« AnteriorContinuar »
Eden's “ De. cades,” 255
« Sebastian Cabot told me that he was borne in Brystowe, and that at iiij yeare ould he was carried with his father to Venice, and so returned agayne into England with his father after certayne years, whereby he was thought to have been born in Venice.”
Here we have the question settled more than three hundred years since, on the highest authority, as to the city of his birth; the date is not so easily fixed, different writers placing it from about A.D. 1474 to A.D. 1477.
We are much inclined, for several reasons, to adopt the first date as the nearest the truth. Richard Eden, in his “Decades of the New World,” &c. (A.D. 1555), speaking of him as one knowing him intimately, does so in language which implies great age. One chapter has for its title, “Lykewyse of the vyages of that woorthy man, Sebastian Cabote, yat lyvynge,” &c. But the matter is now, we think, satisfactorily settled by Rawdon Brown's “ Venetian Calendar,” taken from the Archives of Venice, where, under date of August II, 1472, is a privilege conferring the rights of citizenship on Aloise Fontano, of Bergame,
" Venetian Calendar."
John Cabot made a citizen of Venice 1476, “ Venetian Calen dar.”
and a supplementary memorandum, purporting that fixteen other privileges, of later date, had been conceded to various individuals, including one to John Cabot, thus: “Simile privilegium factum fuit Johanni Caboot sub duce supra scripto, A.D. 1476."
Under date March 29, 1476, we find a decree of the Senate, “ That a privilege of citizenship, within and without, he made for John Cabot, as usual, for a residence of fifteen years. Ayes, 149. Noes, o. Neutral, o.”
This proves John to have been in Venice in 1476. Sebastian says that he was four years old when taken there, which places his birth in 1472. If, however, John arrived in Venice and suedouta patentin A.D. 1472, which was notcompleted until 1476, when he was again leavingand the two entries may mean this—this would then place Sebastian's birth as early as A.D. 1468.
However, the proof seems conclusive that he was at the least twenty-three years of age at the date of the first patent of 1495, and consequently was twenty-five at the failing of the expedition and the landing on the American continent in 1497.
Born in 1472.
Sebastian Cabot old enough to command
Trained with first rate failors.
This removes an objection which some have hazarded as to Sebastian's extreme youth, and the improbability of his being employed in so hazardous a work.
We must remember also that Venice and Genoa largely supplied us with failors as well as ships, and all Sebastian's after life proved that he was the peer of Columbus himself in the science of navigation, and his most worthy successor in the office of Grand Pilot to the Court of Spain.
Such a manhood would have had a promising youth; the future seaman must have been plainly discoverable between the age of seventeen and twenty-five—the two extremes given as to his age at the date of the first voyage.
What countryman originally was John Cabot? As we have seen, he only becomes a Venetian citizen in 1476. Was old John Stow right in calling him a Genoese, or was he after all an Englishman, who for some fervice had this honour conferred upon him, even as William Gold had ? For aught that appears to the contrary, he himself might have been born in Bristol; and not many years
tryman was John Cabot?
Wm. Gold, see 6+ Venetian Calendar," a brave English ad. venturer.
Attested deeds now loft.
Further proofs of Sebastian's age.
since we are assured there were several deeds in the muniment chest of St. Thomas, in this city, of Henry VII.'s reign, which were attested by some of that name. Unfortunately, and though most diligent search has been made after them, it has been hitherto unsuccessful.
Ere we leave this part of the subject, let us observe, that in the first patent the name of his youngest brother, Sanctus, is also mentioned. This, we think, affords strong corroboration, if not absolute proof, that the age of Sebastian was greater than many of his biographers have supposed, for it is not very likely that a minor's name would be associated in a King's patent.
Further, though it is said of him that he returned, when a youth, from Venice to England, it is nowhere said that this patent of 1495 was granted immediately on his arrival ; he may probably have been here for years.
“ His early voyages fostered in him a love for the sea, and from boyhood he was instructed in all the known branches of navigation; he thus became an apt scholar in the profession he loved, and made several short trips to sea,
Bred as a thorough seaman.
from his voy
ages, he hears
of the fame of Columbus.
trading with Iceland.
in order to acquire a practical as well as theoretical knowledge.”
At the probable period of his return to his native place, Europe was ringing with the difcoveries of Columbus, and Henry VII., full of chagrin that through his own parsimony Henry VII, and delay he had lost the prize which Spain treaty for had won, had concluded a treaty with Denmark, by which he could pour into Iceland (INand) all kinds of clothing, provisions or other commodities, without let or hindrance, evidently (and probably by the elder Cabot's advice) aiming to make it a sort of half-way house in the north-west road to Cathay.
Sebastian Cabot, full of enthusiasm, does full justice to the master-mind of the seas; emulate Co. and speaking of the discoveries of Columbus, says : “All men with great admiration affirm it to be more divine than human: the fame and report thereof increased in my heart a great flame and desire to attempt some notable thing."
And being, Stow says, “expert with knowledge of the circuit of the world, and the ed. 1605 A.D. islands of the same, as by his charts and other
Cabot praises and seeks to lumbus.
Stow's “ Annals,” p. 804,