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).
is near to the shore, it extends beyond the mouth of the gulf, out into the open sea.  Vasco was glad to hear these particulars, and perceived the profit he might derive.  In order to attach the two caciques more closely to his interest and to convert them into allies, he denounced the chieftain of the island, with direful threats.  He pledged himself to land there and to conquer, exterminate, and massacre the cacique.  To give effect to his words, he ordered the canoes to be prepared, but both Chiapes and Tumaco amicably urged him to postpone this enterprise until the return of fair weather, as no canoe could ride the sea at that season of the year.

This was in November when storms and hurricanes prevail.  The coasts of the island are inhospitable, and among the channels separating different islands is heard the horrible roaring of the waves battling with one another.  The rivers overflow their beds, and, rushing down the mountain slopes, tear up the rocks and huge trees, and pour into the sea with unparallelled uproar.  Raging winds from the south and southwest prevailing at that season, accompanied by perpetual thunder and lightning, sweep over and destroy the houses.  Whenever the weather was clear, the nights were cold, but during the day the heat was insufferable.  Nor is this astonishing, for this region is near the equator, and the pole star is no longer visible.  In that country the icy temperature during the night is due to the moon and other planets, while the sun and its satellites cause the heat during the day.  Such were not the opinions of the ancients, who imagined that the equinoctial circle was devoid of inhabitants because of the perpendicular rays of the sun.  Some few authors, whose theories the Portuguese have shown by experience to be correct, dissented from this view.  Each year the Portuguese arrive at the antartic antipodes, and carry on commerce with those people.  I say the antipodes; yet I am not ignorant that there are learned men, most illustrious for their genius and their science, amongst whom there are some saints who deny the existence of the antipodes.  No one man can know everything.  The Portuguese have gone beyond the fifty-fifth degree of the other Pole, where, in sailing about the point, they could see throughout the heavenly vault certain nebulae, similar to the Milky Way, in which rays of light shone.  They say there is no notable fixed star near that Pole, similar to the one in our hemisphere, vulgarly believed to be the Pole, and which is called in Italy tramontane, in Spain the North Star.  From the world’s axis in the centre of the sign of the Scales, the sun, when it sets for us rises for them, and when it is springtime there, it is autumn with us, and summer there when we have winter.  But enough of this digression, and let us resume our subject.


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De Orbe Novo, Volume 1 (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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