Owing to the discoveries made under the authority of the sovereign of Castile, the Portuguese were excessively jealous of the safety of their possessions in the East Indies. At length, after various negociations, the authority of the pope was interposed, then considered as supreme among the princes of Europe who were in communion with the church of Rome. By a bull or papal decree, all countries discovered, or to be discovered, in the East, were declared to belong to the crown of Portugal, and all that were found in the west were to be the property of Spain. Yet this measure rather smothered than extinguished the flames of contention; as both courts readily listened to any proposals that tended to aggrandise the one at the expence of the other. This spirit of contention between the courts of Spain and Portugal, gave occasion to several men of enterprise, who happened to be dissatisfied by the delays or refusal of either of these courts, in countenancing their projects, to apply themselves for employment to the other. Among those who took this method of advancing their fortunes, was Ferdinand Magalhaens, now generally known by the name of Magellan. He was a gentleman of good family in Portugal, who had addicted himself from his youth to maritime affairs, and had acquired great skill both in the theory and practice of navigation. He seemed formed by nature for the achievement of great exploits, having all the qualities requisite to compose the character of a truly great man. With a courage which no danger could appal, he possessed the utmost calmness of temper and sweetness of disposition, by which all who conversed with him were engaged to love and esteem his character. He was naturally eloquent, both in illustrating and proving the reasonableness of his own opinions, and in converting others from their erroneous preconceived notions. Above all, he possessed that steady and persevering resolution, which not only enabled him to vanquish the greatest difficulties, but gave such appearance of success to every thing be promised or undertook, as secured the confidence of all who were under his command. As these extraordinary qualities would have distinguished him in any station of life, so they were remarkably useful in the present enterprise, by which he gained immortal reputation, although he lost his life before its completion.
[Footnote 1: Harris’ Collection, I. 6. The utmost pains have been taken to narrate this expedition in the clearest manner, by comparing all the different relations of the Spanish and Portuguese writers. We regret much, however, the loss of a large history of this voyage, by P. Martyr, which was burnt in the sack of Rome, when taken by the Constable de Bourbon.—Harris.]