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the harbours and ports both of his own dominions and of France and Scotland, and how much water they had, and what was the way of coming into them.”* The Emperor saw how perilous it was that a youthful monarch, with these predispositions, should have within reach the greatest seaman of the age, with all the accumulated treasures of a protracted life of activity and observation. A formal and urgent demand, therefore, was made by the Spanish ambassador, that “Sebastian Cabote, Grand Pilot of the Emperor's Indies, then in England,” might be sent over to Spain“ as a very necessary man for the Emperor, whose servant he was, and had a Pension of him.”+ Strype, after quoting from the documents before him, dryly adds, “ Notwithstanding, I suspect that Cabot still abode in England, at Bristol, (for there he lived) having two or three years after set on foot a famous voyage hence, as we shall mention in due place.” It is a pleasing reflection, adverted to before and which may here be repeated, that Cabot was never found attempting to employ, to the annoyance of Spain, the minute local knowledge of her possessions, of which his confidential station in that country must have made him master.
The Public Records now supply us with dates. On the 6th January, in the second year of Edward VI., a pension was granted to him of two hundred and fifty marks (1661. 138. 4d.). Hakluyt (vol. iii. p. 10) seems irresolute as to the year, according the ordinary computation; for, at the close of the grant, in the original Latin, he declares it to be 1549, and at the end of his own translation, 1548. The former is undoubtedly correct, and so stated by Rymer (vol. xv. p. 181). The pension is recited to be “ In consideratione boni et acceptabilis servitii nobis per dilectum servientem nostrum Sebastianum Cabotum impensi atque impendendi” (in consideration of the good and acceptable service done and to be done unto us by our beloved servant Sebastian Cabot).
The precise nature of the duties imposed on him does not
• Burnet's History of the Reformation, vol. i. p. 225.
appear. It is usually stated, and amongst others by Hakluyt, that the office of Grand Pilot of England was now created, and Cabot appointed to fill it; but this is very questionable. * Certain it is that his functions were far more varied and extensive than those implied in such a title. He would seem to have exercised a general supervision over the maritime concerns of the country, under the eye of the King and the Council, and to have been called upon whenever there was occasion for nautical skill and experience. One curious instance occurs of the manner in which the wishes of individuals were made to yield to his opinion of what was required by the exigences of the public service. We find (Hakluyt, vol. ii. part ii. p. 8) one James Alday offering as an explanation of his not having gone as master on a proposed voyage to the Levant, that he was stayed
“ By the prince's letters which my master Sebastian Gabota had obtained for that purpose to my great grief.”
He is called upon (Hakluyt, vol. iii. p. 719) to be present at the examination of a French pilot who had long frequented the coast of Brasil, and there is reason to believe that the minute instructions for the navigation of the La Plata (ib. p. 728) are from himself.
See Appendix (C.).
PUBLIO EXPLANATION BY CABOT TO EDWARD VI. OF THE PHENOMENA OF
THE VARIATION OF THE NEEDLE-STATEMENT OF LIVIO SANUTO POINT OF NO VARIATION” FIXED BY CABOT-ADOPTED AFTERWARDS BY MERCATOR FOR HIS FIRST MERIDIAN-REFERENCE TO CABOT'S MAP -EARLY TESTIMONIALS-ALLUSION TO THE ENGLISH DISCOVERIES IN THE EDITION OF PTOLEMY PUBLISHED AT ROME IN 1508-FOURNIER -ATTENTION TO NOTE THE VARIATION BY THE SEAMEN OF CABOT'S SCHOOL-HIS THEORY, IF A NARROW ONE, WOULD HAVE BEEN THUS
ALLUSION was made, on a former occasion, to the fact stated by the noble Venetian, Livio Sanuto, that Cabot had explained to the King of England the whole subject of the variation of the needle. There is reason to suppose, from what we know of Sanuto's life, that the incident to which he alludes must have occurred at the period now reached. His statement* is that many years before the period at which he wrote, his friend Guido Gianeti de Fano informed him that Sebastian Cabot was the first discoverer of this secret of nature which he explained to the King of England, near whom the said Gianeti at that time resided, and was held, as Sanuto understood from others, in the highest esteem. Cabot also showed the extent of the variation, and that it was different in different places.f
Sanuto being engaged in the construction of an instrument in reference to the longitude, it became with him a matter of eager interest to ascertain a point of no variation.
The Geographia is in the Library of the British Museum, title in Catalogue “Sanuto." It was published at Venice, 1588, after the author's death.
+ "Fu di tal secreto il riconoscitore, qual egli paleso poi al serenissimo Re d' Inghilterra, presso al quale (come poi da altri intesi) esso Gianetti all'hora honoratissimo si ritrovaa ; et egli dimostro insieme, quanta fusse questa distanza, e che non appareva in ciascun luogo la medesima.” Lib. prim fol. 2.
6 Conversing on this subject with Gianeti, he undertook to obtain for me, through a gentleman named Bartholomew Compagni, then in England, this information which he himself had not gathered.”* The person
thus addressed sent word of what he had learned from Cabot, and Sanuto remarks that he had, subsequently, further assurance of the accuracy of the report thus made to him. He saw a chart of navigation, executed by hand with the greatest care, and carefully compared with one by Cabot himself, in which the position of this meridian was seen to be one hundred and ten miles to the west of the island of Flores, one of the Azores.t
It is scarcely necessary to add that the First Meridian on the maps of Mercator, running through the most western point of the Azores, was adopted with reference to the supposed coincidence in that quarter of the true and magnetic poles.
In the course of the same memoir, Sanuto refers repeatedly to the Map, and adverts to the observations as to the vari. ation of the compass made by Cabot at the Equator. The disappearance of this Document becomes at every turn a matter equally of astonishment and regret. Aside from the mass of papers left with Worthington, we have not only seen that the published map was hung up in the Gallery at Whitehall, but have actually traced a copy to Ortelius, to the Earl of Bedford, and now to Sanuto.
The assertion is found in almost all the old writers that Ca. bot was the first who noticed the variation. He was, at least, the first who gave to it an earnest attention, marked its degrees in various parts of the world, and attempted to frame a theory on the subject. His earliest transatlantic voyage carried him
• "Ragionatone io di questo col detto Gianneti, fece egli, che da un gentil huomo nominato Bartolomeo Compagni, che in Inghilterre si tratteneva, s'intese cio, ch' egli dal detto Caboto ne seppe.”
t “ Et a quello ancora, che io dapoi vidi con gli occhi miei in una carta da navigare diligentissima fatta a mano, e tutta ritratta à punto da una propria del detto Caboto ; nella quale si riconosce il luogo del detto Meridiano esser per miglia cento e dieci lontano verso Occidente dalla Isola detta Fiori di quelle pur delli Azori."
to the very quarter where it is exhibited in a manner so sudden and striking, that modern navigators seem to concur in placing there one of the magnetic poles. The La Plata, too, is another theatre of its most startling appearance ; and Cabot's long residence in that region must have secured his deliberate attention to the subject with the advantage of thirty years of intermediate observation and reflection.
There is a curious piece of evidence to show how early the Northern region discovered by Cabot was associated with the alarm which this phenomenon must, in the first instance, have excited.
On the great Map of the World which accompanies the edition of Ptolemy published at Rome in 1508, is the following inscription, commencing far beyond Terra Nova and the Insula Bacalaurus—“Hic, compassus navium non tenet, nec naves quæ ferrum tenent revertere valent."*
It is impossible to doubt that the reference is to the wellknown effect produced there on the compass. Beneventus, who prepared the supplemental matter for this edition of Ptolemy, professes to have a kuowledge of the discoveries made by Columbus, by the Portuguese, and by the English (“Columbi et Lusitanorum atque Britannorum quos Anglos nunc dicimus”).
Fournier, in his old, but yet highly-esteemed, Treatise on Hydrography, (Liv. xi. cap. x.) says, it was understood that Sebastian Cabot had noted with great exactness the variation in the places he had discovered on the Northern Coasts of America.t
As to Cabot's theory on the subject of the Variation, we are unable, in the absence of his Maps and Discourses, to offer even a conjecture. His exposition to the king would evidently seem to have been something more than a mere statement of isolated facts, and from the general recollection of
“Here the ship’s-compass loses its property, and no vessel with iron on board is able to get away.”
| “Que Cabot remarqua fort exactement les declinaisons que l'aymant faisoit en divers endroits des costes Septentrionales de l'Amerique qu'il decouvrit.”