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but the chaos; wherein, notwithstanding, to speak strictly, there was no deformity, because no form, nor was it yet impregnate by the voice of God. Now nature is not at variance with art, nor art with nature, they being both the servants of His providence. Art is the perfection of nature. Were the world now as it was the sixth day, there were yet a chaos. Nature hath made one world and art another. In brief, all things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.
THE LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, the discoverer of America, was an Italian, born at Genoa about the year 1446. His ancestors were seafaring people, and young Columbus early showed both an inclination to follow in their footsteps, and abilities which peculiarly qualified hin for doing so. His father, who was himself a wool comber, gave the young navigator an education suited to his wishes. He was taught Latin, astronomy, geometry, drawing, and geography, and was then sent to sea at the age of fourteen. He first sailed to those parts in the Mediterranean which the Genoese were in the habit of visiting for trading purposes. The next year his adventurous spirit carried him on an exploring expedition many hundred miles north of Iceland. Afterwards he joined a sort of privateering squadron, commanded by one of his relatives, with whom he remained some years. In one of their plundering expeditions, the vessel in which Columbus served, taking fire, together with the enemy's ship to which it was grappled, he saved himself by boldly leaping into the sea, and with the help of a floating oar, he succeeded in reaching land, a distance of six miles. He was preserved for something better than that robbing on the high seas called privateering
In 1470, having married the daughter of a Portuguese seacaptain, Columbus settled at Lisbon. Portugal was at that time the greatest maritime nation of Europe, and Columbus made diligent use of the opportunities which his residence and connexions there afforded him for improving his knowledge both of the theory and practice of navigation. He was soon deeply interested in a subject at that time of considerable importance—the discovery of a shorter sea route to India than that round the Cape of Good Hope. That passage was not accomplished till
some years after ; but at the period now referred to, it was believed to be practicable, though its extreme length and the storms that had beset seamen in rounding the Cape—it was called the Cape of Storms—rendered it very formidable to the imperfect seamanship of that day.
A variety of reasons led Columbus to believe, that, by sailing westward from Europe, he should in due time reach the eastern shores of Asia ; and, having well considered his plans, he sought the assistance needful for such an enterprise from his own native city of Genoa, which he was patriotic enough to wish should have the benefit of his undertaking. But neither its rulers, nor the King of Portugal, to whom he subsequently applied, could be persuaded to enter into his views. The King of Portugal was, indeed, dishonourable enough, while rejecting Columbus's proposal, to send out a vessel of his own secretly to try the route marked out by the Italian. But its unskilful commander was frightened back again by the difficulties he encountered, and the discovery of this treachery sent the indignant Columbus at once to Spain, to unfold his scheme to Ferdinand and Isabella, who jointly reigned over Castile and Aragon, while, at the same time, his brother Bartholomew was despatched to England to lay it before Henry VII.
It was by mere accident that the English had not the glory and advantage of the illustrious navigator's discoveries. Henry received the proposal more favourably than any other monarch had done ; but Bartholomew had been captured by pirates on his voyage to England, and by the time he arrived there, his brother, after years of suspense and disappointment, had at last succeeded in procuring the assistance and protection of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Three small and ill-conditioned vessels, with provisions for twelve months, were given to Columbus by these monarchs. With that religious spirit which always distinguished this good man, he and all his crew solemnly joined in prayers and the holy communion before going on board ; and then, just before daybreak on the 3d of August 1492, he set sail from Palos, in Andalusia, amid the prayers and good wishes of a vast throng of spectators. His little fleet was steered first to the Canary Islands, and in that short distance it was found that his miserable vessels were utterly unfit for the voyage before them. One of them lost her rudder the
very day after leaving port. Columbus made such repairs as he could, took in fresh provisions at the Canaries, where he remained about three weeks, and then directed his course still westward, into the unknown ocean.
His crew were soon disheartened, and it required all their leader's patience, skill, and vigilance, to keep them to their duty. He dared not even let them know how far they had sailed, for fear of their losing courage altogether. When distant six or seven hundred miles from shore, Columbus noticed for the first time the variations of the magnetic needle. He strove in vain to conceal it from his crew, who were terror-struck at the thought that their compass was about to fail them in that trackless waste of waters ; but Columbus calmed their fears by an ingenious theory, which, however, was far from satisfying his own mind.
In alternations of hope and fear they sailed on. Now a favourable ind, or the appearance of land birds, filled them with delight—now their vessel was impeded by weeds, or the sight of a half-decayed mast troubled them with forebodings of their own probable fate. One day the gentle breeze that wafted them onward was hailed as a friend, the next they were dismayed by the thought that it always blew from the same quarter, and would never permit them to return to Spain. One spirit alone remained to outward appearance calm and confident. No natural phenomenon, however startling, no sickness of “ hope deferred,” no threats or entreaties of his crew, could touch the serenity of Columbus, or turn him for a single moment from the glorious object he had in view. At last the crews began to speak of sailing homeward in spite of their admiral, and threatened open mutiny. It was only then that, convinced by many signs of the near approach of land, their noble commander promised, if in three days his hopes were not realized, he would yield to their wishes and return to Spain.
On the event of these three days, then, hung the fate of that wonderful enterprise. It is impossible to imagine a situation more exciting than that of Columbus as these days passed by and yet no land appeared, or to realize the mournful feelings with which he beheld the sun sink down each night, its last golden beam reflected still on the wide Atlantic waters.
AND when, on the evening of the third day, they beheld the sun go down upon the shoreless horizon, they broke forth into clamorous turbulence. Fortunately, however, the manifestations of neighbouring land were such on the following day as no longer to admit of doubt. Besides a quantity of fresh weeds, such as grow in rivers, they saw a green fish of a kind which keeps about rocks ; then a branch of thorn with berries on it, and recently separated from the tree, floated by them ; then they picked up a reed, a small board, and, above all, a staff artificially carved. All gloom and mutiny now gave way to sanguine expectation ; and throughout the day each one was eagerly on the watch, in hopes of being the first to discover the long-sought-for land.
In the evening, when, according to invariable custom on board of the admiral's ship, the mariners had sung the Salve Regina, or vesper hymn to the Virgin, he made an impressive address to his
He pointed out the goodness of God in thus conducting them by such soft and favouring breezes across a tranquil ocean, cheering their hopes continually with fresh signs, increasing as their fears augmented, and thus leading and guiding them to a promised land.
The breeze had been fresh all day, with more sea than usual, and they had made great progress. At sunset they had stood again to the west, and were ploughing the waves at a rapid rate, the Vinta keeping the lead from her superior sailing. est animation prevailed throughout the ships ; not an eye was closed that night. As the evening darkened, Columbus took his station on the top of the castle or cabin on the high poop of his vessel. However he might carry a cheerful or confident countenance during the day, it was to him a time of the most painful anxiety; and now, when he was wrapped from observation by the shades of night, he maintained an intense and unremitting watch, ranging his eye along the dusky horizon in search of the most vague indications of land. Suddenly, about ten o'clock he thought he beheld a light glimmering at a distance ! Fearing that his eager hopes might deceive him, he called to Pedro Gutierrery, gentleman of the king's bedchamber, and inquired whether he saw a light in that direction ; the latter replied in the affirmative.
The greatColumbus, yet doubtful whether it might not be some delusion of the fancy, called Roderigo Sanchery of Segovia, and made the same inquiry. By the time the latter had ascended the roundhouse the light had disappeared. They saw it once or twice afterwards, in sudden and passing gleams, as it were a torch in the bark of a fisherman, rising and sinking with the waves, or in the hand of some person on shore, borne up and down as he walked from house to house. So transient and uncertain were these gleams that few attached any importance to them—Columbus, however, considering them as certain signs of land, and, moreover, that the land was inhabited.
They continued their course until two in the morning, when a gun from the Vinta gave the joyful signal of land. It was first discovered by a mariner named Rodrigo de Triano, but the reward was afterwards adjudged to the admiral for having previously perceived the light. The land was now clearly seen about two leagues distant; whereupon they took in sail and lay to, waiting impatiently for the dawn.
The thoughts and feelings of Columbus in this little space of time must have been tumultuous and intense. At length, in spite of every difficulty and danger, he had accomplished his object. The great mystery of the ocean was revealed ; his theory, which had been the scoff of sages, was triumphantly established ; he had secured to himself a glory which must be as durable as the world itself.
It is difficult even for the imagination to conceive the feelings of such a man at the moment of so sublime a discovery. What a bewildering crowd of conjectures must have thronged upon his mind as to the land which lay before him covered with darkness. That it was fruitful was evident from the vegetables which floated from its shores. He thought, too, that he perceived in the balmy air the fragrance of aromatic groves. The moving light which he had beheld, had proved it the residence of man. But what were its inhabitants ? Were they like those of the other parts of the globe ? or were they some strange and monstrous race, such as the imagination in those times was prone to give to all remote and unknown regions ? Had he come upon some wild island far in the Indian Sea ? or was this the famed Cipango itself, the object of his golden fancies ? A thousand speculations of the kind must have swarmed upon him, as, with his anxious crews he