National Geographic : 1893 Apr 7
Life and Character of Columbus. 7 Orient and the Mediterranean, but also of the possibility of reaching those countries and obtaining that trade for Spain by sailing west rather than by circumnavigating Africa. The actual distance from Europe in a due west line to Cipango is nearly twelve thousand miles ; Toscanelli estimated it as 100° or nearly five thousand miles, but his map showed islands on the route which would reduce the distance between any two lands to about 2,000 miles.* Columbus was a devout Catholic, holding to the teachings of the church. In the book of Esdras he read that God on the third day of the creation made the earth, six parts of land and one-seventh water. He knew the vast extent of the Atlantic north and south, and reasoning from these facts he thought it could not be over 2,000 or 2,500 miles to Cipango, though he actually sailed 3,230 miles before he reached a new world. After Columbus determined to cross the Atlantic he applied for help to the king of Portugal. He wrote, " They took my charts and writings from me, saying they would ponder them, but secretly they sent out the ships they had denied me. God drove them back on their own coasts and punished their treachery, but I could no longer trust them." He therefore left Portugal for Spain. Las Casas describes him at this time as a man of noble and commanding presence, tall and well built, with a ruddy complexion, keen, blue-gray eyes that often kindled, while his waving white hair made him quite picturesque; his manner courteous and his conversation charming. He had an indefinable air of authority, as became a man of great heart and lofty thoughts. It was this commanding presence which enabled him to stand before Ferdinand and Isabella as their equal. In 1484 he arrived in Spain a foreigner, poor and in debt. A stranger and friendless, he appeared at the court of the proudest sovereigns of Europe. Yet such was his bearing and the effect produced upon the king and queen by his eloquence that they ap pointed several learned men to consider his project. Some few believed, many remained in doubt, but most laughed at him as visionary and ridiculed his proposals as the dream of a mad man. Those that were convinced by his reasoning became his firm friends. For seven years he waited patiently at the court, renewing his suit from time to time, until Grenada was conquered, when Isabella had promised to listen to him. A man less con * Plate 3.
1893 Apr 29
1893 Mar 20