A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 778 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02.

The success of this earliest voyage, fitted out for the purpose of discovery, is not recorded; but Don Henry continued to send some vessels every year to the same coast, with the same instructions of endeavouring to explore the coast beyond Cape Non.  Not daring to trust themselves beyond sight of land, the mariners crept timorously along the coast, and at length reached Cape Bojador, only sixty leagues, or 180 miles beyond Cape Non.  This cape, which stretches boldly out into the ocean, from which circumstance it derives its name[1], filled the Portuguese mariners with terror and amazement; owing to the shoals by which it is environed for the space of six leagues, being perpetually beaten by a lofty and tremendous surge, which precluded them, from all possibility of proceeding beyond it in their ordinary manner of creeping along the coast; and they dared not to stretch out into the open sea in quest of smoother water, lest, losing sight of land altogether, they might wander in the trackless ocean, and be unable to find their way home.  It is not impossible that they might contemplate the imaginary terrors of the torrid zone, as handed down from some of the ancients, with all its burning soil and scorching vapours; and they might consider the difficulties of Cape Bojador as a providential bar or omen, to warn and oppose them against proceeding to their inevitable destruction.  They accordingly measured back their wary steps along the African coast, and returned to Portugal, where they gave an account of their proceedings to Don Henry, in which, of course, the dangers of the newly discovered cape would not be diminished in their narrative[2].

Returning from Ceuta, where his presence was no longer necessary, and where he had matured his judgment by intercourse with, various learned men whom his bounty had attracted into Africa, and having enlarged his views by the perusal of every work which tended to illustrate the discoveries which he projected, Don Henry fixed his residence at the romantic town of Sagres, in the neighbourhood of Cape St Vincent, where he devoted his leisure to the study of mathematics, astronomy, cosmography, and the theory of navigation, and even established a school or academy for instructing his countrymen in these sciences, the parents of commerce, and the sure foundations of national prosperity.  To assist him in the prosecution of these his favourite studies, he invited, from Majorca, a person named Diego, or James, who was singularly skilful in the management of the instruments then employed for making astronomical observations at sea, and in the construction of nautical charts.  Some traces of nautical discoveries along the western coast of Africa still remained in ancient authors; particularly of the reported voyages of Menelaus, Hanno, Eudoxus, and others.  From an attentive consideration of these, Don Henry and his scientific coadjutor were encouraged to hope for the accomplishment of important discoveries in that direction; and they were certainly incited in these views by the rooted enmity which had so long rankled among the Christian inhabitants of Spain and Portugal against the Moors, who had formerly expelled their ancestors from the greatest part of the peninsula, and with whom they had waged an incessant war of several centuries in recovering the country from their grasp.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 02 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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