Page images

I cannot survive the loss of my nearest relations; of my friends; and, in one word, of a whole generation. Is it possible, in the same moment, to be informed of this universal destruction, and not to wish for death?

16. “This general mortality, which, to others, comes slowly and by degrees, has to me been instantaneous; the operation of a moment. Whilst secluded from society, I lived with myself only ; but here, I can neither live with myself, nor with this new race, to whom my anguish and despair appear only as a dream.”

17. The minister was melted; he caused the old domestick to attend this unfortunate person, as only he could talk to him of his family.

18. This discourse was the single consolation which he received; for he shunned intercourse with the new race, born since he had been exiled from the world; and he passed his time in the midst of Paris in the same solitude as he had done whilst confined in a dungeon for almost half a century.

19. But the chagrin'* and mortification of meeting no person who could say to him, “We were formerly known to each other,” soon put an end to his existence.


To Christopher Columbus, a native of Gen'oa,t is deservedly ascribed the first discovery of America—an event

which opened to mankind a new region of science, com, merce and enterprise, and stamped with immortality the name of its projector.

2. He was born in the year 1447. He early showed a capacity and inclination for a sea-faring life, and received an education which qualified him to pursue it. At the age of fourteen, he went to sea, and began his career on that element, where he was to perform exploits' which should astopish mankind.

3. He made a variety of voyages to almost every part of the globe, with which any intercourse was then carried on by sea, and became one of the most skilful navigators in

Pronounced sha-green'. Gen'o-a.

Europe. But his active and enterprising genius would not suffer him to rest in the decisions, and tamely follow the track, of his pred'ecessors.

4. It was the great object in view at this time, in Europe, to find out a passage by sea to the East Indies. The Portuguese, among whom he now resided, sought a new route to these desirable regions by sailing round the southern extremity of Africa.

5. They had consumed half a century in making various attempts, and had advanced no farther on the western shore of Africa than just to cross the equator, when Columbus conceived his great design of finding India in the west. The spherical figure of the earth, which he understood, made it evident to him, thai Europe, Asia and Africa formed but a small portion of the globe.

6. It was an impeachment of the wisdom and beneficence of the Author of nature to suppose the vast space yet unexplored was a waste, unprofitable ocean ; and it appeared necessary that there should be another continent in the west, to counterpoise the immense quantity of land, which was known to be in the east.

7. In the sea, near the Western Islands, pieces of carved wood, and large joints of cane, had been discovered; and branches of pine trees, and the bodies of two men, with features different from the Eu-ro-pē'ans, had been found on the shores of those islands after a course of westerly winds.

8. These reasonings and facts, with some others, convinced Columbus that it was possible to find the desired land by sailing in a westerly direction. He had a genius of that kind which makes use of reasoning only as an excitement to action. No sooner was he satisfied of the truth of his, system, than he was anxious to bring it to the test of exper iment, and set out on a voyage of discovery.

9. His first step was to secure the pat'ronage of some of the considerable powers of Europe, capable of undertaking such an enterprise. Excited by the love of his country, he laid his scheme before the senate of Gen'oa, offering to sail under their banners. But they, ignorant of the principles on which it was formed, rejected it as the dream of a visionary projector.

10. He next applied to John II., king of Portugal. But

he, being deeply engaged in prosecuting discoveries along the coast of Africa, was not inclined to encourage the undertaking of Columbus; yet he meanly sought to rob him of the glory and advantages of his scheme by privately despatching a ship to make a discovery in the west.

11. When Columbus was acquainted with this perfidious transaction, he quitted the kingdom with indignation, and landed in Spain in 1484. Here, after seven years' painful solicitation at court, and surmounting every obstacle which ignorance, timidity, jealousy and avarice could lay before him, he obtained his request; and Ferdinand and Ísabella, who then reigned together, agreed to be pā'trons of his enterprise.

12. It was stipulated between him and them, that he should be admiral in all those islands and continents he should discover, and have the office hereditary in his family; that he should be viceroy of the same for life, and enjoy a tenth of the merchandise which should be found.

13. Three small vessels were fitted out and victualled for twelve months, furnished with ninety men, and placed under his command. With this little fleet, he set sail from Palos, on Friday, the third of August, 1492, and, taking a westerly course, boldly ventured into the unknown ocean.

14. He soon found that he had unforeseen hardships and difficulties to encounter from the inexperience and fears of his men. To go directly from home into a boundless ocean, far from any hope of relief if any accident should befall them, and where no friendly port nor human being were known to exist, filled the boldest seamen with apprehension.

15. What greatly added to their terrour, was a new and extraordinary phenomenon, which occurred on the 14th of September. The magnetick needle varied from the pole, and, as they advanced, the variation increased. Nature seemed to be changed, and their only guide through the trackless waters to prove unfaithful.

16. After twenty days, the impatient sailors began to talk of throwing their commander into the sea, and of returning home. Their murmurs reached his ears; but his fertile mind suggested an expedient in every extreinity. By sootling, Aattery and artifice, by inventing reasons for every

uncommon appearance, and deceiving them in the ship’s reckoning, he kept them on sixteen days longer.

17. On the night of the 11th of October, he himself discovered a light, which appeared to move; and, the next morning, gave them the joyful sight of land. It proved to be the island Guanahana, one of the cluster called Bahamas. Thus, in the space of thirty-six days, and in the fortyfifth year of his age, Columbus completed a voyage, which he had spent twenty years in projecting ; which opened to the Europeans a new world, and made the name of Columbus immortal.

18. With tears of joy, and transports of congratulation, the crews of the ships sang a hymn of thanksgiving to God. After touching at several islands, and leaving a small colony, he returned to Spain. On his return, he was overtaken by a storm, which became so furious that his destruction seemed inevitable. The crews abandoned themselves to despair, and expected every moment to be swallowed up in the waves.

19. In this extremity, he gave an admirable proof of his calmness and foresight. He wrote a short account of his voyage on parchment, enclosed it in a cake of wax, which he put into a tight cask, and threw into the sea, in hopes that some fortunate accident would preserve a deposit of so much importance to the world. The storm, however, subsided, and he arrived at Palos, in Spain, on the 15th of March, 1493.

20. The populace received him with acclamations; and the king and queen, no less astonished than delighted with his success, had him conducted to court with a pomp suitable to the event which added such distinguished lustre to their reign. His family was ennobled, and his former privileges and offices confirmed to him.

21. He soon sailed on a second expedition to the new world, with a fleet of seventeen ships, having on board 1500 people, and all things necessary for establishing plantations. After discovering many islands of the West Indies, and submitting to every labour and vexation in attempting to settle his colony, he returned to Spain in 1498, to counteract the intrigues and efforts of his enemies in the Spanish court.

22. He made two more voyages, in which he touched at most parts of the West Indies, discovered the continent,

and coasted on its shores for 400 leagues. But the last part of his life was made wretched by the persecutions of his enemies.

23. Their pride and jealousy could not endure that a foreigner should obtain so high a rank as to be viceroy for life, and have the office of admiral hereditary in his family, to the exclusion of the Spanish nobles. They were,* therefore, indefatigable in their endeavours to depreciate his mer-. its, and ruin his fortune.

24. He was once carried home in irons, and, in violation of gratitude, humanity and justice, basely deprived of all the offices and possessions in the new world, to which he had a right by the solemn stipulations of Ferdinand. When he returned from his last voyage, in 1505, queen Isabella, his only friend and patroness in the court of Spain, was dead.

25. Worn out with sickness and fatigue, disgusted with the insincerity of his sovereign and the haughtiness of his courtiers, he lingered out a year in fruitless solicitations for his violated rights, till death relieved him from his sorrows. He ended his useful and active life at Valladolid, on the 20th of May, 1506, in the 59th year of his age.

26. In the life of this remarkable man there was no deficiency of any quality which can constitute a great character. He was grave, though courteous,t in his deportment, circumspect in his words and actions, irreproachable in his morals, and exemplary$ in all the duties of religion.

27. The court of Spain were so just to his memory, that, notwithstanding their ingratitude towards|| him during his life, they buried him magnificently in the cathedral of Seville', and erected a tomb over him with this inscription, COLUMBUS HAS GIVEN A NEW WORLD TO THE KINGDOMS OF



COLUMBIA, Columbia, to glory arise ;
The queen of the world, and the child of the skies ;
Thy genius commands thee; with rapture behold,
While ages on ages thy splendours unfold.
* Pronounced wěr. + kur tshe-us. # egz'em-plar-y.

Il tö'wards. Cas-teel'.

« EelmineJätka »