ePub 版

nexion, and of morals. The axe and the ploughshare were unknown. The soil, which had been gathering fertility from the repose of centuries, was lavishing its strength in magnificent but useless vegetation. In the view of civilization the immense domain was a solitude.

It is the object of the present work to explain, how the change in the condition of our land has been accomplished; and, as the fortunes of a nation are not controlled by blind destiny, to follow the steps, by which a favoring Providence, calling our institutions into being, has conducted the country to its present happiness and glory.








The enterprize of Columbus, the most memora- CHAP. ble maritime enterprize in the history of the world, formed between Europe and America the communication which will never cease. The national pride of an Icelandic historian' has indeed claimed for his ancestors the glory of having discovered the western hemisphere. It is said, that they passed 1000, from their own island to Greenland, and were driven by adverse winds from Greenland to the 1003. shores of Labrador ; that the voyage was often repeated; that the coasts of America were extensively


1 Thormoder Thorfæus, His- of New-York, Part i. p. 110—125; toria Winlandiæ Antiquæ; printed Irving's Life of Columbus, first at Copenhagen, 1705. Compare edition, v. iii. p. 292—300. Crantz's History of Greenland, b. These writers, with the excepiv. c. i. sec. 7. Robertson's History tion of Irving, favor the opinion, of America: Notes and Illustra- that the Icelanders reached Anertions: Note xvii.

ica. Thorfæus has been consultOf American authors, consulted quite as often as Sturleson, Wheaton's History of the North- the original historian, whose work men, p. 22–28; Belknap's Am. contains the tradition. Franklin's Biography, v. i. p. 47–58; Yates opinion is given but casually in a and Moulton's History of the State private letter. Works, v. vi. p. 102.


CHAP. explored,' and colonies established on the shores of

Nova Scotia or Newfoundland. It is even suggested, 1492. that these early adventurers anchored near the harbor

of Boston ;) or in the bays of New-Jersey. But this belief rests only on a narrative, traditional in its form and obscure in its meaning, although of undoubted antiquity. The geographical details are so vague, that they cannot even sustain a conjecture; the accounts of the mildness of the winter and the fertility of nature in the climes which were visited, are, on any hypothesis, fictitious or exaggerated; while the remark,” which should define the length of the shortest winter's day, has received interpretations to suit every latitude from New-York to Cape Farewell. The first discoveries in Greenland were in a high northern latitude; Vinland was but another and more southern portion of the same extensive territory.'

Imagination had conceived the idea, that vast inhabited regions lay unexplored in the west; and


1 Moulton's New-York,p. 115. Schöning in Hist. Norv. v. i. p. 2 Belknap's American Biogra- 309, says nive hours; Thorfæus, phy, v. i. p. 52–56.

p. 7, and in the Addenda, p. 2, 3 Wheaton's History of the suits his exposition to the latitude Northmen, p. 24.

of Newfoundland, and allows eight 4 Moulton's New-York, p. 115, hours; Pontoppidan (see Belknap's 116.

Biog. v. i. p. 52,) reduces the day 5 See the original Icelandic Sa- to six. ga itself, collated from several 9 This opinion is forced upon manuscripts, and printed with a me by a perusal of the Saga itself translation into Danish and Latin, in the Latin version. I find it conin Gerhard Schöning's edition of firmed in a recent publicationHistoria Regun Norvegicorum, Discovery and Adventures in the conscripta a Snorrio Sturla Filio, Polar Seas and Regious, by Leslie, v. i. p. 304–325. Copenhagen, Jameson, and Murray, p. 87 of the 1777, folio.

New-York edition of 1832. He 6 On Snorre Sturleson, see that would learn a lesson of hisWheaton's Northmen, p.100-109. torical scepticism, should compare

7 Historia Reg. Norv. v. i. p. 309. the narrative of Sturleson with Sól haldi par eyktar stad oc day- the glowing and contident commála stad, uin skamm-degi. mentary in Moulton.


poets' had declared, that empires beyond the ocean CHAP. would one day be revealed to the daring navigator. But Columbus deserves the undivided glory 1492. of having realized that belief. During his lifetime he met with no adequate recompense. The selflove of the Spanish monarch was offended at receiving from a foreigner in his employ benefits too vast for requital; and the contemporaries of the great navigator persecuted the merit, which they could not adequately reward. Nor had posterity been mindful to gather into a finished picture the memorials of his career, till the genius of Irving, with candor, liberality, and original research, made a record of his eventful life, and in mild but enduring colors sketched his sombre inflexibility of purpose, his deep religious enthusiasm, and the disinterested magnanimity of his character.

Columbus was a native of Genoa. The commerce of the middle ages, conducted chiefly upon the Mediterranean Sea, had enriched the Italian republics, and had been chiefly engrossed by their citizens. The path for enterprize now lay across the ocean.

1 By far the most remarkable ject, and which has been so amply passage in an early writer, predict- and so successfully treated. The ing, with much amplification, the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella future career of discovery, I have is, in part, an American theme, seen quoted only in the History of for it connects the political histhe Reign of Ferdinand and İsa- tory of Europe and the New bella, the Catholic, of Spain; a World. history not yet completed, but of 2 Tasso, La Gerusalemme Libwhich I have been favored by the erata, c. XV. st. 30–32. author with the opportunity of Tu spiegherai, Colombo, a un nuovo polo consulting the manuscript. The Lontane si le fortunate antenne, writer necessarily includes the ca

Ch' appena seguirà con gli occhi il volo

La fama, ch'ha mille occhi e mille penne. reer of Columbus. I may well Canti ella Alcide e Bacco; e di te solo omit to dwell upon a topic, which

Basti ai posteri tuoi, ch'alquanto acceune,

Che quel poco darà lunga memoria does not directly belong to my sub- Di poema degnissima e d'istoria.


1497. June

CHAP. The states which bordered upon the Atlantic, Spain,

Portugal, and England, became competitors for the 1492. possession of the New World, and the control of the

traffic, which its discovery was to call into being; but the nation, which, by long and successful experience, had become deservedly celebrated for its skill in navigation, continued for a season to furnish the most able maritime commanders. Italians had the glory of making the discoveries, from which Italy derived no accessions of wealth or power.

In the new career of western adventure, the Amer24.ican continent was first discovered under the aus

pices of the English, and the coast of the United States by a native of England. In the history of maritime enterprize in the New World, the achievements of John and Sebastian Cabot are, in boldness, success, and results, second only to those of Columbus.” The wars of the houses of York and Lancaster had ceased; tranquillity and thrifty industry had been restored by the prudent severity of Henry VII.; the spirit of commercial activity began to be successfully fostered; and the marts of England were thronged with Lombard adventurers. The fisheries of the north had long tempted the merchants of Bristol to an intercourse with Iceland ;) and the nau

1 Sebastian Cabot declares him- 2 S. Parmenius of Buda in Llakself a native of Bristol. The de- luyt's Collection, v. iii. p. 143, edicisive authority is a marginal note tion of 1810, and in i. Mass. Hist. of Eden, in the History of the Coll. v. ix. p. 74. Travayles in the East and West

Magnanimus nostra in regione Cabotus, Indies, by R. Eden and R. Willes, Proximus a magno ostendit sua vela Colomho. 1577, fol. 267. “ Sebastian Cabot tolde me, that he was borne in 3 Selden's Mare Clausum, lib). Brystow,” &c. Compare Memoir ii. c. :32. Et praesertim versus inof Cabot, p. 67–69.

sulan de Islande, &c. &c.

« 上一頁繼續 »