Imágenes de páginas

polute, in order to suit his own notion of what was meant, forms a strong argument to prove, what is sufficiently clear from the context, that Thorne alludes to the recent discovery made by the subjects of Henry VIII.

It may be repeated, then, that in his speculations on the. North-West Passage, Thorne says, “ And if they will take their course after they be past the Pole toward the West, they shall go on the back side of the Newfoundland which of late was discovered by your Grace's subjects, until they come to the back side and South seas of the Indies Occidental.” Thus by advancing resolutely in the route before taken in the North by “his Grace's subjects,” the Western side of the American Continent would be attained. Now it is remarkable, that in speaking of the effort made under the auspices of Hugh Eliot and his father, he says to Dr Ley (Hakluyt, vol. i. p. 219), "of which there is no doubt (as now plainly appeareth), if the mariners would then have been ruled and followed their pilot's mind the lands of the West Indies (from whence all the gold cometh) had been ours, for all is one coast as by the card appeareth and is aforesaid." Thus we find that the frustration of the object is imputed to those who refused to follow their pilot's wishes, and that the golden visions of Thorne are those belonging to a successful prosecution of the North-Western Discovery. Is it possible to hesitate about connecting this with the language of Eden as to the faint-heartedness of Sir Thomas Pert, and the general opinion, in 1553, that owing to that faint-heartedness the treasures of Peru were at Seville instead of the Tower of London?

The manner in which Hakluyt and subsequent writers have been betrayed into error with regard to this expedition remains to be considered.



HAKLUYT was under an impression that there should be taken in connexion with this voyage a passage in the Spanish historian Oviedo, of which he found a translation in Ramusio. It is but just that he should be fully heard on this point

“ Moreover it seemeth that Gonsalvo de Oviedo, a famous Spanish writer, alludeth unto the sayde voyage in the beginning of the 13th chapter of the 19tla booke of bis generall and natural historie of the West Indies, agreeing very well with the time about which Richard Eden writeth that the foresaid voyage was begun. The author's wordes are these, as I finde them translated into Italian by that excellent and famous man Baptista Ramusius."?*

After giving the Italian version, Hakluyt proceeds “This extract importeth thus much in English, to wit: “That in the yeere 1517, an English rover, under the colour of travelling to discover, came with a great shippe unto the parts of Brasill, on the coaste of the firme lande, and from thence he crossed over unto this Iland of Hispaniola, and arrived neere unto the mouth of the haven of the citie of S. Domingo, and sent his shipboate full of men on shore, and demanded leave to enter into this haven, saying that he came with merchandise to traffique. But at that very instant the governour of the castle, Francis de Tapia, caused a tire of ordinance to be shot from the castle at the ship, for she bare in directly with the haven. When the Englishmen sawe this, they withdrew themselves out, and those that were in the shipboate, got themselves, with all speede, on ship-board. And in trueth the warden of the castle committed an oversight: for if the shippe had entred into the haven, the men thereof could not have come on lande without leave both of the citie and of the castle. Therefore the people of the ship seeing how they were received, sayled toward the Iland of S. John, and entering into the port of S. Germaine, the English men parled with those of the towne, requiring victuals and things needefull to furnish their ship, and complained of the inhabitants of the city of S. Domingo, saying that they came not to doe any harme, but to trade and traffique for their money and merchandise. In this place they had certaine victuals, and for recompense they gave and paid them with certain vessels of wrought tinne and other things. And

* Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 499.

She was

afterward they departed toward Europe, where it is thought they arrived not; for ve never heard any more newes of them.”*

Herrera has an account of the visit somewhat more at large (Dec. ii. lib. v. cap. iii.), and refers to the statement of Gines Navarro, the captain of a caravel of St Domingo, who happening to be at St John when the English vessel arrived at that Island, went off to her, supposing her to be of his own country. According to him, the ship was of two hundred and fifty tons burthen, and had on board sixty men. accompanied by a pinnace having two guns in her bows, with twenty-five men armed with crossbows and wearing corslets. The commander of the ship offered to show his instructions from the king of England (“ la instruccion que llevaba de el Rei de Inglaterra”), and requested Navarro to proceed in company with his own vessel to show the way to St Domingo. The English were plentifully supplied with provisions, and had a great quantity of woollen and linen goods with other merchandise, for the purpose of traffic. They effected at St John's a barter of some tin, and proceeding afterwards to St Domingo, sent a boat ashore with a message that their object was trade, and remained off the island for two days. The commander of the fort sent to the authorities for instructions how to act, and not receiving a timely answer fired, on his own responsibility, at the strangers, on which they recalled their boat and went round to the Island of St John, and after remaining some time carrying on a barter with the inhabitants of the town of St Germain, disappeared.

The account which, according to Navarro, they gave of themselves, was this:

“They said that they were Englishmen, and that the ship was from England, and that she and her consort had been equipped to go and seek the land of the Great Cham, that they had been separated in a tempest, and that the ship pur. suing her course had been in a frozen sea, and found great islands of ice, and that taking a different course, they came into a warm sea, which boiled" like water in a kettle, and lest it might open the seams of the vessel they proceeded to examine

* Ib.

the Baccalaos, where they found fifty sail of vessels, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, engaged in fishing; that going on shore to communicate with the natives, the pilot, a native of Piedmont, was killed; that they proceeded afterwards along the coast to the river Chicora, and crossed over thence to the island of St John. Asking them what they sought in these islands, they said that they wished to ex. plore in order to make report to the King of England, and to procure a load of the Brasil wood."

Such was the report of Navarro. The officer commanding the fort was arrested, because by his precipitate conduct the opportunity was lost of ascertaining who were the intruders, and what their object. On the facts being reported to the emperor, he viewed them with great uneasiness, and wished that in the Island of St Domingo they had proceeded in a different manner, and either by force or stratagem got pos. session of the vessel. He was struck with the inconveniences likely to result from English vessels frequenting those parts, and gave strict orders that on their again appearing, measures should be adopted for taking them and making an example of them.

These circumstances are adverted to, for the purpose of showing the attention which was excited by this visit, and the anxious examination, doubtless, undergone by Navarro who had communicated with the strangers. When Herrera was ordered by Philip II. to prepare his History, there were submitted to him documents of every description, even the most minute (Decade vi. lib. iii. cap. 19). His statement, then, which goes thus into detail, was, probably, derived from the Examination, and it establishes a representation, that the Englishmen spoke of the Baccalaos as a point at which they had touched on their return from a struggle with the perils of the navigation further North,

There is found in Purchas (Pilgrims, vol. iii. p. 855), a • Description of the West Indies," by Herrera, being the introduction to the history, with a remark, “ This author hath written eight Decades of the Spanish Acts in the West Indies, which give great light to those parts, but would be too long for this work.” The influence of the passage just quoted is; curiously visible in Purchas. On reading it, he saw, at once, that the statement of Navarro had reference to the visit spoken of by Oviedo, and it therefore passed into his mind that the expedition proceeded, in the first instance, to the North. When he had occasion, however, to advert to the circumstance afterwards, he evidently could not recollect whence he had derived the impression, or there would have been found a reference to Herrera in his ambitious margin, instead of the vague assertion : “ Afterwards the same Sir Sebastian Cabot was sent, A.D. 1516, by king Henry the VIII., together with Sir Thomas Pert, Vice-Admiral of England, which after coasting this Continent the second time, as I have read, discovered the Coast of Brasil, and returned from thence to St Domingo and Porto Rico" (vol. iv. p. 1812).

A peculiar anxiety is felt with regard to this voyage, because it bears directly on our estimate of Cabot's character. He had taken up, with all the ardour which belongs to the conceptions of a man of his stamp, the opinion that a NorthWest passage was practicable, and we are grieved as well as surprised, to find him apparently faltering in the pursuit. We know from Peter Martyr, his undiminished confidence in 1515, and cannot understand why, immediately afterwards, hé should be found in a confused, rambling voyage to the South, instead of following up his great purpose.

The examination thus far has assumed that the date given by Ramusio, in his translation of Oviedo, and adopted by Hakluyt, is correct. It now remains to show that there has been an entire misconception on this point, and that Hakluyt has paid the deserved penalty of his folly in quoting a Spanish book from an Italian translation.

The reference is correctly given to book xix. cap. xiii. of Oviedo; but on turning to the passage, he is found to represent the visit of the English ship as occurring not in 1517, but in 1527. There are in the library of the British Museum the edition of his work published at Seville in 1535, and the next edition, corrected by the author, published at

« AnteriorContinuar »