“I have told him all that could be told regarding this matter, and have informed him of the payment which has been made to me and is being made. This letter is for the Lord Adelantado also, that he may see how Amerigo Vespucci can be useful, and advise him about it. His Highness may believe that his ships went to the best and richest of the Indies, and if anything remains to be learned more than has been told, I will give the information yonder verbally, because it is impossible to give it in writing. May our Lord have you in his Holy keeping.
“Done in Seville, February 5.
“Your father who loves you more than himself.
This letter has a significance which raises it out of the ruck of this complaining correspondence. Amerigo Vespucci had just returned from his long voyage in the West, when he had navigated along an immense stretch of the coast of America, both north and south, and had laid the foundations of a fame which was, for a time at least, to eclipse that of Columbus. Probably neither of the two men realised it at this interview, or Columbus would hardly have felt so cordially towards the man who was destined to rob him of so much glory. As a matter of fact the practical Spaniards were now judging entirely by results; and a year or two later, when the fame of Columbus had sunk to insignificance, he was merely referred to as the discoverer of certain islands, while Vespucci, who after all had only followed in his lead, was hailed as the discoverer of a great continent. Vespucci has been unjustly blamed for this state of affairs, although he could no more control the public estimate of his services than Columbus could. He was a more practical man than Columbus, and he made a much better impression on really wise and intelligent men; and his discoveries were immediately associated with trade and colonial development, while Columbus had little to show for his discoveries during his lifetime but a handful of gold dust and a few cargoes of slaves. At any rate it was a graceful act on the part of Vespucci, whose star was in the ascendant, to go and seek out the Admiral, whose day was fast verging to night; it was one of those disinterested actions that live and have a value of their own, and that shine out happily amid the surrounding murk and confusion.