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Title: A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 18 - Historical Sketch of the Progress of Discovery, Navigation, and - Commerce, from the Earliest Records to the Beginning of the Nineteenth - Century, By William Stevenson
Author: Stevenson, William, Kerr, Robert, 1755-1813
Language: English
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*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 18 - Historical Sketch of the Progress of Discovery, Navigation, and - Commerce, from the Earliest Records to the Beginning of the Nineteenth - Century, By William Stevenson" ***

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Printed by A. & B. Spottiswoode,

[Transcriber's Note: The errata listed after the Table of Contents are
marked in the text thus: [has->have]]


The curiosity of that man must be very feeble and sluggish, and his
appetite for information very weak or depraved, who, when he compares the
map of the world, as it was known to the ancients, with the map of the
world as it is at present known, does not feel himself powerfully excited
to inquire into the causes which have progressively brought almost every
speck of its surface completely within our knowledge and access. To develop
and explain these causes is one of the objects of the present work; but
this object cannot be attained, without pointing out in what manner
Geography was at first fixed on the basis of science, and has subsequently,
at various periods, been extended and improved, in proportion as those
branches of physical knowledge which could lend it any assistance, have
advanced towards perfection. We shall thus, we trust, be enabled to place
before our readers a clear, but rapid view of the surface of the globe,
gradually exhibiting a larger portion of known regions, and explored seas,
till at last we introduce them to the full knowledge of the nineteenth
century. In the course of this part of our work, decisive and instructive
illustrations will frequently occur of the truth of these most important
facts,--that one branch of science can scarcely advance, without advancing
some other branches, which in their turn, repay the assistance they have
received; and that, generally speaking, the progress of intellect and
morals is powerfully impelled by every impulse given to physical science,
and can go on steadily and with full and permanent effect, only by the
intercourse of civilised nations with those that are ignorant and

But our work embraces another topic; the progress of commercial enterprise
from the earliest period to the present time. That an extensive and
interesting field is thus opened to us will be evident, when we contrast
the state of the wants and habits of the people of Britain, as they are
depicted by Cæsar, with the wants and habits even of our lowest and poorest
classes. In Cæsar's time, a very few of the comforts of life,--scarcely one
of its meanest luxuries,--derived from the neighbouring shore of Gaul, were
occasionally enjoyed by British Princes: in our time, the daily meal of the
pauper who obtains his precarious and scanty pittance by begging, is
supplied by a navigation of some thousand miles, from countries in opposite
parts of the globe; of whose existence Cæsar had not even the remotest
idea. In the time of Cæsar, there was perhaps no country, the commerce of
which was so confined:--in our time, the commerce of Britain lays the whole
world under contribution, and surpasses in extent and magnitude the
commerce of any other nation.

The progress of discovery and of commercial intercourse are intimately and
almost necessarily connected; where commerce does not in the first instance
prompt man to discover new countries, it is sure, if these countries are
not totally worthless, to lead him thoroughly to explore them. The
arrangement of this work, in carrying on, at the same time, a view of the
progress of discovery, and of commercial enterprise, is, therefore, that
very arrangement which the nature of the subject suggests. The most
important and permanent effects of the progress of discovery and commerce,
on the wealth, the power, the political relations, the manners and habits,
and the general interests and character of nations, will either appear on
the very surface of our work, or, where the facts themselves do not expose
them to view, they will be distinctly noticed.

A larger proportion of the volume is devoted to the progress of discovery
and enterprise among the ancients, than among the moderns; or,--to express
ourselves more accurately,--the period that terminates with the discovery
of America, and especially that which comprehends the commerce of the
Phoeniceans, of the Egyptians under the Ptolemies, of the Greeks, and of
the Romans, is illustrated with more ample and minute details, than the
period which has elapsed since the new world was discovered. To most
readers, the nations of antiquity are known by their wars alone; we wished
to exhibit them in their commercial character and relations. Besides, the
materials for the history of discovery within the modern period are neither
so scattered, nor so difficult of access, as those which relate to the
first period. After the discovery of America, the grand outline of the
terraqueous part of the globe may be said to have been traced; subsequent
discoveries only giving it more boldness or accuracy, or filling up the
intervening parts. The same observation may in some degree be applied, to
the corresponding periods of the history of commerce. Influenced by these
considerations, we have therefore exhibited the infancy and youth of
discovery and commerce, while they were struggling with their own ignorance
and inexperience, in the strongest and fullest light.

At the conclusion of the work is given a select Catalogue of Voyages and
Travels, which it is hoped will be found generally useful, not only in
directing reading and inquiry, but also in the formation of a library.

This Historical Sketch has been drawn up with reference to, and in order to
complete Kerr's Collection of Voyages and Travels, and was undertaken by
the present Editor in consequence of the death of Mr. Kerr. But though
drawn up with this object, it is strictly and entirely an independent and
separate work.

Kerr's Collection contains a great variety of very curious and interesting
early Voyages and Travels, of rare occurrence, or only to be found in
expensive and voluminous Collections; and is, moreover, especially
distinguished by a correct and full account of all Captain Cook's Voyages.

To the end of this volume is appended a Tabular View of the Contents of
this Collection; and it is believed that this Tabular View, when examined
and compared with the Catalogue, will enable those who wish to add to this
Collection such Voyages and Travels as it does not embrace, especially
those of very recent date, all that are deserving of purchase and perusal.


March 30, 1824.



Historical Sketch of the Progress of Discovery and of Commercial
Enterprise, from the earliest records to the time of Herodotus


From the age of Herodotus to the death of Alexander the Great


From the Death of Alexander the Great to the time of Ptolemy the
Geographer; with a digression on the Inland Trade between India and the
Shores of the Mediterranean, through Arabia, from the earliest ages


From the time of Ptolemy to the close of the Fifteenth Century


From the close of the Fifteenth to the beginning of the Nineteenth Century


Preliminary Observations on the Plan and Arrangement pursued
in drawing up the Catalogue

Instructions for Travellers

Collections and Histories of Voyages and Travels

Voyages and Travels round the World

Travels, comprizing different Quarters of the Globe

Voyages and Travels in the Arctic Seas and Countries







INDEX to the Catalogue

---- ----    Historical Sketch

---- ----    XVII. Volumes of Voyages and Travels

CONTENTS of the XVII. Volumes

       *       *       *       *       *


Page 13.        line 2. for _has_ read _have_.
                     6. for _near_ read _nearly_
     28.            36. for _could sail_ read _could formerly sail_.
     86.             6. for _Egypt_ read _India_.
     87.            22. for _Leucke_ read _Leuke_.
    102.             5. for _principal_ read _principle_.
    213.             9. for _work_ read _worm_.
    281.            28. for _Ebor_ read _Ebn_.
    282.            20. for _Ebor_ read _Ebn_.
    5O7.            22. for _as_ read _than_.




The earliest traces of navigation and commerce are necessarily involved in
much obscurity, and are, besides, few and faint. It is impossible to assign
to them any clear and definite chronology; and they are, with a few
exceptions, utterly uncircumstantial. Nevertheless, in a work like this,
they ought not to be passed over without some notice; but the notice we
shall bestow upon them will not be that either of the chronologist or
antiquarian, but of a more popular, appropriate, and useful description.

The intercourse of one nation with another first took place in that part of
the world to which a knowledge of the original habitation of mankind, and
of the advantages for sea and land commerce which that habitation enjoyed,
would naturally lead us to assign it. On the shores of the Mediterranean,
or at no great distance from that sea, among the Israelites, the
Phoenicians, and the Egyptians, we must look for the earliest traces of
navigation and commerce; and, in the only authentic history of the remotest
period of the world, as well as amidst the scanty and fabulous materials
supplied by profane writers, these nations are uniformly represented as the
most ancient navigators and traders.

The slightest inspection of the map of this portion of the globe will teach
us that Palestine, Phoenicia, and Egypt were admirably situated for
commerce both by sea and land. It is, indeed, true that the Phoenicians, by
the conquests of Joshua, were expelled from the greatest part of their
territory, and obliged to confine themselves to a narrow slip of ground
between Mount Lebanon and the Mediterranean; but even this confined
territory presented opportunities and advantages for commerce of no mean
importance: they had a safe coast,--at least one good harbour; and the
vicinity of Lebanon, and other mountains, enabled them to obtain, with
little difficulty and expence, a large supply of excellent materials for
shipbuilding. There are, moreover, circumstances which warrant the
supposition, that, like Holland in modern times, they were rather the
carriers of other nations, than extensively engaged in the commerce of
their own productions or manufactures. On the north and east lay Syria, an
extensive country, covered with a deep rich soil, producing an abundant
variety of valuable articles. With this country, and much beyond it, to the
east, the means and opportunities of communication and commerce were easy,
by the employment of the camel; while, on the other hand, the caravans that
carried on the commerce of Asia and Africa necessarily passed through
Phoenicia, or the adjacent parts of Palestine.

Egypt, in some respects, was still more advantageously situated for
commerce than Phoenicia: the trade of the west of Asia, and of the shores
of the Mediterranean lay open to it by means of that sea, and by the Nile
and the Red Sea a commercial intercourse with Arabia, Persia, and India
seemed almost to be forced upon their notice and adoption. It is certain,
however, that in the earliest periods of their history, the Egyptians were
decidedly averse to the sea, and to maritime affairs, both warlike and
commercial. It would be vain and unprofitable to explain the fabulous cause
assigned for this aversion: we may, however, briefly and, incidentally
remark that as Osiris particularly instructed his subjects in cultivating
the ground; and as Typhon coincides exactly in orthography and meaning with
a word still used in the East, to signify a sudden and violent storm, it is
probable that by Typhon murdering his brother Osiris, the Egyptians meant
the damage done to their cultivated lands by storms of wind causing

As the situation of Palestine for commerce was equally favourable with that
of Phoenicia, it is unnecessary to dilate upon it. That the Jews did not
engage more extensively in trade either by sea or land must be attributed
to the peculiar nature of their government, laws, and religion.

Having thus briefly pointed out the advantages enjoyed by the Phoenicians,
Egyptians, and Jews for commercial intercourse, we shall now proceed to
notice the few particulars with which history supplies us regarding the
navigation and commerce of each, during the earliest periods.

I. There is good reason to believe that most of the maritime adventures and
enterprises which have rendered the Phoenicians so famous in antiquity,
ought to be fixed between the death of Jacob, and the establishment of
monarchy among the Israelites; that is, between the years 1700 and 1095
before Christ; but even before this, there are authentic notices of
Phoenician commerce and navigation. In the days of Abraham they were
considered as a very powerful people: and express mention is made of their
maritime trade in the last words of Jacob to his children. Moses informs us
that Tarshish (wherever it was situated) was visited by the Phoenicians.
When this people were deprived of a great portion of their territory by the
Israelites under Joshua, they still retained the city of Sidon; and from it
their maritime expeditions proceeded. The order of time in which they took
place, as well as their object and result, are very imperfectly known; it
seems certain, however, that they either regularly traded with, or formed
colonies or establishments for the purpose of trade at first in Cyprus and
Rhodes, and subsequently in Greece, Sicily, Sardinia, Gaul, and the
southern part of Spain. About 1250 years before Christ, the Phoenician
ships ventured beyond the Straits, entered the Atlantic, and founded Cadiz.
It is probable, also, that nearly about the same period they formed
establishments on the western coast of Africa. We have the express
authority of Homer, that at the Trojan war the Phoenicians furnished other
nations with many articles that could contribute to luxury and
magnificence; and Scripture informs us, that the ships of Hyram, king of
Tyre, brought gold to Solomon from Ophir. That they traded to Britain for
tin at so early a period as that which we are now considering, will appear
very doubtful, if the metal mentioned by Moses, (Numbers, chap. xxxi. verse
22.) was really tin, and if Homer is accurate in his statement that this
metal was used at the siege of Troy; for, certainly, at neither of these
periods had the Phoenicians ventured so far from their own country.

Hitherto we have spoken of Sidon as the great mart of Phoenician commerce;
at what period Tyre was built and superseded Sidon is not known. In the
time of Homer, Tyre is not even mentioned: but very soon afterwards it is
represented by Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the other prophets, as a city
of unrivalled trade and wealth. Ezekiel, who prophesied about the year 595
B.C. has given a most picturesque description of the wealth of Tyre, all of
which must have proceeded from her commerce, and consequently points out
and proves its great extent and importance. The fir-trees of Senir, the
cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the ivory of the Indies, the fine
linen of Egypt, and the hyacinth and purple of the isles of Elishah, are
enumerated among the articles used for their ships. Silver, tin, lead, and
vessels of brass; slaves, horses, and mules; carpets, ivory, and ebony;
pearls and silk; wheat, balm, honey, oil and gums; wine, and wool, and
iron, are enumerated as brought into the port of Tyre by sea, or to its
fairs by land, from Syria, Damascus, Greece, Arabia, and other places, the
exact site of which is not known.[1] Within the short period of fifteen or
twenty years after this description was written, Tyre was besieged by
Nebuchadnezzar; and after an obstinate and very protracted resistance, it
was taken and destroyed. The inhabitants, however, were enabled to retire
during the siege, with the greatest part of their property, to an island
near the shore, where they built New Tyre, which soon surpassed the old
city both in commerce and shipping.

A short time previous to the era generally assigned to the destruction of
old Tyre, the Phoenicians are said to have performed a voyage, which, if
authentic, may justly be regarded as the most important that the annals of
this people record: we allude to the circumnavigation of Africa. As this
voyage has given rise to much discussion, we may be excused for deviating
from the cursory and condensed character of this part of our work, in order
to investigate its probable authenticity. All that we know regarding it is
delivered to us by Herodotus; according to this historian, soon after
Nechos, king of Egypt, had finished the canal that united the Nile and the
Arabian Gulf, he sent some Phoenicians from the borders of the Red Sea,
with orders to keep always along the coast of Africa, and to return by the
pillars of Hercules into the northern ocean. Accordingly the Phoenicians
embarked on the Erythrean Sea, and navigated in the southern ocean. When
autumn arrived, they landed on the part of Libya which they had reached,
and sowed corn; here they remained till harvest, reaped the corn, and then
re-embarked. In this manner they sailed for two years; in the third they
passed the pillars of Hercules, and returned to Egypt. They related that in
sailing round Libya, the sun was on their right hand. This relation,
continues Herodotus, seems incredible to me, but perhaps it will not appear
so to others. Before proceeding to an enquiry into the authenticity of this
maritime enterprize, it may be proper to explain what is meant by the sun
appearing on the right hand of the Phoenician navigators. The apparent
motion of the heavens being from east to west, the west was regarded by the
ancients as the foremost part of the world; the north, of course, was
deemed the right, and the south the left of the world.

The principal circumstance attending this narrative, which is supposed to
destroy or greatly weaken its credibility, is the short period of time in
which this navigation was accomplished: it is maintained, that even at
present, it would certainly require eighteen months to coast Africa from
the Red Sea to the straits of Gibraltar; and "allowing nine months for each
interval on shore, between the sowing and reaping, the Phoenicians could
not have been more than eighteen months at sea."

To this objection it may be replied, in the first place, that between the
tropics (within which space nearly the whole of the navigation was
performed) nine months is much too long a time to allow for each interval
on shore, between the sowing and the reaping: and, secondly, that though
the period occupied by the whole voyage, and some of the circumstances
attending it, may be inaccurately stated, the voyage itself ought not to be
wholly discredited on these accounts.

The very circumstance which the historian rejects as incredible, is one of
the strongest arguments possible in favour of the tradition; though this
alone is not decisive, for the Phoenicians might have sailed far enough to
the south to have observed the sun to the north, even if they had not
accomplished the navigation of Africa. The strongest argument, however, in
our opinion, in support of the actual accomplishment of this
circumnavigation, has been unaccountably overlooked, in all the various
discussion to which the subject has given rise. It is evident that in most
voyages, false and exaggerated accounts may be given of the countries
visited or seen, and of the circumstances attendant upon the voyage;
whereas, with respect to this voyage, one most important and decisive
particular lay within reach of the observation of those who witnessed the
departure and arrival of the ships. If they sailed from the Red Sea, and
returned by the Mediterranean, they must have circumnavigated Africa. It is
obvious that if such a voyage was not performed, the story must have
originated with Herodotus, with those from whom he received his
information, or with those who were engaged in the expedition, supposing it
actually to have been engaged in, but not to have accomplished the
circumnavigation of Africa. The character of Herodotus secures him from the
imputation; and by none is he charged with it:--Necho lived about six
hundred and sixteen years before Christ; consequently little more than two
hundred years before Herodotus; moreover, the communication and commerce of
the Greeks with Egypt, was begun in the time of Psammeticus, the immediate
predecessor of Necho, and was encouraged in a very particular manner by
Amasis (who died in 525), who married a Greek, and was visited by Solon.
From these circumstances, it is improbable that Herodotus, who was
evidently not disposed to believe the account of the appearance of the sun,
should not have had it in his power to obtain good evidence, whether a ship
that had sailed from the Red Sea, had returned by the Mediterranean: if
such evidence were acquired, it is obvious, as has been already remarked,
that the third source of fabrication is utterly destroyed. Dr. Vincent is
strongly opposed to the authenticity of this voyage, chiefly on the grounds
that such ships as the ancients had, were by no means sufficiently strong,
nor their seamen sufficiently skilful and experienced, to have successfully
encountered a navigation, which the Portuguese did not accomplish without
great danger and difficulty, and that the alleged circumnavigation produced
no consequences.

It may be incidentally remarked that the incredulity of Herodotus with
regard to the appearance of the sun to the north of the zenith, is not
easily reconcileable with what we shall afterwards shew was the extent of
his knowledge of the interior of Egypt. He certainly had visited, or had
received communications from those who had visited Ethiopia as far south as
eleven degrees north latitude. Under this parallel the sun appears for a
considerable part of the year to the north. How, then, it may be asked,
could Herodotus be incredulous of this phenomenon having been observed by
the Phoenician circumnavigators. This difficulty can be solved by supposing
either that if he himself had visited this part of Africa, it was at a
season of the year when the sun was in that quarter of the heavens in which
he was accustomed to see it; or, if he received his information from the
inhabitants of this district, that they, not regarding the periodical
appearance of the sun to the north of the zenith as extraordinary, did not
think it necessary to mention it. It certainly cannot be supposed that if
Herodotus had either seen himself, or heard from others, that the sun in
Ethiopia sometimes appeared to the north of the zenith, he would have
stated in such decided terms, when narrating the circumnavigation of the
Phoenicians, that such a phenomenon appeared to him altogether incredible.

Before we return to the immediate subject of this part of our work, we may
be allowed to deviate from strict chronological order, for the purpose of
mentioning two striking and important facts, which naturally led to the
belief of the practicability of circumnavigating Africa, long before that
enterprise was actually accomplished by the Portuguese.

We are informed by Strabo, on the authority of Posidonius, that Eudoxus of
Cyzicus, who lived about one hundred and fifty years before Christ, was
induced to conceive the practicability of circumnavigating Africa, from the
following circumstance. As Eudoxus was returning from India to the Red Sea,
he was driven by adverse winds on the coast of Ethiopia: there he saw the
figure of a horse sculptured on a piece of wood, which he knew to be a part
of the prow of a ship. The natives informed him that it had belonged to a
vessel, which had arrived among them from the west. Eudoxus brought it with
him to Egypt, and subjected it to the inspection of several pilots: they
pronounced it to be the prow of a small kind of vessel used by the
inhabitants of Gadez, to fish on the coast of Mauritania, as far as the
river Lixius: some of the pilots recognised it as belonging to a particular
vessel, which, with several others, had attempted to advance beyond the
Lixius, but had never afterwards been heard of. We are further informed on
the same authority, that Eudoxus, hence conceiving it practicable to sail
round Africa, made the attempt, and actually sailed from Gadez to a part of
Ethiopia, the inhabitants of which spoke the same language as those among
whom he had formerly been. From some cause not assigned, he proceeded no
farther: subsequently, however, he made a second attempt, but how far he
advanced, and what was the result, we are not informed.

The second fact to which we allude is related in the Commentary of Abu
Sird, on the Travels of a Mahommedan in India and China, in the ninth
century of the Christian era. The travels and commentary are already given
in the first volume of this work; but the importance of the fact will, we
trust, plead our excuse for repeating the passage which contains it.

"In our times, discovery has been made of a thing quite new: nobody
imagined that the sea which extends from the Indies to China, had any
communication with the sea of Syria, nor could any one take it into his
head. Now behold what has come to pass in our days, according to what we
have heard. In the Sea of Rum, or the Mediterranean, they found the wreck
of an Arabian ship which had been shattered by tempest; for all her men
perishing, and she being dashed to pieces by the waves, the remains of her
were driven by wind and weather into the Sea of Chozars, and from thence to
the canal of the Mediterranean sea, and at last were thrown on the Sea of
Syria. This evinces that the sea surrounds all the country of China, and of
Sila,--the uttermost parts of Turkestan, and the country of the Chozars,
and then it enters at the strait, till it washes the shore of Syria. The
proof of this is deduced from the built of the ship we are speaking of; for
none but the ships of Sarif are so put together, that the planks are not
nailed, or bolted, but joined together in an extraordinary manner, as if
they were sewn; whereas the planking of all the ships of the Mediterranean
Sea, and of the coast of Syria, is nailed and not joined together in the
same way."

When we entered on this digression, we had brought the historical sketch of
the discoveries and commerce of the Phoenicians down to the period of the
destruction of Old Tyre, or about six hundred years before Christ. We shall
now resume it, and add such particulars on these subjects as relate to the
period that intervened between that event and the capture of New Tyre by
Alexander the Great. These are few in number; for though New Tyre exceeded,
according to all accounts, the old city in splendour, riches, and
commercial prosperity, yet antient authors have not left us any precise
accounts of their discoveries, such as can justly be fixed within the
period to which we have alluded. They seem to have advanced farther than
they had previously done along the west coast of Africa, and further along
the north coast of Spain: the discovery of the Cassiterides also, and their
trade to these islands for tin, (which we have shewn could hardly have
taken place so early as is generally supposed,) must also have occurred,
either immediately before, or soon after, the building of New Tyre. It is
generally believed, that the Cassiterides were the Scilly Islands, off the
coast of Cornwall. Strabo and Ptolemy indeed place them off the coast of
Spain; but Diodorus Siculus and Pliny give them a situation, which,
considering the vague and erroneous ideas the antients possessed of the
geography of this part of the world, corresponds pretty nearly with the
southern part of Britain. According to Strabo, the Phoenicians first
brought tin from the Cassiterides, which they sold to the Greeks, but kept
(as was usual with them) the trade entirely to themselves, and were utterly
silent respecting the place from which they brought it. The Greeks gave
these islands the name of Cassiterides, or the Tin Country; a plain proof
of what we before advanced, that tin was known, and generally used,
previous to the discovery of these islands by the Phoenicians.

There is scarcely any circumstance connected with the maritime history of
the Phoenicians, more remarkable than their jealousy of foreigners
interfering with their trade, to which we have just alluded. It seems to
have been a regular plan, if not a fixed law with them, if at any time
their ships observed that a strange ship kept them company, or endeavoured
to trace their track, to outsail her if practicable; or, where this could
not be done, to depart during the night from their proper course. The
Carthaginians, a colony of the Phoenicians, adopted this, among other
maritime regulations of the parent state, and even carried it to a greater
extent. In proof of this, a striking fact may be mentioned: the master of a
Carthaginian ship observing a Roman vessel following his course, purposely
ran his vessel aground, and thus wrecked his own ship, as well as the one
that followed him. This act was deemed by the Carthaginian government so
patriotic, that he was amply rewarded for it, as well as recompensed for
the loss of his vessel.

The circumstances attending the destruction of New Tyre by Alexander the
Great are well known. The Tyrians united with the Persians against
Alexander, for the purpose of preventing the invasion of Persia; this
having incensed the conqueror, still further enraged by their refusal to
admit him within their walls, he resolved upon the destruction of this
commercial city. For seven months, the natural strength of the place, and
the resources and bravery of the inhabitants, enabled them to hold out; but
at length it was taken, burnt to the ground, and all the inhabitants,
except such as had escaped by sea, were either put to death or sold as

Little is known respecting the structure and equipment of the ships which
the Phoenicians employed in their commercial navigation. According to the
apocryphal authority of Sanconiatho, Ousous, one of the most ancient of the
Phoenician heroes, took a tree which was half burnt, cut off its branches,
and was the first who ventured to expose himself on the waters. This
tradition, however, probably owes its rise to the prevalent belief among
the ancients, that to the Phoenicians was to be ascribed the invention of
every thing that related to the rude navigation and commerce of the
earliest ages of the world: under this idea, the art of casting accounts,
keeping registers, and every thing, in short, that belongs to a factory, is
attributed to their invention.[2] With respect to their vessels,--
"Originally they had only rafts, or simple boats; they used oars to conduct
these weak and light vessels. As navigation extended itself, and became
more frequent, they perfected the construction of ships, and made them of a
much larger capacity. They were not long in discovering the use that might
be drawn from the wind, to hasten and facilitate the course of a ship, and
they found out the art of aiding it by means of masts and sails." Such is
the account given by Goguet; but it is evident that this is entirely
conjectural history: and we may remark, by the bye, that a work otherwise
highly distinguished by clear and philosophical views, and enriched by
considerable learning and research, in many places descends to fanciful

All that we certainly know respecting the ships of the Phoenicians, is,
that they had two kinds; one for the purposes of commerce, and the other
for naval expeditions; and in this respect they were imitated by all the
other nations of antiquity. Their merchant-ships were called Gauloi.
According to Festus's definition of this term, the gauloi were nearly
round; but it is evident that this term must be taken with considerable
restriction; a vessel round, or nearly so, could not possibly be navigated.
It is most probable that this description refers entirely to the shape of
the bottom or hold of the vessel; and that merchant ships were built in
this manner, in order that they might carry more goods; whereas the ships
for warfare were sharp in the bottom. Of other particulars respecting the
construction and equipment of the ships of the Phoenicians, we are
ignorant: they probably resembled in most things those of Greece and Rome;
and these, of which antient historians speak more fully, will be described

The Phoenicians naturally paid attention to astronomy, so far at least as
might be serviceable to them in their navigation; and while other nations
were applying it merely to the purposes of agriculture and chronology, by
means of it they were guided through the "trackless ocean," in their
maritime enterprises. The Great Bear seems to have been known and used as a
guide by navigators, even before the Phoenicians were celebrated as a
sea-faring people; but this constellation affords a very imperfect and
uncertain rule for the direction of a ship's course: the extreme stars that
compose it are more than forty degrees distant from the pole, and even its
centre star is not sufficiently near it. The Phoenicians, experiencing the
imperfection of this guide, seem first to have discovered, or at least to
have applied to maritime purposes, the constellation of the Lesser Bear.
But it is probable, that at the period when they first applied this
constellation, which is supposed to be about 1250 years before Christ, they
did not fix on the star at the extremity of the tail of Ursa Minor, which
is what we call the Pole Star; for by a Memoir of the Academy of Sciences
(1733. p. 440.) it is shewn, that it would at that period be too distant to
serve the purpose of guiding their track.[3]

II. The gleanings in antient history respecting the maritime and commercial
enterprises, and the discoveries and settlements of the Egyptians, during
the very early ages, to which we are at present confining ourselves, are
few and unimportant compared with those of the Phoenicians, and
consequently will not detain us long.

We have already noticed the advantageous situation of Egypt for navigation
and commerce: in some respects it was preferable to that of Phoenicia; for
besides the immediate vicinity of the Mediterranean, a sea, the shores of
which were so near to each other that they almost prevented the possibility
of the ancients, rude and ignorant as they were of all that related to
navigation and the management of ships, deviating long or far from their
route; besides the advantages of a climate equally free from the clouded
skies, long nights and tempestuous weather of more northern regions, and
from the irresistible hurricanes of those within the tropics--besides these
favourable circumstances, which, the Egyptians enjoyed in common with the
Phoenicians, they had, running far into their territory, a river easily
navigable, and at no great distance from this river, and bounding their
country, a sea almost equally favourable for navigation and commerce as the
Mediterranean. Their advantages for land journies were also numerous and
great; though the vicinity of the deserts seemed at first sight to have
raised an effectual bar to those countries which they divided from Egypt,
yet Providence had wisely and benevolently removed the difficulty arising
from this source, and had even rendered intercommunication, where deserts
intervened, more expeditious, and not more difficult, than in those regions
where they did not occur, by the creation of the camel, a most benevolent
compensation to the Egyptians for their vicinity to the extensive deserts
of Africa.

Notwithstanding the advantageous situation of the Egyptians for navigation,
they were extremely averse, as we nave already remarked, during the
earliest periods of their history, to engage in sea affairs, either for the
purposes of war or commerce; nor did they indeed, at any time, enter with
spirit, or on a large scale, into maritime enterprises.

The superstitious and fabulous reasons assigned for this antipathy of the
Egyptians to the sea [has->have] been noticed before; perhaps some other
causes contributed to it, as well as the one alluded to. Egypt is nearly
destitute of timber proper for ship-building: its sea-coasts are unhealthy,
and do not appear to have been inhabited [near->nearly] so early as the
higher country: its harbours are few, of intricate navigation, and
frequently changing their depth and direction; and lastly, the advantages
which the Nile presents for intercourse and traffic precluded the necessity
of applying to sea navigation and commerce.

Some authors are of opinion that the ancient Egyptians did not engage in
navigation and commerce till the era of the Ptolemies; but this is
undoubtedly a mistake, since traces of their commercial intercommunication
with other nations may be found at a very early period of history. It is
probable, however, that for a long time they themselves did not engage in
commerce, but were merely visited by traders from foreign countries; for at
this era it was a maxim with them, never to leave their own country. The
low opinion they entertained of commerce may be gathered from Herodotus,
who mentions, that the men disdained to meddle with it, but left it
entirely to the women.

The earliest account we possess of traffic with Egypt, is to be found in
the Old Testament, where we are informed, that the Midianites and
Ismaelites traded thither as early as the time of Jacob.

Sesostris, who is generally supposed to have lived about 1650 years before
Christ, is by most writers described as the king who first overcame the
dislike of the Egyptians to the sea. That this monarch engaged in many
enterprises both by sea and land, not only for conquest, but also for
purposes of trade and colonization, there can be no doubt; though it is
impossible either to trace his various routes, or to estimate the extent of
his conquests or discoveries. The concurrent testimony of Diodorus and
Herodotus assign to him a large fleet in the Red Sea; and according to
other historians, he had also a fleet in the Mediterranean. In order the
more effectually to banish the prejudices of the Egyptians against the sea,
he is said to have instituted a marine class among his subjects. By these
measures he seems to have acquired the sovereignty and the commerce of the
greater part of the shores of the Red Sea; along which his ships continued
their route, till, according to Herodotus, they were prevented from
advancing by shoals and places difficult to navigate; a description which
aptly applies to the navigation of this sea.

His expeditions and conquests in other parts of the globe do not fall
within our object: one however must be noticed; we allude to the settlement
of the Egyptians at Colchos. Herodotus is doubtful whether this was a
colony planted by Sesostris, or whether part of his army remained behind on
the banks of the Phasis, when he invaded this part of Asia. We allude to
this colony, because with it were found, at the time of the Argonautic
expedition, proofs of the attention which Sesostris had paid to geography,
and of the benefits which that science derived from him. "Tradition,"
Gibbon observes, "has affirmed, with some colour of reason, that Egypt
planted on the Phasis a learned and polite colony, which manufactured
linen, built navies, and invented geographical maps." All the information
we possess respecting these maps is derived from Apollonius Rhodius, and
his scholiast: the substance of it is as follows: according to this
poet,--Phineas, king of Colchos, predicted to the Argonauts the events
which would accompany their return. Argus, one of the Argonauts, explained
that prediction to his companions, and told them, that the route which they
must keep was described on tables, or rather on columns, which an Egyptian
conqueror had before left in the city of Oca, the capital of Colchis; on
these columns, the whole extent of the roads, and the limits of the land
and sea were marked out. An ingenious, and by no means an improbable
inference, has been drawn from this circumstance: that if Sesostris left
such columns in a part so remote from Egypt, it is to be supposed that they
were more numerous in Egypt itself. In short, though on a point like this
it is impossible to gain clear and undoubted testimony, we are, upon the
whole, strongly disposed to coincide in opinion with Gibbon, that tradition
has some colour of reason for affirming that the Egyptian colony at Phasis
possessed geographical maps.

After the death of Sesostris, the Egyptians seem to have relapsed into
their former dislike to the sea: they indeed sent colonies into Greece, and
other parts; but these colonists kept up no relation with the mother
country. Their commerce was carried on, as it had been before the time of
Sesostris, by foreigners. The Old Testament informs us, that in the time of
Solomon many horses were brought from Egypt: and, from the same authority,
as well as from Herodotus and Homer, we learn that the Phoenicians carried
on a regular and lucrative traffic with this country; and, indeed, for a
long time, about this period, they were the only nation to whom the ports
of Egypt were open. Of the navigation and commerce of the Red Sea they were
equally negligent; so that while none of their ships were seen on it, it
was covered with the fleets of the Syrians, Phoenicians, and other nations.

Bocchoris, who lived about seven hundred years before Christ, is
represented by historians as having imitated the maxims of Sesostris, with
respect to maritime affairs and commerce. Some of his laws on these
subjects are still extant; and they display his knowledge of, and attention
to, the improvement of his kingdom. By some of his immediate successors the
ancient maxims of the Egyptians, which led them to avoid intercourse with
strangers, were gradually done away; but it is to Psammeticus, historians
ascribe the most decisive measures for rooting out this antipathy. In his
reign the ports of Egypt were first opened to foreign ships generally. He
seems particularly to have encouraged commercial intercourse with the
Greeks; though afterwards, either from some particular cause of jealousy or
dislike to this nation, or from the still operating antipathy of the
Egyptians to foreigners, the Greeks were not permitted to enter any port
except Naucratis, which they had been suffered to build for the residence
of their merchants and convenience of their trade. This city lay on the
Canopic branch of the Nile; and if a vessel entered any other mouth of this
river, the master was obliged to return to the Canopic branch; or, if the
wind did not permit this, to unlade his vessel, and send his merchandize to
Naucratis by the country boats.

From the time of Psammeticus, when the Greeks were allowed to settle in
Egypt, frequent intercourse and correspondence was kept up between them and
their countrymen in Greece; and from this circumstance the Egyptian history
may henceforth be more firmly depended upon. It has already been remarked,
that as the alleged circumnavigation of Africa by the Phoenicians took
place during the reign of Necho, the successor of Psammeticus, the grounds
for its authenticity are much stronger than if it had occurred previously
to the intercourse of the Greeks with Egypt.

The employment of Phoenician mariners by Necho, to circumnavigate Africa,
bespeaks a monarch bent on maritime and commercial enterprise; and there
are other transactions of his reign which confirm this character. It is
said that Sesostris attempted to unite by a canal the Mediterranean and the
Red Sea, but that he did not succeed in his attempt: Necho also made the
attempt with as little success. He next turned his thoughts to the
navigation and commerce of the Mediterranean and Red Sea, in each of which
he had large fleets.

The superstitious antipathy of the Egyptians having been thus broken
through, and the recurrence of this antipathy secured against, by the
advantages they derived from navigation and commerce, the Egyptian monarchs
seem, as long as Egypt continued free, to have directed their attention and
resources, with considerable zeal and success, to maritime affairs. Their
strength by sea, as well as their experience, may be estimated by an event
during the reign of Apries, the grandson of Necho: this monarch was engaged
in war with the Sidonians, Tyrians and Cypriots; he took the city of Sidon
by storm, and defeated both the Phoenicians and Cypriots in a sea fight. In
fact, during his reign the Egyptians had the command of the Mediterranean
Sea. It is probable, that if they had continued long after this time an
independent state, they would have been still more celebrated and
successful in their maritime and commercial affairs; but in the year 525
before Christ, about seventy years after the reign of Apries, Egypt was
conquered by the Persians.

Notwithstanding, therefore, this temporary dereliction of their antipathy
to the sea, and intercourse with foreigners, the Egyptians can scarcely be
regarded as a nation distinguished for their maritime and commercial
enterprises; and they certainly by no means, either by sea or land, took
advantages of those favourable circumstances by which their country seemed
to be marked out for the attainment of an extensive and lucrative commerce.
It is well remarked by Dr. Vincent, that "while Egypt was under the power
of its native sovereigns Tyre, Sidon, Arabia, Cyprus, Greece, Sicily, and
Carthage, were all enriched by the trade carried on in its ports, and the
articles of commerce which could be obtained there, and there only; the
Egyptians themselves were hardly known in the Mediterranean as the
exporters of their own commodities; they were the Chinese of the ancient
world, and the ships of all nations, except their own, laded in their
harbours." As soon, however, as it passed from the power of its native
sovereigns, and became subject successively to the Persians, Macedonians,
and Romans, it furnished large fleets, and, as we shall afterwards notice,
under the Greeks, Alexandria became one of the principal commercial cities
in the world. The Greek inhabitants of Egypt were the carriers of the
Mediterranean, as well as the agents, factors, and importers of oriential
produce. The cities which had risen under the former system sank into
insignificance; and so wise was the new policy, and so deeply had it taken
root, that the Romans, upon the subjection of Egypt, found it more
expedient to leave Alexandria in possession of its privileges, than to
alter the course of trade, or to occupy it themselves.

We possess scarcely any notices respecting the construction and equipment
of the Egyptian ships. According to Herodotus, they were made of thorns
twisted together, and their sails of rush mats: they were built in a
particular manner, quite different from those of other nations, and rigged
also in a singular manner; so that they seem to have been the mockery of
the other maritime states in the Mediterranean. But this description can
hardly apply to the Egyptian ships, after they had become powerful at sea,
though the expressions of Herodotus seem to have reference to the Egyptian
ships of his age. There can be no doubt that the vessels that navigated the
Nile, were very rude and singular in their construction; and most probably
the description given by the historian ought to be regarded as exclusively
confined to them. They were built of the Egyptian thorn, which seems to
have been very extensively cultivated, especially in the vicinity of
Acanthus: planks of small dimensions were cut from this tree, which were
fastened together, or rather laid over one another, like tiles, with a
great number of wooden pins: they used no ribs in the construction of their
vessels: on the inside, papyrus was employed for the purpose of stopping up
the crevices, or securing the joints. There was but one rudder; whereas the
ships of the Greeks and Romans had generally two; this passed quite through
the keel. The mast was made of Egyptian thorn, and the sail of papyrus.
Indeed, these two plants appear to have been the entire materials used in
the construction and rigging of their ships. They were towed up the Nile,
as they were not fit to stem its stream, except when a strong favourable
wind blew. Their mode of navigating these vessels down the river was
singular; they fastened a hurdle of tamarisk with a rope to the prow of the
vessel; which hurdle they strengthened with bands of reeds, and let it down
into the water; they also hung a stone, pierced through the middle, and of
a considerable weight, by another rope, to the poop. By this means, the
stream bearing on the hurdle, carried down the boat with great expedition;
the stone at the same time balancing and keeping it steady. Of these
vessels they had great numbers on the river; some very large.

III. The Jews were still more averse than the Egyptians to intercourse with
foreigners, and maritime and commercial enterprises; indeed, their country
was comparatively ill-situated for maritime commerce. Josephus is not,
however, quite correct, in stating that Judea was not situated on the sea,
and that the people of that country did not carry on any trade, but that
their whole thoughts were turned to agriculture. The words of Jacob, on his
death-bed, are expressly against this opinion: in blessing his twelve sons,
he says of Zebulon, "he shall dwell at the haven of the sea, and he shall
be for an haven of ships;" and we know that the tribe of Zebulon was
extended to the sea shore, and to the gates of Sidon.

It is not likely, that being in the immediate vicinity of this commercial
city, the Jews would not be stimulated to follow its example, and endeavour
to draw wealth from the same sources. Indeed, the Old Testament expressly
speaks of Joppa as the port of Judea and Jerusalem, into which foreign
articles, and especially many of the materials used by Solomon in the
building of the temple, were imported.

On the conquest of the Amalekites and Edomites by King David, the Jews
gained possession of some ports in the Red Sea; and during his reign, and
that of Solomon, the Jews certainly employed the ships of their ally, Hiram
king of Tyre, extensively in foreign commerce. Indeed, the commerce of the
Phoenicians from the Red Sea, appears to have been carried on principally,
if not entirely, from the harbours in that sea belonging to the Jews,
though there is no ground for believing that the Jews themselves had any
fleet on it, or were at all engaged in its commerce. These short notices
are all that history supplies us with, on the subject of the navigation and
commerce of the Jews. From the Old Testament we may, however, collect
materials, by which we may estimate the progress they had made in
geography. About 500 years before Christ, they do not appear to have
extended their knowledge of the globe beyond Mount Caucasus to the north,
the entrance of the Red Sea to the south, and the Mediterranean Archipelago
to the west, besides Egypt, Asia Minor, Armenia, Syria, Arabia, and perhaps
a small part of Abyssinia.

Having thus given a sketch of the progress of discovery, and of commercial
enterprize by sea and land, among those nations who were the most early in
directing their attention to these points, we shall next proceed to an
account of the navigation and commercial enterprizes of the Greeks and
Romans; and as in this part of our work we shall follow a more strictly
chronological arrangement, the navigation and commercial enterprizes of the
Carthaginians will be incidentally noticed in the order of time to which
they belong. Before, however, we proceed to this subject, it may be proper
to enter more particularly and fully than we have hitherto done, into a
description of the construction and equipment of the ancient ships, since,
so far as relates to the ships of the Greeks and Romans, we possess much
more ample materials for such a description, than history supplies us with
respecting the ships of the other nations of antiquity.

The traditionary story of the Phoenicians, that one of their heroes was the
first man who had the courage to expose himself upon the waters, in a half
burnt tree, stript of its branches, has already been noticed. It is
probable, however, that the first vessels had not even so much resemblance
to our present boats: indeed, conjecture, as well as history, warrant us in
believing that rafts were the most ancient mode of conveyance on the water;
and even in the time of Pliny they were extensively employed, especially in
the navigation of rivers. Boats formed of slender rods or hurdles, and
covered with skins, seem also to have preceded the canoe, or vessel mode of
a single piece of timber. It is probable that a considerable time would
elapse before the means of constructing boats of planks were discovered,
since the bending of the planks for that purpose is not a very obvious art.
The Greeks ascribe this invention to a native of Lydia; but at what period
he lived, is not known. Among some nations, leather was almost the only
material used in the construction of ships; and even in the time of Caesar,
the Veneti, a people of Brittany, distinguished as a maritime and
commercial tribe, made their sails of hides, and their tackle of thongs. In
early ages, also, the Greeks used the common rushes of their country, and
the Carthaginians, the spartum, or broom of Spain.

But it is to the ships of Greece and Rome, when they were constructed with
more skill, and better adapted to navigation, that we are to pay attention;
and of those, only to such as were used for commercial purposes. The latter
were rounder and more capacious than ships used for war; they were
principally impelled by sails; whereas the ships of war, though not wholly
without sails, were chiefly rowed. Another difference between them was,
that ships of war commonly had an helmet engraven on the top of their
masts, and ships for trade had a basket suspended on the top of their mast
as a sign. There seems to have been great variety in the construction of
the latter, according to the particular trade in which they were to be
engaged; and each ship of burden had its boat attached to it. The name of
the ship, or rather of its tutelary deity, was inscribed on the stern:
various forms of gods, animals, plants, &c. were also painted on other
parts. The inhabitants of Phoeacia, or Corsica, are represented as the
first who used pitch to fill up the seams, and preserve the timber;
sometimes wax was used for this purpose, or rather it was mixed with the
paint, to prevent its being defaced by the sun, winds, or water. The
principal instruments used in navigation were the rudder, anchor, sounding
line, cables, oars, sails, and masts.

It is evident from ancient authors, that the ships of the Phoenicians,
Greeks, Romans, and other people of antiquity, had frequently more than one
rudder; but it is not easy to perceive in what way more than one could be
applied to the same end for which the rudder of modern ships is used. Small
vessels had only one. Homer in his Odyssey mentions only one, which was
fastened, and perhaps strengthened, so as to withstand the winds and waves
on each side, with hurdles, made of sallow or osier; at the same period the
ships of the Phoenicians had two rudders. When there were two, one was
fixed at each end; this, however, seems to have been the case only where,
as was not uncommon, the ships had two prows, so that either end could go
foremost. With respect to vessels of four rudders, as two are described as
being fixed to the sides, it is probable that these resembled in their
construction and object the pieces of wood attached to the sides of small
Dutch vessels and barges on the Thames, and generally all vessels that are
flat-bottomed, for the purpose of preventing them from making much _lee
way_, when they are _working_ against the wind.

The first anchors were not made of iron, but of stone, or even of wood;
these were loaded with lead. According to Diodorus, the Phoenicians, in
their first voyages to Spain, having obtained more silver than their ships
could safely hold, employed some of it, instead of lead, for their anchors.
Very anciently the anchor had only one fluke. Anacharsis is said to have
invented an anchor with two. Sometimes baskets full of stones, and sacks
filled with sand, were employed as anchors. Every ship had two anchors, one
of which was never used, except in cases of great danger: it was larger
than the other, and was called the sacred anchor. At the period of the
Argonautic expedition, it does not appear that anchors of any kind but
stone were known; though the scholiast upon Apollonius Rhodius, quite at
variance with the testimony of this author, mentions anchors of iron with
two flukes. It has been supposed that anchors were not used by the Grecian
fleet at the siege of Troy, because "the Greek word which is used to mean
an anchor, properly so called, is not used in any of the poems of Homer."
It is certain that iron anchors were not then known; but it is equally
certain that large stones were used as anchors.

Homer is entirely silent respecting any implement that would serve the
purpose of a sounding line; but it is expressly mention by Herodotus as
common in his time: it was commonly made of lead or brass, and attached,
not to a cord, but an iron, chain.

In very ancient times the cables were made of leather thongs, afterwards of
rushes, the osier, the Egyptian byblus, and other materials. The Veneti
used iron cables; hence we see that what is generally deemed an invention
entirely modern, was known to a savage nation in Gaul, in the time of
Caesar. This nation was so celebrated for the building and equipment of
their vessels, which were, from all accounts, better able to withstand the
fury of the ocean than the ships even of the Greeks and Romans, that Caesar
gave orders for the building of vessels, on the Loire, similar to those of
the Veneti, large, flat-bottomed, and high at the head and stern. Yet these
vessels, built on such an excellent model, and supplied with chain-cables,
had no sails but what were made of leather; and these sails were never
furled, but only bound to the mast. Besides cables, the ancients had other
ropes to fasten ships in the harbours: the usual mode was to erect stones
for this purpose, which were bored through.

In the time of Homer, the ships of the ancients had only one bank of oars;
afterwards two, three, four, five, and even nine and ten banks of oars are
said not to have been uncommon: but it is not easy to understand in what
manner so many oars could have been used: we shall not enter on this
question, which is still unresolved. The Romans had seldom any vessels with
more than five banks of oars. Such vessels as were intended for lightness,
had only one bank of oars; this was particularly the case with the vessels
of the Liburnians, a piratical tribe on the Adriatic.

The sails, in very ancient times, were made of leather; afterwards of
rushes. In the days of Agricola, the Roman sails were made of flax: towards
the end of the first century, hemp was in common use among them for sails,
ropes, and new for hunting. At first there was only one sail in a ship, but
afterwards there appear to have been several: they were usually white, as
this colour was deemed fortunate; sometimes, however, they were coloured.

At the time of the Trojan war, the Greek ships had only one mast, which was
lowered upon the deck when the ship was in harbour: near the top of the
mast a ribband was fastened to point out the direction of the wind. In
later times there seem to have been several masts, though this is denied by
some authors.

It remains now to speak of the materials of which the ships were built,
their size, and their crews.

The species of wood principally employed in the construction of the Grecian
ships were alder, poplar, and fir: cedar, pine, and cypress, were also
used. The Veneti, already mentioned as celebrated for their ships, built
them of oak; but theirs are the only vessels of antiquity that seem to have
been constructed of this kind of wood. The timber was so little seasoned,
that a considerable number of ships are recorded as having been completely
built and equipped in thirty days, after the timber was cut down in the
forest. In the time of the Trojan war, no iron was used in the building of
ships; the planks were fastened to the ribs with cords.

In the most ancient accounts of the Grecian ships, the only mode by which
we can form a conjecture of their size, is from the number of men they were
capable of holding. At the siege of Troy, Homer describes the ships of the
Beotians as the largest; and they carried, he says, one hundred and twenty
men. As Thucydides informs us that at this period soldiers served as
rowers, the number mentioned by Homer must comprehend all the ship could
conveniently accommodate. In general the Roman trading vessels were very
small. Cicero represents those that could hold two thousand amphorae, or
about sixty tons, as very large; there were, however, occasionally enormous
ships built: one of the most remarkable for size was that of Ptolemy; it
was four hundred and twenty feet long, and if it were broad and deep in
proportion, its burden must have been upwards of seven thousand tons, more
than three times the burden of one of our first rates; but it is probable
that it was both flat bottomed and narrow. Of the general smallness of the
Greek and Roman ships, we need no other proof, than that they were
accustomed to draw them on land when in port, and during the winter; and
that they were often conveyed for a considerable space over land. They were
sometimes made in such a manner that they could easily and quickly be taken
to pieces, and put together again. Thucydides asserts that the ships which
carried the Greeks to Troy were not covered; but in this he is contradicted
by Homer.

The principal officer in ships intended for trade was the pilot: he was
expected to know the right management of the sails, rudder, &c. the wind,
and celestial bodies, the harbours, rocks, quick-sands, and course to be
steered. The Greeks were far behind the Phoenicians in many parts of
nautical knowledge: we have seen that the latter at an early period changed
the Greater for the Lesser Bear, for the direction of their course; whereas
the Greeks steered by the Greater Bear. In very early periods it was the
practice to steer all day by the course of the sun, and at night to anchor
near the shore. Several stars were observed by the pilot for the purpose of
foretelling the weather, the principal of which were Arcturus, the Dog
Star, Orion, Castor and Pollux, &c. In the time of Homer, the Greeks knew
only the four cardinal winds; they were a long time ignorant of the art of
subdividing the intermediate parts of the horizon, and of determining a
number of rhombs sufficient to serve the purposes of a navigation of small
extent. Even so late as the date of the Periphes of the Erythræan Sea,
which Dr. Vincent has fixed about the tenth year of Nero's reign, only
eight points of the compass are mentioned; these are the same as are marked
upon the temple of the winds at Athens. The utmost length to which the
ancients arrived in subdividing the compass, was by adding two intermediate
winds between each of the cardinal winds. We have noticed these particulars
relative to the winds and the constellations, in order to illustrate the
duty which the pilot had to perform, and the difficulty and responsibility
of his office, at a period when navigators possessed such a small portion
of experience and knowledge.

Besides the chief pilot, there was a subordinate one, whose duty it was to
keep a look out at the prow, to manage and direct the sails and rowers, and
to assist the principal pilot by his advice: the directions of the
subordinate pilot were conveyed to the rowers by another officer, who seems
to have answered to the boatswain of our men of war. The rowers were
enabled to pull all at once, or to keep time, by a person who sung and
played to them while they were employed. During the night, or in difficult
navigations, the charge of the sounding lead, or of the long poles, which
were used either for the same purpose, or to push the ship off, when she
got a-ground, was committed to a particular officer. There were, besides,
men whose duty it was to serve out the victuals, to keep the ship's
accounts, &c.

The usual day's sail of a ship of the ancients was five hundred stadia, or
fifty miles; and the course run over, when they sailed night and day,
double that space.

We have confined ourselves, in this account of the ships of the ancients,
principally to those particulars that are connected with the construction,
equipment, &c. of those employed for commercial purposes, and shall now
proceed to a historical sketch of the progress of discovery among the
Greeks, from the earliest records to the era of Herodotus, the father of
geographical knowledge.

The first maritime expedition of the Greeks, of which we have a particular
narration, and certainly one of the most celebrated in ancient times, is
the Argonautic expedition. As we purpose to go into some length on the
subject of this expedition, it may be proper to defend ourselves from the
charge of occupying too much space, and giving too much attention to an
enterprize generally deemed fabulous, and so obscured by fable and
uncertainty, as to be little capable of illustration, and little conducive
to the improvement of geographical knowledge. This defence we shall borrow
from a name deservedly high among those who have successfully illustrated
ancient geography, for the happy and successful mutual adaptation of great
learning and sound judgment, and not less worthy of respect and imitation
for his candour and liberality: we allude to Dr. Vincent, the illustrator
of the Voyage of Nearchus, and the Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.

"The reality of the Argonautic expedition, (he observes in the Preliminary
Disquisition to the latter work), has been questioned; but if the
primordial history of every nation but one is tinctured with the fabulous,
and if from among the rest a choice is necessary to be made, it must be
allowed that the traditions of Greece are less inconsistent than those of
the more distant regions of the earth. Oriental learning is now employed in
unravelling the mythology of India, and recommending it as containing the
seeds of primæval history; but hitherto we have seen nothing that should
induce us to relinquish the authority we have been used to respect, or to
make us prefer the fables of the Hindoos or Guebres, to the fables of the
Greeks. Whatever difficulties may occur in the return of the Argonauts,
their voyage to Colchis is consistent: it contains more real geography than
has yet been discovered in any record of the Bramins or the Zendevesta, and
is truth itself, both geographical and historical, when compared with the
portentous expedition of Rám to Ceylon."

In discussing the subject of the Argonautic expedition, we shall
successively consider its probable era--its supposed object--the voyage to
Colchis, and the various tracks by which the Argonauts are said to have

I. Archbishop Usher fixes the era of this expedition at about 1280 years
before Christ: Sir Isaac Newton, on the other hand, fixes it much later,
about 937 years before Christ. His opinion is grounded principally on a
supposition, that the Greek sphere was invented by two of the Argonauts,
who delineated the expedition under the name of Argo, one of the
constellations. And as the equinoctial colure passed through the middle of
Aries, when that sphere was constructed, he infers, by calculations of
their retrograde motion from their place then till the year A.D. 1690, that
the expedition took place in 937 before Christ. To this, however, there
seem to be insurmountable objections, which it is surprising did not occur
to this great man. The chief star in Argo is only 37 degrees from the south
pole; and the greatest part of the constellation is much nearer. The course
of the Argonauts from Greece to Colchis, necessarily lay between 39 and 45
degrees of north latitude. It will be evident to any person acquainted with
astronomy, that within these latitudes no star of the first magnitude, or
such as would attract observation, especially in those times, could be
visible. But, what is still more decisive against the whole of Sir Isaac
Newton's hypothesis, he takes for granted that the sphere was invented by
the Argonauts: if this indeed could be proved, it would be easy to fix the
era of the Argonautic expedition; but till such proof is given, all that
can be fairly inferred from an inspection of this sphere is, that it was
constructed 937 years before Christ. We have dwelt upon this point,
because, thinking that the Argonautic expedition was not nearly so late as
Newton supposes, we hence regard it as, proportionally to its antiquity,
more creditable to the Greeks, and a stronger proof of their advancement in
maritime skill and enterprize.

II. Its alleged object was the Golden Fleece: what that actually was can
only be conjectured;--that no commercial advantages would tempt the people
of that age is obvious, when we reflect on their habits and manners;--that
the precious metals would be a powerful attraction, and would be regarded
as cheaply acquired by the most hazardous enterprizes, is equally obvious.
If Sir Walter Raleigh, sound as he was for his era in the science of
political economy, was so far ignorant of the real wealth of nations, as to
be disappointed when he did not find El Dorado in America, though that
country contained much more certain and abundant sources of wealth,--can we
be surprized if the Greeks, at the time of the Argonautic expedition, could
be stimulated to such an enterprize, only by the hope of obtaining the
precious metals? It may, indeed, be contended that plunder was their
object; but it does not seem likely that they would have ventured to such a
distance from Greece, or on a navigation which they knew to be difficult
and dangerous, as well as long, for the sake of plunder, when there were
means and opportunities for it so much nearer home. We must equally reject
the opinion of Suidas, that the Golden Fleece was a parchment book, made of
sheep-skin, which contained the whole secret of transmuting all metals into
gold; and the opinion of Varro, that the Argonauts went to obtain skins and
other rich furs, which Colchis furnished in abundance. And the remarks
which we have made, also apply against the opinion of Eustathius, that the
voyage of the Argonauts was at once a commercial and maritime expedition,
to open the commerce of the Euxine Sea, and to establish forts on its

Having rendered it probable, from general considerations, that the object
was the obtaining of the precious metals, we shall next proceed to
strengthen this opinion, by showing that they were the produce of the
country near the Black Sea. The gold mines to the south of Trebizond, which
are still worked with sufficient profit, were a subject of national dispute
between Justinian and Chozroes; and, as Gibbon remarks, "it is not
unreasonable to believe that a vein of precious metal may be equally
diffused through the circle of the hills." On what account these mines were
shadowed out under the appellation of a Golden Fleece, it is not easy to
explain. Pliny, and some other writers, suppose that the rivers impregnated
with particles of gold were carefully strained through sheeps-skins, or
fleeces; but these are not the materials that would be used for such a
purpose: it is more probable that, if fleeces were used, they were set
across some of the narrow parts of the streams, in order to stop and
collect the particles of gold.

III. It is said that there was an ancient law in Greece, which forbad any
ship to be navigated with more than fifty men, and that Jason was the first
who offended against this law. There can be little doubt, from all the
accounts of the ancients, that Jason's ship was larger than the Greeks at
that period were accustomed to. Diodorus and Pliny represent it as the
first ship of war which went out of the ports of Greece; that it was
comparatively large, well built and equipped, and well navigated in all
respects, must be inferred from its having accomplished such a voyage at
that era.

In their course to the Euxine Sea, they visited Lemnos, Samothrace, Troas,
Cyzicum, Bithynia, and Thrace; these wanderings must have been the result
of their ignorance of the navigation of those seas. From Thrace they
directed their course, without further wanderings, to the Euxine Sea. At
the distance of four or five leagues from the entrance to the sea, are the
Cyanean rocks; the Argonauts passed between them not without difficulty and
danger; before this expedition, the passage was deemed impracticable, and
many fables were told regarding them: their true situation and form were
first explored by the Argonauts. They now safely entered the Euxine Sea,
where they seem to have been driven about for some time, till they
discovered Mount Caucasus; this served as a land mark for their entrance
into the Phasis, when they anchored near OEa, the capital of Colchis.

IV. The course of the Argonauts to Colchis is well ascertained; and the
accessions to the geographical knowledge of that age, which we derive from
the accounts given of that course, are considerable. But with respect to
the route they followed on their return, there is much contradiction and
fable. All authors agree that they did not return by the same route which
they pursued in their outward voyage. According to Hesiod, they passed from
the Euxine into the Eastern Ocean; but being prevented from returning by
the same route, in consequence of the fleet of Colchis blockading the
Bosphorus, they were obliged to sail round Ethiopia, and to cross Lybia by
land, drawing their vessels after them. In this manner they arrived at the
Gulph of Syrtis, in the Mediterranean. Other ancient writers conduct the
Argonauts back by the Nile, which they supposed to communicate with the
Eastern Ocean; while, by others, they are represented as having sailed up
the Danube to the Po or the Rhine.

Amidst such obscure and evidently fictitious accounts, it may appear
useless to offer any conjecture; but there is one route by which the
Argonauts are supposed to have returned, in favour of which some
probability may be urged. All writers agree in opinion that they did not
return by the route they followed on going to the Euxine; if this be true,
the least absurd and improbable mode of getting back into the Mediterranean
is to be preferred: of those routes already mentioned, all are eminently
absurd and impossible. Perhaps the one we are about to describe, may, in
the opinion of some, be deemed equally so; but to us it appears to have
some plausibility. The tradition to which we allude is, that the Argonauts
sailed up some sea or river from the Euxine, till they reached the Baltic
Sea, and that they returned by the Northern Ocean through the straits of
Hercules, into the Mediterranean. The existence of an ocean from the east
end of the Gulf of Finland to the Caspian or the Euxine Sea, was firmly
believed by Pliny, and the same opinion prevailed in the eleventh century;
for Adam of Bremen says, people [could sail->could formerly sail] from the
Baltic down to Greece. Now the whole of that tract of country is flat and
level, and from the sands near Koningsberg, through the calcareous loam of
Poland and the Ukraine, evidently alluvial and of comparatively recent

If the Trojan war happened, according to the Arundelian Marbles, 1209 years
before Christ, this event must have been subsequent to the Argonautic
expedition only about fifty years: yet, in this short space of time, the
Greeks had made great advances in the art of ship building, and in
navigation. The equipment of the Argonautic expedition was regarded, at the
period it took place, as something almost miraculous; yet the ships sent
against Troy seem to have excited little astonishment, though, considering
the state of Greece at that period, they were very numerous.

It is foreign to our purpose to regard this expedition in any other light
than as it is illustrative of the maritime skill and attainments of Greece
at this era, and so far connected with our present subject. The number of
ships employed, according to Homer, amounted to 1186: Thucydides states
them at 1200; and Euripides, Virgil, and some other authors, reduce their
number to 1000. The ships of the Boeotians were the largest; they carried
120 men each; those of the Philoctetæ were the smallest, each carrying
only fifty men. Agamemnon had 160 ships; the Athenians fifty; Menelaus,
king of Sparta, sixty; but some of his ships seem to have been furnished by
his allies; whereas all the Athenian vessels belonged to Athens alone. We
have already mentioned that Thucydides is contradicted by Homer, in his
assertion that the Greek ships, at the siege of Troy, had no decks;
perhaps, however, they were only half-decked, as it would appear, from the
descriptions of them, that the fore-part was open to the keel: they had a
mainsail, and were rowed by oars. Greece is so admirably situated for
maritime and commercial enterprize, that it must have been very early
sensible of its advantages in these respects. The inhabitants of the isle
of Egina are represented as the first people in Greece who were
distinguished for their intelligence and success in maritime traffic: soon
after the return of the Heraclidæ they possessed considerable commerce, and
for a long time they are said to have held the empire of the adjoining sea.
Their naval power and commerce were not utterly annihilated till the time
of Pericles.

The Corinthians, who are not mentioned by Homer as having engaged in the
Trojan war, seem, however, not long afterwards, to have embarked with great
spirit and success in maritime commerce; their situation was particularly
favourable for it, and equally well situated to be the transit of the land
trade of Greece. Corinth had two ports, one upon each sea. The Corinthians
are said to have first built vessels with three banks of oars, instead of

Although the Athenians brought a considerable force against Troy, yet they
did not engage in maritime commerce till long after the period of which we
are at present treating.

Of the knowledge which the Greeks possessed at this time, on the subject of
geography, we must draw our most accurate and fullest account from the
writings of Homer and Hesiod. The former represents the shield of Achilles
as depicting the countries of the globe; on it the earth was figured as a
disk surrounded by the ocean; the centre of Greece was represented as the
centre of the world; the disk included the Mediterranean Sea, much
contracted on the west, and the Egean and part of the Euxine Seas. The
Mediterranean was so much contracted on this side, that Ithaca, and the
neighbouring continent, or at the farthest, the straits which separate
Sicily from Italy, were its limits. Sicily itself was just known only as
the land of wonders and fables, though the fable of the Cyclops, who lived
in it, evidently must nave been derived from some obscure report of its
volcano. The fables Homer relates respecting countries to the west of
Sicily, cannot even be regarded as having any connection with, or
resemblance to the truth. Beyond the Euxine also, in the other direction,
all is fable. Colchis seems to have been known, though not so accurately as
the recent Argonautic expedition might have led us to suppose it would have
been. The west coast of Asia Minor, the scene of his great poem, is of
course completely within his knowledge; the Phoenicians and Egyptians are
particularly described, the former for their purple stuffs, gold and silver
works, maritime science and commercial skill, and cunning; the latter for
their river Egyptos, and their knowledge of medicine. To the west of Egypt
he places Lybia, where he says the lambs are born with horns, and the sheep
bring forth three times a year.

In the Odyssey he conducts Neptune into Ethiopia; and the account he gives
seems to warrant the belief, that by the Ethiopians he meant not merely the
Ethiopians of Africa, but the inhabitants of India: we know that the
ancients, even so late as the time of Strabo and Ptolemy, considered all
those nations as Ethiopians who lived upon the southern ocean from east to
west; or, as Ptolemy expresses it, that under the zodiac, from east to
west, inhabit the inhabitants black of colour. Homer represents these two
nations as respectively the last of men, one of them on the east and the
other on the west. From his description of the gardens of Alcinous, it may
even be inferred that he had received some information respecting the
climate of the tropical regions; for this description appears to us rather
borrowed from report, than entirely the produce of imagination.

    Close to the gates a spacious garden lies,
  From storms defended and inclement skies.
  Four acres was th' allotted space of ground,
  Fenc'd with a green enclosure all around,
  Tall thriving trees confess'd the fruitful mould;
  The red'ning apple ripens here to gold.
  Here the blue fig with luscious juice o'erflows,
  With deeper red the full pomegranate glows,
  The branch here bends beneath the weighty pear,
  And verdant olives flourish round the year.
  The balmy spirit of the western gale
  Eternal breathes on fruits untaught to fail:
  Each dropping pear a following pear supplies,
  On apples apples, figs on figs arise:
  The same mild season gives the blooms to blow,
  The buds to harden, and the fruits to grow;
    Here order'd vines in equal ranks appear,
  With all th' united labours of the year;
  Some to unload the fertile branches run,
  Some dry the black'ning clusters in the sun,
  Others to tread the liquid harvest join,
  The groaning presses foam with floods of wine.
  Here are the vines in early flow'r descry'd,
  Here grapes discolour'd on the sunny side,
  And there in autumn's richest purple dy'd.
    Beds of all various herbs, for ever green,
  In beauteous order terminate the scene.

  _Odyssey,_ b. vii. v. 142.

This description perfectly applies to the luxuriant and uninterrupted
vegetation of tropical climates.

From the time of Homer to that of Herodotus, the Greeks spread themselves
over several parts of the countries lying on the Mediterranean sea. About
600 years before Christ, a colony of Phocean Greeks from Ionia, founded
Massilia, the present Marseilles; and between the years 500 and 430, the
Greeks had established themselves in Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and even in
some of the southern provinces of Spain. They were invited or compelled to
these emigrations by the prospect of commercial advantages, or by intestine
wars; and they were enabled to accomplish their object by the geographical
and nautical charts, which they are said to have obtained from the
Phoenicians, and by means of the sphere constructed by Anaximander the
Milesian. The eastern parts of the Mediterranean, however, seem still to
have been unexplored. Homer tells us that none but pirates ventured at the
risk of their lives to steer directly from Crete to Lybia; and when the
Ionian deputies arrived at Egina, where the naval forces of Greece were
assembled, with an earnest request that the fleet might sail to Ionia, to
deliver their country from the dominion of Xerxes, who was at that time
attempting to subdue Greece, the request was refused, because the Greeks
were ignorant of the course from Delos to Ionia, and because they believed
it to be as far from Egina to Samos, as from Egina to the Pillars of

[1] Dr. Vincent, in the 2nd vol. of his Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, has
    a very elaborate commentary on this chapter of Ezekiel, in which he
    satisfactorily makes out the nature of most of the articles mentioned
    in it, as well as the locality of the places from which they are said
    to have come.

[2] One of the most celebrated gods of the Phoenicians was Melcartus. He is
    represented as a great navigator, and as the first that brought tin
    from the Cassiterides. His image was usually affixed to the stern of
    their vessels.

[3] In the time of Solomon, about two hundred years after the period when
    it is supposed the Phoenicians began to direct their course by the
    Lesser Bear,--it was 17 1/2 degrees from the North Pole: in the time
    of Ptolemy, about one hundred and fifty years after Christ, its
    distance had decreased to 12 degrees.



From the scanty materials respecting the Phoenicians, with which we are
supplied by ancient history, it is evident that they founded several
colonies, either for the purpose of commerce, or, induced by other motives,
in different parts of Africa. Of these colonies, the most celebrated was
that of Carthage: a state which maintained an arduous contest with Rome,
during the period when the martial ardour and enterprize of that city was
most strenuously supported by the stern purity of republican virtue, which
more than once drove it to the brink of ruin, and which ultimately fell,
rather through the vice of its own constitution and government, and the
jealousies and quarrels of its own citizens, and through the operation of
extraneous circumstances, over which it could have no controul, than from
the fair and unassisted power of its adversary.

The era of the foundation of Carthage is unknown. According to some
writers, it was built so early as 1233 years before Christ; but the more
general, as well as more probable opinion, assigns it a much later
foundation--about 818 years before the Christian era. If this opinion be
correct, Rome and Carthage were founded nearly about the same period. The
circumstances which led to and accompanied the foundation of Carthage,
though related with circumstantial fulness by the ancient poets, are by no
means accurately know to authentic history.

The situation of Carthage was peculiarly favourable to commerce and
maritime enterprize; in the centre of the Mediterranean; in reach of the
east as well as of the west; the most fertile, and most highly cultivated
and civilized part of Africa in her immediate vicinity. Carthage itself was
built at the bottom of a gulph, on a peninsula, which was about forty-five
miles in circumference; and its strength and security were further aided by
the isthmus which connected this peninsula to the main land, as it was
little more than three miles broad; by a projection of land on the west
side, which was only half a stadium in breadth; and by a lake or morass
which lay on the opposite side: this projection, which ran out considerably
into the sea, was naturally strong by the rocks with which it was covered,
and was rendered still stronger by art. In one point only had this
projection been neglected; this was an angle, which from the foundation of
the city had been overlooked, advancing into the sea towards the western
continent, as far as the harbours, which lay on the same side of the city.
There were two harbours, so placed and constructed as to communicate with
each other. They had one entrance, seventy feet in breadth, which was shut
up and secured by strong chains stretched across it. One of these harbours
was exclusively set apart for merchant ships; and in its vicinity were to
be found every thing necessary for the accommodation of the seamen. In the
middle of the other harbour was an island called Cothon; though, according
to some writers, this was the name of the harbour itself. The word Cothon,
we are informed by Festus, (and his etymology is confirmed by Bochart and
Buxtorf,) signifies, in the oriental languages, a port not formed by
nature, but the result of labour and art. The second harbour, as well as
the island in it, seems to have been intended principally, if not
exclusively, for ships of war; and it was so capacious, that of these it
would contain 220. This harbour and island were lined with docks and sheds,
which received the ships, when it was necessary to repair them, or protect
them from the effects of the weather. On the key were built extensive
ranges of wharfs, magazines, and storehouses, filled with all the requisite
materials to fit out the ships of war. This harbour seems to have been
decorated with some taste, and at some expence; so that both it and the
island, viewed at a distance, appeared like two extensive and magnificent
galleries. The admiral's palace, which commanded a view of the mouth of the
harbour and of the sea, was also a building of considerable taste. Each
harbour had its particular entrance into the city: a double wall separated
them so effectually, that the merchant vessels, when they entered their own
harbour, could not see the ships of war; and though the admiral, from his
palace, could perceive whatever was doing at sea, it was impossible that
from the sea any thing in the inward harbour could be perceived.

Nor were these advantages, though numerous and great, the only ones which
Carthage enjoyed as a maritime city; for its situation was so admirably
chosen, and that situation so skilfully rendered subservient to the grand
object of the government and citizens, that even in case the accidents of
war should destroy or dispossess them of one of their harbours, they had it
in their power, in a great measure, to replace the loss. This was
exemplified in a striking and effective manner at the time when Scipio
blocked up the old port; for the Carthaginians, in a very short time, built
a new one, the traces and remains of which were plainly visible so late as
the period when Dr. Shaw visited this part of Africa.

Carthage, at a comparatively early period of its history, possessed a very
large extent of sea coast, though in it there were but few harbours fitted
for commerce. The boundaries of the Carthaginian dominions on the west were
the Philænorum Aræ, so called from two brothers of this name, who were
buried in the sand at this place, in consequence of a dispute between the
Carthaginians and the Cyreneans, respecting the boundaries of their
respective countries. On the other, or western side, the Carthaginian
dominions extended as far as the Pillars of Hercules, a distance, according
to Polybius, of 16,000 stadia, or 2000 miles; but, according to the more
accurate observations of Dr. Shaw, only 1420 geographical miles.

Next to Carthage itself, the city of Utica was most celebrated as a place
of commerce: it lay a short distance to the west of Carthage, and on the
same bay. It had a large and convenient harbour; and after the destruction
of Carthage, it became the metropolis of Africa Propria. Neapolis was also
a place of considerable trade, especially with Sicily, from which the
distance was so short, that the voyage could be performed in two days and a
night. Hippo was a frontier town on the side of Numidia; though Strabo
says, there were two of the same name in Africa Propria. The Carthaginian
Hippo had a port, arsenal, storehouses, and citadel: it lay between a large
lake and the sea. We have already noticed the etymological meaning of the
word Cothon: that this meaning is accurate may be inferred from the word
being applied to several artificial harbours in the Carthaginian dominion,
besides that of Cartilage itself: it was applied to the port of Adrumetum,
a large city built on a promontory,--and to the port of Thapsus, a maritime
town, situated on a kind of isthmus, between the sea and a lake. The
artificial nature, of this latter harbour is placed beyond all doubt, as
there is still remaining a great part of it built on frames: the materials
are composed of mortar and small pebbles, so strongly and closely cemented,
that they have the appearance, as well as durability, of solid rock. It is
singular, that in the dominions of Carthage, extending, as we have seen,
upwards of 1400 miles along the shores of the Mediterranean, there should
be no river of any magnitude or importance for commerce: the Bagrada and
the Catada alone are noticed by ancient historians, and both of these were
insignificant streams.

Having thus pointed out the natural advantages for commerce possessed by
the Carthaginians, we shall next proceed to notice such of their laws, and
such parts of their political institutions, and features of their
character, as either indicated their bias for commerce, or tended to
strengthen it. The monarchical government of Carthage was not of long
continuance; it afterwards became republican, though the exact form of the
republic is not certainly known. As late as the time of Aristotle, there
seems to have been such a complete and practical counterpoise of the powers
in which the supreme authority was vested, that, according to him, there
had been no instance from the foundation of the city, of any popular
commotions sufficient to disturb its tranquillity; nor, on the other hand,
of any tyrant, who had been able to destroy its liberty. This sagacious
philosopher foresaw the circumstance which would destroy the constitution
of Carthage; for when there was a disagreement between the two branches of
the legislature, the suffetes and the senate, the question in dispute was
referred to the people, and their resolve became the law. Till the second
and third wars between Rome and Carthage, no fatal effects resulted from
this principle of the constitution; but during these, the people were
frequently called upon to exercise their dangerous authority and
privileges; the senate yielded to them; cabals and factions took place
among those who were anxious to please, for the purpose of guiding the
people; rash measures were adopted, the councils and the power of Carthage
became distracted and weak, and its ruin was precipitated and completed.

But though to this defect in the constitution of Carthage its ruin may
partly be ascribed, there can be little doubt that commerce flourished by
means of the popular form of its government. Commerce was the pursuit of
all ranks and classes, as well as the main concern and object of the
government The most eminent persons in the state for power, talents, birth,
and riches, applied themselves to it with as much ardour and perseverance
as the meanest citizens; and this similarity and equality of pursuit, as it
sprang in some measure from the republican equality of the constitution, so
also it tended to preserve it.

The notices which we possess respecting the political institutions of the
Carthaginians are very scanty, and are almost entirely derived from
Aristotle: according to him they had a custom, which must at once have
relieved the state from those whom it could not well support, and have
tended to enlarge the sphere of their commercial enterprize. They sent, as
occasion required, colonies to different parts, and these colonies, keeping
up their connection with the mother country, not only drew off her
superabundant trade, but also supplied her with many articles she could not
otherwise have procured at so easy and cheap a rate.

The fertility and high state of cultivation of those parts of Africa which
adjoined Carthage, has already been alluded to; and their exports consisted
either of the produce of those parts, or of their own manufactures. Of the
former there were all kinds of provisions; wax, oil, honey, skins, fruits,
&c.; their principal manufactures were cables, especially those fit for
large vessels, made of the shrub _spartum_; all other kinds of naval
stores; dressed leather; the particular dye or colour, called from them
punic, the preparation of which seems not to be known; toys, &c. &c. From
Egypt they imported flax, papyrus, &c.; from the Red Sea, spices, drugs,
perfumes, gold, pearls, &c.; from the countries on the Levant, silk stuffs,
scarlet and purple dyes, &c.; and from the west of Europe their principal
imports seem to have been iron, lead, tin, and the other useful metals.

Such was the commerce by sea, as far as the imperfect notices on this
subject, by the ancient historians, instruct us: but they also carried on a
considerable and lucrative commerce by land, especially with the Persians
and Ethiopians. The caravans of these nations generally resorted to
Carthage; the rarest and most esteemed articles which they brought were
carbuncles, which, by means of this traffic, became so plenty in this city,
that they were generally known by the appellation of Carthaginian gems. The
mode of selling by auction seems to have been practised by this nation; at
least there are passages in the ancient authors, particularly one in
Polybius, which would naturally lead to the conclusion, that in the sale of
their merchandize, the Carthaginians employed a person to name and describe
their various kinds and qualities, and also a clerk to note down the price
at which they were sold. Their mode of trafficking with rude nations,
unaccustomed to commerce, as described by Herodotus, strongly resembles
that which has been often adopted by our navigators, when they arrive on
the coast of a savage people. According to this historian, the
Carthaginians trafficked with the Lybians, who inhabited the western coast
of Africa, in the following manner: having conducted their vessels into
some harbour or creek, they landed the merchandize which they meant to
exchange or dispose of, and placed it in such a manner and situation, as
exposed it to the view of the inhabitants, and at the same time indicated
the purpose for which it was thus exposed. They afterwards lighted a fire
of such materials as caused a great smoke; this attracted the Lybians to
the spot, who laid down such a quantity of gold as they deemed an adequate
price for the merchandize, and then retired. The Carthaginians next
approached and examined the gold: if they deemed it sufficient, they took
it away, and left the merchandize; if they did not, they left both. In the
latter event, the Lybians again returned, and added to the quantity of
gold; and this, if necessary, was repeated, till the Carthaginians, by
taking it away, shewed that in their judgment it was an adequate price for
their goods. During the whole of this transaction, no intercourse or words
passed, nor did the Carthaginians even touch the gold, nor the Lybians the
merchandize, till the former took away the gold.

The earliest notice we possess of a commercial alliance formed by the
Carthaginians, fixes it a very few years before the birth of Herodotus: it
was concluded between them and the Romans about the year 503 before Christ.
The Carthaginians were the first nation the Romans were connected with out
of Italy. Polybius informs us, that in his time (about 140 years before
Christ) this treaty, written in the old language of Rome, then nearly
unintelligible, was extant on the base of a column, and he has given a
translation of it: the terms of peace between the Carthaginians and their
allies, and the Romans and their allies, were to the following purport. The
latter agreed not to sail beyond the fair promontory, (which lay, according
to our historian, a very short distance to the north of Carthage,) unless
they were driven beyond it by stress of weather, or by an enemy's vessel.
In case they were obliged to land, or were shipwrecked, they were not to
take or purchase any thing, except what they might need, to repair their
ships, or for the purpose of sacrifice. And in no case, or under no
pretext, were they to remain on shore above five days. The Roman merchants
were not to pay any higher, or other duty, than what was allowed by law to
the common crier and his clerk, already noticed, who, it appears from this
treaty, were bound to make a return to government of all the goods that
were bought or sold in Africa and Sardinia. It was moreover provided, that
if the Romans should visit any places in Sicily, subject to the
Carthaginians, they should be civilly treated, and have justice done them
in every respect. On the other hand, the Carthaginians bound themselves not
to interfere with any of the Italian allies, or subjects of the Romans; nor
build any fort in their territory. Such were the principal articles in this
commercial treaty; from it, it appears, that so early as the year 503
before Christ, the first year after the expulsion of the Tarquins, and
twenty-eight years before the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, the
Carthaginians were in possession of Sardinia, and part of Sicily;--that
they were also acquainted with, and had visited the coasts of Italy; and
there are expressions in the treaty, which render it highly probable that
the Carthaginians had, before this period, attempted to establish, either
for commerce or conquest, colonies and forts in Italy: it is also evident
that they were acquainted with the art of fortification.

Though it will carry us rather out of chronological order, it may be proper
to notice in this place a second treaty of commerce between the
Carthaginians and Romans, which was entered into about 333 years before
Christ, during the consulship of Valerius Corvus, and Popilius Laenas. The
Carthaginians came to Rome for the purpose of concluding this treaty: it
differed in some particulars from the former, and was to the following
effect. The Romans and their allies were to possess the friendship of the
people of Carthage, the Tyrians, and the inhabitants of Utica, provided
they carried on no hostilities against them, and did not trade beyond the
fair promontory, Mastica and Tarseium. In case the Carthaginians should
take any town in Italy, not under the jurisdiction of the Romans, they
might plunder it, but after that they were to give it up to the Romans. Any
captives taken in Italy, who in any Roman port should be challenged by the
Romans as belonging to any state in amity with Rome, were to be immediately
restored. The Romans, in case they put into the harbours of the
Carthaginians, or their allies, to take in water or other necessaries, were
not to be molested or injured; but they were not to carry on any commerce
in Africa or Sardinia; nor even land on those coasts, except to purchase
necessaries, and refit their ships: in such cases, only five days were
allowed them, at the expiration of which they were to depart. But, in the
towns of Sicily belonging to the Carthaginians, and even in the city of
Carthage itself, the Romans were permitted to trade, enjoying the same
rights and privileges as the Carthaginians; and, on the other hand, the
Carthaginians were to be allowed to traffic in Rome on terms equally

It is not our intention, because it would be totally foreign to the object
and nature of this work, to give a history of Carthage; but only to notice
such events and transactions, supplied by its history, as are illustrative
of the commercial enterprise of by far the most enterprising commercial
nation of antiquity. In conformity to this plan, we shall briefly notice
their first establishment in Spain, as it was from the mines of this
country that they drew great wealth, and thus were enabled, not only to
equip formidable fleets and armies, but also to extend their traffic very

The city of Cadiz, was founded by the Phoenicians, as well as Carthage; and
as there was a close connection between most of the Phoenician colonies, it
is probable that some time before the Carthaginians established themselves
in Spain, they traded with the people of Cadiz: at any rate it is certain,
that when the latter were hard pressed by the Spaniards, they applied to
the Carthaginians for assistance: this was readily given, and being
effectual, the Carthaginians embraced the opportunity, and the pretext thus
afforded for establishing themselves in the part of Spain adjoining Cadiz.
It is singular, however, that though the Carthaginians were in possession
of Majorca and Minorca from so remote an antiquity, "that their first
arrival there is prior to every thing related of them by any historian now
extant," yet they do not seem to have established themselves on the main
land of Spain till they assisted the people of Cadiz. With respect to the
other foreign possessions of the Carthaginians, we have already seen that,
at the period of their first treaty with the Romans, they occupied Sardinia
and part of Sicily; and there are several passages in the ancient
historians, particularly in Herodotus, which render it highly probable that
they had establishments in Corsica about the same time. Malta and its
dependent islands were first peopled by the Phoenicians, and seem
afterwards to have fallen into the possession of the Carthaginians.

Of the particular voyages undertaken by the Carthaginians, for the purpose
either of discovery or of commercial enterprise, we possess little
information; as, however, these topics are most particularly within the
scope of our work, it will be indispensable to detail all the information
relating to them which can be collected. The voyages of Hamilcar or
Himilco, as he is called by some historians, and of Hanno, are the most
celebrated, or, rather, to speak more accurately, the only voyages of the
Carthaginians of which we possess any details, either with regard to their
object or consequences. Himilco, who was on officer in the navy of
Carthage, was sent by the senate to explore the western coasts of Europe: a
journal of his voyage, and an account of his discoveries, were, according
to the custom of the nation, inscribed in the Carthaginian annals. But the
only information respecting them which we now possess, is derived from the
writings of the Latin poet Rufus Festus Avienus. This poet flourished under
Theodosius, A.D. 450, translated the Phænomena of Aratus, and Dionysius's
Description of the World, and also wrote an original poem, on the sea
coasts. In the last he mentions Himilco, and intimates that he saw the
original journal of his voyage in the Carthaginian annals. According to the
account of Festus, the voyage of Himilco lasted four months, or rather he
sailed for the space of four months, towards the north, and arrived at the
isles Ostrymnides and the coast of Albion. In the extracts given by Avienus
from the journal of Himilco, frequent mention is made of lead and tin, and
of ships cased with leather (or, more probably, entirely made of that
material, like the coracles still used by the Greenlanders, and even in
Wales, for crossing small rivers). In these parts, he adds, the East Rymni
lived, with whom the people of Tartessus and Carthage traded: we have given
this appellation to the inhabitants of the isles Ostrymnides, because in
the first part of the latter word, the Teutonic word, OEst, distinctly

Hanno was sent by the senate to explore the western coast of Africa, and to
establish Carthaginian colonies wherever he might deem it expedient or
advantageous. He sailed from Carthage with a fleet of 60 vessels, each
rowed with 50 oars, and had besides, a convoy containing 30,000 persons of
both sexes. He wrote a relation of his voyage, a fragment of a Greek
version of which is still remaining, and has lately been illustrated by the
learning and ingenuity of Dr. Falconer of Bath: his voyage is also cited by
Aristotle, Pomponius Mela, and Pliny. The era at which it was performed,
and the extent of the voyage, have given rise to much discussion. Isaac
Vossius fixes the date of it prior to the age of Homer: Vossius the father,
subsequent to it: Wesseling doubts whether it was even prior to Herodotus.
Campomanes fixes it about the 93d Olympiad: and Mr. Dodwell somewhere
between the 92d and the 129th Olympiad. According to Pliny, Hanno and
Himilco were contemporaries; the latter author mentions the commentaries of
Hanno, but in such a manner as if he had not seen, and did not believe

With respect to the extent of his voyage along the western coast of Africa,
some modern writers assert, without any authority, that he doubled the Cape
of Good Hope: this assertion is made in direct unqualified terms by Mickle
the translator of the Lusiad. Other writers limit the extent of his
navigation to Cape Nun; while, according to other geographers, he sailed as
far as Cape Three Points, on the coast of Guinea. That there should be any
doubt on the subject appears surprising; for, as Dr. Vincent very justly
remarks, we have Hanno's own authority to prove that he never was within 40
degrees of the Cape.

That the Carthaginians, before the voyage of Hanno, had discovered the
Canary Islands, is rendered highly probable, from the accounts of Diodorus
Siculus, and Aristotle: the former mentions a large, beautiful, and fertile
island, to which the Carthaginians, in the event of any overwhelming
disorder, had determined to remove their government; and Aristotle relates
that they were attracted to a beautiful island in such numbers, that the
senate were obliged to forbid any further emigration to it on pain of

The voyages of the Carthaginians were, from the situation of their
territory, and the imperfect state of geography and navigation at that
period, usually confined to the Mediterranean and to the western shores of
Africa and Europe; but several years antecedent to the date usually
assigned to the voyages of Himilco and Hanno, a voyage of discovery is said
to have been accomplished by the king of a nation little given to maritime
affairs. We allude to the voyage of Scylax, undertaken at the command of
Darius the son of Hystaspes, about 550 years before Christ. There are
several circumstances respecting this voyage which deserve attention or
examination; the person who performed it, is said by Herodotus, (from whom
we derive all our information on the subject), to have been a native of
Caryandria, or at least an inhabitant of Asia Minor: he was therefore most
probably a Greek: he was a geographer and mathematician of some eminence,
and by some writers is supposed to have first invented geographical tables.
According to Herodotus, Darius, after his Scythian expedition, in order to
facilitate his design of conquest in the direction of India, resolved, in
the first place, to make a discovery of that part of the world. For this
purpose he built and fitted out a fleet at Cespatyrus, a city on the Indus,
towards the upper part of the navigable course of that river. The ships, of
course, first sailed to the mouth of the Indus, and during their passage
the country on each side was explored. The directions given to Scylax were,
after he entered the ocean, to steer to the westward, and thus return to
Persia. Accordingly, he is said to have coasted from the mouth of the Indus
to the Straits of Babelmandel, where he entered the Red Sea; and on the
30th month from his first embarking he landed at Egypt, at the same place
from which Necho, king of that country, had despatched the Phoenicians to
circumnavigate Africa. From Egypt, Scylax returned to Susa, where he gave
Darius a full account of his expedition.

The reality of this voyage, or at least the accuracy of some of the
particulars it records, has been doubted. Scylax describes the course of
the Indus to the east; whereas it runs to the south-west. It is also worthy
of remark, that as Darius, before the voyage of Scylax, was master of the
Attock, Peukeli, and Multan, he needed no information respecting the route
to India, as every conqueror has followed this very obvious and easy route.
Dr. Vincent also objects to the authority of this voyage, or rather to the
track assigned to it: "I cannot believe," he observes, "from the state of
navigation in that age, that Scylax could perform a voyage round India,
from which the bravest of Alexander's navigators shrunk, or that men who
had explored the desert coast of Gadrosia, should be less daring than an
experienced native of Caryandria. They returned with amazement from the
sight of Mussenden and Ras-al-had, while Scylax succeeded without a
difficulty upon record. But the obstacles to such a voyage are numerous;
first, whether Pactzia be Peukeli, and Caspatyrus, Multan: secondly, if
Darius were master of Multan, whether he could send a ship or a fleet down
the sea, through tribes, where Alexander fought his way at every step:
thirdly, whether Scylax had any knowledge of the Indian Ocean, the coast,
or the monsoon: fourthly, if the coast of Gadrosia were friendly, which is
doubtful, whether he could proceed along the coast of Arabia, which must be
hostile from port to port: these and a variety of other difficulties which
Nearchus experienced, from famine, from want of water, from the
construction of his ships, and from the manners of the natives, must induce
an incredulity in regard to the Persian account, whatever respect we may
have to the fidelity of Herodotus."

Such are the objections urged by Dr. Vincent to the authority of this
voyage. In some of the particular objections there may be considerable
force; but with respect to the general ones, from the manners or hostility
of the natives inhabiting the coasts along which the voyage was performed,
they apply equally to the voyages of the Carthaginians along the western
coasts of Africa and Europe, and indeed to all the voyages of discovery, or
distant voyages of the ancients. It may be added, that according to Strabo,
Posidonius disbelieved the whole history of Scylax. In the Geographi
Minores of Hudson, a voyage ascribed to Scylax is published; but great
doubts are justly entertained on the subject of its authenticity. Dodwell
is decidedly against it. The Baron de Sainte Croix, in a dissertation read
before the Academy of Inscriptions, defends the work which bears the name
of Scylax as genuine. Dr. Vincent states one strong objection to its
authenticity: mention is made in it of Dardanus, Rhetium, and Illium, in
the Troad; whereas there is great doubt whether Rhetium was in existence in
the time of the real Scylax: besides, it is remarkable that nothing is said
respecting India in the treatise now extant. That the original and genuine
work described India is, however, undoubted, on the authority of Aristotle,
who mentions that there was such a person as Scylax, that he had been in
India, and that his account of that country was extant in his (Aristotle's)

In fact, the work which we possess under the name of Scylax, is evidently a
collection of the itineraries of ancient navigators: it may have been drawn
up by the Scylax whom Darius employed, though, if that were the case, it is
very extraordinary he should not have included the journal of his own
voyage; or his name, as that of a celebrated geographer may have been put
to it; or there may have been another geographer of that name. The
collection is evidently imperfect; what is extant contains the coasts of
the Palus Maeotis, the Euxine, the Archipelago, the Adriatic, and all the
Mediterranean, with the west coast of Africa, as far as the isle of Cerne,
which he asserts to be the limit of the Carthaginian navigation and
commerce in that direction. The sea, according to him, is not navigable
further to the south than this island, on account of the thick weeds with
which it was covered. The mention of this impediment is adduced by
D'Anville to prove the reality of the Carthaginian voyages to the south: it
is not, indeed, true, that the sea is impassable on account of these weeds
to modern navigators, but it is easy to conceive that the timidity and
inexperience of the ancients, as well as the imperfect construction of
their vessels, would prevent them from proceeding further south, when they
met with such a singular obstacle. If a ship has not _much way_ through the
water, these weeds will impede her course. It has been very justly
remarked, that if the latitude where these weeds commence was accurately
determined, it would fix exactly the extent of the voyages of the
Carthaginians in this direction. The weed alluded to is probably the fucus
natans, or gulf-weed.

Hitherto the knowledge that the ancients possessed of the habitable world,
had not been collected by any writer, and is to be gathered entirely from
short, vague, and evidently imperfect narrations, scattered throughout a
great number of authors. Herodotus has been celebrated as the father of
history; he may with equal justice be styled the father of geographical
knowledge: he flourished about 474 years before Christ. In dwelling upon
the advances to geographical knowledge which have been derived from him, it
will be proper and satisfactory, before we explain the extent and nature of
them, to give an account of the sources from which he derived his
information; those were his own travels, and the narrations or journals of
other travellers. A great portion of the vigour of his life seems to have
been spent in travelling; the oppressive tyranny of Lygdamis over
Halicarnassus, his native country, first induced or compelled him to
travel; whether he had not also imbibed a portion of the commercial
activity and enterprize which distinguished his countrymen, is not known,
but is highly probable. We are not informed whether his fortune were such
as to enable him, without entering into commercial speculations, to support
the expences of his travels; it is evident, however, from the extent of his
travels, as well as from the various, accurate, and, in many cases, most
important information, which he acquired, that these expences must have
been very considerable. From his work it is certain that he was endowed
with that faculty of eliciting the truth from fabulous, imperfect, or
contradictory evidence, at all times so necessary to a traveller, and
indispensably so at the period when he travelled, and in most of the
countries where his enquiries and his researches were carried on. His great
and characteristic merit consists in freeing his mind from the opinions
which must have previously occupied it;--in trusting entirely either to
what e himself saw, or to what he learned from the best authority;--always,
however, bringing the information acquired in this latter mode to the test
of his own observation and good sense. It is from the united action and
guidance of these two qualifications--individual observation and experience
gained by most patient and diligent research and enquiry on the spot, and a
high degree of perspicacity, strength of intellect, and good sense,
separating the truth from the fable of all he learnt from the observation
and experience of others, that Herodotus has justly acquired so high degree
of reputation, and that in almost every instance modern travellers find
themselves anticipated by him, even on points in which such a coincidence
was the least likely.

His travels embraced a variety of countries. The Greek colonies in the
Black Sea were visited by him: he measured the extent of that sea, from the
Bosphorus to the mouth of the river Phasis, at the eastern extremity. All
that track of country which lies between the Borysthenes and the Hypanis,
and the shores of the Palus Maeotis, he diligently explored. With respect
to the Caspian, his information affords a striking proof of his accuracy,
even when gained, as it was in this instance, from the accounts of others.
He describes it expressly as a sea by itself, unconnected with any other:
its length, he adds, is as much as a vessel with oars can navigate in
fifteen days: its greatest breadth as much as such a vessel can navigate in
eight days. It may be added, as a curious proof and illustration of the
decline of geographical knowledge, or, at least, of the want of confidence
placed in the authority of Herodotus by subsequent ancient geographers,
that Strabo, Pomponius Mela, and Pliny, represent the Caspian Sea as a bay,
communicating with the great Northern Ocean; and that even Arrian, who, in
respect to care and accuracy, bears no slight resemblance to Herodotus, and
for some time resided as governor of Cappadocia, asserts that there was a
communication between the Caspian Sea and the Eastern Ocean.

But to return from this digression to the geographical knowledge of
Herodotus, as derived from his own travels, he visited Babylon and Susa,
and while there, or perhaps in excursions from those places, made himself
well acquainted with the Persian empire. The whole of Egypt was most
diligently and thoroughly explored by him, as well as the Grecian colonies
planted at Cyrene, in Lybia. He traced the course of the river Ister, from
its mouth nearly as far as its source. The extent of his travels in Greece
is not accurately known; but his description of the Straits of Thermopylae
is evidently the result of his own observation. All these countries,
together with a portion of the south of Italy, were visited by him. The
information which his history conveys respecting other parts of the world
was derived from others: in most cases, it would seem, from personal
enquiries and conversation with them, so that he had an opportunity of
rendering the information thus acquired much more complete, as well as
satisfactory, than it would have been if it had been derived from their

Herodotus trusted principally or entirely to the information he received,
with respect to the interior of Africa and the north of Europe, and Asia to
the east of Persia. While he was in Egypt he seems to have been
particularly inquisitive and interested respecting the caravans which
travelled into the interior of Africa; and regarding their equipment,
route, destination, and object, he has collected a deal of curious and
instructive information. On the authority of Etearchus, king of the
Ammonians, he relates a journey into the interior of Africa, undertaken by
five inhabitants of the country near the Gulf of Libya; and, in this
journey, there is good reason to believe that the river Niger is accurately
described, at least as far as regards the direction of its course.

It is evident from the introduction to his third book that the Greek
merchants of his time were eminently distinguished for their courage,
industry, and abilities; that in pursuit of commercial advantages they
visited very remote and barbarous countries in the north-eastern parts of
Europe, and the adjacent parts of Asia; and that the Scythians permitted
the Greek merchants of the Euxine to penetrate farther to the east and
north "than we can trace their progress by the light of modern
information." To them Herodotus was much indebted for the geographical
knowledge which he displays of those parts of the world; and it is by no
means improbable that the spirit of commercial enterprize which invited the
Greek merchants on the Euxine to penetrate among the barbarous nations of
the north-east, also led them far to the east and south-east; and that from
them, as well as from his personal enquiries, while at Babylon and Susa,
Herodotus derived much of the information with which he has favoured us
respecting the country on the Indus, and the borders of Cashmere and
Arabia. Having thus pointed out the sources from which Herodotus derived
his geographical knowledge, we shall now sketch the limits of that
knowledge, as well as mention in what respects he yielded to the fabulous
and absurd notions of his contemporaries.

He fails most in endeavouring to give a general and combined idea of the
earth; even where his separate sketches are clear and accurate, when united
they lose both their accuracy and clearness. He seems to doubt whether he
should divide the world into three parts; and at last, having admitted such
a division, he makes the rivers Phasis and Araxes, and the Caspian Sea, the
boundaries between Europe and Asia; and to Europe he assigns an extent
greater than Asia and Libya taken together. His knowledge of the west of
Europe was very imperfect: in some part he fixes the Cassiterides, from
which the Phoenicians derived their tin. The Phoenician colony of Gadez was
known to him. His geography extended to the greater part of Poland and
European Russia. Such appear to have been its limits with respect to
Europe; and such the general notion he entertained of this quarter of the
world. As to Asia, he believed that a fleet sent by Darius had
circumnavigated it from the Indus to the confines of Egypt; but though his
general idea of it was thus erroneous, he possessed accurate information
respecting it from the confines of Europe to the Indus. Of the countries to
the east of that river, as well as of the whole of the north and southern
parts of it, he was completely ignorant. He particularly notices that the
Eastern Ethiopians, or Indians, differ from those of Africa by their long
hair, as opposed to the woolly head of the African. In his account of India
he interweaves much that is fabulous; but in the same manner as modern
discoveries in geography have confirmed many things in Herodotus which were
deemed errors in his geography, so it has been ascertained that even his
fables have, in most instances, a foundation in fact. With regard to
Africa, his knowledge of Egypt, and of the country to the north of it,
seems to have been very accurate, and more minute and satisfactory than his
knowledge of any other part of the world. It is highly probable that he was
acquainted with the course of the western branch of the Nile, as far as the
11th degree of latitude. He certainly knew the real course of the Niger. On
the east coast of Africa he was well acquainted with the shores of the
Arabian Gulph; but though he sometimes mentions Carthage, and describes the
traffic carried on, without the intervention of language, between the
Carthaginians and a nation beyond the Pillars of Hercules, which we nave
already mentioned in treating of the commerce of the Carthaginians, yet he
seems to have been unacquainted with any point between Carthage and the
Pillars of Hercules.

In the history of Herodotus, there is an account of a map constructed by
Aristagoras, tyrant of Miletus, when he proposed to Cleomenes, king of
Sparta, to attack Darius, king of Persia, at Susa; from this account, the
vague, imperfect, and erroneous ideas entertained in his time of the
relative situations and distances of places, as well as of the extremely
rude and feeble advances which had been made towards the construction of
maps, may be inferred. Major Rennell, in his Illustrations of Herodotus,
has endeavoured to ascertain from his history the parallel and meridian of
Halicarnassus, the birth-place of the historian. According to him, they
intersect at right angles over that town, cutting the 37th degree of north
latitude, and the 45-1/2 of east longitude, from the Fortunate Islands.

For a considerable period after the time of Herodotus, the ancients seem to
have been nearly stationary in their knowledge of the world. About 368
years before Christ, Eudoxus, of Cnidus, whose desire of studying astronomy
induced him to visit Egypt, Asia, and Italy, who first attempted to explain
the planetary motions, and who is said to have discovered the inclination
of the moon's orbit, and the retrograde motion of her nodes, is celebrated
as having first applied geographical observations to astronomy; but he does
not appear to have directed his researches or his conjectures towards the
figure or the circumference of the earth, or the distances or relative
situations of any places on its surface.

Nearly about the same period that Eudoxus died Aristotle flourished. This
great philosopher, collecting and combining into one system of geographical
knowledge the discoveries and observations of all who had preceded him,
stamped on them a dignity and value they had not before possessed, as well
as rendered them less liable to be forgotten or misapplied: he inferred the
sphericity of the earth from the observations of travellers, that the stars
seen in Greece were not visible in Cyprus or Egypt; and thus established
the fundamental principle of all geography. But though this science, in its
most important branch, derived much benefit from his powerful mind, yet it
was not advanced in its details. He supposed the coasts of Spain not very
distant from those of India; and he even embraced a modified notion of
Homer's Ocean River, which had been ridiculed and rejected by Herodotus;
for he describes the habitable earth as a great oval island, surrounded by
the ocean, terminated on the west by the river Tartessius, (supposed to be
the Guadelquiver,) on the east by the Indus, and on the north by Albion and
Ierne, of which islands his ideas were necessarily very vague and
imperfect. In some other respects, however, his knowledge was more
accurate: he coincides with Herodotus in his description of the Caspian
Sea, and expressly states that it ought to be called a great lake, not a
sea. A short period before Aristotle flourished, that branch of geography
which relates to the temperature of different climates, and other
circumstances affecting health, was investigated with considerable
diligence, ingenuity, and success, by the celebrated physician Hippocrates.
In the course of his journeys, with this object in view, he seems to have
followed the plan and the route of Herodotus, and sometimes to have even
penetrated farther than he did.

Pytheas, of Marseilles, lived a short time before Alexander the Great: he
is celebrated for his knowledge in astronomy, mathematics, philosophy, and
geography, and for the ardour and perseverance with which either a strong
desire for information, or the characteristic commercial spirit of his
townspeople, or both united, carried him forward in the path of maritime
discovery. The additions, however, which he made to geography as a science,
or to the sciences intimately connected with it, are more palpable and
undisputed, than the extent and discoveries of his voyages.

He was the first who established a distinction of climate by the length of
days and nights: and he is said to have discovered the dependence of the
tides upon the position of the moon, affirming that the flood-tide depended
on the increase of the moon, and the ebb on its decrease. By means of a
gnomon he observed, at the summer solstice at Marseilles, that the length
of the shadow was to the height of the gnomon as 120 to 41-1/5; or, in
other words, that the obliquity of the ecliptic was 23:50. He relates, that
in the country which he reached in his voyage to the north, the sun, at the
time of the summer solstice, touched the northern part of the horizon: he
pointed out three stars near the pole, with which the north star formed a
square; and within this square, he fixed the true place of the pole.
According to Strabo, he considered the island of Thule as the most western
part of the then known world, and reckoned his longitude from thence.

With respect to the extent and discoveries of his voyage to the north,
there is great difference of opinion. The veracity of Pytheas is utterly
denied by Strabo and Polybius, and is strongly suspected by Dr. Vincent: on
the other hand, it has found able supporters in D'Anville, Huet, Gessner,
Murray of Goettingen, Gosselin, and Malte Brun; and in our opinion, though
it may not be easy to ascertain what was really the country which be
reached in his voyage, and though some of the particulars he mentions may
be fabulous, or irreconcileable with one another, yet it seems carrying
scepticism too far to reject, on these accounts, his voyage as altogether a

The account is, that Pytheas departed from Marseilles, coasted Spain,
France, and the east or north-east side of Britain, as far as its northern
extremity. Taking his departure from this, he continued his voyage, as he
says, to the north, or perhaps to the north-east; and after six days'
navigation, he arrived at a land called Thule, which he states to be 46,300
stadia from the equator. So far there is nothing improbable or
inconsistent; but when he adds, that being there at the summer solstice, he
saw the sun touching the northern point of the horizon, and at the same
time asserts that the day and night were each of six months' continuance,
there is a palpable contradiction: and when he adds, that millet was
cultivated in the north of this country, and wheat in the south, and that
honey abounded, he mentions productions utterly incompatible with his
description of the climate and latitude.

As, however, this voyage forms an important epoch in the history of
discovery, it may be proper to endeavour to ascertain what country the
Thule of Pytheas really was. We have already observed, that the day's sail
of an ancient vessel was 500 stadia, or 50 miles; supposing the largest
stadia of 666-2/3 equal to one degree of the equator, if the vessel sailed
during the night as well as day, the course run was, on an average, 1000
stadia, or 100 miles. Now, as the voyage from the extremity of Britain to
Thule was of course not a coasting voyage, and as the nights in that
latitude, at the season of the year when the voyage was made, were very
short, (Pytheas says the night was reduced to two or three hours) we must
suppose that he sailed night as well as day; and consequently, that in six
days he had sailed 600 miles, either directly north or to east or west of
the north, for his exact course cannot well be made out.

What country lies 600 miles to the north or the north-east of the extremity
of Britain? None exactly in this direction: if, however, we suppose that
Pytheas could not fix exactly the point of the compass which he steered, (a
supposition by no means improbable, considering the ignorance of the
ancients,) and that his course tended to the west of the north, 600 miles
would bring him nearly to Greenland. There were, however, other stadia
besides those by which we computed the day's sail of the ancients; and
though the stadia we have taken are more generally alluded to by the
ancients, yet it may be proper to ascertain what results will be produced
if the other stadia are supposed to have been used in this instance. The
stadia we have already founded our calculations upon will bring us to the
latitude of 69° 27': the latitude of the southernmost point of Greenland is
very nearly 70°. But the description given by Pytheas of the productions of
the country by no means coincides with Greenland. At the same time, other
parts of his description agree with this country; particularly when he
says, that there the sea, the earth, and the air, seem to be confounded in
one element. In the south of Greenland the longest day is two months which
does not coincide with Pytheas' account; though this, as we have already
pointed out, is contradictory with itself.

Let us now consider what will be the result if we suppose that a different
stadia were employed: the next in point of extent to that on which we have
already founded our conjectures, (there being 700 equal to one degree of
the equator) will bring him to the latitude of 66° 8'; the latitude of the
northernmost part of Iceland is 66° 30', coinciding with this result as
nearly as possible. The description of the climate agrees with Pytheas'
description; but not his account of the length of the day, nor of the
productions of the country. Of the third kind of stadia, 833-1/3 were equal
to one degree of the equator; calculating that 1000 of these were sailed
during a day and night's voyage, Pytheas would arrive in the latitude of
55° 34', at the end of six days. This, however, is absolutely at variance
with the fact, that he took his departure from the northernmost point of
Britain, and would in fact bring him back from it to the entrance of the
Frith of Forth. It is supposed, however, that this is the real latitude;
but that the west coast of Jutland is the country at which he arrived. But
this obliges us to believe that his course from the northern extremity of
Britain, instead of being north or north-east, or indeed at all to the
north, was in fact south-west; a supposition which cannot be admitted,
unless we imagine that the ancients were totally ignorant of the course
which they steered. On the other hand, Pytheas' description of the
productions of Thule agrees with Jutland; the culture of millet in the
north, and of wheat in the south, and the abundance of honey: there is
also, about a degree to the north of the latitude of 55° 34', a part of the
coast still denominated Thyland; and in the ancient language of
Scandinavia, Thiuland. The account of Pytheas, that near Thule, the sea,
air, and earth, seemed to be confounded in one element, is supposed by
Malte Brun to allude to the sandy downs of Jutland, whose hills shift with
the wind; the marshes, covered with a crust of sand, concealing from the
traveller the gulf beneath, and the fogs of a peculiarly dense nature which
frequently occur. We must confess, however, that the course having been
north, or north-east, or north-west, for this latitude of course may be
allowed in consideration of the ignorance or want of accuracy of the
ancients, never can have brought Pytheas to a country lying to the
south-west of the extremity of Britain.

We are not assisted in finding out the truth, if, instead of founding our
calculations and conjectures on the distance sailed in the six days, we
take for their basis the distance which Pytheas states Thule to be from the
equator. This distance, we have already mentioned, was 46,300 stadia;
which, according as the different kinds of stadia are calculated upon, will
give respectively the latitude of the south of Greenland, of the north of
Iceland, or of the west coast of Jutland; or, in other words, the limit of
Pytheas' voyage will be determined to be in the same latitude, whether we
ascertain it by the average length of the day and night's sail of the
vessels of the ancients, or by the distance from the equator which he
assigns to Thule. It may be proper to state, that there is a district on
the coast of Norway, between the latitudes of 60° and 62°, called Thele, or
Thelemarle. Ptolemy supposes this to have been the Thule of Pytheas, Pliny
places it within three degrees of the pole, Eratosthenes under the polar
circle. The Thule discovered by Agricola, and described by Tacitus, is
evidently either the Orkney or the Shetland Islands.

It may appear presumptuous as well as useless, after this display of the
difficulties attending the question, to offer any new conjecture; and many
of our renders may deem it a point of very minor importance, and already
discussed at too great length. It is obvious, from the detail into which we
have entered, that no country exists in the latitude which must be assigned
to it, whether we fix that latitude by Pytheas' statement of the distance
of Thule from the equator, or by the space sailed over in six days, the
productions of which at all agree with those mentioned by Pytheas. On the
other hand, we cannot suppose that his course was south-west, and not at
all to the north, which must have been the case, if the country at which he
arrived in sailing from the northern extremity of Britain, was Jutland. The
object must, therefore, be to find out a country the productions of which
correspond with those mentioned by Pytheas; for, with regard to those, he
could not be mistaken: and a country certainly not the least to the south
of the northern part of Britain. As it is impossible that he could have
reached the pole, what he states respecting the day and night being each
six months long must be rejected; and his other account of the length of
the day, deduced from his own observation of the sun, at the time of the
summer solstice, touching the northern point of the horizon, must be
received. If we suppose that this was the limit of the sun's course in that
direction (which, from his statement, must be inferred), this will give us
a length of day of about twenty hours, corresponding to about sixty-two
degrees of north latitude. The next point to be ascertained is the latitude
of his departure from the coast of Britain. There seems no good reason to
believe, what all the hypothesis we have examined assume, that Pytheas
sailed along the whole of the east coast of Britain: on the other hand, it
seems more likely, that having passed over from the coast of France to the
coast of Britain, he traced the latter to its most eastern point, that is,
the coast of Norfolk near Yarmouth; from which place, the coast taking a
sudden and great bend to the west, it is probable that Pytheas, whose
object evidently was to sail as far north as he could, would leave the
coast and stretch out into the open sea. Sailing on a north course, or
rather with a little inclination to the east of the north, would bring him
to the entrance of the Baltic. We have already conceived it probable that
the country he describes lay in the latitude of about 62°, and six days'
sail from the coast of Norfolk would bring him nearly into this latitude,
supposing he entered the Baltic. The next point relates to the productions
of the country: millet, wheat, and honey, are much more the characteristic
productions of the countries lying on the Gulf of Finland, than they are of
Jutland; and Pytheas' account of the climate also agrees better with the
climate of this part of the Baltic, than with that of Jutland.

That Pythias visited the Baltic, though perhaps the Thule he mentions did
not lie in this sea, is evident from the following extract from his
journal, given by Pliny:--"On the shores of a certain bay called
Mentonomon, live a people called Guttoni: and at the distance of a day's
voyage from them, is the island Abalus (called by Timæus, Baltea). Upon
this the waves threw the amber, which is a coagulated matter cast up by the
sea: they use it for firing, instead of wood, and also sell it to the
neighbouring Teutones." The inhabitants on the coast of the Baltic, near
the Frish or Curish Sea (which is probably the bay Pytheas describes) are
called in the Lithuanian language, Guddai: and so late as the period of the
Crusades, the spot where amber is found was called Wittland, or Whiteland;
in Lithuanian, Baltika. From these circumstances, as well as from the name
_Baltea_ given by Timaeus to the island mentioned by Pytheas, as the place
where amber is cast up by the waves, there appears no doubt that Pytheas
was in the Baltic Sea, though his island of Thule might not be there. As
amber was in great repute, even so early as the time of Homer, who
describes it as being used to adorn the golden collars, it is highly
probable that Pytheas was induced to enter the Baltic for the purpose of
obtaining it: in what manner, or through whose means, the Greeks obtained
it in Homer's time, is not known.

After all, the question is involved in very great obscurity; and the
circumstance not the most probable, or reconcileable with a country even
not further north than Jutland is, that, in the age of Pytheas, the
inhabitants should have been so far advanced in knowledge and civilization,
as to have cultivated any species of grain.

Till the age of Herodotus the light of history is comparatively feeble and
broken; and where it does shine with more steadiness and brilliancy, its
rays are directed almost exclusively on the warlike operations of mankind.
Occasionally, indeed, we incidentally learn some new particulars respecting
the knowledge of the ancients in geography: but these particulars, as must
be obvious from the preceding part of this volume, are ascertained only
after considerable difficulty; and when ascertained, are for the most part
meagre, if not obscure. In the history of Herodotus, we, for the first
time, are able to trace the exact state and progress of geographical
knowledge; and from his time, our means of tracing it become more
accessible, as well as productive of more satisfactory results. Within one
hundred years after this historian flourished, geography derived great
advantages and improvement from a circumstance which, at first view, would
have been deemed adverse to the extension of any branch of science: we
allude to the conquests of Alexander the Great. This monarch seems to have
been actuated by a desire to be honoured as the patron of science, nearly
as strong as the desire to be known to posterity as the conquerer of the
world: the facilities he afforded to Aristotle in drawing up his natural
history, by sending him all the uncommon animals with which his travels and
his conquests supplied him, is a striking proof of this. With respect to
his endeavours to extend geographical knowledge,--this was so intimately
connected with his plans of conquest, that it may appear to be ascribing to
him a more honourable motive than influenced him, if we consider the
improvement that geography received through his means as wholly unconnected
with his character as a conquerer: that it was so, in some measure, however
is certain; for along with him he took several geographers, who were
directed and enabled to make observations both on the coasts and the
interior of the countries through which they passed; and from their
observations and discoveries, a new and improved geography of Asia was
framed. Besides, the books that till his time were shut up in the archives
of Babylon and Tyre were transferred to Alexandria; and thus the
astronomical and hydrographical observations of the Phoenicians and
Chaldeans, becoming accessible to the Greek philosophers, supplied them
with the means of founding their geographical knowledge on the sure basis
of mathematical science, of which it had hitherto been destitute.

The grand maxim of Alexander in his conquests was, to regard them as
permanent, and as annexing to his empire provinces which were to form as
essential parts of it as Macedonia itself. Influenced by this consideration
and design, he did not lay waste the countries he conquered, as had been
done in the invasions of Persia, by Cimon the Athenian and the
Lacedemonians: on the contrary, the people, and their religion, manners,
and laws were protected. The utmost order and regularity were observed; and
it is a striking fact, "that his measures were taken with such prudence,
that during eight years' absence at the extremity of the East, no revolt of
consequence occurred; and his settlement of Egypt was so judicious, as to
serve as a model to the Romans in the administration of that province at
the distance of three centuries."

The voyage of Nearchus from Nicea on the Hydaspes, till he arrived in the
vicinity of Susa (which we shall afterwards more particularly describe);
the projected voyage, the object of which was to attempt the
circumnavigation of Arabia; the survey of the western side of the Gulf of
Persia, by Archias, Androsthenes, and Hiero, of which unfortunately we do
not possess the details; the projected establishment of a direct commercial
intercourse between India and Alexandria; and the foundation of this city,
which gave a new turn and a strong impulse to commerce, as will be more
particularly shown afterwards;--are but a few of the benefits geography and
commerce received from Alexander, or would have received, had not his plans
been frustrated by his sudden and early death at the age of 33.

We have the direct testimony of Patrocles, that Alexander was not content
with vague and general information, nor relied on the testimony of others
where he could observe and judge for himself; and in all cases in which he
derived his information from others, he was particularly careful to select
those who knew the country best, and to make them commit their intelligence
to writing. By these means, united to the reports of those whom he employed
to survey his conquests, "all the native commodities which to this day form
the staple of the East Indian commerce, were fully known to the
Macedonians." The principal castes in India, the principles of the Bramins,
the devotion of widows to the flames, the description of the banyan-tree,
and a great variety of other particulars, sufficiently prove that the
Macedonians were actuated by a thirst after knowledge, as well as a spirit
of conquest; and illustrate as well as justify the observation made to
Alexander by the Bramin mandarin, "You are the only man whom I ever found
curious in the investigation of philosophy at the head of an army."

When Alexander invaded India, he found commerce flourishing greatly in many
parts of it, particularly in what are supposed to be the present Multan,
Attock, and the Panjob. He every where took advantage of this commerce, not
by plundering and thus destroying it for the purpose of filling his
coffers, but by nourishing and increasing it, and thus at once benefitting
himself and the inhabitants who wore engaged in it. By means of the
commerce in which the natives of the Panjob were engaged on the Indus,
Alexander procured the fleet with which he sailed down that river. This
fleet is supposed to have consisted of eight hundred vessels, only thirty
of which were ships of war, the remainder being such as were usually
employed in the commerce of the Indus. Even before he reached this river,
he had built vessels which he had sent down the Kophenes to Taxila. By the
completion of his campaign at the sources of the Indus, and by his march
and voyage down the course of that river, he had traced and defined the
eastern boundary of his conquests: the line of his march from the
Hellespont till the final defeat of Darius, and his pursuit of that
monarch, had put him in possession of tolerably accurate knowledge of the
northern and western boundaries; the southern provinces alone remained to
be explored: they had indeed submitted to his arms; but they were still,
for all the purposes of government and commerce, unknown.

"To obtain the information necessary for the objects they had in view, he
ordered Craterus, with the elephants and heavy baggage, to penetrate
through the centre of the empire, while he personally undertook the more
arduous task of penetrating the desert of Gadrosia, and providing for the
preservation of the fleet. A glance over the map will show that the route
of the army eastward, and the double route by which it returned, intersect
the whole empire by three lines, almost from the Tigris to the Indus:
Craterus joined the division under Alexander in the Karmania; and when
Nearchus, after the completion of his voyage, came up the Posityris to
Susa, the three routes through the different provinces, and the navigation
along the coast, might be said to complete the survey of the empire."

The two divisions of his army were accompanied on their return to Susa by
Beton and Diognetus, who seem to have united the character and duties of
soldiers and men of science; or, perhaps, were like the quarter-masters-
general of our armies. It appears from Strabo and Pliny, in whose time the
surveys drawn by Beton and Diognetus were extant, that they reduced the
provinces through which they passed, as well as the marches of the army, to
actual measurement; and thus, the distances being accurately set down, and
journals faithfully kept, the principles of geographical science, next in
importance and utility to astronomical observations, were established. The
journals of Beton and Diognetus, the voyage of Nearchus, and the works of
Ptolemy, afterwards king of Egypt, and Aristobulus, who accompanied
Alexander in his expedition and wrote his life, all prove that the
authority or the example of the sovereign influenced the pursuits of his
officers and attendants; and it is highly to the credit of their diligence
and accuracy, that every increase of geographical knowledge tends to
confirm what they relate respecting the general appearance and features of
the countries they traversed, as well as the position of cities, rivers,
and mountains.

Alexander appears to have projected or anticipated an intercourse between
India and the western provinces of his dominions in Egypt, not only by land
but by sea: for this latter purpose he founded two cities on the Hydaspes
and one on the Axesimes, both navigable rivers, which fall into the Indus.
And this also, most probably, was one reason for his careful survey of the
navigation of the Indus itself. When he returned to Susa, he surveyed the
course of the Tigris and Euphrates. The navigation near the mouths of those
rivers was obstructed by cataracts, occasioned by walls built across them
by the ancient monarchs of Persia, in order to prevent their subjects from
defiling themselves by sailing on the ocean[4]: these obstructions he gave
directions to be removed. Had he lived, therefore, the commodites of India
would have been conveyed from the Persian Gulf into the interior provinces
of his Asiatic dominions, and to Alexandria by the Arabian Gulf.

To conclude in the words of Dr. Vincent: "The Macedonians obtained a
knowledge both of the Indus and the Ganges: they heard that the seat of
empire was, where it always has been, on the Ganges or Indus: they acquired
intelligence of all the grand and leading features of Indian manners,
policy, and religion [and he might have added, accurate information
respecting the geography of the western parts of that country]: they
discovered all this by penetrating through countries, where, possibly, no
Greek had previously set his foot; and they explored the passage by sea
which first opened the commercial intercourse with India to the Greeks and
Romans, through the medium of Egypt and the Red Sea, and finally to the
Europeans, by the Cape of Good Hope." When we reflect on the character and
state of the Macedonians, prior to the reign of Alexander, and the
condition into which they sunk after his death, we shall, perhaps, not
hesitate to acknowledge that Alexander infused his own soul into them; and
that history, ancient or modern, does not exhibit any similiar instance of
such powerful individual influence on the character and fate of a nation.
Alexander himself has always been honoured by conquerors, and is known to
mankind only, as the first of conquerors; but if military renown and
achievements had not, unfortunately for mankind, been more prized than they
deserved, and, on this account, the records of them been carefully
preserved, while the records of peaceful transactions were neglected and
lost, we should probably have received the full details of all that
Alexander did for geographical science and commerce; and in that case his
character would have been as highly prized by the philosopher and the
friend of humanity, civilization, and knowledge, as it is by the powerful
and ambitious.

Fortunately the details of one of the geographical and commercial
expeditions undertaken by order of Alexander are still extant; we allude to
the voyage of Nearchus. Of this voyage we are now to speak; and as it is
curious and important, not merely on account of the geographical knowledge
it conveys, but also from the insight it gives us into the commercial
transactions of the countries which he visited, we shall give rather a full
abstract of it, availing ourselves of the light which has been thrown upon
it by the learned and judicious researches of Dr. Vincent.

It was on the banks of the Hyphasis, the modern Beyah, that Alexander's
army mutinied, and refused to proceed any farther eastward. In consequence
of this insurmountable obstacle to his plans, he resolved to return to the
Hydaspes, and carry into execution his design of sailing down it into the
Indus, and thence by the ocean to the Persian Gulf. He had previously given
orders to his officers, when he had left the Hydaspes to collect, build,
and equip a sufficient number of vessels for this enterprise; and they had
been so diligent and successful, that on his return he found a numerous
fleet assembled. Nearchus was appointed to command the fleet: but Alexander
himself resolved to accompany it to the mouth of the river.

On the 23d of October, 327 years before Christ, the fleet sailed from
Nicoea, on the Hydaspes, a city built by Alexander on the scite of the
battle in which he defeated Porus. The importance which he attached to this
expedition, as well as his anxiety respecting its skilful conduct and final
issue, are strongly painted by Arrian, to whom we are indebted for the
journal of Nearchus. Alexander at first did not know whom to trust with the
management of the expedition, or who would undertake it. when the length of
the voyage, the difficulties and dangers of a barren and unknown coast, the
want of harbours, and the obstacles in the way of obtaining provisions,
were considered. In this state of anxiety, doubt, and expectation,
Alexander ordered Nearchus to attend him, and consulted him on the choice
of a commander. "One," said he, "excuses himself, because he thinks the
danger insuperable; others are unfit for the service from timidity; others
think of nothing but how to get home; and many I cannot approve for a
variety of other reasons." "Upon hearing this," says Nearchus, "I offered
myself for the command: and promised the king, that under the protection of
God, I would conduct the fleet safe into the Gulf of Persia, if the sea
were navigable, and the undertaking within the power of man to perform."
The only objection that Alexander made arose from his regard for Nearchus,
whom he was unwilling to expose to the dangers of such a voyage; but
Nearchus persisting, and the king being convinced that the enterprise, if
practicable, would be achieved by the skill, courage, and perseverance of
Nearchus, at length yielded. The character of the commander, and the regard
his sovereign entertained for him, removed in a great degree the
apprehension that the proposed expedition was desperate: a selection of the
best officers and most effective men was now soon made; and the fleet was
not only supplied with every thing that was necessary, but equipped in a
most splendid manner. Onesicritus was appointed pilot and master of
Alexander's own ship; and Evagoras was secretary of the fleet. The
officers, including these and Nearchus, amounted to 33; but nearly the
whole of them, as well as the ships which they commanded, proceeded no
farther than the mouth of the Indus. The seamen were natives of Greece, or
the Grecian Islands, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Cyprians, Ionians, &c. The
fleet consisted of 800 ships of war and transports, and about 1200 gallies.
On board of these, one-third of the army, which consisted of 120,000 men,
embarked; the remainder, marching in two divisions, one on the left, the
other on the right of the river.

"The voyage down the river is described rather as a triumphal procession,
than a military progress. The size of the vessels, the conveyance of horses
aboard, the number, and splendour of the equipment, attracted the natives
to be spectators of the pomp. The sound of instruments, the clang of arms,
the commands of the officers, the measured song of the modulators, the
responses of the mariners, the dashing of the oars, and these sounds
frequently reverberated from overhanging shores, are all scenery presented
to our imagination by the historians, and evidently bespeak the language of
those who shared with pride in this scene of triumph and magnificence."

No danger occurred to alarm them or impede their passage, till they arrived
at the junction of the Hydaspes with the Akesines. At this place, the
channel of the river became contracted, though the bulk of water was of
course greatly increased; and from this circumstance, and the rapidity with
which the two rivers unite, there is a considerable current, as well as
strong eddies; and the noise of the rushing and confined waters, is heard
at some distance. This noise astonished or alarmed the seamen so much, that
the rowers ceased to row, and the modulators to direct and encourage them
by their chant, till the commanders inspired them with confidence; and they
plied the oars with their utmost strength in order to stem the current, and
keep the vessels as steady and free from danger as possible. The eddy,
however, caught the gallies, which from their length were more exposed to
it than the ships of war: two of them sank, many more were damaged, while
Alexander's own ship was fortunate enough to find shelter near a projecting
point of land. At the junction of the Akesines with the Indus, Alexander
founded a city; of which, however, no traces at present remain.

On the arrival of Alexander at Pattala, near the head of the Delta of the
Indus, he seems to have projected the formation of a commercial city; and
for this purpose, ordered the adjoining country to be surveyed: his next
object was to sail down the western branch of the river. With this view he
left Pattala with all his gallies, some of his half-decked vessels, and his
quickest sailing transports, ordering at the same time a small part of his
army to attend his fleet. Considerable difficulties arose, and some loss
was sustained from his not being able to procure a native pilot, and from
the swell in the river, occasioned by a violent wind blowing contrary to
the stream. He was at length compelled to seize some of the natives, and
make them act as pilots. When they arrived near the confluence of the Indus
with the sea, another storm arose; and as this also blew up the river,
while they were sailing down with the current and the tide, there was
considerable agitation in the water. The Macedonians were alarmed, and by
the advice of their pilots ran into one of the creeks of the river for
shelter: at low tide, the vessels being left aground, the sharp-built
gallies were much injured.

The astonishment of the Macedonians was greatly excited when they saw the
waters of the river and of the sea ebb and flow. It is well known, that in
the Mediterranean the tides are scarcely perceptible. The flux and reflux
of the Euripus, a narrow strait which separates the island of Euboea from
the coast of Beotia, could give them no idea of the regularity of the
tides; for this flux and reflux continued for eighteen or nineteen days,
and was uncommonly unsettled the rest of the month. Besides, the tides at
the mouth of the Indus, and on the adjacent coast, are very high, and flow
in with very great force and rapidity; and are known in India, in the Bay
of Fundy, and in most other places where this phenomenon occurs, by the
name of the Bore; and at the mouth of the Severn, by the name of Hygre, or
Eagre. Herodotus indeed, mentions, that in the Red Sea there was a regular
ebb and flow of the sea every day; but as Dr. Robertson very justly
observes, "among the ancients there occur instances of inattention to
facts, related by respectable authors, which appear surprising in modern
times." Even so late as the time of Caesar, a spring tide in Britain, which
occasioned great damage to his fleet, created great surprize, and is
mentioned as a phenomenon with which he and his soldiers were unacquainted.

Soon after Alexander had repaired the damage that his fleet had sustained,
he surveyed two islands lying at the west mouth of the Indus; and
afterwards leaving the river entirely, entered the ocean, either for the
purpose of ascertaining himself whether it were actually navigable, or, as
Arrian conjectures, in order to gratify his vanity by having it recorded,
that he had navigated the Indian Ocean.

Having accomplished this object, he returned to Pattala, where he had
directed a naval arsenal to be formed, intending to station a fleet at this
place. The eastern branch of the Indus was yet unexplored. In order, that
an accurate knowledge of it might be gained, Alexander resolved to explore
it himself: accordingly, he sailed from Pattala till he arrived at a large
bay or lake, which probably, however, was only a number of the smaller
branches of the Indus, overflowing their banks. The passage from this place
to the ocean, he ascertained to be more open and convenient than that by
the western branch. He does not seem, however, to have advanced into the
ocean by it; but having landed, and proceeded along the coast, in the
direction of Guzerat and Malabar, three days' march, making observations on
the country, and directing wells to be sunk, he re-embarked, and returned
to the head of the bay. Here he again manifested his design of establishing
a permanent station, by ordering a fort to be built, a naval yard and docks
to be formed, and leaving a garrison and provisions for four months.

Before the final departure of Alexander with his convoy from Pattala, he
directed Nearchus to assume the entire command of the fleet, and to sail as
soon as the season would permit. Twelve months, within a few days, elapsed
between the departure of the fleet from Nicaea, and the sailing of Nearchus
from the Indus; the former having taken place, as we have already observed,
on the 23d of October, in the year 327 before Christ, and the latter on the
2d of October, in the year 326 B.C. Only about nine months, however, had
elapsed in the actual navigation of the Indus and its tributary streams;
and even this period, which to us appears very long, was considerably
extended by the operations of the army of Alexander, as well as by the slow
sailing of such a large fleet as he conducted.

In consequence, it is supposed, of the prevalence of the north-east
monsoon, Nearchus, after having reached the ocean (which, however, he could
not effect till he had cut a passage for his fleet through a sand bank or
bar at the mouth of the Indus), was obliged to lie in a harbour which he
called Port Alexander, and near which he erected a fort on the 3d of
November; about which time we know that the monsoon changes. Nearchus again
set sail. About the 8th of this month he reached the river Arabis, having
coasted along among rocks and islands, the passage between which was narrow
and difficult. The distance between this river and the Indus is nearly
eighty miles, and the fleet had occupied almost forty days in completing
the navigation of this space. During the greater part of this time, they
were very scantily supplied with provisions, and seem, indeed, to have
depended principally on the shell-fish found on the coast. Soon after
leaving the mouth of the Arabis, they were obliged, by the nature of the
shore and the violence of the wind, to remain on board their ships for two
nights; a very unusual as well as inconvenient and uncomfortable
circumstance for the ancients. We have already described their ships as
either having no deck, or only a kind of half-deck, below which the cables
were coiled. Under this deck there might be accommodation for part of the
crew; but in cases where all were obliged to remain on board at night, the
confinement must have been extremely irksome, as well as prejudicial to
their health. At the end of these two days, they were enabled to land and
refresh themselves; and here they were joined by Leonatus, one of
Alexander's generals, who had been despatched with some troops to watch and
protect their movements, as far on their course as was practicable. He
brought a supply of provisions, which had become very necessary. On leaving
this place, their progress became much more rapid than it had been before,
owing probably to the wind having become more regularly and permanently

As it is our intention, in giving this short abstract of the voyage of
Nearchus, to select only such particulars as illustrate the mode of
navigation practised among the ancients--the progress of discovery, or the
state of commerce,--we shall pass over every topic or fact not connected
with these. We cannot, however, refrain from giving an account of the
transactions of the fleet at the river Tomerus, when it arrived on the 21st
of November, fifty days after it left the Indus; as on reading it, our
readers will be immediately struck with the truth of Dr. Vincent's
observation, that it bears a very strong resemblance to the landing of a
party from the Endeavour, in New Zealand, under protection of the ship's
guns. We make use of Dr. Vincent's translation, or rather abstract:--

"At the Tomerus the inhabitants were found living on the low ground near
the sea, in cabins which seemed calculated rather to suffocate their
inhabitants than to protect them from the weather; and yet these wretched
people were not without courage. Upon sight of the fleet approaching, they
collected in arms on the shore, and drew up in order to attack the
strangers on their landing. Their arms were spears, not headed with iron,
but hardened in the fire, nine feet long; and their number about 600.
Nearchus ordered his vessels to lay their heads towards the shore, within
the distance of bow-shot; for the enemy had no missile weapons but their
spears. He likewise brought his engines to bear upon them, (for such it
appears he had on board,) and then directed his light-armed troops, with
those who were the most active and the best swimmers, to be ready for
commencing the attack. On a signal given, they were to plunge into the sea:
the first man who touched ground was to be the point at which the line was
to be formed, and was not to advance till joined by the others, and the
file could be ranged three deep. These orders were exactly obeyed; the men
threw themselves out of the ships, swam forward, and formed themselves in
the water, under cover of the engines. As soon as they were in order, they
advanced upon the enemy with a shout, which was repeated from the ships.
Little opposition was experienced; for the natives, struck with the novelty
of the attack, and the glittering of the armour, fled without resistance.
Some escaped to the mountains, a few were killed, and a considerable number
made prisoners. They were a savage race, shaggy on the body as well as the
head, and with nails so long and of such strength, that they served them as
instruments to divide their food, (which consisted, indeed, almost wholly
of fish,) and to separate even wood of the softer kind. Whether this
circumstance originated from design, or want of implements to pare their
nails, did not appear; but if there was occasion, to divide harder
substances, they substituted stones sharpened, instead of iron, for iron
they had none. Their dress consisted of the skins of beasts, and some of
the larger kinds of fish."

Along the coast of the Icthyophagi, extending from Malan to Cape Jaser, a
distance, by the course of the fleet, of nearly 625 miles, Nearchus was so
much favoured by the winds and by the straightness of the coast, that his
progress was sometimes nearly 60 miles a day. In every other respect,
however, this portion of the voyage was very unfortunate and calamitous.
Alexander, aware that on this coast, which furnished nothing but fish, his
fleet would be in distress for provisions, and that this distress would be
greatly augmented by the scarcity of water which also prevailed here, had
endeavoured to advance into this desolate tract, to survey the harbours,
sink wells, and collect provisions. But the nature of the country rendered
this impracticable; and his army became so straightened for corn
themselves, that a supply of it, which he intended for the fleet, and on
which he had affixed his own seal, was seized by the men whom he had
ordered to protect and escort it to the coast. At last he was obliged to
give up all attempts of relieving Nearchus; and after struggling 60 days
with want of water,--during which period, if he himself had not, at the
head of a few horse, pushed on to the coast, and there obtained a supply,
by opening the sands, his whole army must have perished,--he with great
difficulty reached the capital of this desert country. Nearchus, thus left
to himself, was indebted to the natives for the means of discovering water,
by opening the sands, as the king had done; but to the Greeks, who regarded
the want of bread as famine, even when its place was supplied by meat, the
fish the natives offered them was no relief.

We have already remarked, that the real character of Alexander will be much
elevated in the opinion of men of humanity and philosophers, if the
particulars we possess of his endeavours to improve the condition of those
he conquered, and to advance the interests of science, scanty and imperfect
as they are, were more attentively considered, and had not been neglected
and overlooked in the glare of his military achievements. His march through
the deserts of Gadrosia has been ascribed solely to vanity; but this
imputation will be removed, and must give way to a more worthy impression
of his motives on this occasion, when it is stated, that it was part of the
great design which he had formed of opening a communication between his
European dominions and India by sea; and that as the accomplishment of this
design mainly depended on the success of the expedition committed to
Nearchus, it was a paramount object with him to assist the fleet, which he
thrice attempted, even in the midst of his own distress in the deserts.

On their arrival at the river Kalama, which is supposed to be the Churmut,
60 days after their departure from the Indus, they at length obtained from
the natives some sheep; but the flesh of it, as well as the fowls which
they obtained, had a very fishy taste--the sheep, fowls, and inhabitants,
all feeding on fish, there being no herbage or trees of any kind, except a
few palm-trees. On the next day, having doubled a cape, they anchored in a
harbour called Mosarna, where they found a pilot, who undertook to conduct
the fleet to the Gulf of Persia. It would appear from Arrian, that the
intercourse between this place and the Gulf was frequent, the voyage less
dangerous, and the harbours on the coast better known. Owing to these
favourable circumstances, the skill of the pilot, and the breeze which blew
from the land during the night, their course was more rapid; and they
sailed by night as well as day. The coast, however, still continued barren,
and the inhabitants unable to supply them with any thing but fish till they
arrived at Barna on the 64th day: here the inhabitants were more civilized;
they had gardens producing fruit-trees, flowers, myrtle, &c., with which
the Greek sailors formed garlands to adorn their hair.

On the 69th day, December 9., they arrived at a small town, the name of
which is not given; nor is it possible to fix its scite. What occurred here
we shall give in the words of Dr. Vincent:--

"When the fleet reached this place, it was totally without bread or grain
of any kind; and Nearchus, from the appearance of stubble in the
neighbourhood, conceived hopes of a supply, if he could find means of
obtaining it; but he perceived that he could not take the place by assault,
and a siege the situation he was in rendered impracticable. He concerted
matters, therefore, with Archias, and ordered him to make a feint of
preparing the fleet to sail; while he himself, with a single vessel,
pretending to be left behind, approached the town in a friendly manner, and
was received hospitably by the inhabitants. They came out to receive him
upon his landing, and presented him with baked fish, (the first instance of
cookery he had yet seen on the coast,) accompanied with cakes and dates.
These he accepted with proper acknowledgments, and informed them he wished
for permission to see the town: this request was granted without suspicion;
but no sooner had he entered, than he ordered two of his archers to take
post at the gate, and then mounting the wall contiguous, with two more and
his interpreter, he made the signal for Archias, who was now under weigh to
advance. The natives instantly ran to their arms; but Nearchus having taken
an advantageous position, made a momentary defence till Archias was close
at the gate, ordering his interpreter to proclaim at the same time, that if
they wished their city to be preserved from pillage, they must deliver up
their corn, and all the provisions which the place afforded. These terms
were not rejected, for the gate was open, and Archias ready to enter: he
took charge of this post immediately with the force which attended him; and
Nearchus sent proper officers to examine such stores as were in the place,
promising the inhabitants that, if they acted ingenuously, they should
suffer no other injury. Their stores were immediately produced, consisting
of a kind of meal, or paste made of fish, in great plenty, with a small
quantity of wheat and barley. This, however insufficient for his wants,
Nearchus received: and abstaining from farther oppression, returned on
board with his supply."

The provisions he obtained here, notwithstanding the consumption of them
was protracted by occasionally landing and cutting off the tender shoots of
the head of the wild palm-tree, were so completely exhausted in the course
of a few days, that Nearchus was obliged to prevent his men from landing,
under the apprehension, that though the coast was barren, their distress on
board would have induced them not to return. At length, on the 14th of
December, on the seventy-fourth day of their departure, they reached a more
fertile and hospitable shore, and were enabled to procure a very small
supply of provisions, consisting principally of corn, dried dates, and the
flesh of seven camels. Nearchus mentions the latter evidently to point out
the extreme distress to which they were reduced. As it is evident that this
supply would be soon exhausted, we are not surprised that Nearchus, in
order to reach a better cultivated district, should urge on his course as
rapidly as possible; and accordingly we find, that he sailed at a greater
rate in this part of his voyage than he ever had done before. Having sailed
day and night without intermission, in which time he passed a distance of
nearly sixty-nine miles, he at length doubled the cape, which formed the
boundary of the barren coast of the Icthyophagi, and arrived in the
district of Karmania. At Badis, the first town in this district, which they
reached on the 17th of December, after a voyage of 77 days, they were
supplied with corn, wine, and every kind of fruit, except olives, the
inhabitants being not only able but willing to relieve their wants.

The length of the coast of the Icthyophagi is about 462 miles; and, as
Nearchus was twenty-one days on this coast, the average rate of sailing
must have been twenty-one miles a day. The whole distance, from the Indus
to the cape which formed the boundary of Karmania, is about 625 miles: this
distance Nearchus was above seventy days in sailing. It must be
recollected, however, that when he first set out the monsoon was adverse,
and that for twenty-four days he lay in harbour: making the proper
deductions for these circumstances, he was not at sea more than forty days
with a favourable wind; which gives rather more than fifteen miles a day.
The Houghton East Indiaman made the same run in thirteen days; and, on her
return, was only five days from Gomeroon to Scindy Bay.

The manners of the wretched inhabitants have occasionally been already
noticed; but Nearchus dwells upon some further particulars, which, from
their conformity with modern information, are worthy of remark. Their
ordinary support is fish, as the name of Icthyophagi, or fish-eaters,
implies; but why they are for this reason specified as a separate tribe
from the Gadrosians, who live inland, does not appear. Ptolomy considers
all this coast as Karmania, quite to Mosarna; and whether Gadrosia is a
part of that province, or a province itself, is a matter of no importance;
but the coast must have received the name Nearchus gives it from Nearchus
himself; for it is Greek, and he is the first Greek who explored it. It
may, perhaps, be a translation of a native name, and such translations the
Greeks indulged in sometimes to the prejudice of geography. "But these
people, though they live on fish, are few of them fishermen, for their
barks are few, and those few very mean and unfit for the service. The fish
they obtain they owe to the flux and reflux of the tide, for they extend a
net upon the shore, supported by stakes of more than 200 yards in length,
within which, at the tide of ebb, the fish are confined, and settle in the
pits or in equalities of the sand, either made for this purpose or
accidental. The greater quantity consists of small fish; but many large
ones are also caught, which they search for in the pits, and extract with
nets. Their nets are composed of the bark or fibres of the palm, which they
twine into a cord, and form like the nets of other countries. The fish is
generally eaten raw, just as it is taken out of the water, at least such as
are small and penetrable; but the larger sort, and those of more solid
texture, they expose to the sun, and pound them to a paste for store: this
they use instead of meal or bread, or form them into a sort of cakes or
frumenty. The very cattle live on dried fish, for there is neither grass
nor pasture on the coast. Oysters, crabs, and shell-fish, are caught in
plenty; and though this circumstance is specified twice only in the early
part of the voyage, there is little doubt but these formed the principal
support of the people during their navigation. Salt is here the production
of nature, by which we are to understand, that the power of the sun in this
latitude, is sufficient for exhalation and crystallization, without the
additional aid of fire; and from this salt they formed an extract which
they used as the Greeks use oil. The country, for the most part, is so
desolate, that the natives have no addition to their fish but dates: in
some few places a small quantity of grain is sown; and there bread is their
viand of luxury, and fish stands in the rank of bread. The generality of
the people live in cabins, small and stifling: the better sort only have
houses constructed with the bones of whales, for whales are frequently
thrown upon the coast; and, when the flesh is rotted off, they take the
bones, making planks and doors of such as are flat, and beams or rafters of
the ribs or jaw-bones; and many of these monsters are found fifty yards in
length." Strabo confirms the report of Arrian, and adds, that "the
vertebræ, or socket bones, of the back, are formed into mortars, in which
they pound their fish, and mix it up into a paste, with the addition of a
little meal."--(Vincent's Nearchus, p. 265.)

Dr. Vincent, in this passage, does not seem to be aware that no whale was
ever found nearly so long as fifty yards, and that half that length is the
more common size of the largest whales, even in seas more suitable to their
nature and growth. That the animal which Nearchus himself saw was a whale,
there can be little doubt: while he was off Kyiza, the seamen were
extremely surprised, and not a little alarmed, at perceiving the sea
agitated and thrown up, as Arrian expresses it, as if it were forcibly
lifted up by a whirlwind. The pilot informed them that it was occasioned by
the whales blowing; this information, however, does not seem to have
quieted their fears: they ceased rowing, the oars dropped from their hands,
and Nearchus found himself under the necessity of exerting all his presence
of mind and authority to recall them to their duty. He gave directions to
steer towards the place where the sea was lifted up: in their advance the
crew shouted all together, dashed the water with their oars, and sounded
their trumpets. The whales were intimidated, sunk on the near approach of
the vessels, and, though they rose again astern, and renewed their blowing,
they now excited no alarm.

The Gulf of Persia, which Nearchus was now about to enter, comprehends the
coasts of Karmania, Persis, and Susiana. Nothing important occurred till
the vessels arrived off Cape Mussenden in Karmania, where they anchored: at
this place Nearchus and Onesicritus differed in opinion relative to the
further prosecution of the voyage; the latter wished to explore this cape,
and extend the voyage to the Gulf of Arabia. The reason he assigned was,
that they knew more of this gulf, than of the Gulf of Persia; and that, as
Alexander was master of Egypt, in the former gulf they would meet with more
assistance than in the latter. Nearchus, on the contrary, insisted that
Alexander's plan in directing, this voyage should be exactly pursued: this
plan was, to obtain a knowledge of the coast, with such harbours, bays, and
islands, as might occur in the course of the voyage; "to ascertain whether
there were any towns bordering on the ocean, and whether the country was
habitable or desert." The opinion of Nearchus prevailed, and the voyage was
pursued according to its original course and purpose.

As Nearchus had reason to believe that the army of Alexander was at no
great distance, he resolved to land, form a naval camp, and to advance
himself into the interior, that he might ascertain this point. Accordingly,
on the 20th of December, the 80th day after his departure, he formed a camp
near the river Anamis; and having secured his ships, proceeded in search of
Alexander. The first intelligence of their sovereign, however, seems to
have been obtained accidentally. The crew of Nearchus were strolling up the
country, when some of them met with a man whose dress and language
instantly discovered that he was a Greek: the joy of meeting with a
countryman was greatly heightened when he informed them that the army which
he had lately left, was encamped at no great distance, and that the
governor of the province was on the spot. As soon as Nearchus learnt the
exact situation of the army, he hastened towards it; but the governor,
eager to communicate to Alexander intelligence of his fleet, anticipated
him. Alexander was exceedingly pleased; but when several days elapsed, and
Nearchus did not arrive, he began to doubt the truth of what the governor
had told him, and at last ordered him to be imprisoned.


In the mean time Nearchus was prosecuting his journey along with Archias
and five or six others, when he fortunately fell in with a party from the
army, which had been sent out with horses and carriages for his
accommodation. The admiral and his attendants, from their appearance, might
have passed unnoticed. Their hair long and neglected, their garments
decayed, their countenance pale and weather-worn, and their persons
emaciated by famine and fatigue, scarcely raised the attention of the
friends they had encountered. They were Greeks, however; and if Greeks, it
was natural to inquire after the army, and where it was now encamped. An
answer was given to their inquiry; but still they were neither recognized
by the party, nor was any question asked in return. Just as they were
separating from each other, "Assuredly," says Archias, "this must be a
party sent out for our relief, for on what other account can they be
wandering about the desert? There is nothing strange in their passing us
without notice, for our very appearance is a disguise. Let us address them
once more, and inform them who we are, and learn from them on what service
they are at present employed." Nearchus approved of this advice, and
approaching them again, inquired which way they were directing their
course. "We are in search of Nearchus and his people," replied the officer:
"And I am Nearchus," said the admiral; "and this is Archias. Take us under
your conduct, and we will ourselves report our history to the king." They
were accordingly placed in the carriages, and conducted towards the army
without delay. While they were upon their progress, some of the horsemen,
impatient to carry the news of this happy event, set off to the camp to
inform the king, that Nearchus and Archias were arrived with five or six of
his people; but of the rest they had no intelligence. This suggested to
Alexander that perhaps these only were preserved, and that the rest of the
people had perished, either by famine or shipwreck; nor did he feel so much
pleasure in the preservation of the few, as distress for the loss of the
remainder. During this interval, Nearchus and his attendants arrived. It
was not without difficulty that the king discovered who they were, under
the disguise of their appearance; and this circumstance contributed to
confirm him in his mistake, imagining that both their persons and their
dress bespoke ship wreck, and the destruction of the fleet. He held out his
hand, however, to Nearchus, and led him aside from his guards and
attendants without being able to utter a word. As soon as they were alone,
he burst into tears, and continued weeping for a considerable time; till,
at length recovering in some degree his composure,--"Nearchus," says he, "I
feel some satisfaction in finding that you and Archias have escaped; but
tell me where and in what manner did my fleet and my people perish?" "Your
fleet," replied Nearchus, "are all safe,--your people are safe; and we are
come to bring you the account of their preservation." Tears, but from a
different source, now fell much faster from his eyes. "Where then are my
ships?" says he. "At the Anamis," replied Nearchus; "all safe on shore, and
preparing for the completion of their voyage." "By the Lybian Ammon and
Jupiter of Greece, I swear to you," rejoined the king, "I am more happy at
receiving this intelligence, than in being conqueror of all Asia; for I
should have considered the loss of my fleet and the failure of this
expedition, as a counterbalance to all the glory I have acquired." Such was
the reception of the admiral; while the governor, who was the first bearer
of the glad tidings, was still in bonds: upon the sight of Nearchus, he
fell at his feet, and implored his intercession. It may be well imagined
that his pardon was as readily granted as it was asked.--(Vincent's
Nearchus, p. 312.)

Sacrifices, games, and a festival ensued; and when these were ended,
Alexander told Nearchus that he would expose him to no further hazard, but
despatch another to carry the fleet to Susa. "I am bound to obey you,"
replied the admiral, "as my king, and I take a pleasure in my obedience;
but if you, wish to gratify me in return, suffer me to retain my command,
till I have completed the expedition. I shall feel it as an injustice, if,
after having struggled through all the difficulties of the voyage, another
shall finish the remainder almost without an effort, and yet reap the
honour of completing what I have begun." Alexander yielded to this just
request, and about the end of the year Nearchus rejoined his fleet.

By the 6th of January, B.C. 345, he reached the island of Kataia, which
forms the boundary between Karmania and Persis. The length of the former
coast is rather more than three hundred miles: the time occupied by
Nearchus in this part of his voyage was about twelve days. He arrived at
Badis, the first station in Karmania, on the 7th of December; at Anamis on
the 10th; here he remained three days. His journey to the camp, stay there,
return, and preparations for again sailing, may have occupied fifteen days.
Three hundred miles in twelve days is at the rate of twenty-five miles a

Hitherto the voyage of Nearchus has afforded no information respecting the
commerce of the ancients. The coasts along which he sailed were either
barren and thinly inhabited by a miserable and ignorant people, or if more
fertile and better cultivated, Nearchus' attention and interest were too
keenly occupied about the safety of himself and his companions, to gather
much information of a commercial nature. The remainder of his voyage,
however, affords a few notices on this subject; and to these we shall

In the island of Schitwar, on the eastern side of the Gulf of Persia,
Nearchus found the inhabitants engaged in a pearl fishery: at present
pearls are not taken on this side of the Gulf. At the Rohilla point a dead
whale attracted their attention; it is represented as fifty cubits long,
with a hide a cubit in thickness, beset with shell-fish, probably barnacles
or limpets, and sea-weeds, and attended by dolphins, larger than Nearchus
had been accustomed to see in the Mediterranean Sea. Their arrival at the
Briganza river affords Dr. Vincent an opportunity of conjecturing the
probable draught of a Grecian vessel of fifty oars. At ebb-tide, Arrian
informs us, the vessels were left dry; whereas at high tide they were able
to surmount the breakers and shoals. Modern travellers state that the
flood-tide rises in the upper part of the Gulf of Persia, nine or ten feet:
hence it may be conjectured that the largest vessel in the fleet drew from
six to eight feet water. The next day's sail brought them from the Briganza
to the river Arosis, the boundary river between Persis and Susiana, the
largest of the rivers which Nearchus had met with in the Gulf of Persia.
The province of Persis is described by Nearchus as naturally divided into
three parts. "That division which lies along the side of the Gulf is sandy,
parched, and sterile, bearing little else but palm-trees." To the north and
north-east, across the range of mountains, the country improves
considerably in soil and climate; the herbage is abundant and nutritious;
the meadows well watered; and the vine and every kind of fruit, except the
olive, flourishes. This part of the province is adorned by the parks and
gardens of the kings and nobles; the rivers flow from lakes of pure water,
abounding in water-fowl of all descriptions; horses and cattle feed on the
rich pastures, while in the woods there is abundance of animals for the
chace. To this the third division of Persis forms a striking contrast. This
lies farther north, a mountainous district, wild and rugged, inhabited by
barbarous tribes: the climate is so cold, that the tops of the mountains
are constantly covered with snow.

The coast of Susiana, along which Nearchus was now about to sail, he
represents as difficult and dangerous, from the number of shoals with which
it was lined. As he was informed that it would not be easy to procure water
while he was crossing the mouths of the streams which divide the Delta, he
took in a supply for five days before he left the Arosis. On account of the
shoals which stretch a considerable way out to sea, they could not approach
the coast, and were consequently obliged to anchor at night, and sleep on
board. In order to pass this dangerous coast with the least risk, they
formed a line by single ships, each following in order, through a channel
marked by stakes; in the same manner, Arrian remarks, as the passage
between Leukas and Akarnania in Greece, except that at Leukas there is a
firm sand, so that a ship takes no damage, if she runs ashore: whereas in
this passage there was deep mud on both sides, in which a vessel grounding
stuck fast; and if her crew endeavoured to get her off by going overboard,
they sunk above the middle in the mud. The extent of this difficult passage
was thirty-seven miles, at the end of which Nearchus came to an anchor at a
distance from the coast. Their course next day was in deep water, which
continued till they arrived, after sailing a day and a half, at a village
at the mouth of the Euphrates: at this village there was a mart for the
importation of the incenses of Arabia. Here Nearchus learnt that Alexander
was marching to Susa; this intelligence determined him to return back, to
sail up the Pasi-Tigris, and join him near that city. At Aginis he entered
the Pasi-Tigris, but he proceeded only about nine miles to a village which
he describes as populous and flourishing; here he determined to wait, till
he received further information respecting the exact route of the army. He
soon learnt that Alexander with his troops was at a bridge which he had
constructed over the Pasi-Tigris, at the distance of about one hundred and
twenty miles: at this place Nearchus joined him. Alexander embraced
Nearchus with the warmth of a friend; and his reception from all ranks was
equally gratifying and honourable. Whenever he appeared in the camp, he was
saluted with acclamations: sacrifices, games, and every other kind of
festivity celebrated the success of his enterprize. Nearly five months had
been occupied in performing the voyage from the mouth of the Indus--a
voyage which a modern vessel could perform in the course of three weeks.

Immediately after the junction of the fleet and army, Alexander crossed the
Pasi-Tigris, and proceeded to Susa: here he distributed rewards and honours
among his followers for their long, arduous, faithful, and triumphant
services. Those officers who had served as guards of Alexander's person
received crowns of gold; and the same present was made to Nearchus as
admiral, and to Onesicritus as navigator of the fleet.

We have already mentioned that Alexander projected the circumnavigation of
Arabia to the Red Sea, in order to complete the communication between India
and Egypt, and through Egypt with Europe. Nearchus was selected for this
enterprize; its execution, however, was prevented by the death of
Alexander. That he was extremely anxious for its completion, is evident
from the personal trouble he took in the preparations for it, and in the
necessary preliminary measures. In order that he might himself take a view
of the Gulf of Persia, he embarked on board a division of his fleet, and
sailed down the same stream which Nearchus had sailed up. At the head of
the Delta, the vessels which had suffered most in Nearchus' voyages were
directed to proceed with the troops they had on board, through a canal
which runs into the Tigris, Alexander himself proceeding with the lightest
and best sailing vessels through the Delta to the sea.

Soon after his return to Opis, where the mutiny of his troops took place,
Alexander gave another proof of his attention to maritime affairs; for he
despatched Heraclides into Hyrcania, with orders to cut timber and prepare
a fleet for the purpose of exploring the Caspian Sea--an attempt which,
like that of the projected voyage of Nearchus up the Arabian Gulf, was
prevented by Alexander's death. In the mean time Nearchus had been
collecting the vessels that were destined for his expedition; they were
assembled at Babylon: to this city also were brought from Phoenicia
forty-seven vessels which had been taken to pieces, and so conveyed over
land to Thapsacus. Two of these were of five banks, three of four, twelve
of three, and thirty rowed with fifteen oars on a side. Others likewise
were ordered to be built on the spot of cypress, the only wood which
Babyloni afforded; while mariners were collected from Phoenicia, and a dock
was directed to be cut capable of containing one thousand vessels, with
buildings and arsenals in proportion to the establishment. To accomplish
this extensive design, Alexander had sent one of his officers to Phoenicia
with 500 talents (about 106,830_l_.) to buy slaves fit for the oar, and
hire mariners. These preparations were so extensive, that it seems highly
probable that Alexander meant to conquer Arabia, as well as explore the
navigation of the Arabian Gulf; and indeed his plan and policy always were
to unite conquest with discovery. As soon as he had put these preparations
in a proper train, he again embarked, and sailed down the Euphrates as far
as Pallacopas. The immediate object of this voyage is not exactly known. As
the Euphrates flows over the adjacent country at certain seasons, the
Persian monarchs had cut a canal at Pallacopas, which diverted its
superfluous waters into a lake, where they were employed to flood the land.
This and similar canals had been long neglected; but as Alexander seems to
have fixed on Babylon as the future capital of his empire, it was necessary
to restore the canals to their original utility, in order that the ground
on both sides of the Euphrates might be drained or flooded at the proper
season. This may have been the only object of Alexander's voyage, or it may
have been connected with the projected voyage of Nearchus. It is certain,
however, that by his directions the principal canal was much improved;
indeed it was in reality cut in a more convenient and suitable place; for
the soil where it had been originally cut was soft and spongy, so that much
labour and time were required to restore the waters to their course, and
secure its mouth in a safe and firm manner. A little lower down, the soil
was much more suitable, being strong and rocky; here then Alexander ordered
the opening of the canal to be made: he afterwards entered it with his
fleet, and surveyed the whole extent of the lake with which it
communicated. On the Arabian side of the Gulf, he ordered a city to be
built: immediately afterwards he returned to Babylon, where he died.

In the mean time, and while Nearchus was at Babylon, three vessels were
sent down the Arabian side of the Gulf, to collect such information as
might be useful to him in his projected voyage. One was commanded by
Archias, who proceeded as far as Tylos, or Bahrein, the centre of the
modern pearl fishery. A short distance from the mouth of the Euphrates,
Archias discovered two islands; on one of which a breed of goats and sheep
was preserved, which were never killed, except for the purpose of
sacrifice. The second vessel sailed a little way round the coast of Arabia.
The third, which was commanded by Hiero of Soli, went much farther than
either of the other two, for it doubled Cape Mussendoon, sailed down the
coast below Moscat, and came in sight of Cape Ras-el-hed: this cape he was
afraid to double. On his return he reported that Arabia was much more
extensive than had been imagined. None of these vessels proceeded so far as
to be of much service to Nearchus, or to carry into effect the grand object
of Alexander: for his instructions to Hiero in particular were, to
circumnavigate Arabia; to go up the Red Sea; and reach the Bay of
Hieropolis, on the coast of Egypt. All these vessels were small, having
only fifty oars, and therefore not well calculated for such a long and
hazardous navigation.

At the time when Alexander was seized with the illness which occasioned his
death, Nearchus was ready to sail, and he himself, with the army, was to
accompany him as far as was practicable, in the same manner as he had done
from the Indus to the Tigris: two days before the fever commenced, he gave
a grand entertainment to Nearchus and his officers.

Only a very few circumstances regarding Nearchus are known after the death
of Alexander: he was made governor of Lycia and Pamphylia, and seems to
have attached himself to the fortunes of Antigonus. Along with him, he
crossed the mountains of Loristan, when he marched out of Susiana, after
his combat with Eumenes. In this retreat he commanded the light-armed
troops, and was ordered in advance, to drive the Cosseams from their passes
in the mountains. When Antigonus deemed it necessary to march into Lesser
Asia, to oppose the progress of Cassander, he left his son Demetrius, with
part of his army, in Syria; and as that prince was not above 22 years old,
he appointed him several advisers, of whom Nearchus was one. It is by no
means improbable that the instructions or the advice of Nearchus may have
induced Demetrius to survey with great care the lake of Asphaltes, and to
form a computation of the profit of the bitumen which it afforded, and of
the balm which grew in the adjacent country, and may have contributed to
his love for and skill in ship-building; for after he was declared king of
Macedonia, he built a fleet of five hundred gallies, several of which had
fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen benches of oars. We are informed that they
were all built by the particular contrivance of Demetrius himself, and that
the ablest artizans, without his directions, were unable to construct such
vessels, which united the pomp and splendour of royal ships to the strength
and conveniences of ordinary ships of war. The period and circumstances of
the death of Nearchus are not known. Dr. Vincent supposes that he may have
lost his life at the battle of Ipsus, where Antigonus fell: or, after the
battle, by command of the four kings who obtained the victory. Previous to
his grand expedition, it appears that he was a native of Crete, and
enrolled a citizen of Amphipolis, it is supposed, at the time when Philip
intended to form there a mart for his conquests in Thrace. He soon
afterwards came to the court of Philip, by whom he and some others were
banished, because he thought them too much attached to the interests of
Alexander in the family dissensions which arose on the secession of
Olympias, and some secret transactions of Alexander in regard to a marriage
with a daughter of a satrap of Caria. On the death of Philip, Nearchus was
recalled, and rewarded for his sufferings by the favour of his sovereign.

[4] The object of these dykes is supposed by Niebuhr to have been
    very different: be observes that they were constructed for the purpose
    of keeping up the waters to inundate the contiguous level: he found
    these dykes both in the Euphrates and Tigris. And Tavernier mentions
    one, 120 feet high, in the fall between Mosul and the great Zab.



For several centuries after the death of Alexander, the impulse and
direction of discovery and commercial enterprize continued towards the
countries of the East. Of his successors, Seleucus Nicanor and some of the
Ptolemies of Egypt prosecuted his plans of commerce with this part of the
world with the most zeal and success. Seleucus, after the death of
Alexander, obtained possession of those provinces of his empire which were
comprized under the name of Upper Asia; he, therefore, naturally regarded
the conquered districts of India as belonging to him. In order to secure
these, and at the same time to derive from them all the political and
commercial advantages which they were capable of bestowing, he marched into
India; and it is supposed that he carried his arms into districts that had
not been visited by Alexander. The route assigned to his march is obscurely
given; but it seems to point out the country from the Hyphasis to the
Hysudrus, from thence to Palibothra, at the junction of the Saone and the
Ganges, or, perhaps, where Patna now stands. There is no good reason to
believe, with some authors, that he reached the mouth of the Ganges.
Seleucus was stopt in his progress by the intelligence that Antigonus was
about to invade his dominions; but before he retraced his steps towards the
Euphrates, he formed a treaty with the Indian king Sandracottus, who
resided at Palibothra: and afterwards sent Megasthenes, who had some
knowledge of the country, from having accompanied Alexander, as his
ambassador to him. In this city, Megasthenes resided several years, and on
his return he published an account of that part of India; fragments of this
account are given by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and Arrian; and though it
contains many false and fabulous stories, yet these are intermixed with
much that is valuable and correct. He gives a faithful picture of the
Indian character and manners; and his account of the geography and
dimensions of India is curious and accurate. Some further insight into
these countries was derived from the embassy of Daimachus, to the son and
successor of Sandracottus; this terminated the connection of the Syrian
monarchs with India which was probably wrested from them soon after the
death of Seleucus. At the time when this monarch was assassinated, Pliny
informs us, that he entertained a design of joining the Euxine and Caspian
seas, by means of a canal; he was undoubtedly the most sagacious of the
Syrian kings, and the only one who imitated Alexander in endeavouring to
unite conquest with commerce.

But it is to the Egyptian successors of Alexander that we must look for the
systematic extension of commerce; towards which they were in a manner
impelled by the highly favourable situation of Alexandria. It has justly
been observed by Harris, in his Collection of Voyages, that most of the
cities founded by the Syrian kings existed little longer than their
founders; and, perhaps, with the exception of Antioch, on the Orontes, and
Seleucia, on the Tigris, none of them, from the situation in which they
were built, and the countries by which they were surrounded, could under
any circumstances be of long duration. With respect to the cities founded
by Alexander it was quite otherwise. The Alexandria of Paropamisus may
still be traced in Candahar; and the Alexandria on the Iaxartes, in Cogend:
and the Alexandria of Egypt, after surviving the revolutions of empires for
eighteen ages, perished at last, (as a commercial city,) only in
consequence of a discovery which changed the whole system of commerce
through the world.

On the destruction of Tyre, Alexander sought for a situation on which he
might build a city that would rival it in the extent of its commerce; and
he quickly perceived the advantages that would be derived from the seat of
commerce being established near one of the branches of the Nile. By means
of this river his projected city would command at once the commerce of the
Red Sea and the Mediterranean. It was, however, necessary to select a spot
near the mouths of the Nile, which would secure these advantages in the
highest degree, and which would at the same time be of the highest
importance in a military point of view, and afford a harbour constantly
accessible. The site of Alexandria combined all these advantages: on three
sides it has the sea, or the lake Mareotis, which, according to Strabo, was
nearly 300 stadia long, and 150 broad; the country adjoining this lake was
fertile, and by means of it, and natural or artificial channels, there was
a communication with the Delta and Upper Egypt. Between this lake and the
Canopic branch of the Nile, Alexander built his city: to less sagacious
minds this site would have appeared improper and injudicious in some
respects; for the sea-coast from Pelusium to Canopus is low land, not
visible at a distance; the navigation along this coast, and the approach to
it, is dangerous, and the entrance into the mouths of the Nile, at some
seasons, is extremely hazardous. But these disadvantages the genius of
Alexander turned to the benefit of his city, by the erection of the Pharos,
and the plan of a double harbour, which was afterwards completed by the
Ptolemies; for he thus united in a single spot the means of defence and
facility of access.

Denocrates, a Macedonian architect, who proposed to Alexander to cut Mount
Athos in the form of a statue holding a city in one hand, and in the other
a bason, into which all the waters of the mountain should empty themselves,
was employed by that monarch to build and beautify Alexandria. Its site was
on a deep and secure bay, formed by the shore on the one side, and the
island of Pharos on the other; in this bay numerous fleets might lie in
perfect safety, protected from the winds and waves. The form in which the
city was built was that of a Macedonian chlamys, or cloak; the two ports,
one of which only was built by Alexander, though both (as has been already
observed) were projected by him, were formed and divided from each other by
a moat a mile long, which stretched from the isle of Pharos to the
continent: that harbour which lay to the north was called the Great
Harbour, and the other, to the west, was called Eunostus, or the Safe
Return. In order to secure the vessels from the storms of the
Mediterranean, even more effectually than they could be by the natural
advantages of these harbours, the piers on each side were bent like a bar,
so that only a small space was left for the entrance of vessels.

The successors of Alexander in the Egyptian empire followed his example, in
nourishing commerce and improving Alexandria. Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, as
soon as he took possession of Egypt, established the seat of government
there, and succeeded, partly by harsh and despotic measures, and partly by
offering great advantages, and by his just and humane character, to draw
thither a great number of inhabitants. He began, and his son completed, the
famous watch-tower in the island of Pharos; the causeway which united it to
the main land, already mentioned, was built by Dexiphanes. Sostratus, the
son of this architect, was employed to erect the watch-tower: the design of
this tower was to direct the vessels which entered the harbour, and it was
justly reckoned one of the wonders of the world. It was a large and square
structure of white marble, on the top of which fires were constantly kept
burning for the direction of sailors. The building of this tower cost 800
talents, which, if they were Attic talents, were equivalent to 165,000_l_.
sterling, but if they were Alexandrian, to double that sum. This stupendous
and most useful undertaking was completed in the fortieth year of the reign
of Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, and in first year of the reign of Ptolemy
Philadelphus; and at the same time that Sostratus finished it, his father,
Dexiphanes, finished the mole, which united the island of Pharos to the
continent. The inscription on the tower was, "King Ptolemy to the Gods, the
saviours, for the benefit of sailors;" but Sostratus put this inscription
on the mortar, while underneath he cut, in the solid marble, the following
inscription, "Sostratus the Cnidian, son of Dexiphanes, to the Gods, the
saviours, for the benefit of sailors." In process of time the mortar wore
off, the first inscription disappeared along with it, and the second
inscription became visible.

The erection of the tower of Pharos was by no means the only service the
first Ptolemy did to commerce; throughout all his reign he manifested great
attention to it and maritime affairs, as well as to those sciences by which
they might be improved and advanced. As soon as he had made himself master
of Palestine, Syria, and Phoenicia, he turned his thoughts to the conquest
of Cyprus: this island abounded in wood, of which Egypt was almost
destitute; and on this account, as well as on account of its situation, in
the bosom, as it were, of the Levant, it was of the utmost importance to a
maritime power. He succeeded in obtaining possession of this valuable
island, and thus improved and enlarged the commercial advantages of Egypt.
His next step, with this view, was to invite the sailors of Phoenicia to
his new capital. His increasing power, especially at sea, roused the envy
of Antigonus, who, by extraordinary exertions, in the course of twelve
months built and equipped a fleet, which was able to cope with the naval
power of Ptolemy. It is foreign to our purpose to notice the wars between
them, except in so far as they are connected with the commercial history of
Alexandria. This city was benefited by these wars, for Antigonus, in his
progress, had driven many of the inhabitants of Syria, Palestine, and
Phoenicia from their native lands: to these Ptolemy gave great
encouragement, and extraordinary privileges and immunities, which induced
them to settle in Alexandria, where they followed their mercantile or
commercial pursuits. The report of these advantages granted to foreigners,
led Jews, Greeks and Macedonians to flock to Egypt, by which means the
population and wealth of that country, and particularly of its capital,
were greatly augmented.

The foundation of the museum and library of Alexandria, both of which
contributed so essentially to science and to the establishment of the
Alexandrian school of philosophy, which, as we shall afterwards perceive,
produced men that greatly advanced geographical knowledge, is another proof
of the wise and comprehensive character of Ptolemy's mind.

But Ptolemy rather prepared the way for the advancement of commerce and
maritime discovery, than contributed directly to them himself: fortunately,
his son, Ptolemy Philadelphus, was a worthy successor, and emulous of
treading in his father's steps. About the beginning of his reign, Tyre, the
ancient station of the trade with India, again reared its head as a
commercial city, and engaged extensively and successfully in this lucrative
traffic. It became necessary, therefore, in order to draw it from Tyre and
to secure its centering in Alexandria, to extend the facilities and
advantages of this city for this traffic. With this view, Ptolemy sent
travellers to penetrate into the interior of his dominions, bordering on
the Red Sea, by land, while his fleet was exploring the coast: he began to
make a canal, 100 cubits broad and 30 deep, between Arsinoe on the Red Sea,
and the eastern branch of the Nile, in order to complete a
water-communication between India and Alexandria. This canal, however, was
never completed; probably on account of the tedious and difficult
navigation towards the northern extremity of the Red Sea. He therefore
altered his plan, and instead of Arsinoe fixed on Myos Hormos, as the port
from which the navigation to India should commence. The same reason which
induced him to form this port; led him afterwards to the establishment of
Berenice; he was farther led to this, as Berenice was lower down in the Red
Sea, and consequently ships sailing from it reached the ocean sooner and
with less difficulty. It appears, however, that till the Romans conquered
Egypt, the greatest portion of the trade between Alexandria and
[Egypt->India] was carried on through Myos Hormos. The route in the time of
Ptolemy and his successors was as follows: vessels passed up the Canopic
branch of the Nile to Memphis, and thence to Coptus; from Coptus the goods
were transported in caravans to Myos Hormos: from this port the vessels
sailed for Africa, or Arabia in the month of September, and for India in
July. As the country over which the caravans travelled was the desart of
Thebais, which is almost destitute of water, Ptolemy ordered springs to be
searched for, wells to be dug, and caravanseras to be erected.

In order to protect his merchant ships in the Mediterranean and the Red
Sea, he fitted out two great fleets, one of which he constantly kept in
each sea. That in the Mediterranean was very numerous, and had several
ships of an extraordinary size: two of them in particular had 30 oars on a
side, one 20, four 14, two 12, fourteen 11, thirty 9, &c., besides a great
number of vessels of four oars and three oars on a side. With these fleets
he protected the commerce of his subjects, and kept in subjection most of
the maritime provinces of Asia Minor; viz. Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia and
Caria. The names of some of the most celebrated geographers who were
patronized by this monarch, have been handed down to us: Pliny mentions
Dalion, Bion, Boselis, and Aristocreon, as having visited Ethiopia, and
contributed to the geographical knowledge of that country; and Simonides as
having resided five years at Meroe. Timosthenes lived in this reign: he
published a description of the known sea-ports, and a work on the measure
of the earth. He sailed down the coast of Africa, probably as far as
Madagascar, certainly lower down than the Egyptians traded under the
Ptolemies, or even under the Romans.

The reign of Ptolemy Euergetes was equally distinguished, with, those of
his predecessors, by attention to commerce, and a desire to extend it. As
the navigation of the Red Sea had now become a source of great wealth to
his subjects, he deemed it necessary to free it as much as possible from
the pirates that infested it's coasts; for this purpose, as well as to
preserve a communication between Egypt and the countries which extended to
its mouth, he established governors from the isthmus of Suez, along the
Arabian and African coasts, as far as the straits of Babelmandeb; and
planted colonies of Greeks and Egyptians to carry on the commerce, and
protect the interests of his subjects. But the most extraordinary instance
of his enterprising spirit is to be found in his conquest (evidently for
the purpose of facilitating and securing the commerce of the Red Sea) of
part of Abyssinia. The proof of this, indeed, rests entirely on an
inscription found at Aduli, which there can be no doubt is the harbour and
bay of Masuah; the only proper entrance, according to Bruce, into
Abyssinia. The inscription to which we have alluded was extant in the time
of Cosmas (A.D. 545), by whom it was seen. From it, Ptolemy appears to have
passed to the Tacazze, which he calls the Nile, and to have penetrated into
Gojam, in which province the fountains of the Nile are found. He made
roads, opened a communication between this country and Egypt, and during
this expedition obliged the Arabians to pay tribute, and to maintain the
roads free from robbers and the sea from pirates; subduing the whole coast
from [Leucke->Leuke] Come to Sabea. The inscription adds: "In the
accomplishment of this business I had no example to follow, either of the
ancient kings of Egypt, or of my own family; but was the first to conceive
the design, and to carry it into execution. Thus, having reduced the whole
world to peace under my own authority, I came down to Aduli, and sacrificed
to Jupiter, to Mars, and to Neptune, imploring his protection for all who
navigate these seas."

Ptolemy Euergetes was particularly attentive to the interests of the
library at Alexandria. The first librarian appointed by Ptolemy the
successor of Alexander, was Zenodotus; on his death, Ptolemy Euergetes
invited from Athens Eratosthenes, a citizen of Cyrene, and entrusted to him
the care of the library: it has been supposed that he was the second of
that name, or of an inferior rank in learning and science, because he is
sometimes called Beta; but by this appellation nothing else was meant, but
that he was the second librarian of the royal library at Alexandria. He
died at the age of 81, A.C. 194. He has been called a second Plato, the
cosmographer and the geometer of the world: he is rather an astronomer and
mathematician than a geographer, though geography is indebted to him for
some improvements in its details, and more especially for helping to raise
it to the accuracy and dignity of a science. By means of instruments, which
Ptolemy erected in the museum at Alexandria, he ascertained the obliquity
of the ecliptic to be 23° 51' 20". He is, however, principally celebrated
as the first astronomer who measured a degree of a great circle, and thus
approximated towards the real diameter of the earth.

The importance of this discovery will justify us in entering on some
details respecting the means which this philosopher employed, and the
result which he obtained.

It is uncertain whether the well at Syene, in Upper Egypt, which he used
for this purpose, was dug by his directions, or existed previously. Pliny
seems to be of the former opinion; but there is reason to believe that it
had a much higher antiquity. The following observations on its structure by
Dr. Horsley, Bishop of Rochester, are ingenious and important. "The well,
besides that it was sunk perpendicularly, with the greatest accuracy, was,
I suppose, in shape an exact cylinder. Its breadth must have been moderate,
so that a person, standing upon the brink, might safely stoop enough over
it to bring his eye into the axis of the cylinder, where it would be
perpendicularly over the centre of the circular surface of the water. The
water must have stood at a moderate, height below the mouth of the well,
far enough below the mouth to be sheltered from the action of the wind,
that its surface might be perfectly smooth and motionless; and not so low,
but that the whole of its circular surface might be distinctly seen by the
observer on the brink. A well formed in this manner would afford, as I
apprehend, the most certain observation of the sun's appulse to the zenith,
that could be made with the naked eye; for when the sun's centre was upon
the zenith, his disc would be seen by reflection on the water, in the very
middle of the well,--that is, as a circle perfectly concentric with the
circle of the water; and, I believe, there is nothing of which the naked
eye can judge with so much precision as the concentricity of two circles,
provided the circles be neither very nearly equal, nor the inner circle
very small in proportion to the outer."

Eratosthenes observed, that at the time of the summer solstice this well
was completely illuminated by the sun, and hence he inferred that the sun
was, at that time, in the zenith of this place. His next object was to
ascertain the altitude of the sun, at the same solstice, and on the very
same day, at Alexandria. This he effected by a very simple contrivance: he
employed a concave hemisphere, with a vertical style, equal to the radius
of concavity; and by means of this he ascertained that the arch,
intercepted between the bottom of the style and the extreme point of its
shadow, was 7° 12'. This, of course, indicated the distance of the sun from
the zenith of Alexandria. But 7° 12' is equal to the fiftieth part of a
great circle; and this, therefore, was the measure of the celestial arc
contained between the zeniths of Syene and Alexandria. The measured
distance between these cities being 5000 stadia, it followed, that 5000 X
50 = 250,000, was, according to the observations of Eratosthenes, the
extent of the whole circumference of the earth.

If we knew exactly the length of the stadium of the ancients, or, to speak
more accurately, what stadium is referred to in the accounts which have
been transmitted to us of the result of the operations of Eratosthenes,
(for the ancients employed different stadia,) we should be able precisely
to ascertain the circumference which this philosopher ascribed to the
earth, and also, whether a nearer approximation to the truth was made by
any subsequent or prior ancient philosopher. The circumference of the earth
was conjectured, or ascertained, by Aristotle, Cleomedes, Posidonius, and
Ptolemy respectively, to be 400, 300, 240, and 180 thousand stadia. It is
immediately apparent that these various measures have some relation to each
other, and probably express the same extent; measured in different stadia;
and this probability is greatly increased by comparing the real distances
of several places with the ancient itinerary distances.

The observation of Eratosthenes respecting the obliquity of the ecliptic
(though undoubtedly not so immediately or essentially connected with our
subject as his observation of the circumference of the earth) is too
important to be passed over entirely without notice. He found the distance
between the tropics less than 53° 6', and greater than 52° 96', which gives
a mean of 23° 51' for the obliquity of the ecliptic. The observations of
Hipparchus (who flourished at Alexandria about 140 years before Christ, and
whom we shall have occasion to mention more particularly afterwards)
coincided with those of Eratosthenes. Plutarch, however, who died A.D. 119,
informs us, that, in his time, the gnomons at Syene were no longer
shadowless on the day of the summer solstice. As the interval between
Eratosthenes and Plutarch was only about 512 years, Bishop Morsley has very
naturally expressed his doubts of the accuracy of Plutarch's assertion. He
says, that the change in the obliquity of the ecliptic in this interval was
only 2' 36". "A gnomon, therefore, at Syene, of the length of twelve
inches, if it cast no shadow on the day of the solstice in the time of
Eratosthenes, should have cast a shadow in the time of Plutarch of the
length only of 9/1000th, or not quite 1/100th part of an inch. The shadow
of a perpendicular column of the height of 100 feet would have been 9/10ths
of an inch." As, however, the ancients do not appear to have constructed
gnomons of such a size, and as gnomons of inferior size would have given a
shadow scarcely perceptible, it is probable that Plutarch is mistaken in
his assertion; or, at any rate, that the very small variation which did
take place between his time and that of Eratosthenes (if it were observed
at all) was ascertained by means of the well itself, which would point it
out much more distinctly and accurately than any gnomon the ancients can be
supposed to have used.

We are also indebted to Eratosthenes for the first regular parallel of
latitude, and also for tracing a meridian. His parallel of latitude began
at the Straits of Gibraltar, and passed eastward through Rhodes to the
mountains of India; the intermediate places being carefully set down. His
meridian line passed through Rhodes and Alexandria, as far as Syene and
Meroe. Meroe, on this account, became an object of the greatest interest
and importance to all the succeeding ancient geographers and astronomers,
and they have taken the utmost labour and care to ascertain its latitude
accurately. Strabo informs us, that Eratosthenes constructed a map of the
world; but he does not give such particulars as will enable us to trace the
extent of his geographical knowledge. At the extremity of the world to the
east, bounded by the ocean, Thina was placed in the map of Eratosthenes, in
the parallel of Rhodes; a parallel which passes through the empire of
China, within the Great Wall. Eratosthenes, according to Strabo, (to whom
we are indebted for nearly all we know respecting this philosopher,)
asserts that Thina had been, previously to the construction of his map,
incorrectly placed in the more ancient maps. His information respecting
Meroe or Abyssinia, is most probably derived from Dalion, Aristocreon, and
Bion, who had been sent by Ptolemy Philadelphus and his successors into
that country, or from Timosthenes, who sailed down the coast of Africa as
low as Cerne. His information on the subject of India (which, however, as
far as regards oriental commerce, is very confused) must have been derived
from the Macedonians. There is little doubt that the library of Alexandria
afforded him access to all the knowledge which then existed respecting the
various countries of the globe; but the turn of his mind led him rather to
astronomical than geographical studies; or rather, perhaps, he directed his
labours and his talents to the discovery of the figure and circumference of
the earth, thinking, that till this was effected, the delineation of the
habitable world, and the relative position of different countries, must be
very inaccurate as well as incomplete. This opinion regarding Eratosthenes,
that he was more of a geometrician than a geographer, seems to be confirmed
by the testimony of Marcian of Heraclia, who informs us, that Eratosthenes
took the whole work of Timosthenes, preface and all, as it stood, and in
the very same words. If this account be accurate, it is probable that
Eratosthenes' knowledge of Thina, and his being able to correct the
erroneous position of this country in more ancient maps, was derived from
Timosthenes, who had commanded the fleet of Ptolemy Philadelphus on the
Indian Ocean.

If we reflect on the rude and imperfect state of science at this period,
the paucity and inadequacy of the instruments by means of which it might be
improved, and the superstitions and prejudices which opposed the removal of
error or the establishment of truth, we shall not be disposed to question
the justice of the panegyric pronounced by Pliny on Eratosthenes. This
author, after detailing all that was then known on the subject of the
circumference of the earth, and on the distances which had been ascertained
by actual admeasurement, or approximated by analogy or probable conjecture,
between the most remarkable places on its surface, adds, that Eratosthenes,
whose acuteness and application had advanced him far in every branch of
knowledge, but who had outstripped all his predecessors or contemporaries
in that particular branch which was connected with the admeasurement of the
earth, had fixed its circumference at 250,000 stadia; a bold and almost
presumptuous enterprize, (_improbum ausum_,) but which had been conducted
with so much judgment, and on such sound principles, that it commanded and
deserved our credit. Hipparchus, who was distinguished for his correctness
and diligence in every part of geometrical and astronomical science, and
who had specially exerted those qualities in his endeavours to correct the
errors of Eratosthenes, had been able to add only the comparatively small
extent of 25,000 stadia to the computation of Eratosthenes.--_Plin. Nat.
Hist._ lib. ii. c. 108.

Eratosthenes seems, from the nature of his studies, not to have availed
himself so much as he might have done of the treasures contained in the
Alexandrian library under his care, to correct or extend the geographical
knowledge of his contemporaries. The same observation will not apply to
Agatharcides, who was president of the library after Eratosthenes. The
exact time at which he flourished is not known: according to Blair, he was
contemporary with Eratosthenes, though younger than him, and flourished 177
A.C., Eratosthenes having died at the age of eighty-one, in the year 194
A.C. Dodwell, however, fixes him at a later period; viz. 104 A.C.; but this
date must be erroneous, because Artemidorus of Ephesus, who evidently
copies Agatharcides, undoubtedly lived 104 A.C. Agatharcide's was born at
Cnidus in Caria: no particulars are known respecting him, except that he
was president of the Alexandrian library, in the reign of Ptolemy
Philometor, if he flourished 177 A.C.; and in the reign of Ptolemy
Lathyrus, if, according to Dodwell, he did not flourish till 104 A.C.

The only work of his which is preserved, is a Treatise on the Erythraean
Sea; and this we possess only in the Bibliotheca of Photius, and
incorporated in the history of Diodorus Siculus. The authority of
Agatharcides was very high among the ancients. Strabo, Pliny, and Diodorus,
always mention him with the utmost respect, and place implicit confidence
in his details. Diodorus expressly states that Agatharcides and Artemidorus
(who, as we have already mentioned, was merely his copyist) are the only
authors who have written truth concerning Egypt and Ethiopia; and Strabo
follows him in all that relates to the latter country, the countries lying
to the south of Egypt, and the western coast of Arabia. In fact, for nearly
200 years, the ancient historians and geographers drew all the information
they possessed respecting the portions of the world embraced in the work of
Agatharcides from that work. It has been well observed, "that when Pliny
speaks of the discoveries on the coast of Malabar in his own age, and adds,
that the names he mentions are new, and not to be found in previous
writers, we ought to consider him as speaking of all those who had followed
the authority of the Macedonians, or the school of Alexandria; of which, in
this branch of science, Eratosthenes and Agatharcides were the leaders."
From the circumstance that Strabo appeals very frequently to the authority
of Eratosthenes, in conjunction with that of Agatharcides, it has been
conjectured, that the work of the latter contains all that the former knew,
with the addition of his own information; and this conjecture is highly
probable, considering that Agatharcides had access to the sources whence
Eratosthenes drew his information; to the works of Eratosthenes themselves,
which of course would be deposited in the Alexandrian library; and to all
the additional works which had enriched the library from the time of
Eratosthenes, as well as the additional information which the extensive
commerce of Alexandria would supply.

The work of Agatharcides, therefore, having been in such estimation by the
ancient historians and geographers, and the only source from which, during
200 years, they drew their information, and having been compiled by a
person, who, it is probable, had better and fuller means of rendering it
accurate and complete than any of his contemporaries enjoyed; it will be
proper to give a pretty full abstract of the most interesting and important
part of its contents.

The veracity of this author was questioned by Plutarch, from his narrating
a circumstance, which, to us of the present day, is a strong confirmation
of the truth and accuracy of his information. Agatharcides takes notice of
the worm which is formed in the legs, and which insinuates itself there in
such a manner, that it is necessary to wind it out with the utmost caution.
Plutarch ridicules and rejects this story, and says it never has happened,
and never will. But that such a worm exists, and that when it insinuates
itself into the leg it must be drawn out with the utmost caution, lest the
smallest portion of it remain, and thus produce disease, is directly and
fully attested by all the travellers, and particularly by Bruce, who
carried with him to the grave the marks and effects of the attack of this
species of worm.

But the most curious and important portion of the work of Agatharcides on
the Red Sea, relates to Abyssinia; for in this work we meet with the first
genuine characteristics of this nation. He specifies particularly the gold
mines wrought by the kings of Egypt on the coast of the Red Sea;--the
process which they followed to procure and separate this metal;--the
sufferings which the miners underwent in their operations are painted in
very strong language: "The multitude of bones still found in these
excavations, he says, is incredible, of wretches crushed by the falling-in
of the earth, as must naturally happen in a loose and crumbling soil." He
adds a circumstance, to which there are many parallel in our own country,
in those mines which are supposed to have been wrought by the Romans; viz.
the tools of copper found in these gold mines, supposed to have been used
by the native Egyptians, prior to the conquest of Egypt by the Persians.
The next particular mentioned by Agatharcides, respecting the Abyssinian
coast of the Red Sea, is very conclusive, with respect to his accuracy and
credibility. In Meroe, or Abyssinia, he says, they hunt elephants and
hamstring them, and afterwards cut the flesh out of the animal alive: he
adds, that the inhabitants are so extremely fond of the flesh of the
elephant, thus procured, that when Ptolemy would have paid any price to
purchase these animals alive, as he wanted them for his army, the
Abyssinian hunters refused his offer, declaring that not all the wealth of
Egypt would tempt them to forego their favourite and delicious repast. It
is a remarkable fact, that the credit of Bruce on this topic should thus be
confirmed by a writer who lived nearly 2000 years before him, of whose
writings we possess only a very short treatise, and of whose life we know
scarcely a single particular. It may be added, that Strabo, in a passage,
in which he is apparently copying Agatharcides, mentions [Greek:
Kreophagoi] and as he would scarcely particularize the fact of a native
eating the flesh of animals cooked, it is to be presumed, he means raw
flesh. In the same place he mentions the _excisio feminarum_.

Every reader of Brace's Travels in Abyssinia must remember the fly, called
Tsalpsalza, an insect more formidable than the strongest or most savage
wild beasts: "As soon as the buzzing of this insect is heard, the utmost
alarm and trepidation prevails; the cattle forsake their food and run
wildly about the plain, till at length they fall down, worn out with
terror, hunger and fatigue; even the camel, elephant and rhinoceros, are
not safe from the attacks of this formidable insect." This fly is described
by Agatharcides in the same manner as by Bruce. The ensete tree of Bruce,
the leaves of which resemble the banana, with fruit like figs, but not
eatable, with a trunk esculent till it reaches its perfect growth and is
full of leaves, resembles in some of its particulars a tree described by
Agatharcides. This author also describes the locusts, as generally used for
food; the troglodytes; the rhinoceros; the cameleopard; what he calls
sphinxes, but which are represented as tame, and are supposed to be apes,
distinguished from the common ape in the face being smooth and without
hair. He also mentions an animal he calls crocetta, which is described as
being between a wolf and a dog, and as imitating the human voice; these
particulars seem to point it out as the hyena, though some suppose it to be
the jackall. It deserves to be remarked, that the animals enumerated by
Agatharcides as natives of Abyssinia, are all named in the same manner, as
well as depicted on the celebrated Palestrine Mosaic.

In his description of the coast of the Red Sea he commences with Arsinoe,
and goes down the western side as far as Ptolemais Theron; a place so
called, because elephants were there hunted and taken, and are still,
according to Bruce. Agatharcides adds, that the usual navigation was to
this place for elephants. He notices Myos Hormos, but not Berenice; he has
even mentioned the islands at the straits of Babelmandeb, and the prodigies
which in his time, and much later, were supposed to lie beyond them. There
is, however, one part of his work, in which he seems to indicate the
curvature of the African coast to the east beyond the straits; but it is
doubtful whether in this place he is speaking of the coast within or
without the straits.

In his description of the coast between Myos Hormos and Ptolemais, he
points out a bay, which, both from the identity of the name, and the
circumstances respecting it which he narrates, undoubtedly is the Foul Bay
of the moderns. Strabo, who, as we have already stated, borrows freely and
frequently from Agatharcides, describes this bay as full of shoals and
breakers, and exposed to violent winds; and he adds, that Berenice lies at
the bottom of it. The accuracy of our author, even when he is opposed by
the testimony of Bruce, is fully proved in what he relates of the coast
below Foul Bay: after mentioning two mountains, which he calls the Bulls,
he particularly adverts to the dangerous shoals which often proved fatal to
the elephant ships on their passage to and from Ptolemais. Bruce says no
such shoals exist; but, as is justly observed by Dr. Vincent; the
correctness of the ancients respecting them, especially Eratosthenes,
Agatharcides and Artemidorus, is fully borne out by the danger and loss to
which many English ships have been exposed by reason of these very shoals.

The description of Agatharcides of this side of the coast of the Red Sea,
reaches no lower down than Ptolemais; this circumstance is remarkable,
since we have seen that, from the inscription found at Aduli there can be
no doubt that Ptolemy Euergetes had conquered Abyssinia, and established a
commerce considerably lower down than Ptolemais Theron. As, however, we
have not the original, and perhaps not the entire work of Agatharcides, we
cannot infer any thing, either respecting his ignorance or inattention,
from this omission.

Agatharcides, having thus described this coast, returns from Ptolemais to
Myos Hormos, and passing the Bay of Arsinoe, crosses to Phoenicum, in the
Elanitic Gulf, and describes the coast of Arabia as far as Sabea. Almost
the very first particular noticed by him in this part of his work, bears
evidence to his accuracy as a geographer. He states that, at the entrance
of the Elanitic Gulph there are three islands, one of which is dedicated to
Isis: he describes them as, "covering several harbours on the Arabian
shore. To these islands succeeds the rocky coast of Thamudeni, where, for
more than 1000 stadia, there is no harbour, no roadsted in which a vessel
could anchor, no bay into which she could run for shelter, no point of land
which could protect her; so that those who sail alone this part of the
coast are exposed to certain destruction, if they should be overtaken by a
storm." Yet these islands lying in such a conspicuous situation, and of
such importance to the mariner, and this coast so dangerous to him, do not
appear to have been noticed in any European chart or description, till,
after the lapse of twenty centuries, they were restored to geography by Mr.

As one of our principal objects is to do justice to the accuracy of the
ancient geographers, by pointing out instances of the extreme care which
many of them took to obtain correct information we shall adduce one other
proof of this accuracy and care in Agatharcides. This author particularly
describes the sea as having a white appearance off the coast of Arabia; on
this point he was well informed though the circumstance is treated as
fabulous by the ancients, and even by some of the moderns; but more
observant modern travellers confirm this phenomenon. It is well observed by
Dr. Vincent, that we are every day lessening the bulk of the marvellous
imputed to the ancients; and as our knowledge of the east increases, it is
possible that the imputation will be altogether removed.

The account which Agatharcides gives of Sabæa is very curious and
important; and, as we shall afterwards have occasion to make use of it, in
endeavouring to prove that, in very early ages, the Arabians supplied the
western world with the productions of the east, we shall extract here what
he says of Sabæa from the translation of Dr. Vincent.

"Sabæa, (says Agatharcides,) abounds with every production to make life
happy in the extreme: its very air is so perfumed with odours, that the
natives are obliged to mitigate the fragrance by scents that have an
opposite tendency, as if nature could not support even pleasure in the
extreme. Myrrh, frankincense, balsam, cinnamon, and casia are here
produced, from trees of extraordinary magnitude. The king, as he is, on the
one hand, entitled to supreme honour, on the other, is obliged to submit to
confinement in his palace; but the people are robust, warlike, and able
mariners: they sail in very large vessels to the country where the
odoriferous commodities are produced; they plant colonies there, and import
from thence the larimna, an odour no where else to be found. In fact, there
is no nation on the earth so wealthy as the Gerrheans and Sabeans, as being
in the centre of all the commerce that passes between Asia and Europe.
These are the nations which have enriched the kingdom of Ptolemy: these are
the nations that furnish the most profitable agencies to the industry of
the Phoenicians, and a variety of advantages which are incalculable. They
possess themselves every profusion of luxury, in articles of plate and
sculpture, in furniture of beds, tripods, and other household
embellishments, far superior in degree to any thing that is seen in Europe:
their expence of living rivals the magnificence of princes: their houses
are decorated with pillars glistening with gold and silver: their doors are
crowned with vases and beset with jewels: the interior of their houses
corresponds with the beauty of their outward appearance, and all the riches
of other countries are here exhibited in a variety of profusion. Such a
nation, and so abounding in superfluity, owes its independence to its
distance from Europe; for their luxurious manners would soon render them a
prey to the European sovereigns, who have always troops on foot prepared
for any conquest; and who, if they could find the means of invasion, would
soon reduce the Sabeans to the condition of their agents and factors;
whereas they are now obliged to deal with them as principals."

The importance and the bearing of these curious facts, first brought to our
notice by Agatharcides, as well as the inferences which may be drawn from
them regarding the mode in which the ancients obtained their commodities of
India, will call our particular attention afterwards: at present we shall
merely notice the characteristic and minute picture which Agatharcides has
drawn of the Sabeans, and the just notions he had formed on the nature of a
commerce, of which all the other writers of antiquity seemed to have been
utterly ignorant.

Beyond Sabæa to the east, Agatharcides possessed no information, though,
like all the ancients, he is desirous of supplying his want of it by
indulging in the marvellous: it is, however, rather curious that, among
other particulars, undoubtedly unfounded, such as placing the Fortunate
islands off the coast beyond Sabæa, and his describing the flocks and herds
as all white, and the females as polled;--he describes that whiteness of
the sea, to which we have already alluded, as confirmed by modern
travellers. From these unfounded particulars, our author soon emerges again
into the truth; for he describes the appearance of the different
constellations, and especially notices that to the south of Sabæa there is
no twilight in the morning; but when he adds, that the sun, at rising,
appears like a column--that it casts no shadow till it has been risen an
hour, and that the evening twilight lasts three hours after it has set; it
is obvious that the information of that age (of which we may justly suppose
the library of Alexandria was the great depository) did not extend beyond

That Agatharcides had access to and made ample use of the journal of
Nearchus (of which we have given such a complete abstract), is evident from
various parts of his work; but it is also evident, by comparing his
description of those countries and their inhabitants, which had been
visited and described by Nearchus, that he had access to other sources of
intelligence, by means of which he added to the materials supplied by the

It will be recollected that Nearchus describes in a particular manner, the
Icthyophagi of Gadrosia: Agatharcides also describes Icthyophagi, though it
is not clear whether he means to confine his description to those of
Gadrosia, or to extend it to others on the coast of Arabia and Africa. The
mode practised by the Icthyophagi, according to him, is exactly that which
was practised by them in catching fish, according to Nearchus: he also
coincides with that author in various other particulars respecting the use
of the bones of whales, or other large fish, in the construction of their
houses; their ignorance and barbarism, their dress and mode of life. All
this he probably borrowed from Nearchus; but he adds one circumstance which
indubitably proves, that the knowledge of the eastern part of the world had
considerably advanced since the era of Alexander: he expressly states, that
beyond the straits that separate Arabia from the opposite coast, there are
an immense number of islands, scattered, very small, and scarcely raised
above the surface of the ocean. If we may advert to the situation assigned
to these islands, on the supposition that the straits which separate Arabia
from the opposite coast, mean the entrance to the Gulph of Persia, we shall
not be able to ascertain what these islands are; but if in addition to the
circumstances of their being scattered, very small, and very low, we add
what Agatharcides also notices, that the natives have no other means of
supporting life but by the turtles which are found near them in immense
numbers, and of a very large size, we shall be disposed, with Dr. Vincent,
to consider these as the Maldive Islands. It may be objected to this
supposition, that the Maldives are situated at a very great distance from
the straits that separate Arabia from the opposite coast; but a cursory
acquaintance with the geographical descriptions of the ancients will
convince us, that their information respecting the situation of countries
was frequently vague and erroneous, (as indeed it must have been,
considering the imperfect means they possessed of measuring or even judging
of distances, especially by sea) while, at the same time, their information
respecting the nature of the country, the productions of its soil, and the
manners, &c. of its inhabitants, was surprisingly full and accurate. In
identifying places mentioned by the ancients, we should therefore be guided
more by the descriptions they give, than by the locality they assign to
them. Agatharcides, it is true, adds that these islands extend along the
sea, which washes Gadrosia and India; but he probably had very confused
notions of the extent and form of India; and, at any rate, giving the
widest latitude to the term, the same sea may be said to wash Gadrosia and
the Maldive Islands. If these are the islands actually meant by
Agatharcides, it is the earliest notice of them extant.

Our concern with Agatharcides relates only to the geographical knowledge
which his writings display; and even of that we can only select such parts
as are most important, and at the same time point out and prove the
advances of geographical knowledge, and of commercial enterprize; before,
however, we leave him, we may add one fact, not immediately relating to our
peculiar subject, which he records: after stating that the soil of Arabia
was, as it were, impregnated with gold, and that lumps of pure gold were
found there from the size of an olive to that of a nut, he adds, that iron
was twice, and silver ten times, the value of gold. If he is accurate in
the proportionate values which he respectively assigns to these metals, it
proves the very great abundance of gold; since, in most of the nations of
antiquity, the values of gold and silver were the reverse of what they were
in Arabia, gold being ten times the value of silver. The comparative high
value of iron to gold is still more extraordinary, and seems to indicate
not only a great abundance of the latter metal, but also a great scarcity
of the former, or a very great demand for it in consequence of the extended
and improved state of those arts and manufactures in which iron is an
essential requisite, and which indicate an advanced degree of knowledge and
civilization. We are not aware of a similar fact, with respect to the
proportionate value of iron and silver, being recorded of any other nation
of antiquity. It is not to be supposed, however, that the cheapness of
gold, measured by iron and silver, could long continue in Arabia, unless we
believe that their intercourse with other nations was very limited; because
a regular and extensive intercourse would soon assimilate, in a great
degree at least, the value of gold measured by iron and silver, as it
existed in Arabia, to its value, as measured by the same metals in those
countries with which Arabia traded.

But to return from this slight digression;--Artemidorus has been already
mentioned as a geographer subsequent to Agatharcides, who copied
Agatharcides, and from whom Diodorus Siculus and Strabo in their turns
copied. There were two ancient writers of this name born at Ephesus; the
one to whom we have alluded, is supposed to have lived in the reign of
Ptolemy Lathyrus, A.C. 169; by others he is brought down to A.C. 104.
Little is known respecting him; nor does he seem to have added much to
geographical science or knowledge: he is said by Pliny to have first
applied the terms of length and breadth, or latitude and longitude. By
comparing those parts of Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, which they avowedly
copy from him, with the track of Agatharcides: in the Red Sea, we are
enabled to discover only a few additions of importance to the geographical
knowledge supplied by the former: Agatharcides, it will be remembered,
brings his account of the African side of the Red Sea no lower down than
Ptolemais: he does not even mention the expedition of Ptolemy Euergetes to
Aduli; nor the passage of the straits, though Eratosthenes, as cited by
Strabo, proves that it was open in his time. In the time of Artemidorus,
however, the trade of Egypt on the coast of Africa had reached as low down
as the Southern Horn; that this trade was still in its infancy, is apparent
from a circumstance mentioned by Strabo, on the authority of Artemidorus;
that at the straits the cargo was transferred from ships to boats; bastard
cinnamon, perhaps casia lignea or hard cinnamon, is specified as one of the
principal articles which the Egyptians obtained from the coast of Africa,
when they passed the straits of Babelmandeb.

The next person belonging to the Alexandrian school, to whom the sciences
on which geography rest, as well as geography itself, is greatly indebted,
was Hipparchus. Scarcely any particulars are known respecting him: even the
exact period in which he flourished, is not accurately fixed; some placing
him 159 years, others 149, and others again bringing him down to 129 years
before Christ. He was a native of Nice in Bithynia, but spent the greater
part of his life at the court of one of the Ptolemies. It is supposed that
he quitted his native place in consequence of some ill treatment which he
had received from his fellow citizens: at least we are informed by Aurelius
Victor, that the emperor Marcus Aurelius obliged the inhabitants of Nice to
send yearly to Rome a certain quantity of corn, for having beaten one of
their citizens, by name Hipparchus, a man of great learning and
extraordinary accomplishments. They continued to pay this tribute to the
time of Constantine, by whom it was remitted. As history does not inform us
of any other person of note of this name, a native of Nice in Bithynia, it
is highly probable that this was the Hipparchus, the astronomer and
geographer. That it was not unusual for conquerors and sovereigns to reward
or punish the descendants of those who had behaved well or ill to
celebrated men who had flourished long previously, must be well known to
those conversant with ancient history. The respect paid to the memory of
Pindar, by the Spartans, and by Alexander the Great, when they conquered
Thebes, is a striking instance of the truth of this observation.

Hipparchus possessed the true spirit of philosophy: having resolved to
devote himself to the study of astronomy, his first general
[principal->principle] was to take nothing for granted; but setting aside
all that had been taught by former astronomers, to begin anew, and examine
and judge for himself: he determined not to admit any results but such as
were grounded either in observations and experiments entirely new, made by
himself or on a new examination of former observations, conducted with the
utmost care and caution. In short, he may justly be regarded as one of the
first philosophers of antiquity who had a slight glimpse of the grand
maxim, which afterwards immortalized Bacon, and which has introduced modern
philosophers to a knowledge of the most secret and most sublime operations
of nature.

One of his first endeavours was, to verify the obliquity of the ecliptic,
as settled by Eratosthenes: he next fixed, as accurately as possible, the
latitude of Alexandria; but it would lead us far from the object of our
work, if we were even briefly to mention his discoveries in the science of
pure astronomy. We must confine ourselves to those parts of his discoveries
which benefitted geography, either directly or indirectly. After having, as
successfully as his means and the state of the science would permit him to
do, fixed the position of the stars, he transferred the method which he had
employed for this purpose to geography: he was the first who determined the
situation of places on the earth, by their latitudes and longitudes, with
any thing like accuracy. The latitude, indeed, of many places had been
fixed before; and the means of doing it were sufficiently simple and
obvious: but with respect to some general and safe mode of ascertaining the
longitudes, the ancient philosophers before Hipparchus, were ignorant of
it. He employed for this purpose the eclipses of the moon. After having
ascertained the latitudes and longitudes of a great many places, he
proposed to draw up a catalogue of terrestial latitudes and longitudes, but
this he was not able to accomplish: he had set the example, however and it
was followed by subsequent astronomers. He fixed on the Fortunate Islands,
which are supposed to be the Canaries, for his first meridian. His
principal works most probably were destroyed in the conflagration of the
Alexandrian library. His catalogue of the stars is preserved in the
Almagest of Ptolemy; and his commentary on Aratus and Eudoxus is still

Such is a brief sketch of the advantages which geography, as founded on
astronomy, derived from the labours of Hipparchus. We possess little
information respecting his ideas of the form of the earth, or the relative
position or extent of the different quarters and countries on the surface
of the globe. He seems to have been the first who conceived the idea of a
southern continent, uniting Africa and India: he had evidently some
information, though very vague and erroneous, of India, beyond the Ganges.
On the east coast of Africa, his knowledge did not extend beyond Cape
Guardaferi. On the whole, geography is more indebted to him for his
discoveries in astronomy, and, above all, for his setting the example of
carefully ascertaining facts, and not indulging, so much as his
predecessors had done, in conjectures and hypotheses, than for any actual
discoveries or advances he made in it. The eulogium which Pliny has
pronounced on him is very eloquent, and fully deserved. "Hipparchus can
scarcely receive too high praise: he has proved, more satisfactorily than
any other philosopher, that man is allied to heaven, and his soul derived
from on high. In his time, more than one new star was discovered, or rather
appeared for the first time; and this induced him to believe, that future
ages might witness stars for the first time moving from the immense regions
of space, within the limits of our observation. But the grandeur and
boldness of Hipparchus's mind rested not here: he attempted, and in some
measure succeeded in doing, what seems above human knowledge and power: he
numbered the stars, laid down rules by which their rising and setting might
be ascertained beforehand; and, finally, he constructed an apparatus on
which the position of each star was accurately given, and a miniature
picture of the heavens, with the motions of the celestial bodies, their
rising and setting, increase and diminution. He thus may be said to have
left the heavens as a legacy to that man, if any such were to be found, who
could rival him and follow his steps."

From the time of Hipparchus to that of Ptolemy the geographer, the
Alexandrian school, though rich in philosophers, who devoted their studies
and labour to other branches of physical and metaphysical science, did not
produce one, who improved geography, or the sciences on which it depends,
with the exception of Posidonius. This philosopher, who belonged to the
sect of the Stoics, was born at Apamea in Syria: he usually resided at
Rhodes, and was the friend of Pompey and Cicero. The former, on his return
from Syria, came thither to attend his lectures. Arriving at his house, he
forbad his lictor to knock, as was usual, at the door; and paid homage to
philosophy, by lowering the fasces at the abode of Posidonius. Pompey,
being informed that he was at that time ill of the gout, visited him in his
confinement, and expressed himself very much disappointed that he could not
have the benefit of his lectures. Posidonius, thus honoured and flattered,
in spite of his pain, delivered a lecture in the presence of his noble
visitor; the subject of which was to prove, that nothing is good which is
not honourable. Cicero informs us, that he also attended his lectures; and
according to Suidas Marcellus, brought him to Rome in the year of the city
702; in this, however, Suidas is not supported by other and contemporary

We are indebted to Cleomedes for most of what we know of his opinions and
discoveries; with such as relate to morals or to pure astronomy, we have no
concern. But he was of service also to geography. He measured an arc of the
terrestrial meridian; but his operation, as far as we can judge by the
details which have reached us, was far from exact, and of course his result
could not be accurate; it would appear, however, that his object was rather
to verify the ancient measures of the earth, particularly that of
Eratosthenes, and that he found them to agree nearly with his own. He
explained the ebbing and flowing of the sea, from the motion of the moon,
and seems to have been the first who observed the law of this phenomenon.
In order to represent the appearance of the heavens, Cicero informs us that
he constructed a kind of planetarium, by means of which he exhibited the
apparent motion of the sun, moon, and planets round the earth. It is on the
authority of Posidonius, that Strabo relates the voyage of Eudoxus of
Cyzicum from the Persian Gulf round Africa to Cadiz, which we have already

Having thus exhibited a view of the discoveries in geography, the advances
in the sciences connected with it, and the commercial enterprises of the
Egyptians, while under the dominion of the Ptolemies, it will be proper,
before beginning an account of the geographical knowledge and commercial
enterprises of the Romans (who, by their conquest of Egypt, may be said to
have absorbed all the geographical knowledge, as well as all the commerce
of the world, at that period), to recapitulate the extent of the Egyptian
geography and commerce, especially towards the east We shall direct our
retrospect to this quarter, because the commodities of the east being most
prized, it was the grand object of the sovereigns and merchants of Egypt,
to extend and facilitate the intercourse with that quarter of the globe as
much as possible. And we are induced to undertake the retrospect, because
the exact limit of the geographical knowledge and commercial enterprise of
the Ptolemies is differently fixed by different authors: some maintaining
that the Egyptians had a regular and extensive trade directly with India,
and of course, were well acquainted with the seas and coasts beyond the Red
Sea; while other authors maintain, that they never passed the straits of
Babelmandeb, and that even within the straits, their geographical knowledge
and commercial enterprises were very limited.

It cannot be doubted that commerce and the spirit of discovery flourished
with more vigour, and pushed themselves to a greater distance in the reigns
of Ptolemy Philadelphus, and Ptolemy Euergetes, than in the reign of any of
their successors. If, therefore, there are no proofs or traces of a direct
and regular trade with India in their time, we may safely conclude it did
not exist in Egypt, previously to the conquest of that country by the

We are well aware, that there are great authorities opposed to the opinion
which we hold; but these authorities are modern; they are not, we think,
supported by the ancient writers, and in opposition to them, we can place
the authority of Dr. Vincent, a name of the very greatest weight in
questions of this nature. The authorities we alluded to in support of the
opinion, that there was a direct trade with India under the Ptolemies, are
Huet, in his History of the Commerce and Navigation of the Ancients; Dr.
Robertson, in his Disquisition on India, and Harris, or perhaps, more
properly speaking, Dr. Campbell, in his edition of Harris's Collection of
Voyages and Travels. Huet, as is justly remarked by Dr. Vincent, drops the
prosecution of the question at the very point he ought to introduce it; and
afterwards countenances, or seems to countenance, the opposite opinion. Dr.
Robertson bestows much labour, ingenuity, and learning in support of the
opinion, that under the Ptolemies, a direct trade was carried on with
India; yet, after all, he concludes in this manner: "it is probable that
their voyages were circumscribed within very narrow limits, and that under
the Ptolemies no considerable progress was made in the discovery of India:"
and when he comes to the discovery of the Monsoon by Hippalus and the
consequent advantage taken of it to trade directly to India, by sailing
from shore to shore, he acknowledges that all proofs of a more early
existence of such a trade are wanting. Dr. Campbell virtually gives up his
support of the opinion, that a direct trade was carried on under the
Ptolemies, in the same manner.

We have already remarked, that the strongest spirit of enterprize that
distinguished Egypt existed in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus and
Ptolemy Euergetes; that these monarchs pushed their discoveries, and
extended their commercial connections much farther than any of their
predecessors; and that therefore, if a direct and regular communication
between Egypt and India did not take place in their reigns, we may be
assured it was unknown to the Egyptians at the period of the Roman
conquest. To their reigns, then, we shall principally direct our enquiries.

That Ptolemy Philadelphus was extremely desirous to improve the navigation
of the Red Sea, is evident from his having built Myos Hormos, or rather
improved it, because it was more convenient than Arsinoe, on account of the
difficulty of navigating the western extremity of that sea: he afterwards
fixed on Berenice in preference to Myos Hormos, when the navigation and
commerce on this sea was extended and improved, since Berenice being lower
down, the navigation towards the straits was shorter, as well as attended
with fewer difficulties and dangers. But there is no evidence that his
fleets, which sailed from Berenice, were destined for India, or even passed
the Straits of Babelmandeb. It is, however, not meant to be asserted that
no vessels passed these straits in the time of this Ptolemy. On the
contrary, we know that his admiral, Timosthenes, passed the straits as low
as Cerne, which is generally supposed to be Madagascar; but commerce, which
in our times, directed by much superior skill and knowledge, as well as
stimulated by a stronger spirit of enterprize and rivalship, and a more
absorbing love of gain, immediately follows in the track of discovery, was
then comparatively slow, languid, and timid as well as ignorant; so that it
is not surprizing that it did not follow the track of Timosthenes. Ptolemy
Philadelphus also pushed his discoveries by land as far as Meroc: he opened
the route between Coptus and Berenice, establishing ports and opening
wells; and from these and other circumstances he seems to have been
actuated by a stronger wish to extend commerce, and to have formed more
plans for this purpose, than any of his successors.

Ptolemy Euergetes directed his thoughts more to conquest than to commerce,
though he rendered the former, in some degree, useful and subservient to
the latter. After having passed the Nile, and subdued the nations which lay
on the confines of Egypt, he compelled them to open a road of communication
between their country and Egypt. The frankincense country was the next
object of his ambition: this he subdued; and having sent a fleet and army
across the Red Sea into Arabia, he compelled the inhabitants of the
district to maintain the roads free from robbers, and the sea from
pirates--a proof that these people had made some advances in seafaring
matters, and also of the attention paid by Euergetes to the navigation of
the Red Sea, as well as to the protection of land commerce. Indeed the
whole of his progress to Aduli, which we have more particularly mentioned
in another place, was marked as much by attention to commerce as by the
love of conquest; but though by this enterprize he rendered both the coasts
of the Red Sea tributary, and thus better adapted to commerce, there is no
proof that he passed the Straits of Babelmandeb. It is true, indeed, that
he visited Mosullon, which lies beyond the straits, but not by sea, having
marched by land to that place, through the interior of Abyssinia and Adel.
From the whole of this enterprize of Euergetes we may justly infer, that
though he facilitated the intercourse by land between Egypt and those parts
of Africa which lay immediately beyond the straits, yet his ships did not
pass the straits, and that in his reign the discoveries of Timosthenes had
not been followed up or improved for the purpose of trading by sea with the
coast of Africa. The navigation of the whole of the Red Sea, at least on
the Arabian side, from Leuake Kome to Sabaea, was undoubtedly known and
frequently used at this period; but this was its utmost limit.

In the reign of Ptolemy Philometor, when Agatharcides lived, the commercial
enterprizes of the Egyptians had begun rather to languish; on the Arabian
side of the Red Sea, they did indeed extend to Sabaea, as in the time of
Euergetes; but there is evidence that on the opposite coast they did not go
so low, as in the reign of the latter sovereign. Agatharcides makes no
mention of Berenice; according to his account, Myos Hormos had again become
the emporium, and the only trade from that part seems to have been for
elephants to Ptolemais Theron. It may, indeed, be urged that Berenice was
not, properly speaking, a harbour, but only an open bay, to which the ships
did not come from Myos Hormos, till their cargoes were completely ready.
But that Myos Hormos was the great point of communication with Coptus is
evident from the account which Agatharcides gives of the caravan road
between these two places. Even so late as the time of Strabo, this road was
much more frequented than the road between Coptus and Berenice: of the
latter he merely observes, that Philadelphus opened it with his army,
established ports, and sunk Wells; whereas he particularly describes the
former road, as being seven or eight days' journey, formerly performed on
camels in the night, by observation of the stars, and carrying water with
them. Latterly, he adds, deep wells had been sunk, and cisterns formed for
holding water. Every detail of the road to Berenice is Roman, and relates
to periods considerably posterior to the conquest of Egypt by the Romans--a
proof that the plan of Philadelphus, of substituting Berenice for Myos
Hormos, had not been regularly adopted by his successors, nor till the
Romans had firmly and permanently fixed themselves in Egypt.

In the extract we have already given from Agatharcides respecting Arabia,
he expressly mentions that the Gerrheans and Sabeans are the centre of all
the commerce that passes between Asia and Europe, and that these are the
nations which have enriched the Ptolemais: this statement, taken in
conjunction with the fact that his description of the coast of the Red Sea
reaches no farther than Sabaea on the one side, and Ptolemais Theron on the
other, seems decisive of the truth of the opinion, that in the time of
Philometor the Egyptians did not trade directly to India. It may be proper
to add, that in the extracts from Agatharcides, given by Photius, it is
expressly mentioned that ships from India were met with by the Egyptian
ships in the ports of Sabaea. The particulars of this trade between India
and Egypt, by means of the Arabians, will be afterwards detailed, and its
great antiquity traced and proved; at present we have alluded to it merely
to bear us out in our position, that Indian ships, laden with Indian
commodities, frequenting the ports of Sabaea, and those ports being
described by Agatharcides as the limits of his knowledge of this coast of
the Red Sea, we are fully justified in concluding, that, in the reign of
Philometor, there was not only no direct trade to India, but no inducement
to such trade; and that 146 years after the death of Alexander, the Greek
sovereigns of Egypt had done little to complete what that monarch had
projected, and in part accomplished by the navigation of Nearchus--the
communication by sea between Alexandria and India.

Under the successors of Philometor, the trade in the Red Sea languished
rather than increased, and the full benefits of it were not reaped till
some time after the Roman conquest. Even in the time of Strabo, the bulk of
the trade still passed by Coptus to Myos Hormos. We are aware of a passage
in this author, which, at first, sight seems to contradict the position we
have laid down, and to prove, that at least in his time, there was a direct
and not unfrequent navigation between the Red Sea and India. He expressly
states, that in the course of six or seven years, 120 ships had sailed from
Myos Hormos to India: but on this it may be observed, in the first place,
that he begins his description of India, with requesting his readers to
peruse what he relates concerning it with indulgence, as it was a country
very remote, and few persons had visited it; and even with regard to Arabia
Felix, he says, that the knowledge of the Romans commenced with the
expedition of his friend Ælius Gallus into that country;--facts not very
consistent with his statement that 120 ships had sailed in six or seven
years to India: secondly, he expressly mentions, that formerly scarcely
twenty ships dared to navigate the Red Sea, so far as to shew themselves
beyond the straits; but we can hardly suppose that skill, enterprize, and
knowledge, had increased so rapidly as to extend within a very few years
navigation, not merely beyond the straits, but even to India; we say a few
years, for certainly, at the time when the Romans conquered Egypt, the
straits were not usually passed: lastly, the name India was used so vaguely
by the ancients, even by Strabo occasionally, that it is not improbable he
meant by it, merely the coast of Arabia, beyond the straits. It is well
asked by Dr. Vincent, in reference to this account of Strabo, might not
that geographer, from knowing the ships brought home Indian commodities,
have supposed that they sailed to India, when in reality they went no
farther than Hadramant, in Arabia, or Mosullon, on the coast of Africa,
where they found the produce of India?

It is not, however, meant to be denied that a few vessels, in the time of
Ptolemies, reached some part of India from the Red Sea, by coasting all the
way. The author of the Periplus of the Red Sea, informs us that, before the
discovery of the monsoon, by Hippalus, small vessels had made a coasting
voyage from Cana, in Arabia, to the Indies. But these irregular and
trifling voyages are deserving of little consideration, and do not militate
against the position we have laid down and endeavoured to prove, that in
the time of the Ptolemies the commerce of Egypt was confined within the
limits of the Red Sea, partly from the want of skill and enterprize, and
from the dangers that were supposed to exist beyond the straits, but
principally because the commodities of India could be procured in the ports
of Sabæa.

Many instances have already been given of the patronage which the Ptolemies
bestowed on commerce, of the facilities and advantages they afforded, and
of the benefits which the science of geography derived from the library and
observatory of Alexandria: every instrument which could facilitate the
study of astronomy was purchased by the Ptolemies and placed in that
observatory, for they were fully aware of the dependency of a full and
accurate knowledge of geography, as a science, on a full and accurate
knowledge of astronomy. With respect to commerce, the advancement of which,
may fairly be supposed to have had some weight in their patronage of these
sciences, they encouraged it as much as possible to centre in Alexandria,
and with citizens of Egypt, by making it a standing law of the country,
that no goods should pass through the capital, either to India or Europe,
without the intervention of an Alexandrian factor, and that even when
foreign merchants resided there, they should employ the same agency. The
roads and canals they formed, and the care they took to keep the Red Sea
free from pirates, are further proofs of their regard for commerce.

And justly was it held by the Ptolemies in high estimation, for from it
they derived their immense wealth. We are informed by Strabo, that the
revenue of Alexandria, in the worst of times, was 12,500 talents,
equivalent to nearly two millions and a half sterling; and if this was the
revenue under the last and most indolent of the Ptolemies, what must it
have been under Ptolemy Philadelphus, or Ptolemy Euergetes? But the account
given by Appian of the treasure of the Ptolemies is still more
extraordinary: the sum he mentions is 740,000 talents, or £191,166,666,
according to Dr. Arbuthnot's computation; we should be disposed to doubt
the accuracy of this statement, did we not know that Appian was a native of
Alexandria, and did he not moreover inform us, that he had extracted his
account from the public records of that city. When we consider that this
immense sum was accumulated by only two of the Ptolemies, Ptolemy Soter and
Ptolemy Philadelphus, and that the latter maintained two great fleets, one
in the Mediterranean, and the other in the Red Sea, besides an army of
200,000 foot, and 40,000 horse; and that he had 300 elephants, 2000 armed
chariots, and an armoury at Alexandria, stocked with 300,000 complete suits
of armour, and all other necessary weapons and implements of war,--we shall
form some idea of the extent and fruitfulness of Egyptian commerce, from
which the whole, or nearly the whole, of this immense wealth must have been

Having thus brought our historical sketch of the progress of discovery and
commercial enterprize among the Egyptians down to the period of the
conquest of Egypt by the Romans, we shall, in the next place, revert to the
Romans themselves, in whom, at the date of their conquest of this country,
the geographical knowledge and the commerce of the whole world may justly
be said to have centered. As, however, we have hitherto only adverted to
the Romans, in our account of the discoveries and commerce of the
Carthaginians, it will be proper to notice them in a much more detailed and
particular manner. We shall, therefore, trace, their geographical
knowledge, their discoveries and their commerce, from the foundation of
Rome, to the period of their conquest of Egypt; and in the course of this
investigation, we shall give a sketch of the commerce of those countries
which successively fell under their dominion--omitting such as we have
already noticed: by this plan, we shall be enabled to trace the commerce of
all the known world at that time, down to the period when Rome absorbed the

The account which Polybius gives, that before the first Carthaginian war
the Romans were entirely ignorant of, and inattentive to sea affairs--if by
this statement he means to assert that they were unacquainted with maritime
commerce, as well as maritime warfare, is expressly contradicted by the
treaties between Rome and Carthage, which we have already given in our
account of the commerce of Carthage. The first of those treaties was made
250 years before the first Punic war; and the second, about fifty years
before it. Besides, it is not probable that the Romans should have been
entirely ignorant of, and inattentive to maritime commerce for so long a
period; since several nations of Italy, with which they were at first
connected, and which they afterwards conquered, were very conversant in
this commerce, and derived great consideration, power, and wealth from it.

The Romans had conquered Etruria, and made themselves masters of the Tuscan
powers both by sea and land, before the commencement of the first Punic
war; and though at this period, the Tuscans were not so celebrated for
their commerce as they had been, yet the shipping and commerce they did
possess, must have fallen into the power of the Romans; and we can scarcely
suppose that these, together with the facilities which the Tuscans enjoyed
for commerce, by means of their ports, and their skill and commercial
habits and connections, would be entirely neglected by their conquerors.
Besides, there are several old Roman coins, by some supposed to have been
as old as the time of the kings, and certainly prior to the first Punic
war, on the reverses of which different parts of ships are visible. Now, as
the Roman historians are diffuse in the accounts they give of the wars of
the Romans, but take no notice of their commercial transactions, we may
safely conclude, from their not mentioning any maritime wars, or
expeditions of a date so early as these coins, that the ships at that
period preserved by the Romans, and deemed of such consequence as to be
struck on their coins, were employed for the purposes of commerce.

The Tuscans and the Grecian colonies in the south of Italy, certainly had
made great progress in commerce at an early period; and as,--if their
example did not stimulate the Romans to enterprises of the same kind,--the
Romans, at least when they conquered them, became possessed of the commerce
which they then enjoyed, it will be proper to take a brief view of it.

If we may credit the ancient historians, the Etrurians or Tyrrhenians, even
before the reign of Minos, had been for a long time masters of the greatest
part of the Mediterranean Sea, and had given their name to the Tyrrhenian
Sea, upon which they were situate. Piracy, as well as commerce, was
followed by them; and they became at last so expert, successful, and
dangerous, for their piracies, that they were attacked, and their maritime
power greatly abridged, by the Carthaginians and the Sicilians. Their most
famous port was Luna, which was situated on the Macra, a river which,
flowing from the Apennines, divided Liguria from Etruria, and fell into the
Tyrrhenian Sea. There seems good reason to believe that Luna was a place of
great trade before the Trojan war; it was extremely capacious, and in every
respect worthy of the commercial enterprise and wealth of the Tuscans.
Populonium, a city which was situate on a high promontory of the same name,
that ran a considerable way into the sea, also possessed a very commodious
harbour, capable of receiving a great number of ships. It had an arsenal
well supplied with all kinds of naval stores, and a quay for shipping or
landing merchandize. One of the principal articles of export consisted in
copper vessels, and in arms, machines, utensils, &c. of iron: these metals
were at first supplied to the inhabitants from the island of Æthalia (now
Elba); but the copper-mines there failing, iron alone, from the same
island, was imported for the purpose of their various manufactures; the
trade in these flourished in very remote times, and continued in the days
of Aristotle and Strabo.

But the most direct and unequivocal testimony to the power of the Tuscans,
and that that power was principally, if not entirely, derived from their
maritime skill and commerce, is to be found in Livy. This historian informs
us, "that before the Roman empire, the Tuscan dominions extended very far
both by sea and land, even to the upper and lower sea, by which Italy is
surrounded, in form of an island. Their very names are an argument for the
vast power of this people; for the Italian natives call the one the Tuscan
Sea, and the other the Adriatic, from Adria, a Tuscan colony. The Greeks
call them the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas. This people, in twelve cities,
inhabited the country extending to both seas; and by sending out colonies
equal in number to the mother cities, first on this side of the Apennines
towards the lower sea, and afterwards as many on the other side, possessed
all the country beyond the Po, even to the Alps, except the corner
belonging to the Venetians, who dwelt round a bay of the sea." Homer,
Heraclides, Aristides, and Diodorus Siculus, all concur in their
representations of the maritime power and commercial opulence of the
Tuscans at a very early period. Diodorus Siculus expressly says, that they
were masters of the sea; and Aristides, that the Indians were the most
powerful nation in the east, and the Tuscans in the west.

Of the Grecian colonies in the south of Italy, that of Tarentum was the
most celebrated for its commerce. Polybius expressly informs us, that
Tarentum, their principal city, was very prosperous and rich, long before
Rome made any figure, and that its prosperity and riches were entirely the
fruit of the extensive and lucrative trade they carried on, particularly
with Greece. The city of Tarentum stood on a peninsula, and the citadel,
which was very strong, was built on the narrowest and extremest part of it;
on the east was a small bay, on the west the main sea; the harbour is
represented by ancient historians as extremely large, beautiful and
commodious. Its vicinity to Greece, Sicily, and Africa, afforded it great
opportunities and facilities for commerce. The inhabitants are represented
by some authors as having been the inventors of a particular kind of ship,
which retained in some degree the form of a raft or float. Their
government, which at first was aristocratical, was afterwards changed to a
democracy; and it is to this popular form of government that their
prosperity and wealth are ascribed. The number of people in the whole state
amounted to 300,000; Tarentum had twelve other cities under its dominion.
Besides a considerable fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, they had constantly
on foot a very large army, principally of mercenaries. Eighteen years
before the first Punic war, the Romans had entered into a maritime treaty
with the Tarentines; according to this treaty, neither party were to
navigate beyond the Cape of Lacinia. Soon afterwards, however, the Roman
fleet accidentally appearing near Tarentum, the inhabitants took the alarm,
sunk four of the ships, killed or took prisoners the commander and some
other officers, sold the seamen for slaves, and behaved with great
insolence to the ambassador whom the Romans sent to remonstrate and demand
satisfaction. They were soon, however, obliged to submit to the superior
power of the Romans. In the second Punic war, it was finally subdued, and a
Roman colony planted there.

The Spinetes, Liburnians, and Locrians, were also celebrated for their
skill in naval affairs, and for their commerce, before Rome manifested the
slightest wish to distinguish herself in this manner. Indeed, the situation
of Italy naturally turned the attention of its inhabitants (especially of
those who were early civilized, as the Tuscans, or those who had emigrated
from a civilized country, as the nations in the south of Italy,) to naval
affairs and maritime commerce. Washed by three seas, the Adriatic on the
north-east, the Tyrrhenian on the west, and the Ionian on the south, Italy
enjoyed advantages possessed by few nations of antiquity. Of the first of
these seas, the Spinetes became masters, of the second the Tuscans, and of
the third the Tarentines. The Spinetes, were originally Pelasgi, who had
emigrated and settled by chance rather than design, on the south banks of
the Po. Spina, their capital, was situated on the north side of the
southernmost mouth of that river. We do not possess any particular account
of their commerce, but that it rendered them powerful and rich we are
assured; and their dominion over the Adriatic is a decisive proof of the
former, while their magnificent offerings to Delphos may as justly be
deemed a proof of the latter. Spina was strong both by nature and art, on
the sea side, but the reverse on the land side; so that at last it was
abandoned by its inhabitants not being able to withstand the attacks of
their neighbours, who were either jealous of their prosperity, or attracted
to the assault by the love of plunder. In the reign of Augustus it was
reduced to a small village; and the branch of the Po, on which it was
situated, had changed its course so much, that it was then upwards of
fifteen miles distant from the sea, on the shore of which it had been
built. The gradual alteration in the course of the river, it is probable,
contributed with the other cause already mentioned to reduce it to
comparative insignificance.

Opposite to the Spinetes across the Adriatic, on the coast of Dalmatia, the
Liburnians dwelt. In some respects their coast was preferable to that of
Italy for maritime affairs, as it is studded with islands, which afforded
shelter to ships, and likewise possessed many excellent harbours; but the
Liburnians, as well as most of the inhabitants of Illyria, were more eager
after piracy than commerce; and, as we shall afterwards see, carried their
piracies to such a daring and destructive extent, that the Romans were
compelled to attack them. Their devotedness to piracy explains what to
Mons. Huet appears unaccountable. He observes, that it is remarkable that
neither the Dalmatians, who were powerful at sea by means of their port
Salona, which was their capital, nor the Liburnians themselves, according
to all appearance, had the use of money among them. Commerce cannot be
carried on to great extent, or in a regular and expeditious manner, by
natives ignorant of the use of money; but money seems to be not at all
requisite to the purposes of piracy. The Liburnian ships, or more properly
speaking, those ships which were denominated Liburnian, from having been
invented and first employed by this people, were of two kinds; one large,
fit for war and long voyages, but at the same time built light and for
quick sailing. After the victory of Actium, which Augustus gained in a
great measure by means of these ships, few were built by the Romans of any
other construction. The other Liburnian vessels were small, for fishing and
short voyages; some of these were made with osiers and covered with hides.
But strength and lightness, and quick sailing, were the qualities by which
the Liburnian ships were chiefly distinguished and characterised.

At what precise period the Romans directed their attention to maritime
affairs we are not accurately informed: that the opinion of Polybius on
this subject is not well founded, is evident from several circumstances. He
says, that before the first Punic war the Romans had no thought of the sea;
that Sicily was the first country, out of Italy, in which they ever landed;
and that, when they went to that island to assist the Mamertines, the
vessels which they employed in that expedition were hired, or borrowed from
the Tarentines, the Locrians, &c. He is correct in his statement that
Sicily was the first country in which the Romans had any footing; but that
he is inaccurate with respect to the period when the Romans first applied
themselves to maritime affairs, will appear from the following facts.

In the first place, the Romans (as we have already shown in our account of
the Carthaginian commerce,) had several treaties with the Carthaginians,
which may properly be called commercial treaties, before the first Punic
war. The earliest treaty, according to Polybius himself, was dated about
250 years before the war; and in this treaty the voyages undertaken by the
Romans on account of trade to Africa, Sardinia, and that part of Sicily at
that time possessed by the Carthaginians, are expressly mentioned and
regulated. The second treaty, about 100 years before the first Punic war,
is not so specific respecting commerce. The third treaty, occasioned by the
invasion of Italy by Pyrrhus, points out a decline in the naval power of
the Romans; for it stipulates, that the Carthaginians should furnish them
with ships, if required, either for trade or war. Secondly, seventy-four
years before the first Punic war, the Romans having subdued the Antiates,
and thus become masters of their fleet, among which were six armed with
beaks, the tribune was ornamented with these beaks, the ships to which they
belonged were burnt, and the others were brought to Rome and laid upon the
place allotted to the building and preservation of ships. Lastly, the
circumstances which gave rise to the war between the Romans and Tarentines,
to which we have already adverted, plainly prove that Polybius is wrong in
his assertion. Valerius, who commanded the Roman fleet, which was attacked
by the Tarentines, according to Livy, was one of the _duumviri navales_,
officers who had been already appointed nearly thirty years (that is,
nearly fifty years before the first Punic war), on the motion of Decius
Mus, expressly for the purpose of equipping, repairing, and maintaining the

From these circumstances, it appears that the Romans possessed ships both
for war and commerce, previous to the commencement of their wars with the
Carthaginians, though it is extremely probable that their commerce was very
limited, and for the most part carried on in vessels belonging to the other
maritime nations of Italy, and that their ships of war were very small and
rude in their construction and equipment.

It is foreign to the object of this work to enter into a detail of the wars
between the Romans and the Carthaginians: but as the great efforts of the
Romans to become powerful at sea were made during these wars; as these
efforts, being successful, laid the foundation of the future commerce of
Rome; and as by the destruction of Carthage, in some measure caused by the
naval victories gained by the Romans, the most commercial nation of
antiquity was utterly ruined, and their commerce transferred to Rome, it
will be proper briefly to notice the naval contests between these rival
powers during the three wars in which they were engaged.

The first Punic war was occasioned by a desire on the part of the
Carthaginians to enlarge and secure their acquisitions in Sicily, and to
preserve their dominion of the sea, and by a determination on the part of
the Romans to check the progress of the Carthaginians in that island, so
immediately adjoining the continent of Italy. An opportunity soon occurred,
which seemed to promise to each the accomplishment of their respective
objects: the Mamertines, being hard pursued by Hiero king of Syracuse, and
shut up in Messina, the only city which remained to them, were divided in
opinion; some were for accepting the protection offered them by Hannibal,
who at that time commanded the Carthaginian army in Sicily; others were for
calling in the aid of the Romans. Both these powers gladly accepted the
proffered opportunity of extending their conquests, and checking their

The consul Appius Claudius, was ordered by the senate to proceed to Sicily:
previously to his departure, he despatched Caius Claudius, a legionary
tribune, with a few vessels to Rhegium, principally, it would seem, to
reconnoitre the naval force of the Carthaginians. The consul himself soon
followed with a small fleet, hired principally from the Tarentines,
Locrians, and Neapolitans. This fleet being attacked by the Carthaginian
fleet, which was not only much more numerous, but better equipped and
manned, and a violent storm rising during the engagement, which dashed many
of the Roman vessels in pieces among the rocks, was completely worsted. The
Carthaginians, however, restored most of the vessels they captured, only
expostulating with the Romans on the infraction of the treaty at that time
subsisting between the two republics. This loss was in some measure
counterbalanced by Claudius capturing, on his voyage back to Rhegium, a
Carthaginian quinquireme, the first which fell into the possession of the
Romans, and which served them for a model. According to other historians,
however, a Carthaginian galley, venturing too near the shore, was stranded,
and taken by the Romans; and after the model of this galley, the Romans
built many of their vessels.

Claudius was not in the least discouraged by his defeat, observing that he
could not expect to learn the art of navigation without paying dear for it;
but having repaired his fleet, he sailed again for Sicily, and eluding the
vigilance of the Carthaginian admiral, arrived safe in the port of Messina.

After the alliance formed between the Romans and Hiero king of Syracuse,
and the capture of Agrigentium, they resolved to use all their efforts for
the entire subjugation of Sicily. As, however, the Carthaginians were
extremely powerful by sea, they could not hope to accomplish this object,
unless they were able to cope with them on that element. They resolved,
therefore, no longer to trust in any degree to hired vessels, but to build
and equip a formidable fleet of their own. Powerfully actuated by this
resolution, they began the arduous undertaking with that ardour and spirit
of perseverance, which so eminently distinguished them; they deemed it
absolutely necessary to have 120 ships. Trees were immediately cut down in
the forests, and the timber brought to the sea shore: and the whole fleet,
according to Polybius, was not only built, but perfectly equipped and ready
for sea, in two months from the time the trees were felled. Of the 120
vessels of which it was composed, 100 had five benches of rowers, and 20 of
them had three benches.

There was, however, another difficulty to be overcome. It was absolutely
necessary that the men, who were to navigate and fight these ships, should
possess some knowledge of their art; but it was in vain to expect that with
the Carthaginians, so powerful and watchful at sea, the Roman ships would
be permitted to cruise safely long enough to make them practised sailors
and fighters. To obviate this difficulty, they had recourse, according to
Polybius, to a singular but tolerably effectual mode. "While some men were
employed in building the galleys, others, assembling those who were to
serve in the fleet, instructed them in the use of the oar after the
following manner: they contrived benches on the shore in the same fashion
and order as they were to be in the galleys, and placing their seamen, with
their oars, in like manner on the benches, an officer, by signs with his
hand, instructed them how to dip their oars all at the same time, and how
to recover them out of the water. By this means they became acquainted with
the management of the oar; and as soon as the vessels were built and
equipped, they spent some time in practising on the water, what they had
learnt ashore."

The necessity of possessing a fleet adequate to cope with that of the
Carthaginians became more and more apparent; for though the Romans had
obtained possession of all the inland cities in Sicily, the Carthaginians
compensated for this by having the ascendancy by sea, and in the cities on
the coast. The Roman fleet was commanded by Cornelius Scipio, who put to
sea with seventeen ships, in order to secure at Messina reception and
security for the whole fleet; but his enterprise was unfortunate; for,
being deceived by false information, he entered the port of Lipara, where
he was blockaded by the enemy, and obliged to surrender. This partial loss,
however, was soon counterbalanced by a naval victory; for the remainder of
the Roman fleet, amounting to 103 sail, being encountered by a Carthaginian
fleet under Hannibal, who despising the Romans, had advanced to the contest
with only fifty galleys, succeeded in capturing or destroying the whole of

In the mean time, the senate had appointed Duilius commander of the fleet;
and his first object was to survey it accurately, and, if possible, to
improve the construction or equipment of the vessels, if they appeared
defective, either for the purpose of sailing or fighting. It seemed to him,
on examining them, that they could not be easily and quickly worked during
an engagement, being much heavier and more unwieldy than those of the
Carthaginians. As this defect could not be removed, he tried whether it
could not be compensated; and an engineer in the fleet succeeded in this
important object, by inventing that machine which was afterwards called

The immediate purpose which this machine was to serve is clearly explained
by all the ancient authors who mention it: its use was to stop the enemy's
ships as soon as the Roman vessels came up with them, and thus to give them
an opportunity of boarding them; but the construction and mode of operation
of these machines it is not easy to ascertain from the descriptions of
ancient authors. Polybius gives the following description of them: "They
erected on the prow of their vessels a round piece of timber, about one
foot and a half in diameter, and about twelve feet long, on the top of
which a block or pully was fastened. Round this piece of timber a stage or
platform was constructed, four feet broad, and about eighteen feet long,
which was strongly fastened with iron. The entrance was lengthways, and it
could be moved about the piece of timber, first described, as on a spindle,
and could be hoisted within six feet of the top. Round this there was a
parapet, knee high, which was defended with upright bars of iron, sharpened
at the end. Towards the top there was a ring, through which a rope was
fastened, by means of which they could raise and lower the engine at
pleasure. With this machine they attacked the enemy's vessels, sometimes on
their bow, and sometimes on their broadside. When they had grappled the
enemy with these iron spikes, if the ships happened to swing broadside to
broadside, then the Romans boarded them from all parts; but when they were
obliged to grapple them on the bow, they entered two and two, by the help
of this engine, the foremost defending the forepart, and those who followed
the flanks, keeping the boss of their bucklers level with the top of the

From this description of the corvus, it is evident that it had two distinct
uses to serve: in the first place, to lay hold of and entangle the enemy's
ships; and, secondly, after it had accomplished this object, it served as a
means of entering the enemy's vessels, and also as a protection while the
boarding was taking place. With respect to the question, whether the
_harpagones_ or manus ferrææ; were the same with the _corvi_, it appears to
us that the former were of much older invention, as they certainly were
much more simple in their construction; and that, probably, the engineer
who invented the corvi, borrowed his idea of them from the harpagones, and
in fact incorporated the two machines in one engine. The harpagones were
undoubtedly grappling irons, but of such light construction that they could
be thrown by manual force; but they were of no other service; whereas the
corvi were worked by machinery, and served, as we have shown, not only to
grapple, but to assist and protect the boarders. We have been thus
particular in our account of the corvus, because it may fairly be regarded
as having essentially contributed to the establishment of the Roman naval
power over that of the Carthaginians.

After Duilius had made a trial of the efficacy of this machine, he sailed
in quest of the enemy. The Carthaginians, despising the Romans as totally
inexperienced in naval affairs, did not even take the trouble or precaution
to draw up their ships in line of battle, but trusting entirely to their
own superior skill, and to the greater lightness of their ships, they bore
down on the Romans in disorder. They, however, were induced, for a short
time, to slacken their advance at the sight of the corvi; but not giving
the Romans credit for any invention which could counterbalance their want
of skill, experience, and self-confidence, they again pushed forward and
attacked the Romans. They soon suffered, however, the consequences of their
rashness: the Romans, by means of their corvi, grappled their ships so
closely and steadily, that the fight resembled much more a land than a sea
battle; and thus feeling themselves, as it were, on their own element,
while their enemies seemed to themselves no longer to be fighting in ships,
the confidence of the former rose, while that of the latter fell, from the
same cause, and nearly in the same proportion. The result was, that the
Romans gained a complete victory. The loss of the Carthaginians is
variously related by the Roman writers: this is extraordinary, since they
must have had access to the best possible authority; the inscription of the
Columna Rostrata of Duilius, which is still preserved at Rome. According to
this inscription, Duilius fitted out a fleet in sixty days, defeated the
Carthaginians, commanded by Hannibal, at sea, took from them thirty ships,
with all their rigging, and the septireme which carried the admiral
himself; sunk thirty, and took several prisoners of distinction. When
Hannibal saw the Romans about to enter his septireme, he leaped into a
small boat and escaped.

A circumstance occurred during this engagement which clearly manifested the
ardour and perseverance, by means of which the Romans had already become
expert, not only in the management of their ships, but also in the use of
their corvi. It has already been noticed that the Carthaginians bore down
on them in disorder, each ship endeavouring to reach them as soon as
possible, without waiting for the rest: among the foremost was Hannibal.
After the defeat of this part of the fleet, the rest, amounting to 120,
having come up, endeavoured to avoid the fate of their companions by rowing
as quickly as possible round the Roman ships, so as not to allow them to
make use of the corvi. But the Romans proved themselves to be even more
expert seamen than their enemies; for, though their vessels were much
heavier, they worked them with so much ease, celerity, and skill, that they
presented the machines to the enemy on whatever side they approached them.

The vanquished Hannibal was disgraced by his country; whereas the
victorious Roman was honoured and rewarded by the senate, who were fully
sensible of all the advantages derived by a naval victory over the
Carthaginians. The high and distinguished honour of being attended, when he
returned from supper, with music and torches, which was granted for once
only to those who triumphed, was continued to Duilius during life. To
perpetuate the memory of this victory, medals were struck, and the pillar,
to which we have already alluded, was erected in the forum. This pillar,
called Columna Rostrata, from the beaks of the ships which were fastened to
it, was discovered in the year 1560, and placed in the capital.

In the year after this splendid victory the Romans resolved to attempt the
reduction of Corsica and Sardinia; for this purpose L. Cornelius Scipio
sailed with a squadron under his command. He easily succeeded in reducing
Corsica; but it appears, from an inscription on a stone which was dug up in
the year 1615, in Rome, that he encountered a violent storm off the coast
of that island, in which his fleet was exposed to imminent danger. The
words of the inscription are, "He took the city of Aleria and conquered
Corsica, and built a temple to the tempests, with very good reason." This
storm is not mentioned in any of the ancient authors. Scipio was obliged to
be more cautious in his attempts on Sardinia, but afterwards the Romans
succeeded in gaining possession of this island.

The Romans having thus acquired Corsica and Sardinia, and all the maritime
towns of Sicily, determined to invade, or at least to alarm, the African
dominions of Carthage. Accordingly Sulpicius, who commanded their fleet,
circulated a report that he intended to sail for the coasts of Africa: this
induced the Carthaginians to put to sea; but after the hostile fleets had
approached each other, and were about to engage, a storm arose and
separated them, and obliged them both to take shelter in the ports of
Sardinia. As soon as it abated, Sulpicius put to sea again, surprised the
Carthaginians, and captured or destroyed most of their ships.

Five years after the victory of Duilius, the Romans were able to put to sea
a fleet of 330 covered gallies. Ten of these were sent to reconnoitre the
enemy, but approaching too near, they were attacked and destroyed. This
unfortunate event did not discourage the consul Attilius Regulus, who
commanded: on the contrary, he resolved to wipe off this disgrace by
signalizing his consulship in a remarkable manner. He was ordered by the
senate to cross the Mediterranean, and invade Carthage. The Roman fleet,
which consisted of 330 galleys, on board of each of which were 120 soldiers
and 300 rowers, was stationed at Messina: from this port they took their
departure, stretching along the coast of Sicily, till they doubled Cape
Pachynum, after which they sailed directly to Ecnomos. The Carthaginian
fleet consisted of 360 sail, and the seamen were more numerous, as well as
more skilful and experienced, than those of the Romans: it rendezvoused at
Heraclea, not far from Ecnomos. Between these two places the hostile fleets
met, and one of the most obstinate and decisive battles ensued that are
recorded in ancient history. As Polybius has given a very particular
account of the manner in which the respective fleets were drawn up, and of
all the incidents of the battle, we shall transcribe it from him, because
the issue of it may justly be regarded as having proved the Roman
superiority at sea, and because the details of this accurate historian will
afford us a clear insight into the naval engagements of the ancients.

As there were 330 ships, and each ship had on board 300 rowers, and 120
soldiers, the total number of men in the fleet amounted 140,000. The whole
fleet was formed into four divisions: the first was called the first
legion; the second, the second; and the third, the third legion. The fourth
division had a different name; they were called triarians: the triarii who
were on board this division, being old soldiers of approved valour, who, in
land battles, formed the third line of the legion, and hence obtained their
appellation. The first division was drawn up on the right, the second on
the left, and the third in the rear of the other two, in such a manner that
these three divisions formed a triangle, the point of which was the two
gallies, in which were the consuls, in front of their respective squadrons,
parallel to the third legion, which formed the base of the triangle, and in
the rear of the whole fleet; the triarian division was drawn up, but
extended in such a manner as to out-flank the extremes of the base. Between
the triarian division and the other part of the squadron, the transports
were drawn up, in order that they might be protected from the enemy, and
their escape accelerated and covered in case of a defeat; on board of the
transports were the horses, and baggage of the army.

According to Polybius, the seamen and troops on board the Carthaginian
fleet amounted to 150,000 men. Their admiral waited to see the disposition
of the Roman fleet before he formed his own in order of battle; he divided
it into four squadrons, drawn up in one line; one of these was drawn up
very near the shore, the others stretched far out to sea, apparently for
the purpose of out-flanking the Romans. The light vessels were on the
right, under the command of Hanno; the squadron on the left, which was
formed of heavier vessels, was under the command of Hamilcar.

It is evident from this description of the order of battle of the
Carthaginians, that their line, being so much extended, could easily be
broken; the Romans perceiving this, bore down on the middle with their
first and second divisions. The Carthaginians did not wait the attack, but
retired immediately with the intention of drawing the Romans after them,
and thus by separating, weakening their fleet. The Romans, thinking the
victory was their own, pushed after the flying enemy, thus weakening their
third division, and at the same time exposing themselves to an attack while
they were scattered. The Carthaginians, perceiving that their manoeuvre had
so far succeeded, tacked about, and engaged with their pursuers. But the
Romans, by means of their corvi, which they were now very skilful in using,
grappled with the enemy, and as soon as they had thus rendered the
engagement similar to a land battle, they overcame them.

While these things were going on between Hamilcar with the left wing of the
Carthaginian fleet, and the first and second divisions of the Romans,
Hanno, with his light vessels, which formed the right wing, attacked the
triarians, and the ships which were drawn up near the shore, attacked the
third legion and the transports. These two attacks were conducted with so
much spirit and courage, that many of the triarians, transports, and third
legion were driven on shore, and their defeat would probably have been
decisive, had not the Roman first and second divisions, which had defeated
and chased to a considerable distance the Carthaginians opposed to them,
returned most opportunely from the chace, and supported them. The
Carthaginians were no longer able to withstand their enemies, but sustained
a signal defeat; thirty of their vessels having been sunk, and sixty-three
taken. The immediate result of this victory was, that the Romans landed in
Africa without opposition.

The next victory obtained by the Romans over the Carthaginians was achieved
soon after the defeat and captivity of Regulus, and was justly regarded by
them as an ample compensation for that disaster. It was a wise and politic
maxim of the Roman republic never to appear cast down by defeat, but, on
the contrary, to act in such a case with more than their usual confidence
and ardour. Acting on this maxim they equipped a fleet and sent it towards
Africa, immediately after they learnt the defeat of Regulus. The
Carthaginians, who were endeavouring to take all possible advantage of
their victory, by expelling the Romans from Africa, as soon as the news
arrived of the sailing of this fleet, abandoned the seige of Utica, before
which they had sat down,--refitted their old ships, built several new ones,
and put to sea. The hostile fleets met near Cape Herme, the most northern
point of Africa, a little to the north-east of Carthage. They were again
unsuccessful on what they had formerly justly regarded as their own
element. One hundred and four of their ships were captured, and 15,000 men,
soldiers, and rowers, were killed in the action.

This victory, however, proved of little benefit to the Romans in their
grand enterprise of establishing a firm and permanent footing, in Africa;
for, in consequence of their inability to obtain a regular supply of
provisions for their army, they were obliged soon afterwards to evacuate
Clupea and Utica, the principal places they held there, and to re-embark
their troops for Italy.

In order to make up for this hard necessity, they resolved to land in
Sicily on their return, and, if possible, reduce some cities which the
Carthaginians still retained in that island. Such was the plan of the
consuls, but it was vehemently opposed by the pilots of the fleet, who
represented to them, that as the season was far advanced, the most prudent
measure would be to sail directly for Italy, and not go round the northern
coast of Sicily, as the consuls wished. The latter, however, persisted in
their resolution; the consequences were extremely fatal; a most violent
storm arose, during which the greater part of the fleet was destroyed or
rendered completely useless, either foundering, or being driven on shore.
All the sea coast from Camarina to Pachynum, was covered with dead bodies
of men and horses, as well as with the wrecks of the ships. The exact
number of ships that were lost is differently represented by different
authors, but according to the most accurate account, out of 370 which
composed the fleet, only eighty escaped. Besides the destruction of these
vessels, a numerous army was lost, with all the riches of Africa, which had
been amassed and deposited in Clupea, by Regulus, and which was in the act
of being conveyed to Rome.

The Carthaginians, animated by the news of this event, resolved to attempt
the subjugation of Sicily, Africa being now liberated from the enemy. But
the Romans, by incredible efforts, fitted out a new fleet in the short
space of three months, consisting of 120 ships; which, with the old vessels
which had escaped, made up a fleet of 250 sail. With these, they passed
over to Sicily, where they were successful in reducing the Carthaginian
capital in that island.

The next year they sent to sea a fleet of 260 ships to attempt the
reduction of Lilibæum, but this place being found too strong, the consuls
directed their course to the eastern coast of Africa, on which they carried
on a predatory warfare. Having filled their ships with the spoils, they
were returning to Italy, when they narrowly escaped shipwreck. On the coast
of Africa, there were two sand-banks, called the Greater and Lesser Syrtes,
which were very much dreaded by the ancients, on account of their
frequently changing places; sometimes being easily visible, and at other
times considerably below the water. On the Lesser Syrtes the Roman fleet
grounded; fortunately it was low water, and moderate weather at the time,
so that on the return of flood tide, the vessels floated off, with little
or no damage, but the consuls were dreadfully alarmed.

This, however, was only a prelude to real disaster: the fleet arrived safe
at Panormus, where they remained a short time. On their departure for
Italy, the wind and weather were favourable till they reached Cape
Palinurus; here a dreadful storm arose, in which 160 galleys, and a
considerable number of transports, were lost. This second storm seems to
have so dispirited the Roman senate, that they resolved to confine their
efforts to land, and accordingly a decree was issued, that, as it seemed
the will of the gods that the Romans should not succeed against their enemy
by sea, no more than fifty vessels should in future be equipped; and that
these should be employed exclusively in protecting the coasts of Italy, and
in transporting troops to Sicily.

This decree, however, was not long acted upon; for the Carthaginians,
perceiving that the Romans no longer dared to meet them at sea, made such
formidable preparations for invading Sicily, by equipping a fleet of 200
sail, and raising an army of 30,000 men, besides 140 elephants, that the
Romans, being reduced to the alternative of either losing that valuable
island, or of again encountering their enemy at sea, resolved on the latter
measure. Accordingly a new fleet was built, consisting of 240 galleys, and
sixty smaller vessels, and Lilibæum was besieged by sea and land. This city
was deemed impregnable, and as it was the only place of retreat for the
Carthaginian armies in Sicily, it was defended with the utmost obstinacy.

During this siege, two bold and successful enterprises were undertaken for
the purpose of supplying the garrison with provisions. The Romans had shut
up the port so closely, that the governor could have no communication with
Carthage: nevertheless, Hannibal, the son of Hamilcar, resolved to enter it
with a supply of provisions. With this intention, he anchored with a few
vessels under an island near the coast, and as soon as a strong south wind
arose, he set all sail, and plied his oars with so much vigour and
alacrity, that he passed safely through the midst of the Roman fleet, and
landed 10,000 men and a considerable quantity of provisions. Having
succeeded thus far, and being convinced that the Romans would be on the
alert to prevent his sudden escape, he resolved to intimidate them, if
possible, by the open boldness of the attempt; and in this also he

Shortly afterwards the harbour was again so closely blockaded, that the
senate of Carthage were quite uninformed of the state and resources of the
garrison. In this emergency, a Rhodian, of the name of Hannibal, undertook
to enter the harbour, and to come back to Carthage with the requisite and
desired intelligence. The Roman fleet lay at anchor, stretched across the
mouth of the harbour. Hannibal, following the example of his namesake, with
a very light galley of his own, concealed himself near one of the islands
which lie opposite to Lilibæum. Very early in the morning, before it was
light, with a favourable wind blowing rather strong, he succeeded in
getting through the Roman fleet, and entered the port. The consul,
mortified at this second enterprise, ordered ten of his lightest vessels to
lie as close as possible to each other, across the mouth of the harbour;
and that they might not be taken by surprise and unprepared, he further
directed that the men should constantly have their oars in their hands,
stretched out, so as to be ready to plunge them into the water at a
moment's warning. The skill and experience of the Rhodian, however, and the
extreme lightness and celerity of his vessel, rendered all these
precautions unavailing; for, not content with securing his escape, he
mocked the Romans, by often lying to till they came near him, and then
rowing round them. The Carthaginian senate were now able to have frequent
communication with the garrison by means of this Rhodian: his success, and
the recompence which rewarded it, induced several Carthaginians to make the
same attempt. They were all successful except one, who, not knowing the
force and direction of the currents, was carried by them ashore, and fell
into the power of the Romans. The Rhodian still continued to pass between
the besieged and Carthage; but his good fortune was near an end. The Romans
had fitted out the Carthaginian galley which they had captured, and "waited
with impatience for a fresh insult from the Rhodian: it was not long before
he entered the port in the night time, according to custom, and was
preparing to sail out in broad day, not knowing that the Romans were now
masters of a galley which was as good a sailer as his own. He weighed
anchor with great confidence, and sailed out of the port in sight of the
enemy's fleet, but was greatly surprized to see the Romans pursue him
close, and at length come up with him, notwithstanding the lightness of his
vessel. He had now no way left but to engage them, which he did with an
undaunted bravery; but the Romans, who were all chosen men, soon put an end
to the dispute. The Rhodian vessel was boarded and taken with all her crew.
The Romans being now in possession of two light galleys, shut up the port
so effectually, that no Carthaginian ever after attempted to enter it."

The following year the Romans were obliged to convert the siege into a
blockade, in consequence of the Carthaginians having succeeded in
destroying all their works. One of the consuls was P. Claudius Pulcher, an
obstinate and ambitious man, who, contrary to the advice of those who were
better skilled in maritime affairs, and better acquainted with the
Carthaginians than he was, determined to surprize Drepanon, where the
Carthaginian admiral was posted. Claudius had under his command a fine and
formidable fleet of 120 galleys; with these he sailed from before Lilibæum
in the night time, having taken on board a great number of the best troops
employed in the blockade of that place. At break of day, Asdrubal, the
Carthaginian admiral, was surprized to perceive the hostile fleet
approaching Drepanon: he formed his plan immediately, preferring an
immediate engagement to the certainty of being shut up in the harbour.
Accordingly, with ninety ships, he sailed out, and drew them up behind some
rocks which lay near the harbour. As the Romans had not perceived him come
out, they continued to sail on without forming themselves into line of
battle, when as they were about to enter the harbour, the Carthaginians
attacked them, with such celerity and vigour, that, being taken quite
unprepared, they were thrown into confusion. Claudius might still have
saved his fleet by immediate flight, but this he absolutely refused to do,
notwithstanding the strong and urgent remonstrances of his officers. By
great exertions the Roman fleet was formed into line of battle, on a lee
shore, and close to rocks and shoals. It was on this occasion, that the
Romans' veneration for auguries was so dreadfully shocked, by Claudius
exclaiming, when the sacred chickens refused to feed, "If they will not
feed, let them drink," at the same time ordering them to be thrown into the
sea. The bad omen, and the sacrilegious insult, added to the situation in
which they were placed, and their want of confidence in Claudius, seemed to
have paralysed the efforts of the Romans: they fought feebly: the enemy
boarded their ships without difficulty or resistance; so that ninety
vessels were either taken or driven ashore, 8,000 of their seamen and
soldiers were killed, and 20,000 taken prisoners. As soon as Claudius
perceived the probable result of the battle, he fled precipitately with
thirty vessels. The Carthaginians did not lose a single ship or man on this
occasion. This was the most signal and disastrous defeat which the Romans
had suffered at sea since the commencement of the war. According to
Polybius, Claudius was tried, condemned, and very severely punished.

The other consul, Lucius Pullus, was not more successful, though his want
of success did not, as in the case of Claudius, arise from ignorance and
obstinacy. He was ordered to sail from Syracuse with a fleet of 120
galleys, and 800 transports, the latter laden with provisions and stores
for the army before Lilibaeum. As the army was much pressed for
necessaries, and the consul himself was not ready to put to sea directly,
he sent the quaestors before him with a small squadron. The Carthaginians,
who were very watchful, and had the best intelligence of all the Romans
were doing, having learnt that the consul was at sea with a large fleet,
sent 100 galleys to cruize off Heraclea. As soon as the squadron under the
quaestors came in sight, the Carthaginian admiral, though he mistook it for
the consular fleet, yet resolved to engage it: but the quaestors, having
received orders not to hazard a battle if they could possibly avoid, took
refuge behind some rocks, where they were attacked by the enemy. The Romans
defended themselves so well with balistae and other engines, which they had
erected on the rocks, that the Carthaginian admiral, after having captured
a few transports, was obliged to draw off his fleet.

In the mean time, the light vessels, employed on the lookout, informed him
that the whole consular fleet were directing their course for Lilibaeum:
his obvious plan was to engage this fleet before it could join that of the
quæstors; he therefore steered his course to meet them. But the consul was
equally averse with the quaestors to hazard the supply of the army by a
battle, and he, therefore, also took shelter near some rocks. The
Carthaginian admiral was afraid to attack him in this position, but
resolved to watch him: while thus employed his pilots observed certain
indications of an approaching storm, which induced him to take shelter on
the other side of Cape Pachynum. He had scarcely doubled the cape, when the
storm arose with such violence that the whole Roman fleet was destroyed.
According to Polybius, not one vessel, not even a plank, was saved out of a
fleet which consisted of 120 galleys and 800 transports.

Two such losses occurring during the same consulate, induced the Romans
again to resolve to desist from all naval enterprizes and preparations, so
that for some time no public fleet was equipped. This resolution, however,
yielded to the conviction that they could not hope even to retain their
possessions in Sicily, or even to secure their commerce on the coasts of
Italy, if they did not endeavour to cope with the Carthaginians by sea. But
as the senate thought it would appear derogatory to their dignity and
consistency to equip a public fleet, after they had a second time resolved
solemnly and officially not to do so, they passed a decree, by which all
the Roman citizens who were able and so disposed, were permitted to build,
equip, and arm vessels at their own expence; with these ships they were
directed to land on the coast of Africa, for the purpose of pillage, the
fruit of which was to be their own private gain. The senate even went
further to evade, by a pitiful subterfuge their own decree, for they lent
the few ships which still remained to the republic, to private citizens, on
condition that they should keep them in repair, and make them good if they
were lost. By these measures a very considerable fleet was equipped, which
committed great depredations on the coast of Africa. Emboldened by their
predatory warfare, they resolved to attempt a more arduous enterprize. One
of the most celebrated of the Carthaginian harbours was that of Hippo;
besides the port there was a citadel, and large arsenals for naval stores,
&c. As the inhabitants were much engaged in commerce, there were in the
town always a considerable quantity of merchandize. This port the privateer
squadron determined to enter. The inhabitants, aware of their design,
stretched a very strong chain across the harbour mouth; but it did not
avail; for the Roman ships broke through it, took possession of the town
and ships, burnt most of them, and returned safe with an immense booty.
This success was quickly followed by another, for as they were re-entering
Panormus, they fell in with a Carthaginian fleet loaded with provisions for
Hamilcar, who commanded in Sicily, and captured several of the transports.
These advantages began to inspire the Romans with renewed confidence and
hopes that their naval disasters were at an end, and that the gods had at
length permitted them to become masters of the sea, when the privateer
fleet, after having gained a considerable victory over a Carthaginian
squadron, near the coast of Africa, was almost totally destroyed in a

For a few years afterwards, the Romans seem to have desisted entirely from
maritime enterprizes; but in the year of the city 516, they changed their
plan, as it was indeed evident that unless they were masters at sea, they
must be content to lose the island of Sicily. In order, however, that the
Roman armies might not suffer by their losses at sea, it was decreed that
the new fleet should be manned with hired troops. There was still another
difficulty to overcome; the protracted war with Carthage, and the heavy and
repeated losses which they had suffered during it, had nearly exhausted the
Roman treasury; from it therefore could not possibly be drawn the sums
requisite for the proper and effective equipment of such a fleet as would
be adequate to meet that of the enemy. This difficulty was removed by the
patriotism of all ranks and classes of the citizens. The senators set the
example; the most wealthy of whom built, each at his own cost, a
quinquereme: those who were not so wealthy joined together, three or four
of them fitting out a single galley. By these means a fleet of 200 large
vessels was made ready for any expedition, the state having bound
themselves to repay the individuals whenever her finances were adequate to
such an expence. This fleet was not only very numerous and well equipped,
but most of the vessels which composed it were built on an entirely new
model, which combined an extraordinary degree of celerity with strength.
The model was taken from that light Rhodian galley, which we have already
mentioned, as having been employed by its owner, Hannibal, in conveying
intelligence between Carthage and Lilibæum, and which was afterwards
captured by the Romans. The command of this fleet was given to the consul
Lutatius: and the great object to be accomplished was the reduction of
Lilibæum, which still held out. The first step of the consul was to occupy
all the sea-ports near this place: the town of Drepanon, however, resisting
his efforts, he resolved rather to decide its fate, and that of Sicily in
general, by a sea battle, than to undertake a regular siege.

The Carthaginians soon gave him an opportunity of acting in this manner,
for they sent to sea a fleet of 400 vessels, under the command of Hanno. In
the building and equipment of this fleet, the senate of Carthage had nearly
exhausted all their means; but though their fleet was numerically much
greater than that of Rome, in some essential respects it was inferior to
it. Most of the seamen and troops on board it were inexperienced and
undisciplined; and the ships themselves were not to be compared, with
regard to the union of lightness and strength, with the Roman vessels, as
they were now built. Besides, the Romans trusted entirely to themselves--
the Carthaginians, in some measure, to their allies or to hired seamen. The
Romans, though firm and determined, were not rashly confident; whereas the
Carthaginians even yet regarded their adversaries with feelings of

The hostile fleets met off Hiera, one of the Aeolian islands. The
Carthaginian admiral's first object was to reach Eryx, a city which had
lately been taken by Hamilcar, there to unload his vessels, and after
having taken on board Hamilcar and the best of his troops, to sail again in
quest of the Roman fleet. But the consul prevented this design from being
carried into execution, by coming up with the Carthaginians, as we have
just stated, off Hiera, while they were steering for Eryx. As the wind was
favourable for the Romans, they were extremely anxious to commence the
engagement immediately; but before they had formed into order of battle, it
changed, blew hard, and a heavy sea arose. The determination of the consul
to engage was for a short time shaken by this circumstance, but he
reflected that though the sea was rough, the enemy's ships were heavily
laden, and therefore would suffer more from it than his ships would; while
if, on the other hand, he delayed the engagement till the Carthaginians
reached Eryx, they would then have lighter vessels, as well as a greater
number of experienced seamen and soldiers on board of them. These
considerations determined him to fight immediately, and accordingly he gave
orders for the line of battle to be formed. The battle was of very short
duration, and terminated decidedly in favour of the Romans. The loss of the
Carthaginians is variously stated, but, according to Polybius, who is the
best authority for every thing relating to the Punic wars, the Romans sunk
fifty of their vessels, and captured seventy, with all their crews. The
remainder would probably have been either captured or destroyed, had not
the wind again changed, and enabled them to save themselves by flight.

The consequences of this defeat, in the capitulation of Hamilcar, which, in
a manner, determined the fate of Sicily, were so disheartening to the
Carthaginians, that they were obliged to submit to a disadvantageous and
dishonorable peace. Among other terms, it was stipulated that they should
evacuate all the places they held in Sicily, and entirely quit that island;
that they should also abandon all the small islands that lie between Italy
and Sicily; and that they should not approach with their ships of war,
either the coasts of Italy or any of the territories belonging to the
Romans or their allies.

Soon after the conclusion of the first Punic war, a circumstance occurred
which nearly renewed the hostilities. The Carthaginians were engaged in a
bloody and arduous contest with their Mercenaries, and the Roman merchants
supplied the latter with military stores and provisions. While engaged in
this unlawful enterprize, several of them were captured by the
Carthaginians, and their crews detained as prisoners of war. The senate of
Carthage, however, were not then in a condition to offend the Romans; they
therefore restored both the ships and their crews. During this war between
the Carthaginians and the Mercenaries, the latter having obtained
possession of Sardinia, (which though formerly conquered by the Romans, had
been restored to the Carthaginians,) offered to put the Romans in
possession of it. At first the senate refused to occupy it; but they soon
changed their mind, and accepted the offer, and moreover obliged the
Carthaginians to pay the expence of the armament by which it was occupied,
and the further sum of 1200 talents.

Sicily, which immediately after the conclusion of the Punic war, was made a
Roman province, and Sardinia, were the first territories which the Romans
possessed out of Italy. In conformity with our plan, we shall enquire into
the advantages they brought to the commerce of the Romans, before we
proceed to the naval occurrences of the second Punic war.

Sicily was anciently called Sicania, Trinâcria, and Triquetra; its three
promontories are particularly celebrated in the classic authors; viz.
Lilibæum on the side of Africa; Pachynum on the side of Greece, and Pelorum
towards Italy. Its vicinity to the continent of Italy, and the resemblance
of their opposite shores, gave rise to an opinion among the ancients that
it was originally joined to Italy. Pliny particularly mentions their
separation, as a circumstance beyond all doubt. The dangers which were
supposed to beset mariners in their passage through the narrow strait which
divides it from Italy, on one side of which was Sylla, and on the other
Charybdis, sufficiently point out the ignorance and inexperience of the
ancients in the construction and management of their ships.

The principal town on the eastern coast of Sicily, opposite Greece, was
Messana, now called Messina: it was the first which the Romans possessed in
the island: it was one of the most wealthy and powerful cities in ancient
Sicily. Taurominium stood near Mount Taurus, on the river Taurominius; the
coast in its vicinity was anciently called Coproea, because the sea was
supposed to throw up there the wrecks of such vessels as were swallowed up
by Charybdis. The hills near this city were famous for the excellent grapes
they produced. On a gulph in the Ionian Sea, called Catana, stood a city of
the same name; it was one of the richest and most powerful cities in the

But by far the most celebrated city in this island for its advantageous
situation, the magnificence of its buildings, its commerce, and the wealth
of its inhabitants, was Syracuse. According to Thucydides, in his time it
might justly be compared to Athens, even when that city was at the height
of its glory; and Cicero describes it as the greatest and most wealthy of
all the cities possessed by the Greeks. Its walls were eighteen miles in
circumference, and within them were in fact four cities united into one. It
seems also to have possessed three harbours: the great harbour was nearly
five thousand yards in circumference, and the entrance to it five hundred
yards across; it was formed on one side by a point of the island Ortygia,
and on the other by another small island, on each of which were forts. The
second harbour was divided from the greater by an island of inconsiderable
extent; both these were surrounded with warehouses, arsenals, and other
buildings of great magnificence. The river Anapis emptied itself into the
great harbour; at the mouth of this river was the castle of Olympia. The
third harbour stood a little above the division of the city called
Acradina. The island of Ortygia, which formed one of the divisions, was
joined to the others by a bridge.

The other maritime towns of consequence were Agrigentum, Lilibaeum, and
Drepanum; though the first stood at a short distance from the sea, yet
being situated between and near two rivers, it conveniently imported all
sorts of provisions and merchandize. Lilibaeum was famous for its port,
which was deemed a safe retreat for ships, either in case of a storm, or to
escape from an enemy. During the wars between the Romans and Carthaginians,
the former repeatedly attempted to render it inaccessible and useless by
throwing large stones into it, but they were always washed away by the
violence of the sea, and the rapidity of the current. Drepanum, which had
an excellent harbour, was much resorted to by foreign ships, and possessed
a very considerable commerce.

The Greeks were the first who colonized Sicily; and they founded Syracuse
and other towns. About the same period the Phoenicians settled on the coast
for the purposes of commerce; but they seem to have retired soon after the
Greek colonies began to flourish and extend themselves. The Carthaginians,
who generally pushed their commerce into all the countries with which their
parent state had traded, seem to have visited Italy as merchants or
conquerors at a very early period; but when their first visit took place in
either character is not known. The treaty between them and the Romans, (to
which we have had occasion to refer more than once,) which was formed in
the year after the expulsion of the Tarquins, expressly stipulated that the
Romans, who should touch at Sardinia, or that part of Sicily which belonged
to the Carthaginians, should be received there in the same manner as the
Carthaginians themselves. They must, however, soon afterwards have been
driven out of the island; for at the time of the invasion of Greece by
Xerxes, (which happened about thirty years after the expulsion of the
Tarquins,) Gelon, the king of Syracuse, expressly states that they no
longer possessed any territory there, in a speech which he made to the
ambassadors of Athens and Sparta, the Cathaginians having united with
Xerxes, and he having offered to ally himself with the Greeks. The
circumstances and even the very nature of the victory which Gelon gained
over the Carthaginians, which ended in their expulsion from Sicily, cannot
accurately be ascertained: but from a comparison of the principal
authorities on this point, it would, appear that it was a naval victory; or
at least that the Carthaginian fleet was defeated as well as their army.
Their loss by sea was enormous, amounting to nearly the whole of their
ships of war and transports, the former consisting of 2000 and the latter
of 3000.

Such is a short sketch of the island of Sicily, so far as its commercial
facilities and its history are concerned previously to its conquest by the
Romans. It was peculiarly valuable to them on account of its extreme
fertility in corn; and by this circumstance it seems to have been
distinguished in very early times; for there can be no doubt that by its
being represented by the poets as the favourite residence of the goddess
Ceres, the fertility of the island in corn, as well as its knowledge of
agriculture, were intended to be represented. When Gelon offered to unite
with the Greeks in their war with Xerxes, one of his proposals was that he
would furnish the whole Greek army with corn, during all the time of
hostilities, if they would appoint him commander of their forces. In the
latter period of the Roman republic, it became their principal dependence
for a regular supply of corn.

Sardinia seems to have been as little explored by and known to the
ancients, as it is to the moderns. The treaty between the Carthaginians and
Romans, the year after the expulsion of the Tarquins, proves that the
former nation possessed it at that time. Calaris, the present Cagliari, was
the principal town in it. From the epithet applied to it by Horace, in one
of his odes, _Opima_, it must have been much more fertile in former times
than it is at present; and Varro expressly calls it one of the granaries of
Rome. Its air, then, as at present, was in most parts very unwholsome; and
it is a remarkable circumstance that the character of the Sardi, who, after
the complete reduction of the island by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, were
brought to Rome in great numbers, and sold as slaves, and who were
proverbial for their worthlessness, is still to be traced in the present
inhabitants; for they are represented as extremely barbarous, and so
treacherous, and inhospitable, that they have been called the Malays of the
Mediterranean. The island of Corsica, which, indeed, generally followed the
fate of Sardinia, was another of the fruits of the first Punic war which
the Romans reaped, in some degree favourable to their commerce. It
possessed a large and convenient harbour, called Syracusium. The
Carthaginians must have reduced it at an early period, since, according to
Herodotus, the Cyrnians (the ancient name for the inhabitants), were one of
the nations that composed the vast army, with which they invaded Sicily in
the time of Gelon.

During the interval between the first and second Punic wars, the Roman
commerce seems to have been gradually, but slowly extending itself,
particularly in the Adriatic: we do not possess, however, any details on
the subject, except a decisive proof of the attention and protection which
the republic bestowed upon it, in repressing and punishing the piracies of
the Illyrians and Istrians. These people, who were very expert and
undaunted seamen, enriched themselves and their country by seizing and
plundering the merchant vessels which frequented the Adriatic and adjacent
Mediterranean sea; and their piracies were encouraged, rather than
restrained by their sovereigns. At the period to which we allude, they were
governed by a queen, named Teuta, who was a woman of a bold and
enterprising spirit: the Roman merchants, who traded, in the Adriatic, had
frequently been plundered and cruelly treated by her subjects; upon this,
the Roman senate sent two ambassadors to her, to insist that she should put
a stop to these measures. The Romans had also other grounds of complaint
against her and her subjects; for the latter extended their piracies to the
allies of Rome, as well as to the Romans themselves, and the former was at
that time besieging the island of Issa, in the Adriatic, which was under
the protection of the republic. The inhabitants of this island seem to have
been rather extensively engaged in commerce, and were celebrated for
building a kind of light ships, thence called _Issaei lembi_.

Teuta received and treated the Roman ambassadors with great scorn and
haughtiness; she promised, indeed, that she would no longer authorise the
piracies of her subjects; but, with regard to restraining them, she would
not do it, as they enjoyed a perfect and full right to benefit themselves
as much as possible, and in every way they could, by their skill and
superiority in maritime affairs. On the ambassadors' replying in rather
threatening language, she ordered one of them to be put to death.

For a short time Teuta was alarmed at the probable consequences of her
conduct, and endeavoured to avert them by submission; but, the Romans being
otherwise engaged, and she having experienced some successes over the
Acheans, her haughtiness and confidence revived, and she sent a fleet to
assist in the reduction of Issa. Upon this, the Romans resolved to act with
immediate vigour; and they had little difficulty in compelling Teuta to sue
for peace. It was granted to her, on condition that not more than three
ships of war should at any one time sail beyond Lyssus, on the frontier of
Macedonia, and that the islands of Corcyra, Issa, and Pharos, together with
Dyrrhachium should be given up to the Romans.

It was not, however, to be supposed that the Illyrians and Istrians, who
had been so long accustomed to piracy, and who in fact derived nearly all
their wealth from this source, would totally abstain from it. A few years
after this treaty of peace, they resumed their depredations, which they
carried on with so much audacity and disregard to the power of Rome, that
they even seized the ships that were laden with corn for Rome. As this
commerce was one of the greatest consequence to the Romans, in which the
Roman government, as well as individuals, principally embarked, and on the
regularity and safety of which the subsistence and tranquillity of the city
itself depended, the senate resolved to punish them more effectually; and
this resolution was strengthened by the Illyrians having broken the terms
of the peace by sending no fewer than 50 vessels of war beyond the
prescribed limits, as far as the Cyclades. The consequence of the new war
which the Romans waged against them, was the reduction of Istria and of
Illyricum Proper.

The destruction of Saguntum by the Carthaginians was the cause of the
second Punic war. At what period the Carthaginians first established
themselves in Spain, is not known. Their principal object in colonizing and
retaining it, undoubtedly may be found in the richness of its mines, and
the fertility of its soil. According to Diodorus Siculus, they were
principally enabled to equip and support their numerous, and frequently
renewed fleets, by the silver which they drew from these mines. And Strabo
expressly informs us, that when the Carthaginians first colonized Spain,
silver was in such abundance, and so easily obtained, that their most
common utensils, and even the mangers for their horses, were made of it.
One mine of extreme richness is particularly described by Pliny: according
to him, it yielded 300 pounds of silver in a day. There are other
circumstances which point out the extreme value of Spain to whoever
possessed it, and lead us to the motives which induced the Romans to use
all their efforts to wrest it from the Carthaginians. It cannot be doubted
that the Carthaginians drew from it all the wealth, in various shapes,
which it could possibly supply; and yet we know that in the short space of
nine years, 111,542 pounds weight of silver, 4095 of gold, besides coin,
were brought out of it by the Roman praetors, who governed it. Scipio, when
he returned to Rome, brought from Spain 14,342 pounds weight of silver,
besides coin, arms, and corn, &c. to an immense amount. And Lentulus
returned from this country with 44,000 pounds of silver, and 2550 of gold,
besides the coin, &c., which was divided among his soldiers. Manlius
brought with him 1200 pounds of silver, and about 30 of gold. Cornelius
Lentulus, who was praetor of Hither Spain for two years, brought with him
1515 pounds of gold, and 2000 of silver, besides a large amount of coin,
while the praetor of Farther Spain returned with 50,000 pounds of silver.
And these immense sums, as we have already stated, were brought away in the
space of nine years.

Cornelius Scipio was sent into Spain at the commencement of the second
Punic war. Of the events of this war, however, we shall confine ourselves
exclusively to such as were maritime, and which trace the steps of the
Roman superiority at sea, and, consequently, of the advancement and
extension of their commerce. The exertions of the rival nations to contest
the empire of the sea were very great: the Romans equipped 220
quinqueremes, and twenty other light vessels, beside 160 galleys, and
twenty light vessels, which were employed to transport troops to Africa.
Their allies, the Syracusans, also, were active and alert in the equipment
of a fleet to assist their allies, the Romans; and Hiero, their king, had
the good fortune to give an auspicious commencement to the war, by
capturing some Carthaginian ships, part of a fleet, whose object was to
plunder the coasts of Italy, but which had been dispersed by a storm. The
Carthaginians were equally unfortunate in their second maritime enterprise
against Lilibaeum, for the Syracusans and Romans, having learnt their
intention, anchored before the mouth of the harbour. The Carthaginians,
finding that they could not, as they expected, surprise the place, drew up
their fleet in line of battle, a little way out at sea: the allies
immediately got under weigh; a battle ensued, in which the Carthaginians
were defeated, with the loss of seven ships. These successes, however, were
dreadfully counterbalanced by the advance of Hannibal into Italy, and the
decisive victories which he obtained in the very heart of the Roman
territories. Under these circumstances, maritime affairs were naturally

Of the actual state of the Roman commerce about this time we know very
little, but that it was lucrative, may fairly be inferred from the
following circumstance:--A little before the commencement of the second
Punic war, Caius Flaminnus was extremely desirous to obtain the support and
good will of the populace; with this object in view, he joined the tribunes
of the people in passing a law, which is called the Flaminian, or Claudian
law. By it, the senators, who had been accustomed to acquire considerable
wealth by fitting out ships and trading, were expressly forbidden to
possess or hire any vessel above the burden of 300 amphorae or eight tons,
and not more than one vessel even of that small tonnage. This vessel was
allowed them, and was deemed sufficient to bring the produce of their farms
to Rome. By the same law, the scribes, and the clerks, and attendants of
the quæstors, were prohibited from trading; and thus the liberty of
commerce was exclusively confined to the plebeians.

Whilst Hannibal threatened the Romans in the vicinity of Rome itself, they
had neither leisure, inclination, or means, to cope with the Carthaginians
by sea; at length, however, Marcellus, having checked the enemy in Italy,
maritime affairs were again attended to. Scipio, who had been successful in
Spain, resolved to attempt the reduction of New Carthage: this place was
situated, like Old Carthage, on a peninsula betwixt a port and a lake: its
harbour was extremely commodious, and large enough to receive and shelter
any fleet. As it was the capital of the Carthaginian dominions in Spain,
here were deposited all their naval stores, machines used in war, besides
immense treasures. It was on this account extremely well fortified, and to
attempt to take it by a regular siege seemed to Scipio impracticable: he,
therefore, formed a plan to take it by surprise, and this plan he
communicated to C. Lælius, the commander of the fleet, who was his intimate
friend. The Roman fleet was to block up the port by sea, while Scipio was
to blockade it by land. The ignorance of the Romans with regard to one of
the most common and natural phenomena of the sea, is strongly marked in the
course of this enterprise. Scipio knew that when the tide ebbed, the port
of New Carthage would become dry and accessible by land; but his soldiers,
and even his officers, were ignorant of the nature of the tides, and they
firmly believed that Neptune had wrought a miracle in their favour, when,
according to Scipio's prediction, the tide retired, and the army was thus
enabled to capture the town, the walls of which on that side were extremely
low, the Carthaginians having directed all their attention and efforts to
the opposite side. The capture of New Carthage depressed, in a great
degree, the spirits, as well as weakened the strength of the Carthaginians
in Spain: eighteen galleys were captured in the port, besides 113 vessels
laden with naval stares; 40,000 bushels of wheat, 260,000 bushels of
barley, a large number of warlike machines of all descriptions, 260 cups of
gold, most of which weighed a pound, 18,300 pounds weight of silver,
principally coin, besides brass money, were among the spoils.

About the year of Rome 556, Scipio had succeeded in reducing all Spain. It
does not appear, however, that the Romans were thus enabled greatly to
extend their commerce; indeed, at this period, we have no evidence that any
other town in Spain, except Gades, possessed any considerable trade. This
island and city were situated in a gulph of the same name, between the
straits of Gibraltar and the river Boetis; and, from the remotest period of
which we possess any records, was resorted to by foreigners for the
purposes of commerce. Gradually, however, the inhabitants of Spain, under
the Roman government, enriched themselves and their conquerors by their
industry: large quantities of corn, wine, and oil were exported, besides
wax, honey, pitch, vermilion, and wool. The oil and wool were deemed equal,
if not superior, to those of any other part of the world: the excellent
quality of the wool is a strong fact, against an opinion entertained by
many, that the fineness of the Spanish was originally derived from the
exportation of some English sheep to Spain, since it appears to have been
celebrated even in the time of the Romans: how important and lucrative an
object it was considered, may be collected from the attention that was paid
to the breed of sheep; a ram, according to Strabo, having been sold for a
talent, or nearly 200_l_. Horace incidentally gives evidence of the
commercial wealth of Spain in his time, when he considers the master of a
Spanish trading vessel and a person of great wealth as synonimous terms.

As Hannibal still continued in Italy, the senate of Rome resolved to send
Scipio into Italy, with a discretionary power to invade Africa from that
island. He lost no time in equipping a fleet for these purposes, and his
efforts were so well seconded by the zeal and activity of the provinces and
cities, many of which taxed themselves to supply iron, timber, cloth for
sails, corn, &c. that, in forty days after the timber was felled, Scipio
had a fleet of thirty new galleys.

Soon after he landed in Sicily, he resolved to invade Africa: for this
purpose his fleet was collected in the port of Lilibæum. Never was
embarkation made with more order and solemnity: the concourse of people who
came from all parts to see him set sail, and wish him a prosperous voyage,
was prodigious. Just before he weighed anchor, he appeared on the poop of
his galley, and, after an herald had proclaimed silence, addressed a solemn
prayer to the gods. It is foreign to our purpose to give any account of the
campaign in Africa, which, it is well known, terminated in the utter defeat
of the Carthaginians, who were obliged to sue for peace. This was granted
them on very severe terms: all the cities and provinces which they
possessed in Africa previously to the war, they were indeed permitted to
retain, but they were stripped of Spain, and of all the islands in the
Mediterranean; all their ships of war, except ten galleys, were to be
delivered up to the Romans; and, for the future, they were not to maintain
above that number at one time: even the size of their fishing boats and of
their trading vessels was regulated. In the course of fifty years ten
thousand talents were to be paid to the Romans. During a short truce which
preceded the peace, the Carthaginians had seized and plundered a Roman
squadron, which had been dispersed by a storm, and driven near Carthage; as
a satisfaction for this, they were obliged to pay the Romans 25,000 pounds
weight of silver. The successful termination of the second Punic war gave
to the Romans complete dominion of the sea, on which they maintained
generally 100 galleys. Commerce flourished, particularly that most
important branch, the trade in corn, with which Rome, at this period, is
said to have been so plentifully furnished, that the merchants paid their
seamen with it.

The power of the Romans at sea was now so well established, that no foreign
power could hope to attack, or resist them, unless they were expert
navigators, as well as furnished with a numerous fleet. Under this
impression, Philip king of Macedon, who had long been jealous and afraid of
them, applied himself sedulously to maritime affairs. As it was about this
period that the Romans began to turn their thoughts to the conquest of
Greece, it may be proper to take a retrospective view of the maritime
affairs and commerce of that country. An inspection of the map of Greece
will point out the advantages which it possessed for navigation and
commerce. Lying nearly in the middle of the Mediterranean, with the sea
washing three of its sides; possessed of almost innumerable inlets and
bays, it was admirably adapted to ancient commerce. Its want of large and
navigable rivers, which will always limit its commerce in modern times,
presented no obstacle to the small vessels in which the ancients carried on
their trade; as they never navigated them during the winter, and from their
smallness and lightness, they could easily drag them on shore.

Athens, the most celebrated state in Greece for philosophy, literature, and
arms, was also the most celebrated for commerce. The whole of the southern
angle of Attica consisted of a district called Parali, or the division
adjacent to the sea. In the other districts of Attica, the soldiers of the
republic were found: this furnished the sailors; fishing and navigation
were the chief employments of its inhabitants. About 46 miles distant from
the Piraeus, stood Sunium, the most considerable town in this district: it
possessed a double harbour in the Mediterranean.

The principal commerce of Attica, however, was carried on at Athens: this
city had three harbours: the most ancient was that of Phalerum, distant
from the city, according to some authors, 35 stadia; according to others
only 20 stadia. It was nearer Athens than the other two, but smaller, and
less commodious. Munichea was the name of the second harbour: it was formed
in a promontory not far distant from the Pirasus, a little to the east of
Athens, and naturally a place of great strength; it was afterwards, at the
instance of Thrasybulus, rendered still stronger by art. But by far the
most celebrated harbour of Athens was the Piraeus. The republic of Athens,
in order to concentrate its military and mercantile fleets in this harbour,
abandoned that of Phalerum, and bent all their efforts to render the
Piraeus as strong and commodious as possible. This occurred in the time of
Themistocles; by whose advice both the town and the harbour were inclosed
with a wall, about seven miles and a half long, and sixty feet high.
Themistocles' intention was to have made it eighty cubits high, but in this
he was opposed. Before this connecting wall was built, the Piraeus was
about three miles distant from the city. As the strength of the wall was of
the utmost importance, it was built of immense square stones, which were
fastened together with iron or leaden cramps. It was so broad that two
waggons could have been driven along it. The Pireus contained three docks;
the first called Cantharus, the second Aphrodisium, and the third Zea.
There were likewise five porticos, and two forums. The Piraeus was so
celebrated for its commerce, that it became a proverbial saying in Greece,
"Famine does not come from the Piræus." The extent and convenience of the
Piræus may be judged of from this circumstance, that under the demagogue
Lycurgus, the whole naval force of the nation, amounting to 400 triremes,
were safely and easily laid up in its three harbours.

Before the time of Themistocles, Athens does not appear to have devoted her
attention or resources to maritime affairs: but this celebrated general not
only rendered the Piræus stronger and more commodious, but also procured a
decree, which enabled him to add twenty ships to the fleet annually. The
sums arising from the sale of the privileges of working the mines, or the
eventual profits of the mines, which had formerly been distributed among
the people, were, through his influence, set apart for the building of
ships. Afterwards a law was passed, which taxed all the citizens who
possessed land, manufactories, or money in trade or with their bankers;
these classes of the citizens were also obliged to keep up, and increase,
if occasion required it, the naval force of the republic. When it was
necessary to fit out an armament, as many talents as there were galleys to
be built and equipped, were raised in each of the ten tribes of Athens. The
money thus collected was given to the captains of the galleys, to be
expended in the maintenance of the crew. The republic furnished the rigging
and sailors: two captains were appointed to each galley, who served six
months each.

Although the vessels employed by the Athenians both for war and commerce
were small compared with those of modern days, and their merchant ships
even much smaller than those of the Phoenicians, if we may judge by the
description given by Xenophon of a Phoenician merchant vessel in the
Piræus, yet the expence attending their equipment was very great. We learn
from Demosthenes, that the light vessels could not be kept in commission,
even if the utmost attention was paid to economy, and no extraordinary
damage befel them, for a smaller sum than about 8000_l_. annually; of
course, such vessels as from their size, strength, and manning, were
capable of standing the brunt of an engagement, must have cost more than
double that sum.

In the time of Demosthenes, the trade of Athens seems to have been carried
on with considerable spirit and activity; the greater part of the money of
the Athenians having been employed in it. From one of his orations we
learn, that in the contract executed when money was lent for this purpose,
the period when the vessel was to sail, the nature and value of the goods
with which she was loaded, the port to which she was to carry them, the
manner in which they were to be sold there, and the goods with which she
was to return to Athens, were all specifically and formally noticed. In
other particulars the contracts varied: the money, lent was either not to
be repaid till the return of the vessel, or it was to be repaid as soon as
the outward goods were sold at the place to which she was bound, either to
the agent of the lender, or to himself, he going there for that express
purpose. The interest of money so lent varied: sometimes it rose as high as
30 per cent: it seems to have depended principally on the risks of the

In another oration of Demosthenes we discover glimpses of what by many has
been deemed maritime insurance, or rather of the fraud at present called
barratry, which is practised to defraud the insurer: but, as Park in his
learned Treatise on Marine Insurance has satisfactorily proved, the
ancients were certainly ignorant of maritime insurance; though there can be
no doubt frauds similar to those practised at present were practised.
According to Demosthenes, masters of vessels were in the habit of borrowing
considerable sums, which they professed to invest in a cargo of value, but
instead of such a cargo, they took on board sand and stones, and when out
at sea, sunk the vessel. As the money was lent on the security either of
the cargo or ship, or both, of course the creditors were defrauded: but it
does not appear how they could, without detection, substitute sand or
stones for the cargo.

The Athenians passed a number of laws respecting commerce, mostly of a
prohibitory nature. Money could not be advanced or lent on any vessel, or
the cargo of any vessel, that did not return to Athens, and discharge its
cargo there. The exportation of various articles, which were deemed of the
first necessity, was expressly forbidden: such as timber for building, fir,
cypress, plane, and other trees, which grew in the neighbourhood of the
city; the rosin collected on Mount Parnes, the wax of Mount Hymettus--which
two articles, incorporated together, or perhaps singly, were used for
daubing over, or caulking their ships. The exportation of corn, of which
Attica produced very little, was also forbidden; and what was brought from
abroad was not permitted to be sold any where except in Athens. By the laws
of Solon, they were allowed to exchange oil for foreign commodities. There
were besides a great number of laws respecting captains of ships,
merchants, duties, interest of money, and different kinds of contracts. One
law was specially favourable to merchants and all engaged in trade; by it a
heavy fine, or, in some cases, imprisonment, was inflicted on whoever
accused a merchant or trader of any crime he could not substantiate. In
order still farther to protect commerce, and to prevent it from suffering
by litigation, all causes which respected it could be heard only during the
period when vessels were in port. This period extended generally to six
months--from April to September inclusive--no ships being at sea during the
other portion of the year.

The taxes of the Athenians, so far as they affected commerce, consisted of
a fifth, levied on the corn and other merchandize imported, and also on
several articles which were exported from Athens. These duties were
generally farmed. In an oration of Andocides, we learn that he had farmed
the duty on foreign goods imported for a term of three years, at twelve
talents annually. In consequence of these duties, smuggling was not
uncommon. The inhabitants of the district called Corydale were celebrated
for illicit traffic: there was a small bay in this district, a little to
the north of Piræus, called. Thieves' Harbour, in which an extensive and
lucrative and contraband trade was carried on; ships of different nations
were engaged in it. Demosthenes informs us, that though this place was
within the boundaries of Attica, yet the Athenians had not the legal power
to put a stop to traffic by which they were greatly injured, as the
inhabitants of Corydale, as well as the inhabitants of every other state,
however small, were sovereigns within their own territory.

In an oration of Isocrates an operation is described which bears some
resemblance to that performed by modern bills of exchange. A stranger who
brought grain to Athens, and who, we may suppose, wished to purchase goods
to a greater amount than the sale of his grain would produce, drew on a
person living in some town on the Euxine, to which the Athenians were in
the habit of trading. The Athenian merchant took this draft; but not till a
banker in Athens had become responsible for its due payment.

The Athenian merchants were obliged, from the nature of trade in those
ancient times, to be constantly travelling from one spot to another; either
to visit celebrated fairs, or places where they hoped to carry on an
advantageous speculation. We shall afterwards notice more particularly the
Macedonian merchant mentioned by Ptolemy the Geographer, who sent his
clerks to the very borders of China; and from other authorities we learn
that the Greek merchants were accurately informed respecting the interior
parts of Germany, and the course of most of the principal rivers in that
country. The trade in aromatics, paints, cosmetics, &c., was chiefly
possessed by the Athenians, who had large and numerous markets in Athens
for the sale of these articles. Even in the time of Hippocrates, some of
the spices of India were common in the Peloponnesus and Attica; and there
is every reason to believe that most of these articles were introduced into
Greece in consequence of the journeys of their merchants to some places of
depôt, to which they were brought from the East.

We have already mentioned that the importation of corn into a country so
unfertile as Attica, was a subject of the greatest moment, and to which the
care and laws of the republic were most particularly directed. There were
magistrates, whose sole business and duty it was to lay in corn for the use
of the city; and other magistrates who regulated its price, and fixed also
the assize of bread. In the Piræus there were officers, the chief part of
whose duty it was to take care that two parts at least of all the corn
brought into the port should be carried to the city. Lysias, in his oration
against the corn merchants, gives a curious account of the means employed,
by them to raise its price, very similar to the rumours by which the same
effect is often produced at present: an embargo, or prohibition of
exporting it, by foreigners, an approaching war, or the capture or loss of
the vessels laden with it, seem to have been the most prevalent rumours.
Sicily, Egypt, and the Crimea were the countries which principally supplied
Attica with this necessary article. As the voyage from Sicily was the
shortest, as well as exposed to the least danger, the arrival of vessels
with corn from this island always reduced the price; but there does not
appear to have been nearly such quantities brought either from it or Egypt,
as from the Crimea. The Athenians, therefore, encouraged by every possible
means their commerce with the Cimmerian Bosphorus. One of the kings of that
country, Leucon II., who reigned about the time of Demosthenes, favoured
them very much. As the harbours were unsafe and inconvenient, he formed a
new one, called Theodosia, or, in the language of the country, Ardauda: he
likewise exempted their vessels from paying the duty on corn, to which all
other vessels were subject on exporting it--this duty amounted to a
thirtieth part,--and allowed their merchants a free trade to all parts of
his kingdom. In return, the Athenians made him and his children citizens of
Athens, and granted to such of his subjects as traded in Attica the same
privileges and exemptions which their citizens enjoyed in Bosphorus. It was
one of the charges against Demosthenes, by his rival, the orator Dinarchus,
that the sons and successors of Leucon sent yearly to him a thousand
bushels of wheat. Besides the new port of Theodosia, the Athenians traded
also to Panticapæum for corn: the quantity they exported is stated by
Demosthenes to have amounted to 400,000 mediniri, or bushels, yearly, as
appeared from the custom books; and this was by far the greatest quantity
of corn they received from foreign countries. Lucian, indeed, informs us
that a ship, which, from his description, must have been about the size of
our third-rates, contained as much corn as maintained all Attica for a
twelvemonth; but, in the time of this author, Athens was not nearly so
populous as it had been: and besides, as is justly remarked by Hume, it is
not safe to trust to such loose rhetorical illustrations.

From a passage in Thucydides we may learn that the Athenians derived part
of their supply of corn from Euboea; this passage is also curious as
exhibiting a surprising instance of the imperfection of ancient navigation.
Among the inconveniences experienced by the Athenians, from the fortifying
of Dacelia by the Lacedemonians, this historian particularly mentions, as
one of the most considerable, that they could not bring over their corn
from Euboea by land, passing by Oropus, but were under the necessity of
embarking it, and sailing round Cape Sunium; and yet the water carriage
could not be more than double the land carriage.

The articles imported by the Athenians from the Euxine Sea, besides corn,
were timber for building, slaves, salt, honey, wax, wool, leather, and
goat-skins; from Byzantium and other ports of Thrace and Macedonia, salt
fish and timber; from Phrygia and Miletus, carpets, coverlets for beds, and
the fine wool, of which their cloths were made; from the islands of Egean
Sea, wine and different fruits; and from Thrace, Thessaly, Phrygia, &c., a
great number of slaves.

The traffic in slaves was, next to that in corn, of the greatest
consequence to the Athenians, for the citizens were not in sufficient
numbers, and, if they had been, were not by any means disposed, to
cultivate the land, work the mines, and carry on the various trades and
manufactures. The number of slaves in Attica, during the most flourishing
period of the republic, was estimated at 400,000: of these the greater part
had been imported; the rest were natives of Greece, whom the fate of arms
had thrown into the hands of a conqueror irritated by too obstinate a
resistance. The slaves most esteemed, and which brought the highest price,
were imported from Syria and Thrace, the male slaves of the former country,
and the females of the latter: the slaves from Macedonia were the least
valued. The price of a slave seems to have been extremely low, as Xenophon
mentions that some were sold at Athens for half an Attic mina, or rather
more than thirty shillings: those, however, who had acquired a trade, or
were otherwise particularly useful, were valued at five minæ, or about
fifteen pounds.

Our idea of the commerce of Athens, and of Greece in general, would be very
imperfect and inadequate if we neglected to notice their fairs. It has been
ingeniously supposed, that at the celebrated games of Greece, such as those
of Olympia, &c., trade was no subordinate object; and this idea is
certainly confirmed by various passages in ancient authors. Cicero
expressly informs us, that even so early as the age of Pythagoras, a great
number of people attended the religious games for the express purpose of
trading. At Delphi, Nemæa, Delos, or the Isthmus of Corinth, a fair was
held almost every year. The amphyctionic fairs were held twice a year. In
the time of Chrysostom, these lairs were infamously distinguished for a
traffic in slaves, destined for public incontinence. The amphyctionic
spring fair was held at Delphi, and at Thermopylæ in the autumn; in fact,
at the same times that the deputies from the states of Greece formed the
amphyctionic council;--another proof that wherever large assemblies of
people took place in Greece, for religious or political purposes, advantage
was taken of them to carry on traffic. At the fairs of Thermopylæ medicinal
herbs and roots, especially hellebore, were sold in large quantities. One
principal reason why the religious games or political assemblies of the
states were fixed upon to hold fairs was, that during them all hostilities
were suspended; and every person might go with his merchandize in safety to
them, even through an enemy's country. The priests, so far from regarding
these fairs as a profanation of the religions ceremonies, encouraged them;
and the priests of Jupiter, in particular, advanced large sums on interest
to such merchants as had good credit, but had not sufficient money with

The island of Delos calls for our particular attention, as the grand mart
of the Athenians, as well as of the rest of Greece, and of the other
countries in the Mediterranean, which at this period were engaged in
commerce. The peace of this island always remained undisturbed, from an
opinion that it was under the special protection of Apollo and Diana; and
when the fleets of enemies met there, out of respect to the sacredness of
the place, they forbore all manner of hostilities. There were also other
circumstances which contributed to render it a place of great importance to
commerce: its commodious situation for the navigation from Europe into
Asia; its festivals, which brought immense crowds to it (and as we have
just observed, wherever a multitude of Greeks were collected, by
superstitious rites or amusements, commerce was mingled with their duties
and pursuits); and the bias which its original, or at least its very early
inhabitants, had to commerce: all these combined to render it a place of
great importance to commerce. Its trade consisted chiefly in slaves:
according to Strabo, in the time of Perseus, king of Macedonia, above
10,000 slaves came in and went out daily. The corn, wine, and other
commodities of the neighbouring islands; the scarlet linen tunics,
manufactured in the island of Amorgos; the rich purple stuffs of Cos; the
highly esteemed alum of Melos, and the valuable copper, which the mines, of
Delos itself (that had been long worked,) and the elegant vases,
manufactured from this copper,--were the principal commodities exported
from Delos. In return and exchange, foreign merchants brought the produce
and manufactures of their respective countries; so that the island became,
as it were, the storehouse of the treasures of nations; and the scene,
during this mixture of religious festivals and commercial enterprise, was
peculiarly gay and animated. The inhabitants were, by an express law, which
is noticed by Athenæus, obliged to furnish water to all the strangers who
resorted thither; to which, it would appear, they added, either
gratuitously, or for a small remuneration, cakes and other trifling

The Athenians were so anxious to protect and extend the commerce carried on
in Delos, that they gave encouragement to such strangers to settle there as
were conversant in commerce, as well as strictly guarded its neutrality and
privileges. On the destruction of Tyre, and afterwards of Carthage, events
which gave a new direction to the commerce of the Mediterranean, a great
number of merchants from these cities fled to Delos, where they were taken
under the protection of the Athenians; and it appears by an inscription
found in the 17th century, that the Tyrians formed a company of merchants
and navigators there. The Romans traded to it, even before their war with
Philip, king of Macedon. After the restoration of Corinth, the Athenians
used all their efforts to keep up the commerce of Delos; but the wars of
Mithridates put an end to it; and in a very short period afterwards, it
seems to have been entirely abandoned by the merchants of all nations, and,
as a commercial place, to have fallen into utter neglect and decay.

Corinth, next to Athens, demands our notice, as one of the most commercial
cities of Greece. The Corinthian dominions were extremely small, their
extent from east to west being about half a degree, and from north to south
about half that space: according to the geographer Scylax, a vessel might
sail from one extremity to the other in a day. It had no rivers of any
note, and few rich plains, being in general uneven, and but moderately
fertile. The situation of Corinth itself, however, amply compensated for
all these disadvantages: it was built on the middle of the isthmus of the
same name, at the distance of about 60 stadia on either side from the sea;
on one side was the Saronic Gulf, on the other the sea of Crissa. On the
former was the port of Lechæum, which was joined to the city by a double
wall, 12 stadia in length; on the latter sea, was the port of Cinchræa,
distant from Corinth 70 stadia. There was, besides, the port and castle of
Cromyon, about 120 stadia distant from the capital. Hence, it will appear
that Corinth commanded the trade of all the eastern part of the
Mediterranean by the port of Cinchræa; and of the Ionian sea, by that of
Lechæum. But the Corinthians possessed other advantages; for their citadel
was almost impregnable, commanded from its situation both these seas, and
stood exactly in the way of communication by land between one part of
Greece and the other. The other states, however, would not permit the
Corinthians to interdict them the passage of the Isthmus; but they could
not prevent them from taking advantage of their situation, by carrying on
an extensive and lucrative commerce. The Isthmian games, which were
celebrated at Corinth, also contributed very much to its splendour and
opulence, and drew additional crowds to it, who, as usual, mingled commerce
with religion. According to Thucydides, Corinth had been a city of great
traffic, even when the Greeks confined their trade to land: at this period,
the Corinthians imposed a transit duty on all commodities, which entered or
left the Peloponnessus by the Isthmus. But the extended knowledge and
enterprise of the Greeks, and, above all, the destruction of the pirates
which infested the narrow seas, led them to prefer sea carriage part of the
way. The reason why they did not transport their goods the whole passage by
sea, may be found in their ignorance and fears: their inexperienced
mariners and frail ships could not succeed in doubling Cape Malea in
Laconia; off which, and between it and Crete, the sea was frequently very
boisterous. Hence, the merchants were under the necessity of transporting,
by land carriage, their goods to the seas which formed the Isthmus. Such as
came from Italy, Sicily, and the countries to the west, were landed at
Lechæum; while the merchandize from Asia Minor, Phoenicia, and the islands
in the Egean Sea, were landed at the port of Cinchræa. The breadth of the
Isthmus was so small that the goods were easily and quickly conveyed from
one harbour to the other; and afterwards the Corinthians succeeded in
transporting the ships themselves.

At first it would appear that the Corinthians contented themselves with the
wealth derived from their city being the great mart of commerce, and from
the duties which they imposed: but they soon began to engage very
extensively and with great spirit in trade themselves. Several kinds of
manufactures were encouraged, which were highly valued by foreign nations,
especially coverlets for beds, and brass and earthen-ware vessels. But
their most valuable manufacture consisted in a metal compounded of copper
and a small quantity of gold and silver, which was extremely brilliant, and
scarcely liable to rust or decay. From this metal they made helmets, &c.,
little figures, cups, vessels, &c., which were highly esteemed, not only on
account of the metal of which they were formed, but still more on account
of the tasteful foliage and other ornaments with which they were covered.
Their earthen-ware was ornamented in the same beautiful and tasteful

All these were exported by the Corinthians in great quantities, and formed
very lucrative articles of trade. Paper and sailcloth from Egypt; ivory
from Lybia; leather from Cyrene; incense from Syria; dates from Phoenicia;
carpets from Carthage; corn and cheese from Sicily; apples and pears from
Euboea;--filled the warehouses of Corinth.

As soon as Corinth resolved to participate in maritime commerce, she
applied herself to this object with great industry and success: she built
ships of a novel form, and first produced galleys with three benches of
oars; and history assures us that the Greeks obtained their first maritime
experience during the naval war between the Corinthians and the inhabitants
of Corfu; and by their instruction the Samians put to sea those powerful
fleets for which they were distinguished.

Besides Athens and Corinth, there were no states in ancient Greece, the
consideration of whose maritime and commercial affairs will detain us long.
Lacedæmonia was favourably situated in these respects; but either her laws,
or the disposition and pursuits of her inhabitants, prevented her from
taking advantage of her situation. All the south part of Laconia was
encompassed by the sea, and on the east and north-east was the Argelic Bay:
on its coasts were a great number of capes, the most celebrated of which
were those of Malea and Tanara; they were also furnished with a great
number of sea-port towns and commodious harbours. In consequence of the
capes extending far into the sea, and the deepness of some of the bays, the
ancients took three days to navigate the length of the coast in vessels
wrought by oars, following, as they generally did, all the windings of the
land. The little river Pameros, which divided Beotia from Laconia, formed
one extremity, and the port of Prais, on the Gulf of Argelis, formed the
other. The most difficult and dangerous part of this navigation consisted
in doubling Cape Malea.

The most convenient and frequented sea-ports in Laconia were Trinassus and
Acria, situated on each side the mouth of the Eurotas; and Gythium, not far
from Trinassus, at the mouth of a small river on the Laconic Gulf. The
mouth of this river, which was navigable up to Sparta, was defended by a
citadel, the ruins of which were remaining in the time of Pausanias. As the
Lacedæmonians regarded this town as their principal port, in which their
naval forces, as well as the greater part of their merchant ships
assembled, they employed considerable labour and expence in rendering it
commodious and safe; for this purpose they dug a very spacious basin which,
on one side was defended by motes, and on the other by numerous
fortifications: the strength of these may be judged of from the
circumstance, that even after the armies of Sparta had been utterly
defeated by Epaminondas, and Philip, the son of Demetrius, neither of these
conquerors could capture this sea-port. In it were deposited all the
requisites for their naval force, and from it sailed their merchant ships
with cargoes to Crete, Africa, and Egypt; to all of which countries,
according to Thucydides, the Lacedæmonians carried on a lucrative and
regular traffic. Another of their sea-ports was Epidaurus, situated on the
Gulf of Argos, in the eastern part of Laconia. The country round it
contained many vineyards, the wine of which was exported in considerable
quantities, and supplied other parts of Greece. This district is still
celebrated for its wine, called Malvasia, (or Malmsey,) a corruption from
Maleates, the ancient name of this part of Laconia.

We have already alluded to the supposed aversion of the Spartans to
maritime affairs, which, according to some authors, arose from Lycurgus
having prohibited them from building vessels, or employing sailors; but
this idea is unfounded, and seems to have arisen from the fact, that their
kings were prevented, by a positive law, from commanding the fleets. That
the Spartans engaged in commerce, we have, as has been just stated, the
express testimony of Thucydides; and there is abundant evidence that they
had always armed vessels during their wars; and even so early as the time
of Croesus, they sent some troops to Satnos, and plundered that island: and
in later times, they used such efforts to equip vessels, in order to gain
the mastery of the seas, that, according to Xenophon, they entirely
neglected their cavalry. They were stimulated to this line of conduct by
Alcibiades, who advised the kings, ephori, and the nation at large, to
augment their marine, to compel the ships of all other nations to lower
their flag to theirs, and to proclaim themselves exclusive masters of the
Grecian seas. Isocrates informs us, that, before Alcibiades came to
Lacedaemon, the Spartans, though they had a navy, expended little on it;
but afterwards they increased it almost daily. The signal defeat they
sustained at the battle of Cnidus, where Conon destroyed their whole fleet,
not only blasted their hopes of becoming masters of the seas, but,
according to Isocrates, led to their defeat at the battle of Leuctra.

Off the coast of Laconia, and about forty stadia from Cape Malea, lies the
island of Cythera; the strait between it and the mainland was deemed by the
ancients extremely dangerous in stormy weather; and indeed its narrowness,
and the rocks that lay off Cape Malea must, to such inexperianced
navigators, have been very alarming. The Phoenicians are supposed to have
had a settlement in this island: afterwards it became an object of great
consequence to the Lacedaemonians, who fortified, at great expence, and
with much labour and skill, its two harbours, Cythera and Scandea. The
convenience of these harbours to the Lacedaemonians compensated for the
sterility of the island, which was so great that when the Athenians
conquered it, they could raise from it only four Attic talents annually.
The chief employment and source of wealth to the inhabitants consisted in
collecting a species of shell-fish, from which an inferior kind of Tyrian
dye was extracted. There were several fisheries on the mainland of Laconia
for the same purpose.

Some of the other Greek islands require a short and general notice, on
account of the attention they paid to maritime affairs. Corcyra was
inhabited by skilful mariners, who, in the time of Herodotus, possessed a
greater number of ships than any other people in Greece, with the exception
of the Athenians; and, according to Thucydides, at one period they were
masters of the Mediterranean Sea. On the invasion of Greece by Xerxes, they
fitted out a fleet of sixty ships, with which they promised to assist their
countrymen; but, instead of this, their ships anchored in a place where
they could see the result of the battle of Salamis, and when they
ascertained that the Greeks were victorious, they pretended that they had
been prevented from affording the promised succours by contrary winds, so
that they could not double Cape Malea. Of the commerce of this island we
have no particulars detailed by ancient writers.

Egina, in the Saronic Gulf, acquired great wealth from the cultivation of
commerce: in the time of the Persian war, they equipped a very powerful and
well-manned fleet for the defence of Greece; and at the battle of Salamis
they were adjudged to have deserved the prize of valour. According to
Elian, they were the first people who coined money.

The island of Euboea possessed excellent harbours, from which, as it was
very fertile, the Athenians exported large quantities of corn. This island
is divided from the mainland of Greece by the Euripus, which the ancients
represented to be so extremely narrow, that a galley could scarcely pass
through it: its frequent and irregular tides were, also the subject of
their wonder, and the cause of them, of their fruitless researches and
conjectures. It hits several promontories, the doubling of one of which,
Cape Catharius, was reckoned by the ancients very dangerous, on account of
the many rocks and whirlpools on the const. Of all the cities of Euboea,
Chalcis was the most famous: its inhabitants applied themselves, at a very
early period, to navigation, and sent numerous colonies to Thrace, Macedon,
Italy, &c. In the vicinity of another of its towns, Carystus, there were
quarries of very fine marble, the exportation of which seems to have been a
lucrative trade: in the same part of the island also was found the
asbestos. Euboea possessed several rich copper and iron mines; and as the
inhabitants were very skilful in working these metals, the exportation of
armour, and various vessels made from them, was also one important branch
of their commerce.

Of the numerous colonies sent out by the Greeks, we shall notice only those
which were established for the purposes of commerce, or which, though not
established for this express purpose, became afterwards celebrated for it.
None of the Athenian colonies, which they established expressly for the
purpose of trading with the capital, was of such importance as Amphipolis.
This place was situated at the mouth of the river Strymon, on the borders
of Macedonia. The country in its vicinity was very fertile in wood, and
from it, for a considerable length of time, the Athenians principally
derived timber for building their fleets: they also levied on its
inhabitants a heavy tribute in silver coin. As this city was well situated
for commerce, and the Athenians, wherever they went, or were settled, were
eager in pursuit of gain, their colonists in Amphipolis extended their
trade, on one side into Thrace, and on the other into Macedonia. They were
enabled, in a great measure, to monopolize the commerce of both these
countries, at least those parts of them which were contiguous, from the
situation of their city on the Strymon; of which river they held, as it
were, the key, so that nothing could depart from it without their consent.
The ancients represent this river as frequently exhibiting immense logs of
wood floating down it, which had been felled either on Mount Rhodope, or in
the forests of Mount Hemus. The Athenians retained this important and
valuable colony till the time of Philip, the father of Alexander, by whom
it was taken from them.

The island of Samos may justly be regarded as a Grecian colony; having been
chiefly inhabited by the Iones, to whose confederacy it belonged. Its
situation between the mainland of Asia and the island of Icaria, from both
of which it is separated by very narrow straits, which were the usual
course for the ancient vessels in their voyage from the Black Sea to Syria
and Egypt, rendered it the resort of pirates, as well as celebrated for its
ships and commerce. The city of Samos, as described by the ancients, seems
to have been a place of great consequence. Herodotus mentions three things
for which it was remarkable in his time; one of which was a mole or pier,
120 feet long, which formed the harbour, and was carried two furlongs into
the sea. The principal design of this mole was to protect ships from the
south wind, to which they would otherwise have been much exposed. Hence it
would appear, that even at this early period, they had made great advances
in commerce, otherwise they would neither have had the disposition or
ability to build such a mole. But we have the express testimony of
Thucydides, that even at a much earlier period,--nearly 300 years before
the Peloponnesian war,--the Samians gave great encouragement to
shipbuilding, and employed Aminodes, the Corinthian, who was esteemed the
most skilful ship-builder of his time; and Herodotus speaks of them as
trading to Egypt, Spain, &c., before any of the other Greeks, except
Sostrates, of Egina, were acquainted with those countries. The same author
informs us, that the Samians had a settlement in Upper Egypt, and that one
of their merchant ships, on its passage thither, was driven by contrary
winds, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, to the island of Tartessus, which
till then was unknown to the Greeks. This island abounded in gold; of the
value of which, the inhabitants were so utterly ignorant, that they readily
allowed the Samians to carry home with them sixty talents, or about
13,500_l_. According to Pliny, they first built vessels fit to transport
cavalry. We are not informed of what articles their exports and imports
consisted, except that their earthen-ware was in great repute among the
ancients, in their most splendid entertainments, and was exported in great
quantities for this purpose. The Samian earth, from which these vessels
were made, was itself also exported, on account of its medicinal
properties. It is well known that the victory obtained by the Greeks over
the Persians, at the sea-fight of Mycale, was chiefly owing to the Samians.

The commerce of the Black Sea was of so much importance and value to the
Greeks, that we cannot be surprised that they founded several colonies on
its shores, and in the adjacent countries. Heraclea, in this sea, is said
to have been founded by the Beotians: the inhabitants availed themselves of
their situation to engage very extensively in maritime affairs and in
commerce, so that in a short time they were not inferior in wealth or power
to any of the Greek states in Asia. When Xenophon was obliged to retreat
after his expedition into Asia Minor, the Heracleans supplied him with
ships, to transport his army into Greece. Their maritime strength and
skill, or their commercial pursuits, involved them in almost every maritime
war, their friendship and support being sought after by all the Asiatic
princes. When the war broke out between Ptolemy and Antigonus, they sent to
the assistance of the former a numerous fleet, all of which were well
equipped and manned. Some were of an extraordinary size, especially one,
which had on each side 800 oars, besides 1200 fighting men.

Trapezus was a Greek city, in Pontus, situated on a peninsula, in the Black
Sea, where it begins to turn to the east: it had a large and convenient
port, and carried on a considerable trade. But the most celebrated of the
Grecian colonies in this part of the world, was Byzantium: it was anciently
founded by the Megareans, and successively rebuilt by the Milesians and
other nations of Greece. Its harbour, which was in fact an arm of the
Bosphorus, obtained, at a very remote period, the appellation of the Golden
Horn; most of the recesses, which were compared to the horn of a stag, are
now filled up. The epithet "golden" was given to it as expressive of the
riches, which (to use the language of Gibbon) every wind wafted from the
most distant countries into its secure and capacious port. Never was there
a happier or more majestic situation. The river Lycus, which was formed by
the junction of two small streams, pouring into the harbour, every tide, a
regular supply of fresh water, cleansed the bottom; while the tides in
those seas being very trifling, the constant depth of the harbour allowed
goods to be landed on the quay without the assistance of boats: and in some
parts, the depth near the shore was so considerable, that the prows of the
vessels touched the houses, while they were fully afloat. The distance from
the mouth of the river to that of the harbour, or the length of this arm of
the Bosphorus is seven miles; the entrance, about 500 yards broad, was
defended, when necessary, by a strong chain drawn across it. The city of
Byzantium was situated on a promontory, nearly of a triangular form; on the
point of the promontory stood the citadel. The walls of the city itself
were very strong, but not so lofty towards the sea as towards the land,
being on the former side defended by the waves, and in some places by the
rocks on which they were built, and which projected into the sea.

Thus favoured by nature, and strengthened by art, and situated in a
territory abounding in grain and fruits, Byzantium was crowded with
merchants, and supported and enriched by an active and flourishing
commerce: its harbour, which was sheltered on every side from tempests,
besides being easy of access and capacious, attracted to it ships from all
the states of Greece, while its situation at the head of the strait
enabled, and seemed to authorize it to stop and subject to heavy duties,
the foreign merchants who traded to the Euxine, or to reduce the nations
who depended on the countries bordering on this sea for their supplies of
corn to great difficulties, and in some cases, even to famine. On these
accounts the Athenians and Lacedaemonians were generally rivals for its
alliance and friendship. Besides the necessary article of grain and
abundance of rich and valuable fruit, the Byzantines derived great wealth
from their fisheries: these were carried on with great spirit, enterprize,
and success. A surprising quantity of fish was caught in the harbour
itself, in autumn, when they left the Euxine for the Archipelago; and in
the spring, on their return to Pontus. A great many people were employed
both in this fishery, and in the curing of the fish: great sums were
derived from this source, as well as from the sale of salt provisions; for
the quality of which, Byzantium was in greater renown than even
Panticapeum. The only disadvantage under which the Byzantines laboured, to
counterbalance the excellence of their harbour, the fertility of their
soil, the productiveness of their fisheries, and the extent of their
commerce, arose from the frequent excursions of the Thracians, who
inhabited the neighbouring villages.

There were many other Grecian colonies on the Bosphorus and the adjacent
seas. Panticapeum, built by the Milesians, according to Strabo, the capital
of the European Bosphorus, with which, as has been already mentioned, the
Athenians carried on a considerable trade. Theodosia, also mentioned
before, was likewise formed and colonized by the Milesians: its port could
contain 100 ships. Tanais, on the Cimmerian Bosphorus; Olbia and
Borysthenes, both situated near the mouth of the river from which the
latter took its name; Panagorea and Hermonassa on the Bosphorus, and
several others. Besides these colonies in this part of the world, the
Greeks founded others, for the express purposes of commerce; as Syracuse,
in Sicily; Marseilles, in Gaul, the mother of several colonies established
on the neighbouring coasts, and, as we shall afterwards notice, a place of
very considerable wealth, consequence, and strength, derived entirely from
commerce, as well as the seat of the arts and sciences; Cyrene, an opulent
city in Africa, and Naucratis, situated on one of the mouths of the Nile.
They likewise formed settlements in Rhodes and Crete, in the islands of the
Egean Sea, on the opposite coasts of Asia, &c.; most of which were of
importance to the mother country, from the facilities they offered to the
extension of its commerce.

The war between the Romans, and Philip king of Macedon, which intervened
between the second and third Punic war, first afforded the former an
opportunity and an excuse for interfering in the affairs of Greece. Till
the time of Philip, the father of Alexander, Macedonia does not appear to
have had any connexion with the rest of this celebrated portion of the
ancient world; the Greeks, indeed, regarded its inhabitants as savages; but
from that period, Macedonia became the most important and influential state
in Greece. Its boundaries varied at different periods of its history: it
seems originally to have been bounded on the east by the Egean Sea; on the
south by Thessaly and Epirus; on the west by the Ionian Sea; and on the
north by the river Strymon, at the mouth of which, as has been already
mentioned, the Athenians founded one of their most flourishing and useful
colonies. The princes of Macedonia viewed with jealousy, but for a long
time were unable to prevent the states of Greece from forming colonies in
the immediate vicinity of their dominions: their union, however, with the
king of Persia, when he first fixed his ambition on Greece, was rewarded by
a great accession of territory, which enabled them to contest the
possession of the sea-coasts with the most powerful of the Greek republics.
They then extended their territories to the Eastern Sea, but there were
till the reign of Philip, the father of Alexander, several nations between
them and the Adriatic, all of which were subdued by him; and thus this sea
became their western boundary.

Some of the most celebrated cities of Macedonia were founded by foreign
nations. Epidamnus, which was seated at the entrance of the Ionian Gulf,
was a colony of the Corcyrians: it was the occasion of a fierce naval war
between them and the Corinthians, generally called the Corinthian war.
Apollonia, distant seven miles from the sea, on the river Laus, was a
Corinthian colony: it was renowned for its excellent laws. On another part
of the coast of the Adriatic were the sea-ports of Elyma and Bullis. The
district of Paraxis, which was full of gulfs and inlets formed by the Egean
Sea, had several ports, but none of any repute. From this description of
Macedonia and its principal sea coasts and ports, it is evident that it
possessed many advantages for commerce and naval affairs, which, however,
were never embraced till the period when the Romans first turned their
thoughts to Greece. Had its sovereigns been disposed to engage in commerce,
the Adriatic, with its extensive and safe haven of Epidamnus, in which
there were several ports, would have opened the trade to Italy; the Egean
Sea, still more advantageous, would have secured the trade of Greece and
Asia, by means of its spacious bays, one of which, the Sinus Thermæus, was
at least sixty miles long.

The produce of Macedonia also would have favoured its commerce; the soil
was every where fruitful, and, especially near the sea, abounding in corn,
wine, and oil: its principal riches, however, consisted in its mines of
almost all kinds of metals, but particularly of gold. In the district of
Pieria, it is said, there were found large quantities of this metal in the
sand, sometimes in lumps of considerable size: but by far the most
productive and valuable mines of gold were in the mountain Pangæus, in a
district which Philip, the father of Alexander, added to Macedonia. The
people who inhabited the country near the river Strymon derived great
wealth from these mines, and it was the knowledge of this, as much as the
facility of obtaining timber, which induced the Athenians to found their
colony near this river. The Thracians drove the Athenians from this part of
Macedonia, and Philip expelled them: he paid great attention to the working
of the mines; and by employing persons well skilled in this and in refining
the ore, he rendered them so extremely valuable, that, according to ancient
authors, he obtained the empire of Greece principally by means of the
immense sums he drew from them, amounting annually, according to Diodorus,
to 1000 talents of gold. When the Romans reduced Macedonia, they expressly
forbade the inhabitants from working the mines of gold or silver, or
refining either of those metals; permitting them, however, to manufacture
any other metal.

The princes of Macedonia previous to Philip, the father of Alexander,
notwithstanding the great advantage for maritime affairs and commerce
afforded by the sea-coasts, bays, harbours, &c., neither practised nor
understood them: this arose in a great measure from their being continually
engaged in wars, or having their ports occupied or blocked up by the
maritime states of Greece. Philip was the first who freed his country from
these evils and inconveniences; but his thoughts were too intently and
constantly fixed on other objects to allow him to turn his attention to
maritime affairs or commerce. Alexander, as we have already seen, bestowed
much care on his fleet, while engaged in the conquest of Asia; and when he
died at Babylon, had formed the design of placing his fleets, in every port
of his dominions, on a regular and extensive scale. But the advantages of
Macedonia for commerce were neglected in the midst of his vast plans
elsewhere, and the Macedonians, at the period of his death, were still
inattentive to maritime affairs.

Philip, the antagonist of the Romans, of whose power and success he was not
only jealous but apprehensive, as soon as he resolved to engage in
hostilities with them, applied himself to maritime affairs. His
determination seems to have been fixed when he learnt that the Romans had
been defeated at the Lake of Thrasymenus: he instantly formed the plan of
invading Illyrium, and then crossing over to Italy. But the latter step
could not be taken, nor, indeed, could he expect to cope with the Romans,
till he had formed a fleet, and trained his subjects to the management of
it. At this period the Macedonians seem to have had some merchant ships;
for we are informed that a petty king of Illyria seized some of them in the
port of Leucas, and also all that his squadron met with on the coast of
Greece, as far as Malea. This insult and attack afforded Philip an
excellent reason for declaring war against Illyricum: he began by
exercising the Macedonians in the art of navigation; he built ships after
the Illyrian manner, and he was the first king of Macedonia that put to
sea 100 small vessels at one time.

He was urged still more strongly to go on with his plan of invading Italy,
when he learnt the result of the battle of Cannæ; he immediately formed an
alliance with Hannibal, and engaged to invade Italy with 200 sail of ships,
and plunder its eastern coasts: in return for this service he was to retain
all the islands in the Adriatic, lying near the coast of Macedonia, that he
might subdue.

His first naval enterprize was the siege of Oricum on the coast of Epirus,
and of Apollonia on the coast of Macedonia, both of which he carried on at
the same time, with 120 ships of two banks of oars. He was, however,
successfully opposed by the Roman consul Laevinus, who obliged him to burn
great part of his fleet, and raise the siege of Doth the places.

About twelve years afterwards, or about 200 years before Christ, Philip
engaged in a maritime war with Attalus, king of Pergamus, and the Rhodians,
near the isle of Chio: the fleet of Philip consisted of fifty-three decked
vessels and 150 gallies; besides these he had several ships called pristis,
from the figure of a large fish which was affixed to, or engraved on their
bows, either to distinguish them, or as a mark of their swift sailing. The
fleet of his opponents consisted of sixty-five covered ships, besides those
of their allies, the people of Byzantium.

Notwithstanding, however, the exertions he made to acquire a naval force
equal to that of the Romans, and the experience which his subjects
gradually obtained in maritime affairs, he was not able to sustain their
attacks, either by land or sea, but was compelled in a very few years to
sue for peace. This he obtained, on the condition, that he should deliver
up to the Romans all his covered gallies, and reserve to himself only a few
smaller vessels: he was permitted, however, to retain one galley of sixteen
banks of oars, a vessel rather for shew than use.

The success of the Romans, the extent of their conquests, and the ambitious
views, which seemed wider and wider in proportion to their successes,
alarmed Antiochus, king of Syria, who, not intimidated by the fate of
Philip, resolved to declare war against them. They were never averse to
engage in hostilities. The fleet of Antiochus consisted of 100 ships; that
of the Romans was nearly equal in number; the ships of Antiochus, however,
were inferior to those of his opponents in respect to strength and size,
though surpassing them in swiftness. The hostile fleets met and engaged on
the coast of Ionia; that of Antiochus was defeated, and would have been
utterly captured or destroyed, had it not been for the swiftness of the
vessels. In order to repair his loss, Antiochus sent for additional vessels
from Sicily and Phoenicia; but these were taken on their passage by the
Rhodians, who were at this time in alliance with the Romans. The Rhodians,
however, in their turn were attacked and defeated by the fleet of
Antiochus, near Samos, whither they had gone to join a Roman squadron.

In the meantime the Romans had collected a fleet of eighty ships, and with
these they fought one hundred ships of their opponent off the coast of
Ionia; the victory of the former was decisive, all the ships of Antiochus
being captured or destroyed. This disaster, in connection with a signal
defeat he sustained by land, compelled him to submit; and the Romans,
always attentive to their maritime interests, which however they had not
hitherto pushed nearly to the extent which they might have done, refused to
grant him peace, except on the conditions, that he should cede all that
part of Asia which lies between the sea and Mount Taurus; that he should
give up all his vessels except ten; and that these should not, on any
account, sail beyond the promontories of Cilicia. The Romans, extremely
strict, and even severe, in enforcing the conditions of peace, not only
destroyed fifty covered galleys, but, the successor of Antiochus having
built additional vessels to the ten he was by treaty allowed to keep, they
compelled him to burn them.

The temporary success of the Carthaginians against the Romans induced
Philip, king of Macedon, to engage in that war which proved his ruin. The
advice of Hannibal, when an exile at the court of Antiochus, likewise led
to the disastrous war of that monarch with the same people; and by the
advice of Hannibal also, Prusias, king of Bythinia, was engaged in
hostilities with them. This king seems to have paid considerable attention
to naval and commercial affairs, for both of which, indeed, his territories
were admirably suited. In conjunction with the Rhodians, he made war
against the inhabitants of Byzantium, and obliged them to remit the tax
which they had been accustomed to levy on all vessels that sailed to or
from the Euxine Sea, The maritime war between this sovereign and the
Romans, who were at this time in alliance with Eumenes, king of Pergamus,
offers nothing deserving our notice, except a stratagem executed by
Hannibal. In order to compensate for the inferiority of Prusias' fleet,
Hannibal ordered a great many serpents to be collected; these were put into
pots, which, during the engagement, were thrown into the enemy's ships. The
alarm and consternation occasioned by this novel and unexpected mode of
warfare, threw his opponents into disorder, and compelled them to save
themselves by flight.

The conquest of all the islands on the coast of Greece, from Epirus to Cape
Malea, by the Romans, was the result of a naval war, in which they engaged
with the Etolians, a people who, at this time, were so powerful at sea, and
so much addicted to piracy, as to have drawn upon themselves the jealousy
and the vengeance of the Romans. This extension of their dominions was
followed by a successful war with the Istrians, which made them masters of
all the western parts of the Mediterranean Sea; and by an equally
successful war with Nabis, the tyrant of Sparta, who was compelled to
deliver up his fleet to them, as well as all the sea-ports of consequence
on the coast of Sparta.

The Rhodians hitherto had been generally in alliance with the Romans; but
differences arose between them during the war between the latter and
Perseus, king of Macedon.

The island of Rhodes was remarkably well situated for maritime commerce;
and its inhabitants did not fail to reap all the advantages in this respect
which nature had so kindly bestowed on them. It appears from Homer, that in
his time there were three cities in the island; but during the
Peloponnesian war, the greater part of the inhabitants, having formed the
resolution to settle in one place, built the city of Rhodes, after the
designs of the same Athenian architect, who built the Piræus. This city was
situated on the east coast of the island, at the foot of a hill, in the
form of an amphitheatre: it possessed a very convenient and safe harbour,
at the entrance of which there were two rocks; and on these, which were
fifty feet asunder, the famous Colossus was placed. The arsenals of Rhodes
were filled with every thing requisite for the defence of the city, or the
equipment of a large fleet: its walls, which were extremely high, were
defended by towers: its houses were built of stone: in short, the whole
city presented a striking picture of wealth, magnificence, and beauty, for
which it was not less indebted to art and commerce than to nature.

Before the era of the Olympiads, the Rhodians applied themselves to
maritime affairs: for many years they seem to have been masters of the
Mediterranean Sea; and their code of maritime laws became the standard with
all the maritime nations of antiquity, by which all controversies regarding
maritime affairs were regulated. There is great doubt among the learned,
whether what still exist as the fragments of these laws are genuine: we
know, however, that the Romans had a law which they called Lex Rhodia;
according to some, this contained the regulations of the Rhodians
concerning naval affairs; according to others, however, only one clause of
the law, _de jactu_, about throwing goods overboard in a storm, was
borrowed from the Rhodians.

Besides the commerce in which they themselves were engaged, the constant
arrival of ships from Egypt to Greece, and from Greece to Egypt, the island
being situated exactly in the passage between these countries, contributed
much to their wealth. As this encreased, they formed settlements and
colonies in many places; at Parthenope and Salapia, in Italy; Agrigentum
and Geta, in Sicily; Rhodes, on the coast of Spain, near the foot of the
Pyrenees, &c. They were particularly celebrated for and attentive to the
construction of their vessels; aiming principally at lightness and speed,
the discipline observed on board of them, and the skill and ability of
their captains and pilots. All these things were under the direct
management and controul of magistrates, appointed for the express purpose,
who were excessively attentive and even rigid in the execution of their
duty. Whoever entered certain places in the arsenals without permission,
was punished with death.

A few of the most remarkable events in the maritime history of Rhodes,
prior to their dispute with the Romans, call for some general and cursory
notice. Till the foundation of the city of Rhodes, which, as we have
already stated, took place during the Peleponnesian war, there is scarcely
any thing to attract our attention: a short time before this, the
republican form of government was established, and the trade and navigation
of the Rhodians seem to have acquired a fresh impulse and spirit. But their
enterprizes were soon checked by Artemisia, queen of Caria, gaining
possession of their city: this she effected by a stratagem. The Rhodians
invaded Caria with a design of gaining possession of Halicarnassus: by the
direction of the queen, the inhabitants made a signal that they
surrendered; the Rhodians suspecting no treachery, and delighted with their
apparent success, left their fleet to take possession of the town; in the
meantime, the queen brought her fleet from an adjoining creek, by means of
some canal or other inland communication, to the port where the Rhodian
vessels lay, and quietly took them. This disaster was the cause of another,
still more calamitous to the Rhodians; for Artemisia sailed with the
Rhodian ships to Rhodes, and the inhabitants, under the belief that their
fleet was returning victorious, permitted the enemy to land and to seize
the city. To what cause the Rhodions were indebted for the restoration of
their liberty and independence we are not informed; but it was owing,
either to the interference of the Athenians, or the death of Artemisia.

From the period of these events, which occurred about 350 years before
Christ, till the reign of Alexander the Great, the Rhodians enjoyed
profound and uninterrupted tranquillity; their commerce extended, and their
wealth encreased. To this conqueror they offered no resistance, but of
their own accord surrendered their cities and harbours; as soon, however,
as they learnt that he was dead, they resumed their independence. About
this time the greater part of their city was destroyed by a dreadful
inundation, which would have swept the whole of it away, if the wall
between it and the sea had not been broken down by the force of the waters,
and thus given them free passage. This misfortune seems only to have
encouraged the inhabitants to attend still more closely and diligently to
commerce, which they carried on with so much industry and skill, and in
such a profitable manner, that they soon rebuilt their city, and repaired
all the losses they had sustained. Their alliance was courted by all their
neighbours; but they resolved to adhere to a strict neutrality, and thus,
while war raged among other nations, they were enabled to profit by that
very circumstance, and thus became one of the most opulent states of all
Asia. Their commerce, as well as that of all the states on the
Mediterranean, being much molested and injured by the pirates, they
undertook, of their own accord, and at their own expence, to root them out;
and in this they completely succeeded.

But that commerce, on account of which they were so very anxious to keep at
peace, involved them in war. Their most lucrative trade was with Egypt.
When hostilities began between Ptolemy and Antigonus, the latter insisted
that they should join him; this they refused to do; upon which his fleet
blockaded Rhodes, to prevent their commerce with Egypt. The Rhodians were
thus compelled to act against him in their own defence, in order to free
their harbour. The raising of the blockade, and the defeat of his fleet,
incensed Antiochus; and to the remonstrances and entreaties of the Rhodians
to be permitted to remain at peace, he replied, "that they must declare war
against Ptolemy, admit his fleet into their harbour, and give hostages for
the performance of these articles." War now was inevitable, and great
preparations for it were made on both sides: the attack on the city was
committed by Antigonus to his son Demetrius; for this purpose he collected
a fleet of 200 ships of war, 170 transports with 40,000 men on board, and
1000 vessels laden with provisions, stores, warlike engines, etc. This
immense armament was composed partly of pirates and mercenaries, who were
induced to join Demetrius, by the hope of partaking in the plunder of
Rhodes. It is foreign to our purpose to enter on the details of this
memorable siege: the Rhodians trusted principally to their own valour and
resources; from Ptolemy, however, they received most ample and seasonable
supplies of provisions: at one time he sent them 300,000 measures of corn;
a few days afterwards Cassandra sent them 100,000 bushels of barley, and
Lysimachus 400,000 bushels of corn, and as many of barley: these supplies,
the valour of the inhabitants, and the ill success of some new and immense
engines, on which Demetrius had mainly depended, at length induced him to
raise the siege and make peace with the Rhodians.

The Rhodians endeavoured to make up for the time they had lost, and the
money they had expended, during their war with Antiochus, by applying
themselves entirely to navigation and commerce; so that, according to
Polybius, they became masters of the sea, and the most opulent and
flourishing state of those times. The next war in which they were engaged
was occasioned entirely by their attention and regard to their commercial
interests. We have already slightly noticed this war; but in this place it
will be proper to go more into detail respecting it. The people of
Byzantium determined to lay a toll on all ships that traded to the Euxine,
in order to defray an annual tribute which they were obliged to pay to the
Greeks. As one of the most important and lucrative branches of the commerce
of Rhodes was to the countries lying on this sea, they were much aggrieved
by this toll, and endeavoured to persuade the Byzantines to take it off,
but in vain. Under these circumstances, they, in conjunction with Prusias,
king of Bythinia, declared war against the Byzantines; and while their ally
took Hieron, which seems to have been a great mart of the Byzantines, and
the resort of most of the merchants trading to these parts, the Rhodians,
with a powerful fleet, ravaged their coasts, and seized all their ships
trading to the Euxine. The war was at length terminated under the mediation
of the king of the Thracian Gauls; the Byzantines agreeing to take off the

Their success in this war was counterbalanced by a dreadful earthquake,
which threw down the Colossus, destroyed the arsenal, and damaged part of
the walls and city. As the Rhodians, however, were much esteemed by most of
their neighbours, who found their prosperity intimately connected with the
prosperity of Rhodes, they soon recovered from these calamities and losses.
Hiero, king of Syracuse, gave them 100 talents, and exempted them from all
duties and taxes. Ptolemy gave them also the like sum, besides one million
measures of wheat, and timber, etc. requisite for building fifty ships.
Antiochus exempted all their vessels, which traded to his ports, from every
kind of tax and duty. They received from other princes presents or
privileges of equal importance and value; so that, in a very short time,
they recovered their former opulence and trade, and rebuilt their walls,

Their alliance with Attalus, king of Pergamus, involved them in a war with
Philip king of Macedonia, and was the cause of their forming an alliance
with the Romans. In this war the Rhodian fleet, in conjunction with the
fleets of their allies, gained several victories over the fleet of Philip.
The latter was at length obliged to sue to the Romans for peace, and they,
in fixing the terms, included the Rhodians, to whom were ceded Stratonice,
and the greater part of Caria. In the meantime Antiochus and the Romans had
commenced hostilities, and the Rhodians were again involved in them: almost
at their very commencement, their fleet was surprized by a stratagem of
Antiochus's admiral, and of thirty ships of war of which it consisted, only
seven escaped.

They soon, however, repaired their losses, and fitted out another fleet,
with which they put to sea, for the purpose of preventing the junction of
Hannibal with Antiochus's ships: the former had thirty-seven large ships;
the Rhodian fleet was nearly equal in numbers, but inferior in size. The
hostile fleets met off the coast of Pamphilia. The battle was obstinate: at
first, by an oversight of the Rhodian admiral, some disorder occurred in
part of his fleet; but this was soon repaired, and a decisive victory
obtained. Part of Hannibal's fleet was captured, and the rest blocked up in
the harbours of Pamphilia. The defeat of Antiochus, both at sea and land,
by the Romans, to which we have already adverted, obliged this monarch to
sue for peace, in which the Rhodians were included.

We have now arrived at that period of the history of Rhodes when the first
difference arose between that city and the Romans: the latter suspected
that the Rhodians favoured Perseus king of Macedon, with whom they were at
war, and were moreover displeased at their presuming to interfere with them
in his favour. In order to watch their inclinations and motions, the senate
sent three commissioners to Rhodes: these found a fleet of forty galleys,
which there was reason to believe had been intended to act against the
Romans; but which, by the advice of the chief magistrate, were, on the
arrival of the commissioners, ordered to sea, to act in union with them.
Scarce, however, were the commissioners departed, when the Rhodians became
lukewarm in the cause of the Romans; and although they sent a few of their
galleys to join the Roman admiral, they kept the greatest number in port,
waiting the issue of the war between them and the king of Macedonia. As
soon as they heard of the defeat of the former in Thessaly, they entered
into negotiations with Perseus, and at the same time sent ambassadors to
Rome, who complained, that in consequence of the war between Perseus and
the Romans, the navigation and commerce of Rhodes was greatly injured,
their island deprived of provisions and other necessaries, and the customs
and duties which their maritime situation formerly afforded them kept back,
from their no longer being able to sail with safety along the coasts of
Asia, where they used to levy the most important and productive of them.

After the defeat of Perseus, they ceased to remonstrate, and became
submissive to the Romans. It is probable, however, that the Romans would
have seized this opportunity of attacking them, had not Cato spoken very
strongly in their favour: in consequence of his arguments and influence,
and by the cession of Lycia and Caria, they were again admitted to an
alliance with the Romans.

The advantages they derived from this alliance were so great, that they
resisted the promises and the threats of Mithridates, when he engaged in
hostilities with the Romans. This monarch, therefore, resolved to employ
his whole force by sea and land against them: they were not however
dismayed, but placed a firm reliance on their skill in maritime affairs.
They divided their fleet into three squadrons: one drawn up in a line
protected the entrance of the harbour; and the other two, at a greater
distance from the shore, were stationed to watch the approach of the enemy.
Mithridates also divided his fleet, which was more numerous than that of
the Rhodians, into three squadrons; one of these he himself commanded, on
board of a quinquereme, and directed to attack the squadron which was
protecting the port. The Rhodians gradually retired before the enemy, till
they came close to the mouth of the harbour: Mithridates in vain
endeavoured to break their line, and force an entrance; in all his attempts
he was defeated with considerable loss; and his land forces, which he had
embarked in transports, being dispersed in a storm, he was obliged to
retire from before the city.

The Romans acknowledged the benefits they derived from the valour of the
Rhodians on this occasion; and they again experienced it, in the war which
Pompey carried on against the Cilician pirates, though that commander took
all the merit to himself. In the civil war between him and Caesar, they
assisted the former with a numerous fleet, under the command of one of
their best seamen, who distinguished himself above all Pompey's captains,
and gained very considerable advantages over Caesar's fleet. On the death
of Pompey they joined Csesar: this exposed them to the hostility of
Cassius; they endeavoured to pacify him by promising to recal the ships
they had sent to the assistance of Caesar, but he demanded the delivery of
their whole fleet, and that he should be put in possession of their harbour
and city. To these terms they would not accede, but prepared for war, by
equipping a fleet of thirty-three ships, and placing it under the command
of one of their best officers. A battle ensued which was fought on both
sides with great skill and bravery; but the Rhodians were obliged to yield
to the superior number of the Roman fleet, and to return to the harbour,
having lost two of their ships, and the rest being very much damaged. It is
remarked by the ancient historians who relate this battle, that it was the
first time the Rhodians were fairly overcome in a sea-fight.

Cassius followed up his success by bringing against Rhodes a fleet of
eighty ships of war, and 200 transports. Against this formidable armament
the Rhodians again put to sea, and a second battle ensued, which was more
obstinately contested than the first: the Romans however were again
victorious, and the city of Rhodes was blocked up by sea and land. Its fate
was soon determined; for some of the inhabitants, dreading a famine, opened
the gates to the Romans. Cassius, besides other severe terms, obliged the
Rhodians to deliver up all their ships, and all their public treasures; the
temples were plundered, and 8000 talents extorted from private individuals,
besides a fine of 500 levied on the city.

From this time till the reign of Vespasian, when the island became a Roman
province, it was sometimes oppressed, and sometimes favoured by the Romans;
according, as Tacitus remarks, as they obliged them with their assistance
in foreign wars, or provoked them with their seditions at home.

In order to complete the maritime history of Rhodes, we have rather
advanced beyond the period to which we had brought down our notices of the
Roman navigation and commerce: these therefore we shall now resume at the
war between Perseus king of Macedonia and the Romans. Perseus harassed the
coasts of Italy, plundered and sunk all their ships, while they found it
difficult to oppose him by sea, or protect their coasts, for want of a
fleet. This induced them to prepare for service fifty vessels; but though
their allies augmented this number, the Romans do not seem to have
performed any thing of consequence by sea. This is attributed principally
to the circumstance, that the fleet, on examination, was discovered to be
in bad condition, neither equipped sufficiently in stores or provisions,
and the seamen who were to have navigated it were either dead or absent,
while those who did appear were ill paid and worse clothed; these facts
sufficiently demonstrate the little care which the Romans, even at this
period, bestowed on maritime affairs. The defeat of Perseus at Pidna, and
his subsequent capture by the Romans in the island of Samothrace, rendered
it unnecessary for them to supply the deficiences of their fleet. The
immense ship, which, as we have already mentioned, Philip, Perseus's
father, employed in his war against the Romans, was taken on this occasion;
and Paulus Emilius, the consul, sailed up the Tiber in it: it had 16 banks
of oars. Many other ships of large size were also captured; these were
brought to Rome, and drawn into the Campus Martius.

One of the allies of the unfortunate Perseus was the king of Illyria, who
was powerful at sea, and ravaged the coasts of Italy opposite to his
dominions. While the consul was sent against Perseus, the management of the
naval war against the Illyrians was committed to the praetor: as he was
well aware of the maritime force of his opponent, he acted with great
caution; his first success, in capturing some of their snips, induced him
to land all his forces in Illyria, where, after an obstinate battle, he
compelled the king to surrender at discretion. Macedonia and Illyria were
thus reduced to the state of Roman provinces; but the Romans regarded these
victories as of importance, more on account of the accession they made to
their territories, than on account of the advantages which they might
thence derive to their commerce or their naval power: so little, indeed,
did they regard them in the latter point of view, that they gave the 220
ships which were surrendered to them by the king of Illyria, to the
inhabitants of Cephalonia, of Apollonia, and Dyrrhachium, who at the time
were much celebrated for their trade and navigation. Although their
seacoasts had been repeatedly ravaged, we are informed by Polybius, that,
from the time of Philip, king of Macedonia, till long after the defeat of
Perseus, they entirely neglected the coasts of Illyria, from which, till
this country was subdued by them, their own coasts were generally invaded,
and by means of the ports and produce of which, after it became a Roman
province, they might greatly have augmented their navy and commerce.

The Carthaginians had been gradually recovering from the losses which they
had sustained during the second Punic war, and witnessed with satisfaction
their enemies involved in constant hostilities, in the hope that the issue
of these would prove fatal to them, or, at least, so far weaken them, as to
enable them to oppose Rome with more success than they had hitherto done.
While the war was carried on between the Romans and the Macedonians, they
made great, but secret, preparations to regain their former power; but the
Romans, who always kept a watchful and jealous eye on the operations of all
their rivals, were particularly nearsighted with regard to whatever was
doing by the Carthaginians. They received information that at Carthage
there was deposited a large quantity of timber, and of other naval stores:
on learning this, Cato, their inveterate enemy, who had been sent into
Africa, to mediate between them and Masinissa, with whom they were at war,
went to Carthage himself, where he examined every thing with a malicious
eye. On his return to Rome, he reported that Carthage was again become
excessively rich,--that her magazines were filled with all kinds of warlike
stores,--that her ports were crowded with ships, and that by her war with
Masinissa, she was only preparing to renew the war against Rome. His
exhortations to his countrymen to anticipate the Carthaginians, by
immediately commencing hostilities, had no effect at first; but being
frequently repeated, and intelligence being received, that preparations
were making at Carthage for an open declaration of war, and that the
Carthaginians were fitting out a fleet, contrary to the terms of their
treaty with the Romans; and this information being confirmed by the report
of deputies sent to Carthage; war was declared against Carthage in the year
of Rome 605. The Carthaginians endeavoured to pacify the Romans by
surrendering to them their cities, lands, rivers, &c., in short, by a
complete surrender of whatever they possessed, as well as of themselves. At
first the Romans appeared disposed to abstain from war on these conditions;
and the Carthaginians actually delivered up all their arms and warlike
engines, and witnessed the burning of their fleet; but the Romans, having
thus degraded them, and stript them in a great measure of the means of
defence, now insisted that Carthage itself should be destroyed, and that
the inhabitants should build a city at the distance of five leagues from,
the sea. Indignant at these demands, they resolved to sustain a siege; and,
in a very short time, they made immense preparations for defending their
city. At first they gained some success over the Romans; for their fleet
having come very near the shore, to transport the troops, who were
suffering from the vicinity of the marshes, to a healthier spot, the
Carthaginians fitted out a great number of fire ships, filled with tar,
sulphur, bitumen, &c., and taking advantage of a favourable wind, they sent
them among the Roman fleet, great part of which was thus destroyed.

But these and other successes did not ultimately avail them: Scipio who had
been chosen consul, arrived in Africa, and Carthage was immediately
strictly blocked up by sea and land. His exertions were indeed astonishing;
as the new port of Carthage was effectually shut up by the Roman fleet, so
that no assistance or provisions could enter by it; and as lines of
circumvallation were formed on land, the consul's great object was to block
up the old port. The Romans were masters of the western neck of land, which
formed one side of its entrance; from this to the other side they built a
mole, ninety feet broad at bottom, and eighty at top; when this was
completed, the old port was rendered quite inaccessible and useless.

The Carthaginians on their part, imagined and executed works as surprising
as those of the Romans: deprived of both their ports, they dug, in a very
short time, a new harbour, from which they cut a passage to the sea; and
they built and equipped a fleet of fifty ships, which put to sea through
this new harbour. The Romans were astonished when they beheld a fleet, of
the existence or possibility of which they had no conception, advancing out
of a harbour, the formation of which equally astonished them, and this
fleet daring to hazard an engagement. The battle continued during the whole
day, with little advantage on either side; but, notwithstanding all their
efforts, and some partial and temporary successes, Carthage was at length
compelled to submit to Scipio, and was at first plundered, and afterwards
destroyed. The Romans burnt the new fleet which the Carthaginians had
built: indeed, in general, instead of augmenting their own naval force,
when they subdued any of their maritime enemies, they either destroyed
their ships or bestowed them on some of their allies; a certain proof, as
Huet remarks, of the very little regard they paid to sea affairs.

We are expressly informed, in the Life of Terence, generally ascribed to
Suetonius, that before the destruction of Carthage, the Romans did not
trade to Africa: but though his words are express, they must not be taken
literally; for we have already proved, that in the treaties between Rome
and Carthage at a very early period, the voyages undertaken by the Romans,
on account of trade, to Sicily, Sardinia, and parts of Africa are expressly
mentioned in diem, and the people of Utica are particularized as the allies
of the Romans, and a people with whom they traded. It is certain, however,
that the author of the Life of Terence is correct, if he merely meant, that
till after the destruction of Carthage the Romans had no regular commerce
with Africa. From the date of this event, it became of great importance,
though confined chiefly to slaves, most of whom were brought from Africa,
to the island of Delos: this, as has been already stated, was a great depôt
for them, as well as other kinds of merchandize. The capture of Carthage
and of Corinth, which took place nearly at the same time, increased
considerably the number of slaves for sale.

Still, however, though the Romans now began to be sensible of the value of
commence, they did little to protect it; for soon after the termination of
the third Punic war, the Mediterranean swarmed with pirates, who plundered
the merchant ships of all nations. These pirates belonged principally to
the Balearic islands, to Cilicia and to Crete. In one of the Balearic
islands, called Minor by the ancients, the present Minorca, there were two
cities built near the mouths of convenient harbours; the inhabitants of
these carried on a considerable commerce, and at the same time engaged in
piracy. They were uncommonly active and daring in this pursuit, attacking
and robbing every ship they met with; they even had the courage, or the
rashness, to oppose the Roman fleet, under the command of the consul
Metellus; but they were beaten, and for a time obliged to abstain from
their piratical proceedings.

They were soon again, however, emboldened to resume them, by the assistance
and example of the inhabitants of Crete and Cilicia. This latter country,
situated in Asia Minor, and possessing a sea-coast which extended along the
Mediterranean, from east to west, nearly 250 miles, was fertile beyond most
parts of Asia Minor; though on the coast, it was reckoned unhealthy. The
principal commercial town was Alexandria, built by Alexander the Great,
between Issus and the straits that lead from Cilicia into Syria; its
situation being very favourable for carrying on trade to all the western
parts of the Mediterranean, as well as to Egypt, the Euxine, &c. it soon
became one of the most flourishing cities in the world. But the Cilicians
were not content with lawful and regular trade: in the time of the
Mithridatic war, and even before it, they began to plunder the neighbouring
coasts; and being successful in these predatory expeditions, they extended
them as far as the coasts of Greece and Italy, on which they landed, and
carried off a great number of the inhabitants, whom they sold as slaves.
The Romans at length deemed it absolutely necessary to act with vigour
against them. Publius Servilius, who was employed on this occasion,
defeated them in a sea-battle, and took most of their strong-holds. For a
short time afterwards, they abstained from their predatory excursions; but,
as we shall soon have occasion to notice, they resumed them whenever they
had repaired their losses, and thought the Romans otherwise employed.

The island of Crete was regarded by the ancients as difficult of access;
most of its harbours were exposed to the wind; but as it was easy for ships
to sail out of them, when the wind was moderate and favourable, they were
convenient for commerce to almost any part of the then commercial world.
The ancients, according to Strabo, reckoned that ships which sailed from
the eastern part of Crete would arrive in Egypt in three or four days; and,
according to Diodorus Siculus, in ten days they would arrive at the Pulus
Mæotis. The principal seaports were Bithynia, which had a very convenient
haven; and Heracles, the seaport of the Gnossians. To these, merchants from
all parts of the world resorted. There were, besides, a great many creeks
and bays. This island would have been much more commercial and flourishing
than it actually was, considering its favourable situation, &c., had it not
been divided into a great number of independent states, who were jealous of
each other's prosperity, and almost constantly at war amongst themselves.
In very early times, when the whole island was subject to one sovereign,
the Cretans were powerful at sea; they had subjected even before the Trojan
war, some of the islands in the Egean Sea, and formed colonies and
commercial establishments on the coasts of Asia Minor and Europe. At the
breaking out of the Trojan war, they sent eighty ships to the assistance of
the Greeks. But as soon as the island was divided into independent
republics, their navigation and commerce seem to have declined. Their
piratical expeditions were conducted with so much boldness and success,
especially at the time when the Romans were engaged in hostilities with
Mithridates, that they determined to curb them. Anthony, the father of Marc
Anthony, was appointed to execute their vengeance; but, too confident of
success, he was beaten by the Cretans in a sea-battle. This naturally
encouraged them to carry on their piracies on a greater scale, and with
more boldness; but their triumph was of short duration, for Metellus, the
proconsul, having defeated their forces, united with those of the Cilician
pirates, landed on the island, and subdued the whole of it.

In the meantime, Mithridates, who had been very instrumental in encouraging
the pirates to commit depredations on the Roman vessels and coasts, was
vigorously preparing for war with the republic. His naval force, formed
partly of his own ships, and partly from those of most of the maritime
states, all of whom were jealous and afraid of the Romans, and regarded
Mithridates as their protector and deliverer, insulted even the coasts of
Italy. We have already noticed his unsuccessful sea-fight with the
Rhodians, almost the only people who continued faithful to the Romans. The
latter, at length, were fully sensible of the absolute necessity of forming
such a fleet as would enable them successfully to oppose Mithridates, who
was master, not only of Asia, but of all Greece, and the adjacent islands,
except Rhodes. Sylla was employed against him; but as he had very few
ships, he sent Lucullus to Syria, Egypt, Lybia, and Cyprus, to collect a
fleet. From Ptolemy, who was afraid of the power of Mithridates, and,
perhaps, jealous of the Romans, he received no vessels; but from the other
quarters he received considerable supplies of ships and experienced
mariners. It is probable, however, that by sea the Romans would not have
been able to cope with Mithridates, had not that monarch been beaten by
land, and had not his admiral, Archelaus, delivered up the fleet under his
command to Sylla. In the meantime, Mithridates was blocked up in Pitane, a
city near Troy, from which he could not have escaped, if Lucullus had
brought his fleet against it; this, however, out of jealousy to the Roman
general Fimbria, he refused to do, contenting himself with naval
operations. In these he was successful, gaining two victories over
Mithridates's fleet, near the coast of Troy. These defeats, and the
treachery of Archelaus, nearly annihilated the maritime force of
Mithridates. But this monarch was not easily dispirited; in a short time he
collected another fleet, and invaded Bithynia. It was therefore necessary
for the Romans to send a fleet thither, which they did, under the command
of Cotta. This fleet, however, was far inferior to that of the king, which
consisted of 400 ships of thirty oars, besides a great many smaller
vessels. On learning this, Lucullus, who had the chief command, ordered
Cotta to remain in the harbour of Chalcedon; but Mithridates, relying on
his strength, sailed into the very harbour, and burnt the Roman fleet. The
loss of the Romans consisted of sixty ships, and 8000 of their mariners
slain, besides 4500 taken prisoners. As this success of Mithridates
encouraged the cities of Asia to revolt, Lucullus resolved, if possible, to
counterbalance it with still more decisive success on his part by land; he
accordingly besieged him in his camp. Being reduced to great straits,
Mithridates was forced to escape by sea towards Byzantium; but on his
voyage he was overtaken by a violent storm, in which sixty of his ships
were sunk; he himself must have perished, if he had not been rescued by a
pirate, who landed him safe in Pontus. Mithridates still had a small float
of fifty ships, on board of which were 10,000 land forces. These were at
sea; but with what object does not appear: they were met, however, near
Lemnos, by a Roman squadron, and entirely defeated; thirty-two of them
being captured, and the rest sunk. On receiving information of this
victory, the Roman senate ordered Lucullus to be paid 3000 talents to
repair and augment his fleet; but he refused them, answering, "that with
the succours he could get from their allies, he should be able to gain the
dominion of the sea, and conquer Mithridates:" at the same time he sent to
Rome 110 galleys, armed with beaks. Mithridates, however, was still
formidable at sea, and continued so, till the Romans gained another victory
over him, near the island of Tenedos, in which they took and sunk sixty
ships: after this, he was not able to fit out another fleet. As the
remainder of the war between him and the Romans was entirely confined to
land operations, we shall pass it by, and proceed to the other naval
enterprizes of the Romans about this period.

The war with Mithridates employed the attention and the resources of the
Romans so completely, that the pirates again infested the Mediterranean
seas without control. Their numbers and force were greatly augmented by the
destruction of Carthage and Corinth; for the inhabitants of these cities,
having neither a place of retreat, nor the means of subsistence, naturally
turned their thoughts to piracy, having been accustomed to sea affairs, and
to commerce. In this they were encouraged by Mithridates, and assisted by
some persons of considerable rank and wealth. The inability of the Romans
to attend to them, and the success and encouragement they obtained, induced
them to conduct their piracies on a regular, systematic, and extensive
plan. Their ships were constantly at sea: all commerce was interrupted;
with their 1000 galleys--for so numerous were they--they exercised a
complete sovereignty over all the coasts of the Mediterranean. They formed
themselves into a kind of commonwealth, selected magistrates and officers,
who appointed each fleet its respective station and object, and built
watch-towers, arsenals, and magazines. They depended chiefly on Cilicia for
the necessary supplies for their fleets. Emboldened by their success, and
by the occupation afforded to the Romans by Mithridates, they ravaged the
whole line of the Italian coast; sacked the towns and temples, from which
they expected a considerable booty; plundered the country seats on the
sea-shore; carried off the inhabitants for slaves; blocked up all the ports
of the republic; ventured as far as the entrance of the Tiber; sunk part of
the Roman fleet at Ostia, and even threatened Rome itself, which they more
than once deprived of its ordinary and necessary subsistence. The scarcity
of provisions was, indeed, not confined to Rome; but no vessel venturing to
sea in the Mediterranean without being captured, it extended to those parts
of Asia and Africa which lie on that sea. Their inveteracy, however, was
principally directed against the Roman commerce, and the Romans themselves.
If any of their captives declared himself to be a Roman, they threw
themselves in derision at his feet, begging his pardon, and imploring his
protection; but after they had insolently sported with their prisoner, they
often dressed him in a toga, and then, casting out a ship's ladder, desired
him to return home, and wished him a good journey. If he refused to leap
into the sea, they threw him overboard, saying, "that they would not by any
means keep a free-born Roman in captivity!"

In order to root out this dreadful evil, Gabinius, the tribune of the
people, proposed a law, to form, what he called, the proconsulate of the
seas. This law, though vigorously opposed at first, eventually was carried.
The person to whom this new office was to be entrusted, was to have
maritime power, without control or restriction, over all the seas, from the
Pillars of Hercules to the Thracian Bosphorus, and the countries lying on
these seas, for fifty miles inland: he was to be empowered to raise as many
seamen and troops as he deemed necessary, and to take, out of the public
treasury, money sufficient to pay the expence of paying them, equipping the
ships, and executing the objects of the law. The proconsulate of the
seas was to be vested in the same person for three years.

As Gabinius was the known friend of Pompey, all Pompey's enemies
strenuously opposed this law, as evidently intended to confer authority on
him; but the people not only passed it, but granted Pompey, who was chosen
to fill the office, even more than Gabinius had desired, for they allowed
him to equip 500 ships, to raise 120,000 foot, and to select out of the
senate twenty senators to act as his lieutenants.

As soon as Pompey was vested with the authority conferred by this law, he
put to sea; and, by his prudent and wise measures, not less than by his
activity and vigour, within four months (instead of the three years which
were allowed him) he freed the seas from pirates, having beaten their fleet
in an engagement near the coast of Cilicia, and taken or sunk nearly 1000
vessels, and made himself master of 120 places on the coast, which they had
fortified: in the whole of this expedition he did not lose a single ship.
In order effectually to prevent the pirates from resuming their
depredations, he sent them to people some deserted cities of Cilicia.

It might have been supposed that as the Romans had suffered so much from
the pirates, and as Rome itself was dependent for subsistence on foreign
supplies of corn, which could not be regularly obtained, while the pirates
were masters of the seas, they would have directed their attention more
than they did to maritime affairs and commerce, especially after the
experience they had had of the public calamities which might thus be
averted. This, however, was not the case, even after the war against the
pirates, which was so successfully terminated by Pompey; for Pompey's son,
who opposed the triumvirate, by leaguing with the pirates, (of what nation
we are not informed,) repeatedly, during his warfare, reduced the city of
Rome to great straits for want of corn.

As the operations by sea which he carried on, in conjunction with the
pirates, are the last recorded in history, by means of which Rome was
reduced to such straits, and as this repeated proof of the absolute
necessity of rendering her independent of any maritime power for supplies
of corn, seems to have been the chief inducement with Augustus to establish
regular and powerful corn fleets, we shall notice them in this place,
though rather posterior to the period of Roman history at which we have

The younger Pompey, it would appear, was sensible that his father's fame
and fortune had been first established by his success at sea: this induced
him to apply himself to maritime affairs, and, when he resolved to oppose
the triumvirate, to trust principally to his experience and force by sea,
to oblige them to comply with his terms. Accordingly, he built several
ships, some of which are said to have been covered with leather: he
associated himself with all the pirates he could meet with; and, when
sufficiently powerful, he took possession of Sardinia, Sicily, and Corcyra,
made himself master of the whole Mediterranean sea, and intercepted all the
convoys which were carrying provisions and other necessaries to Rome. The
occupation of Sicily enabled him to prevent any corn from being shipped
from that island, and to intercept all that came from the eastern ports of
the Mediterranean. His possession of Sardinia and Corcyra enabled him to
intercept all that came from the west, while he captured all that came from
Africa by his squadrons, which were constantly cruising in that direction.

It may easily be imagined, that when Rome was deprived of her supplies of
corn from Sicily, Africa, and the Euxine, she could not long subsist,
without being threatened with famine: this was actually the case, the
inhabitants were near starving, and it became necessary for the triumvirate
to relieve them, either by conquering Pompey, or coming to terms with him.
But Rome alone did not suffer: the rest of Italy was also deprived, in a
great measure, of provisions, and its coasts insulted and plundered.
Octavianus, one of the triumvirate, at first resolved, with the advice of
Anthony, to raise a naval force, and oppose Pompey; but when he attempted
to lay a tax on the inhabitants of Rome and the rest of Italy, though it
was to prevent them from starving, they resisted it with so much violence
and determination, that he was obliged to abandon the measure.

As, however, the famine still continued, the triumvirate agreed to come to
an accommodation with Pompey: the principal terms were, that the latter
should retain possession of Sicily, Sardinia,. &c.; and that he should
moreover receive Peloponnesus; that he might endeavour to obtain the
consulate; that the dignity of Pontifex Maximus should be granted him; that
he should be paid 70,000 great sesterces out of his father's confiscated
estate; and that such of his companions as chose should be allowed to
return. On his part, he promised, that he would no longer interrupt the
Roman trade and navigation; that he would no longer build ships, nor make
descents on the coasts of Italy, nor receive the slaves who fled to him;
and that he would immediately send to Rome the corn he had detained, oblige
the Sicilians to pay annually the tribute of corn due to Rome by that
island, and clear the seas of all the pirates.

From these terms it may be seen how dependent Rome, even at this period,
was on foreign supplies of corn, and how weak she was at sea. Pompey and
the triumvirate seem neither to have been sincere in this treaty: the
former, who still retained the title of governor of the maritime coasts,
had derived too great advantage from his superiority at sea, and his
connection with the pirates, easily to relinquish either; while, on the
other hand, the triumvirate could not regard themselves as masters of the
republic, so long as Pompey had it in his power to starve the city of Rome.
They, therefore, soon quarrelled; upon which Pompey caused his old ships to
be refitted, and new ones to be built; and, when he had got a sufficient
force, he again blocked up the ports of Italy, and reduced the inhabitants
of the capital to the utmost distress for want of provisions. Octavianus,
(Augustus Cæsar,) to whom the protection of Italy was assigned, had neither
the courage nor the means to oppose Pompey, who, probably, would speedily
have forced the triumvirate, to grant him conditions still more favourable
than the former ones, had it not been for the defection of one of his
admirals. As he was an officer of great valour and experience in maritime
affairs, and carried over with him the numerous fleet which he commanded,
Augustus was emboldened and rendered better able to cope with Pompey by
sea. The latter, rather enraged than intimidated by this defection, sent
another of his admirals, who had always been jealous of the one who had
gone over to Augustus, with a numerous fleet, to ravage the coasts of
Italy. On his return, he fell in with a fleet of Augustus, on board of
which was his rival. An obstinate battle ensued: at first Pompey's fleet
was worsted; but in the issue it was victorious, and the greater number of
Augustus' ships were sunk, captured, or driven on shore. As soon as
Augustus learnt the issue of this battle, he resolved to sail from
Tarentum, where he then was, pass the straits of Messina, and reinforce the
shattered remains of his squadron; but, while he was in the straits, his
ships were attacked by Pompey himself, and most of them sunk or dashed to
pieces: with great difficulty he escaped. He was now in a dreadful
situation; without ships or money; while the inhabitants of Rome were on
the point of rising against his authority, for want of corn. In this
extremity he applied to Anthony, who immediately came to his aid with 300
sail of ships. As Anthony needed land-forces, which, under the present
circumstances, were of no use to Augustus, they agreed to an interchange:
Augustus gave Anthony two legions; and Anthony, on his part, left with
Augustus 100 armed galleys. In addition to these, Octavia obtained from her
husband twenty small ships, as a reinforcement to her brother.

Augustus, though now superior in naval force to Pompey, (for his ships were
more numerous, as well as larger and stronger, though not so light and
expeditious, nor so well manned,) was not willing to expose himself any
more to the hazards of a sea-fight: he therefore appointed Agrippa
commander-in-chief of his navy, with directions to cruise off Mylæ, a city
on the northern coast of Sicily, where Pompey had assembled all his naval
forces. As the possession of this important island was absolutely necessary
to the reduction of Pompey's power, and the relief and supply of the city
of Rome, Augustus, Lepidus, and another general were to invade it in three
different places, while Agrippa was watching Pompey's fleet. The whole of
Augustus's expeditions sailed from different ports of Italy at the same
time; but they had scarcely put to sea, when a violent storm arose, in
which a great number of his ships perished. On this occasion Augustus
behaved with great presence of mind and judgment: his first object and care
was to send Mæcenas to Rome, to prevent the disturbances which the
intelligence of this disaster might occasion there: Mæcenas succeeded in
his mission completely. In the meantime Augustus went in person to the
several ports, into which his ships had escaped from the storm, encouraged
and rewarded the workmen, and soon got his fleet refitted and ready for
sea. In his second attempt to invade Sicily, which he put in execution as
soon as his fleet was repaired, he was more successful than in his first;
and Agrippa considerably weakened Pompey's naval forces, by defeating one
of his admirals, from whom he captured thirty galleys. Pompey was still so
formidable at sea, at least to the fears of Augustus, that, when he
appeared unexpectedly on the coast of Sicily with his fleet, the latter was
completely intimidated: apprehending that Pompey would land and attack his
camp, he deserted it and went on board his fleet. Pompey, however, who
always preferred naval enterprizes, attacked the fleet, put it to flight at
the first onset, captured most of the ships, and burnt and sunk the
remainder. Augustus with difficulty escaped in a boat; but, instead of
returning to his camp, in Sicily, he fled to Italy, attended only by one

As soon as he recovered from his alarm, he, in conjunction with Lepidus,
determined to attack Messina, in which place Pompey had deposited all his
stores, provisions, and treasure. The city accordingly was closely
invested, both by sea and land. Pompey, in this emergency, challenged
Augustus to decide the war by a sea-fight, with 300 ships on each side.
Augustus acceding to this proposal, both fleets were drawn up in line of
battle, between Mylæ and Naulocus; the land forces having agreed to suspend
hostilities, and wait the event of the engagement. Agrippa, who commanded
Augustus's fleet, fought with great bravery, and was as bravely opposed by
Pompey; their respective officers and men emulated their example. For a
considerable time, the event was doubtful; but, at last, Pompey's fleet was
defeated: only seventeen of his vessels escaped, the rest were taken or
burnt. This victory Agrippa obtained at an easy rate, not more than three
of his snips being sunk or destroyed. Augustus, who, according to all
accounts, behaved in a most cowardly manner during the battle, was so fully
sensible of the obligations he was under to Agrippa, that he immediately
honoured him with a blue standard and a rostral crown, that is, a crown,
the flower-work of which represented the beaks of galleys, and afterwards,
when he became emperor, he raised him, by rank and honours, above all his
other subjects. According to Livy, and some other authors, the rostral
crown had never been given in any preceding wars, nor was it afterwards
bestowed; but Pliny is of a different opinion, he says that it was given to
M. Varro, in the war against the pirates, by Pompey.

After this signal and decisive defeat of his fleet, Pompey fled from Sicily
to Asia, where he attempted to raise disturbances; but he was defeated,
taken prisoner, and put to death.

We must now look back to the naval and commercial history of Rome,
immediately after the defeat of the pirates by Pompey the Great. The
immediate consequence of his success against them was the revival of trade
among the people who inhabited the coasts of the Mediterranean; but the
Romans, intent on their plans of conquest, or engaged in civil wars, had
little share in it The very nature and extent, however, of their conquests,
by making them masters of countries which were either commercial, or which
afforded articles of luxury, gradually led them to become more commercial.
Hitherto, their conquests and their alliances had been confined almost
entirely to the nations on the Mediterranean, or within a short distance of
that sea: but Julius Cæsar directed his ambition to another district of the
world; and Gaul was added to the Roman dominions.

Transalpine Gaul comprehended Flanders, Holland, Switzerland, and part of
Germany, as well as France, Its situation, having the ocean to the north
and west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, was particularly
favourable to commerce; and though, when Caesar conquered it, its
inhabitants in general were very ignorant and uncivilized, yet we have his
express authority, that the knowledge they possessed of foreign countries,
and commodities from abroad, made them abound in all sorts of provisions.
About 100 years before the Christian era, the Romans, under pretence of
assisting the people of Marseilles, carried their arms into Gaul, and
conquered the district to the south of the Rhine.

This part of Gaul, long before the Romans invaded it, was celebrated for
its commerce, which was carried on very extensively at the port of
Marseilles. We have already mentioned, that this city was founded, or, at
least, greatly increased by the Greeks. As the colonists could not, from
the narrow boundaries of their territory, and the barrenness of the soil,
support themselves by their own industry on land, they applied themselves
to the sea: at first, as fishermen; then, as pirates; and afterwards, as
merchants. For forty years they are said to have been the most warlike, as
well as the most commercial people who frequented the Mediterranean, and
were celebrated for the excellent construction and equipment, both of their
merchant ships, and their ships of war. Their maritime laws and
institutions were nearly as much celebrated and respected as those of the
Rhodians. The wealth which the inhabitants of Marseilles had acquired by
commerce, and which was contained or displayed in their fleets, arsenals,
and magazines, and in their public buildings, drew upon them the envy of
their more savage and poorer neighbours; and it is probable they would have
fallen a prey to their more warlike habits, had they not formed an alliance
with the Romans, who sent an army to their assistance. The commander of
this army, after defeating their enemies, granted them all the harbours,
and the whole sea-coast, between their city and the confines of Italy; and
thus at once secured their safety and extended their territory. A short
time afterwards, Marius conferred on them another benefit, not inferior in
importance and utility. While he was waiting for the Cimbri in Transalpine
Gaul, he was under great difficulty to procure provisions up the Rhone, in
consequence of the mouth of the river being obstructed with sand-banks. To
remedy this inconvenience, he undertook a great and laborious work, which,
from him, was called Fossa Marina: this was a large canal, beginning at his
camp, near Arles, and carried on to the sea, which was fed with water from
the Rhone; through this canal, the largest transports could pass. After his
victory over the Cimbrians, Marius gave this canal to the people of
Marseilles, in return for the support and supplies they had afforded him in
his war against them. As there was no passage into the interior of this
part of Gaul, except either through the Rhone or this canal, the
Marseillians, who were now masters of both, enriched themselves
considerably, partly by the traffic they carried on, and partly by the
duties they levied on all goods which were sent up the canal and the river.
In the civil war between Pompey and Cæsar, they took part with the former,
who, in return, gave them all the territory on the western bank of the
Rhone. Cæsar, exasperated at their hostility towards him, and at their
ingratitude (for he, on the conquest of Gaul, had enlarged their
territories, and augmented their revenues), blocked up their port by sea
and land, and soon obliged them to surrender. He stripped their arsenals of
arms, and obliged them to deliver up all their ships, as well as deprived
them of the colonies and towns that were under their dominion.

The Marseillians, in the pursuit of commerce, made several voyages to
distant, and, till then, unknown parts of the world: of these, the voyage
of Pytheas, the extent, direction, and discoveries of which we have already
investigated, was the most remarkable and celebrated. Euthymenes, another
Marseillian navigator, is said to have advanced to the south, beyond the
line; but little credit seems due to the very imperfect accounts which we
possess of his voyage. The Marseillians also planted several colonies on
the coasts of Gaul, Italy, and Spain, viz. Nicæa, Antipolis (Antibes,) Telo
Martius (Toulon,) &c.

Arelas (Arles) was also a place of some trade, and celebrated for its
manufactures, especially its embroidery, and its curious and rich works in
gold and silver. It was at this place that Cæsar built, in the short period
of thirty days, the twelve galleys which he used in blocking up the port of
Marseilles; and he manned them with its inhabitants;--a proof, as Huet
observes, that they were well versed in maritime affairs at this time.

Narbo Marcius (Narbonne) was founded by Marius: it soon became, according
to Strabo and Diodorus Siculus, a place of very great trade. The British
tin, besides other articles, was brought by land-carriage through the
centre of Gaul, and exported, either from it or Marseilles, to the
different countries on the Mediterranean. It derived great importance and
wealth, from its being a convenient place of rest and refreshment for the
Roman troops, as they passed from the Pyrennees to the Alps, or from the
Alps to the Pyrennees. Its harbour was crowded with ships from Africa,
Spain, Italy, &c.; but, in the latter ages of the Roman Empire, it fell
into decay, principally in consequence of the course of the river being
changed, so that it no longer ran through it. The Romans endeavoured to
supply this misfortune, by cutting a canal to the sea, the traces and
remains of which are still visible.

Lugdunum (Lyons), at the confluence of the Rhone and Arar, was founded by
Manucius Plancus, after the death of Julius Caesar. In the time of
Augustus, according to Strabo, it had increased so much, by means of its
commerce, that it was not inferior to any city in Gaul, except Narbonne.
Indeed, not long after the entire conquest of Gaul by the Romans, the
advantages which that country might derive, with respect to foreign
commerce, and internal trade, by its rivers, seem to have been fully and
clearly understood. The head of the Saone being near to that of the Moselle
and the Seine, merchandize was easily conveyed by land from one of these
rivers to the other. The Rhone also received many goods by means of the
rivers which joined it, which were conveyed, not only to the Saone, but
also to the Loire, in carriages. The Seine brought up goods almost as far
as the Moselle, from which they were conveyed to the Rhine. In the fourth
year of Nero's reign, the commander of the Roman army in Gaul joined the
Saone and the Moselle by a canal; and, though these canals were generally
made by the Romans, for purposes connected with the army, yet they were
soon applied to commerce. The merchandize of the Saone was brought by land
carriage to the Seine, and by it conveyed to the ocean, and thence to
Britain. There seems to have been regular and established companies of
watermen on these rivers, whose business it was to convey goods on them: an
ancient inscription at Lyons mentions Tauricius of Vannes, as the general
overseer of the Gallic trade, the patron or head of the watermen on the
Seine and Loire, and the regulator of weights, measures, and carriages; and
other ancient inscriptions state, that the government of the watermen who
navigated the Rhone and the Saone, was often bestowed on Roman knights.

Besides the ports on the Mediterranean, or on the rivers which flow into
that sea, the Gauls in Cæsar's time, or shortly afterwards, seem to have
had several, ports on the ocean. Cæsar reckons the present Nantz, though at
some distance from the sea, as inhabited by people who were skilled in
maritime affairs; and he expressly informs us, that he built his ships at a
port at the mouth of the Seine, when he was preparing to invade Britain. In
his wars against the Vanni he brought ships from the present provinces of
Saintoinge and Poitou, which we may thence conclude were inhabited by
people skilled in maritime affairs. In later times, there was a marsh
filled with sea-water, not far from Bourdeaux, which made that city a
convenient port, and a place of considerable commerce. Strabo mentions a
town of some commerce, situated on the Loire, which he represents as equal
in size to Narbonne and Marseilles; but what town that was has not been

The most powerful and commercial, however, of all the tribes of Gaul, that
inhabited the coasts near the ocean, in the time of Cæsar, were the Vanni.
These people carried on an extensive and lucrative trade with Britain,
which was interrupted by the success of Cæsar, (who obliged them, as well
as the other tribes of Gaul, to give him hostages,) and which they
apprehended was likely to be still further injured by his threatened
invasion of Britain; in order to prevent this, as well as to liberate
themselves, they revolted against the Romans. As Cæsar was sensible that it
would be imprudent and unsafe to attempt the invasion of Britain, so long
as the Vanni were unsubdued and powerful at sea, he directed his thoughts
and his endeavours to build and equip such a fleet as would enable him
successfully to cope with them on their own element. In building his ships,
he followed the model of those of his enemies, which were large,
flat-bottomed, and high in the head and stern: they were strong-built, and
had leathern sails, and anchors with iron chains. They had a numerous
squadron of such vessels, which they employed chiefly in their trade with
Britain: they seem also to have derived considerable revenue from the
tribute which they levied on all who navigated the adjacent seas, and to
have possessed many ports on the coast. Besides their own fleet, the
Britons, who were their allies, sent ships to their assistance; so that
their united force amounted to 220 sail, well equipped, and manned by bold
and expert seamen.

To oppose this formidable fleet, Caesar ordered ships to be built on the
Loire, and the rivers running into it, exactly, as we have just stated,
after the model of the ships of the Vanni; for he was informed, or learnt
by experience, that the vessels which were used in the Mediterranean were
not fit for navigating and fighting on the ocean, but that such as were
employed on the latter must be built, not only stronger, but flat-bottomed,
and high at the head and stern, in order to withstand the fury of the waves
and winds, which was greater in the ocean than in the Mediterranean, and at
the same time to sail up the rivers, or in very shallow water, and to take
the ground, without injury or danger. Not being able, however, to build in
time a sufficient number of ships in Gaul, after the model of those of the
Vanni, he was under the necessity of bringing some from the south coast of
Gaul, and other parts of the Mediterranean Sea; he also collected all the
experienced pilots he could meet with, who were acquainted with the coasts,
and with the management of such ships, and exercised a sufficient number of
men at the oar, to navigate them.

These preparations were all indispensably requisite; for in the battle
which ensued, the Vanni and their allies fought their ships with a skill
and a valour of which the Romans had not had any previous example; and they
would certainly have been beaten, if they had not, by means of sharp
engines, cut the ropes and sails of the hostile fleet, and thus rendered
their ships unmanageable: in this state they were easily and speedily
captured. As the Vanni had on this occasion mustered all their forces,
their defeat put an end to their resistance, and removed Caesar's principal
obstacle to the invasion of Britain.

The motives which induced Caesar to invade Britain can only be conjectured,
if, indeed, any other motive operated on his mind besides ambition, and the
love of conquest and glory; stimulated by the hope of subduing a country,
which seemed the limit of the world to the west, and which was in a great
measure unknown. He was, probably, also incited by his desire to punish the
Britons for having assisted the Vanni; and Suetonius adds, that he was
desirous of enriching himself with British pearls, which were at that time
in high repute.

Before he undertook this expedition, which, even to Caesar, appeared
formidable, he resolved to learn all he could respecting Britain. For this
purpose, he collected the merchants who traded thither from all parts of
Gaul; but they could afford him no satisfactory information. They had
visited only the opposite coast of Britain; of the other parts of the
country, of its extent, its inhabitants, &c., they were utterly ignorant.
Under these circumstances, therefore, he sent one of his officers in a
galley, who, after being absent five days, during which however he had not
ventured to land, returned to Caesar, and acquainted him with the little he
had observed.

Caesar resolved to invade Britain immediately: for this purpose, he ordered
eighty transports to take on board two legions; and the cavalry to be
embarked in eighteen more, at a port a few miles off. The enterprize was
attended with considerable difficulty, from the opposition of the Britons,
and the large ships of the Romans not being able to approach very near the
land. It was however successful, and the Britons sued for and obtained

This they were soon induced to break, in consequence of Caesar's fleet
being greatly injured by a storm; and the violence of the wind raising the
tide very high, the Roman sailors, unaccustomed to any tides except the
very trifling ones of the Mediterranean, were still more alarmed and
dispirited. The Britons, after attacking one of the legions, ventured on a
still bolder enterprize, for they endeavoured to force the Roman camp: in
this attempt they were defeated, and again obliged to sue for peace. This
was granted, and Caesar returned to Gaul. But the Britons not fulfilling
the conditions of the peace, Caesar again invaded their country with 600
ships and twenty-eight galleys; he landed without opposition, and defeated
the Britons. His fleet again encountered a storm, in which forty ships were
lost, and the rest greatly damaged. In order to prevent a similar accident,
he drew all his ships ashore, and enclosed them within the fortifications
of the camp. After this, he had no further naval operations with the

It will now be proper to consider the state of Britain at the period of its
invasion by the Romans, with respect to its navigation and commerce. It is
the generally received opinion, that the Britons, at the time of the
invasion of their island by Caesar, had no ships except those which he and
other ancient authors, particularly Solinus and Lucan, describe. These were
made of light and pliant wood, their ribs seem to have been formed of
hurdles, and they were lined as well as covered (so far as they were at all
decked) with leather. They had, indeed, masts and sails; the latter and the
ropes were also made of leather; the sails could not be furled, but, when
necessary, were bound to the mast. They were generally, however, worked
with oars, the rowers singing to the stroke of their oars, sometimes
accompanied by musical instruments. These rude vessels seem not to have
been the only ones the Britons possessed, but were employed solely for the
purpose of sailing to the opposite coasts of Gaul and of Ireland. They
were, indeed, better able to withstand the violence of the winds and waves
than might be supposed from the materials of which they were built. Pliny
expressly states that they made voyages of six days in them; and in the
life of St Columba, (in whose time they were still used, the sixth
century,) we are informed of a vessel lined with leather, which went with
oars and sails, sailing for fourteen days in a violent storm in safety, and
gaining her port. The passage therefore in these boats across the Irish
Channel, could not be so very dangerous as it is represented by Solinus.

But notwithstanding the authority of Caesar, Pliny, Solinus, and Lucan, who
mention only these leathern vessels, and that the poet Avienus, who lived
in the fourth century, expressly states, that even in his time the Britons
had no ships made of timber, but only boats covered with leather or hides;
there are circumstances which must convince us that they did possess
larger, stronger, and more powerful ships. Caesar informs us, that the
Britons often assisted the Gauls, both by land and sea; and we have seen
that they sent assistance to the Vanni, in their sea-fight against Caesar;
but it is not to be supposed that their leathern boats, small and weak as
they were, could have been of any material advantage in an engagement with
the Roman ships. Besides, the Britons, who inhabited the coast opposite to
Gaul, carried on, as we have remarked, a considerable and regular trade
with the Vanni; it is, therefore, reasonable to presume, that they would
learn from this tribe, the art of building ships like theirs, which were so
well fitted for these seas, as well as for war, that Caesar built vessels
after their model, when he formed the determination of opposing them by

The Britons, however, certainly did not themselves engage much in the
traffic with Gaul, and therefore could not require many vessels of either
description for this purpose. From the earliest period, of which we have
any record, till long after the invasion by Caesar, the commodities of
Britain seem to have been exported by foreign ships, and the commodities
given in exchange brought by these.

In our account of the commerce of the Phoenicians, their trade to Britain
for tin has been described. Pliny, in his chapter on inventions and
discoveries, states that this metal was first brought from the Cassiterides
by Midacritus, but at what period, or of what nation he was, he does not
inform us. This trade was so lucrative, that a participation in it was
eagerly sought by all the commercial nations of the Mediterranean, and even
by the Romans, who, as we have seen, were not at this period, much given to
commerce. This is evident, by the well known fact, of one of their vessels
endeavouring to follow the course of a Phoenician or Carthaginian vessel,
in her voyage to Britain. The Greeks of Marseilles, according to Polybius,
first followed, successfully, the course of the Phoenicians, and, about 200
years before Christ, began to share with them in the tin trade. Whether, at
this period, they procured it exclusively by direct trade with Britain, is
not known; but afterwards, as we have already mentioned, Marseilles became
one of the principal depots for this metal, which was conveyed to it
through Gaul, and exported thence by sea.

If we may believe Strabo, the Romans had visited Britain before it was
invaded by Caesar, as he expressly mentions that Publius Crassus made a
voyage thither: if he means P. Crassus the younger, he was one of Caesar's
lieutenants in Gaul; and, as he was stationed in the district of the Vanni,
it is not improbable that he passed from thence into Britain; or he may
have been sent by Caesar, at the same time that Volusenus was sent, and for
the same purpose.

However this may be, there was no regular intercourse between Britain and
Rome till some time after Caesar's invasion; in the time of Tiberius,
however, and probably earlier, the commerce of Britain was considerable.
Strabo, who died at the beginning of that emperor's reign, informs us, that
corn, cattle, gold, silver, tin, lead, hides, and dogs, were the
commodities furnished by the Britons. The tin and lead, he adds, came from
the Cassiterides. According to Camden, 800 vessels, laden with corn, were
freighted annually to the continent; but this assertion rests on very
doubtful authority, and cannot be credited if it applies to Britain, even
very long after the Roman conquest. Though Strabo expressly mentions gold
and silver among the exports, yet Caesar takes notice of neither; and
Cicero, in his epistles, writing to his friend, respecting Britain, states,
on the authority of his brother, who was there, that there were neither of
these metals in the island. The dogs of Britain formed a very considerable
and valuable article of export; they seem to have been known at Rome even
before Caesar's expedition: the Romans employed them in hunting, and the
Gauls in hunting and in their wars: they were of different species. Bears
were also exported for the amphitheatres; but their exportation was not
frequent till after the age of Augustus. Bridle ornaments, chains, amber,
and glass ware, are enumerated by Strabo among the exports from Britain;
but, according to other authors, they were imported into it. Baskets, toys
made of bone, and oysters, were certainly among the exports; and, according
to Solinus, gagates, or jet, of which Britain supplied a great deal of the
best kind. Chalk was also, according to Martial, an article of export:
there seems to have been British merchants whose sole employment was the
exportation of this commodity, as appears by an ancient inscription found
in Zealand, and quoted by Whitaker, in his history of Manchester. This
article was employed as a manure on the marshy land bordering on the Rhine.
Pliny remarks that its effect on the land continued eighty years. The
principal articles imported into Britain were copper and brass, and
utensils made of these metals, earthen ware, salt, &c. The traffic was
carried on partly by means of barter, and partly by pieces of brass and
iron, unshaped, unstamped, and rated by weight. The duties paid in Gaul, on
the imports and exports of Britain, formed, according to Strabo, the only
tribute exacted from the latter country by the Romans in his time.

Of that part of Europe which lies to the north of Gaul, the Romans, at the
period of which we are treating, knew little or nothing, though some
indirect traffic was carried on with Germany. The feathers of the German
geese were preferred to all others at Rome; and amber formed a most
important article of traffic. This was found in great abundance on the
Baltic shore of Germany: at first, it seems to have been carried the whole
length of the continent, to the Veneti, who forwarded it to Rome.
Afterwards, in consequence of the great demand for it there, and its high
price, the Romans sent people expressly to purchase it in the north of
Germany: and their land journies, in search of this article, first made
them acquainted with the naval powers of the Baltic. The Estii, a German
tribe, who inhabited the amber country, gathered and sold it to the Roman
traders, and were astonished at the price they received for it. In Nero's
time it was in such high request, that that emperor resolved to send
Julianus, a knight, to procure it for him in large quantities: accordingly,
a kind of embassy was formed, at the head of which he was placed. He set
out from Carnuntum, a fortress on the banks of the Danube, and after
travelling, according to Pliny, 600 miles, arrived at the amber coast.
There he bought, or received as a present, for the emperor, 13,000 pounds
weight, among which was one piece that weighed thirteen pounds. The whole
of this immense quantity served for the decoration of one day, on which
Nero gave an entertainment of gladiators. In the time of Theodoric, king of
the Goths, the Estii sent that monarch a large quantity of amber, as the
most likely present by means of which they could obtain his alliance. They
informed the ambassadors, whom he sent with a letter acknowledging this
present, that they were ignorant whence the amber came, but that it was
thrown upon their coast by the sea, a fact which exactly agrees with what
occurs at present.

Whether the Estii, with whom the Romans carried on this traffic, were a
maritime nation, we are not informed; but there was another nation or tribe
of Germans on the Baltic, of whose maritime character some notices are
given. These were the Sitones, who, according to Tacitus, had powerful
fleets; their ships were built with two prows, so as to steer at both ends,
and prevent the necessity of putting about; their oars were not fixed, like
those of the Mediterranean vessels, but loose, so that they could easily
and quickly be shifted: they used no sails. The people of Taprobane
(Ceylon)--the Byzantines, and, on some occasions, the Romans also, employed
vessels, like those of the Sitones, which could be steered at both ends.

One of the most considerable revolutions in the maritime and commercial
affairs of Rome, was brought about by the battle of Actium. The fleet of
Anthony was composed chiefly of ships belonging to the Egyptians, Tyrians,
and other nations of the east, and amounted, according to some accounts, to
200 sail, whereas the fleet of Augustus consisted of 400 sail. Other
authors estimate them differently; but all agree that the ships of Anthony
were much larger, stronger, and loftier, than those of Caesar: they were
consequently more unwieldy. We have the express testimony of Plutarch, that
it was principally this victory which convinced Caesar of the advantages
and extraordinary use of the Liburnian ships; for though they had been
employed before this time in the Roman fleet, yet they had never been so
serviceable in any previous battle. Augustas, therefore, as well as most of
the succeeding emperors of Rome, scarcely built any other ships but those
according to the Liburnian model.

One of the first objects of Augustus, after he had obtained the empire, was
to secure the command of the sea: he made use of the ships which he had
captured from Anthony to keep the people of Gaul in subjection; and he
cleared the Mediterranean of the pirates which infested it and obstructed
commerce. He formed two fleets, one at Ravenna, and the other at Misenum;
the former to command the eastern, the latter the western division of the
Mediterranean: each of these had its own proper commanders, and to each was
attached a body of several thousand mariners. Ravenna, situated on the
Adriatic, about ten or twelve miles from the most southern of the seven
mouths of the Po, was not a place of much consequence till the age of
Augustus: that emperor, observing its advantages, formed at the distance of
about three miles from the old town and nearer the sea, a capacious
harbour, capable of containing 250 ships of war. The establishment was on a
large and complete scale, consisting of arsenals, magazines, barracks, and
houses for the ship-carpenters, &c.: the principal canal, which was also
formed by Augustus, and took its name from him, carried the waters of the
river through the middle of Ravenna to the entrance of the harbour. The
city was rendered still stronger by art than nature had formed it. As early
as the fifth or sixth centuries of the Christian era the port was
converted, by the retreat of the sea, into dry ground, and a grove of pines
grew where the Roman fleet had anchored.

Besides the principal ports of Ravenna and Misenum, Augustus stationed a
very considerable force at Frejus, on the coast of Provence, forty ships in
the Euxine, with 3000 soldiers; a fleet to preserve the communication
between Gaul and Britain, another near Alexandria, and a great number of
smaller vessels on the Rhine and the Danube. As soon as the Romans had
constant and regular fleets, instead of the legionary soldiers, who used to
fight at sea as well as at land, a separate band of soldiers were raised
for the sea service, who were called Classiarii; but this service was
reckoned less honourable than that of the legionary soldiers.

The period at which we are arrived seems a proper one to take a general
view of the commerce of the Roman empire; though, in order to render this
view more complete, it will be necessary in many instances to anticipate
the transactions posterior to the reign of Augustus. We shall, therefore,
in the first place, give a statement of the extent of the Roman empire when
it had reached its utmost limits; secondly, an account of its roads and
communications by land; and, lastly, an abstract of the principal imports
into it, and the laws and finances, so far as they respect its commerce.

1. The empire, at the death of Augustus, was bounded on the west by the
Atlantic ocean, on the north by the Rhine and the Danube, on the east by
the Euphrates, and on the south by the deserts of Arabia and Africa. The
only addition which it received during the first century was the province
of Britain: with this addition it remained till the reign of Trajan. That
emperor conquered Dacea, and added it to the empire: he also achieved
several conquests in the east; but these were resigned by his successor
Adrian. At this period, therefore, the Roman empire may be considered as
having attained its utmost limits. It is impossible to ascertain the number
of people that were contained within these limits. In the time of Claudius
the Roman citizens were numbered; they amounted to 6,945,000: if to these
be added the usual proportion of women and children, the number will be
encreased to about 20,000,000. If, therefore, we calculate, as we may
fairly do, that there were twice as many provincials as there were citizens
with their wives and children, and that the slaves were at least equal in
number to the provincials, the total population of the Roman empire will
amount to 120,000,000.

Our ideas of the vastness and wealth of the empire will be still farther
encreased, if we regard the cities which it contained, though it is
impossible to decide in most instances the extent and population of many
places which were honoured with the appellation of cities. Ancient Italy is
said to have contained 1197, Gaul 1200, of which many, such as Marseilles,
Narbonne, Lyons, &c. were large and flourishing; Spain 300, Africa 300, and
Asia Proper 500, of which many were very populous.

2. All these cities were connected with one another and with Rome itself by
means of the public highways: these issuing from the forum, traversed
Italy, pervaded the provinces, and were terminated only by the frontiers of
the empire. The great chain of communication formed by means of them from
the extreme north-west limit of the empire, through Rome to the south-east
limit, was in length nearly 4000 miles. These roads were formed in the most
substantial manner, and with astonishing labour and expence; they were
raised so as to command a prospect of the adjacent country; on each side
was a row of large stones for foot passengers. The miles were reckoned from
the gates of the city and marked on stones: at shorter distances there were
stones for travellers to rest on, or to assist those who wished to mount
their horses: there were cross roads from the principal roads. The care and
management of all the roads were entrusted only to men of the highest rank.
Augustus himself took charge of those near Rome, and appointed two men of
prætorian rank to pave the roads: at the distance of five or six miles
houses were built, each of which was constantly provided with forty horses;
but these could only be used in the public service, except by particular
and express authority. By means of the relays thus furnished, the Romans
could travel along their excellent roads 100 miles a day: they had no
public posts. Augustus first introduced public couriers among the Romans;
but they were employed only to forward the public despatches, or to convey
public intelligence of great and urgent importance.

Such was the facililty of communication by land from all parts of the
empire to Rome, and from each part to all the other parts: nor was the
communication of the empire less free and open by sea than it was by land.
"The provinces surrounded and enclosed the Mediterranean; and Italy, in the
shape of an immense promontory, advanced into the midst of that great
lake." From Ostia, situated at the mouth of the Tiber, only sixteen miles
from the capital, a favourable wind frequently carried vessels in seven
days to the straits of Gibraltar, and in nine or ten to Alexandria, in

3. In enumerating the principal articles imported into Rome, for the use of
its immense and luxurious population, we shall, necessarily, recapitulate,
in some degree, what has already been stated in giving an account of the
commerce of the different countries which were conquered by the Romans. But
this objection, we conceive, will be abundantly counterbalanced by the
connected and complete view which we shall thus be enabled to give of the
commerce of the Roman empire.

Before, however, we enter on this subject, we shall briefly consider the
ideas entertained by the Romans on the subject of commerce. We have already
had occasion incidentally to remark that the Romans thought meanly of it,
and that their grand object in all their conquests was the extension of
their territory; and that they even neglected the commercial facilities and
advantages, which they might have secured by their conquests. This was most
decidedly the case during the time of the republic. The statue of Victory,
which was erected in the port of Ostia, and the medals of the year of Rome
630, marked on the reverse with two ships and a victory, prove that at this
period the Roman fleets that sailed from this port were chiefly designed
for war. The prefects of the fleet were not employed, nor did they consider
it as their duty to attend to commerce, or to the merchant ships, except so
far as to protect them against the pirates. Of the low opinion entertained
by the Romans respecting commerce we have the direct testimony of Cicero:
writing to his son on the subject of professions, he reprobates and
condemns all retail trade as mean and sordid, which can be carried on
successfully only by means of lying. Even the merchant, unless he deals
very extensively, he views with contempt; if, however, he imports from
every quarter articles of great value and in great abundance, and sells
them in a fair and equitable manner, his profession is not much to be
contemned; especially if, after having made a fortune, he retires from
business, and spends the rest of his life in agricultural pursuits: in this
case, he deserves even positive praise. There is another passage of Cicero,
quoted by Dr. Vincent, in his Periplus, in which the same sentiments are
expressed: he says, "Is such a man, who was a merchant and neighbour of
Scipio, greater than Scipio because he is richer?" Pliny, also, though in
his natural history he expatiates in praise of agriculture and gardening,
medicine, painting and statuary, passes over merchandize with the simple
observation that it was invented by the Phoenicians. In the periplus of the
Erythrean sea, and in the works of Ptolemy, &c. the names of many merchants
and navigators occur; but they are all Greeks. Even after the conquest of
Egypt, which gave a more commercial character to the Roman manners, habits
and mode of thinking than they previously possessed, no Roman was permitted
to engage in the trade of that country.

Although, however, mercantile pursuits were thus underrated and despised by
the warlike portion of the nation, as well as by the philosophers, yet they
were followed by those who regarded gain as the principal object of life.
The wealth of merchants became proverbial: immense numbers of them followed
the armies, and fixed in the provinces subdued or allied,--the _Italici
generis homines_, who were agents, traders, and monopolizers, such as
Jugurtha took in Zama, or the 100,000 Mithridates slaughtered in Asia
Minor, or the merchants killed at Genabum (Orleans).

In the passage quoted from Cicero de Officiis, he expressly mentions the
merchant who _imports_; but he does not once allude to exportation.
Indeed, the commerce of the Romans, in the most luxurious period of the
empire, was entirely confined to importation, and may, with few exceptions,
be designated as consisting in the expenditure of the immense revenue they
derived from their conquests, and the immense fortunes of individuals, in
the necessaries, comforts, and, above all, the luxuries of the countries
which they had conquered.

By far the most extensive and important trade which the Romans carried on
at all periods of their history, was the conveyance of corn and other
provisions to the capital. The contiguous territory at no time was
sufficient to supply Rome with corn; and, long before the republic was
destroyed, even Italy was inadequate to this purpose. As the population
encreased, and the former corn fields were converted into pleasure-grounds
or pasture, the demand for corn was proportionally encreased, and the
supply from the neighbourhood proportionally diminished. But there was
another circumstance which rendered a regular and full supply of corn an
object of prime importance: the influence of the patron depended on his
largesses of corn to his clients; and the popularity, and even the reign of
an emperor, was not secure, unless he could insure to the inhabitants this
indispensable necessary of life. There were several laws respecting the
distribution of corn: by one passed in the year of Rome 680, five bushels
were to be given monthly to each of the poorer citizens, and money was to
be advanced annually from the treasury, sufficient to purchase 800,000
bushels of wheat, of three different qualities and prices. By the
Sempronian law, this corn was to be sold to the poor inhabitants at a very
low price; but by the Clodian law it was to be distributed _gratis_:
the granaries in which this corn was kept were called Horrea Sempronia. The
number of citizens who received corn by public distribution, in the time of
Augustus, amounted to 200,000. Julius Caesar had reduced the number from
320,000 to 150,000. It is doubtful whether five bushels were the allowance
of each individual or of each family; but if Dr. Arbuthnot be correct in
estimating the _modius_ at fourteen pounds, the allowance must have
been for each family, amounting to one quarter seven bushels, and one peck
per annum.

We have dwelt on these particulars for the purpose of pointing out the
extreme importance of a regular and full supply of corn to Rome; and this
importance is still further proved by the special appointment of
magistrates to superintend this article. The prefect, or governor of the
market, was an ancient establishment in the Roman republic; his duty was to
procure corn: on extraordinary occasions, this magistrate was created for
this express purpose, and the powers granted him seem to have been
increased in the latter periods of the republic, and still more, after the
republic was destroyed. Pompey, who held this office, possessed greater
power and privileges than his immediate predecessor, and in a time of great
scarcity. Augustus, himself, undertook the charge of providing the corn: it
was at the same time determined, that for the future, two men of the rank
of praetors should be annually elected for this purpose; four were
afterwards appointed. It would seem, however, that even their appointment
became an ordinary and regular thing: the emperors themselves superintended
the procuring of corn, for one of their titles was that of
commissary-general of corn.

Besides this magistrate, whose business was confined to the buying and
importing of corn, there were two aediles, first appointed by Julius
Caesar, whose duty it was to inspect the public stores of corn and other

Till the time of Julius Caesar, the foreign corn for the supply of Rome was
imported into Puteoli, a town of Campania, between Baiae and Naples, about
seventy miles from the capital. As this was very inconvenient, Caesar
formed the plan of making an artificial harbour at the mouth of the Tiber,
at Ostia. This plan, however, was not at this time carried into execution:
Claudius, however, in consequence of a dreadful famine which raged at Rome,
A.D. 42, resolved to accomplish it. He accordingly dug a spacious basin in
the main land; the entrance to which was formed and protected by artificial
moles, which advanced far into the sea; there was likewise a little island
before the mouth of the harbour, on which a light-house was built, after
the model of the Pharos of Alexandria. By the formation of this harbour,
the largest vessel could securely ride at anchor, within three deep and
capacious basins, which received the northern branch of the Tiber, about
two miles from the ancient colony of Ostïa.

Into this port corn arrived for the supply of Rome from various countries;
immense quantities of wheat were furnished by the island of Sicily. Egypt
was another of the granaries of the capital of the world; according to
Josephus, it supplied Rome with corn sufficient for one-third of its whole
consumption: and Augustus established regular corn voyages from Alexandria
to the capital. Great quantities were also imported from Thrace, and from
Africa Proper. The ships employed in the corn trade, especially between
Egypt and Rome, were the largest of any in the Mediterranean: this probably
arose from the encouragement given to this trade by Tiberius, and
afterwards increased by Claudius. The former emperor gave a bounty of about
fourpence on every peck of corn imported: and Claudius, during the time of
the famine, made the bounty so great as, at all events, and in every
instance, to secure the importers a certain rate of profit. He also used
all his efforts to persuade the merchants to import it even in winter,
taking upon himself all the losses, &c. which might arise from risking
their ships and cargoes, at a time of the year when it was the invariable
practice of the ancients to lay the former up. Whenever an emperor had
distinguished himself by a large importation of corn, especially, if by
this means a famine was avoided or removed, medals seem to have been struck
commemorative of the circumstance; thus, on several medals there is a
figure of a ship, and the words _Annona Aug_. or _Ceres Aug_. Many of these
were struck under Nero, and Antoninus Pius. During the time of the
republic, also, similar medals were struck, with the figure of a prow of a
ship, and an inscription shewing the object for which the fleets had been

Having been thus particular in describing the importation of corn, we shall
notice the imports of other articles in a more cursory manner. The northern
parts of Italy furnished salt pork, almost sufficient for the whole
consumption of Rome, tapestry, and woollen cloths, wool, and marble; to
convey the latter, there were ships of a peculiar form and construction;
steel, crystal, ice, and cheese.

From Liguria, Rome received wood for building, of a very large size, ship
timber, fine and beautiful wood for tables, cattle, hides, honey, and
coarse wool. Etruria, also, supplied timber, cheese, wine, and stone; the
last was shipped at the ports of Pisa and Luna. Pitch and tar were sent
from Brutium; oil and wine from the country of the Sabines. Such were the
principal imports from the different parts of Italy.

From Corsica, timber for ship building; from Sardinia, a little corn and
cattle; from Sicily, besides corn,--wine, honey, salt, saffron, cheese,
cattle, pigeons, corals, and a species of emerald. Cloth, but whether linen
or cotton is uncertain, was imported from Malta; honey, from Attica.
Lacedemon supplied green marble, and the dye of the purple shell-fish. From
the Grecian islands, there were imported Parian marble, the earthenware of
Samos, the vermilion of Lemnos, and other articles, principally of luxury.
Thrace supplied salted tunnies, the produce of the Euxine Sea, besides
corn. The finest wool was imported from Colchis, and also hemp, flax,
pitch, and fine linens: these goods, as well as articles brought overland
from India, were shipped from the port of Phasis. The best cheese used at
Rome, was imported from Bithynia. Phrygia supplied a stone like alabaster,
and the country near Laodicea, wool of excellent quality, some of which was
of a deep black colour. The wine drank at Rome, was principally the produce
of Italy; the best foreign wine, was imported from Ionia. Woollen goods,
dyed with Tyrian purple, were imported from Miletus, in Caria. An inferior
species of diamond, copper, resin, and sweet oil were imported from Cyprus.
Cedar, gums, balsam, and alabaster, were supplied by Syria, Phoenicia, and
Palestine. Glass was imported from Sidon, as well as embroidery and purple
dye, and several kinds of fish, from Tyre. The goods that were brought from
India, by the route of Palmyra, were shipped for Rome, from the ports of
Syria. Egypt, besides corn, supplied flax, fine linen, ointments, marble,
alabaster, salt, alum, gums, paper, cotton goods, some of which, as well as
of their linens, seem to have been coloured or printed, glass ware, &c. The
honey lotus, the lotus, or nymphæa of Egypt, the stalk of which contained a
sweet substance, which was considered as a luxury by the Egyptians, and
used as bread, was sometimes carried to Rome; it was also used as provision
for mariners. Alexandria was the port from which all the produce and
manufactories of Egypt, as well as all the ports which passed through this
country from India, were shipped. In consequence of its becoming the seat
of the Roman government in Egypt, of the protection which it thus received,
and of its commerce being greatly extended by the increased wealth and
luxury of Rome, its extent and population were greatly augmented; according
to Diodorus Siculus, in the time of Augustus, from whose reign it became
the greatest emporium of the world, it contained 300,000 free people.

That part of Africa which was formerly possessed by the Carthaginians,
besides corn, sent to Rome, honey, drugs, marble, the eggs and feathers of
the ostrich, ostriches, elephants, and lions; the last for the
amphitheatre. From Mauritania, there were exported to the capital, timber
of a fine grain and excellent quality, the exact nature of which is not
known; this was sold at an enormous rate, and used principally for making
very large tables.

Spain supplied Rome with a very great number and variety of articles; from
the southern parts of it were exported corn, wine, oil, honey, wax, pitch,
scarlet dye, vermilion, salt, salted provisions, wool, &c. From the eastern
part of the north of Spain were exported salted provisions, cordage made of
the _spartum_, silver, earthenware, linen, steel, &c. The Balearic
islands exported some wine. The trade of Spain to Rome employed a great
number of vessels, almost as many as those which were employed in the whole
of the African trade; this was especially the case in the reigns of
Augustus and Tiberius. Even in the time of Julius Caesar, Spain had
acquired great wealth, principally by her exports to Rome. The ports from
which the greatest part of these commodities were shipped, were Cadiz, New
Carthage, and a port at the mouth of the Boetis, where, for the security of
the shipping, a light-house had been built. Cadiz was deemed the rival of
Alexandria in importance, shipping, and commerce; and so great was the
resort of merchants, &c. to it, that many of them, not being able to build
houses for want of room on the land, lived entirely upon the water.

From Gaul, Rome received gold, silver, iron, &c. which were sent as part of
the tribute; also linens, corn, cheese, and salted pork. Immense flocks of
geese travelled by land to Rome. The chief ports which sent goods to Rome
were Marseilles, Arles, and Narbonne, on the Mediterranean; and on the
Ocean, Bourdeau, and the port of the Veneti. It appears that there were a
considerable number of Italian or Roman merchants resident in Gaul, whose
principal trade it was to carry the wine made in the south of this
province, up the Rhine, and there barter it for slaves.

From Britain, Rome was supplied with tin, lead, cattle, hides, ornaments of
bone, vessels made of amber and glass, pearls, slaves, dogs, bears, &c. The
tin was either shipped from the island of Ictis (Isle of Wight), or sent
into Gaul: most of the other articles reached Rome through Gaul. The
principal article brought to Rome was amber.

We now come to the consideration of the articles with which Asia supplied
Rome; these, as may be easily imagined, were principally articles of
luxury. The murrhine cups, of the nature of which there has been much
unsatisfactory discussion, according to Pliny, came from Karmania in
Parthia; from Parthia they came to Egypt, and thence to Rome. It is
probable, however, that they came, in the first instance, from India, as
they are expressly mentioned by the author of the Periplus of the Erythrean
Sea, as brought down from the capital of Guzerat, to the port of Baragyza.
These cups were first seen at Rome, in the triumphal procession of Pompey,
when he returned from the shores of the Caspian Sea. They sold at enormous
prices; and were employed at the tables only of the great and wealthy, as
cups for drinking; they were in general of a small size. One, which held
three pints, sold for nearly 14,000_l_.; and Nero gave nearly
59,000_l_. for another. So highly were they prized, that, in the
conquest of Egypt, Augustus was content to select, for his own share, out
of all the spoils of Alexandria, a single murrhine cup.[5] Precious stones
and pearls were imported from Persia and Babylonia; the latter country also
furnished the wealthy Romans with _triclinaria_, which was furniture
of some description, but whether quilts, carpets, or curtains is not
ascertained. Persia supplied also incense of a very superior quality. The
various and valuable commodities with which Arabia supplied the profusion
and luxury of Rome, reached that capital from the port of Alexandria in
Egypt. We cannot enumerate the whole of them, but must confine ourselves to
a selection of the most important and valuable. Great demand, and a high
rate of profits necessarily draw to any particular trade a great number of
merchants; it is not surprising, therefore, that the trade in the luxuries
of the east was so eagerly followed at Rome. Pliny informs us, that the
Roman world was exhausted by a drain of 400,000_l_. a year, for the
purchase of luxuries, equally expensive and superfluous; and in another
place, he estimates the rate of profit made at Rome, by the importation and
sale of oriental luxuries at 100 per cent.

Arabia furnished diamonds, but these were chiefly of a small size, and
other gems and pearls. At Rome the diamond possessed the highest value; the
pearl, the second; and the emerald, the third. Nero used an emerald as an
eye-glass for short sight. But though large and very splendid diamonds
brought a higher price at Rome than pearls, yet the latter, in general,
were in much greater repute; they were worn in almost every part of the
dress, by persons of almost every rank. The famous pearl ear-rings of
Cleopatra were valued at 161,458_l_., and Julius Caesar presented the
mother of Brutus with a pearl, for which he paid 48,457_l_.
Frankincense, myrrh, and other precious drugs, were also brought to Rome
from Arabia, through the port of Alexandria. There was a great demand at
Rome for spices and aromatics, from the custom of the Romans to burn their
dead, and also from the consumption of frankincense, &c. in their temples.
At the funeral of Sylla 210 bundles of spices were used. Nero burnt, at the
funeral of Poppaea, more cinnamon and cassia than the countries from which
they were imported produced in one year. In the reign of Augustus,
according to Horace, one whole street was occupied by those who dealt in
frankincense, pepper, and other aromatics. Frankincense was also imported
into Rome from Gaza, on the coast of Palestine; according to Pliny, it was
brought to this place by a caravan, that was sixty-two days on its journey:
the length of the journey, frauds, impositions, duties; &c. brought every
camel's load to upward of 22_l_.; and a pound of the best sort sold at
Rome for ten shillings. Alexandria, however, was the great emporium for
this, as well as all the other produce of India and Arabia. Pliny is
express and particular on this point, and takes notice of the precautions
employed by the merchants there, in order to guard against adulteration and
fraud. Cinnamon, another of the exports of Arabia to Rome, though not a
production of that country, was also in high repute, and brought an
extravagant price. Vespasian was the first who dedicated crowns of
cinnamon, inclosed in gold filagree, in the Capitol and the Temple of
Peace; and Livia dedicated the root in the Palatine Temple of Augustus. The
plant itself was brought to the emperor Marcus Aurelius in a case seven
feet long, and was exhibited at Rome, as a very great rarity. This,
however, we are expressly informed came from Barbarike in India. It seems
to have been highly valued by other nations as well as by the Romans:
Antiochus Epiphanes carried a few boxes of it in a triumphal procession:
and Seleucus Callinicus presented two minae of it and two of cassia, as a
gift to the king of the Milesians. In the enumeration of the gifts made by
this monarch, we may, perhaps, trace the comparative rarity and value of
the different spices of aromatics among the ancients: of frankincense he
presented ten talents, of myrrh one talent, of cassia two pounds, of
cinnamon two pounds, and of costus one pound. Frankincense and myrrh were
the productions of Arabia; the other articles of India; of course the
former could be procured with much less difficulty and expence than the
latter. Spikenard, another Indian commodity, also reached Rome, through
Arabia, by means of the port of Alexandria. Pliny mentions, that both the
leaves and the spices were of great value, and that the odour was the most
esteemed in the composition of all unguents. The price at Rome was 100
denarii a pound. The markets at which the Arabian and other merchants
bought it were Patala on the Indus, Ozeni, and a mart on or near the

Sugar, also, but of a quality inferior to that of India, was imported from
Arabia, through Alexandria, into Rome. The Indian sugar, which is expressly
mentioned by Pliny, as better and higher priced, was brought to Rome, but
by what route is not exactly known, probably by means of the merchants who
traded to the east coast of Africa; where the Arabians either found it, or
imported it from India. In the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, and likewise
in the rescript of the Roman emperors, relative to the articles imported
into Egypt from the East, which was promulgated by Marcus Aurelius and his
son Commodus, about the year A.D. 176, it is denominated cane-honey,
otherwise called sugar (sacchar). So early, therefore, as the Periplus
(about the year A.D. 73,) the name of sacchar was known to the Romans, and
applied by them to sugar. This word does not occur in any earlier author,
unless Dioscorides lived before that period, which is uncertain. It may be
remarked, that the nature, as well as the proper appellation of sugar, must
have been but imperfectly, and not generally known, even at the time of the
rescript, otherwise the explanatory phrase, honey made from cane, would not
have been employed.

The first information respecting sugar was brought to Europe by Nearchus,
the admiral of Alexander. In a passage quoted from his journal by Strabo,
it is described as honey made from reeds, there being no bees in that part
of India. In a fragment of Theophrastus, preserved by Photius, he mentions,
among other kinds of honey, one that is found in reeds. The first mention
of any preparation, by which the juice of the reed was thickened, occurs in
Eratosthenes, as quoted by Strabo, where he describes roots of large reeds
found in India, which were sweet to the taste, both when raw and boiled.
Dioscorides and Pliny describe it as used chiefly, if not entirely, for
medical purposes. In the time of Galen, A.D. 131, it would appear to have
become more common and cheaper at Rome; for he classes it with medicines
that may be easily procured. It seems probable, that though the Arabians
undoubtedly cultivated the sugar-cane, and supplied Rome with sugar from
it, yet they derived their knowledge of it from India; for the Arabic name,
shuker, which was adopted by the Greeks and Romans, is formed from the two
middle syllables of the Sanskrit word, ich-shu-casa.

But to return from this digression to the view of the imports into Rome:
Ethiopia supplied the capital with cinnamon of an inferior quality; marble,
gems, ivory; the horns of the rhinoceros and tortoiseshell. The last
article was in great demand, and brought a high price: it was used for
ornament, for furniture; as beds, tables, doors, &c.; not only in Italy,
but in Greece and Egypt: the finest sort was sold for its weight of silver.
It was imported not only from Ethiopia but also from the east coast of
Africa, and reached Rome even from Malabar and Malacca. The opsian stone
mentioned in the Periplus, and the opsidian stone described by Pliny, are
stated in both these authors to have come from Ethiopia; but whether they
were the same, and their exact nature, are not known. The opsian is
described as capable of receiving a high polish, and on that account as
having been used by the Emperor Domitian to face a portico. Pliny describes
it as employed to line rooms in the same manner as mirrors; he
distinguishes it from a spurious kind, which was red, but not transparent.
The dye extracted from the purple shell fish was imported into Rome from
Getulia, a country on the south side of Mauritania.

Rome was supplied with the commodities of India chiefly from Egypt; but
there were other routes by which also they reached the capital: of these it
will be proper to take some notice.

The most ancient communication between India and the countries on the
Mediterranean was by the Persian Gulf, through Mesopotamia, to the coasts
of Syria and Palestine. To facilitate the commerce which was carried on by
this route, Solomon is supposed to have built Tadmor in the wilderness, or
Palmyra: the situation of this place, which, though in the midst of barren
sands, is plentifully supplied with water, and has immediately round it a
fertile soil, was peculiarly favorable; as it was only 85 miles from the
Euphrates, and about 117 from the nearest part of the Mediterranean. By
this route the most valuable commodities of India, most of which were of
such small bulk as to beat the expence of a long land carriage, were
conveyed. From the age of Nebuchadnezzar to the Macedonian conquest,
Tiredon on the Euphrates was the city at which this commercial route began,
and which the Babylonians made use of, as the channel of their oriental
trade. After the destruction of Tyre by that monarch, a great part of the
traffic which had passed by Arabia, or the Red Sea, through Idumea and
Egypt, and that city, was diverted to the Persian Gulf, and through his
territories in Mesopotamia it passed by Palmyra and Damascus, through Syria
to the west. After the reduction of Babylon by Cyrus, the Persians, who
paid no attention to commerce, suffered Babylon and Ninevah to sink into
ruin; but Palmyra still remained, and flourished as a commercial city.
Under the Seleucidæ it seems to have reached its highest degree of
importance, splendour, and wealth; principally by supplying the Syrians
with Indian commodities. For upwards of two centuries after the conquest of
Syria by the Romans it remained free, and its friendship and alliance were
courted both by them and the Parthians. During this period we have the
express testimony of Appian, that it traded with both these nations, and
that Rome and the other parts of the empire received the commodities of
India from it. In the year A.D. 273, it was reduced and destroyed by
Aurelian, who found in it an immense treasure of gold, silver, silk, and
precious stones. From this period, it never revived, or became a place of
the least importance or trade.

On the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, the commercial communication between
India and Europe returned to Arabia in the south, and to the Caspian and
the Euxine in the north: there seem to have been two routes by these seas,
both of great antiquity. In describing one of them, the ancient writers are
supposed to have confounded the river Ochus, which falls into the Caspian,
with the Oxus, which falls into the lake of Aral. On this supposition, the
route may be traced in the following manner: the produce and manufactuers
of India were collected at Patala, a town near the mouth of the Indus; they
were carried in vessels up this river as far as it was navigable, where
they were landed, and conveyed by caravans to the Oxus: being again
shipped, they descended this river to the point where it approached nearest
to the Ochus, to which they were conveyed by caravans. By the Ochus they
were conveyed to the Caspian, and across it to the mouth of the river
Cyrus, which was ascended to where it approached nearest the Phasis:
caravans were employed again, till the merchandize were embarked at
Serapana on the Phasis, and thus brought to the Black Sea. According to
Pliny, Pompey took great pains to inform himself of this route; and he
ascertained, that by going up the Cyrus the goods would be brought within
five day's journey of the Phasis. There seems to have been some plan formed
at different times, and thought of by the Emperor Claudius, to join Asia to
Europe and the Caspian Sea, by a canal from the Cimmerian Bosphorus to the
Caspian Sea.

The route which we have thus particularly described was sometimes deviated
from by the merchants: they carried their goods up the Oxus till it fell
into lake Aral; crossing this, they transported them in caravans to the
Caspian, and ascending the Wolga to its nearest approach to the Tanais,
they crossed to the latter by land, and descended it to the sea of Azoph.

Strabo describes another route: viz. across the Caucasus, from the Caspian
to the Black Sea; this writer, however, must be under some mistake, for
camels, which he expressly says were employed, would be of no use in
crossing the mountains; it is probable, therefore, that this land
communication was round by the mouth of the Caspian,--a route which was
frequented by the merchants of the middle ages.

As the Euxine Sea was the grand point to which all these routes tended, the
towns on it became the resort of an immense number of merchants, even at
very early ages; and the kingdoms of Prusias, Attalus, and Mithridates were
enriched by their commerce. Herodotus mentions, that the trade of the
Euxine was conducted by interpreters of seven different languages. In the
time of Mithridates, 300 different nations, or tribes, met for commercial
purposes at Dioscurias in Colchis; and soon after the Romans conquered the
countries lying on the Euxine, there were 130 interpreters of languages
employed in this and the other trading towns. The Romans, however, as soon
as they became jealous, or afraid, of the power of the Parthians, would not
suffer them, or any other of the northern nations, to traffic by the
Euxine; but endeavoured, as far as they could, to confine the commerce of
the East to Alexandria: the consequence was, that even so early as the age
of Pliny, Dioscurias was deserted.

The only article of import into Rome that remains to be considered is silk:
the history of the knowledge and importation of this article among the
ancients, and the route by which it was obtained, will comprise all that it
will be necessary to say on this subject.

The knowledge of silk was first brought into Europe through the conquests
of Alexander the Great. Strabo quotes a passage from Nearchus, in which it
is mentioned, but apparently confounded, with cotton. It is well known that
Aristotle obtained a full and accurate account of all the discoveries in
natural history which were made during the conquests of Alexander, and he
gives a particular description of the silk worm; so particular, indeed,
that it is surprising how the ancients could, for nearly 600 years after
his death, be ignorant of the nature and origin of silk. He describes the
silk worm as a horned worm, which he calls bombyx, which passes through
several transformations, and produces bombytria. It does not appear,
however, that he was acquainted either with the native country of this
[work->worm], or with such a people as the Seres; and this is the only
reason for believing that he may allude entirely to a kind of silk made at
Cos, especially as he adds, that some women in this island decomposed the
bombytria, and re-wove and re-spun it. Pliny also mentions the bombyx, and
describes it as a natiye of Assyria; he adds, that the Assyrians made
bombytria from it, and that the inhabitants of Cos learnt the manufacture
from them. The most propable supposition is, that silk was spun and wove in
Assyria and Cos, but the raw material imported into these countries from
the Seres; for the silk worm was deemed by the Greeks and Romans so
exclusively and pre-eminently the attribute of the Sinae, that from this
very circumstance, they were denominated seres, or silk worms, by the

The next authors who mention silk are Virgil, and Dionysius the geographer;
Virgil supposed the Seres to card their silk from leaves,--_Velleraque ut
foliis depectunt tentuia Seres_.--Dionysius, who was sent by Augustus to
draw up an account of the Oriental regions, says, that rich and valuable
garments were manufactured by the Seres from threads, finer than those of
the spider, which they combed from flowers.

It is not exactly known at what period silk garments were first worn at
Rome: Lipsius, in his notes on Tacitius, says, in the reign of Julius
Csesar. In the beginning of the reign of Tiberius, a law was made, that no
man should dishonor himself by wearing a silken garment. We have already
stated the opinion entertained by Pliny respecting the native country of
the silk worm; this author condemns in forcible, though affected language,
the thirst of gain, which explored the remotest parts of the earth for the
purpose of exposing to the public eye naked draperies and transparent
matrons. In his time, slight silks, flowered, seem to have been introduced
into religious ceremonies, as he describes crowns, in honour of the
deities, of various colours, and highly perfumed, made of silk. The next
author who mentions silk is Pausanias; he says, the thread from which the
Seres form their web is not from any kind of bark, but is obtained in a
different way; they have in their country a spinning insect, which the
Greeks call seer. He supposes that the insect lived five years, and fed on
green haulm: by the last particular, it is not improbable he meant the
leaves of the mulberry tree. For 200 years after the age of Pliny, the use
of silk was confined to the female sex, till the richer citizens, both of
the capital and the provinces, followed the example of Heliogabalus, the
first man, who, according to Lampridius, wore _holosericum_ that is, a
garment which was all of silk. From this expression, however, it is
evident, that previous to this period the male inhabitants of Rome had been
in the habit of wearing garments made of silk mixed with linen or woollen.

Hitherto there is no intimation in ancient authors of the price of silk at
Rome; in the time of Aurelian, however, that is towards the end of the
third century, we learn the high price at which it was rated, in an
indirect manner. For when the wife of that Emperor begged of him to permit
her to have but one single garment of purple silk; he refused it, saying,
that one pound of silk sold at Rome for 12 ounces, or its weight of gold.
This agrees with what is laid down in the Rhodian maritime laws, as they
appear in the eleventh book of the Digests, according to which unmixed silk
goods paid a salvage, if they were saved without being damaged by the sea
water, of ten per cent., as being equal in value to gold.

In about 100 years after the reign of Aurelian, however, the importation of
silk into Rome must have increased very greatly; for Ammianus Marcellinus,
who flourished A.D. 380, expressly states that silk, which had formerly
been confined to the great and rich, was, in his time, within the purchase
of the common people. Constantinople was founded about forty years before
he wrote; and it naturally found its way there in greater abundance than it
had done, when Rome was the capital of the empire.

From this time, till the middle of the sixth century, we have no particular
information respecting the silk trade of the Roman empire. At this period,
during the reign of Justinian, silk had become an article of very general
and indispensible use: but the Persians had occupied by land and sea the
monopoly of this article, so that the inhabitants of Tyre and Berytus, who
had all along manufactured it for the Roman market, were no longer able to
procure a sufficient supply, even at an extravagant price. Besides, when
the manufactured goods were brought within the Roman territories, they were
subject to a duty of ten per cent. Justinian, under these circumstances,
very impolitically ordered that silk should be sold at the rate of eight
pieces of gold for the pound, or about 3_l_. 4s. The consequence was
such as might have been expected: silk goods were no longer imported; and
to add to the injustice and the evil, Theodora, the emperor's wife, seized
all the silk, and fined the merchants very heavily. It was therefore
necessary, that Justinian should have recourse to other measures to obtain
silk goods; instead, however, of restoring the trade of Egypt, which at
this period had fallen into utter decay, and sending vessels directly from
the Red Sea to the Indian markets, where the raw material might have been
procured, he had recourse to Arabia and Abyssinia. According to Suidas, he
wished the former to import the silk in a raw state, intending to
manufacture it in his own dominions. But the king of Abyssinia declined the
offer; as the vicinity of the Persians to the Indian markets for silk
enabled them to purchase it at a cheaper rate than the Abyssinians could
procure it. The same obstacle prevented the Arabians from complying with
the request of Justinian.

The wealthy and luxurious Romans, therefore, must have been deprived of
this elegant material for their dresses, had not their wishes been
gratified by an unexpected event. Two Persian monks travelled to Serindi,
where they had lived long enough to become acquainted with the various
processes for spinning and manufacturing silk. When they returned, they
communicated their information to Justinian; and were induced, by his
promises, to undertake the transportation of the eggs of the silk-worm,
from China to Constantinople. Accordingly, they went back to Serindi, and
brought away a quantity of the eggs in a hollow cane, and conveyed them
safely to Constantinople. They superintended and directed the hatching of
the eggs, by the heat of a dunghill: the worms were fed on mulberry leaves:
a sufficient number of butterflies were saved to keep up the stock; and to
add to the benefits already conferred, the Persian monks taught the Romans
the whole of the manufacture. From Constantinople, the silk-worms were
conveyed to Greece, Sicily, and Italy. In the succeeding reign, the Romans
had improved so much in the management of the silk-worms, and in the
manufacture of silk, that the Serindi ambassadors, on their arrival in
Constantinople, acknowledged that the Romans were not inferior to the
natives of China, in either of these respects. It may be mentioned, in
further proof of the opinion already given, that the silk manufactures of
Cos were not supplied from silk-worms in that island, that we have the
express authority of Theophanes and Zonaras, that, before silk-worms were
brought to Constantinople, in the reign of Justinian, no person in that
city knew that silk was produced by a worm. This, certainly, would not have
been the case, if there had been silk-worms so near Constantinople as the
island of Cos is. All the authors whom we have quoted, (with the exception
of Aristotle, Pliny, and Pausanias,) including a period of six centuries,
supposed that silk was made from fleeces growing upon trees, from the bark
of trees, or from flowers. These mistakes, may, indeed, have arisen from
the Romans having heard of the silk being taken from the mulberry and other
trees, on which the worms feed; but, however they originated, they plainly
prove that the native country of the silk-worm was at a very great distance
from Rome, and one of which they had very little knowledge.

Having thus brought the history of this most valuable import into Rome,
down to the period, when, in consequence of the Romans having acquired the
silk-worm, there existed no longer any necessity to import the raw
materials; we shall next proceed to investigate the routes by which it was
brought from the Seres to the western parts of Asia, and thence to Rome. It
is well ascertained, that the silk manufacture was established at Tyre and
Berytus, from a very early period; and these places seem to have supplied
Rome with silk stuffs. But, by what route did silk arrive thither, and to
the other countries, so as to be within the immediate reach of the
Romans?--There were two routes, by which it was introduced to Europe, and
the contiguous parts of Asia: by land and sea.

The route by sea is pointed out in a clear and satisfactory manner, by some
of the ancient authors, particularly the author of the Periplus of the
Erythrean Sea. In enumerating the exports from Nelkundah, he particularly
mentions silk stuffs, and adds, that they were brought to this place from
countries further to the east. Nelkundah was a town in Malabar, about
twelve miles up a small river, at the mouth of which was the port of
Barake; at this port, the vessels of the ancients rode till their lading
was brought down from Nelkundah. This place seems to have been the
centrical mart between the countries that lie to the east and west of Cape
Comorin, or the hither and further peninsula of India; fleets sailed from
it to Khruse, which there is every reason to believe was part of the
peninsula of Malacca; and we have the authority of Ptolemy, that there was
a commercial communication between it and the northern provinces of China.
But at a later period than the age of the Periplus, silk was brought by sea
from China to Ceylon, and thence conveyed to Africa and Europe. Cosmos, who
lived in the sixth century, informs us, that the Tzenistæ or Chinese,
brought to Ceylon, silks, aloes, cloves, and sandal wood. That his
Tzenistsæ, are the Chinese, there can be no doubt; for he mentions them as
inhabiting a country producing silk, beyond which there is no country, for
the ocean encircles it oh the east. From this it is evident that the
Tzenistæ of this author, and the Seres of the ancients, are the same; and
in specifying the imports into Ceylon, he mentions silk thread, as coming
from countries farther to the east, particularly from the Chinese. We thus
see by what sea route silk was brought from China to those places with
which the western nations had a communication; it was imported either into
the peninsula of Malacca by sea, and thence by sea to Nelkundah, whence it
was brought by a third voyage to the Red Sea; or it was brought directly
from China to Ceylon, from which place there was a regular sea
communication also with the Red Sea.

The author of the Periplus informs us, that raw as well as manufactured
silk were conveyed by land through Bactria, to Baraguza or Guzerat, and by
the Ganges to Limurike; according to this first route, the silks of China
must have come the whole length of Tartary, from the great wall, into
Bactria; from Bactria, they passed the mountains to the sources of the
Indus, and by that river they were brought down to Patala, or Barbarike, in
Scindi, and thence to Guzerat: the line must have been nearly the same when
silk was brought to the sources of the Ganges; at the mouth of this river,
it was embarked for Limurike in Canara. All the silk, therefore, that went
by land to Bactria, passed down the Indus to Guzerat; all that deviated
more to the east, and came by Thibet, passed down the Ganges to Bengal.

A third land route by which silk was brought to the Persian merchants, and
by them sold to the Romans, was from Samarcand and Bochara, through the
northern provinces of China, to the metropolis of the latter country: this,
however, was a long, difficult, and dangerous route. From Samarcand to the
first town of the Chinese, was a journey of from 60 to 100 days; as soon as
the caravans passed the Jaxartes, they entered the desert, in which they
were necessarily exposed to great privations, as well as to great risk from
the wandering tribes. The merchants of Samarcand and Bochara, on their
return from China, transported the raw or manufactured silk into Persia;
and the Persian merchants sold it to the Romans at the fairs of Armenia and

Another land route is particularly described by Ptolemy: according to his
detail, this immense inland communication began from the bay of Issus, in
Cilicia; it then crossed Mesopotamia, from the Euphrates to the Tigris,
near Hieropolis: it then passed through part of Assyria and Media, to
Ecbatana and the Caspian Pass; after this, through Parthia to Hecatompylos:
from this place to Hyrcania; then to Antioch, in Margiana; and hence into
Bactria. From Bactria, a mountainous country was to be crossed, and the
country of the Sacæ, to Tachkend, or the Stone Tower. Near this place was
the station of those merchants who traded directly with the Seres. The
defile of Conghez was next passed, and the region of Cosia or Cashgar
through the country of the Itaguri, to the capital of China. Seven months
were employed on this journey, and the distance in a right line amounted to
2800 miles. That the whole of this journey was sometimes performed by
individuals for the purchase of silk and other Chinese commodities, we have
the express testimony of Ptolemy; for he informs us, that Maes, a
Macedonian merchant, sent his agent through the entire route which we have
just described. It is not surprising, therefore, that silk should have
borne such an exorbitant price at Rome; but it is astonishing that any
commodity, however precious, could bear the expence of such a land

The only other routes by land, by which silk was brought from China into
Europe, seem to have corresponded, in the latter part of their direction,
with the land routes from India, already described. Indeed, it may
naturally be supposed, that the Indian merchants, as soon as they learned
the high prices of silk at Rome, would purchase it, and send it along with
the produce and manufactures of their own country, by the caravans to
Palmyra, and by river navigation to the Euxine: and we have seen, that on
the capture of Palmyra, by Aurelian, silk was one of the articles of

We are now to take notice of the laws which were passed by the Romans for
the improvement of navigation and commerce; and in this part of our subject
we shall follow the same plan and arrangement which we have adopted in
treating of the commerce itself; that is, we shall give a connected view of
these laws, or at least the most important of them, from the period when
the Romans began to interest themselves in commerce, till the decline of
the empire.

These laws may be divided into three heads: first, laws relating to the
protection and privileges allowed to mariners by the Roman emperors;
secondly, laws relating to particular fleets; and lastly, laws relating to
particular branches of trade.

1. The fifth title of the thirteenth book of the Theodosian code of laws
entirely relates to the privileges of mariners. It appears, from this, that
by a law made by the Emperor Constans, and confirmed by Julian, protection
was granted to them from all personal injuries; and it was expressly
ordered, that they should enjoy perfect security, and be defended from all
sort of violence and injustice. The emperor Justinian considered this law
so indispensably necessary to secure the object which it had in view, that
he not only adopted it into his famous code, but decreed that whoever
should seize and apply the ships of mariners, against their wishes, to any
other purpose than that for which they were designed, should be punished
with death. In the same part of his code, he repeats and confirms a law of
the emperors Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian, inflicting death on any one
who should insult seafaring men. In another law, adopted into the same code
from the statutes of former emperors, judges and magistrates are forbidden,
on pain of death, to give them any manner of trouble. They were also
exempted from paying tribute, though the same law which exempts them, taxes
merchants. No person who had exercised any mean or dishonourable employment
was allowed to become a mariner; and the emperors Constantine and Julian
raised them to the dignity of knights, and, shortly afterwards, they were
declared capable of being admitted into the senate.

As a counterbalance to those privileges and honours, it appears, that
mariners, at least such of them as might be required for the protection of
the state, were obliged to conform themselves to certain rules and
conditions, otherwise the laws already quoted did not benefit them. They
were obliged to possess certain lands; and, indeed, it would seem that the
profession and privileges of a mariner depended on his retaining these
lands. When these lands were sold, the purchaser was obliged to perform
towards the state all those services which were required of a mariner, and
in return he obtained all the privileges, dignities, and exemptions granted
to that class of men. This, however, was productive of great inconvenience
to the state; since, if the lands were purchased by persons ignorant of
maritime affairs, they could not be so effective as persons accustomed to
the sea. From this consideration a law was passed, that when such lands as
were held on condition of sea-service passed into the possession of those
who were unaccustomed to the sea, they should revert to their original
owners. It was also ordered, that such privileged mariners should
punctually perform all services required of them by the state; that they
should not object to carry any particular merchandize; that they should not
take into their vessels above a certain quantity of goods, in order that
they might not, by being over laden, be rendered unfit for the service of
the state; and that they should not change their employment for any other,
even though it were more honourable or lucrative. The whole shipping, and
all the seamen, seem thus to have been entirely under the management and
controul of the state; there were, however, a few exceptions. Individuals,
who possessed influence sufficient, or from other causes, were permitted to
possess ships of their own, but only on the express condition that the
state might command them and the services of their crews, whenever it was
necessary. The legal rate of interest was fixed by Justinian at six per
cent.; but for the convenience and encouragement of trade, eight was
allowed on money lent to merchants and manufacturers; and twelve on the
risk of bottomry.

2. There are several laws in the Theodosian code which relate to the
different fleets of the empire: the Eastern fleet, the principal port of
which was Seleucia, a city of Syria, on the Orontes, by which were conveyed
to Rome and Constantinople, all the oriential merchandize that came by the
land route we have described to Syria, was particularly noticed, as well as
some smaller fleets depending on it, as the fleet of the island of
Carpathus. The privileges granted to the African fleet are expressly given
to the Eastern fleet.

In another part of the code of Justinian, the trade between the Romans and
Persians is regulated: the places were the fairs and markets are to be kept
are fixed and named; these were near the confines of the two kingdoms; and
these confines neither party was allowed to pass.

From a law of the emperor Constans, inserted in the Theodosian code, it
appears that some of the ships which came from Spain to Rome were freighted
for the service of the state; and these are particularly regulated and
privileged in this law.

There were several laws made also respecting the fleet which the emperors
employed for the purpose of collecting the tribute and revenue, and
conveying it to Home and Constantinople. The law of the emperors Leo and
Zeno, which is inserted in the Justinian code, mentions the fleet which was
kept to guard the treasures: and by another law, taken from the Theodosian
code, we learn, that the guards of the treasures, who went in this fleet,
were officers under the superintendent of the imperial revenue.

3. We have already mentioned the dependence of Rome on foreign nations for
corn, and the encouragement given, during the republic and in the early
times of the empire, to the importation of this necessary article. In the
Theodosian and Justinian code, encouragement to the importation of it seems
still to have been a paramount object, especially from Egypt; for though
from an edict of Justinian it would appear that the cargoes from this
country, of whatever they consisted, were guarded and encouraged by law,
yet we know that the principal freight of the ships which traded between
Alexandria and Rome and Constantinople was corn, and that other merchandize
was taken on board the corn fleets only on particular occasions, or, where
it was necessary, to complete the cargoes. Among the other edicts of
Justinian, regulating the trade of Egypt, there is one which seems to have
been passed in consequence of the abuses that had crept into the trade of
corn and other commodities, which were shipped from Alexandria for
Constantinople. These abuses arose from the management of this trade being
in the hands of a very few persons: the emperor therefore passed a law,
dividing the management into different branches, each to be held by
separate individuals. From the code of Justinian we also learn, that corn
was embarked from other ports of Egypt besides Alexandria, by private
merchants; but these were not permitted to export it without permission of
the emperor, and even then not till after the imperial fleet was fairly at
sea. The importance of the corn trade of Egypt fully justified these laws;
for at this period Constantinople was annually supplied with 260,000
quarters of wheat from this country.

The resources of the Romans were principally derived from the tribute
levied on the conquered countries; but in part also from duties on
merchandize: in the latter point of view, alone, they fall under our
notice. No custom duties seem to have been imposed till the time of
Augustus; but in his reign, and that of his immediate successors, duties
were imposed on every kind of merchandize which was imported into Rome; the
rate varied from the eighth to the fortieth part of the value of the
article. The most full and minute list of articles of luxury on which
custom duties were levied, is to be found in the rescript of the emperors
Marcus and Commodus, relating to the goods imported into Egypt from the
East. In the preamble to this rescript it is expressly declared, that no
blame shall attach to the collectors of the customs, for not informing the
merchant of the amount of the custom duties while the goods are in transit;
but if the merchant wishes to enter them, the officer is not to lead him
into error. The chief and most valuable articles on which, by this
rescript, duties were to be levied, were cinnamon, myrrh, pepper, ginger,
and aromatics; precious stones; Parthian and Babylonian leather; cottons;
silks, raw and manufactured: ebony, ivory, and eunuchs.

Till the reign of Justinian, the straits of the Bosphorus and Hellespont
were open to the freedom of trade, nothing being prohibited but the
exportation of arms for the service of the barbarians: but the avarice, or
the profusion of that emperor, stationed at each of the gates of
Constantinople a praetor, whose duty it was to levy a duty on all goods
brought into the city, while, on the other hand, heavy custom duties were
exacted on all vessels and merchandize that entered the harbour. This
emperor also exacted in a most rigorous manner, a duty in kind: which,
however, had existed long before his time: we allude to the annona, or
supply of corn for use of the army and capital. This was a grievous and
arbitrary exaction: rendered still more so "by the partial injustice of
weights and measures, and the expence and labour of distant carriage." In a
time of scarcity, Justinian ordered an extraordinary requisition of corn to
be levied on Thrace, Bithynia, and Phrygia; for which the proprietors, (as
Gibbon observes,) "after a wearisome journey, and a perilous navigation
received so inadequate a compensation, that they would have chosen the
alternative of delivering both the corn and price at the doors of their

Having thus given a connected and general view of the Roman commerce, we
shall next proceed to investigate the progress of geographical knowledge
among them. In our chronological arrangement of this progress, incidental
and detached notices respecting their commerce will occur, which, though
they could not well be introduced in the general view, yet will serve to
render the picture of it more complete.

It is evident that the principal accessions to geographical knowledge among
the Romans, at least till their ambition was satinted, or nearly so, by
conquest, must have been derived from their military expeditions. It is
only towards the time of Augustus that we find men, whose sole object in
visiting foreign countries was to become acquainted with their state,
manners, &c.

Polybius is one of the earliest authors who give us a glimpse of the state
of geographical knowledge among the Romans, about the middle of the second
century before Christ, the period when he flourished. lie was the great
friend of Scipio, whom he accompanied in his expedition against Carthage.
From his enquiries while in Africa, he informed himself of the geography of
the northern parts of that quarter of the world; and he actually visited
the coast as far as Mount Atlas, or Cape Nun, beyond which, however, he
does not seem to have proceeded. He wrote a Periplus, or account of his
voyage, which is not in existence, but is referred to and quoted by Pliny.
He possessed also more accurate information of the western coasts of Europe
than was had before; derived, it would appear, from the voyages of some
Romans. Yet, with all this knowledge of what we may deem distant parts,
Polybius was ignorant of the real shape of Italy, which he describes as
stretching from east to west; a mistake which seems to have originated with
him, and was copied by Strabo.

Varro, who was Pompey's lieutenant during the war against the pirates, and
obtained a naval crown on that occasion, among the almost infinite variety
of topics on which he wrote, was the author of a work on navigation;
unfortunately, however, only the title of it is extant: had it yet
remained, it would have thrown much light on the state of navigation,
geography, and commerce among the Romans in his time.

Julius Caesar's attention to science in the midst of his wars and perils is
well known. He first formed the idea of a general survey of the whole
empire; and for this purpose obtained a decree of the senate. The survey
was finished by Augustus: the execution of it was committed to three Greek
geographers. The survey of the eastern portion of the empire was committed
to Zenodoxus, who completed it, in fourteen years, five months, and nine
days. The northern division was finished by Theodoras in twenty years,
eight months, and ten days: and the southern division was finished in
twenty-five years, one month, and ten days. This survey, with the
supplementary surveys of the new provinces, as they were conquered and
added to the empire, formed the basis of the geography of Ptolemy. It
appears from Vegetius, that every governor of a province was furnished with
a description of it, in which were given the distance of places, the nature
of the roads, the face of the country, the direction of the rivers, &c.: he
adds, that all these were delineated on a map as well as described in
writing. Of this excellent plan for the itineraries and surveys of the
Roman empire, from which the ancient geographers obtained their fullest and
most accurate information, Julius Cæsar was the author.

Julius Cæsar certainly added much to geographical knowledge by his
conquests of Gaul and Britain: his information respecting the latter,
however, as might be expected, is very erroneous. Yet, that even its very
northern parts were known by name to the Romans soon after his death, is
apparent, from this circumstance, that Diodorus Siculus, who died towards
the middle of the reign of Augustus, mentions Orkas; which, he says, forms
the northern extremity of the island of Britain. This is the very first
mention of any place in Scotland by any writer.

One of the first objects of Augustus, after he had reduced Egypt, was to
explore the interior of Africa, either for the purpose of conquest, or to
obtain the precious commodities, especially frankincense and aromatics,
which he had learned were the produce of those countries. Ælius Gallus was
selected by the emperor for this expedition, and he was accompanied by the
geographer Strabo; who, however, has not given such accurate information of
the route which was pursued as might have been expected. This is the more
to be lamented, as Pliny informs us that the places which were visited
during this expedition are not to be found in authors previous to his time.

Gallus was directed by the emperor to explore Ethiopia, the country of the
Troglodytæ and Arabia. The expedition against Ethiopia, which Gallus
entrusted to Petronius, we shall afterwards examine, confining ourselves at
present to the proceedings and progress of Gallus himself. His own force
consisted of 10,000 men, to which were added 500, supplied by Herod, king
of the Jews; and 1000 Nabathians from Petra; besides a fleet of eighty
ships of war and 130 transports. Syllæus, the minister of the king of the
Nabathians, undertook to conduct the expedition; but as it was not for the
interest either of his king or country that it should succeed, he betrayed
his trust, and, according to Strabo, was executed at Rome for his treachery
on this occasion. His object was to delay the expedition as much as
possible: this he effected by persuading Gallus to prepare a fleet, which
was unnecessary, as the army might have followed the route of the caravans,
through a friendly country, from Cleopatris, where the expedition
commenced, to the head of the Elanitic Gulf. The troops, however, were
embarked, and, as the navigation of the Sea of Suez was intricate, the
fleet was fifteen days in arriving at Leuke Kome: here, in consequence of
the soldiers having become, during their voyage, afflicted with various
disorders, and the year being far advanced, Gallus was obliged to remain
till the spring. Another delay was contrived by Syllæus on their leaving
Leuke Kome. After this, they seem to have proceeded with more celerity, and
with very little opposition from the natives, till they came to a city of
some strength: this they were obliged to besiege in regular form; but,
after lying before it for six days, Gallus was forced, for want of water,
to raise the siege, and to terminate the expedition. He was told that at
this time he was within two days' journey of the land of aromatics and
frankincense, the great object which Augustus had in view. On his retreat,
he no longer trusted to Syllæus, but changed the route of the army,
directing it from the interior to the coast. At Nera, in Petræa, the army
embarked, and was eleven days in crossing the gulf to Myos Hormos: from
this place it traversed the country of the Troglodytes to Coptus, on the
Nile. Two years were spent in this unfortunate expedition. It is extremely
difficult to fix on the limit of this expedition, but it is probable that
the town which Gallus besieged, and beyond which he did not penetrate, was
the capital of the Mineans. From the time of this expedition, the Romans
always maintained a footing on the coast of the Red Sea; and either during
the residence of Gallus at Leuke Kome, or soon afterwards, they placed a
garrison in this place, where they collected the customs, gradually
extending their conquests and their geographical knowledge down the Gulf,
till they reached the ocean. This seems to have been the only beneficial
consequence resulting from the expedition of Gallus.

We must now attend to the expedition of Petronius against the Ethiopians.
This was completely successful, and Candakè, their queen, was obliged, as a
token of her submission, to send ambassadors to Augustus, who was at that
time in the island of Samos. About this period the commerce of the
Egyptians,--which, in fact, was the commerce of the Romans,--was extended
to the Troglodytes,--with whom previously they had carried on little or no

The first account of the island of Ceylon, under the name of Taprobane, was
brought to Europe by the Macedonians, who had accompanied Alexander into
the east. It is mentioned, and a short description given of it, by
Onesicritus and Eratosthenes. Iambulus, however, who lived in the time of
Augustus, is the first author who enters into any details regarding it; and
though much of what he states is undoubtedly fabulous, yet there are
particulars surprizingly correct, and such as confirm his own account, that
he actually, visited the island. According to Diodorus Siculus, he was the
son of a merchant, and a merchant himself; and while trading in Arabia for
spices, he was taken prisoner and carried into Arabia, whence he was
carried off by the Ethiopians, and put into a ship, which was driven by the
monsoon to Ceylon. The details he mentions, that are most curious and most
conformable to truth, are the stature of the natives and the flexibility of
their joints; the length of their ears, bored and pendant; the perpetual
verdure of the trees; the attachment of the natives to astronomy; their
worship of the elements, and particularly of the sun and moon; their cotton
garments; the men having one wife in common; the days and nights being
equal in length; and the Calamus, or Maiz. It is extraordinary, howeve'r,
that Iambulus never mentions cinnamon, which, as he was a dealer in spices,
it might have been supposed would have attracted his particular attention.

One of the most celebrated geographers among the ancients, flourished
during the reign of Augustus;--we allude to Strabo: his fundamental
principles are, the globosity of the earth, and its centripetal force; he
also lays down rules for constructing globes, but he seems ignorant of the
mode of fixing the position of places by their latitude or longitude, or,
at least, he neglects it. In order to render his geographical knowledge
more accurate and complete, he travelled over most of the countries between
Armenia on the east and Etruria on the west, and from his native country,
on the borders of the Euxine sea, to the borders of Ethiopia. The portion
of the globe which he describes, is bounded on the north by the Baltic, on
the east by the Ganges, on the south by the mouth of the river Senegal, and
on the west by Spain. In describing the countries which he himself had
visited, he is generally very accurate, but his accounts of those he had
not visited, are frequently erroneous or very incomplete. His information
respecting Ceylon and the countries of the Ganges, seems to have been
derived entirely from the statements brought to Europe by the generals of

In the reign of Claudius, the knowledge of the Romans respecting the
interior of Africa, was slightly extended by the expedition of Suetonius
Paulinus; he was the first Roman who crossed Mount Atlas, and during the
winter penetrated through the deserts, which are described as formed of
black dust, till he reached a river called the Niger. Paulinus wrote an
account of this expedition, which, however, is not extant: Pliny quotes it.
In the reign of Claudius, also, the island of Ceylon became better known,
in consequence of an accident which happened to the freedman of a Roman,
who farmed the customs in the Red Sea. This man, in the execution of his
duty, was blown off the coast of Arabia, across the ocean to Taprobane, or
Ceylon; here he was hospitably received by the king, and after a residence
of six months was sent back, along with ambassadors, to Claudius. They
informed the emperor that their country was very extensive, populous, and
opulent, abounding in gold, silver, and pearls. It seems probable that the
circumstance of the freedman having been carried to Ceylon by a steady and
regular wind, and this man and the ambassadors having returned by a wind
directly opposite, but as steady and regular, had some influence in the
discovery of the monsoon. As this discovery led necessarily to a direct
communication between Africa and India, and grea'ly enlarged the knowledge
of the Romans respecting the latter country, as well as their commercial
connections with it, it will be proper to notice it in a particular manner.

This important discovery is supposed to have been made in the seventh year
of the reign of Claudius, answering to the forty-seventh of the Christian
era. The following is the account given of it by the author of the Periplus
of the Erythrean Sea, as translated by Dr. Vincent:

"The whole navigation, such as it has been described from Adan in Arabia
Felix and Kanè to the ports of India, was performed formerly in small
vessels, by adhering to the shore and following the indention of the coast;
but Hippalus was the pilot who first discovered the direct course across
the ocean, by observing the position of the ports and the general
appearance of the sea; for, at the season when the annual winds peculiar to
our climate settle in the north, and blow for a continuance upon our coast
from the Mediterranean, in the Indian ocean the wind is constantly to the
south west; and this wind has in those seas obtained the name of Hippalus,
from the pilot who first attempted the passage by means of it to the east.

"From the period of that discovery to the present time, vessels bound to
India take their departure either from Kanè on the Arabian, or from Cape
Arometa on the African side. From these points they stretch out to the open
sea at once, leaving all the windings of the gulfs and bays at a distance,
and make directly for their several destinations on the coast of India.
Those that are intended for Limurike waiting some time before they sail,
but those that are destined for Barugaza, or Scindi, seldom more than three

If we may credit Pliny, the Greek merchants of Egypt for some years after
the discovery of the monsoon, did not venture further out to sea than was
absolutely necessary, by crossing the widest part of the entry of the
Persian Gulf, to reach Patala at the mouth of the Indus; but they
afterwards found shorter routes, or rather stretched more to the south, so
as to reach lower down on the coast of India: they also enlarged their
vessels, carried cargoes of greater value, and in order to beat off the
pirates, which then as at present infested this part of the Indian coast,
they put on board their vessels a band of archers. Myos Hormos, or
Berenice, was the port on the Red Sea from which they sailed; in forty days
they arrived at Musiris, on the west coast of India. The homeward passage
was begun in December or January, when the north east monsoon commenced;
this carried them to the entrance of the Red Sea, up which to their port
they were generally favored by southerly winds.

As there is no good reason to believe that the ancients made regular
voyages to India, previously to the discovery of the monsoons; yet, as it
is an undoubted fact that some of the exclusive productions of that
country, particularly cinnamon, were obtained by them, through their
voyages on the Red Sea; it becomes an important and interesting enquiry, by
what means these productions were brought to those places on this sea, from
which the Romans obtained them. In our opinion, the Arabians were the first
who introduced Indian productions into the west from the earliest period to
which history goes back, and they continued to supply the merchants who
traded on the Red Sea with them, till, by the discovery of the monsoon, a
direct communication was opened between that sea and India.

At least seventeen centuries before the Christian era, we have undoubted
evidence of the traffic of the Arabians in the spices, &c. of India; for in
the 27th chapter of Genesis we learn, that the Ishmaelites from Gilead
conducted a caravan of camels laden with the spices of India, and the
balsam and myrrh of Hadraumaut, in the regular course of traffic to Egypt
for sale. In the 30th chapter of Exodus, cinnamon, cassia, myrrh,
frankincense, &c. are mentioned, some of which are the exclusive produce of
India; these were used for religious purposes, but at the same time the
quantities of them specified are so great, that it is evident they must
have been easily obtained. Spices are mentioned, along with balm and other
productions of Canaan, in the present destined by Jacob for Joseph. These
testimonies from holy writ are perfectly in unison with what we learn from
Herodotus; this author enumerates oriental spices as regularly used in
Egypt for embalming the dead.

It is sufficiently evident, therefore, that, at a very early period, the
productions of India were imported into Egypt. That the Arabians were the
merchants who imported them, is rendered highly probable from several
circumstances. The Ishmaelites, mentioned in the 37th chapter of Genesis,
are undoubtedly the Nabathians, whose country is represented by all the
geographers, historians, and poets, as the source of all the precious
commodities of the east; the ancients, erroneously supposing that cinnamon,
which we know to be an exclusive production of India, was the produce of
Arabia, because they were supplied with it, along with other aromatics,
from that country. The proof that the Nabathians and the Ishmaelites are
the same, is to be found in the evident derivation of the former name, from
Nebaioth, the son of Ishmael. The traditions of the Arabians coincide with
the genealogy of the Scriptures, in regarding Joktan, the fourth son of
Shem, as the origin of those trihes which occupied Sabæa and Hadraumaut, or
the incense country; Ishmael as the father of the families which settled in
Arabia Deserta; and Edom as the ancestor of the Idumeans, who settled in
Arabia Petræa.

Eight hundred years before the Christian era, the merchandize of the
Sabeans is particularly noticed by the prophet Isaiah; and even long before
his time, we are informed, that there were no such spices as the Queen of
Sheba gave to Solomon. That Sheba is Sabæa, or Arabia Felix, we learn from
Ezekiel:--"The merchants of Sheba and Ramah, they were thy merchants: they
occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious
stones and gold." Six hundred and fifty years after Isaiah bore his
testimony to the commerce of Sabæa, we have the authority of Agatharcides,
that the merchants of this country traded to India; that the great wealth
and luxury of Sabæa were principally derived from this trade; and that, at
the time when Egypt possessed the monopoly of the Indian trade, with
respect to Europe, the Sabeans enjoyed a similar advantage with regard to

Having thus established the fact, that, from the earliest period of which
we have any record, the Arabians were the merchants who brought the
cinnamon, &c. of India into the west, we must, in the next place, endeavour
to ascertain by what means and route this commerce was carried on; and we
think we can prove that the communication between Arabia and India, at a
very early period, was both by sea and land.

There were many circumstances connected with Arabia and the Arabians, which
would necessarily turn their thoughts to maritime affairs, and when they
had once embarked in maritime commerce, would particularly direct it to
India. The sea washed three sides of the peninsula of Arabia: the Arabians
were not, like the Egyptians, prejudiced, either by their habits or their
religion, against the sea. The monsoons must have been perceived by them,
from part of the sea-coast lying within their influence; and it can hardly
be supposed that a sea-faring people would not take advantage of them, to
embark in such a lucrative trade as that of India. "There is no history
which treats of them which does not notice them as pirates, or merchants,
by sea, as robbers, or traders, by land. We scarcely touch upon them,
accidentally, in any author, without finding that they were the carriers of
the Indian Ocean." From the earliest period that history begins to notice
them, Sabæa, Hadraumaut, and Oman, are described as the residences of
navigators; and as these places are, in the earliest historians, celebrated
for their maritime commerce, it is reasonable to suppose that they were
equally so before the ancient historians acquired any knowledge of them.

We cannot go farther back, with respect to the fact of the Arabians being
in India, than the voyage of Nearchus; but in the journal of this
navigator, we find manifest traces of Arabian navigators on the coast of
Mekran, previous to his expedition: he also found proofs of their commerce
on the coast of Gadrosia, and Arabic names of places--a pilot to direct
him, and vessels of the country in the Gulf of Persia. Large ships from the
Indus, Patala, Persis, and Karmania came to Arabia, as early as the time of
Agatharcides; and it is probable that these ships were navigated by
Arabians, as the inhabitants of India were not, at this time, and, indeed,
never have been celebrated for their maritime enterprize and skill. The
same author mentions a town, a little without the Red Sea, from whence, he
says, the Sabeans sent out colonies or factories into India, and to which
the large ships he describes came with their cargoes from India. This is
the first historical evidence to prove the establishment of Arabian
factories and merchants in the ports of India. In the time of Pliny, the
Arabians were in such numbers on the coast of Malabar, and at Ceylon, that,
according to that author, the inhabitants of the former had embraced their
religion, and the ports of the latter were entirely in their power. Their
settlements and commerce in India are repeatedly mentioned in the Periplus
of the Erythrean Sea, and likewise their settlements down the coast of
Africa to Rhaptum, before it was visited by the Greeks from Egypt. For,
besides their voyages from India to their own country, they frequently
brought Indian commodities direct to the coast of Africa. At Sabaea, the
great mart of the Arabian commerce with India, the Greeks, as late as the
reign of Philometor, purchased the spices and other productions of the
east. As there was a complete monopoly of them at this place, in the hands
of the Arabians, the Greek navigators and merchants were induced, in the
hopes of obtaining them cheaper, to pass the Straits of Babelmandeb, and on
the coast of Africa they found cinnamon and other produce of India, which
had been brought hither by the Arabian traders.

The evidence of the land trade between Arabia and India, from a very early
period, is equally clear and decisive: Petra, the capital of Arabia Petrea,
was the centre of this trade. To it the caravans, in all ages, came from
Minea, in the interior of Arabia, and from Gherra, in the Gulf of
Persia,--from Hadraumaut, on the Ocean, and some even from Sabaea. From
Petra, the trade again spread in every direction--to Egypt, Palestine, and
Syria, through Arsinoe, Gaza, Tyre, Jerusalem, Damascus, and other places
of less consequence, all lying on routes terminating in the Mediterranean.

The Gherrheans, who were a Babylonian colony settled in that part of
Arabia, which extends along the south coast of the Persian Gulf, are the
earliest conductors of caravans upon record. They are first mentioned by
Agatharcides, who compares their wealth with that of the Sabeans, and
describes them as the agents for all the precious commodities of Asia and
Europe: he adds that they brought much wealth into Syria, and furnished a
variety of articles, which were afterwards manufactured or resold by the
Phoenicians. But the only route by which Syria and Phoenicia could have
been supplied by them, was through Petra. The particular articles with
which their caravans were loaded, according to Strabo, were the produce of
Arabia, and the spices of India. Besides the route of their caravans,
across the whole peninsula to Petra, it appears that they sometimes carried
their merchandize in boats up the Euphrates to Babylon, or even 240 miles
higher up, to Thapsacus, and thence dispersed it in all directions by land.

The exact site of the country of the Mineans cannot be certainly fixed; but
it is probable that it was to the south of Hedjaz, to the north of
Hadraumaut, and to the eastward of Sabaea. According to Strabo, their
caravans passed in seventy days from Hadraumaut to Aisla, which was within
ten miles of Petra. They were laden with aloes, gold, myrrh, frankincense,
and other aromatics.

We can but faintly and obscurely trace the fluctuations in the trade of
Petra, in the remote periods of history. We know that Solomon was in
possession of Idumea, but whether it was subdued by Nebuchadnezzar is
doubtful. This sovereign, however, seems to have formed some plan of
depriving the Gherrheans of the commerce of the Gulf of Persia. He raised a
mound to confine the waters of the Tigris: he built a city to stop the
incursions of the Arabs, and opened a communication between the rivers
Tigris and Euphrates. After this there is no account of Idumea till some
years subsequent to the death of Alexander the Great: at this period two
expeditions were sent into it against its capital, Petra, by Antigonus,
both of which were unsuccessful. These expeditions were undertaken about
the years 308 and 309 before Christ. The history of Idumea, from this
period, is better ascertained: harassed by the powerful kingdoms of Syria
and Egypt,--contiguous to both of which it lay,--it seems to have been
governed by princes of its own, who were partly independent, and partly
under the influence of the monarchs of Syria and Egypt. About sixty-three
years before Christ, Pompey took Petra; and, from that period, the
sovereigns of Idumea were tributary to the Romans. This city, however,
still retained its commerce, and was in a flourishing condition, as we are
informed by Strabo, on the authority of his friend Athenedorus, who visited
it about thirty-six years after it. He describes it as built on a rock,
distinguished, however, from all the rocks in that part of Arabia, from
being supplied with an abundant spring of water. Its natural position, as
well as art, rendered it a fortress of importance in the desert. He
represents the people as rich, civilized, and peaceable; the government as
regal, but the chief power as lodged in a minister selected by the king,
who had the title of the king's brother. Syllaeus, who betrayed Elius
Gallus, appears to have been a minister of this description.

The next mention that occurs of the trade of Petra is in the Periplus of
the Erythrean Sea, the date of which, though uncertain, there is good
reason to fix in Nero's reign. According to this work, Leuke Kome, at the
mouth of the Elanitic Gulf, was the point of communication with Petra, the
capital of the country, the residence of Malachus, the king of the
Nabathians. "Leuke Kome, itself, had the rank of a mart in respect to the
small vessels which obtained their cargoes in Arabia, for which reason
there was a garrison placed in it, under the command of a centurion, both
for the purpose of protection, and in order to collect a duty of
twenty-five in the hundred." In the reign of Trajan, Idumea was reduced
into the form of a Roman province, by one of his generals; after this time
it not does fall within our plan to notice it, except merely to state, that
its subjection does not seem to have been complete or permanent, for during
the latter empire, there were certainly sovereigns of this part of Arabia,
in some degree independent, whose influence and alliance were courted by
the Romans and Persians, whenever a war was about to commence between these
two powers.

From this sketch of the trade of the Arabians from the earliest period, we
may conclude, in the first place, that when navigation was in its infancy,
it was confined, or almost entirely so, to a land trade carried on by
caravans; and that Petra was the centre to which these caravans tended from
the east and the south, bringing with them from the former the commodities
of India, and from the latter the commodities of the more fertile part of
Arabia. From Petra, all these goods were again transported by land to the
shores of the Mediterranean and to Egypt. In the second place, when
navigation became more commonly known and practised, (and there is good
reason to believe that it was known and practised among the Arabians,
especially those near the Persian Gulf, at a very early period,) a portion
of the Indian commodities, which before had been carried by land to Petra
were brought by sea to Sabaea. It appears that in the age of Agatharcides,
the monopoly of the trade between India and Europe by this route was wholly
possessed by the Sabeans; that, in order to evade the effects of this
monopoly, the Greeks of Egypt found their way to Aden and Hadraumaut, in
Arabia, and to Mosullon on the coast of Africa. Here they met with other
Arabians, who at this time also traded to India, and sold them Indian goods
at a cheaper rate. And, lastly, we have seen that these ports on the
southern coast of Arabia, and on the coast of Africa, were frequented by
the merchants of Egypt, till, by the discovery of the monsoon, their ships
were enabled to sail directly to India. It is undoubtedly true that before
this discovery, single ships occasionally reached India by adhering to the
coast all the way, but the direct communication was very rare. After the
nature of the monsoon was thoroughly understood, and it was ascertained
that complete dependence could be placed on its steadiness and regularity,
and that by its change, the ships could be brought as safely and quickly
back from India, as they had reached it, the ancients, who at first only
ventured to the mouth of the Indus, gradually made their way down the
western coast of the Indian peninsula.

The Periplus of the Erythrean Sea, a work which has been frequently
referred to, is rich in materials to illustrate the geographical knowledge
and the commercial enterprize of the ancients in the part of the world to
which it relates. We have already assigned its date to the age of Nero. Our
limits will prevent us from giving a full account of this work; we shall
therefore, in the first place, give a short abstract of the geographical
knowledge which it displays, and in the next place, illustrate from it, the
nature of the commerce carried on, on the Red Sea, the adjacent coasts of
Africa and Arabia, and the ports of India, which are noticed in it.

At the time of Strabo, the geography of the ancients did not extend, on the
eastern coast of Africa, further to the south than a promontory called Noti
Cornu, (the Southern Horn,) which seems to have been in about 12-1/2
degrees north latitude. Beyond this an arid coast, without ports or fresh
water, arrested the progress of navigation; but it appears by the Periplus,
that this promontory was now passed, and commerce had extended to the port
of Rhapta and the isle of Menutias, which are supposed to correspond with
Babel Velho and the island of Magadoxa. The author of the Periplus, who
seems to have been a merchant personally acquainted with most of the places
he describes, had heard of, but not visited the promontory Prasum: he
represents the ocean beyond Rhapta as entirely unknown, but as believed to
continue its western direction, and after having washed the south coast of
Ethiopia, to join the Western Ocean. The whole of the west coast of India,
from the Indus to Trapobane, is minutely described in the Periplus. Some of
the particulars of the manners and customs of the inhabitants coincide in a
striking manner with those of the present day; this observation applies,
among other points, to the pirates between Bombay and Goa.

Dr. Vincent, in his learned commentary on the Periplus, gives it as his
opinion, that the author of the Periplus never went further than Nelkundah
himself, that is, to the boundary between the provinces of Canara and
Malabar. The east coast of the Indian peninsula is not traced so minutely
nor so accurately as the west coast, though there are names and
descriptions in the Periplus, from which it may fairly be inferred, that
the author alludes to Cavary, Masulapatam, Calingapatam, Coromandel, and
other places and districts of this part of India. The countries beyond the
Ganges, the Golden Chersonese, and the countries towards China, are very
obscurely noticed in the Periplus, though the information he gives
respecting the trade carried on in these parts is much more minute and
accurate. His description of the direction of the coast of India, is on the
whole, surprisingly consonant to truth: according to him, it tends from
north to south, as far as Colchos (Travancore); at this place it bends to
the east, and afterwards to the north; and then again a little to the east,
as far as the Ganges. He is the first author in whom can clearly be traced
the name of the great southern division of India: his term is
Dachanabades,--Dachan signifying south, and abad a city; and Decan is still
the general name of all the country to the south of Baroche, the boundary
assigned by the author. The particulars he mentions of the bay of Cutch, of
Cambay, of Baroche, and of the Ghauts, may also be mentioned as proofs of
his accuracy with respect to those parts of India, which he visited in

Having thus given a sketch of the geographical knowledge contained the
Periplus, we shall next attend to the commercial information which it
conveys. As this work is divided into two distinct parts, the first
comprising the coast of the Red Sea, and of Africa, from Myos Hormos on the
former, to Rhapta in the latter: and the second part, beginning at the same
place, and including the whole coast of Arabia, both that which lies on the
Red Sea, and that which lies on the Ocean, and then stretching from the
Gulf of Persia to Guzerat, describing the coast of Malabar, as far as
Ceylon, we shall, in our abstract of the commercial intelligence it
contains, enumerate the principal imports and exports of the most
frequented marts in Africa, (including the Red Sea,) Arabia, and India.

I. The Red Sea and Africa. Myos Hormos is described as the first port of
Egypt on the Red Sea; as it lies in twenty-seven degrees north latitude,
and Rhapta, the boundary of the Periplus to the south, in nearly ten
degrees south latitude, the distance between them will be about 2,500
miles. It is to be supposed, that every thing relating to the geography,
navigation, and commerce of the Red Sea, from Myos Hormos to Aduli, on the
western side, and Moosa, on the eastern side of it, was well known to the
merchants of Egypt, as the author of the Periplus gives no circumstantial
account of any port, till he arrives at these places. It appears, also,
that till the ships arrived at these places, they kept the mid-channel of
the Red Sea, and, consequently, there was no occasion, or indeed,
opportunity of describing the intermediate ports. We have already
mentioned, that Myos Hormos was fixed on by Ptolemy Philadelphus, in
preference to Arsinoe, because the navigation of the western part of the
Red Sea, on which the latter was placed, was intricate and tedious.
Berenice was afterwards selected, as being still lower down: but it is
worthy of remark, that neither Berenice, nor Ptolemais Theron, another port
of the Ptolemies, were harbours, but merely roadsteads, though from our
author's description, there were an almost infinite number of safe
harbours, creeks, bays, &c. in every part of the Red Sea.

Aduli, the first port on the west side of the Red Sea, and the port of
communication with Axuma, was, in the age of the Periplus, subject to the
same prince, who possessed the whole coast, from Berenice. The exports from
this place were confined to ivory, brought from the interior on both sides
of the Nile; the horns of the rhinoceros, and tortoise-shell. The imports
were very numerous, forming an assortment, as Dr. Vincent justly observes,
as specific as a modern invoice: the principal articles were, cloth,
manufactured in Egypt, unmilled, for the Barbarian market. The term,
Barbarii, was applied to the Egyptians, to the whole western coast of the
Red Sea, and was derived from Barbar, the native name of the country
inhabited by the Troglodytes, Icthyophagi, and shepherds: as these were
much hated and dreaded by the Egyptians, Barbarii became a term of reproach
and dread, and in this sense it was adopted by the Greeks and Romans, and
has passed into the modern European languages. But to return from this
digression,--the other imports were robes, manufactured at Arsinoe; cloths
dyed, so as to imitate the Tyrian purple; linens, fringed mantles, glass or
crystal, murrhine cups, orichalchum, or mixed metal for trinkets and coin;
brass vessels for cooking, the pieces of which, when they happened to be
broken, were worn by the women as ornaments; iron, for weapons and other
purposes; knives, daggers, hatchets, &c.; brass bowls, wine, oil, gold and
silver plate, camp cloaks, and cover-lids: these formed the principal
articles of import from Myos Hormos, and as they are very numerous,
compared with the exports, it seems surprising that coin should also have
been imported, but that this was the case, we are expressly told by the
author of the Periplus, who particularizes Roman currency, under the name
of Denarii. The following articles imported into Aduli, must have come
through Arabia, from India: Indian iron; Indian cottons; coverlids, and
sashes made of cotton; cotton cloth, dyed the colour of the mallow-flower,
and a few muslins.

The Periplus next passes without the Straits of Babelmandeb: on the African
side, four principal marts are mentioned, to all of which the epithet of
Tapera, is applied, signifying their position beyond the straits. The first
of these marts is Abalitis: as this place had no port, goods were conveyed
to the ships in boats and rafts; they were also employed by the natives, in
carrying on a trade with the opposite ports of Arabia: what they imported
from Arabia, is not specified; but they exported thither gums, a small
quantity of ivory, tortoise-shell, and myrrh of the finest quality. This
last article being purchased by the Greek merchants, in Sabæa, was regarded
by them as a native production of that part of Arabia, when, in reality, as
we learn from the Periplus, it was the produce of Africa. There were
imported into Abalitis, from Egypt, flint glass, and glass vessels
unsorted; unripe grapes from Diospolis, which were used to make the rob of
grapes; unmilled cloths, for the Barbaric market; corn, wine, and tin; the
last article must have come from Britain.

The next mart is Malao, likewise a roadstead; the imports were the same as
those of Abalitis, with the addition of tunics; cloaks manufactured at
Arsinoe, milled and dyed; iron, and a small quantity of specie: the exports
were, myrrh, frankincense, cassia, inferior cinnamon, substituted for the
oriential; gum, and a few slaves. The only article of export peculiar to
the third mart, Mundus, was a fragrant gum, which seems to have grown only
in its vicinity.

The fourth and last mart mentioned as lying on the African side of the
channel, which opens from the Straits of Babelmandeb, is Mosullon; this was
the most important mart on the whole coast, and that which gave a specific
name to the trade of the ancients: the imports were numerous, comprising,
besides those already mentioned, some that were peculiar to this place,
such as vessels of silver, a small quantity of iron, and flint glass: the
exports were, cinnamon, of an inferior quality; the quantity of this
article is noticed as so great, that larger vessels were employed in the
trade of this port, expressly for conveying it, than were seen in the other
ports of Africa. We are informed by Pliny, that Mosullon was a great market
for cinnamon,--and it would seem, from its being conveyed in large vessels
by sea, that it came from Arabia. The cinnamon mentioned in the Periplus,
is, indeed, particularized as of an inferior quality, which is directly at
variance with the authority of Dioscorides, who expressly states that the
Mosulletic species is one of prime quality; if this were the case, it must
have been Indian. The other exports were gums, drugs, tortoise-shell,
incense, frankincense, brought from distant places; ivory, and a small
quantity of myrrh. The abundance of aromatic articles, which the Greeks
procured on this part of the coast, induced them to give the name of
Aromatic to the whole country, and particularly to the town and promontory
at the eastern extremity of it. Cape Aromata, the Gardefan of the moderns,
is not only the extreme point east of the continent of Africa, but also
forms the southern point of entrance on the approach to the Red Sea, and is
the boundary of the monsoon. At the marts between Mosullon and this Cape,
no articles of commerce are specified, except frankincense, in great
abundance and of the best quality, at Alkannai. At the Cape itself, there
was a mart, with an exposed roadsted; and to the south of it, was another
mart; from both these, the principal exports consisted of various kinds of

At Aromata, the Barbaria of the ancients, or the Adel of the moderns,
terminates; and the coast of Azania, or Agan, begins. The first mart on
this coast is Opone, from which there were exported, besides the usual
aromatics and other articles, slaves of a superior description, chiefly for
the Egyptian market, and tortoise-shell, also of a superior sort, and in
great abundance. There was nothing peculiar in the imports. In this part of
his work, the author of the Periplus, mentions and describes the annual
voyage between the coast of Africa and India: after enumerating the
articles imported from the latter country, which consisted chiefly of corn,
rice, butter; oil of Sesanum; cotton, raw and manufactured sashes; and
honey from the cane, called sugar; he adds, that "many vessels are employed
in this commerce, expressly for the importation of these articles, and
others, which have a more distant destination, sell part of their cargoes
on this coast, and take in the produce in return." This seems to be the
first historical evidence of a commercial intercourse between India and
Africa, independent of the voyages of the Arabians; and as the parts from
which the ships sailed to India, lay within the limits of the monsoon, it
most probably was accomplished by means of it, and directly from land to
land, without coasting round by the Gulf of Persia. The ports on the west
coast of India, to which the trade was carried on, were Ariake and
Barugaza, in Guzerat and Concan.

No mart is mentioned after Opone, till we arrive at Rhapta. This place was
so named by the Greeks, because the ships employed by the inhabitants were
raised from a bottom composed of a single piece of wood, and the sides were
sewed to it, instead of being nailed. In order to preserve the sewing, the
whole outside was covered over with some of the gums of the country. It is
a circumstance worthy of notice, that when the Portuguese first visited
this coast, they found ships of exactly the same materials and
construction. At Rhapta, the customs were farmed by the merchants of Moosa,
though it was subject to one of the princes of Yeman. Arabian commanders
and supercargoes were always employed in their ships, from their experience
in the navigation: the imports of Rhapta were, lances, principally
manufactured at Moosa; axes, knives, awls, and various kinds of glass: the
exports were, ivory, inferior to the Aduli ivory, but cheap, and in great
abundance; the horns of the rhinoceros, tortoise shell, superior to any of
this coast, but not equal to the Indian; and an article called Nauplius,
the nature of which is not known.

At the period when the Periplus was written, the coast was unknown beyond
Rhapta; at this place, therefore, the journal of this voyage terminates;
but this place, there is every reason to believe that the author visited in

The commencement of the second voyage is from Berenice: from this port he
conducts us to Myos Hormos, and there across the Red Sea to Leuke Kome in
Arabia. This port we have already noticed as in the possession of the
Romans, and forming the point of communication with Petra. We have also
stated from our author, that at Leuke Kome the Romans kept a garrison, and
collected a duty of twenty-five per cent. on the goods imported and
exported. From it to the coast below Burnt Island, there was no trade
carried on, in consequence of the dangers of the navigation from rocks, the
want of harbours, the poverty and barbarism of the natives, who seem to
have been pirates, and the want of produce and manufactures.

In the farthest bay of the east or Arabian coast of the Red Sea, about
thirty miles from the straits, was Moosa, the regular mart of the country,
established, protected, and privileged as such by the government. It was
not a harbour, but a road with good anchorage on a sandy bottom. The
inhabitants were Arabians, and it was much resorted to by merchants, both
on account of the produce and manufactures of the adjacent country, and on
account of its trade to India. The imports into Moosa were principally
purple cloth of different qualities and prices; garments made in the
Arabian manner, with sleeves, plain and mixed; saffron; an aromatic rush
used in medicine; muslins, cloaks, quilts, but only a few plain, and made
according to the fashion of the country; sashes of various colours; some
corn and wine, and coin to pay for the balance of trade. In order to
ingratiate the sovereigns of the country, horses, mules, gold plate, silver
plate richly embossed, splendid robes, and brass goods were also imported,
expressly as presents to them. One of these sovereigns was styled the
friend of the Roman emperors. Embassies were frequently sent to him from
Rome, and it is probable that for him the presents were chiefly designed.
The exports from Moosa were myrrh of the best quality, gum, and very pure
and white alabaster, of which boxes were made; there was likewise exported
a variety of articles, the produce and manufacture of Aduli, which were
brought from that place to Moosa.

We are next directed to the ports beyond the Straits of Babelmandeb. The
wind in passing them is described as violent, coming on in sudden and
dangerous squalls, in consequence of its confinement between the two capes
which formed the entrance to the straits. The first place beyond them,
about 120 miles to the east, described in the Periplus, is a village called
Arabia Felix: this, there is every reason to believe, is Aden. It is
represented in the Periplus as having been a place of great importance
before the fleets sailed directly from India to Egypt, or from Egypt to the
east. Till this occurred, the fleets from the east met in this harbour the
fleets from Egypt. This description and account of it exactly corresponds
with what Agatharcides relates: he says it received its name of Eudaimon,
(_fortunate,_) on account of the ships from India and Egypt meeting
there, before the merchants of Egypt had the courage to venture further
towards the eastern marts. Its importance seems to have continued in some
degree till it was destroyed by the Romans, probably in the time of
Claudius: the object and reason of this act was to prevent the trade, which
in his time had begun to direct its course to India, from reverting to this

About 200 miles to the east of Aden was the port of Kane. The country in
its vicinity is represented as producing a great quantity of excellent
frankincense, which was conveyed to Kane by land in caravans, and by sea in
vessels, or in rafts which were floated by means of inflated skins. This
was a port of considerable trade; the merchants trading to Baragyza,
Scindi, Oman, and Persis, as well as to the ports in Africa, beyond the
straits. The goods imported were principally from Egypt, and consisted of a
small quantity of wheat, wine, cloaths for the Arabian market, common,
plain, and mixed; brass, tin, Mediterranean coral, which was in great
repute in India, so that the great demand for it prevented the Gauls in the
south of France, according to Pliny, from adorning their swords, &c. with
it, as they were wont to do; storax, plate, money, horses, statues or
images, and cloth. The exports were confined to the produce of the country,
especially frankincense and aloes. At Syagros, which is described as a
promontory fronting the east, and the largest in the world, there was a
garrison for the protection of the place, which was the repository of all
the incense collected in these parts.

The island of Dioscorides (Socotra) is next described. It was inhabited on
its northern side, (the only part of it that was then inhabited,) by a few
Arabians, Indians, and Greeks, who seem to have fixed a permanent or
temporary abode here, for the purpose of obtaining tortoise-shell: this was
much prized, being of a yellow colour, very hard and durable, and used to
make cases, boxes, and writing tables; this and dragon's blood were its
chief productions. In exchange for them, there were imported rice, corn,
Indian cotton goods, and women slaves.

The first mart beyond Cape Syagros is Moscha, which is represented as much
resorted to on account of the sacchalitic incense which is imported there.
This was so extremely abundant that it lay in heaps, with no other
protection than that which was derived from the gods, for whose sacrifices
it was intended. It is added that it was not possible for any person to
procure a cargo of it without the permission of the king; and that the
vessels were observed and searched so thoroughly, that not a single grain
of it could be clandestinely exported. The intercourse between this port
and Kane was regular; and besides this, it was frequented by such ships as
arrived from India too late in the season: here they continued during the
unfavourable monsoon, exchanging muslins, corn, and oil, for frankincense.
A small island, which is supposed to be the modern Mazeira, was visited by
vessels from Kane to collect or purchase tortoise-shell: the priests in the
island are represented in the Periplus as wearing aprons made of the fibres
of the cocoa tree: this is the earliest mention of this tree.

Moçandon, the extreme point south of the Gulf of Persia, was the land from
which the Arabians, (to use a maritime phrase) took their departure, with
various superstitious observances, imploring a blessing on their intended
voyage, and setting adrift a small toy, rigged like a ship, which, if
dashed to pieces, was supposed to be accepted by the god of the ocean,
instead of their ship.

It is impossible to determine from the Periplus, whether the author was
personally acquainted with the navigation, ports, and trade of the Gulf of
Persia: the probability is that he was not, as he mentions only two
particulars connected with it; the pearl fishery, and the town of Apologus,
a celebrated mart at the mouth of the Euphrates; the pearl fishery he
describes as extending from Moçandon to Bahrain. Apologus is the present
Oboleh, on the canal that leads from the Euphrates to Basra.

If the author of the Periplus did not enter the Gulf of Persia, he
certainly stretched over, with the monsoon, either to Karmania, or directly
to Scindi, or to the Gulf of Cambay; for at these places the minuteness of
information which distinguishes the journal again appears.

Omana in Persia is the first mart described; it lay in the province of
Gadrosia, but as it is not mentioned by Nearchus, who found Arabs in most
other parts of the province, we may conclude that it was founded after his
time. The trade between this place and Baragaza in India, was regular and
direct, and the goods brought from the latter to the former, seems
afterwards to have been sent to Oboleh at the head of the Gulf; the imports
were brass, sandal-wood; timber, of what kind is not specified; horn,
ebony; this is the first port the trade of which included ebony and
sandal-wood: frankincense was imported from Kane. The exports to Arabia and
Baragaza were purple cloth for the natives; wine, a large quantity of
dates, gold, slaves, and pearls of an inferior quality.

The first place in India to which the merchants of Egypt, while they
followed the ancient course of navigation by coasting, were accustomed to
trade, was Patala on the Indus; for we have admitted that single vessels
occasionally ventured beyond the Straits of Babelmandeb, before the
discovery of the monsoon, though the trade from Egypt to India, previously
to that discovery, was by no means frequent or regular. The goods imported
into Patala were woollen cloth of a slight fabric, linen, woven in checquer
work, some precious stones, and some kind of aromatics unknown in India,
probably the produce of Africa or Arabia; coral, storax, glass vessels of
various descriptions, some plate, money, and wine. From Patala, the
Egyptian merchants brought spices, gems of different kinds, particularly
sapphires, silk stuffs, silk thread, cotton cloths, and pepper. As Patala
is not mentioned in the Periplus, it is probable it was abandoned for
Baragaza, a far more considerable mart on the same coast, and most probably
Baroche on the Nerbuddah.

Before describing Baragaza, however, the author of the Periplus mentions
two places on the Indus, which were frequented for the purposes of
commerce: the first near the mouth of the river, called Barbarike; and the
other higher up, called Minagara: the latter was the capital of a kingdom
which extended as far as Barogaza. As the king of this country was
possessed of a place of such consequence to the merchants as Baragaza, and
as from his provinces, or through them, the most valuable cargoes were
obtained, it was of the utmost moment that his good will and protection
should be obtained and preserved. For this purpose there were imported, as
presents for him, the following articles, all expensive, and the very best
of their kind: plate of very great value; musical instruments; handsome
virgins for the haram; wine of the very best quality; plain cloth, but of
the finest sort; and perfumes. Besides these presents, there were likewise
imported a great quantity of plain garments, and some mixed or inferior
cloth; topazes, coral, storax, frankincense, glass vessels, plate, specie,
and wine. The exports were costus, a kind of spice; bdellium, a gum; a
yellow dye, spikenard, emeralds, sapphires, cottons, silk thread, indigo,
or perhaps the indicum of Pliny, which was probably Indian ink: skins are
likewise enumerated, with the epithet _serica_ prefixed to them, but
of what kind they were cannot be determined: wine is specified as an
article of import into this and other places; three kinds of it are
particularized: wine from Laodicea in Syria, which is still celebrated for
its wine; Italian wine, and Arabian wine. Some suppose that the last was
palm or toddy wine, which seems to have been a great article of trade.

We come now to Baragaza: the author first mentions the produce of the
district; it consisted of corn, rice, oil of Sesamum, ghee or butter, and
cotton: he then, in a most minute and accurate manner, describes the
approach to the harbour; the extraordinarily high tides, the rapidity with
which they roll in and again recede, especially at the new moon, the
difficult pilotage of the river, are all noticed. On account of these
dangers and difficulties, he adds, that pilots were appointed by the
government, with large boats, well manned, who put to sea to wait the
approach of ships. These pilots, as soon as they come on board, bring the
ship's head round, and keep her clear of the shoals at the mouth of the
river; if necessary, they tow the ship from station to station, where there
is good anchorage; these stations were called Basons, and seem to have been
pools retaining the water, after the tide had receded from other parts. The
navigation of the river was performed only as long as the tide was
favorable; as soon as it turned, the ships anchored in these stations.

The sovereign to whom Baragaza belonged is represented as so very anxious
to render it the only mart, that he would not permit ships to enter any of
his other harbours; if they attempted it, they were boarded and conducted
to Baragaza; at this place were collected all the produce and manufactures
of this part of India: some of which were brought down the river Nerbuddah;
others were conveyed across the mountains by caravans. The merchandize of
Bengal, and even of the Seres, was collected here, besides the produce of
Africa, and of the countries further to the south in India. The whole
arrangement of this place was correspondent to this extensive commerce, for
the author informs us, that such was the despatch in transacting business,
that a cargo could be entirely landed and sold, and a new cargo obtained
and put on board in the space of three days.

From Ozeni to the east of Baragaza, formerly the capital of the country,
there was brought to the latter place for exportation, chiefly the
following articles: onyx stones, porcelaine, fine muslins, muslins dyed of
the colour of the melon, and common cotton in great quantities: from the
Panjab there were brought for exportation, spikenard of different kinds,
costus, bdellium, ivory, murrhine cups, myrrh, pepper, &c. The imports were
wine, of all the three sorts already mentioned, brass, tin, lead, coral,
topazes, cloth of different kinds, sashes, storax, sweet lotus, white
glass, stibium, cinnabar, and a small quantity of perfumes: a considerable
quantity of corn was also imported; the denarius, both gold and silver,
exchanging with profit against the coin of the country, on account of its
greater purity.

From Baragaza the author proceeds to a description of the coast of the
Decan, which, as we have already mentioned, is remarkable for its accuracy,
as well as for its first mentioning the appellation Decan. At the distance
of twenty days' journey to the south lies Plithana, and ten days' journey
to the east of this is Tagara, both marts of great consequence, and the
latter the capital of the country. From these are brought down, through
difficult roads, several articles to Baragaza, particularly onyx stones
from Plithana, and cottons and muslin from Tagara "If we should now
describe, (observed Dr. Vincent) the arc of a circle from Minnagar, on the
Indus, through Ougein to Dowlatabad on the Godavery, of which Baroche
should be the centre, we might comprehend the extent of the intelligence
acquired by the merchant of the Periplus. But allowing that this was the
knowledge of the age, and not of the individual only, where is this
knowledge preserved, except in this brief narrative? which, with all the
corruption of its text, is still an inestimable treasure to all those who
wish to compare the first dawning of our knowledge in the east with the
meridian light which we now enjoy by the intercourse and conquests of the
Europeans. An arc of this sort comprehends near three degrees of a great
circle: and if upon such a space, and at such a distance from the coast, we
find nothing but what is confirmed by the actual appearance of the country,
at the present moment, great allowance is to be made for those parts of the
work which are less conspicuous, for the author did certainly not visit
every place which he mentions; and there are manifest omissions in the
text, as well as errors and corruptions."

The province of Canara, called by the author of the Periplus Limurike,
follows in his description the pirate coast; after Limurike, he describes
Pandion, corresponding with what is at present called Malabar Proper; this
is succeeded by Paralia and Comari, and the description of the west coast
of India is terminated by the pearl fishery and Ceylon. There were several
small ports in Limurike frequented by the country ships; but the only mart
frequented by vessels from Egypt was Musiris: it was likewise a great
resort of native vessels from Ariake or Concan. The articles imported were
nearly the same as those at Baragaza, but the exports from it were more
numerous and valuable: this seems to have arisen from its lying nearer to
the eastern and richer parts of India. The principal exports were, pearls
in great abundance and extraordinary beauty; a variety of silk stuffs; rich
perfumes; tortoise-shell; different kinds of transparent gems, especially
diamonds; and pepper in large quantites, and of the best quality.

The port of Nelkundah, which, as we have already remarked, was the limit of
our author's personal knowledge, was a place of very great trade; it was
much frequented, principally on account of the betel and pepper, which were
procured there on very reasonable terms: the pepper is distinguished, in
the list of its imports, as the pepper of Cottonara. Besides this article
and betel, the only exports were, pearls, ivory, silks, spikenard, precious
stones, and tortoise-shell; the imports were chiefly specie, topazes,
cloth, stibium, coral, glass, brass, tin, lead, wine, corn, &c.

The ports to the south of Nelkundah are described in a cursory manner in
the Periplus; they were frequented principally by the country ships, which
carried on a lucrative trade between them and the ports in the north of
India. The exports of the island of Trapobane, or Ceylon, are
particularized as consisting chiefly of pearls, gems, tortoise-shells, and
muslins: cinnamon is not named; an almost decisive proof, if other proof
were wanting, that the author of the Periplus had never visited this
island. That trading voyages were carried on by the natives from the
southern ports of India, not only to the northern ports of the western side
of that country, but also to the eastern ports in the Bay of Bengal, and to
the farther peninsula itself, we are expressly informed, as our author
mentions vessels of great bulk adapted to the voyages made to the Ganges
and the Golden Chersonese, in contradistinction to other and smaller
vessels employed in the voyages to Limurike.

Of the remainder of the Periplus little notice is requisite, the account of
the countries beyond Cape Comorin being entirely drawn from report, and
consequently erroneous, both in respect to geography and commerce. In some
particulars regarding the latter, however, it is surprisingly accurate: the
Gangetic muslins are praised as the finest manufacture of the sort, and
Gangetic spikenard is also noticed; the other articles of traffic in the
ports on the Ganges were betel and pearls. Thina is also mentioned as a
city, in the interior of a country immediately under the north, at a
certain point where the sea terminates; from this city both the raw
material and manufactured silks are brought by land through Bactria to
Baragaza, or else down the Ganges, and thence by sea to Limurike: the
routes we have already described. The means of approach to Thina are
represented as very difficult; some merchants, however, came from it to a
great mart which is annually held near it. The Sesatoe, who from the
description of them are evidently Tartars, frequent this mart with their
wives and children. "They are squat and thick-set, with their face broad
and their nose greatly depressed. The articles they bring for trade are of
great bulk, and inveloped in mats made of rushes, which, in their outward
appearance, resemble the early leaves of the vine. Their place of assembly
is between their own borders and those of China; and here spreading out
their mats, they hold a fair for several days, and at the conclusion of it,
return to their own country in the interior. Upon their retreat the Thinæ,
who have continued on the watch, repair to the spot and collect the mats
which the strangers left behind at their departure; from these they pick
out the haulm, and drawing out the fibres, spread the leaves double, and
make them into balls, and then pass the fibres through them. Of these balls
there are three sorts, in this form they take the name of Malabathrum."

On this account Dr. Vincent very justly remarks, that we have here, upon
the whole, a description of that mode of traffic, which has always been
adopted by the Chinese, and by which they to this hour trade with Russia,
Thibet, and Ava.

Many of the particulars which we have given on the subject of the Roman
trade are supplied by Pliny, who wrote his natural history when Rome was in
its most flourishing state under the reign of Vespasian. His works consist
of thirty-seven books, the first six comprise the system of the world and
the geography as it was then known. After examining the accounts of
Polybius, Agrippa, and Artemidorus, he assigns the following comparative
magnitudes to the three great divisions of the earth. Europe rather more
than a third, Asia about a fourth, and Africa about a fifth of the whole.
With few exceptions, his geographical knowledge of the east and of the
north, the parts of the world of which the ancients were the most ignorant,
was very inaccurate: he supposes the Ganges to be the north-eastern limit
of Asia, and that from it the coast turned to the north, where it was
washed by the sea of Serica, between which and a strait, which he imagined
formed a communication from the Caspian to the Scythian ocean, he admits
but a very small space. According to the system of Pliny, therefore, the
ocean occupied the whole county of Siberia, Mogul Tartary, China, &c. He
derived his information respecting India from the journals of Nearchus, and
the other officers of Alexander; and yet such is his ignorance, or the
corrupt state of the text, or the vitiated medium through which he received
his information, that it is not easy to reconcile his account with that of
Nearchus. Salmasius, indeed, charges him with confounding the east and west
in his description of India. His geography, in the most important
particular of the relative distances of places, is rendered of very little
utility or authority, from the circumstance pointed out and proved by
D'Anville, that he indiscriminately reckons eight stadia to the mile,
without reference to the difference between the Greek and Roman stadium. He
has, however, added two articles of information to the geographical and
commercial knowledge of the east possessed before his time; the one is the
account of the new course of navigation from Arabia to the coast of
Malabar, which has been already described; the other is a description of
Trapobane, or Ceylon, which, though inaccurate and obscure in many points,
must be regarded as a real and important addition to the geographical
knowledge of the Romans.

Pliny's geography of the north is the most full and curious of all
antiquity. After describing the Hellespont, Moeotis, Dacia, Sarmatia,
ancient Scythia, and the isles in the Euxine Sea, and proceeding last from
Spain, he passes north to the Scythic Ocean, and returns west towards
Spain. The coast of part of the Baltic seems to have been partly known to
him; he particularly mentions an island called Baltia, where amber was
found; but he supposes that the Baltic Sea itself was connected with the
Caspian and Indian Oceans. Pliny is the first author who names Scandinavia,
which he represents as an island, the extent of which was not then known;
but by Scandinavia there is reason to believe the present Scandia is meant.
Denmark may probably be rcognised in the Dumnor of this author, and Norway
in Noligen. The mountain Soevo, which he describes as forming a vast bay
called Codanus, extending to the promontory of the Cimbri, is supposed by
some to be the mountains that run along the Vistula on the eastern
extremity of Germany, and by others to be that chain of mountains which
commence at Gottenburgh. The whole of his information respecting the north
seems to have been drawn from the expeditions of Drusus, Varus, and
Germanicus, to the Elbe and the Weser, and from the accounts of the
merchants who traded thither for amber.

Tacitus, who died about twenty years after Pliny, seems to have acquired a
knowledge of the north more accurate in some respects than the latter
possessed. In his admirable description of Germany, he mentions the
Suiones, and from the name, as well as other circumstances, there can be
little doubt that they inhabited the southern part of modern Sweden.

The northern promontory of Scotland was known to Diodorus Siculus under the
name of Orcas; but the insularity of Britain was certainly not ascertained
till the fleet sent out by Agricola sailed round it, about eighty-four
years after Christ. Tacitus, who mentions this circumstance, also informs
us, that Ireland, which was known by name to the Greeks, was much
frequented in his time by merchants, from whose information he adds, that
its harbours were better known than those of Britain: this statement,
however, there is much reason to question, as in the time of Cæsar, all
that the Romans knew of Ireland was its relative position to Britain, and
that it was about half its size.

The emperor Trajan, who reigned between A.D. 98 and A.D. 117, was not only
a great conqueror, carrying the Roman armies beyond the Danube into Dacia,
and into Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria, and thus extending and
rendering more accurate the geographical knowledge of his subjects; but he
was also attentive to the improvement and commercial prosperity of the
empire. He made good roads from one end of the empire to the other; he
constructed a convenient and safe harbour at Centum Cellæ (Civita Vecchia),
and another at Ancona on the Adriatic: he dug a new and navigable canal,
which conveyed the waters of the Nahar-Malcha, or royal canal of
Nebuchadnezzar, into the river Tigris; and he is supposed to have repaired
or renewed the Egyptian canal between the Nile and the Red Sea. He also
gave directions and authority to Pliny, who was appointed governor of
Pontus and Bithynia, to examine minutely into the commerce of those
provinces, and into the revenues derived from it, and other sources.

The emperor Adrian passed nearly the whole of his reign in visiting the
different parts of his dominions: he began his journey in Gaul, and thence
into Germany; he afterwards passed into Britain. On his return to Gaul, he
visited Spain; on his next journey he went to Athens, and thence into the
east; and on his second return to Rome, he visited Sicily; his third
journey comprised the African provinces; his fourth was employed in again
visiting the east; from Syria he went into Arabia, and thence into Egypt,
where he repaired and adorned the city of Alexandria, restoring to the
inhabitants their former privileges, and encouraging their commerce. On his
journey back to Rome, he visited Syria, Thrace, Macedonia, and Athens. By
his orders, an artificial port was constructed at Trebizond on a coast
destitute by nature of secure harbours, from which this city derived great
wealth and splendour.

The only writer in the time of Adrian, from whom we can derive any
additional information respecting the geography and trade of the Romans, is
Arrian. He was a native of Nicodemia, and esteemed one of the most learned
men of his age; to him we are indebted for the journal of Nearchus's
voyage, an abstract of which has been given. His accuracy as a geographer,
is sufficiently established in that work, and indeed, in almost all the
particulars respecting India, which he has detailed in his history of the
expedition of Alexander the Great; and in his Indica, which may be regarded
as an appendix to that history. He lived at Rome, under the emperors
Adrian, Antoninus, and Marcus Aurelius, and was preferred to the highest
posts of honour, and even to the consulship. In the year A.D. 170, he was
appointed governor of Pontus, by Adrian, for the special purpose of
opposing the Alani, who were invading that part of the empire. His
situation and opportunities as governor, enabled him to derive the most
accurate and particular information respecting the Euxine Sea, which he
addressed in a letter to Adrian; this Periplus, as it is called, "contains
whatever the governor of Pontus had seen, from Trebizond to Dioscurias;
whatever he had heard from Dioscurias to the Danube and whatever he knew
from the Danube to Trebizond."

The letter begins with the arrival of Arrian at Trebizond, at which place,
the artificial port already noticed was then forming. At Trebizond he
embarked, and surveyed the eastern coast of the Euxine Sea, visiting every
where the Roman garrisons. His course led him past the mouth of the Phasis,
the waters of which, he remarks, floated a long time on those of the sea,
by reason of their superior lightness. A strong garrison was stationed at
the mouth of this river, to protect this part of the country against the
Barbarians; he adds, however, in his letter, that the new suburbs which had
been built by the merchants and veterans, required some additional defence,
and that he had, accordingly, for the greater security of the place,
strengthened it with a new ditch: he ended his voyage at Sebastapolis, the
most distant city garrisoned by the Romans. The description of the coasts
of Asia, from Byzantium to Trebizond, and another of the interior, from
Sebastapolis to the Bosphorus Cimmerius, and thence to Byzantium, is added
to his voyage. The great object of this minute and accurate survey was to
enable the emperor to take what measures he might deem proper, in case he
designed to interfere in the affairs of the Bosphorus, as well as to point
out the means of defence against the Alani, and other enemies of the Roman

We have contented ourselves with this short abstract of the Periplus of the
Euxine, because we have already given all the important information it
contains on the subject of the commerce of this sea. It is very inferior in
merit to the Periplus of the Euxine, which has also been attributed to this
Arrian, though Dr. Vincent, we think, has proved that it is the work of an
earlier writer, and of a merchant.

As the Roman conquests extended, their geographical knowledge of course
increased. In the reign of Antoninus Pius, their armies had forced a
passage much further north in Britain than they had ever ventured before.
One of the results of this success was a maritime survey, or rather two
partial surveys of the north part of Britain, from which the geography of
that part of the island was compiled by Ptolemy.

The maritime laws of the Rhodians, or those which passed under their name,
seem to have been the basis and authority of the Roman maritime laws at
this period; for we are told, that when a merchant complained to the
emperor that he had been plundered by the imperial officers at the
Cyclades, where he had been shipwrecked, the latter replied, that he indeed
was lord of the earth, but that the sea was governed by the Rhodian laws,
and that from them he would obtain redress. This part of the Rhodian law,
however, had been but lately adopted by the Romans; for Antoninus is
expressly mentioned as having enacted, among other laws, that shipwrecked
merchandize should be the entire property of the lawful owners, without any
interference or participation of the officers of the exchequer, and that
those who were guilty of plundering wrecks should be severely punished.

One of the most important and complete surveys of the Roman empire (the
idea of which, as has been already stated, was first formed by Julius
Cæsar) was begun and finished in the reign of Antoninus, and is well known
under the appellation of his Itinerary. It has, indeed, been objected to
this date of the Itinerary, that it contains places which were not known in
the time of Antonine, and names of places which they did not bear till
after his reign; thus mention is made of the province of Arcadia in Egypt,
and of Honorius in Pontus, so styled in honor of the sons of the emperor
Theodosius. But the fact seems to be that alterations and additions were
made to the Itinerary, and that occasionally, or perhaps under each
subsequent emperor, new editions of it were published. From the maritime
part of this Itinerary of Antoninus we derive a clear idea of the timidity
or want of skill and enterprise of the Mediterranean seamen in their
commercial voyages. All the ports which it was prudent or necessary, for
the safety of the voyage, to touch at, in sailing from Achaia to Africa are
enumerated; and of these there are no fewer than twenty, some of them at
the heads of bays on the coasts of Greece, Epirus, and Italy, and within
the Straits of Sicily as far as Messina. Their course was then to be
directed along the east and south coasts of Sicily to the west point of it;
from an island off this point they took their departure for the coast of
Africa, a distance of about ninety miles.

These Itineraries undoubtedly were drawn up in as accurate a manner as
possible; but till the time of Ptolemy they were of little service to
geography or commerce, as, for a private individual to have one in his
possession was deemed a crime little short of high treason. Geography as a
science, therefore, had hitherto made little advances; indeed the discovery
and example of Hipparchus, of reducing it to astronomical basis, seems to
have been forgotten or neglected till the middle of the second century. The
first after him, who attempted to fix geography on the base of science was
Marinus, of Tyre, who lived a short time before Ptolemy; of his work we
have only extracts given by this geographer. He divided the terms latitude
and longitude, which, as we have already stated, were introduced by
Artemidorus (A.C. 104) into degrees, and these degrees into their parts,
though this improvement was not reduced generally to practice before
Ptolemy, for we are informed by him, that Marinus had the latitude of some
places and the longitude of others, but scarcely one position where he
could ascertain both.

With regard to the extent of Marinus' geographical knowledge, or the
accuracy of his details, we cannot form a fair judgment from the fragments
of his works which remain. According to Ptolemy, he had examined the
history of preceding ages, and all the information that had been collected
in his own time, comparing and rectifying them as he proceeded in his own

It will be recollected that the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea did not trace
the African coast lower down than Rhapta; but Marinus mentions Prasum,
which, according to that hypothesis, which fixes it in the lowest southern
latitude, must have been seven degrees to the south of Rhapta. So far,
therefore, the knowlege of the ancients, in the time of Marinus, respecting
the east coast of Africa extended; but, as neither he nor Ptolemy mentions
a single place between Rhapta and Prasum, it is probable that the latter
was not frequently or regularly visited for the purposes of trade, but that
commercial voyages were still confined to the limit of Rhapta. We have just
stated that Prasum, according to the most moderate hypothesis, must be
fixed seven degrees to the south of Rhapta. Marinus, however, fixes it
either in thirty-five degrees south, or under the tropic of Capricorn. He
was led into this and similar errors by assigning too great a number of
stadia to the degree. Ptolemy endeavours to correct him, and places Prasum
in latitude 15, 30 south; it is remarkable that the Prasum of Ptolemy is
precisely at Mosambique, the last of the Arabian settlements in the
following ages, and the Prasum of Marinus, if under the tropic of
Capricorn, is the limit of the knowledge of the Arabians on this coast of

Marinus, as quoted by Ptolemy, affirms that he was in possession of the
journals of two expeditions under the command of Septimus Flaccus and
Julius Maternus: the former of these officers set off from Cyrene, and the
latter from Leptis; and, according to Marinus, they penetrated through the
interior of Africa to the southward of the Equator, as far as a nation they
styled Agesymba. The error of Marinus with respect to the valuation of the
stadium, has led him to fix this nation in twenty-four degrees south
latitude; if allowance, however, be made for his error, the Agesymba will
still be placed under the Equator,--a great distance for a land expedition
to have readied in the interior of Africa. Flaccus reported that the
Ethiopians of Agesymba, were three months journeying to the south of the
Garamantes, and the latter were 5400 of the stadia of Marinus, distant from
Cyrene. According to the journal of Maternus, when the king of the
Garamantes set off to attack the people of Agesymba, he marched four months
to the south.

There are also some notices in Marinus of voyages performed along the coast
of Africa, between India and Africa, and along part of the coast of India;
he particularly mentions one Theophilus who frequented the coast of Azania,
and who was carried by a south-west wind from Rhapta to Aromata in twenty
days; and Diogenes, one of the traders to India, who on his return after he
had come in sight of Aromata, was caught by the north-east monsoon, and
carried down the coast during twenty-five days, till he reached the lakes
from which the Nile issues. Marinus also mentions a Diogenes Samius, who
describes the course held by vessels from the Indus to the coast of Cambay,
and from Arabia to the coast of Africa. According to him, in the former
voyage they sailed with the Bull in the middle of the heavens, and the
Pleiades in the middle of the main yard; in the latter voyage, they sailed
to the south, and by the star Canobus.

We now arrive at the name of Ptolemy, certainly the most celebrated
geographer of antiquity. He was a native of Alexandria, and flourished in
the reign of the emperor Marcus Antoninus. In the application of astronomy
to geography, he followed Hipparchus principally, and he seems from his
residence at Alexandria to have derived much information through the
merchants and navigators of that city, as well as from its magnificent and
valuable library. His great work, as it has reached us, consists almost
entirely of an elementary picture of the earth, (if it may be so called,)
in which its figure and size, and the position of places are determined.
There is only a short notice of the division of countries, and it is very
seldom that any historical notice is added. To this outline, it is supposed
that Ptolemy had added a detailed account of the countries then known,
which is lost.

His geography, such as we have described it, consists of eight books, and
is certainly much more scientific than any which had been previously
written on this science. In it there appears, for the first time, an
application of geometrical principles to the construction of maps: the
different projections of the sphere, and a distribution of the several
places on the earth, according to their latitude and longitude. Geography
was thus established on its proper principles, and intimately connected
with astronomical observations and mathematical science. The utility and
merit of Ptolemy's work seems to have been understood and acknowledged soon
after it appeared. Agathemidorus, who lived not long after him, praises him
for having reduced geography to a regular system; and adds, that he treats
of every thing relating to it, not carelessly, or merely according to the
ideas of his own, but to what had been delivered by more ancient authors,
adopting from them whatever he found consonant to truth. Agathodæmon, an
artist of Alexandria, observing the request in which his work was held,
prepared a set of maps to illustrate it, in which all the places mentioned
in it were laid down, with the latitudes and longitudes he assigned them.
The reputation of his geography remained unshaken and undiminished during
the middle ages, both in Arabia and Europe; and even now, the scientific
language which he first employed, is constantly used, and the position of
places ascertained by specifying their latitude and longitude.

It was not to be expected, however, that Ptolemy could accurately fix the
longitude and latitude of places in the remoter parts of the then known
world; his latitudes and longitudes are accordingly frequently erroneous,
but especially the latter. This arose partly from his taking five hundred
stadia for a degree of a great circle, and partly from the vague method of
calculating distances, by the estimate of travellers and merchants, and the
number of days employed in their journies by land, and voyages by sea. As
he took seven hundred stadia for a degree of latitude, his errors in
latitude are not so important; and though the latitude he assigns to
particular places is incorrect, yet the length of the globe, according to
him, or the distance from the extreme points north and south, then known,
is not far from the truth. Thus the latitude of Thule, according to
Ptolemy, is 64 degrees north, and the parallel through the cinnamon country
16° 24' south, that is, 80° 24' on the whole, a difference from the truth
of not more than six or seven degrees. It is remarked by D'Anville, and Dr.
Vincent coincides in the justice of the remark, that the grandest mistake
in the geography of Ptolemy has led to the greatest discovery of modern
times. Strabo had affirmed, that nothing obstructed the passage from Spain
to India by a westerly course, but the immensity of the Atlantic ocean;
but, according to Ptolemy's errors in longitude, this ocean was lessened by
sixty degrees; and as all the Portuguese navigators were acquainted with
his work, as soon as it was resolved to attempt a passage to India, the
difficulty was, in their idea, lessened by sixty degrees; and when Columbus
sailed from Spain, he calculated on sixty degrees less than the real
distance from that country to India. Thus, to repeat the observation of
D'Anville, the greatest of his errors proved eventually the efficient cause
of the greatest discovery of the moderns.

Beside the peculiar merit of Ptolemy, which was perceived and acknowledged
as soon as his work appeared, he possesses another excellence, which, as
far as we know, was first pointed out and dwelt upon by Dr. Vincent.
According to him, Ptolemy, in his description of India, serves as the point
of connection between the Macedonian orthography and the Sanscrit,
dispersing light on both sides, and showing himself like a luminary in the
centre. He seems indeed to have obtained the native appellations of the
places in India, in a wonderful manner; and thus, by recording names which
cannot be mistaken, he affords the means of ascertaining the country, even
though he gives no particulars regarding it. We have applied this remark to
India exclusively, but it might be extended to almost all the names of
places that occur in Ptolemy, though, as respects India, his obtaining the
native appellations is more striking and useful.

Having offered these general remarks on the excellencies and errors of
Ptolemy, we shall next proceed to give a short and rapid sketch of his
geographical knowledge respecting Europe, Asia, and Africa. On the
north-east of Europe he gives an accurate description of the course of the
Wolga; and further to the south, he lays down the course of the Tanais,
much nearer what it really is than the course assigned it by Strabo. He
seems to have been acquainted with the southern shores of the Baltic from
the western Dwina, or the Vistula, to the Cimbric Chersonesus: he also
describes part of the present Livonia. The Chersonesus, however, he
stretches two degrees too far to the north, and also gives it too great a
bend to the east. He applies the name of Thule to a country situated to the
north-east of Britain; if his usual error in longitude is rectified, the
position he assigns Thule would correspond with that of Norway. Such seem
to have been the limits of his Europe, unless, perhaps, he had some vague
idea of the south of Sweden.

He begins his geographical tables with the British isles; and here is one
of his greatest errors. According to him, the north part of Britain
stretches to the east, instead of to the north: the Mull of Galloway is the
most northern promontory, and the land from it bends due east. The Western
Islands run east and west, along the north shore of Ireland, the west being
the true north point in them. He is, however, on the whole, pretty accurate
in his location of the tribes which at that period inhabited Scotland.
Strabo had placed Ireland to the north of Britain, but in its true
latitude. Ptolemy's map, which is the first geographical document of that
island, represents it to the west of Britain, but five degrees further to
the north than it actually is. He delineates its general shape, rivers, and
promontories with tolerable accuracy, and some of his towns may be traced
in their present appellations, as Dublin in Eblana. It has already been
noticed that he was probably acquainted with the south of Sweden, and his
four Scandinavian islands are evidently Zealand, Funen, Laland, and
Falster. It is remarkable that his geography is more accurate almost in
proportion as it recedes from the Mediterranean. The form which he assigns
to Italy is much farther removed from the truth than the form of most of
the other European countries which he describes. His fundamental error in
longitude led him to give to the Mediterranean Sea a much greater extent
than it actually possesses. According to him, it occupies nearly sixty-five
degrees; and it is a singular circumstance, as well as a decisive proof of
the influence of his authority, as well of the slow progress of accurate
and experimental geography, that his mensuration of this sea was reputed as
exact till the reign of Louis XIV., when it was curtailed of nearly
twenty-five degrees by observation.

The principal points in the geography of Asia, as given by Ptolemy, respect
the coasts of India, the route to the Seres, and the Caspian sea. His
delineation of India is equally erroneous with his delineation of the
British Isles: according to him, it stretches in a right line from west to
east, a little to the south of a line drawn between the Ganges and the
Indus. He possessed, however, information respecting places in the farther
peninsula of India, the locality of several of which, by comparing his
names with the Sanscrit, may be traced with considerable certainty. He
assigns to the island of Ceylon a very erroneous locality, arising from his
error respecting the form of India, and likewise an extent far exceeding
the truth. He is the first author, however, who mentions the seven mouths
of the Ganges. The route to the Seres, which he describes, has been already
noticed: it is remarkable that the latitude which he assigns to his Sera
metropolis, is within little more than a degree of the latitude of Pekin,
which, in the opinion of Dr. Vincent, is one of the most illustrious
approximations to truth that ancient geography affords. His description of
Arabia is, on the whole, accurate; he has, however, greatly diminished the
extent of the Arabian Gulf, and by at the same time increasing the size of
the Persian, he has necessarily given an erroneous form to this part of
Asia. The ancient opinion of Herodotus, that the Caspian was a sea by
itself, unconnected with any other, which was overlooked or disbelieved by
Strabo, Arrian, &c. was adopted by Ptolemy, but he erroneously describes it
as if its greatest length was from east to west. The peninsula to which he
gives the name of the Golden Chersonesus, and which is probably Malacca, he
describes as stretching from north to south: to the east of it he places a
great bay, and in the most distant part of it the station of Catigara.
Beyond this, he asserts that the earth is utterly unknown, and that the
land bends from this to the west, till it joins the promontory of Prasum in
Africa, at which place this quarter of the world terminated to the south.
Hence it appears that he did not admit a communication between the Indian
and Atlantic oceans, and that he believed the Erythrean sea to be a vast
basin, entirely enclosed by the land.

Strabo and Pliny believed that Africa terminated under the torrid zone, and
that the Atlantic and Indian oceans joined. Ptolemy, as we have just seen,
rejected this idea, and following the opinion of Hipparchus, that the earth
was not surrounded by the ocean, but that the ocean was divided into large
basins, separated from each other by intervening land, maintained, that
while the eastern coast of Africa at Cape Prasum united with the coast of
Asia at the bay of the Golden Chersonesus, the western coast of Africa,
after forming a great gulf, which he named Hespericus, extended between the
east and south till it joined India. The promontory of Prasum was
undoubtedly the limit of Ptolemy's knowledge of the east coast of Africa:
the limit of his knowledge of the west coast is not so easily fixed: some
suppose that it did not reach beyond the river Nun; while others, with more
reason, extend it to the Gulf of St. Cyprian, because the Fortunate
Islands, which he assumed as his first meridian, will carry his knowledge
beyond the Nun; and because, at the Gulf of St. Cyprian, the coast turns
suddenly and abruptly to the east, in such a manner as may be supposed to
have led Ptolemy to believe that it stretched towards and joined the coast
of India.

Of some of the interior parts of Africa Ptolemy possessed clear and
accurate information; regarding others, he presents us with a mass of
confused notions. He clearly points out the Niger, though he fixes its
source in a wrong latitude. In the cities of Tucabath and Tagana, which he
places on its banks, may perhaps be recognized Tombuctoo and Gana. The most
striking defect in his geography of the interior of Africa is, that he does
not allow sufficient extent to the great desert of Sahara, while the
southern parts are too much expanded. He places the sources of the Nile,
and the Mountains of the Moon in south latitude thirteen, instead of north
latitude six or seven; but the error of latitude is not so remarkable and
unaccountable as the very erroneous latitude which he assigns to Cape
Aromata, on a coast which was visited every year by merchants he must have
seen at Alexandria. The most difficult point to explain in Ptolemy's
central Africa is the river Gir, which he describes as equal in length to
the Niger, and running in the same direction, till it loses itself in the
same lake. What this river is, geographers have not agreed. It is mentioned
by Claudian, as resembling the Nile in the abundance of its waters.
Agethimedorus, a geographer of the third century, regards it and the Niger
as the same river.

What then was the amount of the knowledge of the ancients, as it existed
among the Romans, in the height of their power, respecting the form,
extent, and surface of the globe? If we view a map drawn up according to
their ideas, we are immediately struck with the form they assigned the
world, and perceive with what propriety they called the extent of the world
from east to west longitude or _length_, and the extent from north to
south latitude, or _breadth_. In some maps, especially that drawn up
from the celebrated Peutingerian Tables, which contain an itinerary of the
whole Roman empire, thirty-five degrees of longitude occupy twenty-eight
feet eight inches, whereas thirteen degrees of latitude are compressed
within the space of one foot. It is easy to conceive how it happened that
too much space is assigned between places situated east and west of each
other, as the latitude of a place is much more easily determined than its
longitude. At the same time, as the routes of the Roman armies generally
were from east to west, the countries lying in that direction were better
known than those lying to the north and south, though the longitudes, and
general space assigned the world, in the former deviation, were erroneous.
It was the opinion of most of the ancient geographers, that there was a
southern continent or hemisphere, to correspond to and balance the
northern; and this they formed by cutting off the great triangle to the
south. The ancients also, while they curtailed those parts of the world
with which they were unacquainted, extended the known parts.

The limit of the Roman geography of Europe to the north was the Baltic,
beyond which they had some very imperfect and obscure notion of the south
of Sweden, and perhaps of Norway. They were acquainted with the countries
on the eastern boundary of Europe lying on the Danube and the Vistula, and
the rivers Wolga and Tanais seem also to have been tolerably well known to
them. Of the whole of the west of Europe they were well informed, with the
exception of the general figure, and some part of the British isles.

With respect to Africa, the Romans seem to have been acquainted with
one-third of it. The promontory of Prasum was the limit of their knowledge
on the east coast: its limits on the western coast it is not so easy to
fix. The western horn was the limit of the voyage of Hanno, which,
according to some, is Cape Nun; and, according to others, Cape Three
Points, in Guinea; and we have observed already, that the Gulf of St.
Cyprian was probably the limit of Ptolemy's knowledge. The coasts of Africa
on the Mediterranean, and on the Red Sea, were of course well known to the
Romans; and some points of their information respecting the interior were
clear and accurate, but, as for these, they trusted almost entirely to the
reports of merchants, they were as frequently erroneous.

The northern, north-western, north-eastern, and east parts of Asia were
almost utterly unknown to the Romans; but they possessed tolerably accurate
information regarding the whole hither peninsula of India, from the Indus
to the Ganges, and some partial and unconnected notices of the farther
peninsula and of China.

[5] The most probable opinion is, that they were made of fluat of
    lime, or Derbyshire spar.



Although the period, which the present chapter embraces, extends to
thirteen centuries, yet, as it is by no means rich or fruitful either in
discovery or commercial enterprise, it will not detain us long. The
luxuries and wealth of the east, which, in all ages of the world and to all
nations have been so fascinating, had, as we have already seen, drawn to
them the interest and the enterprise of the Romans, in the height of their
conquests; and towards the east, with few exceptions, discovery and
commerce pointed, during the whole of the period which this chapter
embraces. Yet, notwithstanding this powerful attraction, geography made
comparatively little progress: the love of luxury did not benefit it nearly
so much as the love of science. The geography of Ptolemy, and the
description of Greece by Pausanias, are, as Malte Brun justly remarks, the
last works in which the light of antiquity shines on geography. We may
further observe, that as circumstances directed the route to the east,
during the middle ages, principally through the central parts of Asia, the
countries thus explored, or visited, were among the least interesting in
this quarter of the globe, and those of which we possess, even at the
present day, very obscure and imperfect information.

The nations to whom geography and commerce were most indebted, during the
period which this chapter embraces, were the Arabians,--the Scandinavians,
--under that appellation comprehending the nations on the Baltic and in the
north of Germany,--and the Italian states. Before, however, we proceed to
notice and record their contributions to geography, discovery, and
commerce, it will be proper briefly to attend to a few circumstances
connected with those subjects, which occurred between the age of Ptolemy
and the utter decline of the Roman empire.

We have already alluded to the intercourse which was begun between Rome and
China, during the reign of Marcus Antoninus, for the purpose of obtaining
silk. Of the embassy which preceded and occasioned this commercial
intercourse, we derive all our information from the Chinese historians. A
second embassy seems to have been sent in the year A.D. 284, during the
reign of Probus: that the object of this also was commercial there can be
no doubt; but the particulars or the precise object in view, and the result
which flowed from it, are not noticed by the Chinese historians. There can
be no doubt, however, that these embassies contributed to extend the
geography and commerce of the Romans towards the eastern districts of Asia.

Of the attention which some of the Roman emperors, during the decline of
the empire, paid to commerce, we possess a few notices which deserve to be
recorded. The emperor Pertinax, whose father was a manufacturer and seller
of charcoal, and who, himself, for some time pursued the same occupation,
at that period an extensive and profitable one, preserved and exercised,
during his reign, that sense of the value of commerce which he had thus
acquired. He abolished all the taxes laid by Commodus on the ports,
harbours, and public roads, and gave up his privileges as emperor,
especially in all those points where they were prejudicial to the freedom
and extension of commerce. It may indeed be remarked, that the very few
good or tolerable princes who, at this period, filled the government of
Rome, displayed their wisdom as well as their goodness by encouraging
trade. Alexander Severus granted peculiar privileges and immunities to
foreign merchants who settled in Rome: he lowered the duties on
merchandises; and divided all who followed trade, either on a large or
small scale, into different companies, each of which seems to have
preserved the liberty of choosing their own governor, and over each of whom
persons were appointed, conversant in each particular branch of trade,
whose duty it was to settle all disputes that might arise.

Soon after this period the commerce of Rome in one particular direction,
and that a most important one, received a severe blow. The Goths, who had
emigrated from the north of Germany to the banks of the Euxine, were
allured to the "soft and wealthy provinces of Asia Minor, which produced
all that could attract, and nothing that could resist a barbarian
conqueror." It is on the occasion of this enterprise, that we first became
acquainted with the maritime usages and practices of the Goths; a branch of
whom, under the name of Scandinavians, we shall afterwards find contributed
so much to the extension of geography and commerce. In order to transport
their armies across the Euxine, they employed "slight flat-bottomed barks,
framed of timber only, without the least mixture of iron, and occasionally
covered with a shelving roof on the appearance of a tempest." Their first
object of importance was the reduction of Pityus, which was provided with a
commodious harbour, and was situated at the utmost limits of the Roman
provinces. After the reduction of this place, they sailed round the eastern
extremity of the Euxine, a distance of nearly three hundred miles, to the
important commercial city of Trebizond. This they also reduced; and in it
they found an immense booty, with which they filled a great fleet of ships,
that were lying in the port at the time of the capture. Their success
encouraged and stimulated them to further enterprises against such of the
commercial cities or rich coasts of the Roman empire, as lay within their
grasp. In their second expedition, having increased their fleet by the
capture of a number of fishing vessels, near the mouths of the Borysthenes,
the Niester, and the Danube, they plundered the cities of Bithynia. And in
a third expedition, in which their force consisted of five hundred sail of
ships, each of which might contain from twenty-five to thirty men, they
passed the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, and ravaged Greece, and threatened
Italy itself.

The extent to which some branches of trade were carried by the Romans about
this time, may be deduced from what is related of Firmus, whose ruin was
occasioned by endeavouring to exchange the security of a prosperous
merchant for the imminent dangers of a Roman emperor. The commerce of
Firmus seems principally to have been directed to the east; and for
carrying on this commerce, he settled himself at Alexandria in Egypt.
Boasting that he could maintain an army with the produce of paper and glue,
both of which articles he manufactured very extensively, he persuaded the
people of Egypt that he was able to deliver them from the Roman yoke, and
actually had influence sufficient to prevent the usual supplies of corn
from being shipped from Alexandria to Rome. His destruction was the
consequence. As an instance of his wealth and luxury, Vopiscus relates that
he had squares of glass fixed with bitumen in his house. The Roman commerce
suffered considerably during the reign of Dioclesian by the revolt of
Britain, under Carausius, who, by his skill and superiority, especially in
naval affairs, which enabled him to defeat a powerful Roman fleet fitted
out against him, obtained and secured his independence. Carausius was
murdered by Alectus: against the latter the emperor Constantine sailed with
a powerful fleet, and having effected a landing in Britain, Alectus was
defeated and slain. This fleet requires to be particularly noticed from two
considerations. In the first place, it sailed with a side wind, and when
the weather was rather rough,--circumstances so unusual, if not
unprecedented, that they were deemed worthy of an express and peculiar
panegyric: and, secondly, this fleet was not equipped and ready for sea
till after four years' preparation, whereas, in the first Punic war,
"within sixty days after the first stroke of the axe had been given in the
forest, a fleet of 160 galleys proudly rode at anchor in the sea."

Soon after this event, we are furnished with materials, from which we may
judge of the comparative opulence, commerce, and shipping of the several
countries which bordered on the Mediterranean. Constantine and Licinius
were contending for the Roman empire; and as the contest mainly depended on
superiority at sea, each exerted himself to the utmost to fit out a
formidable and numerous fleet. Licinius was emperor of the east: his fleet
consisted of 380 gallies, of three ranks of oars; eighty were furnished by
Egypt, eighty by Phoenicia, sixty by Ionia and Doria, thirty by Cyprus,
twenty by Caria, thirty by Bithynia, and fifty by Africa. At this period
there seems to have been no vessels larger than triremes. The naval
preparations of Constantine were in every respect inferior to those of his
rival: he seems to have got no ships from Italy: indeed, the fleets which
Augustus had ordered to be permanently kept up at Misenum and Ravenna, were
no longer in existence. Greece supplied the most if not all Constantine's
vessels: the maritime cities of this country sent their respective quotas
to the Piraeus; and their united forces only amounted to 200 small vessels.
This was a feeble armament compared with the numerous and powerful fleets
that Athens equipped and maintained during the Peloponnesian war. While
this republic was mistress of the sea, her fleet consisted of 300, and
afterwards of 400 gallies, of three ranks of oars, all ready, in every
respect, for immediate service. The scene of the naval battle between
Licinius and Constantine was in the vicinity of Byzantium: as this city was
in possession of the former, Constantine gave positive orders to force the
passage of the Hellespont: the battle lasted two days, and terminated in
the complete defeat of Licinius. Shortly after this decisive victory, the
Roman world was again united under one emperor, and the imperial residence
and seat of government was fixed by Constantine at Byzantium, which
thenceforth obtained the name of Constantinople.

In the middle of the fourth century Ammianus Marcellinus gives us some
important and curious information respecting the Roman commerce with the
East. According to him it was customary to hold an annual fair at Batnae, a
town to the east of Antioch, not far from the banks of the Euphrates.
Merchandize from the East was brought hither overland by caravans, as well
as up the Euphrates; and its value at this fair was so great, that the
Persians made an attempt to plunder it. To the same author we are indebted
for some notices respecting the countries which lay beyond the eastern
limits of the Roman empire, and also for the first clear and undoubted
notice of rhubarb, as an extensive article of commerce for medicinal

Towards the end of the fourth century, the naval expeditions of the Saxons
attracted the notice and excited the fears of the Britons and the Gauls:
their vessels apparently were unfit for a long voyage, or for encountering
either the dangers of the sea or of battle; they were flat-bottomed and
slightly constructed of timber, wicker-work, and hides; but such vessels
possessed advantages, which to the Saxons more than compensated for their
defects: they drew so little water that they could proceed 100 miles up the
great rivers; and they could easily and conveniently be carried on waggons
from one river to another.

We have already noticed the itineraries of the Roman empire: of these there
were two kinds, the _annotota_ and the _picta_; the first
containing merely the names of places; the other, besides the names, the
extent of the different provinces, the number of their inhabitants, the
names of the mountains, rivers, seas, &c.; of the first kind, the itinerary
of Antoninus is the most celebrated: to it we have already alluded: to the
second kind belong the Peutingarian tables, which are supposed to have been
drawn up in the reign of Theodosius, about the beginning of the fifth
century, though according to other conjectures, they were constructed at
different periods.

The beginning of the tables is lost, comprising Portugal, Spain, and the
west part of Africa; only the south-east coast of England is inserted.
Towards the east, the Seres, the mouth of the Ganges, and the island of
Ceylon appear, and routes are traced through the heart of India. Dr.
Vincent remarks, that it is a very singular circumstance that these tables
should have the same names in the coast of India as the Periplus, but
reversed. Mention is also made in them of a temple of Augustus or the Roman
emperor: these circumstances, Dr. Vincent justly observes, tend to prove
the continuance of the commerce by sea with India, from the time of
Claudius to Theodosius; a period of above 300 years. In these tables very
few of the countries are set down according to their real position, their
respective limits, or their actual size.

The law of the emperor Theodosius, by which he prohibited his subjects,
under pain of death, from teaching the art of ship-building to the
barbarians, was ineffectual in the attainment of the object which he had in
view; nor did any real service to the empire result from a fleet of 1100
large ships that he fitted out, to act in conjunction with the forces of
the western empire for the protection of Rome against Genseric, king of the
Vandals. This fleet arrived in Sicily, but performed nothing; and Genseric,
notwithstanding the law of Theodosius, obtained the means and the skill of
fitting out a formidable fleet. The Vandal empire in Africa was peculiarly
adapted to maritime enterprise, as it stretched along the coast of the
Mediterranean above ninety days' journey from Tangier to Tripoli: the woods
of mount Atlas supplied an inexhaustible quantity of ship timber; the
African nations whom he had subdued, especially the Carthaginians, were
skilled in ship-building and in maritime affairs; and they eagerly obeyed
the call of their new sovereign, when he held out to them the plunder of
Rome. Thus, as Gibbon observes, after an interval of six centuries, the
fleets that issued from the port of Carthage again claimed the empire of
the Mediterranean. A feeble and ineffectual resistance was opposed to the
Vandal sovereign, who succeeded in his grand enterprise, plundered Rome,
and landed safely in Carthage with his rich spoils. The emperor Leo,
alarmed at this success, fitted out a fleet of 1113 ships, at the expense,
it is calculated, of nearly five millions sterling. This fleet, with an
immense army on board, sailed from Constantinople to Carthage, but it
effected nothing. Genseric, taking advantage of a favourable wind, manned
his largest ships with his bravest and most skilful sailors; and they towed
after them vessels filled with combustible materials. During the night they
advanced against the imperial fleet, which was taken by surprise; confusion
ensued, many of the imperial ships were destroyed, and the remainder saved
themselves by flight. Genseric thus became master of the Mediterranean; and
the coasts of Asia, Greece, and Italy, were exposed to his depredations.

Towards the end of the fifth century, the Romans under Theodoric exhibited
some slight and temporary symptoms of reviving commerce. His first object
was to fit out a fleet of 1000 small vessels, to protect the coast of Italy
from the incursions of the African Vandals and the inhabitants of the
Eastern empire. And as Rome could no longer draw her supplies of corn from
Egypt, he reclaimed and brought into cultivation the Pomptine marshes and
other neglected parts of Italy. The rich productions of Lucania, and the
adjacent provinces, were exchanged at the Marcilian fountain, in a populous
fair, annually dedicated to trade: the gradual descent of the hills was
covered with a triple plantation of divers vines and chestnut trees. The
iron mines of Dalmatia, and a gold mine in Bruttium, were carefully
explored and wrought. The abundance of the necessaries of life was so very
great, that a gallon of wine was sometimes sold in Italy for less than
three farthings, and a quarter of wheat at about five shillings and
sixpence. Towards a country thus wisely governed, and rich and fertile,
commerce was naturally attracted; and it was encouraged and protected by
Theodoric: he established a free intercourse among all the provinces by sea
and land: the city gates were never shut; and it was a common saying, "that
a purse of gold might safely be left in the field." About this period, many
rich Jews fixed their residence in the principal cities of Italy, for the
purposes of trade and commerce.

The most particular information we possess respecting the geographical
knowledge, and the Indian commerce of the ancients at the beginning of the
sixth century, is derived from a work of Cosmas, surnamed Indico Pleustes,
or the Indian navigator. He was originally a merchant, and afterwards
became a monk; and Gibbon justly observes, that his work displays the
knowledge of a merchant, with the prejudices of a monk. It is entitled
_Christian Topography_, and was composed at Alexandria, in the middle
of the fifth century, about twenty years after he had performed his voyage.
The chief object of his work was to confute the opinions that the earth was
a globe, and that there was a temperate zone on the south of the torrid
zone. According to Cosmas, the earth is a vast plane surrounded by a wall:
its extent 400 days' journey from east to west, and half as much from north
to south. On the wall which bounded the earth, the firmament was supported.
The succession of day and night is occasioned by an immense mountain on the
north of the earth, intercepting the light of the sun. In order to account
for the course of the rivers, he supposed that the plane of the earth
declined from north to south: hence the Euphrates, Tigris, &c. running to
the south, were rapid streams; whereas the Nile, running in a contrary
direction, was slow and sluggish. The prejudices of a monk, are
sufficiently evident in these opinions; but, in justice to Cosmas, it must
be remarked, that he labours hard, and not unsuccessfully, to prove that
his notions were all the same as those of the most ancient Greek
philosophers; and, indeed, his system differs from that of Homer,
principally in his assigning a square instead of a round figure to the
plane surface, which they both supposed to belong to the earth. The
cosmography of Homer, thus adopted by Cosmas and most Christian writers,
modified in some respects by the cosmography they drew from the Scriptures,
is a strong proof, as Malte Brun observes, of the powerful influence which
the poetical geography of Homer possessed over the opinions even of very
distant ages.

Having thus briefly detailed those parts of Cosmas's work, which are merely
curious as letting us into the prevalent cosmography of his time, we shall
now proceed to those parts which, as Gibbon remarks, display the knowledge
of a merchant.

We have already noticed the inscription at Aduli for which we are indebted
to this author, and the light which it throws on the commercial enterprise
of the Egyptian sovereigns. According to Cosmas, the oriental commerce of
the Red Sea, in his time, had entirely left the Roman dominions, and
settled at Aduli: this place was regularly visited by merchants from
Alexandria and Aela, an Arabian port, at the head of the eastern branch of
the Red Sea. From Aduli, vessels regularly sailed to the East: here were
collected the aromatics, spices, ivory, emeralds, &c. of Ethiopia, and
shipped by the merchants of the place in their own vessels to India,
Persia, South Arabia, and through Egypt and the north of Arabia, for Rome.

Cosmas was evidently personally acquainted with the west coast of the
Indian peninsula. He enumerates the principal ports, especially those from
which pepper was shipped. This article he describes as a source of great
traffic and wealth. The great island of Sielidiba, or Ceylon, was the mart
of the commerce of the Indian ocean. Its ports were visited by vessels from
Persia, India, Ethiopia, South Arabia, and Tzinitza. If the last country is
China, of which there can be little doubt, as he mentions that the
Tzinitzae brought to Ceylon silk, aloes, cloves, and sandal-wood, and
expressly adds that their country produced silk,--Cosmas is the first
author who fully asserts the intercourse by sea between India and China.
Besides the foreign vessels which frequented the ports of Ceylon, the
native merchants carried on an extensive trade in their own vessels, and on
their own account. In addition to pepper from Mali on the coast of Malabar,
and the articles already enumerated from China, &c., copper, a wood
resembling ebony, and a variety of stuffs, were imported from Calliena, a
port shut to the Egyptian Greeks at the time of the Periplus; and from
Sindu they imported musk, castoreum, and spikenard. Ceylon was a depôt for
all these articles, which were exported, together with spiceries, and the
precious stones for which this island was famous.

Cosmas expressly states that he was not in Ceylon himself, but that he
derived his information respecting it and its trade from Sopatrus, a Greek,
who died about the beginning of the sixth century. This, as Dr. Vincent
observes, is a date of some importance: for it proves that the trade opened
by the Romans from Egypt to India direct, continued upon the same footing
from the reign of Claudius and the discovery of Hippalus, down to A.D.
500; by which means we came within 350 years of the Arabian voyage
published by Renaudot, and have but a small interval between the limit of
ancient geography and that of the moderns.

From this author we first learn that the Persians having overcome the
aversion of their ancestors to maritime enterprise, had established a
flourishing and lucrative commerce with India. All its principal ports were
visited by Persian merchants; and in most of the cities there were churches
in which the service was performed by priests, ordained by a Persian

We shall conclude our notice of Ceylon, as described by Cosmas, from the
account of Sopatrus, with mentioning a few miscellaneous particulars,
illustrative of the produce and commerce of the island. The sovereignty was
held by two kings; one called the king of the Hyacinth, or the district
above the Ghants, where the precious stones were found; the other possessed
the maritime districts. In Ceylon, elephants are sold by their height; and
he adds, that in India they are trained for war, whereas, in Africa, they
are taken only for their ivory. Various particulars respecting the natural
history of Ceylon and India, &c. are given, which are very accurate and
complete: the cocoa-nut with its properties is described: the pepper plant,
the buffalo, the camelopard, the musk animal, &c.: the rhinoceros, he says,
he saw only at a distance; he procured some teeth of the hippopotamus, but
never saw the animal itself. In the palace of the king of Abyssinia, the
unicorn was represented in brass, but he never saw it. It is extraordinary
that he makes no mention of cinnamon, as a production of Ceylon.

The most important points respecting the state of Eastern commerce in the
age of Cosmas, as established by his information, are the following: that
Ceylon was the central mart between the commerce of Europe, Africa, and the
west of India, and the east of India and China; that none of the foreign
merchants who visited Ceylon were accustomed to proceed to the eastern
regions of Asia, but received their silks, spices, &c. as they were
imported into Ceylon; and that, as cloves are particularly specified as
having been imported into Ceylon from China, the Chinese at this period
must have traded with the Moluccas on the one hand, and with Ceylon on the

Cosmas notices the great abundance of silk in Persia, which he attributes
to the short land carriage between it and China.

In our account of the very early trade of Carthage, a branch of it was
described from Herodotus, which the Carthaginians carried on, without the
use or intervention of words, with a remote African tribe. Of a trade
conducted in a similar manner, Cosmas gives us some information; according
to him, the king of the Axumites, on the east coast of Africa, exchanged
iron, salt, and cattle, for pieces of gold with an inland nation, whom he
describes as inhabiting Ethiopia. It may be remarked in confirmation of the
accuracy, both of Herodotus and of Cosmas, in what they relate on this
subject, and as an illustration and proof of the permanency and power of
custom among barbarous nations, that Dr. Shaw and Cadamosto (in Purchas's
Pilgrimage) describe the same mode of traffic as carried on in their times
by the Moors on the west coast of Africa, with the inhabitants of the banks
of the Niger.

In the middle of the sixth century, an immense and expensive fleet, fitted
out by the Emperor Justinian for the purpose of invading the Vandals of
Africa, gives us, in the detail of its preparation and exploits,
considerable insight into the maritime state of the empire at this period.
Justinian assembled at Constantinople 500 transports of various sizes,
which it is not easy exactly to calculate; the presumption derived from the
accounts we have is, that the smallest were 30 tons, and the largest 500
tons; and that the aggregate tonnage of the whole amounted to about 100,000
tons: an immense fleet, even compared with the fleets of modern times. On
board of this fleet there were 35,000 seamen and soldiers, and 5000 horses,
besides arms, engines, stores, and an adequate supply of water and
provisions, for a period, probably, of two or three months. Such were the
transports: they were accompanied and protected by 92 light brigantines,
for gallies were no longer used in the Mediterranean; on board of these
vessels were 2000 rowers. The celebrated Belisarius was the
commander-in-chief, both of the land and sea forces. The course of this
numerous and formidable fleet was directed by the master-galley in which he
sailed; this was conspicuous by the redness of its sails during the day,
and by torches fixed on its mast head during night. A circumstance occurred
during the first part of the voyage, which instructs us respecting the mode
of manufacturing the bread used on long voyages. When the sacks which
contained it were opened, it was found to be soft and unfit for use; and on
enquiring into the cause, the blame was clearly traced to the person by
whose orders it had been prepared. In order to save the expense of fuel, he
had ordered it to be baked by the same fire which warmed the baths of
Constantinople, instead of baking it twice in an oven, as was the usual and
proper practice. In the latter mode, a loss of one-fourth was calculated on
and allowed; and the saving occasioned by the mode adopted was probably
another motive with the person under whose superintendence the bread was

During the voyage from Methone, where fresh bread was taken on board to the
southern coast of Sicily, from which, according to modern language, they
were to take their departure for Africa, they were becalmed, and 161 days
were spent in this navigation. An incident is mentioned relating to this
part of the voyage, which points out the method used by the ancients to
preserve their water when at sea. As the general himself was exposed to the
intolerable hardship of thirst, or the necessity of drinking bad water,
that which was meant for his use was put into glass bottles, which were
buried deep in the sand, in a part of the ship to which the rays of the sun
could not reach. Three months after the departure of the fleet from
Constantinople, the troops were landed near Carthage; Belisarius being
anxious to effect this as soon as possible, as his men did not hesitate to
express their belief, that they were not able to contend at once with the
winds, the waves, and the barbarians. The result of this expedition was the
conquest of the African provinces, Sardinia, and Corsica.

The absurd and injudicious regulations of Justinian, respecting the corn
trade of the empire have been already noticed; nor did his other measures
indicate, either a better acquaintance with the principles of commerce, or
more regard to its interests. The masters of vessels who traded to
Constantinople were often obliged to carry cargoes for him to Africa or
Italy, without any remuneration; or, if they escaped this hardship,
enormous duties were levied on the merchandize they imported. A monopoly in
the sale of silk was granted to the imperial treasurer; and, indeed, no
species of trade seems to have been open and free, except that in cloth.
His addition of one-seventh to the ordinary price of copper, so that his
money-changers gave only 180 ounces of that metal, instead of 210, for
one-sixth of an ounce of gold, seems rather to have been the result of
ignorance than of fraud and avarice; since he did not alter the gold coin,
in which alone all public and private payments were made. At this time, the
geographical knowledge of the Romans, respecting what had formerly
constituted a portion of their empire, must have declined in a striking
manner, if we may judge from the absurd and fabulous account which
Procopius gives of Britain. And the commercial relations of the Britons
themselves had entirely disappeared, even with their nearest neighbours;
since, in the history of Gregory of Tours, there is not a single allusion
to any trade between Britain and France.

At the beginning of the seventh century we glean our last notice of any
event connected with the commerce and maritime enterprise of the Romans;
and the same period introduces us to the rising power and commerce of the

Alexandria, though its importance and wealth as a commercial city had long
been on the wane, principally by the removal of most of the oriental trade
to Persia, was still the commercial capital of the Mediterranean, and was
of the utmost importance to Constantinople, which continued to draw from it
an annual supply of about 250,000 quarters of corn; but in the beginning of
this century it was conquered by the Persians, and the emperor was obliged
to enter into a treaty with the conquerors, by which he agreed to pay a
heavy and disgraceful tribute for the corn which was absolutely necessary
for the support of his capital. But a sudden and most extraordinary change
took place in the character of Heraclius: he roused himself from his sloth,
indolence and despair; he fitted out a large fleet; exerted his skill, and
displayed his courage and coolness in a storm which it encountered; carried
his armies into Persia itself, and succeeded in recovering Egypt and the
other provinces which the Persians had wrested from the empire.

The very early commerce of the Arabians, by means of caravans, with India,
and their settlements on the Red Sea and the coasts of Africa and India at
a later period, for the purposes of commerce, have been already noticed.
Soon after they became the disciples of Mahomet, their commercial and
enterprizing spirit revived, if indeed it had ever languished; and it
certainly displayed itself with augmented zeal, vigour, and success, under
the influence of their new religion, and the genius and ambition of their
caliphs. Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and Spain, were successively
conquered by them; and one of their first and most favourite objects, after
they had conquered a country, was the amelioration or extension of its
commerce. When they conquered Persia, the trade between that country and
India was extensive and flourishing: the Persian merchants brought from
India its most precious commodities. The luxury of the kings of Persia
consumed a large quantity of camphire, mixed with wax, to illuminate their
palaces; and this must have been brought, indirectly, through India, from
Japan, Sumatra, or Borneo, the only places where the camphire-tree grows: a
curious and striking proof of the remote and extensive influence of the
commerce and luxury of Persia, at the time it was conquered by the
Arabians. The conquerors, aware of the importance of the Indian commerce,
and of the advantages which the Tigris and Euphrates afforded for this
purpose, very soon after their conquest, founded the city of Bassora: a
place, which, from its situation midway between the junction and the mouth
of these rivers, commands the trade and navigation of Persia. It soon rose
to be a great commercial city; and its inhabitants, directing their
principal attention and most vigorous enterprize to the East, soon pushed
their voyages beyond Ceylon, and brought, directly from the place of their
growth or manufacture, many of those articles which hitherto they had been
obliged or content to purchase in that island. Soon after the conquest of
Persia was completed, the Caliph Omar directed that a full and accurate
survey and description, of the kingdom should be made, which comprehended
the inhabitants, the cattle, and the fruits of the earth.

The conquest of Syria added comparatively little to the commerce of the
Arabians; but in the account which is given of this enterprize, we are
informed of a large fair, which was annually held at Abyla, between
Damascus and Heliopolis, where the produce and manufactures of the country
were collected and sold. In the account given of the conquest of Jerusalem
by the Arabians, we have also an account of another fair held at Jerusalem,
at which it is probable the goods brought from India by Bassora, the
Euphrates, and the caravans, were sold. As soon as the conquest of the
western part of Syria was completed, the Arabians took advantage of the
timber of Libanus, and of the maritime skill of the Phoenicians, which even
yet survived: they fitted out a fleet of 1,700 barks, which soon rode
triumphant in the Mediterranean. Cyprus, Rhodes, and the Cyclades, were
subdued, and Constantinople itself was attacked, but without effect.

The conquest of Egypt, however, was of the most importance to the Arabian
commerce, and therefore more especially demands our notice.--"In their
annals of conquest," as Gibbon remarks, "the siege of Alexandria is perhaps
the most arduous and important enterprize. The first trading city in the
world was abundantly replenished with the means of subsistence and
defence." But the Saracens were bold and skilful; the Greeks timid and
unwarlike; and Alexandria fell into the possession of the disciples of
Mahomet. As soon as the conquest of Egypt was completed, its administration
was settled, and conducted on the most wise and liberal principles. In the
management of the revenue, taxes were raised, not by the simple but
oppressive mode of capitation, but on every branch from the clear profits
of agriculture and commerce. A third part of these taxes was set apart,
with the most religious exactness, to the annual repairs of the dykes and
canals. At first, the corn which used to supply Constantinople was sent to
Medina from Memphis by camels; but Omrou, the conqueror of Egypt, soon
renewed the maritime communication "which had been attempted or achieved by
the Pharaohs, the Ptolemies, or the Cæsars; and a canal, at least eighty
miles in length, was opened from the Nile to the Red Sea. This inland
navigation, which would have joined the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean,
was soon, however, discontinued, as useless and dangerous;" and about the
year 775, A.D., it was stopped up at the end next the Red Sea.

The conquest of Africa, though not nearly so advantageous to the commerce
of the Arabians, was yet of some importance to them in this point of view:
it gradually extended from the Nile to the Atlantic Ocean. Tripoly was the
first maritime and commercial city which their arms reduced: Bugia and
Tangier were next reduced. Cairoan was formed as a station for a caravan; a
city, which, in its present decay, still holds the second rank in the
kingdom of Tunis. Carthage was next attacked and reduced; but an attempt
was made by forces sent from Constantinople, joined by the ships and
soldiers of Sicily, and a powerful reinforcement of Goths from Spain, to
retake it. The Arabian conquerors had drawn a strong chain across the
harbour; this the confederate fleet broke: the Arabians for a time were
compelled to retreat; but they soon returned, defeated their enemies, burnt
Carthage, and soon afterwards completed the conquest of this part of

The beginning of the eighth century is remarkable for their invasion of
Spain, and for their second fruitless attack on Constantinople; during the
latter, their fleet, which is said to have consisted of 1800 vessels, was
totally destroyed by the Greek fire. With regard to their conquest of
Spain, it was so rapid, that in a few months the whole of that great
peninsula, which for two centuries withstood the power of the Roman
republic at its greatest height, was reduced, except the mountainous
districts of Asturia and Biscay, Here also the Arabians displayed the same
attention to science by which they were distinguished in Asia: ten years
after the conquest, a map of the province was made, exhibiting the seas,
rivers, harbours, and cities, accompanied with a description of them, and
of the inhabitants, the climate, soil, and mineral productions. "In the
space of two centuries, the gifts of nature were improved by the
agriculture, the manufactures, and the commerce of an industrious people."
The first of the Ommiades who reigned in Spain, levied on the Christians of
that country, 10,000 ounces of gold, 10,000 pounds of silver, 10,000
houses, &c. "The most powerful of his successors derived from the same
kingdom the annual tribute of about six millions sterling. His royal seat
of Cordova contained 600 mosques, 900 baths, and 200,000 houses: he gave
laws to 80 cities of the first order, and to 300 of the second and third:
and 12,000 villages and hamlets were situated on the banks of the

The religious prejudices, as well as the interests of the Arabians, led
them to exclude the Christians from every channel through which they had
received the produce of India. That they were precluded from all commercial
intercourse with Egypt, is evident, from a fact noticed by Macpherson, in
his Annals of Commerce. Before Egypt was conquered by the Arabians,
writings of importance in Europe were executed on the Egyptian papyrus; but
after that period, at least till the beginning of the ninth century, they
are upon parchment.--This, as Macpherson observes, amounts almost to a
proof, that the trade with Egypt, the only country producing papyrus, was

In consequence of the supply of silks, spices, and other oriental luxuries
which Constantinople derived from the fair at Jerusalem, (still allowed by
the Arabians to be annually held,) not being sufficient for the demand of
that dissipated capital, and their price in consequence having very much
increased, some merchants were tempted to travel across Asia, beyond the
northern boundary of the Arabian power, and to import, by means of
caravans, the goods of China and India.

Towards the beginning of the ninth century, as we have already remarked,
the commercial relations of the Arabians and the Christians of Europe
commenced, and Alexandria was no longer closed to the latter. The merchants
of Lyons, Marseilles, and other maritime towns in the south of France, in
consequence of the friendship and treaties subsisting between Charlemagne
and the Caliph Haroun Al Rasched, traded with their ships twice a year to
Alexandria; from this city they brought the produce of Arabia and India to
the Rhone, and by means of it, and a land carriage to the Moselle and the
Rhine, France and Germany were supplied with the luxuries of the east. The
friendship between the emperor and the caliph seems in other cases to have
been employed by the former to the advancement of the commercial
intercourse between Asia and Europe; for we are expressly informed, that a
Jewish merchant, a favourite of Charlemagne, made frequent voyages to
Palestine, and returned with pictures,--merchandize before unknown in the

Hitherto we have viewed the Arabians chiefly as fostering and encouraging
commerce; but they also deserve our notice, for their attention to
geographical science and discoveries. From the period of their first
conquests, the caliphs had given orders to their generals to draw up
geographical descriptions of the countries conquered; and we have already
noticed some of these descriptions. In 833, A.D., the Caliph Almamon
employed three brothers of the name of Ben Schaker, to measure a degree of
latitude, first in the desert of Sangdaar, betweeen Racca and Palmyra, and
afterwards near Cufa, for the purpose of ascertaining the circumference of
the globe.

We now arrive at the era of a most important document, illustrative of the
commerce of the eastern parts of India and of China, with which we are
furnished by the Arabians: we allude to the "ancient Accounts of India and
China, by two Mahomedan travellers, who went to those parts in the ninth
century, translated from the Arabic by Renaudot." The genuineness and
authenticity of these accounts were for a long time doubted; but De
Guignes, from the Chinese annals, has completely removed all doubt on the

The most remarkable circumstance connected with this journey is, that in
the ninth century the Mahomedans should have been able to reach China; but
our surprise on this point will cease, when we consider the extent of the
Mahomedan dominions towards the east of Asia, the utmost limits of which,
in this direction, approached very nearly the frontiers of China. If,
therefore, they travelled by land, no serious difficulty would lie in their
way; but Renaudot thinks it more probable, that they proceeded thither by

According to these travellers, the Arabian merchants, no longer confining
themselves to a traffic at Ceylon for the commodities of the east of Asia,
traded to every part of that quarter of the globe, even as far as the south
coast of China. The account they give of the traffic with this latter
country, is very minute: "When foreign vessels arrive at Canfu, which is
supposed to be Canton, the Chinese take possession of their cargoes, and
store them in warehouses, till the arrival of all the other ships which are
expected: it thus happens that the vessels which first arrive are detained
six months. They then take about a third part of all the merchandize, as
duty, and give the rest up to the merchants: of these the emperor is the
preferable purchaser, but only for ready money, and at the highest price of
the market." One circumstance is particularly noticed, which proves, that
at this period the Arabians were numerous and respected in China; for a
cadi, or judge, of their own religion, was appointed to preside over them,
under the emperor. The Chinese are described as sailing along the coast as
far as the Persian Gulf, where they loaded their vessels with merchandize
from Bassora. Other particulars are mentioned, respecting their trade, &c.,
which agree wonderfully with what we know of them at present: they regarded
gold and silver merely as merchandize: dressed in silk, summer and winter:
had no wine, but drank a liquor made from rice. Tea is mentioned under the
name of _sak_--an infusion of this they drank, and a large revenue was
derived from the duty on it. Their porcelaine also is described and
praised, as equally fine and transparent as glass. Every male child was
registered as soon as born; at 18 he began to pay the capitation tax; and
at 80 was entitled to a pension.

These Arabian travellers likewise supply us with some information
respecting the trade of the Red Sea. The west side of it was in their time
nearly deserted by merchant ships; those from the Persian Gulf sailed to
Judda on the Arabian coast of it: here were always found many small
coasting vessels, by means of which the goods from India, Persia, &c. were
conveyed to Cairo. If this particular is accurate, it would seem to prove
that at this period the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, which had
been rendered navigable by Omrou, was regularly used for the purposes of

In these accounts, the typhon, or whirlwind, so common in the Chinese seas,
is mentioned under that appellation: the flying fish and unicorn are
described; and we have notices of ambergrise, the musk, and the animal from
which it is produced: the last is mentioned as coming from Thibet.

The next Arabian author, in point of time, from whom we derive information
respecting geography and commerce, is Massoudi. He died at Cairo in 957: he
was the author of a work describing the most celebrated kingdoms in Europe,
Africa, and Asia; but the details respecting Africa, India, and the lesser
Asia, are the most accurate and laboured. The account we shall afterwards
give of the geographical knowledge of the Arabians, renders it unnecessary
to present any abstract, in this place, of the geographical part of his
work; we shall therefore confine ourselves to the notices interspersed
respecting commerce. The Arabians traded to nearly every port of India,
from Cashmere to Cape Comorin; and seem to have been protected and
particularly favoured in their commercial pursuits. In the year 877 a great
rebellion occurred in China, and the Arabian merchants had been massacred
at Canfn. According to Massoudi, however, in his time this city had
recovered from its disasters; confidence had revived; the Arabian merchants
from Bassora, and other ports in Persia, resorted to it; and vessels from
India and the adjacent islands. He also describes a route to China by land
frequented by traders: this seems to have been through Korasin, Thibet, and
a country he calls Ilestan. With regard to the Arabian commerce with
Africa, the merchants settled at Omar traded to Sofala for gold, and to an
island, which is supposed to be Madagascar, where they had established

Of the geographical knowledge displayed by the next Arabian traveller in
point of date, [Ebor->Ebn] Haukal, we shall at present take no notice, for
the reason already assigned; but confine ourselves to his notices regarding
commerce. According to him, the most wealthy merchants resided at Siraf,
where they traded very extensively and successfully in the commodities of
India and China. Hormus was the principal trading place in Karmania; Daibul
in Sind: the merchants here traded to all parts. The countries near the
Caspian were celebrated for their manufactures of silk, wool, hair, and
gold stuffs. In Armenia, hangings and carpets, dyed with a worm or insect a
beautiful colour, called _kermez_, were made. Samarcand was celebrated for
the excellency of its paper. Trebezond was the principal trading place on
the Black Sea. Alexandria is celebrated for the grandeur of its buildings;
but its trade is not mentioned.

About the beginning of the eleventh century we derive our earliest notice
of the commerce of Spain under its Arabian conquerors. The port of
Barcelona was at this period the principal station for commercial
intercourse with the eastern nations bordering on the Mediterranean; and as
a proof of the character which its merchants held, it may be noticed, that
their usages were collected into a code: by this code all vessels arriving
at, or sailing from, Barcelona, are assured of friendly treatment; and they
are declared to be under the protection of the prince, so long as they are
near the coast of Catalonia. How much Spain was indebted to the Arabians
for their early commerce may be judged of from the number of commercial and
maritime terms in the Spanish language, evidently derived from the Arabic.

In the middle of the twelfth century, Al Edrissi composed at the court of
Roger King of Sicily, whose subject he was, his Geographical Amusements. In
this work we find little that relates to commerce: its geographical details
will assist us when we give our sketch of the geographical knowledge of the

In the work of [Ebor->Ebn] Al Ouardi, which was drawn up in 1232, Africa,
Arabia, and Syria are minutely described; but comparatively little is said
on Europe, India, and the North of Asia.

The next Arabian geographer in point of time is Abulfeda: he wrote a very
particular description of the earth, the countries being arranged according
to climates, with the latitude and longitude of each place. In the
introduction to this work he enters on the subject of mathematical
geography, and describes the most celebrated mountains, rivers, and seas of
the world. Abulfeda was a native of Syria; and this and the adjacent
countries are described with most fullness and accuracy: the same remark
applies to his description of Egypt and the north coast of Africa. The
information contained in his work, respecting Tartary, China, &c., is not
nearly so full and minute as might have been expected, considering the
intercourse of the Arabians with those countries. Of Europe, and all other
parts of Africa except Egypt and the north coast, he gives little or no

Within these very few years, some valuable notices have been received,
through M. Burckhardt, and Mr. Kosegarten of Jena, of Ibn Batouta, an
Arabian traveller of the fourteenth century. According to M. Burckhardt, he
is, perhaps, the greatest land traveller that ever wrote his travels. He
was a native of Tangier, and travelled for thirty years, from 1324 to 1354.
He traversed more than once Egypt, Syria, Arabia, Persia, the coast of the
Red Sea, and the eastern coast of Africa. Bochara, Balk, Samarcand, Caubul,
India, and China, were visited by him: he even ventured to explore several
of the Indian islands; crossed the mountains of Thibet, traversed India,
and then, taking shipping, went to Java. He again visited China, and
returned thence by Calicut, Yeman, Bagdad, and Damascus, to Cairo. After
having visited Spain, he directed his travels to Africa; reached the
capital of Morocco, and thence as far as Sodjalmasa. From this place he
crossed the Desert with the slave merchants to Taghary--twenty-five days
journey: he represents the houses here as built of rock salt, and covered
with camel skins. For twenty days more he crossed a desert without water or
trees, and the sand of which was so loose, that it left no traces of
footsteps. He now arrived at the frontier town of Soudan. After travelling
for some time longer, he reached the banks of the Niger, which, according
to the information he received, flowed into the Nile at the second
cataract. He visited Tombuctoo and other places in this part of Africa, and
finished his travels at Fez.

We shall now conclude our account of the Arabians, with a connected and
condensed view of their geographical knowledge.

It is natural to suppose that they would be best acquainted with those
countries which had embraced the faith of Mahomet; and that the prejudices
and contempt with which his disciples have always regarded Christians, and,
indeed, all who were of a different religion, would stand in the way of
their seeking or acquiring information respecting those portions of the
globe, the inhabitants of which were not of their faith. The exceptions to
this are to be found principally in those countries, from which they
derived the principal articles of their commerce; or which, though not
proselytized, were conquered by them.

Hence, Europe in general was scarcely known to them beyond their dominions
in Spain, and the adjacent parts of France. There are, however, exceptions
to this remark; for we find, scattered through their geographical works,
notices tolerably accurate and just respecting Ireland, Paris, Antharvat,
which seems to be England, the Duchy of Sleswig, the City of Kiov, and some
other places.

The whole of the north of Africa having been subdued, was thoroughly known
by them; and they seem to have extended their arms, or at least their
knowledge, as far into the interior as the banks of the Niger. On the east
side, their arms had penetrated to Sofala; but on the west their knowledge
does not appear to have reached beyond Cape Blanco, in the Bay of Arguin.
The fortunate islands of the ancients were known to them, and the Pike of
Teneriffe seems obscurely represented. Of the other islands and ports
farther to the south on this side of Africa, it is impossible to ascertain
their identity; or whether, as represented by the Arabians, they may not be
regarded as among those fables in geography, in which all the ancient
nations indulged. We may, however, trace some resemblance, in name or
description, to the Canary Islands, the River Senegal, and the Rio d'Ouro.
Malte Brun is of opinion, that their knowledge extended beyond Cape
Boyador, for so long a time impassable by the Portugese.

On the eastern side of Africa, the Ethiopia of the Arabians seems to have
terminated at Cape Corrientes: their power and religion were established
from the Cape to the Red Sea. In their geographical descriptions of this
part of Africa, we may trace many names of cities which they still retain.
But they adopted the error of Ptolemy in supposing that the southern parts
of Africa and Asia joined; for Edrisi describes an extensive country,
extending from the coast of Africa to that of India, beyond the Ganges.

The island of Madagascar seems to be faintly pourtrayed by them; and it is
certain that Arabian colonies and the Mahometan religion were established
in it from a very early period. Massoudi mentions an island, two days' sail
from Zanguebar, which he calls Phanbalu, the inhabitants of which were
Mahometans; and it is worthy of remark, as Malte Brun observes, that in the
time of Aristotle a large island in this Ocean was known under a similar
name, that of Phebol. It is surprizing that the island of Ceylon, with
which the Arabians had such regular and constant intercourse, should be
placed by Edrisi near the coast of Africa.

But it was in Asia that the conquest, and commerce, and religion of the
Arabians spread most extensively; and hence their geographical knowledge of
this part of the globe is more full, accurate, and minute, than what they
had acquired of the other portions. By their conquest of Persia, the
ancient Bactriana, Transoxiana, &c. fell into their power; and according to
their wise plan, they immediately made themselves acquainted with the
geography, productions, &c. of these countries. From their writers we can
glean many new and curious particulars, respecting the districts which lie
to the north and east of the Gihon: whether in all respects they are
accurate, cannot now be ascertained; for these districts, besides that they
are comparatively little known to the moderns, have suffered so much from
various causes, that their identity can hardly be determined.

On the west of Asia, near the Black Sea and the borders of Europe, the
Arabian geographers throw much light; their information is minute and
exact, and it reaches to the passes of Caucasus. Red Russia, it is well
known, derives its appellation from the colour of the hair of its
inhabitants. Now the Arabian geographers describe a Sclavonic nation,
inhabiting a country near Caucasus, called _Seclab_, remarkable for
the redness of their hair. Hence, it is probable that the modern
inhabitants of Red Russia, who are Sclavonic, emigrated to it from this
district of Caucasus.

Some notices appear of those parts, of Russia which border on Russia:
Maschput, which is represented as a city of consequence, probably is
Moscow. On the borders of the salt plains of Susith, a country is
described, called Boladal Rus, evidently Russia, the inhabitants of which
are represented as noted for their filth.

With the figure and extent of the Caspian Sea, the Arabian geographers were
tolerably well acquainted: and they describe, so as to be recognized,
several tribes inhabiting the borders of this sea, as well as the vicinity
of the Wolga. One is particularly noticed and celebrated, being called the
People of the Throne of Gold, the khan of whom lived at Seray, near the
mouth of the Wolga. To the east of the Caspian, the Arabian conquests did
not extend farther than those of Alexander and his immediate successors.
Transoxiana was the limit of their dominions towards the north, in this
part of the world.

Of many of the districts which the Arabians, conquered, in this part of
Asia, they have furnished us with such accurate and full information, that
modern discoveries have been able to add or correct very little. That they
were acquainted with Thibet and China, has already appeared, from the
account given of their commerce. Thibet they represent as divided into
three parts, Thibet upper, central, and lower. At the beginning of the
eighth century, Arabian ambassadors were sent to China: they passed through
Cashgar. After this period, journies to China by the route of Samarcand
were frequent. Besides Canfu, described by the Mahomedan travellers of
Renaudot, other cities in China were visited by the Arabian merchants, most
of which were in the interior; but the Arabian geographers seem to have
been puzzled by the Chinese names. We learn, however, that the provinces of
the north were distinguished from those of the south; the former were
called Cathay and Tehar Cathar, or Cathay, which produces tea: its capital
was Cambalu: the provinces in the south were called Tchin or Sin. The
appellation of Cathay was that under which alone China was long known to
the Europeans. Under the name of Sin, given to the southern districts, the
Arabian geographers frequently comprehended all the country to the Ganges.
The Arabians divided the present Hindostan into two parts; Sind and Hind:
the first seems to have comprised the countries lying on the Indus; Hind
lay to the east, and comprehended Delhi, Agra, Oude, Bengal, &c. The Decan,
at least the western part of it, belonged to Sind. The coast of Coromandel,
as well as the interior, was unknown to them. On the west or Malabar coast,
their information was full and accurate; but it terminated at Cape Comorin.

While part of the forces of the Caliph Walid were employed in the conquest
of Spain, another part succeeded in reducing Multan and Lahore; and the
Arabian geographers, always ready to take advantage of the success of their
arms, to promote geographical knowledge, describe their new eastern
conquests, and the countries which bordered on them, in the most glowing
language. The valley of Cashmere, in particular, affords ample matter for
their panegyrics. The towns of Guzerat, Cambay, and Narwhorra are
described: in the last resided the most powerful king of India; his kingdom
extended from Guzerat and Concan to the Ganges. The city of Benares,
celebrated as a school of Indian philosophy, and the almost impregnable
fortress of Gevatior, are mentioned by them, as well as a colony of Jews in
Cochin, and the Maldive islands: these they frequented to obtain cowries,
which then, as now, were used as money.

It is supposed that the isle of Sumatra is described by them under the name
of Lumery; for the peculiar productions are the same, and Sumatra was known
under the name of Lambry in the time of Marc Paul, and Mandeville. Java is
evidently meant by Al D'Javah: it is represented as rich in spices, but
subject to volcanic eruptions; circumstances by which it is yet
distinguished. A short period before the Portuguese reached these seas,
Arabian colonists established themselves at Ternate and some of the other
spice islands; and their language, religious opinions, and customs, may
clearly be traced in the Philippine islands.

From the geographical discoveries, the travels by sea and land, and the
commercial enterprize of the Arabians, we pass to those of the
Scandinavians; under that appellation, including not only the
Scandinavians, properly so called, who inhabited the shores of the Baltic
and the coasts of Norway, but also those people who dwelt on the northern
shores of the German Ocean; for they were of the same origin as the Baltic
nations, and resembled them in manners and pursuits.

By an inspection of the map it will appear, that all these tribes were
situated nearly as favorably for maritime enterprize as the nations which
inhabited the shores of the Mediterranean; and though their earliest
expeditions by sea were not stimulated by the same cause, commercial
pursuits, yet they arose from causes equally efficient. While the countries
bordering on the Mediterranean were blessed with a fertile soil and a mild
climate, those on the Baltic were comparatively barren and ungenial; their
inhabitants, therefore, induced by their situation to attend to maritime
affairs, were further led to employ their skill and power by sea, in
endeavouring to establish themselves in more favored countries, or, at
least, to draw from them by plunder, what they could not obtain in their

We have already mentioned the maritime expeditions of the Saxons, which
struck terror into the Romans, during the decline of their empire. The
other Scandinavian nations were acted on by the same causes and motives.
Neglecting the peaceful art of agriculture, inured to the sea from their
earliest years, and the profession and practice of piracy being regarded as
actually honourable by them, it is no wonder that their whole lives were
spent in planning or executing maritime expeditions. Their internal wars
also, by depriving many of their power or their property, compelled them to
seek abroad that which they had lost at home. No sooner had a prince
reached his eighteenth year, than he was entrusted by his father with a
fleet; and by means of it he was ordered and expected to add to his glory
and his wealth, by plunder and victory. Lands were divided into certain
portions, and from each portion a certain number of ships were to be fully
equipped for sea. Their vessels, as well as themselves, were admirably
adapted to the grand object of their lives; the former were well supplied
with stones, arrows, and strong ropes, with which they overset small
vessels, and with grappling irons to board them; and every individual was
skilful in swimming. Each band possessed its own ports, magazines, &c.
Their ships were at first small, being only a kind of twelve-oared barks;
they were afterwards so much enlarged, that they were capable of containing
100 or 120 men.

It is not our intention to notice the piratical expeditions of
Scandinavians, except so far as they tended to discovery, or commerce, or
were productive of permanent effects. Among the first countries to which
they directed themselves, and where they settled permanently, were England
and Ireland; the result of their settlement in England was the
establishment of the Anglo-Saxon dominion power in that kingdom; the result
of their expeditions to Ireland was their settlement on its eastern coasts.
In the middle of the ninth century, the native Irish had been driven by
them into the central and western parts of the country, while the
Scandinavian conquerors, under the appellation of Ostmen, or Eastmen,
possessed of all the maritime cities, carried on an extensive and lucrative
commerce, not only with their native land, but also with other places in
the west of Europe. Their settlements on the Shetland, Orkney, and western
islands of Scotland, are only mentioned, because in these last the
Scandinavians seem to have established and encouraged manufactures, the
forerunner and support of commerce; for towards the end of the ninth
century, the drapery of the Suderyans, (for so the inhabitants were called,
as their country lay to the south of Shetland and Orkney,) was much
celebrated and sought after.

About this period the Scandinavian nations began to mingle commerce and
discovery with their piratical expeditions. Alfred, king of England,
obliged to attend to maritime affairs, to defend his territories from the
Danes, turned his ardent and penetrating mind to every thing connected with
this important subject. He began by improving the structure of his vessels;
"the form of the Saxon ships (observes Mr. Strutt, who derives his
description from contemporary drawings) at the end of the eighth century,
or beginning of the ninth, is happily preserved in some of the ancient MSS.
of that date, they were scarcely more than a very large boat, and seem to
be built of stout planks, laid one over the other, in the manner as is done
in the present time; their heads and sterns are very erect, and rise high
out of the water, ornamented at top with some uncouth head of an animal,
rudely cut; they have but one mast, the top of which is also decorated with
a bird, or some such device; to this mast is made fast a large sail, which,
from its nature and construction, could only be useful when the vessel went
before the wind. The ship was steered with a large oar, with a flat end,
very broad, passing by the side of the stern; and this was managed by the
pilot, who sat in the stern, and thence issued his orders to the mariners."
The bird on the mast head, mentioned in this description, appears, from the
account of Canute's fleet, given in Du Cange, to have been for the purpose
of shewing the wind.

The same energy and comprehension of mind which induced and enabled Alfred
to improve his navy so much, led him to favour geographical pursuits and
commere. In his Anglo-Saxon translation of Orosius, he has inserted the
information he had obtained from two Scandinavians, Ohter and Wulfstan. In
this we have the most ancient description, that is clear and precise, of
the countries in the north of Europe. Ohter sailed from Helgoland in
Norway, along the coast of Lapland, and doubling the North Cape, reached
the White Sea. This cape had not before been doubled; nor was it again,
till in the middle of the 16th century, by Chancellor, the English
navigator, who was supposed at that time to be the original discoverer.
Ohter also made a voyage up the Baltic, as far as Sleswig. Wulfstan,
however, penetrated further into this sea than Ohter; for he reached Truse,
a city in Prussia, which he represents as a place of considerable trade.

Alfred even extended his views to India, whether stimulated by religious
views, or by the desire of obtaining its luxuries, is uncertain; perhaps
both motives operated on his mind. We know that the patriarch of Jerusalem
corresponded with him; and that the Christians of St. Thomas, in India,
would probably be mentioned in these letters: we also know, that about a
century before Alfred lived, the venerable Bede was possessed of pepper,
cinnamon, and frankincense. Whatever were Alfred's motives, the fact is
undoubted, that he sent one of his bishops to St. Thomas, who brought back
aromatic liquors, and splendid jewels. Alfred seems to have been rich in
the most precious commodities of the East; for he presented Asser, his
biographer, with a robe of silk, and as much incense as a strong man could
carry. After all, however, the commerce of England in his reign was
extremely limited: had it been of any importance, it would have been more
specially noticed and protected by his laws. It was otherwise, however, in
the reign of Athelstan; for there is a famous law made by him, by which the
rank and privileges of a thane are conferred on every merchant, who had
made three voyages across the sea, with a vessel and cargo of his own. By
another law passed in this reign, the exportation of horses was forbidden.

From this period till the conquest, England was prevented from engaging in
commerce by the constant irruption of the Danes, and by the short duration
of their sovereignty after they had succeeded in obtaining it. There are,
however, even during this time, some notices on the subject; as appears
from the laws of Ethelred: by these, tolls were established on all boats
and vessels arriving at Billingsgate, according to their size. The men of
Rouen, who brought wine and large fish, and those from Flanders, Normandy,
and other parts of France, were obliged to shew their goods, and pay the
duties; but the emperor's men, who came with their ships, were more
favoured, though they were not exempt from duty.

From what relates to the geographical knowledge and the commerce of the
Scandinavian inhabitants of England, we shall now pass on to the
geographical discoveries and commerce of the other Scandinavian nations.

About the year 861, a Scandinavian vessel, probably on its voyage to
Shetland or Orkney, discovered the Feroe islands. This discovery, and the
flight of some birds, induced the Scandinavians to believe that there was
other land in the vicinity of these islands. About ten years afterwards,
Iceland was discovered by some Norwegian nobility and their dependants, who
were obliged to leave their native country, in consequence of the tyranny
of Harold Harfragre. According to some accounts, however, Iceland had been
visited by a Norwegian pirate a few years before this; and if the
circumstance mentioned in the Icelandic Chronicles be true, that wooden
crosses, and other little pieces of workmanship, after the manner of the
Irish and Britons, were found in it, it must have been visited before the
Scandinavians arrived. The new colonists soon acquired a thorough knowledge
of the size of the island; for they expressly state, that its circumference
is 168 leagues, 15 to a degree, which corresponds with the most accurate
modern measurement.

Iceland soon became celebrated for its learning; the history of the North,
as well as its geography, is much indebted to its authors: nor were its
inhabitants, though confined to a cold and sterile land very remote from
the rest of Europe, inattentive to commerce; for they carried on a
considerable trade in the northern seas,--their ships visiting Britain,
Ireland, France, Germany, &c.; and there is even an instance of their
having made a commercial voyage as far as Constantinople.

To them the discovery of Greenland and of America is due. The first took
place about the beginning of the tenth century: a colony was immediately
established, which continued till it was destroyed by a pestilence in the
14th century, and by the accumulation of ice, which prevented all
communication between Iceland and Greenland.

The discovery of America took place in the year 1001: an Icelander, in
search of his father who was in Greenland, was carried to the south by a
violent wind. Land was discovered at a distance, flat, low, and woody. He
did not go on shore, but returned. His account induced a Norwegian nobleman
to fit out a ship to explore this new land; after sailing for some time,
they descried a flat shore, without verdure; and soon afterwards a low land
covered with wood. Two days' prosperous sailing brought them to a third
shore, on the north of which lay an island: they entered, and sailed up a
river, and landed. Pleased with the temperature of the climate, the
apparent fertility of the soil, and the abundance of fish in the rivers,
they resolved to pass the winter in this country; and they gave it the name
of Vinland, from the quantity of small grapes which they found growing. A
colony was soon afterwards formed, who traded with the natives; these are
represented as of diminutive stature, of the same race as the inhabitants
of the west part of Greenland, and as using leathern canoes. The
merchandize they brought consisted chiefly of furs, sables, the skins of
white rats, &c.; and they principally and most eagerly requested, in
exchange, hatchets and arms. It appears from the Icelandic Chronicles, that
a regular trade was established between this country and Norway, and that
dried grapes or raisins were among the exports. In the year 1121, a bishop
went from Greenland for the purpose of converting the colonists of Vinland
to the Christian religion: after this period, there is no information
regarding this country. This inattention to the new colony probably arose
from the intercourse between the west of Greenland and Iceland having
ceased, as we have already mentioned, and from the northern nations having
been, about this period, wasted by a pestilence, and weakened and
distracted by feuds. Of the certainty of the discovery there can be no
doubt: the Icelandic Chronicles are full and minute, not only respecting
it, but also respecting the transactions which took place among the
colonists, and between them and the natives. And Adam of Bremen, who lived
at this period, expressly states, that the king of Denmark informed him,
that another island had been discovered in the ocean which washes Norway,
called Vinland, from the vines which grew there; and he adds, we learn, not
by fabulous hearsay, but by the express report of certain Danes, that
fruits are produced without cultivation. Ordericus Vitalis, in his
Ecclesiastical History, under the year 1098, reckons Vinland along with
Greenland, Iceland, and the Orkneys, as under the dominion of the king of

Where then was Vinland?--it is generally believed it was part of America;
and the objections which may be urged against this opinion, do not appear
to us to be of much weight. It is said that no part of America could be
reached in four days, the space of time in which the first discoverer
reached this land, and in which the voyages from Greenland to it seem
generally to have been made. But the west part of Greenland is so near some
part of America, that a voyage might easily be effected in that time. In
answer to the objection, that vines do not grow in the northern parts of
America, where Vinland, if part of this continent, must be fixed, it may be
observed, that in Canada the vine bears a small fruit; and that still
further north, in Hudson's Bay, according to Mr. Ellis, vines grew
spontaneously, producing a fruit which he compares to the currants of the
Levant. The circumstances mentioned in the Icelandic Chronicles respecting
the natives, that their canoes are made of skins; that they are very expert
with their bows and arrows; that on their coasts they fish for whales, and
in the interior live by hunting; that their merchandize consists of
whalebone and furs; that they are fond of iron, and instruments made of it;
and that they were small in stature, all coincide with what we know to be
characterestic of the inhabitants of Labrador. It is probable, therefore,
that this part of America, or the island of Newfoundland, was the Vinland
discovered by the Icelanders.

The beginning and middle of the tenth century witnessed an increasing
spirit of commerce, as well as considerable attention to geographical
pursuits in other Scandinavian nations, as well as the Icelanders.
Periodical public fairs were established in several towns of Germany, and
other parts of the North: one of the most considerable articles of traffic
at these fairs consisted of slaves taken in war. Sleswig is represented as
a port of considerable trade and consequence; from it sailed ships to
Slavonia, Semland, and Greece, or rather, perhaps, Russia. From a port on
the side of Jutland, opposite to Sleswig, vessels traded to Frisca, Saxony,
and England; and from another port in Jutland they sailed to Fionia,
Scania, and Norway. Sweden is represented as, at this time, carrying on an
extensive and lucrative trade. At the mouth of the Oder, on the south side
of the Baltic, there seems to have been one, if not two towns which were
enriched by commerce.

For most of these particulars respecting the commerce of the Baltic and
adjacent seas, at this period, we are indebted to Adam of Bremen. He was
canon of Bremen in the eleventh century: and from the accounts of the
missionaries who went into Lapland, and other parts of the North, to
convert the inhabitants to Christianity, the information he received from
the king of Denmark, and his own observations, he drew up a detailed
account of the Scandinavian kingdoms. His description of Jutland is full,
and he mentions several islands in the Baltic, which are not noticed by
prior writers. He also treats of the interior parts of Sweden, the coasts
only of which had been previously made known by the voyages published by
king Alfred. Of Russia, he informs us that it was a very extensive kingdom,
the capital of which was Kiev; and that the inhabitants traded with the
Greeks in the Black Sea. So far his information seems to have been good;
but though his account of the south coasts of the Baltic is tolerably
correct, yet he betrays great ignorance in most of what he says respecting
the northern parts of the Baltic. In his work the name Baltic first Occurs.
His geographical descriptions extend to the British isles; but of them he
relates merely the fabulous stories of Solinus, &c. The figure of the
earth, and the cause of the inequality of the length of the day and night,
were known to Adam of Bremen.

About the middle of the twelfth century, Lubeck was founded; and it soon
became a place of considerable trade, being the resort of merchants from
all the countries of the North, and having a mint, custom-house, &c. We
shall afterwards be called upon to notice it more particularly, when we
come to trace the origin and history of the Hanseatic League. At present we
shall only mention, that within thirty years after it was founded, and
before the establishment of the League, Lubeck was so celebrated for its
commerce, that the Genoese permitted its merchants to trade in the
Mediterranean on board their vessels, on the same footing with their own
citizens. The success of the Lubeckers stimulated the other inhabitants of
this part of the Baltic shores; and the bishop of Lunden founded a city in
Zealand, for the express purpose of being a place of trade, as its name,
Keopman's haven, Chapman's haven, (Copenhagen,) implies. Towards the close
of this century, Hamburgh is noticed as a place of trade.

The two cities of Lubeck and Hamburgh are generally regarded as having laid
the foundation of the Hanseatic League. This League was first formed,
solely to protect the carriage by land of merchandize between these cities;
it is supposed to have been began about the middle of the thirteenth
century. Other cities soon joined the League, and its objects became more
multiplied and extensive; but still having the protection and encouragement
of their commerce principally in view. The total number of confederated
cities was between seventy and eighty. Lubeck was fixed upon as the head of
the League: in it the assemblies met, and the archives were preserved.
Inland commerce, the protection of which had given rise to the League, was
still attended to; but the maritime commerce of the Baltic, as affording
greater facilities and wealth, was that with which the League chiefly
occupied itself. The confederated cities were the medium of exchange
between the productions of Germany, Flanders, France, and Spain; and the
timber, metals, fish, furs, &c. of the countries on this sea.

The conquest and conversion of the pagan countries between the Vistula and
the Gulf of Finland, by the Teutonic knights, was favourable to the
commercial views of the confederated cities; for the conquerors obliged the
natives to confine their attention and labour exclusively to agriculture,
permitting Germans alone to carry on commerce, and engage in trade. Hence
Germans emigrated to these countries; and the League, always quicksighted
to their own interests, soon connected themselves with the new settlers,
and formed commercial alliances, which were recognized and protected by the
Teutonic knights. Elbing, Dantzic, Revel, and Riga, were thus added to the
League--cities, which, from their situation, were admirably calculated to
obtain and forward the produce of the interior parts of Poland and Russia.

The northern countries of the Baltic shore, in a great measure inattentive
to commerce, and distracted by wars, were supplied by the League with
money, on condition that they should assign to them the sources of wealth
which their mines supplied, and moreover grant them commercial privileges,
immunities, and establishments. Lubeck was chiefly benefited and enriched
by the treaties thus formed; for she obtained the working of the mines of
Sweden and Norway, which do not seem to have been known, and were certainly
not productively and effectively worked before this time. The League also
obtained, by various means, the exclusive herring fishery of the Sound,
which became a source of so much wealth, that the "fishermen were
superintended, during the season, with as much jealousy as if they had been
employed in a diamond mine."

Towards the close of the thirteenth century, the king of Norway permitted
the League to establish a factory and the staple of their northern trade at
Bergen. A singular establishment seems soon to have been formed here: at
first the merchants of the League were permitted to trade to Bergen only in
the summer months; but they afterwards were allowed to reside here
permanently, and they formed twenty-one large factories, all the members of
which were unmarried, and lived together in messes within their factories.
Each factory was capable of accommodating about one hundred merchants, with
their servants. Their importations consisted of flax, corn, biscuit, flour,
malt, ale, cloth, wine, spirituous liquors, copper, silver, &c.; and they
exported ship-timber, masts, furs, butter, salmon, dried cod, fish-oil, &c.

As the grand object of the League was to secure to themselves the profits
arising from the mutual supply of the north and south of Europe, with the
merchandize of each, they had agents in France, Spain, &c. as well as in
the countries on the Baltic. England, at this period, did not carry on much
commerce, nor afford much merchandize or produce for exportation; yet even
in it the Hanseatic League established themselves. Towards the end of the
thirteenth century they had a factory in London, and were allowed to export
wool, sheep's skins, and tin, on condition that they kept in repair the
gate of the city called Bishopsgate: they were also allowed the privilege
of electing an alderman.

Bruges, which is said to have had regular weekly fairs for the sale of the
woollen manufactures of Flanders so early as the middle of the tenth
century, and to have been fixed upon by the Hanseatic League, in the middle
of the thirteenth, as an entrepôt for their trade, certainly became, soon
after this latter period, a city of great trade, probably from its
connection with the Hanseatic League, though it never was formally admitted
a member. We shall afterwards have occasion to notice it in our view of the
progress of the Hanseatic League.

As the commerce of the League encreased and extended in the Baltic, it
became necessary to fix on some depôt. Wisby, a city in the island of
Gothland, was chosen for this purpose, as being most central. Most
exaggerated accounts are given of the wealth and splendour to which its
inhabitants rose, in consequence of their commercial prosperity. It is
certain that its trade was very considerable, and that it was the resort of
merchants and vessels from all the north of Europe: for, as the latter
could not, in the imperfect state of navigation, perform their voyage in
one season, their cargoes were wintered and lodged in magazines on shore.
At this city was compiled a code of maritime laws, from which the modern
naval codes of Denmark and Sweden are borrowed; as those of Wisby were
founded on the laws of Oleren, (which will be noticed when we treat of the
commerce of England during this period,) and on the laws of Barcelona, of
which we have already spoken; and as these again were, in a great measure,
borrowed from the maritime code of Rhodes.

But to return to the more immediate history of the Hanseatic
League,--about the year 1369 their power in the Baltic was so great, that
they engaged in a successful war with the king of Denmark, and obliged him,
as the price of peace, to deliver to them several towns which were
favourably situated for their purpose.

The Hanseatic League, though they were frequently involved in disputes, and
sometimes in wars, with France, Flanders, Holland, Denmark, England, and
other powers, and though they undoubtedly aimed at, not only the monopoly,
but also the sovereignty of the Baltic, and encroached where-ever they were
permitted to fix themselves, yet were of wonderful service to civilization
and commerce. "In order to accomplish the views of nature, by extending the
intercourse of nations, it was necessary to open the Baltic to commercial
relations; it was necessary to instruct men, still barbarous, in the
elements of industry, and to familiarize them in the principles of
civilization. These great foundations were laid by the confederation; and
at the close of the fifteenth century, the Baltic and the neighbouring seas
had, by its means, become frequented routes of communication between the
North and the South. The people of the former were enabled to follow the
progress of the latter in knowledge and industry." The forests of Sweden,
Poland, &c. gave place to corn, hemp, and flax; the mines were wrought;
and, in return, the produce and manufactures of the South were received.
Towns and villages were erected in Scandinavia, where huts only were before
seen: the skins of the bear and wolf were exchanged for woollens, linens,
and silks: learning was introduced; and printing was scarcely invented
before it was practised in Denmark, Sweden, &c.

It was at this period that the Hanse towns were the most flourishing; and
that Bruges, largely partaking of their prosperity, and the sole staple for
all their goods, rose to its highest wealth and consequence, and, in fact,
was the grand entrepôt of the trade of Europe. The Hanse towns were at this
time divided into four classes: Lubeck was at the head of the whole League;
in it the meetings of the deputies from the other towns were held, and the
archives of the League were kept. Under it were Hamburgh, Rostok, Wismar,
and other nine towns situated in the north of Germany. Cologne was the
chief city of the second class, with twenty-nine towns under it, lying in
that part of Germany. Brunswick was the capital of the third class, having
under it twelve towns, farther to the south than those under Lubeck.
Dantzic was at the head of the fourth class, having under it eight towns in
its vicinity, besides some smaller ones more remote. The four chief
factories of the League were Novogorod in Russia, London, Bruges, and

From this period till the middle of the sixteenth century, their power,
though sometimes formidable, and their commerce, though sometimes
flourishing, were both on the decline. Several causes contributed to this:
they were often engaged in disputes, and not unfrequently in wars, with the
northern powers. That civilization, knowledge, and wealth, to which, as we
have remarked, they contributed so essentially, though indirectly, and
without having these objects in view, disposed and enabled other powers to
participate in the commerce which they had hitherto exclusively carried on.
It was not indeed to be supposed, that either the monarchs or the subjects
would willingly and cheerfully submit to have all their own trade in the
very heart of their own country conducted, and the fruit of it reaped by
foreign merchants. They, therefore, first used their efforts to gain
possession of their own commerce, and then aspired to participate in the
trade of other countries; succeeding by degrees, and after a length of
time, in both these objects, the Hanseatic League was necessarily depressed
in the same proportion.

The Dutch and the English first began to seek a participation in the
commerce of the North. The chief cities which formed the republic of
Holland had been among the earliest members or confederates of the League,
and when they threw off the yoke of Germany, and attached themselves to the
house of Bourbon, they ceased to form part of the League; and after much
dispute, and even hostility with the remaining members of it, they
succeeded in obtaining a part of the commerce of the Baltic, and commercial
treaties with the king of Denmark, and the knights of the Teutonic order.

The commerce of the League was also curtailed in the Baltic, where it had
always been most formidable and flourishing, by the English, who, in the
beginning of the fifteenth century, gained admission for their vessels into
Dantzic and the ports of Sweden and Denmark. The only port of consequence
in the northern nations, to which the ships of the League were exclusively
admitted, was Bergen, which at this period was rather under their dominion
than under that of Norway. In the middle of the sixteenth century, however,
they abandoned it, in consequence of disputes with the king of Denmark.
About the same time they abandoned Novogorod, the czar having treated their
merchants there in a very arbitrary and tyrannical manner. These, and other
circumstances to which we have already adverted, made their commerce and
power decline; and, towards the beginning of the seventeenth century, they
had ceased to be of much consequence. Though, however, the League itself at
this period had lost its influence and commerce, yet some cities, which had
been from the first members of it, still retained a lucrative trade: this
remark applies chiefly to Lubeck and Hamburgh; the former of these cities
possessed, about the middle of the seventeenth century, 600 ships, some of
which were very large; and the commerce by which Hamburgh is still
distinguished, is in some measure the result of what it enjoyed as a member
of the Hanseatic League.

We shall now turn our attention to the Italian states: Venice and Amalfi
were the first which directed their labours to the arts of domestic
industry, the forerunners and causes of commercial prosperity. New wants
and desires being created, and a taste for elegance and luxury formed,
foreign countries were visited. Muratori mentions several circumstances
which indicate a revival of a commercial spirit; and, as Dr. Robertson
remarks, from the close of the seventh century, an attentive observer may
discern faint traces of its progress. Indeed, towards the beginning of the
sixth century, the Venetians had become so expert at sea, that Cassiodorus
addressed a letter to the maritime tribunes of Venice, (which is still
extant,) in which he requests them to undertake the transporting of the
public stores of wine and oil from Istria to Ravenna. In this letter, a
curious but rather poetical account is given of the state of the city and
its inhabitants: all the houses were alike: all the citizens lived on the
same food, viz. fish: the manufacture to which they chiefly applied
themselves was salt; an article, he says, more indispensable to them than
gold. He adds, that they tie their boats to their walls, as people tie
their cows and horses in other places.

In the middle of the eighth century, the Venetians no longer confined their
navigation to the Adriatic, but ventured to double the southern promontory
of Greece, and to trade to Constantinople itself. The principal merchandize
with which they freighted their ships, on their return-voyage, consisted of
silk, the rich produce of the East, the drapery of Tyre, and furs; about a
century afterwards, they ventured to trade to Alexandria. Amalfi, Genoa,
and Pisa followed their example; but their trade never became very
considerable till the period of the crusades, when the treasures of the
West were in fact placed in their hands, and thus fresh vigour was given to
their carrying trade, manufactures, and commerce.

There are a few notices, however, respecting the commerce of Venice, and
the other states of Italy, prior to the crusades, which it may be necessary
very briefly to give. About the year 969, Venice and Amalfi are
represented, by contemporary authors, as possessing an equal share of
trade. The latter traded to Africa, Constantinople, and, it would appear,
to some ports in the east end of the Mediterranean; and Italy, as well as
the rest of Europe, entirely depended on these two states for their supply
of the produce of the East. At the beginning of the eleventh century, the
citizens of Amalfi seem to nave got the start of the Venetians in the favor
and commerce of the Mahomedan states of the East: they were permitted to
establish factories in the maritime towns, and even in Jerusalem; and those
privileges were granted them expressly because they imported many articles
of merchandize hitherto unknown in the East.

In the middle of the same century, Pisa rose into eminence for its
commerce; it traded principally with the Saracen king of Sicily, and with
Africa. The Genoese also, at this period, are represented as possessing a
large portion of the trade of the Levant, particularly of Joppa.

As the most lucrative branch of commerce of all the Italian states was that
in the productions of the East, and as these could only be obtained through
Constantinople or Egypt, each state was eager to gain the favor of rulers
of these places. The favor of the Greek emperor could be obtained
principally by affording him succours against his enemies; and these the
Venetians afforded in 1082 so effectually, that, in return, they were
allowed to build a number of warehouses at Constantinople, and were
favoured with exclusive commercial privileges. Dalmatia and Croatia were
also ceded to them.

We now come to the period of the crusades, from which may be dated the
rapid increase of the commerce and power of the Italian states. As none of
the other European powers had ships numerous enough to convey the crusaders
to Dalmatia, whence they marched to Constantinople, the fleets of Venice,
Pisa, and Genoa were employed for this purpose. But before they agreed to
lend their fleets, they bargained, that on the reduction of any city
favorable to commerce, they should be permitted to trade there without duty
or molestation, and be favoured with every privilege and protection which
they might desire. In consequence of this bargain, they obtained, in some
places, the exclusive right over whole streets, and the appointment of
judges to try all who lived in them, or traded under their protection.

A quarrel which took place between the Venetians and the Greek Emperor
Manuel, in 1171, is worthy of notice, as being connected with the origin of
the bank of Venice. The republic not being able to supply, from its own
sources, the means of carrying on the war, was obliged to raise money from
her citizens. To regulate this the chamber of loans was established: the
contributors to the loan were made creditors to the chamber, and an annual
interest of 4 per cent. was allotted to them. If this rate of interest was
not compulsive, it is a sure criterion of a most flourishing state of
trade, and of very great abundance of money; but there is every reason to
believe if was compulsive.

At the beginning of the 13th century, Constantinople was conquered by the
Venetians, and the leaders of the fourth crusade: this event enabled them
to supply Europe more abundantly with all the productions of the East. In
the partition of the Greek empire which followed this success, the
Venetians obtained part of the Peloponnesus, where, at that period, silk
was manufactured to a great extent. By this accession, to which was added
several of the largest islands in the Archipelago, their sea coast extended
from Venice to Constantinople: they likewise purchased the isle of Crete.
The whole trade of the eastern Roman empire was thus at once transferred to
the Venetians; two branches of which particularly attracted their
attention,--the silk trade and that with India. The richest and most rare
kinds of silk were manufactured at Constantinople; and to carry on this
trade, many Venetians settled themselves in the city, and they soon
extended it very considerably, and introduced the manufacture itself into
Venice, with so much success, that the silks of Venice equalled those of
Greece and Sicily. The monopoly of the trade of the Black Sea was also
obtained by them, after the capture of Constantinople; and thus some of the
most valuable articles of India and China were obtained by them, either
exclusively, or in greater abundance, and at a cheaper rate than they could
be procured by any other route. In consequence of all these advantages,
Venice was almost the sole channel of commerce in this part of Europe,
during the period of the Latin empire in Constantinople. This empire,
however, was of very short continuance, not lasting more than 57 years.

In the interval, the merchants of Florence became distinguished for their
commercial transactions, and particularly by becoming dealers in money by
exchange, and by borrowing and lending on interest. In order to carry on
this new branch of traffic, they had agents and correspondents in different
cities of Europe; and thus the remittance of money by bills of exchange was
chiefly conducted by them. Other Italian states followed their example; and
a new branch of commerce, and consequently a new source of wealth, was thus
struck out.

In the year 1261, the Greek emperor regained Constantinople through the
assistance of the Genoese; and the latter, as usual, were amply repaid for
their services on this occasion. Pera, the chief suburb of Constantinople,
was allotted to them: here they had their own laws, administered by their
own magistrates; and they were exempted from the accustomed duties on goods
imported and exported. These privileges raised their commerce in this part
of the world above that of the Venetians and Pisans; who, however, were
still permitted to retain their factories. The Genoese soon began to aim at
more extensive power and trade; and under the pretext that the Venetians
were going to attack their new settlement, they obtained permission to
surround it, and their factories in the neighbouring coasts, with
fortifications. The trade of the Black Sea was under the dominion of the
Greek emperor, who, by the possession of Constantinople, commanded its
narrow entrance: even the sultan of Egypt solicited liberty to send a
vessel annually to purchase slaves in Circassia and Lesser Tartary. The
Genoese eagerly looked to participating in the valuable commerce of this
sea; and this object they soon obtained. In return they supplied the Greeks
with fish and corn. "The waters of the Don, the Oxus, the Caspian, and the
Wolga, opened a rare and laborious passage for the gems and spices of
India; and after three months march, the caravans of Carizme met the
Italian vessels in the harbours of the Crimea." These various branches of
trade were monopolized by the diligence and power of the Genoese; and their
rivals of Venice and Pisa were forcibly expelled. The Greek emperor,
alarmed at their power and encroachments, was at length engaged in a
maritime war with them; but though he was assisted by the Venetians, the
Genoese were victorious.

The Venetians, who were thus driven from a most lucrative commerce,
endeavoured to compensate for their loss by extending their power and
commerce in other quarters: they claimed and received a toll on all vessels
navigating the Adriatic, especially from those sailing between the
south-point of Istria and Venice. But their commerce and power on the
Adriatic could be of little avail, unless they regained at least a portion
of that traffic in Indian merchandize, which at this period formed the
grand source of wealth. Constantinople, and consequently the Black Sea, was
shut up from them: on the latter the Genoese were extending their traffic;
they had seized on Caffa from the Tartars, and made it the principal
station of their commerce. The Venetians in this emergency looked towards
the ancient route to India, or rather the ancient depôt for Indian goods,--
Alexandria: this city had been shut against Christians for six centuries;
but it was now in the possession of the sultan of the Mamalukes, and he was
more favourable to them. Under the sanction of the Pope, the Venetians
entered into a treaty of commerce with the sultans of Egypt; by which they
were permitted to have one consul in Alexandria, and another in Damascus.
Venetian merchants and manufacturers were settled in both these cities. If
we may believe Sir John de Mandeville, their merchants frequently went to
the island of Ormus and the Persian Gulf, and sometimes even to Cambalu. By
their enterprize the Indian trade was almost entirely in their possession;
and they distributed the merchandize of the East among the nations of the
north of Europe, through Bruges and the Hanseatic League, and traded even
directly in their own vessels to England.

In the beginning of the fifteenth century, the annual value of the goods
exported from Venice amounted to ten millions of ducats; and the profits on
the home and outward voyages, were about four millions. Their shipping
consisted of 3000 vessels, of from 10 to 200 amphoras burden, carrying
17,000 sailors; 300 ships with 8000 seamen; and 45 gallies of various
sizes, manned by 11,000 seamen. In the dock-yard, 16,000 carpenters were
usually employed. Their trade to Syria and Egypt seems to have been
conducted entirely, or chiefly, by ready money; for 500,000 ducats were
sent into those countries annually: 100,000 ducats were sent to England.
From the Florentines they received annually 16,000 pieces of cloth: these
they exported to different ports of the Mediterranean; they also received
from the Florentines 7000 ducats weekly, which seems to have been the
balance between the cloth they sold to the Venetians, and the French and
Catalan wool, crimson grain, silk, gold and silver thread, wax, sugar,
violins, &c., which they bought at Venice. Their commerce, especially the
oriental branch of it, increased; and by the conquest of Constantinople by
the Turks, the consequence of which was the expulsion of the Genoese, they
were enabled, almost without a rival, to supply the encreasing demand of
Europe for the productions of the East. Their vessels visited every port of
the Mediterranean, and every coast of Europe; and their maritime commerce,
about the end of the fifteenth century, was probably greater than that of
all the rest of Europe. Their manufactures were also a great source of
wealth; the principal were silk, cloth of gold and silver, vessels of gold
and silver, and glass. The discovery of a passage to the East Indies by the
Cape of Good Hope, the powerful league of Cambray, and other circumstances,
weakened and gradually destroyed their commerce and power.

We have said that they supplied almost, without a rival, the demand in
Europe for the produce of the East. That rival was Florence: the success of
her merchants in a new branch of commerce has been already noticed. The
profits they derived from lending money on interest, and from negociating
bills of exchange, aided by their profits on their manufactures, for which,
particularly those of silk and woollen, they were celebrated so early as
the beginning of the fourteenth century, had rendered Florence one of the
first cities of Europe, and many of its merchants extremely rich. In the
year 1425, having purchased the port of Leghorn, they resolved, if
possible, to partake in the commerce of Alexandria. A negociation was
accordingly opened with the sultan: the result of which was, that the
Florentines obtained some share in the Indian trade; and soon afterwards it
appears that they imported spices into England. It is supposed, that the
famous family of the Medici were extensively concerned in the Indian trade
of Florence. Cosmo de Medici was the greatest merchant of the age: he had
agents and money transactions in every part of Europe; and his immense
wealth not only enabled him to gratify his love for literature and the fine
arts, but also to influence the politics of Italy, and occasionally of the
more remote parts of Europe. In the time of Lorenzo de Medici, about the
close of the fifteenth century, the commercial intercourse between Florence
and Egypt was greatly extended. Florence, indeed, was now in the zenith of
her prosperity; after this period her commerce declined, principally from
the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope.

In these brief notices of the commerce of the principal Italian states,
Venice, Genoa, and Florence, in the days of their greatest glory, we have
purposely omitted any reference to the other states, except stating a fact
or two relating to Amalfi and Pisa, during that period, when they nearly
rivalled the three great states. It will be proper, however, to subjoin to
this account of Italian commerce, as it existed prior to the discovery of
the Cape of Good Hope, some important facts respecting Amalfi, Pisa, Milan,
Modena, &c., in order that our sketch, though necessarily brief, may not be

A great rivalship existed between Pisa and Amalfi in the twelfth century,
arising chiefly from commercial jealousy; and this rivalship leading to
war, Amalfi was twice taken and pillaged by the Pisans, who, indeed, during
the zenith of their power, had repeatedly triumphed over the Saracens of
Africa and Spain. Amalfi, however, soon recovered; but we possess no
memorials of her commerce after this period, which deserve insertion here.
Her maritime laws, the date of which is uncertain, seem to have been
generally adopted by the Italian states.

Towards the end of the twelfth century, the power and commerce of Pisa were
at their height: it partook, with Genoa and Venice, of the advantages
derived from the trade of Constantinople. In the beginning of the next
century, however, we find it became a mere auxiliary of Venice. Its
subsequent wars with Genoa, and the factions which arose within its walls,
reduced its commerce so low, about the middle of the fourteenth century,
that nothing respecting it worthy of notice occurs after this period.

The wealth derived by Florence from a traffic in money has been already
noticed. The example of this city was followed by Asti, an inland town of
Piedmont, Milan, Placentia, Sienna, Lucca, &c. Hence the name of Lombard,
or Tuscan merchant, was given to all who engaged in money transactions. The
silk manufacture was the principal one in Italy; it seems to have been
introduced by the Venetians, when they acquired part of the Greek empire.
In the beginning of the fourteenth century, Modena was the principal seat
of this manufacture; soon afterwards Florence, Lucca, Milan, and Bologna,
likewise engaged in it.

Within the period to which the present chapter is confined, there are few
traces of commerce in any other parts of Europe besides the Italian states
and the Hanseatic League: the former monopolizing the commerce of the south
of Europe and of Asia, and the latter that of the north of Europe,
particularly of the Baltic, engrossed among them and the cities which were
advantageously situated for intermediate depôts, nearly all the trade that
then existed. There are, however, a few notices of commercial spirit and
enterprize in other parts of Europe, during this period, which must not be

In Domesday-book a few particulars are set down relating to the internal
and foreign trade of England. In Southwark the king had a duty on ships
coming into a dock, and also a toll on the Strand. Gloucester must have
enjoyed some manufactures of trade in iron, as it was obliged to supply
iron and iron rods for the king's ships. Martins' skins were imported into
Chester, either from Iceland or Germany. The navigation of the Trent and
the Fosse, and the road to York, were carefully attended to.

If we may believe Fitz-Stephen, London, in the middle of the twelfth
century, possessed a considerable portion of trade: among the imports, he
mentions gold, spices, and frankincense from Arabia; precious stones from
Egypt; purple drapery from India, palm oil from Bagdad: but it is certain
that all these articles were obtained directly from Italian merchants. The
furs of Norway and Russia were brought by German merchants, who, according
to William of Malmsbury, were the principal foreign merchants who traded to
England. The same author mentions Exeter, as a city much resorted to by
foreign merchants; and that vessels from Norway, Iceland, and other
countries, frequented the port of Bristol. Chester at this period also
possessed much trade, particularly with Iceland, Aquitaine, Spain, and
Germany. Henry I. made a navigable canal from the Trent to the Witham at
Lincoln, which rendered this place one of the most flourishing seats of
home and foreign trade in England. The Icelandic Chronicles inform us that
Grimsby was a port much resorted by the merchants of Norway, Scotland,
Orkney, and the Western Islands.

Previous to the reign of Henry II., the sovereigns and lords of manors in
England claimed, as their right, the property of all wrecked vessels; but
this monarch passed a law, enacting, that if any one human creature, or
even a beast, were found alive in the ship, or belonging to her, the
property should be kept for the owners, provided they claimed it in three
months. This law, as politic as it was humane and just, must have
encouraged foreign trade. In this reign the chief exports seem to have been
lead, tin, and wool, and small quantities of honey, wax, cheese, and
salmon. The chief imports were wine from the king's French dominions, woad
for dying, spiceries, jewels, silks, furs, &c.

The laws of Oleron, an island near the coast of France belonging to
England, are generally supposed to have been passed by Richard I.; both
these, however, and their exact date, are uncertain: they were copied from
the Rhodian law, or rather from the maritime laws of Barcelona.

Though it appears by official documents in the reign of king John, that the
south coast of England, and the east coast only, as far as Norfolk, were
esteemed the principal part of the country; yet, very shortly after the
date of these documents, Newcastle certainly had some foreign trade,
particularly with the northern nations of Europe for furs. In this reign
are the first records of English letters of credit.

Some idea may be formed of the importation of wine at the beginning of the
fourteenth century, by the following facts: in the year ending 20th Nov.
1299, the number of vessels that arrived in London and the other ports,
(with the exception of the Cinque ports,) bringing cargoes of wine
amounting to more than nineteen tuns, was seventy-three; and the number in
the next year was seventy-one. It is probable, however, that we may double
these numbers, since the Cinque ports, being exempted from the duty on
wine, would import much more than any other equal number of ports. From a
charter granted to foreign merchants in 1302, it appears that they came
from the following countries to trade in England:--Germany, France, Spain,
Portugal, Navarre, Lombardy, Tuscany, Provence, Catalonia, Aquitaine,
Thoulouse, Quercy, Flanders, and Brabant. The very important privileges and
immunities granted to them sufficiently proves, that at this period the
commerce of England was mainly dependent on them. That there were, however,
native merchants of considerable wealth and importance, cannot be doubted.
In the year 1318, the king called a council of English merchants on staple
business: they formed a board of themselves; and one was appointed to
preside, under the title of mayor of the merchants, or mayor of the staple.

About the middle of this century, Dover, London, Yarmouth, Boston, and
Hull, were appointed places for exchanging foreign money; and the entire
management was given to William de la Pole. His name deserves particular
notice, as one of the richest and most enlightened of the early merchants
of England. His son, Michael, was also a merchant, and was created earl of
Suffolk by Richard II. "His posterity flourished as earls, marquises, and
dukes of Suffolk, till a royal marriage, and a promise of the succession to
the crown, brought the family to ruin."

When Edward III. went to the siege of Calais, the different ports of
England furnished him with ships. From the list of these it appears, that
the whole number supplied was 700, manned by 14,151 seamen, averaging under
twenty men for each vessel. Gosford is the only port whose vessels average
thirty-one men. Yarmouth sent forty-three vessels; Fowey, forty-seven;
Dartmouth, thirty-one; Bristol, twenty-four; Plymouth, twenty-six; London,
twenty-five; Margate, fifteen; Sandwich, twenty-two; Southampton,
twenty-one; Winchelsea, twenty-one; Newcastle, sixteen; Hull, seventeen.

In the year 1354 we have a regular account of such exports and imports as
paid duty; from which it appears, that there were exported 31,651 sacks of
wool, 3036 cwt. of woad, sixty-five wool-fells, 4774 pieces of cloth, and
8061 pieces of worsted stuff; and there were imported 1831 pieces of fine
cloth, 397 cwt. of wax, and 1829 tuns of wine, besides linen, mercery,
groceries, &c. As tin, lead, and several other articles are not enumerated,
it may be inferred that they paid no duty. In the year 1372 there is the
earliest record of direct trade with Prussia. As the woollen manufactures
of England began to flourish, the importation of woollen cloths necessarily
diminished; so that, in the act of 1378, reviving the acts of 1335 and 1351
for the encouragement of foreign merchants, though cloth of gold and
silver, stuffs of silk, napery, linen, canvas, &c. are enumerated as
imported by them, woollen cloth is not mentoned. The trade to the Baltic
gradually increased as the ports in the north of England, particularly
Newcastle, rose in wealth. In 1378 coals and grindstones were exported from
this place to Prussia, Norway, Schonen, and other ports of the Baltic. Soon
afterwards, in consequence of some disputes between the Prussians and
English, a commercial treaty was formed between the Grand Master of Prussia
and Edward III., by which it was agreed that the Prussian merchants in
London should be protected, and that English merchants should have free
access to every part of Prussia, to trade freely, as it used to be in
ancient times. In order to carry this treaty into full effect on the part
of the English, a citizen of London was chosen to be governor of the
English merchants in Prussia and the other countries on the Baltic.
Disputes, however, still arose, and piracies were committed on both sides.
Meetings were therefore held at the Hague, to hear and settle the
complaints of each party. From the statements then given in, it appears,
that woollen clothes now formed a considerable part of the exports of
England to the Baltic. That they were also exported in considerable
quantity to the south of Europe, appears from other documents.

At the beginning of the fifteenth century the foreign commerce of England
had considerably increased; for we are informed, that some merchants of
London shipped wool and other goods, to the value of 24,000_l_., to the
Mediterranean; and nearly about the same time, the English merchants
possessed valuable warehouses and an extensive trade at Bergen in Norway,
and sent vessels of the size of 200 tons to Portugal. The freight of one of
these is stated to have been worth 6000 crowns in gold. The improvement of
the woollen manufactures may be inferred from the following circumstance:
alum is very useful to fullers and dyers. About the year 1422, the Genoese
obtained from the Greek emperor the lease of a hill in Asia Minor,
containing alum: England was one of the chief customers for this article;
but it undoubtedly was imported, not in English, but in Genoese vessels. In
the year 1450 the Genoese delivered alum to the value of 4000l. to Henry
VI. Bristol seems to have been one of the most commercial cities in
England. One merchant of it is mentioned as having been possessed of 2470
tuns of shipping: he traded to Finmark and Iceland for fish, and to the
Baltic for timber and other bulky articles in very large ships, some of
which are said to have been of the burden of 400, 500, and even 900 tons.
Towards the latter end of the fifteenth century, the parliament, in order
to encourage English shipping, (as hitherto the greatest part of the
foreign trade of England had been carried on by foreign merchants in
foreign vessels,) enacted a species of navigation law, and prohibited the
king's subjects from shipping goods in England and Wales on board any
vessel owned by a foreigner, unless when sufficient freight could not be
found in English vessels.

Such are the most instructive and important notices respecting the state
and progress of English commerce, which occur prior to the discovery of the
Cape of Good Hope and America. We shall now proceed to give similar notices
of the commerce of Scotland, Ireland, France, and the other countries of
Europe; these, however, shall be very brief and few. In the middle of the
twelfth century, Berwick, which then belonged to Scotland, is described as
having more foreign commerce than any other port in that kingdom, and as
possessing many ships. One of the merchants of this town was distinguished
by the appellation of _the opulent_. Inverluth, or Leith, is described
merely as possessing a harbour, but no mention is made of its trade.
Strivelen had some vessels and trade, and likewise Perth. There was some
trade between Aberdeen and Norway. There were no trading towns on the west
coast of Scotland at this period; but about twenty years afterwards, a
weekly market, and an annual fair were granted by charter to Glasgow.

It is probable that the foreign commerce of Scotland, being confined to the
east coast, was principally carried on with Norway: with which country,
indeed, Scotland had intimate connection; for we do not find any notice of
foreign merchants from other countries trading to or settling in Scotland,
till towards the end of the thirteenth century, when some Flemish merchants
established a factory at Berwick. Wool, wool-fells, hides, &c. were the
chief articles of export; salmon also was exported. Of the importance and
value of the trade of this place we may form some idea, from the
circumstance, that the custom duties amounted to upwards of 2,000_l_.
sterling; and of 1,500 marks a year settled on the widow of Alexander
prince of Scotland, 1,300 were paid by Berwick.

In the year 1428. foreign commerce attracted considerable attention in
Scotland; and in order to encourage the native merchants to carry it on
themselves, and by their own vessels, the parliament of Scotland seem, some
time previous to this date, to have passed a navigation act; for in an act
passed this year, the Scotch merchants were permitted for a year ensuing,
to ship their goods in foreign vessels, where Scotch ones were not to be
found, notwithstanding the statute to the contrary. Indeed, during the
civil wars in England, between the houses of York and Lancaster, when the
manufactures and commerce of that country necessarily declined, the
commerce of Scotland began to flourish, and was protected and encouraged by
its monarchs. The herring fishery was encouraged; duties were laid on the
exportation of wool, and a staple for Scotch commerce was fixed in the
Netherlands, In the year 1420 Glasgow began to acquire wealth by the
fisheries; but until the discovery of America and the West Indies, it had
little or no foreign trade. Towards the middle of the fifteenth century,
several acts of parliament were passed to encourage agriculture, the
fisheries, and commerce; the Scotch merchants had now acquired so much
wealth and general respectability, that they were frequently employed,
along with the clergy and nobles, in embassies. Even some of the Scotch
barons were engaged in trade. In 1467 several acts were passed: among the
most important enactments were those which related to the freight of ships,
the mode of stowing it, the mode of fixing the average in case goods were
thrown overboard, and the time of the year when vessels might sail to
foreign countries.

The commerce of Ireland, when its ports were frequented by the Ostmen, has
been already noticed. In the middle of the twelfth century, we are
informed, that foreign merchants brought gold to Ireland, and that wheat
and wine were imported from Bretagne into Wexford; but the exports in
return are not particularized. About this period, some trade seems to have
been carried on between Bristol and Dublin; and on the conquest of Ireland
by Henry II., that monarch gave his city of Dublin to be inhabited by his
men of Bristol. A charter granted by the same monarch, gives to the
burgesses of that city free trade to England, Normandy, Wales, and the
other ports of Ireland. From this time the commerce of Dublin seems to have
flourished. It is certain, that at the middle of the fourteenth century the
Irish stuffs were in such request abroad, that imitations of them were
attempted by the Catalans, and they were worn as articles of luxury by the
ladies of Florence. But of the mode in which they were conveyed to foreign
countries, and the articles which were received in exchange for them, we
have no certain information.

Though France possessed excellent ports in the Mediterranean, particularly
Marseilles, which, as we have seen, in very early times was celebrated for
its commerce, yet she, as well as less favoured ports of Europe, was
principally indebted for her trade to the Lombards and other Italian
merchants, during the middle ages. The political state of the country,
indeed, was very unfavourable to commerce during this period; there are,
consequently, few particulars of its commerce worth recording. About the
beginning of the fourteenth century, Montpelier seems to have had a
considerable trade; and they even sent ships with various articles of
merchandize to London. Mention of Bourdeaux occurs about the same time, as
having sent out, in one year, 1350 vessels, laden with 13,429 tuns of wine;
this gives nearly 100 tuns in each vessel on an average. But Bourdeaux was
in fact an English possession at this time. That commerce between France
and England would have flourished and extended considerably, had it not
been interrupted by the frequent and bitter wars between these countries,
is evident from the consequences which followed the truce which was
concluded between their monarchs in 1384. The French, and particularly the
Normans, taking immediate advantage of this truce, imported into England an
immense quantity of wine, fruits, spiceries, and fish; gold and silver
alone were given in exchange. The Normans appear to have traded very
extensively in spiceries; but it is uncertain, whether they brought them
directly from the Mediterranean: they likewise traded to the east country
or Baltic countries. About a century afterwards, that is in 1453, France
could boast of her wealthy merchant, as well as Florence and England. His
name was Jacques Coeur: he is said to have employed 300 factors, and to
have traded with the Turks and Persians; his exports were chiefly woollen
cloth, linen, and paper; and his imports consisted of silks, spiceries,
gold, silver, &c.

In all our preceding accounts of the trade of Europe, the Italian and
Flemish merchants make a conspicuous figure. Flanders was celebrated for
its woollen manufactures, as well as for containing the central depôts of
the trade between the south and north of Europe. Holland, which afterwards
rose to such commercial importance, does not appear in the annals of
commerce till the beginning of the fifteenth century. At this period, many
of the manufacturers of Brabant and Flanders settled in Holland; and about
the same time the Hollanders engaged in maritime commerce; but there are no
particulars respecting it, that fall within the limits of the present

It remains to notice Spain. The commerce of Barcelona in its earliest stage
has been already noticed. The Catalans, in the thirteenth century, engaged
very extensively in the commerce of the Mediterranean, to almost every port
of which they traded. The earliest navigation act known was passed by the
count of Barcelona about this time; and laws were also framed, containing
rules for the owners and commanders of vessels, and the clerks employed to
keep their accounts; for loading and discharging the cargo; for the mutual
assistance to be given by vessels, &c. These laws, and others, to extend
and improve commerce, were passed during the reign of James I., king of
Arragon, who was also count of Barcelona. The manufactures and commerce of
this part of Spain continued to flourish from this time till the union of
the crowns of Castile and Arragon, which event depressed the latter
kingdom. In 1380, a Catalan ship was wrecked on the coast of Somersetshire,
on her voyage from Genoa to Sluys, the port of Bruges: her cargo consisted
of green ginger, cured ginger, raisins, sulphur, writing paper, white
sugar, prunes, cinnamon, &c. In 1401, a bank of exchange and deposit was
established at Barcelona: the accommodation it afforded was extended to
foreign as well as native merchants. The earliest bill of exchange of which
we have any notice, is one dated 28th April, 1404, which was sold by a
merchant of Lucca, residing in Bruges, to a merchant of Barcelona, also
residing there, to be paid by a Florence merchant residing in Barcelona. By
the book of duties on imports and exports, compiled in 1413, it appears,
that the Barcelonians were very liberal and enlightened in their commercial
policy; this document also gives us a high idea of the trade of the city of
Barcelona. A still further proof and illustration of the intelligence of
the Barcelona merchants, and of the advantages for which commerce is
indebted to them, occurs soon afterwards: for about the year 1432 they
framed regulations respecting maritime insurance, the principal of which
were, that no vessel should be insured for more than three quarters of her
real value,--that no merchandize belonging to foreigners should be insured
in Barcelona, unless freighted in a vessel belonging to the king of
Arrogan: the words, _more or less_, inserted frequently in policies,
were prohibited: if a ship should not be heard of in six months, she was to
be deemed lost.

Little commerce seems to have been carried on from any other port of Spain
besides Barcelona at this period: the north of Spain, indeed, had a little
commercial intercourse with England, as appears by the complaints of the
Spanish merchants; complaints that several of their vessels bound to
England from this part of Spain had been plundered by the people of
Sandwich, Dartmouth, &c. Seven vessels are particularly mentioned: one of
which, laden with wine, wool, and iron, was bound for Flanders; the others,
laden with raisins, liquorice, spicery, incense, oranges, and cheese, were
bound for England. The largest of these vessels was 120 tons: one vessel,
with its cargo, was valued as high as 2500l.

The following short abstract of the exports and imports of the principal
commercial places in Europe, about the middle of the fifteenth century,
taken from a contemporary work, will very properly conclude and sum up all
we have to say on this subject.

Spain exported figs, raisins, wine of inferior quality, dates, liquorice,
Seville oil, grain, Castile soap, wax, iron, wool, goat skins, saffron, and
quicksilver; the most of these were exported to Bruges. The chief imports
of Spain were Flemish woollen cloth and linen. This account, however, of
the commerce of Spain, does not appear to include Barcelona. The exports of
Portugal were wine, wax, grain, figs, raisins, honey, Cordovan leather,
dates, salt, &c.; these were sent principally to England. The imports are
not mentioned.

Bretagne exported salt, wine, cloth, and canvas.

The exports of Scotland were wool, wool-fells, and hides to Flanders; from
which they brought mercery, haberdashery, cart-wheels, and barrows. The
exports of Ireland were hides, wool, salmon, and other fish; linen; the
skins of martins, otters, hares, &c. The trade of England is not described:
the author being an Englishman, and writing for his countrymen, we may
suppose, thought it unnecessary.

The exports of Prussia were beer, bacon, copper, bow-staves, wax, putty,
pitch, tar, boards, flax, thread of Cologne, and canvas; these were sent
principally to Flanders, from which were brought woollen cloths. The
Prussians also imported salt from Biscay.

The Genoese employed large vessels in their trade; their principal exports
were cloth of gold and silver, spiceries, woad, wool, oil, wood-ashes,
alum, and good: the chief staple of their trade was in Flanders, to which
they carried wool from England.

The Venetians and Florentines exported nearly the same articles as the
Genoese; and their imports were nearly similar.

Flanders exported madder, wood, garlick, salt-fish, woollen cloths, &c. The
English are represented as being the chief purchasers in the marts of
Brabant, Flanders, and Zealand; to these marts were brought the merchandize
of Hainault, France, Burgundy, Cologne, and Cambray, in carts. The
commodities of the East, and of the south of Europe, were brought by the
Italians: England sent her wool, and afterwards her woollen cloth.

From this view of the trade of Europe in the middle of the fifteenth
century, it appears, that it was principally conducted by the Italians, the
Hanse merchants, and the Flemings; and that the great marts were in
Flanders. Towards the end of this century, indeed, the other nations of
Europe advancing in knowledge and enterprize, and having acquired some
little commercial capital, each began, in some degree, to conduct its own
trade. The people of Barcelona, at a very early period, form the only
exception to this remark; they not only conducted their own trade, but
partook largely in conducting the trade of other nations.

From the remotest period to which we can trace the operations of commerce,
we have seen that they were chiefly directed to the luxuries of Asia; and
as the desire of obtaining them in greater abundance, and more cheaply and
easily, was the incitement which led to the discovery of the Cape of Good
Hope by the Portuguese, it will be proper, before we narrate that event,
briefly to give such particulars respecting Asiatic commerce as occur
within the period which this chapter embraces, and to which, in our account
of the Arabians, we have not already alluded. This will lead us to a notice
of some very instructive and important travels in the East; and the
information which they convey will point out the state of the geography of
Asia, as well as its commerce, during the middle ages.

The dreadful revolutions which took place in Asia in the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries, and which threatened to extend to Europe, induced the
European powers, and particularly the Pope, to endeavour to avert the evil,
by sending embassies to the Mogul potentates. So frequent were these
missions, that, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, a work was
composed which described the various routes to Grand Tartary. What was at
first undertaken from policy and fear, was afterwards continued from
religious zeal, curiosity, a love of knowledge, and other motives. So that,
to the devastations of Genghis Khan we may justly deem ourselves indebted
for the full and important information we possess respecting the remote
parts of Asia during the middle ages.

The accounts of India and China by the two Mahomedan travellers have been
already noticed: between the period of their journey, and the embassies and
missions to which we have just alluded, the only account of the East which
we possess is derived from the work of Benjamin, a Jew of Tudela in Spain.
It is doubted whether he visited all the places he describes: his object
was principally to describe those places where the Jews resided in great

After describing Barcelona as a place of great trade, frequented by
merchants from Greece, Italy, and Alexandria, and a great resort of the
Jews, and giving a similar character of Montpelier and Genoa, he proceeds
to the East. The inhabitants of Constantinople being too lazy to carry on
commerce themselves, the whole trade of this city, which is represented as
surpassing all others, except Bagdad, in wealth, was conducted by foreign
merchants, who resorted to it from every part of the world by land and sea.
New Tyre was a place of considerable traffic, with a good harbour: glass
and sugar were its principal exports. The great depôt for the produce and
manufactures of India, Persia, Arabia, &c., was an island in the Persian
Gulf. He mentions Samarcand as a place of considerable importance, and
Thibet as the country where the musk animal was found. But all beyond the
Persian Gulf he describes in such vague terms, that little information can
be gleaned. It is worthy of remark, that nearly all the Jews, whom he
represents as very numerous in Thebes, Constantinople, Samarcand, &c., were
dyers of wool: in Thebes alone, there were 2000 workers in scarlet and
purple. After the conquest of the northern part of China by Genghis Khan,
the city of Campion in Tangut seems to have been fixed upon by him as the
seat of a great inland trade. Linens, stuffs made of cotton, gold, silver,
silks, and porcelain, were brought hither by the Chinese merchants, and
bought by merchants from Muscovy, Persia, Armenia, &c.

In the years 1245, 1246, the pope sent ambassadors to the Tartar and Mogul
khans: of these Carpini has given us the most detailed account of his
embassy, and of the route which he followed. His journey occupied six
months: he first went through Bohemia, Silesia, and Poland, to Kiov, at
that time the capital of Russia. Thence he proceeded by the Dnieper to the
Black Sea, till he arrived at the head quarters of the Khan Batou. To him
we are indebted for the first information of the real names of the four
great rivers which water the south of Russia, the Dnieper, the Don, the
Volga, and the Jaik. He afterwards proceeded to the head quarters of
another khan, on the eastern shores of the Caspian. After passing a country
where the famous Prester John is said to have reigned, he reached the end
of his journey, the head quarters of the khan of the Moguls. Besides the
information derived from his own observations, he inserts in his narrative
all he had collected; so that he may be regarded as the first traveller who
brought to the knowledge of western Europe these parts of Asia; but though
his travels are important to geography, they throw little light on the
commerce of these countries.

Rubruquis was sent, about this time, by the king of France to the Mogul
emperor: he passed through the Crimea, and along the shores of the Volga
and the Caspian Sea; visited the Khans Sartach and Batou; and at length
arrived at the great camp of the Moguls. Here he saw Chinese ambassadors;
from whom, and certain documents which he found among the Moguls, he learnt
many particulars respecting the north of China, the most curious of which
is his accurate description of the Chinese language and characters. He
returned by the same route by which he went. In his travels we meet with
some information respecting the trade of Asia. The Mogul khans derived a
considerable revenue from the salt of the Crimea. The alum of Caramonia was
a great object of traffic. He is the first author, after Ammianus
Marcellinus, who mentions rhubarb as an article of medicine and commerce.
Among the Moguls he found a great number of Europeans, who had been taken
prisoners: they were usually employed in working the mines, and in various
manufactures. He is the first traveller who mentions _koumis_ and
arrack; and he gives a very particular and accurate description of the
cattle of Thibet, and the wild and fleet asses of the plains of Asia.
Geography is indebted to him for correcting the error of the ancients,
which prevailed till his time, that the Caspian joined the Northern Ocean:
he expressly represents it as a great inland sea,--the description given of
it by Herodotus, but which was overlooked or disbelieved by all the other
ancient geographers.

While the pope and the French monarch were thus endeavouring to conciliate
the Moguls by embassies, the Emperor Frederic of Germany, having recovered
Jerusalem, Tyre, and Sidon, formed an alliance with the princes of the
East; and this alliance he took advantage of for the purposes of oriental
commerce: for his merchants and factors travelled as far as India. In the
last year of his reign, twelve camels, laden with gold and silver, the
produce of his trade with the East, arrived in his dominions. The part of
India to which he traded, and the route which was pursued, are not

Among the most celebrated travellers of the middle ages, was Marco Polo:
he, his father, and uncle, after trading for some time in many of the
commercial and opulent cities of Lesser Asia, reached the more eastern
parts of that continent, as far as the court of the great khan, on the
borders of China. For 26 years they were either engaged in mercantile
transactions, or employed in negociations with the neighbouring states by
the khan; they were thus enabled to see much, and to collect much important
information, the result of which was drawn up by Marco Polo. He was the
first European who reached China, India beyond the Ganges, and the greater
number of the islands in the Indian Ocean. He describes Japan from the
accounts of others: notices great and little Java, supposed to be Borneo
and Sumatra; and is the first who mentions Bengal and Guzerat by their
present names, as great and opulent kingdoms. On the east coast of Africa,
his knowledge did not reach beyond Zanguebar, and the port of Madagascar
opposite to it: he first made known this island to Europe. Such is a sketch
of the countries described by Marco Polo; from which it will easily be
perceived, how much he added to the geographical knowledge of Asia
possessed at that period.

The information he gives respecting the commerce of the countries he either
visited himself, or describes from the reports of others, is equally
important. Beginning with the more western parts of Asia, he mentions
Giazza, a city in the Levant, as possessed of a most excellent harbour,
which was much frequented by Genoese and Venetian vessels, for spices and
other merchandize. Rich silks were manufactured in Georgia, Bagdat, Tauris,
and Persia, which were the source of great wealth to the manufacturers and
merchants. All the pearls in Christendom are brought from Bagdat. The
merchants from India bring spices, pearls, precious stones, &c. to Ormus:
the vessels of this port are described as very stoutly built, with one
mast, one deck, and one sail. Among the most remarkable cities of China, he
particularly notices Cambalu, or Pekin, Nankin, and Quinsai. At the
distance of 2,500 Italian miles from this last city, was the port of Cauzu,
at which a considerable trade was carried on with India and the spice
islands. The length of the voyage, in consequence of the monsoons, was a
year. From the spice islands was brought, besides other articles, a
quantity of pepper, infinitely greater than what was imported at
Alexandria, though that place supplied all Europe. He represents the
commerce and wealth of China as very great; and adds, that at Cambalu,
where the merchants had their distinct warehouses, (in which they also
lived,) according to the nation to which they belonged, a large proportion
of them were Saracens. The money was made of the middle bark of the
mulberry, stamped with the khan's mark. Letters were conveyed at the rate
of 200 or 250 miles a day, by means of inns at short distances, where
relays of horses were always kept. The tenth of all wool, silk, and hemp,
and all other articles, the produce of the earth, was paid to the khan:
sugar, spices, and arrack, paid only 3-1/2 per cent. The inland trade is
immense, and is carried on principally by numerous vessels on the canals
and rivers. Marco Polo describes porcelain, which was principally made at a
place he calls Trigui; it was very low-priced, as eight porcelain dishes
might be bought for a Venetian groat: he takes no notice of tea. He
supposes the cowries of the Maldives to be a species of white porcelaine.
Silver then, as now, must have been in great demand, and extremely scarce;
it was much more valuable than gold, bearing the proportion to the latter,
as 1 to 6 or 8. Fine skins also bore a very high price: another proof of
the stability of almost every thing connected with China. He was
particularly struck with what he calls black stones, which were brought
from the mountains of Cathay, and burnt at Pekin, as wood, evidently
meaning some kind of coal. The collieries of China are still worked,
principally for the use of the porcelaine manufactures.

Marco Polo seems to have regarded Bengal and Pegu as parts of China: he
mentions the gold of Pegu, and the rice, cotton, and sugar of Bengal, as
well as its ginger, spikenard, &c. The principal branch of the Bengal trade
consisted in cotton goods. In Guzerat also, there was abundance of cotton:
in Canhau, frankincense; and in Cambaia, indigo, cotton, &c. He describes
the cities on the east and west coasts of India; but he does not seem
either to have penetrated himself inland, or to have learnt any particulars
regarding the interior from other persons. Horses were a great article of
importation in all parts of India: they were brought from Persia and Arabia
by sea. In the countries to the north of India, particularly Thibet, corals
were in great demand, and brought a higher price than any other article:
this was the case in the time of Pliny, who informs us, that the men in
India were as fond of coral for an ornament, as the women of Rome were of
the Indian pearls. In Pliny's time, corals were brought from the
Mediterranean coast of France to Alexandria, and were thence exported by
the Arabians to India. Marco Polo does not inform us by what means, or from
what country they were imported into the north of India. The greater Java,
which he represents as the greatest island in the world, carried on an
extensive trade, particularly by means of the Chinese merchants, who
imported gold and spices from it. In the lesser Java, the tree producing
sago grows: he describes the process of making it. In this island there are
also nuts as large as a man's head, containing a liquor superior to
wine,--evidently the cocoa nut. He likewise mentions the rhinoceros. The
knowledge of camphire, the produce of Japan, Sumatra, and Borneo, was first
brought to Europe by him. The fishery of pearls between Ceylon and the main
land of India is described; and particular mention is made of the large
ruby possessed by the king of that island. Madagascar is particularly
mentioned, as supplying large exports of elephants' teeth.

Marco Polo's description of the vessels of India is very full and minute:
as he sailed from China to the Indian islands in one of these vessels, we
may suppose it is perfectly accurate. according to him, they were fitted up
with many cabins, and each merchant had his own cabin. They had from two to
four masts, all or any of which could be lowered; the hold was divided not
merely for the purpose of keeping distinct each merchant's goods, but also
to prevent the water from a leak in one division extending to the rest of
the hold. The bottoms of the vessels were double planked at first, and each
year a new sheathing was added; the ships lasted only six years. They were
caulked, as modern ships are; the timbers and planks fixed with iron nails,
and a composition of lime, oil, and hemp, spread over the surface. They
were capable of holding 5000 or 6000 bags of pepper, and from 150 to 300
seamen and passengers. They were supplied with oars as well as sails: four
men were allotted to each oar. Smaller vessels seem to have accompanied the
larger ones, which besides had boats on their decks.

When the power of the Romans was extinguished in Egypt, and the Mahomedans
had gained possession of that country, Aden, which had been destroyed by
the former in the reign of Claudius, resumed its rank as the centre of the
trade between India and the Red Sea. In this situation it was found by
Marco Polo. The ships which came from the East, did not pass the straits,
but landed their cargoes at Aden; here the _trankies_ of the Arabs,
which brought the produce of Europe, Syria, and Egypt, received them, and
conveyed them to Assab, Cosir, or Jidda: ultimately they reached
Alexandria. Marco Polo gives a magnificent picture of the wealth, power,
and influence of Aden in the thirteenth century.

When the Christians were expelled from Syria, in the beginning of the
fourteenth century, and, in order to procure the merchandize of the east,
were obliged to submit to the exactions of the sultan of Egypt; Sanuto, a
Venetian, addressed a work to the Pope, in which he proposed to suppress
the Egyptian trade by force. In this work are many curious particulars of
the Indian trade at this time; and it is highly interesting both on this
account, and from the clear-sighted speculations of the author. It appears
to have produced a strong sensation; and though his mode of suppressing the
Egyptian trade was not followed, yet, in consequence of it, much more
attention was paid to Oriental commerce. According to him, the productions
of the East came to the Venetians in two different ways. Cloves, nutmegs,
pearls, gems, and other articles of great value, and small bulk, were
conveyed up the Persian Gulf and the Tigris to Bassora, and thence to
Bagdat; from which they were carried to some port in the Mediterranean. The
more bulky and less valuable articles were conveyed by Arabian merchants to
the Red Sea, and thence across the desert and down the Nile to Alexandria.
He adds, that ginger and cinnamon, being apt to spoil on shipboard, were
from ten to twenty per cent. better in quality, when brought by land
carriage, though this conveyance was more expensive.

From the works of Sanuto, it appears that sugar and silk were the two
articles from their trade in which the Saracens derived the greatest
portion of their wealth. Cyprus, Rhodes, Amorea, and Marta (probably
Malta), produced sugar; silk was the produce of Apulia, Romania, Crete, and
Cyprus. Egypt was celebrated, as in old times, for the fineness of its
flax; European flax was far inferior. The Egyptian manufactures of linen,
silk, and linen and silk mixed, and also the dates and cassia of that
country were exported to Turkey, Africa, the Black Sea, and the western
ports of Europe, either in Saracen or Christian vessels. In return for
these articles, the Egyptians received from Europe, gold, silver, brass,
tin, lead, quicksilver, coral, and amber: of these, several were again
exported from Egypt to Ethiopia and India, particularly brass and tin.
Sanuto further observes, that Egypt was dependent on Europe for timber,
iron, pitch, and other materials for ship building.

As his plan was to cut off all trade with the Saracens, and for that
purpose to build a number of armed galleys, he gives many curious
particulars respecting the expence of fitting them out; he estimates that a
galley capable of holding 250 men, will cost 1500 florins, and that the
whole expence of one, including pay, provisions, &c. for nine months, would
be 7000 florins. The seamen he proposes to draw from the following places,
as affording the most expert: Italy, the north of Germany, Friesland,
Holland, Slavia, Hamburgh, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

In the year 1335, Pegoletti, an Italian, wrote a system of commercial
geography; in this, the route taken by the merchants who brought produce
and manufactures from China to Azof is particularly described. "In the
first place," he says, "from Azof to Astracan it is twenty-five days
journey with waggons drawn by oxen; but with waggons by horses, only ten or
twelve. From Astracan to Sara, by the river, one day; from Sara to
Saracanco, on the north-east coast of the Caspian Sea, eight days by water;
thence to Lake Aral, twenty days' journey with camels. At Organci on this
lake there was much traffic. To Oltrarra on the Sihon, thirty-five or forty
days, also with camels; to Almaley with asses, thirty-five days; to Camexu,
seventy days with asses; to a river, supposed to be the Hoangho, in China,
fifty days with horses; from this river the traveller may go to Cassai, to
dispose of his loading of silver there, and from this place he travels
through the whole of Cathay with the Chinese money he receives for his
silver; to Gambelecco, Cambalu, or Pekin, the capital of Cathay, is thirty
days' journey." So that the whole time occupied about 300 days. Each
merchant generally carried with him silver and goods to the value of 25,000
gold ducats; the expence of the whole journey was from 300 to 350 ducats.
The other travellers of the fourteenth century, from whom we derive any
information respecting Eastern geography and commerce, are Haitho, Oderic,
and Sir John Mandeville; they add little, however, to the full and accurate
details of Marco Polo, on which we can depend.

Haitho's work, comprehends the geography of the principal states of Asia;
his information was derived from Mogul writings, the relation of Haitho I.
king of Armenia, who had been at the head quarters of Mangu Khan, and from
his own personal knowledge.

Oderic is the first missionary upon record in India; the date of his
journey is 1334; among much that is marvellous, his relations contain some
extraordinary truths. He went, in company with other monks, as far as
China. There is little new or valuable till he reaches the coast of
Malabar: of the pepper trade on this coast he gives a clear and rational
account. He next describes Sumatra and the adjacent islands, and mentions
the sago tree. Respecting China, he informs us, among other things which
are fabulous, that persons of high rank keep their nails extremely long,
and that the feet of the women are very small. He expresses great surprise
and admiration at the wealth of the cities through which he passed on his
return from Zartan to Pekin. Tartary and Thibet were visited by him, after
leaving China; he mentions the high price of the rhubarb of the former
country and the Dalai Lama of Thibet. In his voyages in India he sailed on
board a vessel which carried 700 people,--a confirmation, as Dr. Vincent
observes, of the account we have from the time of Agatharcides down to the
sixteenth century,--which sailed from Guzerat and traversed the Indian

Sir John Mandeville, an Englishman, in order to gratify his desire of
seeing distant and foreign countries, served as a volunteer under the
Sultan of Egypt and the Grand Khan of Cathai. He travelled through Turkey,
Armenia, Egypt, Africa, Syria, Arabia, Persia, Chaldea, Ethiopia, Tartary,
India, and China. There is, however, little information in his travels on
our present subject. He represents the Venetians as not only trading
regularly to Ormus, but sometimes even penetrating as for as Cambalu.
Famagusta, in Cyprus, according to him, was one of the most commercial
places in the world, the resort of merchants of all nations, Christians and

Some curious and interesting particulars on the subject of Oriental
commerce are scattered in the travels of Clavigo, who formed part of an
embassy sent by Henry III. of Castile to Tamerlane, in 1403. Clavigo
returned to Spain in 1406. He passed through Constantinople, which he
represents as not one-third inhabited, up the Black Sea to Trebizond. Hence
he traversed Armenia, the north of Persia, and Khorasan. Tauris, according
to him, enjoyed a lucrative commerce: in its warehouses were an abundance
of pearls, silk, cotton goods, and perfumed oils. Sultania also was a great
mart for Indian commodities. Every year, between June and August, caravans
arrived at this place. Cotton goods of all colours, and cotton yarn were
brought from Khorasan; pearls and precious stones from Ormus; but the
principal lading of the caravans consisted of spices of various kinds: at
Sultania these were always found in great abundance, and of the best
quality. From Tauris to Samarcand there were regular stations, at which
horses were always ready to convey the orders of the khan or travellers. We
are indebted to Clavigo for the first information of this new route of the
commerce between India and Europe, by Sultania: it is supposed to have been
adopted on the destruction of Bagdat by the Moguls; but we learn from other
travellers that, towards the end of the fifteenth century, Sultania was
remarkable for nothing besides the minarets of a mosque, which were made of
metal, and displayed great taste and delicacy of workmanship.

Tamerlane lived in excessive magnificence and luxury at Samarcand; hither
he had brought all his captives, who were expert in any kind of
manufacture, especially in the silks of Damascus, and the sword cutlery of
Turkey. To this city the Russians and Tartars brought leather, hides, furs,
and cloth: silk goods, musk, pearls, precious stones, and rhubarb, were
brought from China, or Cathay. Six months were occupied in bringing
merchandize from Cambalu, the capital of Cathai, to Samarcand; two of these
were spent in the deserts. Samarcand had also a trade with India, from
which were received mace and other fine spices. Clavigo remarks, that such
spices were never brought to Alexandria.

Schildeberger, a native of Munich, was taken prisoner by the Turks in 1394:
he afterwards accompanied Tamerlane in his campaigns till the year 1406.
During this period, and his subsequent connexion with other Tartar chiefs,
he visited various parts of central Asia. But as he had not an opportunity
of writing down at the time what he saw and learnt, his narrative is
neither full, nor altogether to be depended upon for its accuracy. He was,
besides, illiterate, And therefore it is often extremely difficult to
ascertain, from his orthography, what places he actually means to name or
describe. With all these drawbacks and imperfections, however, there are a
few points on which he gives credible and curious information. He
particularizes the silk of Strana, and of Schirevan; and adds, that from
the last the raw silk is sent to Damascus, and there manufactured into the
stuffs or damasks, for which it was already so celebrated. Fine silk was
produced at Bursa, and exported to Venice and Lucca, for the manufacture of
velvet. It ought to be mentioned, that he takes no notice of Saray and
Astrakan, the latter of which was taken and destroyed by Tamerlane, in
1395. The wild asses in the mountainous deserts, and the dogs which were
harnessed to sledges, are particularly mentioned by this traveller.

The interior parts of the north of Asia were visited, in 1420, by the
ambassadors of the Emperor Tamerlane's son; and their journey is described
in the Book of the Wonders of the World, written by the Persian historian,
Emir Khond, from which it was translated into Dutch by Witsen, in his
Norden Oste Tartarye. Their route was through Samarcand to Cathay. On
entering this country, we are informed of a circumstance strikingly
characteristic of Chinese policy and suspicion. Cathayan secretaries took
down, in writing, the names of the ambassadors, and the number of their
suite. This was repeated at another place, the ambassadors being earnestly
requested to state the exact number of their servants; and the merchants,
who were with him, having been put down by him under the description of
servants, were, on that account, obliged to perform the particular duties
under which they were described. Among the presents made by the emperor to
the ambassadors, tin is mentioned. Paper-money seems, at this period, to
have given place to silver, which, however, from several circumstances
mentioned, must have been very scarce.

From the travels of Josaphat Barbaro, an ambassador from Venice, first to
Tana (Azof), and then to Persia, some information may be drawn respecting
the commerce of these parts of Asia, about the middle of the fifteenth
century. He particularly describes the Wolga as being navigable to within
three days' journey of Moscow, the inhabitants of which sail down it every
year to Astrakan for salt. Astrakan was formerly a place of consequence and
trade, but had been laid waste by Tamerlane. Russia is a fertile country,
but extremely cold. Oxen and other beasts are carried to market in the
winter, slaughtered, with their entrails taken out, and frozen so hard,
that it is impossible to cut them up: they are very numerous and cheap. The
only fruits are apples, nuts, and walnuts. Bossa, a kind of beer, is made
in Russia. This liquor is still drank in Russia: it is made from millet,
and is very inebriating. The drunkenness of the Russians is expressly and
pointedly dwelt upon. Barbaro adds, that the grand duke, in order to check
this vice, ordered that no more beer should be brewed, nor mead made, nor
hops used. The Russians formerly paid tribute to Tartary; but they had
lately conquered a country called Casan; to the left of the Wolga, in its
descent. In this country a considerable trade is carried on, especially in
furs, which are sent by way of Moscow to Poland, Prussia, and Flanders. The
furs, however, are not the produce of Kasan, but of countries to the
north-east, at a great distance.

Barbaro is very minute and circumstantial in his description of the
manners, dress, food, &c. of the Georgians. He visited the principal towns
of Persia. Schiraz contained 200,000 inhabitants. Yezd was distinguished
and enriched by its silk manufactures.



The improvement of mankind in knowledge and civilization evidently depends
on the union of three circumstances,--enlarged and increased desires,
obstacles in the way of obtaining the objects of these desires, and
practicable means of overcoming or removing these obstacles. The history of
mankind in all ages and countries justifies and illustrates the truth of
this remark; for though it is, especially in the early periods of it, very
imperfect and obscure, and even in the later periods almost entirely
confined to war and politics, still there are in it sufficient traces of
the operation of all those three causes towards their improvement in
knowledge and civilization.

That they operated in extending the progress of discovery and commerce is
evident. We have already remarked that from the earliest periods, the
commodities of the east attracted the desires of the western nations: the
Arabians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans of the ancient world; the
Italian and Hanseatic states of the middle ages, all endeavoured to enrich
themselves by trading in commodities so eagerly and universally desired. As
industry and skill increased, and as the means as well as the desire of
purchase and enjoyment spread, by the rise of a middle class in Europe, the
demand for these commodities extended. The productions and manufactures of
the north, as well as of the south of Europe, having been increased and
improved, enabled the inhabitants of these countries to participate in
those articles from India, which, among the ancients, had been confined
exclusively to the rich and powerful.

On the other hand, even at the very time that this enlarged demand for
Indian commodities was taking place in Europe, and was accompanied by
enlarged means as well as extended skill and expedience in discovery and
commerce,--at this very time obstacles arose which threatened the almost
entire exclusion of Europeans from the luxuries of Asia. It may well be
doubted, whether, if the enemies of the Christian faith had not gained
entire possession of all the routes to India, and moreover, if these routes
had been rendered more easy of access and passage, they could have long
supplied the increased demands of improving Europe. But that Europe should,
on the one hand, improve and feel enlarged desires as well as means of
purchasing the luxuries of the east, while on the other hand, the
practicability of acquiring these luxuries should diminish, formed a
coincidence of circumstances, which was sure to produce important results.

As access to India by land, or even by the Arabian Gulf by sea, was
rendered extremely difficult and hazardous by the enmity of the Mahometans,
or productive of little commercial benefit by their exactions, the
attention and hopes of European navigators were directed to a passage to
India along the western coast of Africa. As, however, the length and
difficulties of such a voyage were extremely formidable, it would probably
have been either not attempted at all, or have required much longer time to
accomplish than it actually did, if, in addition and aid of increased
desires and an enlarged commercial spirit, the means of navigating distant,
extensive, and unknown seas, had not likewise been, about this period,
greatly improved.

We allude, principally, to the discovery of the mariners' compass. The
first clear notice of it appears in a Provençal poet of the end of the
twelfth century. In the thirteenth century it was used by the Norwegians in
their voyages to and from Iceland, who made it the device of an order of
knighthood of the highest rank; and from a passage in Barber's Bruce, it
must have been known in Scotland, if not used there in 1375, the period
when he wrote. It is said to have been used in the Mediterranean voyages at
the end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century.

With respect to the nations of the east, it is doubted whether they derived
their knowledge of it from the Europeans, or the Europeans from them. When
we reflect on the long and perilous voyages of the Arabians, early in the
Christian era, we might be led to think that they could not be performed
without the assistance of the compass; but no mention of it, or allusion to
it, occurs in the account of any of their voyages; and we are expressly
informed by Nicolo di Conti, who sailed on board a native vessel in the
Indian seas, about the year 1420, that the Arabians had no compass, but
sailed by the stars of the southern pole; and that they knew how to measure
their elevation, as well as to keep their reckoning, by day and night, with
their distance from place to place. With respect to the Chinese, the point
in dispute is not so easily determined: it is generally imagined, that they
derived their knowledge of the compass from Europeans: but Lord Macartney,
certainly a competent judge, has assigned his reasons for believing that
the Chinese compass is original, and not borrowed, in a dissertation
annexed to Dr. Vincent's Periplus of the Erythrean Sea. At what period it
was first known among them, cannot be ascertained; they pretend that it was
known before the age of Confucius. That it was not brought from China to
Europe by Marco Polo, as some writers assert, is evident from the
circumstance that this traveller never mentions or alludes to it. The first
scientific account of the properties of the magnet, as applicable to the
mariner's compass, appears in a letter written by Peter Adsiger, in the
year 1269. This letter is preserved among the manuscripts of the university
of Leyden; extracts from it are given by Cavallo, in the second edition of
his Treatise on Magnetism. From these extracts it is evident that he was
acquainted with the attraction, repulsion, and polarity of the magnet, the
art of communicating those properties to iron, the variation of the
magnetic needle; and there are even some indications that he was acquainted
with the construction of the azimuth compass.

Next in importance and utility to the mariners' compass, in preparing the
way for the great discoveries by which the fifteenth century is
distinguished, maps and charts may be placed. For though, in general, they
were constructed on very imperfect and erroneous notions of the form of the
world, and the relative size and situation of different countries, yet
occasionally there appeared maps which corrected some long established
error, or supplied some new information; and even the errors of the maps,
in some cases, not improbably held out inducements or hopes, which would
not otherwise have been entertained and realized, as we have already
remarked, after D'Anville, that the greatest of Ptolemy's errors proved
eventually the efficient cause which led to the greatest discovery of the

Malte Brun divides the maps of the middle ages into two classes: those in
which the notions of Ptolemy and other ancient geographers are implicitly
copied, and those in which new countries are inserted, which had been
either discovered, or were supposed to exist.

In most of the maps of the first description, Europe, Asia, and Africa are
laid down as forming one immense island, and Africa is not carried so far
as the equator. One of the most celebrated of these maps was drawn up by
Marin Sanuto, and inserted in his memorial presented to the pope and the
principal sovereigns of Europe, for the purpose of persuading and shewing
them, that if they would oblige their merchants to trade only through the
dominions of the Caliphs of Bagdat, they would be better supplied and at a
cheaper rate, and would have no longer to fear the Soldans of Egypt. This
memorial with its maps was inserted in the Gesta Dei per Francos, as we are
assured by the editor, from one of the original copies presented by Sanuto
to some one of the princes. Hence, as Dr. Vincent remarks, it probably
contains the oldest map of the world at this day extant, except the
Peutingerian tables. Sanuto, as we have already noticed, in giving an
abstract of the commercial information contained in his memorial, lived in

In the monastery of St. Michael di Murano, there is a planisphere, said to
be drawn up in 1459, by Fra Mauro, which contains a report of a ship from
India having passed the extreme point south, 2000 miles towards the west
and southwest in 1420.

Ramusio describes a map, supposed to be this, which he states to have been
drawn up for the elucidation of Marco Polo's travels.

On this map, so far as it relates to the circumnavigation of Africa, Dr.
Vincent has given a dissertation, having procured a _fac-simile_ copy
from Venice, which is deposited in the British Museum; the substance of
this dissertation we shall here compress. He divides his dissertation into
three parts. First, whether this was the map noticed by Ramusio, and by him
supposed to be drawn up to elucidate the travels of Marco Polo. On this
point he concludes that it was the map referred to by Ramusio, but that his
information respecting it is not correct. The second point to be determined
is, whether the map procured from Venice was really executed by Mauro, and
whether it existed previous to the Portuguese discoveries on the west coast
of Africa. Manro lived in the reign of Alphonso the Fifth, that is between
1438 and 1480; the whole of this map, therefore, is prior to Diaz and Gama,
two celebrated Portuguese navigators. Consequently, if it can be proved
that the map obtained by Dr. Vincent is genuine, it must have existed
previous to the Portuguese discoveries. The proof of the genuineness of the
map is derived from the date on the planisphere, 1459; the internal
evidence on the work itself; and the fact that Alphonso, or Prince Henry of
Portugal, who died in 1463, received a copy of this map from Venice, and
deposited it in the monastery of Alcobaca, where it is still kept. The sum
paid for this copy, and the account of expenditure, are detailed in a MS.
account in the monastery of St. Michael.

The third, and by far the most important part of Dr. Vincent's
dissertation, examines what the map contains respecting the termination cf
Africa to the south. On the first inspection of the map it is evident, that
the author has not implicitly followed Ptolemy, as he professes to do. The
centre of the habitable world is fixed at Bagdat. Asia and Europe he
defines rationally, and Africa so far as regards its Mediterranean coast.
He assigns two sources to the Nile, both in Abyssinia. On the east coast of
Africa, he carries an arm of the sea between an island which he represents
as of immense size, and the continent, obliquely as far nearly as the
latitude and longitude of the Cape of Good Hope. This island he calls Diab,
and the termination on the south, which he makes the extreme point of
Africa, Cape Diab.

The great object of Mauro, in drawing up this map, was to encourage the
Portuguese in the prosecution of their voyages to the south of Africa. This
is known to be the fact from other sources, and the construction of the
map, as well as some of the notices and remarks, which are inserted in its
margin, form additional evidence that this was the case. Two passages, as
Dr. Vincent observes, will set this in the clearest light. The first is
inserted at Cape Diab; "here," says the author, about the year 1420, "an
Indian vessel, on her passage across the Indian ocean was caught by a
storm, and carried 2000 miles beyond this Cape to the west and south-west;
she was seventy days in returning to the Cape." This the author regards as
a full proof that Africa was circumnavigable on the south.

In the second passage, inserted on the margin, after observing that the
Portuguese had been round the continent of Africa, more than 2000 miles to
the south-west beyond the Straits of Gibraltar; that they found the
navigation easy and safe, and had made charts of their discoveries; he
adds, that he had talked with a person worthy of credit, who assured him he
had been carried by bad weather, in an Indian ship, out of the Indian
Ocean, for forty days, beyond Cape Sofala and the Green Islands, towards
the west and south-west, and that in the opinion of the astronomer on
board, (such as all Indian ships carry,) they had been hurried away 2000
miles. He concludes by expressing his firm belief that the sea surrounding
the southern and south-eastern part of the world is navigable; and that the
Indian Sea is ocean, and not a lake. We may observe, by the bye, that in
another passage inserted in the margin, he expressly declares that the
Indian ships had no compass, but were directed by an astronomer on board,
who was continually making his observations.

It is evident that the two accounts are at variance, as the first asserts
that the passage was round Cape Diab, at the termination of Africa, and the
second that it was round Cape Sofala, fifteen degrees to the north of the
extremity of this quarter of the world: but without attempting to reconcile
this contradiction, it is abundantly evident that Mauro, by noticing the
Portuguese navigators, as having reached 2000 miles to the south of
Gibraltar, and adding that 2000 miles more of the coast of Africa had been
explored by an Indian ship, meant to encourage the further enterprises of
the Portuguese, by the natural inference that a very small space of
unsailed sea must lie between the two lines, which were the limits of the
navigation of the Portuguese and Indian vessel. The unexplored space was
indeed much greater than Mauro estimated and represented it in his map to
be; but, as Dr. Vincent remarks, his error in this respect manifestly
contributed to the prosecution of the Portuguese designs, as the error of
the ancient geographers, in approximating China to Europe, produced the
discovery of America by Columbus.

We have dwelt thus long on the map of Mauro, as being by far the most
important of the maps of the second description, or those in which were
inserted real or supposed discoveries. The rest of this description require
little notice.

A map of the date of 1346, in Castilian, represents Cape Bojada in Africa
as known, and having been doubled at that period. A manuscript, preserved
at Genoa, mentions that a ship had sailed from Majorca to a river called
Vedamel, or Rui Jaura (probably Rio-do-Ouro,) but her fate was not known.
The Genoese historians relate that two of their countrymen in 1291,
attempted to reach India by the west; the fate of this enterprize is also
unknown. The Canary Islands, the first discovery of which is supposed to
have taken place before the Christian era, and which were never afterwards
completely lost sight of, being described by the Arabian geographers,
appear in a Castilian map of 1346. Teneriffe is called in this map Inferno,
in conformity with the popular notion of the ancients, that these islands
were the seat of the blessed. In a map of 1384, there is an island called
Isola-di-legname, or the Isle of Wood, which, from this appellation, and
its situation, is supposed by some geographers to be the island of Madeira.
It would seem that some notions respecting the Azores were obscurely
entertained towards the end of the fourteenth century, as islands nearly in
their position are laid down in the maps of 1380.

In the library of St. Marc, at Venice, there is a map drawn by Bianco, in
1436. In it the ancient world is represented as forming one great
continent, divided into two unequal parts by the Mediterranean, and by the
Indian Ocean, which is carried from east to west, and comprises a great
number of islands. Africa stretches from west to east parallel to Europe
and Asia, but it terminates to the north of the equator. The peninsula of
India and the Gulf of Bengal scarcely appear. The eastern part of Asia
consists of two great peninsulas, divided by an immense gulf. Then appear
Cathai, Samarcand, and some other places, the names of which are
unintelligible. All the kingdoms of Europe are laid down except Poland and
Hungary. To the west of the Canaries, a large tract of country is laid down
under the appellation of Antitia; some geographers have maintained that by
this America was indicated, but there does not appear any ground for this

Having offered these preliminary and preparatory observations, we shall now
proceed to the discoveries of the Portuguese. From the slight sketch which
has already been given of the progress of geography and commerce, between
the time of Ptolemy and the fifteenth century, it appears that the
Portuguese had distinguished themselves less, perhaps, than any other
European nation, in these pursuits; but, long before the beginning of the
fifteenth century, circumstances had occurred, connected with their
history, which were preparing the way for their maritime enterprizes. So
early as the year 1250, the Portuguese had succeeded in driving the Moors
out of their country; and, in order to prevent them from again disturbing
them, they in their turn invaded Fez and Morocco, and having conquered
Ceuta in 1415, fortified it, and several harbours near it, on the shores of
the Atlantic. So zealous were the Portuguese in their enterprizes against
the Moors, that the ladies of Lisbon partook in the general enthusiasm, and
refused to bestow their hand on any man who had not signalized his courage
on the coast of Africa, The spirit of the nation was largely participated
by Prince Henry, the fifth son of John I., king of Portugal, who took up
his residence near Cape St. Vincent, in the year 1406. The sole passion and
object of his mind was to further the advancement of his country in
navigation and discovery: his regard for religion led him to endeavour to
destroy or diminish the power of the Mahometans; and his patriotism to
acquire for Portugal that Indian commerce, which had enriched the maritime
states of Italy. He sought every means and opportunity by which he could
increase or render more accurate his information respecting the western
coast, and the interior of Africa: and it is probable that the relations of
certain Jews and Arabs, respecting the gold mines of Guinea, weighed
strongly with him in the enterprizes which he planned, encouraged, and

It is not true, however, that he was the inventor of the astrolobe and the
compass, or the first that put these instruments into the hands of
navigators, though he undoubtedly was an excellent mathematician, and
procured the best charts and instruments of the age: the use and
application of these, he taught in the best manner to those he selected to
command his ships.

With respect to the compass, we have already stated all that is certainly
known respecting its earliest application to the purposes of navigation.
The sea astrolobe, which is an instrument for taking the altitude of the
sun, stars, &c., is described by Chaucer, in 1391, in a treatise on it,
addressed to his little son, Louis; and Purchas informs us, that it was
formerly applied only to astronomical purposes, but was accommodated to the
use of seamen by Martin Behaim, at the command of John II., king of
Portugal, about the year 1487.

About the year 1418, when Prince Henry first began his plan of discovery,
Cape Nun, in latitude 28° 40', was the limit of European knowledge on the
coast of Africa. With this part of the coast, the Portuguese had become
acquainted in consequence of their wars with the Moors of Barbary. In 1418,
two of Henry's commanders reached Cape Boyada in latitute 26° 30'; but the
Cape was not actually doubled till 1434. The Canary islands were visited
during the same voyage that the Cape was discovered: Madeira was likewise
visited or discovered; it was first called St. Laurence, after the saint of
the day on which it was seen, and afterwards Madeira, on account of its
woods. In 1420, the Portuguese set fire to these woods, and afterwards
planted the sugar cane, which they brought from Sicily, and the vines which
they brought from Cyprus. Saw mills were likewise erected on it.

About the year 1432, Gonzalos was sent with two small vessels to the coast
of Africa on new discoveries. In 1434, Cape Boyada was doubled: in 1442,
the Portuguese had advanced as far as Rio-do-Ouro, under the tropic of
Cancer. On the return of the ships from this voyage, the inhabitants of
Lisbon first saw, with astonishment, negroes of a jet black complexion, and
woolly hair, quite different from the slaves which had been hitherto
brought from Africa; for, before this time, they had seized, and sold as
slaves, the tawny Moors, which they met with on the coast of Africa. In the
year 1442, however, some of these had been redeemed by their friends, in
exchange for negroes and gold dust. This last article stimulated the
avarice of the Portuguese to greater exertions, than Prince Henry had been
able to excite, and an African company was immediately formed to obtain it,
slaves, &c.; but their commerce was exclusively confined to the coast of
Africa, to the south of Sierra Leone. Dr. Vincent justly remarks, that
Henry had stood alone for almost forty years, and had he fallen before
these few ounces of gold reached his country, the spirit of discovery might
have perished with him, and his designs might have been condemned as the
dreams of a visionary. The importation of this gold, and the establishment
of the African company in Portugal, to continue the remark of the same
author, is the primary date, to which we may refer that turn for adventure
which sprung up in Europe, which pervaded all the ardent spirits in every
country for the two succeeding centuries, and which never ceased till it
had united the four quarters of the globe in commercial intercourse.

In 1445, the Portuguese reached Senegal, where they first saw Pagan
negroes: in 1448 and 1449, their discoveries extended to Cape Verd. The
islands of that name were discovered in 1456. The exact extent of their
discoveries from this time till 1463, when Prince Henry died, is not
certainly known. According to some, Cape Verd, or Rio Grande, was the
limit; according to others, one navigator reached as far as the coast of
Guinea, and Cape Mesanado: some extend the limit even as far south as the
equator. Assuming, however, Rio Grande as the limit of the discoveries made
in Prince Henry's time, Rio Grande is in latitude 11 north, and the straits
of Gibraltar in latitude 36 north; the Portuguese had therefore advanced 25
degrees to the south; that is 1500 geographical, or 1750 British miles,
which, with the circuit of the coast, may be estimated at 2000 miles.

For nearly 20 years after the death of Prince Henry, little progress was
made by the Portuguese in advancing to the south. At the time of the death
of Alonzo, in 1481, they had passed the equator, and reached Cape St.
Catherine; in latitude S. 2° 30'. The island of St. Thomas under the line,
which was discovered in 1471, was immediately planted with sugar cane; and
a fort, which was built the same year on the gold coast, enabled them to
extend their knowledge of this part of Africa to a little distance inland.
Portugal now began to reap the fruits of her discoveries: bees' wax,
ostrich feathers, negro slaves, and particularly gold, were imported, on
all of which the profits were so great, that John II., who succeeded
Alonzo, immediately on his accession, sent out 12 ships to Guinea; and in
1483, two other vessels were sent, which in the following year reached
Congo, and penetrated to 22° south. The river Zaire in this part of Africa
was discovered, and many of the inhabitants of the country through which it
flows embarked voluntarily for Portugal. Benin was discovered about the
same time; here they found a species of spice, which was imported in great
quantities into Europe, and sold as pepper: it was, however, nothing else
but grains of paradise. The inhabitants of Benin must have had considerable
traffic far into the interior of Africa, for from them the Portuguese first
received accounts of Abyssinia. By the discovery and conquest of Benin and
Congo, the Portuguese traffic in slaves was much extended, but at the same
time it took another character for a short time; for the love of gold being
stronger than the hope of gain they might derive from the sale of negroes,
(for which, indeed, till the discovery of the West Indies there was little
demand,) the Portuguese used to exchange the natives they captured for gold
with the Moors, till John II. put an end to this traffic, under the
pretence that by means of it, the opportunity of converting the negroes was
lost, as they were thus delivered into the hands of Infidels. About eighty
years after Prince Henry began his discoveries, John I. sent out Diaz with
three ships: this was in 1486, and in the following year Covilham was sent
by the same monarch in search of India, by the route of Egypt and the Red

The king displayed great judgment in the selection of both these persons.
Diaz was of a family, several members of which had already signalized
themselves by the discoveries on the coast of Africa. His mode of
conducting the enterprize on which he was sent, proved at once his
confidence in himself, his courage, and his skill; after reaching 24° south
latitude, 120 leagues beyond any former navigator, he stood right out to
sea, and never came within sight of the coast again, till he had reached 40
degrees to the eastward of the Cape, which, however, he was much too far
out at sea to discover. He persevered in stretching still farther east,
after he made land, till at length he reached the river Del Infante, six
degrees to the eastward of the most southern point of Africa, and almost a
degree beyond the Cape of Good Hope. He then resolved to return, for what
reason is not known; and on his return, he saw the Cape of Good Hope, to
which, on account of the storms he encountered on his passage round it, he
gave the appellation of Cabo Tormentoso. John II., however, augured so well
from the doubling of the extremity of Africa having been accomplished, that
he changed its name into that of the Cape of Good Hope.

As soon as John II. ascended the throne, he sent two friars and a layman to
Jerusalem, with instructions to gain whatever information they could
respecting India and Prester John from the pilgrims who resorted to that
city, and, if necessary, to proceed further to the east. As, however, none
of this party understood Arabic, they were of little use, and in fact did
not go beyond Jerusalem. In 1487, the king sent Covilham and Paayva on the
same mission: the former had served in Africa as a soldier, and was
intimately acquainted with Arabic. In order to facilitate this enterprise,
Covilham was entrusted with a map, drawn up by two Jews, which most
probably was a copy of the map of Mauro, of which we have already spoken.
On this map, a passage round the south of Africa was laid down as having
been actually accomplished, and Covilham was directed to reach Abyssinia,
if possible; and ascertain there or elsewhere, whether such a passage did
really exist. Covilham went from Naples to Alexandria, and thence to Cairo.
At this city he formed an acquaintance with some merchants of Fez and
Barbary, and in their company went to Aden. Here he embarked and visited
Goa, Calicut, and other commercial cities of India, where he saw pepper and
ginger, and heard of cloves and cinnamon. From India he returned to the
east coast of Africa, down which he went as low as Sofala, "the last
residence of the Arabs, and the limit of their knowledge in that age, as it
had been in the age of the Periplus." He visited the gold mines in the
vicinity of this place: and here he also learnt all the Arabs knew
respecting the southern part of Africa, viz. that the sea was navigable to
the south-west (and this indeed their countrymen believed, when the author
of the Periplus visited them); but they knew not where the sea terminated.
At Sofala also Covilham gained some information respecting the island of
the Moon, or Madagascar. He returned to Cairo, by Zeila, Aden, and Tor. At
Cairo, he sent an account of the intelligence to the king, and in the
letter which contained it, he added, "that the ships which sailed down the
coast of Guinea, might be sure of reaching the termination of the
continent, by persisting in a course to the south, and that when they
should arrive in the eastern ocean, their best direction must be to enquire
for Sofala and the island of the Moon."

"It is this letter," observes Dr. Vincent, "above all other information,
which, with equal justice and equal honour, assigns the theoretical
discovery to Covilham, as the practical to Diaz and Gama; for Diaz returned
without hearing any thing of India, though he had passed the Cape, and Gama
did not sail till after the intelligence of Covilham had ratified the
discovery of Diaz." One part of the instructions given to Covilham required
him to visit Abyssinia: in order to accomplish this object, he returned to
Aden, and there took the first opportunity of entering Abyssinia. The
sovereign of his country received and treated him with kindness, giving him
a wife and land. He entered Abyssinia in 1488, and in 1521, that is, 33
years afterwards, the almoner to the embassy of John de Lima found him.
Covilham, notwithstanding he was as much beloved by the inhabitants as by
their sovereign, was anxious to return to Portugal, and John de Lima, at
his request, solicited the king to grant him permission to that effect, but
he did not succeed. "I dwell," observes Dr. Vincent, "with a melancholy
pleasure on the history of this man,--whom Alvarez, the almoner, describes
still as a brave soldier and a devout Christian;--when I reflect upon what
must have been his sentiments on hearing the success of his countrymen, in
consequence of the discovery to which he so essentially contributed.
_They_ were sovereigns of the ocean from the Cape of Good Hope to the
straits of Malacca: _he_ was still a prisoner in a country of

It might have been supposed, that after it had been ascertained by Diaz
that the southern promontory of Africa could be doubled, and by Covilham,
that this was the only difficulty to a passage by sea to India, the court
of Portugal would have lost no time in prosecuting their discoveries, and
completing the grand object they had had in view for nearly a century:
this, however, was not the case. Ten years, and another reign, and great
debates in the council of Portugal were requisite before it was resolved
that the attempt to prosecute the discovery of Diaz to its completion was
expedient, or could be of any advantage to the nation at large. At last,
when Emanuel, who was their sovereign, had determined on prosecuting the
discovery of India, his choice of a person to conduct the enterprise fell
on Gama. As he had armorial bearings, we may justly suppose that he was of
a good family; and in all respects he appears to have been well qualified
for the grand enterprise to which he was called, and to have resolved, from
a sense of religion and loyalty, to have devoted himself to death, if he
should not succeed. Diaz was appointed to a command under him, but he had
not the satisfaction of witnessing the results of his own discovery; for he
returned when the fleet had reached St. Jago, was employed in a secondary
command under Cabral, in the expedition in which Brazil was discovered, and
in his passage from that country to the Cape, four ships, one of which he
commanded, perished with all on board.

As soon as the fleet which Gama was to take with him was ready for sea, the
king, attended by all his court, and a great body of the people, formed a
solemn procession to the shore, where they were to embark, and Gama assumed
the command, under the auspices of the most imposing religious ceremonies.
Nearly all who witnessed his embarkation regarded him and those who
accompanied him "rather as devoted to destruction, than as sent to the
acquisition of renown."

The fleet which was destined to accomplish one of the objects (the
discovery of America is the other)--which, as Dr. Robertson remarks,
"finally established those commercial ideas and arrangements which
constitute the chief distinction between the manners and policy of ancient
and modern times,"--consisted only of three small ships, and a victualler,
manned with no more than 160 souls: the principal officers were Vasco de
Gama, and Paul his brother: Diaz and Diego Diaz, his brother, who acted as
purser: and Pedro Alanquer, who had been pilot to Diaz. Diaz was to
accompany them only to a certain latitude.

They sailed from Lisbon on the 18th of July, 1497: in the bay of St.
Helena, which they reached on the 4th of November, they found natives, who
were not understood by any of the negro interpreters they had on board.
From the description of the peculiarity in their mode of utterance, which
the journal of the voyage calls sighing, and from the circumstance that the
same people were found in the bay of St. Blas, 60 leagues beyond the Cape,
there can be no doubt that they were Hottentots. In consequence of the
ignorance or the obstinacy of the pilot, and of tempestuous weather, the
voyage to the Cape was long and dangerous: this promontory, however, was
doubled on the 20th of November. After this the wind and weather proving
favourable, the voyage was more prosperous and rapid. On the 11th of
January, 1498, they reached that part of the coast where the natives were
no longer Hottentots, but Caffres, who at that period displayed the same
marks of superior civilization by which they are distinguished from the
Hottentots at present.

From the bay of St. Helena till they passed Cape Corrientes, there had been
no trace of navigation,--no symptom that the natives used the sea at all.
But after they passed this cape, they were visited by the natives in boats,
the sails of which seem to have been made of the fibres of the cocoa-palm.
A much more encouraging circumstance, however, occurred: some of the
natives that came off in these boats were clothed in cotton, silk, and
sattin,--evident proofs that intercourse, either direct or indirect, was
practicable, and had in fact been held between this country and India. The
language of these people was not understood; but from their signs it was
inferred that they had seen ships as large as the Portuguese, and that they
had come from the north.

This part of Africa lies between latitudes 19° and 18° south; and as Gama
had the corrected chart of Covilham on board, in which Sofala was marked as
the limit of his progress, and Sofala was two degrees to the south of where
he then was, he must have known that he had now passed the barrier, and
that the discovery was ascertained, his circumnavigation being now
connected with the route of Covilham. This point of Gama's progress is also
interesting and important in another respect, for we are here approaching a
junction with the discoveries of the Arabians, the Egyptians, the Greeks,
and the Romans.

At this place Gama remained till the 24th of February, repairing his ships
and recruiting his men. On the 1st of March, he arrived off Mozambique;
here evidences of a circumnavigation with India were strong and numerous.
The sovereign of Mozambique ruled over all the country from Sofala to
Melinda. The vessels, which were fitted out entirely for coasting voyages,
were large, undecked, the seams fastened with cords made of the cocoa
fibres, and the timbers in the same manner. Gama, in going on board some of
the largest of those, found that they were equipped with charts and
compasses, and what are called æst harlab, probably the sea astrolabe,
already discovered. At the town of Mozambique, the Moorish merchants from
the Red Sea and India, met and exchanged the gold of Sofala for their
commodities, and in its warehouses, which, though meanly built, were
numerous, pepper, ginger, cottons, silver, pearls, rubies, velvet, and
other Indian articles were exposed to sale. At Mombaça, the next place to
which Gama sailed, all the commodities of India were found, and likewise
the citron, lemon, and orange; the houses were built of stone, and the
inhabitants, chiefly Mahomedans, seemed to have acquired wealth by
commerce, as they lived in great splendour and luxury.

On the 17th of March, 1498, Gama reached Melinda, and was consequently
completely within the boundary of the Greek and Roman discovery and
commerce in this part of the world. This city is represented as well built,
and displaying in almost every respect, proofs of the extensive trade the
inhabitants carried on with India, and of the wealth they derived from it.
Here Gama saw, for the first time, Banians, or Indian merchants: from them
he received much important information respecting the commercial cities of
the west coast of India: and at Melinda he took on board pilots, who
conducted his fleet across the Indian Ocean to Calicut on the coast of
Malabar, where he landed on the 22d of May, 1498, ten months and two days
after his departure from Lisbon. He returned to Lisbon in 1499, and again
received the command of a squadron in 1502; he died at Cochin in 1525,
after having lived to witness his country sovereign of the Indian seas from
Malacca to the Cape of Good Hope. "The consequence of his discovery was the
subversion of the Turkish power, which at that time kept all Europe in
alarm. The East no longer paid tribute for her precious commodities, which
passed through the Turkish provinces; the revenues of that empire were
diminished; the Othmans ceased to be a terror to the western world, and
Europe has risen to a power, which the three other continents may in vain
endeavour to oppose."

The successful enterprize of Gama, and the return of his ships laden not
only with the commodities peculiar to the coast of Malabar, but with many
of the richer and rarer productions of the eastern parts of India,
stimulated the Portuguese to enter on this new career with avidity and
ardour, both military and commercial. It fortunately happened that Emanuel,
who was king of Portugal at this period, was a man of great intelligence
and grasp of mind, capable of forming plans with prudence and judgment, and
of executing them with method and perseverance; and it was equally
fortunate that such a monarch was enabled to select men to command in
India, who from their enterprize, military skill, sagacity, integrity, and
patriotism, were peculiarly qualified to carry into full and successful
execution all his views and plans.

The consequences were such as must always result from the steady operation
of such causes: twenty-four years after the voyage of Gama, and before the
termination of Emanuel's reign, the Portuguese had reached, and made
themselves masters of Malacca. This place was the great staple of the
commerce carried on between the east of Asia, including China, and the
islands and the western parts of India. To it the merchants of China,
Japan, the Moluccas, &c. came from the east, and those of Malabar, Ceylon,
Coromandel and Bengal, from the west; and its situation, nearly at an equal
distance from the eastern and western parts of India, rendered it
peculiarly favorable for this trade, while by possessing the command of the
straits through which all ships must pass from the one extremity of Asia to
the other, it had the monopoly of the most extensive and lucrative commerce
completely within its power.

From Malacca the Portuguese sailed for the conquest of the Moluccas; and by
achieving this, secured the monopoly of spices. Their attempt to open a
communication and trade with China, which was made about the same time, was
not then successful: but by perseverance they succeeded in their object,
and before the middle of the sixteenth century, exchanged, at the island of
Sancian, the spices of the Moluccas, and the precious stones and ivory of
Ceylon, for the silks, porcelain, drugs, and tea of China. Soon afterwards
the emperor of China allowed them to occupy the island of Macao. In 1542
they succeeded in forming a commercial intercourse with Japan, trading with
it for gold, silver and copper; this trade, however, was never extensive,
and it ceased altogether in 1638, when they were driven from the Japanese

As the commodities of India could not be purchased except with large
quantities of gold, the Portuguese, in order to obtain it, as well as for
other commercial advantages, prosecuted their discoveries on the east of
Africa, at the same time that they were extending their power and commerce
in India. On the east of Africa, between Sofala and the Red Sea, Arabian
colonies had been settled for many centuries: these the Portuguese
navigators visited, and gradually reduced to tribute; and the remains of
the empire they established at this period, may still be traced in the few
and feeble settlements they possess between Sofala and Melinda. In 1506
they visited and explored the island of Madagascar; in 1513, by the
expulsion of the Arabs from Aden, the Red Sea was opened to their ships;
and they quickly examined its shores and harbours, and made themselves
acquainted with its tedious and dangerous navigation. In 1520 they visited
the ports of Abyssinia, but their ambition and the security of their
commerce were not yet completely attained; the Persian Gulf, as well as the
Red Sea, was explored; stations were formed on the coasts of both: and thus
they were enabled to obstruct the ancient commercial intercourse between
Egypt and India, and to command the entrance of those rivers, by which
Indian goods were conveyed not only through the interior of Asia, but also
to Constantinople. By the conquest of Ormus, the Portuguese monopolised
that extensive trade to the East, which had been in the hands of the
Persians for several centuries. "In the hands of the Portuguese this island
soon became the great mart from which the Persian empire, and all the
provinces of Asia to the west of it, were supplied with the productions of
India: and a city which they built on that barren island, destitute of
water, was rendered one of the chief seats of opulence, splendour, and
luxury in the eastern world."

The Venetians, who foresaw the ruin of their oriental commerce in the
success of the Portuguese, in vain endeavoured to stop the progress of
their rivals in the middle of the sixteenth century: the latter, masters of
the east coast of Africa, of the coasts of Arabia and Persia, of the two
peninsulas of India, of the Molucca islands, and of the trade to China and
Japan, supplied every part of Europe with the productions of the east, by
the Cape of Good Hope; nor was their power and commerce subverted, till
Portugal became a province of Spain.

We have purposely omitted, in this rapid sketch of the establishment and
progress of the Portuguese commerce in the East, any notice of the smaller
discoveries which they made at the same time. These, however, it will be
proper to advert to before we proceed to another subject.

In the year 1512, a Portuguese navigator was shipwrecked on the Maldives:
he found them already in the occasional possession of the Arabians, who
came thither for the cocoa fibres, of which they formed their cordage, and
the cowries, which circulated as money from Bengal to Siam. The Portuguese
derived from them immense quantities of these cowries, with which they
traded to Guinea, Congo, and Benin. On their conquest, they obliged the
sovereigns of this island to pay them tribute in cinnamon, pearls, precious
stones, and elephants. The discovery and conquest of the Malaccas has
already been noticed, and its importance in rendering them masters of the
trade of both parts of India, which had been previously carried on
principally by the merchants of Arabia, Persia from the West, and of China
from the East. In Siam, gum lac, porcelain, and aromatics enriched the
Portuguese, who were the first Europeans who arrived in this and the
adjacent parts of this peninsula.

In the year 1511 the Portuguese navigators began to explore the eastern
archipelago of India, and to make a more complete and accurate examination
of some islands, which they had previously barely discovered. Sumatra was
examined with great care, and from it they exported tin, pepper, sandal,
camphire, &c. In 1513, they arrived at Borneo: of it, however, they saw and
learned little, except that it also produced camphire. In the same year
they had made themselves well acquainted with Java: here they obtained
rice, pepper, and other valuable articles. It is worthy of remark, that
Barros, the Portuguese historian of their discoveries and conquests in the
East, who died towards the close of the sixteenth century, already foresaw
that the immense number of islands, some of them very large, which were
scattered in the south-east of Asia, would justly entitle this part, at
some future period, to the appellation of the fifth division of the world.
Couto, his continuator, comprehends all these islands under five different
groups. To the first belong the Moluccas. The second archipelago comprises
Gilolo, Moratai, Celebes, or Macassar, &c. The third group contains the
great isle of Mindinao, Soloo, and most of the southern Philippines. The
fourth archipelago was formed of the Banda isle, Amboyna, &c.; the largest
of these were discovered by the Portuguese in the year 1511: from Amboyna
they drew their supplies of cloves.

The Portuguese knew little of the fifth archipelago, because the
inhabitants were ignorant of commerce, and totally savage and uncultivated.
From the description given of them by the early Portuguese writers, as
totally unacquainted with any metal, making use of the teeth of fish in its
stead, and as being as black as the Caffres of Africa, while among them
there were some of an unhealthy white colour, whose eyes were so weak that
they could not bear the light of the sun;--from these particulars there can
be no doubt that the Portuguese had discovered New Guinea, and the adjacent
isles, to whose inhabitants this description exactly applies. These islands
were the limit of the Portuguese discoveries to the East: they suspected,
however, that there were other islands beyond them, and that these ranged
along a great southern continent, which stretched as far as the straits of
Magellan. It is the opinion of some geographers, and particularly of Malte
Brun, that the Portuguese had visited the coasts of New Holland before the
year 1540; but that they regarded it as part of the great southern
continent, the existence of which Ptolemy had first imagined.

We have already alluded to the obstacles which opposed and retarded the
commercial intercourse of the Portuguese with China. Notwithstanding these,
they prosecuted their discoveries in the Chinese seas. In the year 1518,
they arrived at the isles of Liqueou, where they found gold in abundance:
the inhabitants traded as far as the Moluccas. Their intercourse with Japan
has already been noticed.

From these results of the grand project formed by Prince Henry, and carried
on by men animated by his spirit, (results so important to geography and
commerce, and which mainly contributed to raise Europe to its present high
rank in knowledge, civilization, wealth, and power,) we must now turn to
the discovery of America, the second grand cause in the production of the
same effects.

For the discovery of the new world we are indebted to Columbus. This
celebrated person was extremely well qualified for enterprizes that
required a combination of foresight, comprehension, decision, perseverance,
and skill. From his earliest youth he had been accustomed to regard the sea
as his peculiar and hereditary element; for the family, from which he was
descended, had been navigators for many ages. And though, from all that is
known respecting them, this line of life had not been attended with much
success or emolument, yet Columbus's zeal was not thereby damped; and his
parents, still anxious that their son should pursue the same line which his
ancestors had done, strained every nerve to give him a suitable education.
He was accordingly taught geometry, astronomy, geography, and drawing. As
soon as his time of life and his education qualified him for the business
he had chosen, he went to sea; he was then fourteen years old. His first
voyages were from Genoa, of which city he was a native, to different ports
in the Mediterranean, with which this republic traded. His ambition,
however, was not long to be confined to seas so well known. Scarcely had he
attained the age of twenty, when he sailed into the Atlantic; and steering
to the north, ran along the coast of Iceland, and, according, to his own
journal, penetrated within the arctic circle. In another voyage he sailed
as far south as the Portuguese fort of St. George del Mina, under the
equator, on the coast of Africa. On his return from this voyage, he seems
to have engaged in a piratical warfare with the Venetians and Turks, who,
at this period, disputed with the Genoese the sovereignty and commerce of
the Mediterranean; and in this warfare he was greatly distinguished for
enterprize, as well as for cool and undaunted courage.

At this period he was attracted to Lisbon by the fame which Prince Henry
had acquired, on account of the encouragement he afforded to maritime
discovery. In this city he married the daughter of a person who had been
employed in the earlier navigations of the prince; and from his
father-in-law he is said to have obtained possession of a number of
journals, sea charts, and other valuable papers. As he had ascertained that
the object of the Portuguese was to reach India by the southern part of
Africa, he concluded, that, unless he could devise or suggest some other
route, little attention would be paid to him. He, therefore, turned his
thoughts to the practicability of reaching India by sailing to the west. At
this time the rotundity of the earth was generally admitted. The ancients,
whose opinions on the extent and direction of the countries which formed
the terrestrial globe, still retained their hold on the minds even of
scientific men, had believed that the ocean encompassed the whole earth;
the natural and unavoidable conclusion was, that by sailing to the west,
India would be reached. An error of Ptolemy's, to which we have already
adverted, contributed to the belief that this voyage could not be very
long; for, according to that geographer, (and his authority was implicitly
acceded to,) the space to be sailed over was sixty degrees less than it
actually proved to be,--a space equal to three-fourths, of the Pacific
Ocean. From considering Marco Polo's account of his travels in the east of
Asia, Columbus also derived great encouragement; for, according to him,
Cathay and Zepango stretched out to a great extent in an easterly
direction; of course they must approach so much the more towards the west
of Europe. It is probable, also, that Columbus flattered himself, that if
he did not reach India by a western course, he would, perhaps, discover the
Atlantis, which was placed by Plato and Aristotle in the ocean, to the west
of Europe.

Columbus, however, did not trust entirely to his own practical knowledge of
navigation, or to the arguments he drew from a scientific acquaintance with
cosmography: he heard the reports of skilful and experienced pilots, and
corresponded with several men of science. He is said, in a particular
manner to have been confirmed in his belief that India might be reached by
sailing to the west, by the communications which he had with Paul, a
physician of Florence, a man well known at this period for his acquaintance
with geometry and cosmography, and who had paid particular attention to the
discoveries of the Portuguese. He stated several facts, and offered several
ingenious conjectures, and moreover, sent a chart to Columbus, on which he
pointed out the course which he thought would lead to the desired object.

As Columbus was at the court of Lisbon, when he had resolved to undertake
his great enterprise, and, in fact, regarded himself as in some degree a
Portuguese subject, he naturally applied in the first instance to John II.,
requesting that monarch to let him have some ships to carry him to Marco
Polo's island of Zepango or Japan. The king referred him to the Bishop of
Ceuta and his two physicians; but they having no faith in the existence of
this island, rejected the services of Columbus. For seven years afterwards
he solicited the court of Spain to send him out, while, during the same
period, his brother, Bartholomew, was soliciting the court of England: the
latter was unsuccessful, but Columbus himself at length persuaded Isabella
to grant 40,000 crowns for the service of the expedition. He accordingly
sailed from Palos, in Andalusia, on the 3d of August, 1492; and in
thirty-three days landed on one of the Bahamas. He had already sailed nine
hundred and fifty leagues west from the Canaries: after touching at the
Bahamas, he continued his course to the west, and at length discovered the
island of Cuba. He went no farther on this voyage; but on his return home,
he discovered Hispaniola. The variation of the compass was first observed
in this voyage. In a second voyage, in 1492, Columbus discovered Jamaica,
and in a third, in 1494, he visited Trinidad and the continent of America,
near the mouth of the Orinoco. In 1502, he made a fourth and last voyage,
in which he explored some part of the shores of the Gulph of Mexico. The
ungrateful return he met with from his country is well known: worn out with
fatigue, disappointment, and sorrow, he died at Valladolid, on the 20th of
May, 1506, in the fifty-ninth year of his age.

In the mean time, the completion of the discovery of America was rapidly
advancing. In 1499, Ogeda, one of Columbus's companions, sailed for the new
world: he was accompanied by Amerigo Vespucci: little was discovered on the
voyage, except some part of the coast of Guana and Terra Firma. But
Amerigo, having, on his return to Spain, published the first account of the
New World, the whole of this extensive quarter of the globe was called
after him. Some authors, however, contend that Amerigo visited the coasts
of Guiana and Terra Firma before Columbus; the more probable account is,
that he examined them more carefully two years after their discovery by
Columbus. Amerigo was treated by the court of Spain with as little
attention and gratitude as Columbus had been: he therefore offered his
services to Portugal, and in two voyages, between 1500 and 1504, he
examined the coasts of that part of South America which was afterwards
called Brazil. This country had been discovered by Cabral, who commanded
the second expedition of the Portuguese to India: on his voyage thither, a
tempest drove him so far to the west, that he reached the shores of
America. He called it the Land of the Holy Cross; but it was afterwards
called Brazil, from the quantity of red wood of that name found on it.

For some time after the discovery of America it was supposed to be part of
India: and hence, the name of the West Indies, still retained by the
islands in the Gulph of Mexico, was given to all those countries. There
were, however, circumstances which soon led the discoverers to doubt of the
truth of the first conceived opinion. The Portuguese had visited no part of
Asia, either continent or island, from the coast of Malabar to China, on
which they had not found natives highly civilized, who had made
considerable progress in the elegant as well as the useful arts of life,
and who were evidently accustomed to intercourse with strangers, and
acquainted with commerce. In all these respects, the New World formed a
striking contrast: the islands were inhabited by savages, naked,
unacquainted with the rudest arts of life, and indebted for their
sustenance to the spontaneous productions of a fertile soil and a fine
climate. The continent, for the most part, presented immense forests, and
with the exception of Mexico and Peru, was thinly inhabited by savages as
ignorant and low in the scale of human nature as those who dwelt on the

The natural productions and the animals differed also most essentially from
those, not only of India, but also of Europe. There were no lemons,
oranges, pomegranates, quinces, figs, olives, melons, vines, nor sugar
canes: neither apples, pears, plumbs, cherries, currants, gooseberries,
rice, nor any other corn but maize. There was no poultry (except turkeys),
oxen, sheep, goats, swine, horses, asses, camels, elephants, cats, nor
dogs, except an animal resembling a dog, but which did not bark. Even the
inhabitants of Mexico and Peru were unacquainted with iron and the other
useful metals, and destitute of the address requisite for acquiring such
command of the inferior animals, as to derive any considerable aid from
their labour.

In addition to these most marked and decided points of difference between
India and the newly discovered quarter of the globe, it was naturally
inferred that a coast extending, as America was soon ascertained to do,
many hundred miles to the northward and to the southward of the equator,
could not possibly be that of the Indies. At last, in the year 1513, a view
of the Grand Ocean having been attained from the mountains of Darien, the
supposition that the New World formed part of India was abandoned. To this
ocean the name of the South Sea was given.

In the mean time, the Portuguese had visited all the islands of the Malay
Archipelago, as far as the Moluccas. Portugal had received from the Pope a
grant of all the countries she might discover: the Spaniards, after the
third voyage of Columbus, obtained a similar grant. As, however, it was
necessary to draw a line between those grants, the Pope fixed on 27-1/2°
west of the meridian of the island of Ferro. The sovereigns, for their
mutual benefit, allowed it to 370 leagues west of the Cape Verd islands:
all the countries to the east of this line were to belong to Portugal, and
all those to the west of it to Spain. According to this line of
demarcation, supposing the globe to be equally divided between the two
powers, it is plain that the Moluccas were situated within the hemisphere
which belonged to Spain. Portugal, however, would not yield them up,
contending that she was entitled to the sovereignty of all the countries
she could discover by sailing eastward. This dispute gave rise to the first
circumnavigation of the globe, and the first practical proof that India
could be reached by sailing westward from Europe, as well as to other
results of the greatest importance to geography and commerce.

During the discussions which this unexpected and embarrassing difficulty
produced, Francis Magellan came to the court of Spain, to offer his
services as a navigator, suggesting a mode by which he maintained that
court would be able to decide the question in its own favour. Magellan had
served under Albuquerque, and had visited the Moluccas: and he proposed, if
the Spanish monarch would give him ships, to sail to these islands by a
westerly course, which would, even according to the Portuguese, establish
the Spanish right to their possession. The emperor Charles, who was at this
period king of Spain, joyfully embraced the proposal, although a short time
previous, Solis, who had sailed in quest of a westerly passage to India,
had, after discovering the Rio de la Plata, perished in the attempt.

It is maintained by some authors that Magellan's confidence in the success
of his own plan arose from the information he received from a chart drawn
up by Martin Behaim, in which the straits that were afterwards explored by
Magellan, and named after him, were laid down; and that he carried the
information he derived from it to Spain, and by means of it obtained the
protection of Cardinal Ximenes, and the command of the fleet, with which he
was the first to circumnavigate the world.

As this is a point which has been a good deal discussed, and as it is of
importance, not only to the fame of Magellan, but to a right understanding
of the actual state of geographical knowledge, with respect to the New
World, at this era, it may be proper briefly to consider it.

The claim of Behaim rests entirely on a passage in Pigafetta's journal of
the voyage of Magellan, in which it is stated that Magellan, as skilful as
he was courageous, knew that he was to seek for a passage through an
obscure strait: this strait he had seen laid down in a chart of Martin
Behaim, a most excellent cosmographer, which was in the possession of the
king of Portugal. In describing the nature of the maps and charts which,
during the whole of the middle ages, were drawn up, we observed that it was
very usual to insert countries, &c. which were merely supposed to exist.
The question, therefore, is--allowing that a strait was laid down in a
chart drawn up by Behaim, whether it was a conjectural strait or one laid
down from good authority? That Behaim himself did not discover such a
strait will be evident from the following circumstances: in the Nuremberg
globe, formed by Behaim, it does not appear: there is nothing between the
Azores and Japan, except the fabulous islands of Aulitia and St. Brandon;
no mention of it is made in the archives of that city or in his numerous
letters, which are still preserved. The date of the Nuremberg globe is
1492, the very year in which Columbus first reached the West Indies: Behaim
therefore cannot be supposed to have contributed to this discovery. It is
said, however, that he made a long voyage in 1483 and 1484: but this voyage
was in an easterly direction, for it is expressly stated to have been to
Ethiopia; probably to Congo, and the cargo he brought home, which consisted
of an inferior kind of pepper, proves that he had not visited America.
Besides, if he had visited any part of America in 1483 or 1484, he would
have laid it down in his globe in 1492, whereas, as we have remarked, no
country appears on it to the west of St. Brandon. We may, therefore, safely
conclude that he did not himself discover any passage round the south point
of America.

But all the other great discoveries of the Portuguese and Spaniards (except
that of Diaz in 1486) were made between 1492, the date of the Nuremberg
Globe, and 1506, the date of the death of Behaim, and between these
periods, he constantly resided at Fayal. It is much more probable that he
inserted this strait in his chart on supposition, thinking it probable
that, as Africa terminated in a cape, so America would. That Magellan did
not himself believe the strait was laid down in Behaim's chart from any
authority is evident, from a circumstance mentioned by Pigafetta, who
expressly informs us, that Magellan was resolved to prosecute his search
after it to latitude 75°, had he not found it in latitude 52°. Now, as
Behaim undoubtedly was the greatest cosmographer of the age, and had been
employed to fit the astrolobe as a sea instrument, it is not to be supposed
that, if he had good authority for the existence of a passage round South
America, he would have left it in any chart he drew, with an uncertainty of
23 degrees.

Magellan sailed from Spain in 1519, with five ships: he explored the river
Plate a considerable way, thinking at first it was the sea, and would lead
him to the west. He then continued his voyage to the south, and reached the
entrance of the straits which afterwards received his name, on the 21st
October, 1520, but, in consequence of storms, and the scarcity of
provisions, he did not clear them till the 28th of November. He now
directed his course to the north-west: for three months and twenty days he
saw no land. In 15 south, he discovered a small island; and another in 9
south. Continuing his course still in the same direction, he arrived at the
Ladrones, and soon afterwards at the Phillippines, where he lost his life
in a skirmish. His companions continued their voyage; and, on the
twenty-seventh month after their departure from Spain, arrived at one of
the Molucca islands. Here the Spaniards found plenty of spices, which they
obtained in exchange for the cloth, glass, beads, &c., which they had
brought with them for that purpose. From the Moluccas they returned home
round the Cape of Good Hope, and reached Seville in September, 1552. Only
one ship returned, and she was drawn up in Seville, and long preserved as a
monument of the first circumnavigation of the globe. The Spaniards were
surprised, on their return to their native country, to find that they had
gained a day in their reckoning--a proof of the scanty knowledge at that
time possessed, respecting one of the plainest and most obvious results of
the diurnal motion of the earth.

The voyage of Magellan occupied 1124 days: Sir Francis Drake, who sailed
round the world about half a century afterwards, accomplished the passage
in 1051 days: the next circumnavigator sailed round the globe in 769 days;
and the first navigators who passed to the south of Terra del Fuego,
accomplished the voyage in 749 days. In the middle of the eighteenth
century, a Scotch privateer sailed round the world in 240 days.

In the meantime, several voyages had been performed to the east coast of
North America. The first voyages to this part of the new world were
undertaken by the English: there is some doubt and uncertainty respecting
the period when these were performed. The following seems the most probable

At the time when Columbus discovered America, there lived in London a
Venetian merchant, John Cabot, who had three sons. The father was a man of
science, and had paid particular attention to the doctrine of the spheres:
his studies, as well as his business as a merchant, induced him to feel
much interest in the discoveries which were at that period making. He seems
to have applied to Henry VII.; who accordingly empowered him to sail from
England under the royal flag, to make discoveries in the east, the west,
and the north, and to take possession of countries inhabited by Pagans, and
not previously discovered by other European nations. The king gave him two
ships, and the merchants of Bristol three or four small vessels, loaded
with coarse cloth, caps, and other small goods. The doubt respecting the
precise date of this voyage seems to receive the most satisfactory solution
from the following contemporary testimony of Alderman Fabian, who says, in
his _Chronicle of England and France_, that Cabot sailed in the
beginning of May, in the mayoralty of John Tate, that is, in 1497, and
returned in the subsequent mayoralty of William Purchase, bringing with him
three _sauvages_ from Newfoundland. This fixes the date of this
voyage: the course he steered, and the limits of his voyage, are however
liable to uncertainty. He himself informs us, that he reached only 56°
north latitude, and that the coast of America, at that part, winded to the
east: but there is no coast of North America that answers to this
description. According to other accounts, he reached 67-1/2° north
latitude; but this is the coast of Greenland, and not the coast of
Labrador, as these accounts call it. It is most probable that he did not
reach farther than Newfoundland, which he certainly discovered. To this
island he at first gave the names of Prima Vista and Baccaloas; and it is
worthy of notice, that a cape of Newfoundland still retains the name of
Bona Vista, and there is a small island still called Bacalao, not far from

From this land he sailed to the south-west till he reached the latitude of
Gibraltar, and the longitude of Cuba; if these circumstances be correct, he
must have sailed nearly as far as Chesapeak Bay: want of provisions now
obliged him to return to England.

Portugal, jealous of the discoveries which Spain had made in the new world,
resolved to undertake similar enterprizes, with the double hope of
discovering some new part of America, and a new route to India. Influenced
by these motives, Certireal, a man of birth and family, sailed from Lisbon
in 1500 or 1501: he arrived at Conception Bay, in Newfoundland, explored
the east coast of that island, and afterwards discovered the river St.
Lawrence. To the next country which he discovered, he gave the name of
Labrador, because, from its latitude and appearance, it seemed to him
better fitted for culture than his other discoveries in this part of
America. This country he coasted till he came to a strait, which he called
the Strait of Anian. Through this strait he imagined a passage would be
found to India, but not being able to explore it himself, he returned to
Portugal, to communicate the important and interesting information. He soon
afterwards went out on a second voyage, to prosecute his discoveries in
this strait; but in this he perished. The same voyage was undertaken by
another brother, but he also perished. As the situation of the Strait of
Anian was very imperfectly described, it was long sought for in vain on
both sides of America; it is now generally supposed to have been Hudson's
Strait, at the entrance of Hudson's Bay.

The Spaniards were naturally most alarmed at the prospect of the Portuguese
finding a passage by this strait to India. Cortez, the conqueror of Mexico,
undertook himself an expedition for this purpose; but he returned without
accomplishing any thing. After him the viceroy, Mendoza, sent people, both
by sea and land, to explore the coast as far as 53° north latitude; but
neither party reached farther than 36 degrees. The Spanish court itself now
undertook the enterprize; and in the year 1542, Cabrillo, a Portuguese in
the service of that court, sailed from Spain. He went no farther than to 44
degrees north latitude, where he found it very cold. He coasted the
countries which at present are called New California, as far as Cape
Blanco: he discovered, likewise, Cape Mendocino; and ascertained, that from
this place to the harbour De la Nadividad, the land continued without the
intervention of any strait. In 1582, Gualle was directed by the king of
Spain to examine if there was a passage to the east and north-east of
Japan, that connected the sea of Asia with the South Sea. He accordingly
steered from Japan to the E.N.E. about 300 leagues: here he found the
current setting from the north and north-west, till he had sailed above 700
leagues, when he reckoned he was only 200 leagues from the coast of
California. In this voyage he discovered those parts of the north-west
coast of America which are called New Georgia and New Cornwall. At the
beginning of the seventeenth century, the Spaniards, alarmed at the
achievements of Sir Francis Drake on this part of America, and still
anxious to discover, if possible, the Straits of Anian, sent out Sebastian
Viscaino from Acapulco: he examined the coasts as far as Cape Mendocino,
and discovered the harbour of Montery. One of his ships reached the
latitude of 43 degrees, where the mouth of a strait, or a large river, was
said to have been discovered.

The expedition of Sir Francis Drake, though expressly undertaken for the
purpose of distressing the Spaniards in their new settlements, must be
noticed here, on account of its having contributed also, in some degree, to
the geographical knowledge of the north-west coast of America. He sailed
from Plymouth on the 15th November, 1577, with five vessels, (the largest
only 100 tons, and the smallest 15,) and 164 men. On the 20th of August,
1578, he entered the Strait of Magellan, which he cleared on the 6th of
September: "a most extraordinary short passage," observes Captain Tuckey,
"for no navigator since, though aided by the immense improvements in
navigation, has been able to accomplish it in less than 36 days." After
coasting the whole of South America to the extremity of Mexico, he resolved
to seek a northern passage into the Atlantic. With this intention, he
sailed along the coast, to which, from its white cliffs, he gave the name
of New Albion. When he arrived, however, at Cape Blanco, the cold was so
intense, that he abandoned his intention of searching for a passage into
the Atlantic, and crossed the Pacific to the Molucca islands. In this long
passage he discovered only a few islands in 20° north latitude: after an
absence of 1501 days, he arrived at Plymouth. The discoveries made by this
circumnavigator, will, however, be deemed much more important, if the
opinion of Fleurien, in his remarks on the austral lands of Drake, inserted
in the Voyage of Marchand, in which opinion he is followed by Malte Brun,
be correct; viz. that Drake discovered, under the name of the Isles of
Elizabeth, the western part of the archipelago of Terra del Fuego; and that
he reached even the southern extremity of America, which afterwards
received, from the Dutch navigators, the name of Cape Horn. These are all
the well authenticated discoveries made in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, on the north-west coast of America. Cape Mendocino, in about
40-1/2 degrees north latitude, is the extreme limit of the certain
knowledge possessed at this period respecting this coast: the information
possessed respecting New Georgia and New Cornwall was very vague and

In the beginning of the sixteenth century, the coasts of the east side of
North America, particularly those of Florida, Virginia, Acadia and Canada,
were examined by navigators of different countries. Florida was discovered
in the year 1512, by the Spanish navigator, Ponce de Leon; but as it did
not present any appearance of containing the precious metals, the Spaniards
entirely neglected it. In 1524, the French seem to have engaged in their
first voyage of discovery to America. Francis I. sent out a Florentine with
four ships: three of these were left at Madeira; with the fourth he reached
Florida. From this country he is said to have coasted till he arrived in
fifty degrees of north latitude. To this part he gave the name of New
France; but he returned home without having formed any colony. Towards the
end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, the
English began to form settlements in these parts of North America. Virginia
was examined by the famous Sir Walter Raleigh: this name was given to all
the coast on which the English formed settlements. That part of it now
called Carolina, seems to have been first discovered by Raleigh.

The beginning of the seventeenth century was particularly distinguished by
the voyage of La Maire and Schouten. The States General of Holland, who had
formed an East India Company, in order to secure to it the monopoly of the
Indian trade, prohibited all individuals from navigating to the Indian
Ocean, either round the Cape of Good Hope or through the Straits of
Magellan. It was therefore an object of great importance to discover, if
practicable, any passage to India, which would enable the Dutch, without
incurring the penalties of the law, to reach India. This idea was first
suggested by La Maire, a merchant of Amsterdam, and William Schouten, a
merchant of Horn. They had also another object in view: in all the maps of
the world of the sixteenth century, a great southern continent is laid
down. In 1606, Quiros, a Spanish navigator, had searched in vain for this
continent; and La Maire and Schouten, in their voyage, resolved to look for
it, as well as for a new passage to India. In 1615 they sailed from Holland
with two ships: they coasted Patagonia, discovered the strait which bears
the name of La Maire, and Staten Island, which joins it on the east. On the
31st of January next year, they doubled the southern point of America,
having sailed almost into the sixtieth degree of south latitude; this point
they named Cape Horn, after the town of which Schouten was a native. From
this cape they steered right across the great southern ocean to the
northwest. In their course they discovered several small islands; but
finding no trace of a continent, they gave up the search for it, and
steering to the south, passed to the east of the Papua Archipelago. They
then changed their course to the west; discovered the east coast of the
island, afterwards called New Zealand, as well as the north side of New
Guinea. They afterwards reached Batavia, where they were seized by the
president of the Dutch East India Company. This voyage was important, as it
completed the navigation of the coast of South America from the Strait of
Magellan to Cape Horn, and ascertained that the two great oceans, the
Pacific and the Atlantic, joined each other to the south of America, by a
great austral sea. This voyage added also considerably to maritime
geography, "though many of the islands in the Pacific thus discovered have,
from the errors in their estimated longitudes, been claimed as new
discoveries by more recent navigators." In the year 1623, the Dutch found a
shorter passage into the Pacific, by the Straits of Nassau, north-west of
La Maire's Strait; and another still shorter, by Brewer's Straits, in the
year 1643.

The success of the Portuguese and Spaniards in their discoveries of a
passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope, and of America, induced, as we
have seen, the other maritime nations to turn their attention to navigation
and commerce. As, however, the riches derived from the East India commerce
were certain, and the commodities which supplied them had long been in
regular demand in Europe, the attempts to discover new routes to India
raised greater energies than those which were made to complete the
discovery of America. In fact, as we have seen, the east coast, both of
South and North America, in all probability would not have been visited so
frequently, or so soon and carefully examined, had it not been with the
hope of finding some passage to India in that direction. But it was also
supposed, that a passage to India might be made by sailing round the north
of Europe to the east. Hence arose the frequent attempts to find out what
are called the north-west and north-east passages; the most important of
which, that were made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we
shall now proceed to notice.

We have already mentioned the earliest attempts to find out the Straits of
Anian; the idea that they existed on the northwest coast of America seems
to have been abandoned for some time, unless we suppose, that a voyage
undertaken by the French in 1535 had for its object the discovery of these
straits: it is undoubted, that one of the objects of this voyage was to
find a passage to India. In this voyage, the river St. Lawrence was
examined as far as Montreal. In 1536, the English in vain endeavoured to
find a north-west passage to India. The result of this voyage was, however,
important in one respect; as it gave vise to the very beneficial fishery of
the English on the banks of Newfoundland. The French had already engaged in
this fishery.

In 1576, the idea of a north-west passage having been revived in England,
Frobisher was sent in search of it, with two barks of twenty-five tons
each, and one pinnace of ten tons. He entered the strait, leading into what
was afterwards called Hudson's Bay: this strait he named after himself. He
discovered the southern coast of Greenland; and picking up there some stone
or ore which resembled gold, he returned to England. The London goldsmiths
having examined this, they reported that it contained a large proportion of
gold. This induced the Russian Company to send him out a second time, in
1577; but during this voyage, and a third in 1578, no discoveries of
consequence were made. In the years 1585, 86, and 87, Captain Davis, who
was in the service of an English company of adventurers, made three voyages
in search of a north-west passage. In the first he proceded as far north as
sixty-six degrees forty minutes, visited the southwest coast of Greenland,
and gave his own name to the straits that separate it from America. At this
time the use of a kind of harpoon was known, by which they were enabled to
kill porpoises; but though they saw many whales, they knew not the right
manner of killing them. In his second voyage an unsuccessful attempt was
made to penetrate between Iceland and Greenland, but the ships were unable
to penetrate beyond sixty-seven degrees north latitude. The west coast of
Greenland was examined; but not being able to sail along its north coast,
he stretched across to America, which he examined to latitude fifty-four.
In his last voyage, Davis reached the west coast of Greenland, as far as
latitude seventy-two. All his endeavours, however, to find a north-west
passage were ineffectual.

In 1607, Hudson, an experienced seaman of great knowledge and intrepidity,
sailed in search of this passage. He directed his course straight north,
and reached the eighty-second degree of latitude, and the seventy-third
degree of west longitude. During this voyage more of the eastern coast of
Greenland was discovered than had been previously known. In his second
voyage, which was undertaken in 1608, he endeavoured to sail between Nova
Zembla and Spitzbergen, but unsuccessfully: of this and his first voyage we
have very imperfect accounts. His third voyage was undertaken for the
Dutch: in this he discovered the river in America which bears his name. His
fourth and last voyage, in which he perished, and to which he owes his
principal fame as a navigator, was in the service of the Russia Company of
England. In this voyage he reached the strait which bears his name: his
crew mutinied at this place, and setting him on shore, returned to England.
As soon as the Russia Company learned the fate of Hudson, they sent one
Captain Button in search of him, and also to explore the straits which he
had discovered: in this voyage Hudson's Bay was discovered. Button's
journal was never published: it is said, however, to have contained some
important observations on the tides, and other objects of natural

The existence of such a bay as Hudson's was described to be, induced the
merchants of England to believe that they had at length found out the
entrance to a passage which would lead them to the East Indies: many
voyages were therefore undertaken, in a very short time after this bay had
been discovered. The most important was that of Bylot and Baffin: they
advanced through Davis's Straits into an extensive sea, which they called
Baffin's Bay: they proceeded, according to their account, as far north as
the latitude 78°. The nature and extent of this discovery was very much
doubted at the time, and subsequently, till the discoveries of Captains
Ross and Parry, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, proved that
Baffin was substantially accurate and faithful.

Baffin's voyage took place in the year 1616: after this there was no voyage
undertaken with the same object, till the year 1631, when Captain Fox
sailed from Deptford. He had been used to the sea from his youth, and had
employed his leisure time in collecting all the information he could
possibly obtain, respecting voyages, to the north. He was besides well
acquainted with some celebrated mathematicians and cosmographers,
particularly Thomas Herne, who had carefully collected all the journals and
charts of the former voyages, with a view to his business, which was that
of a maker of globes. When Fox was presented to Charles I, his majesty gave
him a map, containing all the discoveries which had been made in the north
seas. He discovered several islands during the voyage, but not the passage
he sought for; though he is of opinion, that if a passage is to be found,
it must be in Sir Thomas Roe's Welcome,--a bay he discovered near an island
of that name, in north latitude 64° 10', not far from the main land, on the
west side of Hudson's Bay. He published a small treatise on the voyage,
called The North-west Fox, which contains many important facts and
judicious observations on the ice, the tides, compass, northern lights, &c.
Captain James sailed on the same enterprise nearly at the same time that
Fox did. His account was printed by King Charles's command, in 1633: it
contains some remarkable physical observations respecting the intenseness
of the cold, and the accumulation of ice, in northern latitudes; but no
discovery of moment. He was of opinion, that no north-west passage existed.

The last voyage in the seventeenth century, in search of this passage, was
undertaken in consequence of the representations of a Frenchman to Charles
II. From the same cause proceeded the establishment of the Hudson's Bay
Company by that monarch.

Canada was at this time colonized by the French; and a French settler
there, De Gronsseliers, an enterprising and speculative man, after
travelling in various directions, reached a country, where he received
information respecting Hudson's Bay: he therefore resolved to attempt to
reach this bay by sea. In the course of this undertaking he met with a few
English, who had settled themselves near Port Nelson River: these he
attacked, and by their defeat became master of the country. He afterwards
explored the whole district, and returned to Quebec with a large quantity
of valuable furs and English merchandize; but meeting with ill-treatment in
Quebec, and afterwards at the court of France, he came to England, where he
was introduced to the Count Palatine Rupert. The prince patronized all
laudable and useful enterprises; and persuaded the king to send out Captain
Gillam, and the Frenchman with him. The ship was loaded with goods to
traffic for furs. They passed through Hudson's Straits to Baffin's Bay, as
far as 75 degrees north latitude: they afterwards sailed as far to the
south as 51 degrees, where, near the banks of a river, called after Prince
Rupert, they built Charles Fort. This was the first attempt to carry on
commerce in this part of America.

We must now return to the period of the first attempt to find out a
north-east passage to India. A society of merchants had been formed in
London for this purpose. Sebastian Cabot, either the son or the grandson of
John Cabot, and who held the situation of grand pilot of England under
Edward VI., was chosen governor of this society. Three vessels were fitted
out: one of them is particularly noticed in the contemporary accounts, as
having been sheathed with thin plates of lead. Sir Hew Willoughby had the
chief command: Captain Richard Chanceller and Captain Durfovill commanded
the other two vessels under him. Willoughby, having reached 72 degrees of
north latitude, was obliged by the severity of the season to run his ship
into a small harbour, where he and his crew were frozen to death. Captain
Durfovill returned to England. Chanceller was more fortunate; for he
reached the White Sea, and wintered in the Dwina, near the site of
Archangel. While his ship lay up frozen, Chanceller proceeded to Moscow,
where he obtained from the Czar privileges for the English merchants, and
letters to King Edward: as the Czar was at this period engaged in the
Livonian war, which greatly interrupted and embarrassed the trade of the
Baltic, he was the more disposed to encourage the English to trade to the
White Sea. We have already remarked, in giving an account of the voyage of
Ohter, in King Alfred's time, that he had penetrated as far as the White
Sea. This part of Europe, however, seems afterwards to have been entirely
lost sight of, till the voyage of Chanceller; for in a map of the most
northern parts of Europe, given in Munster's Geographia, which was printed
in 1540, Greenland is laid down as joined to the north part of Lapland;
and, consequently, the northern ocean appears merely as a great bay,
enclosed by these countries. Three years afterwards, the English reached
the coasts of Nova Zembla, and heard of, if they did not arrive at, the
Straits of Waygats. The next attempts were made by the Dutch, who were
desirous of reaching India by a route, in the course of which they would
not be liable to meet with the Spaniards or Portuguese. They accordingly
made four attempts between 1594 and 1596, but unsuccessfully. In the last
voyage they reached Spitzbergen; but after striving in vain to penetrate to
the north-east, they were obliged to winter on the north coast of Nova
Zembla, in 76° latitude. Here they built a smaller vessel out of the
remains of the one they had brought from Holland, and arrived the following
summer at Kola, in Lapland.

In 1653, Frederic III, king of Denmark, sent three vessels to discover a
north-east passage: it is said that they actually passed through Waygats'
Straits; but that in the bay beyond these straits they found insurmountable
obstacles from the ice and cold, and consequently were obliged to return.

The last attempt made in the seventeenth century, was by the English: it
was proposed and undertaken by John Wood, an experienced seaman, who had
paid particular attention to the voyages that had been made to the north.
His arguments in favour of a north-east passage were, that whales had been
found near Japan, with English and Dutch harpoons in them; and that the
Dutch had found temperate weather near the Pole, and had sailed 300 leagues
to the east of Nova Zembla. The first argument only proved, that there was
sea between Nova Zembla and Japan; but not that it was navigable, though
passable for whales: the other two positions were unfounded. Wood, however,
persuaded the Duke of York to send him out in 1676. He doubled the North
Cape, and reached 76 degrees of north latitude. One of the ships was
wrecked off the coast of Nova Zembla, and Wood returned in the other, with
an opinion that a north-east passage is impracticable, and that Nova Zembla
is a part of the continent of Greenland.

But we must turn from these attempts to discover a northwest or north-east
passage to India, which, from the accounts given of them, it will be
evident, contributed very little to the progress of geographical knowledge,
though they necessarily increased the skill, confidence, and experience of

While these unprofitable voyages were undertaken in the north, discoveries
of consequence were making in the southern ocean. These may be divided into
two classes; viz., such as relate to what is now called Australasia; and
those which relate to the islands which are scattered in the southern

We have already stated that there is reason to believe some part of New
Holland was first discovered by the Portuguese: two ancient maps in the
British Museum are supposed to confirm this opinion; but the date of one is
uncertain; the other is dated 1542, and certainly contains a country,
which, in form and position, resembles New Holland, as it was laid down
prior to the voyage of Tasman. But allowing this to be New Holland, it only
proves, that at the date of this map it was known, not that it had been
discovered by the Portuguese.

The Dutch, however, certainly made several voyages to it between 1616 and
1644: the western extremity was explored in 1616. The same year Van
Dieman's Land was discovered. In the course of the ten following years, the
western and northern coasts were visited. The southern coast was first
discovered in 1627, but we have no particulars respecting the voyage in
which it was discovered. In 1642, Tasman, a celebrated Dutch navigator,
sailed from Batavia, and discovered the southern part of Van Dieman's Land
and New Zealand. From this time to the beginning of the eighteenth century,
little progress was made in exploring the coast of New Holland. Dampier,
however, a man of wonderful talents, considering his education and mode of
life, collected, during his voyage, some important details respecting the
west coast. And among the numerous voyages undertaken by the Dutch East
India Company towards the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the
eighteenth century, to examine this vast country, which the Dutch regarded
as belonging to them, there was one by Van Vlaming deserving of notice:
this navigator examined with great care and attention many bays and
harbours on the west side; and he is the first who mentions the black swans
of this country.

Papua, or New Guinea, another part of Australasia, was discovered by the
Portuguese in 1528. The passage that divides this country from New Britain
was discovered by Dampier, who was also the first that explored and named
the latter country in 1683. The discovery of Solomon Islands by the
Spaniards took place in 1575: Mendana, a Spanish captain, sailed from Lima,
to the westward, and in steering across the Pacific, he fell in with these
islands. On a second voyage he extended his discoveries, and he sailed a
third time to conquer and convert the natives. His death, which took place
in one of these islands, put an end to these projects. They are supposed to
be the easternmost of the Papua Archipelago, afterwards visited by
Carteret, Bougainville, and other navigators. Mendana, during his last
voyage, discovered a group of islands to which he gave the name of
Marquesas de Mendoza.

This group properly belongs to Polynesia: of the other islands in this
quarter of the globe, which were discovered prior to the eighteenth
century, Otaheite is supposed to have been discovered by Quiros in 1606.
His object was to discover the imagined austral continent; but his
discoveries were confined to Otaheite, which he named Sagittaria, and an
island which he named Terra del Esperitu Sancto, which is supposed to be
the principal of the New Hebrides. The Ladrones were discovered by Magellan
in 1521. The New Philippines, or Carolinas, were first made known by the
accidental arrival of a family of their natives at the Philippines in 1686.
Easter island, a detached and remote country, which, however, is inhabited
by the Polynesian race, was discovered by Roggewein in 1686.

Having thus exhibited a brief and general sketch of the progress of
discovery, from the period when the Portuguese first passed the Cape of
Good Hope to the beginning of the eighteenth century, we shall next, before
we give an account of the state and progress of commerce during the same
period, direct our attention to the state of geographical science in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

We have already stated that the astrolobe, which had been previously
applied only to astronomical purposes, was accommodated to the use of
mariners by Martin Behaim, towards the end of the fifteenth century. He was
a scholar of Muller, of Koningsberg, better known under the name of
Regiomontanus, who published the Almagest of Ptolemy. The Germans were at
this time the best mathematicians of Europe. Walther, who was of that
nation, and the friend and disciple of Regiomontanus, was the first who
made use of clocks in his astronomical observations. He was succeeded by
Werner, of Nuremberg, who published a translation of Ptolemy's Geography,
with a commentary, in which he explains the method of finding the longitude
at sea by the distance of a fixed star from the moon. The astronomical
instruments hitherto used were, with the exception of the astrolobe, those
which had been employed by Ptolemy and the Arabians. The quadrant of
Ptolemy resembled the mural quadrant of later times; which, however, was
improved by the Arabians, who, at the end of the tenth century, employed a
quadrant twenty-one feet and eight inches radius, and a sextant fifty-seven
feet nine inches radius, and divided into seconds. The use of the sextant
seems to have been forgotten after this time; for Tycho Brahe is said to
have re-invented it, and to have employed it for measuring the distances of
the planets from the stars. The quadrant was about the same time improved
by a method of subdividing its limbs by the diagonal scale, and by the
Vernier. The telescope was invented in the year 1609, and telescopic sights
were added to the quadrant in the year 1668. Picard, who was one of the
first astronomers who applied telescopes to quadrants, determined the
earth's diameter in 1669, by measuring a degree of the meridian in France.
The observation made at Cayenne, that a pendulum which beat seconds there,
must be shorter than one which beat seconds at Paris, was explained by
Huygens, to arise from the diminution of gravity at the equator, and from
this fact he inferred the spheroidal form of the earth. The application of
the pendulum to clocks, one of the most beautiful and useful acquisitions
which astronomy, and consequently navigation and geography have made, was
owing to the ingenuity of Huygens. These are the principal discoveries and
inventions, relating to astronomy, which were made prior to the eighteenth
century, so far as they are connected with the advancement of the art of
navigation and the science of geography.

The discoveries of Columbus and Gama necessarily overturned the systems of
Ptolemy, Strabo, and the other geographers of antiquity. The opinion that
the earth was a globe, which had been conjectured or inferred prior to the
voyage of Magellan, was placed beyond a doubt by that voyage. The heavenly
bodies were subjected to the calculations of man by the labours of
Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Galileo. Under these circumstances it was
necessary, and it was easy, to make great improvements in the construction
of maps, in laying down the real form of the earth, and the relative
situations of the countries of which it is formed, together with their
latitudes and longitudes. The first maps which displayed the new world were
those of the brothers Appian, and of Ribeiro: soon afterwards a more
complete and accurate one was published by Gemma Frisius. Among the
geographers of the sixteenth century, who are most distinguished for their
science, may be reckoned Sebastian Munster; for though, as we have already
mentioned, he joins Greenland to the north of Lapland in his map, yet his
research, labour, and accuracy were such, that he is compared by his
contemporaries to Strabo. Ortelius directed his studies and his learning to
the elucidation of ancient geography; and according to Malte Bran, no
incompetent judge, he may yet be consulted on this subject with advantage.

But modern geography may most probably be dated from the time of Mercator:
he published an edition of Ptolemy, in which he pointed out the
imperfection of the system of the ancients. The great object at this time,
was to contrive such a chart in plano, with short lines, that all places
might be truly laid down according to their respective longitudes and
latitudes. A method of this kind had been obscurely pointed at by Ptolemy;
but the first map on this plan was made by Mercator, about the year 1550.
The principles, however, on which it was constructed, were not demonstrated
till the year 1559, when Wright, an Englishman, pointed them out, as well
as a ready and easy way of making such a map. This was a great help to
navigators; since by enlarging, the meridian line, as Wright suggested and
explained, so that all the degrees of longitude might be proportional to
those of latitude, a chart on Mercator's projection shews the course and
distance from place to place, in all cases of sailing; and is therefore in
several respects more convenient to navigators than the globe itself.
Mercator, in his maps and charts, chose Corvo, one of the Azores, for his
first meridian, because at that time it was the line of no variation of the

We have already alluded to Regiomontanus, as a celebrated mathematician,
and as having published the Almagest of Ptolemy. He seems, likewise, to
have written notes on Ptolemy's Geography. In 1525, a later translation of
Ptolemy was published, which contained these annotations. To Ptolemy's
maps, tables, &c., are added a new set of maps on wooden plates, according
to the new discoveries: from these we find, that in consequence of the
voyages of the Portuguese, the charts of the coasts of Arabia, Africa,
Persia, and India, are laid down with tolerable accuracy. Nothing is
noticed regarding China, except that it may be reached by sea from India.
America is called Terra Nova inventa per Christ. Columbus: this seems to be
all the editor knew of it. That part of the work which relates to the north
of Europe, is most grossly erroneous: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the
Baltic, seem to have been little known. A great bay is laid down between
Greenland and Lapland, which bay is bounded on the north by a ridge of
mountains, thus retaining the error of Ptolemy with respect to this part of
Europe. There are two maps of England and Scotland: in one they are
represented as one island; in the other as different islands. These maps
and charts must have been the work of the editor or translator, as
Regiomontanus, whose annotations are subjoined, died before the discovery
of America.

We have been thus particular in describing the principal maps of this work,
as they prove how imperfect geography was, prior to the time of Mercator,
and with how much justice it may be said that he is the father of modern
geography. There were, however, some maps of particular countries, drawn up
in the sixteenth century with tolerable accuracy, considering the
imperfection of those sciences and instruments, by which alone perfect
accuracy can be attained. George Lilly, son of William, the famous
grammarian, published, according to Nicholson, (English Historical
Library,) "the first exact map that ever was, till then, drawn of this
island." This praise must, however, be taken with great qualification; for
even so late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, the distance from
the South Foreland to the Lands-end was laid down, in all the maps of
England, half a degree more than it actually is. We may here remark, that
Nicholson represents Thomas Sulmo, a Guernsey man, who died in 1545, as our
oldest general geographer.

In some of the MSS. of Harding's Chronicle, written in the reign of Edward
IV., there is a rude map of Scotland. In 1539, Alexander Lindsey, an
excellent navigator and hydrographer, published a chart of Scotland and its
isles, drawn up from his own observations, which were made when he
accompanied James V. in 1539, on his voyage to the highlands and islands.
This chart is very accurate for the age; and is much superior to that
published by Bishop Lesley, with his history, in 1578.

The first map of Russia, known to the other nations of Europe, was
published in 1558 by Mr. Anthony Jenkinson, agent to the English Russia
Company, from the result of his enquiries and observations during his long
residence in that kingdom.

These are the most important maps, either general or of particular
countries, with which the sixteenth century supplies us.

The seventeenth century continued the impulse which was given to the
science of geography by Mercator. As new discoveries were constantly in
progress, errors in maps were corrected, vacant spaces filled up, more
accurate positions assigned, and greater attention paid to the actual and
relative sizes of different countries. Malte Brun justly reckons Cluverius,
Riccioli, and Varenius, as amongst the most celebrated geographers of this
century. Cluverius was a man of extensive and accurate erudition, which he
applied to the illustration of ancient geography. Riccioli, an Italian
Jesuit, devoted his abilities and leisure to the study of mathematics, and
the sciences dependent upon it, particularly astronomy; and was thus
enabled to render important service to the higher parts of geography.
Varenius is a still more celebrated name in geographical science: he
excelled in mathematical geography; and such was his fame and merit in the
higher branches of physics, and his ingenuity in applying them to
geography, that a system of universal geography, which he published in
Latin, was deemed worthy by Newton, to be republished and commented upon.
Cellarius bestowed much pains on ancient geography. That branch of the
science which pays more especial regard to the distances of places, was
much advanced by Sanson, in France; Blew, in Holland; and Buraeus, in

We must now turn to the progress of commerce during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries.

The discovery of a passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope, gave
immediately a great impulse to commerce; whereas, it was a long time after
the discovery of America before commerce was benefited by that event. This
arose from the different state and circumstances of the two countries. The
Portuguese found in India, and the other parts of the East, a race of
people acquainted with commerce, and accustomed to it; fully aware of those
natural productions of their country which were in demand, and who had long
been in the habit of increasing the exportable commodities by various kinds
of manufactures. Most of these native productions and manufactures had been
in high estimation and value in Europe for centuries prior to the discovery
of the Cape. The monarchs of the East, as well as their subjects, were
desirous of extending their trade. There was, therefore, no difficulty, as
soon as the Portuguese arrived at any part of the East; they found spices,
precious stones, pearls, &c., or silk and cotton stuffs, porcelaine, &c.,
and merchants willing to sell them. Their only business was to settle a few
skilful agents, to select and purchase proper cargoes for their ships. Even
before they reached the remote countries of the East, which they afterwards
did, they found depôts of the goods of those parts, in intermediate and
convenient situations, between them and the middle and western parts of
Asia and Europe.

It was very different in America: the natives here, ignorant and savage,
had no commerce. "Even the natural productions of the soil, when not
cherished and multiplied by the fostering and active hand of man, were of
little account." Above half a century elapsed before the Spaniards reaped
any benefit from their conquests, except some small quantities of gold,
chiefly obtained from plundering the persons, the houses, and temples of
the Mexicans and Peruvians. In 1545, the mines of Potosi were discovered;
these, and the principal Mexican mine, discovered soon afterwards, first
brought a permanent and valuable revenue to Spain. But it was long after
this before the Spaniards, or the other nations of Europe, could be
convinced that America contained other treasures besides those of gold and
silver, or induced to apply that time, labour, and capital, which were
requisite to unfold all the additions to the comforts, the luxuries, and
the health of man, which the New World was capable of bestowing. When,
however, European skill and labour were expended on the soil of America,
the real and best wealth of this quarter of the world was displayed in all
its importance and extent. In addition to the native productions of
tobacco, indigo, cochineal, cotton, ginger, cocoa, pimento, drugs, woods
for dying, the Europeans cultivated the sugar cane, and several other
productions of the Old World. The only articles of commerce supplied by the
natives, were furs and skins; every thing else imported from the New World
consists at present, and has always consisted of the produce, of the
industry of Europeans settled there.

But though it was long before Europe derived much direct benefit from the
discovery of America, yet in one important respect this discovery gave a
great stimulus to East India commerce. Gold and silver, especially the
latter, have always been in great demand in the East, and consequently the
most advantageous articles to export from Europe in exchange for Indian
commodities. It was therefore absolutely necessary for the continuance of a
commerce so much extended as this to India was, in consequence of the
Portuguese discoveries, that increased means of purchasing Indian
commodities should be given; and these were supplied by the gold and silver
mines of America.

If these mines had not been discovered about the time when trade to India
was more easy, expeditious, and frequent, it could not long have been in
the power of Europe to have availed herself of the advantages of the
Portuguese discoveries; gold and silver would have become, from their
extreme scarcity, more valuable in Europe than in India, and consequently
would no longer have been exported. But the supply of the precious metals
and of Indian commodities increasing at the same time, Europe, by means of
America, was enabled to reap all possible advantage from the Portuguese
discoveries. The gold and silver of Mexico and Peru traversed the world, in
spite of all obstacles, and reached that part of it where it was most
wanted, and purchased the productions of China and Hindostan.

Yet, notwithstanding the effectual demand for East India commodities was
necessarily increased by the increased supply of the precious metals, yet
the supply of these commodities being increased in a much greater
proportion, their price was much lowered. This lowering of price naturally
arose from two circumstances: after the passage to India by the Cape, the
productions and manufactures of the East were purchased immediately from
the natives; and they were brought to Europe directly, and all the way, by
sea. Whereas, before the discovery of the Cape, they were purchased and
repurchased frequently; consequently, repeated additions were made to their
original price; and these additions were made, in almost every instance, by
persons who had the monopoly of them. Their conveyance to Europe was long,
tedious, and mostly by land carriage, and consequently very expensive.
There are no data by which it can be ascertained in what proportion the
Portuguese lowered the price of Indian commodities; but Dr. Robertson's
supposition appears well founded,--that they might afford to reduce the
commodities of the East, in every part of Europe, one half. This
supposition is founded on a table of prices of goods in India, the same
sold at Aleppo, and what they might be sold for in England,--drawn up,
towards the end of the seventeenth century, by Mr. Munn: from this it
appears, that the price at Aleppo was three times that in India, and that
the goods might be sold in England at half the Aleppo price. But as the
expense of conveying goods to Aleppo from India, may, as Dr. Robertson
observes, be reckoned nearly the same as that which was incurred by
bringing them to Alexandria, he draws the inference already stated,--that
the discovery of the Cape reduced the price of Indian commodities one half.
The obvious and necessary result would follow, that they would be in
greater demand, and more common use. The principal eastern commodities used
by the Romans were spices and aromatics,--precious stones and pearls; and
in the later periods of their power, silk; these, however, were almost
exclusively confined to rare and solemn occasions, or to the use of the
most wealthy and magnificent of the conquerors of the world. On the
subversion of the Roman empire, the commodities of the East were for a
short time in little request among the barbarians who subverted it: as
soon, however, as they advanced from their ignorance and rudeness, these
commodities seem strongly to have attracted their notice, and they were
especially fond of spices and aromatics. These were used very profusely in
their cookery, and formed the principal ingredients in their medicines. As,
however, the price of all Indian commodities was necessarily high, so long
as they were obliged to be brought to Europe by a circuitous route, and
loaded with accumulated profits, it was impossible that they could be
purchased, except by the more wealthy classes. The Portuguese, enabled to
sell them in greater abundance, and at a much cheaper rate, introduced them
into much more general use; and, as they every year extended their
knowledge of the East, and their commerce with it, the number of ships
fitted out at Lisbon every year, for India, became necessarily more
numerous, in order to supply the increased demand.

Commerce in this case, as in every other, while it is acted upon by an
extension of geographical knowledge, in its turn has an obvious tendency to
extend that knowledge; this was the case with respect to India. The
ancients had indeed made but small advances in their acquaintance with this
country, notwithstanding they were stimulated by the large profits they
derived from their eastern commerce; but this was owing to their
comparative ignorance of navigation and the sciences on which it depends.
As soon as the moderns had improved this art, especially by the use of the
compass, and the Cape of Good Hope was discovered, commerce gave the
stimulus, which in a very few years led the Portuguese from Calicut to the
furthest extremity of Asia.

It is remarkable that the Portuguese were allowed to monopolize Indian
commerce for so long a time as they did; this, however, as Dr. Robertson
observes, may be accounted for, "from the political circumstances in the
state of all those nations in Europe, whose intrusion as rivals the
Portuguese had any reason to dread. From the accession of Charles V. to the
throne, Spain was either so much occupied in a multiplicity of operations
in which it was engaged by the ambition of that monarch, and of his son
Philip II., or so intent on prosecuting its own discoveries and conquests
in the New World, that although by the successful enterprize of Magellan,
its fleets were unexpectedly conducted by a new course to that remote
region of Asia, which was the seat of the most gainful and alluring branch
of trade carried on by the Portuguese, it could make no considerable effect
to avail itself of the commercial advantages which it might have derived
from that event. By the acquisition of the crown of Portugal, in the year
1580, the kings of Spain, instead of the rivals, became the protectors of
the Portuguese trade, and the guardians of all its exclusive rights.
Throughout the sixteenth century, the strength and resources of France were
so much wasted by the fruitless expeditions of their monarchs to Italy; by
their unequal contest with the power and policy of Charles V., and by the
calamities of the civil wars which desolated the kingdom upwards of forty
years, that it could neither bestow much attention on commerce, nor engage
in any scheme of distant enterprize. The Venetians, how sensibly soever
they might feel the mortifying reverse of being excluded almost entirely
from the Indian trade, of which their capital had been formerly the chief
seat, were so debilitated and humbled by the league of Cambray, that they
were no longer capable of engaging in any undertaking of magnitude.
England, weakened by the long contests between the houses of York and
Lancaster, and just beginning to recover its proper vigour, was restrained
from active exertions during one part of the sixteenth century, by the
cautious maxims of Henry VII., and wasted its strength, during another part
of it, by engaging inconsiderately in the wars between the princes on the
continent. The nation, though destined to acquire territories in India more
extensive and valuable than were ever possessed by any European power, had
no such presentiment of its future eminence there, as to take an early part
in the commerce or transactions of that country, and a great part of the
century elapsed before it began to turn its attention to the East.

"While the most considerable nations in Europe found it necessary, from the
circumstances which I have mentioned, to remain inactive spectators of what
passed in the East, the seven United Provinces of the Low Countries,
recently formed into a small state, still struggling for political
existence, and yet in the infancy of its power, ventured to appear in the
Indian Ocean as the rivals of the Portuguese; and, despising their
pretensions to an exclusive right of commerce with the extensive countries
to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, invaded that monopoly which they
had hitherto guarded with such jealous attention. The English soon followed
the example of the Dutch, and both nations, at first by the enterprizing
industry of private adventurers, and afterwards by the more powerful
efforts of trading companies, under the protection of public authority,
advanced with astonishing ardour and success in this new career opened to
them. The vast fabric of power which the Portuguese had opened in the East,
(a superstructure much too large for the basis on which it had to rest) was
almost entirely overturned in as short time, and with as much facility, as
it had been raised. England and Holland, by driving them from their most
valuable settlements, and seizing the most lucrative branches of their
trade, have attained to that pre-eminence of naval power and commercial
opulence by which they are distinguished among the nations of Europe."
(Robertson's India, pp. 177-9. 8vo. edition.)

Before, however, we advert to the commerce of the Dutch in India, it will
be proper to notice those circumstances which gave a commercial direction
to the people of the Netherlands, both before their struggle with Spain,
and while the result of that struggle was uncertain. The early celebrity of
Bruges as a commercial city has already been noticed; its regular fairs in
the middle of the tenth century; its being made the entrepôt of the Hanse
Association towards the end of the thirteenth. It naturally partook of the
wealth and commercial improvement which Flanders derived from her woollen
manufactures, and was in fact made the emporium of that country at the
beginning of the fourteenth century; and within 100 years afterwards, the
staple for English and Scotch goods. When the increased industry of the
north of Europe induced and enabled its inhabitants to exchange the produce
of their soil, fisheries, and manufactures, for the produce of the south of
Europe, and of India, Bruges was made the great entrepôt of the trade of
Europe. In the beginning of the sixteenth century its commercial importance
began to decline, but the trade which left it, did not pass beyond the
limits of the Netherlands; it settled in a great measure at Antwerp, which,
as being accessible by sea, was more convenient for commerce than Bruges.
This city, however, would not have fallen so easily or rapidly before its
rival, had it not been distracted by civil commotions. From it the commerce
of the Netherlands, and with it of the north of Europe, and the interchange
of its commodities with those of the south of Europe and of Asia, gradually
passed to Antwerp; and about the year 1516, most of the trade of Bruges was
fixed here, the Portuguese making it their entrepôt for the supply of the
northern kingdoms.

Even before this time the ships of the Netherlands seem to have been the
carriers of the north of Europe; for in 1503, two Zealand ships arrived at
Campveer, laden with sugars, the produce of the Canary Islands. Antwerp,
however, continued till it was taken by the Spaniards, and its port
destroyed by the blocking up of the Scheldt, to be most distinguished for
its commerce, and its consequent wealth:--its situation, its easy access by
sea, joined to the circumstance of its being made the Portuguese entrepôt
for spices, drugs, and other rich productions of India, mainly contributed
to its commerce. Merchants from every part of the north of Europe settled
here, and even many of the merchants of Bruges removed to it, after the
decline of their own city. Its free fairs for commerce, two of which lasted
each time six weeks, attracted merchants from all parts, as they could
bring their merchandize into it duty free, and were here certain of finding
a market for it. In it also bills of exchange on all parts of Europe could
be easily and safely negotiated. We have already mentioned the most wealthy
merchants of England and France, in the fifteenth century: there existed at
Antwerp, in the sixteenth, a firm of the name of Fugger, whose wealth was
very great, and indicates the extent of their commercial dealings. From
this firm the Emperor Charles V. had borrowed a very large sum, in order to
carry on an expedition against Tunis. In the year 1534, Charles, being at
Antwerp, Fugger invited him to an entertainment at his house, made a fire
in his hall with cinnamon, and threw all the emperor's bonds into that
fire. About eleven years afterwards, the same merchant gave an acquittance
to Henry VIII. of England, for the sum of 152,180_l_. Flemish, which
the king had borrowed of him. The Fuggers had a licence from the king of
Portugal to trade to India; and they used to send their own factor in every
ship that sailed thither, and were the owners of part of every cargo of
pepper imported.

In the year 1541, it contained 100,000 inhabitants: soon afterwards the
persecutions on account of religion in Germany, England, and France, drove
many people thither, and of course increased both its population and
wealth. If we may believe Huet, in his History of Dutch Commerce, it was,
at this time, not uncommon to see 2500 ships at once lying in the Scheldt.

The picture, however, which Guicciardini draws of Antwerp in 1560, when it
had reached the zenith of its prosperity and wealth,--being that of a
contemporary author, and entering into detail,--is at once much more
curious and interesting, and may be depended on as authentic. It is also
valuable, as exhibiting the state of the manufactures, commerce, &c. of
most of the nations of Europe at this period.

"Besides the natives and the French, who are here very numerous, there are
six principal foreign nations, who reside at Antwerp, both in war and
peace, making above 1000 merchants, including factors and servants, viz.
Germans, Danes, and Easterlings--that is, people from the ports in the
south shores of the Baltic, from Denmark to Livonia--Italians, Spaniards,
English, and Portuguese of these six nations; the Spaniards are the most
numerous. One of those foreign merchants, Fugger, of Augsburg, died worth
above six millions of crowns; there are many natives there with from
200,000 to 400,000 crowns."

"They meet twice a day, in the mornings and evenings, one hour each time,
at the English bourse, where, by their interpreters and brokers, they buy
and sell all kinds of merchandize. Thence they go to the new bourse, or
principal exchange, where, for another hour each time, they transact all
matters relating to bills of exchange, with the above six nations, and with
France; and also to deposit at interest, which is usually twelve per cent.
per annum."

"They send to Rome a great variety of woollen drapery, linen, tapestry,
&c.: the returns are in bills of exchange. To Ancona, English and Flemish
cloths, stuffs, linen, tapestry, cochineal; and bring in return such spices
and drugs as the merchants of Ancona procure in the Levant, and likewise
silks, cotton, Turkey carpets, and leather. To Bologne they export serges,
and other stuffs, tapestry, linen, merceries, &c. and bring in return for
it, wrought silks, cloth of gold and silver, crapes, caps, &c. To Venice
they send jewels and pearls, English cloth and wool, Flemish drapery,
cochineal, &c. and a little sugar and pepper: thus, with respect to these
two latter articles, sending to Venice what they formerly obtained from
her. For, prior to the Portuguese discovery of the Cape, the merchants of
Antwerp brought from Venice all sorts of India spices and drugs: and even
so late as the year 1518, there arrived in the Scheldt, five Venetian
ships, laden with spices and drugs, for the fair at Antwerp. In 1560,
however, the imports from Venice consisted of the finest and choicest
silks, carpets, cotton, &c. and colours for dyers and painters."

"To Naples they export great quantities of Flemish and English cloths and
stuffs, tapestry, linens, small wares of metal, and other materials: and
bring back raw, thrown and wrought silk, fine furs and skins, saffron and
manna. The exports to Sicily are similar to those of the other parts of
Italy: the imports from it are galls in great quantity, cinnamon, oranges,
cotton, silk, and sometimes wine. To Milan, Antwerp exports pepper, sugar,
jewels, musk, and other perfumes, English and Flemish woollen manufactures,
English and Spanish woollinens, and cochineal. The imports are gold and
silver, thread, silks, gold stuffs, dimities, rich and curious draperies,
rice, muskets and other arms, high priced toys and small goods; and
Parmesian cheese. The exports to Florence are nearly the same as to the
other parts of Italy, but in addition, fans are specified. Besides the
usual imports of silks and gold stuffs, there are also fine furs. Household
furniture is exported to Genoa, besides the usual articles: velvets, which
were then the best in the world; satins, the best coral, mithridate, and
treacle, are the principal or the peculiar imports. Genoa, is the port
through which Antwerp trades with Mantua, Verona, Modena, Lucca, &c."

"Besides all these articles, Antwerp imports from Italy by sea, alum, oil,
gums, leaf senna, sulphur, &c. and exported to it by sea, tin, lead,
madder, Brazil wood, wax, leather, flax, tallow, salt fish, timber, and
sometimes corn. The imports from Italy, including only silks, gold and
silver, stuffs, and thread camblets and other stuffs, amount to three
millions of crowns, or 600,000_l_. yearly.

"Antwerp exports to Germany precious stones and pearls, spices, drugs,
saffron, sugars, English cloths, as a rare and curious article, bearing a
high price: Flemish cloth, more common and not so valuable as English,
serges, tapestry, a very large quantity of linen and mercery, or small
wares of all sorts: from Germany, Antwerp receives by land carriage,
silver, bullion, quicksilver, immense quantities of copper, Hessian wool,
very fine, glass, fustians of a high price, to the value of above 600,000
crowns annually; woad, madder, and other dye stuffs; saltpetre, great
quantities of mercery, and household goods, very fine, and of excellent
quality: metals of all sorts, to a great amount; arms; Rhenish wine, of
which Guicciardini speaks in the highest terms, as good for the health, and
not affecting either the head or the stomach, though drunk in very large
quantities:--of this wine 40,000 tuns were brought to Antwerp annually,
which, at thirty-six crowns per tun, amounted to 1,444,000 crowns."

"To Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Eastland, Livonia, and Poland, Antwerp exports
vast quantities of spices, drugs, saffron, sugar, salt, English and Flemish
cloths, fustians, linens, wrought silks, gold stuffs, tapestries, precious
stones, Spanish and other wines, alum, Brazil wood, merceries, and
household goods. From these countries, particularly from Eastland and
Poland, that is, the countries on the south shore of the Baltic, Antwerp
receives wheat and rye to a large amount; iron, copper, brass, saltpetre,
dye-woods, vitriol, flax, honey, wax, pitch, tar, sulphur, pot-ashes, skins
and furs, leather, timber for ship building, and other purposes; beer, in
high repute; salt meat; salted, dryed, and smoked fish; amber in great
quantities, &c."

"To France, Antwerp sends precious stones, quicksilver, silver bullion,
copper and brass, wrought and unwrought, lead, tin, vermillion; azure,
blue, and crimson colours, sulphur; saltpetre, vitriol, camblets, and
Turkey grograms, English and Flemish cloths, great quantities of fine
linen, tapestry, leather, peltry, wax, madder, cotton, dried fish, salt
fish, &c. Antwerp receives her returns from France, partly by land and
partly by sea. By sea, salt to the annual value of 180,000 crowns; fine
woad of Thoulouse, to the value annually of 300,000 crowns; immense
quantities of canvass and strong linen, from Bretagne and Normandy; about
40,000 tuns of excellent red and white wines, at about twenty-five crowns
per tun; saffron; syrup, or sugar, or perhaps capillaire; turpentine,
pitch, paper of all kinds in great quantities, prunes, Brazil wood, &c. &c.
By land, Antwerp receives many curious and valuable gilt and gold articles,
and trinkets; very fine cloth, the manufacture of Rouen, Peris, Tours,
Champagne, &c.; the threads of Lyons, in high repute; excellent verdigrise
from Montpelier, merceries, &c."

"To England, Antwerp exports jewels and precious stones, silver bullion,
quicksilver, wrought silks, cloth of gold and silver, gold and silver
thread, camblets, grograms, spices, drugs, sugar, cotton, cinnamon, galls,
linens, serges, tapestry, madder, hops in great quantities, glass, salt
fish, small wares made of metal and wood, arms, ammunition, and household
furniture. From England, Antwerp imports immense quantities of fine and
coarse woollen goods; the finest wool; excellent saffron, but in small
quantities; a great quantity of lead and tin; sheep and rabbit skins, and
other kinds of fine peltry and leather; beer, cheese, and other sorts of
provisions, in great quantities; also Malmsey wines, which the English
import from Candia."

Guicciardini observes, that Antwerp exported but little to Scotland, as
that country was principally supplied from England and France: some
spiceries, sugars, madder, wrought silks, camblets, serges, linen, and
merceries, are exported. In return, Antwerp received from Scotland vast
quantities of peltry of various kinds, leather, wool, cloth of coarse
quality, fine large pearls, but not of quite so good a water as the
oriental pearls.

The exports to Ireland were nearly the same as to Scotland: the returns
were skins and leather, some low-priced cloths, and other coarse and common
articles of little value.

The exports to Spain consisted chiefly of copper, brass, and latten,
wrought and unwrought; tin, lead; much woollen cloth, both Flemish and
English; serges, tapestry, linens, flax-thread, wax, pitch, madder, tallow,
sulphur, wheat, rye, salted meat and fish, butter, cheese, merceries,
silver bullion and wrought, arms, ammunition, furniture, tools; and every
thing also, he adds, produced by human industry and labour, to which the
lower classes in Spain have an utter aversion. From Spain, Antwerp received
jewels, pearls, gold and silver in great quantities; cochineal,
sarsaparilla, guiacum, saffron; silk, raw and thrown; silk stuffs, velvets,
taffeties, salt, alum, orchil, fine wool, iron, cordovan leather, wines,
oils, vinegar, honey, molasses, Arabian gums, soap; fruits, both moist and
dried, in vast quantities, and sugar from the Canaries.

The exports to Portugal were silver bullion, quicksilver, vermilion,
copper, brass, and latten; lead, tin, arms, artillery and ammunition; gold
and silver thread, and most of the other articles sent to Spain. From
Portugal, Antwerp received pearls and precious stones, gold, spices, to the
value of above a million of crowns annually; drugs, amber, musk, civet,
great quantities of ivory, aloes, rhubarb, cotton, China root, (then and
even lately much used in medicine,) and many other rare and valuable Indian
commodities, with which the greatest part of Europe is supplied from
Antwerp; also, sugars from St. Thomas, under the line, and the other
islands belonging to the Portuguese on the African coast; Brazil wood,
Guinea grains, and other drugs from the west coast of Africa; Madeira sugar
and wines. Of the produce of Portugal itself, Antwerp imported salt, wines,
oils, woad, seeds, orchil, fruits, &c. &c.

To Barbary, Antwerp exported woollen goods, linen, merceries, metals, &c.;
and received from it sugar, azure or anil, gums, coloquintida, leather,
peltry, and fine feathers.

From this sketch of the commerce of Antwerp, when it was at its height, we
see, that it embraced the whole commerce of the world: and that in it
centered all the commodities supplied by Asia, America, Africa, and the
south of Europe on the one hand, and England, the Baltic countries,
Germany, and France on the other. The account given by Guicciardini is
confirmed by Wheeler, who wrote in 1601. He observes, that a little before
the troubles in the Low Countries, the people of Antwerp were the greatest
traders to Italy in English and other foreign merchandize; and also to
Alexandria, Cyprus, and Tripoli in Syria; "beating the Italians, English,
and Germans, almost entirely out of that trade, as they also soon did the
Germans in the fairs of their own country." He adds, that the Antwerp
merchants, being men of immense wealth, and consequently able to supply
Spain for the Indies at long credit, set their own prices on their
merchandize. Antwerp also supplied Germany, Spain, Portugal, and Eastland
with the wares, which France was wont to supply them. He adds, "It is not
past eighty years ago, (that would be about 1520,) since there were not, in
London, above twelve or sixteen Low Country merchants, who imported only
stone pots, brushes, toys for children, and other pedlar's wares; but in
less than forty years after, there were, in London, at least one hundred
Netherland merchants, who brought thither all the commodities which the
merchants of Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and Eastland, (of all which
nations there were, before that time, divers famous and notable rich
merchants and companies,) used to bring into England out of their own
country directly, to the great damage of the said strangers, and of the
natural born English merchants."

Guicciardini informs us, that in his time the port of Armuyden, in the
island of Walcheren, was the place of rendezvous for the shipping of
Antwerp: in it have often been seen 500 large ships lying at one time,
bound to, or returning from distant parts of the world. He adds, that it
was no uncommon thing for 500 ships to come and go in one day; that 10,000
carts were constantly employed in carrying merchandize to and from the
neighbouring countries, besides hundreds of waggons daily coming and going
with passengers; and 500 coaches used by people of distinction. In his
enumeration of the principal trades, it is curious that there were
ninety-two fishmongers, and only seventy-eight butchers; there were 124
goldsmiths, who, it must be recollected, at that time acted as bankers, or
rather exchangers of money. The number of houses was 13,500. With respect
to the shipping, which, according to this author, were so numerous at the
port of Antwerp, comparatively few of them belonged to this city, as most
of its commerce was carried on by ships of foreign nations.

This circumstance, of its having but few ships of its own, may be regarded
as one cause why, when it was taken and plundered by the Spaniards in the
year 1585, it could not recover its former commerce, as the shipping
removed with the nations they belonged to. The forts which the Dutch built
in the Scheldt were, however, another and a very powerful cause. The trade
of Holland rose on the fall of Antwerp, and settled principally at
Amsterdam; this city had indeed become considerable after the decline of
the Hanseatic confederacy; but was not renowned for its commerce till the
destruction of Antwerp. The commerce of Holland was extended and supported
by its fisheries, and the manufactures of Flanders and the adjoining
provinces, which in their turn received support from its commerce.
Guicciardini informs us, that there were in the Netherlands, in time of
peace, 700 busses and boats employed in the herring fishery: each made
three voyages in the season, and on an average during that period, caught
seventy lasts of herring, each last containing twelve barrels of 9OO or
1000 herrings each barrel; the price of a last was usually about 6£.
sterling: the total amount of one year's fishery, was about 294,000£.
sterling. About sixty years after this time, according to Sir Walter
Raleigh, the cod and ling fishery of Friesland, Holland, Zealand, and
Flanders, (the provinces included by Guicciardini in the maritime
Netherlands) brought in 100,000£. annually: and the salmon-fishing of
Holland and Zealand nearly half that sum.

The woollen manufactures of the Netherlands had, about the time that
Guicciardini wrote, been rivalled by those of England: yet he says, that,
though their wool was very coarse, above 12,000 pieces of cloth were made
at each of the following places; Amsterdam, Bois-le-duc, Delft, Haarlem,
and Leyden. Woollen manufactures were carried on also at other places,
besides taffeties and tapestries. Lisle is particularised by him as next in
commercial importance to Antwerp and Amsterdam. Bois-le-duc seems to have
been the seat of a great variety of manufactures; for besides woollen
cloth, 20,000 pieces of linen, worth, on an average, ten crowns each, were
annually made; and likewise great quantities of knives, fine pins, mercery,
&c. By the taking of Antwerp, the Spanish or Catholic Netherlands lost
their trade and manufactures, great part of which, as we have already
observed, settled in the United Provinces, while the remainder passed into
England and other foreign countries.

The destruction of the Hanseatic league, which benefited Amsterdam, seems
also to have been of service to the other northern provinces of the
Netherlands: for in 1510, we are informed by Meursius, in his History of
Denmark, there was at one time a fleet of 250 Dutch merchant ships in the
Baltic: if this be correct, the Dutch trade to the countries on this sea
must have been very great. The circumstance of the Dutch, even before their
revolt from Spain, carrying on a great trade, especially to the Baltic, is
confirmed by Guicciardini; according to him, about the year 1559, they
brought annually from Denmark, Eastland, Livonia, and Poland, 60,000 lasts
of grain, chiefly rye, worth 560,000_l_. Flemish. They had above 800
ships from 200 to 700 tons burden: fleets of 300 ships arrived twice a year
from Dantzic and Livonia at Amsterdam, where there were often seeing lying
at the same time 500 vessels, most of them belonging to it. He mentions
Veer in Zealand (Campveer) as at that time being the staple port for all
the Scotch shipping, and owing its principal commerce to that circumstance.

The destruction of Antwerp brought to Amsterdam, along with other branches
of commerce, the valuable trade which the former city had with Portugal for
the produce and manufactures of India; these the Dutch merchants resold to
all the nations of the north. As soon, however, as Philip II. had obtained
possession of the throne of Portugal in 1580, he put a stop to all further
commerce between Lisbon and the Dutch. The latter, having tasted the sweets
of this commerce, resolved to attempt a direct trade to India. We have
already mentioned the voyages of Barentz in search of a north-east passage;
these proving unsuccessful, the Dutch began to despair of reaching India,
except by the Cape of Good Hope; and this voyage they were afraid to
undertake, having, at this time, neither experienced seamen nor persons
acquainted with Indian commerce. A circumstance, however, occurred while
Barentz was in search of a north-west passage, which determined them to
sail to India by the Cape. One Houlman, a Dutchman, who had been in the
Portuguese Indian service, but was then confined in Lisbon for debt,
proposed to the merchants of Rotterdam, if they could liberate him, to put
them in possession of all he knew respecting Indian commerce; his offer was
accepted, and four ships were sent to India in 1594 under his command. The
adventurers met with much opposition from the Portuguese in India, so that
their voyage was not very successful or lucrative: they returned, however,
in twenty-nine months with a small quantity of pepper from Java, where they
had formed a friendly communication with the natives. The arrival of the
Dutch in India,--the subjugation of Portugal by Spain, which circumstance
dispirited and weakened the Portuguese, and the greater attention which the
Spaniards were disposed to pay to their American than their Indian
commerce, seem to have been the causes which produced the ruin of the
Portuguese in India, and the establishment of the Dutch.

The Dutch pushed their new commerce with great vigour and zeal. In the year
1600 eight ships entered their ports laden with cinnamon, pepper, cloves,
nutmegs, and mace: the pepper they obtained at Java, the other spices at
the Moluccas, where they were permitted by the natives, who had driven out
the Portuguese, to establish factories.

In consequence of a wild and ruinous spirit of speculation having seized
the Dutch merchants, the government, in 1602, formed all the separate
companies who traded to India, into one; and granted to this extensive
sovereignty over all the establishments that might be formed in that part
of the world. Their charter was for twenty-one years: their capital was
6,600,000 guilders (or about 600,000_l_.) Amsterdam subscribed one
half of the capital, and selected twenty directors out of sixty, to whom
the whole management of the trade was entrusted.

From this period, the Dutch Indian commerce flourished extremely: and the
company, not content with having drawn away a large portion of the
Portuguese trade, resolved to expel them entirely from this part of the
world. Ships fitted, either to trade or to fight, and having on board a
great number of soldiers, were sent out within a very few years after the
establishment of the company. Amboyna and the Moluccas were first entirely
wrested from the Portuguese: factories and settlements were in process of
time established from Balsora, at the mouth of the Tigris in the Persian
Gulf; along the coasts and islands of India, as far as Japan. Alliances
were formed with many of the Indian princes: and in many parts,
particularly on the coasts of Ceylon, and at Pulicat, Masulipatam,
Negapatam, and other places along the coasts of Coromandel and Malabar,
they were themselves, in fact, the sovereigns. The centre of all their
Indian commerce was fixed at Batavia in Java, the greatest part of this
island belonging to them. From this general sketch of the extent of
country, which was embraced, either by their power or their commerce, it is
evident that the Indian trade was almost monopolized by them; and as they
wisely employed part of the wealth which it produced, to establish and
defend their possessions, they soon became most formidable in this part of
the world, sending out a fleet of 40 or 50 large ships, and an army of
30,000 men.

They were not, however, content, but aimed at wresting from the Portuguese
almost the only trade which remained to them; viz. their trade with China.
In this attempt they did not succeed; but in the year 1624, they
established themselves at Formosa. Soon after this, the conquest of China
by the Tartars, induced or compelled an immense number of Chinese to leave
their native country and settle in Formosa. Here they carried on a very
extensive and lucrative trade; and Formosa became the principal mart of
this part of Asia. Vessels from China, Japan, Siam, Java, and the
Philippines, filled its harbours. Of this commerce the Dutch availed
themselves, and derived great wealth from it, for about forty years, when
they were driven out of the island. In 1601, the Dutch received permission
to trade to Japan, but this privilege was granted under several very strict
conditions, which were, however, relaxed in 1637, when they discovered a
conspiracy of the Spaniards, the object of which was to dethrone the
emperor, and seize the government. The jealousy of the Japanese, however,
soon revived; so that by the end of the seventeenth century, the lucrative
commerce which the Dutch carried on with this island for fine tea,
porcelaine, lacquered or Japan ware, silk, cotton, drugs, coral, ivory,
diamonds, pearls, and other precious stones, gold, silver, fine copper,
iron, lead, and tin; and in exchange for linen, and woollen cloths,
looking-glasses, and other glass ware; and the merchandize of India,
Persia, and Arabia, was almost annihilated.

Before proceeding to narrate the events which arose from the arrival of the
English in the East Indies, and the effects produced on the Dutch power and
commerce there, by their arrival, it will be proper to take a short notice
of the commerce of the Dutch to the other parts of the world. As their
territories in Europe were small and extremely populous, they were in a
great measure dependent on foreign nations for the means of subsistence: in
exchange for these, they had few products of their manufactures to give.
The sources of their wealth, therefore, as well as of the means of their
existence, were derived from the exchange of their India commodities, and
from their acting as the great carriers of Europe. From these two
circumstances, their cities, and especially Amsterdam, became the great
mart of Europe: its merchants had commercial transactions to an immense
amount with all parts of the world. In consequence of the vastness and
extent of their commerce, they found great payments in specie very
inconvenient. Hence arose the bank of Amsterdam. It is foreign to our
purpose, either to describe the nature of this bank, or to give a history
of it; but its establishment, at once a proof, and the result of the
immense commerce of Amsterdam, and the cause of that commerce becoming
still more flourishing, and moreover, as the principal of those
establishments, which have changed the character of the commerce of Europe,
could not be passed over without notice. It was formed in the year 1609.

In this year, the Dutch had extended their trade to the west coast of
Africa so much, that they had about 100 ships employed in the gold coast
trade. About the same time, they formed a colony in North America, in that
province now called New York. In 1611, having formed a truce with Spain,
they resolved to venture into the Mediterranean, and endeavour to partake
in the lucrative trade with the Levant: for this purpose, they sent an
ambassador to Constantinople, where he concluded a favourable treaty of
commerce. But by far the most extensive and lucrative commerce which the
Dutch possessed in Europe, was in the Baltic: there they had gradually
supplanted the Hanseatic League, and by the middle of the seventeenth
century, nearly all the commodities of the countries lying on, or
communicating with this sea, were supplied to the rest of Europe by the
Dutch. In the year 1612, they first engaged in the whale fishery at
Greenland. In 1648, taking advantage of the civil troubles in England, and
having by this time acquired a powerful influence at the Russian court,
they interfered with the trade of the English Russian Company at Archangel;
and this new branch of trade they pushed with their national industry and
perseverance, so that in 1689 they had 200 factors in this place.

In the year 1621 the Dutch formed a West India Company: their first objects
were to reduce Brazil and Peru: in the latter they were utterly
unsuccessful. By the year 1636 they had conquered the greater part of the
coast of Brazil: they lost no time in reaping the fruits of this conquest:
for in the space of thirteen years, they had sent thither 800 ships of war
and commerce, which were valued at 4-1/2 millions sterling; and had in that
time taken from Spain, then sovereign of Portugal, 545 ships. In the year
1640 the Portuguese shook off the Spanish yoke, and from this event may be
dated the decline of the Dutch power in Brazil: in 1654 they were entirely
expelled from this country.

In the year 1651, they colonized the Cape of Good Hope; and in the same
year, began the obstinate and bloody maritime, war between Holland and
England. This arose principally from the navigation act, which was passed
in England in 1650: its object and effect was to curtail the commerce
between England and Holland, which consisted principally of foreign
merchandize imported into, and English merchandize exported from, England
in Dutch vessels. In this war, the Dutch lost 700 merchant ships in the
years 1652 and 1653. In 1654, peace was made. The object of the navigation
act, at least so far as regarded the Dutch acting as the carriers of the
English trade, seems to have been completely answered, for in 1674, after a
great frost, when the ports were open, there sailed out of the harbour of
Rotterdam above 300 sail of English, Scotch, and Irish ships at one time.
The example of the English being followed by the nations of the north, the
Dutch carrying trade was very much reduced. Between the years 1651 and
1672, when Holland was overrun by the French, their commerce seems to have
reached the greatest extent, which it attained in the seventeenth century;
and perhaps, at no subsequent period, did it flourish so much. De Witt
estimates the increase of their commerce and navigation from the peace with
Spain in 1648 to the year 1669, to be fully one-half. He adds, that during
the war with Holland, Spain lost the greater part of her naval power: that
since the peace with Spain, the Dutch had obtained most of the trade to
that country, which had been previously carried on by the Easterlings and
the English;--that all the coasts of Spain were chiefly navigated by Dutch
shipping: that Spain had even been forced to hire Dutch ships to sail to
her American possessions; and that so great was the exportation of goods
from Holland to Spain, that all the merchandize brought from the Spanish
West Indies, was not sufficient to make returns for them.

The same author informs us, that in the province of Holland alone, in 1669,
the herring and cod fisheries employed above one thousand busses, from
twenty-four to thirty lasts each; and above 170 smaller ones: that the
whale fishery was increased from one to ten; that the cod and herring, when
caught, were transported by the Hollanders in their own vessels throughout
the world; thus obtaining, by means of the sea alone, through their own
industry, above 300,000 lasts of salt fish.

As the Dutch commerce was decidedly and undoubtedly more extensive than
that of all the rest of Europe, about the middle of the seventeenth
century, it may be proper, before we conclude our notice of it at this
time, to consider briefly the causes which cherished it into such full
growth and vigour. These causes are explained in a very judicious and
satisfactory manner by Sir William Temple, in his observations on the
Netherlands. He remarks, that though the territory of the Dutch was very
small, and though they laboured under many natural disadvantages, yet their
commerce was immense; and it was generally esteemed that they had more
shipping belonging to them than there did to all the rest of Europe.

They had no native commodities towards the building or equipping their
ships; their flax, hemp, pitch, wood, and iron, coming all from abroad, as
wool does for clothing their men, and corn for feeding them. The only
productions or manufactures of their own, which they exported, were butter,
cheese, and earthern wares. They have no good harbours in all their coast;
even Amsterdam is difficult of approach, from the dangerous entrance of the
Texel, and the shallowness of the Zuider Zee.

What then were the causes which, in spite of these disadvantages, rendered
Holland so commercial? In the first place, great multitudes in small
compass, who were forced to industry and labour, or else to want. In the
second place, the emigration of men of industry, skill, and capital, driven
into Holland from Germany, France, and England, by persecution and civil
wars. In the third place, the security to property established by the
government of the United States; and akin to this, general liberty of
conscience in religious matters. The great fairs in the Netherlands may be
regarded as another cause. These Sir W. Temple regards as the principal
causes of the foundation of their trade. He next enquires into the chief
advancers and encouragers of trade in that country.

These he considers to have been low interest, which caused money to be
easily obtained, not only for the purposes of commerce, but also to make
canals, bridges, &c. and to drain marshes. The use of their banks, which
secures money, and makes all payments easy and trade quick,--the sale by
registry, which makes all purchases safe,--the severity of justice,
especially with regard to forging bills,--the convoys of merchant ships,
which gives trade security, the nation credit abroad, and breeds up
seamen,--the lowness of their custom duties and freedom of their ports,
which rendered their cities magazines as well as markets,--order and
exactness in managing their trade,--each town affecting some particular
commerce or staple, and so improving it to the greatest height; as
Flushing, the West India trade; Middleburgh, French wines; Terveer, the
Scotch staple; Dort, the English staple and Rhenish wines; Rotterdam, the
English and Scotch trade at large, and French wines; Leyden, the
manufacture of all sorts of stuffs, silk, hair, gold, and silver; Haerlem,
linen, mixed stuffs, and flowers; Delft, beer and earthen ware; Swaardam,
ship building; Sluys, herring fishery; Friezeland, the Greenland trade; and
Amsterdam, the East India, Spanish, and Mediterranean trade. Sir W. Temple
mentions other two causes, the great application of the whole province to
the fishing trade, and the mighty advance the Dutch made towards engrossing
the whole commerce of the East Indies. "The stock of this trade," he
observes, "besides what it turns to in France, Spain, Italy, the Straits,
and Germany, makes them so great masters in the trade of the northern parts
of Europe, as Muscovy, Poland, Pomerania, and all the Baltic, where the
spices, that are an Indian drug and European luxury, command all the
commodities of those countries which are so necessary to life, as their
corn; and to navigation, as hemp, pitch, masts, planks, and iron."

The next question that Sir William Temple discusses is, what are the causes
which made the trade of Holland enrich it? for, as he remarks, "it is no
constant rule that trade makes riches. The only and certain scale of riches
arising from trade in a nation is, the proportion of what is exported for
the consumption of others, to what is imported for their own. The true
ground of this proportion lies in the general industry and parsimony of a
people, or in the contrary of both." But the Dutch being industrious, and
consequently producing much,--and parsimonious, and consequently consuming
little, have much left for exportation. Hence, never any country traded so
much and consumed so little. "They buy infinitely, but it is to sell again.
They are the great masters of the Indian spices, and of the Persian silks,
but wear plain woollen, and feed upon their own fish and roots. Nay, they
sell the finest of their own cloth to France, and buy coarse out of England
for their own wear. They send abroad the best of their own butter into all
parts, and buy the cheapest out of Ireland or the north of England for
their own use. In short, they furnish infinite luxury which they never
practise, and traffic in pleasures which they never taste." "The whole body
of the civil magistrates, the merchants, the rich traders, citizens, seamen
and boors in general, never change the fashion of their cloaths; so that
men leave off their cloaths only because they are worn out, and not because
they are out of fashion. Their great consumption is French wine and brandy;
but what they spend in wine they save in corn, to make other drinks, which
is brought from foreign parts. Thus it happens, that much going constantly
out, either in commodity or in the labour of seafaring men, and little
coming in to be consumed at home, the rest returns in coin, and fills the
country to that degree, that more silver is seen in Holland, among the
common hands and purses, than brass either in Spain or in France; though
one be so rich in the best native commodities, and the other drain all the
treasures of the West Indies." (Sir W. Temple's Observations on the
Netherlands, Chapter VI.)

Having thus sketched the progress and nature of Dutch commerce, during that
period when it was at its greatest height, and brought our account of it
down to the commencement of the eighteenth century, we shall next proceed
to consider the English commerce from the time of the discovery of the Cape
and America, till the beginning of the same century.

From the sketch we have already given of English commerce prior to the end
of the fifteenth century, it is evident that it was of very trifling extent
and amount, being confined chiefly to a few articles of raw produce, and to
some woollen goods. The improvement of the woollen manufacture, the
establishment of corporations, and the settlement of foreign merchants, as
well as the gradual advancement of the English in the civilization, skill,
and industry of the age,--in the wants which the first occasions, and in
the means to supply those wants afforded by the two latter,--these are the
obvious and natural causes which tended to improve English commerce. But
its progress was slow and gradual, and confined for a long time to
countries near at hand; it afterwards ventured to a greater distance.
Companies of merchant adventurers were formed, who could command a greater
capital than any individual merchant. Of the nature and extent of their
foreign commerce at the close of the fifteenth century we are informed by
an act of parliament, passed in the 12 Hen. VII. (1497.)

From this act it appears, that England traded at this time with Spain,
Portugal, Bretagne, Ireland, Normandy, France, Seville, Venice, Dantzic,
Eastland, Friesland, and many other parts. The woollen cloth of England is
particularly specified as one of the greatest articles of commerce. In a
licence granted by Henry VII. to the Venetians, to buy and sell at London,
and elsewhere in England, Ireland, and Calais, woollen cloth, lead, tin,
and leather, are enumerated as the chief exports. From this document it
also appears, that there resided in or traded to England, the following
foreign merchants: Genoese, Florentines, Luccans, Spaniards, Portuguese,
Flemings, Hollanders, Brabanters, Burgundians, German, Hanseatic, Lombards,
and Easterlings.

From these two documents, the nature and extent of English commerce at this
period may be inferred: its exports were sent as far north as the southern
countries of the Baltic, and to all the rest of Europe, as far south and
east as Venice; but this export trade, as well as the import, seems to have
been almost entirely carried on by foreign capital and ships; the merchant
adventurers having yet ventured very little from home.

In 1511, English commerce, in English ships, extended into the Levant,
chiefly from London, Bristol, and Southampton. Chios, which was still in
the possession of the Genoese, was the port to which they traded. This
branch of trade flourished so much in a few years, that in 1513 a consul,
or protector of all the merchants and other English subjects in Chios, was
appointed. The voyages were gradually lengthened, and reached Cyprus, and
Tripoli, in Syria. The exports were woollen goods, calf-skins, &c.; and the
imports were silks, camblets, rhubarb, malmsey, muscadel, and other wines:
oils, cotton wool, Turkey carpets, galls, and Indian spices. The commerce
was in a small degree carried on by English ships, but chiefly by those of
Candia, Ragusa, Sicily, Genoa, Venice, Spain, and Portugal. The voyages to
and from England occupied a year, and were deemed very difficult and
dangerous. So long as Chios remained in the possession of the Genoese, and
Candia in that of the Venetians, England traded with these islands; but
ceased to trade when the Turks conquered them. From 1553, to 1575, the
Levant commerce was quite discontinued by England, though during that
period, the French, Genoese, Venetians, and Florentines, continued it, and
had consuls at Constantinople.

The small and temporary trade with the Genoese and Venetian possessions in
the Levant, seems to have been attended with such profit, and to have
opened up such further prospects of advantage, as to have given rise to a
direct trade with Turkey, and the formation of the Turkey Company. The
enlightened ministers of Elizabeth effected these objects: they first sent
out an English merchant to the Sultan, who obtained for his countrymen all
the commercial advantages enjoyed by the Venetians, French, Germans, and
Poles. Two years afterwards, in 1581, the Turkey Company was established.
Sir William Monson, in his Naval Tracts, assigns the following as the
causes and reasons why England did not sooner embark in the Turkey trade
for Persian and Indian merchandize: 1. That there was not sufficient
shipping; 2. the hostility of the Turks; and, lastly, England was supplied
with Levant goods by the Venetian ships, which came annually to
Southampton. He adds, "the last argosser that came thus from Venice was
unfortunately lost near the isle of Wight, with a rich cargo, and many
passengers, in the year 1587." The Turkey Company carried on their concern
with so much spirit, that the queen publicly thanked them, with many
encouragements to go forward for the kingdom's sake: she particularly
commended them for the ships they then built of so great burden. The
commodities of Greece, Syria, Egypt, Persia, and India, were now brought
into England in greater abundance, and sold much cheaper than formerly, and
yet the returns of this trade are said to have been, at its commencement,
three to one.

It is not our object, nor would it be compatible with our limits, to trace
the progress of commerce minutely, in any of its branches, but rather to
point out, as it were, its shootings in various directions; and any special
causes which may have given vigour to its growth, or have retarded it. In
conformity with this plan, we shall only notice some of the more marked and
important eras of our Levant trade, prior to the commencement of the
eighteenth century. The trade to the Levant, in its infancy, like all other
trades, at a time when there was little capital and commercial knowledge,
required the formation of a company which should possess exclusive
privileges. Charters were granted to such a company for a term of years,
and renewed by Elizabeth. In 1605 king James gave a perpetual charter to
the Levant Company: the trade was carried on with encreasing vigour and
success: our woollen manufactures found a more extensive market: the
Venetians, who had for many years supplied Constantinople and other ports
of the Levant, were driven from their markets by the English, who could
afford to sell them cloths cheaper; and English ships began to be preferred
to those of Venice and other nations, for the carrying trade in the
Mediterranean. According to Sir W. Monson, England exported broad cloth,
tin, &c. enough to purchase all the wares we wanted in Turkey; and, in
particular, 300 great bales of Persian raw silk yearly: "whereas a balance
of money is paid by the other nations trading thither. Marseilles sends
yearly to Aleppo and Alexandria at least 500,000_l_. sterling, and little
or no wares. Venice sends about 400,000_l_. in money, and a great value in
wares besides: the Low Countries send about 50,000_l_., and but little
wares; and Messina 25,000_l_. in ready money: besides great quantities of
gold and dollars from Germany, Poland, Hungary, &c.; and all these nations
take of the Turks in return great quantities of camblets, grograms, raw
silk, cotton wool and yarn, galls, flax, hemp, rice, hides, sheep's wool,
wax, corn, &c."

The first check which the Levant trade received was given by the East India
Company: about the year 1670 the Levant Company complained that their trade
in raw silk was much diminished; they had formerly imported it solely from
Turkey, whereas then it was imported in great quantities direct from India.
In 1681, the complaints of the one company, and the defence of the other,
were heard before the Privy Council. The Levant Company alleged, that for
upwards of one hundred years they had exported to Turkey and other parts of
the Levant, great qualities of woollen manufactures, and other English
wares, and did then, more especially, carry out thither to the value of
500,000_l_; in return for which they imported raw silks, galls, grograms,
drugs, cotton, &c.; whereas the East India Company exported principally
gold and silver bullion, with an inconsiderable quantity of cloth; and
imported calicoes, pepper, wrought silks, and a deceitful sort of raw silk;
if the latter supplants Turkey raw silk, the Turkey demand for English
cloth must fail, as Turkey does not yield a sufficient quantity of other
merchandize to return for one fourth part of our manufactures carried

The East India Company, on the other hand, alleged that the cloth they
exported was finer and more valuable than that exported by the Turkey
Company, and that, if they were rightly informed, the medium of cloths
exported by that company, for the last three years, was only 19,000 cloths
yearly: it is admitted, however, that before there was any trade to China
and Japan, the Turkey Company's exportation of cloth did much exceed that
of the East India Company. With respect to the charge of exporting bullion,
it was alleged that the Turkey Company also export it to purchase the raw
silk in Turkey. The East India Company further contended, that since their
importation of raw silk, the English silk manufacturers had much encreased,
and that the plain wrought silks from India were the strongest, most
durable, and cheapest of any, and were generally re-exported from England
to foreign parts.

We have been thus particular in detailing this dispute between these
companies, partly because it points out the state of the Levant Company and
their commerce, at the close of the seventeenth century, but principally
because it unfolds one of the principal causes of their decline; for,
though some little notice of it will afterwards occur, yet its efforts were
feeble, and its success diminished, chiefly by the rivalry of the East
India Company.

The Levant trade, as we have seen, was gradually obtained by the English
from the hands of the Venetians and other foreign powers. The trade we are
next to notice was purely of English origin and growth;--we allude to the
trade between England and Russia, which began about the middle of the
sixteenth century. The discovery of Archangel took place, as we have
already related, in 1553. Chanceller, who discovered it, obtained
considerable commercial privileges from the Czar for his countrymen. In
1554, a Russian Company was established; but before their charter, the
British merchants had engaged in the Russian trade. The first efforts of
the company seem to have been confined to attempts to discover a north-east
passage. Finding these unsuccessful, they turned their attention to
commerce: they fortunately possessed a very enterprising man, peculiarly
calculated to foster and strengthen an infant trade, who acted as their
agent. He first set on foot, in 1558, a new channel of trade through Russia
into Persia, for raw silk, &c. In the course of his commercial enquiries
and transactions, he sailed down the Volga to Nisi, Novogorod, Casan, and
Astracan, and thence across the Caspian Sea to Persia. He mentions that, at
Boghar, which he describes as a good city, he found merchants from India,
Persia, Russia, and Cathay,--from which last country it was a nine months
journey to Boghar. He performed his journey seven different times. It
appears, however, that this channel of trade was soon afterwards abandoned,
till 1741, when it was resumed for a very short time, during which
considerable quantities of raw silk were brought to England by the route
followed by the Russian agent in the sixteenth century. The cause of this
abandonment during the sixteenth century seems to have been the length and
danger of the route; for we are informed that one of the adventures would
have proved exceedingly profitable, had not their ships, on their return
across the Caspian, with Persian raw silk, wrought silks of many kinds,
galls, carpets, Indian spices, turquois stones, &c., been plundered by
Corsair pirates, to the value of about 40,000_l_. The final abandonment of
this route, in the eighteenth century, arose partly from the wars in
Persia, but principally from the extension of India commerce, which being
direct and by sea, would, of course supply England much more cheaply with
all eastern goods than any land trade. Beside the delay, difficulty, and
danger of the route from the Volga, already described, the route followed
in the sixteenth century, till the merchants reached the Volga, was
attended with great difficulty. The practice was to transport the English
goods, which were to be exchanged, in canoes, up the Dwina, from Archangel
to Vologda, thence over land, in seven days, to Jeroslau, and thence down
the Volga, in thirty days, to Astracan.

The Russians having conquered Narva, in Livonia in 1558, the first place
they possessed in the Baltic, and having established it as a staple port,
the following year, according to Milton, in his brief history of Muscovia,
the English began to trade to it, "the Lubeckers and Dantzickers having
till then concealed that trade from other nations." The other branches of
the Baltic trade also encreased; for it appears by a charter granted by
Elizabeth, in 1579, to an Eastland Company, that trade was carried on
between England and Norway, Sweden, Poland, Lithuania, Prussia, Pomerania,
Dantzic, Elbing, Konigsberg, Copenhagen, Elsinore, and Finland. This
company was established in opposition to the Hanseatic merchants; and it
seems to have attained its object; for these merchants complained to the
Diet of the Empire against England, alleging, that of the 200,000 cloths
yearly exported thence, three-fourths went into Denmark, Sweden, Poland,
and Germany; the other fourth being sent to the Netherlands and France.

It was not to be supposed that our commerce with Archangel and Narva would
long remain without a rival. The Dutch, aware of its importance, prevented
by their influence or presents, the Czar from renewing the Russian
Company's privileges. As this trade was become more extensive, and carried
off, besides woollen goods, silks, velvets, coarse linen cloth, old silver
plate, all kinds of mercery wares, serving for the apparel of both sexes,
purses, knives, &c. Elizabeth used her efforts to re-establish the company
on its former footing; and a new Czar mounting the throne, she was

The frequent voyages of the English to the White Sea made them acquainted
with Cherry Island, of which they took possession, and where they carried
on for a short time the capture of morses: the teeth of these were regarded
as nearly equal in quality and value to ivory, and consequently afforded a
lucrative trade; oil was also obtained from these animals. Lead ore is said
to have been discovered in this island, of which thirty tons were brought
to England in 1606. The Russian Company, however, soon gave up the morse
fishery for that of whales. They also carried on a considerable trade with
Kola, a town in Russian Lapland, for fish oil and salmon: of the latter
they sometimes brought to England 10,000 at one time. But in this trade the
Dutch likewise interfered.

The fishery for whales near Spitzbergen was first undertaken by the company
in 1597. In 1613, they obtained from King James an exclusive charter for
this fishery; and under this, fitting out armed ships, they expelled
fifteen sail of French, Dutch, and Biscayners, besides some private English
ships. But the Dutch persevered, so that next year, while the Russian
Company had only thirteen ships at the whale fishery, the former had
eighteen. The success of their whale fishery seems to have led to the
neglect of their Russian trade, for, in 1615, only two vessels were
employed in it, instead of seventeen great ships formerly employed. From
this period, the commerce carried on between Russia and England, by the
Russian Company, seems gradually to have declined.

The commerce between England and the other parts of Europe, during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, presents little that calls for notice;
as the manufactures and capital of England encreased, it gradually
encreased, and was transferred from foreign to English vessels. The exports
consisted principally of woollen goods, prepared skins, earthen-ware, and
metals. The imports of linens, silks, paper, wines, brandy, fruits,
dye-stuffs, and drugs. The woollen cloths of England were indeed the staple
export to all parts of England during the whole of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries: as our cotton, earthen-ware, and iron manufactures
sprung up and encreased, they supplied other articles of export;--our
imports, at first confined to a few articles, afterwards encreased in
number and value, in proportion as our encreased industry, capital, and
skill, enlarged our produce and manufactures, and thus enabled us to
purchase and consume more. A very remarkable instance of the effect of
skill, capital, and industry, is mentioned by Mr. Lewis, a merchant, who
published a work entitled, _The Merchant's Map of Commerce_, in 1641. "The
town of Manchester," he says, "buys the linen yarn of the Irish in great
quantity, and, weaving it, returns the same again, in linen, into Ireland
to sell. Neither doth her industry rest here, for they buy cotton wool in
London, that comes first from Cyprus and Smyrna, and work the same into
fustians, vermilions, dimities, &c., which they return to London, where
they are sold, and from thence not seldom are sent into such foreign parts
where the first materials may be more easily had for that manufacture." How
similar are these two instances to that which has occurred in our own days,
when the cotton-wool, brought from the East Indies, has been returned
thither after having been manufactured, and sold there cheaper than the
native manufactures.

But though there are no particulars relative to the commerce between
England and Europe, which call for our notice, as exhibiting any thing
beyond the gradual extension of commercial intercourse already established;
yet in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were other commercial
intercourses into which England entered, that deserve attention. These may
be classed under three heads: the trade to Africa, to America, and India.

I. The trade to Africa.--The first notice of any trade between England and
Africa occurs in the year 1526, when some merchants of Bristol, which, at
this period, was undoubtedly one of our most enterprising cities, traded by
means of Spanish ships to the Canaries. Their exports were cloth, soap, for
the manufacture of which, even at this early period, Bristol was
celebrated, and some other articles. They imported drugs for dyeing, sugar,
and kid skins. This branch of commerce answering, the Bristol merchants
sent their factors thither from Spain. The coast of Africa was, at this
period, monopolized by the Portuguese. In 1530, however, an English ship
made a voyage to Guinea for elephants' teeth: the voyage was repeated; and
in 1536, above one hundred pounds weight of gold dust, besides elephants'
teeth, was imported in one ship. A few years afterwards, a trade was opened
with the Mediterranean coast of Africa, three ships sailing from Bristol to
Barbary with linens, woollen cloth, coral, amber, and jet; and bringing
back sugar, dates, almonds, and molasses. The voyages to Guinea from the
ports of the south and southwest of England, particularly Portsmouth,
Plymouth, and Bristol, were frequently repeated: the returns were uniformly
gold dust and elephants' teeth. But it does not appear that other ports
followed the example of these, that these sent many ships, or that the
commerce became very regular and lucrative, till the west coast of Africa
was resorted to for slaves.

This infamous trade was first entered upon by the English in the year 1562.
Mr. John Hawkins, with several other merchants, having learnt that negroes
were a good commodity in Hispaniola, fitted out three ships, the largest
120, the smallest forty tons, for the coast of Guinea. Here they bought
slaves, which they sold in Hispaniola for hides, sugar, ginger, and pearls.
The other branches of the African trade continued to flourish. In 1577,
English merchants were settled in Morocco; Spanish, Portuguese, and French
merchants had been settled there before. In this year, Elizabeth, always
attentive to whatever would benefit commerce, sent an ambassador to the
Emperor of Morocco, who obtained some commercial privileges for the
English. In 1588, the first voyage to Benin was made from London, by a ship
and a pinnace: in 1590, a second voyage was made from the same port with
the same vessels. Their exports were linen, woollen cloths, iron
manufactures, bracelets of copper, glass beads, coral, hawks' bells,
horses' tails, hats, &c. They imported Guinea pepper, elephants' teeth,
palm oil, cotton cloth, and cloth made of the bark of trees.

An African Company had been formed in Elizabeth's reign; but neither this,
nor two others succeeded; their ruin was occasioned by war, misconduct, and
the interference of what were called interlopers. In 1672, a fourth company
was established, whose efforts at first seem to have been great and
successful. They bought the forts the former companies had erected on the
west coast: instead of making up their assortments of goods for export in
Holland, as the former companies had been obliged to do, they introduced
into England the making of sundry kinds of woollen goods not previously
manufactured. They imported large quantities of gold dust, out of which
50,000 guineas were first coined in one year, 1673. Their other imports
were red wood for dyes, elephants' teeth, wax, honey, &c. The value of the
English goods exported to them averaged annually 70,000_l_. This
company was broken up at the Revolution.

II. Though the Portuguese and Spaniards were very jealous of the
interference of any nation with their East India commerce; yet they were
comparatively easy and relaxed with regard to their American possessions.
Accordingly, we find that, in 1530, there was some little trade between
England and Brazil: this is the first notice we can trace of any commercial
intercourse between this country and the New World. The first voyage was
from Plymouth: in 1540 and 1542 the merchants of Southampton and London
also traded to Brazil. We are not informed what were the goods imported;
but most probably they were Brazil wood, sugar, and cotton. The trade
continued till 1580, when Spain, getting possession of Portugal, put a stop
to it.

The next notice of any trading voyage to America occurs in 1593, when some
English ships sailed to the entrance of the St. Lawrence for morse and
whale fishing. This is the first mention of the latter fishery, or of whale
fins, or whale bones by the English. They could not find any whales; but on
an island they met with 800 whale fins, the remains of a cargo of a Biscay
ship which had been wrecked here.

In 1602, the English had suspended all intercourse with America for sixteen
years, in consequence of the unsuccessful attempts of Raleigh. But, at this
time, the intercourse was renewed: a ship sailed to Virginia, the name then
given to the greater part of the east coast of North America; and a traffic
was carried on with the Indians for peltry, sassafras, cedar wood, &c.
Captain Gosnol, who commanded this vessel, was a man of considerable skill
in his profession, and he is said to have been the first Englishman who
sailed directly to North America, and not, as before, by the circuitous
course of the West Indies and the Gulf of Florida. In the subsequent year
there was some traffic carried on with the Indians of the continent, and
some of the uncolonized West India islands.

Prior to the year 1606 several attempts had been made to colonize different
parts of the new world by the English, but they all proved abortive. In
this year, however, a permanent settlement was established near James
River, within the Chesapeake. It is not our plan to detail all the
particular settlements, or their progress to maturity; but merely to point
out the beginnings of them, as evidence of our extending commerce, and to
state such proofs as most strikingly display their improvement and the
advantages the mother country derived from them. In conformity with this
plan, we may mention that sugar plantations were first formed in Barbadoes
in 1641: this, as Mr. Anderson, in his History of Commerce, justly
observes, "greatly hastened the improvement of our other islands, which
soon afterwards followed it in planting sugar to very great advantage. And,
as it was impossible to manage the planting of that commodity by white
people in so hot a climate, so neither could sufficient numbers of such be
had at any rate. Necessity, therefore, and the example of Portugal gave
birth to the negro slave trade to the coast of Guinea and it is almost
needless to add, that such great numbers of slaves, and also the increase
of white people in those islands, soon created a vast demand for all
necessaries from England, and also a new and considerable trade to Madeira
for wines to supply those islands." The immediate consequence of the spread
of the sugar culture in our West India islands was, that the ports of
London and Bristol became the great magazines for this commodity, and
supplied all the north and middle parts of Europe; and the price of the
Portuguese-Brazil sugars was reduced from 8_l_. to 2_l_. 10_s_. per cwt.

The rapid growth of the English colonies on the continent and in the
islands of America, during the seventeenth century, is justly ascribed by
Sir Josiah Child, to the emigration thither, occasioned by the persecution
of the Puritans by James I. and Charles I.; to the defeat of the Royalists
and Scotch by Cromwell; and, lastly, to the Restoration, and the consequent
disbanding of the army, and fears of the partizans of Cromwell. It may be
added, that most of the men who were driven to America from these causes,
were admirably fitted to form new settlements, being of industrious habits,
and accustomed to plain fare and hard work.

The American plantations, as they were called, increased so rapidly in
commerce that, according to the last author referred to, they did, even in
the year 1670, employ nearly two-thirds of all our English shipping, "and
therefore gave constant sustenance, it may be, to 200,000 persons here at
home." At this period New England seems to have directed its chief
attention and industry to the cod and mackerel fisheries, which had
increased their ships and seamen so much as to excite the jealousy of Sir
Josiah Child, who, however, admits that what that colony took from England
amounted to ten times more than what England took from it. The Newfoundland
fishery, he says, had declined from 250 ships in 1605, to eighty in 1670:
this he ascribes to the practice of eating fish alone on fast days, not
being so strictly kept by the Catholics as formerly. From Carolina, during
the seventeenth century, England obtained vast quantities of naval stores,
staves, lumber, hemp, flax, and Indian corn. About the end of this century,
or at the very commencement of the next, the culture of rice was introduced
by the accident of a vessel from Madagascar happening to put into Carolina,
which had a little rice left; this the captain gave to a gentleman, who
sowed it.

The colony of Virginia seems to have flourished at an earlier period than
any of the other English colonies. In the year 1618, considerable
quantities of tobacco were raised there; and it appears, by proclamations
of James I. and Charles I., that no tobacco was allowed to be imported into
England, but what came from Virginia or the Bermudas.

The colony of Pennsylvania was not settled by Pen till the year 1680: he
found there, however, many English families, and a considerable number of
Dutch and Swedes. The wise regulations of Pen soon drew to him industrious
settlers; but the commerce in which they engaged did not become so
considerable as to demand our notice.

III. The commercial intercourse of England with India, which has now grown
to such extent and importance, and from which has sprung the anomaly of
merchant-sovereigns over one of the richest and most populous districts of
the globe, began in the reign of Elizabeth. The English Levant Company, in
their attempts to extend their trade with the East, seem first to have
reached Hindostan, in 1584, with English merchandize. About the same time
the queen granted introductory letters to some adventurers to the king of
Cambaya; these men travelled through Bengal to Pegu and Malacca, but do not
seem to have reached China. They, however, obtained much useful information
respecting the best mode of conducting the trade to the East.

The first English ship sailed to the East Indies in the year 1591; but the
voyage was rather a warlike than a commercial one, the object being to
attack the Portuguese; and even in this respect it was very unfortunate. A
similar enterprize, undertaken in 1593, seems, by its success, to have
contributed very materially to the commercial intercourse between England
and India; for a fleet of the queen's ships and some merchant ships having
captured a very large East India carrack belonging to the Spaniards or
Portuguese, brought her into Dartmouth: if she excited astonishment at her
size, being of the burthen of 1600 tons, with 700 men, and 36 brass cannon,
she in an equal degree stimulated and enlarged the commercial desires and
hopes of the English by her cargo. This consisted of the richest spices,
calicoes, silks, gold, pearls, drugs, China ware, ebony wood, &c., and was
valued at 150,000_l_.

The increasing commercial spirit of the nation, which led it to look
forward to a regular intercourse with India, was gratified in the first
year of the seventeenth century, when the queen granted the first charter
to an East India Company. She seems to have been directly led to grant this
in consequence of the complaints among her subjects of the scarcity and
high price of pepper; this was occasioned by the monopoly of it being in
the power of the Turkey merchants and the Dutch, and from the circumstance
that by our war with Portugal, we could not procure any from Lisbon. The
immediate and principal object of this Company, therefore, was to obtain
pepper and other spices; accordingly their ships, on their first voyage,
sailed to Bantam, where they took in pepper, to the Banda isles; where they
took in nutmeg and mace, and to Amboyna, where they took in cloves. On this
expedition the English established a factory at Bantam. In 1610, this
Company having obtained a new charter from James I., built the largest
merchant ship that had ever been built in England, of the burthen of 1100
tons, which with three others they sent to India. In 1612 the English
factory of Surat was established with the permission of the Great Mogul;
this was soon regarded as their chief station on the west coast of India.
Their first factory on the coast of Coromandel, which they formed a few
years afterwards, was at Masulipatam: their great object in establishing
this was to obtain more readily the cloths of Coromandel, which they found
to be the most advantageous article to exchange for pepper and other
spices. For at this time their trade with the East seems to have been
almost entirely confined to these latter commodities. In 1613, the first
English ship reached a part of the Japan territories, and a factory was
established, through which trade was carried on with the Japanese, till the
Dutch persuaded the emperor to expel all Europeans but themselves.

The year 1614 forms an important era in the history of our commercial
intercourse with India; for Sir Thomas Roe, whom James sent ambassador to
the Mogul, and who remained several years at his court, obtained from him
important privileges for the East India Company. At this time, the
following European commodities were chiefly in repute in India; knives of
all kinds, toys, especially those of the figures of beasts, rich velvets
and satins, fowling pieces, polished ambers and beads, saddles with rich
furniture, swords with fine hilts inlaid, hats, pictures, Spanish wines,
cloth of gold and silver, French shaggs, fine Norwich stuffs, light armour,
emeralds, and other precious stones set in enamel, fine arras hangings,
large looking glasses, bows and arrows, figures in brass and stone, fine
cabinets, embroidered purses, needlework, French tweezer cases, perfumed
gloves, belts, girdles, bone lace, dogs, plumes of feathers, comb cases
richly set, prints of kings, cases of strong waters, drinking and
perspective glasses, fine basons and ewers, &c. &c. In consequence of the
privileges granted the East India Company by the Mogul, and by the Zamorine
of Calicut, their factories were now numerous, and spread over a large
extent of coast.

If we may trust the controversial pamphlets on the East India Company which
were published in 1615, it appears that up to this year they had employed
only twenty-four ships; four of which had been lost; the largest was 1293
tons, and the smallest 150. Their principal imports were still pepper,
cloves, mace, and nutmegs, of which 615,000 lbs. were consumed in England,
and the value of 218,000_l_. exported: the saving in the home consumption
of these articles was estimated at 70,000_l_. The other imports were
indigo, calicoes, China silks, benzoin, aloes, &c. Porcelain was first
imported this year from Bantam. The exports consisted of bays, kersies, and
broad cloths, dyed and dressed, to the value of 14,000_l_.; lead, iron, and
foreign merchandize, to the value of 10,000_l_.; and coin and bullion, to
the value of 12,000_l_.; the outfit, provisions, &c. of their ships cost

The Dutch, who were very jealous of the successful interference of the
English in their eastern trade, attacked them in every part of India; and
though a treaty was concluded between the English and the Dutch East India
Company, yet the treachery and cruelty of the Dutch, especially at Amboyna,
and the civil wars into which England was plunged, so injured the affairs
of the English East India Company, that at the death of Charles I. its
trade was almost annihilated. One beneficial consequence, however, resulted
from the hostility of the Dutch; the English, driven from their old
factories, established new ones at Madras and in Bengal.

Before, however, this decline of the English trade to India, we have some
curious and interesting documents relating to it particularly, and to the
effects produced on the cost of East Indian commodities in Europe
generally, by the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope. These are supplied by
Mr. Munn, in a treatise he published in 1621; in favour of the East India
trade. We have already given the substance of his remarks so far as they
relate to the lowering the price of Indian commodities, but as his work is
more particularly applicable to, and illustrative of the state of English
commerce with India, at this time, we shall here enter into some of his

According to them, there were six million pounds of pepper annually
consumed in Europe, which used to cost, when purchased at Aleppo, brought
over land thither from India, at the rate of two shillings per lb.; whereas
it now cost, purchased in India, only two-pence halfpenny per lb.: the
consumption of cloves was 450,000 lbs.; cost at Aleppo four shillings and
nine-pence per lb., in India nine-pence: the consumption of mace was
150,000 lbs.; cost at Aleppo the same per lb. as the cloves; in India it
was bought at eight-pence per lb.: the consumption of nutmegs was 400,000
lbs.; the price at Aleppo, two shillings and four-pence per lb.; in India
only four-pence; the consumption of indigo was 350,000 lbs.; the price at
Aleppo four shillings and four-pence per lb.; in India one and two-pence,
and the consumption of raw silk was one million lbs., the price of which at
Aleppo was twelve shillings per lb., and in India eight shillings. It will
be remarked that this last article was purchased in India, at a rate not
nearly so much below its Aleppo price as any of the other articles; pepper,
on the other hand, was more reduced in price than any of the other
articles. The total cost of all the articles, when purchased at Aleppo, was
1,465,000 _l._; when purchased in India, 511,458 _l._; the price in the
latter market, therefore, was little more than one-third of their Aleppo
price. As, however, the voyage from India is longer than that from Aleppo,
it added, according to Mr. Munn's calculation, one-sixth to the cost of the
articles beyond that of the Turkey voyage. Even after making this addition,
Mr. Munn comes to the conclusion we have formerly stated, "that the said
wares by the Cape of Good Hope cost us but about half the price which they
will cost from Turkey."

Mr. Munn also gives the annual importation of the principal Indian goods
into England, by the East India Company, and the price each article sold
for in England; according to this table, the quantity of pepper was
250,000 lbs., which, bought in India for twopence halfpenny, sold in
England for one shilling and eightpence:--150,000 lbs. of cloves, which
bought in India for ninepence, sold in England for six shillings:--150,000
lbs. of nutmegs, bought for four-pence, sold for two shillings and
sixpence:--50,000 lbs. of mace, bought for eightpence, sold for six
shillings:--200,000 lbs. of indigo, bought for one shilling and twopence,
sold for five shillings:--107,140 lbs. of China raw silk, bought for seven
shillings, sold for twenty shillings:--and 50,000 pieces of calico, bought
for seven shillings a piece, sold for twenty-six shillings.

In a third table he gives the annual consumption of the following India
goods, and the lowest prices at which they used to be sold, when procured
from Turkey or Lisbon, before England traded directly to India. There was
consumed of pepper, 400,000 lbs., which used to be sold at three shillings
and sixpence per lb.; of cloves, 40,000, at eight shillings; of mace,
20,000, at nine shillings; of nutmegs, 160,000, at four shillings and
sixpence; and of indigo, 150,000, at seven shillings. The result is, that
when England paid the lowest ancient prices, it cost her 183,500_l_. for
these commodities; whereas, at the common modern prices, it costs her only
108,333_l_. The actual saving therefore to the people of England, was not
near so great as might have been expected, or as it ought to have been,
from a comparison of the prices at Aleppo and in India.

There are some other particulars in Mr. Munn's Treatise relating to the
European Trade to the East at this period, which we shall select. Speaking
of the exportation of bullion to India, he says that the Turks sent
annually 500,000_l_. merely for Persian raw silk; and 600,000_l_. more for
calicoes, drugs, sugar, rice, &c.: their maritime commerce was carried on
from Mocha; their inland trade from Aleppo and Constantinople. They
exported very little merchandize to Persia or India. Marseilles supplied
Turkey with a considerable part of the bullion and money which the latter
used in her trade with the East,--sending annually to Aleppo and
Alexandria, at least 500,000_l_. and little or no merchandize. Venice sent
about 400,000_l_. and a great value in wares besides. Messina about
25,000_l_., and the low countries about 50,000_l_., besides great
quantities of gold and dollars from Germany, Poland, Hungary, &c. With
these sums were purchased either native Turkish produce and manufactures,
or such goods as Turkey obtained from Persia and other parts of the East:
the principal were camblets, grograms, raw silk, cotton wool and yarn,
galls, flax, hemp, rice, hides, sheeps' wool, wax, corn, &c. England,
according to Mr. Munn, did not employ much bullion, either in her Turkey or
her India trade; in the former she exported vast quantities of broad cloth,
tin, &c. enough to purchase nearly all the wares she wanted in Turkey,
besides three hundred great bales of Persian raw silk annually. In the
course of nineteen years, viz. from their establishment in 1601 to 1620,
the East India Company had exported, in woollen cloths, tin, lead, and
other English and foreign wares, at an average of 15,383_l_. per annum, and
in the whole, 292,286_l_. During the same period they had exported
548,090_l_. in Spanish silver. The East India Company employed in 1621,
according to this author, 10,000 tons of shipping, 2500 mariners, 500 ship
carpenters, and 120 factors. The principal places to which, at this period,
we re-exported Indian goods, were Turkey, Genoa, Marseilles, the
Netherlands, &c.; the re-exportations were calculated to employ 2000 more
tons of shipping, and 500 more mariners.

From a proclamation issued in 1631, against clandestine trade to and from
India, we learn the different articles which might be legally exported and
imported: the first were the following: perpalicanos and drapery, pewter,
saffron, woollen stockings, silk stockings and garters, ribband, roses
edged with silver lace, beaver hats with gold and silver bands, felt hats,
strong waters, knives, Spanish leather shoes, iron, and looking glasses.
There might be imported, long pepper, white pepper, white powder sugar,
preserved nutmegs and ginger preserved, merabolans, bezoar stones, drugs of
all sorts, agate heads, blood stones, musk, aloes socratrina, ambergris,
rich carpets of Persia and of Cambaya, quilts of satin taffety, painted
calicoes, Benjamin, damasks, satins and taffeties of China, quilts of China
embroidered with silk, galls, sugar candy, China dishes, and porcelain of
all sorts.

Though several articles of Chinese manufacture are specified in the
proclamation, yet we have no notice of any direct trade to China till
nearly fifty years after this time, viz. in the year 1680. In this year the
East India Company sent out eleven ships, including two to China and the
Moluccas; their general burden was between 500 and 600 tons: in these ships
there was a stock of nearly 500,000_l_. Besides the articles imported
from India enumerated in the proclamation of 1631, there now appear
cowries, saltpetre, muslins, diamonds, &c.

In 1689 the East India Company published a state of their trade, from which
it appeared that in the last seven years they had built sixteen ships from
900 to 1300 tons each,--that they had coming from India eleven ships and
four permission ships, the value of their cargoes being above 360,000_l_.:
that they had on their outward voyage to Coast and Bay, seven ships and six
permission ships, their cargoes valued at 570,000_l_.: that they had seven
ships for China and the South Seas, whose cargoes amounted to 100,000_l_.
That they had goods in India unsold, to the amount of 700,000_l_. About
this period, Sir John Child, being what would now be called governor
general of India, and his brother, Sir Jonah, leading member of the Court
of Committees, the policy was introduced through their means, on which the
sovereign power, as well as the immense empire of the East India Company
was founded; this policy consisted of the enlargement of the authority of
the Company over British subjects in India, and in attaining political
strength and dominion, by retaliating by force of arms, on those Indian
princes who oppressed their settlements.

In the year 1698, in consequence of complaints against the East India
Company, and their inability to make any dividend, they thought it
necessary to give in a statement of their property in India. In this they
asserted that they had acquired, solely at their own expence, revenues at
Fort St. George, Fort St. David, and Bombay, as well as in Persia, and
elsewhere, to the amount of 44,000_l_. per annum, arising from customs
and licenses, besides a large extent of land in these places; they had also
erected forts and settlements in Sumatra, and on the coast of Malabar,
which were absolutely necessary to carry on the pepper trade; they had a
strongfort in Bengal, and many factories, settlements, &c. in other places.
The result of the complaints against the Company was, that a new company
was established this year; the two companies, however, united in the
beginning of the eighteenth century.

We shall conclude our account of the state of English commerce during the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, with some more general and
miscellaneous topics.

I. Exports. In the year 1534, the total value of our exports did not exceed
900,000_l_. of the present value of our money: the balance of trade was
estimated at 700,000_l_.: this arose principally from the very great
exportation of woollen goods, tin, leather, &c., on which an export duty
was laid, bringing in 246,000_l_.; whereas, the duty on imports did not
produce more than 1700_l_. In the year 1612, according to Missenden, in his
Circle of Commerce, the exports to all the world amounted to 2,090,640_l_.,
and the imports to 2,141,151_l_.; on the latter, however, the custom duties
are charged; the custom duties on the exports were 86,794_l_.; the impost
paid outwards on woollen goods, tin, lead, pewter, &c. 10,000_l_.; and the
merchants' gains, freight, and other charges, to 300,000_l_.:--if these be
added to the value of the exports, the total amount will be 2,487,435_l_,--
from which the imports, including custom duty on them, being deducted,
leaves 346,283_l_.,--which Missenden regards as the balance gained that
year by the nation. The principal articles of export have been enumerated:
the principal articles of import were silks, Venice gold and silver stuffs,
Spanish wines, linen, &c. At this time, London paid nearly three times as
much for custom duties as all the rest of England together. In the year
1662, according to D'Avenant, the inspector general of the customs, our
imports amounted to 4,016,019_l_., and our exports only to 2,022,812_l_.;
the balance against the nation being nearly two millions. In the last year
of the seventeenth century, according to the same official authority, there
was exported to England from all parts, 6,788,166_l_.: of this sum, our
woollen manufactures were to the value of 2,932,292_l_.; so that there was
an increase of our exports since 1662, of 4,765,534_l_. The yearly average
of all the merchandize imported from, and exported to the north of Europe,
from Michaelmas, 1697, to Christmas, 1701, is exhibited in the following

Annual Countries.         Imported from.         Exported to.  Loss

Denmark and Sweden            76,215_l_          39,543_l.      36,672_l_.
East Country                 181,296            149,893         31,403
Russia                       112,252             58,884         53,568
Sweden                       212,094             57,555        154,539
Total annual average loss                                      275,982_l_.

II. Ships. In the year 1530, the ship which first sailed on a trading
voyage to Guinea, and thence to th