THE POLAR EXPEDITIONS AND THE SEARCH FOR THE NORTH-WEST PASSAGE, I
|Chancellor received by the Czar.|
The Czar, who up to this time, had not been able to procure European merchandise, except by way of Poland, and who wished to gain access to the German seas, saw with pleasure the attempts of the English to establish a trade which would be beneficial to both parties. He not only received Chancellor courteously, but he made him most advantageous offers, granted him great privileges and encouraged him, by the kindness of his reception, to repeat his voyage. Chancellor sold his merchandise to great advantage, and after taking on board another cargo of furs, of seal and whale oils, copper, and other products, returned to England, carrying a letter from the Czar. The advantages which the Company of Merchant Adventurers had derived from this first voyage, encouraged them to attempt a second. So Chancellor the following year, made a fresh voyage to Archangel, and took two of the Company's agents to Russia, who concluded an advantageous treaty with the Czar. Then he set out again for England with an ambassador and his suite, sent by Ivan to Great Britain. Of the four vessels which composed the flotilla, one was lost on the coast of Norway, another as it left Drontheim, and the Bonaventure, on board of which were Chancellor and the ambassador, foundered in the Bay of Pitsligo, on the east coast of Scotland on the 10th of November, 1556. Chancellor was drowned in the wreck, being less fortunate than the Muscovite ambassador, who had the good luck to escape; but the presents and merchandise which he was carrying to England were lost.
|Wreck of the Bonaventure.|
Such was the commencement of the Anglo-Russian Company. A goodly number of expeditions succeeded each other in those parts, but it would be beside our purpose to give an account of them. Let us now return to Cabot.
It was in 1554 that Queen Mary of England was married to Philip II., King of Spain. When the latter came to England he showed himself very ill-disposed towards Cabot, who had abandoned the service of Spain, and who, at this very moment was procuring for England a commerce which would soon immensely increase the maritime power of an already formidable country. Thus we are not surprised to learn that eight days after the landing of the King of Spain, Cabot was forced to resign his office and his pension, both of which had been bestowed upon him for life by Edward VI. Worthington was nominated in his place. Mr. Nicholls thinks that this dishonourable man, who had had some quarrels with the law, had a secret mission to seize among Cabot's plans, maps, instructions, and projects, those which could be of use to Spain. The fact is that all these documents are now lost, at least unless they may yet be discovered among the archives of Simancas.
At the end of this period, history completely loses sight of the old mariner. The same mystery which hangs over his birth, also envelopes the place and date of his death. His immense discoveries, his cosmographical works, his study of the variations of the magnetic needle, his wisdom, his humane disposition, and his honourable conduct, place Sebastian Cabot in the foremost rank among discoverers. A figure lost in the shadow and vagueness of legends until our own day, Cabot owes it to his biographers, to Biddle, D'Avezac, and Nicholls, that he is now better known, more highly appreciated, and for the first time really placed in the light.