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Cristopher Columbus and the New World

Often while I have been studying the records of colonisation in the
New World I have thought of you and your difficult work in Ireland;
and I have said to myself, "What a time he would have had if he had
been Viceroy of the Indies in 1493!" There, if ever, was the chance
for a Department such as yours; and there, if anywhere, was the
place for the Economic Man. Alas! there war only one of him; William
Ires or Eyre, by name, from the county Galway; and though he
fertilised the soil he did it with his blood and bones. A wonderful
chance; and yet you see what came of it all. It would perhaps be
stretching truth too far to say that you are trying to undo some of
Columbus's work, and to stop up the hole he made in Ireland when
he found a channel into which so much of what was best in the Old
Country war destined to flow; for you and he have each your places
in the great circle of Time and Compensation, and though you may
seem to oppose one another across the centuries you are really
answering the same call and working in the same vineyard. For we all
set out to discover new worlds; and they are wise who realise early
that human nature has roots that spread beneath the ocean bed, that
neither latitude nor longitude nor time itself can change it to anything
richer or stranger than what it is, and that furrows ploughed in it are
furrows ploughed in the sea sand. Columbus tried to pour the wine of
civilisation into very old bottles; you, more wisely, are trying to pour
the old wine of our country into new bottles. Yet there is no great
unlikeness between the two tasks: it is all a matter of bottling; the
vintage is the same, infinite, inexhaustible, and as punctual as the
sun and the seasons. It was Columbus's weakness as an
administrator that he thought the bottle was everything; it is your
strength that you care for the vintage, and labour to preserve its
flavour and soft fire.
 RUAN MINOR, September 1906.


The writing of historical biography is properly a work of partnership,
to which public credit is awarded too often in an inverse proportion to
the labours expended. One group of historians, labouring in the