The First Landing of Columbus in the New
By Washington Irving (Adapted)
It was on Friday morning, the 12th
of October, that Columbus first beheld the New World.
As the day dawned he saw before him an island, several
leagues in extent, and covered with trees like a continual
orchard. Though apparently uncultivated it was populous,
for the inhabitants were seen issuing from all parts
of the woods and running to the shore. They were perfectly
naked, and, as they stood gazing at the ships, appeared
by their attitudes and gestures to be lost in astonishment.
Columbus made signals for the ships
to cast anchor and the boats to be manned and armed.
He entered his own boat, richly attired in scarlet, and
holding the royal standard; while Martin Alonzo Pinzon
and his brother put off in company in their boats, each
with a banner of the enterprise emblazoned with a green
cross, having on either side the letters "F."'
and "Y.," the initials of the Castilian monarchs
Fernando and Ysabel, surmounted by crowns.
As he approached the shore, Columbus
was delighted with the purity and suavity of the atmosphere,
the crystal transparency of the sea, and the extraordinary
beauty of the vegetation. He beheld also fruits of an
unknown kind upon the trees which overhung the shores.
On landing he threw himself on his
knees, kissed the earth, and returned thanks to God with
tears of joy. His example was followed by the rest. "Almighty
and Eternal God," prayed Columbus, "who by
the energy of Thy creative word hast made the firmament,
the earth and the sea - blessed and glorified be thy
name in all places! May thy majesty and dominion be exalted
for ever and ever, as Thou hast permitted thy holy name
to be made known and spread by the most humble of thy
servants, in this hitherto unknown portion of Thine empire."
Columbus, then rising, drew his sword,
displayed the royal standard, and assembling around him
the two captains and the rest who had landed, he took
solemn possession in the name of the Castilian sovereigns,
giving the island the name of San Salvador.