The following letters bear to have been written by some Italian public agents and merchants, to their employers and friends, and contain a curious record of the first impressions made on the public mind by the wonderful discoveries which navigation was then opening up to the European world. They are selected from the Novus Orbis, a work which was published by Simon Grynaeus early in the sixteenth century. According to M. de la Richarderie, this collection was formed by Hans Heteirs, canon of Strasburg, and was printed under the care of Simon Grynaeus, by Isaac Hervag, in folio, at Basil in 1532. We learn likewise that it passed rapidly through several editions, having been reprinted at Basil in 1535, 1537, and 1555; and at Paris in 1582. The edition used on the present occasion is printed at Basil in 1555 by Jo. Hervag. Its principal contents, besides those translated for the present chapter, are the voyages of Cada Mosto, already given; the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, which will form the first article in our subsequent volume; the voyages of Vincent Alonzo Pinzon, and of Americus Vespucius, which will be attended to hereafter; and the travels of Marco Polo, which have been already given at full length from a better source.
The language of the Novus Orbis is perhaps the most barbarous Latin ever composed for the press, and its punctuation is so enormously incorrect that it would have been easier understood without any points whatever.
As already mentioned, the edition here used is dated in the year 1555, little more than fifty years after the discoveries they commemorate; and the letters themselves are dated in 1501, 1502, and 1503, immediately after the return of the earliest of the Portuguese voyages from India. Indeed the first letter seems to have been written only a day or two after the arrival of the first ship belonging to Cabrals fleet.
This work is accompanied by a very curious map of the world, on one planisphere, much elongated to the east and west, which may be considered as a complete picture of the knowledge then acquired of the cosmography of our globe. The first meridian is placed at the island of Ferro, and the degrees of longitude are counted from thence eastwards all round the world, so that Ferro is in long. 0 deg. and 360 deg. E. In every part of the world, the outlines are grossly incorrect, and it would serve no purpose to give an extended critical view of this map; yet a few notices respecting it may gratify curiosity.
Europe is singularly incorrect, especially in the north and east. America, called likewise Terra Nova, has an approximated delineation of its southern division, stretching far to the south, as if the cosmographer had received some tolerable notices of Brazil, Cape Horn, and the coasts of Peru and Chili. But instead of the continent of North America, the island of Cuba is delineated in a north and south direction, reaching