Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[graphic][merged small][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]
[ocr errors]

MILIO CASTELAR, the famous orator of Spain, is still a force in Spanish poli

tics, his present attitude being opposition within parliamentary limits to the existing moderate monarchy. He had paved the way by his writings and his speeches for the revolution of 1866, which was put down by Serrano; as one of the leaders of the revolt he was condemned to death, but made his escape

to Geneva; he returned during the troubles of 1868, when Isabel II. was dethroned, and labored for the adoption of a republican form of government, but the throne was reëstablished in 1870 with Amadeo as King; when the latter abdicated in 1873, Castelar became Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Republic, and in September of that year he was made President. His measures for suppressing the Carlist insurrection and for harmonizing conflicting interests did not succeed; on January 2, 1874, he resigned, Serrano came to the front in the military reaction, and a year later, when Alfonso XII. was called to the throne, Castelar made a second journey to Geneva. In 1876 he reëntered the Cortes ; he has since taken an active part in the political debates. To a history of the Columbus epoch he brings scholarship of a special character; the chair of History and Philosophy at the University of Madrid was filled by him for many years until he resigned it in 1875. His democratic principles and his admiration for American institutions have served to keep him in sympathetic touch with the civilization of the New World.— THE EDITOR.

[graphic]

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.

BY EMILIO CASTELAR.

1. THE AGE IN WHICH HE LIVED.

HE name of Columbus suggests mysterious

analogies to all those redeemers who owe their influence on humanity, and their renown throughout the ages, to suffering and sacrifice. Fortunate, thrice fortunate was

the Genoese mariner in the attainment of his ambition. While yet in the full maturity of his powers, long before the infirmities of age had begun their blighting inroads, he lifted the veil from a new and beautiful world. True, after Columbus had brought America to light, he did not grasp the significance and full extent of his achievement; nor would blind fate consent to the linking of his immortal name with his discovery, reserving that well-earned honor to a pilot of inferior merit. But, as if to make amends for this, he leaves in the background of fame all other navigators whose names are written in the priceless annals of discovery.

The first wanderer who quitted the watered valleys to seek a new existence amid the sands of the desert; the first frail bark in trusted by human daring to the surging billows; the Phenician explorer who first grounded his ship on the shores of Carthage; the wary son of Hellas, forced to flee from the reefs against whose hidden rocks vessels were dashed in pieces, and to cover eyes and ears, that he might return to his native land and not linger forever in idle harbors and along smiling shores; the hotly pursued searcher for the Golden Fleece- all who by means of perilous expeditions have brought to light unknown regions, or established communication between remote races, stand grouped yonder in the shadowy outlines of the early dawn of the historic ages.

When Columbus, greatest of discoverers, appears at last, in an era when the intellects of men are ripening, and when mind and nature are becoming reconciled under the influence of religious and scientific reformation, his personality stands out in such exact proportions, drawn in colors so bright, that it can never be confounded with another, or be hidden behind the glamorous mists that hang around other prominent historic characters, who, less fortunate, have never, with all their worth, risen so high as Columbus rose, nor won what he won — universal remembrance and recognition.

I attribute the historical good fortune of this portentous hero to his martyrdom; or, in other words, to the virtue and efficacy involved in the nature of suffering. That persistent struggle of the discoverer with superstition, prior to his wonderful success, and that other struggle, after his wonderful success, with his own errors and with ingratitude, encircled his brow with a crown of thorns, of which every barb that pierced his temples while he lived became

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

From Photograph taken for the Bureau of American Republica

HOUSE IN WHICH COLUMBU'S WAS BORN.

[graphic][merged small][subsumed]

STATUE OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS ON THE MONUMENT AT MADRID.

at his death a shining ray of glory. At the bark lost in the infinitude of sky and sea ; withfoot of every altar lies a sacrifice.

out the printing-press, which within a short The fabulous aspects of his career became half-century after its invention had already bealmost incredible. Beholding how Columbus come a potent auxiliary to the development of stored his mind with all the gathered know- the human intellect, the discovery of the New ledge of his day; how he urged before uni- World—itself the logical result of a slow but versities and learned men the indispensable sure evolution, wrought out in successive stages adoption of his plans, based in part on his per- like all great human achievements, and not by sonal conjectures and in part on his experience sudden chance-could never have taken place. and his researches; how in all that time of steadfast preparation he staked his hopes upon mag- A LITTLE before the middle of the fifteenth nates, archbishops, monks, and potent queens century, about the year 1433 or 1434, Columbus and kings; how learning and calculation entered was born at Genoa. Nature and Providence into his plans as much as intuition and genius, joined in willing that so sublime a mariner many pious souls professed to discover therein should be brought forth and reared on the revelations such as God made of old to his shores of the sea. From the earliest times the prophets, and proposed to the Church his can- true historic centers of civilization and culture onization. I attribute such exceptional treat- have been associated with places situated on or ment of Columbus to the fact that discoveries near great waters. Survey the world of history, and discoverers exert a potent influence upon and you will discern what an intimate relation the imagination ; and yet they hold a lesser has from time immemorialexisted betweenriverplace in popular history than statesmen or war- courses and the formation or transformation of riors. How much more important would it be States. The Indus and India; the Euphrates in our day to know who invented the flour- and Chaldea; Israel and the Jordan; the Phamill than to know who won the battle of Ar- raohs and the mysterious Nile; Carthage and bela ! The fact is that, comparing the volumes her harbor on the African coast of the Medidevoted to statecraft and to war with those terranean; Tyre and Sidon, founded on the spot treating of labor and industry, one is astounded where the three continents of primeval earth and dismayed at the incredible disproportion. seemed to converge; Greece with her sculptured I can understand why this should have been shores and groups of islands redolent of song; so in ages when manual toil was considered Italy with her peninsular formation in the cendegrading, and when trade, relegated to the ter of Europe and the southern sea; Spain set common sort who were politically debarred between the billows of old ocean and the Medifrom coping with the patrician classes, was de- terranean furnish by their respective fluvial or spised. But even in our day, transcendently maritime situations a perfect key to their strange the age of labor and of industry, while the and complicated histories. names of great commanders are borne on the The fact cannot be ignored that as there is a world-wide wings of fame, those of discoverers kinship in art, like that between all the Dutch fall with the utmost ease into ungrateful ob- and Flemish masters of the Germanic schools, livion. For one Galvani, one Franklin, one so likewise is there a kinship between all the Daguerre, one Edison who has spread his Italian painters — Florentine, Milanese, Rorenown among all classes and stamped an in- man, Venetian, and Umbrian. And like this afvention forever with his name, what a vast num- finity of the northern and Italian masters, so is ber of unremembered or unknown glories ! there kinship between all Mediterranean mar

The peoples of the future will not be so un- iners. So, therefore, Columbus belongs exgrateful. The first years of this century will clusively to the Mediterranean type of kinship grow in universal remembrance, not by reason by the happy union of inspiration and self-inof those Napoleonic victories whose godlike terest, which makes of him at once a trader renown a thousand poems sing, but rather be- and a prophet, equally capable of obeying the cause of another and better title to glory - stimulus of gold like any sailor who roams the the voltaic pile, imprisoning the all-diffused sea for commerce, for barter, and for the ignoelectric fluid, and by its chemicals and metals ble lust of gain, or of obeying the summons of engendering currents and forces as though it religious faith like some old crusader. In the were a microcosmic upiverse, an epitome of the Norman sea-rover you always behold the maralchemy whereby the great powers of nature iner. In the Mediterranean sailor you behold, produce and maintain life. Without the astro- joined to the selfish interests of industry and labe. invented by the Arab schools of Cordova traffic, the religious enthusiast, the prophet and and Seville for the study of the heavens; with- the martyr. Let no man undertake to analyze out the science of algebra, so greatly facilitating Columbus who will not recognize how absothe labor of calculation; without the mariner's lutely these two extremes meet in him. compass, which fixes a sure point to guide the It is a historical fact that the fifth, the tenth,

VOL. XLIV.-17.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »