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- The Voyage of Verrazzano - 4/30 -


Giovanni da Verrazzano, p. 35, in Archivio Storico Italiano. Appendice tom. IX.) It will be found in our appendix, according to the reprint in the latter work.]

In the name of God.

4 August, 1524.

Honorable Father:

Considering that when I was in the armada in Barbary at Garbich the news were advised you daily from the illustrious Sig. Don Hugo de Moncada, Captain General of the Caesarean Majesty in those barbarous parts, [of what] happened in contending with the Moors of that island; by which it appears you caused pleasure to many of our patrons and friends and congratulated yourselves on the victory achieved: so there being here news recently of the arrival of Captain Giovanni da Verrazzano, our Florentine, at the port of Dieppe, in Normandy, with his ship, the Dauphiny, with which he sailed from the Canary islands the end of last January, to go in search of new lands for this most serene crown of France, in which he displayed very noble and great courage in undertaking such an unknown voyage with only one ship, which was a caravel of hardly-- tons, with only fifty men, with the intention, if possible, of discovering Cathay, taking a course through other climates than those the Portuguese use in reaching it by the way of Calicut, but going towards the northwest and north, entirely believing that, although Ptolemy, Aristotle and other cosmographers affirm that no land is to be found towards such climates, he would find it there nevertheless. And so God has vouchsafed him as he distinctly describes in a letter of his to this S. M.; OF WHICH, IN THIS, THERE IS A COPY. And for want of provisions, after many months spent in navigating, he asserts he was forced to return from that hemisphere into this, and having been seven months on the voyage, to show a very great and rapid passage, and to have achieved a wonderful and most extraordinary feat according to those who understand the seamanship of the world. Of which at the commencement of his said voyage there was an unfavorable opinion formed, and many thought there would be no more news either of him or of his vessel, but that he might be lost on that side of Norway, in consequence of the great ice which is in that northern ocean; but the Great God, as the Moor said, in order to give us every day proofs of his infinite power and show us how admirable is this worldly machine, has disclosed to him a breadth of land, as you will perceive, of such extent that according to good reasons, and the degrees of latitude and longitude, he alleges and shows it greater than Europe, Africa and a part of Asia; ergo mundus novus: and this exclusive of what the Spaniards have discovered in several years in the west; as it is hardly a year since Fernando Magellan returned, who discovered a great country with one ship out of the five sent on the discovery. From whence be brought spices much more excellent than the usual; and of his other ships no news has transpired for five years. They are supposed to be lost. What this our captain has brought he does not state in this letter, except a very young man taken from those countries; but it is supposed he has brought a sample of gold which they do not value in those parts, and of drugs and other aromatic liquors for the purpose of conferring here with several merchants after he shall have been in the presence of the Most Serene Majesty. And at this hour he ought to be there, and from choice to come here shortly, as he is much desired in order to converse with him; the more so that he will find here the Majesty, the King, our Lord, who is expected herein three or four days. And we hope that S. M. will entrust him again with half a dozen good vessels and that he will return to the voyage. And if our Francisco Carli be returned from Cairo, advise him to go, at a venture, on the said voyage with him; and I believe they were acquainted at Cairo where he has been several years; and not only in Egypt and Syria, but almost through all the known world, and thence by reason of his merit is esteemed another Amerigo Vespucci, another Fernando Magellan and even more; and we hope that being provided with other good ships and vessels, well built and properly victualed, he may discover some profitable traffic and matter; and will, our Lord God granting him life, do honor to our country, in acquiring immortal fame and memory. And Alderotto Branelleschi who started with him and by chance turning back was not willing to accompany him further, will, when he hears of this, be discontented. Nothing else now occurs to me, as I have advised you by others of what is necessary. I commend myself constantly to you, praying you to impart this to our friends, not forgetting Pierfrancesco Dagaghiano who in consequence of being an experienced person will take much pleasure in it, and commend me to him. Likewise to Rustichi, who will not be displeased, if he delight, as usual, in learning matters of cosmograpby. God guard you from all evil. Your son.

FERNANDO CARLI, in Lyons.

This letter bears date only twenty-seven days after that of the Verrazzano letter, which is declared to be inclosed. To discover its fraudulent nature and the imposition it seeks to practise, it is only necessary to bear this fact in mind, with its pretended origin, in connection with this warlike condition of France and the personal movements of the king, immediately preceding and during the interval between the dates of the two letters. It purports to have been written by Fernando Carli to his father in Florence. Carli is not an uncommon Italian name and probably existed in Florence at that time, but who this Fernando was, has never transpired. He gives in this letter all there is of his biography, which is short. He had formerly been in the service of the emperor, Charles V, under Moncada, in the fleet sent against the Moors in Barbary, and was then in Lyons, where, it might be inferred, from a reference to its merchants, that he was engaged in some mercantile pursuit; but the reason of his presence there is really unaccounted for. It is not pretended that he held any official position under the king of France. The name of his father, by means of which his lineage might be traced, is not mentioned, but Francisco Carli is named as of the same family, but without designating his relationship. Whether a myth or a reality, Fernando seems to have been an obscure person, at the best; not known to the political or literary history of the period, and not professing to occupy any position, by which he might be supposed to have any facility or advantage for obtaining official information or the news of the day, over the other inhabitants of Lyons and of France.

He is made to say that he writes this letter for the particular purpose of communicating to his father and their friends in Florence, the news, which had reached Lyons, of the arrival of Verrazzano from his wonderful and successful voyage of discovery, and that he had advised his parent of all other matters touching his own interests, by another conveyance. It might be supposed and indeed reasonably expected in a letter thus expressly devoted to Verrazzano, that some circumstance, personal or otherwise, connected with the navigator or the voyage, or some incident of his discovery, besides what was contained in the enclosed letter, such as must have reached Lyons, with the news of the return of the expedition, would have been mentioned, especially, as it would all have been interesting to Florentines. But nothing of the kind is related. Nothing appears in the letter in regard to the expedition that is not found in the Verrazzano letter. [Footnote: Mr. Greene, in his life of Verrazzano, remarks that it appears from Carli's letter, that the Indian boy whom Verrazzano is stated to have carried away, arrived safely in France; but that is not so. What is said in that letter is, that Verrazzano does not mention IN HIS LETTER what he had brought home, except this boy.] What is stated in reference to the previous life of Verrazzano, must have been as well known to Carli's father as to himself, if it were true, and is therefore unnecessarily introduced, and the same may be said of the facts stated in regard to Brunelleschi's starting on the voyage with Verrazzano and afterwards turning back. The particular description of Dagaghiano and Rustichi, both of Florence, the one as a man of experience and the other as a student of cosmography, was equally superfluous in speaking of them to his father. These portions of the letter look like flimsy artifices to give the main story the appearance of truth. They may or may not have been true, and it is not inconsistent with an intention to deceive in regard to the voyage that they should have been either the one or the other. A single allusion, however, is made to the critical condition of affairs in France and the stirring scenes which were being enacted on either side of the city of Lyons at the moment the letter bears date. It is the mention of the expected arrival of the king at Lyons within three or four days. It is not stated for what purpose he was coming, but the fact was that Francis had taken the field in person to repel the Spanish invasion in the south of France, and was then on his way to that portion of his kingdom, by way of Lyons, where he arrived a few days afterwards. The reference to this march of the king fixes beyond all question the date of the letter, as really intended for the 4th of August, 1524.

The movements of Francis at this crisis become important in view of the possibility of the publication in any form of the Verrazzano letter at Lyons, at the last mentioned date, or of the possession of a copy of it there as claimed by Carli in his letter. The army of the emperor, under Pescara and Bourbon, crossed the Alps and entered Provence early in July, and before the date of the Verrazzano letter. [Footnote: Letter of Bourbon. Dyer's Europe, 442.] The intention to do so was known by Francis some time previously. He wrote on the 28th of June from Amboise, near Tours, to the Provencaux that he would march immediately to their relief; [Footnote: Sismondi, xvi. 216, 217.] and on the 2d of July he announced in a letter to his parliament: "I am going to Lyons to prevent the enemy from entering the kingdom, and I can assure you that Charles de Bourbon is not yet in France." [Footnote: Gaillard, Histoire de Francois Premier, tom. III, 172 (Paris, 1769).] He had left his residence at Blois and his capital, and was thus actually engaged in collecting his forces together, on the 8th of July, when the Verrazzano letter is dated. He did not reach Lyons until after the 4th of August, as is correctly stated in the Carli letter. [Footnote: Letter of Moncada in Doc. ined. para la Hist. de Espana. tom. XXIV, 403, and Letters of Pace to Wolsey in State Papers of the reign of Henry VIII, vol. IV, Part I, 589, 606.]

The author of the Carli letter, whether the person he pretends to have been or not, asserts that news of the arrival of Verrazzano at Dieppe on his return from his voyage of discovery had reached Lyons, and that the navigator himself was expected soon to be in that city for the purpose of conferring with its merchants on the subject of the new countries which he had discovered, and had described in a letter to the king, a copy of which letter was enclosed. He thus explicitly declares not only that news of the discovery had reached Lyons, but that the letter to the king was known to the merchants at that place, and that a copy of it was then actually in his possession and sent with his own. The result of the expedition was, therefore, notorious, and the letter had attained general publicity at Lyons, without the presence there of either Francis or Verrazzano.

This statement must be false. Granting that such a letter, as is ascribed to Verrazzano, had been written, it was impossible that this obscure young man at Lyons, hundreds of miles from Dieppe, Paris and Blois, away from the king and court and from Verrazzano, not only at a great distance from them all, but at the point to


The Voyage of Verrazzano - 4/30

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