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.

[2] Trapobana, or rather Taprobana, is assuredly Ceylon, not Sumatra.—­E.


Of the Motives which led Columbus to believe that there were unknown Countries.

The admiral Christopher Columbus had many reasons for being of opinion that there were new lands which might be discovered.  Being a great cosmographer, and well skilled in navigation, he considered that the heavens were circular, moving round the earth, which in conjunction with the sea, constitute a globe of two elements, and that all the land that was then known could not comprise the whole earth, but that a great part must have still remained undiscovered.  The measure of the circumference of the earth being 360 degrees, or 6300 leagues, allowing 17 leagues to the degree, must be all inhabited, since God hath not created it to lie waste.  Although many have questioned whether there were land or water about the poles, still it seemed requisite that the earth should bear the same proportion to the water towards the antarctic pole, which it was known to have at the arctic.  He concluded likewise that all the five zones of the earth were inhabited, of which opinion he was the more firmly persuaded after he had sailed into 75 degrees of north latitude.  He also concluded that, as the Portuguese had sailed to the southwards, the same might be done to the westwards, where in all reason land ought to be found:  And having collected all the tokens that had been observed by mariners, which made for his purpose, he became perfectly satisfied that there were many lands to the westwards of Cabo Verde and the Canaries, and that it was practicable to sail over the ocean for their discovery; because, since the world is round, all its parts must necessarily be so likewise.  All the earth is so fixed that it can never fail; and the sea, though shut in by the land, preserves its rotundity, without ever falling away, being preserved in its position by attraction towards the centre of gravity.  By the consideration of many natural reasons, and by perceiving that not above the third part of a great circle of the sphere was discovered, being the extent eastwards from Cabo Verde to the farthest then known land of India, he concluded that there remained much room for farther discoveries by sailing to the westwards, till they should come to meet with those lands then known, the ends whereof to the eastwards had not been yet explored.  In this opinion he was much confirmed by his friend Martin de Bohemia[1], a Portuguese and an able cosmographer, a native of the island of Fayal.

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