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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 756 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 03.

All this however is nothing to the purpose.  The expression of Seneca is not applicable; for his proposed discovery is towards the north, whereas ours is to the westwards.  The coasting of Africa, as said to have been performed by the ancients, is widely different from traversing the vast ocean, as was accomplished by Columbus, and by the Spaniards after his example.  If any notice is due to ancient hints, that only is worthy of observation which we find in the twenty-eighth chapter of the book of Job, in which it seems predicted that God would keep this new world concealed from the knowledge of men, until it should please his inscrutable providence to bestow its dominion to the Spaniards.  No attention is due to the opinions of those who would endeavour to establish the Ophir of the Scriptures in Peru, and who even allege that it was called Peru at the time when the holy text was penned.  For, neither is that name of Peru so ancient, nor does it properly belong to that great country as its universal appellation.  It has been a general practice among discoverers to apply names to new found ports and lands, just as occasion offered, or accident or caprice directed; and accordingly, the Spaniards who made the first discovery of that kingdom, applied to it the name of the river they first landed at, or that of the cacique who governed the district.  Besides, the similarity of words is too trivial a circumstance on which to establish a foundation for a superstructure of such importance.  The best informed and most judicious historians affirm, that Ophir was in the East Indies:  For, if it had been in Peru, Solomons fleet must necessarily have run past the whole of the East Indies and China, and across the immense Pacific ocean, before it could reach the western shore of the new world; which is quite impossible.  Nothing can be more certain than that the fleet of Solomon went down the Red Sea; and as the ancients were not acquainted with those arts of navigation which are now used, they could not launch out into the ocean to navigate so far from land; neither could those distant regions be attained to by a land journey.  Besides, we are told that they carried from Ophir peacocks and ivory, articles that are not to be found in the new world.  It is therefore believed that it was the island of Taprobana, from whence all those valuable commodities were carried to Jerusalem; and the ancients may have very justly called their discovery the new world, to express its vast extent, because it contained as much land as was before known, and also because its productions differed so much from those of our parts of the earth, or the old world.  This explanation agrees with the expressions of Seneca and St Jerome.

[1] Churchills Collection, V. 591.  All that has been attempted in the
    present article is to soften the asperity of the language, and to
    illustrate the text by a few notes where these seemed necessary.—­E.

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