National Geographic : 1893 Apr 7
Cabot's Estimate of Columbus. 19 west. North America and South America are connected, and the Austral continent is shown south of the straits of Magellan. There was no map published until after the sixteenth century that gave a correct delineation of the seacoast of America. It is no wonder that Columbus never comprehended the nature or ex tent of his discoveries. The more we study the history and geog raphy of the times, the influence of the church, the difficulty of determining longitude, the ignorance of the movements of the mariners' compass and of the distance to Cipango, the greater will be our admiration for Columbus. Yet a recent writer speaks of the discovery of Columbus as a blunder, and others say, as if in disparagement of his work, that he knew of the discoveries of the Northmen and was only following their track; that the chart of Toscanelli which Columbus took on his first voyage indicated clearly his route; that Columbus died in the belief that he had discovered Cipango and Cathay, never realizing that it was the new world, and that Americus Vespucius is entitled to the greater credit. Let us hear the opinion of a contemporary of Columbus, Sebas tian Cabot: " When news was brought that Don Christopher Colon, the Genoese, had discovered the coasts of India, whereof was great talke in all the court of King Henry the VII, who then reigned, all men with great admiration affirmed it to be a thing more divine than humane to saile by the west into the easte, where the spices growe, by a chart that was never before knowen." It is very doubtful if Columbus knew anything of the voyages of the Northmen, nor would such knowledge have been of much value, for Greenland was then believed to be a part of Europe and joined to Norway. If Columbus had known of the discoveries and sought the countries they had found, he would have sailed northwestward instead of westward. Many before Toscanelli and Columbus believed the world to be round, and that by sailing westward Asia might be reached. Columbus not only believed but proved it. He made no blunder, for he sought land the other side of the Atlantic, and he found it. Vespucius knew little more than Columbus of the new world, and never realized that North America and South America were one continent. The maps show that learned geographers long after the discoveries of Columbus, Vespucius, Cabot and Magel lan did not understand the geography of the new world.
1893 Apr 29
1893 Mar 20