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Sunday, January 8, 2017
When I was a kid, I noticed that my friend was missing his little finger, and I made the mistake of asking him how it happened. He said that he was trying to get into a barn door, but that it was kept shut by a hook lock too high for him to reach. So he got a chunk of firewood and propped it up against the door and stood on it in order to reach the lock. As he was fiddling with the lock, the chunk of wood slipped out from under him, his little finger got caught in the lock, and he hung there until his finger snapped off. I've never asked a missing-fingered person since how it happened.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Emma Gaskill's Haunting
by Kenneth Ely
Published with Permission
|Kenneth Ely, DC|
Uncle Ken and Aunt Sophia Macmillan still lived on Clark Street, so I popped in on them. Always willing to lend a hand at the drop of a hat, Uncle Ken and I went out to explore the rental possibilities while Aunt Sophia made lunch. He and I looked at two or three places, none of which had any possibility of living in and only one of which had any potential for a chiropractic practice.
When we returned to the house, Aunt Sophia announced, “Well, while you boys were out looking, I found you a place to rent!”
The fact that she could do this and turn out a roast beef and potatoes with gravy and green beans lunch at the same time amazed me.
After lunch, I was sent across the street to meet Hazel Gaskill, who walked with me over to H Street, one block to the north, to a little house she had for rent. It was small, had three tiny bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom added onto what had been a section of the open back porch. I decided I could both live in it and work out of it and I agreed to rent it on the spot.
Hazel related to me that it had once been the home of her late husband, Benny, and his mother, Emma. Emma had died and Benny had then bought the house on Clark Street and offered the house on H Street as one of his many rentals. When Benny became ill, eventually terminally, with penile cancer, he divided the Clark Street house into two separate living quarters that shared the kitchen and hired Hazel Randall, a nurse, to take care of him. When it became clear to Benny that his end was near, having no heirs and wishing to bless Hazel for the solicitous care she had given him over more than two years, Benny asked Hazel to marry him.
Hazel refused. Years previous, when she had been married to Mr. Randall, he had extracted from her the promise that, upon his death, she would never remarry. Her relationship with Mr. Randall had not been a particularly good one but a promise was a promise and Hazel was going to abide by it, nonetheless. However, Aunt Sophia, who had become well acquainted with Hazel during her two-year ministration to Benny, convinced Hazel that, as Mr. Randall had had no real love claims upon Hazel’s posthumous loyalty and, moreover, since Hazel had really come to love Benny, and that Benny wanted Hazel to have all his property and money which would go to the state if he died heirless and intestate, Hazel should marry him. So, Hazel broke her promise to Mr. Randall and married Benny, who died not long afterward, leaving her numerous rental properties – fishermen’s cots, most of them, but productive of profit, for Benny was shrewd for keeping his columns in the black – and a sum of money in an amount that no one ever convinced her to divulge.
The house on H Street, 365 it was, needed major repair by the time I agreed to rent it. Not only had the people who had rented it prior to me abused it but it had sagged on its posts to the point that the floors had waves, valleys, and cambers; the wallpaper was stretched to tearing; the plumbing leaked, and several windows had cracked. Hazel hired a crew to lift the house and put a foundation under it; she paid for insulation, which Uncle Ken and I put in, and she bought piles of paneling with which we paneled every room in the house but the kitchen.
By October, things were sufficiently mended that I could open my practice.
Over the next five years (I guess it was), I also got to know Hazel pretty well. She told me quite a few interesting stories about herself – a Hoffman, from San Juan Island – her family, and Benny, who was a character worth writing about but in another account. One of the things she told me was that Emma, Ben’s mother, had died in the 365 H Street house, in the east bedroom.
I guess it was near the end of my first five years there that Hazel offered me the house for $60K and I agreed to buy it. She carried the contract. Three years or so after our sales agreement was signed, Hazel’s health declined to the point that she had to move into assisted living but I saw her every now and again: I either went to visit her or an aid would drive her round to the office and I would come out to talk with her in the car. She was not in assisted living for more than a year, I think, before she worsened and died.
Some years passed. I continued to practice and to live in the house. The strange events came on so gradually, I did not notice that they were so strange; just unaccountable.
The first thing that I noticed from time to time was a strange smell. It was a sauerkraut smell, what I imagined fermenting skunk cabbage would smell like. The local hog farmers used to roam the woods, harvesting skunk cabbage to put into barrels to ferment, in the manner of silage, to feed their hogs. The smell did not occur often but when it did, there was no missing it. I could not account for it, though, as there was neither propane nor natural gas supplied to the place.
The smell continued at odd intervals and I gave up trying to figure out what was causing it. But eventually, I began to have trouble with my radio/CD player: it turned on by itself or, if I was playing it, it turned itself off. This I attributed to something internally wrong with the player and, when it quit altogether, I bought a new one – which behaved the same way, although it was not the same brand. The police station was across the street at that time, in the old post office building and the fire department was in the city hall. Both departments had ‘clickers’ by means of which they opened and closed the big garage doors to the fire truck bays and I gradually concluded that the clickers were on the same frequency as my CD player.
Gradually, too, I began to notice that, if I were sitting still at my desk or in my easy chair, one side of me would feel cold. This made sense in the winter for the house was old and the possibility of gaps in its structure was a reasonable expectation, although I could never find any; but to feel the cold in summer, well, that was strange.
Sometimes, I noticed that two of the odd phenomena occurred coincidentally, sometimes all three, but I could not account for it.
One day, however, I was talking to a friend, Capt. Ken Markusen, who was not only a friend but a patient and the father of my receptionist/secretary, about it and he said, “Ohh! I bet you have a ghost! Anyone ever die in this house that you know of?”
I told him, yes, Emma Gaskill had died in the house, according to Hazel.
“Well, there you are!” says he.
I asked him, since he seemed to be an authority, how I could get rid of her.
“I dunno. Just try telling her that there’s nothing for her here and that she should go to Jesus, go to God. Use her name, though, so she knows you mean her.”
I had nothing to lose by this line of endeavor so the next time I smelled the smell, or the CD player went on or off, or I felt the chill, I addressed Emma, by name, in the captain’s prescribed fashion. This approach seemed to sort Emma in the short run but she would always come back at a later date and bother me again, which eventually provoked me into saying things like, “Dam’ it Emma! Leave that stereo alone! And you stink, Emma! You stink! Go to God, Emma! Go to Jesus! Go find Benny! Benny’s with God! Get out of here!”
I had no idea whether Benny was with God or the devil and I cared little for where Emma actually went so long I was rid of her.
After maybe a year of my howling thus, Emma left. I told Capt. Markusen she was gone after sufficient time had passed for me to really believe she was. And for more than a year, I thought no more about her.
Then one day, in the spring it was, I was writing at my desk one afternoon when I smelled the smell.
“Oh, no!” I said, pushing my chair back. “Emma! Look, Emma, I don’t know why you’ve come back but kindly go away. There’s nothing and nobody here for you anymore, Emma. Go to Jesus. Good girl, Emma. Go to Jesus.”
I don’t know whether Emma was hugging me goodbye or whether she just stood in close but I sudden felt chilled on the right side of my face and body.
“Goodbye, Emma,” I said, getting up and walking to the waiting room.
As I moved, the chill went down. The smell vanished. And of Emma I was aware no more.
About three years ago, I sold the little house on H Street to a man who opened a parcel and mailbox service in it. His business was so successful that he needed to triple his floor space and, as it would interrupt his business to tear the house down, he simply built around and over it. Yes, the old Gaskill house was literally entombed in the new addition. Whether Emma was entombed with it, I cannot say for she did not follow me into my new office – mercifully.
As a footnote, I will add that, when I first moved into Ben Gaskill’s house, the old Methodist Church stood upon the corner of 4th and H Streets. It was no longer used as a church but as some sort of youth meeting place. Later, the Maurers bought it, upgraded the interior, and rented it out to retail shops. Sometime in the '80's, the church burned down – while I was away visiting my brother in California – and was such a huge conflagration, sending burning timbers all over the block when it collapsed, that it is a miracle that Ben’s house did not go up in flames with it. The Maurers built a new structure reminiscent of the old church. When I sold the house to the mailbox man, I moved into one of the suites in the new old church. I wish I had made that move years before I did, for I really like my present studio office and I never liked Benny’s house much, at all.
- * -
Quod scripsi scripsi
Copyright Jan. 2017 © Kenneth Ely
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
THE OUR FATHER
Taken from The Secret of the Rosary, by St. Louis De Montfort
The Our Father or the Lord's prayer has great value--above all because of its Author Who is neither a man nor an angel but the King of angels and men, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Saint Cyprian says that it was fitting that our Savior by Whom we were reborn into the life of grace should also be our heavenly Master and should teach us how to pray.
The beautiful order, the tender forcefulness and the clarity of this divine prayer pay tribute to our divine Master's wisdom. It is a short prayer but can teach us so very much and it is well within the grasp of uneducated people, while scholars find it a continual source of meditation on the mysteries of our Faith.
The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. Tertullian says that the Our Father is a summary of the New Testament. Thomas 'a Kempis says that it surpasses all the desires of all the saints; that it is a condensation of all the beautiful sayings of all the Psalms and Canticles; that in it we ask God for everything that we need; that by it we praise Him in the very best way; that by it we lift up our souls from earth to heaven and unite them with God.
Saint John Chrysostom says that we cannot be our Master's disciples unless we pray as He did and in the way that He showed us. Moreover God the Father listens more willingly to the Prayer that we have learned from His Son rather than those of our own making which have all our human limitations.
We should say that Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear it because it is the prayer of His Son Whom He always hears and we are His members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord's Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by His merits, and made at His behest.
Saint Augustine says that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven. The just man falls seven times a day, but in the Lord's Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid downfalls and will protect him from his spiritual enemies. Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we get into, made His Prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often we can be sure that Almighty God will quickly come to our aid.
I have a word for you, devout souls, who pay little attention to the prayer that the Son of God gave us Himself and asked us all to say: It is high time for you to change your way of thinking. You only like prayers that men have written---as though anybody, even the most inspired man in the whole world, could possibly know more about how we ought to pray than Jesus Christ Himself! You look for prayers in books written by other men almost as though you were ashamed of saying the prayer that Our Lord told us to say.
You have managed to convince yourself that the prayers in these books are for scholars and for rich people of the upper classes and that the Rosary is only for women and children and the lower classes. As if the prayers and praises which you have been reading were more beautiful and more pleasing to God than those which are to be found in the Lord's Prayer! It is a very dangerous temptation to lose interest in the prayer that Our Lord gave us and to take up prayers that men have written instead.
Not that I disapprove of prayers that the saints have written so as to encourage the faithful to praise God, but it is not to be endured that they should prefer the latter to the Prayer which was uttered by Wisdom Incarnate. If they ignore this Prayer it is just as though they pass up the spring to go after the brook and refusing the clear water, drink dirty water instead. Because the Rosary made up of the Lord's Prayer and the Angelic Salutation, is this clear and ever flowing water which comes from the Fountain of Grace, whereas other prayers which they look for in books are nothing but tiny streams which spring from this fountain.
People who say Our Lord's Prayer carefully, weighing every word and meditating upon it, may indeed call themselves blessed for they find therein everything that they need or can wish for.
When we say this wonderful prayer we touch God's heart at the very outset by calling Him by the sweet name of Father---Our Father. He is the dearest of fathers: all-powerful in His creation, wonderful in the way He maintains the world, completely lovable in His Diving Providence,---always good and infinitely so in the Redemption. We have God for our Father so we are all brothers--and heaven is our homeland and our heritage. This should be more than enough to teach us to love God and our neighbor and to be detached from the things of this world.
So we ought to love our Heavenly Father and should say to Him over and over again:
Our Father Who art in heaven,
Thou Who dost fill heaven and earth
With the immensity of Thy Being,
Thou Who art present everywhere-
Thou Who art in the saints
By Thy glory,
In the damned
By Thy Justice,
In the good
By Thy grace--
And even in sinners
By the patience
With which Though dost tolerate them-
Grant we beseech Thee;
Grant that we may live
As Thy true children ought to live-
Grant that we may set our course
And never swerve-
Grant that we may use
Our every power,
Our hearts and souls and strength
To tend towards Thee
And Thee Alone.
Hallowed be Thy name:
King David, the prophet, said that the name of the Lord is holy and awe-inspiring, and Isaias that heaven is always echoing with praises of the Seraphim who unceasingly praise the holiness of the Lord God of Hosts.
We ask here that all the world may learn to know and adore the attributes of our God Who is so great and so holy. We ask that He may be known, loved and adored by pagans, Turks, Jews, barbarians and by all infidels-that all men may serve and glorify Him by a living faith, a staunch hope, burning charity and by renouncing all erroneous beliefs. This all adds up to say that we pray that all men by be holy, because God Himself is all-holy.
Thy Kingdom come:
Do Thou reign in our souls
By Thy grace
So that after death
We may be found meet
To reign with Thee
In They Kingdom
In perfect and unending bliss.
Oh Lord we firmly believe
In this happiness to come;
We hope for and we expect it,
Because God the Father
Has promised it
In His great goodness;
It was purchased for us
By the merits of God the Son
And God the Holy Spirit
He who is the Light
Has made it known to us.
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven:
As Tertullian says, this sentence does not in the least mean that we are afraid of people thwarting God's designs because nothing whatsoever can happen without Diving Providence having foreseen it and having made it fit into His plans beforehand. No obstruction in the whole world can possibly prevent the will of God from being carried out.
Rather, when we say thy will be done, we ask god to make us humbly resigned to all that He has seen fit to send us in this life. We also ask Him to help us to do, in all things and at all times, His Holy will, made known to us by the commandments, promptly, lovingly and faithfully as the saints and angels do it in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread:
Our Lord taught us to ask God for everything that we need whether in the spiritual or temporal order. By asking for our daily bread we humbly admit our own poverty and insufficiency and pay tribute to our God, knowing that all temporal good come from His Divine Providence.
When we say bread we ask for that which is just necessary to live; and of course, this does not include luxuries.
We ask for this bread today this day which means that we are concerned only for the present, leaving the morrow in the hands of Providence.
And when we ask for our daily bread we recognize that we need God's help every day and that we are entirely dependent upon Him and for His help and protection.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us:
Every sin, say Saint Augustine and Tertullian, is a debt which we contract towards Almighty God and His justice demands payment down to the very last farthing. Unfortunately we all have these sad debts.
No matter how many they may be we should go to God in all confidence and with true sorrow for our sins, saying "Our Father Who art in Heaven, forgive us our sins of thought and those of speech, forgive us our sins of commission and omission which make us infinitely guilty in the eyes of Thy Divine Justice.
"We dare to ask this because Thou art our loving and merciful Father and because we have forgotten those who have offended us, out of obedience to Thee and out of charity.
"Do not permit us, in spite of our infidelity to Thy graces, to give in to the temptations of the world, the devil and the flesh."
But deliver us from evil:
The evil of sin and also of temporal punishment and everlasting punishment which we know that we have rightly deserved.
Amen (So be it).
This word at the end of Our Father is very consoling and Saint Jerome says that it is a sort of seal of approbation that Almighty God puts at the end of our petitions to assure us that He will grant our requests -- very much as though He Himself were answering:
"Amen! May it be as you have asked, for verily you have obtained what you asked for." This is what is meant by the word "Amen."
Each word of the Lord's Prayer is a tribute we pay to the perfections of God. We honor His fertility by the name of Father:
Who throughout eternity
Dost beget a Son
Who is God like Thee-
Eternal, consubstantial with Thee
Who Is the very same essence
And is of like power
As Thou art...
Father and Son
Who from Your mutual love
Produce the Holy Spirit
Who is God like unto You;
But one God.
Our Father - this means that He is the Father of mankind because He has created us and continues to sustain us, and because He has redeemed us. He is also the merciful Father of sinners, the Father Who is the friend of the just and the glorious Father of the blessed in heaven.
When we say Who art, by these words we pay tribute to the infinity and immensity and fullness of God's essence. God is rightly called "He Who is"; that is to say, He exists of necessity, essentially, and eternally, because He is the Being of beings and the cause of all beings. He possesses within Himself, in a supereminent degree, the perfections of all beings and He is in all of them by His essence, by His presence and by His power, but without being bounded by their limitations. We honor His sublimity and His glory and His majesty by the words Who art in heaven, that is to say, "Who is seated as on a throne, holding sway over all men by Thy justice."
When we say hallowed be Thy name we worship God's holiness; and we make obeisance to His Kingship and bow to the justice of His laws by the words Thy kingdom come, praying that men will obey Him on earth as the angels do in heaven.
We show our trust in His Providence by asking for our daily bread, and we appeal to His mercy when we ask for the forgiveness of our sins.
We look to His great power when we beg Him not to lead us into temptation, and we show our faith in His goodness by our hope that He will deliver us from evil.
The Son of God has always glorified His Father by His works and He came into the word to give glory to Him. He showed men how to praise Him by this prayer which He taught us with His own lips. It is our duty, therefore, to say it often--we should say it reverently and attentively and in the spirit in which Our Lord taught it.
We make as many acts of the noblest Christian virtues as we pronounce words, when we recite attentively this divine prayer.
In saying "Our Father Who art in heaven," we make acts of faith, adoration, and humility. When we ask that His name be hallowed and glorified we show a burning zeal for His glory, and when we ask for the spread of His Kingdom we make an act of hope; by the wish that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven, we show a spirit of perfect obedience.
In asking for our daily bread we practice poverty of spirit and detachment from worldly goods. When we beg Him to forgive us our sins we make an act of sorrow for them. By forgiving those who have trespassed against us we give proof of the virtue of mercy in its highest degree.
Through asking God's help in all our temptations, we make acts of humility, prudence and fortitude. As we wait for Him to deliver us from evil we exercise the virtue of patience.
Finally, while asking for all these things -- not for ourselves alone but also for our neighbor and for all members of the Church--we are carrying out our duty as true children of God, we are imitating Him in His love which embraces all men and we are keeping the commandment of love of neighbor.
If we are mean in our hearts what we say with our lips and if our intentions are not at variance with those expressed in the Lord's Prayer, then by reciting this prayer, we hate all sin and we observe all of God's laws. For whenever we think that God is in heaven -- as we place ourselves in His presence we should be filled with overwhelming reverence. Then the fear of the Lord will chase away all pride and we will bow before God in our utter nothingness.
When we say the name Father and remember that we owe our existence to God by the means of our parents and even our knowledge to our teachers who hold the place and are the living images of God, then we cannot help paying them honor and respect, or, to be more exact, honoring God in them. Nothing then, too, would be farther from our thoughts than to be disrespectful to them or hurt them.
We are never farther from blaspheming than when we pray that the Holy Name of God may be glorified. If we really look upon the Kingdom of God as our heritage we cannot possibly be attached to the things of this world.
If we sincerely ask God that our neighbor may have the very same blessings that we ourselves stand in need of, it goes without saying that we will give up all hatred, quarreling and jealousy. And of course if we ask God each day for our daily bread we shall learn to hate gluttony and lasciviousness which thrive in rich surroundings.
While sincerely asking God to forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us we no longer give way to anger and thoughts of getting even -- we return good for evil and really love our enemies.
To ask God to save us from falling into sin when we are tempted is to give proof that we are fighting laziness and that we are genuinely seeking means to root out our vicious habits and to work out our salvation.
To pray God to deliver us from evil is to fear His justice and this will give us true happiness. For since the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, it is through the virtue of the fear of God that men avoid sin.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Our good friend, Yulie Seydoux, recently responded to questions from a student who was given the assignment of interviewing someone from another culture.
What is your history? What is your home of origin? Why did you or your family settle in the area.
I have a gypsy soul. I'm from Ukraine, western Ukraine, from the Carpathian mountains, near Hungary. I always liked the United States. I liked the openness and friendliness of the American people. I've always been kind of weird. I can be myself here. In Ukraine, it's strange to say hello to someone on the street. They would be like, "What the heck?" Only kids can do that. They're friendly here. So I found a way to come here. There was a summer work program at Silver Dollar City, and once done there, I decided to stay.
What are some of your family customs and roles of members within your family?
Our family is not very traditional. We don't have a lot of old traditions. Christmas is kind of different. We celebrate it on the 7th of January. You need to have 12 dishes. One of the twelve dishes is kutya; it's wheat grains, with pieces of a flower, and nuts, and something really sweet that you don't have. It looks disgusting, but it's good. When the first star appears on the 6th, we can eat. Then little kids come to the house, singing, usually dressed as angels. Some dress as kings and act out the Gospel. And we all go to church and sing songs that night.
How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into the mainstream culture are members of your family and how well is that accepted by the rest of the family?
I never felt Ukrainian. I always wanted to be French but knew I was American really. There are some things Ukrainians do and think that I never did or could. The rest of my family is pretty well assimilated, pretty well Ukrainian. But they supported me when I went to America.
What are the gender roles in your culture? And in your family?
Gender roles are mostly the same. But women are expected to know how to cook, how to sew, and how to embroider--embroidery for making our national clothes. Women usually are working, though, not a lot of housewives. Guys are jerks, though. They have super big expectations for women, and feel entitled. They will openly criticize the weight of the women in their lives. Very concentrated on appearance. Men are gentlemen more here. Of course, it's the modern world; everywhere there are similarities.
What are your family beliefs about child rearing and discipline?
My Dad would drill me on geography or history or languages, and had a tutor for me, teaching me French, English, and Polish. My Dad said he was training me, like a dog, but this was a joke. He had a big world map, and I needed to know every place. He would teach me martial arts, and I would train hard. He wanted excellence, but he would encourage me. My Mom, on the other hand, spoiled me. She wanted me to be a lady. When I would come home from a fight at school, Dad would cheer, and Mom would say, "But Yulie, you're a lady." I was their treasure. I am their treasure.
What would be the characteristics and practices of people who are considered to be excellent parents in your culture?
Parental expectations are similar to here. But kids live with their parents much longer in Ukraine, and families typically stay geographically close. Also, all kids are expected to go to university in Ukraine, and the parents pay for it.
What is the power structure in your family? Is age a factor in who has power? How are decisions made at the family and community level?
I am an only child. My parents are separated, so I am the authority. Age is not a factor in our family's power structure. But growing up, everything had to be approved by my Dad. My Mom would listen to my opinions more, but my Dad would have to approve. He is really strict. When I made the decision to move to the U.S., though, they told me to listen to my heart.
Who holds positions of formal power in your culture? Who are the most powerful informal leaders in your community? Who held positions of power in the past?
We have a president, but his power is only technical, because if we don't like it, we will have riots. We have to respect elders. In Ukraine, we have two "yous." To elders, we always have to say the respectful "you." Priests are respected in the community. In the past, power belonged to a really bad president who ran away when we had a riot--a Russian bitch, who had golden toilet seats in his house.
What is your concept of health? What are customary health practices and beliefs? Who is responsible for and influences health care? Do you use home or folk remedies, a healer, shaman or some other traditional or spiritual healer?
I guess, in villages, they have folk remedies. In my family, when we got sick, they would put something on our foreheads, like a compressor. My Grandma would put alcohol from lilies on my face for acne. She said it worked, but it never worked. In Ukraine, they are superstitious. Instead of saying, "You're beautiful," they would say, "You're ugly," so you wouldn't get sick, but it meant, "You're so beautiful." And your family would suck your face in a cross and spit, to take away negative energy.
Here the interview abruptly ends, and right at the intriguing part about sucking face in a cross and spitting! But apparently it worked, because you'd be hard-pressed to find any negative energy coming from this beautiful soul. And I'm grateful that Yulie gave me permission to share this brief interview with you.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.
Sunday, October 9, 2016
But it's always best to go to the source. (In social media we should know this by now.) And so here is the account written by Christopher Columbus himself in February of 1493, while off the Azores and beginning his return trip home, describing his first discoveries. It was addressed to Louis de Santangel, the treasurer of King Ferdinand of Spain. Although addressed to the treasurer, it was intended for the eyes of the King himself, and for those of his queen, Isabella. The letter was first printed in Barcelona, soon after the arrival of Columbus.
Now this "bad" man, whom the natives were so afraid of, finally found it necessary to compel some of these "Indians" to accompany him to show them they had nothing to fear. And after being with Columbus and his men for a time, they STILL thought that these strange newcomers were heaven-sent and enthusiastically introduced them to their tribes. It's unfortunate that these natives are not here now to teach in public schools.
THE DISCOVERY BY CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS
AS DESCRIBED BY COLUMBUS HIMSELF
As I know that it will afford you pleasure that I have brought my undertaking to a successful result, I have determined to write to you this letter to inform you of everything that has been done and discovered in this voyage of mine. . . .
On the thirty-third day after leaving Cadiz I came into the Indian Sea, where I discovered many islands inhabited by numerous people. I took possession of all of them for our most fortunate King by making public proclamation and unfurling his standard, no one making any resistance. To the first of them I have given the name of our blest Savior, trusting in whose aid I had reached this and all the rest; but the Indians call it Guanahani. To each of the others also I gave a new name, ordering one to be called Sancta Maria de Concepcion, another Fernandina, another Hysabella, another Johana; and so with all the rest.
As soon as we reached the island which I have just said was called Johana, I sailed along its coast some considerable distance toward the west, and found it to be so large, without any apparent end, that I believed it was not an island, but a continent, a province of Cathay. But I saw neither towns nor cities lying on the seaboard, only some villages and country farms with whose inhabitants I could not get speech, because they fled as soon as they beheld us. I continued on, supposing I should come to city or country houses. At last, finding that no further discoveries rewarded our progress, and that this course was leading us toward the north, which I was desirous of avoiding, as it was now winter in these regions, and it had always been my intention to proceed southward, and the winds also were favorable to such desires, I concluded not to attempt any other adventures, so, turning back, I came again to a certain harbor, which I had remarked. From there I sent two of our men into the country to learn whether there was any king or cities in that land. They journeyed for three days, and found innumerable people and habitations, but small and having no fixed government, on which account they returned. Meanwhile I had learned from some Indians whom I had seized at this place, that this country was really an island. Consequently, I continued along toward the east, as much as 322 miles, always hugging the shore, where was the very extremity of the island. From there I saw another island to the eastwards, distant 54 miles from this Johana, which I named Hispana, and proceeded to it, and directed my course for 564 miles east by north as it were, just as I had done at Johana.
The island called Johana, as well as the others in its neighborhood, is exceedingly fertile. It has numerous harbors on all sides, very safe and wide, above comparison with any I have ever seen. Through it flow many very broad and health-giving rivers; and there are in it numerous very lofty mountains. All these islands are very beautiful, and of quite different shapes, easy to be traversed, and full of the greatest variety of trees reaching to the stars. I think these never lose their leaves, as I saw them looking as green and lovely as they are wont to be in the month of May in Spain. Some of them were in leaf, and some in fruit; each flourishing in the condition its nature required. The nightingale was singing and various other little birds, when I was rambling among them in the month of November. There are also in the island called Johana seven or eight kinds of palms, which as readily surpass ours in height and beauty as do all the other trees, herbs, and fruits. There are also wonderful pine-woods, fields, and extensive meadows, birds of various kinds, and honey, and all the different metals except iron.
In the island, which I have said before was called Hispana, there are very lofty and beautiful mountains, great farms, groves and fields, most fertile both for cultivation and for pasturage, and well adapted for constructing buildings. The convenience of the harbors in this island, and the excellence of the rivers, in volume and salubrity, surpass human belief, unless one should see them. In it the trees, pasture-lands, and fruits differ much from those of Johana. Besides, this Hispana abounds in various kinds of spices, gold, and metals.
The inhabitants of both sexes of this and of all the other islands I have seen, or of which I have any knowledge, always go as naked as they came into the world, except that some of the women cover parts of their bodies with leaves or branches, or a veil of cotton, which they prepare themselves for this purpose. They are all, as I said before, unprovided with any sort of iron, and they are destitute of arms, which are entirely unknown to them, and for which they are not adapted; not on account of any bodily deformity, for they are well made, but because they are timid and full of terror. They carry, however, canes dried in the sun in place of weapons, upon whose roots they fix a wooden shaft, dried and sharpened to a point. But they never dare to make use of these, for it has often happened, when I have sent two or three of my men to some of their villages to speak with the inhabitants, that a crowd of Indians has sallied forth; but, when they saw our men approaching, they speedily took to flight, parents abandoning their children, and children their parents.
This happened not because any loss or injury had been inflicted upon any of them. On the contrary, I gave whatever I had, cloth and many other things, to whomsoever I approached, or with whom I could get speech, without any return being made to me; but they are by nature fearful and timid. But, when they see that they are safe, and all fear is banished, they are very guileless and honest, and very liberal of all they have. No one refuses the asker anything that he possesses; on the contrary, they themselves invite us to ask for it. They manifest the greatest affection toward all of us, exchanging valuable things for trifles, content with the very least thing or nothing at all. But I forbade giving them a very trifling thing and of no value, such as bits of plates, dishes, or glass, also nails and straps; although it seemed to them, if they could get such, that they had acquired the most beautiful jewels in the world.
For it chanced that a sailor received for a single strap as much weight of gold as three gold solidi; and so others for other things of less price, especially for new blancas, and for some gold coins, for which they gave whatever the seller asked; for instance, an ounce and a half or two ounces of gold, or thirty or forty pounds of cotton, with which they were already familiar. So, too, for pieces of hoops, jugs, jars, and pots they bartered cotton and gold like beasts. This I forbade, because it was plainly unjust; and I gave them many beautiful and pleasing things, which I had brought with me, for no return whatever, in order to win their affection, and that they might become Christians and inclined to love our king and queen and princes and all the people of Spain, and that they might be eager to search for and gather and give to us what they abound in and we greatly need.
They do not practice idolatry; on the contrary, they believe that all strength, all power, in short, all blessings, are from heaven, and that I have come down from there with these ships and sailors; and in this spirit was I received everywhere, after they had got over their fear. They are neither lazy nor awkward, but, on the contrary, are of an excellent and acute understanding. Those who have sailed these seas give excellent accounts of everything; but they have never seen men wearing clothes, or ships like ours.
As soon as I had come into this sea, I took by force some Indians from the first island, in order that they might learn from us, and at the same time tell us what they knew about affairs in these regions. This succeeded admirably; for in a short time we understood them and they us, both by gesture and signs and words, and they were of great service to us. They are coming now with me, and have always believed that I have come from heaven, notwithstanding the long time they have been, and still remain, with us. They were the first who told this wherever we went, one calling to another, with a loud voice, "Come, come, you will see men from heaven." Whereupon both women and men, children and adults, young and old, laying aside the fear they had felt a little before, flocked eagerly to see us, a great crowd thronging about our steps, some bringing food, and others drink, with greatest love and incredible good will. . . .
I have told already how I sailed in a straight course along the island of Johana from west to east 322 miles. From this voyage and the extent of my journeyings I can say that this Johana is larger than England and Scotland together. For beyond the aforesaid 322 miles, in that portion which looks toward the west, there are two more provinces, which I did not visit. One of them the Indians called Anan, and its inhabitants are born with tails. These provinces extend 180 miles, as I learned from the Indians, whom I am bringing with me, and who are well acquainted with all these islands. . . .
Although these matters are very wonderful and unheard of, they would have been much more so if the ships to a reasonable amount had been furnished me. But what has been accomplished is great and wonderful, and not at all proportionate to my deserts, but to the sacred Christian faith, and to the piety and religion of our sovereigns. For what the mind of man could not compass, the spirit of God has granted to mortals. For God is wont to listen to his servants who love his precepts, even in impossibilities, as has happened to me in the present instance, who have accomplished what human strength has hitherto never attained. For, if any one has written or told anything about these islands, all have done so either obscurely or by guesswork, so that it has almost seemed to be fabulous.
Therefore let king and queen and princes, and their most fortunate realms, and all other Christian provinces, let us all return thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who has bestowed so great a victory and reward upon us; let there be processions and solemn sacrifices prepared; let the churches be decked with festal boughs; let Christ rejoice upon earth as he rejoices in heaven, as He foresees that so many souls of so many people heretofore lost are to be saved; and let us be glad not only for the exaltation of our faith, but also for the increase of temporal prosperity, in which not only Spain, but all Christendom is about to share.
As these things have been accomplished, so have they been briefly narrated. Farewell.
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