Page:Early voyages to Terra Australis.djvu/20

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INTRODUCTION.

have been simultaneously increased, much has been done towards bringing to light the evidence of various ascertained or possible visitations from the Old World to the New, which had previously remained unknown. A summary of them has already been laid before the members of the Hakluyt Society by the editor of the present volume, in his introduction to the "Select Letters of Columbus", and requires no repetition here.

Of the future results of that momentous discovery, what human intelligence can foresee the climax? Already the northern half of that vast portion of the

Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Tiphysque novos
Detegat Orbes, nee sit terris
Ultima Tliule."
2ndly, to the island of Atlantis, described by Plato, in the Timæus, as lying in the Atlantic, opposite the Pillars of Hercules, and exceeding in size the whole of Africa and Asia.

And 3rdly, to the imaginary island of St. Brandan, seen at intervals far out in the Atlantic by the inhabitants of the Canary Islands.

It may not be unacceptable here to mention that there is one passage among the writings of the ancients far more minute and affirmative in its description than any of the foregoing, which has been thought by various learned commentators to refer to America, but which the editor has not found hitherto quoted, in that light, by any English author. In a fragment of the works of Theopompus, preserved by Ælian, is the account of a conversation between Silenus and Midas, king of Phrygia, in which the former says that Europe, Asia, and Africa, were lands surrounded by the sea; but that beyond this known world was another island, of immense extent, of which he gives a description. The account of this conversation, which is too lengthy here to give in full, was written three centuries and a half before the Christian era. Not to trouble the reader with Greek, we give an extract from the English version by