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foot a crusade to the Holy Land; for the rescue of the holy sepulchre was, to the last, the great object of his ambition, and he left a solemn charge upon his heirs to aid personally in the pious enterprise. Other provisions were made for the foundation of churches-the support of Beatrix Enriquez, the mother of Fernando-the relief of his poor relations, and the payment of the most trivial debts.
Having thus scrupulously attended to all the claims of affection, loyalty, and justice, upon earth, he turned his thoughts to Heaven, confessing himself, partaking of the holy sacrament, and complying with the other ceremonies of a devout catholic. In his last moments he was attended by his son Diego, and a few faithful followers, among whom was Bartholomew Fiesco, who had accompanied Diego Mendez in the perilous expedition from Jamaica to Hispaniola. Surrounded by these devoted friends, he expired, with great resignation, on the 20th of May, 1506, being about seventy years of His last words were, age. "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum.” "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
Observations on the Character of Columbus.
COLUMBUS was a man of great and inventive geThe operations of his mind were energetic, but irregular; bursting forth, at times, with that irresistible force which characterizes intellects of such an order. His ambition was lofty and noble, inspiring him with high thoughts, and an anxiety to distinguish himself by great achievements. He aimed at dignity and wealth in the same elevated spirit with which he sought renown; they were to rise from the territories he should discover, and be commensurate in importance. The vast gains that he anticipated from his discoveries, he intended to appropriate to princely purposes; to institutions for the relief of the poor of his native city, to the foundation of churches, and, above all, to crusades for the recovery of the holy sepulchre.
He was tenacious of his rank and privileges, not from a merevulgar love of titles, but because he prized them as testimonials and trophies of his illustrious deeds. Every question of compromise concerning them, he repulsed with disdain. "These things," said he, nobly, "concern my honour." In his testament, he enjoined on his son Diego, and whomsoever after him should inherit his estates, whatever other titles might be granted by the king, always to sign
himself simply "The Admiral," by way of perpetuating in the family the source of its real great
His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his views, and the magnanimity of his spirit. Instead of ravaging the newly found countries like many of his contemporary discoverers, who were intent only on immediate gain, he regarded them with the eyes of a legislator; he sought to colonize and cultivate them, to civilize the natives, to subject every thing to the control of law, order, and religion, and thus to found regular and prosperous empires. That he failed in this, was the fault of the dissolute rabble which it was his misfortune to command, with whom all law was tyranny, and all order oppression.
He was naturally irritable and impetuous, and keenly sensible to injury and injustice; yet the quickness of his temper was counteracted by the benevolence and generosity of his heart. The magnanimity of his nature shone forth through all the troubles of his stormy career. Though continually outraged in his dignity, braved in his authority, foiled in his plans, and endangered in his person, by the seditions of turbulent and worthless men, and that, too, at times when suffering under anguish of body and anxiety of mind, enough to exasperate the most patient, yet he restrained his valiant and indignant spirit, and brought himself to forbear, and reason, and even to supplicate. Nor should we fail to notice how free he was from all feeling of revenge, how ready to forgive and forget on the least signs of repentance and atonement. He has been extolled for his skill in controlling others, but far greater
praise is due to him for the firmness he displayed in governing himself.
His piety was genuine and fervent; religion mingled with the whole course of his thoughts and actions, and shone forth in his most private and unstudied writings. Whenever he made any great discovery, he devoutly returned thanks to God. The voice of prayer and the melody of praise rose from his ships on discovering the new world, and his first action on landing was to prostrate himself upon the earth, and offer up thanksgivings. Every evening the Salve Regina, and other vesper hymns, were chanted by his crew, and masses were performed in the beautiful groves that bordered the wild shores of this heathen land. All his great enterprises were undertaken in the name of the Holy Trinity, and he partook of the holy sacrament previous to embarkation. He observed the festivals of the church in the wildest situations. The Sabbath was to him a day of sacred rest, on which he would never sail from a port, unless in case of extreme necessity. The religion thus deeply seated in his soul diffused a sober dignity, and a benign composure, over his whole deportment; his very language was pure and guarded, and free from all gross or irreverent expressions.
It cannot be denied, however, that his piety was mingled with superstition, and darkened by the bigotry of the age. He evidently concurred in the opinion, that all the nations who did not acknowledge the christian faith were destitute of natural rights; and that the sternest measures might be used for their conversion, and the severest punishments inflicted upon them, if obstinate in unbelief. In
this spirit of bigotry he considered himself justified in making captives of the Indians, and transporting them to Spain, to have them taught the doctrines of Christianity, and in selling them for slaves if they pretended to resist his invasions. In doing the latter, he sinned against the natural goodness of his heart, and against the feelings he had originally entertained and expressed towards this gentle and hospitable people; but he was goaded on by the mercenary impatience of the crown, and by the sneers of his enemies, at the unprofitable result of his enterprises. It is but justice to his character to observe, that the enslavement of the Indians thus taken in battle was at first openly countenanced by the crown, and that, when the question of right came to be discussed at the request of the queen, several of the most distinguished jurists and theologians advocated the practice; so that the question was finally settled in favour of the Indians solely by the humanity of Isabella. As the venerable bishop Las Casas observes, where the most learned men have doubted, it is not surprising that an unlearned mariner should err.
These remarks, in palliation of the conduct of Columbus, are required by candour. It is proper to show him in connexion with the age in which he lived, lest the errors of the times should be considered his individual faults. It is not intended, however, to justify him on a point where it is inexcusable to err. Let it remain a blot on his illustrious name, and let others derive a lesson from it.
A peculiar trait in his rich and varied character remains to be noticed; namely, that ardent and enthusiastic imagination, which threw a magnificence