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.

Encouraged by the successful progress of Diego Cam in 1484 and 1485, King John became sanguine in his hopes of completing the discovery of a maritime route to India, around the continent of Africa, and determined upon using every exertion for this purpose.  His first views were to endeavour to procure some information respecting India, by means of a journey overland; and with this object, Antonio de Lisboa, a Franciscan friar, together with a nameless lay companion, were dispatched to make the attempt of penetrating into India, through Palestine and Egypt.  But, being ignorant of the Arabic language, these men were unable to penetrate beyond Jerusalem, whence they returned into Portugal.  Though disappointed in this attempt, by the ignorance or want of enterprise of his agents, his resolution was not to be repressed by difficulties, and he resolved upon employing fresh exertions both by sea and land, for the accomplishment of his enterprise.  He accordingly fitted out a small squadron under Bartholomew Diaz, a knight of the royal household, to attempt the passage by sea.

[1] Prog, of Mar.  Disc.  I. 329. note r.

[2] Bruce’s Abyssinia, II. 105.


Discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, by Bartholomew Diaz, in 1486[1].

For this important enterprise, Bartholomew Diaz was only supplied with two small caravels of fifty ton each, accompanied by a still smaller vessel, or tender, to carry provisions.  Of these vessels, one was commanded by Bartholomew Diaz, as commodore, the second caravel by Juan Infante, another cavalier or gentleman of the court, and Pedro Diaz, brother to the commander in chief of the expedition, had charge of the tender.  The preparations being completed, Bartholomew sailed in the end of August 1486, steering directly to the southwards.

We have no relation of the particulars of this voyage, and only know that the first spot on which Diaz placed a stone pillar, in token of discovery and possession, was at Sierra Parda, in about 24 deg.40’S. which is said to have been 120 leagues farther to the south than any preceding navigator.  According to the Portuguese historians, Diaz sailed boldly from this place to the southwards, in the open sea, and never saw the land again until he was forty leagues to the east of the Cape of Good Hope, which he had passed without being in sight of land.  The learned geographer, Major Rennel, informs us, that Sir Home Popham and Captain Thompson, while exploring the western coast of Africa in 1786, found a marble cross, on which the arms of Portugal were engraved, in latitude 26 deg.37’S. near a bay named Angra Pequena:  But, as the Portuguese long continued to frequent these coasts exclusively, and considered them all as belonging to their dominions under the papal grant, this latter cross, on which the inscription was not legible, may have been erected at a considerably subsequent

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