The incidents of the last seven years of the life of this distinguished prince, are involved in uncertainty, and we know very little with regard to the progress of his maritime discoveries from 1456, the date of the second of the voyages of Cada Mosto, of which we propose to give a separate account, till the year of his death, 1463.
Voyage of Cada Mosto from Venice to Cape St Vincent: He enters into the service of Don Henry, and sets out for the New Discoveries: Relation of the Voyage to Madeira and the Canaries; with some Account of these islands, and their Inhabitants.
It is possible that the original journal of Cada Mosto may have had leagues of three marine miles each, in which case the residence of Battimansa may have been at or near the Devils Point, above 100 miles up the river.
Few persons, perhaps, will be disposed to think the credit of the Africans, however positive, or the belief of the author, however strong, sufficient evidence of the truth of this story. Yet it certainly is a common report of the country, and not the invention of Cada Mosto.
Ramusio imagined that the discoveries of Cada Mosto might tend to great importance, as he considered the rivers Senegal and Rio Grande to be branches of the Niger, by which means the Europeans might open a trade with the rich kingdoms of Tombuto and Melli on that river, and thus bring gold from the countries of the Negroes, by an easier, safer, and more expeditious manner, than as conveyed by the Moors of Barbary by land, over the vast and dangerous deserts that intervene between the country on the Niger and Senegal rivers, and Barbary.
Sea, 193. Hist. of the Disc. of India, prefixed to the translation of the Lusiad, I. 158. Alvise Da Cada Mosto, a Venetian, in the service of Don Henry of Portugal, informs us in his preface, that he was the first navigator from the noble city of Venice, who had sailed on the ocean beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, to the southern parts of Negroland, and Lower Ethiopia.
Ca da Mosto expressed his wish to be employed, was informed of the terms that would be granted, and heard that a Venetian would be well received by the prince, "because he was of opinion, that spices and other rich merchandise might be found in those parts, and know that the Venetians understood these commodities better than any other nation."
In 1454, Ca da Mosto, a young Venetian, who had already gained some experience in voyaging, happened to be on board a Venetian galley that was detained by contrary winds at Cape St. Vincent. Prince Henry was then living close to the Cape. He sent his secretary and the Venetian consul on board the galley.
In a note to the second voyage of Cada Mosto, it has been already noticed that he seems to have given the name of Rio Grande to the channel between the Bissagos islands, or shoals of the Rio Grande and the Main. This river Besegue, may possibly be the strait or channel which divides the island named particularly Bissagos, or more properly Bissao, from that of Bassis or Bussi.
Yet, on the other hand, they are very charitable; for they give a dinner or a night's lodging and a supper, to all strangers who come to their houses, without expecting any return. Here it appears that the religion, of the court at least, was Mohammedan, and Ca da Mosto records a conversation which he had with Budomel upon the subject.