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Cathay, and that he would thus obtain spices and other articles from the Indies equally as well as the King of Portugal, added to which he proposed to go to Peru and America to people the country with new inhabitants, and to establish there a New England which he did not accomplish; true it is he put three hundred men ashore from the coast of Ireland towards the North where the cold destroyed nearly the whole company, though it was then the month of July. Afterwards Jaques Cartier (as he himself has told me) made two voyages to that country in 1534 and 1535."
The greater part of this is evidently a mere perversion of what appears in Gomara, changing the name of the commander to Babate, and Iceland to Ireland; and that which follows may be a random addition suggested by the reference in Gomara to one of the objects of Cabot's expedition, and to the reasons which compelled him to turn back.
On the other hand, while it seems somewhat harsh to impute to the author a reckless falsehood, it is possible that he may have derived his information from Cartier, who would be very likely to know of any such early attempt at settlement, Thevet seems, evidently, to turn from the book, whose influence is discernible on the general cast of the paragraph, in order to make a statement of his own, and instead of the general language of Gomara, to substitute specific assertions.
If, then, we can rely on what he says, it seems clear not only that Cabot proposed colonization, but that he actually put a body of men on shore with that view. It will be noted, on referring to the language of Gomara, in the original, that he represents Cabot when returning from his extreme northern point to have stopped at Baccalaos for refreshment (“y rehaziendo se en los Baccalaos”), and afterwards to have proceeded South to 38°. It may be, then, that before the renewed search for a Passage, which would seem to have continued an object of pursuit, he left a party to examine the country; who, on his return, dispirited by the dreariness of the region and perhaps by mortality, insisted on being taken off.
The statement of Thevet was held in reserve, that its loose and careless air might not seem to be imparted to that which has a fixed and authentic character. Up to a certain point
-the sailing of the expedition of 1498, under Sebastian Cabot, and its apparent objects—we have the clearest evidence. The next step we may hesitate, perhaps from excessive caution, to take, lest the support proffered by Thevet be illusive.
As we are indebted to Peter Martyr and Gomara for the length of the run along the coast to the Southward, it probably now took place, their reference evidently being, throughout, to the present voyage. It was on this occasion, doubtless, that three hundred men were taken out, so that the supposition is perhaps strengthened by noticing that Peter Martyr represents the expedition to have been arrested in the South by a failure of provisions. One incident is deceptively connected by Hakluyt with
Stow speaks of an exhibition of savages in the year 1502; but Hakluyt, who derived this fact from him, has altered the date from the seventeenth to the fourteenth year
of Henry VII. As he relies altogether on Stow's communication, it might be sufficient to point to that Annalist's own statement. The incident belongs to a voyage by different persons, on reaching which it will be shown, that in the original work of Hakluyt, of 1582, he correctly refers the exhibition to the seventeenth year, but afterwards changed the date, in order to accommodate it, in point of time, to the voyage of Cabot with which he erroneously connected it.
VOYAGE TO MARACAIBO IN 1499.
As it is certain that Sebastian Cabot did not enter the service Spain until the 13th of September 1512, we are obliged to look anxiously round, in every direction, for information as to his employment during the intermediate period. It is impossible to believe that he could have passed in inactivity the period of life best adapted for enterprise and adventure, and to which he at the same time brought maturity of judgment and abundant experience. Yet the Records, so far as made public, furnish no evidence on the subject, for though commissions were granted, as we shall have occasion hereafter to show, by Henry VII., in 1501 and 1502, to Portuguese adventurers, with a view to discovery, yet the name of Cabot is sought for in vain.
Amidst this darkness of the horizon, there gleams up happily, in one quarter, a light which enables us to recognise objects with surprising clearness.
A valuable work has recently been published by the Rev. Mr Seyer, entitled, “ Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its Neighbourhood, from the earliest period down to the present time.” At p. 208, of vol. ii., it is stated that some of the ancient Calendars of Bristol, under the year 1499, have the following entry :
« This yeare, Sebastian Cabot borne in Bristoll, proffered his service to King Henry for discovering new countries ; which had noe greate or favorable entertainment of the king, but he with no extraordinary preparation sett forth from Bristoll, and made greate discoveries.”
We might be inclined, perhaps, to attach no great importance to this statement and to view it as referring, with a mistake of date, to one of the Northern voyages, but that late disclosures absolutely compel us to seek some such clue to facts, which, without its aid, are altogether inexplicable.
In the recent work of Don Martin Navarette, who has spread out the treasures of the Spanish Archives, he remarks (tom. iii. p. 41), “ Lo cierto es que Hojeda en su primer viage hallo a ciertas Ingleses por las immediaciones de Caquibacoa” -"what is certain is, that Hojeda in his first voyage, found certain Englishmen in the neighbourhood of Caquibacoa”).
These expressions occur in that part of the work where the author adverts to the commissions which the English Records show to have been granted by Henry VII., and to his inability to refer to any other quarter the remarkable fact of the meeting. Such a connexion, however, is deceptive, because the earliest of these commissions bears date the 19th March 1501.
Hojeda sailed from Spain on the 20th of May 1499 (Navarette, tom. iii. p. 4), and was only one year absent.
The mere fact that Cabot is known not to have entered foreign service until long after this period, would suffice to satisfy us that he was the only man who could have been the leader of such an enterprise from England, particularly as we find that when, two years afterwards, an expedition was projected, three Portuguese were called in and placed at its head. The Bristol manuscript seems to put the matter beyond doubt.
The expressions, also, there employed imply a slight of the subject on the part of the King, and probably embody a complaint uttered at the time. The voyage of 1498 had not, we may suspect, proved so productive as was anticipated, and the interest felt the year before now languished. Some complaint of this kind is discoverable in the conversation of Cabot at Seville, reported by Ramusio, though the neglect is certainly referred, in that report, to an erroneous period.
When we remember that Cabot, the year before, was stop
ped by the failure of provisions while proceeding Southward, he might naturally be expected to resume his progress along the coast on the first occasion, and he would thus be conduct. ed to the spot where Hojeda found him. It is probable, therefore, that impatient of inactivity, and despairing of aid from the Crown, he threw himself into such a vessel as his private means enabled him to equip, and, as the Bristol manuscript expresses it, “with no extraordinary preparation set forth from Bristol and made great discoveries."
have been while he followed the bent of his genius in this desultory manner, that the spirit of enterprise awakened again in England, and his absence may account for the non-appearance of his name in the subsequent patents.
A less agreeable conjecture is suggested by the character of Henry VII. That shrewd and penurious monarch may have been influenced by the same feeling which induced Ferdinand of Spain to rid himself of Columbus, whose high estimate of what he had effected was found to mingle, inconveniently, with all his proposals for following up the Great Discovery. Henry may have preferred to listen to those with whom a bargain might be made solely in reference to prospective services. ' Avarice, a disease to which he was constitutionally subject and of which the symptoms became every year more apparent, had now reached his moral sense. Bacon, who wrote his History under the eye of James, a lineal descendant and professed admirer of that monarch, could not disguise the evidence of the infamous devices to which Henry resorted for the purpose of extorting money from his own subjects. Speaking of his escape from the difficulties which at one time beset him, and particularly from the long and vexatious feuds with Scotland, it is remarked
“Wherefore nature, which many times is happily contained and refrained by some bands of fortune, began to take place in the King ; carrying, as with a strong tive, his affections and thoughts unto the gathering and heaping up of treasure. And as kings do more easily find instruments for their will and humour, than for their service and honour, he had gotten for his purpose, or beyond his purpose, two instruments, Empson and Dudley, whom the people esteemed as his horse