« AnteriorContinuar »
Del Guarani, dejando fabricada
* Another story, but too obviously false to screen the writer from the charge of fabrication, is found in Techo and embellished by Charlevoix (Histoire du Paraguay, Tom. i. p. 29.) It represents Cabot to have left behind a force of one hundred and twenty men, under the command of Nuno de Lara; and a series of romantic and tragic adventures is framed out of the attachment of a savage chieftain to the wife of Hurtado, one of the principal officers of the Garrison !
EMPLOYMENT OF CABOT AFTER HIS RETURN-RESUMES HIS FUNCTIONS AS
PILOT-MAJOR-MAKES SEVERAL VOYAGES-HIS HIGH REPUTATION-VISIT
Cabot must now, in 1531, have begun to feel the influence of advancing years, of which thirty-five had passed since the date of that patent from Henry VII. under which he made the great discovery in the north. The interval had been replete with toil, anxiety, and peril. Yet though he resumed, as we shall see, the functions of Pilot-Major, an unbroken spirit of enterprise drew him afterwards, repeatedly, on the Ocean. We turn now to the only evidence which remains, scanty as it is, of the occupations of this part of his life. Enough has been already said of the circumstances which
prove that the defence submitted to the Emperor must have been completely successful. The Conversation in Ramusio, heretofore so often referred to, now offers its testimony as to the general opinion in Spain, of his conduct during the eventful period through which he has just been conducted.
The reputation brought from the La Plata could not have been equivocal, for in the scenes through which Cabot had passed the most latent particle of fear, or indecision, must have started fatally into notice. The survivors of the expedition had seen Danger assume before him every terrifying form. In command of Spaniards he stood alone-an obnoxious stranger-in a fierce mutiny headed by brave and popular Spanish officers. He had been seen amidst sanguinary encounters, hand to hand, with hordes of ferocious savages, and extricating himself, on one occasion, only by the slaughter of more than three times the number of his own force. And finally, in the face of the blood-thirsty Guaranis, breaking furiously against his defences, he had calmly completed his arrangements and brought off all his people in safety. As the sail was spread, and they found themselves once more on the Ocean, the overwrought anxieties of his companions would seem to have melted into gratitude to their brave and ever-faithful commander. In the last look at that scene, for years, of toil and peril, how many incidents thronged before them all associated memorably with Him who now stood on the deck guiding them back to their country! And the feelings of attachment and admiration with which they bade adieu to the La Plata, found an eager expression, as we shall see, in the earliest report, at home, of their eventful story.
In reverting to the Conversation in Ramusio, which discloses the popular fame that henceforward attached itself to Cabot, we must not be accused of inconsistency for deeming it worthy of credit. The errors established heretofore were those in matter of detail, with regard to which the memory might well be unfaithful. The speaker is now to tell of the circumstances that led to the interview, and of general remarks better calculated to make a vivid impression.
As this is the Conversation which the Biographie Universelle could not find in Ramusio, we may be the more minute in our quotations.
The learned speaker, after a long discussion on the subject of cosmography, turns to the subject of the North-West Passage, and asks Fracastor and Ramusio if they had not heard of Sebastian Cabot,“ so valiant a man and so well practised in all things pertaining to navigation and the science of cosmography, that at this present he hath not his like in Spain, insomuch that for his virtues he is preferred above all other pilots that sail to the WestIndies, who may not pass thither without his license, and is therefore called Piloto-Mayor, that is, the Grand Pilot."*
* Eden's Decades, fol. 255. Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 6. The original. in Ramusio (tom. i. fol. 414 D. Ed. of 1554) “ Cosi valente et pratico delle cose
Receiving a reply in the negative, he proceeds to state, that finding himself at Seville, and being anxious to learn something of the maritime discoveries of the Spaniards, the public voice directed him to Sebastian Cabot as a very valiant man, (“un gran valent huomo”) then living in that city, who had the charge of those things, (" che havea l' carico di quelle.”) A wish seized him to see Cabot, (“subito volsi essere col detto.") He called, and we are now, for the first time, brought into a direct personal interview with this celebrated man.
“ I found him a most gentle and courteous person, who treated me with great kindness and shewed me a great many things; amongst the rest a great Map of the World, on which the several voyages of the Portuguese and Spaniards were laid down."*
The conversation then turned on the voyage from England in the time of Henry VII. and the subsequent events in the La Plata. Speaking of his return from the latter expedition, Cabot says
“ After this I made many other voyages, which I now pretermit, and growing old I give myself to rest from such labours, because there are now many young and vigorous seamen of good experience, by whose forwardness I do rejoice in the fruit of my labours, and rest with the charge of this office as
It is delightful to notice the manner in which he refers to Columbus. No paltry effort is made to despoil that great man of any portion of his fame. He speaks of the effect which the news produced in England; “ All men with great admiration affirmed
pertinenti alla Navigatione et all Cosmographia che in Spagna al presente non v’é suo pari et la sua virtu l'ha fatto preporre à tutti li Pilotti che navigano all' Indie Occidentali, che senza sua licenza non possono far quel essercitio et per questo lo chiamano Pilotto Maggiore.”
Lo trovai una gentilissima persona et cortese che mi fece gran carezze et mostrommi molte cose et fra l'altre un Mapamondo grande colle navigationi particolari, si di Portaghesi, come di Castigliani.”
+ “Feci poi molte altre navigationi le quali pretermetto et trovandomi alla fine vecchio volsi riposare essendosi allevati tanti pratichi et valenti marinari giovanni et hora me ne sto con questo carico che voi sapete, godendo il frutto delle mie fatiche."
it to be a thing more divine than human."* The influence on his own ardent temperament is well described, " by this fame and report there increased in my heart a great flame of desire to attempt some notable thing.”+ While such expressions would rebuke an attempt to connect his name with the disparagement of Columbus, they heighten the gratification with which we recognise his claim to the place that a foreign poet of no contemptible merit--the companion of Sir Humphrey Gilbert in his voyage to the North, and writing from that region--has assigned to him :
Hanc tibi jamdudum primi invenere Britanni
* Eden's Decades, fol. 255. The original “ dicendosi che era stata cosa piu tosto divina che humana, &c." Ramusio, tom. i. fol. 415.
+ "Mi nacque un desiderio grande, anzi un ardor nel core di voler far anchora io qualche cosa segnalata, &c." Ib.
# Budeius-in Hakluyt, vol. iii, p. 143.