Chronicles of America 

The Islands of the Atlantic

To the west of Spain stretched the Atlantic Ocean, and in the Atlantic the lands most remote were the Canaries, the Madeiras, the Cape Verde Group, and the Azores. What was beyond the Canaries, the Madeiras, the Cape Verde Group, and the Azores? To this the answer was: "Naught so far as known, save the Atlantic itself — the Mare Tenebrosum or Sea of Darkness; a sea so called for the very reason that within it lies hid whatever land there may be beyond these islands."

West of Ireland but east of the longitude of the Azores, seamen said, was to be found the island of Brazil; west of the Canaries and also west of the longitude of the Azores, the great island of Antillia; and southwest of the Cape Verde Group, at an indeterminate distance, the island of St. Brandan. Concerning Brazil, except that the name signified red or orange-colored dyewood, particulars were lacking; but Antillia — the "island over against, " the "island opposite" had been the refuge, had it not, of the Iberian Goths after their defeat by the Moors; and here two Archbishops of Oporto, with five bishops, had founded seven cities. St. Brandan, too, was the subject of somewhat specific affirmation; for in quest of this island had not St. Brandan, Abbot of Ailach, in the sixth century put fearlessly to sea with a band of monks?

Nor were the islands mentioned all of those for which seamen vouched. There were, besides, Isla de Mam (Man Island); Salvagio (Savage Island), alias La Man de Satanaxio (Hand of Satan); Insula in Mar (Island in the Sea); Reyella (King Island); and various others. Some of these islands, it was surmised, must be the abode of life; if not life of the type of the hydras and gorgons of antiquity, at least of a type extramundane and weird — of Amazons, of men with tails, of "anthropophagi and men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders," of crouching calibans, of mermaids, and of singing ariels.

And, amid uncertainties respecting Antillia and her protean sisterhood, one certainty stood out: in considerable numbers these islands had figured boldly on mari ne charts of accepted authority, from the famed "Catalan" of 1375 to the "Beccaria" of 1435, and the "Benincasas" of 1463, 1476, and 1482.

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