Jules Verne, in this chief of his works, has set himself to tell the story of all the most stirring adventure of which we have any written record—to give the history, "from the time of Hanno and Herodotus down to that of Livingstone and Stanley," of those voyages of exploration and discovery which are among the most exciting episodes in the history of human enterprise. The wonderful journey of Marco Polo; the voyages of Columbus and Vasco da Gama; the conquests of Cortez and Pizarro; the old Arctic discoveries; the explorations of the Jesuit missionaries in North America—these exploits form a worthy subject for the most ambitious work of such a writer; and when he brings to the treatment of such material all the dash and vivid picluresqueness of his own creations, it may be imagined that he makes a book worth reading.
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The Exploration of the World
Jules Verne – A Biographical Primer
The Exploration of the World
Chapter I. - Celebrated Travellers Before The Christian Era.
Chapter II. - Celebrated Travellers From The First To The Ninth Century.
Chapter III. - Celebrated Travellers Between The Tenth And Thirteenth Centuries.
Chapter IV. - Marco Polo, 1253-1324.
Chapter V. - Ibn Batuta, 1328-1353.
Chapter VI. - Jean De Béthencourt, 1339-1425.
Chapter VII. - Christopher Columbus, 1436-1506.
Chapter VIII. - The Conquest Of India, And Of The Spice Countries.
Chapter I.- The Conquerors Of Central America.
Chapter II. - The First Voyage Round The World.
Chapter III. - The Polar Expeditions And The Search For The North-West Passage.
Chapter IV. - Voyages Of Adventure And Privateering Warfare.
Chapter V. - Missionaries And Settlers. Merchants And Tourists.
Chapter VI. – The Great Corsair
The Exploration of the World, J. Verne
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Frontcover: © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Angelique
Jules Verne (1828–1905), French author, was born at Nantes on the 8th of February 1828. After completing his studies at the Nantes lycée, he went to Paris to study for the bar. About 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carré, he wrote librettos for two operettas, and in 1850 his verse comedy, Les Pailles rompues, in which Alexandre Dumas fils had some share, was produced at the Gymnase. For some years his interests alternated between the theatre and the bourse, but some travellers’ stories which he wrote for the Musée des Familles seem to have revealed to him the true direction of his talent—the delineation, viz., of delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of versimilitude. Something of the kind had been done before, after kindred methods, by Cyrano de Bergerac, by Swift and Defoe, and later by Mayne Reid. But in his own particular application of plausible scientific apparatus Verne undoubtedly struck out a department for himself in the wide literary genre of voyages imaginaires. His first success was obtained with Cinq semaines en ballon, which he wrote for Hetzel’s Magazin d’Éducation in 1862, and thenceforward, for a quarter of a century, scarcely a year passed in which Hetzel did not publish one or more of his fantastic stories, illustrated generally by pictures of the most lurid and sensational description.The most successful of these romances include: Voyage au centre de la terre (1864); De la terre à la lune (1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (1869); Les Anglais au pôle nord (1870); and Voyage autour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872.The adaptation of this last (produced with success at the Porte St Martin theatre on the 8th of November 1874) and of another excellent tale, Michael Strogoff (at the Châtelet, 1880), both dramas being written in conjunction with Adolphe d’Ennery, proved the most acceptable of Verne’s theatrical pieces. The novels were translated into the various European languages—and some even into Japanese and Arabic—and had an enormous success in England. But after 1877, when he published Hector Servadac, a romance of existence upon a comet, the writer’s invention began to show signs of fatigue (his kingdom had been invaded in different directions and at different times times by such writers as R. M. Ballantyne, Rider Haggard and H. G. Wells), and he even committed himself, somewhat unguardedly, to very gloomy predictions as to the future of the novel. Jules Verne’s own novels, however, will certainly long continue to delight readers by reason of their sparkling style, their picturesque verve—apparently inherited directly from Dumas—their amusing and good-natured national caricatures, and the ingenuity with which the love element is either subordinated or completely excluded. M. Verne, who was always extremely popular in society, divided his time for the most part between Paris, his home at Amiens and his yacht. He was a member of the Legion of Honour, and several of his romances were crowned by the French Academy, but he was never enrolled among its members. He died at Amiens on the 24th of March 1905. His brother, Paul Verne, contributed to the Transactions of the French Alpine Club, and wrote an Ascension du Mont Blanc for his brother’s collection of Voyages extraordinaires in 1874.
This narrative will comprehend not only all the explorations made in past ages, but also all the new discoveries which have of late years so greatly interested the scientific world. In order to give to this work—enlarged perforce by the recent labours of modern travellers,—all the accuracy possible, I have called in the aid of a man whom I with justice regard as one of the most competent geographers of the present day: M. Gabriel Marcel, attached to the Bibliothèque Nationale.
With the advantage of his acquaintance with several foreign languages which are unknown to me, we have been able to go to the fountain-head, and to derive all information from absolutely original documents. Our readers will, therefore, render to M. Marcel the credit due to him for his share in a work which will demonstrate what manner of men the great travellers have been, from the time of Hanno and Herodotus down to that of Livingstone and Stanley.
The first traveller of whom we have any account in history, is Hanno, who was sent by the Carthaginian senate to colonize some parts of the Western coast of Africa. The account of this expedition was written in the Carthaginian language and afterwards translated into Greek. It is known to us now by the name of the "Periplus of Hanno." At what period this explorer lived, historians are not agreed, but the most probable account assigns the dateB.C.505 to his exploration of the African coast.
Hanno left Carthage with a fleet of sixty vessels of fifty oars each, carrying 30,000 persons, and provisions for a long voyage. These emigrants, for so we may call them, were destined to people the new towns that the Carthaginians hoped to found on the west coast of Libya, or as we now call it, Africa.
The fleet successfully passed the Pillars of Hercules, the rocks of Gibraltar and Ceuta which command the Strait, and ventured on the Atlantic, taking a southerly course. Two days after passing the Straits, Hanno anchored on the coast, and laid the foundation of the town of Thumiaterion.
Then he put to sea again, and doubling the cape of Soloïs, made fresh discoveries, and advanced to the mouth of a large African river, where he found a tribe of wandering shepherds camping on the banks. He only waited to conclude a treaty of alliance with them, before continuing his voyage southward. He next reached the Island of Cerne, situated in a bay, and measuring five stadia in circumference, or as we should say at the present day, nearly 925 yards. According to Hanno's own account, this island should be placed, with regard to the Pillars of Hercules, at an equal distance to that which separates these Pillars from Carthage.
They set sail again, and Hanno reached the mouth of the river Chretes, which forms a sort of natural harbour, but as they endeavoured to explore this river, they were assailed with showers of stones from the native negro race, inhabiting the surrounding country, and driven back, and after this inhospitable reception they returned to Cerne. We must not omit to add that Hanno mentions finding large numbers of crocodiles and hippopotami in this river. Twelve days after this unsuccessful expedition, the fleet reached a mountainous region, where fragrant trees and shrubs abounded, and it then entered a vast gulf which terminated in a plain. This region appeared quite calm during the day, but after nightfall it was illumined by tongues of flame, which might have proceeded from fires lighted by the natives, or from the natural ignition of the dry grass when the rainy season was over.
In five days, Hanno doubled the Cape, known as the Hespera Keras, there, according to his own account, "he heard the sound of fifes, cymbals, and tambourines, and the clamour of a multitude of people." The soothsayers, who accompanied the party of Carthaginian explorers, counselled flight from this land of terrors, and, in obedience to their advice, they set sail again, still taking a southerly course. They arrived at a cape, which, stretching southwards, formed a gulf, called Notu Keras, and, according to M. D'Avezac, this gulf must have been the mouth of the river Ouro, which falls into the Atlantic almost within the Tropic of Cancer. At the lower end of this gulf, they found an island inhabited by a vast number of gorillas, which the Carthaginians mistook for hairy savages. They contrived to get possession of three female gorillas, but were obliged to kill them on account of their great ferocity.
This Notu Keras must have been the extreme limit reached by the Carthaginian explorers, and though some historians incline to the belief that they only went to Bojador, which is two degrees North of the tropics, it is more probable that the former account is the true one, and that Hanno, finding himself short of provisions, returned northwards to Carthage, where he had the account of his voyage engraved in the temple of Baal Moloch.
After Hanno, the most illustrious of ancient travellers, was Herodotus, who has been called the "Father of History," and who was the nephew of the poet Panyasis, whose poems ranked with those of Homer and Hesiod. It will serve our purpose better if we only speak of Herodotus as a traveller, not an historian, as we wish to follow him so far as possible through the countries that he traversed.
Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus, a town in Asia Minor, in the yearB.C.484. His family were rich, and having large commercial transactions they were able to encourage the taste for explorations which he showed. At this time there were many different opinions as to the shape of the earth: the Pythagorean school having even then begun to teach that it must be round, but Herodotus took no part in this discussion, which was of the deepest interest to learned men of that time, and, still young, he left home with a view of exploring with great care all the then known world, and especially those parts of it of which there were but few and uncertain data.
He left Halicarnassus in 464, being then twenty years of age, and probably directed his steps first to Egypt, visiting Memphis, Heliopolis, and Thebes. He seems to have specially turned his attention to the overflow of the banks of the Nile, and he gives an account of the different opinions held as to the source of this river, which the Egyptians worshipped as one of their deities. "When the Nile overflows its banks," he says, "you can see nothing but the towns rising out of the water, and they appear like the islands in the Ægean Sea." He tells of the religious ceremonies among the Egyptians, their sacrifices, their ardour in celebrating the feasts in honour of their goddess Isis, which took place principally at Busiris (whose ruins may still be seen near Bushir), and of the veneration paid to both wild and tame animals, which were looked upon almost as sacred, and to whom they even rendered funeral honours at their death. He depicts in the most faithful colours, the Nile crocodile, its form, habits, and the way in which it is caught, and the hippopotamus, the momot, the phoenix, the ibis, and the serpents that were consecrated to the god Jupiter. Nothing can be more life-like than his accounts of Egyptian customs, and the notices of their habits, their games, and their way of embalming the dead, in which the chemists of that period seem to have excelled. Then we have the history of the country from Menes, its first king, downwards to Herodotus' time, and he describes the building of the Pyramids under Cheops, the Labyrinth that was built a little above the Lake Moeris (of which the remains were discovered inA.D.1799), Lake Moeris itself, whose origin he ascribes to the hand of man, and the two Pyramids which are situated a little above the lake. He seems to have admired many of the Egyptian temples, and especially that of Minerva at Sais, and of Vulcan and Isis at Memphis, and the colossal monolith that was three years in course of transportation from Elephantina to Sais, though 2000 men were employed on the gigantic work.
After having carefully inspected everything of interest in Egypt, Herodotus went into Lybia, little thinking that the continent he was exploring, extended thence to the tropic of Cancer. He made special inquiries in Lybia as to the number of its inhabitants, who were a simple nomadic race principally living near the sea-coast, and he speaks of the Ammonians, who possessed the celebrated temple of Jupiter Ammon, the remains of which have been discovered on the north-east side of the Lybian desert, about 300 miles from Cairo. Herodotus furnishes us with some very valuable information on Lybian customs; he describes their habits; speaks of the animals that infest the country, serpents of a prodigious size, lions, elephants, bears, asps, horned asses (probably the rhinoceros of the present day), and cynocephali, "animals with no heads, and whose eyes are placed on their chest," to use his own expression; foxes, hyenas, porcupines, wild zarus, panthers, etc. He winds up his description by saying that the only two aboriginal nations that inhabit this region are the Lybians and Ethiopians.
According to Herodotus the Ethiopians were at that time to be found above Elephantina, but commentators are induced to doubt if this learned explorer ever really visited Ethiopia, and if he did not, he may easily have learnt from the Egyptians the details that he gives of its capital, Meroe, of the worship of Jupiter and Bacchus, and the longevity of the natives. There can be no doubt, however, that he set sail for Tyre in Phoenicia, and that he was much struck with the beauty of the two magnificent temples of Hercules. He next visited Tarsus and took advantage of the information gathered on the spot, to write a short history of Phoenicia, Syria, and Palestine.
We next find that he went southward to Arabia, and he calls it the Ethiopia of Asia, for he thought the southern parts of Arabia were the limits of human habitation. He tells us of the remarkable way in which the Arabs kept any vow that they might have made; that their two deities were Uranius and Bacchus, and of the abundant growth of myrrh, cinnamon and other spices, and he gives a very interesting account of their culture and preparation.
We cannot be quite sure which country he next visited, as he calls it both Assyria and Babylonia, but he gives a most minute account of the splendid city of Babylon (which was the home of the monarchs of that country, after the destruction of Nineveh), and whose ruins are now only in scattered heaps on either side of the Euphrates, which flowed a broad, deep, rapid river, dividing the city into two parts. On one side of the river the fortified palace of the king stood, and on the other the temple of Jupiter Belus, which may have been built on the site of the Tower of Babel. Herodotus next speaks of the two queens, Semiramis and Nitocris, telling us of all the means taken by the latter to increase the prosperity and safety of her capital, and passing on to speak of the natural products of the country, the wheat, barley, millet, sesame, the vine, fig-tree and palm-tree. He winds up with a description of the costume of the Babylonians, and their customs, especially that of celebrating their marriages by the public crier.
After exploring Babylonia he went to Persia, and as the express purpose of his travels was to collect all the information he could relating to the lengthy wars that had taken place between the Persians and Grecians, he was most anxious to visit the spots where the battles had been fought. He sets out by remarking upon the custom prevalent in Persia, of not clothing their deities in any human form, nor erecting temples nor altars where they might be worshipped, but contenting themselves with adoring them on the tops of the mountains. He notes their domestic habits, their disdain of animal food, their taste for delicacies, their passion for wine, and their custom of transacting business of the utmost importance when they had been drinking to excess; their curiosity as to the habits of other nations, their love of pleasure, their warlike qualities, their anxiety for the education of their children, their respect for the lives of all their fellow-creatures, even of their slaves, their horror both of debt and lying, and their repugnance to the disease of leprosy which they thought proved that the sufferer "had sinned in some way against the sun." The India of Herodotus, according to M. Vivien de St. Martin, only consisted of that part of the country that is watered by the five rivers of the Punjaub, adjoining Afghanistan, and this was the region where the young traveller turned his steps on leaving Persia. He thought that the population of India was larger than that of any other country, and he divided it into two classes, the first having settled habitations, the second leading a nomadic life. Those who lived in the eastern part of the country killed their sick and aged people, and ate them, while those in the north, who were a finer, braver, and more industrious race, employed themselves in collecting the auriferous sands. India was then the most easterly extremity of the inhabited world, as he thought, and he observes, "that the two extremities of the world seem to have shared nature's best gifts, as Greece enjoyed the most agreeable temperature possible," and that was his idea of the western limits of the world.
Media is the next country visited by this indefatigable traveller, and he gives the history of the Medes, the nation which was the first to shake off the Assyrian yoke. They founded the great city of Ecbatana, and surrounded it with seven concentric walls. They became a separate nation in the reign of Deioces. After crossing the mountains that separate Media from Colchis, the Greek traveller entered the country, made famous by the valour of Jason, and studied its manners and customs with the care and attention that were among his most striking characteristics.
Herodotus seems to have been well acquainted with the geography of the Caspian Sea, for he speaks of it as a Sea "quite by itself" and having no communication with any other. He considered that it was bounded on the west by the Caucasian Mountains and on the east by a great plain inhabited by the Massagetæ, who, both Arian and Diodorus Siculus think, may have been Scythians. These Massagetæ worshipped the Sun as their only deity, and sacrificed horses in its honour. He speaks here of two large rivers, one of which, the Araxes, would be the Volga, and the other, that he calls the Ista, must be the Danube. The traveller then went into Scythia, and he thought that the Scythians were the different tribes inhabiting the country that lay between the Danube and the Don, in fact a considerable portion of European Russia. He found the barbarous custom of putting out the eyes of their prisoners was practised among them, and he notices that they only wandered from place to place without caring to cultivate their land. Herodotus relates many of the fables that make the origin of the Scythian nation so obscure, and in which Hercules plays a prominent part. He adds a list of the different tribes that composed the Scythian nation, but he does not seem to have visited the country lying to the north of the Euxine, or Black Sea. He gives a minute description of the habits of these people, and expresses his admiration for the Pontus Euxinus. The dimensions that he gives of the Black Sea, the Bosphorus, of the Propontis, the Palus Mæotis and of the Ægean Sea, are almost exactly the same as those given by geographers of the present day. He also names the large rivers that flow into these seas. The Ister or Danube, the Borysthenes or Dnieper, the Tanais, or Don; and he finishes by relating how the alliance, and afterwards the union between the Scythians and Amazons took place, which explains the reason why the young women of that country are not allowed to marry before they have killed an enemy and established their character for valour.
After a short stay in Thrace, during which he was convinced that the Getæ were the bravest portion of this race, Herodotus arrived in Greece, which was to be the termination of his travels, to the country where he hoped to collect the only documents still wanting to complete his history, and he visited all the spots that had become illustrious by the great battles fought between the Greeks and Persians. He gives a minute description of the Pass of Thermopylæ, and of his visit to the plain of Marathon, the battlefield of Platæa, and his return to Asia Minor, whence he passed along the coast on which the Greeks had established several colonies. Herodotus can only have been twenty-eight years of age when he returned to Halicarnassus in Caria, for it was inB.C.456 that he read the history of his travels at the Olympic Games. His country was at that time oppressed by Lygdamis, and he was exiled to Samos; but though he soon after rose in arms to overthrow the tyrant, the ingratitude of his fellow-citizens obliged him to return into exile. In 444 he took part in the games at the Pantheon, and there he read his completed work, which was received with enthusiasm, and towards the end of his life he retired to Thurium in Italy, where he died,B.C.406, leaving behind him the reputation of being the greatest traveller and the most celebrated historian of antiquity.
After Herodotus we must pass over a century and a half, and only note, in passing, the Physician Ctesias, a contemporary of Xenophon, who published the account of a voyage to India that he really never made; and we shall come in chronological order to Pytheas, who was at once a traveller, geographer, and historian, one of the most celebrated men of his time. It was about the yearB.C.340 that Pytheas set out from the columns of Hercules with a single vessel, but instead of taking a southerly course like his Carthaginian predecessors, he went northwards, passing by the coasts of Iberia and Gaul to the furthest points which now form the Cape of Finisterre, and then he entered the English Channel and came upon the English coast—the British Isles—of which he was to be the first explorer. He disembarked at various points on the coast and made friends with the simple, honest, sober, industrious inhabitants, who traded largely in tin.
Pytheas ventured still further north, and went beyond the Orcades Islands to the furthest point of Scotland, and he must have reached a very high latitude, for during the summer the night only lasted two hours. After six days further sailing, he came to lands which he calls Thule, probably the Jutland or Norway of the present day, beyond which he could not pass, for he says, "there was neither land, sea, nor air there." He retraced his course, and changing it slightly, he came to the mouth of the Rhine, to the country of the Ostians, and, further inland, to Germany. Thence he visited the mouth of the Tanais, that is supposed to be the Elbe or the Oder, and he retuned to Marseilles, just a year after leaving his native town. Pytheas, besides being such a brave sailor, was a remarkably scientific man: he was the first to discover the influence that the moon exercises on the tides, and to notice that the polar star is not situated at the exact spot at which the axis of the globe is supposed to be. Some years after the time of Pytheas, aboutB.C.326 a Greek traveller made his name famous. This was Nearchus, a native of Crete, one of Alexander's admirals, and he was charged to visit all the coast of Asia from the mouth of the Indus to that of the Euphrates. When Alexander first resolved that this expedition should take place, which had for its object the opening up of a communication between India and Egypt, he was at the upper part of the Indus. He furnished Nearchus with a fleet of thirty-three galleys, of some vessels with two decks, and a great number of transport ships, and 2000 men. Nearchus came down the Indus in about four months, escorted on either bank of the river by Alexander's armies, and after spending seven months in exploring the Delta, he set sail and followed the west line of what we call Beloochistan in the present day.
He put to sea on the second of October, a month before the winter storms had taken a direction that was favourable to his purpose, so that the commencement of his voyage was disastrous, and in forty days he had scarcely made eighty miles in a westerly direction. He touched first at Stura and at Corestis, which do not seem to answer to any of the now-existing villages on the coast; then at the Island of Crocala, which forms the bay of Caranthia. Beaten back by contrary winds, after doubling the cape of Monze, the fleet took refuge in a natural harbour that its commander thought that he could fortify as a defence against the attacks of the barbarous natives, who, even at the present day, keep up their character as pirates.
After spending twenty-four days in this harbour, Nearchus put to sea again on the 3rd of November. Severe gales often obliged him to keep very near the coast, and when this was the case he was obliged to take all possible precautions to defend himself from the attacks of the ferocious Beloochees, who are described by eastern historians "as a barbarous nation, with long dishevelled hair, and long flowing beards, who are more like bears or satyrs than human beings." Up to this time, however, no serious disaster had happened to the fleet, but on the 10th of November in a heavy gale two galleys and a ship sank. Nearchus then anchored at Crocala, and there he was met by a ship laden with corn that Alexander had sent out to him, and he was able to supply each vessel with provisions for ten days.
After many disasters and a skirmish with some of the natives, Nearchus reached the extreme point of the land of the Orites, which is marked in modern geography by Cape Morant. Here, he states in his narrative that the rays of the sun at mid-day are vertical, and therefore there are no shadows of any kind; but this is surely a mistake, for at this time in the Southern hemisphere the sun is in the Tropic of Capricorn; and, beyond this, his vessels were always some degrees distant from the Tropic of Cancer, therefore even in the height of summer this phenomenon could not have taken place, and we know that his voyage was in winter.
Circumstances seemed now rather more in his favour; for the time of the eastern monsoon was over, when he sailed along the coast which is inhabited by a tribe called Ichthyophagi, who subsist solely on fish, and from the failure of all vegetation are obliged to feed even their sheep upon the same food. The fleet was now becoming very short of provisions; so after doubling Cape Posmi Nearchus took a pilot from those shores on board his own vessel, and with the wind in their favour they made rapid progress, finding the country less bare as they advanced, a few scattered trees and shrubs being visible from the shore. They reached a little town, of the name of which we have no record, and as they were almost without food Nearchus surprised and took possession of it, the inhabitants making but little resistance. Canasida, or Churbar as we call it, was their next resting-place, and at the present day the ruins of a town are still visible in the bay. But their corn was now entirely exhausted, and though they tried successively at Canate, Trois, and Dagasira for further supplies, it was all in vain, these miserable little towns not being able to furnish more than enough for their own consumption. The fleet had neither corn nor meat, and they could not make up their minds to feed upon the tortoises that abound in that part of the coast.
Just as they entered the Persian Gulf they encountered an immense number of whales, and the sailors were so terrified by their size and number, that they wished to fly; it was not without much difficulty that Nearchus at last prevailed upon them to advance boldly, and they soon scattered their formidable enemies.
Having changed their westerly course for a north-easterly one, they soon came upon fertile shores, and their eyes were refreshed by the sight of corn-fields and pasture-lands, interspersed with all kinds of fruit-trees except the olive. They put into Badis or Jask, and after leaving it and passing Maceta or Mussendon, they came in sight of the Persian Gulf, to which Nearchus, following the geography of the Arabs, gave the misnomer of the Red Sea.
They sailed up the gulf, and after one halt reached Harmozia, which has since given its name to the little island of Ormuz. There he learnt that Alexander's army was only five days' march from him, and he disembarked at once, and hastened to meet it. No news of the fleet having reached the army for twenty-one weeks, they had given up all hope of seeing it again, and great was Alexander's joy when Nearchus appeared before him, though the hardships he had endured had altered him almost beyond recognition. Alexander ordered games to be celebrated and sacrifices offered up to the gods; then Nearchus returned to Harmozia, as he wished to go as far as Susa with the fleet, and set sail again, having invoked Jupiter the Deliverer.
He touched at some of the neighbouring islands, probably those of Arek and Kismis, and soon afterwards the vessels ran aground, but the advancing tide floated them again, and after passing Bestion, they arrived at the island of Keish, that is sacred to Mercury and Venus. This was the boundary-line between Karmania and Persia. As they advanced along the Persian coast, they visited different places, Gillam, Indarabia, Shevou, &c., and at the last-named was found a quantity of wheat which Alexander had sent for the use of the explorers.
Some days after this they came to the mouth of the river Araxes, that separates Persia from Susiana, and thence they reached a large lake situated in the country now called Dorghestan, and finally anchored near the village of Degela, at the source of the Euphrates, having accomplished their project of visiting all the coast lying between the Euphrates and Indus. Nearchus returned a second time to Alexander, who rewarded him magnificently, and placed him in command of his fleet. Alexander's wish, that the whole of the Arabian coast should be explored as far as the Red Sea, was never fulfilled, as he died before the expedition was arranged.
It is said that Nearchus became governor of Lysia and Pamphylia, but in his leisure time he wrote an account of his travels, which has unfortunately perished, though not before Arian had made a complete analysis of it in his Historia Indica. It seems probable that Nearchus fell in the battle of Ipsu, leaving behind him the reputation of being a very able commander; his voyage may be looked upon as an event of no small importance in the history of navigation.
We must not omit to mention a most hazardous attempt made inB.C.146, by Eudoxus of Cyzicus, a geographer living at the court of Euergetes II, to sail round Africa. He had visited Egypt and the coast of India, when this far greater project occurred to him, one which was only accomplished sixteen hundred years later by Vasco da Gama. Eudoxus fitted out a large vessel and two smaller ones, and set sail upon the unknown waters of the Atlantic. How far he took these vessels we do not know, but after having had communication with some natives, whom he thought were Ethiopians, he returned to Mauritania. Thence he went to Tiberia, and made preparations for another attempt to circumnavigate Africa, but whether he ever set out upon this voyage is not known; in fact some learned men are even inclined to consider Eudoxus an impostor.
We have still to mention two names of illustrious travellers, living before the Christian era; those of Cæsar and Strabo. Cæsar, bornB.C.100, was pre-eminently a conqueror, not an explorer, but we must remember, that in the yearB.C.58, he undertook the conquest of Gaul, and during the ten years that were occupied in this vast enterprise, he led his victorious Legions to the shores of Great Britain, where the inhabitants were of German extraction.
As to Strabo, who was born in CappadociaB.C.50, he distinguished himself more as a geographer than a traveller, but he travelled through the interior of Asia, and visited Egypt, Greece, and Italy, living many years in Rome, and dying there in the latter part of the reign of Tiberius. Strabo wrote a Geography in seventeen Books, of which the greater part has come down to us, and this work, with that of Ptolemy, are the two most valuable legacies of ancient to modern Geographers.
In the first two centuries of the Christian era, the study of geography received a great stimulus from the advance of other branches of science, but travellers, or rather explorers of new countries were very few in number. Pliny in the yearA.D.23, devoted the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth books of his Natural History to geography, and inA.D.50, Hippalus, a clever navigator, discovered the laws governing the monsoon in the Indian Ocean, and taught sailors how they might deviate from their usual course, so as to make these winds subservient to their being able to go to and return from India in one year. Arian, a Greek historian, bornA.D.105, wrote an account of the navigation of the Euxine or Black Sea, and pointed out as nearly as possible, the countries that had been discovered by explorers who had lived before his time; and Ptolemy the Egyptian, aboutA.D.175, making use of the writings of his predecessors, published a celebrated geography, in which, for the first time, places and cities were marked in their relative latitude and longitude on a mathematical plan.
The first traveller of the Christian era, whose name has been handed down to us, was Pausanias, a Greek writer, living in Rome in the second century, and whose account of his travels bears the date ofA.D.175. Pausanias did for ancient Greece what Joanne, the industrious and clever Frenchman did for the other countries of Europe, in compiling the "Traveller's Guide." His account, a most reliable one on all points, and most exact even in details, was one upon which travellers of the second century might safely depend in their journeys through the different parts of Greece.
Pausanias gives a minute description of Attica, and especially of Athens and its monuments, tombs, temples, citadel, academy, columns, and of the Areopagus.
From Attica Pausanias went to Corinth, and then explored the Islands of Ægina and Methana, Sparta, the Island of Cerigo, Messene, Achaia, Arcadia, Boeotia, and Phocis. The roads in the provinces and even the streets in the towns, are mentioned in his narrative, as well as the general character of the country through which he passed; although we can scarcely say that he added any fresh discoveries to those already made, he was one of those careful travellers whose object was more to obtain exact information, than to make new discoveries. His narrative has been of the greatest use to all geographers and writers upon Greece and the Peloponnesus, and an author of the sixteenth century has truly said that this book is "a most ancient and rare specimen of erudition."
It was about a hundred and thirty years after the Greek historian, in the fourth century, that a Chinese monk undertook the exploration of the countries lying to the west of China. The account of his travels is still extant, and we may well agree with M. Charton when he says that "this is a most valuable work, carrying us beyond our ordinarily narrow view of western civilization."
Fa-Hian, the traveller, was accompanied by several monks; wishing to leave China by the west, they crossed more than one chain of mountains, and reached the country now called Kan-tcheou, which is not far from the great wall. They crossed the river Cha-ho, and a desert that Marco Polo was to explore eight hundred years later. After seventeen days' march they reached the Lake of Lobnor in Turkestan. From this point all the countries that the monks visited were alike as to manners and customs, the languages alone differing. Being dissatisfied with the reception that they met with in the country of the Ourgas, who are not a hospitable people, they took a south-easterly course towards a desert country, where they had great difficulty in crossing the rivers; and, after a thirty-five days' march, the little caravan reached Tartary in the kingdom of Khotan, which contained, according to Fa-Hian, "Many times ten thousand holy men." Here they met with a cordial welcome, and after a residence of three months were allowed to assist at the "Procession of the Images," a great feast, in which both Brahmins and Buddhists join, when all the idols are placed upon magnificently decorated cars, and paraded through streets strewn with flowers, amid clouds of incense.
The feast over, the monks left Khotan for Koukonyar, and after resting there fifteen days, we find them further south in the Balistan country of the present day, a cold and mountainous district, where wheat was the only grain cultivated, and where Fa-Hian found in use the curious cylinders on which prayers are written, and which are turned by the faithful with the most extraordinary rapidity. Thence they went to the eastern part of Afghanistan; it took them four weeks to cross the mountains, in the midst of which, and the never-melting snow they are said to have found venomous dragons.
On the further side of this rocky chain the travellers found themselves in Northern India, where the country is watered by the streams which, further on, form the Sinde or Indus. After traversing the kingdoms of On-tchang, Su-ho-to, and Kian-tho-wei, they arrived at Fo-loo-cha, which must be the town of Peshawur, standing between Cabul and the Indus, and twenty-four leagues farther west, they came to the town of Hilo, built on the banks of a tributary of the river Kabout. In these towns Fa-Hian specially notices the feasts and religious ceremonies practised in the worship of Fo or Buddha.
When the monks left Kito, they were obliged to cross the Hindoo-Koosh mountains, lying between Turkestan and the Gandhara, the cold being so intense that one of their party sank under it. After enduring great hardships they reached Banoo, a town that is still standing, and then, after again crossing the Indus, they entered the Punjaub. Thence, descending towards the south-east, with a view of crossing the northern part of the Indian Peninsula, they reached Mathura, a town in the province of Agra, and crossing the great salt desert which lies to the east of the Indus, travelled through a country that Fa-Hian calls "a happy kingdom, where the inhabitants are good and honest, needing neither laws nor magistrates, and indebted to none for their support; without markets or wine merchants, and living happily, with plenty of all that they required, where the temperature was neither hot nor cold." This happy kingdom was India. Fa-Hian followed a south-easterly route, and came to Feroukh-abad, where Buddha is said to have alighted as he came down from heaven, the Chinese traveller dwelling much upon the Buddhist Creed. Thence he visited the town of Kanoji, standing on the right bank of the Ganges, that he calls Heng, and this is the very centre of Buddhism. Wherever Buddha is supposed to have rested, his followers have erected high towers in his honour. The travellers visited the temple of Tchihouan, where for twenty-five years Fo practised the most severe mortifications, and where he is said to have given sight to five hundred blind men. They are said to have been much moved by the sight of this temple.
They set out again, passing Kapila and Goruckpoor, on the frontier of Nepaul, all made famous by Fo's miracles, and then reached the celebrated town of Palian-foo, in the delta of the Ganges, in the kingdom of Magadha. This was a fertile tract of country inhabited by a civilized, upright people, who loved all philosophic researches. After climbing the peak of Vautour, which stands at the source of the Dyardanes and Banourah rivers, Fa-Hian descended the Ganges, visited the temple of Issi-paten that was frequented by magicians and astrologers, reached Benares, "the kingdom of splendours," and a little lower down, the town of Tomo-li-ti, situated at the mouth of the river, a short distance from the site of Calcutta in the present day.
Fa-Hian found a party of merchants just preparing to put to sea with the intention of going to Ceylon; he sailed with them, and in fourteen days landed on the shores of the ancient Taprobana, of which the Greek merchant, Jamboulos, had given a curious account some centuries previously. Here the Chinese monk found all the traditions and legends regarding the god Fo, and passed two years in searching ancient manuscripts. He left Ceylon for Java, where he landed after a very rough voyage, in the course of which, when the sky was overclouded, he says, "we saw nothing but great waves dashing one against another, lightning, crocodiles, tortoises, and monsters of the deep."
He spent five months in Java, and then set sail for Canton; but the winds were again unfavourable, and after undergoing great hardships he landed at the town of Chantoung of the present day; then having spent some time at Nankin he returned to Fi-an-foo, his native town, after an absence of eighteen months. Such is the account of Fa-Hian's travels, which have been well translated by M. Abel de Rémusat, and which give very interesting details of Indian and Tartar customs, especially those relating to their religious ceremonies.
The next traveller to the Chinese monk, in chronological order, is an Egyptian called Cosmos Indicopleustes, a name that M. Charton renders as "Cosmographic traveller in India." He lived in the sixth century, and was a merchant of Alexandria, who, on his return from visiting Ethiopia and part of Asia, entered a monastery.
His narrative is called the "Christian Topography of the Universe." It gives no details of its author's voyages, but begins with cosmographic discussions, to prove that the world is square, and enclosed in a great oblong coffer with all the other planets. This is followed by some dissertations on the function of the angels, and a description of the dress of the Jewish Priests. Cosmos also gives the natural history of the animals of India and Ceylon, and notices the rhinoceros and buffalo, which can be made of use for domestic purposes, the giraffe, the wild ox, the musk that is hunted for its "perfumed blood," the unicorn, which he considers a real animal and not a myth, the wild boar, the hippopotamus, the phoca, the dolphin, and the tortoise. Afterwards, Cosmos describes the pepper-plant, as a frail and delicate shrub, like the smallest tendrils of the vine, and the cocoa-tree, whose fruit has a fragrance "equal to that of a nut."
From the earliest times of the Christian era there has been a great love for visiting the Holy Land, the cradle of the new religion. These pilgrimages became more and more frequent, and we have many names left to us of those who visited Palestine during the first centuries of Christianity.
One of these pilgrims, the French Bishop Arculphe, who lived towards the end of the seventh century, has left us an account of his travels.
He sets out by giving a topographical description of the site of Jerusalem, and describes the wall that surrounds the holy city, then the circular church built over the Holy Sepulchre, the tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the stone that closed it, the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the church built upon Calvary, and the basilica of Constantine on the site of the place where the real cross was found. These various churches are united in one building, which also encloses the Tomb of Christ, and Calvary, where our Lord was crucified.
Arculphe then descended into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which is situated to the east of the city, and contains the church that covers the tomb of the Virgin; he also saw that of Absalom, which he calls the Tower of Jehoshaphat. He describes the Mount of Olives that faces the city beyond the valley, and he prayed in the cave where Jesus prayed. He also went to Mount Zion, which stands outside the town on the south side; he notices the gigantic fig-tree, on which, according to tradition, Judas Iscariot hanged himself, and he visited the church of the guest-chamber, now destroyed.
After making the tour of the city by the Valley of Siloam, and ascending by the brook Cedron, the bishop returned to the Mount of Olives, which was covered with waving wheat and barley, grass and wild flowers, and he describes the place where Christ ascended from the summit of the mountain. On this spot a large church has been built, with three arched porticoes that are not roofed over or covered in any way, but are open to the sky. "They have not roofed in this church," says the bishop, "because it was the place whence our Saviour ascended upon a cloud, and the space open to heaven allows the prayers of the faithful to ascend thither. For when they paved this church they could not lay the pavement over the place where our Lord's feet had rested, as, when the stones were laid upon that spot, the earth, as though impatient of anything not divine resting upon it, threw them up again before the workmen. Beyond this, the dust bears the impress of the divine feet, and though, day by day, the faithful who visit the spot efface the marks, they immediately reappear and may be seen perpetually."
After having explored the neighbourhood of Bethany in the midst of the grove of olives, where the grave of Lazarus is said to be, and where the church, standing on the right hand is supposed to mark the spot where our Lord usually conversed with His disciples, Arculphe went to Bethlehem, which is a short distance from the holy city. He describes the birthplace of our Lord, a natural cave, hollowed out of the rock at the eastern end of the village, the church, built by St. Helena, the tombs of the three shepherds, upon whom the heavenly light shone at the birth of our Saviour, the burial-places of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that of Rachel, and he visited the oak of Mamre, under which Abraham received the visit of the angels. Thence, Arculphe went to Jericho, or rather the place where the town once stood, whose walls fell at the sound of Joshua's trumpets. He explored the place where the children of Israel first rested in the land of Canaan after crossing the river Jordan, and he speaks of the church of Galgala, where the twelve stones are placed, which the children of Israel took from the river when they entered the promised land. He followed the course of the Jordan, and found near one of the bends of the river on the right bank, and among the most beautiful scenery, about an hour's walk from the Dead Sea, the place where our Lord was baptized by St. John the Baptist. A cross is placed to mark the spot, but when the river is swollen, it is covered by the water.
After examining the banks of the Dead Sea and tasting its brackish water, he viewed the source of the Jordan, at the foot of Libanus, and explored the greater part of the Lake of Tiberias, visiting the well where the woman of Samaria gave our Lord the water He so much needed, seeing the fountain in the desert of which St. John the Baptist drank, and the great plain of Gaza, where our Lord blessed the five loaves and two fishes, and fed the multitude. Next he went down to Capernaum, of which there are now no remains; then visited Nazareth, where our Lord spent His childhood, and ended his journey at Mount Tabor in Galilee.
The bishop's narrative contains both geographical and historical accounts of other places, beyond those immediately connected with our Lord's life on earth. He visited the royal city of Damascus, which is watered by four large rivers. Also Tyre, the chief town of Phoenicia, which, though once separated from the mainland, was joined to it again by the jetty or pier made by the orders of Nabuchodonosor. He speaks of Alexandria, once the capital of Egypt, which he reached forty days after leaving Jaffa, and lastly, of Constantinople, where he often visited the large church in which "the wood of the cross is preserved, upon which the Saviour suffered for the salvation of the human race."
The account of this journey was written by the Abbé de St. Columban at the dictation of the bishop, and not many years afterwards the same journey was undertaken by an English pilgrim, and accomplished in much the same way. The name of this pilgrim was Willibald, a member of a rich family living at Southampton, who, on his recovery from a long illness, dedicated him to God's service. All his early life was spent in holy exercises in the monastery of Woltheim; when he was grown up he had the most intense wish to see St. Peter's at Rome, and was so set upon this, that it induced his father, brother, and young sister to wish to go there also; they embarked at Southampton in the spring of 721, and making their way up the Seine, they landed at Rouen. We have but few details of the journey to Rome, but Willibald mentions that after passing through Cortona and Lucca, at which latter place his father sank under the fatigue of the journey and died, he reached Rome in safety with his brother and sister, and passed the winter there, but they were all in turn attacked with fever. When Willibald regained his health, he determined to continue his journey to the Holy Land. He sent his brother and sister back to England, while he joined some monks who were going in the same direction as himself. They went by Terracina and Gaeta to Naples, and set sail for Reggio in Calabria, and Catania and Syracuse in Sicily, whence they again embarked, and, after touching at Cos and Samos, landed at Ephesus in Asia Minor, where they visited the tombs of St. John the Evangelist, of Mary Magdalene, and of the seven sleepers of Ephesus, that is, seven Christians martyred in the time of the Emperor Decius.
They made some stay at Patara and at Mitylene, and then went to Cyprus and Paphos; we next find the party, seven in number, at Edessa, visiting the tomb of St. Thomas the Apostle. Here they were arrested as spies, and thrown into prison by the Saracens, but the king, on the petition of a Spaniard, set them at liberty. As soon as they were set free they left the town in great haste, and from that time their route is almost the same as that of the Bishop Arculphe; they visited Damascus, Nazareth, Cana, where they saw a wonderful amphora on Mount Tabor, where our Lord was transfigured, and the Lake of Tiberias, where St. Peter walked upon the water; Magdala, where Lazarus and his sister dwelt; Capernaum, where our Lord raised to life the son of the nobleman; Bethsaida in Galilee, the native place of St. Peter and St. Andrew; Chorazin, where our Lord cured those possessed with devils; Cæsarea, and the spot where our Lord was baptized, as well as Jericho and Jerusalem.
They also went to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, the Mount of Olives, and to Bethlehem, the scene of the murder of the Innocents by Herod, and Gaza. While they were at Gaza, Willibald tells us that he suddenly became blind, while he was in the church of St. Matthias, and only recovered his sight two months afterwards, as he entered the church of the Holy Cross at Jerusalem. He went through the valley of Diospolis or Lydda, ten miles from Jerusalem, and then went to Tyre and Sidon, and thence, by Libanus, Damascus, Cæsarea, and Emmaus, back to Jerusalem, where the travellers spent the winter.
This was not to be the limit of their exploration, for we hear of them at Ptolemais, Emesa, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Samaria, where St. John the Baptist is said to have been buried, and at Tyre, where it must be confessed that Willibald defrauded the revenue of that time by smuggling some balsam that was very celebrated, and on which a duty was levied. On quitting Tyre they went to Constantinople and lived there for two years before returning by Sicily, Calabria, Naples, and Capua. The English pilgrim reached the monastery of Monte Cassino, just ten years after his first setting out on his travels; but his time of rest had not yet come, as he was appointed to a bishopric in Franconia by Pope Gregory III. He was forty-one years of age when he was made bishop, and he lived forty years afterwards. In 938 he was canonized by Leo VII.
We will conclude the list of celebrated travellers living between the first and ninth centuries, by giving a short account of Soleyman, a merchant of Bassorah, who, starting from the Persian Gulf, arrived eventually on the shores of China. This narrative is in two distinct parts, one written in 851, by Soleyman himself, who was the traveller, and the other in 878 by a geographer named Abou-Zeyd Hassan with the view of completing the first. Renaud, the orientalist, is of opinion that this narrative "has thrown quite a new light on the commercial transactions that existed in the ninth century between Egypt, Arabia, and the countries bordering on the Persian Gulf on one side, and the vast provinces of India and China on the other."
Soleyman, as we have said, started from the Persian Gulf after having taken in a good supply of fresh water at Muscat, and visited first, the second sea, or that of Oman. He noticed a fish of enormous size, probably a spermaceti whale, which the seamen endeavoured to frighten away by ringing a bell, then a shark, in whose stomach they found a smaller shark, enclosing in its turn one still smaller, "both alive," says the traveller, which is manifestly an exaggeration; then, after describing the remora, the dactyloptera, and the porpoise, he speaks of the sea near the Maldive Islands in which he counted an enormous number of islands, among them he mentions Ceylon by its Arabian name, with its pearl fisheries; Sumatra, inhabited by cannibals, and rich in gold-mines; Nicobar, and the Andaman Islands, where cannibalism still exists even at the present day. "This sea," he says, "is subject to fearful water-spouts which wreck the ships, and throw on its shores an immense number of dead fish and sometimes even large stones. When these tempests are at their height the sea seethes and boils." Soleyman imagined it to be infested by a sort of monster who preyed upon human beings; this is thought to have been a kind of dog-fish.
Arrived at Nicobar, Soleyman traded with the inhabitants, bartering some iron for cocoa-nuts, sugar-cane, bananas, &c.; he then crossed the sea, and seems to have made for Singapore, and northwards by the Gulf of Siam. Soleyman put into a harbour, near Cape Varella, to revictual his ships, and thence he went by the China Sea to Jehan-fou the port of the present town of Tche-kiang. The remainder of the account of Soleyman's travels, written by Abou-Zeyd Hassan, contains a detailed account of the manners and customs of the Indians and Chinese; but it is not the traveller himself who is speaking, and we shall find the same subjects spoken of in a more interesting manner by later authors.
We must add, in reviewing the discoveries made by travellers sixteen centuries before, and nine centuries after, the Christian era, that from Norway to the extreme boundaries of China, taking a line through the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Sea of China, the immense extent of coast bordering these seas had been in a great measure visited. Some explorations had been attempted in the interior of these countries; for instance, in Egypt as far as Ethiopia, in Asia Minor to the Caucasus, in India and China; and if these old travellers may not have quite understood mathematical precision, as to some of the points they visited, at all events the manners and customs of the inhabitants, the productions of the different countries, the mode of trading with them, and their religious customs, were quite sufficiently understood. Ships could sail with more safety when the change of winds was no longer a subject of mere speculation, the caravans could take a more direct route in the interior of the countries, and the great increase of trade which took place in the middle ages is surely owing to the facilities afforded by the writings of travellers.
In the course of the tenth, and at the beginning of the eleventh century, a considerable amount of ardour for exploration had arisen in Northern Europe. Some Norwegians and adventurous Gauls had penetrated to the Northern seas, and, if we may trust to some accounts, they had gone as far as the White Sea and visited the country of the Samoyedes. Some documents say that Prince Madoc may have explored the American continent.
At all events we may be tolerably certain that Iceland was discovered aboutA.D.861 by some Scandinavian adventurers, and that it was soon after colonized by Normans. About this same time a Norwegian had taken refuge on a newly discovered land, and surprised by its verdure he gave it the name of Greenland.
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