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THE CHARACTER OF COLUMBUS
To us it is given to behold in its full splendor what Columbus, like another Moses on the borders of the Land of Promise, could only discern in dim and distant outlines. And, therefore, with Italy, the land of his birth; with Spain, the land of his adoption; 5 with the other nations of the globe who are debtors to his daring, we gladly swell the universal chorus in his honor of praise and of thanksgiving.
In 1792 the ocean separated us by a journey of seventy days from Europe; our self-government was looked upon as a problem 10 still to be solved; at home, facilities of travel and of intercommunication were yet to be provided. More than this, the unworthy innuendoes, the base as well as baseless charges that sought to tarnish the fair fame of Columbus, had not been re
⚫ moved by patient historical research and critical acumen. For15 tunately, these clouds that gathered around the exploits of the great discoverer have been almost entirely dispelled, thanks especially to the initiative of a son of our Empire State, the immortal Washington Irving.
I beg to present Columbus as a man of science and a man of
faith. As a scientist, considering the time in which he lived, he eminently deserves our respect. Both in theory and in practice he was one of the best geographers and cosmographers of the age. According to reliable historians, before he set out to discover new 5 seas, he had navigated the whole extent of those already known. Moreover, he had studied so many authors and to such advantage that Alexander von Humboldt affirmed: "When we consider his life we must feel astonishment at the extent of his literary acquaintance."
Columbus took nothing for granted. While he bowed reverently to the teachings of his faith, he brushed away as cobwebs certain interpretations of Scripture more fanciful than real, and calmly maintained that the Word of God cannot be in conflict with scientific truth. The project of bearing Christ over the 15 waters sank deeply into his heart. Time and again he alludes to it as the main object of his researches and the aim of his labors. Other motives of action undoubtedly he had, but they were a means to an end.
Moreover, may we not reasonably assume that the great navi20 gator, after all, was a willing instrument in the hands of God? The old order was changing. Three great inventions, already beginning to exert a most potent influence, were destined to revolutionize the world—the printing-press, which led to the revival of learning; the use of gun-powder, which changed the methods of 25 warfare; the mariner's compass, which permitted the sailor to tempt boldly even unknown seas.
These three great factors of civilization, each in its own way, so stimulated human thought that the discovery of America was plainly in the designs of that Providence which "reacheth from so end to end mightily and ordereth all things sweetly."
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. Michael Augustine Corrigan (1839-1902) was born in Newark, New Jersey. He became Archbishop of New York and was a distinguished Prelate. This selection is taken from a Columbus Day address he gave in Chicago in 1892.
Discussion. 1. Explain the comparison found in the second line. 2. What claims does the author make for Columbus as a scientific man?
3. What great inventions occurred previous to Columbus's voyage that affected his discovery of America? 4. Do you think the spirit of adventure had something to do with Columbus's discovery? Pronounce the following: government; acumen; exploits; geographers; alludes.
unworthy innuendoes, 405, 11
critical acumen, 405, 14
potent influence, 406, 22
THE LANDING OF THE PILGRIM FATHERS
The breaking waves dashed high
On a stern and rock-bound coast,
And the heavy night hung dark
The hills and waters o'er,
When a band of exiles moored their bark
Not as the conqueror comes,
Not with the roll of the stirring drums,
Not as the flying come,
In silence and in fear;
They shook the depths of the desert gloom
Amidst the storm they sang,
And the stars heard and the sea;
And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang
The ocean eagle soared
From his nest by the white wave's foam;
There were men with hoary hair
Amidst that pilgrim band;
Why had they come to wither there,
There was woman's fearless eye,
Lit by her deep love's truth;
What sought they thus afar?
The wealth of seas, the spoils of war?
Ay, call it holy ground,
The soil where first they trod.
They have left unstained what there they found—
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. Felicia Hemans (1793-1835), an English poet, was born in Liverpool. She began to write poetry when young, and in 1819 won a prize of £50 offered for the best poem on "The Meeting of Wallace and Bruce on the Banks of the Carron." She is best known by her short poems, some of which have become standard English lyrics, such as "The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers," "Treasures of the Deep," and "Casabianca."
Discussion. 1. What picture do the first two stanzas give you? 2. Compare the coming of a conqueror with the coming of these early settlers. 3. What different kinds of persons composed the "pilgrim band"? 4. Why did they come to this new country? 5. Why does the poet say "holy ground"? 6. What legacy have the Pilgrims left us?
PHILIP OF POKANOKET
AN INDIAN MEMOIR
As monumental bronze unchanged his look;
It is to be regretted that those early writers, who treated of the discovery and settlement of America, have not given us more particular and candid accounts of the remarkable characters that flourished in savage life. The scanty anecdotes which have reached us are full of peculiarity and interest; they furnish us with nearer glimpses of human nature, and show what man is in a comparatively primitive state, and what he owes to civilization. There is something of the charm of discovery in lighting upon these wild and unexplored tracts of human nature; in witnessing, 10 as it were, the native growth of moral sentiment, and perceiving those generous and romantic qualities which have been artificially cultivated by society, vegetating in spontaneous hardihood and rude magnificence.
In civilized life, where the happiness, and indeed almost the 15 existence, of man depends so much upon the opinion of his fellowmen, he is constantly acting a studied part. The bold and peculiar traits of native character are refined away, or softened down by the leveling influence of what is termed good-breeding; and he practices so many petty deceptions, and affects so many generous 20 sentiments, for the purposes of popularity, that it is difficult to distinguish his real from his artificial character. The Indian, on the contrary, free from the restraints and refinements of polished