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ceived such a favourable opinion of his merit, as well as talents, that they warmly solicited him to remain in that kingdom, where his naval skill and experience could not fail of rendering him conspicuous. To every adventurer, animated either with curiosity to visit new countries, or with ambition to distinguish himself, the Portuguese service was at that time extremely inviting. Columbus listened with a favourable ear to the advice of his friends, and having gained the esteem of a Portu. guese lady, whom he married, fixed his residence in Lisbon. This alliance, instead of detaching him from a sea-faring life, contributed to enlarge the sphere of his naval knowledge, and to excite a desire of extending it still farther. His wife was a daughter of Bartholomew Perestrello, one of the captains employed by prince Henry in his early navigations, and who, under his protection, had discovered and planted the islands of Porto Santo and Madeira. Columbus got possession of the journals and charts of this experienced navigator, and from them he learned the course which the Portuguese had held in making their dife coveries, as well as the various circumstances which guided or encouraged them in their attempts. The study of these foothed and inflamed liis favourite passion; and while he contemplated the maps, and read the descriptions of the new countries which Perestrello had seen, his impatience to visit them became irresistible. In order to indulge it, he made a voyage to Madeira, and continued during several years to trade with that island, with the Canaries, the Azores, the settlements in Guinea, and all the other places which the Portuguese had discovered on the continent of Africa,
By the experience which Columbus acquired, during such a variety of voyages, to almost every part of the globe with which, at that time, any intercourse was carried on by sea, he was now become one of the most kilful navigators in Europe. But, not satisfied with that praise, his ambition aimed at something more. The successful progress of the Portuguefe 'navigators had awakened a spirit of curiosity and emulation, which fet every man of science upon examining all the circumstances that led to the discoveries which they had made, or that afforded a profpect of succeeding in any new and bolder undertaking. The mind of Columbus, naturally inquisitive, capable of deep reflection, and turned to speculations of this kind, was so often employed in revolving the principles upon which the Portuguese had founded their schemes of dif. covery, and the mode in which they had earried them on, that he gradually began to form an idea of improving upon their plan, and of accomplishing discoveries which hitherto they had attempted in vain.
To find out a paffage by fea to the East Indies, was the great object in Fiew at that period. From the time that the Portuguese doubled Cape de
Verd, Verd, this was the point at which they aimed in all their navigations, and, in comparison with it, all their discoveries in Africa appeared inconsiderable. The fertility and riches of India had been known for many ages; its spices and other valuable commodities were in high request throughout Europe, and the vast wealth of the Venetians arising from their having engrossed this trade, had raised the envy of all nations. But how intent soever the Portuguese were upon discovering a new route to those desirable regions, they searched for it only by steering towards the south, in hopes of arriving at India, by turning to the east, after they had failed round the farther extremity of Africa. This course was still unknown, and, even if discovered, was of such immense length, that a voyage from Europe to India must have appeared, at that period, an undertaking extremely arduous, and of very uncertain issue. More than half a century hai been employed in advancing from Cape Non to the equator; a much longer space of time might elapse before the more extensive navigation from that to India could be accomplished. These
reflections upon the uncertainty, the danger and tediousness of the course , which the Portuguese were pursuing, naturally led Columbus to consider whether a shorter and more direct passage to the East Indies might not be found out. After revolving long and seriously erery circumstance suggested by his superior knowledge in the theory as well as practice of navigation, after comparing attentively the observations of modern pilots with the hints and conjectures of ancient authors, he at last concluded, that by failing directly towards the west, across the Atlantic ocean, new countries, which probably formed a part of the great continent of India, must infallibly be discovered.
Principles and arguments of various kinds, and derived from different fources, induced him to adopt this opinion, seemingly as chimerical as it was new and extraordinary. The spherical figure of the earth was known, and its magnitude ascertained with some degree of accuracy, From this it was evident, that the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, as far as they were known at that time, formed but a small por. tion of the terraqueous globe. It was suitable to our ideas concerning the wisdom and beneficence of the Author of Nature, to believe that the vaft space, ftill unexplored, was not covered entirely by a waste unprofit, able ocean, but occupied by countries fit for the habitation of man. It appeared likewise extremely probable, that the continent, on this fide of the globe, was balanced by a porportional quantity of land in the other hemisphere. These conclusions concerning the existence of another continent, drawn from the figure and structure of the globe, were confirmed by the observations and conjectures of moderno navigators. A
Portuguese pilot, having stretched farther to the weft than was usual at that time, took up a piece of timber artificially carved, floating upon the sea; and as it was driven towards him by a wefterly wind, he concluded that it came from fome unknown land, situated in that quarter. Columbus's brother-in-law had found, to the west of the Madeira ifles, a piece of timber fashioned in the same manner, and brought by the same wind; and had seen likewise canes of an enormons size floating upon the waves, which resembled those described by Ptolemy, as productions peculiar to the East Indies. After a course of westerly winds, trees, torn up by the roots, were often driven upon the coasts of the Azores, and at one time the dead bodies of two men, with singular features, resembl. ing neither the inhabitants of Europe nor of Africa, were cast ashore there.
As the force of this united evidence, arising from theoretical princi. ples and practical observations, led Columbus to expect the discovery of new countries in the Western Ocean, other reasons induced him to be. lieve that these must be connected with the continent of India. Though the ancients had hardly ever penetrated into India farther than the banks. of the Ganges, yet some Greek authors had ventured to describe the provinces beyond that river. As men are prone, and at liberty, to magnify what is remote or unknown, they represented them as regions of an immense extent. Ctesias affirmed that India was as large as all the rest of Asia. Oneficritus, whom Pliny the naturalist follows, contended that it was equal to a third part of the inhabitable earth. Nearchus afferted, that it would take four months to march in a straight line from one extremity of India to the other. The journal of Marco Polo, who had proceeded towards the East far beyond the limits to which any European had ever advanced, seemed to confirm thesc exaggerated accounts of the ancients. By his magnificent descriptions of the kingdoms of Cathay and Cipango, and of many other countries, the names of which were unknown in Europe, India appeared to be a region of vast extent. From these accounts, which, however defective, were the most accurate that the people of Europe had received at that period, with respect to the remote parts of the East, Columbus drew a just conclusion. He contended, that, in proportion as the continent of India stretched out towards the East, it must, in consequence of the spherical figure of the earth, approach nearer to the islands which had lately been discovered to the west of Africa; that the distance from the one to the other was probably not very considerable; and that the most direct, as well as Mortest course, to the remote regions of the East, was to be found by failing due wcft. This notion concerning the vicinity of India to the
western parts of our continent, was countenanced by fome eminerit writers among the ancients, the sanction of whose authority was necefsary, in that age, to procure a favourable reception to any tenet. Ariftotle thought it probable that the Columns of Hercules, or Straits of Gibraltar, were not far removed from the East Indies, and that there might be a communication by fea between them. Seneca, in terms still more explicit, affirms, that, with a fair wind, one might sail from Spain to India in a few days. The famous Atlantic island described by Plato, and fupposed by many to be a real country, beyond which an unknown continent was situated, is represented by him as lying at no great distance from Spain. After weighing all these particulars, Columbus, in whose character the modesty and diffidence of true genius was united with the ardent enthusiasm of a projector, did not reft with such abso. lute assurance either upon his own arguments, or upon the authority of the ancients, as not to consult such of his contemporaries as were capable of comprehending the nature of the evidence which he produced in fupport of his opinion. As early as the year one thousand four hundred and seventy-four, he communicated his ideas concerning the probability of discovering new countries, by failing westwards, to Paul, a physician of Florence, eminent for his knowledge of cosmography, and who, from the learning as well as candoor which he discovers in his reply, appears to have been well intitled to the confidence which Columbus placed in him. He warmly approved of the plan, suggested several facts in confirmation of it, and encouraged Columbus to perfevere in an undertaking so laudable, and which must redound fo much to the honour of his country, and the benefit of Europe.
To a mind less capable of forming and of executing great designs than that of Columbus, all those reasonings, and observations, and authorities, would have served only as the foundation of some plausible and fruitless theory, which might have furnished matter for ingenious discourse or fanciful conjecture. But with his fanguine and enterprising temper, fpeculation led directly to action. Fully satisfied himself with respect to the truth of his system, he was impatient to bring it to the test of experiment, and to set out upon a voyage of discovery. The first step towards this was to secure the patronage of some of the considerable powers in:Europe, capable of undertaking such an enterprise. As long absence had not extinguished the affection which he bore to his native country, he wished that it should reap the fruits of his labours and invention. With this view, he laid his scheme before the senate of Ge. roa, and making his country the-firit tender of his service, offered to fail under the banners of the republic, in quest of the new regions which
he expected to discover. But Columbus had resided for so many years, in foreign parts, that his countrymen were unacquainted with his abi. lities and character; and, though a maritime people, were so little accustomed to distant voyages, that they could form no just idea of the principles on which he founded his hopes of success. They inconsiderately rejected his proposal, as the dream of a chimerical projector, and loft for ever the opportunity of restoring their commonwealth to its ancient splendour.
Having performed what was due to his country, Columbus was so little discouraged by the repulse which he had received, that, instead of relinquishing his undertaking, he pursued it with fresh ardour. He made his next overture to John II. king of Portugal, in whose domi. nions he had been long established, and whom he considered, on that account, as having the second claim to his service. Here every circumstance seemed to promise him a more favourable reception. He applied to a monarch of an enterprising genius, no incompetent judge in naval affairs, and proud of patronising every attempt to discover new countries, His subjects were the most experienced navigators in Europe, and the least apt to be intimidated either by the novelty or boldnofs of any maritime expedition. In Portugal, the professional skill of Columbụs, as well as his personal good qualities, were thoroughly known; and as the former rendered it probable that his scheme was not altogether vi. fionary, the latter exempted him from the suspicion of any finifter intention in proposing it. Accordingly, the king listened to him in the most gracious manner, and referred the confideration of his plan to Diego Ortiz, bishop of Ceuta, and two Jewish physicians, eminent cofmographers, whom he was accustomed to consult in matters of this kind. As in Genoa, ignorance had opposed and disappointed Columbus; in Lisbon, he had to combat with prejudice, an enemy no less formidable. The persons, according to whose decision his scheme was to be adopted or rejected, had been the chief directors of the Portuguese navigations, and had advised to search for a passage to India, by steering a course directly opposite to that which Columbus recommended as shorter and more certain. They could not, therefore, approve of his proposal, without submitting to the double mortification, of condemnning their own theory, and of acknowledging his superior fagacity. After teasing him with captious questions, and starting innumerable oh. jedions, with a view of betraying him into such a particular explanation of his system, as might draw from him a full discovery of its n.1. ture, they deferred palling a final judgement with respect to it. In the mean time, they conspired to rob him of the honour and advantages