The offer of the discouery of the West Indies by Christopher Columbus to king Henry the seuenth in the yeere 1488 the 13 of February: with the kings acceptation of the offer, and the cause whereupon hee was depriued of the same: recorded in the thirteenth chapter of the history of Don Fernand Columbus of the life and deeds of his father Christopher Columbus.8
Christophero Colon temendo, se parimente i Re di Castiglia non assentissero alla sua impresa, non gli bisognasse proporla di nuouo à qualche alto principe, e cosi in cio passasse lungo tempo; mando in Inghilterra vn suo fratello, che haueua appresso di se, chiantato Bartholomeo Colon: il qual, quantunque non hauesse lettere Latine, erà però huomo prattico, e giudicioso nelle cose del mare, e sapea molto bene far carte da nauigare, e sphere, et altri instrumenti di quella professione, come dal suo fratello era instrutto. Partito adunque Bartholomeo Colon per Inghilterra, volle la sua sorte, che desse in man di cor sali, i quali lo spogliarono insieme con gli altri delta sua naue. Per la qual cosa, e per la sua pouertà et infirmità, che in cosi diuerse terre lo assalirono crudelmente, prolungo per gran tempo la sua ambasciata, fin che, aquistata vn poco di faculia con le carte, ch’ ei fabricana, cominciò a far pratiche co’ il Re Enrico settimo padre de Enrico ottauo, che al presente regna: a cui appresentò vn mappamondo, nel quale erano scritti questi versi, che frá le sue scriture lo trouai, e da me saranno qui posti piu rosto per l’antichità, che per la loro elganza.
Terraram quicunque cupis foeliciter oras
Noscere, cuncta decens doctè pictura docebit,
Quam Strabo affirmat, Ptolomæus, Plinius, atque
Isidorus: non vno tamen sententia cuique.
Pingitur hîc etiam nuper sulcata carinis
Hispanis Zona illa, priùs incognita genti
Torrida, quæ tandem nunc est notissima multis.
Et piu di sotto diceua
Pro Authore siue Pictore.
Ianua cui patriæ est nomen, cui Bartholomæus
Columbus de Terra Rubra, opus edidit istud,
Londonijis anno Domini 1480 atque insuper anno
Octauo, decimaque die cum tertia mensis
Februarij. Laudes Christo cantentur abundè.
Et, percioche auuertirà alcuno, che dice Columbus de Terra Rubra, dico medesimamente Io viddi alcune sotto scritioni dell’Ammiraglio, primo che acquistasse lo stato, ou’ egli si sotto scriueua, Columbus de Terra Rubra. Ma, tornando al Re d’Inghilterra, dico, che, da lui il mappamondo veduto, et cio che i’Ammiraglio gli offeriua, con allegro volto accettò la sua offerta, e mandolo a chiamare. Ma, percioche Dio Phaueua per Cas. tiglia serbata, gia l’Ammiraglio in quel tempo era andato, e tornato con la vittoria della sua impresa, secondo che per ordine si racconterà. Lasciarò hora di raccontar ciò, che Bartolomeo Colon hauena negociato in Inghilterra, e tornarò all’Ammiraglio, etc.
Christopher Columbus fearing least if the king of Castile in like manner (as the king of Portugall had done) should not condescend vnto his enterprise, he should be inforced to offer the same againe to some other prince, and so much time should be spent therein, sent into England a certaine brother of his which he had with him, whose name was Bartholomew Columbus, who, albeit he had not the Latine tongue, yet neuerthelesse was a man of experience and skilfull in Sea causes, and could very wel make sea cards and globes, and other instruments belonging to that profession, as he was instructed by his brother. Wherefore after that Bartholomew Columbus was departed for England, his lucke was to fall into the hands of pirats, which spoiled him with the rest of them which were in the ship which he went in. The occasion why the West Indies were not discouered for England. Vpon which occasion, and by reason of his pouerty and sicknesse which cruelly assaulted him in a countrey so farre distant from his friends, he deferred his embassage for a long while, until such time as he had gotten somewhat handsome about him with making of Sea Cards. At length he began to deale with King Henry the seuenth the father of Henry the eight, which reigneth at this present: vnto whom he presented a mappe of the world, wherein these verses were written, which I found among his papers: and I will here set them downe, rather for their antiquity then for their goodnesse.
Thou which desireth easily the coasts of lands to know,
This comely mappe right learnedly the same to thee will shew:
Which Strabo, Plinie, Ptolomew and Isodore maintaine:
Yet for all that they do not all in one accord remaine.
Here also is set downe the late discouered burning Zone
By Portingals, vnto the world which whilom was vnknowen.
Whereof the knowledge now at length thorow all the world is blowen.
And a little vnder he added:
For the Author or the Drawer.
He, whose deare natiue soile hight stately Genua.
Euen he whose name is Bartholomew Colon de Terra Rubra,
The yeere of Grace a thousand and foure hundred and fourescore
And eight, and on the thirteenth day of February more,
In London published this worke. To Christ all laud therefore.
And because some peraduenture may obserue that he calleth himselfe Columbus de Terra Rubra, I say, that in like maner I haue seene some subscriptions of my father Christopher Columbus, before he had the degree of Admirall, wherein be signed his name thus, Columbus de Terra Rubra. King Henry the seuenth his acceptation of Columbus offer. But to returne to the king of England, I say, that after he had seene the map, and that which my father Christopher Columbus offered vnto him, he accepted the offer with ioyfull countenance, and sent to call him into England. But because God had reserued the said offer for Castile, Columbus was gone in the meane space, and also returned with the performance of his enterprise, as hereafter in order shall be rehearsed. Now will I leaue off from making any farther mention of that which Bartholomew Colon had negotiated in England, and I will returne vnto the Admirall, &c.
8 The most interesting life of Columbus is that by Lamartine, a translation of which appeared in the “Bibliotheca Curiosa.”
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:51