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- The Voyage of Verrazzano - 20/30 -


1860.] The whole line of coast from the river Jordan, in latitude 33 degrees 10', visited by both the expeditions of Ayllon, to Cape Breton, is laid down upon them with sufficient exactitude. The names indicate the exploration to have been made by Gomez the whole distance between those points; for no other navigator of Spain, in the language of which they are given, had sailed within those limits up to the time these maps bear date. The only question which has been raised in this regard relates to the expeditions of Ayllon; but the first of these, a joint descent upon the coast to carry off Indians in 1520 by two vessels belonging to the licentiates Ayllon and Matienzo of St. Domingo, proceeded no further than the Jordan, as we learn from the testimony of Pedro de Quejo, the pilot of Matienzo. [Footnote: Proceedings before the Auditors at St Domingo, by virtues of a royal decree of Nov. 1525, in relation to the dispute between Ayllon and Matienzo concerning their discovery, preserved in MS. at Seville.] The expedition which Ayllon made afterwards in 1526, in person, to the same coast, proceeded directly to the river Jordan, and after remaining there a few days, ran southwesterly along the coast to Gualdape or St Helena, where Ayllon died, and from whence it thereupon immediately returned home to St Domingo, without any further attempt at exploration. [Footnote: tom. III. p 624. (Madrid 1853.) Mr. Kohl states (Discovery of Mains, 397) that the ships of Ayllon made an extensive survey of the coast, NORTH of the Jordan, soon after their arrival in the country. In this he is in error; into which he appears to have been misled by Navarrete, a part of whose language he quotes in a note, as that of Oviedo. Navarret, referring to the portion of Oviedo's history, not then (1899) published, as his authority, says on this point that after leaving the river Jordan the ships of Ayllon proceeded to Gualdape, "distante cuarenta o cicuenta leguas mas al norte" distant forty or fifty leagues more to the north; whereas the language of Oviedo, as contained in the recently published edition of his work, is, "acordaron de yrse a pohlar la costa delante hacia la costa accidental, e fueron a un grand rio (quarenta o quarenta e cico leguas de alli, pocas mas o menos) que si dice Gualdape," (ut supra, p. 628) they agreed to go and settle the coast further on towards the west coast, and sent to a large river (forty or fifty-five leagues from that place, a little more or less) which is called Gualdape. The course of the coast at these points is northeast and southwest. A westerly course was therefore to the SOUTH and not to the north. Besides, Oviedo states that the Jordan was in latitude 33 degrees 40' and that Gualdape was the country through which the river St. Helena ran, which he also calls the river of Gualdape, and which in another part of his history he places in latitude 33 degrees N., and expressly stating that the Jordan was north of the St. Helena, towards Cape Trafalgar, or Cape Fear (tom. II p. 144.) Ayllon, therefore did not sail north of the Jordan, and the names on the Ribero map, north of that river, are not attributed to his expedition.]

This disastrous expedition, therefore, went no further north, than the Jordan or Santee. It demonstrated the falsity of the stories told to Peter Martyr by Francis, the Chicorane, as he was called, one of the Indians seized in the first expedition and taken by Ayllon to Spain, of the vast provinces with uncouth names which were upon his authority transferred to the royal cedule granted to Ayllon on the 12th June, 1523. [Footnote: P. Martyr, Dec. VII. o.2; Navarrete III. 153.] That region remained unknown, therefore, until the voyage of Gomez, and to it and it alone can the names on these maps, within the limits before designated, be attributed.

These maps passed at once into Italy; and that of Ribero, bearing the date of 1529 and the arms of the then reigning pontiff, Clement VII, and his successors, the most finished of the three copies known to exist, is still to be found at Rome, and is reasonably supposed to have been the original; and like the last decade of Peter Martyr in 1526, which mentions the discoveries of Gomez, to have been sent to the Holy Father at his desire, in order to keep him informed of the latest discoveries. [Footnote: Nouvelles Annales des Voyages. Nouvelle series, tome xxxv. Annee 1853. Tome troisieme. Paris. Les Papes geographes et la cartographic du Vatican. Par R. M. Thomassey. Appendix p. 275.] Other copies of the Spanish charts showing the exploration of Gomez, found their way in to Italy about the same time, proving that there was then no interdict against their exportation from Spain to that country, at least. [Footnote: In regard to the freedom which the charts of the Spanish navigators so enjoyed there is confirmatory proof in Ramusio. In the preface to his third volume, dedicated to his friend Fracastor of Florence, he writes: "All the literary men daily inform you of any discovery made known to them by captain or pilot coming from those parts, and among others the aforesaid Sig. Gonzalo (Oviedo) from the island of Hispaniola, who every year visits you once or twice with some new made chart."] This appears by a volume which was published in Venice in 1534 under the auspices of Ramusio, [Footnote: M. d'Avezac in Bulletin de la Societe de Geographic for July and August, 1872.] embracing a summary of the general history of the West Indies by Peter Martyr and a translation of Oviedo's natural history of the Indies of 1526, containing the account of Gomez' voyage, with a map of America upon which the discoveries of Gomez are laid down the same as upon the Spanish maps of 1527 and 1529, before mentioned. The following colophon, giving the origin of this map, is to be found at the end of the translation of Oviedo: "Printed at Venice, in the month of December 1534. For the explanation of these books there has been made an universal map of the countries of all the West Indies, together with a special map, taken from two marine charts of the Spaniards, one of which belonged to Don Pietro Martire, Councillor of the Royal Council of the said Indies, and was made by the pilot and master of marine charts, Nino Garzia de Loreno, in Seville. The other was made also by a pilot of the majesty, the emperor, in Seville. With which maps the reader can inform himself of the whole of this new world, place by place, the same as if he had been there himself." [Footnote: This volume has no general title, but contains three books, primo, secondo & ultimo della historia de l'India Occidentali. It is very rarely found with the large map of America. We are indebted to the kindness of James Lonox, Esq. of New York, for the use of a perfect copy in this respect.] The special map here referred to is one of Hispaniola, in the same volume, and was undoubtedly taken from that of Nuno Garcia, in the possession of Peter Martyr. It was therefore made in or before the year 1526, since Martyr died in that year. The map of America, by the pilot of the emperor at Seville, was probably the anonymous map of 1527 before mentioned, as it appears not to have had the name of the author upon it. These facts prove at least that the map of Ribero was in Italy in the year 1529, and that the map of 1527 may have been there before that year.

It was from the delineation of the coast on one or other of these two maps, which are in that respect almost identically the same, that the description of it in the Verrazzano letter was derived. This will now be made manifest by the application of that description to the map of Ribero, so much of which as is necessary, is here reproduced for that purpose.

In making the proof thus proposed, it is to be borne in mind that the letter is positive and explicit as to the extent and limits of the discovery or exploration which it describes. It fixes them by three different modes which prove each, other: 1. By giving the latitude of the commencement and termination of the voyage along the coast; 2. By a declaration in two different forms of the entire distance run, and 3. By a statement of intermediate courses and distances, from point to point, between the landfall and the place of leaving the coast, separately, making in the aggregate the whole distance named. There can be therefore no mistake as to the meaning of the writer in respect of the extent of the exploration.

As to its limits and extent, we have already had occasion to quote his language in impressing upon Francis the great length of the voyage; giving both at the same time: "In the voyage," he says, "which we made by order of your majesty, in addition to the 92 degrees which we ran towards the west from our point of departure, before we reached land in latitude 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." This distance is also mentioned in the total at the end of the voyage, where he says: "finding our provisions and naval stores nearly exhausted, we took in wood and water, and determined to return to France, having discovered 700 leagues of unknown lands."

The several courses and distances run are described in the letter, from point to point, as follows: [Footnote: The translation of Dr. Cogswell, in N.Y. Hist. Collections, is here used, somewhat condensed.]

First. "We perceived that it (the land) stretched to the SOUTH and L. coasted along in that direction in search of some port in which we might come to anchor, and examine into the nature of the country, but for FIFTY LEAGUES we could find none in which we could lie 50 securely."

SECOND. "Seeing the coast still stretched to the south we resolved to change our course and stand to the northward, and as we still had the same difficulty, we drew in with the land, and sent a boat ashore. Many people, who were seen coming to the sea-side, fled at our approach. We found not far from this people another. This country is plentifully supplied with lakes and ponds of running water and being in the latitude of 34, the air is salubrious, pure and temperate, and free from the extreme both of heat and cold. We set sail from this place continuing to coast along the shore, which we found stretching out to the west (east?) While at anchor on this coast, there being NO HARBOR to enter, we sent the boat on shore with twenty-five men to obtain water. Departing hence, and always following the shore, which stretched to the NORTH, we came in the space of FIFTY LEAGUES to another land which appeared beautiful and 50 full of the largest forests.

THIRD. "After having remained here three days riding at anchor on the coast, as we could find no harbor we determined to depart, and coast along the shore to the NORTHEAST. After proceeding ONE HUNDRED LEAGUES, we found a very pleasant situation among some STEEP HILLS THROUGH WHICH A VERY LARGE RIVER, deep at its mouth forced its way 100 to the sea."

FOURTH. "We took the boat and entering the river we found the country on its banks well peopled. All of a sudden a violent contrary wind blew in from the sea, and forced us to return to our ship. Weighing anchor, we sailed EIGHTY LEAGUES TOWARDS THE EAST, as the coast stretched in that direction, and always in sight of it. At length we discovered an island, triangular in form, about ten leagues from the mainland. We gave it the name of your majesty's 80 illustrious mother."

FIFTH. "We did not land there, as the weather was unfavorable, but proceeded to another place, FIFTEEN LEAGUES distant from the island, where we found a very excellent harbor. It looks towards the south, on which side the harbor is half a league broad. Afterwards, upon entering it, the extent between the east and the north is twelve leagues, and then enlarging itself, forms a VERY LARGE BAY, twenty 15 leagues in circumference."


The Voyage of Verrazzano - 20/30

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