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THE

VOYAGE OF

OF COLUMBUS.

1812.

Chi se' tu, che vieni - ?
Da me stesso non vegno.

DANTE.

I have seen the day
That I have worn a visor, and could tell
A tale -

SHAKSP.

PREFACE.

The following Poem (or, to speak more properly, what remains of it*) has here and there a lyrical turn of thought and expression. It is sudden in its transitions, and full of historical allusions ; leaving much to be imagined by the reader.

The subject is a voyage the most memorable in the annals of mankind. Columbus was a person of extraordinary virtue and piety, aoting, as he conceived, under the sense of a divine impulse ; and his achievement the discovery of a New World, the inhabitants of which were shut out from the light of revelation, and given up, as they believed, to the dominion of malignant spirits.

Many of the incidents will now be thought extravagant; yet they were once perhaps received with something more than indulgence. It was an age of miracles ; and who can say that among the venerable legends in the library of the Escurial, or the more authentic records which fill the great chamber in the Archivo of Seville, and which relate entirely to the deep tragedy of America, there are no volumes that mention the marvellous things here described ? Indeed, the story, as already told throughout Europe, admits of no heightening. Such was the religious enthusiasm of the early writers, that the author had only to transfuse it into his verse ; and he appears to have done little more, though some of the circumstances, which he alludes to as well known, have long ceased to be so. By using the language of that day, he has called up Columbus " in his habit as he lived ;” and the authorities, such as exist, are carefully given by the translator.

* The original in the Castilian language, according to the Inscription that follows, was found among other MSS. in an old religious house near Palos, situated on an island formed by the river Tinto, and dedicated to our Lady of La Rabida. The writer describes himself as having sailed with Columbus ; but his style and manner are evidently of an after-time. INSCRIBED ON THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT.

UNCLASP me, Stranger; and unfold,
With trembling care, my leaves of gold,
Rich in Gothic portraiture
If

yet, alas! a leaf endure.

In RABIDA's monastic fane
I cannot ask, and ask in vain.
The language of CASTILE I speak;
Mid many an Arab, many a Greek,
Old in the days of CHARLEMAIN ;
When minstrel-music wandered round,
And Science, waking, blessed the sound.

No earthly thought has here a place,
The cowl let down on every face ;
Yet here, in consecrated dust,
Here would I sleep, if sleep I must.
From GENOA when COLUMBUS came
(At once her glory and her shame),
'T was here he caught the holy flame.
’T was here the generous vow he made ;
His banners on the altar laid.

Here, tempest-worn and desolate, *
A Pilot, journeying through the wild,

We have an interesting account of his first appearance in Spain, that country which was so soon to be the theatre of his glory. According to

Stopt to solicit at the gate
A pittance for his child.
T was here, unknowing and unknown,
He stood upon the threshold-stone.
But hope was his — a faith sublime,
That triumphs over place and time;
And here, his mighty labor done,
And his course of glory run,
A while as more than man he stood,
So large the debt of gratitude !

One hallowed morn, methought, I felt As if a soul within me dwelt ! But who arose and gave to me The sacred trust I keep for thee, And in his cell at even-tide Knelt before the cross and died Inquire not now. His name no more Glimmers on the chancel-floor, Near the lights that ever shine Before St. Mary's blessed shrine.

To me one little hour devote, And lay thy staff and scrip beside thee;

the testimony of Garcia Fernandez, the physician of Palos, a sea-faring man, accompanied by a very young boy, stopped one day at the gate of the Convent of La Rábida, and asked of the porter a little bread and water for his child. While they were receiving this humble refreshment, the prior, Juan Perez, happening to pass by, was struck with the look and manner of the stranger, and, entering into conversation with him, soon learnt the par. ticulars of his story. The stranger was Columbus ; the boy was his son Diego ; and, but for this accidental interview, America might have remained long undiscovered : for it was to the zeal of Juan Perez that he was finally indebted for the accomplishment of his great purpose. - See Irving's History of Columbus.

Read in the temper that he wrote,
And may his gentle spirit guide thee !
My leaves forsake me, one by one;
The book-worm through and through has gone.
O, haste – unclasp me, and unfold;
The tale within was never told !

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