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FIRST WORK OF HAKLUYT-MAPS AND DISCOURSES LEFT BY SEBASTIAN
CABOT AT HIS DEATH READY FOR PUBLICATION.
An early work of Hakluyt, to which frequent reference will be made, contains a great deal of curious information, not to be found elsewhere, and is exceedingly important as a check on his subsequent volumes. It furnishes, moreover, honourable evidence of the zeal with which he sought to advance, on every occasion, the interests of navigation and discovery. The following is its title :
“ Divers voyages touching the discoverie of America and the Islands adjacent unto the same, made first of all by an Englishman, and afterwards by the Frenchmen, and Britons: and certain notes of advertisements, for observations necessary for such as shall hereafter make the like attempt, with two mappes annexed hereunto, for the plainer understanding of the whole matter. Imprinted at London, for Thomas Woodcock, dwelling in Paule's Churchyard, at the signe of the Black Beare, 1582.”
A reference will be found to it in the margin of p. 174. vol. iii. of Hakluyt's larger work. Dr. Dibdin, in his Library Companion, (2d ed. p. 392,) says, “ I know of no other copy than that in the collection of my neighbour, Henry Jadis, Esq., who would brave all intervening perils between Indus and the Pole, to possess himself of any rarity connected with Hakluyt.”* There is a copy in the Library of the British Museum, arranged, however, in the Catalogue, not to the title, Hakluyt, but, “ America.” It is dedicated to " The Right Worshipful, and most vertuous Gentleman, Master Philip Sydney, Esq.” Zouch, in his Life of Sir Philip Sydney, (p. 317,) thus refers to it: "Every reader conversant in the annals of our naval transactions, will cheerfully acknowledge the merit of Richard Hakluyt,” &c. “ His incomparable industry was remunerated with every possible encouragement, by Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Philip Sydney. 'To the latter, as a most generoụs promoter of all ingenious and useful knowledge, he inscribed his first collection of voyages and discoveries, printed in 1582."
* It may be inferred that we are not quite such enthusiasts as the gentleman referred to; those who are will find amongst the Harleian MSS. (No. 288, Art. 111.) a very curious autograph letter from Hakluyt, dated Paris, July 1588, relative to an overture from France.
In a passage of the dedication, he adverts to the English title .to America :
“ I have here, right worshipful, in this hastie work, first put downe the Title which we have to that part of America, which is from Florida to 67 degrees northward, by the letters patent, granted to John Gabote and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Santįus, with Sebastian's own certificate to Baptista Ramusio, of his discovery of America.”
One Tract preserved in this volume, and which does not appear in the work as afterwards enlarged, is of great curiosity. It is a translation, published originally in 1563, of the detailed report made to Admiral Coligny by Ribault who commanded the French expedition, in 1562, to Florida, with a view to a settlement, and who actually planted in that year a French colony in what is now the State of South Carolina. Subsequently to the publication of this volume, Hakluyt was instrumental in causing to be published at Paris, in 1587, the volume of Basanier containing the Narrative of Laudonniere, who was second in command under Ribault. A comprehensive view is there given of all the voyages, and Hakluyt, therefore, in his larger work, omits the interesting report made by the chief of the expedition.
It is not a little remarkable, in reference to an incident so memorable, that the work of Ribault seems to be quite unknown in France. The “ Biographie Universelle,” (title Ribault) has a long article which manifests an entire ignorance of its existence, and is, indeed, written in a very careless manner. Thus, it is stated that Ribault, after reaching Florida, proceeded northward along the coast, and landed at the mouth of a river where he placed a Pillar with the Arms of France, and that to the next river he gave the name of May. This is not only contrary to Ribault's account, but to that of Laudonniere, (Basanier's Paris ed. of 1587, fol. 8. also, 3 Hakluyt, p. 308,) and to the theory of the Biographie Universelle itself which identifies the May with the present St. John. The mistake throws into confusion what in the original cannot be mistaken. It was on the river where he planted the Pillar that the name of May was conferred. Ribault, in this Tract, referring to the several navigators who had visited America, speaks of the “ very famous” Sebastian Cabot,
an excellent pilot, sent thither by King Henry VII., in the year 1498.” Hakluyt speaks of it as “translated by one Thomas Hackit,” and remarks, “ The Treatise of John Ribault, is a thing that hath been already printed, but not nowe to be had unless I had caused it to be printed againe.” The work, however, as originally published by Hackit, in London, in 1563, is in the Library of the British Museum, (title in Catalogue, Ribault.) It is more excusable in the French Biographer of Ribault, not to know of an important Memoir prepared by him, and which is found in the Lansdowne Manuscripts, on the policy of preserving peace with England, and of delivering up to her certain ports.of France. It was, doubtless, prepared under the eye of Coligny, and transmitted by him to shew the views of his party; and has an intimate connexion with the history of France at that period.
Passing, however, at present, from various items of this curious volume, to which occasion will be taken hereafter to refer, there is to be noticed a passage of the deepest interest in reference to the subject of this memoir. Great surprise has been expressed that Cabot should have left no account of his voyages, and this circumstance has even been urged against him as a matter of reproach. “ Sebastian, with all his knowledge, and in the course of a long life, never committed to writing any narrative of the voyage to North America. The curious on the Continent, however, drew from him in conversation various particulars which gave a general idea,” &c. (Historical account of North America, &c., by Hugh Murray, Esq., vol. i. p. 66.) Let us see how far the reproach on Cabot may be retorted on his country. In this work of 1582, after citing the patent granted by Henry VII. and the testimony of Ramusio, Hakluyt says :
“ This much concerning Sebastian Cabote’s discoverie may suffice for a present taste, but shortly, God willing, shall come out in print ALL HIS OWN MAPPES and DISCOURSES drawne and written by himselfe, which are in the custodie of the worshipful Master William Worthington, one of her Majesty's Pensioners, who (because SO WORTHIE MONUMENTS should not be buried in perpetual oblivion) is very willing to suffer them to be overseene, and published in as good order as may be to the encouragement and benefite of our countrymen.”
It may be sufficient here to say of William Worthington, that he is joined with Sebastian Cabot, in the pension given by Philip and Mary, on the 29 May, 1557, (Rymer, vol. xv. p. 466.) The probable fate of the Maps and Discourses will be considered on reaching the painful part of Cabot's personal history which belongs to this association.
COMPARATIVE AGENCY OF JOHN AND SEBASTIAN CABOT.
It has been seen, that by all the early writers, heretofore cited, who speak of the discoveries effected under the auspices of Henry VII. Sebastian Cabot is exclusively named. An inclination has, in consequence, sprung up at a more recent period to dwell on the circumstances which seem to indicate that injustice had been done to the father; and the alleged testimony of Robert Fabyan, the venerable annalist, is particularly relied on.
The feeling which prompts this effort to vindicate the pretensions of the father is entitled to respect ; and certainly there can exist, at this late day, no other wish on the subject than to reach the truth. It is proposed, therefore, to look with this spirit into the various items of evidence which are supposed to establish the prevailing personal agency of John Cabot. They may be ranked thus:
1. The alleged statement of Robert Fabyan.
2. The language of more recent writers as to the character of the father.
3. The appearance of his name on the map cut by Clement Adams, and also in the patents.
As to the first, the authority usually referred to is found in Hakluyt (vol. 3. p. 9) —
“ A note of Sebastian Cabot's first discoverie of part of the Indies taken out of the latter part of Robert Fabian's Chronicle, not hitherto printed, which is in the custodie of M. John Stow, a diligent preserver of antiquities.”
“ In the 13 yeere of K. Henry the 7, (by meanes of one Jo Cabot, a Venetian, which made himselfe very expert and cunning in knowledge of the circuit of the world, and islands of the same as by a sea card, and other demonstrations reasonable he shewed,) the king caused to man and victuall a ship at