having watched the stars at sea from the
latitude of Iceland
to near the equator at Elmina.
Though yet longer baffled by the scepticism which knew not how to share his aspirations, he lost nothing of the grandeur of his conceptions, or the proud magnanimity of his character, or devotion to the sublime enterprise to which he held himself elected from his infancy by the promises of God; and when half resolved to withdraw from Spain
, travelling on foot, he knocked at the gate of the monastery of La Rabida
, at Palos
, to crave the needed charity of food and shelter for himself and his little son whom he led by the hand, the destitute and forsaken seaman, in his naked poverty, was still the promiser of kingdoms; holding firmly in his grasp ‘the keys of the ocean sea,’ claiming as it were from Heaven the Indies as his own, and ‘dividing them as he pleased.’
The increase of years did not impair his holy confidence; and in 1492, when he seemed to have outlived the
possibility of success, he gave a New World to Castile
, ‘the like of which was never done by any man in ancient or in later times.’
The self-love of Ferdinand of Spain
was offended at owing to a foreigner benefits too vast for requital; and the contemporaries of the great mariner persecuted the merit which they could not adequately reward.
Nor had posterity been mindful to gather into a finished picture the memorials of his career, till the genius of Irving
, with candor, liberality, and original research, made a record of his life, and in mild but enduring colors sketched his sublime inflexibility of purpose, the solemn trances of his mystic devotion, and the unfailing greatness of his soul.
Successive popes of Rome
had already conceded