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house in consequence of the hardships they had sustained; the pilot was the last that died, leaving his host heir to his papers. Columbus kept them profoundly secret, and by pursuing the route therein prescribed, obtained the credit of discovering the New World.* Such are the material points of the circumstantial relation furnished by Garcilaso de la Vega one hundred and twenty years after the event. In regard to authority, he recollects to have heard the story when he was a child, as a subject of conversation between his father and the neighbors, and he refers to the histories of the Indies by Acosta and Gomara for confirmation. As the conversation to which he listened must have taken place sixty or seventy years after the date of the report, there had been sufficient time for the vague rumors to become arranged into a regular narrative, and thus we have not only the name, country, and destination of the pilot, but also the name of the unknown land to which his vessel was driven. This account given by Garcilaso de la Vega has been adopted by many old historians, who have felt a confidence in the peremptory manner in which he relates it, and in the authorities to whom he refers. These have been echoed by others of more recent date; and thus a weighty charge of fraud and impost
* Commentarios de los Incas, lib. i., cap. 3.
ure has been accumulated against Columbus, apparently supported by a crowd of respectable accusers.* The whole charge is to be traced to Gomara, who loosely repeated a vague rumor, without noticing the pointed contradiction given to it seventeen years before by Oviedo, an ear-witness, from whose book he appears to have actually gathered the report. It is to be remarked that Gomara bears the character among historians of inaccuracy, and of great credulity in adopting unfounded stories.
* Names of historians who either adopted this story in detail, or the charge against Columbus drawn from it: Bernardo Aldrete, Antiguedad, de España, lib. iv., cap. 17, p. 567. Roderigo Caro, Antiguedad, lib. iii., cap. 76. Juan de Solorzana, Ind. Jure, tom. i., lib. i., cap. 5. Fernando Pizarro, Varones Illust. del Nuevo Mundo, cap. 2. Agostino Torniel, Annal. Sacr., tom. i: ann. Mund., 1931, No. 48. Pet. Damarez or De Mariz, Dial. iv. de Var. Hist., cap. 4. Gregorio Garcia, Orig. de los Indios, lib. i., cap. 4, 21. Juan de Torquemanda, Monarch, Ind., lib. xviii., cap. 1. John Baptiste Riccioli, Geograf. Reform., lib. iii. To this list of old authors maybe added many others of more recent date. o t “Francisco Lopez de Gomara, Presbitero, Sevillano, escribio con elegantestilo acerca de las cosas de las Indies, pero dexandose llevar de falsas narraciones.”—Hijos de Sevilla, Numero ii., p. 42, Let. F. The same is stated in Bibliotheca Hispaña Nova, lib. i., p. 437. “El Francisco Lopez de Gomara escrivio tantos barrones é cosas que no son verdaderas, de que ha hecho mucho daño a muchos escritores e coronistas, que despues del Gomara han escrito en las cosas de la Nueva España . . . es porque les ha hecho errar el Gomara.”—Bernal Diaz del Castillo, Hist. de la Conquest de la Nueva España, Fin. de cap. 18. “Tenia Gomara doctrina y estilo . . . pero empleose en vo L. v.-14
It is unnecessary to give further refutation to this charge, especially as it is clear that Columbus communicated his idea of discovery to Paulo Toscanelli of Florence in 1474, ten years previous to the date assigned by Garcilaso de Vega for this occurrence.
THIs able geographer was born in Nuremberg, in Germany, about the commencement of the year 1430. His ancestors were from the circle of Pilsner, in Bohemia, hence he is called by some writers Martin of Bohemia, and the resemblance of his own name to that of the country of his ancestors frequently occasions a confusion in the appellation.
It has been said by some that he studied under Philip Bervalde the elder, and by others under John Muller, otherwise called Regiomontanus, though De Murr, who has made diligent inquiry into his history, discredits both assertions. According to a correspondence between Behem and his uncle, discovered of late years by De Murr, it appears that the early part of his life was devoted to commerce. Some have given him the credit of discovering the island of Fayal, ordinar sin discernimiento lo que halló escrito por sus antecesbut this is an error, arising probably from the circumstance that Job de Huertar, father-in-law of Behem, colonized that island in 1466. He is supposed to have arrived at Portugal in 1481, while Alphonso V. was still on the throne; it is certain that shortly afterwards he was in high repute for his science in the court of Lisbon, insomuch that he was one of the council appointed by King John II. to improve the art of navigation, and by some he has received the whole credit of the memorable service rendered to commerce by that council, in the introduction of the astrolabe into nautical use. In 1484 King John sent an expedition under Diego Cam, as Barros calls him, Cano according to others, to prosecute discoveries along the coast of Africa. In this expedition Behem sailed as cosmographer. They crossed the equinoctial line, discovered the coast of Congo, advanced to twenty-two degrees forty-five minutes of south latitude,” and erected two columns, on which were engraved the arms of Portugal, in the mouth of the river Zagra in Africa, which thence for some time took the name of the River of Columns.f For the services rendered on this and on previous occasions, it is said that Behem was knighted by King John in 1485, though no mention is made of such a circumstance in any of the contemporary historians. The principal proof of his having received this mark of distinction, is his having given himself the title of his globe of Eques Lusitanus. In 1486 he married at Fayal the daughter of Job de Huertar, and is supposed to have remained there for some few years, where he had a son named Martin, born in 1489. During his residence at Lisbon and Fayal it is probable the acquaintance took place between him and Columbus, to which Herrera and others allude; and the Admiral may have heard from him some of the rumors circulating in the islands, of indications of western lands floating to their shores. In 1491 he returned to Nuremburg to see his family, and while there, in 1492, he finished a terrestial globe, considered a masterpiece in those days, which he had undertaken at the request of the principal magistrates of his native city. In 1593 he returned to Portugal, and from thence proceeded to Fayal. In 1494 King John II., who had a high opinion of him, sent him to Flanders to his natural son Prince George, the intended heir of his crown. In the course of his voyage Behem was captured and carried to England, where he remained for three months detained by illness. Having recovered, he again put to sea, but was captured by a corsair and carried to France. Having ransomed himself, he proceeded to Antwerp and Bruges, but returned almost immedi
ores, y dió credito i petrafias no solo falsas sino inverisimiles.” —juan Cautista Muñoz, Hist, V. Mundo, Prologo, p. 18.