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“It is he that sitteth u pon the circle of the earth.”—Isaiah xl. 22.
“He hangeth the earth upon nothing."- Job xxvi. 7.
SWORD AND THE TROWEL.
Columbus before the Council at Salamanca.
UR frontispiece represents an interesting scene in the life of the discover of the New World. A. plainly-attired, earnest-looking mariner, with that steady determination which characterises all true men, whose convictions are
strong and whose faith is steady, is meeting the objections of a number of learned professors of the sciences, dignitaries, of the Romish Church, and learned friars, and defending the theory of the rotundity of the earth. An obscure navigator, strong in his belief, scouted by the illiterate, seeks in the Dominican convent in Salamanca, the great seat of learning in Spain, the sympathy and co-operation of the most erudite assembly his country can muster. Does he gain either sympathy or help? History answers, No. In the first place, anything new, however true, was stigmatised as heresy in those Inquisition times, and Columbus might well fear the consequences of indulging any thought that savoured of heresy. Priestcraft, that great curse of mankind, was sure to oppose a new theory which overturned the testimony and traditions of the Church. Then, too, the scholastic body had too much learned pride to yield to a simple navigator. “It was requisite,” says Las Casas, “ before Columbus could make his solutions and reasonings understood, that he should remove from his auditors those erroneous principles on which their objections were founded;" which Columbus could not do, as the Ptolemaic plan had not yet been reversed, Copernicus not having at that time discovered the true theory of the solar system. Very small hope for Columbus to convert so stubborn an audience!
It is noteworthy how admirably Columbus replied to his objectors. He combated the fancies of the philosophical world with great ability. “Las Casas,” says Irving, “and others of his contemporaries, have spoken of his commanding person, his elevated demeanour, his air of authority, his kindling eye, and the persuasive intonations of his voice. How they must have given majesty and force to his words, as, casting