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. which says, when the head suffers all the members suffer. Therefore all good Christians should pray for his health and long life; and we, who are in his employ, ought more than others to do this with all study and diligence."
It is impossible to read this letter without being moved by the simply eloquent yet artless language in which Columbus expresses his tenderness for the memory of his benefactress, his weariness under the gathering cares and ills of life, and his persevering and enduring loyalty towards the sovereign who was so ungratefully neglecting him.
The death of Isabella was a fatal blow to his fortunes. While she lived, he had every thing to anticipate from her high sense of justice, her regard for her royal word, her gratitude for his services, and her admiration of his character. With her illness, however, his interests had languished; and when she died, he was left to the justice and generosity of Ferdinand !
During the remainder of the winter, and a great part of the spring, he remained at Seville, detained by painful illness. His brother, the Adelantado, who supported him with his accustomed fondness and devotion through all his trials, proceeded to court to attend to his concerns, taking with him the admiral's younger son, Fernando, then aged about seventeen. The latter the affectionate father repeatedly represents to his son Diego, as a man in understanding and conduct, though but a stripling in years, and inculcates the strongest fraternal attachment; alluding to his own brethren with one of those warm and affecting touches which speak the kindness of his heart. "To thy brother con
1504.] FRUITLESS APPLICATION FOR REDRESS. 343 duct thyself as the elder brother should unto the younger. Thou hast no other, and I praise God that this is such a one as thou dost need. Ten brothers would not be too many for thee. Never have I found a better friend, to right or left, than my brothers."
Among the persons whom Columbus employed, at this time, in his missions to the court, was Amerigo Vespucci. He describes him as a worthy but unfortunate man, who had not profited as much as he deserved by his undertakings, and who had always been disposed to render him service.
It was not until the month of May that Columbus was able to accomplish his journey to court, which was at that time at Segovia. He, who but a few years before had entered the city of Barcelona in triumph, attended by the chivalry of Spain, and hailed with rapture by the multitude, now arrived at the gates of Segovia, a way-worn, melancholy, and neglected man; oppressed even more by sorrows than by his years and infirmities. When he presented himself at court, he was made lamentably sensible of the loss of his protectress, the benignant Isabella. He met with none of that distinguished attention, that cordial kindness, that cherishing sympathy, which his unparalleled services and his recent sufferings had merited. Ferdinand, it is true, received him with many professions of kindness; but with those cold, ineffectual smiles, which pass like wintry sunshine over the countenance, and convey no warmth to the heart.
Many months were passed by Columbus in painful and humiliating solicitation. His main object was to obtain the restitution of his high offices as vice
roy and governor of the Indies: as to the mere pecuniary claims for revenues and arrears, he considered them of minor importance, and nobly offered to leave them to the disposition of the king; but his official dignities belonged to his reputation; they had been granted also, by solemn treaty, and were not to be made a matter of arbitrament. As the latter, however, were precisely the claims which the jealous monarch was the least disposed to grant, they stood continually in the way of all arrangement. The whole matter was at one time referred to a tribunal, called the "Junta de Descargos," which had charge of the settlement of the affairs of the late queen, but nothing resulted from their deliberations; the wishes of the king were too well known to be thwarted.
Columbus endeavoured to bear these delays with patience; but he had no longer the physical strength, and the glorious anticipations, which had once sustained him through his long application at this court. He was again confined to his bed by a return of the gout, aggravated by the irritations of his spirit. From this couch of anguish, he addressed one more appeal to the justice of the king. He no longer petitioned for himself, but for his son Diego. He entreated that he might be appointed in his place to the government of which he had been so wrongfully deprived. "This," said he, "is a matter which concerns my honour; as to all the rest, do as your majesty thinks proper; give or withhold, as may be most for your interest, and I shall be content. I believe it is the anxiety caused by the delay of this affair, which is the principal cause of my ill health."
This petition was treated by Ferdinand with his usual evasions; he endeavoured to prevail upon Columbus and his son to wave their claims to paramount dignities in the new world, and accept, in place thereof, titles and estates in Castile. Columbus rejected all proposals of the kind with indignation, as calculated to compromise those titles which were the trophies of his achievements. He saw, however, that all further hope of redress from Ferdinand was vain. From the bed to which he was confined, he addressed a letter to his constant friend, Diego de Deza, then Archbishop of Seville, expressive of his despair. "It appears," said he, "that his majesty does not think fit to fulfil that which he, with the queen who is now in glory, promised me by word and seal. For me to contend to the contrary, would be to contend with the wind. I have done all that I could do. I leave the rest to God, whom I have ever found propitious to me in my necessities."
In the midst of illness and despondency, when both life and hope were expiring in the bosom of Columbus, a new gleam was awakened, and blazed up for the moment with characteristic fervour. He heard with joy of the arrival from Flanders of King Philip and Queen Juana, to take possession of their throne of Castile. In the daughter of Isabella, he trusted to find a patroness and a friend. King Ferdinand and all the court repaired to Loredo, to receive the youthful sovereigns. Columbus sent his brother, the Adelantado, to represent him, and wrote a letter to the king and queen, lamenting his being prevented by illness from coming in person to manifest his devotion. He expressed a hope,
that he should receive at their hands a restitution of his honours and estates; and assured them that, though cruelly tortured at present by disease, he would yet be able to render them services, the like of which had never been witnessed.
Such was the last sally of his sanguine and unconquerable spirit; which, disregarding age and infirmities, and all past sorrows and disappointments, spoke from his dying bed with all the confidence of youthful hope, and talked of still greater enterprises, as if he had a long and vigorous life before him. The Adelantado took an affectionate leave of his brother, whom he was never to behold again, and set out on his mission to the new sovereigns. He experienced the most gracious reception, and flattering hopes were given him that the claims of the admiral would speedily be satisfied.
In the mean time, the cares and troubles of Columbus were drawing to a close. The transient fire which had recently reanimated him was soon quenched by accumulating infirmities. Immediately after the departure of the Adelantado, his illness increased in violence. Finding that his end was approaching, he arranged all his earthly affairs, for the benefit of his successors. In a codicil made on the eve of his decease, he enforced his original testament, constituting his son Diego his universal heir, entailing his honours and estates on the male line of his family, and providing for his brothers Don Bartholomew and Don Diego, and his natural son Don Fernando. In his will he enjoined that a portion of his revenues should be annually deposited in the bank of St. George, at Genoa, until a sufficient sum should be accumulated to set on