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in the face of the blood-thirsty Guaranis, breaking furiously against his defences, he had calmly completed his arrangements and brought off all his people in safety. As the sail was spread, and they found themselves once more on the ocean, the overwrought anxieties of his companions would seem to have melted into gratitude to their brave and everfaithful commander. In the last look at that scene, for years, of toil and peril, how many incidents thronged before them all associated memorably with Him who now stood on the deck guiding them back to their country! And the feelings of attachment and admiration with which they bade adieu to the La Plata, found an eager expression, as we shall see, in the earliest report, at home, of their eventful story.
In reverting to the Conversation in Ramusio, which discloses the popular fame that henceforward attached itself to Cabot, we must not be accused of inconsistency for deeming it worthy of credit. The errors established heretofore were those in matter of detail, with regard to which the memory might well be unfaithful. The speaker is now to tell of the circumstances that led to the interview, and of general remarks better calculated to make a vivid impression.
As this is the Conversation which the Biographie Universelle could not find in Ramusio, we may be the more minute in our quotations.
The learned speaker, after a long discussion on the subject of Cosmography, turns to the subject of the North-West Passage, and asks Fracastor and Ramusio if they had not heard of Sebastian Cabot, “so valiant a man and so well practised in all things pertaining to navigation and the science of cosmography, that at this present he hath not his like in Spain, insomuch that for his virtues he is preferred above all other pilots that sail to the West Indies, who may not pass thither without his license, and is therefore called PilotoMayor, that is, the Grand Pilot."*
* Eden's Decades, fol. 255. Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 6. The original in Ramusio (tom. i. fol. 414 D. Ed. of 1554), “Cosi valente et pratico delle cose pertinenti
Receiving a reply in the negative, he proceeds to state, that finding himself at Seville, and being anxious to learn something of the maritime discoveries of the Spaniards, the public voice directed him to Sebastian Cabot as a very valiant man, (“un gran valent huomo”) then living in that city, who had the charge of those things (“che havea l' carico di quelle”). A wish seized him to see Cabot (“subito volsi essere col detto”). He called, and we are now, for the first time, brought into a direct personal interview with this celebrated man.
“I found him a most gentle and courteous person, who treated me with great kindness and showed me a great many things ; amongst the rest a great Map of the world, on which the several voyages of the Portuguese and Spaniards were laid down."
The conversation then turned on the voyage from England in the time of Henry VII. and the subsequent events in the La Plata. Speaking of his return from the latter expedition,
“After this I made many other voyages, which I now pretermit, and growing old I give myself to rest from such labours, because there are now many young and vigorous seamen of good experience, by whose forwardness I do rejoice in the fruit of my labours, and rest with the charge of this office as you see.”+
It is delightful to notice the manner in which he refers to Columbus. No paltry effort is made to despoil that great man of any portion of his fame. He speaks of the effect which the news produced in England ; “ All men with great admiration affirmed it to be a thing more divine than human.” | The
alla Navigatione et all Cosmographia che in Spagna al presente non v'e suo pari et la sua virtu l'ha fatto preporre a tutti li Pilotti che navigano all' Indie Occidentali, che senza sua licenza non possono far quel essercitio et per questo lo chi. amano Pilotto Maggiore."
* “Lo trovai una gentilissima persona et cortese che mi fece gran carezze et mostrommi molte cose et fra l'altre un Mapamondo grande colle navigationi particolari, si di Portaghesi, come di Castigliani.”
[ "Feci poi molte altre navigationi le quali pretermetto et trovandomi alla fine vecchio volsi riposare essendosi allevati tanti pratichi et valenti marinari giovanni et hora me ne sto con questo carico che voi sapete, godendo il frutto delle mie fatiche.”
# Eden's Decades, fol. 255. The original “ dicendosi che era stata cosa piu tosto divina che humana, &c.” Ramusio, tom. i. fol. 415.
influence on his own ardent temperament is well described, 6 by this fame and report there increased in my heart a great flame of desire to attempt some notable thing. *" While such expressions would rebuke an attempt to connect his name with the disparagement of Columbus, they heighten the gratification with which we recognise his claim to the place that a foreign poet of no contemptible merit--the companion of Sir Humphrey Gilbert in his voyage to the North, and writing from that region-has assigned to him :
Hanc tibi jamdudum primi invenere Britanni
* “Mi nacque un desiderio grande, anzi un ardor nel core di voler far anchora io qualche cosa segnalata, &c." Ib.
† Budeius—in Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 143.
PERVERSION OF FACTS AND DATES BY HARRIS AND PINKERTON-CABOT's
RETURN TO ENGLAND-PROBABLE INDUCEMENTS—ERRONEOUS REASON ASSIGNED BY MR BARROW-CHARLES V. MAKES A DEMAND ON THE KING OF ENGLAND FOR HIS RETURN-REFUSED-PENSION TO CABOT-DUTIES
CONFIDED TO HIM - MORE EXTENSIVE THAN THOSE BELONGING TO THE
OFFICE OF PILOT-MAJOR INSTANCES.
Of the manner in which the order and nature of Cabot's services have been misrepresented by English writers, some idea may be formed from the following passage of Harris transplanted into Pinkerton's Collection of Voyages (vol. xii. p. 160).
“Sebastian Cabot was employed by their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand and Isabella, [Isabella having been dead twenty-two years, and Ferdinand ten years before he sailed) on a voyage for the discovery of the coast of Brasil (!) in which he had much better success than Americus Vespucius, who missed the river of Plate, whereas Cabot found it, and sailed up 360 miles (Hakluyt's six score leagues), which gave him such a character at the Court of their Catholic Majesties, that on his return [in 1531] he was declared piloto maggiore or grand pilot of Spain, and resided several years at Seville with that character, and had the examination and approbation of all the pilots intrusted by that government. Yet after some years, he thought fit to return into England, and was employed by King Henry VIII. in conjunction with Sir Thomas Pert, who was Vice-Admiral of England, and built a fine house near Blackwall, called Poplar, which name still remains, though the house is long ago decayed. This voyage of his was in 1516, (fifteen years before the return from the La Plata !] on board a ship of 250 tons with another of the like size.” (Mistaken reference to the English Expedition of 1527.)
The motives which really induced Cabot to abandon a sitvation of high honour and emolument in Spain, as well as the exact period of his return to England, we have no means of determining. It is plain, from what will presently appear, that he had experienced no mortifying slight of his services, or attempt to withdraw the ample provision for his support. We are permitted, therefore, to believe that he was drawn to England by an attachment, strengthening with the decline
of life, to his native soil and the scene of his early associations and attachments. The ties were not slight or likely to decay. Born in Bristol and returning from Venice whilst yet a boy, he had grown up in England to manhood, and it was not until sixteen years after the date of the first memorable patent that he entered the service of Spain, from which again he withdrew in 1516.
A reasonable presumption must, however, be distinguished from rash and absurd assertion. Mr Barrow supposes (Chronological History of Voyages, p. 36), that Cabot returned on the invitation of Robert Thorne of Bristol. Unfortunately for this hypothesis it appears* that Thorne died in 1532, sixteen years before the period at which Cabot quitted Spain.
The same writer remarks (p. 36), “ His return to England was in the year 1548, when Henry VIII. was on the throne.” Surely Mr Barrow cannot seriously think that, at this late day, his bare word will be taken against all the historians and chroniclers who declared that Henry VIII, died in January 15477.
At his return Cabot settled in Bristol, † without the least anticipation, in all probability, of the new and brilliant career on which he was shortly to enter, fifty-three years after the date of his first commission from Henry VII.
Whatever may have been the motives of the Emperor for consenting to the departure of the Pilot-Major, he would seem to have become very soon alarmed at the inconvenience that might result from his new position. The youth who then filled the throne of England had already given such evidence of capacity as to excite the attention of Europe; and anticipations were universally expressed of the memorable part he was destined to perform. Naval affairs had seized his attention as a sort of passion. Even when a child 6 he knew all
Fuller's Worthies, Somersetshire ; and Stow's Survey of London. | This blunder is gravely copied into Dr Lardner's Cyclopædia, History of Maritime and Inland Discovery, vol. ii. p. 138, together with Mr Barrow's assertion, that the pension of £166. 138. 4d. was equal to five hundred Marks !
Strype's Historical Memorials, vol. ii. p. 190.