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HISTORY OF GEOGRAPHICAL
OF GEOGRAPHICAL DISCOVERY.
The science of Geography is, in its nature, confined side, celebrated under the denomination of the Pillars of nearly within the limits of actual discovery. It has, of Hercules. course, kept pace with the progress of mankind in survey. On the east, Colchos was distinguished by its early ing the surface of the globe, and recording their obser- wealth and commerce; it was considered a city on the vations. The following sketch of geographical discovery ocean, with which, therefore, the Black Sea must have been is compiled from Murray's Cyclopedia of Geography. confounded; and being supposed to contain the palace of
No system of geography can be traced in the sacred the Sun, where, during the night, he gave rest to his courswriters, and the ancient Hebrews never attempted to form ers, and whence in the morning he drove his chariot to its any scientific theory respecting the structure of the earth. diurnal career, Colchos must have been regarded by HoThe Phænicians and Carthaginians made themselves ac- mer as placed on the most eastern verge of the earth. On quainted not only with the shores of the Mediterranean, but the north, Rhodope, under the name of the Riphæan Mounwith the coasts of Europe ; and as early as the time of Sol- tains, was considered a chain of indefinite extent, closing omon they sent their ships to the British Islands, which in the northern limits of the world. The poet, however, then bore the name of Tin Isles, from the tin obtained there. had heard a vague report of the Scythians, under the de
The first traces of Greek geography are found among scription of a people subsisting on mare's milk. The its poets, whose brilliant fancy has spread its lustre over vessels which conveyed the Grecian army to Troy were all ihe regions with which Greece ever held intercourse. evidently little better than large boats; and all distant Homer took the lead, and his high authority gave to the voyages, or those in which land was lost sight of, were congeography of the Greeks a poetical cast, which they trans. sidered as fraught with the extremest peril. A naviga. mitted to the nations whom they taught, and of which the tion to Africa or to Sicily took place only through temtraces are not entirely obliterated.
pest, terminating usually in shipwreck; and a return from It is in Homer, that we find the first trace of the wide. ihese shores was esteemned almost miraculous. In regard 19-prevalent idea, that the earth is a flat circle, begirt on lo Sicily, indeed, Homer has largely communicated bis every side by the ocean. This was indeed a natural idea ideas, having made it the theatre of the woes and wander. in a region so entirely insular and peninsular, nowhere ings of the hero of the Odyssey. Making every allowance for presenting, like Judea, a vast tract, stretching so far as to poetical license, we see evident traces of the terrified and give the idea of immeasurable distance. The circular excited state of mind in the navigators who returned from shape was suggested by that of the visible horizon; and, these shores. Monsters of strange form and magnitude, until science demonstrated the globular form of our planet, who watched for the destruction of the mariner, and even the very natural opinion prevailed, that the earth was a fed upon his quivering limbs; delusive sirens, who lured flat circle, with the vault of heaven above, darkness, and but to destroy ; imprisonment under the transformed shape the abode of departed souls, beneath.
of wild beasts; these, probably, are only a highly-colored Homer, like Hesiod and the ancient poets generally, repetition of the terrific rumors brought by the few, whose delights in topographical detail, and scarcely allows a city bark had been wasted to those yet savage coasts. or natural object to pass without applying to it some char- The system of geography included in the great histor. acteristic epithet. It was only, however, within a very ical work of Herodotus is as complete as could be formed limited range, that he could give these distinct and ani- from the materials within his reach. It comprises a genemated notices. The Greek islands, beautiful and fertile ral summary of all that he could learn respecting the huspots, which seem to have been the first cradle of Euro. man race, and the regions which they inhabited. His inpean civilization, were the central point from which his formation was obtained not solely or chiefly from books, knowledge emanated. He knew well, and had probably vis- but mostly by traveling, the only mode in which, at thai ited, on one side, Peloponnesus, Attica, and the regions im- era, geographical knowledge could be effectually collected. mediately adjoining; on the other, the western coast of Asia He assures us, that he had visited Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Minor, and the banks of the beautiful rivers by which it is Thrace, Scythia, and all the distant regions which he de watered. Perhaps scarcely any other tract on the globe pre- scribes. He viewed them, however, only as tracts of tersents within the same compass such a variety of grand and ritory, the abode of men, and did not attempt to combine beautiful objects to rouse the imagination. Beyond this cir- them into any system of the earth; nor did he possess, or, cuit, the world of Homer was soon involved in mysterious at least, apply any of the mathematical or astronomical obscurity: Some grand and distant features, discernible principles of ihe Niilesian school. He even derides some through the gloom, were exaggerated and distorted by igno- of its conclusions ; as that of the earth being round and rance and superstition. Thebes, the mighty capital of Egypt, encompassed by the ocean. His strange statement, that vhen that kingdom was in its greatest glory, is celebrated the sun in India was vertical in the morning instead of at for its hundred gates, and the hosts of warriors which midday, is evidently a misunderstood report of what he they sent forth to battle. Beyond lay the Ethiopians, had been informed respecting the difference of time in the deemed the remotest of men, dwelling on the furthest different parts of the earth's circumference. His knowlverge of the earth, and to whose distant confines Jupiter edge, however, such as it was, consisting of plain facts, repaired to hold an annual festival. In the western part untinctured with theory, was both solid and extensive. of the same continent the stupendous ridges of Atlas, had The division of the earth into three quarters, or conexcited in Grecian fancy the image of a gigantic deified tinents, was hy this time completely formed. being, to whom was intrusted the support of the heavens. We cannot minutely trace the progress of geographical Even further to the west, the exploits and wanderings of science, through its slow gradations, down to the Middle the great Greeian demigod had conveyed a tradition of the Ages. The conquesis of Alexander extended the knowl. strait leading into the ocean, and of the rocks on each edge of the Greeks, and those of the Romans enlarged ise field, till the largest portion of the three divisions of the discovery; and of laying open to the wondering eyes of Eastern Continent was generally known. Pliny, the mankind, that structure of the globe, which, though de. most learned of the Roman writers, gives us a great varie- monstrated by the astronomer, seemed to the generality of ty of accurate details, amid a multitude of errors. Ptole. mankind contrary to the testimony of their senses. my, the last and greatest of ancient geographers, attempt. Magellan, in 1520), undertook. by circumnavigating the ed a complete reform of the science, and showed an earth, to solve this mighty problem; he passed through immense advance in knowledge, over his predecessors. the straits which bear his name, and crossed the entire
In the Middle Ages the Arabs were the most learned of breadth of the Pacific. He himself was unhappily killed nations. Geography, among them, was studied with great at the Philippine Islands, but his companions sailed on, ardor, and employed the pens of some of their ablest writ- and presented themselves to the astonished eyes of the ers. Astronomy was among the favorite pursuits of the Portuguese at the Moluccas. They arrived in Europe, Court of Bagdad, under the Caliphs, and the knowledge after a voyage of three years; and it could no longer be then acquired was applied with some care and success to doubted, by the most skeptical, that the earth was a spberthe improvement of geography:
ical body. In the Dark Ages there was little progress in geographi. We have seen how rapidly the Portuguese fleets explored cal science. As yet the boundaries of even the Eastern all the southern coasts and islands. "The eastern shores Continent had not been defined ; large portions of the in. beyond Japan, as they presented nothing tempting to comterior had not been explored ; vast seas and rivers were mercial avidity, were left to be examined by expeditions but partially known; the shape of the earth had not been having science and curiosity for their object. This task ascertained; the continent of America and the Oceanic was effected by Cook, Perouse, Broughton, and Krusenislands, were as yet undiscovered. But a new era was stern. Jesso, which had figured as a large continental approaching. The Republics of Italy, and especially that tract, stretching between Asia and America, was reduced of Venice, are the states in which a spirit of commerce by them to its insular form and dimensions, and its separaand inquiry had arisen, and rapid advances were made in tion from Saghalien established. The range of the Kurile geographical knowledge. About this time Marco Polo, a islands was also traced; but some questions respecting noble Venetian, spent twenty-five years in traversing the this very remote and irregular coast remain yet to be solve remote parts of Asia. His narrative was soon translated ed. Along its northern boundary, beset by the almost into various languages, and spread over Europe. The dis. perpetual ices of the polar sea, the progress of navigacovery of America, by Columbus, soon followed. The prog. tion was slow and laborious. The English and Dutch, ress of discovery over the globe, when the first steps had the chief maritime states, made extraordinary efforts, been taken, was astonishingly rapid; no cost. no peril, de and braved fearful disasters, in the hopeless attempt to ef. terred even private adventurers from equipping fleets.cross. fect, by this route, a nearer passage to India ; but though ing the oceans, and facing the rage of savage nations in they penetrated beyond Nova Zembla, they never could the remotest extremities of the earth. Before Columbus pass the formidable promontory of Severovostochnoi, the had seen the American continent, and the mouth of the most northern point of the Asiatic continent. The RusOrinoco, Cabot, of Venetian descent, but sailing under sians now claimed for themselves the task of advancing English auspices, discovered Newfoundland, and coasted further. They had most rapidly discovered, and conqueralong the present territory of the United States, probably ed the whole south and centre of Siberia, and reached the as far as Virginia. In the next two or three years, the eastern ocean at Ochotzk ; but the frozen bounds of the Cortereals, a daring family of Portuguese navigators, be. north for some time defied their investigation. Proceedgan the long and vain search of a passage round the north ing in little barks, however, they worked their way from of America; they sailed along the coast of Labrador, and promontory to promontory. Behring and Tchirikoff, early entered the spacious inlet of Hudson's Bay, which they in the last century, sailed through the Northern Pacific, seem to have mistaken for the sea between Africa and discovered the American coast, and the straits, bearing America ; but two of them unhappily perished. In 1501, the name of the former, which divide Asia from America. Cabral, destined for India, struck unexpectedly on the coast Deschnew and Shalaurof, by rounding the Asiatic side of of Brazil, which he claimed for Portugal. Ainerigo Vespucci this Cape, and discovering the coast stretching away to had sailed along a great part of Terra Firma and Guiana, the westward, were supposed to have established the fact and he now made two extensive voyages along the coast of the entire separation of the two continents. There still of Brazil ; services which obtained for him the high honor remained a portion of coast on the side of Asia, which, it of giving his name to the whole continent. Grijalva and was alleged, might, by an immense circuit, have connected Ojeda went round a great part of the circuit of the coasts the two together; but the late voyage of Baron Wrangle of the Gulf of Mexico. In 1513, Nunez Balboa, crossing the seems to have removed every ground on which such connarrow isthmus of Panama, be held the boundless expanse jecture could rest, and to have established beyond doubt or of the Pacific Ocean. These discoveries afforded the im. dispute, the existence of Asia and America as continents pulse which prompted Cortez and Pizarro to engage in their altogether distinct. adventurous and sanguinary career; in which, with a hand- Respecting the interior of Asia, the British obtained ful of daring followers, they subverted the extensive and much additional information from India, after they became populous empires of Mexico and Peru. Expeditions were undisputed masters of that region. This information was soon pushed forward on one side to Chili, and on the other in many respects only a revival of ancient knowledge. The to California, and the regions to the north. Nearly a full mountain boundary of India was traced, and found to rise view was thus obtained, both of the great interior breadth to a height before unsuspected. The sources and early of America, and of that amazing range of coast which it courses of the Ganges and the Indus, were found in quarpresents to the southern ocean.
ters quite different from those which modern geography In the Eastern world, the domain which the papal grant had long assigned to them. The mountain territories of had assigned to Portugal, discovery was alike rapid. Cabul and Candahar, the vast sandy plains of Mekran, Twenty years had not elapsed from the landing of Vasco were illustrated by the missions of Elphinstone and Potda Gama, when Albuquerque, Almeida, Castro, Sequeira, tinger; while Turner and Moorcroft penetrated into the Perez, and many others, as navigators or as conquerors, had high interior table-land of Thibet. Recent and authentic explored all the coasts of Hindostan, those of Eastern Af information has also been furnished by Burnes respecting rica, of Arabia, of Persia ; had penetrated to Malacca and Bocharia and Samarcand, those celebrated capitals of the the Spice Islands ; learned the existence of Siam and Pe. early masters of Asia ; but there remains still a great cen. gu; and even attempted to enter the ports of China. But tral Terra Incognita, respecting which our information the characteristic jealousy of that power was soon awaken- rests chiefly upon the desultory and somewhat clouded recd; the Portuguese embassy was not admitted into the ports of Marco Polo, and the meagre narrative of Goez; presence of the emperor; and a mandate was issued, that ihough some important and more precise information has none of the men with long beards and large eyes should recently been afforded by the researches of Humboldt and enter the havens of the celestial empire. After all these Klaproth. discoveries, the grand achievement yet renained, of We can hardly trace the more modern advances in geoconnecting together the ranges of eastern and western graphical knowledge, except so far as relates to America and the islands of the Pacific. It may be proper to futing, the famous modern hypothesis of an Austral conti. state, however, that within a few years, a vast amount of nent. He navigated also through the northern Pacific, obaccurate information has been gained, in regard to coun. served carefully the group of the Sandwich Islands, and tries in Africa, before unknown, or but partially explor- established, in the manner before pointed out, the relation ed. Many doubts have been solved which have puz. between the continents of Asia and America. Many em. zled the learned world for ages. In regard to Europe, inent navigators, among the French, La Pérouse, Maralmost every portion has now been examined, and its de- chand, D'Entrecasteaux; among the Russians, Kotzebue, scriptive geography may be considered as accurately ascer- and Krusenstern; among the English, Vancouver and tained and defined.
Beechy, followed; and, though the grand prizes of discov. More than half the surface of the globe, including long ery had been carried off, found still some gleanings in so groups of islands and vast expanses of ocean, remained vast a field. The circumnavigation of the globe has endunexplored, even after regular naval routes had been form- ed in becoming a mere trading voyage, which conveys ed round the Cape of Good Hope, and Cape Horn; yet neither name nor glory to him by whom it is achieved. there soon arose the belief of an Austral continent, as ex- Captain Weddell, however, has lately, in New South Shet. tensive, and as abounding in wealth, as that which had land, found a tract of land situated nearer to the Antarctic been discovered by Columbus.
pole than any previously supposed to exist. The Portuguese, so long the most skilful and intrepid New Holland, much the inost extensive of the lands navigators of the ocean, appear to have been the first who belonging to the southern hemisphere, and rendered doubly threw any light upon this fifth and most remote portion of interesting by its recent relations with Europe, has formed the earth; in less than twenty years after their passage of the theatre of late southern discoveries. Bass, in an open the Cape, they had reached the most extreme islands of boat, found the strait which bears his name, separating the Oriental Archipelago, including Java and the Moluc. New Holland from Van Diemen's Land, and making the cas, and appear even to have observed some parts of the latter a separate island. Baudin and Flinders, contempocoast of New Guinea.
raneously employed by the French and English nations, The Spaniards, during their early and adventurous made a continuous survey of the vast circuit of its coasts, career, made strenuous efforts to explore the southern seas; which had been before touched only at partial points. At Magellan, as already observed, by his first circumnaviga- a later period, Freycinet made soine additional observa tion of the globe, effected a grand step in geographical dis. tions; and King found still a great extent of north and covery. Alvaro Mendana, in 1563, sailed from Lima, and, northwestern coast to survey for the first time. More reafter crossing the breadth of the Pacific, discovered a cently, the discovery of Swan River and its shores, promgroup of large maritime lands, to which, from a chimerical ises to redeem the reproach of sterility, which had been reference to Ophir, he gave the name of " Islands of Sol- attached to the whole western coast of this continent; the omon; they appear to be part of that great group interior on the eastern side also, though guarded by steep which forms the outer range of Australasia. Mendana and lofty barriers, has been penetrated to a considerable set out on a second voyage, and reached the saine quarter, depth, and found to contain extensive plains traversed by but, by some fatality, could not again find the islands for- large rivers. Still the explored tracts form only a small merly discovered. Quiros made a still more important proportion of the vast surface of this southern continent." expedition; he passed through the Polynesian group; and The idea, that America, at the north, tapered to a point, Sagitaria, one of the islands discovered by hiin, appears like South America, had prevailed for a long time after the clearly identified with Otaheite ; he terminated his voyage, discovery of the continent; and to discover the supposed like Mendana, among the exterior islands of Australasia ; passage at the north, became the object of European enand with him expired the spirit of Spanish enterprise. terprise.
The Dutch, when they had expelled the Portuguese The English took the lead in this important career. from Java and the Spice Islands, and had established in Under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Frobisher and Davis them the centre of their Indian dominion, were placed in made each three successive voyages. One discovered the such close proximity with New Holland, that it was entrance into Hudson's Bay, the other found the entrance scarcely possible for a great maritime nation to avoid ex- into the great sea which bears the name of Baffin's Bay; tending their search to that region. Van Diemen, the bui, partly arrested by the well-known obstructions to Dutch governor of India about the middle of the 17th cen. which these seas are liable, partly diverted by a chimerical tury, greatly promoted this object, and sent successive ves. search aller gold, they could not penetrate beyond the nusels to explore the coast of New Holland. Hertog, Car. merous islands and inlets by which these entiances are be. penter, Nuytz, and Ulaming, made very extensive obser- set. Hudson, in 1610, steered a bolder course, and entered vations on the northern and western shores, but found the vast bay, which has received its appellation from that them so dreary and unpromisiny, that no settlement of great navigator, who there unfortunately terminated his any description was ever attempted. Abel Tasman, how. adventurous career. The treachery of a ferocious and ever, went beyond his predecessors; he reached the south. mutinous crew exposed him on these frozen and desolate ern extremity of this great mass of land, to which he gave 'shores, where he miserably perished. Sir Thomas Button the name of Van Diemen, without discovering it to be an followed in 1612, and finding himself in the middle of this island; he then sailed across, surveyed the western coast capacious basin, imagined himself already in the Pacific, of New Zealand, and returned home by the Friendly Isl. and stood full sail to the westward. To his utter dismay he ands. This important range of discovery was not follow- came to the long, continuous line of shore which forms the ed up; it refuted, however, the delineation by which New western boundary of Hudson's Bay. He expressed his Holland had been made part of the imagined Austral con- disappointment by giving to the coast the name of Hope tinent. In the newly arranged charts, that continent still checked. Bylot and Baffin, who followed three years af. remained, but with its position shifted further to the south, ter, were stopped by the ice at Southampton Island. Bafand New Zealand probably contributing to form part of its fin, however, made afterwards a more important voyage, in fancied outline.
which he completely rounded the shores of that great sea The English nation, by the voyages of several naviga. which bears his name, and which, appearing to him to be intors, and particularly of Cook, secured the glory of fully closed on all sides by land, has been denominated Baffin's exploring the depths of the great Pacific. The previous Bay. The error involved in this appellation deterred subvoyages of Byron, Wallis, and Carteret, had already made sequent navigators from any further attempt; for Baffin, known some of the interesting groups of islands with in passing the great opening of Lancaster sound, had conwhich its vast surface is studded. Cook fully traced the cluded it to be merely a gulf. From that period the Eng. great chains of the Society Islands, and of the Friendly lish navigators, though they ceased not to view this object Islands; he discovered and surveyed the castern coasts of with ardor, hoped to fulfil it only by the channel of HudNew Holland and Van Diemen's Land. He settled the form son's Bay. In 1631, two vessels were sent thither under Fox and relations of New Zealand, New Caledonia, and the and James. The latter, entangled in some of the southother great Australasian lands and islands This side he ern bays, returned after dreadful sufferings from the cold passed thrice the Antarctic circle, and, ranging along the of the winter ; but the former, quaintly calling himself yet unvisited borders of the southern pole, solved, by re- Northwest Fox, explored a part of that great opening call. ed Sir Thomas Roe's Welcome, which appeared now to ant Parry, second in command, formed a different judg. afford almost the only hope of a passage ; but he stopped ment, and, having satisfied the Admiralty as to his grounds short at a point which he termed · Fox's farthest.' "Un- of belief, was sent out with the command of a new expedider Charles the Second, a company was formed for the tion. In this memorable voyage, Captain Parry penetratpurpose of settlement and commerce in Hudson's Bay, and ed through Lancaster Sound, which he found to widen engaged to make the most strenuous exertions to discover gradually, until it opened into the expanse of the Polar a western passage ; but it is believed, that the only exer- Sea. He did not touch on any part of the American coast, tions really made by the Company tended to prevent any but found parallel to it a chain of large islands; and his Buch discovery Middleton, an officer in their service, progress through these was arrested, not by land, but by was sent out in 1741, sailed up the Welcome, and believed straits and channels encumbered with ice. In considerahimself to have discovered, that the head of that channel tion of these obstacles, his next attempt was made through was completely closed. He was strongly charged with hav. Hudson's Bay, by the yet imperfectly explored channel of ing received a high bribe from the Hudson's Bay Company the Welcome. Štruggling through various obstacles, he to stifle the discovery, and Moor and Smith were sent out reached at length a point considerably beyond that where in the following year with the most sanguine hopes; but Middleton had stopped, and found a strait opening from when they returned without having effected any thing, Hudson's Bay into the Polar Sea. This strait was, howthe public expectations were greatly abated. It became ever, so narrow, and so completely blocked with ice, that the general impression, that America, on this side, formed there appeared no room to hope, that it would ever afford a mass of unbroken land, and that the long sought pas. an open passage. Captain Parry was therefore again sent sage had no existence.
out in his first direction; but he made no material addition New views of the extent and form of the northern ex- to his former discoveries. Meantime a land journey, untremities of America were opened by the discoveries of der Captain Franklin, following in the footsteps of Hearne, Cook, corroborated by those of some other English navi. reached the sea, and discovered a considerable extent of the gators in the Northern Pacific. It appeared that America hitherto unknown northern coast of the American conthere stretched away to the northwest, till it reached a tinent. A tolerably clear glimpse was thus obtained of its breadth equal to one fourth part of the circumference of extent and boundaries; and the zealous efforts of governthe globe. Cook penetrated, indeed, through the strait ment were employed to verify the whole by actual survey. which bounds the continent and separates it froin Asia ; A second expedition under Captain Franklin extended but the coast appeared there extending indefinitely north; this survey over three fourths of this boundary coast, and and it became a general impression, that America formed reached beyond the 149th degree of longitude. Meantime a huge unbroken mass of land approaching the Pole, and an expedition, under Captain Beechy, sent to meet Capperhaps reaching that ultimate point of the globe. This tain Franklin from the westward, passed the icy Cape of belief received a sudden shock from Hearne's voyage Cook, and arrived at nearly 156° W. longitude ; between down the Copper Mine River, and his discovery of the sea which point and Captain Franklin's furthest limit there into which it fell, in a latitude not higher than that of the intervened only 70, or 150 miles. north of Hudson's Bay. Soon after, Sir Alexander Mac- The belief was hence entertained, that the whole coast kenzie traced also to the sea another river lwenty degrees extended in a line not varying much from the 70th degree further west. There was now a strong presumption, that of latitude ; but the important expedition which Captain a sea bounded the whole of America to the north, and that Ross has just achieved through so many difficulties, proves there really was such a passage as had been so long sought, the existence of a large peninsula, extending as far north and might be found, were it not too closely barred by ice as 74° N latitude. li remains still probable, that a naval and terapest. The British administration, animated with passage may exist further north, in the line of Captain an active and laudable zeal in the cause of discovery, de. Parry's first voyage. But the encumbering ice is so thick, termined that no possible effort should be omitted by which and so wedged into various straits and channels, that probthis important and long agitated question might be brought ably no vessel will ever be able even once to work its way to a final decision.
through; and certainly a ship could never set out with A series of exploratory voyages was now begun. Cap. any assurance of thus finding its way from the Atlantic tain Ross, in 1818, made the circuit of Baffin's Bay, and into the Pacific. returned with the belief, that no opening existed ; Lieuten