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ing him, and was facetiously called the third king of Spain. He was an elegant scholar, a man of sound understanding, and of great quickness and capacity in business. The clear-headed cardinal was pleased with the noble and earnest manner of Columbus; he listened to him with profound attention, felt the importance of his project and the force of his arguments, and became at once a firm and serviceable friend. Through his intercession the royal audience was at length obtained.

Columbus appeared in the presence of the king with modesty, yet self-possession, inspired by a consciousness of the dignity and importance of his errand; for he felt himself, as he afterwards declared in his letters, animated as if by a sacred fire from above, and considered himself an instrument in the hand of heaven to accomplish its grand designs. Ferdinand was too keen a judge of men not to appreciate the character of Columbus. He perceived, also, that his scheme had scientific and practical foundations; and his ambition was excited by the possibility of discoveries far exceeding in importance those which had shed such glory upon Portugal. Still, as usual, he was cool and wary. He ordered Fernando de Talavera, the prior of Prado, to assemble the most learned astronomers and cosmographers of the kingdom, to hold a conference with Columbus. They were to examine him upon the grounds of his theory, and afterwards to consult together, and report their opinion as to its merits. Columbus now considered the day of success at hand; he had been deceived by courtiers, and scoffed at as a visionary by the vulgar and the ignorant; but he was now to appear before a body of

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CHAPTER VII.

Columbus before the Council at Salamanca.

THE interesting conference took place at Salamanca, the great seat of learning in Spain. It was held in the dominican convent of St. Stephen, the most scientific college in the university, in which Columbus was lodged and entertained with great hospitality during the course of the examination. The board of conference was composed of professors of the university, together with various dignitaries of the church, and learned friars. No tribunal could bear a front of more imposing wisdom; yet Columbus soon discovered that ignorance and illiberality may sometimes lurk under the very robes of science.

The greater part of this learned junto, it would appear, came prepossessed against him, as men in place and dignity are apt to be against poor applicants. There is always a proneness to consider a man under examination as a kind of delinquent, or impostor, upon trial, who is to be detected and exposed. Columbus, too, appeared in a most unfavourable light before a scholastic body; an obscure navigator, member of no learned institution, destitute of all the trappings and circumstances which sometimes give oracular authority to dulness, and depending upon the mere force of natural genius. Some of the assembly entertained the popular notion

the most learned and enlightened men, elevated, as he supposed, above all narrow prejudice and selfish interest, and capable of comprehending the full scope of his reasonings. From the dispassionate examination of such a body of sages, he could not but anticipate the most triumphant verdict.

CHAPTER VII.

Columbus before the Council at Salamanca.

THE interesting conference took place at Salamanca, the great seat of learning in Spain. It was held in the dominican convent of St. Stephen, the most scientific college in the university, in which Columbus was lodged and entertained with great hospitality during the course of the examination. The board of conference was composed of professors of the university, together with various dignitaries of the church, and learned friars. No tribunal could bear a front of more imposing wisdom; yet Columbus soon discovered that ignorance and illiberality may sometimes lurk under the very robes of science.

The greater part of this learned junto, it would appear, came prepossessed against him, as men in place and dignity are apt to be against poor applicants. There is always a proneness to consider a man under examination as a kind of delinquent, or impostor, upon trial, who is to be detected and exposed. Columbus, too, appeared in a most unfavourable light before a scholastic body; an obscure navigator, member of no learned institution, destitute of all the trappings and circumstances which sometimes give oracular authority to dulness, and depending upon the mere force of natural genius. Some of the assembly entertained the popular notion

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