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Irving's Life of Columbus. [March, tured all the complaints against him; and by an unjust and iniquitous act, he was forced from his government, and transported in chains to Spain. If, on his return, he received instant apparent redress from the benignant influence of Isabella, her death defeated all hopes of the restitution of his rights. The crafty and subtle Ferdinand evaded all his claims, and he died in the misery of hope deferred, and under the pressure of pecuniary embarrassment; and this, while the nation was already drawing advantages from his discoveries, that were shortly to place it first in the rank of European kingdoms, and when individuals were already rioting in the wealth acquired in the Western Indies.
A slow justice was rendered by posterity, the last marked act of which, was the removal of his remains from the city of St. Domingo to the Havana, on the cession of Hispaniola to the French, in the year 1796. This translation was performed with every possible circumstance of honour and reverence. It is thus noticed by our author, in his addition to the account of the ceremonial, which forms a part of the documents appended to illustrate the history :
“When we read of the remains of Columbus, thus conveyed from the port of St. Domingo, after an interval of nearly three hundred years, as sacred national reliques, with civic and military pomp, and high religious ceremonial; the most dignified and illustrious men striving who most should pay them reverence, we cannot but reflect that it was from this very port that he was carried off, loaded with ignominious chains, blasted apparently in character and fortune, and followed by the revilings of a rabble. Such honours, it is true, are nothing to the dead, nor can they atone to the heart, now dust and ashes, for all the wrongs and sorrows it may have suffered; but they speak volumes of comfort to the illustrious, yet persecuted and slandered living, encouraging them bravely to bear with present injuries, by showing them how true merit outlives all calumny, and receives its glorious reward in the admiration of after ages.”
Posthumous reward, and the praise of posterity, are, indeed, among the most powerful incentives to exertion in noble minds. A desire for them may, perhaps, be a weakness, but it is one that is productive of innumerable benefits to the human race. If Columbus, as we can hardly doubt, in the disappointment of his views, and the cold ingratitude of Ferdinand, sought comfort in the anticipations of the fame he should enjoy in all future ages, his hopes have been most gloriously realized. The day of his birth is the epoch, whence mighty nations, occupying an entire hemisphere, will date their histories. In the fortune of his descendants also, is to be traced, if not the promised and well-merited reward of his exertions, at least such a degree of credit and prosperity, as almost any man would purchase for his children, at the expense of labours and sufferings equal to those of Columbus. His son Diego, whom we find in the early part of this work led by the hand of his father to the gate of an obscure convent, almost in the guise of a mendicant, aspired, and successfully, although still debarred of his patrimonial rights, to the hand of the
daughter of the proud Duke of Alva, the cousin german of that. very king, whose cold ingratitude blasted the fortunes of the father. Subsequent marriages, carried the titles and honours of Columbus into a branch of the family of Braganza ; and the present Duke of Veraguas, in whose veins the royal blood of Portugal and of Castile is mingled with that of the obscure Italian mariner, justly derives more of his pride of descent from “The Admiral,” than from the united honours of those sovereign houses.
It is not our design to enter into a detailed analysis of this work. Suffice it to say now, that it is written in such a manner, as to excite curiosity and engage the attention. If the general outline of the life and voyages of Columbus, be familiar to the world, it is a mere skeleton, almost stripped of all those details of personal feeling and moral considerations, which are the real interest, and constitute the dignity of history. Irving has embodied this skeleton, and infused into it life and spirit. As we read, we enter into the views and anticipations of Columbus, stretch our eyes over the ocean, to those rich regions yet seen only by his mental vision; we glory in his success and honours; we weep for his unmerited and cruel sufferings; we breathe with him the odours of the tropical forest
“ When the land wind from groves of palm,
From orange bowers and fields of balm,
Blew o'er the Haitean seas.” We hear the new melody of the birds and insects, and view the splendours of the sky, the rich plumage of the birds, and the variegated lustre of the finny tribes.
To multiply quotations, would give unfair, because mutilated specimens of the powers of the author, while it would perhaps pall the appetite of the reading public. One extract, however, we will venture to add to those we have already made; it is that in which he closes his estimate of the character of his hero:
“A peculiar trait in his rich and varied character, remains to be noticed ; that ardent and enthusiastic imagination, which threw a magnificence over his whole style of thinking. Herrera intimates, that he had a talent for poetry, and some slight traces of it are on record, in the book of prophecies, which he presented to the Catholic sovereigns. But his poetical temperament, is discernible throughout all his writings, and in all his actions. It spread a golden and glorious world around him, and tinged every thing with its own gorgeous colours. It betrayed him into visionary speculations, which subjected him to the sneers and cavillings of men of cooler and safer, but more grovelling minds. Such were the conjectures formed on the coast of Paria, about the form of the earth, and the situation of the terrestrial paradise; about the mines of Opbir, in Hispaniola, and of the Aurea Chersonesus, in Veragua ; and such was the heroic scheme of a crusade, for the recovery of the holy sepulchre. It mingled with his religion, and filled his mind with solemn and visionary meditations on mystic passages of the scriptures, and the shadowy portents of the prophecies. "It exalted his office in his eyes, and made him conceive himself an agent sent forth upon a sublime and awful mission, subject to impulses and supernatural visitations from the Deity; such as the voice he imagined spoke to him in comfort, amidst the trou
bles of Hispaniola, and in the silence of the night, on the disastrous coast of Ve. ragua.
“He was decidedly a visionary, but a visionary of an uncommon and successful kind. The manner in which his ardent imagination and mercurial nature was controlled by a powerful judgment, and directed by an acute sagacity, is the most extraordinary feature in his character. Thus governed, his imagination, instead of wasting itself in idle soarings, lent wings to his judgment, and bore it away to conclusions at which common minds could never have arrived; nay, which they could not perceive when pointed out.
• To his intellectual vision it was given, to read in the signs of the times and the reveries of past ages, the indications of an unknown world, as soothsayers were said to read predictions in the stars, and to foretel events from the visions of the night. "His soul,' observes a Spanish writer, was superior to the age in which he lived. For him was reserved the great enterprise to plough a sea which had given rise to so many fables, and to decipher the mystery of his time.'
“With all the visionary fervour of his imagination, its fondest dreams fell short of the reality. He died in ignorance of the real grandeur of his discovery. Until his last breath, he entertained the idea, that he had merely opened a new way to the old resorts of opulent commerce, and had discovered some of the wild regions of the east. He supposed Hispaniola to be the ancient Ophir which had been visited by the ships of Solomon, and that Cuba and Terra Firma, were but remote parts of Asia. What visions of glory would have broke upon his mind, could he have known that he had indeed discovered a new continent, equal to the whole of the old world in magnitude, and separated by two vast oceans from all of the earth hitherto known by civilized man; and how would his magnanimous spirit have been consoled, amidst the chills of age and cares of penury, the neglect of a fickle public, and the injustice of an ungrateful king, could he have anticipated the splendid empires which were to spread over the beautiful world he had discovered, and the nations and tongues and languages which were to fill its lands with his renown, and to revere and bless his name to the latest poste.
ART. IX.-Sketches of the War in Greece, in a series of Ex
tracts from the Correspondence of Philip James GREEN, Esqr. late British Consul for the Morea; with Notes, by R. L. GREEN, Vice-Consul; and an Appendix, containing Official Documents, relating to the Affairs of Greece. London. 1827.
Many causes have combined, to give to the contest now raging between the Greeks and the Turks, an interest which its intrinsic importance, perhaps, docs not merit. With the name of Greece is associated the recollection of arts, science, literature, and liberty. Throughout all Christendom, there reigns, and has reigned for centuries past, a profound sentiment of veneration for that country, whence scholars have derived their knowledge, poets their inspiration, and patriots their most illustrious examples. Ages of insignificance and slavery have not divested Greece of that mantle of glory, which antiquity threw over her; and still we estimate her, not by the standard of her present ignorance
and degradation, but by those models of eloquence, poetry, statuary, and architecture, which, judging by the past, seem to have reached an elevation, which human genius is destined never to surpass. The Greece, so elevated and so venerated, has ceased to exist for more than two thousand years, save only in her books, her statues, her temples, and her history; but so long as these remain, nothing can ever despoil her of the sublime attributes of greatness. Nay, were she annihilated, her islands and her continent—the whole civilized world is filled with monuments, which would preserve and perpetuate her glory. The sentiment, therefore, which creates this deep sympathy in the struggles of the descendants of such a race, is natural and praiseworthy, so far as it originates in this generous admiration of intellectual superiority.
Associated with this reverence for an illustrious antiquity, is another feeling, equally dignified and disinterested. The people, may we not say the philosophers and more enlightened classes, in all parts of Europe, begin to feel a strong sympathy in the struggles of nations for the attainment of freedom. They view, with anxious solicitude, the sacrifices and the triumphs of the oppressed, and rejoice in the humiliation and discomfiture of the oppressor, as if recognising, in these examples, the probability of future benefits to themselves. This sentiment is gaining, every day, additional force and power, insomuch that the wary instinct of absolute sovereigns begins to do it an indirect homage, by seeking, in redressing wrongs abroad, impunity for inflicting them at home. The general and growing sentiment in favour of freedom, is exemplified in the anxious solicitude manifested by the different nations of Europe, and by the people of the United States, in the successful issue of the Greek contest.
A third, and perhaps still more powerful principle, is in operation, to strengthen our veneration for antiquity, and our ardour for freedom. We mean religious antipathy. The Greeks are Christians, the Turks Mahometans. The sentiment which originated the crusades, and precipitated Europe upon Asiawhich deluged Egypt, Syria, and Palestine with blood, and gave rise to deeds of valour and examples of disinterested sacrifice, almost without a parallel, is not yet extinguished. The Turk still calls the Christian a dog; and the Christian imbibes, with his earliest lessons of history and fiction, the idea of Turkish barbarity and despotism. At one period, Asia bled and trembled under the foot of Europe ; at another, Europe narrowly escaped the malignant influence of the baleful Crescent. The battle of Aquitaine and the sword of Charles Martel possibly decided whether the Christian or the Mahometan religion should prevail in Europe. Since that period, frequent and bloody wars have been waged between the Cross and the Crescent, and waged, too, without much regard to those humane maxims, which prevail among people of the same faith, and who profess allegiance to the laws of nations. The Turks inflicted the most rigorous slavery on their prisoners, and only spared their lives in the anticipation of their services or their ransom. The Christians retaliated, by similar or perhaps more severe treatment of the Mussulmen; and thus religious antipathy, mutual hatred, mutual fears, and mutual injuries, inflicted and endured for a succession of ages, all combined to engender and perpetuate a feeling of most bitter hostility on both sides. They are the two most powerful sects of the earth; they have disputed the political and religious empire of the world with each other; their respective creeds more nearly approximate in fundamental principles, than those of any two sects of equal power and numbers, and the natural result is what it ever has been, and, we fear, ever will be, in this world.
When we consider that principles of such universal force and operation combine to inspire a sympathy in favour of one party, and an antipathy to the other, it is no longer to be wondered at, that a struggle, in a remote region, between two nations with which we have scarcely any intercourse, and with whose interests we have no immediate concern, should have so strongly excited the feelings of Europe, and of the people of the United States. The same causes have produced that confused and contradictory mass of reports, letters, travels, and memoirs, in which truth and falsehood are so dovetailed into each other, that to this day, in the seventh year of the struggle, we remain in a great measure as ignorant of the real state of things, as at the moment of its commencement. The generous enthusiasts, from different Christian countries, who went to lend a helping hand to the cause of freedom, in their zeal to excite the sympathy of the world, or perhaps deceived by the ardour of their own hopes, have too often given a brilliant colouring to trifling successes of the Greeks, and exaggerated the disasters of their proud oppressors. There is also reason to believe, that the same persons have either been mistaken themselves, or wilfully shut their eyes to the disunion, the jealousies, and antipathies, religious, interested, and political, subsisting between the different leaders of the Greeks, and the total absence not only of all regular co-operation, but of the power to enforce, and the disposition to adopt, a system either civil or military.
Others, on the contrary, finding their expectations of employment, influence, or success, thwarted and disappointed, have taken the opposite extreme; and, perhaps, nay, too certainly, represented the cause and its supporters, in colours which they did not deserve. Indeed, almost all that has been written of Greece, since the commencement of her struggles with the Ottoman, ought to be taken with great allowance, as receiving its colouring