PETER MARTYR'S ACCOUNT1
These northe seas haue byn [have been] searched by one Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian borne [born], whom beinge yet but in maner an infante, his parentes caryed [carried] with them into Englande hauying [having] occasion to resorte thether [thither] for trade of marchandies [merchandise], as is the maner of the Venetians to leaue [leave] no parte of the worlde vnsearched to obteyne [obtain] richesse [riches]. He therfore furnisshed two shippes in England at his owne charges: And fyrst (first] with three hundreth men, directed his course so farre toward the northe pole, that euen [even] in the mooneth [month] of Iuly he founde monstrous heapes of Ise [ice] swimming on the sea, and in maner continuall day lyght. Yet sawe he the lande in that tracte, free from Ise, whiche had byn [been] molten by heate of the sunne.
Thus seyng [seeing] suche heapes of Ise before hym he was enforced to tourne [turn] his sayles and folowe the weste, so coastynge styll by the shore, that he was thereby broughte so farre into the southe by reason of the lande bendynge so much southward that it was there almoste equall in latitude with the sea cauled [called] Fretum. Herculeum, hauynge the north pole eleuate in maner in the same degree. He sayled lykewise in this tracte so farre towarde the weste, that he had the Ilan of Cuba [on] his lefte hande in maner in the same degree of langitude. As he traueyled [traveled] by the coastes of this greate lande (whiche he named Baccallaos) he sayth that he found the like course of the waters toward the west, but the same to runne more softely and gentelly [gently] then [than] the swifte waters whiche the Spanyardes found in their nauigations southeward.
Wherefore, it is not onely [only) more lyke to bee trewe [true], but ought also of necessitie to be concluded that betwene both the landes hetherto vnknowen, there shulde bee certeyne great open places wherby the waters shulde thus continually passe from the East into the weste: which waters I suppose to bee dryuen [driven] about the globe of the earth by the vncessaunt mouynge [moving] and impulsion of the heauens: and not to be swalowed vp [up] and cast owt [out] ageyne [again] by the breathynge of Demo-gorgon as sume [some] haue imagined bycause they see the seas by increase and decrease, to flowe and reflowe. Sebastian Cabot him selfe, named those landes Baccallaos, bycause that in the seas therabout he founde so great multitudes of certeyne [certain] bigge fysshes [fishes] much lyke vnto tunics [tunnies] (which th[e] inhabitantes caule [call] Baccallaos) that they sumtymes stayed his shippes. He founde also the people of those regions couered with beastes skynnes: yet not without th[e] use of reason.
He saythe [saith] also that there is greate plentie of beares in those regions, whiche vse to eate fysshe. For plungeinge thym selues [themselves] into the water where they perceue [perceive] a multitude of these fysshes to lye, they fasten theyr [their] clawes in theyr scales, and so drawe them to lande and eate them. So that (as he saith) the beares beinge thus satisfied with fysshe, are not noysom to men. He declareth further, that in many places of these regions, he sawe great plentie of laton amonge th[e] inhabitantes. Cabot is my very frende, whom I vse famylierly, and delyte [delight] to haue hym sumtymes keepe mee company in myne owne house. For beinge cauled owte [out] of England by the commaundement of the catholyke kynge of Castile after the deathe of Henry kynge of Englande the seuenth of that name, he was made one of owre [our] counsayle and assystance as touchynge the affayres [affairs] of the newe Indies, lookynge dayely for shippes to bee furnysshed for hym to discouer this hyd secreate of nature. This vyage is appoynted to bee begunne in March in the yeare next folowynge, beinge the yeare, of Chryst M.D.XVI. What shall succeade, yowre (your] holynes shalbe aduertised by my letters if god graunte me lyfe [life]. Sume of the Spanyardes denye that Cabot was the fyrst fynder of the lande of Baccallaos: And affirme that he went not so farre westewarde. But it shall suffice to haue sayde thus much of the goulfes [gulfs] & strayghtes (straits], and of Cebastian Cabot. . .
1Peter Martyr, a native of Milan, resided for some years at the Spanish court. The account he gives in this article of the voyage of the Cabots is based on information received by him directly from Sebastian Cabot, when Cabot was employed as pilot in the service of Spain. Martyr's account is the earliest complete narrative of this voyage now extant. It therefore takes high rankin fact, is the corner-stoneamong documents pertaining to steps by which English civilization became supreme in North America. The translation here given, made by Richard Eden, was published in London in 1555.