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.

In the paucity of authentic information respecting these discoveries, it seems proper to insert the following abstract of the journal of a Portuguese pilot to the island of St Thomas, as inserted by Ramusio, previous to the voyage of Vasco de Gama, but of uncertain date; although, in the opinion of the ingenious author of the Progress of Maritime Discover, this voyage seems to have been performed between the years 1520 and 1540.  In this, state of uncertainty, it is therefore made a section by itself, detached in some measure from the regular series of the Portuguese discoveries.

[1] Astley, I. 15.  Clarke, I. 290.  Purchas, I. Harris, I. 664.

[2] Clarke, I. 295.

[3] These may possibly be the nuts of the Ricinus Palma Christi, from
    which the castor oil is extracted.—­E.

[4] Strictly speaking the northern limits of Loango, one of the divisions
    of the extensive kingdom of Congo, is at the Sette river, ten leagues
    S.S.  E. from Cape St Catherine.—­E.

[5] There is no island of that name in this position; so that the island
    of St Matthew of de Barros must refer to Annobon.—­E.

[6] These dates would throw back the discovery of this island, and the
    passage of the line by the mariners of Don Henry, to the year 1438, at
    a time when they had not reached the latitude of 25 deg.  N. which is quite


Voyage of a Portuguese Pilot from Lisbon to the Island of St Thomas[1].

Before I left Venice, I was requested by letter from Signior Hieronimo Fracastro of Verona, that, on my arrival at Conde, I would send, him an account of my voyage to San Thome, to which island our ships often sail for cargoes of sugar.  The passage of the equinoctial line, under which that island, is situated, appeared to that gentleman so extraordinary a circumstance as to merit the attention of men of science; and you likewise made me a similar request.  I began, therefore, immediately after my return, to draw up an account of my voyage, from those notes which we pilots usual keep of all occurrences, and I compared it in my progress with the journals of some friends who had formerly made the same voyage.  When I afterwards attentively perused my manuscript, it did not appear to me worthy of being communicated to a gentleman of such scientific character as Signor Hieronimo, whose talents I had duly appreciated, by the perusal of his publications, which I received from you before my departure from Venice.  I therefore laid my manuscript aside, not wishing that any one might peruse it; but as you have again urged the performance of my promise, I now anxiously obey a request, which, as coming from you, I must always consider a command.  Apprehensive, likewise, of appearing forgetful of your polite attentions, I prefer the danger of exposing my ignorance, to the

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