The expeditions of the Cabots, though they had
revealed a continent of easy access, in a temperate zone, had failed to discover a passage to the Indies; and their fame was dimmed by that of Vasco de Gama
, whose achievement made Lisbon
the emporium of Europe
, of Bristol
, visited Newfoundland
probably in 1502; in that year, savages in their wild attire were exhibited to the king; but North America
as yet invited no colony, for it promised no sudden wealth, while the Indies more and more inflamed commercial cupidity.
In March, 1501, Henry
granted an exclusive privilege of trade to a company composed half of Englishmen, half of Portuguese, with leave to sail towards any point in the compass, and the incidental right to inhabit the regions which should be found; there is, however, no proof that a voyage was made under the authority of this commission.
In December of the following year, a new grant in part to the same patentees, promised a forty years monopoly of trade, an equally wide scope for adventure, and larger favor to the alien associates; but even these great privileges seem not to have been followed by an expedition.
The only connection which as yet existed between England
and the New World was with Newfoundland
and its fisheries.
The idea of planting agricultural colonies in the temperate regions of America
was slowly developed, and could gain vigor only from a long succession of efforts and a better knowledge of the structure of the globe.
The last voyage of Columbus
still had for its purpose a western passage to India
; with which he, to his dying hour, believed that the lands of his discovery were connected.
In the conception of Europe
the new continent was very slowly disengaged from