Chronicles of America 

Columbus Death in Poverty

With some premonition of his own demise, Columbus now busied himself with his last will, charging his son Diego to provide for the maintenance of Beatrix, "a person to whom I am under great obligations; and let this," he continues, "be done for the discharge of my conscience, for it weighs heavy on my soul." On May 20, 1506, at Valladolid, broken, discouraged, and well-nigh forgotten even in Spain, the discoverer of America, Viceroy of the Indies, and Admiral of the Ocean, breathed his last.

The discoverer of America strikingly illustrates the aphorism that the world's great men, so far from having commonly been men of learning, have often been but glorified enthusiasts. To Columbus the South, the upper coast of South America at the mouths of the Orinoco, meant the Terrestrial Paradise of Sir John Mandeville, a spot where the earth's surface ceasing to be rounded was pinched into a stem, on the summit of which the Paradise rested, and down the sides of which rolled such mighty streams as the Orinoco. It meant also the Golden Chersonese of Ptolemy (Malay Peninsula), where in one year Solomon gathered 656 quintals of gold and all manner of precious stones. It was because of this South, so gravely misconceived by him geographically, that Columbus, anticipating the project of Magellan, entertained at the end of his second voyage the idea of returning to Europe by way of the Indian Ocean. "If he had had an abundance of provisions, " says his son Ferdinand, "he would not have returned to Spain except by way of the East."

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