« FöregåendeFortsätt »
1815 . -
- . - - - - - -
Religion in Illinois Literature-College at Kaskaskia—at Jacksonville Ju.
bilee College Medical College in Chicago-Slavery- Its origin and
Debt-Taxation-Finance Future Resources_State able to pay Principal
and Interest,Willing to do the same . . . . . .
HISTORY OF ILLINOIS.
Columbus arrives in Spain- Is denied an audience with the king-Is afterward admitted
into his presence-Council of Salamanca-Columbus appears before it-His theory is rejected Returns to the convent of La Rabida—Martin Alonzo Pinzon-Columbus is again invited to court—The queen espouses his cause Negotiation concludedSets out for Palos–Difficulties in fitting out his squadron--Its description-Embarks -Discovers land-Origin of the term Indian.
PROBLEMS, incapable once of being solved by the aid of science, are now easily explained. Knowledge, which gave formerly to its possessor the rank of a philosopher, is now the common property of school-boys and experiments that, in the last century, would have brought their ope. rator to the stake for witchcraft, are now mere juvenile recreations.
Some curious phenomena, exhibited by a piece of iron ore, before our nation had an existence, led a philosopher of Amalfi, in Italy, to inquire into the cause. Particles of the same kind he perceived were mutually attracted. In one of his experiments, he saw it, when suspended by a thread, point directly to the northern star, and being turned in another direction and set free, it resumed its former position. The result of his experiment was sent to the academicians of Florence, and their curiosity was aroused. They tried similar experiments, and it was finally discovered that its magnetic properties were transferable to hardened steel. Hence the mariner's compass, which guided Columbus across the ocean, and led to the discovery of another world. Our nation now extends its arms from the St. Croix to the Capes of Florida, and from the Atlantic, westward, to the Rocky mountains and the Columbia river, embracing in its ample folds, a large portion of the American Continent. Eighteen
millions of people, governed by similar laws, and speaking the language of Shakespere and Milton, are a part only, of its fruit. Were we permitted to lift the curtain, and unfold the glories that await the future, a population equal to the whole of Europe at no very distant period, would in all probability meet our view. With such speculations, however, we have nothing at present to do :-facts, and facts only, become the historic page.
Although recent discoveries in South America conclusively show, that a living multitude of civilized inhabitants thronged this Western world, when the British Isles were unknown; that the arts and sciences were here taught in great perfection, when our ancestors were wandering in the woods; those discoveries have not as yet been sufficiently developed, to make them the basis of an historic record. We will, therefore, for the present pursue the accustomed track; and suppose, what is generally believed, that the Eastern and Western Continents, till recently, were strangers, and that the latter, at the time of its first discovery, was of but little or no importance.
If facts, says Mr. Irving, in his life of Columbus, are to be inferred from no other than authentic records, the Eastern and Western hemis. pheres, previous to the fifteenth century, were strangers to each other. Some wandering bark, driven by tempests, without compass, across the ocean, may have reached by accident the opposing shore. It revealed, however, if such was the fact, no secrets of the deep, and no one ventured to spread a sail in pursuit of land, wrapped in mystery and peril. The wide waste of waters that intervened was regarded as before, with awe and wonder, and bound the world as with a chaos, which conjecture sought not to penetrate, and enterprise feared to adventure.
Not far from the little town of Palos, in Spain, containing at the present time, about four hundred inhabitants, which subsist chiefly by labor in its neighboring vineyards; there was in 1485, and still is, an ancient convent dedicated to Santa Maria de Rabida. A stranger on foot, in humble guise, but of a distinguished air, accompanied by a small boy, stopped one day at its gate, and asked of the porter a little bread and water for his child. That stranger was Columbus. He had fled from Portugal for debt, whither he had been to tender its monarch the discovery of a world.
To trace the progress of the illustrious stranger in quest of a patron, from the quiet cloisters of La Rabida to the palace of Castile's haughty queen, or to the “ancient and warlike city of Cordova, where prelates and friars mingled in martial conflict, and cardinals and bishops in helm and corslet, laying aside the crozier for the lance, sought new and hitherto untrodden paths to Heaven through heaps of the slain," is not consistent with our design.
His story, however, though oft-repeated, has still its charms. The force of talents--the effect of perseverance, and the result of moral and political integrity, are so strikingly exhibited in the life and conduct of this
daring adventurer, at courts, in palaces, in tempests and in chains, that its relation interests alike the student and the philosopher.
Excluded at Cordova from the brilliant crowd which filled every ave. nue to the throne, in consequence of the humble garb in which his poy. erty compelled him to appear, and driven by necessity to the making of maps and charts for a subsistence, he felt, notwithstanding, the dignity of his race, and the importance of his errand; and at last, by some happy efforts, found his way into the presence of the king. He there plead the cause of a hitherto undiscovered world. The sincerity of his conversa. tion, the elevation of his views, and the practical shrewdness of his arguments; commanded the respect of Ferdinand, though failing to produce conviction. The subject matter, however, of his singular enterprise, was referred to the ablest and most learned men in the realm; and as the treasures of human wisdom were at that time locked up principally in monasteries, and the university of Salamanca was its principal residence, a council of clerical sages composed of its professors, with various digni. taries of the church and learned friars, was convened in its convent by order of the king.
Before this council Columbus appeared. An obscure navigator, destitute of those circumstances which make dullness somewhat oracular, it could hardly be expected would produce a serious or lasting impression on such a mass of inert bigotry and learned pride, as was there assembled. His theory, we need not therefore remark, was of course rejected.
When Columbus had a fair opportunity of being heard, his commanding person, (as we are informed,) his elevated demeanor, his air of au. thority, his kindling eye, and the persuasive intonations of his voice, gave power to his words; and when the doctrinal objections of his adversaries were set in battle-array against him in the council at Salamanca, his visionary spirit it is said took fire, and casting aside his maps and charts, and discarding for a time his practical and scientific lore, he met them upon their own grounds, and pouring forth “those magnificent texts of Scripture, and those mysterious predictions of the prophets, which in his enthusiastic moments he considered as types and annunciations of the sublime dissvery he proposed,” he overwhelmed his learned and preju. diced examiners, with a torrent of words and arguments, which nothing save bigotry could resist.
Ignorance and stupidity, however, for a while prevailed. Other military movements succeeded, and Columbus was forgotten. Regarded by many as a lunatic, the children, we are told, pointed to their foreheads as he passed by, and his theory being at last rejected by the king and queen, he turned his back on Seville, (where the cou14 then resided,) regretting that he had wasted so many years of his life in useless solicitations.
Having sought in vain the patronage of dukes and princes, who had possessions on the coasts, and ports and ships at their cominend, he re. turned at last to the humble convent of La Rabida, to take fron. thence his son, (where, during his absence, its worthy prior had kindly enter. tained him,) and repair to France, whose king had invited him thither.