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to the east, absurdly gave the name Prefter or Presbyter John; and as he hoped to receive information and assistance from a Christiana prince, in prosecuting a scheme that tended to propagate their common faith, he refolved to open, if possible, some intercourse with his court. With this view, he made choice of Pedro de Covillam and Alphonfo de Payva, who were perfect masters of the Arabic language, and fent them into the east, to search for the residence of this unknown potentate, and to make him prossers of friendship. They had it in charge
likewise, to procure whatever intelligence the • nations which they visited could fupply, with
respect to the trade of India, and the course of navigation to that continent b).
Voyage of Bartholomew Diaz. 1486. While John made this new attempt by land, to obtain some knowledge of the country, which he wished so ardently to discover, he did not negleck the prosecution of this great design by fea. The conduct of a voyage for this purpose, the most arduous and important which the Portuguese had ever projected, was committed to Bartholomew Diaz, an officer whose fagacity, experience, and fortitude, rendered him equal to the undertaking. He stretched boltly towards the south, and proceeding beyond the b) Faria y Sousa Port. Alia, vol. I, p. 26. Lafitau Decouv. des
Ports. I. 46.
utmost limits to which his countrymen had hi* therto advanced, discovered near a thousand mi
les of a new country. Neither the danger to which he was exposed, by a succession of vio
lent tempests in unknown seas, and by the fre(quent mutinies of his crew, nor the calamities E of famine which he suffered from losing his sto
reship, could deter him from prosecuting his si enterprise. In recompence of his labours and
perseverance, he at last descried that lofty proe montory which bounds Africa to the south. But
to descry it, was all that he had in his power * to accomplish. The violence of the winds, the , shattered condition of his ships, and the turbulent fpirit of his failors, compelled him to return, after a voyage of fixteen months, in which he discovered a far greater extent of
country than any former navigator. Diaz had I called the promontory which terminated his
voyage Capo tormentoso, or the stormy Cape; but the king, his master, as he now entertained no doubt of having found the long desired route to India, gave it a name more inviting, and of better omen, The Cape of Good Hope c),
More certain prospects of success.
Those fanguine expectations of success were confirmed by the intelligence which John received over land, in consequence of his embassy to Abyssinia. Covillam and Payvá , in
c) Faria y Sousa Port. Alia, vol. 1. p. 26.
obedience to their master's instructions, had repaired to Grand Cairo. From that city, they travelled along with a caravan of Egyptian mer. chants, and embarking on the Red Sea, arrived at Aden in Arabia. There they separated; Payya failed directly towards Abyffinia; Covillam embarked for the East Indies, and having visited Calecut, Goa, and other cities on the Malabar coast, returned to Sofala, on the east side of Africa, and thence to Grand Cairo, which Payva and he had fixed upon as their place of rendez vous. Unfortunately the former was cruelly murdered in Abyssinia, but Covillam found at Cairo two Portuguese Jews, whom John, whose provident sagacity attended to every circumstance that could facilitate the execution of his schemes, had dispatched after them, in order to receive a detail of their proceedings, and to communicate to them new instructions. By one of these Jews, Covillam transmitted to Portugal a journal of his travels by sea and land, his remarks upon the trade of India, together with exact maps of the coasts on which he had touched; and from what he himself had observed, as well as from the information of skilful seamen in different countries, he concluded, that by failing round Africa , a passage might be found to the East Indies d).
d) Faria y Sousa Port, Afia, vol. 1. p. 27. Lafitau Decouv. i. 48
Preparations for another voyage. The happy coincidence of Covillam's opi. nion and report, with the discoveries which & Diaz had lately made, left hardly any shadow
of doubt with respect to the possibility of failing * from Europe to India. But the vast length of E the voyage, and the furious storms which Diaz k had encountered near the Cape of Good Hope,
alarmed and intimidated the Portuguese to such ů a degree, although by long experience they ; were now become adventurous and skilful ma
riners, that some time was requisite to prepare
their minds for this dangerous and extraordinary si voyage. The courage, however, and autho
rity of the monarch, gradually dispelled the pie vain fears of his subjects, or made it necessary e to conceal them. As John thought himfelf now
upon the eye of accomplishing that great design, a which had been the principal object of his reign,
his earnestness in profecuting it became fo vehement, that it occupied his thoughts by day, and bereaved him of sleep through the night. While he was taking every precaution that his wisdom and experience could suggest, in order to endure the success of the expedition, which was to decide concerning the fate of his favourite project, the fame of the vast discoveries which the Portuguese had already made, the reports concerning the extraordinary intelligence which they had received from the East, and the prospect of the voyage which they now
meditated, drew the attention of all the European nations, and held them in suspence and expectation.
The attention of inankind fixed upon it.
By fome, the maritime skill and navigations of the Portuguese were compared with those of the Phenicians and Carthaginians, and exalted above them. Others formed conjectures concerning the revolutions which the success of the Portuguese schemes might occasion in the course of trade, and the political state of Europe. The Venetians began to be disquieted with the apprehenfion of losing their Indian commerce, the monopoly of which was the chief source of their power as well as opulence, and the Portuguese already enjoyed in fancy, the wealth of the East.
Suddenly turned to a new obje&. ; But, during this interval, which gave fuch scope to the various workings of curiosity, of hope and of fear, an account was brought to Europe of an event no less extraordinary than unexpected, the discovery of a New World fituated in the west; and the eyes and admiration of mankind turned immediately towards that great object.