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SECT. west passage to the Indies, the grand desideratum

of those days, the ruling passion of the king was 1498. touched, and he ordered a ship to be manned and

victualled for him at Bristol at the royal expense. Some merchants also of that city, fitted out for him at their own charges, three or four other ships. With this little fleet, Sebastian was now ready to

undertake his long projected voyage. He accordSebastian ingly, in May, 1498,* embarked at Bristol for that voyage. purpose. Animated by the example of Columbus, .

, he had adopted the system of that great man, concerning the probability of opening a new and shorter passage to the East Indies, by holding a western course. He accordingly deemed it probable, that by steering to the north-west, he might reach India by a shorter course than that which Columbus had taken. After sailing for some weeks due west, and nearly in the parallel of the port from which he took his departure, he discovered a large island, which he called Prima Vista (First Seen), and his sailors (being Englishmen) Newfoundland ; and in a few days he descried a smaller isle, to which he gave the name of St. John's. He landed on both these, made some observations on their soil and productions, and brought off three of the natives. Continuing his course westward, he soon reached the continent of North America, and sailed along it from thence to the thirty-eighth degree of latitude. Their provisions now failing, and a mutiny breaking out among the mariners, they returned to Eng.

* Mod. Univ. Hist. Vol. 44, p. 60. Hume's Hist. of England, at the end of Hen. 7th's reign. Other historians place his

voyage in 1497 ; but see note (A) at the end of this Vol.



land, without attempting either settlement or con-
quest in any part of this continent.*

be proper here to observe, that although 1498. Columbus might not have actually been the first discoverer of the continent of America, yet as he was unquestionably the first discoverer of those islands, now denominated the West Indies, and the first navigator who had the fortitude to cross the Atlantic, he is certainly entitled to all the merit of the first discovery of the continent. For the discovery of the continent, after that of those islands, must, in the nature of things, have been in a short time a necessary consequence. All historians seem to agree, that he first discovered that part of the continent of South America adjacent to the island of Trinidad, on the first of August, 1498, in his third voyage. Supposing the first discovery of the continent of North America by Sebastian Cabot was, as before mentioned, in the same year, to wit, 1498, he probably fell in with the continent only a month or two before Columbus did. Each navi. gator, however, appears to have been distinct from, and unconnected with the other; and therefore, each entitled to their respective merits, with this


* If the reader should be a native of Maryland, and one of those who place confidence in a right resulting from prior discovery, he will be gratified by the strong probability there is, that Cabot in this voyage first saw and discovered that part of the State of Maryland, bordering on the Atlantic Ocean. If he sailed along the coast from the northward to the 38th degree of latitude, (which is at or near the divisional line between Virginia and Maryland,) he must have had a view of Fenwick's and Assatiegue islands, and possibly looked into Sinepuxent or Chinigoteague inlets.



SECT. manifest exception, that Cabot would never, in all

probability, have been sent out on his voyage, had 1498. not the fame of Columbus's prior discoveries led

the way.


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Nor is it easy to deprive the Portuguese nation of a considerable share of merit, which they have just pretences to, in clearing the road, as it were, to the discovery of America. Their indefatigable in. dustry in exploring the coast of Africa during the fifteenth century, in order to get to the East Indies, undoubtedly induced Columbus to think of his western route. And the accidental discovery of Brazil in the last year of that century, by Pedro Alvarez Cabral, demonstrates, that in the course of a few succeeding years, chance would have thrown on that commander and the Portuguese nation, all the honour and fame which Columbus acquired by his own personal sagacity.*

Immediately on the return of Columbus from his Dispute between first voyage, in 1492, the Portuguese, who had disof Portu- covered and possessed the Azores, claimed also, in gal and Spain, in virtue thereof, as well as by a former grant of the

pope, t all such newly discovered islands and coun

the courts


* Harris's Voyages, Vol. 1, p. 666. Robertson's Hist. of America, Vol. 1, p. 214.

+ This bull of the pope was made in 1444, through the-intercession of prince Henry of Portugal, so celebrated for promoting the Portuguese discoveries along the coast of Africa. The tenure of this grant of the pope to the crown of Portugal, was, an exclusive right to all the countries, which the Portuguese should discover, from cape Non, on the coast of Africa, to the continent of India. Harris's Voyages, Vol. I, p. 664. Mod. Univ. Hist. Vol. 9, p. 246. Robertson's Hist. of America, Vol. 1, p. 69.

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tries as had been visited by Columbus. Their SECT. catholic majesties, by the advice of Columbus, applied to the pope to obtain his sanction of their 1498. claims, and his consent for the conquest of the West ColumIndies. The Spanish queen being a niece of the coveries. . king of Portugal, he was induced to agree to a reference of their dispute to the pope. The pope then in the chair, was Alexander VI, a Spaniard by birth, and from this circumstance as well as the general depravity of his character, was not perhaps so impartial a judge as might be wished. Readily acceding to the proposal, he, by a bull, bearing date the third of May, 1493, made the celebrated line of partition, whereby he granted to their catholic ma- The

pope's jesties, all the islands and countries already disco

partition. vered, or to be discovered, which should lie westward of a line drawn from the north to the south pole, at the distance of one hundred leagues westward of the Azores and Cape Verde Islands, and which had not been actually possessed by any Christian king or prince, on or before the first day of the same year 1493.* Although the king of Portugal

* See this bull at large, in the original Latin, in Hazard's Collections, Vol. 1, p. 3. The curiosity of a free American

, citizen of the United States, may perhaps be excited to a desire to know a little of the character of a man, who once had

the power of making a grant of the land they live in. He is : thus spoken of by. Guicciardini, an Italian historian of great

estimation :-In his manners he was most shameless; wholly divested of sincerity, of decency, and of truth; without fide. lity, without religion ; in his avarice, immoderate ; in his ambition, insatiable ; in his cruelty, more than barbarous; with a most ardent desire of exalting his numerous children, by whatever means it might be accomplished; some of whom


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SECT. had agreed to the reference, he was dissatisfied with

this partition. The subject was, therefore, referred 1498. again to six plenipotentiaries, three chosen from

each nation, whose conferences issued in an agreement, that the line of partition, in the pope's bull, should be extended two hundred and seventy leagues further to the west ; that all westward of that line

: should fall to the share of the Spaniards; and all eastward of it to the Portuguese : but that the subjects of their catholic majesties might freely sail through those seas belonging to the king of Portugal, holding through the same a direct course. *

Notwithstanding this apparent reconciliation between the two contending nations, and their modest compromise for half the world, the Portuguese, having reluctantly agreed to it, did not continue in that respect for the pope's grant, or the partial confirmation of it by the before mentioned referees, so long as might have been expected from that nation. ·

In the year 1500, one Caspar de Cortereal, a Porreal's voy-tuguese of respectable family, inspired with the re

solution of discovering new countries, and a new route to India, and probably under the influence of the jealousy of his nation as to the Spanish incroach

1500. Corte


were not less detestable than their father.” See Roscoe's Pontificate of Leo X, Vol. 1, p. 196. It cannot be asserted, however, that this pope Alexander was a worse man than Henry the eighth of England, the great royal reformer, What ornaments to Christianity are such characters !

* This agreement was made the 7th of June, 1493. It was sealed by the king of Spain, 2d of July same year; and by the king of Portugal on the 27th of February, 1494. Mod. Univ. History, Vol. 9, p. 385-6. Holmes's American Annals, Vol. 1, p. 9.

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