Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 61 pages of information about Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery Volume 1.
best course from this place to that, of the entrance to this harbour and the other; talk of the western islands too, of the western ocean, of the new astrolabe which the German Muller of Konigsberg, or Regiomontanus, as they called him in Portugal, had modified and improved.  And if there was sometimes an evening walk, it would surely be towards the coast or on a hill above the harbour, with a view of the sun being quenched in the sea and travelling down into the unknown, uncharted West.

CHAPTER VII

ADVENTURES BODILY AND SPIRITUAL

Columbus had not been long in Portugal before he was off again to sea, this time on a longer voyage than any he had yet undertaken.  Our knowledge of it depends on his own words as reported by Las Casas, and, like so much other knowledge similarly recorded, is not to be received with absolute certainty; but on the whole the balance of probability is in favour of its truth.  The words in which this voyage is recorded are given as a quotation from a letter of Columbus, and, stripped of certain obvious interpolations of the historian, are as follows:—­

“In the month of February, and in the year 1477, I navigated as far as the island of Tile [Thule], a hundred leagues; and to this island, which is as large as England, the English, especially those of Bristol, go with merchandise; and when I was there the sea was not frozen over, although there were very high tides, so much so that in some parts the sea rose twenty-five ‘brazas’, and went down as much, twice during the day.”

The reasons for doubting that this voyage took place are due simply to Columbus’s habit of being untruthful in regard to his own past doings, and his propensity for drawing the long bow; and the reason that has been accepted by most of his biographers who have denied the truth of this statement is that, in the year 1492, when Columbus was addressing the King and Queen of Spain on his qualifications as a navigator, and when he wished to set forth his experience in a formidable light, he said nothing about this voyage, but merely described his explorations as having extended from Guinea on the south to England on the north.  A shrewd estimate of Columbus’s character makes it indeed seem incredible that, if he had really been in Iceland, he should not have mentioned the fact on this occasion; and yet there is just one reason, also quite characteristic of Columbus, that would account for the suppression.  It is just possible that when he was at Thule, by which he meant Iceland, he may have heard of the explorations in the direction of Greenland and Newfoundland; and that, although by other navigators these lands were regarded as a part of the continent of Europe, he may have had some glimmerings of an idea that they were part of land and islands in the West; and he was much too jealous of his own reputation as the great and only originator of the project for voyaging to the West,

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