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of the countries' which produced them. But BOOK though the discoveries of the Romans in India were so limited, their commerce there was such as will appear considerable, even to the present age, in which the Indian trade has been extended far beyond the practice or conception of any preceding period. We are informed by one author of credit”, that the commerce with India drained the Roman empire every year of more than four hundred thousand pounds; and by another, that one hundred and twenty ships failed annually from the Arabian Gulph to that country:
of the an
The discovery of this new method of failing Discoveries to India, is the most considerable improvement cients by in navigation made during the continuance of the Roman power. But in ancient times, the knowledge of remote countries was acquired more frequently by land than by sead; and the Romans, from their peculiar disinclination to naval affairs, may be said to have neglected totally the latter, though a more easy and expeditious method of discovery. The progress, however, of their victorious armies through a considerable portion of Europe, Asia, and Africa, contributed greatly to
Plin. Nat. Hift. lib. vi. c. 26.
BOO K extend discovery by land, and gradually opened
the navigation of new and unknown seas. Previous to the Roman conquests, the civilized nations of antiquity had little communication with those countries in Europe, which now form its most opulent and powerful kingdoms. The inte rior parts of Spain and Gaul were imperfectly known. Britain, separated from the rest of the world, had never been visited, except by its neighbours the Gauls, and by a few Carthaginian merchants. The name of Germany had scarcely been heard of. Into all these countries the arms of the Romans penetrated. They entirely subdued Spain and Gaul; they conquered the greatest and most fertile part of Britain ; they advanced into Germany, as far as the banks of the river Elbe. In Africa, they acquired a considerable knowledge of the provinċes, which stretch along the Mediterranean fea, from Egypt westward to the straits of Gades. In Asia, they not only subjected to their power most of the provinces which com: posed the Persian and Macedonian empires, but, after their victories over Mithridates and Tigranes, they seem to have made a more accurate survey of the countries contiguous to the Euxine and Caspian seas, and to have carried on a more extensive trade than that of the Greeks with the opulent and commercial nations then seated round the Euxine sea.
an mind, he activity what we
From this fuccine survey of discovery and BOOK
1. navigation, which I have traced from the earliest dawn of historical knowledge to the full
tion of geoestablishment of the Roman dominion, the pro- graphical
knowledge gress of both appears to have been wonderfully among the
ancients. flow. It seems neither adequate to what we might have expected from the activity and enterprise of the human mind, nor to what might have been performed by the power of the great empires which successively governed the world. If we reject accounts that are fabulous and ob-, scure ; if we adhere steadily to the light and information of authentic history, without subftituting in its place the conjectures of fancy, or the dreams of etymologists, we must conclude, that the knowledge which the ancients had acquired of the habitable globe was extremely confined. In Europe, the extensive provinces in the eastern part of Germany were little known to them. They were almost totally unacquainted with the vast countries which are now subject to the kings of Denmark, Swe. den, Pruffia, Poland, and the Russian empire. The more barren regions, that stretch within the arctic circle, were quite unexplored. In Africa, their researches did not extend far beyond the provinces which border on the Mediterranean, and those situated on the western shore of the Arabian Gulph. In Asia, they were
BOOK unacquainted, as I formerly observed, with all
the fertile and opulent countries beyond the Ganges, which furnish the most valuable commodities that, in modern times, have been the great object of the European commerce with India ; nor do they seem to have ever penetrated into those immense regions occupied by the wandering tribes, which they called by the general name of Sarmatians or Scythians, and which are now pofsefled by Tartars of various denominations, and by the Asiatic subjects of Russia.
A remark. abie prouf of this,
But there is one opinion, that universally prevailed among the ancients, which conveys a more striking idea of the finall progress they had made in the knowledge of the habitable globe, than can be derived from any detail of their discoveries. They supposed the earth to be divided into five regions, which they distinguished by the name of zones. Two of these, which were nearest the poles, they termed frigid zones, and believed that the extreme cold which reigned perpetually there, rendered them uninhabitable. Another, seated under the line, and extending on either side towards the tropics, they called the torrid zone, and imagined it to be so burnt up with unremitting heat, as to be equally destitute of inhabitants. On the two other zones, which occupied the
remainder of the earth, they bestowed the ap- BOOK
1. pellation of temperate, and taught that these, being the only regions in which life could subfist, were allotted to man for his habitation.. This wild opinion was not a conceit of the un informed vulgar, or a fanciful fiction of the poets, but a system adopted by the most enlightened philosophers, the most accurate historians and geographers in Greece and Rome. According to this theory, a vast portion of the habitable earth was pronounced to be unfit for sustaining the human species. Those fertile and populous regions within the torrid zone, which are now known not only to yield their own inhabitants the necessaries and comforts of life, with most luxuriant "profusion, but to communicate their superfluous stores to the rest of the world, were supposed to be the mansion of perpetual sterility and desolation. As all the parts of the globe with which the ancients were acquainted, lay within the northern temperate zone, their opinion that the other temperate zone was filled with inhabitants, was founded on reasoning and conjecture, not on discovery. They even believed that, by the intolerable heat of the torrid zone, such an insuperable barrier was placed between the two temperate regions of the earth, as would prevent for ever any intercourse between their respective inhaVOI.. do