« السابقةمتابعة »
succeeding ages were no better furnished, though they never failed from time to time to correct the defects they found in their shipping, and industriously laboured to improve the art of navigation. Not to speak therefore of what is absolutely fabulous, or only supposititious, let us come to the first sailors famed in History; and touching those times lightly, descend to matters of more certainty and better authority.
If we give credit to poets and poetical writers, we shall find Neptune covering the Mediterranean sea with his mighty fleets, as admiral under his father Saturn, supposed to be Noah, as Neptune is to be Japheth ; and to him is ascribed the first building of ships, with sharp stems, or heads shod with iron or brass, to run against other ships, and split them, and with towers on them for men to fight when they came to lie board and board. Yet there
are others that give the honour of inventing of ships, and steering them, to Glaucus, affirming it was he that built and piloted the ship Argo in Jason's expedition against the Tyrrhenians ; which others attribute to Argos, making him the builder and pilot. These notions, or rather poetical fictions, are rejected by the learned Bochartus, in his Geographia Sacra, p. 819, 820; where he shows that the ship Argo ought properly to be called Arco, which in the Phænician tongue signifies long: a name given it because it was the first long ship built by the Greeks, who learned it of the Phænicians, and called it by their name ; whereas all the vessels used by them before that time were round. This ship Argo, or rather galley, he says had fifty oars, that is, twentyfive on each side, and therefore must be fifty cubits in length. Here it appears that the Greeks had round vessels before that time, and all that we can reasonably conclude is, that this ship or galley Argo, or Arco, was larger, and perhaps better built and contrived than any before it, and might perform the longer voyage, which rendered it famous, as if it had been the first ship. But it is certain there were many fleets, such as they were, before this time; for the Argonauts' expedition was about the year of the world 2801, which was after the flood 1144 years : whereas we find Semiramis built a fleet of two thousand sail on the coasts of Cyprus, Syria, and Phænicia, and had them transported on carriages and camels' backs to the river Indus, where they fought and defeated the fleet of Staurobates king of India, consisting of four thousand boats made of cane, as Diodorus Siculus writes. About the year of the world 2622, and 965 after the flood, Jupiter, king of Crete, or Candia, with his fleet stole away Europa, the daughter of Agenor king of the Sidonians. In 2700 of the world, and after the flood 1043, Perseus went on the expedition by sea against Medusa in Afric. Now to return to the Argonauts so much celebrated by the poets, upon the strictest examination into truth, we shall only find them inconsiderable coasters in the Mediterranean, and set out by the public to suppress pirates, though fabulous Greece has extolled their expedition beyond all measure. Next follows the Trojan war, about the year of the world 2871 and 1214 after the flood, where we find a fleet of one thousand one hundred and forty sail of all sorts, still creeping along the shores, without daring to venture out of sight of land.
Now leaving the Greeks, it is fit we return to the Phoenicians, who are the same the Scripture calls the Philistines or Canaanites, as is largely proved by Bochartus, certainly the earliest and ablest mariners in those first ages : they made the greatest discoveries of any nation, they planted colonies of their own in most of those countries so discovered, and settled trade and commerce in the most distant regions. There can be no greater testimonies of their wealth and naval power than what we find in holy writ, Ezek. xxvii. where the prophet, speaking of Tyre, says it is situate at the entrance of the sea, is a merchant for many isles, its ship-boards are of fir-trees of Senir, their masts of cedars, their oars of oak of Bashan, their benches of ivory, their sails of fine embroidered linen ; and so goes on through most of the chapter, extolling its mariners, pilots, ships, all things belonging to them. This, , though from the undeniable oracle of Scripture, were no sufficient proof of their knowledge in this art, were not all histories full of their many expeditions. The
first was on the coast of Afric, where they founded the most powerful city of Carthage, which so long contended with Rome for the sovereignty of the world : thence they extended their dominions into Spain, and not so satisfied, coasted it round, still pursuing their discoveries along the coast of France, and even into this island of Great Britain, where they afterwards had a settled trade for tin, and such other commodities as the country then afforded, as may be seen at large in Procopius, Strabo, Diodorus Siculus, and many other ancient authors. Pliny, lib. 2. cap. 69, with others, affirms, that in the flourishing times of the republic of Carthage, Hanno being sent out from thence to discover southward, sailed quite round Afric into the Red Sea, and returned the same way; and that Kimilco, setting out at the same time northwards, sailed as far as Thule or Iceland. Both these relations are in part rejected by most authors as fabulous, because it does not appear that the utmost extent of Afric was, ever known till the Portuguese in these latter times discovered it; and the very northern parts of Europe were not thoroughly discovered even in the time of the Roman greatness. However, no doubt is to be made but that they sailed very far both ways, and might perhaps add something of their own invention, to gain the more reputation to their undertaking. Nor were they confined to the Mediterranean and westward ocean: it was they that conducted Solomon's fleets to Ophir; and we read in 1 Kings ix. 27, that Hiram (who was king of Tyre, and consequently his men Phænicians) sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea.
And again, chap. x. ver. 11, And the navy also of Hiram that brought gold from Ophir. Thus we see the Phænicians traded to Ophir before king So, lomon, and for him. To enter into the controversy where this Ophir was, is not proper for this place; but the most probable opinions conclude it to be some part of the East Indies, and indeed there is not the least show of reason to place it elsewhere. How they performed these long voyages without the help of the compass, or magnetical needle, would be another no less difficult inquiry, considering they could not always sail by day, and lie by at night, or continually keep within sight of land, whence tempests at least would often drive them into the open sea ; but this is easily solved by all authors, who with one consent inform us, that they were directed by the course of the sun in the day, and by the stars at night. And in this knowledge of the heavens the Phænicians exceeded all other nations, as may be gathered from Pliny, lib. 5. c. 12, and 19, where he shows that mankind is obliged to the Phænicians for five things of the greatest use, viz. let. ters, the knowledge of the stars, the art of navigation, military discipline, and the building of many towns. By this their knowledge of the stars, they recovered themselves when lost in foul weather, and knew how to shape their course across spacious gulfs, and bays, which would have spent them much time in coasting round. However, it must not hence be inferred that they were capable of traversing the vast ocean betwixt Europe and America, as some would endeavour to make out; because it is well known that voyage even with the help of the compass was at first thought impracticable, and when discovered, for some time proved very difficult and dangerous, till time and experience had made it more familiar. The very reason alleged for the possibility of their sailing to the West Indies, which is the certainty of the trade-winds blowing always at east within the tropics, makes against them, because had those winds carried them thither, the vast difficulty in returning the same way would deter them from that enterprise, they being altogether ignorant, and we may say incapable of coming away north, which was accidentally found out many years after the discovery
of the West Indies. The Greeks, though occasionally mentioned before them, were the next in order to the Phænicians in maritime affairs, and learned the art of them. They not only equalled their masters in this art, but soon excelled them, and gave them several notable overthrows on their own element ; for we often find them, though much inferior in numbers, gaining glorious victories over the Persians, whose fleets were all managed by Phænicians. One instance or two may serve for all; the first is the famous battle of Salamis, where the confederate Greeks, whose whole force consisted but of three hundred and eighty ships, defeated thirteen hundred of the Persians, with inconsiderable loss to themselves, and incredible to their enemies; as may be seen in Plutarch's lives of Themistocles and Aristides, in Diod. Sic. lib. XI. Herod. lib. VII, and VIII. and others. Again, the Athenian fleet commanded by Cimon lorded it along the coasts of Asia, where closely pursuing the Persian admiral Titraustes, he obliged him to run his ships aground, of which he took two hundred, besides all that perished on the shore. And not so satisfied, Cimon proceeded to Hydrope, where he destroyed seventy sail, which were the peculiar squadron of the Phænicians; for which particulars see Thucydid. lib. I. cap. 11 and 12. Plutarch in vit. Cimon, and Diod. Sic. lib. XII. These victories were the bane of Greece, which, growing rich with the spoils of the Persians, fell into those vices it had before been a stranger to, and which broke that union which had preserved it against the common enemy. Hence followed the war betwixt the Athenians and Lacedemonians, and several others, where those little states confederating one against another set out many numerous fleets, and strove for the sovereignty of the sea; till having sufficiently weakened themselves, they at length became a prey to others. Yet during their flourishing times, and even in adversity, when driven from home by disasters, they never ceased sending out colonies upon all the coasts of the Mediterranean, and particularly of Asia, Spain, France, Italy, and Sicily. In all which countries they so far extended their empire, that it would fill a volume to give but an indifferent account of them. Yet under Alexander the Great, the founder of the Grecian empire, there are some things so singular that they well deserve a place here. That these latter ages may not boast of the invention of fire ships, we find in Curtius, lib. IV. that