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Salamanca, in 1547. In the king's library there is a copy of the latter edition. The date given in both editions is
It may be very idle to attempt to fortify the statement of a writer of the highest credit, and who resided in St Domingo at the very period in question; but the fact may be mentioned that his narrative had not only carried him up to this period but beyond it, for in a preceding chapter (the vii.) of the same book, he speaks of an incident which occurred in September, 1530.
As the reliance of Hakluyt is exclusively on the "famous Spanish writer Oviedo,” it might be sufficient to shift to its proper side of the scale the weight which has been thus misplaced. The point, however, is one of interest, in reference to the subsequent voyage from England, in 1527, and we may draw to the rectification the testimony of Herrera.
That writer, it is true, affixes no date to the visit, and while considering, at an early period, the condition of the colonies, he adverts to this as one of the circumstances which had led to complaint and uneasiness. This sort of grouping is always dangerous in the hands of an ambitious and florid historian, anxious to be relieved from a chronological detail of isolated facts, and to treat them in combination, and in their supposed influence on results. He has, while considering an early incident, taken up this and others which, though posterior in point of time, yet preceded the measures of precaution, of which they, in succession, indicated the necessity. The question is placed beyond doubt by another occurrence almost contemporary. Oviedo, in the same chapter which refers to the visit of the English vessel, adds, that about a year afterwards (“desde a poco tiempo o en el siguiente anno”), a French corsair made its appearance at Cuba, guided by a villainous Spaniard, named Diego Ingenio (“ guiado por un mal Espagnol llamado Diego Ingenio"). This incident is mentioned by Herrera, under the year 1529, and he states it to have taken place in the middle of October of that year (Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. vi. chap. xii.). His next chapter (xiii.) is occupied with the precautions taken for the security of the Indies, and they are expressly referred to the visit of the English and French Ships.* Thus is obtained a decided, though superfluous, confirmation of the accuracy of Oviedo.
So soon as we are assured of his real statement, the improbability that this visit could have been on the part of Cabot's expedition occurs with irresistible force.
Is it at all likely that one who had just quitted the service of Spain, and who knew the jealous system of exclusion auopted with regard to her American possessions, would be found engaged in a silly and confused attempt to carry on a commerce in that quarter? Again, is it not probable that Navarro would have recognized one whon we may presume to have been familiarly known to the seamen of that day? Would a man, moreover, who had been one of the captains of the King of Spain, and afterwards a member of the council of the Indies, have been anxious to open a communication with the authorities of St Domingo ? Cabot would have known not only that the application was idle, but that it would subject him to the most odious reproaches, for endeavouring to turn against Spain the knowledge acquired by having so recently held a confidential post in her service.
This last consideration, indeed, suggests a pleasing reflection that his fame may be successfully relieved from the suspicion of having, even at a moment of pique, consented to engage in such an enterprise. The pure and lofty character to which all the incidents of his life lay claim, renders us unwilling to credit what could not but be deemed derogatory. His vindication has already, it is hoped, been made. out; and when we come, in its proper place, to a voyage from England, in 1527, under totally different auspices, there will be seen
“Con occasion de la nave Inglesa que havia llegada al Puerto de la Ciudad de Santo Domingo de la Isla Espanola, i de los Franceses de que se ha tratado en cl capitulo precedente, el Obispo de Santo Domingo, Presidente del Audencia hiço una Junta de todos las Estados de la Isla, adonde se confirio lo que se debia hacer,” &c.
the happy application of what Oviedo correctly refers to that year. By keeping separate the clews which Hakluyt has crossed and entangled, there will be attained, in each case, a point from which a survey may be made with the greatest clearness and assurance of accuracy.
VOYAGE OF 1517 THE ONE REFERRED TO BY CABOT IN HIS LETTER TO
It being, then, certain that the expedition of 1517 had for its object the North-West Passage, was it on the 11th June 1517, that Cabot attained the point mentioned in his letter to Ramusio ? The day of the month is given, not only in that letter but again by Sir Humphrey Gilbert (iii. Hakluyt, p. 16), from Cabot's map. Many circumstances of corroboration press
When Eden speaks, in magnificent phrase, of the opportunity lost to England of taking the lead of Spain, his language is naturally referable, as has been said, to the frustration of that great effort to find a way to Cataya which Cabot had already essayed, and which Peter Martyr, in 1515, expressly tells us he was on the eve of again undertaking. In the letter to Ramusio, Cabot declares that when arrested at 67o and-a-half by the timidity of his associates, he was sanguine of success, and that if not overruled he both could and would have gone to Cataya. Does not Eden, then, merely supply the name of the principal object of this reproach ? Let us refer again to the language of Thorne, which applies, we know, to the expedition of 1517 (i. Hakluyt, p. 219), “Of the 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.” Can it be doubted that these several passages all point to the same incident?
In the work of Peter Martyr, written before this last voyage, no allusion is found to a mutiny in the North, but he mentions expressly that in the South the expedition was stop
ped by a failure of provisions. While conveying such minute information he would hardly have failed to advert to a fact so remarkable in itself, and bearing moreover so directly on the question of the supposed practicability of the enterprise.
On the occasion alluded to, the lat. of 67o and-a-half had been attained on the 11th June. This could not have been in 1497, because land was first seen on the 24th of June of that year. With regard to the expedition of 1498, which Peter Martyr and Gomara are supposed more particularly to refer to, the month of July is named as that in which the great struggle with the ice occurred. Did not Cabot, then, instructed by experience, sail from England earlier in the year than on the former occasions? In order to be within the eighth year of Henry VIII. mentioned by Eden, he must have got off before the 22nd of April, if he sailed in 1517.
The advance on this occasion was so far beyond what had been made on former voyages, that Thorne does not hesitate to give to the region newly visited the designation of Newfoundland ; and it was then probably that Cabot 6 sailed into Hudson's Bay and gave English names to sundry places there.
No date is mentioned by Ramusio for the voyage alluded to in Cabot's letter, though from his speaking of that Navigator as having made discoveries in the time of Henry VII., the reader might be led to refer it to that early period. One expression is remarkable. After stating Cabot's long-continued course West with a quarter of the North, and his reaching 67o and-a-half, Ramusio says that he would have gone further but for the 6 malignita del padrone et de marinari sollevati” (the refusal of the master and the mutinous mariners). We can hardly err in referring this allusion to Sir Thomas Pert, 6 whose faint heart,” according to Eden, was the cause that the voyage took none effect.”
* Anderson's History of Commerce, vol. i. p. 549. M'Pherson's Annals of Commerce, vol. ii. p. 12.