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IX.—Appeal of Columbus in his old age.

[to the King and Queen of Spain. Taken from his letter (1503) describing his fourth voyage.]

Such is my fate, that the twenty years of service through which I have passed with so much toil and danger have profited me nothing, and at this very day I do not possess a roof in Spain that I can call my own. If I wish to eat or sleep, I have nowhere to go but to the inn or tavern, and most times lack wherewith to pay the bill. Another anxiety wrung my very heart-strings, which was the thought of my son Diego, whom I had left an orphan in Spain, and stripped of the honor and property which were due to him on my account, although I had looked upon it as a certainty that your Majesties, as just and grateful princes, would restore it to him in all respects with increase. . . .

For seven years was I at your royal court, where every one to whom the enterprise was mentioned treated it as ridiculous; but now there is not a man, down to the very tailors, who does not beg to be allowed to become a discoverer. There is reason to believe that they make the voyage only for plunder, and that they are permitted to do so to the great disparagement of my honor, and the detriment of the undertaking itself. It is right to give God his due, and to receive that which belongs to one's self. This is a just sentiment, and proceeds from just feelings. The lands in this part of the world, which are now under your Highnesses' sway, are richer and more extensive than those of any other Christian power; and yet, after that I had, by the divine will, placed them under your high and royal sovereignty, and was on the

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1503 AD (1)
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