Immagini della pagina


The portrait of Columbus is from an Italian work published in Rome in 1596, entitled "Ritratti de cento capitani illustri, intagliati da Aliprando Capriolo." It is considered by the Duke of Veraguas, the lineal descendant of Columbus, and by other capable judges, to be the most probable portrait extant of the discoverer. To face the title. The representation of a Spanish galley in the title-page is copied from the tomb of Fernando Columbus, in the cathedral of Seville.

The terrestrial globe, of which a segment is given, was made at Nuremburg in the year 1492, the very year in which Columbus departed on his first voyage of discovery. Martin Behem, the inventor, was one of the most learned cosmographers of the time, and, having resided at Lisbon in the employ of the King of Portugal, he had probably seen the map of Toscanelli, and the documents submitted by Columbus to the consideration of the Portuguese government. His globe may, therefore, be presumed illustrative of the idea entertained by Columbus of the islands in the ocean near the extremity of Asia, at the time he undertook his discovery The sketch of a galley coasting the island of Hispaniola is from an illustration of a letter written by Columbus to Dom Raphael Xansis, treasurer of the King of Spain. An extremely rare edition of the letter exists in the public library of Milan. The original sketch is supposed to have been made with a pen by Columbus

Portrait of Amerigo Vespucci




The map of the routes of Columbus is reduced from one made by Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete

[ocr errors]



WHETHER in old times beyond the reach of history or tradition, and at a remote period when, as some imagine, the arts may have flourished to a degree unknown to those whom we term the ancients, there existed an intercourse between the opposite shores of the Atlantic; whether the Egyptian legend narrated by Plato, respecting the island of Atalantis, was indeed no fable, but the tradition of some country, engulphed by one of those mighty convulsions of our globe, which have left the traces of the ocean on the summits of lofty mountains; must ever remain matters of vague and visionary speculation. As far as authenticated history extends, nothing was known of Terra Firma, and the islands of the western hemisphere, until their discovery towards the close of the fifteenth century. A wandering bark may occasionally have lost sight of the landmarks of the old continents, and been driven by tempests across the wilderness of waters,

long before the invention of the compass, but none ever returned to reveal the secrets of the ocean; and though, from time to time, some document has floated to the old world, giving to its wondering inhabitants indications of land far beyond their watery horizon, yet no one ventured to spread a sail, and seek that land, enveloped in mystery and peril. Or if the legends of the Scandinavian voyagers be correct, and their mysterious Vinland were the coast of Labrador, or the shore of Newfoundland, they had but transient glimpses of the New World, leading to no permanent knowledge, and in a little time lost again to mankind. Certain it is, that at the beginning of the fifteenth century, when the most intelligent minds were seeking, in every direction, for the scattered lights of geographical knowledge, a profound ignorance prevailed among the learned as to the western regions of the Atlantic; its vast waters were regarded with awe and wonder, seeming to bound the world as with a chaos, into which conjecture could not penetrate, and enterprise feared to adventure. We need no greater proof of this than the description given of the Atlantic by Xerif al Edrisi, surnamed the Nubian, an eminent Arabian writer, whose countrymen possessed all that was known of geography in the middle ages.

« IndietroContinua »