Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/62

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ginger. Here Mohammadan merchants purchased cinnamon brought from Ceylon and spices from the Molucca Islands, which they carried to the port of Jiddah in Arabia, and then to the port of Tor in the Sinaitic peninsula, whence they were carried overland to Cairo. Here they were shipped down the Nile to Rosetta, and the last stage of transport was performed on camels to Alexandria, where they were purchased by European merchants. At all these places duties had to be paid, in consequence of which the cost of the merchandise was quadrupled; and large profits could be reaped by merchants who carried them directly from the East to Western Europe. There was another trade route to Europe by way of the Persian Gulf, and so through Syria to Aleppo and Beyrut. Although frequent wars were waged between the native princes of the Malabar coast, they all maintained a good understanding with the Muslim sailors and traders, and many of the latter permanently resided on the Malabar coast and in the Far East. The arrival of the Portuguese was not altogether unexpected. Their intention of penetrating the Indian Ocean was well known; and on his arrival Da Gama pretended to be in search of some missing vessels of his squadron. Having landed to enquire concerning them, he asked permission to trade, which was granted. Meanwhile the Muslim residents intrigued with the native prince, entitled the " Samori," or " Zamorin," hoping to deal the Portuguese a crushing blow on the very threshold of their undertaking. Representing the new-comers as mere marauders, they so far succeeded as to induce the Zamorin to detain Da Gama and some of his companions as prisoners. He barely himself escaped assassination; but a good understanding was at length restored, and the Portuguese commander, after taking in a valuable cargo of pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmegs, besides rubies and other precious stones, sailed on his return voyage on August 29, 1498, and in September 1499 at length made his triumphal entry into Lisbon. Besides the merchandise which he secured, he brought back precise information concerning the coasts of India as far as Bengal, Ceylon, Malacca, Pegu, and Sumatra.

Thus was the way opened for Europe's maritime invasion of the East; a process in modern history perhaps of even greater importance than the European occupation of the New World. Ever since Da Gama's great voyage Southern and Eastern Asia, comprising then as now the most populous nations on the globe, have been gradually falling under the sway of the European powers, who have first appropriated their foreign trade, making permanent settlements on their coasts in order to secure it, thence advanced to controlling their administration and usurping their government, and in some varying degree have succeeded in the more difficult task of gradually changing their habits of life and thought. In all this Europeans have been following in the footsteps of the Mohammadans of Western Asia and Northern Africa; and these had