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.
argument except his own fixed belief and some vague talk about bits of wood and shipwrecked mariners, was not the person to inspire the capitalists of Portugal.  Yet the thing had to be done.  Obviously it could not be done at Porto Santo, where there were no ships and no money.  Influence must be used; and Columbus knew that his proposals, if they were to have even a chance of being listened to, must be presented in some high-flown and elaborate form, giving reasons and offering inducements and quoting authorities.  He would have to get some one to help him in that; he would have to get up some scientific facts; his brother Bartholomew could help him, and some of those disagreeable relatives-in-law must also be pressed into the service of the Idea.  Obviously the first thing was to go back to Lisbon; which accordingly Columbus did, about the year 1483.



The man to whom Columbus proposed to address his request for means with which to make a voyage of discovery was no less a person than the new King of Portugal.  Columbus was never a man of petty or small ideas; if he were going to do a thing at all, he went about it in a large and comprehensive way; and all his life he had a way of going to the fountainhead, and of making flights and leaps where other men would only climb or walk, that had much to do with his ultimate success.  King John, moreover, had shown himself thoroughly sympathetic to the spirit of discovery; Columbus, as we have seen, had already been employed in a trusted capacity in one of the royal expeditions; and he rightly thought that, since he had to ask the help of some one in his enterprise, he might as well try to enlist the Crown itself in the service of his great Idea.  He was not prepared, however, to go directly to the King and ask for ships; his proposal would have to be put in a way that would appeal to the royal ambition, and would also satisfy the King that there was really a destination in view for the expedition.  In other words Columbus had to propose to go somewhere; it would not do to say that he was going west into the Atlantic Ocean to look about him.  He therefore devoted all his energies to putting his proposal on what is called a business footing, and expressing his vague, sublime Idea in common and practical terms.

The people who probably helped him most in this were his brother Bartholomew and Martin Behaim, the great authority on scientific navigation, who had been living in Lisbon for some time and with whom Columbus was acquainted.  Behaim, who was at this time about forty eight years of age, was born at Nuremberg, and was a pupil of Regiomontanus, the great German astronomer.  A very interesting man, this, if we could decipher his features and character; no mere star-gazing visionary, but a man of the world, whose scientific lore was combined with a wide and liberal experience of life. 

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