Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 555 pages of information about Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Complete.
little ewe lambs, wine and bacon (better than the last lot, if it please your Highnesses), little yearling calves, and fifty casks of molasses that can be bought a ducat or two cheaper in Madeira in the months of April and May than at any other time or place, is only half real.  Columbus fills his Sovereigns’ ears with this clamour so that he shall not hear those embarrassing questions that will inevitably be asked about the gold and the spices.  He boldly begins his letter with the old story about “indications of spices” and gold “in incredible quantities,” with a great deal of “moreover” and “besides,” and a bold, pompous, pathetic “I will undertake”; and then he gets away from that subject by wordy deviations, so that to one reading his letter it really might seem as though the true business of the expedition was to provide Coronel, Mosen Pedro, Gaspar, Beltran, Gil Garcia, and the rest of them with work and wages.  Everything that occurs to him, great or little, that makes it seem as though things were humming in the new settlement, he stuffs into this document, shovelling words into the empty hulls of the ships, and trying to fill those bottomless pits with a stream of talk.  A system of slavery is boldly and bluntly sketched; the writer, in the hurry and stress of the moment, giving to its economic advantages rather greater prominence than to its religious glories.  The memorandum, for all its courageous attempt to be very cool and orderly and practical, gives us, if ever a human document did, a picture of a man struggling with an impossible situation which he will not squarely face, like one who should try to dig up the sea-shore and keep his eyes shut the while.

In the royal comments written against the document one seems to trace the hand of Isabella rather than of Ferdinand.  Their tone is matter-of-fact, cool, and comforting, like the coolness of a woman’s hand placed on a feverish brow.  Isabella believed in him; perhaps she read between the lines of this document, and saw, as we can see, how much anxiety and distress were written there; and her comments are steadying and encouraging.  He has done well; what he asks is being attended to; their Highnesses are well informed in regard to this and that matter; suitable provision will be made for everything; but let him endeavour that the amount of this gold may be known as precisely as possible.  There is no escaping from that.  The Admiral (no one knows it better than himself) must make good his dazzling promises, and coin every boastful word into a golden excelente of Spain.  Alas! he must no longer write about the lush grasses, the shining rivers, the brightly coloured parrots, the gaudy flies and insects, the little singing birds, and the nights that are like May in Cordova.  He must find out about the gold; for it has come to grim business in the Earthly Paradise.



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Christopher Columbus and the New World of His Discovery — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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