A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 23 December, 1909, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Henry Lefavour, LL.D., in the chair.
The Records of the Annual Meeting were read and approved.
The Council reported that at its Stated Meeting held on the second instant Mr. Thomas Minns had been elected a member of the Council for the unexpired term ending 21 November, 1912, to fill the vacancy caused by the declination of service of the Rev. Morton Dexter.
The Report of the Corresponding Secretary announced that letters had been received from Mr. Abbott Lawrence Lowell accepting Resident Membership, and from the Hon. James Burrill Angell accepting Honorary Membership.
Mr. Morris H. Morgan made the following remarks:
I have recently found, among the papers of the Presidents of Harvard College,705 an unpublished letter from Professor Eichhorn of Göttingen to President Kirkland about George Bancroft. It is well known that Bancroft went to Gottingen with the purpose of studying for the ministry. He took with him a letter of introduction from Kirkland to Eichhorn and an extract from this letter of introduction has already been printed by Mr. Howe in his life of Bancroft.706 This extract was copied by Bancroft into an exercise book which is now in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and it was as follows, as I am informed by our associate Mr. Worthington C Ford:
They (his friends) wish him to attend especially to philology, the ancient languages, & Oriental literature, that he may thus be qualified to pursue theological studies to the greatest benefit, to give instruction as any opening may occur & invite, & become an accomplished philologian & Biblical Critic, able to expound & defend the Revelation of God.
Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1752–1827) was one of the leading Orientalists and Biblical scholars of his day. We know from one of Bancroft’s letters707 that he was “more celebrated at Cambridge than any other of the Gottingen professors,” yet we find that the young student (he was only eighteen years of age) hesitated at first to study under him, “being unwilling to give my friends any reasonable ground for fearing that I should lose my belief in or respect for Christianity.” The fact is that Eichhorn in his time was reckoned somewhat bold and rationalizing in his exegesis of Holy Writ, although now, I believe, he is classed among defenders of the tradition. It is much to the credit of one of the wisest presidents of Harvard that he did not shrink from entrusting a promising candidate for the ministry to the instruction of such a scholar. Bancroft soon became his devoted pupil in Arabic, Hebrew, and interpretation of the scriptures, and it was from the hands of Eichhorn, as Dean of the Faculty, that he finally received his degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1820. Another American had still earlier come under Eichhorn’s spell, for in 1815 we find George Ticknor writing: “I am delighted above all with his eloquence and enthusiasm, and deep and genuine love of truth.”708
But to return to the unpublished letter from Eichhorn to Kirkland which I have the pleasure of communicating. It was written in December, 1818, a little more than three months after Bancroft had presented himself to Eichhorn. The handwriting is small but clear; the language is Latin and as follows:
Vir Perillustris atque Excellentissime,
Litteris Tuis humanissime scriptis quo minus promtius responderem obstiterunt plura, primum iter in patriam meam Franconiam susceptum, deinde post meum ad castra nostra reditum multarum rerum cura, per longam meam absentiam cumulata. Iam vero nulla interposita mora gratias Tibi ago quas possum maximas pro propensa Tua erga me voluntate, qua non dubitasti Georgium Bancroftium, humanissimum Iuvenem, meae curae commendare, meaeque potissimum disciplinae tradere. Laudari enim a viro laudato non ultima laus est.
Laeto autem animo Tibi nuncio, Bancroftium Tuum Tua se com̄endatione se exhibere dignissimum pietate, modestia, morum elegantia et indefesso in litteris proficiendi studio. Cuius rei ipse quotidie testis sum, quandoquidem per semestre quod iam decurrit hibernum scholis meis exegetieis in priorem Novi Testamenti epistolarum partem adest Auditor, praeclare sua virtute eminens, ut adeo cum diligentissimis disciplinae meae Alumnis de diligentia, industria, assiduitatis laude certare videatur, nec dubium sit, ut aliquando ad patrios Lares redux ingenio bonis litteris exculto omniumque seculorum spoliis ornato patriam suam condecoret. Ceterum abs Te enixe peto, ut Tibi habeas persuasum, quamlibet occasionem, qua Iuvenis humanissimi studia litterarum, in quae tanta animi contentione fervet, vel consiliis vel rebus in facto positis juvare possim mihi fore gratissimam.—Tu autem, Vir Perillustris, pergas velim Tua me propensa voluntate complecti, Tibique persuadeas, me sum̄a animi observantia Tibi esse deditissimum. Vale, resque Tuas age quam felicissime.
Nominis Tui Perillustris
Gottingae Io Godofr. Eichhorn.
d. xxvii. Dec. cIɔIɔcccxviii.
This letter may be translated thus:
Very illustrious and most excellent Sir,
Many things have prevented me from making an earlier reply to your most polite letter,—in the first place a journey to my native land Franconia, and afterwards, since my return to our station, a press of business which had accumulated in consequence of my absence. But now without further postponement I thank you most heartily for the kind favor which you have shown me in not hesitating to recommend that most enlightened young gentleman, George Bancroft, to my attentio and to entrust him to my particular instruction. It is no small praise to be praised by a man who is praised by all the world.
I am happy to inform you that Bancroft is showing himself most deserving of your recommendation by his dutiful conduct, modesty, and polished manners, as well as by a tireless devotion to progress in learning. Of this last I am myself a daily witness, for during the current winter semester he has been attending my exegetical exercises in the first part of the epistles of the New Testament, where he has so distinguished himself by his excellence that he obviously rivals the most diligent of my own trained pupils in diligence, industry, and praiseworthy assiduity. There is no doubt that when he returns to his home with his natural genius refined by the best literature and furnished with the spoils of all the ages, he will become an ornament to his country. I earnestly beg you to believe that I shall most gladly welcome every occasion on which I can assist, with words or deeds, the literary studies of this most enlightened young gentleman, to which he is devoting himself with so much intellectual vigor.—As for yourself, very illustrious sir, pray continue to bestow your kind favor upon me, and be assured of my most devoted respect. Farewell, and may you be most successful in all that you undertake.
Your most obedient servant,
Göttingen Io. Gottfried Eichhorn.
27 Dec. 1818.
Mr. Albert Matthews read the following paper:
ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF MAINE.
It is not a little singular that the origin of the names of some of our States, even the older ones, is still more or less in doubt. The State of Maine has a name which antedates the names of all other States except Virginia and Massachusetts.709 How Maine received its name has been a subject of controversy. But though much has been written on the subject, yet, as some of the points involved are obscure, as some historians still cling to a theory long ago exploded, as there appears even now to be a hesitancy on the part of many other historians in accepting what is without doubt the true origin, and as a thorough account of the matter has apparently never been written, an apology for a new presentation of the case is hardly needed.
In the charter granted by Charles I to Sir Ferdinando Gorges on April 3, 1639, occur these words:
Know Ye therefore that of Our special Grace, certain Knowledge & mere Motion, We . . . by these Presents for Us, Our Heirs & Successors do give, grant & confirm unto the said Sir Ferdinando Gorges . . . all that Part, Purpart, & Portion of the Main Land of New England aforesaid . . . as also all the Islands & Isletts lying within five Leagues of the Main all along the aforesaid Coasts . . . all which sd Part Purpart or Portion of the said Main Land, & all & every the Premises herein before named We do for us Our Heirs & Successors create & incorporate into one Province or County, And We do name, ordain & appoint that the Portion of the Main Land & Premises aforesaid shall forever hereafter be called & named the Province or County of Maine, & not by any other Name or Names whatsoever.710
So far as I know it was not until the close of the eighteenth century that a theory was advanced in regard to the origin of this title. In 1795 Sullivan said:
Gorges and Mason, supposed that they had now their enemies under their feet, and agreeing to divide their territory, Gorges, in the year 1639, obtained from the King a very extraordinary grant of all the lands between the river Piscataqua, and the river Kenebeck or Sagadahock, and extending one hundred and twenty miles into the country from the sea. This was granted under the name of the Province of Maine. Prior to this grant, the name of Province, or County of Maine, was never known.711
A little farther on, but still referring to the year 1639, Sullivan remarked:
The territory was then called the Province of Mayne, by way of a compliment to the queen of Charles I. who was a daughter of France, and owned as her private estate, a province there, called the Province of Meyne, now called the Province of Maine. But since the general government has made our territory a district, it has lost one of the letters which formerly was used, and is now called Main.712
In 1803 Abiel Holmes, copying Sullivan, said: “The name of the Province of Maine was given in compliment to the queen of Charles I, who owned, as her private estate in France, the Province of Meyne.”713 In 1830 George Folsom, who later changed his opinion, said that “The name was bestowed in compliment to the queen of England, a daughter of Henry IV. of France, who was connected by title or estate with the province of Meyne in France.”714 In 1832 Williamson wrote:
The provincial name of Maine, though one by which this section of country was at that time frequently called, was chosen, probably, in compliment to the queen, who had inherited a province of the same name in France. For this double reason, it was a name preferable to the old one, taken from the county of Somerset, in which the patentee had his residence and perhaps his birth.715
In an address delivered at Brunswick, Maine, on September 6, 1846, George Folsom said that “The next event of general interest in the history of the State, is the confirmation of the patent from the Council of Plymouth to Gorges by a new charter from the Crown, in which the territory is first styled the Province of Maine, of which he was made Lord Palatine.”716 In a footnote, after quoting Sullivan, Folsom wrote:
Such is the prevailing impression as to the origin of the name finally given by Gorges to his province, but unfortunately for its accuracy, the province of Maine in France did not appertain to Queen Henrietta Maria, but to the crown; nor is it discoverable that she possessed any interest in that province.717
How the notion that a princess, who in 1639 was a younger sister of the King of France (Louis XIII), “owned as her private estate” or “inherited” a French province should have occurred to any one, it is not easy to see. Yet in spite of the pointing out of the error by Folsom as long ago as 1846—reinforced by W. S. Southgate in 1853,718 by Palfrey in 1859,719 by Bryant and Gay in 1876,720 and by Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain721 in 1876—Sullivan’s notion has been often repeated and is still entertained. “When he,” wrote W. Willis in 1857, referring to Gorges, “obtained a confirmation of his title from Charles I, in 1639 with powers of government, he gave it the name of Maine, in compliment to the Queen, a daughter of France, who held the Province of Mayne in that country as her dowry.”722 “Maine,” said an anonymous writer in 1872, “derived its name it is said, from the province of Maine, in France, and was so called in compliment to the Queen of Charles the First, Henrietta of France, who owned that province.”723 “The queen of England,” declared John S. C. Abbott in 1875, “had inherited a province of that name in France.”724 “The name of the territory,” remarked George J. Varney in 1890, alluding to Gorges’s charter of 1639, “under the new charter was changed to ‘Maine,’ in honor of the Queen, whose patrimonial estate as Princess of France, was the French province of Mayne.”725
In 1850 Susan Fenimore Cooper gave a somewhat different twist to Sullivan’s theory, writing:
Maine, the former satellite of Massachusetts, was named by the French colonists after the fertile province on the banks of the Loire, . . . The French have generally given respectable names, either repetitions of personal titles, or of local names, or else descriptive words: la Louisiane, les Carolines, le Maine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; for, as we have already observed, leaving a good Indian name is equal to giving one of our own.726
In speaking of “the fertile province on the banks of the Loire,” Miss Cooper apparently confused the ancient province of Maine, which was not on the Loire, with the modern department of “Maine-et-Loire,” which is. Passing over two or three other statements in the above passage which are open to criticism, it is merely necessary to remark that our Maine obtained its name from the early English explorers and not from the French colonists, by whom indeed it was apparently never called “le Maine.”
Though Folsom and subsequent writers have indicated that Sullivan’s theory about the French province of Maine is untenable, yet apparently no one of them has shown exactly what the history of that province has been. Hence the following account from the last edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica is pertinent:
Hugh Capet made the countship of Maine hereditary in the person of Hugh I. . . . The people of Le Mans availed themselves of the absence of the Conqueror in England to rise against him, and were ultimately successful in gaining their freedom. Maine became united with Anjou by the marriage of its heiress with Fulk of Anjou, father of Geoffrey Plantagenet. Henry II. of England, the son of Geoffrey, was born at Le Mans. On the confiscation of the estates of King John, Maine passed to Philip Augustus of France; by Louis IX., the grandson of Philip, it was handed over in 1245 to Charles, count of Provence, afterwards king of Naples; and in 1328 it was reunited to the domains of the crown by Philip of Valois, who was count of Maine. It was again separated by his grandson Louis of Anjou, the brother of King Charles V. During the Hundred Years’ War, Maine was a continual battlefield; the English were driven out by Dunois, who took possession of Le Mans in 1447. In 1481, on the death of Charles of Maine, the last scion of the house of Anjou, Maine was again united to the French crown by Louis XI.
But we are not yet done with Sullivan. “Prior to this grant,” he says, meaning the charter of April 3, 1639, “the name of Province, or County of Maine, was never known.”727 Though this statement has been repeated by Williamson (1832), Folsom (1846),728 Southgate (1853), Willis (1857), R. K. Sewall (1859),729 Palfrey (1859), Abbott (1875), Bryant and Gay (1876), and by Varney (1890), it is nevertheless an error.730 On August 22, 1622, the Council for New England made to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason a grant in which occur the words:
Now this Indenture witnesseth that ye sd President and Councill . . . doe give grant bargaine sell assigne alien sett over and confirme unto ye sd Sr Ferdinando Gorges & Capt Iohn Mason their heirs and assignes all that part of ye maine land in New England lying vpon ye Sea Coast betwixt ye rivers of Merimack & Sagadahock . . . wch said porcons of lands wth ye appurtenances the said Sr Ferdinando Gorges and Capt Iohn Mason wth the consent of ye President & Councell intend to name ye Province of Maine.731
Here, then, in 1622, and not in 1639, we first find the title Province of Maine. Before showing how that fact, unknown until 1860, affects the question of the origin of the name of Maine, it will be appropriate to explain how writers previous to 1860 were led astray. It is probable that the early charters732 relating to Maine and to New Hampshire are more numerous and more perplexing than those relating to any other colony; and whoever has had occasion to consult them knows how tedious is the process of examination and how many are the pitfalls. If, even at the present day, when doubtless all the charters extant can be consulted in print, historians yet make mistakes, it is small wonder that hopeless confusion and uncertainty existed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when few had been printed and the exact contents of many were unknown. Thus it was not until the publication in 1860 of the first volume of the Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, 1574–1660, that it became known that the title Province of Maine occurs in the grant of August 22, 1622, and it was not until 1862 that the grant was printed in full.733 On November 17, 1629, the Council for New England made to Gorges and Mason a grant of territory which “the said Sr Ferdinando Gorges and Capt In° Mason with the consent of the president & Councill intend to name the Province of Laconia.”734 In 1784 Belknap confused the two grants, and, speaking of the grant of August 10, 1622, said: “The next year another grant was made, to Gorges and Mason jointly, of all the lands between the rivers Merrimack and Sagadehock, extending back to the great lakes and river of Canada, and this was called Laconia.”735 It has been stated that “all writers, until recently, have called the grant of Aug. 10, 1622, the Laconia grant;”736 but Sullivan, though he had no exact information about the grant of November 17, 1629, pointed out that Belknap must be mistaken.737 Nevertheless, Belknap’s error has been repeated by Williamson (1832),738 Folsom (1846),739 Southgate (1853),740 Palfrey (1859),741 Bancroft (1883),742 and Varney (1890).743
Let us now return to the grant of August 10, 1622, and its bearing on Sullivan’s theory of the origin of the name. In 1639 Henrietta Maria was the wife of King Charles, but in 1622 her future husband was merely Prince Charles and unmarried. It is true that his marriage with Henrietta Maria had been broached in 1620, but it was not seriously considered until 1624 and did not take place until 1625. Though attention was called to this point by Charles W. Tuttle as long ago as 1872, yet his remarks have apparently escaped the notice of all subsequent writers on the subject. He said:
The name, Maine, was first authoritatively and deliberately applied to that part of the State lying west of the Kennebec River, in the charter of the great council for New-England, granting this territory to Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason, dated August 10, 1622. In this charter it is styled the “Province of Maine.” This event was nearly two years before the Princess Henrietta Maria of France was thought of for a wife to Prince Charles of England. At the time this name was inserted in the charter, a marriage treaty was pending, and had been for some years, between the courts of England and Spain, having for its object the marriage of Prince Charles and the Infanta Maria, daughter of Philip III. of Spain. A marriage of these royal parties was expected until early in the year 1624. It is clear from this, and other circumstances that could be mentioned, that the naming of Maine had nothing to do with Henrietta Maria of France, as alleged.744
Though this statement is correct in general, yet Mr. Tuttle was mistaken in saying that the naming of Maine occurred “nearly two years before the Princess Henrietta Maria of France was thought of for a wife to Prince Charles of England.” The negotiations entered into by James I in regard to a marriage between his sons Henry and Charles and the daughters of Henry IV of France and of Philip III of Spain, were many and various. In 1611 John Digby (created Earl of Bristol in 1622) was sent ambassador to Madrid to negotiate a marriage between Prince Henry and the Infanta Anne (who later became the wife of Louis XIII) or the Infanta Maria. An interesting letter, in which both ladies are mentioned, written by Prince Henry himself on July 29, 1612, has been printed;745 but his own death in the following November of course put an end to that negotiation. At the age of sixteen, Charles was created Prince of Wales in 1616; but long before that date negotiations were opened in France for marrying him to the Princess Christina (a sister of Henrietta Maria, and later the wife of Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy), and in November, 1613, the scheme was in a fair way to a conclusion. In 1614, again in 1617, and once more in 1622, Digby was sent to Spain to negotiate a marriage between Charles and the Infanta Maria; and on February 17, 1622–23, Charles started on his ill-fated journey to Madrid, passing through Paris, where he saw for the first time his future wife.746 Meanwhile, however, the French proposals had not been allowed entirely to drop. In 1618 James Hay (created Earl of Carlisle in 1622) was sent to Paris to demand the hand of Christina for Charles.747 In 1620 a proposal to marry Henrietta Maria to Charles came from France itself; and on the breaking off of the Spanish treaty in 1624, Henry Rich (then Baron Kensington and in the same year created Earl of Holland) and James Hay (then Earl of Carlisle) were sent to Paris to complete the negotiations. On May 1, 1625, five weeks after his accession to the throne, Charles was married by proxy, and on June 13 he received his bride at Canterbury.748
Though Williamson stated that the name of Maine “was chosen, probably, in compliment to the queen,” yet both in his text and in a footnote he indicated its true origin.749 “By reason of the great number of Islands in this quarter,” he says in a footnote, “the shores, or coast, were frequently called ‘the Main’” He then cites three examples and thus concludes: “This expression, ‘the Main,’ is common in old authors.” It was indeed common—so common that other examples would hardly be necessary were it not for the fact that historians have shown a singular hesitancy in accepting this origin of the name. “This eastern country,” said Palfrey in 1859, “had commonly been called the Mayne [main] land, in distinction from the numerous islands on its coast, . . . and thus perhaps it was that Gorges’s province obtained its name.”750 Tuttle wrote in 1872:
It seems reasonably certain that the State of Maine owes its name to no European State, province or personage, but to its own unique geographical features.751 Years before the name appeared in this charter to Gorges and Mason, its territory, or the littoral part of it, was commonly designated by English mariners and writers, “The Main,” variously spelt, to distinguish it from its insular parts lying off the shore. This origin of the name, proposed long ago, seems to be the true one.752
“Maine, like all the rest of the coast,” declared Bryant and Gay in 1876, “was known as the ‘Maine,’ the mainland, and it is not unlikely that the word so much used by the early fishers on the coast, may thus have been permanently given to this part of it.”753 “There is little doubt,” remarked Governor Chamberlain in 1876, “that the name arose in the natural distinction made in common speech between the islands then so much frequented, and the shoreland or the ‘main.’ The spelling furnishes no argument. The adjective was often spelled ‘maine,’ and the proper noun ‘Main.’”754 “‘Maine’ took its name,” declared Charles Deane in 1884, “probably from the early designation, by the sailors and fishermen, of the main land—that is, ‘the main,’—in distinction from the numerous islands on the coast.”755
As, therefore, historians are not over-confident, and as the matter is after all a little perplexing, a few additional remarks will not be lacking in pertinency.756
The word “main” is used in two distinct senses which may be, and sometimes are, confused. First, it is elliptical for “main sea.” This use is now poetical or figurative, as in Longfellow’s Psalm of Life, “sailing o’er life’s solemn main.” Secondly, it is elliptical for “mainland,” a sense now archaic. The phrase “main of America,” meaning the continent of America, was formerly not uncommon; while the term “Spanish Main” is still often heard, though sometimes it is erroneously used. Thus the fourth stanza in the Wreck of the Hesperus, as originally written, read:
Then up and spake an old Sailor,
Had sailed the Spanish Main,
“I pray thee, put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.”
When Longfellow discovered or had his attention called to the fact that the Spanish Main was land, not water, he altered the second line to “Had sailed to the Spanish Main.”757
In the sense of mainland, examples of the word “main” will be found in the Oxford English Dictionary ranging from 1555 to 1891, though none have reference to this part of America. Some additional examples follow. In Gabriel Archer’s account of Captain Bartholomew Gosnold’s voyage to New England in 1602, the word is frequently so used, as thus:
A little from the supposed lies appeared unto us an opening, with which we stood judging it to bee the end of that which Captaine Gosnoll descrieth from Cape Cod, . . . From this opening the Mayne lyeth Southwest, which coasting along we saw a disinhabited Hand which so afterwards appeared unto us: we bore with it, and named it Marthaes Vineyard, . . . the next morning wee sent off our Boate to discover another Cape, that lay betweene us and the Mayne, from which were a ledge of Rockes . . . This called wee Gosnolls Hope; the North banke whereof is the Mayne, which stretcheth East and West. . . . The one and thirtieth [of May], Captaine Gosnoll desirous to see the Maine, because of the distance, hee set sayle over; . . . This Maine is the goodliest Continent that ever we saw, promising more by farre then we any way did expect.758
Alluding to the same voyage, John Brereton wrote:
Hard by, wee espied seven Indians, and comming up to them, at first they expressed some feare; but being emboldned by our courteous usage, and some trifles which we gave them, they followed us to a necke of Land, which wee imagined had beene severed from the Mayne: . . . all the Hands, as also the Maine (where wee were) is all Rockie Grounds and broken Lands.759
In his account of a voyage made in 1603, Captain Martin Pring wrote:
At length comming to the Mayne in the latitude of 43. degrees and an halfe, we ranged the same to the South-west. . . . But meeting with no Sassafras, we left these places with all the foresaid Hands, shaping our course for Savage Rocke, discovered the yeere before by Captaine Gosnold, where going upon the Mayne we found people, with whom we had no long conversation, because here also we could find no Sassafras.760
In his account of Captain George Waymouth’s voyage in 1605, James Rosier said:
From hence we might disceme many Hands, and the maine Land, from the West South-west to the East North-east; and North North-east from us a great way as it then seemed (and as we after found it) up into the Maine, we might discerne very high Mountaines, although the Maine seemed but lowe Land.761
In his Description of New England, published in 1616, Captain John Smith remarked:
Thus you may see, of this 2000. miles more then halfe is yet vnknowne to any purpose: no, not so much as the borders of the Sea are yet certainly discouered. As for the goodness and true substances of the Land, wee are for most part yet altogether ignorant of them, vnlesse it bee those parts about the Bay of Chisapeack, and Sagadahock: but onely here and there wee touched or haue seene a little the edges of those large dominions, which doe stretch themselues into the Maine, God doth know how many thousand miles.762
In a letter written to Purchas on December 27, 1619, Captain Thomas Dermer said:
Departing hence, the next place we arrived at was Capaock, an Iland formerly discovered by the English, . . . the winde faire, I stood away shaping my course as the Coast led mee, till I came to the most Westerly part where the Coast began to fall away Southerly. In my way I discovered Land about thirtie leagues in length, heretofore taken for Mayne, where I feared I had beene imbayed, but by the helpe of an Indian I got to the Sea againe, through many crooked and streight passages. . . . Being thus overcharged with weather, I stood alongst the coast to seeke harbours, to attend a favourable gale to recover the streight, but being a harbourlesse Coast for ought we could then perceive, wee found no succour till wee arrived betwixt Cape Charles and the Maine on the East side the Bay Chestapeak, where in a wilde Roade wee anchored.763
In a petition for a charter of New England by the Northern Company of Adventurers, dated March 3, 1619–20, it is asked:
First, that the territories where yor peticōners makes their plantacon may be caled (as by the Prince His Highnes it hath bin named) New England, that the boundes thereof may be setled from 40 to 45 degrees of Northerly latitude & soe from sea to sea through the maine as the coast lyeth.764
In the patent of New England, granted by James I on November 20, 1620, are the words:
And wee . . . do by these Presents absolutely give, grant, and confirm unto the said Councill, called the Councill established att Plymouth in the County of Devon for the planting, ruling, and governing of New-England in America, . . . that foresad Part of America, lying, and being in Breadth from ffourty Degrees of Northerly Latitude from the Equinoctiall Line, to ffourty-eight Degrees of the said Northerly Latitude inclusively, and in Length of, and within all the Breadth aforesaid, throughout all the Maine Lands from Sea to Sea, together also, with the Firme Lands, Soyles, Grounds, Havens, Ports, . . . Fishings, Mines, and Mineralls, . . . and all, and singular other Comodities, Jurisdictions, Royalties, Priviliges, Franchises, and Preheminences, both within the same Tract of Land upon the Maine, and also within the said Islands and Seas adjoining.765
In a minute of the Council for New England made on July 24, 1622, we read:
It is ordered and agreed that the Lord Duke of Lenox have for his devident and part of the Mayne Land of New England in America, from ye middle of Sawahquatock towards Sagadahoc, and his bounds that way to reach mid way betweene Sawahquatock and Sagadahoc upon ye Coast. And to reach 30 miles backward into ye Mayne. And 3 Leagues into ye sea: . . . The Earle of Arundele to have for his devident from ye middle of Sagadahoc, and to goe northeast soe much on his side, as Mr. Secretary766 goes on ye other side upon ye Coast. And to reach miles backward into ye Mayne, and 3 leagues into ye Sea.767
It would be useless to continue these extracts, which could be adduced indefinitely. Enough have been given to show that long before the appearance in 1622 of the title Province of Maine, the word “main” in the sense of mainland had been in common use among the early explorers along the New England coast.
On March 9, 1621–22, Capt. John Mason received from the Council for New England a grant of territory lying between the Naumkeag and the Merrimac, “wch said of Lands wth the the sd Jhohn Mason with the consent of the President and Councill intendeth to name Mariana.”768 In 1890 Mr. James P. Baxter wrote: “No reason has heretofore been assigned why Mason gave the name Mariana to his possessions between the Naumkeag and Merrimac; but it seems evident that this name was bestowed upon it in honor of the Spanish princess Maria, whose proposed marriage with Prince Charles was then the principal topic of discussion.”769 Mr. Baxter has overlooked a letter written June 7, 1872, in which Charles W. Tuttle said: “I may add, in this connection, that I expect to show, in my life of Captain John Mason, soon to go to press, that this Spanish Infanta was designedly complimented about this time in the naming of a district in New England, granted by the great council, a curious fact, overlooked by historians.”770 Mr. Tuttle died in 1881, and his Capt. John Mason, edited by John W. Dean, was not published by the Prince Society until 1887. Unfortunately the notes which Mr. Tuttle had prepared on this point were not preserved, or at least are not incorporated in the printed work, and so the proofs he promised in 1872 are not forthcoming. Nor does Mr. Baxter offer proof.
I would call attention to another “curious fact, overlooked by historians”—namely, that so far as the name Mariana is concerned it might have been derived from Henrietta Maria equally well as from the Infanta Maria. Indeed, Mariana was the name proposed for Maryland by Charles himself. The story is thus told by Scharf:
Lord Baltimore, it is said, drew up the charter with his own hand and left a blank in it for the name “which he designed should be Crescentia, or, the land of Crescence, but leaving it to his majesty to insert.” “The King, before he signed the charter, put the question to his Lordship, what he should call it, who replied that he desired to have it called something in honor of his majesty’s name, but that he was deprived of that happiness, there being already a province in those parts called Carolina.”771 “Let us, therefore,” says the King, “give it a name in honor of the Queen; what think you of Mariana?” To this his lordship expressed his dissent, it being the name of a Jesuit, who had written against monarchy.772 Whereupon the King proposed Terra Marice, in English, Maryland, which was concluded on and inserted in the bill.773 And thus the proposed colony was named in honor of Henrietta Maria, daughter of Henry IV., king of France and Navarre, and sister of Louis XIII., who was usually called Queen Mary by writers of the day. Thus Laud writes in his Diary (p. 6); “An. 1625, June 12, Queen Mary crossing the sea, landed upon our shores about seven o’clock in the evening.” Similar instances are to be found in Fuller’s Church History.774
Secretary Conway in a letter dated November 22, 1624, and King Charles in a letter dated May 1, 1625, speak of the Princess as “Lady Marie.”775 “The queen of Charles I.,” writes Miss Strickland, “is known to all readers of history by the name of Henrietta Maria; but she was not called so by her husband or at her own court. The king chose to call her Mary; and when those in his household remonstrated with him that this name, owing to the Marian persecutions, had become very unpopular to English ears, he still persisted in calling his bride ‘Mary,’ declaring that the land should find blessings connected with her name which would counteract all previous evils.”776
According to Mr. Tuttle, “in the spring or summer of 1621, Mason returned into England;”777 and he obtained his grant of Mariana on March 9, 1621–22. Mr. Baxter may be right in saying that the proposed marriage of the Infanta Maria with Prince Charles “was then the principal topic of discussion;” though there is little about it until somewhat later in the letters and documents printed in Ellis’s Original Letters, in Birch’s Court and Times of James the First, and in the Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1619–1623.
It is not in the least my purpose to throw doubt upon the explanation proposed by Mr. Tuttle and Mr. Baxter, but merely to show that the matter is not quite so simple as it seems.
Mr. Horace E. Ware read the following paper:
A FORGOTTEN PRIME MERIDIAN.
The “Almanack for the Year of our Lord 1647. . . . By Samuel Danforth of Harvard Colledge, Philomathemat,” Cambridge, the second earliest American almanac extant, states on its title-page that it is “Calculated for the Longitude of 315 degr. and Elevation of the Pole Arctick 42 degr. & 30 min. & may generally serve for the most part of New-England.”778
While I have not made exhaustive research, I have examined several Massachusetts almanacs subsequent to that of 1647 and well into the eighteenth century with regard to the longitudes on their title-pages, and will give a brief account of their ways of stating the same, assuming that the longitude intended is that of Boston where no place is named.
In the different numbers up to the year 1680 the longitude continues to be stated as 315°. Beginning in 1680 there are statements sometimes that the almanac is for the longitude of Boston, one or more times that it is for that of 315°, sometimes both statements are combined, and in at least two cases, 1684 and 1690, the longitude of 315° is given as that of Cambridge. The Almanac for 1716 by D. Travis is the last one, so far as I have found, to give the longitude of 315°, either by itself or with the statement that it is the longitude of Boston. The Almanack for 1694, probably by William Brattle and printed by B. Green for Samuel Phillips, is for the meridian of Boston, 69° 20′ to the westward of London. This is the first almanac I have seen to make the longitude from London.
From 1695 to 1705 inclusive the longitude when given is simply stated to be that of Boston. In the Kalendarium Nov-Anglicanum or Almanack for 1706 by Samuel Clough, Boston is coupled with the longitude of 315°. An Ephemeris of the Celestial Motions for 1709 by Edward Holyoke, M. A., is the first to give the meridian of Boston as 71° west of London. In the almanac by D. Travis for 1709 Boston’s meridian is said to be 3° 15′ which is probably a mistake for 315°. From 1710 to 1714 inclusive the almanacs examined so far as they refer to longitude name the meridian of Boston simply, except Thomas Robie’s Ephemeris, etc., for 1710, which gives Boston’s meridian as about 71° westward from London. E. Holyoke’s almanac for 1715 makes the longitude 289° from London, which is the same as 71° west. The longitude in certain of the almanacs for the following years respectively is: for 1716 (Robie’s) about 71°; for 1717 about 71°, and in another almanac 69°; for 1718, 70°, and in another about 71°; in N. Whittemore’s almanac, from 1720 to 1727 inclusive, 71°.
In an almanac for the year 1721 it is stated that the meridian of Boston is 4 hours 44 minutes west of London. Remembering that a difference of 15° in longitude makes a difference of one hour in time, we see that the above is in effect a statement that Boston is 71° west of London. In an almanac for the year 1723 and in one for the year 1724, the longitude of Boston is placed at 289° from London.
In the New England Diary: Or, Almanack For the Year of our Lord Christ, 1735, By a Native of New-England (Nathan Bowen), the meridian is given as 4 hours 44 minutes west of London. A facsimile of the title-page of this almanac accompanies Mr. Henry W. Cunningham’s editorial comments779 on the Diary of the Rev. Samuel Checkley, 1735, recently read before this Society.780
I will ask you to recall that the Royal Observatory at Greenwich had its beginning in the year 1675; also that the first volume of the British Nautical Almanac, that for the year 1767, was published in 1766. The calculations in this almanac were made according to apparent time for the meridian of Greenwich. We may assume, I think, that soon after 1767 the meridian of Greenwich was considered the prime meridian throughout Great Britain and her colonies.
It will now be in order to discover the place or prime meridian from which the longitude of Boston was reckoned to be 315°, and the reason or reasons why such place or meridian came to be fixed upon.
John Josselyn in the account of his second voyage to New England (1663–1671) states that the longitude of Boston is 315° “or as others will” 322° 30′.781 Later on he tells us how longitude is reckoned: “The longitude of places are uncertainly reported, but in latitudes most agree. Longitude is the distance of the meridian of any place from the meridian which passeth over the Isles of Azores, where the beginning of longitude is said to be.”782 As we reckon today the Azores extend from about 25° to 31° 20’ longitude west of Greenwich, so Josselyn does not locate the prime meridian very exactly. The longitude of Boston is in round numbers 71° west of Greenwich.783 Subtracting 71 from 360 would make Boston in longitude 289° from Greenwich, going round the globe towards the east, as was done in Josselyn’s time. Subtracting 289° from 315° leaves 26°. Going west 26° from Greenwich, so as to bring the 289° up to 315°, we find that the meridian of 26° west is about 8’ west of the westerly end of the island of St. Michael of the Azores.784 In reaching this result I assume of course that the relative positions of London (Greenwich), St. Michael’s and Boston as regards longitude were in the middle of the seventeenth century estimated in round numbers to be close to what we make them today. The result of the above figuring bringing the beginning of longitude so close to St. Michael’s, I think we are justified in concluding that the prime meridian was, at the period to which we refer, considered by the people here in New England as passing somewhere through that island. We are sustained in this conclusion by certain citations which follow.
I have seen no statement other than that of Josselyn hereinbefore referred to that the longitude of Boston was held by some to be 322° 30′. That longitude would of course bring the prime meridian 7° 30’ further west than the longitude of 315°, viz.—26° plus 7° 30′ = 33° 30′ west of Greenwich, which would be something more than two degrees west of Corvo and Flores, the most westerly islands of the Azores. For the position of a prime meridian through these islands also, some authorities will be referred to later.
One may well be desirous of knowing why a large number of people should reckon longitude from a meridian passing through the island of St. Michael. In explanation I would call attention to the chapter or article entitled, The First Booke of the Seamans Secrets, written by the skilful navigator John Davis (1550–1605), the second edition of which, published in 1607, is reprinted in the edition of his works by Albert Hastings Markham published in 1880. I quote from this book, including in the quotation one of the editor’s footnotes as being material to the subject under discussion:
Longitude is that portion of the Equator contained betweene the Meridian of S. Michels, one of the Assores, and the Meridian of the place whose longitude is desired: the reason why the accompt of longitude doth begin at this He, is, because that there the Compasse hath no variety, for the Meridian of this He passeth by the Poles of the world and the poles of the Magnet, being a Meridian proper to both Poles.1
1 From the time of Ptolemy the meridian of the Fortunate Isles, as being furthest to the west, was adopted as the first, and the meridian of Ferro, the westernmost of the Canaries, was universally used until the time of Elizabeth. Cosmographers then adopted St. Michael’s, in the Azores, on the ground that the compass there had no variation. After the establishment of the observatory in 1676, the Greenwich meridian was adopted by the English.785
The meridian proper to the poles of the magnet, to which Davis refers, was of course the agonic line, now so called, the line of no magnetic declination, which at the time Davis wrote passed through or near to the Azores. It is the way of agonic lines to be irregularly curved and they would seldom, if ever, coincide with meridians for any considerable distance. Their changes of positions together with the changes of positions of their companions, the isogonic lines, or lines of equal magnetic declination, are involved in the secular variations and changes of the magnetic declination which have of late years been the subject of such earnest scientific investigation. The agonic line in question may be considered as the same, though in a somewhat different position, as that across which Columbus passed on his first voyage to America. His compasses had been pointing to the east of north,—such having been the declination in Europe at that epoch,—up to September 13, 1492. At the first of the evening on that day the needles varied to the northwest, and the next morning about as much in the same direction. Hence at some time not noted on September 13, they must have pointed in, or passed by, the direction of the true north. On September 17 it was observed that the needles varied to the northwest a whole point of the compass.786 It has been calculated by Charles A. Schott, assistant in the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Office, that at noon on September 13, Columbus was in latitude 28° 21′ and longitude 29° 16′,787 which last is nearly half a degree west of Fayal on the map of the Azores given by Walker.788
A second point of no declination was found or ascertained by Sebastian Cabot in 1497 or 1498. On his map Cabot placed it on the meridian 110 miles west of Flores of the Azores, and Schott estimates its latitude as approximately 46° or 47°.789 In the Bulletin cited above is contained Plate B entitled “Secular Change in the Position of the Agonic Line of the North Atlantic between A. D. 1500 and 1900,” a reproduction of which accompanies this paper. The line on this plate for A. D. 1500, the author states, is little more than a conjecture, and depends mainly on the two points of no magnetic declination found by Columbus and Cabot as above. He also says that we have further reason to suppose that this agonic line passed somewhere north of London, and at its other extremity was some distance south of the Greater Antilles, as shown on the plate. Later I shall call your attention to the agonic line on the plate for “About 1630 ±15 years,” and to the near approach of that line to the Azores.
Another authority, slightly later than Davis, is found in Thomas Blundeville His Exercises, the first edition of which, “containing sixe Treatises,” was published in 1594, and a “sixthe Edition corrected and augmented” and “Contayning eight Treatises” appeared in 1622. Under Treatise VI, “The Art of Navigation,” and Chapter XXVI, “How to find out the variation of the Compasse in euery Latitude,” the following passage occurs in the sixth edition, but does not appear in the edition of 1594:
But there be three causes which moue me to think, that the respectiue point [whereunto the needle of your Compasse wil alwayes turn in what part of ye world soeuer you saile] will never bee truly found out. First, for that the Meridian, which in these daies is supposed to bee the first Meridian passing through the Azores, & specially through the lies St. Marie, and Saint Michael. Is not that Meridian vnder which the Mariners compasse doth rightly point, as well vnto the pole of the Loadstone, as also to the North Pole of the world, for though Francis of Deepe found it so by his Compasse, yet diuers learned Pylots since his time hauing sailed vnder ye Meridian, haue found the variation of their compasse to be as much there, as else where, and not rightly to point to the respectiue point, which is supposed to be vpon the earth, and without such a certain Meridian, no true account from any Latitude can be made. The second cause which moueth me to think as before, is for that the Compasse in some place of the Sea, will be suddenly retrograde, which thing Master Bourough790 by his own experience affirmeth to be true, as is before set downe. The third cause is, for that I doe verily beleeue, the finding out of the true place of the respectiue point, to be as great a secret in nature, as it is to know the cause why the Loadstone should haue such vertue to drawe steele vnto it, and to shew the North Pole of the world, which are two secret gifts giuen to that stone of God, for mans behoofe, and yet the cause thereof is not to be found but by man, though most carefully sought by the greatest Phylosophers that ever were (p. 689).
It is to be here observed that however Blundeville himself may have regarded the matter, he states that the meridian through St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s was at the time he wrote (before 1622) generally supposed to be the first meridian.791
From Blundeville His Exercises, edition of 1594, mentioned above, I take the following, which is under “A plaine Treatise of the first principles of Cosmographie,” and in Book II, Chapter VII, “Of the Longitude and Latitude of the Earth:”
Yet according to Ptolemie, that Meridian is saide to be first and furthest Westwarde which passeth through the Hands called Insulse Fortunate, for the West Indies were not knowne nor discovered in his dayes, nor yet long time after, since the discouerie whereof, the late Cosmographers of these dayes doe make the first Meridian to passe through the Hands called Azores, which Hands, as appeareth by their Cardes, are situated more Westwarde from the foresaid Insute fortunate by five degrees, the reason that mooueth them so to do, is because the Mariners Compasse, as they say, wil never incline to the true North pole, but when they saile either by the He S. Mary or S. Michaell, affirming that in euery other place the compasse doth varie from the true North, eyther by Northeasting or Northwesting (fol. 182).
On the Map of the World by Jodocus Hondius, 1611,792 the meridian marked 360° passes through St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s of the Azores.
I would now call attention to the Epitome of the Art of Navigation, by James Atkinson, which was published in London in 1711. Under Section ii of Chapter VI, “The Description and Use of the Terrestrial Globe,” certain problems are given, among them one “to demand the Longitude of the Lizard, in England,” to which the following note is appended:
The Globes formerly made in England begun Longitude at the Meridian of the Island of St. Michael, one of the Western or Azore Isles, which is West from the Meridian of London (according to the Mariner’s Compass Rectified, and also the Mariner’s Calendar) 23d. 36m. And accordingly the Lizard’s Longitude is 5d. 14m. West from London: This Difference in the Longitude of Places, is occasioned by the different Beginnings of Longitude by several Authors, which the Student is desired to consider (p. 158).
The problem in this case was solved by subtracting the longitude of the Lizard, as found on the globe, from the longitude of London, the longitude of both places being taken from St. Michael’s. It is evident that the object of the problem was to find the longitude of the Lizard reckoned from the meridian of London. The meridian of St. Michael’s was giving place to that of London as a prime meridian.
From the foregoing citations we are justified in assuming that Boston’s longitude of 315° was obtained by reckoning from the meridian of St. Michael’s. But though that meridian was regarded as the prime meridian here in New England in the seventeenth century, and was perhaps so treated by the majority of English navigators, it was by no means distinguished as such by the navigators and cosmographers of other nations. From the time of Ptolemy until the time of the discovery of America, longitude appears to have been reckoned for the most part from the meridian of the Canaries, those islands being during most of that period the farthest known lands to the west. This will appear from statements in some of the extracts from early authorities which I have included in this paper. After the discovery of America and the crossing of the agonic line, various prime meridians were in use by different navigators and cosmographers. These meridians were taken for divers reasons, some, as in the case of that of St. Michael’s, because they were supposed to coincide with the line of no magnetic declination, certain others because they crossed a national possession, while the meridian of the Canaries, or of Ferro the westernmost of them, still had its advocates by reason of its having been so long in use. The agonic line, being curved as stated above, would in different latitudes be encountered in different longitudes, though it was supposed by many for quite a period that it continued along a meridian of longitude. To show the locations of some of these prime meridians I will make reference to certain of the books and maps of the period. I sometimes quote literally in this paper, the better to reproduce the mental processes and the nicer shades of thought with which the authors dealt with these important questions of facilitating the process of ascertaining longitude. We are, moreover, now and then entertained with some choice specimens of the quaint English of the period.
The following passage, though taken from Blundeville under Treatise IV, “The Description and Use of Plancius his Vniuersal Mappe, set foorth in the yeare of our Lord, 1592,” is there given as setting down “the opinion of Mercator” (1512–1594), who published his Tabulae Geographicae in 1578–1584. It will be noticed that several prime meridians are here referred to.
Francis of Diep, a most skilfull Pilot, doth witnesse that the needle of the Mariners compasse, doth turne directlie to the North Pole, being in the Hands of Capo Verde, that is to say, the Ile of Sal, the Ile of Bonauista, and the Ile of Mayo, whereunto those doe agree very nigh, which doe say that the needle doth the like in the lies of Tercera and of S. Marie, which are part of the Flemmish lies, otherwise called Azores: but some others doe affirme, that the needle sheweth the North pole best, being in the He of Corvo, which is the furthest He westward of the said Azores, and because the longitude of places by most liuely reasons, ought to take his beginning from the common Meridian of the world, and from the rocke or Pole of the Adamant stone, we here following the opinion of those that are most skilfull in this matter, have set downe the first Meridian betwixt the lies of Capo Verde, and the Azores (fol. 264).
In the Arcano del Mare of Robert Dudley, Florence, 1646–1647, printed in Italian, the meridian of Pico of the Azores is given preference, as appears in the following passage (translated) taken from Book I, “On Longitude,” Chapter VIII, “As it is founded on the Variation of the Needle:”
In sailing from the coast of Spain and Portugal toward the Azores Islands and Tercera, the needle of the compass will be found to turn to the northeast, and always decreasingly, but when there is no longer any variation in the said needle, then the pilot may be sure that he is in the longitude of the island of Pico (p. 16).
In the maps in the Atlas of Nicolas Sanson d’Abbeville, Paris, 1656, longitude is reckoned from the meridian of Ferro of the Canaries.
In the map of the world in the North Star or Sea Atlas by Van Loon (Dutch), 1661, the meridian of 360° passes through the Canaries.
Andrew Wakely in his Mariners Compass Rectified,793 published before 1694—I am not sure of the exact time—used the meridian of London in making his tables.
In Peter Heylyn’s Cosmography, fifth edition, London, 1677,794 we find the following statements:
The AZORES are certain Islands . . . Situate betwixt the 38 and 40 degrees of Northern latitude; and one of them in the first Longitude; which is commonly reckoned from these Islands, as being the most Western part of the World, before the discovery of America (p. 236).
CORVO. . . . But this, though much smaller than the others, may in time be of more esteem than any of them, in regard it is conceived to be the most natural place for the first Meridian, . . . the Needle here pointing directly to the North, without Variation. Which whether it proceed from some secret inclination of the Load-stone to that part of the World, more in this place than any other; or that being situate between the two great Continents of Europe and America, it is drawn equally towards both, by the magnetical vertue of the Earth it self, I leave to be disputed by more able Judgments (p. 237).
In the map of America, however, at the beginning of Book IV, Part 2, the meridian of 360° runs just east of St. Michael’s.
In the Cartes de Géographie of Pierre du Val, Paris, 1679, and in his Géographie Universelle, Paris, 1682, the meridian of 360° runs by the west end of Ferro of the Canaries.
In the Atlas Minor of Nicholas Visscher, Amsterdam, 1690 (?), the meridian of 360° passes through Teneriffe of the Canaries. In A New Sett of Maps by Edward Wells, D.D., 1698 or 1699, on maps of Europe, 0° meridian passes through London.
The New Sea Atlas, London, 1702, says: “Azores . . . situate between 37 and 40 degrees of North Latitude: from the Flores of Corvo (or some of these Islands) Geographers use to begin their Longitude, as being the most Western part of the World, before the discovery of America” (p. 3). In some of the maps in this atlas, longitude begins at the Lizard.
M. de L’Isle’s Atlas, Amsterdam, 1710, puts the first meridian at the Island of Ferro, while meridian 350° passes through the west end of Terceira and through Pico, both of the Azores.
In the Atlas Minor of Carolus Allard, Amsterdam, 1710 (?), the meridian of 360° passes through the Madeiras.
The maps of Matthaus Seutter, Augsburg, 1720, make meridian 360° pass through Teneriffe of the Canaries.
From A New General Atlas, the maps of which “are all Engraven or Revised by Mr. Senex,” London, 1721, I quote the following as being an excellent summary of the number of prime meridians then in use:
Though the Western Nations agree to fix it [the first meridian] in the West of our Continent, they don’t agree on the Place where. Ptolemy, and the Ancients, fix’d it at one of the Fortunate Islands, now generally suppos’d to be the Canaries. Some of the Arabians follow’d him, and others plac’d it at Hercules’s Pillars, or the Streights of Gibraltar. Some Moderns would fix it at the Tercera, others at the Isles of Cape Verd or Cape Verd it self, and some at the Pike of Teneriff, one of the Canaries. The Spaniards would have it at Toledo; the Portuguese at Lisbon; and, in short, every Nation may fix it at their own Capital if they please; but as Ptolemy has been follow’d by most, ’tis like so to continue, especially since Lewis XIII of France did, by the Advice of the ablest Mathematicians, publish an Order of April 23, 1634, that it should be fix’d by his Subjects at the Isle of Fero, the most westerly of the Canaries.
It is now become usual to count the Longitude westward as well as eastward from the Place where Geographers fix their first Meridian.
The Difference among ’em [the geographers] about fixing this Meridian has made great Confusion in their Maps, and occasion’d much difficulty in finding the Longitude of Places, . . . The only way to remedy this at present is, to give an account of the different Places where they fix their Meridians, and of their Distances from one another.
Bleau, the Dutch Geographer, and most of his Countrymen, place it at the Pike of Teneriff, one of the Canaries.
The French, as we have heard already, generally fix theirs at the Isle of Fero, and some of them at Paris.
Our English Geographers, as Camden, Speed, and others, fix it in the Azores Islands; some at the Isle of Corvo; and others, which is most foliow’d, at the Isle of St. Michael’s; and later ones place it at London (p. 6).
On the Map of the World in this atlas (Senex’s) the meridian of London is marked 360, and longitude is reckoned eastward. On the Map of Europe, the meridian of London is marked 0, and longitude is reckoned both east and west from it. The other maps also appear to reckon from London in both directions.
In John Barrow’s Navigatio Britannica, London, 1750, in Chapter VIII, “Of Navigation,” pages 157–158, it is stated that the first meridian is variously placed by geographers, but that most of the English use that of London, and from this meridian longitude is reckoned both eastward and westward till it terminates in 180°, the opposite meridian.
From the Massachusetts almanacs of the period of Barrow’s publication it would appear that their authors were among those making use of the longitude of London.
It will now be interesting to locate as nearly as we may the positions occupied by the agonic line, to which we have referred, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Fortunately some of the publications of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey will give us great assistance to this end. Besides its other work regarding terrestrial magnetism, that organization has made historical compilations on the subject of magnetic declinations throughout the earth and of their variations and changes during the last few centuries; for it is only by having data extending through a long period of time that the laws governing the mysterious workings of the earth’s magnetism can be ascertained. Of the series of papers on this subject issued by the Survey I have already referred to Bulletin No. 6 dated June 7, 1888. I would now call your attention to United States Magnetic Declination Tables and Isogonic Charts for 1902, etc., by L. A. Bauer, Chief of Division of Terrestrial Magnetism, second edition, referring especially to the division or chapter entitled “Principal Facts Relating to the Earth’s Magnetism,” pages 11 to 77 inclusive, as covering valuable historical material bearing upon the period we have in mind. I have reproduced the illustration on page 44 entitled “Fig. 8.—Comparison of the secular change curves of the magnetic declination at various stations in the Northern Hemisphere,” and incorporate it herewith. By following down the curve on Figure 8, bearing the name of any place we may find the estimated east or west compass declination at that place at any time between the years 1500 and 1900. The curve marked “Fayal Island, Azores” is the one which chiefly concerns us. Regarding this curve the following statement is made in the text:
In the case of Fayal Island it will be noticed that prior to 1600 two curves, one in full and the other broken, are given; the broken curve represents a repetition of the same law which governed the secular change at this station between 1600 and present date, while the full curve has been drawn to harmonize with the observations back to the time of Columbus. It will be seen that there is a marked difference between the two curves for the date 1500 (pp. 43–44).
From this language I do not understand the author to mean that the full line prior to where the broken line parts from it in 1600 is incorrect, but only that its position is not so fully substantiated as it is after 1600. At any rate the curves show at least that for some seventy-five years previous to 1650 the declination on Fayal was not more than 2½°; and that at a time shortly after 1650, viz. where the curve crosses the 0° line, there was no declination at Fayal; in other words, that the agonic line then passed through that island.
As one approaches an agonic line from either side, the magnetic declinations of the isogonic lines which are successively crossed become less and less up to the zero point of the agonic line. The island of St. Michael differing from Fayal only by about three degrees of longitude and slightly less than one degree of latitude, the magnetic declination of that island from, say, 1570 to 1660 could have differed only slightly from that of Fayal, or from that of Pico, which is very close to Fayal. In like manner the declination of Corvo, which is about two and a half degrees west of Fayal, could not have differed much from that of Fayal, or much even from the declination of St. Michael’s. Mariner’s compasses were not always adjusted in the same manner; in the case of such differences their respective needles would not point in strictly identical directions.795 As a further consequence the compass needle of one navigator would point due north in one place and that of another in a different place.
Fig. 8.—Comparison of the secular change curves of the magnetic declination at various stations in the Northern Hemisphere,
It appearing then from Figure 8 and Plate B and the other authorities cited, that during the latter part and perhaps the whole of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century the agonic line in question ran near or through the Azores, we can well understand how one or more navigators or cosmographers came to select the meridian of Pico for instance as an initial meridian, and certain others that of St. Michael’s.
It will be noticed that on said Plate B there are given agonic lines for 1700, 1800, etc. In the text of Bulletin No. 6 the author says:
We may remark that the change between 1600 or 1630 and 1700 should not be conceived as having been produced by a great sweep of the northern portion of the agonic curve across Europe and Africa, but rather as a gradual breaking through of the narrow neck of east declination in the vicinity of Cape Verde islands, and thus readily uniting with the previously existing southern branch of the agonic line, which, in 1600, skirted the southwestern coast of Africa. The isolated patch of east declination thus produced apparently drifted off to the eastward and northward (p. 33).
By referring again to Figure 8 it will be observed that the curve of London crosses the line of no variation soon after the year 1650. In the text of the Magnetic Declination Tables for 1902 (page 41), the author states that about 1658 the needle at that place stood truly north and south, whereas about 1580 it was at a maximum of 11° or 11¼° E. And in Table II, “Showing the secular change in the magnetic declination at various places,” on the same page it appears that in 1660 the declination at London was 0°.59 W. and at Paris 0°.86 E. Again consulting Figure 8 it appears that after, say, 1653, the west declination at Fayal rapidly increased until by 1750 it had reached about 15 degrees. From the above it appears that by 1660 the agonic line had lost its characteristic of running in a direction nearly north and south, and was also drifting away from Fayal and the Azores. The reason, therefore, why longitude should begin at St. Michael’s, given by John Davis and by other writers, no longer existed. But books, including almanacs, globes, and maps, had been published giving the meridian of St. Michael’s as the prime meridian or reckoning the longitude of places therefrom and many navigators had become used to that meridian; and there would be no reason for changing unless a decided advantage in having a new prime meridian should become apparent. The existing way of reckoning longitude continued, I infer, until towards the close of the seventeenth century. At that period, as we have seen, the longitude or meridian of London (which I understand to have been the same as that of Greenwich) appears more or less in evidence as the prime meridian. The use of this as the initial meridian kept on increasing, I assume, until it became fixed and established for Britain and her colonies by the publication of successive numbers of the Nautical Almanac, which began in 1766, as I have before stated.
I have spoken of the changes of the compass declination and of the changes in the position of the agonic lines. It is stated by Charles A. Schott that the first writer who clearly asserted the existence of a change in the declination with time was Henry Gellibrand (1597–1636) of Gresham College, England. In 1635 he published his work entitled A Discourse Mathematicall on the Variation of the Magneticall Needle, together with its admirable Diminution lately discovered. Previous to the announcement of his discovery it was the general belief that the declination at any one place was invariable. Now, however, the fact of the secular variation became completely established, and it remained to later times to determine its extent and develop the law governing this change, and to endeavor to find its cause.796 In Bulletin No. 5 (page 25), referred to in footnote 1, Schott states that among the methods of finding the longitude at sea, the author of the Arcano del Mare797 brings forward, as others had done before him, one that depends on the observed changes of the magnetic declination. And on page 26 of Bulletin No. 5 he has a footnote which has such a direct bearing upon the matters herein treated that I quote it in full:
The adoption of one of the islands of the Azores for the location of the initial meridian in counting longitudes is said to have come about through the circumstance that at the time of adoption the variation of the compass-needle was zero or nearly zero at those islands, but for positions to the eastward the variation was easterly and increasing with distance from them, and for positions to the westward the variation was westerly and increasing. The temporary selection of this initial meridian is thus connected with the great problem of determining longitude at sea by the aid of the direction of the horizontal magnetic needle.
The only uniformly continuous and accurate way of ascertaining longitude at sea is, of course, through the exact measurements of intervals of time. But there was no means by which navigators could do this prior to the perfecting by John Harrison of his marine time keepers in or about the year 1761.798 At the period in mind, however, approximate compass declinations at divers positions of ascertained latitude and longitude on the Atlantic had become known, and the observation of the changes from one declination to another during the progress of a voyage must have been of assistance in estimating longitude.799
In connection with what has gone before I ask a moment’s attention to the paper on Winthrop’s Course across the Atlantic before referred to, and to the sketch accompanying it. It is there stated that the purpose of Winthrop’s navigators appears to have been to reach a position directly north of the Azores at or near the parallel of 43° 15′ and then to run down that parallel and sight Cape Sable. Winthrop in his Journal does not refer to a prime meridian through St. Michael’s or other island of the Azores, but he says that on April 29 (1630) they were “near the meridian of the Terceras” and that on May 9 they were supposed to be a little west of Corvo.800 These statements, together with the fact that they turned to due west at a point north of the Azores, may have a tendency to show that this westerly course began at or near what they considered the prime meridian, or at or near the place where their compasses showed no declination.
From the authorities cited it appears that in Massachusetts during a period of somewhat over sixty years after the landing at Plymouth longitude was reckoned from the so-called meridian of St. Michael’s, and in the easterly direction only; that during this period and for the anterior period back to the time of Elizabeth, the same meridian was also made use of by most English navigators and geographers as a prime meridian; that the meridian of St. Michael’s acquired this distinction because the agonic line had run close to it in a general north and south direction through several degrees of latitude for a good many years, and because by many the agonic line was supposed to coincide with it; that divers other prime meridians were in use during said period by the navigators and geographers of other nations; and that some of these prime meridians ran across other islands of the Azores, certain of them having been selected because, as in the case of the meridian of St. Michael’s, the agonic line was supposed to coincide with them, and one or more, perhaps, because they were the meridians of the most westerly lands known for a substantial period before the discovery of America.
I submit the foregoing historical material and conclusions, believing that they are important to have in mind in the consideration or treatment of matters pertaining to navigation in the seventeenth century.
Mr. Henry H. Edes, the delegate appointed by the President to attend the inauguration of Mr. Abbott Lawrence Lowell as President of Harvard College on the sixth day of October last, made an oral report. He described the ceremonies in the College Yard in the presence of a vast concourse of the alumni and distinguished guests, the choral singing, the conferring of honorary degrees on thirty eminent scholars, the hospitality extended to the delegates and the ladies accompanying them, the meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association in Memorial Hall, the luncheon given by President and Mrs. Lowell, the evening concert by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the spectacular students’ celebration in the Stadium, the reception and afternoon tea at the new Medical School, and the dinner given by the Corporation at the Harvard Union in honor of the delegates. He also described the brilliant pageant on the morning of the inauguration when the more than two hundred delegates, in academic robes and hoods of many colors, marched in procession from Phillips Brooks House to the platform built in front of University Hall; and the equally brilliant scene on the following morning when the delegates, similarly attired, marched to Sanders Theatre to be formally presented to the newly-installed President. Mr. Edes called attention to the fact that among the delegates representing the principal universities, colleges, and learned societies of Europe and America, were seven of our own fellowship—President Arthur Twining Hadley of Yale, who, at the presentation in Sanders Theatre, spoke on behalf of the American delegates, Franklin Carter of Williams College, Waldo Lincoln, President of the American Antiquarian Society, Frederick Jackson Turner of the University of Wisconsin, Horace Davis of Leland Stanford, Jr., University, Henry Lefavour of Simmons College, and the delegate from this Society; and that our associates Dean William Wallace Fenn, Mr. Morris Hickey Morgan, and Mr. William Coolidge Lane had prominent parts in the ceremonies attending the induction of Mr. Lowell to office. Mr. Edes also mentioned that at the dinner, with which the celebration closed, several pieces of the ancient College silver were on the President’s table, including the “Great Salt,” given in 1644 by Mr. Richard Harris of Cambridge; two large loving-cups, with covers, given early in the eighteenth century,—one by Lieutenant-Governor Stoughton, the other by Colonel William Browne of Salem; and a bowl, formerly owned by President Holyoke, given in 1903 by his descendant, Miss Charlotte Augusta Hedge.801
Most of the learned bodies that were represented at the inauguration sent addresses of salutation. That presented from this Society was as follows:802
To The President and fellows of Harvard College The Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Upon the momentous occasion of the inauguration of your distinguished scholar Abbott Lawrence Lowell, LL.D., as the twenty-fourth President of Harvard College, we avail ourselves of the privilege of transmitting to you by our Associate Henry Herbert Edes our profound felicitations
We are confident that under the wise and able administration which is now beginning your venerable University will steadfastly continue to be an inspiration and guide to our youth in their pursuit of knowledge and a beacon and aid to humanity in its developing civilization
As our fathers found in the College set in their midst the source of their intellectual and spiritual life, so will the coming generations in this Commonwealth recognize an ever increasing indebtedness to their greatest University for its continuous and unstinted service to mankind
Given at Boston this sixth day of October, in the year of present Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and nine
The Colonial Society of Massachusetts
Charles Edwards Park,
The Rev. Dr. Edward Caldwell Moore of Cambridge was elected a Resident Member.