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art, beyond that of coasting in small vessels. The commerce they established in foreign countries, with the means of their skill in naval affairs, enriched them to an extraordinary pitch of opulence. The employment given to such numbers of hands, by this enterprising and commercial spirit, increased the population of the country to such a degree, that they were obliged to found colonies. in other countries, the principal of which was that of Carthage. In time, Carthage became more powerful than the mother country, and extended her navigation into Europe, as far north as Britain. The rivalship that subsisted between the states of Carthage and Rome for many years, ended in the total destruction of the former, and left Rome without a competitor. This celebrated city, in her turn, became the prey of the Goths and Vandals; and with her fall, not only learning and the polite arts, but also the useful one of navigation, declined rather than advanced for some time. The Crusades, that monument of human folly and enthusiasm, contributed to restore and accelerate the revival of commerce
and navigation, by the number of vessels that were necessary to convey those vast armies into Asia on this wild enterprise. The invention of the compass combined with the voyages of discovery and other causes, to promote the advancement of this useful branch of science, and raise it to its present state.
CHARLES. Which of the nations of Europe patronised the early voyages of discovery?
MRS. HARCOURT. Had John II. of Portugal, listened to the proposal of Columbus, who was a native of Genoa, to give him encouragement to explore a passage to India, by sailing towards the west, across the Atlantic Ocean, that nation might have claimed this honour; but John treated this scheme with contempt, and Columbus, disgusted with his behaviour, quitted Portugal and went to Spain, in order to apply to Ferdinand and Isabella, who reigned conjointly at that time. Eight years were spent in repeated applications, before he succeeded. At length, in August, 1492, this great man, furnished with a small fleet of three ships, set sail, and steered directly for the Canary Islands: from thence he proceeded.
due west, through unfrequented and unknown seas; and, after many difficulties, arrived at Guanharic, one of the large clusters of islands called the Bahama Isles, and returned to Spain without having obtained his principal object, of discovering another continent, which he supposed to exist on the western side of the globe. He made a second voyage without any better success. Undaunted by so many disappointments, he undertook a third voyage, and actually fell in with the vast continent of America; which, after all his indefatigable labour, received its name from a Florentine, Americus Vesputius, who only followed the footsteps he had marked out. Succeeding navigators made new discoveries; and Portugal at length saw the advantage of patronising these enterprises. It does not seem that our countrymen turned their attention this way till a later period. In 1577, Sir Francis Drake undertook and completed a voyage round the world, in about three years. Our late discoveries have been principally in the Pacific Ocean; and, to the honour of the British nation, the name of Captain Cook will
ever remain distinguished among the chief navigators. It was not the thirst of digging the gold from the mine, but the desire of diffusing the arts and advantages of civilization among his fellow-creatures, that induced him to explore unknown seas. He wandered from one nation of strangers to another, offering the olive-branch of peace; and desired rather to form an alliance of friendship with them, than to oppress them by tyranny and injustice.
CHARLES. Although England is now celebrated for the superiority of her navy, it appears that the northern parts of the world were slow in attaining this perfection; for, when Cæsar invaded Britain, the natives opposed him in vessels of an odd form, like large tubs: the sails were composed of leather, and iron chains supplied the place of cables.
MRS. HARCOURT. The Saxons, after being some time settled in this island, became sensible that its surest defence would be a formidable navy, and applied themselves vigorously to build ships of war. Ethelred, in order to maintain a powerful force at sea,
made a law, that whoever possessed 300 hides of land, should build and man one ship, for the defence of his country. Our insular situation has obliged us to bestow greater attention in improving and advancing the art of ship-building to perfection. It is also our best policy to encourage a nursery of British seamen, which is done in part by the numbers that are employed in the Newcastle colliers, and other trade-fleets. This is the reason that the coal-pits nearest to London are not suffered to be worked. The superiority of the British fleet, for strength and beauty, as well as for the bravery of its mariners, is undisputed, and our nation has long been considered as mistress of the sea.
SOPHIA. In the reign of queen Elizabeth, our royal navy was in a very flourishing condition.
MR. HARCOURT. The progress of commerce and navigation naturally keep pace together. Trade first gave occasion to the
* A hide of land was formerly reckoned 100 acres. VOL. II.