The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

By Washington Irving | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI.
RECEPTION OF COLUMBUS BY THE SPANISH COURT AT BARCELONA.

The letter of Columbus to the Spanish monarchs had produced the greatest sensation at court. The event he announced was considered the most extraordinary of their prosperous reign, and following so close upon the conquest of Granada, was pronounced a signal mark of divine favor for that triumph achieved in the cause of the true faith. The sovereigns themselves were for a time dazzled by this sudden and easy acquisition of a new empire, of indefinite extent, and apparently boundless wealth; and their first idea was to secure it beyond the reach of dispute. Shortly after his arrival in Seville, Columbus received a letter from them expressing their great delight, and requesting him to repair immediately to court, to concert plans for a second and more extensive expedition. As the summer, the time favorable for a voyage, was approaching, they desired him to make any arrangements at Seville or elsewhere that might hasten the expedition, and to inform them, by the return of the courier, what was to be done on their part. This letter was addressed to him by the title of "Don Christopher Columbus, our admiral of the ocean sea, and viceroy and governor of the islands discovered in the Indies;" at the same time he was promised still further rewards. Columbus lost no time in complying with the commands of the sovereigns. He sent a memorandum of the ships, men, and munitions requisite, and having made such dispositions at Seville as circumstances permitted, set out for Barcelona, taking with him the six Indians, and the various curiosities and productions brought from the New World.

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the discovery, filling places of public trust and dignity, enjoying the good opinion and good will of their fellow citizens, and flourishing in nearly the same state in which they were found by Columbus, on his first visit to Palos. It is rare indeed to find a family, in this fluctuating world, so little changed by the revolutions of nearly three centuries and a half.

Whatever Palos may have been in the time of Columbus, it is now a paltry village of about four hundred inhabitants, who subsist chiefly by laboring in the fields and vineyards. The convent of La Rabida still exists, but is inhabited merely by two friars, with a novitiate and a lay brother. It is situated on a hill, surrounded by a scattered forest of pine trees, and overlooks the low sandy country of the sea-coast, and the windings of the river by which Columbus sallied forth upon the ocean.

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