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those great men had been content, like others, to continue as they began, and had never made their persevering efforts for improvement, what would their countries have benefitted from their genius, or the world have known of their fame? They would have been lost in the undistinguished crowd that sunk to oblivion around them. Of how many more will the same remark prove true! What encouragement is thus given to the industrious! With such encouragement, how inexcusable is the negligence, which suffers the most interesting and important truths to seem heavy and dull, and fall ineffectual to the ground, through mere sluggishness in their delivery! How unworthy of one who performs the high functions of a religious instructor, upon whom depend, in a great measure, the religious knowledge, and devotional sentiments, and final character, of many fellow beings-to imagine, that he can worthily discharge this great concern, by occasionally talking for an hour, he knows not how, and in a manner which he has taken no pains to render correct, impressive, and attractive; and which, simply through want of that command over himself which study would give, is immethodical, verbose, inaccurate, feeble, trifling. It has been said of the good preacher, that “truths divine come mended from his tongue." Alas! they come ruined and worthless from such a man as this. They lose that holy energy, by which they are to convert the soul and purify man for heaven, and sink, in interest and efficacy, below the level of those principles which govern the ordinary affairs of this lower world.
DISCOVERY OF AMERICA BY COLUMBUS.-Robertson.
On Friday, the third day of August, in the year one thousand four hundred and ninety-two, Columbus set sail from Palos, in Spain, a little before sunrise, in presence
of a vast crowd of spectators, who sent up their suplications to heaven for the prosperous issue of the voyage, which they wished rather than expected.
His squadron, if it merit that name, consisted of no more than three small vessels—the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Nigna—having on board ninety men, mostly sailors, together with few adventurers, who followed the fortune of Columbus, and some gentlemen of the Spanish court, whom the queen appointed to accompany him. He steered directly for the Canary Islands; from which, after refitting his ships, and supplying himself with fresh provisions, he took his departure on the sixth day of September. Here the voyage of discovery may properly be said to have begun; for Columbus holding his course due west, left immediately the usual track of navigation, and stretched into unfrequented and unknown seas.
The first day, as it was very calm, he made but little way; but, on the second, he lost sight of the Canaries; and many of the sailors, already dejected and dismayed, when they contemplated the boldness of the undertaking, began to beat their breasts, and to shed tears, as if they were never more to behold land. Columbus comforted them with assurances of success, and the prospect of vast wealth in those opulent regions, whither he was conducting them. This early discovery of the spirit of his followers, taught Columbus that he must prepare to struggle, not only with the unavoidable difficulties which might be expected from the nature of his undertaking, but with such as were likely to arise from the ignorance and timidity of the people under his command; and he perceived, that the art of governing the minds of men would be no less requisite for accomplishing the discoveries which he had in view, than naval skill and an enterprising courage. Happily for himself, and for the country by which he was employed, he joined to the ardent temper and inventive genius of a projector, virtues of another species, which are rarely united with them. He possessed a thorough knowledge of mankind, an insinuating address, a patient
perseverence in executing any plan, the perfect government of his own passions, and the talent of acquiring the direction of those of other men. All these qualities, which formed him for command, were accompanied with that superior knowledge of his profession which begets confidence, in times of difficulty and danger. To unskilful Spanish sailors, accustomed only to coasting voyages in the Mediterranean, the maritime science of Columbus, the fruit of thirty years' experience, appeared im
As soon as they put to sea, he regulated every thing by his sole authority; he superintended the execution of every order, and allowing himself only a few hours for sleep, he was, at all other times, upon deck. As his course lay through seas which had not been visited before, the sounding line, or instruments for observation, were continually in his hands. He attended to the motion of the tides and currents, watched the flight of birds, the appearance of fishes, of sea-weeds, and of every thing that floated on the waves, and accurately noted every occurrence in a journal that he kept.
By the fourteenth day of September, the fleet was above two hundred leagues to the west of the Canary Isles, a greater distance from land than any Spaniard had ever been before that time. Here the sailors were struck with an appearance no less astonishing than new. They observed that the magnetic needle, in their compasses, did not point exactly to the north star, but varied towards the west. This appearance, which is now familiar, filled the companions of Columbus with terror. They were in an ocean boundless and unknown, nature itself seemed to be altered, and the only guide which they had left, was about to fail them. Columbus, with no less quickness than ingenuity, invented a reason for this appearance, which, though it did not satisfy himself, seemed so plausible to them, that it dispelled their fears, and silenced their murmurs.
On the first of October, they were about seven hundred and seventy leagues west of the Canaries. They
had now been above three weeks at sea : all their prognostics of discovery drawn from the flight of birds, and other circumstances, had proved fallacious, and their prospect
of success seemed now to be as far distant as ever. The spirit of discontent and of mutiny began to manifest itself among the sailors, and, by degrees, the contagion spread from ship to ship. All agreed that Columbus should be compelled, by force, to return, while their
crazy vessels were yet in a condition to keep the sea; and some even proposed to throw him overboard, as the most expeditious method of getting rid of his remonstrances, and of securing a seasonable return to their native land,
Columbus was fully sensible of his perilous situation. He perceived that it would be of no avail to have recourse to any of his former expedients, to lead on the hopes of his companions, and that it was impossible to rekindle any zeal for the success of the expedition, among men in whose breasts fear had extinguished every generous sentiment. He found it necessary to soothe passions, which he could no longer command, and to give way to a torrent too impetuous to be checked. He accordingly promised his men, that he would comply with their request, provided they would accompany him, and obey his commands, for three days longer; and if, during that time, land was not discovered, he would then abandon the enterprise, and direct his course towards Spain. Enraged as the sailors were, and impatient as they were of returning to their native country, this proposition did not appear to thern unreasonable : nor did Columbus hazard much in confining himself to a time so short; for the presages of discovering land had become so numerous and promising, that he deemed them infallible. For some days, the sounding line had reached the bottom; and the soil, which it brought up, indicated land to be at no great distance. The flocks of birds increased, and were composed not only of sea-fowl, but of such land birds as could not be supposed to fly far from the
shore. The crew of the Pinta observed a cane foating, which seemed to have been newly cut, and likewise a piece of timber, artificially carved. The sailors aboard the Nigna took up the branch of a tree, with red berries perfectly fresh. The clouds around the setting sun, assumed a new appearance; the air was more mild and warm; and, during night, the wind became unequal and variable.
From all these symptoms, Columbus was so confident of being near land, that, on the evening of the eleventh of October, after public prayers for success, he ordered the sails to be furled, and strict watch to be kept, lest the ship should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man shut his eyes; all kept upon deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land, which had been so long the object of their wishes. About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to two of his people. All three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight, the joyful sound of Land! land! was heard from the Pinta. But, having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, they had now become slow of belief, and waited, in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience, for the return of day.
As soon as morning dawned, their doubts and fears were dispelled. They beheld an island about two leagues to the north, whose flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented to them the aspect of a delightful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships, with tears of joy, and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of self-condemnation, mingled with reverence. They implored him to pardon their igno