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- The Voyage of Verrazzano - 10/30 -


rude and barbarous that we were unable by any signs we could make to hold communication with them."

This is all that is mentioned in regard to the entire coast of New England and Nova Scotia, embracing a distance of eight hundred miles according to this computation, but in fact much more. It is here stated, however, distinctly, that from the time of leaving the harbor, near the island of Louise, they kept close to the land, which ran in an EASTERLY direction, and CONSTANTLY IN SIGHT OF IT, for one hundred and fifty leagues. This they could not have done if that harbor were on any part of the coast, west of Massachusetts bay. If they sailed from Narraganset bay, or Buzzard's bay, or from any harbor on that coast, east of Long Island, they would in the course of twenty leagues at the furthest, in an easterly direction, have reached the easterly extremity of the peninsula of Cape Cod, and keeping close to the shore would have been forced for one hundred and fifty miles, in a northerly and west of north direction, and thence along the coast of Maine northeasterly a further distance of one hundred and fifty miles, and been finally locked in the bay of Fundy. It is only by running from Cape Sable along the shores of Nova Scotia that this course and distance, in sight of the land, can be reconciled with the actual direction of the coast; and this makes the opening between Cape Cod and Cape Sable the large bay intended in the letter. But this opening of eighty leagues in width, could never have been seen by the writer of it; and nothing could more conclusively prove his ignorance of the coast, than his statements that from the river among the hills, for the distance of ninety-five leagues easterly to the harbor in 41 Degrees 40' N. and from thence for a further distance of one hundred and fifty leagues, also EASTERLY, the land was always in sight.

[Illustration with caption: ] CAPE HENRY AND ENTRANCE INTO THE CHESAPEAKE. Lighthouse, with lantern 129 feet above the sea, bearing W. N. W. 1/2 W., three leagues distant.

V.

III. CAPE BRETON AHD THE SOUTHERLY COAST OF NEWFOUNDLAND, HERE CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED, WERE KNOWN PREVIOUSLY. PERVERSION OF THE TEXT OF THE LETTER BY RAMUSIO.

By the two courses and distances just mentioned, the explorers are brought first to the island of Cape Breton, and then to the cape of that name, where the coast first takes a decided turn, from its easterly direction, to the north, and forms the westerly side of the strait leading into the gulf of St. Lawrence. This cape, according to the letter, is distant easterly one hundred and fifty, and fifty, leagues from the harbor in the great bay, distances which, for reasons already mentioned, are to be regarded as estimates only, but which taken exactly would have carried them beyond Cape Race in Newfoundland. They are to be considered, however, as properly limited to the turn of the coast before mentioned, as that is a governing circumstance in the description. Beyond this point, north, and east, the letter presents the claim to the discovery in another aspect. Thus far it relates to portions of the coast confessedly unknown before its date. But from Cape Breton, in latitude 46 Degrees N. to latitude 50 Degrees N. on the east side of Newfoundland, it pretends to the discovery of parts, which were in fact already known; and it makes this claim circumstances which prove it was so known by the writer, if the letter were written as pretended. Having described their attempts at intercourse with the natives at Cape Breton, the narrative concludes the description of the coast with the following paragraph.

"Departing from thence, we kept along the coast, steering northeast, and found the country more pleasant and open, free from woods, and distant in the interior, we saw lofty mountains but none which extended to the shore. Within fifty leagues we discovered thirty-two islands, all near the main land, small and of pleasant appearance, but high and so disposed as to afford excellent harbors and channels, as we see in the Adriatic gulf, near Illyria and Dalmatia. We had no intercourse with the people, but we judge that they were similar in nature and usages to those we were last among. After sailing between east and north one hundred and fifty leagues MORE, and finding our provisions and naval stores nearly exhausted, we took in wood and water, and determined to return to Frane, having discovered (avendo discoperto) VII, [Footnote: "The MS. has erroneously and uselessly the repetition VII, that is, 700 leagues." Note, by M. Arcangeli. It is evident that VII is mistakenly rendered 502 in the transcription used by Dr. Cogswell.] that is, 700 leagues of unknown lands."

The exact point at which they left the coast, and to which their discovery is thus stated to have extended, is given in the cosmography which follows the narrative, in these words:

"In the voyage which we have made by order of your majesty, in addition to the 92 degrees we ran towards the west from our point of departure (the Desertas) before we reached land in the latitude of 34, we have to count 300 leagues which we ran northeastwardly, and 400 nearly east along the coast before we reached the 50TH PARALLEL OF NORTH LATITUDE, the point where we turned our course from the shore towards home. BEYOND THIS POINT THE PORTUGUESE HAD ALREADY SAILED AS FAR AS THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, WITHOUT COMING TO THE TERMINATION OF THE LAND."

That this latitude must be taken as correctly determined follows from the representation of the letter, that they took daily observations of the sun and made a record of them, so that no material error could have occurred and remained unrectified for over twenty-four hours; and from the presumption that they were as capable of calculating the latitude as other navigators of that period, sent on such purposes by royal authority, like Jacques Cartier, whose observations, as the accounts of his voyage to this region show, never varied half a degree from the true latitude. The fiftieth parallel strikes the easterly coast of Newfoundland three degrees north of Cape Race, and to that point the exploration of Verrazzano is therefore to be regarded as claimed to have been made. [Footnote: Damiam de Goes, Chronica do felicissimo rei Dom Emanuel parte I. C. 66. (Fol., Lisboa, 1566)]

This intention is made positively certain by the remark which follows the statement of the latitude, that "beyond this point the Portuguese had already sailed as far north as the Artic circle without coming to the termination of the land." The exploration of the Portuguese here referred to, and as far as which that of Verrazzano is carried, was made by Gaspar Cortereal in his second voyage, when according to the letter of Pasqualigo the Venetian embassador, he sailed from Lisbon on a course between west and northwest, and struck a coast along which he ran from six to seven hundred miles, "without finding the end." [Footnote: Paesi novamente ritrovati. Lib. sexto. cap. CXXXL. Venice, 1521. A translation into English of Pasqualigo's letter, which is dated the 19th of October, 1501, is given in the memoir of Sebastian Cabot, p. 235-6.] No other exploration along this coast by the Portuguese, tending to the Arctic circle is known to have taken place before the publication of the Verrazzano letter. The first voyage of Cortereal, was, according to the description of the people given by Damiam de Goes, among the Esquimaux, whether on the one side or the other of Davis straits it is unnecessary here to inquire, as the Esquimaux are not found south of 50 Degrees N. latitude. The land along which he ran in his second voyage, was, according to the same historian, distinctly named after him and his brother, who shared his fate in a subsequent voyage. It is so called on several early printed maps on which it is represented as identical with Newfoundland. It appears first on a map of the world in the Ptolemy of 1511 edited by Bernardus Sylvanus of Eboli, and is there laid down as extending from latitude 50 Degrees N. to 60 Degrees N. with the name of Corte Real or Court Royal, latinized into Regalis Domus. [Footnote: Claudii Ptholemaei Alexandrini liber geographiae, cum tabulis et universali figura et cum additione locorum quae a recentioribus reporta sunt diligenti cura emendatus et impressus. (Fol., Venetiis, 1511.)] The length of the coast, corresponds with the description of Pasqualigo, and its position with the latitude assigned by the Verrazzano letter for their exploration. Its direction is north and south. There can be no question therefore as to the pretension of the Verrazzano letter to the discovery of the coast by him, actually as far north as the fiftieth parallel.

That it is utterly unfounded, so far as regards that portion of the coast lying east and north of Cape Breton, that is, from 46 Degrees N. latitude to 50 Degrees N., embracing a distance of five hundred miles according to actual measurement, or eight hundred miles according to the letter, is proven by the fact, that it had all been known and frequented by Portuguese and French fishermen, for a period of twenty years preceding the Verrazano voyage. The Portuguese fisheries in Newfoundland must have commenced shortly after the voyages of the brothers Cortereaes in 1501-2, as they appear to have been carried on in 1506, from a decree of the king of Portugal published at Leiria on the 14th of October in that year, directing his officers to collect tithes of fish which should be brought into his kingdom from Terra Nova; [Footnote: Memorias Economicas da academia Real das Sciencias da Lisboa, tom. III, 393.] and Portuguese charts belonging to that period, still extant, show both the Portuguese and French discoveries of this coast. On a map (No. 1, of the Munich atlas,) of Pedro Reinel, a Portuguese pilot, who entered the service of the king of Spain at the time of fitting out Magellan's famous expedition, Terra Nova, and the land of Cape Breton are correctly laid down, as regards latitude, though not by name. On Terra Nova the name of C. Raso, (preserved in the modern Cape Race) is applied to its southeasterly point, and other Portuguese names, several of which also still remain, designating different points along the easterly coast of Newfoundland, and a Portuguese banner, as an emblem of its discovery by that nation, are found. Another Portuguese chart, belonging to the period when the country between Florida and Terra Nova was unknown (No. 4 of the same atlas) delineates the land of Cape Breton, not then yet known to be an island, in correct relation with the Bacalaos, accompanied by a legend that it was discovered by the Bretons. [Footnote: Atlas zur entdeckingsgeschichte Amerikas. Herausgegeben von Friedrick Kunstmann, Karl von Sprusser, Georg M. Thomas. Zu den Monumenta Saecularia der K.B. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 28 Maers, 1859. Munchen.] The French authorities are more explicit. The particular parts of this coast discovered by the Normands and Bretons with the time of their discovery, and by the Portuguese, are described in the discourse of the French captain of Dieppe, which is found in the collection of Ramusio. This writer states that this land from Cape Breton to Cape Race was discovered by the Bretons and Normandy in 1504, and from Cape Race to Cape Bonavista, seventy leagues north, by the Portuguese, and from thence to the straits of Belle Isle by the Bretons and Normands; and that the country was visited in 1508 by a vessel from Dieppe, commanded by Thomas Anbert, who brought back to France some of the natives. This statement in regard to the Indians is confirmed by an account of them, which is given in a work, printed in Paris at the time, establishing the fact of the actual presence of the Normands in Newfoundland in that year, by


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