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from 12o to 14otons burden; but Columbus sometimes applies it to a vessel of forty tons. Du Cange, in his glossary, considers it a word of Italian origin. Bossi thinks it either Turkish or Arabic, and probably introduced into the European languages by the Moors. Mr. Edward Everett, in a note to his Plymouth oration, considers that the true origin of the word is given in Ferrarii Origines Linguæ Italica, as follows: “Caravela, navigii minoris genus. Lat. Carabus : Graece Karabron.” That the word caravel was intended to signify a vessel of a small size is evident from a naval classification made by King Alonzo in the middle of the thirteenth century. In the first class he enumerates Naos, or large ships which go only with sails, some of which have two masts, and others but one. In the second class smaller vessels as Carracas, Fustas, Ballenares, Pinazas, Carabelas, etc. In the third class vessels with sails and oars as Galleys, Galeots, Tardantes, and Saetias.” Bossi gives a copy of a letter written by Columbus to Don Raphael Xansis, treasurer of the King of Spain, an edition of which exists in the public library at Milan. With this letter he gives several wood-cuts of sketches made with a pen, which accompanied this 1etter, and which he supposes to have been from the Hand of Columbus. In these are represented vessels * Capmany, Quest. Crit.
which are probably caravels. They have high bows and sterns, with castles on the latter. They have short masts with large square sails. One of them, besides sails, has benches of oars, and is probably intended to represent a galley. They are all evidently vessels of small size and light construction. In a work called A’echerches sur le Commerce, published in Amsterdam, 1779, is a plate representing a vessel of the latter part of the fifteenth century. It is taken from a picture in the church of St. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. The vessel bears much resemblance to those said to have been sketched by Columbus; it has two masts, one of which is extremely small with a lateen sail. The main mast has a large square sail. The vessel has a high poop and bow, is decked at each end, and is open in the centre. It appears to be the fact, therefore, that most of the vessels with which Columbus undertook his long and perilous voyages were of this light and frail construction, and little superior to the small craft which ply
on rivers and along coasts in modern days.
IT has hitherto been supposed that one of the Bahama Islands, at present bearing the name of San Salvador, and which is also known as Cat Island, was the first point where Columbus came in contact with the New World. Navarrete, however, in his introduction to the Collection of Spanish Voyages and Discoveries, recently published at Madrid, has endeavored to show that it must have been Turk's Island, one of the same group, situated about one hundred leagues (of 20 to the degree) S. E. of San Salvador. Great care has been taken to examine candidly the opinion of Navarrete, comparing it with the journal of Columbus, as published in the above-mentioned work, and with the personal observations of the writer of this article, who has been much among these islands.
Columbus describes Guanahani, on which he landed, and to which he gave the name of San Salvador, as being a beautiful island and very large; as being level and covered with forests, many of the trees of which bore fruit; as having abundance of fresh water, and a large lake in the centre; that it was inhabited by a numerous population ; that he proceeded for a considerable distance in his boats along the shore which trended to the N. N. E. and as he passed was visited by the inhabitants of several villages. Turk's Island does not answer to this description. Turk's Island is a low key composed of sand and rocks, and lying north and south, less than two leagues in extent. It is utterly destitute of wood, and has not a single tree of native growth. It has no fresh water, the inhabitants depending entirely on cisterns and casks in which they preserve the rain ; neither has it any lake, but several salt ponds, which furnish the sole production of the island. Turk's Island cannot be approached on the east or northeast side, in consequence of the reef that surrounds it. It has no harbor, but has an open road on the west side, which vessels at anchor there have to leave and put to sea whenever the wind comes from any other quarter than that of the usual trade breeze of N. E. which blows over the island ; for the shore is so bold that there is no anchorage except close to it; and when the wind ceases to blow from the land, vessels remaining at their anchors would be swung against the rocks, or forced high upon the shore, by the terrible surf that then prevails. The unfrequented road of the Hawk's Nest, at the south end of the island, is even more dangerous. This island, which is not susceptible of the slightest cultivation, furnishes a scanty subsistence to a few sheep and horses. The inhabitants draw all their consumption from abroad, with the exception of fish and turtle, which are taken in abundance, and supply the principal food of the slaves employed in the salt-works. The whole wealth of the island consists in the produce of the salt-ponds, and in the salvage and plunder of the many wrecks which take place in the neighborhood. Turk's Island therefore would never be inhabited in a savage state of society, where commerce does not exist, and where men are obliged to draw their subsistence from the spot which they people. Again: when about to leave Guanahani, Columbus was at a loss to choose which to visit of a great number of islands in sight. Now there is no land visible from Turk's Island, excepting the two salt keys which lie south of it, and with it form the group known as Turk's Islands. The journal of Columbus does not tell us what course he steered in going from Guanahani to Concepcion, but he states that it was five leagues distant from the former, and that the current was against him in sailing to it; whereas the distance from Turk's Island to the Gran Caico, supposed by Navarrete to be the Concepcion of Columbus, is nearly double, and the current sets constantly to the W. N. W. among these islands, which would be favorable in going from Turk's Island to the Caicos. From Concepcion Columbus went next to an island which he saw nine leagues off in a westerly direction,
* The author of this work is indebted for this able examination of the route of Columbus to an officer of the navy of the United States, whose name he regrets the not being at liberty to mention. He has been greatly benefited in various parts of this history by nautical information from the same intelligent source.