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of King Henry VII., who then beyond the 1497 voyage, and is reigned, . 'I thereupon caused curiously supported later. In 1521 the king to be advertised of my de; Henry VIII. was preparing an vice, who immediately commanded to be furnished two caravels with all expedition "for a voyage to be things, and I began therefore made into the newefound lland,” to sail. After certain days I

which was to be commanded by found,' &c."

Sebastian Cabot. For the fitting

of it out he made heavy demands The salient points of these state- upon the Twelve Great Livery ments we know not to be true; Companies of London. In the that about his father having died name of the others, the Drapers before the news arrived of Colum- objected to the king's levies, on bus's discovery is a singularly im- the ground that “we think it were pudent falsehood. It is second- too sore a venture to jeopard five hand evidence; but few will doub ships with men and goods unto the that the man stands convicted of said lland upon the singular trust a most unfilial filching of his of one man, called, as we underfather's honours.

stand, Sebastian, which Sebastian, In the famous planisphere of as we here say, was never in that 1544, frequently, but not with un- land himself, all if he makes report doubted reason, ascribed to Se- of many things as he hath heard bastian Cabot, there occurs the his father and other men speak in legend, “This land was discovered times past.” by John Caboto, Venetian, and Mr Harrisse, the unswerving Sebastian Cabot, his son.” But it detective of Sebastian Cabot's inis by no means clear that Sebastian famy, goes further : indeed, he goes accompanied his father in the 1497 too far, we think, for the good of voyage. As we have seen, the his case. He attempts to show that letters-patent of 1496 were issued Sebastian's map is untrustworthy, in the names of the son as well as being “faked," so to say, at the of the father : it is somewhat to instigation of his natural instinct the point that those for the second for intrigue; that the scientific voyage, that of 1498, were in the claims advanced for him have no name of the fatheronly. In the letter basis, he being but a very sorry of Pasqualigo describing the hero- cartographer, and not the disworship of John Cabot on his re- coverer in magnetics that is generturn, it is said that the king had given ally supposed; that his methods him money wherewith to amuse him for finding the longitude at sea self until the second expedition was are errors, and not even original ready, and that “he is now at errors; worst of all, that he was Bristol with his Venetian wife and no navigator. Herein, surely, Mr with his sons,"_language which Harrisse proves too much. Most some think—we do not lay stress of the evidence of Cabot's treachupon it-not quite applicable to ery and deceit would fall to the the case had one or all of the sons ground but for the assumption sailed with him. Again, Peter that for nearly fifty years he held Martyr—"a very friend”-records such a European reputation as & that "some of the Spaniards deny navigator and a maker of maps that Sebastian was the first finder that his services were run after, of the land of Bacallaos region, or and his words on these subjects that he ever sailed so far west treasured ; and a man could not ward,”—a denial which goes far hold such a reputation for nearly At the same time, it must be ad- and so returned again into England mitted on these undisputed facts with his father after certain years, that he was a man not to be relied whereby he was thought to have on as to his word, and a betrayer been born in Venice." The inferof the secrets of his offices. And ence is pretty clear: Sebastian this is far from being all that is Cabot made his birthplace suit the alleged against him. His official designs he had on hand. treachery is counted of importance It was on the strength of statechiefly as giving weight to the ments of his own, then, that Engcharge that he reared for himself lish and Bristol chroniclers have a monument of fame at the expense enthusiastically claimed Sebastian of his father's memory.

Cabot as

a countryman and a We have no certain information townsman. That was before the about Sebastian Cabot's birthplace. documents discovered in the VeneHis mother, as we have seen, was tian archives made plain the man an Italian woman. Of the three he was. And upon statements of sons mentioned in the letters- his own, also, as we must show patent of 1496, he comes second, next, rested that fame as the so that we may suppose that he discoverer of America which was had an elder brother. As the his until these documents estabgrants were made to the sons per- lished his father's claim to it. sonally, they were almost neces- Here is the evidence. Peter Marsarily of age. Sebastian, therefore, tyr was intimately acquainted with must have been at least twenty-two Sebastian Cabot. “He is my very in 1497, and so born before 1474. friend,” he wrote, “whom I use But 1474 falls within the fifteen familiarly, and delight to have years of residence which gave his him sometimes keep me company father Venetian citizenship: thus in mine own house." Now, in the presumption is strong that he Peter Martyr's account of the diswas born in Venice. The point, covery of North America, John however, is that he could not be at Cabot's name is not so much as once a Venetian born and a native mentioned; but it is stated—and of Bristol, yet that is exactly the Sebastian was at Court with him conclusion we come to from his when the book was published — own statements. During the first " These north seas have been negotiations with Venice, while he searched by one Sebastian Cabot ; was still in the employ of Spain, ...

.. he therefore furnished two he told Contarini that he “was ships in England at his own born in Venice but brought up in charges." “ The son had a gift England," and a special envoy of of reticence concerning others, inthe Council of Ten employed on cluding his father and brothers,” that occasion reported that Cabot Dr Dawson says drily. Further, “says he is of our city.” Peter according to that mysterious and Martyr, who knew him well, and interesting witness in the case Oviedo spoke of his Venetian birth. known as “The Mantuan GentleOn the other hand, Richard Eden, man," Sebastian himself said to in a marginal note appended to his himtranslation of Peter Martyr's 'De

“When my father died, in that cades,' says, “Sebastian Cabot told

time when news was brought that me that he was born in Bristowe, Don Christopher Columbus, Genoese, and that at four yeares old he was had discovered the coasts of India, carried with his father to Venice, whereof was great talk in the Court of King Henry VII., who then beyond the 1497 voyage, and is

I thereupon caused curiously supported later. In 1521 the king to be advertised of my de Henry VIII. was preparing an vice, who immediately commanded to be furnished two caravels with all expedition “for a voyage to be things, and I began therefore made into the newefound lland," to sail. After certain days I which was to be commanded by found,' &c."

Sebastian Cabot. For the fitting

of it out he made heavy demands The salient points of these state- upon the Twelve Great Livery ments we know not to be true; Companies of London. In the that about his father having died name of the others, the Drapers before the news arrived of Colum- objected to the king's levies, on bus's discovery is a singularly im- the ground that “we think it were pudent falsehood. It is second- too sore a venture to jeopard five hand evidence; but few will doubt ships with men and goods unto the that the man stands convicted of said lland upon the singular trust a most unfilial filching of his of one man, called, as we underfather's honours.

stand, Sebastian, which Sebastian, In the famous planisphere of as we here say, was never in that 1544, frequently, but not with un- land bimself, all if he makes report doubted reason, ascribed to Se- of many things as he hath heard bastian Cabot, there occurs the his father and other men speak in legend, “This land was discovered times past." by John Caboto, Venetian, and Mr Harrisse, the unswerving Sebastian Cabot, his son. But it detective of Sebastian Cabot's inis by no means clear that Sebastian famy, goes further : indeed, he goes accompanied his father in the 1497 too far, we think, for the good of voyage. As we have seen, the his case. He attempts to show that letters-patent of 1496 were issued Sebastian's map is untrustworthy, in the names of the son as well as being “faked,” so to say, at the of the father : it is somewhat to instigation of his natural instinct the point that those for the second for intrigue; that the scientific voyage, that of 1498, were in the claims advanced for him have no name of the father only. In the letter basis, he being but a very sorry of Pasqualigo describing the hero- cartographer, and not the disworship of John Cabot on his re- coverer in magnetics that is generturn, it is said that the king had given ally supposed; that his methods him money wherewith toamuse bim- for finding the longitude at sea self until the second expedition was are errors, and not even original ready, and that “he is now at errors; worst of all, that he was Bristol with his Venetian wife and no navigator. Herein, surely, Mr with his sons,”—language which Harrisse proves too much. Most some think we do not lay stress of the evidence of Cabot's treachupon it-not quite applicable to ery and deceit would fall to the the case had one or all of the sons ground but for the assumption sailed with him. Again, Peter that for nearly fifty years he held Martyr—"a very friend”-records such a European reputation as a that "some of the Spaniards deny navigator and a maker of maps that Sebastian was the first finder that his services were run after, of the land of Bacallaos region, or and his words on these subjects that he ever sailed so far west treasured; and a man could not ward,”—a denial which goes far hold such a reputation for nearly fifty years without some cause. But setting out to prove that the Mr Harrisse's conclusions, indeed, landfall was between 56° and 60°, sometimes seem to bear witness to Mr Harrisse has to account for the natural tendency to bias in the the Prima Terra Vista appearing human mind, quite as much as on 48°, in the Cabot map, and he does the fact that for so long does so by saying that the wily Sebastian's claims were supported. Sebastian's motive was to estabOn the planisphere of 1544, the lish British claims for the region date of the first voyage is given at the mouth of the St Lawrence as 1494.

It seems quite clear which the voyages of Jacques that this was a paleographical error Cartier had shown to be valuable, for 1497. The date is given in and so to make a bid for the Roman numerals, M CCCC XCIIII. favour of England, which he visited The map was printed most likely shortly afterwards. For this, howin the Netherlands, from the ever, he puts in no proof, and Spanish. Sebastian Cabot had no there strong presumptions opportunity of correcting the proof- against it. sheets, and the substitution of 1111. It is remarkable, indeed, how for vii. clearly is a simple blunder. many and how varied

are the All the evidence proves the date points in dispute in this story, 1494 impossible. But it is easy arising out of the meagreness of to see why it has been stuck to. the material to our hand for conStarting with the statement of structing it. Out of the misty Sebastian that he was born in cloud of evidence, however, this Bristol, we can claim that North emerges clearly : John Cabot, not America was discovered by an Sebastian, was the discoverer ; Englishman. Most certainly John after nearly four hundred years of Cabot cannot by any alchemy be an honoured reputation, Sebastian changed into an Englishman, and Cabot has been convicted of being on that ground it is convenient to & wily and untrustworthy man, ignore him. And by assuming howsoever able; and there is sound the 1494 date, we throw the dis- reason to believe that an unfilial covery still further in advance of baseness to his father's memory the making of the mainland of must be attributed to him, inasAmerica by Columbus. Many do much as he appears to have instiso; and a similar predisposition gated the statements upon which to find certain things in the evi- for so many centuries his name dence is shown now and then by has been set in the ascendant, and Mr Harrisse in his determination his father's kept under a cloud. to prove Sebastian's unworthiness. And, chiefly, Mr Harrisse has a When John Cabot sailed from theory to prove connected with the Port of Bristol on his memorthe greatly vexed question of John able voyage, Europe was in a fever Cabot's landfall. The 1544 map of discovery. The veil of night fixes it at Cape Breton, and that that enwrapped them was rent, and is generally accepted. He, how- men's minds soared upwards with ever, is convinced that the true a morning hope. Traveller's tales, landfall is on the north coast of passed from mouth to mouth, fired Labrador. It is a question for their imaginations with the gorthe experts, and of course the ex- geous colours of the Orient, and perts disagree, as they may be ex- their lust for her gold and spices. cused for doing on the scanty facts. They saw the Italian cities, through

ocean,

command of the Mediterranean, It had been the policy of the grow rich

upon the treasures which Italian critics, therefore, to keep the caravans of the East poured back their navigators from these into their markets; but they saw, enterprises on the Western seas. also, beyond the Pillars of Hercules, But the navigators would not be an ocean on whose untraversed held. The instinct of maritime waters already in imagination they adventure was in their blood. were borne to Cathay, and the gold- They had the compass to guide roofed palaces of Cipango. Bit by them now.

Bit by them now. Visions of Ophir lured bit, Portuguese ships felt their way them on; and the learned men of down the coast of Africa, until their own country sped them Bartolomeo Diaz faced an ocean men like the Florentine Toscanelli, open beyond the Cape, and at last, who sent the sea-chart to Columbus in this wonderful year of 1497, at to aid him in his

to aid him in his “magnificent the very moment when Cabot with and great desire to find a way to the swelling heart of a discoverer where the spices grow.” When was doling out islands to his their own critics would not emGenoese comrades, Vasco di Gama ploy them, they gave their services rounded the Cape, and filled his to the Kings of Spain and Portusails for the Eastern seas. gal, whose opposition to her voy

It was the dawn of the new ages of discovery in consequence order, in which the power of Venice soon had very good reason Empire has passed into the hands to fear. In May 1493, shortly of the nations commanding the after Columbus returned to Spain,

The Italian cities, Venice Pope Alexander VI., by a bull, and Genoa, must have seen that drawing a line from the Arctic their day was waning. They were pole to the Antarctic, a hundred hemmed in. It is interesting to leagues towards the west and south notice that Contarini knew it. from any of the islands which are When Sebastian Cabot proposed commonly called De los Azores to him to show Venice his shorter and Cape Verde, gave to Spain all passage to the East

the islands and firm lands, dis

covered and to be discovered after “With regard to the possibility of the Christmas of 1492, to the west such an issue I am doubtful” (Con- of this line, and to Portugal all to tarini wrote); “ for I have some slight the east. By the Treaty of Tordeknowledge of geography, and, considering the position of Venice, I can sillas a year later, this line was resee no way whatever by which she can drawn to pass, north and south, undertake these voyages. It would three hundred and seventy leagues be necessary to sail in vessels built at west of the Cape Verde Islands. Venice, or else they must be built Thus we have the islands of the outside the Strait. If they are built Portuguese called the East Indies. at Venice, they will have to pass the Straits of Gibraltar to reach the

Thus, too, we have the Southern seas

ocean, which would not be possible in face of unmentioned in the letters-patent the opposition of the King of Portugal of Henry for the voyage of 1497, and the King of Spain. If they are lest the Portuguese and Spanish not built at Venice, they can only be envoys should take alarm. And built on the shore of the Western thus we find, years later, Magellan, ocean, for they cannot be constructed the Red Sea without infinite

a Portuguese, in the service of trouble. Nor can I see any

Spain,--for it was the interest of possibility of building ships on the Portugal, not to encourage, but Western ocean."

rather to thwart, his particular

on

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