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DIPLOMATIC NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN THE COURTS OF SPAIN AND PORTUGAL WITH RESPECT
TO THE NEW DISCOVERIES.
HE anxiety of the Spanish monarchy for the speedy departure of the ex
pedition was heightened by the pro
ceedings of the court of Portugal. John II. had unfortunately among his councillors certain politicians of that short-sighted class who mistake craft for wisdom. By adopting their perfidious policy he had lost the New World when it was an object of honorable enterprise; in compliance with their advice, he now sought to retrieve it by stratagem. He had accordingly prepared a large armament, the avowed object of which was an expedition to Africa, but its real destination to seize upon the newly discovered countries. To lull suspicion, Don Ruy de Sande was sent
ambassador to the Spanish court, requesting permission to procure certain prohibited articles from Spain for this African voyage. He required, also, that the Spanish sovereigns should forbid their subjects to fish beyond Cape Bojador, until the possessions of the two nations should be properly defined. The discovery of Columbus, the real object of solicitude, was treated as an incidental affair. The manner of his arrival and reception in Portugal was mentioned; the congratulations of King John on the happy result of his voyage; his satisfaction at finding that the Admiral had been instructed to steer westward from the Canary Islands, and his hope that the Castilian sovereigns would continue to enjoin a similar track on their navigators,-all to the south of those islands being granted by papal bull to the Crown of Portugal. He concluded by intimating the entire confidence of King John, that should any of the newly discovered islands appertain by right to Portugal, the matter would be adjusted in that spirit of amity which existed between the two crowns.
Ferdinand was too wary a politician to be easily deceived. He had received early intelligence of the real designs of King John, and before the arrival of his ambassador had himself despatched Don Lope de Herrera to the
Portuguese court, furnished with double instructions, and with two letters of widely opposite tenor. The first was couched in affectionate terms, acknowledging the hospitality and kindness shown to Columbus, and communicating the nature of his discoveries; requesting at the same time that the Portuguese navigators might be prohibited from visiting those newly discovered lands, in the same manner that the Spanish sovereigns had prohibited their subjects from interfering with the African possessions of Portugal.
In case, however, the ambassador should find that King John had either sent or was about to send vessels to the New World, he was to withhold the amicable letter, and present the other, couched in stern and peremptory terms, and forbidding any enterprise of the kind. A keen diplomatic game ensued between the two sovereigns, perplexing to any spectator not acquainted with the secret of their play. Resende, in his history of King John II., informs us that the Portuguese monarch, by large presents, or rather bribes, held certain of the confidential members of the Castilian cabinet in his interest, who informed him of the most secret councils of their court.
*Herrera, Hist. Ind., decad. i., lib. ii. Zurita, Anales de Arragon, lib. i., cap. 25.
The roads were thronged with couriers; scarce was an intention expressed by Ferdinand to his ministers, but it was conveyed to his rival monarch. The result was that the Spanish sovereigns seemed as if under the influence of some enchantment. King John anticipated all their movements, and appeared to dive into their very thoughts. Their ambassadors were crossed on the road by Portuguese ambassadors, empowered to settle the very points about which they were going to make remonstrances. Frequently, when Ferdinand proposed a sudden and perplexing question to the envoys at his court, which apparently would require fresh instructions from the sovereigns, he would be astonished by a prompt and positive reply; most of the questions which were likely to occur having, through secret information, been foreseen and provided for. As a surmise of treachery in the cabinet might naturally arise, King John, while he rewarded his agents in secret, endeavored to divert suspicions from them upon others, making rich presents of jewels to the Duke de Infantado and other Spanish grandees of incorruptible integrity. *
*Resende, Vida del Rey Dom Joam II., cap. 157. Faria y Souza, Europa Portuguesa, tom. ii., cap.
4, p. 3.
Such is the intriguing diplomatic craft which too often passes for refined policy, and is extolled as the wisdom of the cabinet; but all corrupt and disingenious measures are unworthy of an enlightened politician and a magnanimous prince. The grand principles of right and wrong operate the same way between nations as between individuals; fair and open conduct and inviolable faith, however they may appear adverse to present purposes, are the only kind of policy that will insure ultimate and honorable success.
King John having received intelligence in the furtive manner that has been mentioned, of the double instructions furnished to Don Lope de Herrera, received him in such a manner as to prevent any resort to his peremptory letter. He had already despatched an extra envoy to the Spanish court to keep it in good. humor, and he now appointed Doctor Pero Diaz and Don Ruy de Pena ambassadors to the Spanish sovereigns to adjust all questions relative to the new discoveries, and promised that no vessel should be permitted to sail on a voyage of discovery within sixty days after their arrival at Barcelona.
These ambassadors were instructed to propose, as a mode of effectually settling all claims, that a line should be drawn from the