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to have been thwarted. One reflection is obvious. If this man could be seduced from his duty by the Portuguese Bachelor, we may presume that the agents of Portugal had no great difficulty in negotiating with him and inducing him to give his voyage a turn to suit their purposes. Even supposing his employers, then, honest and sincere, we have no assurance that he did not act from sinister motives. We shall meet Garcia again in the La Plata.
There is another circumstance, somewhat posterior in point of time, but which serves to show the anxious expedients to which Portugal did not disdain to resort, even at the expense of its dignity. A Portuguese, named Acosta, returned with Cabot from Brazil, and immediately afterwards the king of Portugal was detected in an unworthy correspondence with him.* It is remarkable, also, that the complaints of the mutineers whom Cabot put ashore were brought to Spain by a Portuguese vessel.+
* Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. x. cap. vi.
INTERFERENCE WITH THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE VOYAGE-MENDEZ
APPOINTED SECOND IN COMMAND CONTRARY TO THE WISHES OF OABOT
DE ROJAS—THE SEALED ORDERS-PREJUDICES OF THE SPANISH HIS
In a letter dated November, 1525, Peter Martyr* speaks of the expedition as at length about to sail. It was doomed, however, to yet further delays; and even in matters of detail the presence of an evil spirit is but too obvious..
Three ships were provided by the Emperor, to which a small caravel was added by an individual.t The principal authority over the arrangements would seem to have been exercised by certain agents or deputies (disputados) named by the freighters. They controlled Cabot, in every particular; and it is obvious, therefore, that the fate of the expedition lay in their integrity or corruptibility. The whole sum which the company
had at stake is stated to have been only ten thousand ducats.
The leading subject of difference between Cabot and these persons, as appears by the meagre accounts left to us, was as to the person who should fill the office of Lieutenant-General. Cabot was anxious for the appointment of his friend De Rufis; but the choice of the agents fell on Martin Mendez who had been in one of Magellan's ships as Treasurer (contador), a situation bearing, it may be presumed, an analogy to the present office of Purser. They are said to have made the selection on
• Decade viii. cap. ix.
† Such is the account of Herrera, confirmed by Robert Thorne. Writers who make a different statement (Charlevoix, for example, in his Histoire du Paraguay tom. i. p. 25) have been misled by looking to the original requisition of Cabot instead of the limited force finally placed under his command.
account of their differences with Cabot.* These disputes rose to such a height that the Emperor was urged to appoint another commander. When it is stated that this same Martin Mendez was one of those expelled from the squadron, for mutiny, by Cabot who afterwards justified himself to the Emperor for having done so, we not only see the irksome position in which he was placed, but will, probably, deem the efforts to get rid of him the highest compliment to his energy and incorruptibility. A hollow compromise was at length effected by a provision, on paper, that Mendez should take part in nothing which was not expressly committed to him by Cabot, and never act except in the absence or disability of the chief.f Thus, with regard to an officer to whom the commander should be able to look, at every turn, for confidential counsel and cordial co-operation, the utmost that Cabot could procure was a stipulation that he should preserve a sullen indifference, and not be actively mischievous.
A number of young men of family, animated by the love of adventure, joined the Expedition, and amongst them three brothers of Balboa.
There are two personages destined to act, with Mendez, a conspicuous part, and who may therefore be here mentioned. The first was Miguel de Rodas, a sort of supernumerary, to whom no particular post was assigned, but who is stated to have been a man of great valour and nautical experience, and to have enjoyed the favour of the emperor. The other was Francisco de Rojas, captain of one of the ships, the Trinidad. Though a slight difference is perceptible in the names, they would seem to have been brothers, for, at a subsequent period, in speaking of the leading conspirators, these two are describ
“Los disputados de los armadores por diferencias que con el General avian tenido quisieron que fuesse Martin Mendez y no Miguel de Rufis á quien pretendia llevar en este cargo Sebastian Gaboto.” Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii.
t“Que no se occupasse sino en las cosas que el General le cometiese, y estando ausente o impedido, y no de otra manera porque le llevaba contra su voluntad.” Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. jii.
Herrera, Dec. iii. lib. ix. cap. iii. § Herrera, Dec. iv. lib. i. cap. i.
ed, with a yet further variation, as “ los dos hermanos Roxas i Martin Mendez” (“the two brothers Roxas and Martin Mendez”).
The most extraordinary part, however, of the arrangement, consisted of the Sealed Orders, of which a copy was given to each vessel.* We are not informed at what time they were to be opened, but from the nature of their contents we may infer that it was to be done immediately on getting to sea, and from the sequel we may infer how idle would have been any injunction of forbearance. Provision was therein made for the death of Cabot, and eleven persons were named on whom, in succession, the command in chiet was to devolve. Should this list be exhausted, a choice was to be made by general vote throughout the squadron, and in case of an equality of suffrages the candidates were to decide between themselves by casting lots! At the head of the list are found the three individuals just mentioned. It is remarkable that Gregario Caro, the captain of one of the ships and who is afterwards found in command of the fort in the La Plata when Cabot as. cended further up the river, stands last on this list, after all the treasurers and accountants. This person is subsequently statedt to have been a nephew of the Bishop of Canaria, and seems to have acted throughout with integrity.
It would be difficult to imagine a scheme better calculated to nourish disaffection. Each individual of note found a provision by which he might be brought into the chief command, and was invited to calculate the chances of its reaching him through the successive disappearance of his predecessors on the list; and the crews, while under the pressure of severe discipline, not only saw a hope of bettering their condition by a change, but at each step approached nearer to the clause which placed the supreme power in their own gift. A contingency thus provided for they knew must have been deemed, at home, within the range of possible occurrences, and they
* Herrera, Dec. jü. lib. ix. cap. iii.
would have little disposition to let the precaution be found a superfluous one.
While there exist so many causes for misunderstanding Cabot's conduct, and motives for misrepresenting it, the writer, unfortunately, whose statements have since been adopted almost without question, prepared his history under circumstances little inclining him to impartiality. The Decades of Peter Martyr terminate before the sailing of the expedition, and the venerable author complains, at the close, of the infirmities which then pressed on him in his seventieth year. The next work—that of Gomara-appeared in 1552, shortly after Cabot had abandoned the service of Spain, and returned to his native country. Charles V., in 1549, had made a formal, but ineffectual, demand on Edward VI. for his return. * That Gomara had his eye on him in this new and invidious position is evident, because in speaking of the conference at Badajos he incidentally mentions Cabot as one of the few survivors of those who had been present on that occasion (cap. C.). In a work, therefore, dedicated to the Emperor, we are not to look for a vindication of our navigator from the calumnies which might be current to his disadvantage; and we find, accordingly, every allusion to him deeply tinctured with prejudice. The mutineers, of whom a severe example was made, had enjoyed a high reputation at home, and were doubtless able to raise a clamorous party. Those who fitted out the expedition of Garcia, were led to regard Cabot invidiously, and when it is added that the mercantile loss of his own employers would unavoidably lead, on the part of some, to reproachful criticism, however unmerited, we see at once that his reputation lay at the mercy of a writer ready and eager to embody the suggestions of disappointment or malevolence.
But our patience is exhausted by the long detention of the expedition. It sailed at length in the beginning of April, 1526.7
• Strype's Memorials of the Reformation, vol. ii. p. 190. + Gomara, cap. Ixxxix. Herrera, Dec. iji. lib. ix. cap. iii. Robert Thorne (1 Hakluyt, p. 215). There has been a general misconception on this point in