Saturday, January 15, 2011

Columbus Leaves the New World

'...Agreeably to your advice, I have actually read over Madoc a second time, and I confess have seen much beauty which escaped me in the first perusal. Yet (which yet, by the way, is almost as vile a monosyllable as but] I cannot feel quite the interest I would wish to do. The difference of character which you notice, reminds me of what by Ben Jonson and other old comedians were called humours, which consisted rather in the personification of some individual passion or propensity, than of an actual individual man. Also, I cannot give up my objection, that what was strictly true of Columbus becomes an unpleasant falsehood when told of some one else. Suppose I was to write a fictitious book of travels, I should certainly do ill to copy exactly the incidents which befell Mungo Park or Bruce of Kinnaird. What was true of them would incontestably prove at once the falsehood and plagiarism of my supposed journal. It is not but what the incidents are natural—but it is their having already happened, which strikes us when they are transferred to imaginary persons. Could any one bear the story of a second city being taken by a wooden horse?...'

The text above was taken from a letter Walter Scott sent to the English poet Anna Seward, taken from John Gibson Lockhart's "Memoirs of Sir Walter Scott".  The main topic was MacPherson's Ossian poem fraud.  Scott evokes Christopher Columbus, and the events during his travels as unfit for repackaging in fiction. 

What were some of Columbus' adventures?  On the day he departed the New World to return to Spain, January 15, 1493, he considers many circumstances in his journal, as translated by Cecil Jane.  'He [Columbus] says that he wished to depart, because now there is no profit in remaining, owing to those disagreements which had occurred; he must mean the dispute with the Indians...that all the abundance of gold was in the district of the town of La Navidad...there would be difficulties in the island of Carib, because that people is said to eat human flesh...and to the island of Matinano, which is said to be entirely peopled by women without men, and to see both, and to take some, as he says...'

No comments:

Post a Comment