|a profound repose settled upon the Northern half of the continent, broken only by the war-whoop of the savage or the restless cry of his fellow wild beast in the wilderness.
In the meanwhile Balboa had caught from the heights of Darien the first glimpse of the Pacific, and in an impetuous moment of loyal fervor claimed it and all its islands for the Spanish crown. Cortez unlocked the coffers of Mexico, and Pizarro, following in his wake, broke into the still more glittering treasures of Peru. Even the French, proverbially slow in breaking the ties which bind them to their homes, under the pressure of religious persecution, had sent out two short-lived colonies to the shores of the Port Royal and the St. Johns. But England in the midst of this general stir, remained passive and indifferent. Various causes have been assigned for this apparent apathy in a people since distinguished above all others for the restless spirit of aggression which has invaded every quarter of the globe. It has been suggested that under the decree of the Pope in 1493, all the seas and dry land westward from a line drawn from Pole to Pole, a hundred leagues West of the Azores had been determined to be within the lawful jurisdiction of Spain, and to venture, therefore, across that line was to declare war against, the proudest and most powerful monarchy in Europe.
The hazard of such an undertaking, as far as England was concerned, was heightened by the negotiations then pending between Henry VII. and Ferdinand, for the espousal of the Princess Catharine to Arthur and