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growth, many Indian articles, hitherto procured at second hand in Cey. lon ; which they accordingly furnished on their own terms to the nations of the west.
As an instance of the depressed state of human knowledge during the middle ages, we may mention that Cosmas, a Greek merchant of the sixth century wrote a book called “ Christian Topography,” the chief intent of which was to confute the heretical opinion of the earth being a globe, together with the pagan assertion that there was a temperate zone on the southern side of the torrid zone. He informed his readers that, according to the true orthodox system of cosmography, the earth was a quadrangular plane, extending four hundred courses, or days' journeys, from east to west, and exactly half as much from north to south, enclosed by lofty mountains, upon which the canopy or vault of the firmament rested ; that a huge mountain on the north side of the earth, by intercepting the light of the sun, produced the vicissitudes of day and night ; and that the plane of the earth had a declivity from north, by reason of which the Euphrates, Tigris, and other rivers running southward, are rapid ; whereas the Nile, having to run up-hill, has necessarily a very slow current.
The Feroe islands had been discovered about the latter end of the ninth century, by some Scandinavian pirates; and soon after this, Iceland was colonized by Flok, the Norwegian Iceland, it appears, had been discovered long before the Norwegians settled there ; as many relics, in the nature of bells, books in the Irish language, and wooden crosses, were discovered by Flok, in different parts of the island : so that the Irish seem first to have set foot upon that isle. The Icelandic chronicles also relate that, about these times, the Northmen discovered a great country to the west of Ireland, which account has by many been deemed apocryphal : for, if true, they must be held to be some of the early discoverers of America ; but it seems pretty clear that they made their way to Greenland in the end of the tenth century.
The settlement effected in Greenland, though comprising but a small population, seems to have been very prosperous in these early times in mercantile affairs. They had bishops and priests from Europe ; and paid the pope, as an annual tribute, twenty-six hundred pounds of walrus-teeth, as tithe and Peter's pence. The voyage from Greenland to Iceland and Norway, and back again, consumed five years; and upon one occasion the government of Norway did not hear of the death of the bishop of Greenland until six years after it had occurred; so that the art of navigation, after all, must have been in these times but at a very low pitch.
Greenland seems to have been called Viinland, or Finland, from the vines which were discerned by the early discoverers as abounding in this country; and, in fact, wild vines are found growing in all the northern districts of America. This Viinland is, however, supposed by some persons to have been Newfoundland ; and if so, America must in reality have been discovered as much as five centuries before Columbus sailed so far as the West Indies ; and moreover, it has been supposed that the many traditions about the west, existing in the time of Columbus, first set him to prosecute the idea of discovering another world.
The impulse which the cultivation of ancient learning hud received in Europe was greatly strengthened by the downfall of Constantinople, which drove the most learned Greeks into exile ; they sought refuge for the most part in Italy, and the libraries of that peninsula became the depositories of what remained of the ancient treasures of Greek literature and philosophy. It was hence that the first stimulus was given to the study of the Greek language in Europe. Translators of the Greek authors, and commentators upon them, began to multiply; and the rapid progress of the art of printing gave an additional impulse by the facilities it afforded for the dissemination of learning. The belief that there existed a fourth division of the globe, larger than any yet discovered, had been encouraged by some of the ancient philosophers ; and it had been so generally received, that two eminent fathers of the church, St. Augustine and Lactantius, had zealously labored to refute the theory, believing it inconsistent with the doctrines of Christianity. With the cultivation of Greek literature the old notion was revived, and at the same time the rapid development of the spirit of maritime discovery induced several nations, but especially the Portuguese, to search out new and unknown lands.
The Canaries, or Fortunate islands, were the first discovery that fo:lowed the introduction of the mariner's compass; they became known to the Spaniards early in the fourteenth century, but no regular attempt was made for their colonization.
In the early part of the fifteenth century, John I., king of Portugal, had effected some very important conquests over the Moors ; in which he had been very materially assisted by his son, Prince Henry, who being an able and active-minded cavalier, took delight rather in the more solid glories of learning and science, than in the fame of war, in which he had, however, of late so highly distinguished himself. Upon the cessation of hostilities he retired to the promontory of St. Vincent, and lived at the seaport town of Sagres, which he had himself founded, where he cultivated the science of astronomy, for the purpose of making it available to the mariner, in guiding him over the ocean, when he had quitted the servile tracking of the shore. He, in fact, established a naval college, and an observatory. He engaged to his assistance all the bestinformed men of his time ; and the point to which he especially directed his attention, was the practicability of sailing round Africa, and of thus reaching the East Indies. Prince Henry did not live to see the whole of his views accomplished; but the many minor discoveries which were effected under his auspices, laid up a fund of knowledge and experience for succeeding generations to profit by. Maps were formed under his superintendence: by which means all the geographical knowledge respecting the earth was brought together; the different parts were marked out; and the rocks, coasts, and quicksands, to be avoided, were all noted down.
The southernmost cape of Africa known in those days was Cape Non, which received this appellation from the idea that it was utterly impossible to get beyond this cape ; but the officers of Henry having at length doubled it, found Cape Bojador in the distance, whose violent currcnts and raging breakers, running for miles out to sea, seemed a barrier which could not even be approached with safety by mariners, who were
in the habit of coasting along the shore. Seamen now began to be more alarmed than ever at the idea of the torrid zone, and to propagate the notion, that he who should double Cape Bojador would never re
At length this awful cape was passed by; the region of the tropics was penetrated, and divested of its fancied terrors ; the river Senegal was observed, the greater part of the African coast, from Cape Blanco to Cape de Verde, was explored, and the Cape de Verde and the Azore islands were discovered; the Madeiras and Canaries having been visited for the first time by the Spaniards some years before. This prince died in the year 1473, after having obtained a papal bull, investing the crown of Portugal with sovereign authority over all the lands it might discover in the Atlantic, to India inclusive.
The passion for discovery languished after the death of Prince Henry, but it was revived by his grand-nephew, King John II., with additional ardor (A. D. 1481). In his reign, the Portuguese, for the first time, crossed the equator, and for the first time beheld the stars of a new hemisphere. They now discovered the error of the ancients, respecting the torrid zone, and practically refuted the common belief that the continent of Africa widened toward the south, for they beheld it sensibly contracting and bending toward the east. The hopes inspired by this discovery, induced the Portuguese monarch to send ambassadors in search of an unknown potentate supposed to profess the Christian religion, by whose aid it was hoped that a lucrative trade might be opened with India, and the progress of the true faith secured.
Early in the thirteenth century, reports were prevalent in Europe of some great potentate in a remote part of Asia having embraced the Christian faith.* In consequence, the pope, Innocent IV., sent two monks to preach Christianity in the Mongolian court (A. D. 1246); and soon after, St. Louis of France employed the celebrated Rubruquis to seek the aid of the supposed Christian sovereign, who was commonly called Prester John, in the crusade that he contemplated. A Venetian, named Marco Polo, visited the most distant parts of Asia (A. D. 1263), and penetrated to Pekin, the capital of China. He was followed by Sir John Mandeville, an Englishman (A. D. 1322), and the narrations of both, though deficient in accuracy of information, contributed to keep alive the feelings of interest and curiosity which had been excited in Europe.
While the Portuguese monarch's emissaries were engaged in a hopeless search for Prester John, and the more useful task of investigating the state of navigation in the Indian seas, an expedition from Lisbon, conducted by Bartholomew Diaz, had actually discovered the southern extremity of the African continent (A. D. 1483). A storm preventing him from pursuing his career, he named the promontory that terminated his voyage “ the cape of Tempests;” but King John, aware of the vast importance of the discovery, called it “ the cape of Good Hope.” At the same time letters were received from the monks who had been sent overland, in which the practicability of reaching the East Indies, by sailing round Africa, was strenuously maintained. But the intervening
* It is probable that this error arose from some inaccurate description of Buddhism. Most persons are aware that the rituals and ceremonials of the Buddhist priests bear a striking resemblance to those of the Roman Catholic church.
discovery of America diverted, for a season, men's minds from this voyage round Africa; and fifteen years had nearly elapsed before Vasco de Gama, having rounded the cape of Good Hope, reached India, and anchored in the harbor of Calicut, on the coast of Malabar (May 22, A. D. 1498).
Among the adventurers who flocked to join the Portuguese from every part of Europe was Christopher Colon, or Columbus, à native of Genoa. T'he narrative of Marco Polo had led to the belief that the extent of India, beyond the Ganges, was greater than that of the rest of Asia; and, as the spherical figure of the earth was known, he was naturally led to the conclusion that India might more easily be reached by sailing westward, than by the long and tedious circumnavigation of Africa. After enduring many disappointments, Columbus obtained a small armament, from Ferdinand and Isabella of Spair ; and, or the third of August, A. D. 1492, sailed from the little port of Palos, in Andalusia, to discover a new world.
During the long voyage, the crew of Columbus was more than once on the point of mutinying and turning back in despair; at length land was discovered on the twelfth of October, and Columbus found himself soon in the midst of that cluster of islands, which, in consequence of the original error about the extent of India, were named the West Indies. On his return to Europe, he was received by Ferdinand and Isabella with the highest honors; a second expedition was prepared to extend and secure his discoveries, but, before his departure, application was made to the pope for a grant of these new dominions, and Alexander VI. shared all the unknown regions of the earth inhabited by infidels between the Spaniards and Portuguese, fixing as their common boundary an imaginary line drawn from pole to pole, one hundred leagues to the west of the Azores, and assigning all west of that line to Spain, and all east of it to Portugal.
The colonies established by the Spaniards differed from those founded by other European countries. The Spaniards were not a trading people, indeed ignorance of the advantages that result from commerce has been always a characteristic of that nation ; the precious metals were the only objects that excited their attention, and for a series of years they devoted themselves exclusively to the exploration of mines. It was only when the augmentation of the European population, and the diminished returns from the mines, forced their attention to agriculture, that they began to pay any attention to raising colonial produce. In consequence of these restricted views, the commercial and colonial policy of Spain was always the worst possible; it was fettered by monopolies, exclusions, and restrictions, equally injurious to the parent state and its dependancies ; and perseverance in this erroneous system is a principal cause of the low state of civilization both in Spain and its late colonies.
Not only the Dutch, but the English and French, were roused to emulation by the success of the Spaniards and Portuguese. In the reign of Henry VII., Cabot, a mariner of Bristol, made some considerable additions to maritime knowledge ; but it was not until the time of Elizabeth that regular plans of colonization were formed.
The growth of commerce in this age was very rapid, but there appeared still room for further discoveries until the globe was circumnavigated by Magellan (A. D. 1521). From that time the attention of nations began to be directed more to completing old discoveries than to the search for new lands. The navies of Europe began to assume a formidable aspect; manufactures multiplied, and states, previously poor, became suddenly rich. Sovereigns and governments began to direct their attention to commerce, justly persuaded that mercantile wealth is equally the source of the prosperity and glory of nations.
SECTION II.-Origin of the Reformation.
The extravagant claims of the popes to temporal, as well as spiritual supremacy, had been resisted by several men of learning, whose works did not die with them, but continued to exercise a powerful, though secret effect, on succeeding generations. This repugnance to ecclesiastical domination was greatly increased by the scandalous schism at the close of the fourteenth and commencement of the fifteenth century. Two or three popes reigning at the same time, excommunicating each other, appealing to the laity for support, compelled men to exercise the right of private judgment, and directed attention to the ecclesiastical abuses that had produced such unhappy fruits. The partial reforms, or rather attempts at reformation, made by the councils of Constance and Basil, spread the disrespect for the Romish see still wider; their deposition of contending pontiffs taught men that there was a jurisdiction in the church superior to the papal power, their feeble efforts to correct abuse brought the evils prominently forward, and left them unamended to meet the public gaze. While this dissatisfaction was hourly increasing, the papal chair was filled successively by two pontiffs, whose career of unscrupulous guilt was sufhcient to disgust even a less enlightened age. Alexander VI., profligate in private life, cruel and tyrannical in his public administration, was followed by Julius II., whose overbearing ambition led him to trample on the very semblance of justice and moderation when they interfered with the success of his schemes. The sovereigns of France and Germany, alternately engaged in active hostilities with these heads of the church, could not prevent their subjects from ridiculing papal pretensions, and assailing papal vices. Nor were these scandals confined to the papacy; the licentious lives of the ecclesiastics in Italy and Germany, the facility with which they obtained pardons for enormous crimes, their exorbitant wealth, their personal immunities, and their encroachments on the rights of the laity, had given just offence; and this was the more sensibly felt in Germany, because most of the great benefices were in the hands of foreigners.
When men's minds were everywhere filled with disgust at the existing administration of ecclesiastical affairs, and eager for some change, a dispute, trivial in its origin, kindled a flame, which rapidly spread over Europe, destroying all the strongholds that had been so laboriously erected for the security of tyranny and superstition. Leo X., on his accession to the papal chair, found the treasury of the church exhausted by the ambitious projects of his predecessors, Alexander VI. and Julius II Generous in his disposition, magnificent in his habits of life,