Spanish sailors along that coast, men who had sailed on longer voyages, and that these persons actually laughed at the whole story of Satan's Hand, saying that any one who had happened to see an iceberg topple over would know all about it. It was more generally believed, however, that all this was mere envy and jealousy; the daring fishermen remained heroes for the rest of their days; and it was only within a century or two that the island of Satanaxio disappeared from the charts.

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2008, 04:45:36 am »

p. 143

The young Spanish page, Luis de Vega, had been for some months at the court of Don Rodrigo, king of Spain, when he heard the old knights lamenting, as they came out of the palace at Toledo, over the king's last and most daring whim. "He means," said one of them in a whisper, "to penetrate the secret cave of the Gothic kings, that cave on which each successive sovereign has put a padlock,"

"Till there are now twenty-seven of them," interrupted a still older knight.

"And he means," said the first, frowning at the interruption, "to take thence the treasures of his ancestors."

"Indeed, he must do it," said another, "else the son of his ancestors will have no treasure left of his own."

"But there is a spell upon it," said the other.

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[paragraph continues] "For ages Spain has been threatened with invasion, and it is the old tradition that the only talisman which can prevent it is in this cave."

"Well," said the scoffer, "it is only by entering the cave that he can possess the talisman."

"But if he penetrates to it, his power is lost."

"A pretty talisman," said the other. "It is only of use to anybody so long as no one sees it. Were I the king I would hold it in my hands. And I have counselled him to heed no graybeards, but to seize the treasure for himself. I have offered to accompany him."

"May it please your lordship," said the eager Luis, "may I go with you?"

"Yes," said Don Alonzo de Carregas, turning to the ardent boy. "Where the king goes I go, and where I go thou shalt be my companion. See, señors," he said, turning to the others, "how the ready faith of boyhood puts your fears to shame. To his Majesty the terrors of this goblin cave are but a jest which frightens the old and only rouses the young to courage. The king may find the recesses of the cavern filled with gold and jewels; he

p. 145

who goes with him may share them. This boy is my first recruit: who follows?"

By this time a whole group of courtiers, young and old, had assembled about Don Alonzo, and every man below thirty years was ready to pledge himself to the enterprise. But the older courtiers and the archbishop Oppas were beseeching the king to refrain. "Respect, O king," they said, "the custom held sacred by twenty-seven of thy predecessors. Give us but an estimate of the sum that may, in thy kingly mind, represent the wealth that is within the cavern walls, and we will raise it on our own domains, rather than see the sacred tradition set at nought." The king's only answer was, "Follow me," Don Alonzo hastily sending the boy Luis to collect the younger knights who had already pledged themselves to the enterprise. A gallant troop, they made their way down the steep steps which led from the palace to the cave. The news had spread; the ladies had gathered on the balconies, and the bright face of one laughing girl looked from a bower window, while she tossed a rose to the happy

p. 146

[paragraph continues] Luis. Alas, it fell short of its mark and hit the robes of Archbishop Oppas, who stood with frowning face as the youngster swept by. The archbishop crushed it unwittingly in the hand that held the crosier.

The rusty padlocks were broken, and each fell clanking on the floor, and was brushed away by mailed heels. They passed from room to room with torches, for the cavern extended far beneath the earth; yet they found no treasure save the jewelled table of Solomon. But for their great expectations, this table alone might have proved sufficient to reward their act of daring. Some believed that it had been brought by the Romans from Solomon's temple, and from Rome by the Goths and Vandals who sacked that city and afterwards conquered Spain; but all believed it to be sacred, and now saw it to be gorgeous. Some describe it as being of gold, set with precious stones; others, as of gold and silver, making it yellow and white in hue, ornamented with a row of pearls, a row of rubies, and another row of emeralds. It is generally agreed that it stood on three hundred and

p. 147

sixty feet, each made of a single emerald. Being what it was, the king did not venture to remove it, but left it where it was. Traversing chamber after chamber and finding all empty, they at last found all passages leading to the inmost apartment, which had a marble urn in the centre. Yet all eyes presently turned from this urn to a large painting on the wall which displayed a troop of horsemen in full motion. Their horses were of Arab breed, their arms were scimitars and lances, with fluttering pennons; they wore turbans, and their coarse black hair fell over their shoulders; they were dressed in skins. Never had there been seen by the courtiers a mounted troop so wild, so eager, so formidable. Turning from them to the marble urn, the king drew from it a parchment, which said: "These are the people who, whenever this cave is entered and the spell contained in this urn is broken, shall possess this country. An idle curiosity has done its work. 1

p. 148

The rash king, covering his eyes with his hands, fled outward from the cavern; his knights followed him, but Don Alonzo lingered last except the boy Luis. "Nevertheless, my lord," said Luis, "I should like to strike a blow at these bold barbarians." "We may have an opportunity," said the gloomy knight. He closed the centre gate of the cavern, and tried to replace the broken padlocks, but it was in vain. In twenty-four hours the story had travelled over the kingdom.

The boy Luis little knew into what a complex plot he was drifting. In the secret soul of his protector, Don Alonzo, there burned a great anger against the weak and licentious king. He and his father, Count Julian, and Archbishop Oppas, his uncle, were secretly brooding plans of wrath against Don Rodrigo for his ill treatment of Don Alonzo's sister, Florinda. Rumors had told them that an army of strange warriors from Africa, who had hitherto carried all before them, were threatening to cross the straits not yet called Gibraltar, and descend on Spain. All the ties of fidelity held these courtiers

p. 149

to the king; but they secretly hated him, and wished for his downfall. By the next day they had planned to betray him to the Moors. Count Julian had come to make his military report to Don Rodrigo, and on some pretext had withdrawn Florinda from the court. "When you come again," said the pleasure-loving king, "bring me some hawks from the south, that we may again go hawking." "I will bring you hawks enough," was the answer, "and such as you never saw before." "But Rodrigo," says the Arabian chronicler, "did not understand the full meaning of his words."

It was a hard blow for the young Luis when he discovered what a plot was being urged around him. He would gladly have been faithful to the king, worthless as he knew him to be; but Don Alonzo had been his benefactor, and he held by him. Meanwhile the conspiracy drew towards completion, and the Arab force was drawing nearer to the straits. A single foray into Spain had shown Musa, the Arab general, the weakness of the kingdom; that the cities were unfortified, the citizens unarmed, and

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many of the nobles lukewarm towards the king. "Hasten," he said, "towards that country where the palaces are filled with gold and silver, and the men cannot fight in their defence." Accordingly, in the early spring of the year 711, Musa sent his next in command, Tarik, to cross to Spain with an army of seven thousand men, consisting mostly of chosen cavalry. They crossed the straits then called the Sea of Narrowness, embarking the troops at Tangier and Ceute in many merchant vessels, and landing at that famous promontory called thenceforth by the Arab general's name, the Rock of Tarik, Dschebel-Tarik, or, more briefly, Gibraltar.

Luis, under Don Alonzo, was with the Spanish troops sent hastily down to resist the Arab invaders, and, as these troops were mounted, he had many opportunities of seeing the new enemies and observing their ways. They were a picturesque horde; their breasts were covered with mail armor; they wore white turbans on their heads, carried their bows slung across their backs, and their swords suspended to their girdles, while they held their long spears firmly

p. 151

grasped in their hands. The Arabs said that their fashion of mail armor had come to them from King David, "to whom," they said, "God made iron soft, and it became in his hands as thread." More than half of them were mounted on the swift horses which were peculiar to their people; and the white, red, and black turbans and cloaks made a most striking picture around the camp-fires. These men, too, were already trained and successful soldiers, held together both by a common religion and by the hope of spoil. There were twelve thousand of them by the most probable estimate,--for Musa had sent reinforcements,--and they had against them from five to eight times their number. But of the Spaniards only a small part were armed or drilled, or used to warfare, and great multitudes of them had to put their reliance in clubs, slings, axes, and short scythes. The cavalry were on the wings, where Luis found himself, with Count Julian and Archbishop Oppas to command them. Soon, however, Don Alonzo and Luis were detached, with others, to act as escort to the king, Don Rodrigo.

p. 152

The battle began soon after daybreak on Sunday, July 19, 711. As the Spanish troops advanced, their trumpets sounded defiance and were answered by Moorish horns and kettledrums. While they drew near, the shouts of the Spaniards were drowned in the lelie of the Arabs, the phrase Lá ilá-ha ella-llah--there is no deity but God. As they came nearer yet, there is a tradition that Rodrigo looking on the Moslem, said, "By the faith of the Messiah, these are the very men I saw painted on the walls of the cave at Toledo." Yet he certainly bore himself like a king, and he rode on the battle-field in a chariot of ivory lined with gold, having a silken awning decked with pearls and rubies, while the vehicle was drawn by three white mules abreast. He was then nearly eighty, and was dressed in a silken robe embroidered with pearls. He had brought with him in carts and on mules his treasures in jewels and money; and he had trains of mules whose only load consisted of ropes, to bind the arms of his captives, so sure was he of making every Arab his prisoner. Driving along the lines he addressed his troops

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boldly, and arriving at the centre quitted his chariot, put on a horned helmet, and mounted his white horse Orelio.

This was before the invention of gunpowder, and all battles were hand to hand. On the first day the result was doubtful, and Tarik rode through the Arab ranks, calling on them to fight for their religion and their safety. As the onset began, Tarik rode furiously at a Spanish chief whom he took for the king, and struck him down. For a moment it was believed to be the king whom he had killed, and from that moment new energy was given to the Arabs. The line of the Spaniards wavered; and at this moment the whole wing of cavalry to which Luis belonged rode out from its place and passed on the flank of the army, avoiding both Spaniard and Arab. "What means this?" said Luis to the horseman by his side. "It means," was the answer, "that Bishop Oppas is betraying the king." At this moment Don Alonzo rode up and cheered their march with explanations. "No more," he said, "will we obey this imbecile old king who can neither fight nor govern. He

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and his troops are but so many old women; it is only these Arabs who are men. All is arranged with Tarik, and we will save our country by joining the only man who can govern it." Luis groaned in dismay; it seemed to him an act of despicable treachery; but those around him seemed mostly prepared for it, and he said to himself, "After all, Don Alonzo is my chief; I must hold by him;" so he kept with the others, and the whole cavalry wing followed Oppas to a knoll, whence they watched the fight. It soon became a panic; the Arabs carried all before them, and the king himself was either killed or hid himself in a convent.

Many a Spaniard of the seceding wing of cavalry reproached himself afterwards for what had been done; and while the archbishop had some influence with the conquering general and persuaded him to allow the Christians everywhere to retain a part of their churches, yet he had, after all, the reward of a traitor in contempt and self-reproach. This he could bear no longer, and organizing an expedition from a Spanish port, he and six minor bishops, with

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many families of the Christians, made their way towards Gibraltar. They did not make their escape, however, without attracting notice and obstruction. As they rode among the hills with their long train, soldiers, ecclesiastics, women, and children, they saw a galloping band of Arabs in pursuit. The archbishop bade them turn instantly into a deserted castle they were just passing, to drop the portcullis and man the walls. That they might look as numerous as possible, he bade all the women dress themselves like men and tie their long hair beneath their chins to resemble beards. He then put helmets on their heads and lances in their hands, and thus the Arab leader saw a formidable host on the walls to be besieged. In obedience, perhaps, to orders, he rode away and after sufficient time had passed, the archbishop's party rode onward towards their place of embarkation. Luis found himself beside a dark-eyed maiden, who ambled along on a white mule, and when he ventured to joke her a little on her late appearance as an armed cavalier, she said coyly, "Did you think my only weapons were roses?" Looking

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eagerly at her, he recognized the laughing face which he had once seen at a window; but ere he could speak again she had struck her mule lightly and taken refuge beside the archbishop, where Luis dared not venture. He did not recognize the maiden again till they met on board one of the vessels which the Arabs had left at Gibraltar, and on which they embarked for certain islands of which Oppas had heard, which lay in the Sea of Darkness. Among these islands they were to find their future home.

The voyage, at first rough, soon became serene and quiet; the skies were clear, the moon shone; the veils of the Spanish maidens were convenient by day and useless at evening, and Luis had many a low-voiced talk on the quarter-deck with Juanita, who proved to be a young relative of the archbishop. It was understood that she was to take the veil, and that, young as she was, she would become, by and by, the lady abbess of a nunnery to be established on the islands; and as her kinsman, though severe to others, was gentle to her, she had her own way a good deal--especially

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beneath the moon and the stars. For the rest, they had daily services of religion, as dignified and sonorous as could have taken place on shore, except on those rare occasions when the chief bass voice was hushed in seasickness in some cabin below. Beautiful Gregorian masses rose to heaven, and it is certain that the Pilgrim fathers, in their two months on the Atlantic, almost a thousand years later, had no such rich melody as floated across those summer seas. Luis was a favorite of Oppas, the archbishop, who never seemed to recognize any danger in having an enamoured youth so near to the demure future abbess. He consulted the youth about many plans. Their aim, it seemed, was the great island called Antillia, as yet unexplored, but reputed to be large enough for many thousand people. Oppas was to organize the chief settlement, and he planned to divide the island into seven dioceses, each bishop having a permanent colony. Once established, they would trade with Spain, and whether it remained Moorish or became Christian, Oppas was sure of friendly relations.

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The priests were divided among the three vessels, and among them there was that occasional jarring from which even holy men are not quite free. The different bishops had their partisans, but none dared openly face the imperial Oppas. His supposed favorite Luis was less formidable; he was watched and spied upon, while his devotion to the dignified Juanita was apparent to all. Yet he was always ready to leave her side when Oppas called, and then they discussed together the future prospects of the party: when they should see land, whether it would really be Antillia, whether they should have a good landfall, whether the island would be fertile, whether there would be native inhabitants, and if so, whether they should be baptized and sent to Spain as slaves, or whether they should be retained on the island. It was decided, on the whole, that this last should be done; and what with the prospect of winning souls, and the certainty of having obedient subjects, the prospect seemed inviting.

One morning, at sunrise, there lay before

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them a tropic island, soft and graceful, with green shrubs and cocoanut trees, and rising in the distance to mountains whose scooped tops and dark, furrowed sides spoke of extinct volcanoes--yet not so extinct but that a faint wreath of vapor still mounted from the utmost peak of the highest among them. Here and there were seen huts covered with great leaves or sheaves of grass, and among these they saw figures moving and disappearing, watching their approach, yet always ready to disappear in the recesses of the woods. Sounding carefully the depth of water with their imperfect tackle, they anchored off the main beach, and sent a boat on shore from each vessel, Luis being in command of one. The natives at first hovered in the distance, but presently came down to the shore to meet the visitors, some even swimming off to the boats in advance. They were of a yellow complexion, with good features, were naked except for goat-skins or woven palm fibres, or reeds painted in different colors; and were gay and merry, singing and dancing among themselves. When brought on board the

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ships, they ate bread and figs, but refused wine and spices; and they seemed not to know the use of rings or of swords, when shown to them. Whatever was given to them they divided with one another. They cultivated fruit and grain on their island, reared goats, and seemed willing to share all with their newly found friends. Luis, always thoughtful, and somewhat anxious in temperament, felt many doubts as to the usage which these peaceful islanders would receive from the ships' company, no matter how many bishops and holy men might be on board.

All that day there was exploring by small companies, and on the next the archbishop landed in solemn procession. The boats from the ships all met at early morning, near the shore, the sight bringing together a crowd of islanders on the banks; men, women, and children, who, with an instinct that something of importance was to happen, decked themselves with flowers, wreaths, and plumes, the number increasing constantly and the crowd growing more and more picturesque. Forming

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from the boats, a procession marched slowly up the beach, beginning with a few lay brethren, carrying tools for digging; then acolytes bearing tall crosses; and then white-robed priests; the seven bishops being carried on litters, the archbishop most conspicuously of all. Solemn chants were sung as the procession moved through the calm water towards the placid shore, and the gentle savages joined in kneeling while a solemn mass was said, and the crosses were uplifted which took possession of the new-found land in the name of the Church.

These solemn services occupied much of the day; later they carried tents on shore, and some of them occupied large storehouses which the natives had built for drying their figs; and to the women, under direction of Juanita, was allotted a great airy cave, with smaller caves branching from it, where the natives had made palm baskets. Day after day they labored, transferring all their goods and provisions to the land,--tools, and horses, and mules, clothing, and simple furniture. Most of them joined with pleasure in this toil, but others grew restless

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as they transferred all their possessions to land, and sometimes the women especially would climb to high places and gaze longingly towards Spain.

One morning a surprise came to Luis. Every night it was their custom to have a great fire on the beach, and to meet and sing chants around it. One night Luis had personally put out the blaze of the fire, as it was more windy than usual, and went to sleep in his tent. Soon after midnight he was awakened by a glare of a great light upon his tent's thin walls, and hastily springing up, he saw their largest caravel on fire. Rushing out to give the alarm, he saw a similar flame kindled in the second vessel, and then, after some delay, in the third. Then he saw a dark boat pulling hastily towards the shore, and going down to the beach he met their most trusty captain, who told him that the ships had been burnt by order of the archbishop, in order that their return might be hopeless, and that their stay on the island might be forever.

There was some lamentation among the emigrants when they saw their retreat thus cut off,

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but Luis when once established on shore did not share it; to be near Juanita was enough for him, though he rarely saw her. He began sometimes to feel that the full confidence of the archbishop was withdrawn from him, but he was still high in office, and he rode with Oppas over the great island, marking it out by slow degrees into seven divisions, that each bishop might have a diocese and a city of his own. Soon the foundations began to be laid, and houses and churches began to be built, for the soft volcanic rock was easily worked, though not very solid for building. The spot for the cathedral was selected with the unerring eye for a fine situation which the Roman Catholic Church has always shown, and the adjoining convent claimed, as it rose, the care of Juanita. As general superintendent of the works, it was the duty of Luis sometimes to be in that neighborhood, until one unlucky day when the two lovers, lingering to watch the full moon rise, were interrupted by one of the younger bishops, a black-browed Spaniard of stealthy ways, who had before now taken it upon himself to watch them. Nothing could be more innocent than

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their dawning loves, yet how could any love be held innocent on the part of a maiden who was the kinswoman of an archbishop and was his destined choice for the duties of an abbess? The fact that she had never yet taken her preliminary vows or given her consent to take them, counted for nothing in the situation; though any experienced lady-superior could have told the archbishop that no maiden could be wisely made an abbess until she had given some signs of having a vocation for a religious life.

From that moment the youthful pair met no more for weeks. It seemed always necessary for Luis to be occupied elsewhere than in the Cathedral city; as the best architect on the island, he was sent here, there, and everywhere; and the six other churches rose with more rapidity because the archbishop preferred to look after his own. The once peaceful natives found themselves a shade less happy when they were required to work all day long as quarry-men or as builders, but it was something, had they but known it, that they were not borne away as slaves, as happened later on other islands to so

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many of their race. To Luis they were always loyal for his cheery ways, although there seemed a change in his spirits as time went on. But an event happened which brought a greater change still.

A Spanish caravel was seen one day, making towards the port and showing signals of distress. Luis, having just then found an excuse for visiting the Cathedral city, was the first to board her and was hailed with joy by the captain. He was a townsman of the youth's and had given him his first lessons in navigation. He had been bound, it seemed, for the Canary Islands, and had put in for repairs, which needed only a few days in the quiet waters of a sheltered port. He could tell Luis of his parents, of his home, and that the northern part of Spain, under Arab sway, was humanely governed, and a certain proportion of Christian churches allowed. In a few days the caravel sailed again at nightfall; but it carried with it two unexpected passengers; the archbishop lost his architect, and the proposed convent lost its unwilling abbess.

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From this point both the Island of the Seven Cities and its escaping lovers disappear from all definite records. It was a period when expeditions of discovery came and went, and when one wondrous tale drove out another. There exist legends along the northern coast of Spain in the region of Santander, for instance, of a youth who once eloped with a high-born maiden and came there to dwell, but there may have been many such youths and many such maidens--who knows? Of Antillia itself, or the Island of the Seven Cities, it is well known that it appeared on the maps of the Atlantic, sometimes under the one name and sometimes under another, six hundred years after the date assigned by the story that has here been told. It was said by Fernando Columbus to have been revisited by a Portuguese sailor in 1447; and the name appeared on the globe of Behaim in 1492.

The geographer Toscanelli, in his famous letter to Columbus, recommended Antillia as likely to be useful to Columbus as a way station for reaching India, and when the great

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explorer reached Hispaniola, he was supposed to have discovered the mysterious island, whence the name of Antilles was given to the group. Later, the first explorers of New Mexico thought that the pueblos were the Seven Cities; so that both the names of the imaginary island have been preserved, although those of Luis de Vega and his faithful Juanita have not been recorded until the telling of this tale.



"Latinas letras á la margen puestas
Decian:--'Cuando aquesta puerta y arca
Fueran abiertas, gentes como estas
Pondrán por tierra cuanto España abarca.'"

                                         --LOPE DE VEGA.

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« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2008, 04:48:16 am »

p. 168

Erik the Red, the most famous of all Vikings, had three sons, and once when they were children the king came to visit Erik and passed through the playground where the boys were playing. Leif and Biorn, the two oldest, were building little houses and barns and were making believe that they were full of cattle and sheep, while Harald, who was only four years old, was sailing chips of wood in a pool. The king asked Harald what they were, and he said, "Ships of war." King Olaf laughed and said, "The time may come when you will command ships, my little friend." Then he asked Biorn what he would like best to have. "Corn-land," he said; "ten farms." "That would yield much corn," the king replied. Then he asked Leif the same question, and he answered, "Cows." "How many?" "So many that

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when they went to the lake to be watered, they would stand close round the edge, so that not another could pass." "That would be a large housekeeping," said the king, and he asked the same question of Harald. "What would you like best to have?" "Servants and followers," said the child, stoutly. "How many would you like?" "Enough," said the child, "to eat up all the cows and crops of my brothers at a single meal." Then the king laughed, and said to the mother of the children, "You are bringing up a king."

As the boys grew, Leif and Harald were ever fond of roaming, while Biorn wished to live on the farm at peace. Their sister Freydis went with the older boys and urged them on. She was not gentle and amiable, but full of energy and courage: she was also quarrelsome and vindictive. People said of her that even if her brothers were all killed, yet the race of Erik the Red would not end while she lived; that "she practised more of shooting and the handling of sword and shield than of sewing or embroidering, and that as she was able, she did evil oftener

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than good; and that when she was hindered she ran into the woods and slew men to get their property." She was always urging her brothers to deeds of daring and adventure. One day they had been hawking, and when they let slip the falcons, Harald's falcon killed two blackcocks in one flight and three in another. The dogs ran and brought the birds, and he said proudly to the others, "It will be long before most of you have any such success," and they all agreed to this. He rode home in high spirits and showed his birds to his sister Freydis. "Did any king," he asked, "ever make so great a capture in so short a time?" "It is, indeed," she said, "a good morning's hunting to have got five blackcocks, but it was still better when in one morning a king of Norway took five kings and subdued all their kingdoms." Then Harald went away very humble and besought his father to let him go and serve on the Varangian Guard of King Otho at Constantinople, that he might learn to be a warrior.

So Harald was brought from his Norwegian home by his father Erik the Red, in his galley

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called the Sea-serpent, and sailed with him through the Mediterranean Sea, and was at last made a member of the Emperor Otho's Varangian Guard at Constantinople. This guard will be well remembered by the readers of Scott's novel, "Count Robert of Paris," and was maintained by successive emperors and drawn largely from the Scandinavian races. Erik the Red had no hesitation in leaving his son among them, as the young man was stout and strong, very self-willed, and quite able to defend himself. The father knew also that the Varangian Guard, though hated by the people, held to one another like a band of brothers; and that any one brought up among them would be sure of plenty of fighting and plenty of gold,--the two things most prized by early Norsemen. For ordinary life, Harald's chief duties would be to lounge about the palace, keeping guard, wearing helmet and buckler and bearskin, with purple underclothes and golden clasped hose; and bearing as armor a mighty battle-axe and a small scimitar. Such was the life led by Harald, till one day he had a message from his father, through a new

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recruit, calling him home to join an expedition to the western seas. "I hear, my son," the message said, "that your good emperor, whom may the gods preserve, is sorely ill and may die any day. When he is dead, be prompt in getting your share of the plunder of the palace and come back to me."

The emperor died, and the order was fulfilled. It was the custom of the Varangians to reward themselves in this way for their faithful services of protection; and the result is that, to this day, Greek and Arabic gold crosses and chains are to be found in the houses of Norwegian peasants and may be seen in the museums of Christiania and Copenhagen. No one was esteemed the less for this love of spoil, if he was only generous in giving. The Norsemen spoke contemptuously of gold as "the serpent's bed," and called a generous man "a hater of the serpent's bed," because such a man parts with gold as with a thing he hates.

When the youth came to his father, he found Erik the Red directing the building of one of the great Norse galleys, nearly eighty feet long

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and seventeen wide and only six feet deep. The boat had twenty ribs, and the frame was fastened together by withes made of roots, while the oaken planks were held by iron rivets. The oars were twenty feet long, and were put through oar holes, and the rudder, shaped like a large oar, was not at the end, but was attached to a projecting beam on the starboard (originally steer-board) side. The ship was to be called a Dragon, and was to be painted so as to look like one, having a gilded dragon's head at the bow and a gilded tail on the stern; while the moving oars would look like legs, and the row of red and white shields, hung along the side of the boat, would resemble the scales of a dragon, and the great square sails, red and blue, would look like wings. This was the vessel which young Harald was to command.

He had already made trips in just such vessels with his father; had learned to attack the enemy with arrow and spear; also with stones thrown down from above, and with grappling-irons to clutch opposing boats. He had learned to swim, from early childhood, even in the icy northern

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waters, and he had been trained in swimming to hide his head beneath his floating shield, so that it could not be seen. He had learned also to carry tinder in a walnut shell, enclosed in wax, so that no matter how long he had been in the water he could strike a light on reaching shore. He had also learned from his father acts of escape as well as attack. Thus he had once sailed on a return trip from Denmark after plundering a town; the ships had been lying at anchor all night in a fog, and at sunlight in the morning lights seemed burning on the sea. But Erik the Red said, "It is a fleet of Danish ships, and the sun strikes on the gilded dragon crests; furl the sail and take to the oars." They rowed their best, yet the Danish ships were overtaking them, when Erik the Red ordered his men to throw wood overboard and cover it with Danish plunder. This made some delay, as the Danes stopped to pick it up, and in the same way Erik the Red dropped his provisions, and finally his prisoners; and in the delay thus caused he got away with his own men.

But now Harald was not to go to Denmark,

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but to the new western world, the Wonderstrands which Leif had sought and had left without sufficient exploration. First, however, he was to call at Greenland, which his father had first discovered. It was the custom of the Viking explorers, when they reached a new country, to throw overboard their "seat posts," or setstokka,--the curved part of their doorways,--and then to land where they floated ashore. But Erik the Red had lent his to a friend and could not get them back, so that he sailed in search of them, and came to a new land which he called Greenland, because, as he said, people would be attracted thither if it had a good name. Then he established a colony there, and then Leif the Lucky, as he was called, sailed still farther, and came to the Wonderstrand, or Magic Shores. These he called Vinland or Wine-land, and now a rich man named Karlsefne was to send a colony thither from Greenland, and the young Harald was to go with it and take command of it.

Now as Harald was to be presented to the rich Karlsefne, he thought he must be gorgeously arrayed. So he wore a helmet on his head, a red

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shield richly inlaid with gold and iron, and a sharp sword with an ivory handle wound with golden thread. He had also a short spear, and wore over his coat a red silk short cloak on which was embroidered, both before and behind, a yellow lion. We may well believe that the sixty men and five women who composed the expedition were ready to look on him with admiration, especially as one of the women was his own sister, Freydis, now left to his peculiar care, since Erik the Red had died. The sturdy old hero had died still a heathen, and it was only just after his death that Christianity was introduced into Greenland, and those numerous churches were built there whose ruins yet remain, even in regions from which all population has gone.

So the party of colonists sailed for Vinland, and Freydis, with the four older women, came in Harald's boat, and Freydis took easily the lead among them for strength, though not always, it must be admitted, for amiability.

The boats of the expedition having left Greenland soon after the year 1000, coasted the shore as far as they could, rarely venturing into open

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sea. At last, amidst fog and chilly weather, they made land at a point where a river ran through a lake into the sea, and they could not enter from the sea except at high tide. It was once believed that this was Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, but this is no longer believed. Here they landed and called the place Hóp, from the Icelandic word hópa, meaning an inlet from the ocean. Here they found grape-vines growing and fields of wild wheat; there were fish in the lake and wild animals in the woods. Here they landed the cattle and the provisions which they had brought with them; and here they built their huts. They went in the spring, and during that summer the natives came in boats of skin to trade with them--men described as black, and ill favored, with large eyes and broad cheeks and with coarse hair on their heads. These, it is thought, may have been the Esquimaux. The first time they came, these visitors held up a white shield as a sign of peace, and were so frightened by the bellowing of the bull that they ran away. Then returning, they brought

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furs to sell and wished to buy weapons, but Harald tried another plan: he bade the women bring out milk, butter, and cheese from their dairies, and when the Skrælings saw that, they wished for nothing else, and, the legend says, "the Skrælings carried away their wares in their stomachs, but the Norsemen had the skins they had purchased." This happened yet again, but at the second visit one of the Skrælings was accidentally killed or injured.

The next time the Skrælings came they were armed with slings, and raised upon a pole a great blue ball and attacked the Norsemen so furiously that they were running away when Erik's sister, Freydis, came out before them with bare arms, and took up a sword, saying, "Why do you run, strong men as you are, from these miserable dwarfs whom I thought you would knock down like cattle? Give me weapons, and I will fight better than any of you." Then the rest took courage and began to fight, and the Skrælings were driven back. Once more the strangers came, and one of them took up an axe, a thing which he had

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not before seen, and struck at one of his companions, killing him. Then the leader took the axe and threw it into the water, after which the Skrælings retreated, and were not seen again.

The winter was a mild one, and while it lasted, the Norsemen worked busily at felling wood and house-building. They had also many amusements, in most of which Harald excelled. They used to swim in all weathers. One of their feats was to catch seals and sit on them while swimming; another was to pull one another down and remain as long as possible under water. Harald could swim for a mile or more with his armor on, or with a companion on his shoulder. In-doors they used to play the tug of war, dragging each other by a walrus hide across the fire. Harald was good at this, and was also the best archer, sometimes aiming at something placed on a boy's head, the boy having a cloth tied around his head, and held by two men, that he might not move at all on hearing the whistling of the arrow. In this way Harald could even shoot an

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arrow under a nut placed on the head, so that the nut would roll down and the head not be hurt. He could plant a spear in the ground and then shoot an arrow upward so skilfully that it would turn in the air and fall with the point in the end of the spear-shaft. He could also shoot a blunt arrow through the thickest ox-hide from a cross-bow. He could change weapons from one hand to the other during a fencing match, or fence with either hand, or throw two spears at the same time, or catch a spear in motion. He could run so fast that no horse could overtake him, and play the rough games with bat and ball, using a ball of the hardest wood. He could race on snowshoes, or wrestle when bound by a belt to his antagonist. Then when he and his companions wished a rest, they amused themselves with harp-playing or riddles or chess. The Norsemen even played chess on board their vessels, and there are still to be seen, on some of these, the little holes that were formerly used for the sharp ends of the chessmen, so that they should not be displaced.

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They could not find that any European had ever visited this place; but some of the Skrælings told them of a place farther south, which they called "the Land of the Whiteman," or "Great Ireland." They said that in that place there were white men who clothed themselves in long white garments, carried before them poles to which white cloths were hung, and called with a loud voice. These, it was thought by the Norsemen, must be Christian processions, in which banners were borne and hymns were chanted. It has been thought from this that some expedition from Ireland--that of St. Brandan, for instance--may have left a settlement there, long before, but this has never been confirmed. The Skrælings and the Northmen were good friends for a time; until at last one of Erik's own warriors killed a Skræling by accident, and then all harmony was at an end.

They saw no hope of making a lasting settlement there, and, moreover, Freydis who was very grasping, tried to deceive the other settlers and get more than her share of everything, so that Harald himself lost patience with her and threatened

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her. It happened that one of the men of the party, Olaf, was Harald's foster-brother. They had once had a fight, and after the battle had agreed that they would be friends for life and always share the same danger. For this vow they were to walk under the turf; that is, a strip of turf was cut and held above their heads, and they stood beneath and let their blood flow upon the ground whence the turf had been cut. After this they were to own everything by halves and either must avenge the other's death. This was their brotherhood; but Freydis did not like it; so she threatened Olaf, and tried to induce men to kill him, for she did not wish to bring upon herself the revenge that must come if she slew him.

This was the reason why the whole enterprise failed, and why Olaf persuaded Harald, for the sake of peace, to return to Greenland in the spring and take a load of valuable timber to sell there, including one stick of what was called massur-wood, which was as valuable as mahogany, and may have been at some time borne by ocean currents to the beach. It is hardly possible that, as some have thought, the colonists

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established a regular trade in this wood for no such wood grows on the northern Atlantic shores. However this may be, the party soon returned, after one winter in Vinland the Good; and on the way back Harald did one thing which made him especially dear to his men.

A favorite feat of the Norsemen was to toss three swords in the air and catch each by the handle as it came down. This was called the handsax game. The young men used also to try the feat of running along the oar-blades of the rowers as they were in motion, passing around the bow of the vessel with a spring and coming round to the stern over the oars on the other side. Few could accomplish this, but no one but Harald could do it and play the handsax game as he ran; and when he did it, they all said that he was the most skilful man at idrottie ever seen. That was their word for an athletic feat. But presently came a time when not only his courage but his fairness and justice were to be tried.

It happened in this way. There was nothing of which the Norsemen were more afraid than of the teredo, or shipworm, which gnaws the wood

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of ships. It was observed in Greenland and Iceland that pieces of wood often floated on shore which were filled with holes made by this animal, and they thought that in certain places the seas were full of this worm, so that a ship would be bored and sunk in a little while. It is said that on this return voyage Harald's vessel entered a worm-sea and presently began to sink. They had, however, provided a smaller boat smeared with sea-oil, which the worms would not attack. They went into the boat, but found that it would not hold more than half of them all. Then Harald said, "We will divide by lots, without regard to the rank; each taking his chance with the rest." This they thought, the Norse legend says, "a high-minded offer." They drew lots, and Harald was among those assigned to the safer boat. He stepped in, and when he was there a man called from the other boat and said, "Dost thou intend, Harald, to separate from me here?" Harald answered, "So it turns out," and the man said, "Very different was thy promise to my father when we came from Greenland, for the promise was that we should share the same fate."

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[paragraph continues] Then Harald said, "It shall not be thus. Go into the boat, and I will go back into the ship, since thou art so anxious to live." Then Harald went back to the ship, while the man took his place in the boat, and after that Harald was never heard of more.

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« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2008, 04:49:28 am »

p. 186

Sir Humphrey Gilbert, colonel of the British forces in the Netherlands, was poring over the manuscript narrative of David Ingram, mariner. Ingram had in 1568-69 taken the widest range of travel that had ever been taken in the new continent, of which it was still held doubtful by many whether it was or was not a part of Asia. "Surely," Gilbert said to his half-brother, Walter Raleigh, a youth of twenty-three, "this knave hath seen strange things. He hath been set ashore by John Hawkins in the Gulf of Mexico and there left behind. He hath travelled northward with two of his companions along Indian trails; he hath even reached Norumbega; he hath seen that famous city with its houses of crystal and silver."

"Pine logs and hemlock bark, belike," said Raleigh, scornfully.

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"Nay," said Gilbert, "he hath carefully written it down. He saw kings decorated with rubies six inches long; and they were borne on chairs of silver and crystal, adorned with precious stones. He saw pearls as common as pebbles, and the natives were laden down by their ornaments of gold and silver. The city of Bega was three-quarters of a mile long and had many streets wider than those of London. Some houses had massive pillars of crystal and silver."

"What assurance can he give?" asked Raleigh.

"He offers on his life to prove it."

"A small offer, mayhap. There be many of these lying mariners whose lives are as worthless as the stories they relate. But what said he of the natives?"

"Kindly disposed," was the reply, "so far as he went, but those dwelling farther north, where he did not go, were said to be cannibals with teeth like those of dogs, whereby you may know them."

"Travellers' tales," said Raleigh. "Omne ignotum pro mirifico."

"He returned," said Gilbert, disregarding the

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interruption, "in the Gargarine, a French vessel commanded by Captain Champagne."

"Methinks something of the flavor represented by the good captain's name hath got into your Englishman's brain. Good ale never gives such fantasies. Doth he perchance speak of elephants?"

"He doth," said Sir Humphrey, hesitatingly. "Perchance he saw them not, but heard of them only."

"What says he of them?" asked Raleigh.

"He says that he saw in that country both elephants and ounces; and he says that their trumpets are made of elephants' teeth."

"But the houses," said Raleigh; "tell me of the houses."

"In every house," said Gilbert, reading from the manuscript, "they have scoops, buckets, and divers vessels, all of massive silver with which they throw out water and otherwise employ them. The women wear great plates of gold covering their bodies, and chains of great pearls in the manner of curvettes; and the men wear manilions

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or bracelets on each arm and each leg, some of gold and some of silver."

"Whence come they, these gauds?"

"There are great rivers where one may find pieces of gold as big as the fist; and there are great rocks of crystal, sufficient to load many ships."

This was all which was said on that day, but never was explorer more eager than Gilbert. He wrote a "Discourse of a Discoverie for a New Passage to Cathaia and the East Indies"--published without his knowledge by George Gascoigne. In 1578 he had from Queen Elizabeth a patent of exploration, allowing him to take possession of any uncolonized lands in North America, paying for these a fifth of all gold and silver found. The next year he sailed with Raleigh for Newfoundland, but one vessel was lost and the others returned to England. In 1583, he sailed again, taking with him the narrative of Ingram, which he reprinted. He also took with him a learned Hungarian from Buda, named Parmenius, who went for the express purpose of singing the praise of Norumbega in Latin verse,

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but was drowned in Sir Humphrey's great flag-ship, the Delight. This wreck took place near Sable Island, and as most of the supplies for the expedition went down in the flag-ship, the men in the remaining vessels grew so impatient as to compel a return. There were two vessels, the Golden Hind of forty tons, and the Squirrel of ten tons, this last being a mere boat then called a frigate, a small vessel propelled by both sails and oars, quite unlike the war-ship afterwards called by that name. On both these vessels the men were so distressed that they gathered on the bulwarks, pointing to their empty mouths and their ragged clothing. The officers of the Golden Hind were unwilling to return, but consented on Sir Humphrey's promise that they should come back in the spring; they sailed for England on the 31st of August. All wished him to return in the Golden Hind as a much larger and safer vessel; the Squirrel, besides its smallness, being encumbered on the deck with guns, ammunition, and nettings, making it unseaworthy. But when he was begged to remove into the larger vessel, he said, "I will not forsake my little company going

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homeward with whom I have passed so many storms and perils." One reason for this was, the narrator of the voyage says, because of "hard reports given of him that he was afraid of the sea, albeit this was rather rashness than advised resolution, to prefer the wind of a vain report to the weight of his own life."

On the very day of sailing they caught their first glimpse of some large species of seal or walrus, which is thus described by the old narrator of the expedition:--

"So vpon Saturday in the afternoone the 31 of August, we changed our course, and returned backe for England, at which very instant, euen in winding about, there passed along betweene vs and towards the land which we now forsooke a very lion to our seeming, in shape, hair and colour, not swimming after the maner of a beast by moouing of his feete, but rather sliding vpon the water with his whole body (excepting the legs) in sight, neither yet in diuing vnder, and againe rising aboue the water, as the maner is, of Whales, Dolphins, Tunise, Porposes, and all other fish: but confidently

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shewing himselfe aboue water without hiding: Notwithstanding, we presented our selues in open view and gesture to amase him, as all creatures will be commonly at a sudden gaze and sight of men. Thus he passed along turning his head to and fro, yawning and gaping wide, with ougly demonstration of long teeth, and glaring eies, and to bidde vs a farewell (comming right against the Hinde) he sent forth a horrible voyce, roaring or bellowing as doeth a lion, which spectacle wee all beheld so farre as we were able to discerne the same, as men prone to wonder at euery strange thing, as this doubtlesse was, to see a lion in the Ocean sea, or fish in shape of a lion. What opinion others had thereof, and chiefly the Generall himselfe, I forbeare to deliuer: But he tooke it for Bonum Omen [a good omen], reioycing that he was to warre against such an enemie, if it were the deuill."

When they came north of the Azores, very violent storms met them; most "outrageous seas," the narrator says; and they saw little

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lights upon the mainyard called then by sailors "Castor and Pollux," and now "St. Elmo's Fire"; yet they had but one of these at a time, and this is thought a sign of tempest. On September 9, in the afternoon, "the general," as they called him, Sir Humphrey, was sitting abaft with a book in his hand, and cried out more than once to those in the other vessel, "We are as near to heaven by sea as by land." And that same night about twelve o'clock, the frigate being ahead of the Golden Hind, the lights of the smaller vessel suddenly disappeared, and they knew that she had sunk in the sea. The event is well described in a ballad by Longfellow.

The name of Norumbega and the tradition of its glories survived Sir Humphrey Gilbert. In a French map of 1543, the town appears with castle and towers. Jean Allfonsce, who visited New England in that year, describes it as the capital of a great fur country. Students of Indian tongues defined the word as meaning "the place of a fine city"; while the learned Grotius seized upon it as being the same as

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[paragraph continues] Norberga and so affording a relic of the visits of the Northmen. As to the locality, it appeared first on the maps as a large island, then as a smaller one, and after 1569 no longer as an island, but a part of the mainland, bordering apparently on the Penobscot River. Whittier in his poem of "Norumbega" describes a Norman knight as seeking it in vain.

"He turned him back, 'O master dear,
  We are but men misled;
And thou hast sought a city here
  To find a grave instead.

  *    *    *    *    *

"'No builded wonder of these lands
  My weary eyes shall see;
A city never made with hands
  Alone awaiteth me.'"

So Champlain, in 1604, could find no trace of it, and said that "no such marvel existed," while Mark Lescarbot, the Parisian advocate, writing in 1609, says, "If this beautiful town ever existed in nature, I would like to know who pulled it down, for there is nothing here

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but huts made of pickets and covered with the barks of trees or skins." Yet it kept its place on maps till 1640, and even Heylin in his "Cosmography" (1669) speaks of "Norumbega and its fair city," though he fears that the latter never existed.

It is a curious fact that the late Mr. Justin Winsor, the eminent historian, after much inquiry among the present descendants of the Indian tribes in Maine, could never find any one who could remember to have heard the name of Norumbega.

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« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2008, 04:49:58 am »

p. 196

When in 1611 the Sieur de Champlain went back to France to report his wonderful explorations in Canada, he was soon followed by a young Frenchman named Vignan, who had spent a whole winter among the Indians, in a village where there was no other white man. This was a method often adopted by the French for getting more knowledge of Indian ways and commanding their confidence. Vignan had made himself a welcome guest in the cabins, and had brought away many of their legends, to which he added some of his own. In particular, he declared that he had penetrated into the interior until he had come upon a great lake of salt water, far to the northwest. This was, as it happened, the very thing which the French government and all Europe had most hoped to find. They

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had always believed that sooner or later a short cut would be discovered across the newly found continent, a passage leading to the Pacific Ocean and far Cathay. This was the dream of all French explorers, and of Champlain in particular, and his interest was at once excited by anything that looked toward the Pacific. Now Vignan had prepared himself with just the needed information. He said that during his winter with the Indians he had made the very discovery needed; that he had ascended the river Ottawa, which led to a body of salt water so large that it seemed like an ocean; that he had just seen on its shores the wreck of an English ship, from which eighty men had been taken and slain by the savages, and that they had with them an English boy whom they were keeping to present to Champlain.

This tale about the English ship was evidently founded on the recent calamities of Henry Hudson, of which Vignan had heard some garbled account, and which he used as coloring for his story. The result was that Champlain was thoroughly

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interested in the tale, and that Vignan was cross-examined and tested, and was made at last to certify to the truth of it before two notaries of Rochelle. Champlain privately consulted the chancellor de Sillery, the old Marquis de Brissac, and others, who all assured him that the matter should be followed up; and he resolved to make it the subject of an exploration without delay. He sailed in one vessel, and Vignan in another, the latter taking with him an ardent young Frenchman, Albert de Brissac.

M. de Vignan, talking with the young Brissac on the voyage, told him wonderful tales of monsters which were, he said, the guardians of the St. Lawrence River. There was, he said, an island in the bay of Chaleurs, near the mouth of that river, where a creature dwelt, having the form of a woman and called by the Indians Gougou. She was very frightful, and so enormous that the masts of the vessel could not reach her waist. She had already eaten many savages and constantly continued to do so, putting them first into a great pocket to await her hunger. Some of those who had escaped said that this

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pocket was large enough to hold a whole ship. This creature habitually made dreadful noises, and several savages who came on board claimed to have heard them. A man from St. Malo in France, the Sieur de Prevert, confirmed this story, and said that he had passed so near the den of this frightful being, that all on board could hear its hissing, and all hid themselves below, lest it should carry them off. This naturally made much impression upon the young Sieur de Brissac, and he doubtless wished many times that he had stayed at home. On the other hand, he observed that both M. de Vignan and M. de Prevert took the tale very coolly and that there seemed no reason why he should distrust himself if they did not. Yet he was very glad when, after passing many islands and narrow straits, the river broadened and they found themselves fairly in the St. Lawrence and past the haunted Bay of Chaleurs. They certainly heard a roaring and a hissing in the distance, but it may have been the waves on the beach.

But this was not their last glimpse of the supposed guardians of the St. Lawrence. As the

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ship proceeded farther up the beautiful river, they saw one morning a boat come forth from the woods, bearing three men dressed to look like devils, wrapped in dogs' skins, white and black, their faces besmeared as black as any coals, with horns on their heads more than a yard long, and as this boat passed the ship, one of the men made a long address, not looking towards them. Then they all three fell flat in the boat, when Indians rowed out to meet them and guided them to a landing.

Then many Indians collected in the woods and began a loud talk which they could hear on board the ships and which lasted half an hour. Then two of their leaders came towards the shore, holding their hands upward joined together, and meanwhile carrying their hats under their upper garments and showing great reverence. Looking upward they sometimes cried, "Jesus, Jesus," or "Jesus Maria." Then the captain asked them whether anything ill had happened, and they said in French, "Nenni est il bon," meaning that it was not good. Then they said that their god Cudraigny had spoken in

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[paragraph continues] Hochelaga (Montreal) and had sent these three men to show to them that there was so much snow and ice in the country that he who went there would die. This made the Frenchmen laugh, saying in reply that their god Cudraigny was but a fool and a noddy and knew not what he said. "Tell him," said a Frenchman, "that Christ will defend them from all cold, if they will believe in him." The Indians then asked the captain if he had spoken with Jesus. He answered No; but that his priests had, and they had promised fair weather. Hearing this, they thanked the captain and told the other Indians in the woods, who all came rushing out, seeming to be very glad. Giving great shouts, they began to sing and dance as they had done before. They also began to bring to the ships great stores of fish and of bread made of millet, casting it into the French boats so thickly that it seemed to fall from heaven. Then the Frenchmen went on shore, and the people came clustering about them, bringing children in their arms to be touched, as if to hallow them. Then the captain in return arranged the women in order

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and gave them beads made of tin, and other trifles, and gave knives to the men. All that night the Indians made great fires and danced and sang along the shore. But when the Frenchmen had finally reached the mouth of the Ottawa and had begun to ascend it, under Vignan's guidance, they had reasons to remember the threats of the god Cudraigny.

Ascending the Ottawa in canoes, past cataracts, boulders, and precipices, they at last, with great labor, reached the island of Allumette, at a distance of two hundred and twenty-five miles. Often it was impossible to carry their canoes past waterfalls, because the forests were so dense, so that they had to drag the boats by ropes, wading among rocks or climbing along precipices. Gradually they left behind them their armor, their provisions, and clothing, keeping only their canoes; they lived on fish and wild fowl, and were sometimes twenty-four hours without food. Champlain himself carried three French arquebuses or short guns, three oars, his cloak, and many smaller articles; and was harassed by dense clouds of mosquitoes all the

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time. Vignan, Brissac, and the rest were almost as heavily loaded. The tribe of Indians whom they at last reached had chosen the spot as being inaccessible to their enemies; and thought that the newcomers had fallen from the clouds.

When Champlain inquired after the salt sea promised by Vignan, he learned to his indignation that the whole tale was false. Vignan had spent a winter at the very village where they were, but confessed that he had never gone a league further north. The Indians knew of no such sea, and craved permission to torture and kill him for his deceptions; they called him loudly a liar, and even the children took up the cry and jeered at him. They said, "Do you not see that he meant to cause your death? Give him to us, and we promise you that he shall not lie any more." Champlain defended him from their attacks, bore it all philosophically, and the young Brissac went back to France, having given up hope of reaching the salt sea, except, as Champlain himself coolly said, "in imagination." The guardians of the St. Lawrence had at least exerted their spell to

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the extent of saying, Thus far and no farther. Vignan never admitted that he had invented the story of the Gougou, and had bribed the Indians who acted the part of devils,--and perhaps he did not,--but it is certain that neither the giantess nor the god Cudraigny has ever again been heard from.

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« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2008, 04:50:47 am »

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Those American travellers who linger with delight among the narrow lanes and picturesque, overhanging roofs of Honfleur, do not know what a strange tragedy took place on a voyage which began in that quaint old port three centuries and a half ago. When, in 1536, the Breton sailor Jacques Cartier returned from his early explorations of the St. Lawrence, which he had ascended as high as Hochelaga, King Francis I. sent for him at the lofty old house known as the House of the Salamander, in a narrow street of the quaint town of Lisieux. It now seems incredible that the most powerful king in Europe should have dwelt in such a meagre lane, yet the house still stands there as a witness; although a visitor must now brush away the rough, ready-made garments and fishermen's

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overalls which overhang its door. Over that stairway, nevertheless, the troubadours, Pierre Ronsard and Clement Marot, used to go up and down, humming their lays or touching their viols; and through that door De Lorge returned in glory, after leaping down into the lions' den to rescue his lady's glove. The house still derives its name from the great carved image of a reptile which stretches down its outer wall, from garret to cellar, beside the doorway.

In that house the great king deigned to meet the Breton sailor, who had set up along the St. Lawrence a cross bearing the arms of France with the inscription Franciscus Primus, Dei gratia Francorum Rex regnat; and had followed up the pious act by kidnapping the king Donnacona, and carrying him back to France. This savage potentate was himself brought to Lisieux to see his French fellow-sovereign; and the jovial king, eagerly convinced, decided to send Cartier forth again, to explore for other wonders, and perhaps bring back other kingly brethren. Meanwhile, however, as it was getting

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to be an affair of royalty, he decided to send also a gentleman of higher grade than a pilot, and so selected Jean François de la Roche, Sieur de Roberval, whom he commissioned as lieutenant and governor of Canada and Hochelaga. Roberval was a gentleman of credit and renown in Picardy, and was sometimes jocosely called by Francis "the little king of Vimeu." He was commissioned at Fontainebleau, and proceeded to superintend the building of ships at St. Malo.

Marguerite Roberval, his fair-haired and black-eyed niece, was to go with him on the voyage, with other ladies of high birth, and also with the widowed Madame de Noailles, her gouvernante. Roberval himself remained at St. Malo to superintend the building of the ships, and Marguerite and her gouvernante would sit for hours in a beautiful nook by the shipyards, where they could overlook the vessels in rapid construction, or else watch the wondrous swirl of the tide as it swept in and out, leaving the harbor bare at low tide, but with eight fathoms of water when the tide was full. The designer

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of the ships often came, cap in hand, to ask or answer questions--one of those frank and manly French fishermen and pilots, whom the French novelists describe as "un solide gaillard," or such as Victor Hugo paints in his "Les Travailleurs de la Mer." The son of a notary, Etienne Gosselin was better educated than most of the young noblemen whom Marguerite knew, and only his passion for the sea and for nautical construction had kept him a shipbuilder. No wonder that the young Marguerite, who had led the sheltered life of the French maiden, was attracted by his manly look, his open face, his merry blue eyes, and curly hair. There was about her a tinge of romance, which made her heart an easier thing to reach for such a lover than for one within her own grade; and as the voyage itself was a world of romance, a little more or less of the romantic was an easy thing to add. Meanwhile Madame de Noailles read her breviary and told her beads and took little naps, wholly ignorant of the drama that was beginning its perilous unfolding before her. When the Sieur de Roberval

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returned, the shipbuilder became a mere shipbuilder again.

Three tall ships sailed from Honfleur on August 22, 1541, and on one of them, La Grande Hermine,--so called to distinguish it from a smaller boat of that name, which had previously sailed with Cartier,--were the Sieur de Roberval, his niece, and her gouvernante. She also had with her a Huguenot nurse, who had been with her from a child, and cared for her devotedly. Roberval naturally took with him, for future needs, the best shipbuilder of St. Malo, Etienne Gosselin. The voyage was long, and there is reason to think that the Sieur de Roberval was not a good sailor, while as to the gouvernante, she may have been as helpless as the seasick chaperon of yachting excursions. Like them, she suffered the most important events to pass unobserved, and it was not till too late that she discovered, what more censorious old ladies on board had already seen, that her young charge lingered too often and too long on the quarter-deck when Etienne Gosselin was planning ships for the uncle. When she found it out, she was roused

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to just indignation; but being, after all, but a kindly dowager, with a heart softened by much reading of the interminable tales of Madame de Scudéry, she only remonstrated with Marguerite, wept over her little romance, and threatened to break the sad news to the Sieur de Roberval, yet never did so. Other ladies were less considerate; it all broke suddenly upon the angry uncle; the youth was put in irons, and threatened with flogging, and forbidden to approach the quarter-deck again. But love laughs at locksmiths; Gosselin was relieved of his irons in a day or two because he could not be spared from his work in designing the forthcoming ship, and as both he and Marguerite were of a tolerably determined nature, they invoked, through the old nurse, the aid of a Huguenot minister on board, who had before sailed with Cartier to take charge of the souls of some Protestant vagabonds on the ship, and who was now making a second trip for the same reason. That night, after dark, he joined the lovers in marriage; within twenty-four hours Roberval had heard of it, and had vowed a vengeance quick and sure.

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The next morning, under his orders, the vessel lay to under the lee of a rocky island, then known to the sailors as l’Isle des Demons from the fierce winds that raged round it. There was no house there, no living person, no tradition of any; only rocks, sands, and deep forests. With dismay, the ship's company heard that it was the firm purpose of Roberval to put the offending bride on shore, giving her only the old nurse for company, and there to leave her with provisions for three months, trusting to some other vessel to take the exiled women away within that time. The very ladies whose love of scandal had first revealed to him the alleged familiarities, now besought him with many tears to abandon the thought of a doom so terrible. Vainly Madame de Noailles implored mercy for the young girl from a penalty such as was never imposed in any of Madame de Scudéry's romances; vainly the Huguenot minister and the Catholic chaplain, who had fought steadily on questions of doctrine during the whole voyage, now united in appeals for pardon. At least they implored him to let

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the offenders have a man-servant or two with them to protect them against wild beasts or buccaneers. He utterly refused until, at last wearied out, his wild nature yielded to one of those sudden impulses which were wont to sweep over it; and he exclaimed, "Is it that they need a man-servant, then? Let this insolent caitiff, Gosselin, be relieved of his irons and sent on shore. Let him be my niece's servant or, since a Huguenot marriage is as good as any in the presence of bears and buccaneers, let her call the hound her husband, if she likes. I have done with her; and the race from which she came disowns her forever."

Thus it was done. Etienne was released from his chains and sent on shore. An arquebus and ammunition were given him; and resisting the impulse to send his first shot through the heart of his tyrant, he landed, and the last glimpse seen of the group as the Grande Hermine sailed away, was the figure of Marguerite sobbing on his shoulder, and of the unhappy nurse, now somewhat plethoric, and certainly not the person to be selected as a pioneer, sitting

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upon a rock, weeping profusely. The ship's sails filled, the angry Roberval never looked back on his deserted niece, and the night closed down upon the lonely Isle of Demons, now newly occupied by three unexpected settlers, two of whom at least were happy in each other.

A few boxes of biscuits, a few bottles of wine, had been put on shore with them, enough to feed them for a few weeks. They had brought flint and steel to strike fire, and some ammunition. The chief penalty of the crime did not lie, after all, in the cold and the starvation and the wild beasts and the possible visits of pirates; it lay in the fact that it was the Island of Demons where they were to be left; and in that superstitious age this meant everything that was terrible. For the first few nights of their stay, they fancied that they heard superhuman voices in every wind that blew, every branch that creaked against another branch; and they heard, at any rate, more substantial sounds from the nightly wolves or from the bears which ice-floes had floated to that northern

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isle. They watched Roberval sail away, he rejoicing, as the old legend of Thevet says, at having punished them without soiling his hands with their blood (ioueux de les auior puniz sans se souiller les mains en leurs sang). They built as best they could a hut of boughs and strewed beds of leaves, until they had killed wild beasts enough to prepare their skins. Their store of hard bread lasted them but a little while, but there were fruits around them, and there was fresh water near by. "Yet it was terrible," says Thevet's old narrative, "to hear the frightful sounds which the evil spirits made around them, and how they tried to break down their abode, and showed themselves in various forms of frightful animals; yet at last, conquered by the constancy and perseverance of these repentant Christians, the tormentors afflicted or disquieted them no more, save that often in the night they heard cries so loud that it seemed as if more than five thousand men were assembled together" (plus de cent mil homes qui fussent ensemble).

So passed many months of desolation, and

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alas! the husband was the first to yield. Daily he climbed the rocks to look for vessels; each night he descended sadder and sadder; he waked while the others slept. Feeling that it was he who had brought distress upon the rest, he concealed his depression, but it soon was past concealing; he only redoubled his care and watching as his wife grew the stronger of the two; and he faded slowly away and died. His wife had nothing to sustain her spirits except the approach of maternity--she would live for her child. When the child was born and baptized in the name of the Holy Church, though without the Church's full ceremonies, Marguerite felt the strength of motherhood; became a better huntress, a better provider. A new sorrow came; in the sixteenth or seventeenth month of her stay, the old nurse died also, and not long after the baby followed. Marguerite now seemed to herself deserted, even by Heaven itself; she was alone in that northern island without comradeship; her husband, child, and nurse gone; dependent for very food on the rapidly diminishing supply of ammunition. Her head swam; for months she saw visions almost

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constantly, which only strenuous prayer banished, and only the acquired habit of the chase enabled her, almost mechanically, to secure meat to support life. Fortunately, those especial sights and sounds of demons which had haunted her imagination during the first days and nights on the island, did not recur; but the wild beasts gathered round her the more when there was only one gun to alarm them; and she once shot three bears in a day,--one a white bear, of which she secured the skin.

What imagination can depict the terrors of those lonely days and still lonelier nights? Most persons left as solitary tenants of an island have dwelt, like Alexander Selkirk, in regions nearer the tropics, where there was at least a softened air, a fertile soil, and the Southern Cross above their heads; but to be solitary in a prolonged winter, to be alone with the Northern Lights,--this offered peculiar terrors. To be ice-bound, to hear the wolves in their long and dreary howl, to protect the very graves of her beloved from being dug up, to watch the floating icebergs, not knowing what new and savage visitor might be borne by

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them to the island, what a complication of terror was this for Marguerite!

For two years and five months in all she dwelt upon the Isle of Demons, the last year wholly alone. Then, as she stood upon the shore, some Breton fishing-smacks, seeking codfish, came in sight. Making signals with fire and calling for aid, she drew them nearer; but she was now dressed in furs only, and seemed to them but one of the fancied demons of the island. Beating up slowly and watchfully toward the shore, they came within hearing of her voice and she told her dreary tale. At last they took her in charge, and bore her back to France with the bearskins she had prepared; and taking refuge in the village of Nautron, in a remote province (Perigord), where she could escape the wrath of Roberval, she told her story to Thevet, the explorer, to the Princess Marguerite of Navarre (sister of Francis I.), and to others. Thevet tells it in his "Cosmographie," and Marguerite of Navarre in her "Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles."

She told Thevet that after the first two months, the demons came to her no more, until she was

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left wholly alone; then they renewed their visits, but not continuously, and she felt less fear. Thevet also records of her this touching confession, that when the time came for her to embark, in the Breton ship, for home, there came over her a strong impulse to refuse the embarkation, but rather to die in that solitary place, as her husband, her child, and her servant had already died. This profound touch of human nature does more than anything else to confirm the tale as substantially true. Certain it is that the lonely island which appeared so long on the old maps as the Isle of Demons (l’Isola de Demoni) appears differently in later ones as the Lady's Island (l’Isle de la Demoiselle).

The Princess Marguerite of Navarre, who died in 1549, seems also to have known her namesake at her retreat in Perigord, gives some variations from Thevet's story, and describes her as having been put on shore with her husband, because of frauds which he had practised on Roberval; nor does she speak of the nurse or of the child. But she gives a similar description of Marguerite's stay on the island, after

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his death, and says, that although she lived what might seem a bestial life as to her body, it was a life wholly angelic as regarded her soul (aînsî vivant, quant au corps, de vie bestiale, et quant à l’esprit, de vie angelîcque). She had, the princess also says, a mind cheerful and content, in a body emaciated and half dead. She was afterwards received with great honor in France, according to the princess, and was encouraged to establish a school for little children, where she taught reading and writing to the daughters of high-born families. "And by this honest industry," says the princess, "she supported herself during the remainder of her life, having no other wish than to exhort every one to love and confidence towards God, offering them as an example, the great pity which he had shown for her."

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« Reply #38 on: November 29, 2008, 04:51:34 am »

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When Juan Ponce de Leon set forth from Porto Rico, March 13, 1512, to seek the island of Bimini and its Fountain of Youth, he was moved by the love of adventure more than by that of juvenility, for he was then but about fifty, a time when a cavalier of his day thought himself but in his prime. He looked indeed with perpetual sorrow--as much of it as a Spaniard of those days could feel--upon his kinsman Luis Ponce, once a renowned warrior, but on whom age had already, at sixty-five, laid its hand in earnest. There was little in this slowly moving veteran to recall one who had shot through the lists at the tournament, and had advanced with his short sword at the bull fight,--who had ruled his vassals, and won the love of high-born women. It was a vain hope of restored youth

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which had brought Don Luis from Spain to Porto Rico four years before; and, when Ponce de Leon had subdued that island, his older kinsman was forever beseeching him to carry his flag farther, and not stop till he had reached Bimini, and sought the Fountain of Youth.

"For what end," he said, "should you stay here longer and lord it over these miserable natives? Let us go where we can bathe in those enchanted waters and be young once more. I need it, and you will need it ere long."

"How know we," said his kinsman, "that there is any such place?"

"All know it," said Luis. "Peter Martyr saith that there is in Bimini a continual spring of running water of such marvellous virtue that the water thereof, being drunk, perhaps with some diet, maketh old men young." And he adds that an Indian grievously oppressed with old age, moved with the fame of that fountain, and allured through the love of longer life, went to an island, near unto the country of Florida, to drink of the desired fountain, . . . and having well drunk and washed himself for many

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days with the appointed remedies, by them who kept the bath, he is reported to have brought home a manly strength, and to have used all manly exercises. "Let us therefore go thither," he cried, "and be like him."

They set sail with three brigantines and found without difficulty the island of Bimini among the Lucayos (or Bahamas) islands; but when they searched for the Fountain of Youth they were pointed farther westward to Florida, where there was said to be a river of the same magic powers, called the Jordan. Touching at many a fair island green with trees, and occupied by a gentle population till then undisturbed, it was not strange if, nearing the coast of Florida, both Juan Ponce de Leon and his more impatient cousin expected to find the Fountain of Youth.

They came at last to an inlet which led invitingly up among wooded banks and flowery valleys, and here the older knight said, "Let us disembark here and strike inland. My heart tells me that here at last will be found the Fountain of Youth." "Nonsense," said Juan, "our way lies by water."

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"Then leave me here with my men," said Luis. He had brought with him five servants, mostly veterans, from his own estate in Spain.

A fierce discussion ended in Luis obtaining his wish, and being left for a fortnight of exploration; his kinsman promising to come for him again at the mouth of the river St. John. The men left on shore were themselves past middle age, and the more eager for their quest. They climbed a hill and watched the brigantines disappear in the distance; then set up a cross, which they had brought with them, and prayed before it bareheaded.

Sending the youngest of his men up to the top of a tree, Luis learned from him that they were on an island, after all, and this cheered him much, as making it more likely that they should find the Fountain of Youth. He saw that the ground was pawed up, as if in a cattle-range and that there was a path leading to huts. Taking this path, they met fifty Indian bowmen, who, whether large or not, seemed to them like giants. The Spaniards gave them beads and hawk-bells, and each received in return an arrow, as a token

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of friendship. The Indians promised them food in the morning, and brought fish, roots, and pure water; and finding them chilly from the coldness of the night, carried them in their arms to their homes, first making four or five large fires on the way. At the houses there were many fires, and the Spaniards would have been wholly comfortable, had they not thought it just possible that they were to be offered as a sacrifice. Still fearing this, they left their Indian friends after a few days and traversed the country, stopping at every spring or fountain to test its quality. Alas! they all grew older and more worn in look, as time went on, and farther from the Fountain of Youth.

After a time they came upon new tribes of Indians, and as they went farther from the coast these people seemed more and more friendly. They treated the white men as if come from heaven,--brought them food, made them houses, carried every burden for them. Some had bows, and went upon the hills for deer, and brought half a dozen every night for their guests; others killed hares and rabbits by arranging themselves in a circle and striking down the game with billets of wood as

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it ran from one to another through the woods. All this game was brought to the visitors to be breathed upon and blessed, and when this had to be done for several hundred people it became troublesome. The women also brought wild fruit, and would eat nothing till the guests had seen and touched it. If the visitors seemed offended, the natives were terrified, and apparently thought that they should die unless they had the favor of these wise and good men. Farther on, people did not come out into the paths to gather round them, as the first had done, but stayed meekly in their houses, sitting with their faces turned to the wall, and with their property heaped in the middle of the room. From these people the travellers received many valuable skins, and other gifts. Wherever there was a fountain, the natives readily showed it, but apparently knew nothing of any miraculous gift; yet they themselves were in such fine physical condition, and seemed so young and so active, that it was as if they had already bathed in some magic spring. They had wonderful endurance of heat and cold, and

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such health that, when their bodies were pierced through and through by arrows, they would recover rapidly from their wounds. These things convinced the Spaniards that, even if the Indians would not disclose the source of all their bodily freshness, it must, at any rate, lie somewhere in the neighborhood. Yet a little while, no doubt, and their visitors would reach it.

It was a strange journey for these gray and careworn men as they passed up the defiles and valleys along the St. John's River, beyond the spot where now spreads the city of Jacksonville, and even up to the woods and springs about Magnolia and Green Cove. Yellow jasmines trailed their festoons above their heads; wild roses grew at their feet; the air was filled with the aromatic odors of pine or sweet bay; the long gray moss hung from the live-oak branches; birds and butterflies of wonderful hues fluttered around them; and strange lizards crossed their paths, or looked with dull and blinking eyes from the branches. They came, at last, to one spring which widened into a natural basin, and which was so deliciously aromatic that Luis Ponce

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said, on emerging: "It is enough. I have bathed in the Fountain of Youth, and henceforth I am young." His companions tried it, and said the same: "The Fountain of Youth is found."

No time must now be lost in proclaiming the great discovery. They obtained a boat from the natives, who wept at parting with the white strangers whom they had so loved. In this boat they proposed to reach the mouth of the St. John, meet Juan Ponce de Leon, and carry back the news to Spain. But one native, whose wife and children they had cured, and who had grown angry at their refusal to stay longer, went down to the water's edge and, sending an arrow from his bow, transfixed Don Luis, so that even his foretaste of the Fountain could not save him, and he died ere reaching the mouth of the river. If Don Luis ever reached what he sought, it was in another world. But those who have ever bathed in Green Cove Spring, near Magnolia, on the St. John's River, will be ready to testify that, had he but stayed there longer, he would have found something to recall his visions of the Fountain of Youth.

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« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2008, 04:53:25 am »

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A Full account of the rediscovery of the Canaries in 1341 will be found in Major's "Life of Prince Henry of Portugal" (London, 1868), p. 138. For the statement as to the lingering belief in the Jacquet Island, see Winsor's "Columbus," p. 111. The extract from Cowley is given by Herman Melville in his picturesque paper on "The Encantadas" (Putnam's Magazine, III. 319). In Harris's "Voyages" (1702) there is a map giving "Cowley's Inchanted Isl." (I. 78), but there is no explanation of the name. The passage quoted by Melville is not to be found in Cowley's "Voyage to Magellanica and Polynesia," given by Harris in the same volume, and must be taken from Cowley's "Voyage round the Globe," which I have not found in any library.

For the original narrative of Socrates, see Plato's "Timæus" and "Critias," in each of which it is given. For further information see the chapter on the Geographical Knowledge of the Ancients by W. H. Tillinghast, in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History of America," I. 15. He mentions (I. 19, note) a map printed at Amsterdam in 1678 by Kircher, which shows Atlantis as a large island midway between Spain and

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[paragraph continues] America. Ignatius Donnelly's "Atlantis, the Antediluvian World" (N. Y. 1882), maintains that the evidence for the former existence of such an island is irresistible, and his work has been very widely read, although it is not highly esteemed by scholars.

The Taliessin legend in its late form cannot be traced back beyond the end of the sixteenth century, but the account of the transformation is to be found in the "Book of Taliessin," a manuscript of the thirteenth century, preserved in the Hengwt Collection at Peniarth. The Welsh bard himself is supposed to have flourished in the sixth century. See Alfred Nutt in "The Voyage of Bram" (London, 1897), II. 86. The traditions may be found in Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion," 2d ed., London, 1877, p. 471. The poems may be found in the original Welsh in Skene's "Four Ancient Books of Wales," 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1868; and he also gives a facsimile of the manuscript.

The lovely legend of the children of Lir or Lear forms one of those three tales of the old Irish Bards which are known traditionally in Ireland as "The Three Sorrows of Story Telling." It has been told in verse by Aubrey de Vere ("The Foray of Queen Meave, and Other Legends," London, 1882), by John Todhunter ("Three Irish Bardic Tales," London, 1896); and also in prose by various writers, among whom are Professor Eugene O’Curry, whose version with the Gaelic original was published

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in "Atlantis," Nos. vii. and viii.; Gerald Griffin in "The Tales of a Jury Room"; and Dr. Patrick Weston Joyce in "Ancient Celtic Romances" (London, 1879). The oldest manuscript copy of the tale in Gaelic is one in the British Museum, made in 1718; but there are more modern ones in different English and Irish libraries, and the legend itself is of much older origin. Professor O’Curry, the highest authority, places its date before the year 1000. ("Lectures on the Manuscript Materials of Irish History," p. 319.)

In the original legend, Oisin or Usheen is supposed to have told his tale to St. Patrick on his arrival in Ireland; but as the ancient Feni were idolaters, the hero bears but little goodwill to the saint. The Celtic text of a late form of the legend (1749) with a version by Brian O’Looney will be found in the transactions of the Ossianic Society for 1856 (Vol. IV. p. 227); and still more modern and less literal renderings in P. W. Joyce's "Ancient Celtic Romances" (London, 1879), p. 385, and in W. B. Yeats's "Wanderings of Oisin, and Other Poems" (London, 1889), p. 1. The last is in verse and is much the best. St. Patrick, who takes part in it, regards Niam as "a demon thing." See also the essays entitled "L’Elysée Transatlantique," by Eugene Beauvois, in the "Revue de L’Histoire des Religions," VII. 273 (Paris, 1885), and "L’Eden Occidental" (same, VII. 673). As to Oisin or Usheen's identity with Ossian, see O’Curry's "Lectures on the Manuscript Materials for Ancient Irish History" (Dublin, 1861), pp. 209, 300; John Rhys's "Hibbert Lectures" (London, 1888), p. 551. The

p. 232

latter thinks the hero identical with Taliessin, as well as with Ossian, and says that the word Ossin means "a little fawn," from "os," "cervus." (See also O’Curry, p. 304.) O’Looney represents that it was a stone which Usheen threw to show his strength, and Joyce follows this view; but another writer in the same volume of the Ossianic Society transactions (p. 233) makes it a bag of sand, and Yeats follows this version. It is also to be added that the latter in later editions changes the spelling of his hero's name from Oisin to Usheen.

The story of Bran and his sister Branwen may be found most fully given in Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion," ed. 1877, pp. 369, 384. She considers Harlech, whence Bran came, to be a locality on the Welsh seacoast still known by that name and called also Branwen's Tower. But Rhys, a much higher authority, thinks that Bran came really from the region of Hades, and therefore from a distant island ("Arthurian Legend," p. 250, "Hibbert Lectures," pp. 94, 269). The name of "the Blessed" came from the legend of Bran's having introduced Christianity into Ireland, as stated in one of the Welsh Triads. He was the father of Caractacus, celebrated for his resistance to the Roman conquest, and carried a prisoner to Rome. Another triad speaks of King Arthur as having dug up Bran's head, for the reason that he wished to hold England by his own strength; whence followed many disasters (Guest, p. 387).

There were many Welsh legends in regard to Branwen or Bronwen (White Bosom), and what is supposed to be her

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grave, with an urn containing her ashes, may still be seen at a place called "Ynys Bronwen," or "the islet of Bronwen," in Anglesea. It was discovered and visited in 1813 (Guest, p. 389).

The White Mount in which Bran's head was deposited is supposed to have been the Tower of London, described by a Welsh poet of the twelfth century as "The White Eminence of London, a place of splendid fame" (Guest, p. 392).

This legend is mainly taken from different parts of Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion," with some additions and modifications from Rhys's "Hibbert Lectures" and "The Arthurian Legend."

In later years Merlin was known mainly by a series of remarkable prophecies which were attributed to him and were often said to be fulfilled by actual events in history. Thus one of the many places where Merlin's grave was said to be was Drummelzion in Tweeddale, Scotland. On the east side of the churchyard a brook called the Pansayl falls into the Tweed, and there was this prophecy as to their union:--

"When Tweed and Pansayl join at Merlin's grave,
Scotland and England shall one monarch have."

[paragraph continues] Sir Walter Scott tells us, in his "Border Minstrelsy," that on the day of the coronation of James VI. of Scotland the Tweed

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accordingly overflowed and joined the Pansayl at the prophet's grave. It was also claimed by one of the witnesses at the trial of Jeanne d’Arc, that there was a prediction by Merlin that France would be saved by a peasant girl from Lorraine. These prophesies have been often reprinted, and have been translated into different languages, and there was published in London, in 1641, "The Life of Merlin, surnamed Ambrosius, His Prophesies and Predictions interpreted, and their Truth made Good by our English Annals." Another book was also published in London, in 1683, called "Merlin revived in a Discourse of Prophesies, Predictions, and their Remarkable Accomplishments."

The main sources of information concerning Lancelot are the "Morte d’Arthur," Newell's "King Arthur and the Table Round," and the publications of the Early English Text Society. See also Rhys's "Arthurian Legend," pp. 127, 147, etc.

The symbolical legend on which this tale is founded will be found in Lady Charlotte Guest's translation of the "Mabinogion" (London, 1877), II. p. 344. It is an almost unique instance, in the imaginative literature of that period, of a direct and avowed allegory. There is often allegory, but it is usually contributed by modern interpreters, and would sometimes greatly astound the original fabulists.

p. 235

The earliest mention of the island of Avalon, or Avilion, in connection with the death of Arthur, is a slight one by the old English chronicler, Geoffrey of Monmouth (Book XI. c. 2), and the event is attributed by him to the year 542. Wace's French romance was an enlargement of Geoffrey; and the narrative of Layamon (at the close of the twelfth century) an explanation of that of Wace. Layamon's account of the actual death of Arthur, as quoted in the text, is to be found in the translation, a very literal one, by Madden (Madden's "Layamon's Brut," III. pp. 140-146).

The earliest description of the island itself is by an anonymous author known as "Pseudo-Gildas," supposed to be a thirteenth-century Breton writer (Meyer's "Voyage of Bram," I. p. 237), and quoted by Archbishop Usher in his "British Ecclesiastical Antiquities" (1637), p. 273, who thus describes it in Latin hexameters:--

"Cingitur oceano memorabilis insula nullis
Desolata bonis: non fur, nec prædo, nec hostis
Insidiatur ibi: nec vis, nec bruma nec æstas,
Immoderata furit. Pax et concordia, pubes
Ver manent æternum. Nec flos, nec lilia desunt,
Nec rosa, nec violæ: flores et poma sub unâ
Fronde gerit pomus. Habitant sine labe cruoris
Semper ibi juvenes cum virgine: nulla senectus,
Nulla vis morbi, nullus dolor; omnia plena
Lætitiæ; nihil hic proprium, communia quæque.
  Regit virgo locis et rebus præsidet istis, p. 236
Virginibus stipata suis, pulcherrima pulchris;
Nympha decens vultu, generosis patribus orta,
Consilio pollens, medicinæ nobilis arte.
At simul Arthurus regni diadema reliquit,
Substitutique sibi regem, se transtulit illic;
Anno quingeno quadragenoque secundo
Post incarnatum sine patris semine natum.
Immodicè læsus, Arthurus tendit ad aulam
Regis Avallonis; ubi virgo regia vulnus
Illius tractans, sanati membra reservat
Ipsa sibi: vivuntque simul; si credere fas est."

A translation of this passage into rhyming English follows; both of these being taken from Way's "Fabliaux" (London, 1815), II. pp. 233-235.

"By the main ocean's wave encompass’d, stands
A memorable isle, fill’d with all good:
No thief, no spoiler there, no wily foe
With stratagem of wasteful war; no rage
Of heat intemperate, or of winter's cold;
But spring, full blown, with peace and concord reigns:
Prime bliss of heart and season, fitliest join’d!
Flowers fail not there: the lily and the rose,
With many a knot of fragrant violets bound;
And, loftier, clustering down the bended boughs,
Blossom with fruit combin’d, rich apples hang.

"Beneath such mantling shades for ever dwell
In virgin innocence and honour pure,
Damsels and youths, from age and sickness free, p. 237
And ignorant of woe, and fraught with joy,
In choice community of all things best.
  O’er these, and o'er the welfare of this land,
Girt with her maidens, fairest among fair,
Reigns a bright virgin sprung from generous sires,
In counsel strong, and skill’d in med’cine's lore.
Of her (Britannia's diadem consign’d
To other brow), for his deep wound and wide
Great Arthur sought relief: hither he sped
(Nigh two and forty and five hundred years
Since came the incarnate Son to save mankind),
And in Avallon's princely hall repos’d.
His wound the royal damsel search’d; she heal’d;
And in this isle still holds him to herself
In sweet society,--so fame say true!"

This narrative is taken partly from Nutt's "Voyage of Bram" (I. 162) and partly from Joyce's "Ancient Celtic Romances." The latter, however, allows Maelduin sixty comrades instead of seventeen, which is Nutt's version. There are copies of the original narrative in the Erse language at the British Museum, and in the library of Trinity College, Dublin. The voyage, which may have had some reality at its foundation, is supposed to have taken place about the year 700 A.D. It belongs to the class known as Imrama, or sea-expeditions. Another of these is the voyage of St. Brandan, and another is that of "the sons of O’Corra." A poetical translation of this last has been made by T. D. Sullivan of Dublin, and published

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in his volume of poems. (Joyce, p. xiii.) All these voyages illustrated the wider and wider space assigned on the Atlantic ocean to the enchanted islands until they were finally identified, in some cases, with the continent which Columbus found.

THE legend of St. Brandan, which was very well known in the Middle Ages, was probably first written in Latin prose near the end of the eleventh century, and is preserved in manuscript in many English libraries. An English metrical version, written probably about the beginning of the fourteenth century, is printed under the editorship of Thomas Wright in the publications of the Percy Society, London, 1844 (XIV.), and it is followed in the same volume by an English prose version of 1527. A partial narrative in Latin prose, with an English version, may be found in W. J. Rees's "Lives of the Cambro-British Saints" (Llandovery, 1853), pp. 251, 575. The account of Brandan in the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists may be found under May 16, the work being arranged under saints' days. This account excludes the more legendary elements. The best sketch of the supposed island appears in the Nouvelles Annales des Voyages for 1845 (p. 293), by D’Avezac. Professor O’Curry places the date of the alleged voyage or voyages at about the year 560 ("Lectures on the Manuscript Materials for Irish History," p. 289). Good accounts of the life in the great monasteries of Brandan's period may be found in Digby's "Mores Catholici" or "Ages of Faith"; in Montalembert's "Monks of the West" (translation); in Villemarqué's "La Legende Celtique et la Poésie des Cloistres en Irlande, en Cambrie et en Bretagne" (Paris,

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[paragraph continues] 1864). The poem on St. Brandan, stanzas from which are quoted in the text, is by Denis Florence McCarthy, and may be found in the Dublin University Magazine (XXXI. p. 89); and there is another poem on the subject--a very foolish burlesque--in the same magazine (LXXXIX. p. 471). Matthew Arnold's poem with the same title appeared in Fraser's Magazine (LXII. p. 133), and may be found in the author's collected works in the form quoted below.

The legends of St. Brandan, it will be observed, resemble so much the tales of Sindbad the Sailor and others in the "Arabian Nights"--which have also the island-whale, the singing birds, and other features--that it is impossible to doubt that some features of tradition were held in common with the Arabs of Spain.

In later years (the twelfth century), a geographer named Honoré d’Autun declared, in his "Image of the World," that there was in the ocean a certain island agreeable and fertile beyond all others, now unknown to men, once discovered by chance and then lost again, and that this island was the one which Brandan had visited. In several early maps, before the time of Columbus, the Madeira Islands appear as "The Fortunate Islands of St. Brandan," and on the famous globe of Martin Behaim, made in the very year when Columbus sailed, there is a large island much farther west than Madeira, and near the equator, with an inscription saying that in the year 565, St. Brandan arrived at this island and saw many wondrous things, returning to his own land afterwards. Columbus heard this island mentioned at Ferro, where men declared that they had seen it in the distance. Later, the chart of Ortelius, in the sixteenth century, carried it to the neighborhood of Ireland;

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then it was carried south again, and was supposed all the time to change its place through enchantment, and when Emanuel of Portugal, in 1519, renounced all claim to it, he described it as "The Hidden Island." In 1570 a Portuguese expedition was sent which claimed actually to have touched the mysterious island, indeed to have found there the vast impression of a human foot--doubtless of the baptized giant Mildus--and also a cross nailed to a tree, and three stones laid in a triangle for cooking food. Departing hastily from the island, they left two sailors behind, but could never find the place again.

Again and again expeditions were sent out in search of St. Brandan's island, usually from the Canaries--one in 1604 by Acosta, one in 1721 by Dominguez; and several sketches of the island, as seen from a distance, were published in 1759 by a Franciscan priest in the Canary Islands, named Viere y Clarijo, including one made by himself on May 3, 1759, about 6 A.M., in presence of more than forty witnesses. All these sketches depict the island as having its chief length from north to south, and formed of two unequal hills, the highest of these being at the north, they having between them a depression covered with trees. The fact that this resembles the general form of Palma, one of the Canary Islands, has led to the belief that it may have been an ocean mirage, reproducing the image of that island, just as the legends themselves reproduce, here and there, the traditions of the "Arabian Nights."

In a map drawn by the Florentine physician, Toscanelli, which was sent by him to Columbus in 1474 to give his impression of the Asiatic coast,--lying, as he supposed, across the Atlantic,--there appears the island of St. Brandan. It is as large as all the Azores or Canary Islands or Cape de Verde Islands

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put together; its southern tip just touches the equator, and it lies about half-way between the Cape de Verde Islands and Zipangu or Japan, which was then believed to lie on the other side of the Atlantic. Mr. Winsor also tells us that the apparition of this island "sometimes came to sailors' eyes" as late as the last century (Winsor's "Columbus," 112).

He also gives a reproduction of Toscanelli's map now lost, as far as can be inferred from descriptions (Winsor, p. 110).

The following is Matthew Arnold's poem:--


Saint Brandan sails the northern main;
The brotherhoods of saints are glad.
He greets them once, he sails again;
So late!--such storms!--the Saint is mad!

He heard, across the howling seas,
Chime convent-bells on wintry nights;
He saw, on spray-swept Hebrides,
Twinkle the monastery lights;

But north, still north, Saint Brandan steer’d--
And now no bells, no convents more!
The hurtling Polar lights are near’d,
The sea without a human shore.

At last--(it was the Christmas-night;
Stars shone after a day of storm)--
He sees float past an iceberg white,
And on it--Christ!--a living form. p. 242

That furtive mien, that scowling eye,
Of hair that red and tufted fell--
It is--oh, where shall Brandan fly?--
The traitor Judas, out of hell!

Palsied with terror, Brandan sate;
The moon was bright, the iceberg near.
He hears a voice sigh humbly: "Wait!
By high permission I am here.

"One moment wait, thou holy man!
On earth my crime, my death, they knew;
My name is under all men's ban--
Ah, tell them of my respite, too!

"Tell them, one blessed Christmas-night--
(It was the first after I came,
Breathing self-murder, frenzy, spite,
To rue my guilt in endless flame)--

"I felt, as I in torment lay
'Mid the souls plagued by heavenly power,
An angel touch my arm and say:
Go hence, and cool thyself an hour!

"'Ah, whence this mercy, Lord?' I said;
The Leper recollect, said he,
Who ask’d the passers-by for aid,
In Joppa, and thy charity. p. 243

"Then I remember’d how I went,
In Joppa, through the public street,
One morn when the sirocco spent
Its storm of dust with burning heat;

"And in the street a leper sate,
Shivering with fever, naked, old;
Sand raked his sores from heel to pate,
The hot wind fever’d him five-fold.

"He gazed upon me as I pass’d,
And murmur’d: Help me, or I die!--
To the poor wretch my cloak I cast,
Saw him look eased, and hurried by.

"Oh, Brandan, think what grace divine,
What blessing must full goodness shower,
When fragment of it small, like mine,
Hath such inestimable power!

"Well-fed, well-clothed, well-friended, I
Did that chance act of good, that one!
Then went my way to kill and lie--
Forgot my good as soon as done.

"That germ of kindness, in the womb
Of mercy caught, did not expire;
Outlives my guilt, outlives my doom,
And friends me in this pit of fire. p. 244

"Once every year, when carols wake
On earth the Christmas-night's repose,
Arising from the sinner's lake,
I journey to these healing snows.

"I stanch with ice my burning breast,
With silence balm my whirling brain;
O Brandan! to this hour of rest
That Joppan leper's ease was pain."

Tears started to Saint Brandan's eyes;
He bow’d his head, he breathed a prayer--
Then look’d, and lo, the frosty skies!
The iceberg, and no Judas there!

The island of St. Brandan's was sometimes supposed to lie in the Northern Atlantic, sometimes farther south. It often appears as the Fortunate Isle or Islands, "Insulæ Fortunatæ" or "Beatæ."

On some early maps (1306 to 1471) there is an inlet on the western coast of Ireland called "Lacus Fortunatus," which is filled with Fortunate Islands to the number of 358 (Humboldt, "Examen," II. p. 159), and in one map of 1471 both these and the supposed St. Brandan's group appear in different parts of the ocean under the same name. When the Canary Islands were discovered, they were supposed to be identical with St. Brandan's, but the latter was afterwards supposed to lie southeast of them. After the discovery of the Azores various expeditions were sent to search for St. Brandan's until about 1721. It was last reported as seen in 1759. A full bibliography

p. 245

will be found in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History," I. p. 48, and also in Humboldt's "Examen," II. p. 163, and early maps containing St. Brandan's will be found in Winsor (I. pp. 54, 58). The first of these is Pizigani's (1387), containing "Ysolæ dictæ Fortunatæ," and the other that of Ortelius (1587), containing "S. Brandain."

"The people of Aran, with characteristic enthusiasm, fancy, that at certain periods, they see Hy-Brasail, elevated far to the west in their watery horizon. This has been the universal tradition of the ancient Irish, who supposed that a great part of Ireland had been swallowed by the sea, and that the sunken part often rose and was seen hanging in the horizon: such was the popular notion. The Hy-Brasail of the Irish is evidently a part of the Atlantis of Plato; who, in his 'Timæus,' says that that island was totally swallowed up by a prodigious earthquake." (O’Flaherty's "Discourse on the History and Antiquities of the Southern Islands of Aran, lying off the West Coast of Ireland," 1824, p. 139.)

The name appeared first (1351) on the chart called the Medicean Portulana, applied to an island off the Azores. In Pizigani's map (1367) there appear three islands of this name, two off the Azores and one off Ireland. From this time the name appears constantly in maps, and in 1480 a man named John Jay went out to discover the island on July 14, and returned unsuccessful on September 18. He called it Barsyle or Brasylle; and Pedro d’Ayalo, the Spanish Ambassador, says that such voyages were made for seven years "according to the

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fancies of the Genoese, meaning Sebastian Cabot." Humboldt thinks that the wood called Brazil-wood was supposed to have come from it, as it was known before the South American Brazil was discovered.

A manuscript history of Ireland, written about 1636, in the Library of the Royal Irish Academy, says that Hy-Brasail was discovered by a Captain Rich, who saw its harbor but could never reach it. It is mentioned by Jeremy Taylor ("Dissuasives from Popery," 1667), and the present narrative is founded partly on an imaginary one, printed in a pamphlet in London, 1675, and reprinted in Hardiman's "Irish Minstrelsy" (1831), II. p. 369. The French Geographer Royal, M. Tassin, thinks that the island may have been identical with Porcupine Bank, once above water. In Jeffrey's atlas (1776) it appears as "the imaginary island of O’Brasil." "Brazil Rock" appears on a chart of Purdy, 1834 (Humboldt's "Examen Critique," II. p. 163). Two rocks always associated with it, Mayda and Green Rock, appear on an atlas issued in 1866. See bibliography in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History," I. p. 49, where there are a number of maps depicting it (I. pp. 54-57). The name of the island is derived by Celtic scholars from breas, large, and i, island; or, according to O'Brien's "Irish Dictionary," its other form of O’Brasile means a large imaginary island (Hardiman's "Irish Minstrelsy," I. p. 369). There are several families named Brazil in County Waterford, Ireland ("Transactions of the Ossianic Society, Dublin," 1854, I. p. 81). The following poem about the island, by Gerald Griffin, will be found in Sparling's "Irish Minstrelsy" (1888), p. 427:--

p. 247


On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell
A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell;
Men thought it a region of sunshine and rest,
And they called it Hy-Brasail, the isle of the blest.
From year unto year on the ocean's blue rim,
The beautiful spectre showed lovely and dim;
The golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay,
And it looked like an Eden away, far away!

A peasant who heard of the wonderful tale,
In the breeze of the Orient loosened his sail;
From Ara, the holy, he turned to the west,
For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasail was blest.
He heard not the voices that called from the shore--
He heard not the rising wind's menacing roar;
Home, kindred, and safety he left on that day,
And he sped to Hy-Brasail, away, far away!

Morn rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle,
O'er the faint rim of distance, reflected its smile;
Noon burned on the wave, and that shadowy shore
Seemed lovelily distant, and faint as before;
Lone evening came down on the wanderer's track,
And to Ara again he looked timidly back;
O far on the verge of the ocean it lay,
Yet the isle of the blest was away, far away! p. 248

Rash dreamer, return! O ye winds of the main,
Bear him back to his own peaceful Ara again,
Rash fool! for a vision of fanciful bliss,
To barter thy calm life of labor and peace.
The warning of reason was spoken in vain;
He never revisited Ara again!
Night fell on the deep, amidst tempest and spray,
And he died on the waters, away, far away!

The early part of this narrative is founded on Professor O’Curry's Lectures on the manuscript materials of Irish history; it being another of those "Imrama" or narratives of ocean expeditions to which the tale of St. Brandan belongs. The original narrative lands the three brothers ultimately in Spain, and it is a curious fact that most of what we know of the island of Satanaxio or Satanajio--which remained so long on the maps--is taken from an Italian narrative of three other brothers, cited by Formaleoni, "Il Pellegrinaccio di tre giovanni," by Christoforo Armeno (Gaffarel, "Les Iles Fantastiques," p. 91). The coincidence is so peculiar that it offered an irresistible temptation to link the two trios of brothers into one narrative and let the original voyagers do the work of exploration. The explanation given by Gaffarel to the tale is the same that I have suggested as possible. He says in "Iles Fantastiques de l’Atlantaque" (p. 12), "S’il nous était permis d’aventurer une hypothèse, nous croirions voluntiers que les navigateurs de l’époque rencontrèrent, en s’aventurant dans l’Atlantique, quelques-uns de ces gigantesques icebergs, ou montagnes de

p. 249

glace, arrachés aux banquises du pôle nord, et entraînés au sud par les courants, dont la rencontre, assez fréquente, est, même aujourd’hui, tellement redoutée par les capitaines. Ces icebergs, quand ils se heurtent contre un navire, le coulent à pic; et comme ils arrivent à l’improviste, escortés par d’épais brouillards, ils paraissent réellement sortir du sein des flots, comme sortait la main de Satan, pour précipiter au fond de l’abîme matelots et navires." As to the name itself there has been much discussion. On the map of Bianco (1436)--reproduced in Winsor, I. p. 54--the name "Ya de Lamansatanaxio" distinctly appears, and this was translated by both Formaleoni and Humboldt as meaning "the Island of the Hand of Satan." D'Avezac was the first to suggest that the reference was to two separate islands, the one named "De la Man" or "Danman," and the other "Satanaxio." He further suggests--followed by Gaffarel--that the name of the island may originally have been San Atanagio, thus making its baptism a tribute to St. Athanasius instead of to Satan. This would certainly have been a curious transformation, and almost as unexpected in its way as the original conversion of the sinful brothers from outlaws to missionaries.

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2008, 04:54:17 am »

The name Antillia appears first, but not very clearly, on the Pizigani map of 1367; then clearly on a map of 1424, preserved at Weimar, on that of Bianco in 1436, and on the globe of Beheim in 1492, which adds in an inscription the story of the Seven Bishops. On some maps of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there appears near it a smaller island under

p. 250

the name of Sette Cidade, or Sete Ciudades, which is properly another name for the same island. Toscanelli, in his famous letter to Columbus, recommended Antillia as a good way-station for his voyage to India. The island is said by tradition to have been re-discovered by a Portuguese sailor in 1447. Tradition says that this sailor went hastily to the court of Portugal to announce the discovery, but was blamed for not having remained longer, and so fled. It was supposed to be "a large, rectangular island extending from north to south, lying in the mid Atlantic about lat. 35 N." An ample bibliography will be found in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History," I. p. 48, with maps containing Antillia, I. pp. 54 (Pizigani's), 56, 58.

After the discovery of America, Peter Martyr states (in 1493) that Hispaniola and the adjacent islands were "Antillæ insulæ," meaning that they were identical with the group surrounding the fabled Antillia (Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History," I. p. 49); and Schöner, in the dedicatory letter of his globe of 1523, says that the king of Castile, through Columbus, has discovered Antiglias Hispaniam Cubam quoque. It was thus that the name Antilles came to be applied to the islands discovered by Columbus; just as the name Brazil was transferred from an imaginary island to the new continent, and the name Seven Cities was applied to the pueblos of New Mexico by those who discovered them. (See J. H. Simpson, "Coronado's March in Search of the Seven Cities of Cibola," Smithsonian Institution, 1869, pp. 209-340.)

The sailor who re-discovered them said that the chief desire of the people was to know whether the Moors still held Spain (Gaffarel, "Iles Fantastiques," p. 3). In a copy of "Ptolemy"

p. 251

addressed to Pope Urban VI. about 1380, before the alleged visit of the Portuguese, it was stated of the people at Antillia that they lived in a Christian manner, and were most prosperous, "Hic populus christianissime vivit, omnibus divitiis seculi hujus plenus" (D’Avezac, "Nouvelles Annales des voyages," 1845, II. p. 55).

It was afterwards held by some that the island of Antillia was identical with St. Michael in the Azores, where a certain cluster of stone huts still bears the name of Seven Cities, and the same name is associated with a small lake by which they stand. (Humboldt's "Examen Critique," Paris, 1837, II. p. 203; Gaffarel, "Iles Fantastiques," p. 3.)

The tales of the Norse explorations of America are now accessible in many forms, the most convenient of these being in the edition of E. L. Slafter, published by the Prince Society. As to the habits of the Vikings, the most accessible authorities are "The Age of the Vikings," by Du Chaillu, and "The Sea Kings of Norway," by Laing. The writings of the late Professor E. N. Horsford are well known, but his opinions are not yet generally accepted by students. His last work, "Leif's House in Vineland," with his daughter's supplementary essay on "Graves of the Northmen," is probably the most interesting of the series (Boston, 1893). In Longfellow's "Saga of King Olaf" (II.), included in "Tales of a Wayside Inn," there is a description of the athletic sports practised by the Vikings, which are moreover described with the greatest minuteness by Du Chaillu.

p. 252

The narrative of Champlain's effort to find Norumbega in 1632 may be found in Otis's "Voyages of Champlain" (II. p. 38), and there is another version in the Magazine of American History (I. p. 321). The whole legend of the city is well analyzed in the same magazine (I. p. 14) by Dr. De Costa under the title "The Lost City of New England." In another volume he recurs to the subject (IX. p. 168), and gives (IX. p. 200) a printed copy of David Ingram's narrative, from the original in the Bodleian Library. He also discusses the subject in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History" (IV. p. 77, etc.), where he points out that "the insular character of the Norumbega region is not purely imaginary, but is based on the fact that the Penobscot region affords a continued watercourse to the St. Lawrence, which was travelled by the Maine Indians." Ramusio's map of 1559 represents "Nurumbega" as a large island, well defined (Winsor, IV. p. 91); and so does that of Ruscelli (Winsor, IV. p. 92), the latter spelling it "Nurumberg." Some geographers supposed it to extend as far as Florida. The name was also given to a river (probably the Penobscot) and to a cape. The following is Longfellow's poem on the voyage of Sir Humphrey Gilbert:--


Southward with fleet of ice
  Sailed the corsair Death;
Wild and fast blew the blast,
  And the east-wind was his breath. p. 253

His lordly ships of ice
  Glisten in the sun;
On each side, like pennons wide,
  Flashing crystal streamlets run.

His sails of white sea-mist
  Dripped with silver rain;
But where he passed there were cast
  Leaden shadows o’er the main.

Eastward from Campobello
  Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed;
Three days or more seaward he bore,
  Then, alas! the land-wind failed.

Alas! the land-wind failed,
  And ice-cold grew the night;
And nevermore, on sea or shore,
  Should Sir Humphrey see the light.

He sat upon the deck,
  The Book was in his hand;
"Do not fear! Heaven is as near,"
  He said, "by water as by land!"

In the first watch of the night,
  Without a signal's sound,
Out of the sea, mysteriously,
  The fleet of Death rose all around. p. 254

The moon and the evening star
  Were hanging in the shrouds;
Every mast, as it passed,
  Seemed to rake the passing clouds.

They grappled with their prize,
  At midnight black and cold!
As of a rock was the shock;
  Heavily the ground-swell rolled.

Southward through day and dark,
  They drift in close embrace,
With mist and rain, o'er the open main;
  Yet there seems no change of place.

Southward, forever southward,
  They drift through dark and day;
And like a dream, in the Gulf-Stream
  Sinking, vanish all away.

For authorities for this tale see "Voyages of Samuel de Champlain," translated by Charles Pomeroy Otis, Ph.D., with memoir by the Rev. E. F. Slafter, A.M., Boston, 1880 (I. pp. 116, 289, II. p. 52). The incident of the disguised Indians occurred, however, to the earlier explorer, Jacques Cartier. (See my "Larger History of the United States," p. 112.)

The tale of the Isle of Demons is founded on a story told first by Marguerite of Navarre in her "Heptameron" (LXVII. Nouvelle), and then with much variation and amplification by the very untrustworthy traveller Thevet in his "Cosmographie" (1571), Livre XXIII. c. vi. The only copy of the latter work known to me is in the Carter-Brown Library at Providence, R.I., and the passage has been transcribed for me through the kindness of A. E. Winship, Esq., librarian, who has also sent me a photograph of a woodcut representing the lonely woman shooting at a bear. A briefer abstract of the story is in Winsor's "Narrative and Critical History" (IV. p. 66, note), but it states, perhaps erroneously, that Thevet knew Marguerite only through the Princess of Navarre, whereas that author claims--though his claim is never worth much--that he had the story from the poor woman herself, "La pauvre femme estant arriuvee en France . . . et venue en la ville de Nautron, pays de Perigort lors que i’y estois, me feit le discours de toutes ses fortunes passées."

The Island of Demons appears on many old maps which may be found engraved in Winsor, IV. pp. 91, 92, 93, 100, 373, etc.; also as "Isla de demonios" in Sebastian Cabot's map (1544) reprinted in Dr. S. E. Dawson's valuable "Voyages of the Cabots," in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada for 1897. He also gives Ruysch's map (1508), in which a cluster of islands appears in the same place, marked "Insulæ dæmonum." Harrisse, in his "Notes sur la Nouvelle France" (p. 278), describes the three sufferers as having been abandoned

p. 256

by Roberval à trente six lieues des côtes de Canada, dans une isle deserte qui fut depuis désignée sous le nom de l’Isle de la Demoiselle, pres de l’embouchure de la Rivière St. Paul ou des Saumons. I have not, however, been able to identify this island. Parkman also says ("Pioneers of France," p. 205) that Roberval's pilot, in his routier, or logbook, speaks often of "Les Isles de la Demoiselle," evidently referring to Marguerite. The brief account by the Princess of Navarre follows:--


Une pauvre femme, pour sauver la vie de son mary, hasarda la sienne, et ne l’abandonna jusqu’à la mort.

C’est que faisant le dict Robertval un voiage sur la mer, duquel il estoit chef par le commandement du Roy son maistre, en l’isle de Canadas; auquel lieu avoit délibéré, si l’air du païs euste esté commode, de demourer et faire villes et chasteaulx; en quoy il fit tel commencement, que chacun peut sçavoir. Et, pour habituer le pays de Chrestiens, mena avecq luy de toutes sortes d’artisans, entre lesquelz y avoit un homme, qui fut si malheureux, qu’il trahit son maistre et le mist en dangier d’estre prins des gens du pays. Mais Dieu voulut que son entreprinse fut si tost congneue, qu’elle ne peut nuyre au cappitaine Robertval, lequel feit prendre ce meschant traistre, le voulant pugnir comme il l’avoit mérité; ce qui eust esté faict, sans sa femme qui avoit suivy son mary par les périlz de la mer; et ne le voulut abandonner à la mort, mais avecq force larmes feit tant, avecq le cappitaine et toute la compaignye, que, tant pour la pitié d’icelle que pour le service qu’elle leur avoit faict, luy accorda sa requeste qui fut telle, que le mary et la femme furent

p. 257

laissez en une petite isle, sur la mer, où il n’habitoit que bestes saulvaiges; et leur fut permis de porter avecq eulx ce dont ilz avoient nécessité. Les pauvres gens, se trouvans tous seulz en la compaignye des bestes saulvaiges et cruelles, n’eurent recours que à Dieu seul, qui avoit esté toujours le ferme espoir de ceste pauvre femme. Et, comme celle qui avoit toute consolation en Dieu, porta pour sa saulve garde, nourriture et consolation le Nouveau Testament, lequel elle lisoit incessamment. Et, au demourant, avecq son mary, mettoit peine d’accoustrer un petit logis le mieulx qui’l leur estoit possible; et, quand les lyons et aultres bestes en aprochoient pour les dévorer, le mary avecq sa harquebuze, et elle, avecq les pierres, se défendoient si bien, que, non suellement les bestes ne les osoient approcher, mais bien souvent en tuèrent de très-bonnes à manger; ainsy, avecq telles chairs et les herbes du païs, vesquirent quelque temps, quand le pain leur fut failly. A la longue, le mary ne peut porter telle nourriture; et, à cause des eaues qu’ilz buvoient, devint si enflé, que en peu de temps il mourut, n’aiant service ne consolation que sa femme, laquelle le servoit de médecin et de confesseur; en sorte qu’il passa joieusement de ce désert en la céleste patrie. Et la pauvre femme, demourée seulle, l’enterra le plus profond en terre qu’il fut possible; si est-ce que les bestes en eurent incontinent le sentyment, qui vindrent pour manger la charogne. Mais la pauvre femme, en sa petite maisonnette, de coups de harquebuze défendoit que la chair de son mary n’eust tel sépulchre. Ainsy vivant, quant au corps, de vie bestiale, et quant à l’esperit, de vie angélicque, passoit son temps en lectures, contemplations, prières et oraisons ayant un esperit joieux et content, dedans un corps emmaigry et demy mort. Mais Celluy qui n’abandonne jamais les siens, et qui, au désespoir

p. 258

des autres, monstre sa puissance, ne permist que la vertu qu’il avoit myse en ceste femme fust ignorée des hommes, mais voulut qu’elle fust congneue à sa gloire; et fiet que, au bout de quelque temps, un des navires de ceste armée passant devant ceste isle, les gens qui estoient dedans advisèrent, quelque fumée qui leur feit souvenir de ceulx qui y avoient esté laissez, et délibérèrent d’aller veoir ce que Dieu en avoit faict. La pauvre femme, voiant approcher el navire, se tira au bort de la mer, auquel lieu la trouvèrent à leur arrivée. Et, après en avoir rendu louange à Dieu, les mena en sa pauvre maisonnette, et leur monstra de quoy elle vivoit durant sa demeure; ce que leur eust esté incroiable, sans la congnoissance qu’ilz avoient que Dieu est puissant de nourrir en un désert ses serviteurs, comme au plus grandz festins du monde. Et, ne pouvant demeurer en tel lieu, emmenèrent la pauvre femme avecq eulx droict à la Rochelle, où, après un navigage, ilz arrivèrent. Et quand ilz eurent faict entendre aux habitans la fidélité et persévérance de ceste femme, elle fut receue à grand honneur de toutes les Dames, qui voluntiers luy baillèrent leurs filles pour aprendre à lire et à escripre. Et, à cest honneste mestier-là, gaigna le surplus de sa vie, n’aiant autre désîr que d’exhorter un chaucun à l’amour et confiance de Nostre Seigneur, se proposant pour exemple la grande miséricorde dont il avoit usé envers elle.

Parkman says expressly that "Ponce de Léon found the Island of Bimini," but it is generally mentioned as having been imaginary, and is not clearly identified among the three thousand islands and rocks of the Bahamas. Peter Martyr placed the

p. 259

[paragraph continues] Fountain of Youth in Florida, which he may have easily supposed to be an island. Some of the features of my description are taken from the strange voyage of Cabeza da Vaca, which may be read in Buckingham Smith's translation of his narrative (Washington, D.C., 1851), or in a more condensed form in Henry Kingsley's "Tales of Old Travel," or in my own "Book of American Explorers" (N.Y., Longmans, 1894).
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