AWFUL RESULTS OF PATRISTIC ETHNOLOGY. 447.
of science, he committed the same mistake. In a few years it was discovered that the line of no variation was slowly moving to the east. It coincided with the meridian of London in 1662. The obstacles that Patristic Geography had thrown in the way of maritime adventure were thus finally removed, but Patristic Ethnology led to a fearful tragedy. With a critical innocence that seems to have overlooked physical impossibilities and social difficulties, it had been the practice to refer the peopling of nations to legendary heroes or to the patriarchs of Scripture. The French were descended from Francus, the son of Hector; the Britons from Brutus, the son of AEneas; the genealogy of the Saxon kings could be given up to Adam; but it may excite our mirthful surprise that the conscientious Spanish chronicles could rise no higher than to Tubal, the grandson of Noah. The divisions of the Old World, Asia, Africa, and Europe, were assigned to the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and the parentage of those continents was given to those patriarchs respectively. In this manner all mankind were brought into a family relationship, all equally the descendants of Adam, equally participators in his sin and fall. As long as it was supposed that the lands of Columbus were a part of Asia there was no difficulty; but when the true position and relations of the American continent were discovered, that it was separated from Asia by an impassable waste of waters of many thousand miles, how did the matter stand with the new-comers that the thus suddenly obtruded on the scene? The voice of the fathers was altogether against the possibility of their Adamic descent. St. Augustine had denied the globular form and the existence of Antipodes; for it was impossible that there should be people on what was thus vainly asserted to be the other side of the earth, since none such are mentioned in the Scriptures. The lust of gold was only too ready to find its justification in the obvious conclusion; and the Spaniards, with an appalling atrocity, proceeded to act toward these unfortunates as though they did not belong to the human race. Already their lands and goods had been taken from them by apostolic authority. Their persons were next seized, under the text that the heathen are given as an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession. It was one unspeakable outrage, one unutterable ruin, without discrimination of age or sex. They who died not under the lash in a tropical sun died in the darkness of the mine. From sequestered sand-banks, where the red flamingo fishes in the gray of the morning; from fever-stricken mangrove thickets, and the gloom of impenetrable forests; from hiding-places in the clefts of rocks, and the solitude of invisible caves; from the eternal snows of the Andes, where there was no witness but the all-seeing sun, there went up to God a cry of human despair. By millions upon millions, whole races and na-
448 VASCO DE GAMA.
tions were remorselessly cut off. The Bishop of Chiapa affirms that more than fifteen millions were exterminated in his time! From Mexico and Peru a civilization that might have instructed Europe was crushed out. Is it for nothing that Spain has been made a hideous skeleton among living nations, a warning spectacle to the world? Had not her punishment overtaken her, men would have surely said, “There is no retribution, there is no God!” It has been her evil destiny to ruin two civilizations, Oriental and Occidental, and to be ruined thereby herself. With circumstances of dreadful barbarity she expelled the Moors, who had become children of her soil by as long a residence as the Normans have had in England from William the Conqueror to our time. In America she destroyed races more civilized than herself. Expulsion and emigration have deprived her of her best blood, her great cities have sunk into insignificance, and towns that once had more than a million of inhabitants can now only show a few scanty thousands. The discovery of America agitated Europe to its deepest foundations. All classes of men were affected. The populace went wild at once with a lust of gold and a love of adventure. Well might Pomponius Lsetus, under process for his philosophical opinions in Rome, shed tears of joy when tidings of the great event reached him; well might Leo X., a few years later, sit up till far in the night reading to his sister and his cardinals the “Oceanica” of Anghiera. If Columbus failed in his attempt to reach India by sailing to the west, Vasco de Gama succeeded by sailing to the south. He doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and retraced the track of the ships of Pharaoh Necho, which had accomplished the same undertaking two thousand years previously. The Portuguese had been for long engaged in an examination of the coast of Africa under the bull of Martin V., which recognized the possibility of reaching India by passing round that continent. It is an amusing instance of making scientific discoveries by contract, that King Alphonso made a bargain with Ferdinand Gomez, of Lisbon, for the exploration of the African coast, the stipulation being that he should discover not less than three hundred miles every year, and that the starting-point should be Sierra Leone. We have seen that a belief in the immobility of the line of no magnetic variation had led Pope Alexander VI. to establish a perpetual boundary between the Spanish and Portuguese possessions and fields of adventure. That line he considered to be the natural boundary between the eastern and western hemispheres. – An accurate determination of longitude was therefore a national as well as a nautical question. Columbus had relied on astronomical methods; Gilbert at a subsequent period proposed to determine it by magnetical ob-
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