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lands it should discover from Cape Non to the Indies.
On suggesting these doubts to his counsellors, they eagerly encouraged them, for some of them were the very persons who had scoffed at Columbus as a dreamer, and his success covered them with confusion. They declared that the colour, hair, and manners of the natives, brought in the caraval, agreed exactly with the descriptions given of the people of that part of India granted to Portugal by the papal bull. Others observed that there was but little distance between the Tercera islands and those which Columbus had discovered; the latter therefore clearly belonged to Portugal. Others endeavoured to awaken the anger of the king, by declaring that Columbus had talked in an arrogant and vainglo rious tone of his discovery, merely to revenge himself upon the monarch for having rejected his propositions.
Seeing the king deeply perturbed in spirit, some even went so far as to propose, as an effectual means of impeding the prosecution of these enterprises, that Columbus should be assassinated. It would be an easy matter to take advantage of his lofty deportment, to pique his pride, provoke him to an altercation, and suddenly despatch him as if in casual and honourable encounter.
Happily, the king had too much magnanimity to adopt such wicked and dastardly counsel. Though secretly grieved and mortified that the rival power of Spain should have won this triumph which he had rejected, yet he did justice to the great merit of Columbus, and honoured him as a distinguished benefactor to mankind. He felt it his duty, also,
as a generous prince, to protect all strangers driven by adverse fortune to his ports. Others of his council advised that he should secretly fit out a powerful armament, and despatch it, under guidance of two Portuguese mariners who had sailed with Columbus, to take possession of the newly discovered country; he might then settle the question of right with Spain by an appeal to arms. This counsel, in which there was a mixture of courage and craft, was more relished by the king, and he resolved to put it promptly in execution.
In the mean time, Columbus, after being treated with the most honourable attentions, was escorted back to his ship by a numerous train of cavaliers of the court, and on the way paid a visit to the queen at a monastery of San Antonio at Villa Franca, where he was listened to with wonder, as he related the events of his voyage to her majesty and the ladies of her court. The king had offered him a free passage by land to Spain, at the royal expense; but as the weather had moderated, he preferred to return in his caraval. Putting to sea on the 13th of March, therefore, he arrived safely at Palos on the 15th; having taken not quite seven months and a half to accomplish this most momentous of all maritime enterprises.
The triumphant return of Columbus was a prodigious event in the little community of Palos, every member of which was more or less interested in the fate of the expedition. Many had lamented their friends as lost, while imagination had lent mysterious horrors to their fate. When, therefore, they beheld one of the adventurous vessels furling her sails in their harbour, from the discovery of a world,
the whole community broke forth into a transport of joy, the bells were rung, the shops shut, and all business suspended. Columbus landed, and walked in procession to the church of St. George, to return thanks to God for his safe arrival. Wherever he passed, the air rang with acclamations, and he received such honours as are paid to sovereigns. What a contrast was this to his departure a few months before, followed by murmurs and execrations! or rather, what a contrast to his first arrival at Palos, a poor pedestrian, craving bread and water for his child at the gate of a convent!
Understanding that the court was at Barcelona, he at first felt disposed to proceed there in the caraval; but, reflecting on the dangers and disasters of his recent voyage, he gave up the idea, and despatched a letter to the sovereigns, informing them of his arrival, He then departed for Seville, to await their reply. It arrived within a few days, and was as gratifying as his heart could have desired. The sovereigns were dazzled and astonished by this sudden and easy acquisition of a new empire of indefinite extent, and apparently boundless wealth. They addressed Columbus by his titles of admiral and viceroy, promising him still greater rewards, and urging him to repair immediately to court to concert plans for a second and more extensive expedition.
It is fitting here to speak a word of the fate of Martin Alonzo Pinzon. By a singular coincidence, which appears to be well authenticated, he anchored at Palos on the evening of the same day that Columbus had arrived. He had been driven by the storm into the bay of Biscay, and had made the
port of Bayonne. Doubting whether Columbus had survived the tempest, he had immediately written to the sovereigns, giving an account of the discovery, and requesting permission to come to court and relate the particulars in person. As soon as the weather was favourable, he again set sail, anticipating a triumphant reception in his native port of Palos. When, on entering the harbour, he beheld the vessel of the admiral riding at anchor, and learned the enthusiasm with which he had been received, his heart died within him. It is said he feared to meet Columbus in this hour of his triumph, lest he should put him under arrest for his desertion on the coast of Cuba; but this is not likely, for he was a man of too much resolution to yield to such a fear. It is more probable that a consciousness of his misconduct made him unwilling to appear before the public in the midst of their enthusiasm for Columbus, and to witness the honours heaped upon a man whose superiority he had been so unwilling to acknowledge. Whatever may have been his motive, it is said that he landed privately in his boat, and kept out of sight until the departure of the admiral, when he returned to his home, broken in health, and deeply dejected, awaiting the reply of the sovereigns to his letter. The reply at length arrived, forbidding his coming to court, and severely reproaching him for his conduct. This letter completed his humiliation; the wounds of his feelings gave virulence to his bodily malady, and in a few days he died, a victim to grief and repentance. Let no one, however, indulge in harsh censures over the grave of Pinzon. His merits and services are entitled to the highest praise; his errors should
be regarded with indulgence. He was one of the first in Spain to appreciate the project of Columbus, animating him by his concurrence, and aiding him with his purse when poor and unknown at Palos. He afterwards enabled him to procure and fit out his ships, when even the mandates of the sovereigns were ineffectual; and finally he embarked in the expedition with his brothers and his friends, staking life, property, every thing, upon the event. He had thus entitled himself to participate largely in the glory of this immortal enterprise, when, unfortunately, forgetting for a moment the grandeur of the cause, and the implicit obedience due to his commander, he yielded to the incitements of selfinterest, and was guilty of that act of insubordination which has cast a shade upon his name. may be said, however, in extenuation of his fault: his consciousness of having rendered great services to the expedition, and of possessing property in the ships, and his habits of command, which rendered him impatient of control. That he was a man naturally of generous sentiments and honourable ambition is evident from the poignancy with which he felt the disgrace drawn upon him by his conduct. A mean man would not have fallen a victim to selfupbraiding for having been convicted of a mean action. His story shows how one lapse from duty may counterbalance the merits of a thousand services; how one moment of weakness may mar the beauty of a whole life of virtue; and how important it is for a man, under all circumstances, to be true, not merely to others, but to himself.