for virtue and intelligence.1
Nature was to
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.
embarked at Porto Rico
, with a squadron of
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
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
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
north of St. Augustine
The territory was claimed for Spain
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.
had every where displayed determined hostility.
Ponce de Leon
remained an old man; but Spanish commerce acquired a new channel through the Gulf
, and Spain
a new province, which imagination could esteem immeasurably rich, since its interior was unknown.