The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

farther on. It was as yet the twilight of geographic knowledge; imagination went hand in hand with discovery, and as the latter groped its slow and cautious way, the former peopled all beyond with wonders. The fame of the Portuguese discoveries, and of the expeditions continually setting out, drew the attention of the world. Strangers from all parts, the learned, the curious, and the adventurous, resorted to Lisbon to inquire into the particulars or to participate in the advantages of these enterprises. Among these was Christopher Columbus, whether thrown there, as has been asserted, by the fortuitous result of a desperate adventure, or drawn thither by liberal curiosity and the pursuit of honorable fortune.*


CHAPTER IV.
RESIDENCE OF COLUMBUS AT LISBON—IDEAS CONCERNING ISLANDS
IN THE OCEAN.

Columbus arrived at Lisbon about the year 1470. He was at that time in the full vigor of manhood, and of an engaging presence. Minute descriptions are given of his person by his son Fernando, by Las Casas, and others of his contemporaries. According to these accounts, he was tall, well-formed, muscular, and of an elevated and dignified demeanor. His visage was long, and neither full nor meagre; his complexion fair and freckled, and inclined to ruddy; his nose aquiline; his cheekbones were rather high, his eyes light gray, and apt to enkindle; his whole countenance had an air of authority. His hair, in his youthful days, was of a light color; but care and trouble, according to Las Casas, soon turned it gray, and at thirty years of age it was quite white. He was moderate and simple in diet and apparel, eloquent in discourse, engaging and affable with strangers, and his amiableness and suavity in domestic life strongly attached his household to his person. His temper was naturally irritable; but he subdued it by the magnanimity of his spirit, comporting himself with a courteous and gentle gravity, and never indulging in any intemperance of language.

____________________
*
Herrera. decad. i. lib. i.
Hist. del Almirante, cap. 3. Las Casas, Hist. Ind. lib. i. cap. 2, ms.
Illescas, Hist. Pontifical, lib. vi.

-29-

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