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ARRIVAL OF THE ADMIRAL AT ISABELLA-CHARAC
TER OF BARTHOLOMEW COLUMBUS.
(1494, Sept. 4.]
HE sight of the little squadron of Co
lumbus standing once more into the harbor was hailed with joy by such
of the inhabitants of Isabella as remained faithful to him. The long time that had elapsed since his departure on this adventurous voyage without any tidings arriving from him had given rise to the most serious apprehensions for his safety ; and it began to be feared that he had fallen a victim to his enterprising spirit in some remote part of these unknown seas.
A joyful and heartfelt surprise awaited the Admiral on his arrival, in finding at his bedside his brother Bartholomew, the companion of his youth, his confidential coadjutor, and in
a manner his second self, from whom he had been separated for several years. It will be recollected that about the time of the Admiral's departure from Portugal, he had commissioned Bartholomew to repair to England and propose his project of discovery to King Henry VII. Of this application to the English court no precise particulars are known. Fernando Columbus states that his uncle, in the course of his voyage, was captured and plundered by a corsair, and reduced to such poverty that he had for a long time to struggle for a mere subsistence by making sea charts; so that some years elapsed before he made his application to the English monarch. Las Casas thinks that he did not immediately proceed to England, having found a memorandum in his handwriting, by which it would appear that he accompanied Bartholomew Diaz in 1486, in his voyage along the coast of Africa, in the service of the King of Portugal, in the course of which voyage was discovered the Cape of Good Hope.*
* The memorandum cited by Las Casas (Hist. Ind., lib. i., cap. 7) is curious, though not conclusive. He says that he found it in an old book belonging to Christopher Columbus containing the works of Pedro de Aliaco. It was written in the margin of a treatise on the form of the globe, in the handwriting of Bartholomew Columbus, which was well known to Las It is but justice to the memory of Henry VII. to say that when the proposition was eventually made to him, it met with a more Casas, as he had many of his letters in his possession. The memorandum was in a barbarous mixture of Latin and Spanish and to the following effect :
“In the year 1488 in December arrived at Lisbon Bartholomew Diaz, captain of three caravels, which the King of Portugal sent to discover Guinea, and brought accounts that he had discovered six hundred leagues of territory, four hundred and fifty to the south and one hundred and fifty north, to a cape, named by him the Cape of Good Hope ; and that by the astrolabe he found the cape forty-five degrees beyond the equinoctial line. This cape was thirtyone hundred leagues distant from Lisbon ; the which the said captain says he set down, league by league, in a chart of navigation presented by him to the King of Portugal; in all which,” adds the writer, “I was present (in quibus omnibus interfui).”
Las Casas expresses a doubt whether Bartholomew wrote this note for himself or on the part of his brother, but infers that one or both were in this expedition. The inference may be correct with respect to Bartholomew, but Christopher at the time specified was at the Spanish court.
Las Casas accounts for a difference in date between the foregoing memorandum and the chronicles of the voyage ; the former making the return of Diaz in the year 1488, the latter 1487. This, he observes, might be because some begin to count the year after Christmas, others at the first of January; and the expedition sailed about the end of August, 1486, and returned