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to renew the negotiation, he resolutely declined. His wife had been for some time dead; the domestic tie which had bound him to Portugal, therefore, being broken, he determined to abandon a country where he had been treated with so little faith. Like most projectors, while engaged in schemes which held out promise of incalculable wealth, he had suffered his affairs to run to ruin, and was in danger of being arrested for debt. This has been given as the reason for his leaving Portugal in a secret manner, which he did towards the end of 1484, taking with him his son Diego, as yet a mere child.
An interval now occurs of about a year, during which the movements of Columbus are involved in uncertainty. It has been asserted by a modern Spanish historian of merit, that he departed immediately for Genoa, where he repeated in person the proposition which he had formerly made to the government by letter. The republic of Genoa, however, was languishing under a long decline, and was embarrassed by ruinous wars. Her spirit was broken with her fortunes; for with nations, as with individuals, enterprise is the child of prosperity, and is apt to languish in evil days, when there is most need of its exertion. Thus, Genoa, it would appear, disheartened by reverses, rejected a proposition which would have elevated the republic to tenfold splendour, and might for a long time have perpetuated the golden wand of commerce in the failing grasp of Italy.
From Genoa, it has been said, but equally without positive proof, that Columbus carried his proposal to Venice, but that it was declined in consequence of the critical state of national affairs.
Different authors agree, that about this time he visited his aged father, and made such arrangements for his comfort as his own poor means afforded, and that having thus performed the duties of a pious son, he departed once more to try his fortunes in foreign courts. About this time also he engaged his brother Bartholomew to sail for England, to lay his propositions before Henry VII., whom he had heard extolled for his wisdom and munificence. For himself, he sailed for Spain, where he appears to have arrived in great poverty, for this course of fruitless solicitation had exhausted all his means; nor is it one of the least extraordinary circumstances in his eventful life, that he had, in a manner, to beg his way from court to court, to offer to princes the discovery of a world.
First Arrival of Columbus in Spain. Characters of the Spanish Sovereigns.
THE first trace we have of Columbus in Spain is gathered from the manuscript documents of the celebrated lawsuit, which took place a few years after his death, between his son Don Diego and the crown. It is contained in the deposition of one Garcia Fernandez, a physician, resident in the little sea-port of Palos de Moguer, in Andalusia. About half a league from Palos, on a solitary height overlooking the sea-coast, and surrounded by a forest of pine trees, there stood, and stands at the present day, an ancient convent of Franciscan friars, dedicated to Santa Maria de Rabida. A stranger travelling on foot, accompanied by a young boy, stopped one day at the gate of the convent, and asked of the porter a little bread and water for his child. While receiving this humble refreshment, the guardian of the convent, Friar Juan Perez de Marchena, happening to pass by, was struck with the appearance of the stranger, and, observing from his air and accent that he was a foreigner, entered into conversation with him. That stranger was Columbus, accompanied by his young son Diego. He was on his way to the neighbouring town of Huelva, to seek a brother-in-law, who had married a sister of his deceased wife. and ac
The guardian was an intelligent man,
quainted with geographical and nautical science. He was interested by the conversation of Columbus, and struck with the grandeur of his plans. He detained him as his guest, and being diffident of his own judgment, sent for a scientific friend to converse with him. That friend was Garcia Fernandez, the physician of Palos, the same who furnishes this interesting testimony; and who became equally convinced with the friar of the correctness of the theory of Columbus. Several veteran pilots and mariners of Palos, also, were consulted during the conferences at the convent, who stated various facts observed in the course of their experience, which seemed to corroborate the idea of western lands in the Atlantic. But the conviction of the friar was still more confirmed, by the hearty concurrence of an important personage in that maritime neighbourhood, one Martin Alonzo Pinzon, resident of the town of Palos, one of the most intelligent sea captains of the day, and the head of a family of wealthy and distinguished navigators. Pinzon not only gave the project of Columbus his decided approbation, but offered to engage in it with purse and person.
Fray Juan Perez being now fully persuaded of the importance of the proposed enterprise, advised Columbus to repair to court, and make his propositions to the Spanish sovereigns, offering to give him a letter of recommendation to his friend, Fernando de Talavera, prior of the convent of Prado, and confessor to the queen, and a man of great political influence, through whose means he would, no doubt, immediately obtain royal audience and favour. Martin Alonzo Pinzon, also, generously offered to furnish him with money for the journey,
and the friar took charge of his youthful son, Diego, to maintain and educate him in the convent. Thus aided and encouraged, and elated with fresh hopes, Columbus took leave of the little junto at La Rabida, and set out, in the spring of 1486, for the Castilian court, which had just assembled at Cordova, where the sovereigns were fully occupied with their chivalrous enterprise for the conquest of Granada. And here it is proper to give a brief description of these princes, who performed such an important part in the events of this history.
It has been well observed of Ferdinand and Isabella, that they lived together, not like man and wife, whose estates are in common, under the orders of the husband, but like two monarchs, strictly allied. They had separate claims to sovereignty, in virtue of their separate kingdoms, and held separate councils. Yet they were so happily united by common views, common interests, and a great deference for each other, that this double administration never prevented a unity of purpose and action. All acts of sovereignty were executed in both their names; all public writings subscribed with both their signatures; their likenesses were stamped together on the public coin; and the royal seal displayed the united arms of Castile and Arragon.
Ferdinand possessed a clear and comprehensive genius, and great penetration. He was equable in temper, indefatigable in business, a great observer of men, and is extolled by Spanish writers as unparalleled in the science of the cabinet. It has been maintained by writers of other nations, however, and apparently with reason, that he was bigoted in religion, and craving rather than magnanimous in