De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 449 pages of information about De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2).
channels into the ocean.  Some people believe that the continent is very narrow in this part, and that it spreads; out considerably in other places.  Another argument, which I hold to be a poor one, I must nevertheless mention.  This continent is narrow, but its length extends for an immense distance from the east to the west.  Just as is recounted of the river Alpheus of Elide, which disappears in channels under the sea to reappear in Sicily at the fountain of Arethusa, so there may exist in the mountains of this continent a vast network of subterranean passages in such wise that the waters produced by the rains we have mentioned may be collected.  Those who explain phenomena by common sense, and those who enjoy criticism may choose the theory which best pleases them.  For the moment there is nothing more I can add on this subject.  When we shall learn more, we shall faithfully relate it.  We have already dwelt sufficiently upon the width of this continent, and it is now time to consider its form and length.


This continent extends into the sea exactly like Italy, but is dissimilar in that it is not the shape of a human leg.  Moreover, why shall we compare a pigmy with a giant?  That part of the continent beginning at this eastern point lying towards Atlas, which the Spaniards have explored, is at least eight times larger than Italy; and its western coast has not yet been discovered.  Your Holiness may wish to know upon what my estimate of eight times is based.  From the outset when I resolved to obey your commands and to write a report of these events, in Latin (though myself no Latin) I have adopted precautions to avoid stating anything which was not fully investigated.

I addressed myself to the Bishop of Burgos whom I have already mentioned, and to whom all navigators report.  Seated in his room, we examined numerous reports of those expeditions, and we have likewise studied the terrestrial globe on which the discoveries are indicated, and also many parchments, called by the explorers navigators’ charts.  One of these maps had been drawn by the Portuguese, and it is claimed that Amerigo Vespucci of Florence assisted in its composition.  He is very skilled in this art, and has himself gone many degrees beyond the equinoctial line, sailing in the Service and at the expense of the Portuguese.  According to this chart, we found the continent was larger than the caciques of Uraba told our compatriots, when guiding them over the mountains.  Columbus, during his lifetime, began another map while exploring these regions, and his brother, Bartholomew Columbus, Adelantado of Hispaniola, who has also sailed along these coasts, supported this opinion by his own judgment.  From thenceforth, every Spaniard who thought he understood the science of computing measurements, has drawn his own map; the most valuable of these maps are those made by the famous Juan de la Cosa, companion of Hojeda,

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