Christopher Columbus and the New World
Christopher is gone, vanished over that blue horizon; and the tale of life in Genoa goes on
without him very much as before, except that Domenico has one apprentice less, and, a
matter becoming of some importance in the narrow condition of his finances, one boy
less to feed and clothe. For good Domenico, alas! is no economist. Those hardy
adventures of his in the buying and selling line do not prosper him; the tavern does not
pay; perhaps the tavern-keeper is too hospitable; at any rate, things are not going well.
And yet Domenico had a good start; as his brother Antonio has doubtless often told him,
he had the best of old Giovanni's inheritance; he had the property at Quinto, and other
property at Ginestreto, and some ground rents at Pradella; a tavern at Savona, a shop
there and at Genoa—really, Domenico has no excuse for his difficulties. In 1445 he was
selling land at Quinto, presumably with the consent of old Giovanni, if he was still alive;
and if he was not living, then immediately after his death, in the first pride of possession.
In 1450 he bought a pleasant house at Quarto, a village on the sea-shore about a mile to
the west of Quinto and about five miles to the east of Genoa. It was probably a pure
speculation, as he immediately leased the house for two years, and never lived in it
himself, although it was a pleasant place, with an orchard of olives and figs and various
other trees—'arboratum olivis ficubus et aliis diversis arboribus'. His next recorded
transaction is in 1466, when he went security for a friend, doubtless with disastrous
results. In 1473 he sold the house at the Olive Gate, that suburban dwelling where
probably Christopher was born, and in 1474 he invested the proceeds of that sale in a
piece of land which I have referred to before, situated in the suburbs of Savona, with
which were sold those agreeable and useless wine-vats. Domenico was living at Savona
then, and the property which he so fatuously acquired consisted of two large pieces of
land on the Via Valcalda, containing a few vines, a plantation of fruit-trees, and a large
area of shrub and underwood. The price, however, was never paid in full, and was the
cause of a lawsuit which dragged on for forty years, and was finally settled by Don Diego
Columbus, Christopher's son, who sent a special authority from Hispaniola.
Owing, no doubt, to the difficulties that this un fortunate purchase plunged him into,
Domenico was obliged to mortgage his house at St. Andrew's Gate in the year 1477; and
in 1489 he finally gave it up to Jacob Baverelus, the cheese-monger, his son-in-law.
Susanna, who had been the witness of his melancholy transactions for so many years, and
possibly the mainstay of that declining household, died in 1494; but not, we may hope,
before she had heard of the fame of her son Christopher. Domenico, in receipt of a
pension from the famous Admiral of the Ocean, and no doubt talking with a deal of pride
and inaccuracy about the discovery of the New World, lived on until 1498; when he died
also, and vanished out of this world. He had fulfilled a noble destiny in being the father
of Christopher Columbus.