A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 652 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 03.
whole effects sold for 96,000 pesos; so that the crown was paid, and the treasurer had a very pretty fortune with which to begin the world a-new.  Such were the arts and intrigues of those men by whom the admiral Columbus was oppressed, and such the dirty contrivances by which they supported each other.  Yet these things were done under the administration of King Ferdinand, who was esteemed one of the wisest monarchs of his time; and matters were even worse conducted under the emperor Charles V. though certainly the greatest prince in every respect that ever sat on the throne of Spain.

The inference I would draw from all this is, that at all events, and under all administrations, discoveries ought ever to be attempted and encouraged, because they carry in themselves such incitements for their completion, that they hardly ever fail to prove beneficial at the end, whatever mistakes or mismanagements may occur at their commencement.  Some ascribe this to chance, and others, with more sense and decency, to Providence.  However this may be, great occasions are certain to bring forth great spirits, if they do not produce them; and when once the way is laid open, and a few instances have shewn that things are practicable that had been thought impossible for ages, mighty things are performed.  Emulation is a noble principle, and one of the most valuable secrets in government is to excite this; for every thing that finds favour from the great, or that meets with popular encouragement, is almost always carried to a great degree of perfection.  When a spirit is once raised, even the most disastrous reverses are not able to extinguish it.  Thus the numbers of Spaniards who perished in the first attempts to colonize the continent, by shipwreck, famine, and disease; and the unfortunate catastrophes of Hojeda, Nicuessa, and Cordova, had no effect to deter others from embarking in similar enterprises.  As all agreed that gold and pearls were to be acquired in these parts; the thirst of gain in some, and the desire of glory in others, soon overcame the terrors of such unfortunate examples, and many attribute the miscarriage of those attempts to the imprudence or misconduct of the commanders; and as slanders always find an easy belief, so the imputations on the dead served to encourage the living, and men were easily led to believe that their own superior abilities or their better fortune would carry them through, where former adventurers had failed.

There were several other concurring circumstances which gave life and vigour to these enterprises, which we shall briefly enumerate under three principal heads.  In the first place, the marriage of Don Diego Columbus with Donna Maria de Toledo, induced many young gentlemen and ladies of good families to go over to Hispaniola, which proved of infinite importance to the new colony; as the strong tincture of heroism or romance in the Spanish character, was the fittest that could be conceived for promoting such exploits.  Secondly, The establishment

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