William Shepherd.

Systematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) online

. (page 26 of 44)
Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 44)
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Europe for so many centuries, began to disperse, and science
and commerce to assume their proper rank among the affairs
of men, geographical improvements attained an extension, and
a degree of correctness unknown to former ages. The dis-
covery of the properties of the loadstone, and of its applica-
tion, in the Mariner's Compass, to directing ships across the
ocean, gave an astonishing facility to geography, and led to
the most important results in every part of the globS, This
discovery was announced about the year 1302, and in 1360,
Nicholas Lynn, a friar and astronomer of Oxford, undertook
a voyage to the northern islands of Europe, in order to
prove the virtues of the magnet in the northern ocean. The
Portuguese were also among the maritime adventurers of this
period, and their discoveries towards the east began early in
the 15th century. TIjc island of Madeira was visited by
them in 1419, and its fertility, and the salubrity of its climate,
soon caused it to be colonized. Cape Bajador, on the western
coast of Africa, was first passed by them in 1433 : St. Mary,
one of the x\zores, having been visited hi the preceding
year. Cape de Verde and the islands opposite to it were
known and explored in the year 1446, and farther discoveries
were . likewise made in the Azores about the same time. It
was not till the year 147 1 that the equator was crossed, and
it was at or near this period that Bartholemew Diaz was sent
for the purpose of making discoveries towards the south-east,
when he descried the grand southern promontoi7 of Africa ;
but the season was so tempestuous that he was prevented from
passing it ; and hence for a time it was denominated Cabo
Tormentosa, or Cape of Tempests ; but it afterwards ob-
tained the appellation of the Cape of Good Hope.

While the Portuguese were thus pursuing their way to
glory and wealth in the east, Spain was influenced by the
vast projects of Cliristophcr Columbus. He imagined tliat


the eastern limits of India could not be very distant from the
western shores of Spain, an error which probably induced
him to undertake the enterprize that led to the discovery of
the American continent. For a considerable time his plans
were treated with contempt by the sovereigns to whom he
proposed them. At length he obtained a patron in Isabella
of Spain, and with three small and ill equipped vessels set
sail for India, as he hoped ; but alter enduring many evils,
necessarily attendant upon such an attempt, he arrived at a
new world instead of the distant shores of the old one. He
sailed from Spain on the 3d of August, 1492, and on the
12th of the following October, fell in with an American
island, which he named San Salvador. Encouraged by this
success, he persuaded the court of Spain to allow him to
make three other voyages, in the course of which he discovered
the continent, and many other islands; and in the year 149^,
he fouiided a town at St. Domingo, which was the first
European settlement in the western world. It obtained the
name of America from Amerigo Vespucci, who published an
account of the discoveries made by Columbus.

We must not omit to observe that some modern writers
have claimed the honour of this most important discovery for
a German, Martin Behem, or Boehm, a native of Nuremberg
in Franconia. This person had, in early life, studied under
the illustrious Regiomontanus, and in 1459-60, he established a
colony at Fagal, one of the Azores, where he resided till J 484,
when, by the patronage of John II. of Portugal, he under-
took a voyage to the south-west, and discovered that part of
America that is now called Brazil, and sailed through the
{Straits of Magellan. This was eight years before the first voyage
of Columbus. The advocates for the fame of Behem main-?-
tain that Columbus would not have thought of his expedition,
had he not obtained some information on the subject from
their hero, while in the island of Madeira. It may, how-
ever, be remarked, that Dr. Robertson, whose character as an


historian deserves the highest respect, treats the history of
Behem as a fiction, and as such we should not have introduced
it iii our work, had not his claims been lately revived by M.
Otto in the Transactions of the American Society established
at Philadelphia. In point of fact, to the student of geography,
it is but of little moment to whom the honour of discovering
the continent of America is due; he is concerned only with
the fact of its existence, which he applies to the extensions of
his geographical knowledge ; and it will, to him, be matter,
hereafter, of curious research to examine the claims of dis-
coverers, or pretended discoverers, not only on this, but other

The success obtained in the western hemisphere, acted as
a fresh stimulus to the same spirit in the east ; another ex-
pedition sailed from Portugal, under the command of Vasco
de Gama, who was more successful than Diaz had been, and
passed the Cape of Good Hope in November, 1497. At
first he employed himself in exploring the eastern shores ,

of Africa, as far as Zanguebar, when he launched courage- |

ously to the East, and arrived in 149B at Calicut on the coast
of Malabar. Men of genius and talents applied the powers
of their mind to the improvement of geography, by other
means, than that of practical navigation ; in the retirement of
the closet, they devised methods of aiding those who were
capable of bringing their theories to the test of experiment.

Duration and space, however different in nature, it was
soon found, might be applied, in an astronomical or geogra-
phical sense, to the measure of each other, with great precision.
For as one hour in time, corresponds to 15 degrees of lon-
gitude on the earth, or in other words, as a space on the
earth, equal to 15 degrees, requires one hour to pass by a
given point, longitude may be expressed by time, or space^
with equal accuracy and clearness : thus we may say, a
place is 15 or 30 degrees east or west longitude from London,
or that it is one hour or two hours earlier or later time than


that city; and we know on what meridian to look for it,
hence it was inferred, that accurate and well going time-pieces
would afford a method of ascertaining longitude.

Notwithstanding the vast additions that had been made to
the previous stock of geographical knowledge, by the dis-
coveries in both hemispheres, it is not certain that little more
than a third of the earth's surface was as yet known. Although
more than half the globe, from east to west, had been
traversed, the northern and southern parts were still unexplored.
The limits of Asia on the east, and of America on the west ;
and whether the two continents were joined, and thus, in fact
formed only one, or whether they were separate were matters
of mere conjecture; even the spherical figure of the earth
rested almost entirely upon reasoning and theory, which, how-
ever, was confirmed pretty strongly by the curved line formed
by the shadow on the sun and moon in solar and lunar
eclipses. By many theorists at this period, and for three cen-
turies after, it was believed there must be a southern continent
somewhere as a balance to those chiefly in the northern hemis-
phere. Accordingly the hopes of interest and honour impelled
individuals and nations, to fit out expeditions for the purpose
of still further discovery. Hence arose the circumnavigation
of the globe, which constitutes a memorable epocha in the
history of geography, and by which the globular form of the
earth was experimentally proved ; and at length the idea of
another continent has been completely banished from the

Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese, was the first who
bravely undertook the circumnavigation of the globe. He
sailed from Seville, a port in Spain, on the 10th of August,
1519; and, on the 6th of November following, entered the
strait which has ever since gone by the name, though the ad-
vocates for Behem give the honour to him. This strait,
which is near the southern extremity of America, he navigated,
and after a tedious voyage, found himself in the South-Sea.
He then directed his course towards the north west, on that


hitherto unknown ocean called from its tranquillity, the Pacific,
for four months, without meeting with any thing of importance.
He still proceeded on his voyage, and in March, 1521, dis-
covered the Ladrojie islands, from thence he went to others,
probably the Philippines, on one of which he was unfortu-
nately killed in a skirmish with the natives. After this, the
ship, entrusted to the care of Jean Sebastian del Cano,
passed by Borneo to the ^Moluccas, which had been visited
before by the Portuguese. From these it proceeded to, and
passed the Siimatran group of islands and the Cape of Good
Hope, and returned to Seville, the port from whence it started,
in September, 1522, after a voyage of three years and a

We shall set down in this note a brief account of the other most re-
markable voyages that have been made round the globe, in a chronological
order, beginning with our conntryman,

Sir Francis Drake, a native of Tavistock, in Devonshire, who sailed
from Plymouth on the 13th of December, 1577, fell in with the coast of
Barbary on tije 25lli, and with Cape de Verde on tlie 29th ; on the 13th of
March, he passed the equinoctial ; on the 5th of April, he made the coast
of Brazil, at the 30th degree of South Latitude, and entered the river La
Plata ; on the 29th of May he entered the port of St. Juliens, and on the
20th of August, be entered the straits of Magellan, and passed through
them on the 25th of September. On the 25th of November, he came to
Macao, in the latitude of 30 degrees ; thence he coasted along Chili and
Pern, to the heii^ht of 48'' N. Lat. here he landed and railed the country
Ifew Albion, taking possession of it for Queen Elizabeth ; from thence he
sailed to tlie Moluccas, which he reached early in November: he next
proceeded to the Celibes,'1kird then to Java, from which island he came to
the Cape of Good Hope on the 15th of June; and on the 12th of July, he
passed the line, reached the coast of Guinea on the 16th. On the 11th of
September, he made the island of Tercera, and entered the harbour of
Plymouth. See Stockdale's edition of Campbell's Admirals, Vol. I.

Sir Thumas Cavendish sailed from Plymouth, having two small ships,
trader his command ; on the 1st of August, 1536, he passed through the
struts of Magellan, took many rich prizes along the coasts of Chili and
Pern, and completely circumnavigated the globe, returning by the Cape of
Good Hope on the 9th of September, 1588, having been ont little more
than two years and a monili.

Simon Cordes and James Mahu, Dntcbmen, sailed ronnd the globe ; the
former finishing his voyage in 158,at the time the latter set out. Pre-


Most of the American islands had heeu discovered, and the
western and eastern shores of the continent explored, by Co-
lumbus, Cortes, the two Cabots, and others, in the latter end
of the preceding century ; but the Bermudas or Sommer's

viously to these, a native of Utrecht, viz. Oliver De Noort, had sailed
round the earth in little more than three years.

George Spillenberger, a Fleming, set sail from the Texel the 6tb of
*Angust, 1614, and having circumnavigated the globe, landed in Zealand the
first of June, 1616. Le Maire and William Schouter, to whom we have re-
ferred in the text, made a successful voyage round the earth in two years
and eighteen days, having left the Texel on the 14th of June, i 615, and re-
turned to the same place on the 1st of July, 1617. James, the Hermit,
sailed round the globe, during the years i6'23, 4, 5, and 6.

Our countryman, Lord Anson, set sail in Sept. 1740, doubled Cape Horn,
crossed the great Pacific Ocean, and returned by the Cape of Good Hope,
in 1744. Commodore Byron sailed from the Downs, on the 2l3t of June,
1764, to make discoveries in the South Seas : he passed through the straits
of Magellan, crossed the South Sea, and returned on the 9tU of May, 1766 j
he first discovered and conversed with the Patagonians, a gigantic race of
men in South America. In his course, he met with, and explored to a
certain extant, Disappointment island, King George's island. Prince of
Wales's island, Duke of York's island, and Byron's island. Captain Wallis
made a like voyage in twenty-one months ; but Captain Carteret, who set
out with him, was uufortrtnately separated from his friend by adverse weather,
and did not reachhome till March, 1769. Wallis was the first who fell in with
Whitsun island. Queen Ciiarlotte's island, Egmont island, Glocester island,
Prince William Henry's island, and Osnaburgh island. He also discovered
Otabeite, Howe island, and many others. Carteret added Sandwich island,
the Admiralty islands and Stephens island, to the stock of former discoveries.

Bougainville, a Frenchman, set sail from Nantz in November, 1766, and
returned by the Cape of Good Hope to tha port of St. Maloes in March,
1769. He discovered the Great Cyclades and the New Hebrides of

'< The immortal Cook, to whom geography, and every science connected
with it, is so much indebted, sailed in the ship Endeavour, from Plymouth,
August 26th, 1763, and after a most satisfactory voyage, returned on the 12th
of June, 1771. We have not room to enumerate the great discoveries made
in this and his two other voyages. After having circumnavigated the globe,
and explored the utmost navigable limits of the ocean, he was cut off by the
savage natives of Owhyhee, oue of the Sandwich islands, Jan. 14, 1779.

M. J, F. G. de la Perouse went, in 1785, on a voyage of discovery, by
order of Louis XVI, of France : he bent his course to the north-western
coasts of America, which he explored from nearly 60 North Latitude to


island was not known till John Bermudas, a Spanish captadn,
arrived atit, in 1527. In 1528, Papua, or New Guinea^ was
discovered by a Spaniard, whom Cortes had sent from Ame-
rica, to explore the Spice islands. The hope of finding a
shorter course to the East Indies has occasioned the most pe-
rilous voyages to be undertaken. In 1553, Sir Hugh Wil-
loughby sailed from England to the nortli-east of Europe, in
search of this passage. He entered the White Sea, and
opened a commercial intercourse with Russia and Archangel,
but being prevented from prosecuting his voyage by the ice, he
attempted to winter in Lapland, where both he and most of
those who were with him, perished by the intensity of the
frost. Solomon's island was discovered by a Spanish captain,
Mendana, who sailed from Lima towards the west, in the
year 1575.

Martin Frobisher, who sailed from England in 1578, with
the view of obtaining a north-west passage to China, fell in
with West Greenland. To the same cause, we are indebted
for the knowledge of Davis' straits, Hudson's Bay, and Baf-
fin's-bay, which were discovered by captains whose names they
bear, in the years 1585, l6lO, and 1662. The Falkland islands,
* at the southern extremity of America, were discovered by
Sir Richard Hawkins, in 1594. In crossing the Pacific ocean,
Mendana de Neyra, a Spanish captain, fell in with the Mar-
quesas, Santa Cruz, and St. Bernardo. In l6l0, Le Maire
and Schouten sailed fromj the Texel, in search of the ideal

Montery-Bay in California, in about 37 N. L. From California Le pro-
ceeded to Macao, in China, to Manilla, and thence, throngh the si>a of
Japan, and alung the north-eastern coast of Tartary, and the islands in the
sea of Jcsso, to the harbour of St. Peter and St. Paul, in Kanitschatka. Of
these and other places he remitted at different times accounts to his goveni-
ment After this, the commander, his two ships, the Boiissole and the As-
trolabe, and all their crews, were unfortunately lost, but how or where has
never been discovered.

Captain George Vancouver's voyage of discovery to the North Pacific
Ocean, and round the ^lobe, was undertaken and performed in the years
1790, 1, 2, S, 4, and 5, in the Discovery, a sloop of war.


southern continent^ and explored the strait, since called
Maire's strait, between the southern coast of Terra del Fuego
and Staten island ; and after the death of Maire, which hap-
pened very soon after they had passed the strait, his friend and
companion, Schouten, made many other discoveries, and return-
ed to Holland in l6l7. Batavia, New Holland, and the
Southern part of Van Diemen's Land, were discovered in
the year l6l6, by Dutch navigators. In 1642, the cele-
brated Abel Jansen Tasman, a Dutchman, sailed from Bata-
via, and during an absence of a year and ten months, he dis-
covered among other islands. New Zealand, and the Friendly
isles, and demonstrated that New Holland and New Zea-
land to be insular. The Carolines were first found out by the
Spaniards ; and New Britain and New Ireland, by our country-
man, Dampier.

Easter-island, and several others of less note in the Pacific
ocean, were discovered by Roggewin, a Dutch navigator, in
his course round the globe, in 1722.

The Pelew islands first excited the attention of the English
by the shipwreck of Captain Wilson on the coast, in 1783;
but they had been discovered long before by the Spaniards, by
whom they had been denominated the Pales islands, from the
abundance of tall palm-trees.





Lines and Circles on the globe Zones Longitude and Latitude Divi*

sious of tlie Globe Division of land of water. Europe Asia Africa

America Australasia Polynesia.

In studying geography, the pupil should have before him an
artificial globe, or good maps. On these he will observe
several lines and circles, of which the principal are as follow.

The Equator, which divides the earth equally into two
parts, north and south. This line is likewise called the
Equinoctial, because on the two days in each year, viz. in
March and September, on which the sun is in the Equator, the
length of tlie day and night is equal in all parts of the world.

The Ecliptic is thoxircle in the heavens, in which the sun
appears to move, and it is marked on the terrestrial globe, and
on maps, for the convenience of working problems.

The tropics are two lines drawn parallel to the equator, at
the points where the Ecliptic is at the greatest distance, north
and south, from the Equator, that is, at 23^ from that circle.

They derive their name from a Greek word, signifying to
turn, because when the sun by its apparent motion, has as
cended thus high in the heavens, he appears to turn back and
to descend. It must be observed, that the ascent and descent
refer to his meridian height, that is, to the height every day at


twelve at noon. The sun is in the tropics on the 2 1st of Jutie
and the 22nd of December : on the former, he attains to his
greatest meridian height ; and will be found, if his progress be
vvatclied at intervals of two or three weeks, at the same hour
in the day, to be lower and lower in the heavens, till the 21st
of December, when it will again ascend.

The Polar circles are drawn at the distance of 23'i from
the poles.

Besides these circles, the surface of the earth has, by Geo-
graphers, been divided into five spaces, called zones, contained
between the circles which we have described. Thus between
the poles and polar circles, are the two frigid zones : between
these and the tropics, are two temperate zones ; and the space
included between the two tropics is called the torrid zone.
These all derive their names from the temperature experi-
enced in them. Formerly it was believed, that the temperate
zones were the only inhabitable parts of the globe ; but the
contrary has been long ascertained. Large nations, for in-
stance, are found to exist in the torrid zone, in the continents
of Africa, Asia, and America, independently of those who in-
habit the almost innumerable islands in the Indian, Pacific,
and Atlantic oceans, that are included in the torrid zone.
Some parts of the north frigid zone, are likewise- known to
be inhabited, as Spitzbergen, Greenland, &c.

Longitude and Latitude are terms perpetually occurring in
the science of Geography, and should be well understood.
Longitude is the distance of any place from a given spot, ge-
nerally the capital of the country, measured east or west from
that capital, thus we say Lisbon 9^ 4' W. L. that is, nine de-
grees, four minutes west of London, and Pekin, in China, is
116 22' east of London. Bu^ Paris being 2 25' east of
London, the Geographers of that city would say, the longi-
tude of Lisbon was 11 29" vvest, and that of Pekin, 113 57'
cast J and so of any other places.

Latitude is the distance north or south from the Equator :
thus London is 51 31' north latitude, and the island of


St. Helena is 15' 15' south latitude; The line from which
the latitude of places is measured being invariable, geographers
of all nations refer to the same place, when speaking of any
given degree of latitude, but the degrees of longitude will vary
according to the place fixed on, as a boundary from which tlie
measures commence.

Tlie terms Longitude and Latitude are of ancient origin,
meaning length and breadth ; the former was probably so de-
nominated and applied to the direction east and west, because
more of the earth was known from the Straits of Gibraltar,
to the Euphrates or Indus, than from the coast of Barbary to
the Baltic sea, that is, from the south to the north. Even
now the term length is usually applied to the greater, and
breadth to the smaller dimension of a body or space. The
ancients measured their longitude from Ferro, one of the
Canary islands, west of the coast of Africa, and which is 1 8 6'
west longitude of London. This meridian, or circle of longi-
tude, is even now referred to in some works of science, as that
from which the degrees are reckoned.

The map of the world, whether in piano or on a globe, is
divided into two hemispheres, the one, or eastern hemisphere,
contains the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa, called
also the .Old World, as having been partially known to the
ancients : the other, or western hemisphere, contains the two
continents of North and South America, denominated the
New World, having been discovered by Columbus, about the
year 1493.

Till within a very few years, it has been customary to deno-
minate Europe, Asia, Africa, and the two Americas as the
four quarters of the world. This division was not more ab-
surd than disproportionate, tlie relative extent of these quarters
as they have been called, bemg nearly as the numbers 1 , 4, 5,
and 7 : that is, Asia is about four times larger than Europe,
Africa five times, and America seven times.

Modem geographers, among whom is Mr. Pinkerton, in-
clude the land of our globe under six great divisions, viz. Eu-


rope, Asia, Africa, and America, with the two recent deno-
minations of Australasia and Polynesia : of the latter terms,
the first is applied to New Holland and the adjacent isles ;
the second includes the numerous islands situated in the Paci-
fic ocean, between Australasia and America.

The waters of the ocean occupy at least two thirds of the
earth's surface. The depth of the ocean, is in many parts too
great to be ascertained by any means that have been devised
for the purpose, but the mean depth of the whole has been
calculated at about 220 fathoms. The facts, however, on
which this estimate has been made, are not sufficiently nume-
rous to justify us in speaking upon the subject with any de-
gree of certainty. Various ingenious hypotheses have been
invented, to account for the saltness of the ocean, but the true
theory is probably still enveloped in darkness. The greatest
degree of saltness is in the waters between the tropics, and it
gradually diminishes towards the poles.

The ocean is divided by geographers into various parts,
which are limited by real or imaginary boundaries. Of these,
the largest is (1.) the Pacific ocean, sometimes called the
Great South Sea, which is situated between the eastern coasts
of Asia, and the western borders of America. It contains a
vast multitude of islands, which appear like the summits of
immense mountains emerging from the deep : this ocean is
divided by the Equator, into the North and South Pacific : and
(2.) the Atlantic ocean, which separates Europe and Africa
from America, and it derives its name from the mountains of

Online LibraryWilliam ShepherdSystematic education: or Elementary instruction in the various departments of literature and science; with practical rules for studying each branch of useful knowledge (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 44)