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over his whole course of thought. A poetical temperament is discernible throughout all his writings and in all his actions. We see it in all his descriptions of the beauties of the wild lands he was discovering; in the enthusiasm with which he extols the verdure of the forests, the grandeur of the mountains, and the crystal clearness of the running streams; the blandness of the temperature, the purity of the atmosphere, and the fragrance of the air," full of dew and sweetness." It spread a golden and glorious world around him, and tinged every thing with its own gorgeous colours. It betrayed him into visionary speculations, which subjected him to the sneers and cavils of men of cooler and safer, but more grovelling minds. Such were the conjectures formed on the coast of Paria, about the form of the earth, and the situation of the terrestrial paradise; about the mines of Ophir, and the Aurea Chersonesus of the ancients; and such was the heroic scheme of a crusade, for the recovery of the holy sepulchre. It filled his mind with solemn and visionary meditations on mystic passages of the scriptures, and on the shadowy portents of the prophecies. It exalted his own office in his eyes, and made him conceive himself an agent sent forth upon a sublime and awful mission, and subject to mysterious intimations from the Deity; such as the voice which he imagined spoke to him in comfort amidst the troubles of Hispaniola, and in the silence of the night on the disastrous coast of Veragua,
He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon kind, and successful in his dreams. The manner in which his ardent imagination and mercurial nature were controlled by a powerful
judgment, and directed by an acute sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus governed, his imagination, instead of exhausting itself in idle flights, lent aid to his judgment, and enabled him to form conclusions at which common minds could never have arrived, nay, which they could not perceive when pointed out.
To his intellectual vision it was given to read the signs of the times, and to trace in the conjectures and reveries of past ages the indications of an unknown world, as soothsayers were said to read predictions in the stars, and to foretell events from the visions of the night. "His soul," observes a Spanish writer, was superior to the age in which he lived. For him was reserved the great enterprise of traversing a sea which had given rise to so many fables, and of deciphering the mystery of his age.'
With all the visionary fervour of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery! Until his last breath, he entertained the idea that he had merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the east. He supposed Hispaniola to be the ancient Ophir, which had been visited by the ships of King Solomon, and that Cuba and Terra Firma were but remote parts of Asia. What visions of glory would have broken upon his mind, could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent equal to the old world in magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans from all the earth hitherto known by civilized man! and how would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled, amidst the afflictions of age, and the cares of penury,
the neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have anticipated the splendid empires which would arise in the beautiful world he had discovered; and the nations and tongues and languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his name to the latest posterity!