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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 652 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 03.
sea was not frozen, but the tides were so great that in some places it rose and fell twenty-six fathoms[4].  I have likewise been in the Portuguese fort of St George del Mina, under the equinoctial, and can witness that it is not uninhabitable, as some have supposed.”  In his book respecting his first voyage, he says that he saw some mermaids on the coast of Menegueta, but that they were not by any means so like ladies as represented in paintings.  In another place he says, that, in several voyages between Lisbon and Guinea, he had observed that a degree on the earth corresponds to 56 miles and two thirds.  He notices having seen mastick drawn from some trees in the island of Scio, one of the isles in the Greek Archipelago.

In one place of his own writings he says that he had been at sea during twenty-three years, without being on shore for any length of time; and had seen all the countries of the east and west, and towards the north, particularly England and Guinea; yet had never seen any harbours that could be compared for goodness with those which he had discovered in the West Indies.  He says farther, “I went first to sea at fourteen years of age, and have followed that profession ever since.”  In his note book of his second voyage he says, “I had two ships, one of which I left at Porto Sancto, for a certain reason, where it continued one day; and on the day following, I rejoined it at Lisbon[5]; because I encountered a storm, and had contrary winds at south-west, and the other ship had contrary winds at south-east.”  From these instances it may be inferred that he had great experience in sea affairs, and that he had visited many countries and places, before he undertook his great discovery.

[1] This must be understood as referring to voyages in the Mediterranean,
    in respect of the port of Genoa.—­E.

[2] Supposing Columbus to have been 14 years of age on first going to sea,
    it may be concluded that he was born in 1447.  He must therefore have
    been 45 years old when he set out in 1492 for the discovery of America;
    and 59 years old at his death, in 1506.—­E.

[3] Or rather Cape Carthago, on the coast of Barbary near Tunis.—­E.

[4] It is highly probable that the original translator may have here
    mistaken the braccio of 1.913 English feet, for the fathom of 6 feet. 
    In fathoms, this tide rises to the incredible height of 156 feet;
    whereas in braccios, it amounts only to 49 feet:  And besides there
    are braccios considerably shorter than the one here assumed.—­E.

[5] There is some inexplicable ambiguity in this passage, which the
    original translator must have misunderstood, and which cannot now be
    explained.—­E.

[Illustration:  Chart of North Western Africa]

SECTION II.

Of his first coming to Portugal, and the cause or motives of his proposing to discover the West Indies.

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