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be as in our galleys next the level of the water; then in the intervals another row, not distinguished by a deck, but raised so high by their seat that their feet rested against that which was the back of the bank below them, and so one above the other in those intervals, which takes off much of the height, that must have been, allowing them several decks, and consequently shortens the upper oars in proportion ; yet cannot at all lessen the difficulty that will occur upon plying so many oars, which will come to dip so close together in the water, that it seems impracticable to avoid clattering of them, and falling into confusion, not to mention many more inconveniencies obvious enough to every man's reason that has seen any vessels of this nature: and therefore it is best to determine nothing amidst such uncertainties, but leave every one to approve that which shall best suit with his notion of the matter. Therefore leaving these obscurities, it is better to proceed upon the history of navigation where we left off, and see in what state it continued from the time of the Romans last spoken of, till the fortunate discovery of the magnetical needle, from which time is to be dated its greatest advancement, as will be visible in that place.
As long as the Roman empire continued in splendour, it supported what it had found of navigation, but added little or nothing to it, that people being altogether intent upon making new conquests, and finding still more work than they were able to compass upon dry land, without venturing far out to sea. But when the barbarous nations began to dismember that monarchy, this art instead of improving, doubtless declined, as did all others. The first of these barbarians were the Goths and Vandals, of whom no great actions appear on the sea, their farthest expeditions on this element being in the Mediterranean, betwixt Italy and Afric, Spain and the Islands, where nothing occurs worth mentioning. The Saracens were next to them as to order of time, though much superior in naval power, yet contained within the same bounds, and consequently did nothing more memorable. After the Saracens may be reckoned the Normans, who for several years infested the coasts of Britain and France with their fleets from Norway, .till having settled themselves in Normandy, they ran out plundering all the coasts of Spain, and entering the straits conquered a great part of the kingdom of Naples, and the whole island of Sicily. Still these, though they undertook longer voyages, were but coasters, and satisfied with what they found, did not endeavour to add any thing to the art of navigation, especially for that they were as then but rude and barbarous, war and rapine being their only profession. Other nations famous at sea were the Genoeses and Venetians, betwixt whom there were bloody wars for several years; and the latter, till the Portuguese discovered the way by sea to the East Indies, had all the trade of those parts in their own hands, either brought up the Red Sea into Egypt, or by caravans to the seaport towns of Asia. We might here mention the expeditions of English, French, Danes, Dutch, and other nations, but should find nothing new in them all. They all in their turns were powerful at sea, they all ventured sometimes far from home, either to rob, conquer, or trade, but all in the same manner creeping along the shores, without daring to venture far out to sea, having no guides out of sight of land but the stars which in cloudy nights must fail them. It is therefore time to leave these blind sailors and come to the magnet or loadstone, and to the compass or magnetical needle, which has opened ways in the unknown ocean, and made them as plain and easy in the blackest night as in the brightest day. To come then to the point.
The loadstone, or magnet, so called from the Latin word magnes, had this name given it because found in the country of Magnesia, which is a part of Lydia in Asia; or because the Magnesians first discovered its virtue of attracting iron : for both these reasons are given by the learned Bochartus, Geogr. Sacr. p. 717. What other virtues and qualities it has, does not belong to this place. But it is certain the magnet has two poles answering to the two poles of the world, and to which they naturally incline (if nothing obstructs) to lie parallel. This property is not confined to itself, but communicative, as daily experience shows us in the nautical needles, which by the touch of this stone partake so much of its nature, that the point so touched, unless otherwise hindered, will always look towards the north pole. Let the learned naturalist plunge himself into the inscrutable abyss of nature to find out reasons for this sympathy; it shall suffice here to show the benefits and advantages navigation, and in it mankind, has reaped by the discovery of this most wonderful secret. The Magnesians, as was said above, were counted the first discoverers of the loadstone's virtue of attracting iron; but this greater virtue of pointing out the north pole was never found till about the year 1300, if we will believe all the best modern inquirers into antiquity, who upon diligent search unanimously agree they cannot find the least ground to believe it was known before, rather than give credit to some few writers, who rather suppose such a thing to have been used by the Phænicians, than pretend to prove it, having nothing but their own fancies, raised
upon weak and groundless surmises, to build upon. The great advocate I find for this opinion in Bochart. Geog. Sac. p. 716. and in Purchas's Pilgrims, p. 26. is Fuller in his Miscellanies, 1. 4. c. 19. yet neither of them mentions any proof or strong argument he brings to corroborate his opinion, and therefore they both with reason reject him. These two authors, and Pancirol. lib. ii. tit. 11. do not forget the verse often urged out of Plautus in Mercat.
Hic secundus ventus nunc est, cape modo versoriam.
Which versoria some will have to be the compass. But there is nothing solid in this argument, it is only catching at straws, when all history and practice of former ages make against it. History, because it could not but have made some mention of a thing so universally useful and necessary; and practice, because it is well known no such voyages were then performed, as are now daily by the help of the compass. It has
sufficiently been proved before, that in all former ages they were but coasters, scarce daring to venture out of sight of land ; that if out at night they had no other rule to go by but the stars : and what is still more, it is manifest they scarce ventured at all to sea in the winter months.' That this is so, appears by Vegetius, lib. IV. where speaking of the months, he says, the seas are shut from the third of the ides of November to the sixth of the ides of March, and from that time till the ides of May it is dangerous venturing to sea. Thus much may suffice to show the compass was not known to antiquity ; let us see when it first appeared in the world.
Its ancient use being rejected by general consent, there have still been some who have endeavoured to rob the discoverer of this honour : among them Goropius, quoted by Morisotus, will have this invention attributed to the Cimbrians, Teutonics or Germans, for this weak reason, because the names of the thirty-two winds about it are Teutonic, and used by almost all Europeans. Others will not allow this to be the product of any part of Europe, and therefore go as far as China for it, alleging that M. Paulus Venetus brought it from thence about the year 1260: but this is asserted without any the least authority, only because Paulus Venetus travelled into China, and when afterwards the Portugueses came thither, they found the use of the needle common among all those eastern nations, which they affirmed they had enjoyed for many ages. Not to dwell upon groundless suppositions, the general consent of the best authors on this subject is, that the magnetical needle or compass was first found out in Europe by one John Gioia, whom others call Flavio Gioia, of the city of Amalfi, on the coast of that part of the kingdom of Naples called Terra di Lavoro. This happened about the year of our Lord 1300, and though the thing be of such stupendous advantage to the world, yet it did not prove so greatly profitable to the first finder, whose bare name is all that remains to posterity, without the least knowledge of his profession, or after what manner he made this wonderful discovery. So wonderful that it seems to contradict the opinion of Solomon, who so
many ages since said there was nothing new under the sun; whereas this certainly appears, though so long after him, to be altogether new, and never so much as thought of before, which cannot so plainly be made out of any other of those we look upon as modern inventions or improvements. For to instance in a few things, we find the use of fire-ships among the Tyrians in the time of Alexander the Great, as was mentioned before out of Curtius, lib. IV. and therefore not repeated here. Our sea charts, on which latter times have so much valued themselves, are of such ancient date, that we cannot find their original; yet Morisotus, p. 12. says that Eolus gave Ulysses a sea chart drawn on a ram's skin, that is, a parchment. Again, p. 14. the same author out of Trogus observes, that Democedes the Cratonian, employed by Darius Hystaspes to view the coasts of Greece, sent him charts of them all, with the ports, roads, and strong holds exactly marked down. Then, p. 215. he shows out of Ælianus and Aristophanes, that there were maps of the world in Socrates's time. This, he says, was about the eightieth Olympiad, and then quotes Strabo, who from Eratosthenes affirms, Anaximander the Milesian was the first that made geographical tables about the fiftieth Olympiad. Sheathing of ships is a thing in appearance so absolutely new, that scarce any will doubt to assert it altogether a modern invention; yet how vain this notion is, will soon appear in two instances. Leo Baptisti Alberti, in his Book of Architecture, lib. V. cap. 12. has these words : “ But Trajan's ship weighed out of the lake of Riccia at this time, while I was compiling this work, where it had lain sunk and neglected for above thirteen hundred years; I observed that the pine and cypress of it had lasted most remarkably. On the outside it was built with double planks, daubed over with Greek pitch, caulked with linen rags, and over all, a sheet of lead fastened on with little copper nails. Raphael Volaterranus in his Geography says, this ship was weighed by the order of cardinal Prospero Colonna. Here we have caulking and sheathing together above sixteen hundred years ago ; for I suppose no man can