Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

in latitude 45. If so, it was in the peninsula of Nova Scotia, and as they coasted the land Northward, they must have entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence in pursuit of the Northern passage, John Cabot returned to England in August, 1497, and was presented with ten pounds by the King from his privy purse as a reward to him, “ who had found the new Isle.” In February, 1498, new style, the King granted to the same John Cabot second Letters Patent, with authority to sail from any port in England, in six vessels of not more than two hundred tons each, and with more favorable terms than before. In this second commission, he expressly mentions “ the lands and isles of late found by the “ said John in our name and by our commandment.” About this time, however, Sir John Cabot, who had received the honor of knighthood, died ; and in the summer of the year 1498, Sebastian Cabot, his son, although a young man of twenty three years of age, was promoted to the command of the expedition, and sailed on a voyage of discovery, in search of a northwest passage into the south seas. He soon reached Newfoundland, and proceeded as far as the 56th degree of latitude north ; whence, being unable to discover any such passage, he returned and examined the same coast towards the south, until he came to the beautiful country, at present called Florida. Fabian states, that in the fourteenth year of Henry VII. 1499, there were in London three wild men brought by Cabot to the King, “ taken in the new found Island.” They were clothed in the skins of animals, and eat raw flesh : they spoke in a strange uncouth tongue, and were very brutish in their behaviour. He adds, however, that such had been their improvement in the civilising atmosphere of London, that

career.

when he next saw them two years afterwards, dressed in English habits, he could with difficulty recognise them.

In claiming the merit of a prior discovery of North America for the English, it must be obvious that there is no intention to detract from the fame of Columbus. It is difficult, indeed, to repress astonishment at the success of that illustrious navigator, and at the magnitude and splendor of his discovery. We regard the great Columbus with admiration as the first who conceived and executed a mighty design, and brought about the revelation of a new world—but must not deny praise, though of an inferior degree, to those gallant spirits who followed him in his glorious

It is a remarkable historical fact, and one highly honorable to English enterprise, that not only did Henry VII. listen favorably to the propositions of Columbus, some years before they were accepted by the Spanish Court, but that, although Columbus landed in Hispaniola so early as February, 1493, he did not ascertain the existence of the continent of South America until May, 1498—whereas there is certain evidence that almost a year before, an English vessel had reached the shores of the North American continent. Sir John Cabot, therefore, was undoubtedly the first discoverer of this continent, which Columbus did not see until a year afterwards; while his son Sebastian was the first discoverer of Florida, so called in 1512, when it was taken possession of by the Spaniards under Juan Ponce de Leon, who passes with many as the original discoverer.

Neither Cabot or Columbus were destined to know that their names were immortalised in those of the lands they had discovered. An attempt was lately made to give the name of Cabotia to the British

Provinces of this continent-but that of America, taken from the spurious pretensions of Amerigo Vespuccio, a drawer of charts, has by an unaccountable caprice, supplanted the noble name of Columbia. The bold usurpation of a fortunate imposter has robbed the discoverer of the new world of a distinction which belonged to him of right; and mankind are left to regret an act of injustice, which, having been sanctioned by the lapse of so many ages, they can never redress, Columbus, however ungratefully treated, has been redeemed by fame. Sebastian Cabot lived long in great reputation. He entered into the service of Spain, but returned to England, and undertook a third voyage in 1517, which it is unnecessary to touch upon in this place. He afterwards resided in London, and built a fine house at Blackwall, called Poplar, which names still remain. In the year 1548, he was made, by Edward VI., grand pilot of England, with a fee of one hundred and sixty six pounds thirteen shillings and four pence per annum. In concluding this notice of Cabot, we may mention that there are at present in Boston and Philadelphia, respectable families, bearing the name and arms of Cabot, who are generally considered to be descendants of the great navigator.

VOYAGE OF CORTEREAL.

The next voyage in the order of discovery was that undertaken in 1500, three years after the return of Sir John Cabot, by the Portuguese: a nation is whose genius and perseverance the world owes the highest triumphs of geography and navigation. It was conducted by GASPAR CORTEREAL, a gentleman who had been educated in the household of the

King of Portugal, and who is represented as a man of enterprising and determined character, ardently thirsting after glory. Pursuing the track of Sir John Cabot, he reached the northern extremity of Newfoundland, and is considered to have discovered the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He also sailed along the coast of Labrador, northward ; and appears to have penetrated nearly to Hudson's Bay. He returned to Lisbon on the 8th October, 1500. The character of this voyage was less honorable to the cause of discovery than any of the former ; it having been undertaken, apparently, rather for the purpose of obtaining timber and slaves, than for the advancement of the cause of science. He brought back to Portugal no less than fifty seven of the natives, who were coolly destined to slavery, and whose superior capability of labor appears to have been a subject of gratifying speculation. In a letter written eight days after their arrival by the Venetian Ambassador at the Court of Lisbon, these unfortunate persons are thus described : " they are extremely fitted to endure labor, and will “ probably turn out the best slaves which have been “ discovered up to this time.” Such was the cold blooded speculation of avarice, even among a people so renowned for honorable achievements as the Portuguese of that day! It has, indeed, been conjectured that the name, Terra de Laborador, was given to this coast by the Portuguese slave merchants, in consequence of the admirable qualities of the natives as labourers, and in full anticipation of the future advantages to be derived from this unchristian traffic.

These cruel designs were, however, frustrated by accumulated distress and disaster. In a second voyage, in 1501, Cortereal was lost at sea; and a third, undertaken by his brother Michael, in search of him,

was alike unfortunate. Neither of the brothers was ever afterwards heard of, The King of Portugal, feeling a great affection for these gentlemen, is stated to have fitted out at his own expense an expedition, consisting of three armed vessels, which returned without any information as to the manner or place of their death. One brother still remained, who was anxious to renew the attempt to discover their fate, but was overruled by the persuasion of the king. In an old map published in 1508, the Labrador coast is called Terra Corterealis; and the entrance into the Gulf of St. Lawrence was long known to the Portuguese by the name of the Gulf of the Two Brothers. On the strength of the voyage of Cortereal, the Portuguese claimed the first discovery of Newfoundland, and of the adjacent coast of America ; and maps were actually forged to support these unfair pretensions.

DISCOVERY BY THE FRENCH.

About the year 1504, we first hear of any attempt being made by the French to obtain, if not a footing in America, still a share in the advantages to be derived from its discovery. At this date, some Basque, Norman, and Breton fishermen, commenced fishing for cod on the great bank of Newfoundland, and near the adjacent shores. From them Cape Breton derives its name. In 1506, Jean Denys, a native of Harfleur, made a map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 1508, a Pilot of Dieppe, by name Thomas Aubert, brought into France some natives of America, who naturally excited great curiosity. It does not appear from what part of the coast they were taken, but most probably from Cape Breton.

« ForrigeFortsett »