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difference is perceptible in the names, they would seem to have been brothers, for, at a subsequent period,* in speaking of the leading conspirators, these two are described, with a yet further variation, as “ los dos hermanos Roxas i Martin Mendez,” (“the two brothers Roxas and Martin Mendez.")
The most extraordinary part, however, of the arrangement, consisted of the Sealed Orders, of which a copy was given to each vessel.+ We are not informed at what time they were to be opened, but from the nature of their contents we may infer that it was to be done immediately on getting to sea, and from the sequel we may infer how idle would have been any injunction of forbearance. Provision was therein made for the death of Cabot, and eleven persons were named on whom, in succession, the command in chief was to devolve. Should this list be exhausted, à choice was to be made by general vote throughout the squadron, and in case of an equality of suffrages the candidates were to decide between themselves by casting lots ! At the head of the list are found the three individuals just mentioned. It is remarkable that Gregario Caro, the captain of one of the ships and who is afterwards found in command of the fort in the La Plata when Cabot ascended further up the river, stands last on this list, after all the treasurers and accountants. This person is subsequently stated I to have been a nephew of the Bishop of Canaria, and seems to have acted throughout with integrity.
It would be difficult to imagine a scheme better calculated to nourish disaffection. Each individual of note found a provision by which he might be brought into the chief command, and was invited to calculate the chances of its reaching him through the successive disappearance of his predecessors on the
and the crews, while under the pressure of severe discipline, not only saw a hope of bettering their condition by a change, but at each step approached nearer to the clause which placed the supreme power in their own gift. A contingency thus provided for they knew must have been deemed, at home, within the range of possible occurrences, and they would have little disposition to let the precaution be found a superfluous one.
* Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. i. cap. i. + Ib. Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii.
Ib. Dec. iv. lib. i. cap. i.
While there exist so many causes for misunderstanding Cabot's conduct, and motives for misrepresenting it, the writer, unfortunately, whose statements have since been adopted, almost without question, prepared his history under circumstances little inclining him to impartiality. The Decades of Peter Martyr terminate before the sailing of the expedition, and the venerable author complains, at the close, of the infirmities which then pressed on him in his seventieth year. The next work—that of Gomarraappeared in 1552, shortly after Cabot had abandoned the service of Spain, and returned to his native country. Charles V., in 1549, had made a formal, but ineffectual, demand on Edward VI. for his return.* That Gomarra had his eye on him in this new and invidious position is evident, because in speaking of the conference at Badajos he incidentally mentions Cabot as one of the few survivors of those who had been present on that occasion, (cap. C.) In a work, therefore, dedicated to the Emperor, we are not to look for a vindication of our navigator from the calumnies which might be current to his disadvantage; and we find, accordingly, every allusion to him deeply tinctured with prejudice. The mutineers, of whom a severe example was made, had enjoyed a high reputation at home, and were doubtless able to raise a clamorous party. Those who fitted out the expedition of Garcia, were led to regard Cabot invidiously, and when it is added that the mercantile loss of his own employers would unavoidably lead, on the part of some, to reproachful criticism, however unmerited, we see at once that his reputation lay at the mercy of a writer ready and eager to embody the suggestions of disappointment or malevolence.
Strype's Memorials of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 190.
But our patience is exhausted by the long detention of the expedition. It sailed at length in the beginning of April, 1526.*
* Gomara, cap. lxxxix. Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii. Robert Thorne (1 Hakluyt, p. 215.) There has been a general misconception on this point in English compilations, attributable, probably, to the wretched version of Herrera by Stevens, which names April 1525, (Stevens' Translation, vol. iii. p. 380,) in defiance of the work it professes to translate. The same mistake is found in Campbell's Lives of the Admirals, and the source of the author's error becomes manifest by his incautious citation of Herrera. The reference given is totally inapplicable to the original work, but corresponds exactly with the new and arbitrary distribution of Decades, books, and chapters by Stevens. In most recent works the date is misstated, amongst the rest by Mr. Southey, (History of Brasil, p. 52,) and by the Quarterly Review (vol. iv. p. 459.) The former writer, speaking of this voyage in 1526, infers from Cabot's being called Pilot-Major, that Americus Vespucius who had held that office was ' probably" then dead, (p. 52,) a singular remark, as it is well known that Vespucius died fifteen years before. He was succeeded, as we have seen, by Juan Dias de Solis. Cabot's appointment as Pilot-Major in 1518, his attendance at Badajos, &c., are altogether unnoticed in the pretended translation of Stevens!
COMPLAINTS IN THE SQUADRON-PRETENDED CAUSES OF DISSATISFACTION
MUTINY-QUELLED BY THE ENERGY OF CABOT-HAPPY RESULTS-HIS
BY THE PORTUGUESE, DIEGO GARCIA.
We look for an explosion as the vessels quit the shore. It would seem, however, that the train was prepared to burn more slowly. The Squadron is seen to move on steadily and in silence, but beneath the fair and smiling canvass we know there is dark treachery.
In attempting to pierce the obscurity which veils the scenes that follow, and to place ourselves by the side of Cabot, we have unfortunately to rely on those whose very purpose is disparagement. Yet to that quarter we do not fear to turn, and have at least an assurance that we shall find whatever the most malignant industry could collect.
Something is said by Herrera as to a scarcity of provisions, owing, as far as he will speak out, to their injudicious distribution amongst the vessels. Now it is quite inconceivable that in an expedition prepared for the circumnavigation of the globe there should have been found this deficiency on the coast of Brasil, and the fact, moreover, would be disgraceful to the commanders of the other vessels, and to the agents at home. It is obvious that while nothing is more unlikely than such improvidence on the part of Cabot, it would be easy for disaffected officers to circulate amongst the men complaints of scarcity, and thus refer the odium of a limited allowance to the Commander-in-Chief.
We hear, also, that he did not take sufficient pains to soothe the angry feelings which had been excited at Seville.* Then it seems that dissatisfaction arose not from any thing occurring during the voyage, but from continued brooding over antecedent griefs. Doubtless, Martin Mendez, of whose unfitness Cabot had made a representation, and against whose mischievous intermeddling he had been forced to obtain a stipulation, was in no very complacent mood, even if we put out of view the probability of his having been tampered with by the Portuguese. The complaint, too, that Cabot did not sufficiently exert himself to make others forget the late angry discussions, comes from the very persons who broke out into open mutiny, and whose statements, embittered by a recollection of the severe punishment inflicted on them, compose our evidence. It might be superfluous to add a word to this explanation, yet the remark cannot be forborne, that if there be one trait in the character of Cabot more clearly established than another, it is the remarkable gentleness of his deportment; and in every reference to him, by those who had enjoyed a personal intercourse, there breaks forth some endearing form of expression that marks affectionate attachment.
But pretexts will never be wanting where a mutinous temper exists. The squadron was running down the coast of Brasil when it seems to have been thought necessary to bring matters to a crisis. Murmurs became general and vehement. The Lieutenant-General Mendez, De Rojas, and De Rodas were louder than the rest, in blaming the government of Cabot.+ In a word, relying on the clamour they had raised, it is plain that these men now
* The whole passage has that air of vagueness so characteristic of falsehood.
Porque le faltò la victualla por ser mal repartida y como por las diferencias de Sevilla, iban algunos animos mal satisfechos y èl tuvo poco cuydado en sossegarlos nacieron murmuraciones y atrevimientos en el armada.” Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii.
+ “ Teniente de General, Martin Mendez, al Capitan Francisco de Rojas y a Miguel de Rodas porque demàs que les tenia mala voluntad, con libertad reprehendian su govierno.” (Herrera, Dec. iij. lib. ix. cap. iii.)