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 An Historicall description of the Iland of Britaine, with a briefe rehersall of the nature and qualities of the people of England and such commodities as are to be found in the same. Comprehended in three bookes, and written by W. H.

1.1. Of the diuision of the whole earth. Chapter. 1.

Of the diuision of the whole earth. Chapter. 1.

_WE read that the earth hath beene diuided into thrée parts, euen sithens the generall floud. And the common opinion is,Noah first diuided the earth among his sonnes. that Noah limited and bestowed it vpon his three sons, Iaphet, Cham, and Sem, preserued with him in the Arke, giuing vnto each of them such portions thereof as to him séemed good, and neuer|thelesse reteining the souereigntie of the whole still vn|to himselfe: albeit as yet it be left vncertaine how those seuerall parts were bounded, and from whome they tooke such names as in our times are attributed to each of them. Certes the words, Asia, Europa, and Africa, are denominations giuen but of late (to speake of) vnto them, and it is to be doubted, whether sithens the time of Noah, the sea hath in sundrie places wonne or lost, added or diminished to and from each of them; or whe|ther Europa, and Lybia were but one portion; and the same westerlie regions of late discouered (and now cal|led America,) was the third part (counting Asia for the second) or the selfe region of the Atlantides , which Plato and others, for want of traffike thither in their times, supposed to be dissolued and sunke into the sea: as by their writings appeereth.

Not long before my time,The diuisi|on of the earth not yet certein| [...]ie knowne. we reckoned Asia, Europa, and Africa, for a full and perfect diuision of the whole earth, which are parcels onelie of that huge Iland that lieth east of the Atlantike sea, and where|of the first is diuided from the second by Tanais (which riseth in the rocks of Caucasus, and hideth it selfe in the Meotine moores ) and the Ocean sea; and the last from them both by the Mediterrane and red sea, other|wise called Mare Erythraeum. But now all men, especi|ally the learned, begin to doubt of the soundnes of that partition; bicause a no lesse part than the greatest of the thrée ioined with those Ilands and maine which lie vn|der the north and Southpoles, if not double in quanti|tie vnto the same, are found out and discouered by the diligence of our trauellers. Hereby it appeereth, that either the earth was not exactlie diuided in time past by antiquitie; or els, that the true diuision thereof came not to the hands and notice of their posteritie, so that our ancestors haue hitherto as it were laboured in the Cimmerian darkenesse, and were vtterlie ignorant of the truth of that whereabout they indeuoured to shew their trauels and knowledge in their writings. Some peece of this confusion also is to be found amongst the ancient and Romane writers, who (notwithstanding their large conquests) did sticke in the same mire with their successors; not being able (as appeereth by their treatises) to deliuer and set downe the veritie.Uariance among the writers a|bout the di|uision of the earth. For Sa|lust in his booke De bello Iugurthino cannot tell whether Africa be parcell of Asia or not. And with the same scru|ple Varro in his booke De lingua Lat. is not a litle incum|bred, who in the end concludeth, that the whole earth is diuided into Asia and Europa: so that Africa is excluded and driuen out of his place. Silius also writeth of Africa, (as one not yet resolued wherevnto to leane,) that it is;

Aut ingens Asiae latus, aut pars tertia rerum.
Wherein Lucane lib. 9. sheweth himselfe to be far of another iudgement, in that he ascribeth it to Europa, saieng after this maner:
Tertia pars rerum Lybia: si credere famae
Cuncta velis, si ventos coelúmque sequaris,
Pars erit Europae, nec enim plus littora Nili
Quàm Scythicus Tanais primis à gradibus absunt.

Whereby (I saie) we may well vnderstand, that in the time of Augustus Tiberius, Claudius & Nero, the Ro|manes were not yet resolued of the diuision of the earth. For my part, as I indeuour not to remooue the credit of that which antiquitie hath deliuered (and yet loth to continue and maintaine any corruption that may be redressed) so I thinke good to giue foorth a new diuision more probable, & better agreeing with a truth. And therefore I diuide the whole into fiue seuerall par|cels,The earth diuided into fiue parts, whereas Belforrest hath but foure, in Prefat. lib. 4. reteining the common diuision in the first three, as before; and vnto the fourth allowing not onelie all that portion that lieth by north of the Magellan streicts, and those Hyperborean Ilands which lie west of the line of longitude, of late discouered by Frobisher, and called by hir Maiestie Meta incognita : but likewise so manie Ilands as are within 180. degrées Westwards from our beginning or common line of longitude, whereby they are parted from those, which by this diuisi|on are allotted vnto Asia, and the portion it selfe made equipollent with the same for greatnes, & far excéeding either Europa or Africa, if it be not fullie so much in quantitie as they both vnited and laid togither. The fift & last part is the Antartike portion with hir Ilands an|nexed, that region (I meane) which lieth vnder the South pole, cut off from America, or the fourth part by the Ma|gellan strei [...]ts; & from Africa by the sea which passeth by the Cape of good hope; Cape di bon [...] Speranzae. a countrie no lesse large for limits and bounds than Africa or America, and there|fore right worthie to be called the fift: howsoeuer it shall please the curious to mislike of this diuision. This also I will adde, that albeit the continent hereof doo not extend it selfe vnto the verie Antartike point, but lieth as it were a long table betwéene two seas, of which the later is vnder the South poole,The form [...] of the fift part. and as I may call it a maine sea vnder the aforesaid pricke, yet is it not with|out EEBO page image 2 sundrie Ilands also adioining vnto it, and the inner most sea not destitute of manie, as by experience hath béene of late confirmed. Furthermore, whereas our de|scribers of the earth haue made it such in their descrip|tions, as hath reached litle or nothing into the peace|able sea without the Antartike circle: it is now found by Theuet and others, that it extendeth it selfe north|wards into that trace, by no small number of leagues, euen in maner to the Equator, in so much that the we|sterlie part thereof from America, is supposed to reach northward so far from the Antartike article, as Africa dooth southwards from the tropike of Cancer, which is no small portion of ground; & I maruell why not obser|ued by such as heretofore haue written of the same. But they excuse themselues by the ingratitude of the Por|tingals and Spaniards, who haue of purpose concealed manie things found out in their trauell, least they should séeme to open a gap by dooing otherwise, for strangers to enter into their conquests. As for those Ilands also which lie in the peaceable sea, scattered here and there, as Iaua the greater, the lesser Sumatra, Ia|pan, Burneo, &c: with a number of other, I refer them still vnto Asia, as before, so as they be without the compasse of 90. degrées eastward from the line of lon|gitude, & not aboue 180. as I doo the Ile of S. Laurence , and a number of other vnto Africa within the said pro|portion, wishing so little alteration as I may: and yet not yéelding vnto any confusion, whereby the truth of the diuision should hereafter be impeached.

And whereas by Virgil (speaking of our Iland) saith;

Et penitùs toto diuisos orbe Britannos,

And some other authors not vnwoorthie to be read and perused,Unto what portion Bri|taine is re|ferred. it is not certeine vnto which portion of the earth our Ilands, and Thule , with sundrie the like scattered in the north seas should be ascribed, bi|cause they excluded them (as you sée) from the rest of the whole earth: I haue thought good, for facilitie sake of diuision, to refer them all which lie within the first mi|nute of longitude, set downe by Ptolome , to Europa, and that as reason requireth: so that the aforesaid line shall henceforth be their Meta & partition from such as are to be ascribed to America; albeit they come verie neere vnto the aforesaid portion, & may otherwise (with|out preiudice) be numbred with the same. It may be that some will thinke this my dealing either to be su|perfiuous, or to procéed from (I wot not what) foolish curiositie: for the world is now growne to be very apt and readie to iudge the hardest of euerie attempt. But forsomuch as my purpose is to leaue a plaine report of such matter as I doo write of, and deliuer such things as I intreat of in distinct and vpright order; though me|thod now and then doo faile, I will go forward with my indeuour, referring the examination of my dooings to the indifferent and learned eare, without regard what the other doo conceiue and imagine of me. In the meane season therefore it shall suffice to say at this time, that Albion as the mother, and the rest of the Ilands as hir daughters, lieng east of the line of longitude, be still ascribed vnto Europa: wherevnto some good authours heretofore in their writings, & their owne proper or na|turall situations also haue not amisse referred them.

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