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reference to the longitude, it became with him a matter of eager interest to ascertain a point of no variation.
“ Conversing on this subject with Gianeti, he undertook to obtain for me, through a gentleman named Bartholomew Compagni, then in England, this information which he himself had not gathered."* The person
thus addressed sent word of what he had learned from Cabot, and Sanuto remarks that he had, subsequently, further assurance of the accuracy of the report thus made to him. He saw a chart of navigation, executed by hand with the greatest care, and carefully compared with one by Cabot himself, in which the position of this meridian was seen to be one hundred and ten miles to the west of the island of Flores, one of the Azores.
It is scarcely necessary to add that the First Meridian on the maps of Mercator, running through the most western point of the Azores, was adopted with reference to the supposed coincidence in that quarter of the true and magnetic poles.
In the course of the same memoir, Sanuto refers repeatedly to the Map, and adverts to the observations as to the variation of the compass made by Cabot at the Equator. The disappearance of this Document becomes at every turn a matter equally of astonishment and regret. Aside from the mass of papers left with Worthington, we have not only seen that the published map was hung up in the Gallery at Whitehall, but have actually traced a copy to Ortelius, to the Earl of Bedford, and now to Sanuto.
The assertion is found in almost all the old writers that Cabot was the first who noticed the variation. He was, at least, the first who gave to it an earnest attention, marked its degrees in
Ragionatone io di questo col detto Gianneti, fece egli, che da un gentil huomo nominato Bartolomeo Compagni, che in Inghilterre si tratteneva, s'intese ciò, ch'egli dal detto Caboto ne seppe.”
p “ Et a quello ancora, che io dapoi vidi con gli occhi miei in una carta da navigare diligentissima fatta a mano, e tutta ritratta à punto da una propria del detto Caboto; nella quàle si riconosce il luogo del detto Meridiano esser per miglia cento e dieci lontano verso Occidente dalla Isola detta Fiori di quelle pur delli Azori.”
various parts of the world, and attempted to frame a theory on the subject. His earliest transatlantic voyage carried him to the very quarter where it is exhibited in a manner so sudden and striking, that modern Navigators seem to concur in placing there one of the magnetic poles. The La Plata, too, is another theatre of its most startling appearance; and Cabot's long residence in that region must have secured his deliberate attention to the subject with the advantage of thirty years of intermediate observation and reflection.
There is a curious piece of evidence to shew how early the Northern region discovered by Cabot was associated with the alarm which this phenomenon must, in the first instance, have excited.
On the great Map of the World which accompanies the edition of Ptolemy published at Rome in 1508, is the following inscription, commencing far beyond Terra Nova and the Insula Bacalaurus“ Hic compassus navium non tenet nec naves quæ ferrum tenent revertere valent."*
It is impossible to doubt that the reference is to the well-known effect produced there on the compass. Beneventus, who prepared the supplemental matter for this edition of Ptolemy, professes to have a knowledge of the discoveries made by Columbus, by the Portuguese, and by the English (“Columbi et Lusitanorum atque Britannorum quos Anglos nunc dicimus.")
Fournier, in his old, but yet highly-esteemed, Treatise on Hydrography, (Liv. xi. cap. x.) says, it was understood that Sebastian Cabot had noted with great exactness the variation in the places he had discovered on the Northern Coasts of America. +
As to Cabot's theory on the subject of the Variation, we are unable, in the absence of his Maps and Discourses, to offer even a conjecture. His exposition to the king would evidently seem
*“ Here the ship’s-compass loses its property, and no vessel with iron on board is able to get away.”
+ “Que Cabot remarqua fort exactement les declinaisons que l'aymant faisoit en divers endroits des costes Septentrionales de l'Amerique qu'il decouvrit.”
to have been something more than a mere statement of isolated facts, and from the general recollection of the Venetian ambas- ; sidor that he represented it as different in different places, it may te inferred that he did not treat it as absolutely regulated by mere distance from a particular meridian. There is another satisfactory reason for believing that he could not have placed it on any narrow ground. The Seamen brought up in his school, and sailing under his instructions, were particularly attentive to note the variation. Thus Stephen Burrough reports to us, (Hakluyt, vol. i. p. 290, &c.) within a short space, the degrees of it at three different points; and, where this was habitually done, an error of the great nautical Oracle—if we suppose one to have cheated his long experience and profound observation-would have been speedily detected and exposed.
MISTAKE OF PURCHAS, PINKERTON, DR. HENRY IN HIS HISTORY OF GREAT
BRITAIN, CAMPBELL IN THE LIVES OF THE ADMIRALS, AND OTHER WRI-
The present may be a fit occasion to notice an absurd misconception on the part of many authors of reputation, some of whom represent Sebastian Cabot to have received the honour of knighthood, while others confer it on the father.
Purchas, (vol. iv. p. 1812) in his “ English just Title to Virginia,” refers to a Portrait of Sebastian Cabot which he had seen hung up in the King's Palace at White-Hall with this inscription;
Effigies Seb. Caboti Angli, filii Joannis Caboti militis aurati, &c.” Here was a fair opening for controversy. Does the description “militis aurati” apply to the father or to the son ? The same difficulty occurs, with a curious coincidence in the epithets, as that which Quinctilian (Inst. Orat. lib. vii. cap. 9) mentions, with regard to the Will of a Roman who directed that there should be put up “statuam auream hastam tenentem,” and the puzzle was whether the statue or the spear was to be of gold. After the unpardonable blunders which it has been necessary to expose, we may look with some complacency on the pursuit of this perplexing matter. Purchas assumes that the words apply to the son,
and accordingly we have “Sir Sebastian Cabot” running through his volumes. In a copy of verses addressed to “his friend Captain John Smith,” and prefixed to the account of Virginia by the latter, Purchas exclaims
“ Hail, Sir Sebastian ! England's Northern Pole
Virginia's finder!” and in a marginal note it is added, “ America, named of Americus Vesputius which discovered less than Colon or Sir Sebastian Cabot, and the Continent later. Colon first found the Isles 1492, the Continent 1498, above a year after Cabot had done it. He was set forth by Henry VII., and after by Henry VIII. knighted, and made Grand Pilot of England by Edward VI.” Captain Smith himself repeats all this—“Sebastian Cabot discovered much more than these all, for he sailed to about 40° South of the line, and to 67° towards the North, for which King Henry VIII. knighted him and made him Grand Pilot of England.” In the general Index to Pinkerton's Collection of Voyages and Travels, the eye is caught, under the title, Cabot, with the alluring reference “anecdotes of,” and on turning to the place, (vol. xiii. p. 4,) the same statements are found. Now the difficulties are insurmountable as to Sebastian Cabot. In the last renewal of his pension in the reign of Mary, (Rymer, vol. xv. p. 427 and 466,) he is stiled “Armiger,” which shews that he had not, even up to that period, been knighted. In the Cotton MSS.(Claudius, C. ii.) is a paper, giving "the names and arms of such as have been advanced to the order of knighthood in the reigns of Henry VII., Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary and Elizabeth,” in which no notice is taken of him.
The point being thus clear with regard to the son, other writers have assumed, as a matter of course, that the distinction must have been conferred on John Cabot. Accordingly, Campbell (Lives of the Admirals, art. Sir John Cabot) says of the father, “ He then returned with a good cargo and three savages on board to England, where it seems he was knighted for this exploit, since, on the map of his discoveries drawn by his son Sebastian, and cut by Clement Adams, which hung in the Privy Gallery at Whitehall, there was this inscription under the author's picture—“Effigies Seb. Caboti Angli filii Io. Caboti Venetiani Militis aurati.” Thus Campbell derives his fact from Purchas, but draws a different inference from that writer. According to him, too, the knighting must have been, not by Henry VIII. as Purchas and Captain Smith have it, for there is reason to believe that the