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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Ferdinand Magellan
By John Fiske (1842–1901)
 
From ‘The Discovery of America’

FERDINAND MAGELLAN, as we call him in English, was a Portuguese nobleman of the fourth grade, but of family as old and blood as blue as any in the peninsula. He was born at Sabrosa, near Chaves, in one of the wildest and gloomiest nooks of Tras-os-Montes, in or about the year 1480. The people of that province have always been distinguished for a rugged fidelity, combined with unconquerable toughness of fibre, that reminds one of the Scotch; and from those lonely mountains there never came forth a sturdier character than Ferdinand Magellan. Difficulty and danger fit to baffle the keenest mind and daunt the strongest heart only incited this man to efforts well-nigh superhuman. In his portrait, as given in Navarrete, with the great arching brows, the fiery black eyes, the firm-set lips and mastiff jaw, covered but not concealed by the shaggy beard, the strength is almost appalling. Yet in all this power there was nothing cruel. Magellan was kind-hearted and unselfish, and on more than one occasion we see him risking his life in behalf of others with generosity worthy of a paladin.  1
  Nothing is known of his childhood and youth except that at an early age he went to Lisbon and was brought up in the royal household. In 1505 he embarked as a volunteer in the armada which the brilliant and high-souled Almeida, first Portuguese viceroy of India, was taking to the East. There followed seven years of service under this commander and his successor Albuquerque. Seven years of anxious sailing over strange waters, checkered with wild fights against Arabs and Malays, trained Magellan for the supreme work that was to come. He was in Sequeira’s expedition to Malacca in 1508–9, the first time that European ships had ventured east of Ceylon. While they were preparing to take in a cargo of pepper and ginger, the astute Malay king was plotting their destruction. His friendly overtures deceived the frank and somewhat too unsuspicious Sequeira. Malay sailors and traders were allowed to come on board the four ships, and all but one of the boats were sent to the beach, under command of Francisco Serrano, to hasten the bringing of the cargo. Upon the quarter-deck of his flagship Sequeira sat absorbed in a game of chess, with half a dozen dark faces intently watching him, their deadly purpose veiled with polite words and smiles. Ashore the houses rose terrace-like upon the hillside, while in the foreground the tall tower of the citadel—square with pyramidal apex, like an Italian bell-tower—glistened in the September sunshine. The parties of Malays on the ships and down on the bustling beach cast furtive glances at this summit, from which a puff of smoke was presently to announce the fatal moment. The captains and principal officers on shipboard were at once to be stabbed and their vessels seized, while the white men ashore were to be massacred. But a Persian woman in love with one of the officers had given tardy warning, so that just before the firing of the signal the Portuguese sailors began chasing the squads of Malays from their decks, while Magellan, in the only boat, rowed for the flag-ship, and his stentorian shout of “Treason!” came just in time to save Sequeira. Then in wild confusion, as wreaths of white smoke curled about the fatal tower, Serrano and a few of his party sprang upon their boats and pushed out to sea. Most of their comrades, less fortunate, were surrounded and slaughtered on the beach. Nimble Malay skiffs pursued and engaged Serrano, and while he was struggling against overwhelming odds, Magellan rowed up and joined battle with such desperate fury that Serrano was saved. No sooner were all the surviving Portuguese brought together on shipboard than the Malays attacked in full force; but European guns were too much for them, and after several of their craft had been sent to the bottom they withdrew.  2
  This affair was the beginning of a devoted friendship between Magellan and Serrano, sealed by many touching and romantic incidents, like the friendship between Gerard and Denys in ‘The Cloister and the Hearth’; and it was out of this friendship that in great measure grew the most wonderful voyage recorded in history. After Albuquerque had taken Malacca in 1511, Serrano commanded one of the ships that made the first voyage to the Moluccas. On his return course his vessel, loaded with spices, was wrecked upon a lonely island which had long served as a lair for pirates. Fragments of wreckage strewn upon the beach lured ashore a passing gang of such ruffians; and while they were intent upon delving and searching, Serrano’s men, who had hidden among the rocks, crept forth and seized the pirate ship. The nearest place of retreat was the island of Amboina, and this accident led Serrano back to the Moluccas, where he established himself as an ally or quasi-protector of the king of Ternate, and remained for the rest of his short life. Letters from Serrano aroused in Magellan a strong desire to follow his friend to that “new world” in the Indian waves, the goal so long dreamed of, so eagerly sought by Columbus and many another, but now for the first time actually reached and grasped. But circumstances came in to modify most curiously this aim of Magellan’s. He had come to learn something about the great ocean intervening between the Malay seas and Mundus Novus, but failed to form any conception of its width at all approaching the reality. It therefore seemed to him that the line of demarcation antipodal to Borgia’s meridian must fall to the west of the Moluccas, and that his friend Serrano had ventured into a region which must ultimately be resigned to Spain. In this opinion he was wrong, for the meridian which cuts through the site of Adelaide in Australia would have come near the line that on that side of the globe marked the end of the Portuguese half and the beginning of the Spanish half; but the mistake was easy to make and hard to correct.  3
  About this time some cause unknown took Magellan back to Lisbon, where we find him in the midsummer of 1512. His hope of a speedy return to India was disappointed. Whether on account of a slight disagreement he had once had with Albuquerque, or for some other reason, he found himself out of favor with the King. A year or more of service in Morocco followed, in the course of which a Moorish lance wounded Magellan in the knee and lamed him for life. After his return to Portugal in 1514, it became evident that King Emanuel had no further employment for him. He became absorbed in the study of navigation and cosmography, in which he had always felt an interest. It would have been strange if an inquiring mind, trained in the court of Lisbon in those days, had not been stirred by the fascination of such studies. How early in life Magellan had begun to breathe in the art of seamanship with the salt breezes from the Atlantic, we do not know; but at some time the results of scientific study were combined with his long experience in East-Indian waters to make him a consummate master. He conceived the vast scheme of circumnavigating the globe. Somewhere upon that long coast of Mundus Novus, explored by Vespucius and Coelho, Jaques and Solis, there was doubtless a passage through which he could sail westward and greet his friend Serrano in the Moluccas!  4
  Upon both of Schöner’s globes, of 1515 and 1520, such a strait is depicted, connecting the southern Atlantic with an ocean to the west of Mundus Novus. This has raised the question whether any one had ever discovered it before Magellan. That there was in many minds a belief in the existence of such a passage seems certain; whether because the wish was father to the thought, or because the mouth of La Plata had been reported as the mouth of a strait, or because Jaques had perhaps looked into the strait of Magellan, is by no means clear. But without threading that blind and tortuous labyrinth, as Magellan did, for more than 300 geographical miles, successfully avoiding its treacherous bays and channels with no outlet, no one could prove that there was a practicable passage there; and there is no good reason for supposing that any one had accomplished such a feat of navigation before Magellan.  5
  The scheme of thus reaching the Moluccas by the westward voyage was first submitted to King Emanuel. To him was offered the first opportunity for ascertaining whether these islands lay within his half of the heathen world or not. He did not smile upon the scheme, though he may have laughed at it. The papal bulls and the treaty of Tordesillas prohibited the Spaniards from sailing to the Indies by way of the Cape of Good Hope; and unless they could get through the barrier of Mundus Novus there was no danger of their coming by a westerly route. Why not let well enough alone? Apparently Emanuel did not put much faith in the strait. We are told by Gaspar Correa that Magellan then asked the royal permission to go and offer his services to some other master. “The King said he might do what he pleased. Upon this Magellan desired to kiss his hand at parting, but the King would not offer it.”  6
  The alternative was thus offered to Magellan of abandoning his scheme of discovery or entering the service of Spain, and he chose the latter course. For this he has been roundly abused, not only by Portuguese writers from that day to this, but by others who seem to forget that a man has as clear a right to change his country and his allegiance as to move his home from one town to another. In the relations between State and individual the duty is not all on one side. As Faria y Sousa, more sensible than many of his countrymen, observes, the great navigator did all that honor demanded, when by a special clause in his agreement with Spain, he pledged himself to do nothing prejudicial to the interests of Portugal.  7
  It was in October 1517 that Magellan arrived in Seville and became the guest of Diego Barbosa, alcaide of the arsenal there, a Portuguese gentleman who had for several years been in the Spanish service. Before Christmas of that year he was married to his host’s daughter Beatriz de Barbosa, who accompanied him to the court. Magellan found favor in the eyes of the boy king Charles V., and even obtained active support from Bishop Fonseca, in spite of that prelate’s ingrained hostility to noble schemes and honorable men. It was decided to fit out an expedition to pursue the search in which Solis had lately lost his life. More than a year was consumed in the needful preparations; and it was not until September 20th, 1519, that the little fleet cleared the mouth of the Guadalquivir and stood out to sea.  8
  There were five small ships, commanded as follows:—
          1. Trinidad, 110 tons, captain-general Ferdinand Magellan, pilot Estevan Gomez.
  2. San Antonio, 120 tons, captain Juan de Cartagena.
  3. Concepcion, 90 tons, captain Gaspar Quesada.
  4. Victoria, 85 tons, captain Luis de Mendoza.
  5. Santiago, 75 tons, captain Juan Serrano.
  9
  It is a striking illustration of the shiftlessness with which things were apt to be done by the government, and the difficulties under which great navigators accomplished their arduous work, that these five ships were all old and decidedly the worse for wear. All seem to have been decked, with castles at the stern and fore. About 280 men were on board, a motley crew of Spaniards and Portuguese, Genoese and Sicilians, Flemings and French, Germans and Greeks, with one Englishman from Bristol, and a few negroes and Malays. Of Portuguese there were at least seven-and-thirty, for the most part men attached to Magellan and who had left their country with him. It was fortunate that he had so many such, for the wiles of King Emanuel had pursued him into Spain and out upon the ocean. When that sovereign learned that the voyage was really to be made, he determined that it must not be allowed to succeed. Hired ruffians lurked about street corners in Seville, waiting for a chance that never came for rushing forth and stabbing the wary navigator; orders were sent to captains in the East Indies—among them the gallant Sequeira whom Magellan had saved—to intercept and arrest the fleet if it should ever reach those waters; and worst of all, the seeds of mutiny were busily and but too successfully sown in Magellan’s own ships. Of the four subordinate captains only one was faithful. Upon Juan Serrano, the brother of his dearest friend, Magellan could absolutely rely. The others, Cartagena, Mendoza, and Quesada, sailed out from port with treason in their hearts. A few days after their start a small caravel overtook the Trinidad, with an anxious message to Magellan from his wife’s father, Barbosa, begging him to be watchful, “since it had come to his knowledge that his captains had told their friends and relations that if they had any trouble with him they would kill him.” For reply the commander counseled Barbosa to be of good cheer, for be they true men or false he feared them not, and would do his appointed work all the same. For Beatriz, left with her little son Rodrigo, six months old, the outlook must have been anxious enough.  10
  Our chief source of information for the events of the voyage is the journal kept by a gentleman from Vicenza, the Chevalier Antonio Pigafetta, who obtained permission to accompany the expedition, “for to see the marvels of the ocean.” After leaving the Canaries on the 3d of October the armada ran down toward Sierra Leone and was becalmed, making only three leagues in three weeks. Then “the upper air burst into life” and the frail ships were driven along under bare poles, now and then dipping their yard-arms. During a month of this dreadful weather, the food and water grew scarce, and the rations were diminished. The spirit of mutiny began to show itself. The Spanish captains whispered among the crews that this man from Portugal had not their interests at heart and was not loyal to the Emperor. Toward the captain-general their demeanor grew more and more insubordinate; and Cartagena one day, having come on board the flag-ship, faced him with threats and insults. To his astonishment Magellan promptly collared him, and sent him, a prisoner in irons, on board the Victoria (whose captain was unfortunately also one of the traitors), while the command of the San Antonio was given to another officer. This example made things quiet for the moment.  11
  On the 29th of November they reached the Brazilian coast near Pernambuco; and on the 11th of January they arrived at the mouth of La Plata, which they investigated sufficiently to convince them that it was a river’s mouth and not a strait. Three weeks were consumed in this work. Their course through February and March along the coast of Patagonia was marked by incessant and violent storms; and the cold became so intense that, finding a sheltered harbor with plenty of fish at Port St. Julian, they chose it for winter quarters and anchored there on the last day of March. On the next day, which was Easter Sunday, the mutiny that so long had smoldered broke out in all its fury.  12
  The hardships of the voyage had thus far been what stanch seamen called unusually severe, and it was felt that they had done enough. No one except Vespucius and Jaques had ever approached so near to the South Pole; and if they had not yet found a strait, it was doubtless because there was none to find. The rations of bread and wine were becoming very short, and common prudence demanded that they should return to Spain. If their voyage was practically a failure, it was not their fault; there was ample excuse in the frightful storms they had suffered and the dangerous strains that had been put upon their worn-out ships. Such was the general feeling, but when expressed to Magellan it fell upon deaf ears. No excuses, nothing but performance, would serve his turn; for him hardships were made only to be despised and dangers to be laughed at: and in short, go on they must, until a strait was found or the end of that continent reached. Then they would doubtless find an open way to the Moluccas; and while he held out hopes of rich rewards for all, he appealed to their pride as Castilians. For the inflexible determination of this man was not embittered by harshness, and he could wield as well as any one the language that soothes and persuades.  13
  So long as all were busy in the fight against wind and wave, the captain-general’s arguments were of avail. But the deliberate halt to face the hardships of an antarctic winter, with no prospect of stirring until toward September, was too much. Patience under enforced inactivity was a virtue higher than these sailors had yet been called upon to exhibit. The treacherous captains had found their opportunity, and sowed distrust broadcast by hinting that a Portuguese commander could not better serve his king than by leading a Spanish armada to destruction. They had evidently secured their men and prepared their blow before the fleet came to anchor. The ringleaders of the mutiny were the captains Quesada of the Concepcion and Mendoza of the Victoria, with Juan de Cartagena, the deposed captain of the San Antonio, which was now commanded by Magellan’s cousin Alvaro de Mesquita. On the night of Easter Sunday, Cartagena and Quesada, with thirty men, boarded the San Antonio, seized Mesquita and put him in irons; in the brief affray the mate of the San Antonio was mortally wounded. One of the mutineers, Sebastian Elcano, was put in command of the ship, such of the surprised and bewildered crew as were likely to be loyal were disarmed, and food and wine were handed about in token of the more generous policy now to be adopted. All was done so quickly and quietly that no suspicion of it reached the captain-general or anybody on board the Trinidad.  14
  On Monday morning the traitor captains felt themselves masters of the situation. Three of the five ships were in their hands, and if they chose to go back to Spain, who could stop them? If they should decide to capture the flag-ship and murder their commander, they had a fair chance of success; for the faithful Serrano in his little ship Santiago was no match for any one of the three. Defiance seemed quite safe; and in the forenoon, when a boat from the flag-ship happened to approach the San Antonio she was insolently told to keep away, since Magellan no longer had command over that ship. When this challenge was carried to Magellan he sent the boat from ship to ship as a test, and soon learned that only the Santiago remained loyal. Presently Quesada sent a message to the Trinidad requesting a conference between the chief commander and the revolted captains. Very well, said Magellan, only the conference must of course be held on board the Trinidad; but for Quesada and his accomplices thus to venture in the lion’s jaws was out of the question, and they impudently insisted that the captain-general should come on board the San Antonio.  15
  Little did they realize with what a man they were dealing. Magellan knew how to make them come to him. He had reason to believe that the crew of the Victoria was less disloyal than the others, and selected that ship for the scene of his first coup de main. While he kept a boat in readiness, with a score of trusty men armed to the teeth and led by his wife’s brother Barbosa, he sent another boat ahead to the Victoria, with his alguazil or constable Espinosa, and five other men. Luis de Mendoza, captain of the Victoria, suffered this small party to come on board. Espinosa then served on Mendoza a formal summons to come to the flag-ship; and upon his refusal, quick as lightning sprang upon him and plunged a dagger into his throat. As the corpse of the rebellious captain dropped upon the deck, Barbosa’s party rushed over the ship’s side with drawn cutlasses, the dazed crew at once surrendered, and Barbosa took command.  16
  The tables were now turned, and with three ships in loyal hands Magellan blockaded the other two in the harbor. At night he opened fire upon the San Antonio, and strong parties from the Trinidad and the Victoria boarding her on both sides at once, Quesada and his accomplices were captured. The Concepcion thereupon, overawed and crestfallen, lost no time in surrendering; and so the formidable mutiny was completely quelled in less than four-and-twenty hours. Quesada was beheaded; Cartagena and a guilty priest, Pero Sanchez, were kept in irons until the fleet sailed, when they were set ashore and left to their fate; all the rest were pardoned, and open defiance of the captain-general was no more dreamed of. In the course of the winter the Santiago was wrecked while on a reconnoissance, but her men were rescued after dreadful sufferings, and Serrano was placed in command of the Concepcion.  17
  At length on the 24th of August, with the earliest symptoms of spring weather, the ships, which had been carefully overhauled and repaired, proceeded on their way. Violent storms harassed them, and it was not until the 21st of October (St. Ursula’s day) that they reached the headland still known as Cape Virgins. Passing beyond Dungeness they entered a large open bay, which some hailed as the long-sought strait, while others averred that no passage would be found there. It was, says Pigafetta, in Eden’s version, “the straight now cauled the straight of Magellanus, beinge in sum place C. x. leaques in length: and in breadth sumwhere very large and in other places lyttle more than halfe a leaque in bredth. On both the sydes of this strayght are great and hygh mountaynes couered with snowe, beyonde the whiche is the enteraunce into the sea of Sur…. Here one of the shyppes stole away priuilie and returned into Spayne.” More than five weeks were consumed in passing through the strait, and among its labyrinthine twists and half-hidden bays there was ample opportunity for desertion. As advanced reconnoissances kept reporting the water as deep and salt, the conviction grew that the strait was found, and then the question once more arose whether it would not be best to go back to Spain, satisfied with this discovery, since with all these wretched delays the provisions were again running short. Magellan’s answer, uttered in measured and quiet tones, was simply that he would go on and do his work “if he had to eat the leather off the ship’s yards.” Upon the San Antonio there had always been a large proportion of the malcontents, and the chief pilot, Estevan Gomez, having been detailed for duty on that ship, lent himself to their purposes. The captain, Mesquita, was again seized and put in irons, a new captain was chosen by the mutineers, and Gomez piloted the ship back to Spain, where they arrived after a voyage of six months, and screened themselves for a while by lying about Magellan.  18
  As for that commander, in Richard Eden’s words, “when the capitayne Magalianes was past the strayght and sawe the way open to the other mayne sea, he was so gladde therof that for ioy the teares fell from his eyes, and named the poynt of the lande from whense he fyrst sawe that sea Capo Desiderato. Supposing that the shyp which stole away had byn loste, they erected a crosse uppon the top of a hyghe hyll to direct their course in the straight yf it were theyr chaunce to coome that way.” The broad expanse of waters before him seemed so pleasant to Magellan, after the heavy storms through which he had passed, that he called it by the name it still bears, Pacific. But the worst hardships were still before him. Once more a Sea of Darkness must be crossed by brave hearts sickening with hope deferred. If the mid-Atlantic waters had been strange to Columbus and his men, here before Magellan’s people all was thrice unknown.
  “They were the first that ever burst
        Into that silent sea;”
and as they sailed month after month over the waste of waters, the huge size of our planet began to make itself felt. Until after the middle of December they kept a northward course, near the coast of the continent, running away from the antarctic cold. Then northwesterly and westerly courses were taken, and on the 24th of January, 1521, a small wooded islet was found in water where the longest plummet-lines failed to reach bottom. Already the voyage since issuing from the strait was nearly twice as long as that of Columbus in 1492 from the Canaries to Guanahani. From the useless island, which they called San Pablo, a further run of eleven days brought them to another uninhabited rock, which they called Tiburones, from the quantity of sharks observed in the neighborhood. There was neither food nor water to be had there, and a voyage of unknown duration, in reality not less than 5,000 English miles, was yet to be accomplished before a trace of land was again to greet their yearning gaze. Their sufferings may best be told in the quaint and touching words in which Shakespeare read them:—“And hauynge in this tyme consumed all theyr bysket and other vyttayles, they fell into such necessitie that they were inforced to eate the pouder that remayned therof beinge now full of woormes…. Theyre freshe water was also putrifyed and become yelow. They dyd eate skynnes and pieces of lether which were foulded abowt certeyne great ropes of the shyps. [Thus did the captain-general’s words come true.] But these skynnes being made verye harde by reason of the soonne, rayne, and wynde, they hunge them by a corde in the sea for the space of foure or fiue dayse to mollifie them, and sodde them, and eate them. By reason of this famen and vnclene feedynge, summe of theyr gummes grewe so ouer theyr teethe [a symptom of scurvy], that they dyed miserably for hunger. And by this occasion dyed xix. men, and … besyde these that dyed, xxv. or xxx. were so sicke that they were not able to doo any seruice with theyr handes or arms for feeblenesse: So that was in maner none without sum disease. In three monethes and xx. dayes, they sayled foure thousande leaques in one goulfe by the sayde sea cauled Pacificum (that is) peaceable, whiche may well bee so cauled forasmuch as in all this tyme hauyng no syght of any lande, they had no misfortune of wynde or any other tempest…. So that in fine, if god of his mercy had not gyuen them good wether, it was necessary that in this soo greate a sea they shuld all haue dyed for hunger. Whiche neuertheless they escaped soo hardely, that it may bee doubted whether euer the like viage may be attempted with so goode successe.”
  19
  One would gladly know—albeit Pigafetta’s journal and the still more laconic pilot’s log-book leave us in the dark on this point—how the ignorant and suffering crews interpreted this everlasting stretch of sea, vaster, said Maximilian Transylvanus, “than the human mind could conceive.” To them it may well have seemed that the theory of a round and limited earth was wrong after all, and that their infatuated commander was leading them out into the fathomless abysses of space, with no welcoming shore beyond. But that heart of triple bronze, we may be sure, did not flinch. The situation had got beyond the point where mutiny could be suggested as a remedy. The very desperateness of it was all in Magellan’s favor; for so far away had they come from the known world that retreat meant certain death. The only chance of escape lay in pressing forward. At last, on the 6th of March, they came upon islands inhabited by savages ignorant of the bow and arrow, but expert in handling their peculiar light boats. Here the dreadful sufferings were ended, for they found plenty of fruit and fresh vegetables, besides meat. The people were such eager and pertinacious thieves that their islands received the name by which they are still known, the Islas de Ladrones, or isles of robbers.  20
  On the 16th of March the three ships arrived at the islands which some years afterward were named Philippines, after Philip II. of Spain. Though these were islands unvisited by Europeans, yet Asiatic traders from Siam and Sumatra, as well as from China, were to be met there, and it was thus not long before Magellan became aware of the greatness of his triumph. He had passed the meridian of the Moluccas, and knew that these islands lay to the southward within an easy sail. He had accomplished the circumnavigation of the earth through its unknown portion, and the remainder of his route lay through seas already traversed. An erroneous calculation of longitudes confirmed him in the belief that the Moluccas, as well as the Philippines, properly belonged to Spain. Meanwhile in these Philippines of themselves he had discovered a region of no small commercial importance. But his brief tarry in these interesting islands had fatal results; and in the very hour of victory the conqueror perished, slain in a fight with the natives, the reason of which we can understand only by considering the close complication of commercial and political interests with religious notions so common in that age.  21
  As the typical Spaniard or Portuguese was then a persecutor of heresy at home, so he was always more or less of a missionary abroad, and the missionary spirit was in his case intimately allied with the crusading spirit. If the heathen resisted the gospel, it was quite right to slay and despoil them. Magellan’s nature was devoutly religious, and exhibited itself in the points of strength and weakness most characteristic of his age. After he had made a treaty of alliance with the king of the island of Sebu, in which, among other things, the exclusive privilege of trading there was reserved to the Spaniards, Magellan made the unexpected discovery that the king and his people were ready and even eager to embrace Christianity! They had conceived an exalted idea of the powers and accomplishments of these white strangers, and apparently wished to imitate them in all things. So in less than a week’s time a huge bonfire had been made of the idols, a cross was set up in the market, and all the people on the island were baptized! Now, the king of Sebu claimed allegiance from chieftains on neighboring islands, who were slow to render it; and having adopted the white man’s “medicine,” he naturally wished to test its efficacy. What was Christianity good for, if not to help you to humble your vassals? So the Christian king of Sebu demanded homage from the pagan king of Matan; and when the latter potentate scornfully refused, there was a clear case for a crusade! The steadfast commander, the ally and protector of his new convert, the peerless navigator, the knight without fear and without reproach, now turned crusader as quickly as he had turned missionary. Indeed, there was no turning. These various aspects of life’s work were all one to him; he would have summed up the whole thing as “serving God and doing his duty.” So Magellan crossed over to the island of Matan on the 27th of April, 1521, and was encountered by the natives in overwhelming force. After a desperate fight the Spaniards were obliged to retreat to their boats; and their commander, who years before had been the last man to leave a sinking ship, now lingered on the brink of danger, screening his men, till his helmet was knocked off and his right arm disabled by a spear thrust. A sudden blow brought him to the ground; and then, says the Chevalier Pigafetta, “the Indians threw themselves upon him with iron-pointed bamboo spears and scimitars, and every weapon they had, and ran him through—our mirror, our light, our comforter, our true guide—until they killed him.”  22
  In these scenes, as so often in life, the grotesque and the tragic were strangely mixed. The defeat of the white men convinced the king of Sebu that he had overestimated the blessings of Christianity; and so, by way of atonement for the slight he had cast upon the gods of his fathers, he invited some thirty of the leading Spaniards to a banquet and massacred them. Among the men thus cruelly slain were the faithful captains Barbosa and Serrano. As the ships sailed hastily away, the natives were seen chopping down the cross and conducting ceremonies in expiation of their brief apostasy. The blow was a sad one. Of the. 280 men who had sailed out from the Guadalquivir, only 115 remained. At the same time the Concepcion, being adjudged no longer seaworthy, was dismantled and burned to the water’s edge. The constable Espinosa was elected captain of the Victoria; and the pilot Carvalho was made captain-general, but proving incompetent, was presently superseded by that Sebastian Elcano who had been one of the mutineers at Port St. Julian. When the Trinidad and Victoria, after visiting Borneo, reached the Moluccas, they found that Francisco Serrano had been murdered by order of the king of Tidor at about the same time that his friend Magellan had fallen at Matan. The Spaniards spent some time in these islands, trading. When they were ready to start, on the 18th of December, the Trinidad sprang a leak. It was thereupon decided that the Victoria should make for the Cape of Good Hope without delay, in order not to lose the favorable east monsoon. The Trinidad was to be thoroughly repaired, and then take advantage of the reversal of monsoon to sail for Panama. Apparently it was thought that the easterly breeze which had wafted them so steadily across the Pacific was a monsoon and would change like the Indian winds,—a most disastrous error. Of the 101 men still surviving, 54 were assigned to the Trinidad and 47 to the Victoria. The former ship was commanded by Espinosa, the latter by Elcano.  23
  When the Trinidad set sail, April 6, 1522, she had the westerly monsoon in her favor; but as she worked up into the northern Pacific she encountered the northeast trade-wind, and in trying to escape it groped her way up to the fortieth parallel and beyond. By that time, overcome with famine and scurvy, she faced about and ran back to the Moluccas. When she arrived, it was without her mainmast. Of her 54 men, all but 19 had found a watery grave; and now the survivors were seized by a party of Portuguese, and a new chapter of misery was begun. Only the captain Espinosa and three of the crew lived to see Spain again.  24
  Meanwhile on the 16th of May the little Victoria, with starvation and scurvy already thinning the ranks, with foretopmast gone by the board and fore-yard badly sprung, cleared the Cape of Good Hope, and thence was borne on the strong and friendly current up to the equator, which she crossed on the 8th of June. Only fifty years since Santarem and Escobar, first of Europeans, had crept down that coast and crossed it. Into that glorious half-century what a world of suffering and achievement had been crowded! Dire necessity compelled the Victoria to stop at the Cape Verde Islands. Her people sought safety in deceiving the Portuguese with the story that they were returning from a voyage in Atlantic waters only, and thus they succeeded in buying food. But while this was going on, as a boat-load of thirteen men had been sent ashore for rice, some silly tongue, loosened by wine in the head of a sailor who had cloves to sell, babbled the perilous secret of Magellan and the Moluccas. The thirteen were at once arrested, and a boat called upon the Victoria, with direful threats, to surrender; but she quickly stretched every inch of her canvas and got away. This was on the 13th of July, and eight weeks of ocean remained. At last, on the 6th of September—the thirtieth anniversary of the day when Columbus weighed anchor for Cipango—the Victoria sailed into the Guadalquivir, with eighteen gaunt and haggard survivors to tell the proud story of the first circumnavigation of the earth.  25
  The voyage thus ended was doubtless the greatest feat of navigation that has ever been performed, and nothing can be imagined that would surpass it except a journey to some other planet. It has not the unique historic position of the first voyage of Columbus, which brought together two streams of human life that had been disjoined since the Glacial Period. But as an achievement in ocean navigation that voyage of Columbus sinks into insignificance by the side of it; and when the earth was a second time encompassed by the greatest English sailor of his age, the advance in knowledge, as well as the different route chosen, had much reduced the difficulty of the performance. When we consider the frailness of the ships, the immeasurable extent of the unknown, the mutinies that were prevented or quelled, and the hardships that were endured, we can have no hesitation in speaking of Magellan as the prince of navigators. Nor can we ever fail to admire the simplicity and purity of that devoted life, in which there is nothing that seeks to be hidden or explained away.  26
  It would have been fitting that the proudest crest ever granted by a sovereign—a terrestrial globe belted with the legend Primus circumdedisti me (Thou first encompassed me)—should have been bestowed upon the son and representative of the hero; but when the Victoria returned there was none to receive such recognition. In September 1521, Magellan’s son, the little Rodrigo, died; and by March 1522 the gentle mother Beatriz had heard, by way of the Portuguese Indies, of the fate of her husband and her brother. In that same month—“grievously sorrowing,” as we are told—she died. The coat-of-arms with the crest just mentioned, along with a pension of five hundred ducats, was granted to Elcano, a weak man who had ill deserved such honor. Espinosa was also, with more justice, pensioned and ennobled.  27
 
 
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