Puslapio vaizdai

stagger and bewilder the most expert : such as traces in the sunken forests of rare and unknown the perfect ease of navigating the sunset seas; leafage that stayed the keel of the passing bark, the exploration of the Indian shores by the and held it in their vast embrace; how the Plaancient Seleucians, who inherited in Syria the tonists had inherited their traditions of the myspower and glory of Alexander; the expeditions terious Atlantis from the wise lawgiver Solon, which, setting out from Baetica afterward sailed who in turn derived it from the mystic Nile; in the waters of Mauritania and others even how the principal classical geographers confurther south; the remains of Spanish ships seen nected with the disappearance of Atlantis the by Prince Caius in the Arabian Gulf in the time submersion of Acarnania in the Ambracian of Augustus; the world-girdling voyage of the Gulf, of Achaia in the Corinthian Sea, of a part

a Carthaginian Hanno, abundant in prophetic of the Asian and European continents in the statements; the arrival of one Eudoxus at Cadiz Propontis and the Euxine Sea, the cleavage of by unknown and mysterious courses, fleeing the two splendid shores of the Bosphorus, from Ptolemy, and a hundred tokens more, and the comparatively recent formation of each fitting better than the other the project Lesbos; how Seneca in the sixth book of his then under consideration, with various em- “Morals "attributed to Thucydides the attempt bellishments that served with some show of to assign a definite date to the submersion of consistency to give it weight and authority. the Atlantean continent; how certain legends

Again, Macrobius, in the second book of his told of the former union of Africa and Europe commentaries on Scipio's “ Dream,” afforded by an isthmus between the two shores of the weapons to the friends of Columbus; for, in the straits, recorded the disappearance of an arm midst of many errors, he vaguely maintained of Guadalquivir, and told of strange plants and the rotundity of the earth and the existence of seawrack seen filling the ocean to the westward the antipodes. This opinion seems to have of the Canaries; how St. Ambrose, in his disbeen shared by Polybius, Mela, and Solinus, course upon the “Vocations of Men,” declared who are cited by Las Casas in his great “ His a perfect and assured hope of bringing to day tory of the West Indies,” a work very favorable far-off regions where new races should receive to the memory of Columbus. To the vexed the light and revelation of the Gospel — conproblem of the antipodes there was joined an- fused and contradictory legends, all of them, other, concerning the habitability of the torrid well calculated to lead astray an unfixed and and frozen zones, which was generally denied, irresolute mind, but not the mind of Columnotwithstanding the testimony of Columbus bus,—that prophet absolutely confident in his that he had sojourned in Iceland and in Guinea. own predictions,- who, in the midst of such a Paying no heed to the practical proofs of ex- sea of confusion, begotten of innumerable reperience, the contestants resorted to ancient ports, some known to him and others unknown, authors for evidence, and recited how Aristotle, listened only to the sure voice of his heavenin his book“ Of the World,” strewed the west- decreed mission, and pressed on, with firm and ern seas with numerous islands and even con- invincible will, toward the realization of his ditinents greater than our known world, all of vine ideal. them perfectly inhabitable; how Lucan in his A practical result followed all this upstirring poems alluded to a mysterious tribe of Arabs, of diverse opinions, in that the pilot reached scattered through unknown deserts; how Mar- a better understanding with the sovereigns and cianus taught Pliny the existence about the gained a more effective patronage for the plans north pole of the Hyperboreans, fortunate in which the Cordovanjunta had condemned. But being born and reared under the frondage of although aid was frequently, and even abunelysian groves, and so long-lived that family dantly, given, despite the interminable straits succession could only be effected by suicide in of the court, a decisive decree ordering the voyleaping from the crags of the highest moun- age itself could not be obtained while the paratains— an expedient often resorted to, it seems, mount efforts for the reconquest blocked the in the torrid zone also, where the life-giving way. After the sojourn in Salamanca, the royal ocean winds prevail; how two such diverse au- pair undertook the conquest of Malaga, and thors as Avicenna and Anselmo told of groups during its progress Columbus shifted about, of islands,lost and forgotten, like gigantic pearls, now at the siege of the city, now at the court in the wastes of the Shadowy Sea; how Plato, in Cordova, and at one time even in Lisbon. in his divine dialogues of the Timaeus and the Many deny this last journey of his, but we Critias, commemorated a land called Atlantis, need not be surprised at their denial, seeing which stretched with reefs of coral and groves that such uncertainty and perplexity reigns of palms, and opaline seas and mountains of among the historians of that age that some gems, between the Pillars of Hercules and among them are ignorant of and deny the conAfrica's western shores even to farthest Asia, ferences of Salamanca, locating in Cordova and swallowed up in the abysses, but still showing its Granada the two commissions convoked to hear the discoverer and investigate the discov- time, and with the hope of discovery of new ery. But there is no room for doubting the visit worlds in the time to come. But Columbus, of Columbus to Lisbon. It suffices that we pos- who noted down prophecies and fables alike, sess the letter of Dom John, granting him safe- records in his marginal memoranda how Barconduct and immunity from any suit for debt tolomé Diaz sailed six hundred leagues beyond in 1488; and we have moreover a famous mar- the furthest known limits of navigation and disginal note written by his own hand in his favor- covered the Cape of Good Hope; whereby, ite volume, “ De Imagine Mundi," of d'Ailly, taking its latitude by the astrolabe of Behaim, wherein he records the coincidence of his jour- he proved not only that it lay forty-five degrees ney to Lisbon with the discovery, so favorable south of the equinox, but also three thousand to his plans, of the extremest point of southern five hundred leagues distant from Lisbon. The Africa, known as the Cape of Good Hope. mathematician and the prophet were blended

We know naught of what Columbus did dur- in Columbus, who, just as he read, with sacred ing his last visit to the fair capital of Portugal; reverence, Esdras and Job in his prayers, acwe can fix neither the date of his departure nor cepted as mathematical truths latitudes and of his return; but we may certainly say that distances which he set down in bald figures. he gathered there all the facts then attainable in that era of geographical discovery, and set As soon as Columbus returned from Portuthem down with wise diligence and scrupulous gal, he endeavored to renew his negotiations exactness in his memory and in his books. with the sovereigns; but he found the physiBartolomé Diaz had in fact just discovered the cal road to their court, and the moral pathway Cape, beyond which the superstitious dread of to their hearts, blocked and impeded by his his sailors prevented his going. The world had having been lost sight of during his unfortunate taken another stride toward the realms of Prester absence, and by the absorption of all minds in John, that weird goal which stimulated count- the Moorish war. The sovereigns, having won less expeditions and so strongly influenced the at Malaga and Velez-Malaga, were spurred on dreams of Columbus. The abode of that mys- by the seductive power of victory to continue terious personage, said by Marco Polo to lie in their task, now become easier through the inthe odorous forests of Central Asia, stretched, numerable internal dissidencies of the Granaas conjectured by the Portuguese Corvilhan, dian kingdom, broken into fragments, which to the crags of Abyssinia amid Libyan sands; were held, like hostile fortresses reared against and, when the tidings spread, the pilot-discov- one another, by the three nominal kings of the erer could not fail to note the hardships suffered Moors, Hacem, Boabdil, and Zagal. So, after in the search for the Cape, thenceforth already convoking in Aragon one of their famous cortes, known by the contradictory names of Good quickened with the life-giving breath of liberty, Hope and Tempest. In his preserved memo- and after celebrating at Seville, with justs and randa he records how, in a second attempt, he tourneys and festivals, the marriage of their would have abandoned the use of ships of large eldest daughter Dona Isabella to so powerful size, preferring vessels built so solidly as to defy and eminent a youth as was Prince Miguel, the fierce gales, yet small enough to enter any heir to the crown of Portugal, they turned anew arm of the sea; and how he would have taken their thoughts to the necessary completion of three times the quantity of ship's stores needed the glorious work of reconquest. It was an infor a long voyage that had been taken on pre- auspicious moment to discuss any other busivious voyages—and in this he showed his good ness. The partizans of Columbus had increased, judgment. Tempests so often lashed those and, withal, their individual influence. Quintawaters, and with such fury, that ships foundered nilla, the good and thrifty comptroller, gained in the turbulent waves. But now the Sea of Sha- importance in proportion as he displayed his dows was dispelled; Africa almost circumnavi- talents in procuring for the royal treasury large gated; Prester John almost within reach of the levies, to which he often added advances from hands stretched out to him from every quarter; his private fortune; Mendoza, the faithful the Eastern Indies brought very near-almost cardinal, increased his power and won distincfound, indeed— by expeditions as daring as tion in proportion as his charity aided the livAlexander's; the aroma of new spices spread ing and his prayers the dead — without losing in the senses of men; and the fountain-head sight of the everlasting struggle against the of humanity and of history well nigh discov- Moors; the Marchioness of Moya, whose splenered, the Aryan land of fetishes and castes, did garments and gorgeous tent, during the of palanquins and palms, of gold and gems, of siege of Malaga, exposed her to a violent death, symbolical flowers and prehistoric fables, com- for she was wounded by an Arab santon who pleting the planet with its exuberant life, and mistook her for Isabella, had won the heart of coinciding with the resuscitation of Grecian the queen, who declared that never would she statues from the dust and ruins of the olden have reigned in Spain without the vote of her

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]

This convent has been preserved as a National Memorial since 1846. Cortez also found shelter here after his return from Mexico.

friend's husband; yet despite the great author- peared beautiful as Zion of the prophets; the ity and influence of all of these in the royal rampart of the mighty Alpujarras, flaming begovernment and in the Christian camp, they neath the sun of Andalusia and odorous with remained mute as the dead, and dared not di- oriental jasmine, yet echoing with the clash of vert a single man or doubloon from the chief bloody but poetically heroic combats; Saloenterprise of the day. While Columbus knocked breña, scene of the death of the aged Hacem, at every door, offering continents to men whose that scourge of Christendom, whose memory sphere of action was confined within a single is tearfully sung in elegies of his race which city, the devastation of the Granadian estates call to mind the sublime lamentations of the under the Christian invasion; the investment scriptures; every laurel-tree of the Vega turned of the conquering hosts round about Baza – into a warrior's lance, and every link of the fetwhere a Spanish city had been reared face to ters unrived from the feet of the captives reface with the Arab town, both glowing with deemed in thousands by these same lances; festivals and combats, the knightly feats of every garden become a scene of ceaseless enthe Pulgars awaking among the soldiers of the counters; every dwelling made a fortress of Cross a new zeal in the religious crusade, and defense and a goal of attack; all that broad bequeathing to Moorish poetry new strains in plain a Homeric field of Troy, the end of a the national epic tale; the last but one of the century-old war and the beginning of a new Moorish kings upon his knees before the Cath- fatherland; all these things left no room for olic Sovereigns, offering to them in homage, any undertaking apart from that marvelous within sight of the blue sea fringed with wild epopee. How then, in such a moment, could fig-trees and roseate sea-walls, the city of Al- thought be given to Columbus ? — until then meria, crowned th towers and palms; the scarce heeded, and now forgotten! ambassadors of Turkey, come from Jerusalem the captive to stay the arm stretched out over COLUMBUS, on seeing himself forgotten, concowering Granada, who in her tribulation ap- templated, as a last stern resort, the beginning of his task anew by offering it to other mon- and, ah! for the discovery of worlds which, archs, and of reliving his past by quitting Spain compared with the Infinite, are but as atoms; as he had beforetime quitted Portugal. He de- penitents and recluses about him that to his termined therefore to appeal to the French court, soul seem but as shadows — in all these is finding encouragement in his bitter affliction found an explanation of the refuge sought by by discerning there some ray of salvation and Columbus at La Rabida. The old traditions some dawn of success. In this dejected state, assign his sojourn at the convent to the hour he went to Cordova to take farewell of Doña of his arrival and of his high hopes; contemBeatrice, and to kiss Ferdinand, the offspring poraneous criticism, better informed, fixes it at of his love for her. From Cordova he seems to the period of his departure and his disenchanthave gone to Seville to confer with such friends ment. And herein is the chiefest glory of that as the Geraldinis, and to make his sorrows spot, that it was the scene of the new birth of known to them, so that they in turn might in- a lost hope. And this hope returned because form Mendoza; from Seville to Marchena to Columbus was devout, and was beloved of those tell his old protector, the wise monk Antonio, devout men. It was a sacred rock of faith, the sad tale of his faded hopes and the ill- whereon sprang the purest of all affections success of all his aspirations; from Marchena the affection of inexhaustible admiration minto Huelva in search of his brother-in-law Mu- gled with unquenchable friendship. Let hatred liarte and his son Diego, the latter left under and envy know that the humble Franciscan the care of his uncle while Columbus was lead- monk, Juan Perez, in truth discovered the New ing his anxious and restless life of endeavor; World, through his deep friendship and admifrom Huelva, with the wandering impulse of a ration for Columbus. stricken man, under the terrible hypnotism of Juan Perez, astounded at the dual flow of monomania, and suffering from nervous at- religious and scientific ideas from Columbus, tacks like those that herald dementia or death would recall the many things he had heard, to the madman or suicide, he went in search from the pilots who swarmed thereabouts, of of some isolated and solitary convent, whither the vast ocean and its distant shores. But none

[graphic][subsumed][merged small][merged small]


he could flee, as to the shadows of the tomb, among them went further than the astrologer and in eternal silence find relief from the sor- and cosmographer, Garci-Fernandez, who, led rows of his overladen heart. When he turned on by the padre and charmed by the words of away from the Vega, where every passer-by Columbus, was ready to avouch the probabilpauses to look upon the Vermilion Towers, ity of reaching the oriental Indies by sailing and from that city where none remembered across the western sea. It is ascertained that him or his great project, the convent of La they sent a certain gentleman named Sebastian Rabida must have seemed to him like a bea- Rodriguez, an inhabitant of Lepe, to the camp con-light in the black night of shipwreck. at Santa Fé, with letters from Juan Perez to the

A little inclosure, pine-shadowed, in the sol- queen; that Rodriguez returned a fortnight itude; the measureless western ocean before later with a positive and urgent command for his eyes ; a cloudless heaven toward which to the monk to present himself at the court; that turn a clouded sight; a pavement of sepulchral he, being not only enthusiastic but active too, stones; cloisters wherein to meditate and pre- borrowed a serviceable saddle-mule from a pare for the end ; sanctified altars to which to farmer named Cabezudo, and set out, by crosscling in hope of pardon and of an eternity too cuts and byways, at the risk of his life and liblong unthought of amid thirstings for earthly erty, for the royal seat at Granada; that the glories, less substantial than a vapor-wreath, father-superior saw the queen, receiving from

her hands twenty thousand maravedís in florin- moment. Everything then looked toward the pieces, to be sent in charge of Diego Prieto approaching siege; the new city face to face from Palos Alcalde to La Rabida, and by him with Granada was then being built in proof of delivered to Columbus, who, provided with a' a determined purpose; and there was no room decent mount and suitable apparel, was thus for any thought alien to the great reconquest. enabled to present himself to receive the where- But, returning now, he found Granada well withal to fit out three caravels which the sover- nigh a suppliant at the feet of the sovereigns, eigns were pleased to supply for the glorious and his project accepted so soon as the city voyage.

should surrender. Columbus gladly remained Columbus arrived, and the queen at once there, and joined valiantly in the fight. At told him that she could not formally attend to length, on the morning of January 2, 1492, Bo

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

anything whatever until after she had taken abdil, with his brilliant following, surrendered Granada. So intimately is the triumph of our himself to the king Don Ferdinand. A legion Cross in that famous siege linked with the dis- of pages, with gold-embroidered garments, went covery of America in the ocean-wilds, that the before the king on foot, opening the way for succeeding scenes of our narrative could not his triumphal procession to the high scene of well be described without likewise relating that his glorious conquest. The most exalted ricossurpassing episode. Juan Perez, although the hombres of Castile and Aragon, mounted on need of his return to La Rabida was urgent, did gaily trapped palfreys and clad in robes of state, not go back, on account of his enthusiasm for surrounded the monarch, with such display of the discoverer and the discovery, until after he blazonry and insignia, such splendid apparel, had earnestly commended the business to the such varied standards, such gorgeously attired queen, and had seen her old zeal reawakened mace-bearers, that they seemed themselves to in favor of the new project and its great origi- be an army of kings. Ferdinand II. had nator. There was a marked difference between donned his royal robes, and his crimson mantle the visit of Columbus after his return from the lined with ermine almost concealed his horse, court of Lisbon, and his arrival at this supreme while the countless crowns of his house and

« AnkstesnisTęsti »