« ZurückWeiter »
BOOK of success filled a mind ardent in the pursuit of s e a favourite object with such fanguine hopes as
were sufficient incitements to proceed. Next 1419. year Henry sent out three ships under the fame
commanders, to whom he joined Bartholomew Perestrello, in order to take possession of the island which they had discovered. When they began to settle in Porto Santo, they observed
towards the south a fixed spot in the horizon like Of Madeira, a small black cloud. By degrees they were led
to conjecture that it might be land, and steering towards it, they arrived at a considerable island, uninhabited and covered with wood, which on that account they called Madeira". As it was Henry's chief object to render his discoveries useful to his country, he immediately equipped
a fleet to carry a colony of Portuguese to these 1420. islands. By his provident care, they were fur
nished not only with the seeds, plants, and do. mestic animals common in Europe ; but as he foresaw that the warmth of the climate and fertility of the soil would prove favourable to the rearing of other productions, he procured flips of the vine from the island of Cyprus, the rich wines of which were then in great request, and plants of the sugar-cane from Sicily, into which
"Historical Relation of the first Discovery of Medeira, translated from the Portuguese of Fran. Alcafarana, p.15,
it had been lately introduced. These throve so BOOK prosperously in this new country, that the benefits of cultivating them was immediately perceived, and the sugar and wine of Madeira quickly became articles of some consequence in the commerce of Portugal *.
As soon as the advantages derived from this first settlement to the west of the European continent began to be felt, the spirit of discovery appeared less chimerical, and became more adventurous. By their voyages to Madeira, the Portuguese were gradually accustomed to a bolder navigation, and instead of creeping fervilely along the coast, ventured into the open sea. In consequence of taking this course, Gili- Double
Cape Bojaanez, who commanded one of Prince Henry's dors ships, doubled Cape Bojador, the boundary of the Portuguese navigation upwards of twenty years, and which had hitherto been deemed un.. passable. This successful voyage, which the ig. norance of the age placed on a level with the most famous exploits recorded in history, opened a new Iphere to navigation, as it discovered the vast continent of Africa, still washed by the Atlantic ocean, and stretching towards the fouth. Part of this was soon explored; the Portuguese
* Lud. Guicciardini Descritt. de Paesi Bassi, p. 180, 181. VOL. I.
200K advanced within the tropics, and in the face of
w a few years they discovered the river Senegal, and in the all the coast extending from Cape Blanco to tri, ins. Cape de Verd. ? ..
Horibed HITHERTO the Portuguese had been guided ered in their discoveries, or encouraged to attempt
them, by the light and information which they received from the works of the ancient mathematicians and geographers. But, when they began to enter the torrid zone, the notion which prevailed among the ancients, that the heat, which reigned perpetually there, was so excessive as to-render it uninhabitable, deterred them, for
foine time, from proceeding. Their own obL' “ fervations, when they first ventured into this
unknown and formidable region, tended to confirm the opinion of antiquity concerning the violent operation of the direct rays of the sun. As far as the river Senegal,, the Portuguese had found the coast of Africa inhabited by people nearly resembling the Moors of Barbary. When they advanced to the south of that river, the human form seemed to put on a new appearance. They beheld men with skins black as ebony, with fhort curled hair, flat nofes, thick lips, and all the peculiar features which are now known to distinguish the race of negroes. This surprising alteration they naturally attributed to
... the the influence of heat, and if they should advance BOOK nearer to the line, they began to dread that its a effects would be still more violent. Those dangers' were exaggerated, and niany other objections against attempting farther discoveries were proposed by some of the grandees, who, front ignorance, from 'envy, or from that cold timid prudence which rejects whatever has the air of novelty or enterprise, had hitherto condemned all Prince Henry's schemes. They represented, that it was altogether chimerical to expect any advantage from countries situated in that region which the wisdom and experience of antiquity had pronounced to be unfit for the habitation of men; that their forefathers, satisfied with cultivating the territory which Providence had allotted them, did not waste the strength of the king our dom by fruitless projects, in quest of new settlements ; that Portugal' was already exhausted by the expence of attempts to discover lands which either did not exist, or which nature destined to remain unknown; and was drained of men, who might have been employed in undertakings attended with more certain success, and productive of greater benefit. But neither their appeal to the authority of the ancients, nor their reasonings concerning the interests of Portugal, made any impression upon the determined philosophic mind of Prince Henry. The discoveries which
B 0,0.K he had already made convinced him that the
ancients had little more than a conjectural knowledge of the torrid zone. He was no less satisfied that the political arguments of his opponents, with respect to the interest of Portugal, were malevolent and ill-founded. In those fentiments he was strenuously, supported by his
brother Pedro, who governed the kingdom as 1438.
guardian of their nephew Alphonso V. who had fucceeded to the throne during his minority; and instead of slackening his efforts, Henry continued to pursue his discoveries with fresh ardour.
Papal grant But, in order to silence all the murmurs of of what is an opposition, he endeavoured to obtain the sanction countries.it of the highest authority in favour of his operashould difa
tions. With this view he applied to the Pope, and represented, in pompous terms, the pious and unwearied zeal with which he had exerted himself during twenty years, in discovering unknown countries, the wretched inhabitants of which were utter strangers to true religion, wandering in heathen darkness, or led astray by the delusions of Mahomet. He befought the holy father, to whom, as the vicar of Christ, all the kingdoms of the earth were subject, to confer on the crown of Portugal a right to all the countries poffeffed by Infidels, which should be discovered