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of their true importance, as we cannot now; but behind them all he must find, ultimate spring of this new Imperialism, the old singular and intense loyalty which is born under the English flag.
Its singularity and intenseness were never discovered so clearly as in an article in one of the American magazines recently by Mr W. D. Howells. Mr Howells was
writing of 'The Seven Seas' by Mr Kipling, whom he calls the "Laureate of the Larger England," and here is what he said :
"If Mr Rudyard Kipling should remain the chief poet of his race in his time, his primacy would be the most interesting witness of the imperial potentialities of that race in literature. He was not born English, if that means born in England, but the keynote of his latest volume is a patriotism intense beyond anything expressed by other English poets. He is so intense in the English loyalty which always mystifies us poor Americans, that one has a little difficulty in taking him at his word in it. But he is most serious, and in the presence of the fact one cannot help wondering how far the ties of affection, the sentiment of a merely inherited allegiance, can stretch. If we had not snapped them so summarily a century ago, should we be glowing and thrilling at the name of England, which now awakens only a cold disgust in us, or at the notion of an anthropomorphic majesty, which only makes us smile? One cannot read "A Song of the English' in Mr Kipling's new book without thinking we might, though as it is we read it without a responsive heart-throb, or any feeling but wonder for its beauty and sincerity.
"Its patriotism is not love of the little England,
'Encompassed by the inviolate seas,' on the west coast of Europe, but of
the great England whose far-strewn empire feels its mystical unity in every latitude and longitude of the globe. It has its sublimity, that
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXX.
emotion, and its reason, though we cannot share it and it is only in asking ourselves why a man of any nation, any race, should so glory in its greatness or even its goodness, when he has the greatness, the goodness of all humanity to glory in, that we are sensible of the limitations of this out-born Englishman. Possibly when we broke with England we broke more irreparably with tradition than we imagined, and liberated ourselves to a patriotism not less large than humanity."
Here a man of culture and imagination, an American, too,-one of ourselves we should have said a century ago,-is brought face to face with this English loyalty, and it is easy to see that he is puzzled and distressed by it. If it were merely Jingoism, he could understand it: that is a product of all countries, not least of his own. But Mr Howells is too keen and too honest to miss that it is more than that. Coincident with it at the present moment no doubt are certain incidents, certain displays of national passion arising out of these incidents-Jingoism, if any one likes; but large sections of the public and the press have already condemned these. On the other hand, this Imperialism— "this feeling of mystical unity," Mr Howells aptly calls it is welcomed with a wonderful unanimity; even the Little Englanders, their creed, pay it tribute. And Greater Englanders in spite of Mr Howells says that they in America cannot understand it or appreciate it. It seems so certain to him that it must be a limitation in us, that this emotion, so intense, must swamp all other emotions, and that this tradition as he calls it must blind us, not only to the larger patriotism of humanity which he speaks of as the single charge of America, but to reasonableness even, and to a humorous
consideration of our own position and tolerance of that of others. But we know that it is not so. If we were asked to single out a living writer, the intensity of whose patriotism drives it into a channel deeper and narrower, perhaps, than most of us would care to see our own running in, it would be Mr Blackmore. Yet in his story of 'Dariel,' running through 'Maga' now, Sûr Imar gibes the young Englishman pleasantly. "In going round the globe so much," he says, "you never care about any race that is beginning to get better. Your own, for instance, is nothing to you. You can hope for the best about them; and believe that the Lord, who governs the earth for the benefit of the British race, will make it all right for the worst of you. Upon that point you have no misgivings, any more than you have about any others, when you feel yourself summoned to improve the world." Of course the novelist here is putting the appropriate thoughts and gibes into the mind and mouth of his character; but it is easy to see, too, that he has a kind of proud relish in being able to acquiesce in the criticism of an attitude which nevertheless he would maintain with an equally proud intensity. It is this that Mr Howells, and a great many more than Mr Howells, do not understand that the race to whom this intense emotion has been bequeathed is not blind to its limitations, but, while conscious of them, not with tongue in cheek, but out of an instinctive wisdom, treasures it as a folly-one of the great follies from which all that is good and wise proceeds.
It is by a happy chance that this sentiment of Empire-loyalty comes to full bloom in this par
ticular year, and by a happier still that in this year, four centuries ago, the same sentiment, though all unconsciously, first came into its own. Four hundred years ago, almost to a day, on the 22d of June, when her Majesty will go to St Paul's to give thanks for her long reign and the triumphs of it, an expedition sailing from the port of Bristol sighted the continent of North America, planted the flag of England on the new found land, and thus set the first stake of the enlarged borders of the empire whose singular and perfervid loyalty will find expression on that day. That is a coincidence which gives the Cabot anniversary a wonderful hold upon the imagination. But there is more. For nearly four centuries the Cabot expedition was wrapped in mystery: even now few rays shine upon that voyage across the “Sea of Darkness." Within recent years, however, our knowledge of it has become immensely richer through the patient labour and research of Mr Henry Harrisse, and many others, the results of which, with not a little original comment and suggestion, Mr Weare has admirably summed up in the volume1 which he has published on the eve of the anniversary. And this is the chief of them. Hitherto the hero of the expedition has been Sebastian, the
1 Cabot's Discovery of North America. By G. E. Weare.
which the false title of Sebastian Cabot has been based for three or four centuries are scarcely less meagre, and in addition they are contradictory and of doubtful authority. We are not going to go through the evidence here, with a view to arguing the father's case against the son's. That is a maze none but the experts can move in freely. John Cabot's claim is set beyond dispute now, and his fame established once for all. The manner in which this has come about demands our attention only because it enhances the picturesqueness of John Cabot's story. His voyage is engaging in itself, and the unravelling of the history of it has something of the fascination of detective fiction.
The first of the known existing documents throwing light upon John Cabot and his expedition is found among the State Archives of Venice. It is an order to record, under date March 28, 1476, the granting of the privilege of citizenship, within and without, in favour of John Caboto, in consideration of a residence of fifteen years. Further, in the Book of Privileges, in which are set forth privileges of various kinds granted between 1435 and 1562, there is a list of these grants of citizenship, within and without, in which John Cabot's is the thirteenth. In the case of Cabot the date is not given, and his nationality is not stated, as it is in most of the others; but from the preamble to the list, and from what is known of the conditions of naturalisation in Venice at this period, it is clear that the recipients of the grants were not natives of the city, or even of the Duchy, but were aliens, and possibly inhabitants of the conquered territories, who had resided in Venice for fifteen years, fulfilling during that time all the duties of
residents and paying their taxes. The next notice we have of John
Cabot occurs twenty years later, in a petition, filed by him and his three sons, Lewis, Sebastian, and Sanctus, and presented to Henry VII. of England, praying for "your gracious letters - patentes under your grete seale in due forme to be mayde according to the tenour hereafter ensuying." This petition is dated, as delivered to the Chancellor at Westminster to be acted upon, March 5, 1496, and that is the date of the letterspatent which the king granted to the Cabots in answer to it. the "tenour hereafter ensuying," there is reason to believe, was seek out, discover, and find whatsoever isles, countries, regions, or provinces of the heathen and infidels, whatsoever they be, and in what part of the world soever they be, which before this time have been unknown to all Christians." The letters-patent, while repeating this, expressly limit the right of "full and free authority, faculty and power of navigating to all parts, countries, and seas of the east, west, and north." The style of the petition and the omission of the seas of the south from the letters-patent should be kept in mind, for they have a bearing on a later part of our story. On the 10th of August in the year following-that is, in 1497-there occurs an entry, among the Privy Purse expenses of Henry VII., of a gratuity "to hym that founde the New Isle." In a letter written on the 23d of the same month by Lorenzo Pasqualigo, a Venetian in London, to his two brothers in Venice, it is stated that John Cabot, "the Venetian, our Contryman," had returned from his voyage of three months, in which he had discovered "the territory of the Grand Khan," and had
planted on this newly found land a large cross, with one flag of England and another of St Mark, on account of his being a Venetian." One point this letter fixes is the date of Cabot's sailing at about the middle of May 1497. At this time Raimondo di Soncino was the ambassador in England of Ludovic the Moor, who then held Genoa as a fief of the French crown and in a despatch to the Duke of Milan, dated August 24, 1497, Soncino mentions, among other things about Cabot and his expedition, that they sailed from Bristol, a western port of this kingdom, "some months since," which in a measure corroborates Pasqualigo's date. On December 13, 1497, Henry VII. granted a pension of £20 per annum to John Cabot, which was to be a charge upon the port of Bristol; and five days later, Raimondo di Soncino sent a second despatch to the Duke of Milan, in which he went very fully into the particulars of Cabot's discovery, concerning
which he had conversed with Cabot himself. New letters-patent were granted to John Cabot (this time there is no mention of the sons) by Henry on the 3d day of February 1498, and it would seem that the king made several loans to companions of the admiral "going to the newe ile." On July 25 of that year, Pedro de Ayala, the junior Spanish ambassador in England, addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella a despatch in which he mentions having "seen the map which the discoverer has made, who is another Genoese, like Columbus"; and statements of a similar kind as to the nationality of John Cabot (who by this time had sailed on his second voyage) are to be found in the despatches of the Spanish ambassador De Puebla, a man intimately
acquainted with the Genoese in London.
These are the only original documents extant bearing directly on John Cabot and his expedition, and out of them we might fairly construct the story of the discovery as it is generally accepted now. John Cabot, born, probably, in Genoa, and somewhere about 1450, resided in Venice for the fifteen years necessary to qualify for Venetian citizenship, married in Italy, and had three sons-Lewis, the famous Sebastian, and Sanctus. Of his doings between 1476, when the privileges of naturalisation were conferred upon him, and 1496, the date of Henry's first grant of letters - patent, we can do little more than conjecture. He had become an experienced navigator, and had settled in England: so much is certain. According to Soncino, he had sailed along the Arabian coast and visited Mecca.
"He says that he was once at spices are carried by caravan, and Mecca, where from remote countries that those carrying them, being asked where those spices grew, said they did not know, but that they came with other merchandise from remote countries to their home by other caravans, and that the same inforbrought the spices in turn to them. mation was repeated by those who And he argues that if the oriental people tell to those of the south that these things are brought from places remote from them, and thus from hand to hand, presupposing the sphericity of the earth, it follows that the last carry to the northern, towards the west.'
According to Pedro de Ayala, again, he went to Lisbon and Seville to seek help for the enterprise he contemplated. Some, putting these two statements together, argue that Cabot forestalled Columbus in his great idea, or, at any rate, was not forestalled by
him. The argument is not the less stupid that it is plausible, and even probable. No one supposes for a moment that Columbus was the first or the only man to dream of reaching Asia by sailing constantly westwards down the Trades. All this, however, although it occurs in the authentic documents we have referred to, is unsupported, and only a little more worthy of acceptance than the not improbable statement of Anspach that Cabot conducted a successful negotiation in 1495 with the Court of Denmark, on behalf of the merchants of Bristol, and in consequence was brought to the favourable notice of Henry VII. Three years after the news of the success of Columbus, at any rate, he presented himself and his scheme to Henry VII., and received that monarch's countenance to his expedition. Early in May 1497 he sailed out of Bristol in the Matthew, and after a voyage of some fifty days reached the coast of North America, landed, claimed a new country for Christendom by erecting a large cross, and for England by planting beside it the English flag.
"And then," Tarducci says, "drawn by that mysterious bond which at every distance of time and place brings us to the image of those dear to us, especially in the most solemn and consoling moments of life, he crossed in thought through the ocean, passed over England, traversed Europe, and sought on the shores of the Adriatic the glorious queen of the Lagoons. Twenty years had passed since he left her, but neither length of time nor distance of place could weaken his tender affection. And in the new land he had discovered, by the side of Christ's cross with the banner of England he planted the flag of Venice."
On shore no human beings were met with, but there were signs of
occupation in felled trees, and in some snares set to catch game, and a needle for making nets, which Cabot brought back for the king. Evidently the Matthew delayed not a day in setting sail for home, for it was on St John's Day, June 24, that land was sighted, and she was back in Bristol by the end of July. On the return voyage two islands were passed to starboard, and with a little human upliftedness of spirit, Cabot gave one to a Burgundian, "a companion of Messer Joane," and the other to his barber, a Genoese. Had he not discovered the territory of the Grand Khan, and, as Soncino wrote, gained for his sovereign a part of Asia without a stroke of the sword? When he was at home awaiting the fitting out of the new expedition he dressed in silks, Pasqualigo reports, and swaggered just a little, perhaps, but no more than became a lion of the season to whom great honour was paid, and after whom "these English run like mad folk." The new letters-patent were issued on February 3, 1498, and in the summer of that year the five ships of the second expedition sailed from Bristol. One vessel was driven back; the four others reached Newfoundland, and then sailing in a southerly course, made Cape Hatteras. So much may be gathered. After that John Cabot drops completely out of our knowledge, and is as if he had never
That is the plain history of John Cabot as generally accepted: indeed there is scarce a point in it which will be disputed by any writer who has had access to the documents, recently only discovered in the archives of Europe, from which it is derived. As late as 1831 Richard Biddle set forth the story with a wonderful acumen,