the money of Venice, formed such a connexion 
as gave the Venetians almost a monopoly of 
the trade. 
The great profits of the Venetians tempted 
the avidity of the Portuguese. They had been 
endeavouring, during the course of the fifteenth 
century, to find out by sea a way to 
the countries from which the Moors brought 
them ivory and gold dust across the desert
They discovered the Madeiras, the Canaries, 
the Azores, the Cape de Verd islands, the 
coast of Guinea, that of Loango, Congo, Angola
and Benguela, and, finally, the Cape of 
Good Hope. They had long wished to share 
in the profitable traffic of the Venetians, and 
this last discovery opened to them a probable 
prospect of doing so. In 1497, Vasco de 
Gamo sailed from the port of Lisbon with a 
fleet of four ships, and, after a navigation of 
eleven months, arrived upon the coast of Indostan
and thus completed a course of discoveries 
which had been pursued with great 
steadiness, and with very little interruption
for near a century together. 
Some years before this, while the expectations 
of Europe were in suspense about the 
projects of the Portuguese, of which the success 
appeared yet to be doubtful, a Genoese 
pilot formed the yet more daring project of 
sailing to the East Indies by the west. The 
situation of those countries was at that time 
very imperfectly known in Europe. The few 
European travellers who had been there, had 
magnified the distance, perhaps through simplicity 
and ignorance; what was really very 
great, appearing almost infinite to those who 
could not measure it; or, perhaps, in order 
to increase somewhat more the marvellous of 
their own adventures in visiting regions so 
immensely remote from Europe. The longer 
the way was by the east, Columbus very justly 
concluded, the shorter it would be by the west
He proposed, therefore, to take that way, as 
both the shortest and the surest, and he had 
the good fortune to convince Isabella of Castile 
of the probability of his project. He sailed 
from the port of Palos in August 1492, near 
five years before the expedition of Vasco de 
Gamo set out from Portugal; and, after a 
voyage of between two and three months, discovered 
first some of the small Bahama or 
Lucyan islands, and afterwards the great island 
of St. Domingo
But the countries which Columbus discovered
either in this or in any of his subsequent 
voyages, had no resemblance to those 
which he had gone in quest of. Instead of 
the wealth, cultivation, and populousness of 
China and Indostan, he found, in St. Domingo
and in all the other parts of the new world 
which he ever visited, nothing but a country 
quite covered with wood, uncultivated, and 
inhabited only by some tribes of naked and 
miserable savages. He was not very willing, 
however, to believe that they were not the 
same with some of the countries described by 
Marco Polo, the first European who had visited
or at least had left behind him any description 
of China or the East Indies; and a 
very slight resemblance, such as that which he 
found between the name of Cibao, a mountain 
in St. Domingo, and that of Cipange, 
mentioned by Marco Polo, was frequently 
sufficient to make him return to this favourite 
prepossession, though contrary to the clearest 
evidence. In his letters to Ferdinand and Isabella
he called the countries which he had 
discovered the Indies. He entertained no 
doubt but that they were the extremity of those 
which had been described by Marco Polo, and 
that they were not very distant from the 
Ganges, or from the countries which had been 
conquered by Alexander. Even when at last 
convinced that they were different, he still 
flattered himself that those rich countries were 
at no great distance; and in a subsequent 
voyage, accordingly, went in quest of them 
along the coast of Terra Firma, and towards 
the Isthmus of Darien
In consequence of this mistake of Columbus
the name of the Indies has stuck to those 
unfortunate countries ever since; and when 
it was at last clearly discovered that the new 
were altogether different from the old Indies
the former were called the West, in contradistinction 
to the latter, which were called the 
East Indies
It was of importance to Columbus, however, 
that the countries which he had discovered
whatever they were, should be represented 
to the court of Spain as of very great 
consequence; and, in what constitutes the real 
riches of every country, the animal and vegetable 
productions of the soil, there was at that 
time nothing which could well justify such a 
representation of them. 
The cori, something between a rat and a 
rabbit, and supposed by Mr Buffon to be the 
same with the aperea of Brazil, was the largest 
viviparous quadruped in St. Domingo. This 
species seems never to have been very numerous; 
and the dogs and cats of the Spaniards 
are said to have long ago almost entirely extirpated 
it, as well as some other tribes of a 
still smaller size. These, however, together 
with a pretty large lizard, called the ivana or 
iguana, constituted the principal part of the 
animal food which the land afforded
The vegetable food of the inhabitants
though, from their want of industry, not very 
abundant, was not altogether so scanty. It 
consisted in Indian corn, yams, potatoes, bananas
&c., plants which were then altogether 
unknown in Europe, and which have never 
since been very much esteemed in it, or supposed 
to yield a sustenance equal to what is 
drawn from the common sorts of grain and 
pulse, which have been cultivated in this part 
of the world time out of mind
The cotton plant, indeed, afforded the material