Puslapio vaizdai

After his failure in Portugal, the Seigniory of Genoa, the Council of Venice, the principal kings of western Europe passed by day before his waking eyes, and filled his brain through the long sleepless nights. Whenever he saw himself baffled, he was in the habit of using an oft-repeated phrase, such as we in Spain popularly call a muletilla. "I will hand over my discovery to the King of France," he would say, almost mechanically. Under the pressure of such motives, during the first year of his stay in Spain, he sent his brother Bartholomew Columbus to the King of England in quest of aid for his undertaking. Bartholomew, like Christopher, by his wide knowledge ranked high among cosmographers, and by his tireless and consummate skill among the best pilots of that century, thus sharing in the attainments but not in the material prestige and the mental inspiration that so highly distinguished his brother, whom he outranked only in such secondary qualities as dissimulation, then so indispensable in public affairs, in sagacious discernment, and in keen and ceaseless astuteness. Bartholomew fell into the hands of corsairs, and, chained to the oar, passed for many months from sea to sea, and from shore to shore, in misfortune and bitter hardships. Nevertheless, at the beginning of 1488, three years after his brother's coming to Spain, he reached London, and sketched, in more or less fantastic detail, upon a colored chart of the world, the predicted and promised lands, with explanatory legends in macaronic Latin verses as a sort of compendium, fortified by the citation of such authorities as King Ptolemy, Strabo the geographer, Pliny the naturalist, and Saint Isidore the sage, all of them agreeing, although in different ways, in predictions identical with those so often uttered by the contemned and unheeded Columbus. Henry gave Bartholomew several audiences, and was pleased to listen to him attentively; although, while taking good care not to dishearten him and rather keeping his hopes alive, he had no real mind to aid in their realization. Two circumstances prevented the monarch from decisive action, one personal, the other external, the latter being the constant anxiety springing from his untiring efforts to hinder the revival of the ancient wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, while the personal motive was his inordinate greed. The outcome, in the inevitable logic of events, proved anew how neither talent, nor perseverance, nor foresight, acting through subordinate and inferior agents, can attain the success reserved for the force and might of genius.

At an unpropitious time the worthy Bartholomew went to the English court, and in a still more inauspicious hour came the great Columbus to the court of Spain. The Catholic

Sovereigns, from the time they mounted the throne until 1488, had been between the hammer and the anvil. On the one hand, the King of Portugal, Alfonso V., gave them no peace with what in fact were civil wars to win the throne for his niece La Beltraneja; while on the other the French king, Louis XI., harassed them by keeping up a continuous foreign war, and forced them to constant readiness against sudden attacks throughout their dominions. To these contests and wars with their neighbors to the east and the west were added the death-throes of the feudal monster, let loose when the Transtamares ascended the throne, and seeming to gain renewed life from the blows dealt upon its head by the monarchical power, restored by the new sovereigns. In Galicia the agricultural and landed feudal interests were in open revolt under the Count of Lemus, while in the Andalusian region a warlike feudalism, led by many powerful nobles, opposed their path toward Granada, contesting their authority and disputing their rule in a fractious spirit that was more grievous than open hostility to sovereigns such as these, who sought to win all their royal rights by glory and good government.

When the great pilot came to present his claims and his plans, the royal power was not yet fully established; neither was authority enforced over the nobles, who traversed all Castile at will in tempestuous forays and stormy warfare; nor peace imposed upon the restless neighbors in arms, who kept up as it were a close siege against the double crown of the royal pair; nor a settlement reached of the quarrels between the troops of the monarchy and the feudal forces, assembled on the plains of Andalusia to attack the remnant of the Moors; and Columbus necessarily found invincible obstacles in the way of his project, no less by reason of these perturbations than by the utter absorption of all minds and all efforts in the war upon Granada, and also because of the enormous costs attending that vast undertaking. At that time, when the outcome of the contest between the monarchical and feudal principles was still undecided, only the first steps had been taken toward the organization of a standing army, and the systematic raising of revenues had not yet been begun, and indeed had not even been devised, so that it was impossible to provide resources, and still more so to raise ready cash, for any other great purpose or foreign venture. That nothing might be lacking to the impediments in the way of the success of so audacious a proposal and so complex a scheme, there was not even a fixed capital city. The sovereigns went to Santiago, Seville, Segovia, Cordova, Medina, Barcelona, Toledo, Madrigal, Pinto, Madrid,

and Valencia, as public affairs called them; but abode in no one place. Hence the difficulty Columbus met in gaining access to them in order to submit his project in all its scope; nor could he win any promises from them, however vague and indefinite.

In the year of the discoverer's arrival, in order to bring about religious concord, and to aid the monarchical unity they so greatly desired, the sovereigns had founded the tribunal of the Inquisition; but not without meeting with resistance such as stained with blood churches like that of Seo, at Saragossa, where the mob murdered an Inquisitor in the selfsame spot where in later years an altar was reared to his worship as a martyr. And as in that year the Catholic Sovereigns founded the Inquisition as a means to enforce Catholic unity, so likewise they vowed to uproot from their country's soil the last vestige of Moslem rule. How unfortunate the coincidence! How was it possible, in the midst of those paramount efforts to bring so many races within the pale of one religion, to impose the monarchical idea upon so many feudal organizations, and to compel the still formidable Moors to obey a national unity, that success should crown a project like that of Columbus? In this wise may be explained the sad, dark days, and even years, that followed the coming of Columbus among the Spaniards, until his melancholy made him in the eyes of men almost a living specter; until his features, reflecting the sorrows of his heart, were as those of a soul in torment come from the other world; and until, on beholding him, wrapped in his one thought, his garb disordered in the abandonment of his despair, plodding the public streets and pacing the cloisters of the cathedrals, journeying one day to Cordova and another to Seville in search of some noble or some influential ecclesiastic, the people mocked him with pointed finger, and took him for a madman.

He had then barely attained the age of forty-nine, and, in his loneliness, craved another soul with which to hold converse. In love alone does existence find a perfect calm. In Cordova he formed friendships in the household of Enriquez y Arana, a person of very ancient lineage and of slender fortune. As a result of this intimacy he became attached to a young girl as intelligent as she was beautiful. It is established that, from the eighty-eighth year of that century, when he came to Spain, until 1492, when he set out on his first great voyage, Columbus resided in Seville, in Cadiz, in Huelva, and in Lisbon, but his stay in Cordova was longer than in any of these. As we have already seen, the Ultramontane school of Europe proposed to recognize the Columbian discovery as a miracle and to enroll its author in the

celestial court. But the loves of Christopher Columbus and Beatrice Enriquez Arana disturbed them in this purpose, being clearly unsanctified by the sacraments of the Church and illegitimate under the civil laws. Scarce knowing how to extricate themselves from this untoward strait, they married the long-dead lovers, who in their lives had neither cared to marry nor been able to wed; and so they made them lawful husband and wife. The customs of the Renaissance permitted this class of natural affinities, much as the modern advocates of free love seek to recognize them. A class of descent, not recognized by the strait morality of our codes, was frequently admitted under the old Spanish laws. Four years after the father came to Spain a son was born to Beatrice and Columbus, whom they named Ferdinand. A brother of Beatrice was the constant companion of Columbus. The doubloons of Beatrice and her family helped to supply the necessary expenses of preparation for the great undertaking. Even in the family records of the second generation we come across statements of arrears in the contracts between the two households, and notes of money payments for debts of this class, mysteriously contracted and still undischarged. Friends like Padre Las Casas, men of orthodox austerity, speak of Ferdinand with reticent insinuations, which leave no room for doubt as to the nature of the love of Columbus and Beatrice. For some two years he gave no sign of life among us, as though time were lacking for the enjoyment of so vast a happiness as he found in Cordova.

The Italians of the Renaissance, because of their recognized intellectual superiority over the races of central Europe, were to be found everywhere, like the Greeks throughout the East, as guides and masters of the very peoples to whom, as subjects or bondmen, they owed submission and obedience. Consequently they resorted to Lisbon, to Seville, to every point where the concentration of ideas or of traffic attracted general activity. And there is no doubt of the truth of what we have already said, that they, and they alone, assisted the relations of the pilot with the great lords then virtually the sovereigns of Andalusia. Columbus did well to court the favor of the Guzman who at that time ruled the domains comprised in the dukedom of Medina-Sidonia. Numberless coronets, useless to a brow already sufficiently crowned with the feudal casque, were at his iron feet; the manifold tribute of innumerable serfs filled his coffers, which were, besides, heaped with the abundance of the spoil wrested almost daily from the wealthy Moors in endless forays and countless depredations. A strong land force surrounded his fortresses, about each of which lay a vast encampment, while a fleet ever at his

command rode in the estuaries of his rivers and sailed along the coasts of his seigniorial seas. An infinite extension of his domains, a boundless harvest of new wealth, a fresh field open to his native heroism, a sea hitherto unexplored spread before his eagle eyes, could not fail to tempt him; and yet these did not move him to action because of the terrible strife waging between the aristocratic classes and the monarchical power during the important five years preceding the coming of Columbus to Spain, and during the subsequent five years of his sojourn there. A better opening was doubtless afforded to Columbus by negotiating with the Duke of Medinaceli, who was not so conspicuously a warrior and feudal champion as the adventurous Medina-Sidonia, and who was, besides, more inclined toward maritime expeditions. The duke dwelt by the sea, in Puerto Santa Maria, from whose wharves and roadstead many expeditions had been despatched, not only to explore the African mainland, but also to discover and occupy the Canarian archipelago, composed of constellations of lovely isles known in every tongue by the fitting epithet of "Fortunate." By the ancient alliance of the houses of Medinaceli and Coronel, the domain of the ducal family embraced all the territory stretching between the mouths of the Guadalquivir and the Guadalete, comprising the beautiful tongue of land that projects into the marvelous Bay of Cadiz, facing the city. Few spots were so well adapted to be the hospitable refuge of an explorer like Columbus, and to furnish him with incentives to far-seeing plans and with subjects for deep meditation.

The prince Louis La Cerda, who flourished at the beginning of the fourteenth century, claimed the Canaries, mysteriously divined to be a halting-place in the pathway to larger ventures. Pope Clement VI. proclaimed him sovereign over those islands, and bestowed on him the title of Prince of Fortune. But although he went not thither to reign, and although the glory of attaching the Fortunate Isles to the Castilian crown passed to Juan de Bethencourt, an inherited germ of propensity to maritime exploration remained in the duke who at the time was head of that kingly house. Possessing this hereditary instinct, he welcomed Columbus as one sent from heaven, and made him his guest, in the firm assurance that he would bestow upon him a kingdom, for the long course of centuries had not extinguished in the house of La Cerda the constant aspiration to reign. Medinaceli possessed in his castle every resource then known to science, and at the foot of his water-stairs that dipped beneath the waves, under the shadow of his royal blazonry, lay the caravels which Columbus solicited in order to lend material wings to desires now quickened by the pros

pect of practical accomplishment. The duke had promised them to him, and he impatiently claimed them. To the magnate nothing seemed easier. And yet the phase through which Spanish society was then passing, that evolutionary movement for the establishment of monarchical unity in place of feudal heterogeneity, prevented the realization of the ambitious dreams of Louis La Cerda and the practical dreams of Christopher Columbus. If Ferdinand the Catholic would not accept Medina-Sidonia's aid before the walls of Alhama, in so bitter a strait for the Christians as was the investment of the city of Hacem, would he have consented to the equipment of caravels, the enlistment of sailors, the discovery of new lands, and the creation of eminent dominion beyond the shadow of the throne and beyond the controlling reach of the scepter? Although the duke and Columbus lived for some time together beneath the same roof, and studied sea and sky with the same astrolabes, and shared their thoughts in common, and displayed equal zeal in making preparation for the work, they speedily realized that under so imperious a monarchy such mighty undertakings were not to be essayed by any private subject, and especially by any noble. Medinaceli gave the discoverer letters of recommendation to men of influence in the royal court, and as his sires renounced the kingly crown, so did he renounce the crown of his dreams. This was the first step toward the intervention of the Catholic Sovereigns.

Bearing the commendatory letters of the duke, Columbus seems to have gone from Puerto to Seville, and from Seville, where the accustomed favors of the wealthy Berardi as well as of the influential brothers Giraldini did not fail him, he appears to have passed to Cordova. The first person he approached in order that the closed portals of the palace of the sovereigns might be opened to him was the accountant-general, Quintanilla. A calculating and precise man was he, constantly occupied with the many cares of his difficult office; singularly versed in financial science for his time, and most watchful of the interests of the enfeebled and anemic treasury of his sovereigns, which was nearly always empty. He took a fancy to Columbus from the first, and their mutual liking brought close together the visionary idealist and the practical dispenser of needed resources. Quintanilla, being thus strongly interested in the pilot's behalf, deemed his own efforts insufficient for the bold adventure, and applied to Cardinal Mendoza, in whom wealth was joined to learning, to the arts, and to political sagacity-a combination frequent among those powerful magnates of the Renaissance-and who was in a position to lend Columbus active assistance. Mendoza, styled the Great Cardi

nal, accustomed to the promotion of high emprises in Castile, was impressed by the scheme of Columbus and furthered it so far as he was able. Men indeed called Mendoza the "Third King of Spain," as though he were a person of the royal trinity, of equal standing with Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, and sharing the crown with them. This prince of the church, when he resolved upon a thing, went about it in formidable earnest. So, in his firmness of will and daring of purpose, he boldly and zealously favored Columbus, and even determined to associate himself with him. In like manner as the Berardis had introduced Columbus to Medinaceli, so did Medinaceli give him urgent letters of recommendation to Quintanilla, and so did Quintanilla, in turn, to Cardinal Mendoza, who, for his part, espoused his cause with the Catholic Sovereigns. Owing to the careless indifference natural to that time and race, no one can fix with certainty the day or year when the sovereigns first received Columbus in personal audience; but, by inferences consistently drawn from the later writings of Columbus, we may believe the time to have been about January in the year 1487.

Columbus was of powerful frame and large build; of majestic bearing and dignified in gesture; on the whole well formed; of middle height, inclining to tallness; his arms sinewy and bronzed like wave-beaten oars; his nerves high-strung and sensitive, quickly responsive to all emotions; his neck large and his shoulders broad; his face rather long and his nose aquiline; his complexion fair, even inclining to redness, and somewhat disfigured by freckles; his gaze piercing and his eyes clear; his brow high and calm, furrowed with the deep workings of thought. In the life written by his son Ferdinand we are told that Columbus not only sketched most marvelously, but was so skilful a penman that he was able to earn a living by engrossing and copying. In his private notes he said that every good map-draftsman ought to be a good painter as well, and he himself was such in his maps and globes and charts, over which are scattered all sorts of cleverly drawn figures. He never penned a letter or began a chapter without setting at its head this devout invocation: “Jesus cum Maria sit nobis in via." Besides his practical studies he devoted himself to astronomical and geometrical researches. Thus he was enabled to teach

mathematics, with which as with all the advanced knowledge of his time he was conversant, and he could recite the prayers and services of the Church like any priest before the altar. He was, as I have already said, a mystic and a merchant, a visionary and an algebraist. If at times he veiled his knowledge in cabalistic formulas, and allowed his vast powers to degenerate in puerile irritation, it was because his own age knew him not, and had dealt hardly with him for many years-from his youth until he reached the threshold of age- without taking into account the reverses which darkened and embittered his later years. Who could have predicted to him, in the midst of the blindness that surrounded him, that there in Spain, and in that century of unfading achievement, the name of Columbus was to attain to fame and unspeakable renown? There are those who hold that all this was the work of chance, and that the discovery of America was virtually accomplished when the Portuguese doubled the Cape of Good Hope. But I believe not in these posthumous alterations of history through mere caprice, nor in those after-rumors of the discoverers who died in obscurity. As there be some who have written of the Christianity that existed before Christ, so there be some who prate of the New World discovered before Columbus. Columbus was doomed to too desperate and difficult a task by the general sentiment of his time and by the customs of the generations in which he lived, for history to add a crowning wrong against his fame.

Few creators have divined the transcendency of their creations. Lope de Vega knew not that his fame would rest, not on the elaborate dramas that bear the seal of his learning and erudition, and are constructed with almost servile conformity to the antique unities, but on the plays written to suit the popular taste. The hemlock-poison is in the dregs of every cup of immortality held to the lips of genius! Copernicus would have been burned at the stake had his system been published twenty years before his tardy death, instead of reaching his hands, printed and finished, while he lay on his death-bed amid the gathering shadows of his last agony. The press of Gutenberg was taken from him, as from Columbus the name of his own America, but in abundant recompense they both hold fast to the eternal heritage of their glory.

Emilio Castelar.

VOL. XLIV.-39.






AS the Miss Sahib any
orders?" asked Dhunpat
Rai, with Oriental calm-
ness, as Kate turned
toward the woman of
the desert, staying her-
self against her massive

Kate simply shook her head.
"It is very sad," said Dhunpat Rai, thought-
fully, as though the matter were one in which
he had no interest, "but it is on account of
religious bigotry and intolerance, which is prev-
alent mania in these parts. Once-twice be-
fore I have seen the same thing. About pow-
ders, sometimes, and once they said that the
graduated glasses were holy vessels, and zinc
ointment was cow-fat. But I have never seen
all the hospital disembark simultaneously. I
do not think they will come back; but my ap-
pointment is state appointment," he said, with
a bland smile," and so I shall draw my offeeshal
income as before."

Kate stared at him. "Do you mean that they will never come back?" she asked falteringly.

"Oh, yes-in time - one or two; two or three of the men when they are hurt by tigers, or have ophthalmia; but the women Their husbands will never allow. Ask that woman."

- no.

Kate bent a piteous look of inquiry upon the woman of the desert, who, stooping down, took up a little sand, let it trickle through her fingers, brushed her palms together, and shook her head. Kate watched these movements despairingly.

"You see it is all up- no good," said Dhunpat Rai, not unkindly, but unable to conceal a certain expression of satisfaction in a defeat which the wise had already predicted. "And now what will your honor do? Shall I lock up dispensary, or will you audit drug-accounts now?"

Kate waved him off feebly. "No, no! Not now. I must think. I must have time. I will send you word. Come, dear one," she added in the vernacular to the woman of the

desert, and hand in hand they went out from the hospital together.

The sturdy Rajput woman caught her up like a child when they were outside, and set her upon her horse, and tramped doggedly alongside, as they set off together toward the house of the missionary.

"And whither wilt thou go?" asked Kate, in the woman's own tongue.

"I was the first of them all," answered the patient being at her side; "it is fitting, therefore, that I should be the last. Where thou goest I will go- and afterward what will fall will fall."

Kate leaned down and took the woman's hand in hers with a grateful pressure.

At the missionary's gate she had to call up her courage not to break down. She had told Mrs. Estes so much of her hopes for the future, had dwelt so lovingly on all that she meant to teach these helpless creatures, had so constantly conferred with her about the help she had fancied herself to be daily bringing to them, that to own that her work had fallen to this ruin was unspeakably bitter. The thought of Tarvin she fought back. It went too deep.

But, fortunately, Mrs. Estes seemed not to be at home, and a messenger from the Queenmother awaited Kate to demand her presence at the palace with Maharaj Kunwar.

The woman of the desert laid a restraining hand on her arm, but Kate shook it off.

"No, no, no! I must go. I must do something," she exclaimed almost fiercely, "since there is still some one who will let me. I must have work. It is my only refuge, kind one. Go you on to the palace."

The woman yielded silently, and trudged on up the dusty road, while Kate sped into the house and to the room where the young Prince lay.

"Lalji," she said, bending over him, "do you feel well enough to be lifted into the carriage and taken over to see your mother?"

"I would rather see my father," responded the boy from the sofa, to which he had been transferred as a reward for the improvement he had made since yesterday. "I wish to speak to my father upon a most important thing."

1 Copyright, 1891, by Rudyard Kipling and Wolcott Balestier. All rights reserved.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »