Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/72

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continuous with the "New Land" of the Northmen which had been revisited by Cabot, and subsequently by the Portuguese navigator Cortereal. This probability was strengthened by the voyage of the Florentine seaman Giovanni da Verrazzano, commissioned for the purpose by Francis I of France, in 1524, in circumstances to be mentioned presently. Before this, not only had the Pacific been reached by crossing the continent in more than one place, but Magalhaes had discovered and passed the strait which bears his name. Juan Diaz de Solis in 1515 reached the Plate River, where he and several companions were killed in a kidnapping raid on the natives. Probably he supposed himself to have reached the southern extremity of the continent. Shortly afterwards the estuary was examined by a more famous captain, who ascertained its real geographical character. Fernao de Magalhaes, a skilful Portuguese seaman who had long been employed in the Portuguese trade to the Far East, having been refused an increase of pay to which he considered himself fairly entitled, quitted the service of Manoel, and sought to revenge himself by persuading Charles V that the Spice Islands were within the hemisphere assigned to Spain by the treaty of 14*94). He undertook to demonstrate this, and to conduct Spanish vessels thither by a route round the southern cape of America; and on September 20, 1519, he sailed from San Lucar for this purpose. The enormous estuary of the Plate River had to be completely explored, in order to ascertain that it was not in fact the passage of which he was in search; and more than a year elapsed before this intrepid navigator found himself past the 50th parallel of latitude, painfully coasting the barren and apparently interminable coast of Patagonia. Nearly two months elapsed before he reached the Strait which bears his name. On November 27, 1520, having occupied twenty days in threading the Strait, he reached the Pacific; and fourteen months afterwards he was slowly nearing the Ladrones, after accomplishing the greatest feat of continuous seamanship the world has ever known. Magalhaes was fated not to complete his task. He fell by the spear of a native at Zebu, one of the Philippine Islands, on April 27, 1521; and his vessel, the "Victoria," was brought home on September 8, 1522, after making the first circumnavigation of the globe in a voyage which occupied three years less fourteen days. The feat which Colombo proposed to accomplish-a voyage to the Far East by a westward passage across the Atlantic-was at length achieved, thirty years after its projector made the first attempt to perform it, and twenty-four after he stumbled unexpectedly on the vast continent which barred the way.