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.

Many other circumstances concurred to encourage Columbus in the mighty enterprize of discovery towards the west, by discoursing with those who used to sail to the westwards, particularly to the islands of the Azores.  In particular, Martin Vincente assured him, that, having been on one occasion 450 leagues to the westwards of Cape St Vincent, he took up a piece of wood which was very artificially wrought, and yet was supposed not to have been fashioned with tools of iron:  And, because the wind had blown many days from the west, he inferred that this piece of wood must have drifted from some land in that direction.  Peter Correa, who had married the sister of Columbuses wife, likewise assured him, that he had seen another piece of wood similarly wrought, which had been drifted by the west winds upon the island of Puerto Santo; and that canes also had been floated thither, of such a size that every joint could contain a gallon of liquor.  Columbus had farther heard mention made of these canes by the king of Portugal, who had some of them, which he ordered to be shewn to the admiral, who concluded that they must have been drifted from India by the west wind, more especially as there are none such in Europe.  He was the more confirmed in this opinion, as Ptolemy, in the 17th chapter of the first book of his cosmography, describes such canes as being found in India.  He was likewise informed by some of the inhabitants of the Azores, that when the wind continued long and violent from the west and north-west, the sea used to throw pine trees on the coasts of the isles of Gracioso and Fayal, in which no trees of that sort grew.  The sea once cast two dead bodies on the coast of Flores, having very broad faces, and quite different features from those of the Christians.  Two canoes were seen at another time, having several articles in them, which might have been driven out to sea by the force of the wind while passing from one island to another, and thence to the Azores.  Anthony Leme, who had married in Madeira, declared that he once run a considerable way to the westwards of that island in his caravel, and fancied that he saw three islands; and many of the inhabitants of Gomera, Hierro, and the Azores, affirmed that they every year saw islands to the westwards.  These were considered by Columbus as the same with those mentioned by Pliny in his Natural History, where he says, “That the sea to the northwards cuts off some pieces of woods from the land; and the roots being very large, they drift on the water like floats, and looked at a distance like islands.”

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