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HE letter of Columbus to the Spanish monarchs,
Ferdinand and Isabella, in which he announced his discovery, had produced the greatest sensation at Court. The sovereigns were for a time dazzled and
bewildered by this sudden acquisition of a empire.
Shortly after his arrival at Seville, Columbus received a
letter from them, expressing their great delight, and requesting him to repair to their Court at Barcelona, to concert plans for a more extensive expedition. The 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."
Columbus set out on his journey to Barcelona, taking with him the six Indians, and the various curiosities and productions he had brought from the New World. The fame of his discovery had resounded throughout Spain. Wherever he passed, the surrounding country poured forth its inhabitants. In the large towns, the streets, the windows, and balconies, were filled with spectators, who rent the
air with acclamations. The multitude pressed to gain a sight of him and of the Indians, who were regarded as if they had been natives of another planet. Popular rumour had, as usual, exaggerated the truth, and filled the new-found country with all kinds of wonders.
His entrance into Barcelona has been compared to one of those triumphs that the Romans decreed to a conqueror. The Indians, according to their savage fashion, decorated with tropical feathers and ornaments of gold-various kinds of live parrots, stuffed birds, animals of unknown species, tropical plants, Indian coronets, bracelets, and various other trophies of an unknown world—being paraded in front, made a conspicuous display. Columbus followed on horseback, surrounded by a brilliant cavalcade of Spanish chivalry. The streets were almost impassable, the very roofs being covered with spectators. The event was looked upon as a signal dispensation of Providence in reward for the piety of the monarchs; and hence there was a sublimity in it that mingled a solemn feeling with the public joy.
To receive him with suitable distinction, the monarchs had their throne placed in public, under a canopy of brocade of gold, in a vast saloon. Here the King and Queen, with the Prince Juan, the dignitaries of the Court, and the chief nobles, awaited his arrival. Columbus entered the hall with a crowd of cavaliers, among whom, says an old author, he was conspicuous for his stately and commanding person, which, with a countenance rendered venerable by his gray hairs, gave him the august appearance of a senator of Rome. A modest smile lighted up his features; and certainly nothing could more deeply move a mind inflamed by a noble ambition, than the gratitude of a nation, or rather of a world.
On his approach, the Sovereigns rose as if to receive a person of the highest rank. Bending his knee, Columbus requested to kiss their hands, but their Majesties hesitated to permit this act of vassalage. Raising him in a gracious manner, they ordered him to seat himself in their presence-a rare honour in that proud and puncti
At their request he gave an account of the most striking events of his voyage, and a description of the islands he had discovered. These he pronounced to be mere harbingers of the discoveries he had yet to make, which would add realms of incalculable wealth to their dominions, and whole nations of proselytes to the true faith.
When he had finished, the Sovereigns sank on their knees, and raising their hands to heaven, poured forth thanks to God for so great a providence. All present followed their example ; a solemn enthusiasm pervaded the assembly, and prevented all common acclamations of triumph. Thus did the brilliant Court of Spain celebrate the discovery of the New World.
YE , ,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Whereof the ewe not bites; and you, whose pastime
Have I given fire, and risted Jove's stout oak