« PreviousContinue »
AMERICUS VesPutius was descended from an ancient family of Florence. He was born in the year 1451; and his mind had scarcely developed itself, when he displayed a decided inclination for physics and the mathematics. To these studies he devoted himself without reserve. Animated by a spirit of discovery; desirous of following the steps of Columbus, he procured from Ferdinand, King of Spain, four vessels, with which he set sail from Cadiz, in 1497. From the shores of Paria, he penetrated into the Gulph of Mexico; and, too honourable to dispute with Columbus the glory of having discovered the West Indies, he pretended that he was the first, at least, who had discovered the Continent.
Ferdinand granted Vesputius two other vessels upon
his second voyage, which he made towards the Antilles. He pursued the course to Guiana; and brought from thence, in the year 1500, some diamonds, and other valuable gems, which he presented to the King, who afterwards treated him with much ingratitude. Mortified at such conduct, he went to Portugal; and knowing, for some years past, that Emmanuel was anxious of extending his dominion, he flattered himself of obtaining his protection. In this respect he was not disappointed. The Lusitanian monarch received him with much complacency, and granted him what he desired.
Vesputius, in the month of May, 1501, had run along the whole African coast, and anchored in the straits of Angola. From thence he directed his course towards America; discovered the Brazils; and, touching at the coast of the Patagons, bent his way to the river La Plata.
In 1509 he undertook another voyage to these parls, with a view of finding, to the westward, a passage to the Moluccas; to effect which, he sailed towards the bay of All Saints, to the river Curabado; but, being provisioned only for eight months, and detained by contrary winds for a long time upon that coast, he was compelled to return to Portugal. He remained there some years ; but having embarked upon a new voyage, he died abroad in the year 1514, at the age of sixty-three.
The ingratitude of Frederick towards Columbus was not imitated by Emmanuel, who regretted the loss of Vesputius; and was desirous that the planks of his vessel, named the Victory, should be suspended in the metropolitan church at Lisbon. It is, however, very extraordinary, that so vast a continent as the western world, should be called after the name of this adventurer, instead of that of Columbus.