« ZurückWeiter »
BOOK people, professing the Mahometan religion, and o subject to the vast empire of Morocco. But to
the south of that river, the power and religion of the Mahometans were unknown. The country was divided into small independent principalities, the population was considerable, the soil fertile?, and the Portuguese foon discovered that it produced ivory, rich gums, gold, and other valuable commodities. By the acquisition of these, commerce was enlarged, and became more adventurous. Men, animated and rendered active by the certain prospect of gain, pursued discovery with greater cagerness, than when they were excited only by curiosity and hope.
This spirit derived no small reinforcement of vigour from the countenance of such a monarch as John. Declaring himself the patron of every attempt towards discovery, he promoted it with all the ardour of his grand-uncle Prince Henry, and with superior power, The effects of this were immediately felt. A powerful fleet was fitted out, which, afteş discovering the kingdoms of Benin and Congo, advanced above fifteen hundred milęs beyond the line, and the Portu
7 Navigatio Aloyfii Cadamusti apud Novum Orbem Grynæi, p. 2. 18. Navigat. all Isola di San Tome per un Pilotto Portugh. Ramufio, i. 1151' ; 1;
guese, for the first time, beheld a new heaven, BOOķ and observed the stars of another hemisphere, a John was not only solicitous to discover, but attentive to secure the possession of those countries. He built forts on the coast of Guinea ; he sent out colonies to settle there ; he eltablished a commercial intercourse with the more powerful kingdoms; he endeavoured to render such as were feeble or divided tributary to the crown of Portugal. Some of the petty princes voluntarily acknowledged themselves his vassals. Others were compelled to do so by force of arms. A regular and well-digested system was formed with respect to this new object of policy, and by firmly adhering to it, the Portuguese power and commerce in Africa were established upon a solid foundation,
to the East Indies.
By their constant intercourse with the people Hopes of of Africa, the Portuguese gradually acquired a new soupe fome knowledge of those parts of that country which they had not visited. The information which they received from the natives, added to what they had observed in their own voyages, · began to open prospects more extensive, and to fuggest the idea of schemes more important, than those which had hitherto allured and occu. pied them. They had detected the error of the ancients concerning the nature of the torrid zone.
BOOK They found, as they proceeded southwards, that w the continent of Africa, instead of extending in
breadth, according to the doctrine of Ptolemy',
Schemes for accomplishing this.
BEFORE his preparations for this expedicion were finished, accounts were transmitted from
'. Vide Nov. Orbis Tabul. Geograph. fecund. Ptolem. Amst. 1730.
Africa, that various nations along the coast had BOOK mentioned a mighty kingdom situated on their continent, at a great distance towards the east, the king of which, according to their description, professed the Christian religion. The Portuguese monarch immediately concluded, that this must be the emperor of Abyssinia, to whom the Europeans, feduced by a mistake of Rubruquis, Marco Polo, and other travellers to the east, abfurdly gave the name of Prester or Presbyter John ; and as he hoped to receive information and assistance from a Christian prince, in prosecuting a scheme that tended to propagate their common faith, he resolved to open, if possible, some intercourse with his court. With this view, he made choice of Pedro de Covillam and Alphonfo de Payva, who were perfect masters of the Arabic language, and sent them into the east, to search for the residence of this unknown potentate, and to make him proffers of friendship. They had in charge likewise to procure whatever intelligence the nations which shey visited could supply, with respect to the trade of India, and the course of navigation to that continent.
Faria y Sousa Port. Asia, vol. i. p. 26. Lafitau Decouv. de Port. i. 46..
B00K WHILE John made this new attempt by land,
he wished fo ardently to discover, he did not mew Diaz, haze neglect the prosecution of this great design by
fea. The conduct of a voyage for this purpose,