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have been situated in India and Africa. From these, the Jews returned with merchandise so valuable, as soon diffused wealth and splendour throughout Israel. But the instructions even of the Phenicians were inadequate to establish the commerce of a people, whose singular institutions sormed a national character, repugnant to a liberal intercourse with strangers. Carthage, a colony of Tyre, applied to naval affairs with unremitting ardour, ingenuity, and
It early rivaled and surpassed the parent state in opulence and power. Without contending with the mother country, for the trade of the east, the Carthaginians directed their attention towards the west and north; and, following the course already opened, passed the straits of Gades, visited not only all the coasts of Spain and Gaul, but reached the more distant shores of Britain. Yet they were not satisfied: they were the more eagerly stimulated by the extent of their discoveries. They carried their rescarches to the south. Stretching along the western coast of Africa, they sailed almost to the tropic of Cancer, planted several colonies, in order to civilize the nations and accustom them to commerce, and discovered the Fortunate Islands, now known by the name of the Canaries; the utmost boundary of ancient navigation in the western ocean.
Curiosity, as well as commercial avidity, induced them to continue their researches. To those motives, were owing the famous voyages of Hanno and Himilco. Their fleets were equipped by authority of the senate, and at the public expense. Proceeding towards the south, Hanno advanced much nearer to the equinoctial line than any former navigator; and Himilco explored the western coasts of Europe. Of the same nature, was the extraordinary voyage of the Phenicians around Africa. A Phenician feet, prepared by Necho, king of Egypt, sailed, we are told, about six-hundred years before the Christian era, from a port in the Red Sea, passed the southern promontory of Africa, (now called the Cape of Good Hope,) and, after a voyage of three years, arrived by the straits of Gades, at the Nile. Unfortunately, the particulars of those navigations were not communicated to the rest of mankind. All authentic memorials respecting the great naval skill of the Phenicians and Carthaginians seem in a great measure to have perished, when the mari. time power of the former was annihilated by Alexander, and the empire of the latter was overturned by the Roman The states of Greece scarcely pursued any commerce beyond the confines of the Mediterranean. Their ignorance of geography is almost incredible to us. But their knowledge was much enlarged by Alexander's expedition to the east. Nor were the Romans less remarkable for their inattention to that science. In the history of the Roman empire, hardly one event occurs evincing a regard to geographical enquiry or navigation, further than it was connected with the desire of conquest. Indeed, there prevailed amongst the ancients an opinion, which conveys a striking idea of the small progress made by them in the knowledge of the habitable globe. They supposed that the earth was divided into five regions; which they distinguished by the name of zones. Two of these, one at the north, the other at the south pole, they termed frigid; believing that the extreme cold which reigned perpetually in both was destructive to animal life. Another, which was seated under the line, and extended on each side towards the tropics, they called the torrid zone; imagining it to be so burned up with unremitting heat as to be equally destitute of inhabi. tants. To the other two regions, they gave the appellation of temperate; and taught that these, being the only situations in which life could possibly subsist, were assigned to man for his habitation. Wild as seenis this opinion at the présent day, it was adopted as a system by the most enlightened philosophers, and the most accurate historians, of Greece and Rome. Promulgated by so respectable authority, that extravagant theory served to render their ignorance perpetual; as it represented all attempts to open a communication with distant regions of the earth impracticas, ble and hopeless. Even the small degree of accurate geographical knowledge which those people had occasionally obtained, was almost entirely lost on the fall of the Roman 'empire. The various nations of the north, who, in the fifth century, settled in the different provinces, were unacquainted with regular government or laws; strangers to letters, destitute of arts, ignorant of their use, unambitious of their acquirement. No intercourse existed even amongst them. selves. 'Constantinople, however, was so fortunate as to escape their destructive rage. There, the ancient arts and discoveries were preserved, and commerce continued to flourish, when almost extinct in every other part of Europe. At length, the rude tribes in Italy having acquired some
idea of regular government, and some relish for the modes of civil life, Europe gradually recovered from its degradation. The Italian merchants, notwithstanding the violent antipathy, which, as Christians, they possessed against the followers of Mahomet, repaired to Alexandria, and established with that port a lucrative trade. The commercial spirit of Italy became active and enterprising. Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, rose, from inconsiderable towns, to be wealthy and populous. Their naval power increased; they visited the sea-ports of Spain, France, the Low Countries, and England; and infused a taste for the alluring productions of the East.
The crusades served greatly to hasten the mercantile progress of the Italians. The martial inclination of the Europeans, impelled by religious zeal, and inflamed by superstition, having prompted them to attempt the deliverance of 1096
the Holy Land from the dominion of the Infidels, vast
armies, composed of all the nations in Europe, marched upon this wild enterprise towards Asia. The Ital. ian sea-ports furnished the necessary shipping and military stores; for which, immense sums were received. Venice, in particular, advanced in commerce, power, and riches. Nor did their employers make those expensive and disastrous voyages without future benefit. They became famil. iar with distant regions, which, before, they knew only by name, or by the reports of. credulous pilgrims; and ascertained the arts, manners, and productions, of nations more polished than themselves.
That intercouse subsisted for nearly two hundred years; during which period, many individuals were induced, by a different motive of religion, to penetrate the East, far beyond the countries entered by the crusaders. After these, followed several illustrious travellers, incited either by the hope of riches or a pure spirit of inquiry.' Of the former passion, the most distinguished votary was Marco Polo, a
nobleman of Venice: of the latter, sir John Mande. 1322
ville, of England; who returned, after an absence of more than thirty years, and published an account of his observations.
Whilst this inclination towards research was gradually increasing, a discovery was made, the wonderful property of the magnet, which communicates to iron a tendency of pointing to the north, that had greater influence on naviga. tion than all the efforts of preceding ages. The precise era of this discovery cannot be ascertained. It is generally attributed to Gioia, a Neapolitan, and dated in the year 1302: but the supposition appears erroneous. The earliest notice with which we are acquainted, is by a French writer, Guyot de Provins; who, in a poem written about the year 1180, plainly alludes to the magnetic needle being then in common tise. The Historia Orientalis, of Vitriacus, who had made many voyages by sea, and published that work about forty years subsequent to the former; the writings of Vicentius, at the same period, and many other authorities, coincide in establishing its previous introduction,* and, consequently, in depriving the Neapolitan of any honour, further than for having increased its utility, by fixing it on a pivot, and inclosing it in a box. Seamen were now enabled to abandon their timid course along the shore, and fearlessly to launch into the wide bosom of the ocean. The first appearance of increasing confidence may be dated from the voyages of the Spaniards to the Canary islands. These, which, we have already mentioned, had been visited by the Carthaginians, were again discovered by that people: but the genius of naval enterprise was not at this period fully roused; as navigation seems not to have advanced, then, be. yond the limits which circumscribed it before the downfal of the Roman empire.
The era at length arrived, when man was allowed to pass the boundary within which he had been so long confined. The next considerable effort was made by the seamen of Portugal; one of the smallest and least powerful of all the European kingdoms, and, hitherto, not remarkable for assiduity. In 1420, they sailed to Madeira; (to which they were directed by its accidental discovery by an Englishman;) about forty years from that date, they discovered the Cape de Verd islands; and soon afterwards, the Azores, which are situated in the Atlantic, nine-hundred miles from any continent. When prosecuting their researches along the shores
of Africa, they ventured to cross the equinoctial 1471
line; equally pleased and astonished, on finding that
* “ Valde necessarius est acus navigantibus mari,” says Vitriacus:-the needle is very necessary to seamen. “ Cum enim,” observes Vicentius, “ vias suas ad portum dirigere nesciunt, cacumen acus an adamantem lapidem fricatum, per transversum in festuca parva infigunt, et vasi pleno aquæ immittunt:"_For, when they (the navigators,) kpow not how to find their way into a harbour, they fix the point of a needie, rubbed upon a hard stone, crosswise in a piece of wood, and place it in a small vessel full of water,
region not only habitable, but populous and fertile. This occurred in th: reina of Asphonso. His son, John the second, possessed talents capable both of forming great designs and carrying them into execution. Patronised and aided by this indefatigable monarch, the examination and colonizing of the African continent became ardent and unremitting. As they advanced towards the south, the Portuguese found, that instead of extending, according to the doctrine of Ptolemy, it appeared sensibly to contract, its breadth, iowards the east. This unexpected discovery was not unprofitably made. It induced them to credit the an. cient Phenician voyages around Africa, which had long been deemed fabulous; and led them to conceive hopes, that, by following the same track, they might arrive at the East Indies, and engross, for a while, a traffic which had always been so eagerly desired. The attainment of this object was entrusted to Bartholomew Diaz; an experienced officer, distinguished alike for his sagacity, fortitude, and perse
After advancing a thousand miles further than any of his predecessors, exposed to violent tempests, mu
tinies, and famine, he at last beheld that lofty pro. 1487
montory which terminates Africa on the south. But to behold it was all that he could accomplish. The violence of the winds, the shattered condition of his ships, and turbu. lent spirit of his men, compelled him to return.
Diaz had called that promontory the Stormy Cape; but the king, now entertaining a sanguine expectation of having found the long desired route to India, gave it a more appropriate name, The Cape of Good Hope.
The vast length of this voyage, with the furious storing which Diaz had encountered, so alarmed and intimidated the Portuguese, that some time was requisite to prepare their minds for the prosecution of their great design. In the interval, an event occurred, no less extraordinary than unexpected, unparalleled in the annals of naval enterprise-the discovery of a new continent, situated in the west.
The honour of accomplishing an exploit so sublime was gained by Christopher Columbus. This great man, a nat. ive of Genoa, descended from a respectable family, was well qualified, by natureand education, to become distinguished on the ocean. Ardently inclined towards that element, he went to sea at the age of fourteen; and, in a few years, visited the coasts of Iceland, (then frequented by the