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of provisions. While conveying such minute information he would hardly have failed to advert to a fact so remarkable in itself, and bearing moreover so directly on the question of the supposed practicability of the enterprise.
On the occasion alluded to, the lat. of 67° and-a-half had been attained on the 11th June. This could not have been in 1497, because land was first seen on the 24th of June of that
year. With regard to the expedition of 1498, which Peter Martyr and Gomara are supposed more particularly to refer to, the month of July is named as that in which the great struggle with the ice occurred. Did not Cabot, then, instructed by experience, sail from England earlier in the year than on the former occasions? In order to be within the eighth year of Henry VIII. mentioned by Eden, he must have got off before the 22nd of April, if he sailed in 1517.
The advance on this occasion was so far beyond what had been made on former voyages, that Thorne does not hesitate to give to the region newly visited the designation of Newfoundland ; and it was then probably that Cabot “sailed into Hudson's Bay and gave English names to sundry places therein."*
No date is mentioned by Ramusio for the voyage alluded to in Cabot's letter, though from his speaking of that Navigator as having made discoveries in the time of Henry VII., the reader might be led to refer it to that early period. One expression is remarkable. After stating Cabot's long-continued course West with a quarter of the North, and his reaching 67o and-a-half, Ramusio says that he would have gone further but for the“ malignità del padrone et de marinari sollevati,” (the refusal of the master and the mutinous mariners.) We can hardly err in referring this allusion to Sir Thomas Pret, “whose faint heart,” according to Eden, “was the cause that the voyage took none effect.”
* Anderson's History of Commerce, vol. i. p. 549. M‘Pherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. ii. p. 12.
It only remains to express a hope that as the errors with regard to this voyage had become so firmly fired, and their rectification was so important to the fame of Cabot, the preceding tedious detail will be excused. Dr. Robertson, who it appears by the list of authorities prefixed to his History of America knew of Oviedo only through the Italian translation, thus speaks of the memorable expedition :
“ Some merchants of Bristol having fitted out two ships for the Southern regions of America, committed the conduct of them to Sebastian Cabot, who had quitted the service of Spain. He visited the coasts of Brazil, and touched at the islands of Hispaniola and Porto Rico," &c. (Book ix.) And in a work of the present year, (Lardner's Cyclopædia, Maritime and Inland Discovery, vol. ii. p. 138,) it is said, “ Sebastian Cabot sailed in 1516 with Sir John Pert to Porto Rico, and afterwards returned to Spain.”
CABOT APPOINTED, IN 1518, PILOT-MAJOR OF SPAIN-SUMMONED TO ATTEND
THE CONGRESS AT BADAJOS IN 1524-PROJECTED EXPEDITION UNDER
HIS COMMAND TO THE MOLUCCAS.
The result of the expedition of 1517, however it may have added in England to the fame of Cabot for ardent enterprise and dauntless intrepidity, was not such as to lead immediately to a renewed effort. There had been a failure; and a second expedition might be frustrated by similar causes.
The merchants who were engaged in it had probably sustained a heavy loss, and the king was at that time full of anxious speculations about the affairs of the Continent. The horrible Sweating-Sickness, too, which, from July to December 1517, spread death and dismay not only through the court and the city, but over the whole kingdom, suspending even the ordinary operations of commerce, left no time to think of the prosecution of a distant and precarious enterprise. It is probable, therefore, that Cabot might have languished in inactivity but for the new and more auspicious aspect of affairs in Spain.
If the youthful successor of Ferdinand had looked into the volume dedicated to him by Peter Martyr, containing a faithful and copious account of that splendid empire in the west to which he had succeeded, he could not fail to be struck with the memorable enterprise of Cabot, and the estimate of his character by that honest chronicler. The records, too, would shew the pains which had been taken to secure his services, and the posts of honour and confidence to which he had been rapidly advanced. It would doubtless be asked, what had been the issue of that expedition under his command, which it appeared was to sail in March 1516.
Coupling its abandonment with what he found stated of the jealous denial of that Navigator's merits by the Spaniards, the sagacity of Charles could hardly fail to detect the secret causes of Cabot's disappearance.
Immediate measures in the way of atonement would seem to have been taken. In 1518 Cabot was named Pilot Major of Spain.*
The appointment is noted in the general arrangement and scheme of reformation of that year, but we find it announced again in 1520, (Dec. ii. lib. ix. cap. vii.) with the instructions of the emperor that no pilot should proceed to the Indies without previous examination and approval by him.t Possibly, therefore, the final arrangement was not concluded until the visit of Charles V. to England in the latter year. It would seem that there was no intermediate Pilot Major between Juan de Solis and Cabot, for in a Royal order of 16th November 1523, relative to a charge in the time of De Solis, on the salary of the office, (Navarette, tom. iii. p. 308,) Cabot is spoken of as his successor.
The functions of this office, though of great importance and responsibility, supply, of course, but few incidents for record. We might expect to find the project of the North-West passage revived, but many considerations were opposed to it. The same reasons which suggested the passage in the North as so desirable to England, on account of her local position, would disincline Spain from the search; and we accordingly find, that the only feeble efforts in reference to it were those of Cortez and Gomez on the southern coast of North America. All
eyes were directed to the South. Peter Martyr is even impatient that attention should be turned towards Florida where Ayllon had landed in 1523, and made a tedious report as to its productions. “What need have we of these things which are common with all the people
* Herrera, Dec. ii. lib. iii. cap. vii. Ensaio Chronologico para la Florida, Introduccion.
+ Diòse titulo Piloto Major à Sebastian Gaboto con orden que ningun Piloto pasase à las Indias sin ser primero por el examinado i aprobado.
of Europe? To the South! To the South! They that seek riches must not go to the cold and frozen North,” (Dec. viii. cap. x.) The hopes of adventurers were directed to the Moluccas, through the passage which Magellan had been fortunate enough to find in 53°, through toils and perils so much less than those which had been encountered in vain in the North. The next mention we find of Cabot, is a reference to his opinion, (Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. iv. cap. xx.) as to the existence of many islands worthy of being explored, in the same region with the Moluccas. Seeing that the spirit of enterprise had taken this direction, he seems to have looked to it as affording a chance of more active employment than his present office. An incident soon brought him conspicuously forward in connexion with this region.
Portugal had interposed an earnest representation that the Moluccas fell within the limits assigned to her under the Papal Bull, and she remonstrated, in the strongest terms, against any attempt on the part of Spain to carry on a commerce in that quarter.* The emperor decided, therefore, that a solemn conference should be held, at which the subject might be fully discussed and an opportunity afforded to Portugal of stating her pretensions. The son of Columbus, Ferdinand, was also present.+
In attendance on this remarkable assemblage, were the men most famed for their nautical knowledge and experience ; not as members, but for the purpose of reference as occasion might arise. At the head of a list of these, we find the name of Cabot. The conference was held at Badajos, in April, 1524, and on the 31st May the decision was solemnly proclaimed, declaring that the Moluccas were situate, by at least 20°, within the Spanish limits. The Portuguese retired in disgust, and rumours immediately reached Spain, that the young king of Portugal was preparing a great fleet to maintain his pretensions by force, and to take and
* Peter Martyr, Dec. vi. cap. ix. + Peter Martyr, Dec. vi. cap. X. I Gomara, cap. C.; Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. vi. cap. vi.; Eden, Decades, fol. 241.