« PreviousContinue »
tions above; and it is a crime to have undertaken and performed ton much! As my misery makes my lise a burthen to my Ills, so far the empty title of vice-roy and admiral render me obnoxious to the hatred of the Sparifli nation. It is visible that all methods are adopted to cut the thread that is breaking; for I am in my old age oppressed with insupportable pains of the gout, and am now languishing and expiring with that and other insirmities, among savages, where I have neither medicines nor provisions for the body—priest nor facrament for the soul. My men in a state of revolt—my brother, mv son, and those that are faitiiful, sick, starving, and dying; the Indians have abandoned us, and the governor of St. Domingo has sent rather to see is I am dead, than to succiur us, or carry me alive hence; for his boat neither delivered a letter nor spoke with us, nor would receive any letter from us, so 1 conclude your Highness's officers intend that here my voyages and lise should terminate. O blessed Mother of God! that compassionates the miserable and oppressed, -why did not cruel Bovadilla kill me, when he robbed me and my brother of our dearly purchased gold, and sent us to Spain, without trial, crime, or shadow of misconduct? These chains are all the treasures I have, and they shall be buried with me, is I chance to have a coffin or grave; for / -would have the remembrance offi unjust an aclion perijh with me, and, for the glory os the Sjiunijh name, be eternally forgotten. Let it not bring a farther infamy on the CalHIian name; nor let ages to come, know there were any wretches so vile in this, that think to recommend themselves to your Majelly, by destroying the unfortunate and miserable Christopher Columbus, not for his crimes, but for his services in discovering and giving Spain a New World! As it was heaven itself that inspired and conducted me to it! ihe heavens will weep for me, and (hew pity! Let the earth, and every soul in it, that loves justice and mercy, weep for met And you,
O gloO glorisied faints of God, that know my innocence and see my sufferings here, have mercy! for though this present age is envious and obdurate, surely those that are to come will pity me, when they are told that Christopher Columbus, with his own fortune, ran the hazard of his own and brother's lise and wirh little or no expence to the crown of Spain, in ten years and four voyages, rendered greater services than ever mortal man did to prince or kingdom, yet was left to perilh, without being charged with the least crime, in poverty and misery—all but his chains being taken from him, so that he who gave Spain another world, had neither fasety in it, nor yet a cottage for himself nor his wretched family. But mould heaven still persecute me, and seem displeased with what I have done, as if the discovery of this new world may be fatal to the old; and, as a punishment, bring my lise to a period in this miserable place; yet do you, good angels, you trjat succour the oppressed and innocent, bring this paper to my great mistress. She knows how much I have done, and will believe what I have suffered for her glory and. serTice; and will be so just and pious as not to let the' children of him that has brought to Spain such immense riches, and added to it vast aad unknown kingdoms and empire, want bread, or subsist only on alms. She, if lhe lives, will consider that cruelty and ingratitude will bring down the wrath of heaven; so that the wealth I have discovered shall be the means of stirring up all mankind to revenge and rapine, and the Spanish nation suffer hereafter for what envious, malicious, ungrateful people do now *.
* Columbus was cleared from the above accufation, of which he so bitterly and justly complains. He died in Spain 1506.—Edit.
THE ASSES OF EGYPT.
[From Sonuini's Travels.]
"F the horses of Egypt claim distinction D7 their beauty and valuable qualities, the asses of the fame country are not less remarkable. It is indisputable, that the hottest and driest climates are most favourable to horses, since those of Arabia, Persia, Egypt, Barbai y, and Spain, stand foremost in beauty and vigour. Asses, likewise, of a species nearly related to them, attain the greatest excellence of sigure and qualities in the fame climates, which appear to be natural to them. In proportion to their distance from these they degenerate, so that those of northern countries lose all resemblance to those of the south. If this degeneration be not so perceptible with regard to horses, very sine ones being to be found in the north, it is because Europeans have changed the nature of these animals in their country, by procuring mares and stallions from abroad, forming studs, crossing breeds, and lavishing the minutest attentions upon them, while they have not only been careless respecting the bieed of their asses, but have degraded it by almost total neglect and unmerited contempt. Badly sed, still worse attended, oppressed by heavy burdens, and ill-treated by blows, the ass of our country is unquestionably a wretched flave. Degraded as low as possible, he serves only the meanest of men, for whom he performs every thing his impaired condition will allow. His name is become that of dullnessand stupidity. Yet he is docile, gentle, patient, and temperate to excess. Did neither the horse nor the ox exist in our country, he would be held there in the highest estimation. But this is not the only instance where modest and useful simplicity, placed by the side of more brilliant and active qualities, has been rewarded by ingratitude, and excited derision.
How different this sorry and degraded animal from the asses of Egypt and Arabia, which, as well as the horses of those countries, are superior to any in the universe! Some are to be found there of great height; and these are most valued and esteemed, occasionally selling at a higher price than even horses themselves. Still, whatever be their height, their head is well placed, their eyes are brisk, and their body is plump. They have elegance in their attitudes, gracesulness in their movements, and nobleness and almost haughtiness in their carriage. Their foot is sure, their step islight, and their paces i|uick, brisk, and easy. In short, they are very pleasing to ride. All travellers have praised this sine species of animal. Peter delta Vale, who paraded his pride a long time in tha East, relates, that the people there do not scruple to ride upon alscs, that they trot wondersully, and that he has been ready to die with laughing at the sight *. For my part s was greatly surprised at it. In Egypt, people not only ride on asses without hesitation, but, as I have already observed, they were the only animals on which Christians of any country were allowed to appear in the capital. The Mahometan merchants, and the most opulent of the inhabitants, used them likewise: and carriages being unknown in this country, ladies of the highest rank, even the wives of the beys themselves, had no other equipages. r
I once happened to meet the whole haram of a bey, taking an airing in the environs of Cairo. An equivocal sigure, an eunuch with a mean and serocious countenance, preceded the ladies on a sine horse, covered with gold, silver, and embroidery. The ladies were mounted on asses of the highest price. The bridles of these animals glittered with silver and gold, and a magnisicent piece of tapestry covering the faddle and crupper reached down to the ground. It is to be presumed,
# Voyages, tome i. p. 14z. Vol. VIII. H h that that the ladies were not desicient in charms: but they were masqued with thick veils, and bundled up, as it were, in pieces of stusfs, which did not allow either the face or even sigure to be seen, and exhibited nothing but a shapeless mass. Such meetings had nothing in them very pleafant to an European: he was not only obliged to alight in token of respect, but he must also take care to avoid, I will not fay looking the ladies in the face, for this was invisible, but even looking at them; the moll he could do being to eye them afkance as they passed. I she ventured beyond this, it woutd have afforded a pretence for an avanie, or been attended with consequences still worse.
The asses of Egypt have at least as much vigour as beauty. They readily perform the longest journeys. More hardy than the horses, and less difsicult with regard to the quality or quantity of their food, they are preserred for long journeys across the desert. Most of the Mussulman pilgrims use them for the long and laborious journey to Mecca; and the chiefs of the Nubian caravans, which are sixty days in passing immense solitudes, ride upon asses, that do not appear fatigued when they arrive in Egypt.
The crust of their hoots is desended by thin and light shoes. The faddles they wear are shaped like packfaddles, rounded, and heightened by a pad softly stufsed, on which the rider sits much farther back than on a horse. The stirrups, which are shaped nearly like ours, have only a single slat bar at bottom, the breadth of three singers. Men ride without any housings; but for women a piece of tapestry, more or less rich, and sometimes reaching to the ground, is laid over this faddle. The asses are bridled in the fame manner as the horses. In the principal streets of Cairo, and in the squares, they stand for hire ready bridled ar.d faddled, being the hackney coaches of this city. The person who lets them accompanies his ass, running behind to goad htm on, and cry out to those who walk on foot to