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.

Greatly pleased with the soil and climate of this island, and with the gentle manners of the natives, whom they described as in an intermediate state of civilization, and entirely destitute of any appearance of savage ferocity, Zarco and Vaz immediately returned to Portugal, where they made a report of the incidents of their voyage; and to confirm their opinion of the value of their discovery, they requested permission from Don Henry to return for the purpose of establishing a settlement in Puerto Santo.  By this discovery an advanced and favourable station was secured towards the south, whence any discoveries along the coast of Africa might be prosecuted with greater ease and safety, and from whence the dangers of the hitherto formidable cape Bojador might be avoided, by keeping a southerly or S. W. course from Puerto Santo.  From these considerations Don Henry granted their request; and, yielding to the adventurous spirit which this accidental discovery had excited, he permitted several persons to join in a new projected voyage, among whom was Bartholomew Perestrello, a nobleman of his household.

Three vessels were soon fitted out[4], which were placed under the respective commands of Zarco, Vaz, and Perestrello.  These commanders had orders to colonize and cultivate the newly discovered island, and were furnished with a considerable assortment of useful seeds and plants for that purpose.  They happened likewise to take with them a female rabbit great with young, which littered during the voyage; and which being let loose with her progeny, multiplied so rapidly, that, in two years, they became so numerous as to occasion serious injury to the early attempts at cultivation, and to baffle every hope of rendering Puerto Santo a place of refreshment for the Portuguese navigators; insomuch that a resolution was formed to abandon the newly established settlement.  After having landed the different animals and seeds which had been sent out by Don Henry, and seeing them properly distributed, Perestrello returned into Portugal to make a report to the prince, and Zarco and Vaz remained to superintend the infant colony.

Soon after the departure of Perestrello, the attention of Zarco and Vaz was strongly excited by observing certain clouds or vapours at a great distance in the ocean, which continually presented the same aspect, and preserved exactly the same bearing from Puerto Santo, and at length occasioned a conjecture, that the appearance might proceed from land in that quarter.  Gonsalvo and Vaz accordingly put to sea and sailed towards the suspected land, and soon discovered that the appearances which had attracted their notice actually proceeded from a considerable island entirely overgrown with wood, to which, on that account, they gave the name of Madeira[5].  After bestowing considerable attention upon the soil and other circumstances of this island, which was utterly destitute of inhabitants, Gonzalvo and Vaz returned to Portugal with the welcome intelligence, and gave so favourable a report of the extent, fertility, and salubrity of Madeira, that Don Henry determined to colonize and cultivate it.  Accordingly, with the consent of the king of Portugal, the island of Madeira was bestowed in hereditary property upon Zarco and Vaz; one division named Funchal being given to Zarco, and the other moiety, named Machico, to Vaz.

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