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«A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Vol.III», Robert Kerr

A GENERAL HISTORY AND COLLECTION OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS,

ARRANGED IN SYSTEMATIC ORDER:

FORMING A COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF NAVIGATION, DISCOVERY, AND COMMERCE, BY SEA AND LAND, FROM THE EARLIEST AGES TO THE PRESENT TIME.

BY

ROBERT KERR, F.R.S. & F.A.S. EDIN.

ILLUSTRATED BY MAPS AND CHARTS.

VOL. III.

 

WILLIAM BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH; AND T. CADELL, LONDON MDCCCXXIV

 

(Illustration: West Indies)

PART II.

(CONTINUED)

BOOK II.

HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, AND OF SOME OF THE EARLY CONQUESTS IN THE NEW WORLD

CHAPTER I.

HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, BY CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS; WRITTEN BY HIS SON DON FERDINAND COLUMBUS[?]

 

INTRODUCTION

(Illustration: West Indies)

The whole of this chapter contains an original record, being a distinct narrative of the discovery of America by COLUMBUS, written by his own son, who accompanied him in his latter voyages. It has been adopted into the present work from the Collection of Voyages and Travels published at London in 1704, by Awnsham and John Churchill, in four volumes folio; in which it is said to have been translated from the original Italian of Don Ferdinand Columbus, expressly for the use of that work. The language of that translation is often obscure and ungrammatical, as if the work of a foreigner; but, having no access to the original, has necessarily been adopted for the present occasion, after being carefully revised and corrected. No farther alteration has been taken with that version, except a new division into sections, instead of the prolix and needlessly minute subdivision of the original translation into a multitude of chapters; which change was necessary to accommodate this interesting original document to our plan of arrangement; and except in a few rare instances, where uninteresting controversial argumentations have been somewhat abridged, and even these chiefly because the original translator left the sense obscure or unintelligible, from ignorance of the language or of the subject.

It is hardly necessary to remark, that the new grand division of the world which was discovered by this great navigator, ought from him to have been named COLUMBIA. Before setting out upon this grand discovery, which was planned entirely by his own transcendent genius, he was misled to believe that the new lands he proposed to go in search of formed an extension of the India, which was known to the ancients; and still impressed with that idea, occasioned by the eastern longitudes of Ptolemy being greatly too far extended, he gave the name of West Indies to his discovery, because he sailed to them westwards; and persisted in that denomination, even after he had certainly ascertained that they were interposed between the Atlantic ocean and Japan, the Zipangu, or Zipangri of Marco Polo, of which and Cathay or China, he first proposed to go in search.

Between the third and fourth voyages of COLUMBUS, Ojeda, an officer who had accompanied him in his second voyage, was surreptitiously sent from Spain, for the obvious purpose of endeavouring to curtail the vast privileges which had been conceded to Columbus, as admiral and viceroy of all the countries he might discover; that the court of Spain might have a colour for excepting the discoveries made by others from the grant which had been conferred on him, before its prodigious value was at all thought of. Ojeda did little more than revisit some of the previous discoveries of Columbus: Perhaps he extended the knowledge of the coast of Paria. In this expedition, Ojeda was accompanied by an Italian named Amerigo or Almerico Vespucci, whose name was Latinized, according to the custom of that age, into Americus Vespucius. This person was a Florentine, and appears to have been a man of science, well skilled in navigation and geography. On his return to Europe, he published the first description that appeared of the newly discovered continent and islands in the west, which had hitherto been anxiously endeavoured to be concealed by the monopolizing jealousy of the Spanish government. Pretending to have been the first discoverer of the continent of the New World, he presumptuously gave it the appellation of America after his own name; and the inconsiderate applause of the European literati has perpetuated this usurped denomination, instead of the legitimate name which the new quarter of the world ought to have received from that of the real discoverer.

Attempts have been made in latter times, to rob COLUMBUS of the honour of having discovered America, by endeavouring to prove that the West Indies were known in Europe before his first voyage. In some maps in the library of St Mark at Venice, said to have been drawn in 1436, many islands are inserted to the west of Europe and Africa. The most easterly of these are supposed in the first place to be the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries and Cape Verds. Beyond these, but at no great distance towards the west, occurs the Ysola de Antillia; which we may conclude, even allowing the date of the map to be genuine, to be a mere gratuitous or theoretic supposition, and to have received that strange name, because the obvious and natural idea of Antipodes had been anathematized by Catholic ignorance. Still farther to the north-west, another fabulous island is laid down, under the strange appellation of Delaman Satanaxia, or the land created by the hand of Satan. This latter may possibly have some reference to an ignorant position of Iceland. Both were probably theoretic, for the fancied purpose of preserving a balance on the globe with the continents and islands already known; an idea which was transferred by learned theorists, and even persisted in for a considerable part of the eighteenth century, under the name of the Terra Australis incognita; and was only banished by the enlightened voyages of scientific discovery, conducted under the auspices of our present venerable sovereign.

The globe of Martin Behaim, in 1492, repeats the island of Antillia, and inserts beyond it to the west, the isle of St Brandan or Ima, from a fabulous work of the middle ages. Occasion has already occurred to notice two other ancient pretended discoveries of the New World: the fabulous voyages of the Zenos, another Venetian tale; and the equally fabulous Portuguese island of the Seven Churches, abounding in gold, and inhabited by Spanish or Portuguese Christians. Britain even had its Madoc prince of North Wales; and a white nomadic nation in North America, speaking Welsh, is still among the puerile fancies of this nineteenth century.

All these pretended proofs of any previous knowledge of the western world, resolve into complete demonstrations of perfect ignorance, even in the art of deception and forgery. Not only is the world indebted to COLUMBUS for this great and brilliant discovery, but every subsequent improvement in navigation, geography and hydrography, is justly attributable to his illustrious example. Much and deservedly as our COOK and his coadjutors and followers have merited from their country and the world, they are all to be considered as pupils of the truly great archnavigator COLUMBUS; himself a worthy scholar from the nautical academy of the truly illustrious and enlightened father of discoveries, DON HENRY. All other discoveries, whether nautical or by land, dwindle into mere ordinary events, when compared with his absolutely solitary exertion of previous scientific views. The sagacious and almost prophetic induction, persevering ardour, cosmographical, nautical, and astronomical skill, which centered in COLUMBUS, from the first conception to the perfect completion of this great and important enterprize, the discovery of a large portion of the globe which had lain hid for thousands of years from the knowledge of civilization and science, is altogether unexampled. He was incontestibly the first bold and scientific mariner who ever dared to launch out into the trackless ocean, trusting solely to the guidance of the needle and the stars, and to his own transcendent skill and intrepidity.

There can be no doubt that Greenland, in some measure an appendage of America, was discovered in 982, by the Norwegians or their Icelandic colony; and that the same people accidentally fell in with Newfoundland, or a part of Labradore, in 1003; of which early real discoveries particular notices have been taken in the first part of this work. But these were entirely accidental, and were lost to the world long before COLUMBUS began his glorious career; and do not in the least degree detract from the merit or originality of his discovery.

The name even of the great COLUMBUS has of late been fastidiously endeavoured to be rejected, in favour of the Spanish appellation Colon, which he adopted on entering into that service, which repaid him with base ingratitude and cruel injuries for his transcendent services. It will be seen, however, from the authority of his own son, that the original name of his family was Colombi; though some branches in other parts of Italy had adopted the modern or middle age Roman name of Collona. COLUMBUS, therefore, ought certainly to remain in our language as the Latinized original name of this illustrious person.

In supplement to the history of Columbus by his son, we have chosen to give an account of the first Discovery of America, by Herrera the royal historiographer of Spain. To some readers this may appear superfluous: But, as Don Ferdinand Columbus may naturally enough be supposed to have written under a degree of partial attachment to the glory of his immortal father, it seems fortunate that we possess an authentic early history of the same unparalleled event, from a more certainly impartial and well informed author, having access to the public archives. That portion of our work is given as an original record, almost without any remark; leaving it to the ingenious industry of such of our readers as may be so disposed, to make a critical comparison between the work of Don Ferdinand Columbus, a rare and valuable monument of filial piety, and that of Antonio de Herrera. We have only to regret, that the transcendent genius, who possessed the unexampled sagacity to devise, and the singular good fortune, perseverance, capacity, and conduct, to succeed in Discovering the Western Hemisphere, had not sufficient health and leisure to have favoured the world with his own commentaries of this greatest enterprise that was ever achieved by man. –Ed.

*  *  *

* *

Abridged Series of the Epochs of American Discovery[?].

A.D. 982. East Greenland discovered by the Norwegians or Icelanders, who planted a small colony. This was long afterwards shut in by the accumulation of arctic ice, and entirely lost.

1003. Winland, either Newfoundland or Labradore, was discovered by the Icelanders, but soon abandoned and forgotten.

1492, August 3d. COLUMBUS commenced his first voyage. 12th October discovered Guanahani, one of the Bahama group, which he named St Salvador, now named Cat Island. In this voyage, besides several others of the Bahama islands, he discovered Cuba and Hispaniola, leaving a colony in the latter, which was cut off by the natives. He returned to Spain from this voyage on the 4th March 1493.


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