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Voyages of the Northmen –Vinland ---State of Knowledge on this Subject in the 15th century -- Christopher

Columbus - His early life, his genius, labors and success Discovery of America --Origin of the name Amerigo Vespucci — Sebastian Cabot's voyages Cortereal - Ponce de Leon - Verrazzani Cartier - Robertval - De Soto

De Soto — Ribault, Melendez, De Gourges - Champlain --- Canada, Acadie, New France.


It is not unlikely that the Western which were made to the region “VinContinent had been visited by some land,” produced no impression upon the chance adventurers before the period old world, and ere long everything when it was made known to Europe connected with the Northmen and

by COLUMBUS. The researches of their voyages was buried in oblivion;

modern days into American an- moreover, as Mr. Wheaton justly obtiquities seem to have established, with serves, “there is not the slightest tolerable certainty, the fact, that about reason to believe that the illustrious the year of our Lord 1000, some of Genoese was acquainted with the Dis

those daring navigators known covery of North America by the Nor

as the “NORTHMEN,” did acciden- mans five centuries before his time, tally discover a part of the Continent however well authenticated that fact of America, which they named “ Vin- now appears to be by the Icelandic land;" and it may be that repeated records to which we have referred."* voyages were made, and even colonies

* History of the Northmen, or Danes and Norplanted in the new world. But this

mans, from the Earliest Times to the Conquest of discovery, and the many or few visits England by William of Normandy:" By Henry

VOL. I.--3

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It is certain, as Mr. Irving states, westward, and open for ever after the “ that at the beginning of the fif- pathway to the New World. teenth century, when the most intel- This truly great man was born in the

ligent minds were seeking in city of Genoa about the year

direction for the scattered | 1435, and had two brothers and lights of geographical knowledge, a one sister younger than himself. His profound ignorance prevailed among parents were poor, but they were able the learned as to the western regions to give him, at the University of Pavia, of the Atlantic; its vast waters were the advantage of instruction in the Latin regarded with awe and wonder, seem- language, geometry, cosmography, asing to bound the world as with a chaos, tronomy, and drawing. His progress into which conjecture could not pene- was rapid and successful. Strongly trate, and enterprise feared to adven- bent upon becoming a sailor, at the ture."* Few, at that time, dared, even early age of fourteen, he made his first in dreams, to think of venturing forth voyage in company with a hardy old upon the great and stormy ocean, and sea captain of the same name as his no man living probably ever imagined father. After many years of adventhe existence of those vast regions ture and various fortunes Columbus, in which lay beyond the Atlantic. Doubt- 1470, removed to Lisbon, which less many a one thought, and thought city, at that time, owing to the deeply and earnestly, upon these things, ability and sagacity of Prince Henry and we may well believe that many a of Portugal, was the most busy port one desired much to know what it was in Europe for commercial enterprise. deemed almost presumption to suppose He shortly after was married to the could ever be known by mortal man. daughter of a distinguished navigator But there was no man who determined recently deceased. resolutely, and with unflinching intre- The active and ardent spirit of Copidity, which we at this day cannot at lumbus was deeply stirred within him all adequately appreciate, to launch by reflection and study, respecting the forth upon the unknown and trackless possibility of reaching the rich and waste of waters, before the illustrious, attractive East Indies by sailing dienthusiastic, and noble-hearted CHRIS- rectly across the Western Ocean. TOPHER COLUMBUS arose to set his face Heretofore the commodities of the

far East had been brought overland Wheaton, LL.D., p. 31. The reader who wishes by a long, tedious and expensive jourfurther information may consult Wheaton's volume ney; if a new route could be struck to advantage ; also the “ Antiquitates Americanæ,” out, especially by water, and if the

distance could be shortened-as was * Irving's " Life and Voyages of Columbus," vol. i., p. 20. In proof of the statement made above, the au- then currently believed to be possible thor cites a passage from Xerif al Edrisi, a distin- in a westerly direction-it was certain guished Arabian writer, which is a curious illustration of the views and feelings of even well-informed

to bring untold wealth into the hands and intelligent men of that day.

of that nation which first succeeded in

edited by Prof. Rafn, 1837.

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CH. I.]



opening the pathway to the Indies. dice and conceited ignorance which he Columbus was sure that, as the earth encountered, might well have worn out was spherical, if one sailed directly a man less resolute and determined West he must in due time reach the than was Columbus; but he never fallands of the East, and discover also tered in his course; he never gave up any islands or lands which might lie his great plan and purpose; and his between Europe and Asia. The more constancy and courage finally obtained he thought of the matter the more their just reward. “Let those, then, sure he became, and when once he had who are disposed to faint under diffireached a conclusion, it was with him culties, in the prosecution of any great a fixed and unalterable conclusion. and worthy undertaking, remember that Henceforth his only aim was how to eighteen years elapsed after the time get the means to prove the truth of that Columbus conceived his enterhis convictions, by actually sailing over prise, before he was enabled to carry the Atlantic Ocean to find the land of it into effect; that the greater part of Cathay, or the easternmost regions of that time was passed in almost hopeAsia. “It is singular,” as Mr. Irving less solicitation, amidst poverty, neglect, remarks in this connection,“ how much and taunting ridicule; that the prime the success of this great undertaking of his life had wasted away in the depended upon two happy errors, the struggle, and that when his perseverimaginary extent of Asia to the East, ance was finally crowned with success, and the supposed smallness of the he was about his fifty-sixth year. His earth ; both, errors of the most learned example should encourage the enterand profound philosophers, but with- prising never to despair."* out which Columbus would hardly At last, through the generous imhave ventured upon his enterprise."* pulses of the noble-hearted Isabella,

He offered his services first to John and the substantial seconding of the II., king of Portugal; but having been family of the Pinzons, Columbus was deceived and very unhandsomely treat- enabled, on Friday, August 3d, 1492, ed by the king and his advisers, and to embark on his adventurous voyage. also having, some time before, lost his His expedition consisted of only three wife, he took his son Diego, and in caravels or small vessels, the Santa

1484, bade adieu to Portugal. Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña.

Columbus next repaired to Spain, Happily preserved from the vioand made his suit at the court of Fer- lence of storms, on Friday, the 12th of dinand and Isabella. The weary years October, 1492, the eyes of Columbus of waiting upon the court of the im- were gladdened by the full view of passive, calculating Ferdinand, the cold- land: the great mystery of the ocean ness, the repulses, the neglect, the lay revealed before him; the theory sneers of contempt, the absurd preju- which wise and learned men had scoffed



* Irving's “Life and Voyages of Columbus," vol. j., p. 53.

* Irving's “Life and Voyages of Columbus," vol. i., p. 118.

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