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some of the grandees, who, from ignorance, from envy, or from that cold timid prudence which rejects whatever has the air of novelty or enterprise, had hitherto condemned all prince Henry's schemes. They represented, that it was altogether chimerical to expect any advantage from countries situated in that region which the wisdom and experience of antiquity had pronounced to be unfit for the habitation of men; that their forefathers, fatisfied with cultivating the territory which Providence had allotted them, did not waste the strength of the kingdom by fruitless projects, in quest of new settlements; that Portugal was already ex. hausted by the expence of attempts to discover lands which either did not exist, or which nature destined to remain unknown ; and was drained of men, who might have been employed in undertakings attended with more certain success, and productive of greater benefit. But neither their appeal to the authority of the ancients, nor their reasonings concerning the interest of Portugal, made any impression upon the determined philofophic mind of prince Henry. The discoveries which he had already made convinced him that the ancients had little more than a conjectural knowledge of the torrid zone. He was no less satisfied that the political arguments of his opponents with refpect to the interest of Portugal were malevolent and illfounded. In those senti
ments he was strenuously supported by his brother Pedro, who governed the kingdom as guardian of their nephew Alphonso V. who i had succeeded to the throne during his mino- . rity; and instead of slackening his efforts, Henry continued to pursue his discoveries with fresh ardour. (1438) Papal grant to Portugal of what countries it should discover.
But in order to silence all the murmurs of opposition, he endeavoured to obtain the • fanćtion of the highest authority in favour of his operations. With this view, he applied to the Pope, and represented, in pompous terms, the pious and unwearied zeal, with which he had exerted himself during twenty years, in discovering unknown countries, the wretched inhabitants of which were utter strangers to true religion, wandering in heathen darkness, or led aftray by the delusions of Mahomet. He befought the holy father, to whom, as the vicar of Christ, all the kingdoms of the earth were subject, to confer on the crown of Portugal a right to all the countries possessed by Infidels, which should be discovered by the industry of its subjects, and subdued by the force of its arms. He intreated him to enjoin all Christian powers, under the highest penalties, not to moleft Portugal while engaged in this laudable enterprise, and to prohibit them from settling in any of the
countries which the Portuguese shoud discover. . lie promised that, in all their expeditions, it should be the chief object of his countrymen to spread the knowledge of the Christian religion, to establish the authority of the holy fee, and to increase the flock of the universal pastor. As it was by improving with dexterity every favourable conjuncture for acquiring new powers, that the court of Rome had gradually extended its usurpations, Eugene IV. the pontiff, to whom this application was made , eagerly seized the opportunity which now presented itself. He instantly perceived, that by complying with prince Henry's request, he might exercise à prerogative no less flattering in its own nature, than likely to prove beneficial in its confequences. A Bull was accordingly ifsned, in which, after applauding in the strongest terms the past efforts of the Portuguese, and exhorting them to proceed in that laudable career on which they had entered, he granted them an exclusive right to all the countries which they should discover, from Cape Non to the continent of India.
Extravagant as this donation, comprehen: ding such a large portion of the habitable globe, would now appear even in Catholic countries, no person in the fifteenth century doub. ted that the Pope, in the plenitude of his apostolic power, had a right to confer it. Prince Henry was soon sensible of the advantages which
he deriyed from this transaction. His schemes were authorised and fanctified by the bull`approving of them. The fpirit of discovery was connected with zeal for religion, which, in that age, was a principle of such activity and vigour, as to influence the conduct of nations. All Christian princes were deterred 'from intruding into those countries which the Portuguese had discovered, or from interrupting the progress of their navigation and conquests (y).
Fame and progress of the Portuguese discoveries.
The fame of the Portuguese voyages foon spread over Europe. Men , long accustomed
to circumscribe the activity and knowledge of el the human mind within the limits to which
they had been hitherto confined, were afto* nished to behold the sphere of navigation to
suddenly enlarged, and a prospect opened of į visiting regions of the globe, the existence of 23 which was unknown in former times. The | learned and speculative reasoned and formed the
ories concerning those unexpected discoveries. The vulgar inquired and wondered; while en
terprising adventurers crouded from every part e of Europe , soliciting prince Henry to employ ni them in this honourable service. Many Venes
tians and Genoese, in particular, who were, -1 at that time, superior to all other nations in in the science of naval affairs, entered aboard the = y) See NOTE X.
ROBERTSON Vol. I.
Portuguese ships, and acquired a more perfect and extensive knowledge of their profeffion in that new school of navigation. In emulation of these foreigners, the Portuguese exerted their own talents. The nation feconded the designs of the prince, Private merchants formed companies, with a view to search for unknown countries, (1446.) The Cape de Verd islands, which lie off the promontory of that name, were discovered, and foon after, the isles called Azores. (1449). As the former of these are , above three hundred miles from the African coast, and the latter nine hundred miles from any continent, it is evident, by their venturing fo boldly into the open seas, that the Portuguese had, by this time, improved greatly in the art of navigation.
Death of prince Henry. (1463.) While the passion for engaging in new undertakings was thus warm and active, it received an unfortunate check by the death of prince Henry, whose superior knowledge had hitherto directed all the operations of the discoverers, and whose patronage had encouraged and protected them. But nothwithstanding all the advantages which they derived from these, the Portuguese, during his life , did not advance, in their utmost progress towards the fouth, within five degrees