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his ambition; that he made war less like a paladin than a prince, less for glory than for mere dominion; and that his policy was cold, selfish, and artful. He was called the wise and prudent in Spain; in Italy, the pious; in France and England, the ambitious and perfidious.
Contemporary writers have been enthusiastic in their descriptions of Isabella, but time has sanctioned their eulogies. She was of the middle size, and well formed; with a fair complexion, auburn hair, and clear blue eyes. There was a mingled gravity and sweetness in her countenance, and a singular modesty, gracing, as it did, great firmness of purpose and earnestness of spirit. Though strongly attached to her husband, and studious of his fame, yet she always maintained her distinct rights as an allied prince. She exceeded him in beauty, personal dignity, acuteness of genius, and grandeur of soul. Combining the active and resolute qualities of man with the softer charities of woman, she mingled in the warlike councils of her husband, and, being inspired with a truer idea of glory, infused a more lofty and generous temper into his subtle and calculating policy.
It is in the civil history of their reign, however, that the character of Isabella shines most illustrious. Her fostering and maternal care was continually directed to reform the laws, and heal the ills enShe asgendered by a long course of civil wars.
sembled round her the ablest men in literature and science, and directed herself by their councils in encouraging literature and the arts. She promoted the distribution of honours and rewards for the promulgation of knowledge, fostered the recently in
vented art of printing, and through her patronage Salamanca rose to that eminence which it assumed among the learned institutions of the age. Such was the noble woman who was destined to acquire immortal renown by her spirited patronage of the discovery of the new world.
Propositions of Columbus to the Court of Castile.
WHEN Columbus arrived at Cordova, he found it in all the bustle of military preparation. The two rival Moorish kings of Granada had formed a coalition, and the Castilian sovereigns had summoned all their chivalry to assemble for a grand campaign. Every day witnessed the arrival of some Spanish noble, with a splendid retinue, and a brilliant array of household troops. The court was like a military camp; every avenue was crowded by warlike grandees and hardy cavaliers, who had distinguished themselves in this Moorish war. This was an unpropitious moment for an application like that of Columbus. Every body was engrossed by the opening campaign. Even Fernando de Talavera, who was to have been his great patron and protector, and his organ of communication with the sovereigns, was completely taken up with military concerns, being one of the clerical advisers, who surrounded the queen in this, as it was termed, holy war. The letter of recommendation from the worthy Fray Juan Perez, which was to have secured the powerful influence of Talavera, seems to have had but little effect upon the prior, who listened coldly to Columbus, and looked upon his plan as extravagant and impossible.
So far, therefore, from receiving immediate patronage from the sovereigns, Columbus found it impossible to obtain even a hearing. It is a question even, whether, for some time, his application reached their ears. If Fernando de Talavera did mention it to them, it must have been in disparaging terms, such as rather to destroy than excite interest in its favour. The campaign opened almost immediately; the king took the field in person; the queen was fully occupied by the hurrying concerns of the war, and was part of the time present in the camp; it would have been in vain, therefore, at such a moment, to expect attention to a scheme of foreign discovery, founded on principles which required calm and learned investigation.
During the summer and autumn of 1486, Columbus remained at Cordova, waiting for a more favourable opportunity to urge his suit; and trusting to time and assiduity to gain him converts among the intelligent and powerful. He was in indigent circumstances, and earned a scanty support by making maps and charts. He had to contend also against the ridicule of the light and the supercilious, which is one of the greatest obstacles to modest merit in a court. Some scoffed at him as a mere dreamer, others stigmatized him as an adventurer; the very children, it is said, pointed to their foreheads as he passed, being taught to consider him a kind of madman. Indeed, the slender interest on which he had founded his hopes of royal patronage, and the humble garb in which his poverty obliged him to appear, formed a preposterous contrast in the eyes of the courtiers, with the magnificence of his speculations. "Because he was a foreigner," says
Oviedo," and went but in simple apparel, nor otherwise credited than by the letter of a gray friar, they believed him not, neither gave ear to his words, whereby he was greatly tormented in his imagination."
While thus lingering in Cordova, he became attached to Doña Beatrix Enriquez, a lady of that city, of a noble family. Like most of the circumstances of this part of his life, his connexion with this lady is wrapped in obscurity, but appears never to have been sanctioned by marriage. She was the mother of his second son Fernando, who became his historian, and whom he always treated on terms of perfect equality with his legitimate son Diego.
By degrees the theory of Columbus began to obtain proselytes. The attention of men of reflection was drawn to this solitary individual, who, almost unsupported, was endeavouring to make his way, with so singular a proposition, to the foot of the throne. Whoever conversed with him was struck by the dignity of his manners, the earnest sincerity of his discourse, and the force of his reasoning. Alonzo de Quintanilla, comptroller of the finances of Castile, became a warm advocate of his theory, and received him as a guest into his house. He was countenanced also by Antonio Geraldini, the pope's nuncio, and his brother, Alexander Geraldini, preceptor to the younger children of Ferdinand and Isabella. By these friends he was introduced to the cclebrated Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza, archbishop of Toledo, and grand cardinal of Spain. This was the most important personage about the court; he was always with the king and queen, who never took any measure of consequence without consult