Wednesday, October 21, 2015

6-47 (part 4) Video Lesson XLVII: The Character of Columbus.- McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader (revised edition)

Background history of Byzantium and Spain in reference to Christopher Columbus from a Christian perspective..


Washington Irving, 1783-1859. Among those whose works have enriched American literature, and have given it a place in the estimation of foreigners, no name stands higher than that of Washington Irving. He was born in the city of New York; his father was a native of Scotland, and his mother was English. He had an ordinary school education, and at the age of sixteen began the study of law. Two of his older brothers were interested in literary pursuits; and in his youth he studied the old English authors. He was also passionately fond of books of travel. At the age of nineteen, he began his literary career by writing for a paper published by his brother. In 1804 be made a voyage to the south of Europe. On his return he completed his studies in law, but never practiced his profession. "Salmagundi," his first book (partly written by others), was published in 1807. This was followed, two years later, by "Knickerbocker's History of New York." Soon after, he entered into mercantile pursuits in company with two brothers. At the close at the war with England he sailed again for Europe, and remained abroad seventeen years. During his absence he formed the acquaintance of the most eminent literary men of his time, and wrote several of his works; among them were: "The Sketch Book," "Bracebridge Hall," "Tales of a Traveler," "Life and Voyages of Columbus," and the "Conquest of Granada." On his return he made a journey west of the Mississippi, and gathered materials for several other books. From 1842 to 1846 he was Minister to Spain. On his return to America he established his residence at "Sunnyside," near Tarrytown, on the Hudson, where he passed the last years of his life. A young lady to whom he was attached having died in early life, Mr. Irving never married.

His works are marked by humor, just sentiment, and elegance and correctness of expression. They were popular both at home and abroad from the first, and their sale brought him a handsome fortune. The "Life of Washington," his last work, was completed in the same year in which he died.

Columbus was a man of great and inventive genius. The operations of his mind were energetic, but irregular; bursting forth, at times, with that irresistible force which characterizes intellect of such an order. His ambition was lofty and noble, inspiring him with high thoughts and an anxiety to distinguish himself by great achievements. He aimed at dignity and wealth in the same elevated spirit with which he sought renown; they were to rise from the territories he should discover, and be commensurate in importance.

His conduct was characterized by the grandeur of his views and the magnanimity of his spirit. Instead of ravaging the newly-found countries, like many of his contemporary discoverers, who were intent only on immediate gain, he regarded them with the eyes of a legislator; he sought to colonize and cultivate them, to civilize the natives, to build cities, introduce the useful arts, subject everything to the control of law, order, and religion, and thus to found regular and prosperous empires. That he failed in this was the fault of the dissolute rabble which it was his misfortune to command, with whom all law was tyranny and all order oppression.

He was naturally irascible and impetuous, and keenly sensible to injury and injustice; yet the quickness of his temper was counteracted by the generosity and benevolence of his heart. The magnanimity of his nature shone forth through all the troubles of his stormy career. Though continually outraged in his dignity, braved in his authority, foiled in his plans, and endangered in his person by the seditions of turbulent and worthless men, and that, too, at times when suffering under anguish of body and anxiety of mind enough to exasperate the most patient, yet he restrained his valiant and indignant spirit, and brought himself to forbear, and reason, and even to supplicate. Nor can the reader of the story of his eventful life fail to notice how free he was from all feeling of revenge, how ready to forgive and forget on the least sign of repentance and atonement. He has been exalted for his skill in controlling others, but far greater praise is due to him for the firmness he displayed in governing himself.


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