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Behold those lofty mountains !” he said, pointing to the south, “beyond these lies a mighty sea, which may be discerned from their summit. It is navi. gated by people who have vessels not much less than yours, and furnished like them with sails and oars. All the streams which flow down the southern side of those mountains into that sea abound in gold ; and the kings who reign upon its borders eat and drink out of golden vessels. Gold is as plentiful and common among these people of the south as iron is among you Spaniards.” From the moment in which he heard this intelligence, the mind of Vasco Nunez became occupied with this one object, and he steadfastly devoted all his thoughts and actions to the discovery of the southern sea indicated by this chief. Many difficulties, however, retarded the undertaking, and it was not till the 1st of September 1513, that he set forth, accompanied by no more than a hundred and ninety soldiers. After incredible toil in marching through hostile tribes, he at length approached the base of the last ridge he had to climb, and rested there for the night. On the 26th of September, with the first glimmering of light, he commenced the ascent, and by ten o'clock had reached the brow of the mountain, from the summit of which he was assured he would see the promised ocean. Here Vasco Nunez made his followers halt, and mounted alone to the bare hill-top. What must have been his emotions when he reached the summit! Below him extended forests, green fields, and winding rivers, and beyond he beheld the South Sea, illuminated by the morning sun. At this glorious sight he fell on his knees, and extending his arms towards the ocean, and weeping for joy, returned thanks to Heaven for being the first European who had been permitted to behold these long-sought waters. He then made signs to his companions to ascend, and when they obtained a view of the magnificent scene, a priest who was among them began to chant the anthem“ Te deum laudamus,”all the rest kneeling and joining in the solemn strain. This burst of pious enthusiasm is strangely contrasted with the feelings of avarice to which, even in the moment of exultation, their leader surrendered his mind, when he congratulated them on the prospect “ of becoming, by the favour of Christ, the richest Spaniards that ever came to the Indies.” After this he caused a tall tree to be felled, and formed into a cross, which was erected on the spot whence he first beheld the western deep. He then began to descend from the mountains to the shores of the new-found ocean; and on the 29th of September reached a vast bay, named by him San Miguel, from the festival on which it was discovered. Unfurling a banner, whereon was painted a figure of the Virgin with the arms of Castile at her feet, he marched with his drawn sword in his hand and his buckler on his shoulder knee-deep into the rushing tide, and, in a loud voice, took possession of the sea and of all the shores it washed. He concluded the ceremony by cutting with his dagger a cross on a tree that grew in the water; and his followers, dispersing themselves in the forest, expressed their devotion by carving similar marks with their weapons. Vasco Nunez then betook himself to pillage: He exacted from the natives contributions in gold and provisions; and being told of a country to the south where the people possessed abundance of gold, and
used beasts of burden, the rude figure of the lama traced on the beach suggested to him the camel, and confirmed him in the opinion that he had reached “ the gates of the East Indies.” From the circumstance of the ocean having been first descried from the Isthmus of Darien, which runs nearly east and west, it received the name of the South Sea,-a title which, however accurately applied to the part first seen, is employed with little propriety to designate the whole vast expanse of the Pacific. Tidings of this great discovery were immediately transmitted to Spain, and received with delight and triumph. But instead of rewarding so important a service, the court despatched a governor to supersede Balboa, who, by the perfidy of his successor, was publicly executed in 1517.*
Meantime the colony on the Darien continued to extend their knowledge of the western ocean, to make excursions in barks, and to form small settlements in the vicinity. Larger vessels were soon constructed ; and violently taking possession of some small islands in the Gulf of San Miguel, which they named the Pearl Islands, the Spaniards extorted from their conquered subjects a large annual tribute drawn from the treasures of the deep.
As the hope decayed of finding a passage to India through a strait in the American continent, the design was formed of establishing a regular intercourse by the Isthmus of Darien ; and a settlement was accordingly fixed at Panama, whence vessels were to visit
* The extraordinary career of Vasco Nunez de Balboa has of late been invested with a new interest by the elegant memoir of Don Manuel Josef Quintana,-an English translation of which, by Mrs Hodson, appeared at Edinburgh in 1832.
the eastern shores of Asia. This scheme, however, failed of success. Within a month after the ships destined for the voyage had been launched, their planks were so destroyed by worms as to render them quite useless. No better success had followed an attempt which was made in 1515 to find an opening into the Austral Ocean, in more southern lati. tudes. The commander of the expedition, Juan Diaz de Solis, in exploring the country at the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, fell into an ambuscade and lost his life. Upon this disaster, the undertaking was abandoned, and the vessels returned to Spain.
Such was the knowledge obtained of the South Sea prior to the year 1519. Its waters had indeed been discovered, and the highest hopes formed of its treasures as well as of the rich lands washed by its billows. But all attempts to explore its vast expanse had failed ; and the seamen who boldly crossed the broad Atlantic were content to creep cautiously along the gulfs and creeks of this newly-reached ocean.
No strait had yet been found to connect its waves with those of seas already known and navigated ; it seemed to be hemmed in by inaccessible barriers ; and the great continent of America, which had been regarded as a main object of discovery, was now in some degree considered as an obstacle in the path to farther enterprise.
Circumnavigation of Magellan.
Magellan's Birth and Services— Proposals to the Spanish Court ac
cepted—Sails on his Voyage-Anchors at Port San Julian— Transactions there— Description of the Natives—Discovers the Strait -Enters the South Sea_The Unfortunate Islands—The Ladrones—The Island of Mazagua or Limasava—Zebu— Intercourse with the Natives—Death of Magellan–His CharacterFleet proceeds to Borneo_Arrives at Tidore–The Ship Vitoria reaches Spain - Fate of the Trinidad-Results of the Expedition.
The glory of discovering a path to the South Sea, and of overcoming the difficulties which had hitherto impeded the navigation of its waters, is due to Fernando de Magalhanes, Magalhaens, or, as it has been more commonly written in this country, Magellan.* He was by birth a Portuguese, and sprung from a noble family. He had served in India with much honour under the standard of the famous Albuquerque, and had there made considerable acquirements in practical seamanship. To these were added no mean scientific attainments, and much informa
* In Hawkesworth's account of the first voyage of Captain Cook (Hawkes. Coll. vol. ii. p. 41, London, 1773), appears the following note :-“ The celebrated navigator who discovered this streight was a native of Portugal, and his name, in the language of his country, was Fernando de Mugalhaens; the Spaniards call him Hernando Magalhanes, and the French Magellan, which is the orthography that has been generally adopted : a gentleman, the fifth in descent from this great adventurer, is now living in or near London, and communicated the true name of his ancestor to Mr [Sir Joseph] Banks, with a request that it might be inserted in this work.”