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such, that not more than ten millions of inhabitants could obtain a reasonable subsistence from even that pursuit.
The old map of Vander Donck has led us in quite a discursive route, but we trust not entirely uninstructive ; for much of the matter of which we have discoursed by the way, - in rather a colloquial manner, we admit, - is not to be met with in any history that we have ever seen.
The first article in this volume is the “ Anniversary Discourse delivered by Chancellor Kent before the Historical Society, on the 6th of December, 1838, of which it is only necessary to say, that it sustains the high reputation as a writer hitherto acquired by that distinguished jurist. In it he pays a merited compliment to the exertions of the associations of a similar character in other States, “and particularly in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania"; speaks of them as having “hitherto surpassed us in the extent and value of their researches ” ; and expresses the hope, that the Society he was addressing would feel an additional stimulus to acquit themselves of their duty, and throw back upon the annals of the Empire State, some of the light and lustre which emanate from the spirit of the age.” The volume now before us is an evidence, that the hope thus expressed is not doomed to disappointment.
This discourse presents an able and concise view of the domestic history of New York, with reflections necessarily arising from the subject.
Chancellor Kent takes a very proper view of the importance of such historical inquiries, and one which cannot in our judgment be commended too highly to the consideration of our citizens. He observes ;
- The Eastern descendants of the pilgrims are justly proud of their colonial ancestors ; and they are wisely celebrating, on all proper occasions, the memory and merits of the original founders of their republics, in productions of great genius and classical taste.” He asks,
Why should we, in this State, continue any longer comparatively heedless of our own glory, when we also can point to a body of illustrious annals ?
And,- as offering a strong inducement to exertion,- while portraying the character of the original Dutch settlers, he speaks of the origin of his city and State, in the following beautiful manner ;
“Our origin is within the limits of well-attested history. This at once dissipates the enchantments of fiction ; and we are not permitted, like the nations of ancient Europe, to deduce our lineage from super-human beings, or to clothe the sage and heroic spirits, who laid the foundations of our Empire, with the exaggerations and lustre of poetical invention. Nor do we stand in need of the aid of such machinery. It is a sufficient honor to be able to appeal to the simple and severe records of truth. The Dutch discoverers and settlers of New Netherlands, were grave, temperate, firm, persevering men, who brought with them the industry, the economy, the simplicity, the integrity, and the bravery of their Belgic sires ; and with those virtues they also imported the lights of the Roman civil law, and the purity of the Protestant faith. To that period we are to look with chastened awe and respect, for the beginnings of our city, and the works of our primitive fathers,
our Albani patres, atque allæ mænia Romæ.
The second article which presents itself, is the celebrated Voyage of John De Verrazzano, along the North American coast, from Carolina to Newfoundland, in the year 1524. This appears in the original Italian, and also in a good translation, made by Joseph G. Cogswell, Esquire, a member of the Society. This account of Verrazzano's first voyage to the Western continent is in a letter written by him to Francis the First, of France, by whose order he had undertaken it. The translation is said to be made from a copy of the original manuscript existing in the Magliabecchian Library, at Florence, presented to the Society by G. W. Greene, Esquire, Consul of the United States at Rome.
This document is in itself very interesting, and becomes more important from the fact of its being the earliest original account of the Atlantic coast of the United States now in existence. It is worthy of remark, that the name by which this continent is now known, is not used by Verrazzano in his description of his voyage. On this point we would here remark, that in A piani's - Cosmography,” a very curious work, printed in 4to., at Antwerp, in 1564, — and containing one of the oldest maps of the World, upon which the continents of North and South America are laid down, that we have had the good fortune to meet with, - what we now call North America is described as a narrow tongue of land projecting
from the Southern continent, with a handsome open northeastern passage to the East Indies, and is designated as " Baccalao”; while South America is accurately marked out with its present form, and called " America,'— showing, that, although South America was at that time pretty well known, there was a complete ignorance in respect to the Northern continent, excepting portions of its Atlantic coast. And what renders the matter more curious is, that Campanella, in his advice to the king of Spain, on the establishment of an Universal Monarchy, (translated into English, and published with a preface, by the celebrated William Prynne, 4to., London, 1659,) speaks of North America by the name of “ Bacalaos.” The Portuguese to this day, call dried cod-fish “ bacalao.” It may be, that the fish has derived its name from the ancient name of the country from which it was brought.
Verrazzano gives us a very interesting account of the people whom he met with in coasting along this country. He exhibits them in their natural state, as they appeared before they were contaminated and debased by an intercourse with Europeans. If our readers derive one half the gratification from the perusal of his account of them, that we have, they will not only excuse, but thank us for affording them the opportunity. It should not, however, prevent them from procuring the book itself, for there are many gems of this nature, which it would not be just, if it was our province, to select. After describing his coasting along the shore, he says ;
“The inhabitants being numerous, we saw everywhere a multitude of fires. While at anchor on this coast, there being no harbour to enter, we sent a boat on shore with twenty-five men to obtain water, but it was not possible to land without endangering the boat, on account of the immense high surf thrown up by the sea, as it was an open roadstead. Many of the natives came to the beach, indicating by various friendly signs that we might trust ourselves on shore. One of their noble deeds of friendship deserves to be made known to your Majesty. A young sailor was attempting to swim ashore through the surf to carry them some knick-knacks, as little bells, looking-glasses, and other like trifles ; when he came near three or four of them he tossed the things to them, and turned about to get back to the boat, but he was thrown over by the waves, and so dashed about that he lay, as it were, dead upon the beach. When those people saw him in this situation, they ran and took him up by the head, legs, and arms, and
carried him to a distance from the surf; the young man, finding himself borne off in this way, uttered very loud shrieks in fear and dismay, while they answered as they could in their language, showing him that he had no cause for fear. Afterwards they laid him down at the foot of a little hill, when they took off his shirt and trowsers, and examined him, expressing the greatest astonishment at the whiteness of his skin. Our sailors in the boat seeing a great fire made up, and their companion placed very near it, full of fear, as is usual in all cases of novelty, imagined that the natives were about to roast him for food. But as soon as he had recovered his strength, after a short stay with them, showing by signs that he wished to return aboard, they hugged him with great affection, and accompanied him to the shore; then leaving him, that he might feel more secure, they withdrew to a little hill, from which they watched him until he was safe in the boat. man remarked that these people were black like the others, that they had shining skins, middle stature, and sharper faces, and
very delicate bodies and limbs, and that they were inferior in strength, but quick in their minds." — pp. 43, 44.
It is well here to remark, that the early navigators were accustomed to call all people darker than themselves, “ of black or dark complexion.
At a distance of fifty leagues from the spot where the adventure before narrated occurred, but at what particular locality we are unable from the vagueness of his description now to determine, Verrazzano describes the country as having “many vines growing naturally, which entwine about the trees, and run up upon them as they do in the plains of Lombardy.” And of them, he says ;
“ These vines would doubtless produce excellent wine if they were properly cultivated and attended to, as we have often seen the grapes which they produce, very sweet and pleasant, and not unlike our own. They must be held in esti, mation by them, as they carefully remove the shrubbery from around them, wherever they grow, to allow the fruit to ripen better. We found also wild roses, violets, lilies, and many sorts of plants and fragrant flowers different from our own.
Those of our readers who are acquainted with the voyages of the Northmen to Vinland, will recognise a great similarity between their description of the country, and that above extracted from Verrazzano.
Towards the close of this account of his voyage, VerrazVOL. LIV. - No. 115. 40
zano describes a harbour which he visited on our coast, as " situated in the parallel of Rome, being 41° 40' of North latitude," — which, he says, looks towards the south, with a large bay, twenty leagues in circumference, “ in which are five small islands of great fertility and beauty, covered with large and lofty trees. Among these islands any fleet, however large, might ride safely, without fear of tempest or other dangers."
Dr. Samuel Miller, in his “ Discourse before the New York Historical Society," published in the first volume of the former series of their Collections, regarded this description as applicable to the bay and harbour of New York. And Lambrechtsen in his “Description of the New Netherlands,” anxious as he is to give the honor of the first discovery to Hudson, and with all his ardor for the glory of Dutch seamanship, examines the question with much care ; and, although he propounds some doubts and reasons in opposition to Verrazzano's claim, by no means comes to a satisfactory result against it. The editor of the volume now under consideration, with much reason on his side, thinks the description given by Verrazzano applies to Narraganset Bay, and the harbour of Newport, in Rhode Island, and not to that of New York. We are rather inclined to be of his opinion, upon the hasty examination we have given to the question ; but do not wish to conclude ourselves on that point.
We are next presented with the Indian tradition of the first arrival of Europeans at Manhattan Island, derived from the manuscripts deposited among the Collections of the Society, by the Rev. Samuel Miller, D. D., to whom it was communicated by the Rev. John Heckewelder, the cele
* It is supposed that Verrazzano first arrived on the American coast about Wilmington, in North Carolina ; from which point he proceeded south to Georgia, and then changed his course, and voyaged northward to about latitude 40° north, where he entered the harbour we have above described.
It is curious to witness the anxiety manifested by some writers, to secure to their own country the glory of having produced the original discoverer of this continent. As
“ Seven famous cities strove for Homer dead,
Through which the living Homer begged his bread, so it was with Columbus. Disregarded and wronged in life, he was glorified and honored when dead ; and, as if to carry out the parallel with the Grecian poet, in the preface to Molloy, De Jure Maritimo, the author affirms, that Columbus was born in England, but resided at Genoa.