Imágenes de páginas

after Cabot ; touched at the Canaries, as he had done; found its way to the La Plata; fixed itself in his neighbourhood, and, finally, by the misconduct of certain persons connected with it, brought on a general and overwhelming attack on Cabot, from the natives, who had previously, by a mixture of boldness and good management, been brought into alliance with him. Charlevoix (Histoire du Paraguay, tom. i. p. 28) supposes that Garcia was employed avowedly by Portugal; but according to Herrera, (Dec. iii. lib. x. cap. 1.) the expedition was fitted out by the Count D. Fernando de Andrada and others, for the La Plata, and consisted of a ship, of one hundred tons, a pinnace, and one brigantine, with the frame of another to be put together as occasion might require. One great object was to search for Juan de Cartagena, and the French priest whom Magellan had put on shore. Garcia left Cape Finisterre on the 5th of August 1526, and touching at the Canaries (where Cabot had been) took in supplies and sailed thence the 1st of September.

These plain matters of fact have been recently mis-stated. In Dr. Lardner's Cyclopædia (History of Maritime and Inland Discovery, vol. ii. p. 89,) it is said, “Diego Garcia was sent with a single ship to the river of Solis ; but as he lingered on his way at the Canary Islands, he was anticipated in his discoveries by Sebastian Cabot. That celebrated Navigator had sailed from Spain a few months later than Garcia,” &c. Cabot sailed in April 1526. The fact is important, because had he left Spain under the circumstances stated, he could not have been ignorant of the claim of Garcia, under a grant, as is alleged, from the emperor, and his going to the same quarter, would have been both fraudulent and absurd. His manifest ignorance on the subject corroborates the suspicion that, on finding the intrigues to arrest Cabot ineffectual, this expedition, under the command of the Portuguese, was hastily got up to watch his movements, and probably to act in concert with the disaffected, with an understanding as to certain points of rendezvous in case the mutineers should gain the mastery. It is important to note that in Peter Martyr, whose work embraces the early part of 1526,* no reference is made to any projected expedition to the quarter for which, as it is now said, Garcia was destined.

At Decade iv. lib. i. cap. i. Herrera resumes his abstract of Garcia's report. That personage is now off the coast of Brasil. He touched at the Bay of St. Vincent, and there found a Portuguese of the degree of Bachelor, from whom he received refreshments, and whose son-in-law agreed to accompany him to the La Plata. In running down the coast he touched at the island of Patos (now St. Catherine) in 27° where Cabot had been before him, and, as Garcia asserts, had behaved in a very shameful manner, carrying off the sons of several chiefs who had treated bim with great kindness. Proceeding up the La Plata, Garcia found the ships which Cabot, on ascending the river, had left under the charge of an officer. He resolved to follow in his brigantine; and here we are let into the character of this personage. While at St. Vincent, he had hired to his host, the Bachelor, the ship of a hundred tons, to carry eight hundred slaves to Portugal; and “to colour,” says Herrera, “his covetousness, he said, that he had protested to the Count Don Fernando de Andrada, that the vessel was useless, being much too large for the navigation and discovery of the La Plata.”+ Thus, with the blindness of an absurd prejudice, has the author consented to spread upon his pages all the malignant invective of this man against Cabot—to make it a part of the History of the Indies -and yet he winds up, at last, by telling us of Garcia's fraud, and of the falsehood by which it was sought to be disguised ! The Portuguese, in order to break the force of indignation against himself, evidently laboured to turn the resentment of his em

* He speaks of the marriage of the Emperor with the sister of the King of Portugal which took place in March 1526.

t Para dar color esta codicia, dixo que havia protestado al Conde on Fernando de Andrada que no le diese esta nave porque era mui grande è inutil para la navegacion i descubrimiento del Rio de la Plata.” Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. i. cap. i.


ployers on Cabot, by whom they supposed their views to have been thwarted. One reflection is obvious. If this man could be seduced from his duty by the Portuguese Bachelor, we may presume that the agents of Portugal had no great difficulty in negotiating with him and inducing him to give his voyage a turn to suit their purposes. Even supposing his employers, then, honest and sincere, we have no assurance that he did not act from sinister motives. We shall meet Garcia again in the La Plata.

There is another circumstance, somewhat posterior in point of time, but which serves to shew the anxious expedients to which Portugal did not disdain to resort, even at the expense of its dignity. A Portuguese, named Acosta, returned with Cabot from Brazil, and immediately afterwards the king of Portugal was detected in an unworthy correspondence with him. * It is remarkable, also, that the complaints of the mutineers whom Cabot put ashore were brought to Spain by a Portuguese vessel. †

* Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. x. cap. vi. + Ib. Dec. iv. lib. iii. cap. i.






In a letter dated November, 1525, Peter Martyr* speaks of the expedition as at length about to sail. It was doomed, however, to yet further delays; and even in matters of detail the presence of an evil spirit is but too obvious.

Three ships were provided by the Emperor, to which a small caravel was added by an individual. The principal authority over the arrangements would seem to have been exercised by certain agents or deputies (disputados) named by the freighters. They controlled Cabot, in every particular; and it is obvious, therefore, that the fate of the expedition lay in their integrity or corruptibility. The whole sum which the company had at stake is stated to have been only ten thousand ducats.

The leading subject of difference between Cabot and these persons, as appears by the meager accounts left to us, was as to the person who should fill the office of Lieutenant-General. Cabot was anxious for the appointment of his friend De Rufis i but the choice of the agents fell on Martin Mendez who had been in one of Magellan's ships as Treasurer, (contador) a situation bearing, it may be presumed, an analogy to the present office

* Decade viii. cap. ix. + Such is the account of Herrera, confirmed by Robert Thorne. Writers who make a different statement (Charlevoix, for example, in his Histoire du Paraguay, tom. i. p. 25) have been misled by looking to the original requisition of Cabot instead of the limited force finally placed under his command.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

of Purser. They are said to have made the selection on account of their differences with Cabot.* These disputes rose to such a height that the Emperor was urged to appoint another commander. When it is stated that this same Martin Mendez was one of those expelled from the squadron, for mutiny, by Cabot, who afterwards justified himself to the Emperor for having done so, we not only see the irksome position in which he was placed, but will, probably, deem the efforts to get rid of him the highest compliment to his energy and incorruptibility. A hollow compromise was at length effected by a provision, on paper, that Mendez should take part in nothing which was not expressly committed to him by Cabot, and never act except in the absence or disability of the chief. Thus, with regard to an officer to whom the commander should be able to look, at every turn, for confidential counsel and cordial co-operation, the utmost that Cabot could procure was a stipulation that he should preserve a sullen indifference, and not be actively mischievous.

A number of young men of family, animated by the love of adventure, joined the Expedition, and amongst them three brothers of Balboa.

There are two personages destined to act, with Mendez, a conspicuous part, and who may therefore be here mentioned. The first was Miguel de Rodas, a sort of supernumerary, to whom no particular post was assigned, but who is stated to have been a man of great valour and nautical experience, and to have enjoyed the favour of the emperor. The other was Francisco de Rojas, captain of one of the ships, the Trinidad. Though a slight


*Los disputados de los armadores por diferencias que con el General avian tenido quisieron que fuesse Martin Mendez y no Miguel de Rufis à quien pretendia llevar en este cargo Sebastian Gaboto.” Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix.

cap. iii.

† “ Que no se occupasse sino en las cosas que el General le cometiese, y estando ausente o impedido, y no de otra manera porque le llevaba contra su voluntad.” Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii.

Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii.

« AnteriorContinuar »