History of New England - Vol. 1

By John Gorham Palfrey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II.

FOR an unknown length of time the country and people that have been described had been hidden behind the ocean from the knowledge of civilized man. It is doubtful whether they were ever seen by European eyes till nearly five years had passed after Columbus found his way to the West India Islands. But the existence in the North of Europe of a traditional account of visits to the northeasterly parts of North America by Scandinavian voyagers, in the eleventh century and in the three centuries next following, has long been known to geographers;1 and original documents relating to this interesting problem have recently been placed in the possession of the reading world.

1492 Oct. 12.

It is no wise unlikely that eight or nine hundred years ago the Norwegian navigators extended their voyages as far as the American continent. Possessing the best nautical skill of their age,

Alleged voyages of Northmen to America.

____________________
1
"La mérite," says Humboldt( Examen Critique, II. 120), "d'avoir reconnu la première découverte l'Amérique continentale par les Normands, appartient indubitablement au géographe Ortélius, qui annonça cette opinion dèS l'année 1570"; and then he quotes words of Ortelius which, however, are not found in the edition either of 1575 or of 1584. Indeed, it is clear from his language ( Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, edit. 1584, p. 5) that as late as the latter date he had heard nothing of an ate-Columbian discovery. In the edition of 1592 (p. 6) he refers to reports of such a discovery as "quædam haud vulgo nota," and the uses the words quoted by Humboldt; but he explains himself as having in the view the fisherman's adventures reported by Antonio Zeno in the fifteenth century. (See below, p. 60.) -- Belknap ( American Biography, I. 52) credited his information of the discovery by the Northmen to Pontoppidan ( History of Norway), Crantz ( History of Greenland), and John Reinhold Forster ( History of the Voyages and Discoveries made in the North), all writers of the last century. -- Malte-Brun ( Précis de la Géographie, I. 395) referred to the spurious chapters (see below, p. 52, note) in the Heimskringla.

-51-

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History of New England - Vol. 1
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface. vii
  • List of Illustrations xviii
  • Contents - Of the First Volume. xix
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 51
  • Chapter III 101
  • Chapter IV 133
  • Chapter V 164
  • Chapter VI 198
  • Chapter VII 239
  • Chapter VIII 283
  • Chapter IX 331
  • Chapter X 383
  • Chapter XI 426
  • Chapter XII 471
  • Chapter XIII 522
  • Chapter XIV 560
  • Chapter XV 610
  • Appendix. 635
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