Imágenes de páginas

graven map of Cabot's in existence at


1544, published during Cabot's lifetime, which is as follows:

“ Terram hanc olim nobis claufam aperuit Only enJohannes Cabotus Venetus, nec non Sebastianus Cabotus ejus filius anno ab orbe redempto, Bibliotheque 1494, die vero 24 Junii hora 5, sub dilucolo Imperial, quam terram primum visam appellârunt et insulam quandam ei oppositam Insulam divi Joannis nominârunt quippe quæ solemni die festo divi Joannis aperte fuit.”

This inscription cannot be a mistake in the date, for it is alike in both the Spanish and the Latin inscriptions, and it is abundantly evident that the publisher of the map considered and believed it to be perfectly true that Cabot did make this voyage in 1494. Kochhaf also notes this date in his book as having been seen by

testimony him on a map of Cabot at Oxford.

By the courtesy of the officials connected with the above admirable library, and the kindness of R. H. Major, Esq., F.S.A., of the map department of the British Museum, we are enabled to give a fac simile of this precious document; “ The only engraven copy,” says Monsieur Taschereau, “which is known of the map of


Cape Breton probably dir. covered first, and that in 1494

Sebastian Cabot.” If, therefore, this is to be
depended on, we must antedate the discovery
by three years, and suppose, which is probable
enough, that immediately on Columbus' return,
in March, 1493, as soon as the news spread, it
fired the ambition of the Cabots, and getting
ready during the ensuing winter for an adven-
turous voyage, they started in the early summer

and discovered the land at Cape Breton on June 24, in that

year. The above view is perfectly consistent with Sebastian's description to Ramusio's friend; nor is it at all at variance with the wording of the first charter, but rather the contrary.

They were to take five ships, to set up our banner and ensigns in every village, town, castle, isle, or mainland of them newly found.' *** to trade and pay a fifth of the profits to the king.”

For an uncertain voyage of discovery, five ships would be needless : for trading purposes with a newly-discovered region as a mutual defence, and a politic display of power before the heathen and infidels we can understand it. Besides, in the Venetian envoy's letter, written

* Venetian Calendar."

after the return from the first voyage under the charter, he is spoken of as “a man who has good skill in discovering new islands;" a retrospective view, which points back to some discovery previous to the one just then made.

Again, in the “Spanish State Papers," vol. i. p. 177, we have corroborative testimony which carries us back actually beyond the date of Columbus. Don Pedro de Ayala, a Spanish Pedro de Ay. envoy in England, in a letter to his sovereigns nih en vos, Ferdinand and Isabella, dated July 25, 1498, Says Brifol says “ That the people of Bristol sent out every year two or three or four light ships, caravelas, in search of the island of Brazil and the seven year before


vide “Spanish cities, according to the fancy of that Italian

State Papers,” Cabot, and that they have done for the last seven years.”

Whether the father or the son was the moving spirit of the enterprise, must be left largely to conjecture; one thing seems to be quite certain, Lewis and Sanctus, who are named in the patent, did not fail in the ship; it was either John and Sebastian, or Sebastian alone, to whom the honour of the discovery belongs.

and Cabot sent out ships in search as early as 1491, one

vol. i. p. 177

[blocks in formation]

Though the charter was granted in 1495, yet from some unknown reason, most probably the disordered state of the country, the expedition did not set sail until early in the summer of 1497; and then in but one ship, the now famous “ Matthew," of and from Bristol.

It was the custom in England (vide the “ Venetian Calendar") to hire mariners by the voyage; it is not wonderful then, or even matter of surprise to us to find, as we shall, in the course of the narrative, that the men were in a hurry to return, and wished to shorten their perilous search as much as possible.

Venice acted more wisely, paying her sailors by the month and inflicting a penalty of 200 ducats on any captain who hired men by the voyage.

It may help us to a better understanding of the greatness of the undertaking, if instead of looking at it from our stand point in this year of grace 1869, we fancy ourselves living in the clofe of the fifteenth century, and, as in a panorama, view the varied pictures it presents at that period.

Erasmus, in his letters, gives us some pic


mus, p. 6o.

MS. Calendars.

turesque peeps at our ancestor's life, more pungent than pleasant. He says: “ The

" The Jortin's ErasEnglish construct their rooms so as to admit of no thorough draft; before I was thirty years old, if I slept in a room which had been shut


for months without ventilation, I was immediately attacked with fever.”

It was his opinion (and a most sensible one it was) that the impure atmosphere of the dwellings caused the deadly pestilence called the “sweating sickness,” which broke out about 1486. In Bristol it carried off vast Evans' “ Hif

tory of Bristol." numbers of the inhabitants; both here and all over the country, gentle as well as simple fell victims. Those attacked mostly died in about three

Seyer, vol. ii.

p. 203, says, in hours : and many towns lost half their inhabitants.

Strangers were said to be free from danger : lasted little was it, perchance, because of their greater month. personal cleanliness ? for whilst the houses of the English gentry were in the state described by Erasmus, we cannot conceive that any class of the community were cleanly in their persons.

Hear what the scholar from Rotterdam says:

London two

mayors and

four aldermen died of it. It

more than a


« AnteriorContinuar »