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such as to have much weight with other men, is sufficiently proved by the difficulty which Columbus had in contending with adverse geographers and men of science in general, of whom he says, he never was able to convince any one.t After the new world had been discovered, many scattered indications were then found to have foreshown it.
One thing which cannot be denied to Columbus, is that he worked out his own idea himself. And how he did so must now be told. He first applied himself to his countrymen the Genoese, who would have nothing to say to his scheme: then to the Portuguese, who listened, but with bad faith fought to anticipate him by sending out a caravel with instructions founded upon his plan. The caravel returned, the sailors not having heart to venture far enough westward. It was not an enterprize to be carried out by men who had only
stolen the idea of it. 1485. Columbus, disgusted at the treatment he had Columbus received from the Portuguese court, leaves Lisbon, arrives in Spain. and after visiting Genoa, as it appears, goes to
Spain to see what fortune he can meet with there, arriving at Palos in the year 1485. He leaves
+ Las Casas. Hist. de las Indias. MSS. primera parte, tom. 1, cap. 33.
his young fon at La Rabida, a monastery near Palos, under the care of Juan Perez de Marchena ever after to be the stoutest friend of our great adventurer, who in January 1486 makes his way to the court of Ferdinand and Isabella, then at Cordova. There Columbus finds at once a friend in Alonso de Quintanilla, a man like himself, who took' delight in great things (que tenia gusto en cofas grandes) and who gets him a hearing from the Spanish monarchs by whom the matter is referred to the queen's confeffor, who summons a junta of cosmographers, not a promising assemblage, to consult about it. They think that so many persons wise in nautical affairs never could have overlooked such a thing as this; moreover they had their own arguments against the scheme, amongst which was the not unnatural one that Columbus, after he had descended the hemisphere, would not be able to mount again, for it would be like getting up a mountain, as they said. In fine they decided that this scheme of the Genoese mariner was “ vain and impossible, and “ that it did not belong to the majesty of such “ great princes to determine anything upon such “ weak grounds of information.”*
* Herrera, Historia general, Madrid, 1601. dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.
Ferdinand and Isabella seem not to have taken the extremely unfavorable view of the matter entertained by the junta of cosmographers, or at least, to have been willing to put off Columbus gently; for they merely said, that with the wars at present on their hands, and especially that of Granada, they could not undertake any new expenses, but when that war was ended, they would examine his plan more carefully.*
Thus ended a solicitation at the court of Ferdinand and Isabella : which, according to some authorities, lasted five years; for the facts abovementioned, though short in narration, occupied no little time in transaction. Columbus left the court and went to Seville with “ much sadness and discomfiture” (con mucha tristeza y desconsuelo.) He is said then to have applied to the Duke of Medina Sidonia ; and afterwards to the Duke of Medina Celi. Certain it is, that when Columbus succeeded in his enterprize, the duke of Medina Celi wrote to the Cardinal of Spain, showing that he (the duke) had maintained Co
* Despues de mucho tiempo mandaron los Reyes Catolicos, que se respõdiesse a don Christoual, que por hallarse ocupados en muchas guerras, y en particular en la conquista de Granada, no podian emprender nueuos gastos, que acabado aquello mandarian examinar mejor su pretension, y le despidieron.-Herrera, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 9.
lumbus two years in his house," and was ready to have undertaken the enterprize himself, but that he saw it was one for the queen herself, and even then that he wished to have had a part in it. I do not doubt that any man in whose house Columbus was for two years, would have caught some portion of his enthusiasm and have been ready to embark in his enterprize. However, it may be conjectured that none of the nobles of the Spanish court would have been likely to undertake the matter without some fanction from the king or queen.
Columbus was now minded to go into France, and with this intent went to the monastery of La Rabida for his fon Diego, intending to leave him at Cordova. At the monastery there was Columbus's faithful friend Juan Perez, to whom he doubtless detailed all his griefs and struggles, and who could not bear to hear of his intention to leave the country and go to France. Juan Perez takes Garcia Hernandez into council upon the affairs of Columbus, and they three talk the matter well over until they come to the conclusion
* Suplico á vuestra Señoria me quiera ayudar en ello, é ge lo suplique de mi parte, pues a mi cabla y por yo detenerle en mi cafa dos años, y haberle enderezado á fu servicio, se ha hallado tan grande cola como esta.-Navarrete, Coll, dip. num. 14, vol. 2,
that Juan Perez who was known to the queen, having on some occasions acted as her confeffor, fhould write to her highness. He does so; she sends for him, sees him, and in consequence sends money to Columbus to enable him to come to court to renew his suit. He attends the court again, but the negotiation is broken off on the ground of the largeness of the conditions which he asks for. The opponents said that these conditions were too large if he succeeded, and if he should not succeed, and the conditions should come to nothing, they thought that there was an air of trifling in granting such conditions at all.* And truth to say, they were very large; that he was to be made an Admiral at once, to be appointed viceroy of the countries he should discover, and have an eighth of the profits of the expedition. The only way, as it appears to me, of accounting for the extent of these demands and his perseverance in them, even to the risk of total failure, is that the discovering of the Indies was but a step in his mind to the greater undertakings, as they seemed to him, which he had in view of going to Jerufalem with an army, and in fact making another
* Les parecia mucho lo que queria si la empressa sucedia bien, y fino juzgauan por ligereza el concederlo.--Herrera, dec. 1, lib. 1, cap. 8.