At the same time with the grant of Madeira to Zarco and Vaz, Perestrello received a donation of the island of Puerto Santo, on condition of colonizing it and bringing it into culture. But so great was the multitude of rabbits, all said to have been produced from one doe transmitted in a pregnant state from Portugal, that cultivation was attended with peculiar difficulties occasioned by their ravages; insomuch, that in one islet only, 3000 are reported to have been killed at one time.
Prosecution of Discovery in Africa, to Cape Branco.
Partly diverted from the original object of prosecuting discoveries along the African coast, by the attentions requisite for forming this first establishment of modern colonization, but chiefly owing to the extreme difficulties of the navigation in the infancy of that art, fifteen years were passed from the first discovery of Cape Bojador before that formidable obstacle could be surmounted. In all ages of the world, ignorant and indolent men have represented new and unusual enterprises in scientific pursuits as rash or improper deviations from the established experience and vaunted wisdom of antiquity; and those who promoted them have been held out as dangerous, or even impious innovators. It so fared with Don Henry, who far outstripped the science, or ignorance rather, of his day. At home, the discontented spirits, ignorant of his enlarged views, perhaps envious of the reputation his very limited discoveries had already attained, represented that the tempestuous seas, strong currents, and whirlpools, which they fancied must prevail on the other side of Cape Bajadore, would necessarily destroy every vessel which should attempt to penetrate beyond that absolute limit of human navigation; they alleged that all the country to the south of that cape was utterly unfit for the habitation of mankind, sterile, burnt up, and destitute of soil and water, like the sandy deserts of Lybia; and they pretended to object on principles of patriotism, that the natives of Portugal were improvidently wasted on idle discoveries, which, if at all advisable, would have been undertaken by their former, wise sovereigns; who, contented with the known world, did not, vainly seek for conquests in the torrid zone, which was altogether unfit for the habitation of mankind. They insinuated, that the expences which had been lavished upon those fruitless and dangerous maritime expeditions, might lave been much more profitably employed for the improvement of some of the more barren parts of Portugal. Even the probable profits and advantages derivable from the new colonies of Madeira and Puerto Santo, as they were only eventual and contingent, did not satisfy the minds of those discontented detractors from the merits and enlightened views of the prince. But Don Henry despised those vain endeavours to misrepresent and counteract the important enterprise in which he