« AnteriorContinuar »
JEALOUSY OF THE CONTEMPLATED EXPEDITION ON THE PART OF PORTU
GAL-MISSION OF DIEGO GARCIA, A PORTUGUESE.
In order to understand fully the circumstances which conspired to throw vexatious obstacles in the way of the expedition, and in the end to defeat its main object, we must go back to the voyage of Magellan that first opened to Spain a direct communication with those regions of which Portugal had before monopolised the lucrative commerce.
No sooner did the project of that intrepid navigator become known in Portugal than the utmost alarm was excited. Remonstrances were addressed to the government of Spain; threats and entreaties were alternately used to terrify or to soothe the navigator himself, and assassination was openly spoken of as not unmerited by so nefarious a purpose. Finding these efforts vain, a tone of bitter derision was adopted.
The Portuguese said, that the king of Castile was incurring an idle expense, inasmuch as Magellan was an empty boaster, without the least solidity of character, who would never accomplish what he had undertaken.”*
Had Magellan perished a month earlier than he did, these contemptuous sneers would have passed into history as descriptive of his real character. There is every reason to believe, that he fell a victim to the treachery infused into the expedition ; and the pilot, Estevan Gomez, who openly urged retreat after a considerable progress had been made in the
Decian los Portugueses que el Rei de Castilla perderia el gasto porque Hernando de Magallanes era hombre hablador, i de poca substancia, i que no saldria con lo que prometia.” Herrera, Dec. ii. lib. iv. cap. x.
Strait, was, we know, a Portuguese. * The conduct of the Portuguese authorities to the surviving vessels was marked by cruelty and rapacity; and even the gentle spirit of Peter Martyr breathes indignation. Official notice was received that the ship Trinity had been captured and plundered by the Portuguese, and that this had been followed up by their going to the Moluccas, taking possession of them, and seizing property of every description.
“The Pilots and King's servants who are safely returned, say that both robberies and pillage exceed the value of two hundred thousand ducats, but Christophorus de Haro especially, the General director of this aromatical negociation, under the name of Factor, confirmeth the same. Our senate yieldeth great credit to this man. He gave me the names of all the five ships that accompanied the Victory, and of all the Mariners, and mean Officers whatsoever. And in our senate assembled he showed why he assigned that value of the booty or prey, because he particularly declared how much spices the Trinity brought.
“It may be doubted what Cæsar will do in such a case. I think he will dissemble the matter for a while, by reason of the renewed affinity, yet though they were twins of one birth, it were hard to suffer this injurious loss to pass unpunished.”+
In reference to the voyage of Cabot, the alarm of the Porguese would seem to have been yet more serious; for they saw in it not a doubtful experiment, but a well concerted commercial enterprise. The emperor was besieged with importunities; the King of Portugal representing that it would be “ the utter destruction of his poor kingdom,” to have his monopoly of this trade invaded. The honest historian is persuaded, that though a tie of consanguinity existed between the two monarchs by their common descent from Ferdinand and Isabella, and though the Emperor had given his sister Catherine, 5 a most delicate young lady of seventeen,” in marriage to the King of Portugal, a step “so injurious to the kingdom of Castile, the chief sinews of his power,” as the arrest of the expedition, would not be taken. § So far as
* Herrera, Dec. ii. lib. ix. cap. xv. Purchas, vol. i. B. i. ch. ii.
endearing domestic ties could influence such a matter, the apprehension here implied was to be yet further increased. A negotiation was going on for the Emperor's marriage to Isabella, the sister of the King of Portugal, and the ceremony took place in March, 1526. The dowry received was nine hundred thousand crowns, and rumours, in the course of the treaty, were current that one of the articles of the double alliance stipulated an abandonment of the Moluccas. Passing onward with the subject, it may be stated that early in 1529 the emperor relieved himself from all difficulty by mortgaging the Moluccas to the King of Portugal for three hundred and fifty thousand ducats, with the right of exclusive trade until redemption.* This step excited the utmost disgust in Spain, and it was openly said that he had better have mortgaged Estremadura itself. He would listen, however, to no representations on the subject. A proposition having been made to pay off the mortgage money, on condition that the applicants should have six years enjoyment of the trade, the Emperor, then in Flanders, not only rejected the offer, but sent a message of rebuke to the council for having entertained it. Aside from private feelings, he doubtless, as a politician, thought it unwise to put in peril an alliance so intimate and assured for any commercial purpose unconnected with the schemes of ambition by which he was engrossed.
Matters, however, had not reached this crisis before Cabot sailed; and the intense anxiety of Portugal could, therefore, look only to the indirect efforts at frustration, for which the intimate relations of the two countries might afford opportunities.
In all the accounts of Cabot's enterprise given by the Spanish historians, reference is found to an expedition under the command of a Portuguese,t named Diego Garcia, which left Spain shortly after Cabot; touched at the Canaries, as he had
* Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. v. cap. x.
done; found its way to the La Plata ; fixed itself in his neighbourhood; and, finally, by the misconduct of certain persons connected with it, brought on a general and overwhelming attack on Cabot, from the natives, who had previously, by a mixture of boldness and good management, been brought into alliance with him. Charlevoix (Histoire du Paraguay, tom. i. p. 28) supposes that Garcia was employed avowedly by Portugal; but according to Herrera (Dec. iii. lib. x. cap. i.), the expedition was fitted out by the Count D. Fernando de Andrada and others, for the La Plata, and consisted of a ship of one hundred tons, a pinnace, and one brigantine, with the frame of another to be put together as occasion might require. One great object was to search for Juan de Cartagena, and the French priest whom Magellan had put on shore. Garcia left Cape Finisterre on the 5th of August, 1526, and touching at the Canaries (where Cabot had been) took in supplies and sailed thence the 1st of September.
These plain matters of fact have been recently mis-stated. In Dr Lardner's Cyclopædia (History of Maritime and Inland discovery, vol. ii. p. 89), it is said, “ Diego Garcia was sent with a single ship to the river of Solis; but as he lingered on his way at the Canary Islands, he was anticipated in his discoveries by Sebastian Cabot. That celebrated Navigator had sailed from Spain a few months later than Garcia,” &c. Cabot sailed in April 1526. The fact is important, because had he left Spain under the circumstances stated, he could not have been ignorant of the claim of Garcia, under a grant, as is alleged, from the emperor, and his going to the same quarter would have been both fraudulent and absurd. His manifest ignorance on the subject corroborates the suspicion that, on finding the intrigues to arrest Cabot ineffectual, this expedition, under the command of the Portuguese, was hastily got up to watch his movements, and probably to act in concert with the disaffected, with an understanding as to certain points of rendezvous in case the mutineers should gain the mastery. It is important to note that in Peter Martyr, whose
work embraces the early part of 1526,* no reference is made to any projected expedition to the quarter for which, as it is now said, Garcia was destined.
At Decade iv. lib. i. cap. i. Herrera resumes his abstract of Garcia's report. That personage is now off the coast of Brasil. He touched at the Bay of St Vincent, and there found a Portuguese of the degree of Bachelor, from whom he received refreshments, and whose son-in-law agreed to accompany him to the La Plata. In running down the coast he touched at the island of Patos (now St Catherine) in 27°, where Cabot had been before him, and, as Garcia asserts, had behaved in a very shameful manner, carrying off the sons of several chiefs who had treated him with great kindness. Proceeding up the La Plata, Garcia found the ships which Cabot, on ascending the river, had left under the charge of an officer. He resolved to follow in his brigantine ; and here we are let into the character of this personage. While at St Vincent, he had hired, to his host the Bachelor, the ship of a hundred tons, to carry eight hundred slaves to Portugal; and
to colour," says Herrera, “ his covetousness, he said, that he had protested to the Count Don Fernando de Andrada, that the vessel was useless, being much too large for the navigation and discovery of the La Plata.”+ Thus, with the blindness of an absurd prejudice, has the author consented to spread upon his pages all the malignant invective of this man against Cabot—to make it a part of the History of the Indies --and yet he winds up, at last, by telling us of Garcia's fraud, and of the falsehood by which it was sought to be disguised ! The Portuguese, in order to break the force of indignation against himself, evidently laboured to turn the resentment of his employers on Cabot, by whom they supposed their views
He speaks of the marriage of the Emperor with the sister of the King of Portugal, which took place in March, 1526.
† “ Para dar color a esta codicia, dixo que havia protestado al Conde Don Fernando de Andrada que no le diese esta nave porque era mui grande e inutil para la navegacion i descubrimiento del Rio de la Plata.” Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. i.