from Africa, and fixed his residence at Sagres,
near Cape St. Vincent, where the prospect of
the Atlantic ocean invited his thoughts conti-
nually towards his favourite project , and en-
couraged him to execute it. In this retreat he
was attended by some of the most learned men
in his country, who aided him in his researches.
He applied for information to the Moors of Bar-
bary, who were accustomed to travel by land
into the interior provinces of Africa, in quest of
ivory, gold-dust, and other rich commodities.
He consulted the Jews settled in Portugal. By
promises, rewards, and marks of respect, he
allured into his service several persons, foreig-
ners as well as Portuguese, who were eminent
for their fkill in navigation. In taking those
preparatory steps, the great abilities of the prin-
ce were seconded by his private virtues. His
integrity, his affability, his respect for religion,
his zeal for the honour of his country, engaged
persons of all ranks to applaud his design, and
to favour the execution of it, His schemes were
allowed by the greater part of his countrymen
to preceed neither from ambition, nor the de
fire of wealth, but to flow from the warm be-
nevolence of a heart eager to promote the hap-
piness of mankind, and which justly intitled him
to affume a motto for his device, that described
the quality, by which he wished to be diftin-
guished, the talent of doing good,

[ocr errors]

Discovery of Porto Santo. 1418. His first effort, as is usual at the commencement of any new undertaking, was extremely inconsiderable. He fitted out a single ship, and giving the command of it to John Gonzalez Zarco and Tristan Vaz, two gentlemen of his household, who voluntarily offered to conduct the enterprise, he instructed them to use their utmost efforts to double Cape Bojador, and thence to steer towards the south. They, according to the mode of navigation which still prevailed, held their course along the shore; and by following that direction, they mutt have encountered almost insuperable difficulties in attempting to pass Cape Bojador. But fortune came in aid to their want of skill, and prevented the voyage from being altogether fruitless. A sudden squall of wind arose, drove them out to sea, and when they expected every moment to perish, landed them on an unknown island, which from their happy escape they named Porto Santo. In the infancy of navigation, the discovery of this small island appeared a matter of such moment, that they instantly returned to Portugal with the good tidings, and were received by Henry with the applause and honour due to fortunate adventurers. This faint dawn of success filled a mind ardent in the purfuit af a favourite object with such sanguine hopes as were sufficient incitements to proceed. (1419) Next year, Henry sent out three ships

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

under the same commanders, to whom he joiined Bartholomew Perestrello, in order to take

poffeffion of the island which they had discove: red. When they began to settle in Porto San

to, they observed towards the south a fixed spot k in the horizon, like a small black cloud.

of Madeira.

· By degrees, they were led to conjecture that it might be land, and steering towards it, they arrived at a considerable island, uninhabi. ted and covered with wood, which on that account they called Madeira u). (1420) As it

was Henry's .chief object to render his discoi veries ufeful to his country, he immediately is equipped a fleet to carry a colony of Portuguese

to these islands. By his provident care, they : were furnished not only with the seeds, plants,

and domestic animals common in Europe; but as he foresaw that the warmth of the climate and fertility of the soil would prove favourable to the rearing of other productions, he procured flips of the wine from the island of Cyprus, the rich wines of which were then in great re

quest, and plants of the sugar cane from Siciį ly, into which it had been lately introduced. E These throve so prosperously in this new counE try, that the benefit of cultivating them was of Madeira quickly became considerable articles in the commerce of Portugal x).

immediately perceived, and the sugar and wine u) Historical relation of the first discovery of Madeira, tranf

lated from the Portuguese of Fran. Alcafarano, p. 15. &c.

. . Double Cape Bojador.

As soon as the advantages derived from this first settlement to the west of the European continent began to be felt, the spirit of discovery appeared less chimerical, and became more adventurous. By their voyages to Madeira, the Portuguese were gradually accustomed to a bolder navigation, and instead of creeping servilely along the coast, ventured into the open sea. In confequence of taking this course, Gilianez, who commanded one of prince Henry's ships, doubled Cape Bojador, the boundary of the Portuguese navigation upwards of twenty years, and which had hitherto been deemed unpassable. (1433) This successfull voyage, which the ignorance of the age placed on a level with the most famous exploits recorded in history, opened a new sphere to navigation, as it discovered the vast continent of Africa, still washed by the · Atlantic ocean, and stretching towards the south,

Advance within the tropics.

Part of this was foon explored; the Portuguese advanced within the tropics, and in the fpace of a few years they discovered the river Senegal, and all the coast extending from Cape Blanco to Cape de Verd..

x) Lud, Guicciardini Descritt, de Paeli Balli, p. 180. 1$1.

Astonished at what they discovered there. .

Hitherto the Portuguese had been guided in their discoveries, or encouraged to attempt them, by the light and information which they received from the works of the ancient mathematicians and geographers. But, when they began to enter the torrid zone, the notion which prevailed among the ancients, that the heat, which reigned perpetually there, was so excessive as to render it uninhabitable, deterred them, for some time, from proceeding. Their own observations, when they first ventured into this unknown and formidable region, tended to confirm the opinion of antiquity con- . cerning the violent operation of the direct rays of the sun. As far as the river Senegal, the Portuguese had found the coast of Africa inhabited by people nearly resembling the Moors of Barbary. When they advanced to the Înuth of that river, the human form seemed to put on a new appearance. They beheld men with skins black as ebony, with short curled hair, flat noses, thick lips, and all the peculiar features which are now known to distinguish the racè of negroes. This surprising alteration they naturally attributed to the influence of heat, and if they should advance nearer to the line, they began to dread that its effects would be ftill more violent. Those dangers were exaggerated, and many other objections against attempting farther discoveries were proposed by

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »