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History. NAVIGATION is the art of conducting a ship from one port surpassed it, sending its merchant fleets through the Straits History. or place to another.
The profane poets refer the invention of the art of navigation to their heathen deities, though historians ascribe it to the Æginetes, the Phoenicians, the Tyrians, and the ancient inhabitants of Britain. Scripture refers the origin of so useful an invention to God himself, who gave the first specimen of navigation in the ark built by Noah under his direction.
The earliest record of the practice of the art of navigation is that of the Egyptians, who at a very remote period are said to have established commercial relations with India. This traffic was carried on between the Arabian Gulf and the western coast of India, across the Indian Ocean. It would appear, however, that this intercourse was of no long duration, and that the Egyptians soon confined themselves to overland traffic with their neighbours, even excluding from all access to their country those foreigners who would have traded with them by the Mediterranean Sea.
The Phoenicians were the most distinguished of the early navigators; their commercial relations with other nations were the most widely spread; and their capital, Tyre, was for ages the centre of ancient commerce and the "mart of nations." The narrowness and poverty of the little slip of ground they possessed along the coast, and the convenience of two or three good ports, naturally drove an enterprising and industrious people, stimulated by a genius for commerce, to seek by sea those riches which were denied them by land. Accordingly, Lebanon and the other neighbouring mountains furnishing them with excellent wood for ship-building, they in a short time became masters of a numerous fleet; and constantly hazarding new navigations, and settling new trades, they soon arrived at an incredible pitch of opulence and populousness, insomuch as to be in a condition to send out colonies. The principal of these was Carthage, which, keeping up the Phoenician spirit of commerce, in time not only equalled Tyre itself, but vastly
of Gibraltar, along the western coasts of Africa and Europe, and even, if we may believe some authors, to America itself.
At an early period of their history, although long subsequently to the rise of the Phoenician navigators, the Greeks learned and practised the art of navigating the adjacent seas, although they seem to have trusted almost entirely to the oar as the instrument of propulsion. The celebrated voyage of the Argonauts belongs to a very early period; and in later times the Corinthians and Corcyræans disputed with Athens the empire of the Greek seas. At length Tyre, whose immense riches and power are represented in such lofty terms both by sacred and profane authors, was destroyed by Alexander the Great, upon which its navigation and commerce were transferred by the conqueror to Alexandria, a new city, admirably situated for these purposes, and intended to form the capital of the empire of Asia, of which Alexander then meditated the conquest. And thus arose the great navigation of the Egyptians, which was afterwards so much cultivated by the Ptolemies, that Tyre and Carthage were quite forgotten.
Egypt being reduced to a Roman province after the battle of Actium, its trade and navigation fell into the hands of Augustus, in whose time Alexandria was only inferior to Rome; and the magazines of the capital of the world were wholly supplied with merchandise from the commercial capital of Egypt.
At length Alexandria itself underwent the fate of Tyre and Carthage, being surprised by the Saracens, who, in spite of the Emperor Heraclius, overspread the northern coast of Africa. By them the merchants were expelled, and Alexandria was, until lately, in a languishing state; though it always had a considerable share of the commerce of the Christian merchants trading to the Levant. A fresh impulse, however, has been given of late years to the trade of Alexandria by its having become an important post in the overland route to India.
The fall of Rome and its empire drew along with it not only the overthrow of learning and the polite arts, but also that
History. of navigation; the barbarians, into whose hands it fell, contenting themselves with the spoils of the industry of their predecessors. But no sooner were the braver amongst those nations well settled in their new provinces, some in Gaul, as the Franks; others in Spain, as the Goths; and others in Italy, as the Lombards,-than they began to learn the advantages of navigation and commerce, and the methods of managing them, from the people they had subdued; and this with so much success, that in a little time some of them became able to give new lessons, and set on foot new institutions for its advantage. Thus it is to the Lombards that we usually ascribe the invention and use of hanks, book-keeping, exchanges, rechanges, &c.
It does not appear which of the European people, after the settlement of their new masters, first betook themselves to navigation and commerce. Some think it began with the French, although the Italians seem to have the fairest title to this distinction, and are accordingly regarded as the restorers of navigation, as well as of the polite arts, which had been banished together from the time the empire was torn asunder. It is the people of Italy, then, and particularly those of Venice and Genoa, who have the merit of this restoration; and it is to their advantageous situation for navigation that they in great measure owe their glory. In the bottom of the Adriatic were a great number of marshy islands, only separated by narrow channels, but these well screened, and almost inaccessible, the residence of some fishermen, who here supported themselves by a little trade in fish and salt, which they found in some of these islands. Thither the Veneti, a people inhabiting that part of Italy which stretches along the coasts of the gulf, retired, when Alaric, King of the Goths, and afterwards Attila, King of the Huns, ravaged Italy.
These new islanders, little imagining that this was to be their fixed residence, did not think of composing any body politic; but each of the seventy-two islands of this little archipelago continued a long time under its separate master, and each formed a distinct commonwealth. When their commerce had become considerable enough to occasion jealousy to their neighbours, they began to think of uniting into a body; and it was this union, first begun in the sixth century, but not completed till the eighth, that laid the sure foundation of the future grandeur of the state of Venice. From the time of this union, their fleets of merchantmen were sent to all the ports of the Mediterranean ; and at last to those of Egypt, particularly Cairo, a new city built by the Saracen princes, on the eastern bank of the Nile, where they traded for the spices and other products of the Indies. Thus they flourished and increased their commerce, their navigation, and their conquests, till the league of Cambray in 1508, when a number of jealous princes conspired to bring about their ruin. This was the more easily effected by the diminution of their East India commerce, of which the Portuguese had got one part and the French another.
Genoa, which had applied itself to navigation at the same time with Venice, and that with equal success, was a long time its dangerous rival, disputed with it the empire of the sea, and shared with it the trade of Egypt and other parts, both of the East and West. But jealousy soon broke out; and the two republics coming to an open rupture, there was almost continual war for three centuries. Towards the end of the fourteenth century, the battle of Chioza ended the strife. The Genoese, who till then had usually the advantage, now lost all; and the Venetians, reduced almost to despair, secured to themselves, by one happy and unexpected blow, the foremost place in commerce and the sole empire of the sea.
About the same time that navigation was retrieved in the southern parts of Europe, a new society of merchants
was formed in the north, which not only carried commerce History. to the greatest perfection of which it was capable till the discovery of the East and West Indies, but also formed a new scheme of laws for its regulation, which still obtain under the name of Uses and Customs of the Sea.
This society is that famous league of the Hanse Towns, commonly supposed to have been instituted about the year 1164. (See HANSEATIC LEAGUE, and COMMERCE. For the present state of navigation in the various countries of the world, see under the name of each.)
We shall only add, that in examining the causes of commerce passing successively from the Venetians, Genoese, and Hanse Towns, to the Portuguese and Spaniards, and from these again to the English and Dutch, it may be established as a maxim, that the relation between commerce and navigation, or their union, is so intimate, that the fall of the one inevitably draws after it that of the other; and that they will always either flourish or decline together. Hence so many laws, ordinances, statutes, and edicts for its regulation; and hence particularly that celebrated act of navigation, which an eminent foreign author calls the palladium or tutelar deity of the commerce of England, which was long considered as the standing rule, not only of the British amongst themselves, but also as that of other nations with whom they trafficked.
The progress of political and commercial science, which gradually opened men's eyes to the great principle that all trade is most healthy and prosperous when subjected to the fewest possible, and those only the most necessary, restrictions, resulted in the total repeal of these famous navigation laws in 1846, since which period trade with England has been free and open to all the world; but so far from British shipping and commerce being injured or diminished, they have been more prosperous since that repeal than they were at any former period, when most carefully fostered by protective laws.
The art of navigation has been exceedingly improved in modern times, both with regard to the form of the vessels themselves, and also with respect to the methods of working them. The use of rowers is now entirely superseded by the improvements made in the formation of the sails, rigging, &c.; by which means ships can not only sail much faster than formerly, but can tack in any direction with the greatest facility; and of late years the extensive and still growing employment of steam as the propelling power, whether applied to paddle-wheels or screws, has still further placed the mariner beyond the adverse retarding influence of calm and contrary winds, and has introduced an element of certainty and punctuality in commercial intercourse unknown at any previous period, and invaluable as it affects the interests of commerce. It is also very certain that the ancients were neither so well skilled in finding the latitudes, nor in steering their vessels in places of difficult navigation, as the moderns. But the greatest advantage which the moderns possess over the ancients consists in the mariner's compass, by which they are enabled to find their way with more facility in the midst of an immeasurable ocean, than the ancients could have done by creeping along the coast, and never going out of sight of land. Some people indeed contend that this is no new invention, but that the ancients were acquainted with it. They say, that it was impossible for Solomon to have sent ships to Ophir, Tarshish, and Parvaim, which last they imagine to have been Peru, without this useful instrument. They insist, that it was impossible for the ancients to be acquainted with the attractive virtue of the magnet, and to be ignorant of its polarity; nay, they affirm that this property of the magnet is plainly mentioned in the book of Job, where the loadstone is mentioned by the name of topaz, or the stone that turns itself. But it is certain that the Romans who conquered Judæa were ignorant of this instrument; and
History it is very improbable that such a useful invention, if it had once been commonly known to any nation, would have been forgotten, or perfectly concealed from such a prudent people as the Romans, who were so deeply interested in the discovery of it.
Amongst those who admit that the mariner's compass is a modern invention, it has been much disputed who was the inventor. Some attribute the honour of the discovery to Flavio Gioia of Amalfi in Campania, who lived about the beginning of the fourteenth century; whilst others contend that it came from the East, and was earlier known in Europe. But at whatever time it was invented, it is certain that the mariner's compass was not commonly used in navigation before the year 1420. In that year the science was considerably improved under the auspices of Henry, Duke of Visco, brother to the King of Portugal. In the year 1485, Roderick and Joseph, physicians to John II., King of Portugal, together with one Martin de Bohemia, a Portuguese native of the island of Fayal, and scholar of Regiomontanus, calculated tables of the sun's declination for the use of sailors, and recommended the astrolabe for taking observations at sea. Of the instructions of Martin the celebrated Christopher Columbus is said to have availed himself, and to have improved the Spaniards in the knowledge of the art; for the farther progress of which a lecture was afterwards founded at Seville by the Emperor Charles V.
The discovery of the variation is claimed both by Columbus and by Sebastian Cabot. The former certainly did observe the variation, without having heard of it from any other person, on the 14th of September 1492, and it is very probable that Cabot might have done the same. At that time it was found that there was no variation at the Azores, where some geographers have thought proper to place the first meridian, though it has since been observed that the variation alters in time. The use of the cross staff now began to be introduced amongst sailors. This ancient instrument is described by John Werner of Nuremberg, in his annotations on the first book of Ptolemy's Geography, printed in the year 1514. He recommends it for observing the distance between the moon and some star, in order thence to determine the longitude.
was entirely neglected, though translated also within a History. short time of the other. At that time the system of navigation consisted of an account of the Ptolemaic hypothesis, and the circles of the sphere; of the roundness of the earth, the longitudes, latitudes, climates, &c., and eclipses of the luminaries; a calendar; the method of finding the prime, epact, moon's age, and tides; a description of the compass, an account of its variation, for the discovery of which Cortes said that an instrument might easily be contrived; tables of the sun's declination for four years, in order to find the latitude from his meridian altitude; directions to find the same by certain stars; of the course of the sun and moon; the length of the days; of time and its divisions; the method of finding the hour of the day and night; and, lastly, a description of the sea chart, on which, in order to discover where the ship was, they made use of a small table, which showed, upon an alteration of one degree of the latitude, how many leagues were run in each rhumb, together with the departure from the meridian. Some other instruments were also described, especially by Cortes; such as one to find the place and declination of the sun, with the days and place of the moon; certain dials, the astrolabe, and cross staff; together with a complex machine to discover the hour and latitude at once.
At this time the art of navigation was very imperfect, on account of the inaccuracies of the plane chart, which was the only one then known, and which, by its gross errors, must have greatly misled the mariner, especially in voyages far distant from the equator. Its precepts were probably at first only set down on the sea-charts, as is the custom at this day; but at length two Spanish treatises were published in the year 1545,-one by Pedro de Medina, and the other by Martin Cortes,-which contained a complete system of the art, as far as it was then known. These seem to have been the oldest writers who fully handled the art; for Medina, in his dedication to Philip, Prince of Spain, laments that multitudes of ships daily perished at sea, because there were neither teachers of the art, nor books by which it might be learned; and Cortes, in his dedication, boasts to the emperor that he was the first who had reduced navigation into a compendium, valuing himself much on what he had performed. Medina defended the plane chart; but he was opposed by Cortes, who showed its errors, and endeavoured to account for the variation of the compass by supposing the needle to be influenced by a magnetic pole (which he called the point attractive), different from that of the world, which notion has been farther prosecuted by others, and is now generally accepted as true in the scientific world. Medina's book was soon translated into Italian, French, and Flemish, and for a long time served as a guide to foreign navigators. Cortes, however, was the favourite author of the English nation, and was translated in the year 1561; whilst Medina's work
About the same time proposals were made for finding the longitude by observations of the moon. In 1530 Gemma Frisius advised the keeping of time by means of small clocks or watches, which were then, as he says, newly invented. He also contrived a new sort of cross staff, and an instrument called the nautical quadrant, which last was much praised by William Cunningham in his Astronomical Glass, printed in the year 1559.
In the year 1537, Pedro Nunez, or Nonius, published a book in the Portuguese language, to explain a difficulty in navigation proposed to him by the commander Don Martin Alphonso de Susa. In this he exposed the errors of the plane chart, and likewise gave the solution of several curious astronomical problems, amongst which was that of determining the latitude from two observations of the sun's altitude and the intermediate azimuth. He observed, that although the rhumbs are spiral lines, yet the direct course of a ship will always be in the arc of a great circle, whereby the angle with the meridians will continually change; and hence all that the steersman can here do for the preserving of the original rhumb, is to correct these deviations as soon as they appear sensible. But in reality the ship will thus describe a course without the rhumb line intended; and therefore his calculations for assigning the latitude, where any rhumb line crosses the several meridians, will be in some measure erroneous. He invented a method of dividing a quadrant by means of concentric circles, which, after having been much improved by Dr Halley, is used at present, and is called a nonius.
In the year 1577, William Bourne published a treatise in which, by considering the irregularities in the moon's motion, he showed the error of the sailors in finding her age by the epact, and also in determining the hour from observing on what point of the compass the sun and moon appeared. He advised, in sailing towards high latitudes, to keep the reckoning by the globe, as there the plane chart was most erroneous. He despaired of our ever being able to find the longitude, unless the variation of the compass should be occasioned by some such attractive point as Cortes had imagined, of which, however, he doubted; but as he had shown how to find the variation at all times, he recommended to keep an account of the observations, as useful for finding the place of the ship; and this advice was prosecuted at large by Simon Stevin, in a treatise published at Leyden in 1599, the substance of which was the same year printed at London in English by Edward Wright,