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Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 665 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 02.

John 1. of Portugal, married Philippa, the eldest daughter of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, son to Edward III. of England, by whom he had several sons, of whom Don Henry was the fifth.  After serving with great bravery under his father at the capture of Ceuta, he was raised to the dukedom of Viseo, and was sent back with a large reinforcement to preserve the conquest to which his courage had largely contributed.  During his continuance in command at Ceuta, he acquired much information, by occasional converse with some Moors, relative to the seas and coasts of Western Africa, which raised and encouraged the project of maritime discoveries; and these became afterwards the favourite and almost exclusive pursuit of his active and enlarged mind.  From the Moors he obtained intelligence respecting the Nomadic tribes who border upon and pervade the great desert, and of the nations of the Jaloofs, whose territories are conterminous with the desert on the north, and Guinea to the south.  By one ingenious author[2], he has been supposed instigated to his first attempts at maritime discovery, by the desire of finding a way by sea to those countries from whence the Moors brought ivory and gold dust across the desert.  It unfortunately happens that we have no record of the particular voyages themselves, and are therefore reduced to the necessity of giving the relation of this great discovery historically from the best remaining sources of information.  The writings of Cada Morto, which will be found in the sequel, form a pleasing exception to this desideratum in the history and progress of early navigation and discovery.

[1] Astley.  I. 9.  Clarke, I. 140.  Purchas, I. 6.  Harris, I. 662.

[2] Wealth of Nations, II. 347.

SECTION I.

Commencement of Portuguese Discoveries, from Cape Non to Cape Bojador

Three years before the reduction of Ceuta, the Duke of Visco had sent a vessel in 1412 to explore the western coast of Africa, being the first voyage of discovery undertaken by the Portuguese, or by any other nation in modern times.  The commander was instructed to endeavour to follow the western coast of Africa, to the southward of Cape Chaunar, called by the Portuguese mariners Cape Nao, Non, or Nam, which, extending itself from the foot of Mount Atlas, had hitherto been the non plus ultra or impassable limit of European navigation, and had accordingly received its ordinary name from a negative term in the Portuguese language, as implying that there was no navigation beyond; and respecting which a proverbial saying was then current, of the following import: 

  Whoe’er would pass the Cape of Non
  Shall turn again; or else be gone.

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