The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

solemnly provided for in his will. In fact, he subsequently considered it the main work for which he was chosen by heaven as an agent, and that his great discovery was but a preparatory dispensation of Providence to furnish means for its accomplishment.

A home-felt mark of favor, characteristic of the kind and considerate heart of Isabella, was accorded to Columbus before his departure from the court. An albala, or letter-patent, was issued by the queen on the 8th of May, appointing his son Diego page to Prince Juan, the heir apparent, with an allowance for his support; an honor granted only to the sons of persons of distinguished rank.*

Thus gratified in his dearest wishes, after a course of delays and disappointments sufficient to have reduced any ordinary man to despair, Columbus took leave of the court on the 12th of May, and set out joyfully for Palos. Let those who are disposed to faint under difficulties, in the prosecution of any great and worthy undertaking, remember that eighteen years elapsed after the time that Columbus conceived his enterprise, before he was enabled to carry it into effect; that the greater part of that time was passed in almost hopeless solicitation, amid poverty, neglect, and taunting ridicule; that the prime of his life had wasted away in the struggle, and that when his perseverance was finally crowned with success, he was about his fifty-sixth year. His example should encourage the enterprising never to despair.


CHAPTER VIII.
COLUMBUS AT THE PORT OF PALOS—PREPARATIONS FOR THE
VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY.

On arriving at Palos, Columbus repaired immediately to the neighboring convent of La Rabida, where he was received with open arms by the worthy prior, Fray Juan Perez, and again became his guest. The port of Palos, for some misdemeanor, had been condemned by the royal council to serve the crown for one year with two armed caravels; and these were destined to form part of the armament of Columbus, who was furnished with the

____________________
*
Navarrete, Colec. de Viages, tom. ii. doc. 11.
Oviedo, Cronica de las Indias, lib. ii. cap. 5.

-84-

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