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which we, of the present time, so unfeignedly despise. But the majority, we fear, were times-servers, and parasites of power : and, unfortunately, Thomas Dekker, a noble dramatist and a gifted poet, had not resolution enough to condemn the reigning fashion. He has, in the present instance, thoroughly bepraised our magnanimous king, James the First, and he has done it by anticipation, which was unwise. As for the monarch himself, he was not very nice as to the mental provender on which he fed. He was a good-tempered man, and a little foolish (albeit a latinist), and when he came here to England to marry his national flower to our red and white roses, and to give evidence that he could digest any compliments, and exist upon any soil, to the utter forgetfulness of the one which he had left, he proved nothing, but that the ass can feed on other things beside thistles, and that a Scotsman is every where at home.
ART. VI.-The Historie of the West Indies ; containing the
Actes and Aduentures of the Spaniards, which haue conquered and peopled those Countries, inriched with varietie of pleasant relation of the Manners, Ceremonies, Lawes, Gouernments, and Warres of the Indians. Published in Latin by Mr. Hakluyt, and translated into English by M. Lok, Gent. London: Published for Andrew Hebb, and are to be solde at the signe of the Bell "in Paul's Church-yard.
Whether the inhabitants of the American Continent are to be considered as aborigines of the soil, or as emigrants from the old world, is a question which, at this day, it is impossible to settle. Neither, if the latter supposition be true, is it of much consequence to determine from which division of the old quarter of the globe the new one was peopled. The Egyptians were, most probably, the first who launched their keels
the trackless waters; but, as the construction of their single sail was only adapted to a free or fair wind, it is by no means unlikely, that, when blown from the coast, by strong gales, they continued to drive across the Atlantic till they arrived at those delightful shores, where nature is spontaneously bountiful, and from which they could have had (after the fatigues and hunger they must have endured) but few motives to induce them to recede. Indeed, supposing attempts to return were made, they must have been soon abandoned, from the great difficulties attendant on the enterprise—the utter ignorance of navigation, and the want of that necessary instrument, the mariner's compass, to direct their way.
Several hundred years before the Christian Era, the Egyptians and Phenicians made frequent voyages to various parts of the Mediterranean, and along the western shores of Africa ; nor were their successors, the Carthaginians, less enterprising in their naval adventures. Ancient writers assert, and we see no reason to doubt the truth of their relation, that the Phenicians discovered the Azores (a great advance towards the Western World), and even proceeded as far to the northward as our own island, which they visited ; perhaps, catching the trade-winds near the Western Islands. We read in Scripture, of the fleets of Solomon navigating the Red Sea, under the guidance of Phenician mariners, and thence to the western shores of Hindostan, where we feel convinced vast fields for scientific discovery yet remain unexplored. In a voyage undertaken about this time (upwards of two thousand years before De Gama doubled the Cape of Good Hope), and which occupied a period of more than two years, Herodotus writes, that the King of Egypt, having abandoned his project of uniting the Nile to the Arabian Gulph, supplied the Phenicians with ships, commanding them to enter the Northern Sea by the Pillars of Hercules, and sail back by that route to Egypt. The Phenicians, sailing from the Red Sea, afterwards entered the Southern ocean, and “ returned to Egypt, passing by the Pillars of Hercules,” that is, through the Straits of Gibraltar, and they affirmed, “ that sailing round Libya, they had the sun on the right.” This certainly is conclusive evidence of their having crossed the Equator, and, most probably, when the sun had a southern declination; but as their voyage continued so long, if they actually did pass round the Cape, the sun would naturally appear to the northward, when on the Meridian. To those who have been accustomed to, or have ever witnessed, a north-wester off the southern promontory of Africa, even in a stout ship, well rigged and ably manned, when, for days together, the only canvas spread, or that could possibly be spread, has been a main stay-sail, the above account must appear rather improbable ; particularly, as they saw the sun to the right, or to the north, it must then have been crossing, or near, the Equator, or, perhaps, to the northward of it, when gales of wind are most frequent. * Still we do not consider it as wholly
* The Memorial Universel, tom. xiii. p. 288, announces that a vessel of cedar has been discovered in the earth in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope. It bears the appearance of being the remains of a Phenician vessel, which, if it is true, looks like a confirmation of the story of Herodotus.
impossible; for ships sometimes sail round that once-dreaded point with a fair breeze, and without encountering a single peril; yet it is remarkable, that such a command should be given, and such a voyage undertaken, when the existence of the southern promontory was actually unknown. If, however, it was achieved, and we see no absolute cause totally to discredit the worthy old Grecian, it certainly displays a very great knowledge of seamanship, more, indeed, than the pride of our modern tars would give them credit for, and may readily account for peopling a considerable portion of the new hemisphere, from the old.
Columbus, in his second voyage, discovered part of a vessel, on the shore, at Guadaloupe, which affords some presumption that the new world had been visited before, though it supplies no evidence that any individual had ever returned to announce the discovery. Another almost undeniable proof is, that at a place called Quarequa, in the Gulph of Darien, Vasco Nunez met with a colony of negroes! Plato, in his dialogue, entitled Timæus, wherein he speaks of the universal nature and frame of the world, relates the history of an ancient island to the west, named Atalantis, imagined to have existed before the flood, and to be much larger than Africa and Asia, combined. The inhabitants are represented as a bold and warlike people, capable of great exertion, and famed for heroic exploits. By this island was a passage to numerous other islands, and from those islands to the Continent " which was right over against it, near unto the sea.” This fabulous island is said to have been engulphed in the ocean, and all its warlike inhabitants to have perished. Plato states that he derived his information from an Egyptian priest, who delivered the tradition to Solon, and the latter communicated it to the uncle of Critias, the individual whom the philosopher introduces as rehearsing it. That this fable operated powerfully on the understandings of after-ages, is highly probable, for, as science began to emerge from the depths of monastic solitude, and man shook off the trammels of superstition and ignorance, so the moral or sequel to the tale was made apparent.
Seneca, in his Medea, utters, almost in the spirit of prophecy, his belief, that new worlds would be discovered. Whether any attempts were made to search for this promised land before the Genoese flourished in their maritime commerce, and were esteemed the first navigators of the day, we have no positive information. The earliest accounts of such an undertaking proceed from the unsuccessful project of two skilful natives of Genoa, in the thirteenth century, Tedisia Doria and Ugolino Vivaldi, who sailed with the express intention of discovering new countries, and of circumnavigating the globe by a western
course; but, unfortunately, they either perished at sea, or werë driven to parts from whence they never returned. When the great discoverer of the West Indies first revealed his designs, he was regarded as a madman, or ridiculed as a fool; but when he had actually accomplished what he proposed, envy and malice, with their thousand tongues, were eager to lessen his reputation, and rob him of that fame which was so eminently his due. Thus, the volume before us commences with an ambiguous account of a certain pilot (who he was, or where he came from, being wholly unknown) who, having been driven out of his destined course by a terrible storm, found shelter on the shores of the new world. This man, on his return, resided in the same house with Columbus; the exertions, anxieties, and fatigues, he had undergone, reduced him to the brink of the grave; but, previous to his death, he communicated the important discovery to that intrepid navigator. We shall not attempt to refute these falsehoods; for, in the present day, the claims of the justly celebrated Columbus, as the first who ever returned from the western world, are universally allowed. Strong and general must have been the interest excited by his departure, for even his enemies could not have refrained from admiring the steady perseverance and heroic fortitude of the daring seaman, who, despising danger, difficulty, or distress, boldly turned from the shores of his home to wrestle with the tempest, and to brave the billows, in search of unknown lands. What were his own, feelings on the occasion we can but faintly enter into, nor the delight, the joy, which must have almost overpowered his mind, when, according to his predictions, land first appeared to the toil-worn, fainting, cheerless mariners. Nor was it a bleak and inhospitable coast; but, from our own experience, it must have appeared to them a terrestrial paradise. The beautiful clearness of the sky, the brilliancy of the two celestial hemispheres glowing with light, and the constant verdure of the earth, must have filled them with astonishment and admiration; nor is it surprising, that, on their return to Spain, the narrative of such a voyage should be highly exaggerated; yet, on the whole, the celebrated Peter Martyr may be considered as having given a faithful relation, derived from living sources—the discoverers themselves.
We have already, in a previous number, briefly sketched the first voyage to the finding of that devoted island, Hispaniola, where the largest vessel ran upon a sunken rock and bilged; the crew, however, were brought off without injury.
“ Here, coming first a-land, they saw certain men of the Island, who, perceiving an unknown nation coming towards them, flocked together, and ran all into the thick woods, as it had been hares coursed with greyhounds. Our men pursuing them, took only one woman,
whom they brought to the ships ; where, filling her with meat and wine, and appareling her, they let her depart to her company. Shortly after, a great multitude of them came running to the shore, to behold this new nation, whom they thought to have descended from Heaven.”
The natives swam off to the ships, taking gold with them, which they exchanged for mere trifles, among the seamen. This latter circumstance is very remarkable, for it is evident, that the Indians placed no value upon this precious metal themselves, and why they should have conveyed it to the Spaniards, instead of provisions, appears inexplicable. Columbus, seeing the rich treasures which were poured into his lap, affirmed that he had found the island of Ophir, whither Solomon's ships sailed for gold !
“ At the even tide, about the falling of the sun, when our men went to prayer, and kneeled on their knees, after the manner of the Christians, they did the like also. And after what manner soever they saw them pray to the cross, they followed them in all points as well as they could. They shewed much humanity towards our men, and helped them with their lighters, or small boats, (which they call canoes,) to unlade their broken ship, and that with such celerity and cheerfulness, that no friend for friend, no kinsman for kinsman, in such case, moved with pity, could do more.”.
“ The wild and mischievous people called Canibals, or Caribes, which were accustomed to eat men's flesh, (and called, of the old writers, Anthropophagi,) molest them exceedingly, invading their country, taking them captive, killing and eating them. Such children as they take, they geld, to make them fat, as we do cock chickens, and young hogs, and eat them when chey' are well fed; of such as they eat, they first eat the entrails and extreme parts, as hands, feet, arms, neck, and head. For other most fleshy parts, they powder for store, as we do pestles of pork, and gammons of bacon; yet do they abstain from eating of women, and count it vile.'
What effect this information had upon the nerves of the Spaniards we are not told ; but it appears, in their second voyage, that they became convinced of the truth, for, landing on one of the Caribbee isles,
Our men found in their houses all kinds of earthen vessels, not much unlike unto ours. They found also, in their kitchens, men's flesh, duck's flesh, and goose flesh, all in one pot, and other on the spits, ready to be laid to the fire. Entering into their inner lodgings, they found faggots of the bones of men's arms and legs, which they reserve to make heads for their arrows, because they lack iron, the other bones hey cast away, when they have eaten the flesh. They found, likewise, the head of a young man, fastened to a post, and yet bleeding, also about thirty children, captives, which were reserved to be eaten, but our men took them away to use them for interpreters.”