Sir,- Believing that you will take pleasure in hearing of the great success which our Lord has granted me in my voyage. 1 write you this letter, whereby you will learn how in thirty-three day's time I reached the Indies with the fleet which the most illustrious King and Queen, our Sovereigns, gave to me, where I found very many islands thickly peopled, of all which I took possession without resistance for their Highnesses by proclamation made and with the royal standard unfurled. To the first island that I found I gave the name of San Salvador. . . . When I reached Juana, I followed its coast to the westward, and found it so large that I thought it must be the mainland -- the province of Cathay; and, as I found neither towns nor villages on the sea-coast, but only a few hamlets, with the inhabitants of which I could not hold conversation, because they all immediately fled, I kept on the same route, thinking that I could not fail to light upon some large cities and towns..... I saw another island . . . to which I gave the name of La Española . . . . This island, like all the others, is extraordinarily large . . there are many very lofty mountains . . . covered with trees of a thousand kinds of such great height that they seemed to reach the skies Some were in bloom, others bearing fruit . . . The nightingale was singing . . . and that, in November. . . . In the interior there are many mines of metals and a population innumerable. Española is a wonder. Its mountains and plains, and meadows, and fields, are so beautiful and rich for planting and sowing, and rearing cattle of all kinds, and for building towns and villages. The harbours on the coast, and the number and size and wholesomeness of the rivers, must of them bearing gold, surpass anything that would be believed by one who has not seen them. There is a great difference between the trees, fruits, and plants of this island and those of Juana in this island there are many spices and extensive mines of gold and other metals. . . . They have neither iron. nor steel, nor arms, nor are they competent to use them, not that they are not well-formed and of handsome stature, but because they are timid to a surprising degree. . . They are not acquainted with any kind of worship, and are not idolators; but believe that all power and, indeed, all good things are in heaven, and they are firmly convinced that I, with my vessels and crews, came from heaven, and with this belief received me at every place at which I touched, after they had overcome their apprehension. . . .... At your orders / The Admiral (Off the Canary Islands, February 15, 1493) Notes: Cathay=China; Española (Hispaniola) contains the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
1. No book yet? Use the emergency online text for Harriot (sorry, old spelling) at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~ehrlich/223/harriot-unc.htm, also linked from the class Web site.2. Want to go futher? (Strictly optional!): The complete Columbus letter is at http://www.ems.kcl.ac.uk/content/etext/e022.html, and the John White illustrations accompanying Harriot are at http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/hariot/title.html.