12th of October

Born. – Pedro I., emperor of Brazil, 1798; Hugh Miller, geologist, 1802, Cromarty
Died. – Pope Honorius I., 638; Pope Boniface VIII., 1303; Maximilian II., emperor of Germany, 1576, Ratisbon; Duke of Palmella, Portuguese statesman, 1850, Lisbon.


On 12th October 1492, Columbus with his followers landed at last on Watling’s Island, one of the Bahama Isles, and planted there the cross in token of gratitude to the Divine mercy, which, after guiding him safely through a perilous voyage, had at last, in the discovery of a western world, crowned with success the darling aspiration of his life. Land had already been descried on the previous evening, but it was not till the ensuing morning that the intrepid admiral beheld the flat and densely-wooded shores gleaming beneath the rays of an autumn sun, and by actually setting his foot on them, realised the fulfilment of his hopes. 

It is now well known that although Columbus was unquestionably the first to proclaim to the world at large the existence of a new and vast region in the direction of the setting sun, he cannot literally be said to have been the first European discoverer of America. The ancient Scandinavians or Norsemen, so renowned for their maritime enterprise, had, at the commencement of the 11th century, not only settled colonies in Greenland, but explored the whole east coast of America as far south as lat. 41° 30’ N., and there, near New Bedford, in the state of Massachusetts, they planted a colony. An intercourse by way of Greenland and Iceland subsisted between this settlement and Norway down to the fourteenth century. There is also satisfactory evidence for believing, that in the twelfth century the celebrated Welsh prince, Madoc, having sailed from his native country with a small fleet, landed and founded a colony on the coast of Virginia. But to Columbus still belongs the merit of having philosophically reasoned out the existence of a New World, and by practically ascertaining the truth of his propositions, of inaugurating that connection between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres which has effected so remarkable a revolution in the world’s history. It is a little curious, indeed, that the belief which Columbus entertained, at first, as to the land discovered by him being a part of India or China, was adhered to by him to the last, and he died in the idea that Cuba formed a portion of the mainland of India. This notion so pertinaciously clung to, both by the great Genoese and Europe in general, was dispelled by Balboa’s expedition, in 1513, across the Isthmus of Darien, and discovery of the Pacific Ocean; whilst a few years later, the real position of these countries with respect to America was demonstrated by the expedition of Fernando Magalhaens, whose untimely death, in the Philippine Islands, deprived him of the honour of being the first circumnavigator of the globe. 

Much obloquy has been thrown on Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine navigator, for depriving Columbus of the honour of giving his name to the New World. How the denomination of America arose from Vespucci’s Christian name, has never been satisfactorily explained, but it appears to be sufficiently ascertained that he himself is in nowise responsible for the circumstance. Vespucci, who was a man of considerable attainments, wrote an account of his American voyages, which was translated into German, and obtained an immense popularity with that nation. It has been conjectured that the name of America was first applied in Germany to the New World, and from thence was adopted by the other countries of Europe.

On this Day in Other Sources.

The 12th of October this year, 1467, the King calls a parliament of his three estates, to be [held] at Edinburgh; wherein the value of money was [raised], not only the King’s own, but foreign also; and this ordained to be published at the crosses of the head burghs of the kingdom by open proclamation. 

– Historical Works, pp.189-214.

In presents to their provosts, as well as to the bishops and to strangers, the corporation accounts show various payments. In the burgh accounts in 1609 we find a charge of fifty pounds Scots (£4, 3s. 4d.) “propynit be the toun to the baptisme of the provests barne,” and for “sugir and sweit meitis” on the same occasion. In 1684 there is an order to pay to John Finlay, a maltman, the sum of 89 lib. 9s. (£7 odds) “quhilk was spent in his hous at severall tymes be the magistrats on the touns account.” Another charge is for “vyne, confeits, and breid, and sum aill, furnist and send to the Counsal hous that day the lard Auchinbrek was made burges.” One of the gifts of wine by the magistrates may be noticed as illustrating the change in the position of the archbishops after the Reformation. We can imagine what must have been the grandeur of the ceremony, and the lavishness of the expenditure, at the installation of a bishop such as Cameron. When Boyd of Trochrig was “admitted bischop” in 1573 the town council appear to have thought it suffiicient to present, and the bishop perhaps thankfully received, “ane gallon of wyne,” for the price of which a charge appears in the burgh accounts.1 But as a rule the magistrates, after the Reformation, were kind to the archbishops and repeatedly made them presents. 

– Old Glasgow, pp.215-237.

1  12th October, 1573.

Meantime, on the 12th of October 1586, Burghley wrote, and circulated among the commissioners, and others, “A note of the indignities, and wrongs, done and offered, by the Queen of Scots, to the Queen’s Majesty;” forgetting, at the same time, to mention the indignities and wrongs, done, and committed, by the Queen’s Majesty to the Scotish Queen. In private litigations, to solicit judges is held to be infamous. Here was an extraordinary court assembled, for trying a woman, and a queen, for her life. And it was, at this moment, that Burghley chose to produce his note of wrongs, and injuries, done, and committed, by the Scotish Queen, before she came into England, before she had left France. In this manner did Burghley, who was one of the commissioners, show his own impartiality, and promote the impartiality of others. It required not this document to evince, that Elizabeth’s whole proceedings, on this trial of a cousin, for her life, were an illegitimate tissue of wrong and injury to a captive Queen. 

– Life of Mary, pp.304-328.



The xij October being Tysday.

   Item giffin to the ferrior of Forth for your ferreing Alexander Campbellis and your hors ye trystit my Lord Morray in Doun 

xxij d.

   Item in Down to the boy that led your hors 

ij s.

   Item giffin to Angus Liche to mak by sic thingis neccessar for Collin to tak his disais away 

l s.

– Sketches, Appendix VIII.

Oct. 12 [1621]. – This day, Friday, commenced a remarkable flood in the Tay, which lasted for three or four days, and caused extensive destruction. The beautiful bridge, newly completed across the river at Perth, was swept away, excepting one arch only. In the middle of the second night, the water had risen so high, that the people living in low houses near the Castle Gavel Port in Perth, were obliged to remove to higher houses. The town was so environed with water, that no one could enter or leave it for several days. Children were let down from upper windows into boats, in order to be carried to places presumably safer. Household stuff and provisions were destroyed. The rain was accompanied by a violent wind from the east, which would somewhat help to maintain the waters of the river at a high elevation. The water flowed in the High Street and the Speygate ‘like mill-sluices;’ and one Charles Rollock became a distinguished public benefactor by going about in a boat through those streets and rescuing people who were in danger of drowning – a service for which he afterwards received a double angel (20s. sterling) in recompense. 

The people were thrown into a state of extreme consternation, looking for nothing but the entire destruction of their fair city. ‘Whereupon Mr John Malcolm, minister, powerfully endued with God’s spirit, caused ring the preaching-bell on Sunday at seven hours in the morning, and the haill inhabitants came to the kirk. And there he exhorted them to repent of their sins, which had provoked the said judgment of God to come upon the city; assuring them that if they were truly penitent therefor, and would avow to God to amend their lives in time coming, God would avert his judgment, and give them deliverance. The like humiliation of men and women has not been seen within Perth before. Fasting, preaching, and praying continued all that week.’ – Session Register of Perth. One of the remarks current among the more serious class of people on this occasion was, that the inundation was sent as a judgment on Perth, on account of the five Episcopalian articles passed there by the General Assembly three years before. 

It is remarkable that, though there has been a bridge across the Tay at Perth so early as the beginning of the thirteenth century, the structure now destroyed was not replaced till the erection of the present beautiful fabric in 1771, the intercourse during the intermediate hundred and fifty years being maintained by ferry-boats. 

– Domestic Annals, pp.177-227.

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