Lander's Travels eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 909 pages of information about Lander's Travels.

CHAPTER I.

Previously to entering upon the immediate subject of the origin and progress of the different voyages, which have been undertaken for exploring the interior of Africa, it may be not only interesting, but highly instructive, to take a rapid survey of the great Peninsula, as it appeared to the earlier travellers, and as it was found by the last of them, amongst whom may be included the individual, whose adventures in the present work, claim our chief attention.  It is on record, that the coasts of Africa have been navigated from as early a period, as six hundred years before Christ, and, according to the earliest records of history, the circumnavigation of Africa was accomplished by the Phoenicians, in the service of Pharaoh Necho.  On referring to Herodotus, the earliest and most interesting of Greek historians, and to whom we are indebted for the knowledge of many important facts relative to Africa, in the earliest periods of its history, we find, in corroboration of the circumnavigation of Africa by the Phoenicians, “that taking their course from the Red Sea they entered into the Southern Ocean; on the approach of autumn, they landed in Lybia, and planted some corn in the place, where they happened to find themselves; when this was ripe, and they had cut it down, they again departed.  Having thus consumed two years, they in the third passed the columns of Hercules, and returned to Egypt.  Their relation may obtain attention from others, but to me it seems incredible, for they affirmed that having sailed round Africa, they had the sun on their right hand.

It is worthy of remark, that the very circumstance, which led Herodotus to attach discredit to the circumnavigation of Africa by the Phoenicians, on account of their having the sun to the right, is the very strongest presumption in favour of its truth.  Some historians have indeed endeavoured to prove, that the voyage was altogether beyond any means, which navigation at that early era could command; but in the learned exposition of Rennell, a strong degree of probability is thrown upon the early tradition.  At all events it may be considered, that the obscure knowledge, which we possessed of the peninsular figure of Africa, appears to have been derived from the Phoenicians.  Herodotus, however, was himself a traveller, in those early times, of no mean celebrity.  Despairing of obtaining accurate information of the then known part of the habitable world, he determined to have recourse to travelling, for the purpose of completing those surveys, which had been undertaken by his predecessors, and which had been left in a dubious and indefinite state.  He resided for a considerable period in Egypt, during which, he entered into a friendly communion with the native priests, from whom he obtained much accurate information, as well as a great deal that was false and exaggerated relative to the extensive region, which extends from the Nile to the Atlantic.  According

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Lander's Travels from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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