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[33] for virtue and intelligence.1 Nature was to
Chap. II.} 1509.
discover the secrets for which alchemy had toiled in vain; and the elixir of life was to flow from a perpetual fountain of the New World, in the midst of a country glittering with gems and gold.

Ponce embarked at Porto Rico, with a squadron of

1512 Mar. 3.
three ships, fitted out at his own expense, for his voyage to fairy land. He touched at Guanahani; he sailed among the Bahamas; but the laws of nature remained inexorable. On Easter Sunday, which the Spaniards
Mar 27.
call Pascua Florida, land was seen. It was supposed to be an island, and received the name of Florida, from the day on which it was discovered, and from the aspect of the forests, which were then brilliant with a profusion of blossoms, and gay with the fresh verdure of early spring. Bad weather would not allow the
April 2.
squadron to approach land: at length the aged soldier was able to go on shore, in the latitude of thirty degrees and eight minutes; some miles, therefore, to the
April 8.
north of St. Augustine. The territory was claimed for Spain. Ponce remained for many weeks to investigate the coast which he had discovered; though the currents of the gulf-stream, and the islands, between which the channel was yet unknown, threatened shipwreck. He doubled Cape Florida; he sailed among the group which he named Tortugas; and, despairing of entire success, he returned to Porto Rico, leaving a trusty follower to continue the research. The Indians had every where displayed determined hostility. Ponce de Leon remained an old man; but Spanish commerce acquired a new channel through the Gulf of Florida, and Spain a new province, which imagination could esteem immeasurably rich, since its interior was unknown.

1 Peter Martyr, d. VII. l. VII., and d. II. c. x.

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