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scheme of this nature. The Venetians, indeed, might have undertaken it; but whether the natural aversion of the Genoese to these people, would not suffer Columbus to apply to the rivals of his country, or that the Venetians had no idea of any thing more important than the trade they carried on from Alexandria and in the Levant, Columbus at length fixed all his hopes on the court of Spain.
5. Ferdinand, king of Arragon, and Isabella, queen of Castile had by their marriage, united all Spain under one dominion, excepting only the kingdom of Grenada, which was still in the possession of the Moors; but which Ferdinand soon after took from them. The union of these two princes had prepared the way for the greatness of Spain, which was afterwards begun by Columbus; he was however obliged to undergo eight years of incessant application, before Isabella's court would consent to accept of the inestimable benefit this great man offered it. The bane of all great projects is the want of money. The Spanish court was poor; and the prior, Perez, and two merchants, named Pinzono were obliged to advance seventeen thousand ducats towards fitting out the armament. Columbus procured
a patent from the court, and at length set sail from the port of Palos, in Andalusia, with three ships, on August 23, in the year 1492.
6. It was not above a month after his departure from the Canary Islands, where he had come to an anchor to get refreshments, when Columbus discovered the first island in America; and during this short run, he suffered more from the murmurings and discontent of the people of his fleet, than he had done even from the refusals of the princes he had applied to. This Island, which he discovered and named St. Salvador, lies about a thousand leagues from the Canaries. Presently after he likewise discovered the Lucayan Islands, together with those of Cuba and Hispariola, now called St. Domingo.
7. Ferdinand and Isabella were in the utmost surprise to see him return at the end of nine months, with some of the American natives of Hispaniola, several rarities from the country, and a quantity of gold, with which he presented their majesties.
8. The king and queen made him sit down in their presence, covered like a grandee of Spain, and created him high admiral and viceroy of the new world. Columbus was now every where looked upon as a very extraordinary person sent from heaven. Every one was vying who should be foremost in assisting him in his undertakings, and embarking under his command. He soon set sail again with a fleet of seventeen ships. He now made the discovery of several other new islands, particularly the Caribees and Jamaica. Doubt had been changed into admiration on his first voyage; in this, admiration was turned into envy.
9. He was admiral and viceroy, and to these titles might have been added that of the benefactor of Ferdinand and Isabella. Nevertheless, he was brought home prisoner to Spain, by judges who had been purposely sent out on board to observe his conduct. As soon as it was known that Columbus was arrived, the people ran in shoals to meet him, as the guardian genius of Spain. Columbus was brought from the ship, and appeared on shore chained hands and feet.
10. He had been thus treated by the orders of Fonseca, Bishop of Burgos, the intendant of the expedition, whose ingratitude was as great as the other's services. Isabella was ashamed of what she saw, and did all in her power to make Columbus amends for the injuries done to him! however, he was not suffered to depart for four years, either because they feared that he would seize upon what he had discovered for himself, or that they were willing to have time to observe his behaviour. At length he was sent on another voyage to the new world; and now it was that he discovered the continent, at six degrees distance from the equator, and saw that part of the coast on which Carthagena has been since built.
11. At the time that Columbus first promised a new hemisphere, it was insisted that no such hemisphere could exist; and after he had made the actual discovery of it, it was pretended that it had been known long before.
12. I shall not mention one Martin Behem, of Nuremberg, who it is said, went from that city to the Straits of Magellan in 1460, with a patent from the Dutchess of Burgundy, who as she was not alive at that time, could not issue patents. Nor shall I take notice of the pretended charts of this Martin Behem, which are still shewn; nor of the evident contradictions which discredit this story : but, in short, it was not pretended that Martin Behem had peopled America; the honour was given to the Carthagenians, and a book of Aristotle was quoted on the occasion, which he never wrote. Some found out a confurmity between some words in the Caribee and Hebrew languages, and did not fail to follow so fine an opening. Others were positive that the children of Noah, after settling in Siberia, passed from thence over to Canada on the ice, and that their descendants, afterwards born in Canada, had gone and peopled Peru. According to others again, the Chinese and Japanese sent colonies into America, and carried over lions with them for their diversion, though there are no lions either in China or Japan.
13. In this manner have many learned men argued upon the discoveries made by men of genius. If it should be asked, how men first came upon
the continent of America ? Is it not easily answered, that they were placed there by the same power who. caused trees and grass to grow?
14. The reply which Columbus made to some of those who envied him the high reputation he had gained, is still famous. These people pretended that nothing could be more casy than the discoveries he had made; upon which he proposed to them to set an egg upright on one of its ends; but when they had tried in vain to do it, he broke one end of the egg, and set it upright with ease. They told him any one could do that: How comes it then, replied Columbus, that no one among you thought of it? This story is related of Brunelleschi, who improved architecture at Florence many years before Columbus was born: Most bonmots are only the repetition of things that have been said before.
15. The ashes of Columbus cannot be affected by the reputation he gained while living, in having doubled for us the works of the creation. But mankind delight to do justice to the illustrious dead, either from a vain hope that they enhanced thereby the merit of the living, or that they are naturally fond of truth,
16. Americo Vespucci, whom we call Americus Vespusius, a merchant of Florence, had the honour of giving his name to this new half of the globe, in which he did not possess one acre of land, and pretended to be the first who discovered the continent. But supposing it true that he was the first discoverer, the glory was certainly due to him who had the penetration and courage to undertake and perform the first voyage : Honour, as Newton says in his dispute with Leibnitz, is due only to the first inventor: and those who follow after are only his scholars.
17. Columbus had made three voyages as admiral and viceroy, five years before Americus Vespusius had made one as a geographer, under the command of admiral Ojeda; but the latter, writing to his friends at Florence, that he had discovered a new world, they believed him on his word, and the citizens, of Florence decreed, that a grand illumination should be made before the door of his house every three years, on the feast of All Saints. And yet, could this man be said to deserve any honours, for happening to be on board a fleet that, in 1479, sailed along the coast of Brazil, when Columbus had five years before pointed out the way to the rest of the world?
18. There has lately appeared at Florence, a life of this Americus Vespusius, which seems to be written with very little regard to truth, and without any conclusive reasoning. Several French authors are there complained of, who have done justice to Columbus's merit; but the writer should not have fallen upon the French authors, but on the Spanish, who were the first that did this justice. This writer says,
that he will confound the vanity of the French nation, who have always attacked with impunity, the honour and success of the Italian nation." 19. What vanity can there be in saying, that it was a Genoese that first discovered America ? or how is the lionour of the Italian nation injured in owning, that it was to an Italian born in Genoa, that we are indebted for the new world ? I purposely remark this want of equity, good breeding, and good sense, as we have too many examples of it; and I must say, that the good French writers have in general been the least guilty of this insufferable fault; and one great reason of their being so universally read throughout Europe, is their doing justice to all nations.
20. The inhabitants of these islands, and of the continent, were a new race of men. They were all without beards, and were as much astonished at the faces of the Spaniards, as they were at their ships and artillery : they at first looked upon these new visitors as monsters or gods, who had come out of the sky or the sea.
21. These voyages, and those of the Portuguese, lad now taught us how inconsiderable a spot of the globe our Europe was, and what an astonishing variety reigns in the world. Indostan was known to be inhabited by a race of men whose complexions were yellow. In Africa and Asia, at some distance from the equator, there had been found several kinds of black men; and after travellers had penetrated into America, as far as the line, they met with a race of people who were tolerably white. The natives of Brazil are of the colour of bronze. The Chinese still
appear to differ entirely from the rest of mankind, in the make of their
But what is still to be remarked is, that in whatsoever regions these various races are transplanted, their complexions never change, unless they mingle with the natives of the country. The mucous membrane of the negroes, which is known to be of a black colour, is a manifest proof, that there is a different principle in each species of men, as well as plants.
22. Dependent upon this principle, nature has formed the different degrees of genius, and the characters of nations, which are seldom known to change. Hence the negroes are slavęs to other men, and are purchased on the coast of Africa like beasts, for a sum of money; and the vast multitudes of negroes transplanted into our American colonies, serve as slaves under a very inconsiderable number of Europeans. Experience has likewise taught us bow great a superiority the Europeans have over the aborigines of America, who are every where easily overcome, and have not dared to attempt.a revolution, though a thousand to one superior in numbers.
23. This part of America was also remarkable on account of its animals, and plants, which are not to be found in the other three parts of the world, and which are of so great use to us. Horses, corn of all kinds, and iron, were not wanting in Mexico and Peru, and among the many valuable commodities unknown to the old world, cochineal was the principal and was brought us from this country. Its use in dying has now made us. forget the scarlet, which for time immemorial had been the only thing known for giving a fine red colour.
24. The importation of cochineal was soon succeeded by that of indigo, cocoa, vanille, and those woods which serve for ornament and medical purposes, particularly the quinpuina, or Jesuit's bark, which is the only specific against intermitting fevers. Nature has placed this remedy in the mountains of Peru, whilst she had dispersed the disease it cures through all the rest of the world. This new continent also furnished pearls, coloured stones, and diamonds.
25. It is certain, that America at present furnishes the ineanest citizen of Europe with his conveniences and pleasures. The gold and silver mines, at their first discovery, were of service only to the kings of Spain and the merchants; the rest of the world was impoverished by them; for the great multitudes who did not follow business, found themselves possessed of a very small quantity of specie, in comparison with the immense suns accumulated by those who had the advantage of the first discoveries. But, by degrees, the great quantity of gold and silver which was sent from America, was dispersed throughout all Europe, and by passing into a number of hands, the distribution is become more equals The price of commodities is likewise increased in Europe, in proportion to the increase of specie.
26. To comprehend how the treasures of America passed from the possession of the Spaniards into that of other nations, it will be sufficient to consider these two things : The use which Charles V. and Philip. II, made of their money; and the manner in which other nations acquired a share in the mines of Peru.
27. The emperor Charles V. who was always travelling, and always at war, neccessarily dispersed a great quantity of that specie which he received from Mexico and Peru, through Germany and Italy. When he sent his son Philip over to England, to marry queen Mary, and take upon him the title of king of England, that prince deposited in the tower of London, twentyseven large chests of silver, in bars, and an hundred horse loads of gold and silver coin. The troubles in Flanders, and the intrigues of the league in France, cost this Philip, according to his own confession, above three thousand millions of livres of our money.
28. The manner in which the gold and silver of Peru is distributed amongst all the people of Europe, and from thence is sent to the East-Indies, is a surprising though well-known circumstance. By a strict law enacted by Ferdinand and Isabella, and