The Life of Columbus; in his own words eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about The Life of Columbus; in his own words.

Columbus remained in Barcelona until the twenty-third of May.  But before that time, the important orders for the expedition had been given.  He then went to Cadiz himself, and gave his personal attention to the preparations.  Applications were eagerly pressed, from all quarters, for permission to go.  Young men of high family were eager to try the great adventure.  It was necessary to enlarge the number from that at first proposed.  The increase of expense, ordered as the plans enlarged, did not please Fonseca.  To quarrels between him and Columbus at this time have been referred the persecutions which Columbus afterwards suffered.  In this case the king sustained Columbus in all his requisitions, and Fonseca was obliged to answer them.

So rapidly were all these preparations made, that, in a little more than a year from the sailing of the first expedition, the second, on a scale so much larger, was ready for sea.


—­From Cadiz at Canary islands—­discovery of Dominica
and Guadeloupe—­skirmishes with the Caribs—­Porto Rico
discovered—­Hispaniola—­the fate of the colony at la Navidad.

There is not in history a sharper contrast, or one more dramatic, than that between the first voyage of Columbus and the second.  In the first voyage, three little ships left the port of Palos, most of the men of their crews unwilling, after infinite difficulty in preparation, and in the midst of the fears of all who stayed behind.

In the second voyage, a magnificent fleet, equipped with all that the royal service could command, crowded with eager adventurers who are excited by expectations of romance and of success, goes on the very same adventure.

In the first voyage, Columbus has but just turned the corner after the struggles and failures of eight years.  He is a penniless adventurer who has staked all his reputation on a scheme in which he has hardly any support.  In the second case, Columbus is the governor-general, for aught he knows, of half the world, of all the countries he is to discover; and he knows enough, and all men around him know enough, to see that his domain may be a principality indeed.

Success brings with it its disadvantages.  The world has learned since, if it did not know it then, that one hundred and fifty sailors, used to the hard work and deprivations of a seafaring life, would be a much more efficient force for purposes of discovery, than a thousand and more courtiers who have left the presence of the king and queen in the hope of personal advancement or of romantic adventure.  Those dainty people, who would have been soldiers if there were no gunpowder, are not men to found states; and the men who have lived in the ante-chambers of courts are not people who co-operate sympathetically with an experienced man of affairs like Columbus.

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The Life of Columbus; in his own words from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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