The Voyage of Verrazzano
by Henry C. Murphy
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The following pages, intended to show the claim of discovery in America by Verrazzano to be without any real foundation, belong to a work, in hand, upon the earliest explorations of the coast which have led to the settlement of the United States by Europeans. They are now printed separately, with some additions and necessary changes, in consequence of the recent production of the map of Hieronimo de Verrazano, which professes to represent this discovery, and is therefore supposed to afford some proof of its authenticity; in which view it has been the subject of a learned and elaborate memoir by J. Carson Brevoort Esq.

Certain important documents in relation to Verrazzano, procured from the archives of Spain and Portugal by the late Buckingham Smith, on a visit to those countries a year or two before his death, are appended. They were intended to accompany a second edition of his Inquiry, a purpose which has been interrupted by his decease. They were entrusted by him to the care of his friend, George H. Moore Esq., of New York, who has placed them at our disposal on the present occasion.

The fragmentary and distorted form in which the letter ascribed to Verrazzano, appeared in the collection of Ramusio, and was thence universally admitted into history, rendered it necessary that the letter should be here given complete, according to its original meaning. It is, therefore, annexed in the English translation of Dr. Cogswell, which though not entirely unexceptionable is, for all purposes, sufficiently accurate. The original Italian text can, however, be consulted in the Collections of the New York Historical Society, accompanying his translation, and also in the Archivio Storico Italiano, in which it is represented by the editor to be more correctly copied from the manuscript, and amended in its language where it seemed corrupt; but such corrections are few and unimportant. In all cases in which the letter is now made the subject of critical examination, the passages referred to are given, for obvious reasons, according to the reading of the Florentine editor.

We are indebted to the American Geographical Society of New York for the use of its photographs of the Verrazano map, and to Mr. Brevoort for a copy of the cosmography of Alfonse, from which the chart of Norumbega has been taken. And our thanks are due to Dr. J. Gilmary Shea of New York, for valuable assistance; and to Dr. E. B. Straznicky of the Astor Library, Mons. O. Maunoir of the Societe de Geographie of Paris, Dr. J. Hammond Trumbull of Hartford, Hon. John R. Bartlett of Providence, and James Lenox Esq. of New York, for various favors kindly rendered during the progress of our researches.



Page I. The Discovery Attributed to Verrazzano

II. The Verrazzano Letters not Genuine

III. The Letter untrue. I. No Voyage of Discovery made for the King of France, as it states

IV. II. Misrepresentations in regard to the Geography of the Coast. The Chesapeake. The Island of Louise. Massachusetts Bay

V. III. Cape Breton and the Southerly Coast of Newfoundland, here claimed to have been discovered, were known previously. Perversion of the Text of the Letter by Ramusio

VI. IV. The Description of the People and Productions of the Land not made from the Personal Observations of the Writer of the Letter. What distinctly belonged to the Natives is unnoticed, and what is originally mentioned of them is untrue. Further important Alterations of the Text by Ramusio,

VII. The Extrinsic Evidence in Support of the Claim. I. Discourse of the French Sea Captain of Dieppe,

VIII. II. The Verrazzano Map. It is not an Authoritative Exposition of the Verrazzano Discovery. Its Origin and Date in its present Form. The Letter of Annibal Caro. The Map presented to Henry VIII. Voyages of Verrazzano. The Globe of Euphrosynus Ulpius

IX. The Letter to the King founded on the Discoveries of Estevan Gomez. The History of Gomez and his Voyage. The Publication of his Discoveries in Spain and Italy before the Verrazzano claim. The Voyage described in the Letter traced to Ribero's Map of the Discoveries of Gomez

X. The Career of Verrazzano. An Adventurous Life and Ignominious Death. Conclusion



[Proofreaders note: ILLUSTRATIONS and MAPS omitted]





The discovery of the greater portion of the Atlantic coast of North America, embracing all of the United States north of Cape Roman in South Carolina, and of the northern British provinces as far at least as Cape Breton, by Giovanni da Verrazzano, a Florentine, in the service of the king of France, has received until quite recently the assent of all the geographers and historians who have taken occasion to treat of the subject. This acknowledgment, for more than three hundred years, which would seem to preclude all question in regard to its authenticity at this late day, has, however, been due more to the peculiar circumstances of its publication than to any evidence of its truth. The only account of it which exists, is contained in a letter purporting to have been written by the discoverer himself, and is not corroborated by the testimony of any other person, or sustained by any documentary proof. It was not published to the world until it appeared for the first time in Italy, the birth place of the navigator, more than thirty years after the transactions to which it relates are alleged to have taken place; and it has not, up to the present time, received any confirmation in the history of France, whose sovereign, it is asserted, sent forth the expedition, and to whose crown the right of the discovery accordingly attached. Yet it is not difficult to comprehend how the story, appealing to the patriotic sympathies of Ramusio, was inconsiderately adopted by him, and inserted in his famous collection of voyages, and thus receiving his sanction, was not unwillingly accepted, upon his authority, by the French nation, whose glory it advanced, without possibly its having any real foundation. And as there never was any colonization or attempt at possession of the country in consequence of the alleged discovery, or any assertion of title under it, except in a single instance of a comparatively modern date, and with no important hearing, it is no less easy to understand, how thus adopted and promulgated by the only countries interested in the question, the claim was admitted by other nations without challenge or dispute, and has thus become incorporated into modern history without investigation.

Although the claim has never been regarded of any practical importance in the settlement of the country, it has nevertheless possessed an historical and geographical interest in connection with the origin and progress of maritime discovery on this continent. Our own writers assuming its validity, without investigation, have been content to trace, if possible, the route of Verrazzano and point out the places he explored, seeking merely to reconcile the account with the actual condition and situation of the country. Their explanations, though sometimes plausible, are often contradictory, and not unfrequently absurd. Led into an examination of its merits with impressions in its favor, we have nevertheless been compelled to adopt the conclusion of a late American writer, that it is utterly fictitious. [Footnote: An Inquiry into the Authenticity of Documents concerning a Discovery in North America claimed to have been made by Verrazzano. Read before the New York Historical Society, Tuesday, October 10, 1864. By Buckingham Smith. New York, 1864. pp. 31, and a map.] The grounds upon which our conviction rests we propose now to state. Some documents will be introduced, for the first time here brought to light, which will serve further to elucidate the question, and show the career and ultimate fate of Verrazzano.

The letter, in which the pretension is advanced, professes to be addressed by Verrazzano to the king of France, at that time Francis I, from Dieppe, in Normandy, the 8th of July (O. S.), 1534, on his return to that port from a voyage, undertaken by order of the king, for the purpose of finding new countries; and to give an account of the discoveries which he had accordingly made. He first reminds his majesty that, after starting with four ships, originally composing the expedition, he was compelled by storms, encountered on the northern coasts, to put into Brittany in distress, with the loss of two of them; and that after repairing there the others, called the Normanda and Delfina (Dauphine), be made a cruize with this FLEET OF WAR, as they are styled, along the coast of Spain. He finally proceeded on the voyage of discovery with the Dauphine alone, setting sail from a desolate rock near the island of Madeira, on the 17th of January, 1524, with fifty men, and provisions for eight months, besides the necessary munitions of war. This voyage, therefore, is to be regarded, according to the representations here made, to have been begun with the sailing of the four ships, from Dieppe, in the preceding year they fell upon a "country never before seen by any one either in ancient or modern times." [Footnote: Some writers have regarded this introductory as referring to two voyages or cruises, one with the four ships before the disaster, and the other with the Dauphine afterwards. But it seems clear from their being described as assailed by tempests in the north, which compelled them to run into Brittany for safety, that they were not far distant from Dieppe when the storms overtook them; and must have been either on their way out or on their return to that port. If they were on their return from a voyage to America, as Charlevoix infers (Fastes Chronologiques 1523-4), or simply from a cruise, as Mr. Brevoort supposes, they would, after making their repairs, have proceeded home, to Dieppe, instead of making a second voyage. They must, therefore, be regarded as on their way from Dieppe. The idea of a voyage having been performed before the storms seems to be due to alteration which Ramusio made in this portion of the letter, by introducing the word "success," as of the four ships, Charlevoix expressly refers to Ramusio as his authority and Mr. Brevoort makes a paraphrase from the Carli and Ramusio versions combined. (Notes on the Verrazzano Map in Journal of the Am. Geog. Society of New York, vol. IV, pp. 172-3)] On leaving Madeira they pursued a westerly course for eight hundred leagues and then, inclining a little to the north, ran four hundred leagues more, when on the 7th of March [Footnote: There is some ambiguity in the account, as to the time when they first saw land. The letter reads as follows: "On the 17th of last January we set sail from a desolate rock near the island of Madeira, and sailing westward, in twenty-five days we ran eight hundred leagues. On the 24th of February, we encountered as violent a hurricane as any ship ever weathered. Pursuing our voyage toward the west, a little northwardly, in twenty-four days more, have run four hundred leagues, we reached a new country," &c. If the twenty- four days be calculated from the 24th of February, the landfall would have taken place on the 20th of March; but if reckoned from the first twenty-five days run, it would have been on the 7th of that month. Ramusio changes the distance first sailed from 800 to 500 leagues; the day when they encountered the storm from the 24th to the 20th of February; and the twenty-four days last run to twenty-five; making the landfall occur on the 17th or 10th of March according to the mode of calculating the days last run. As it is stated, afterwards, that they encountered a gale WHILE AT ANCHOR ON THE COAST, EARLY in March, the 7th of that month must be taken as the time of the landfall.] It seemed very low and stretched to the south, in which direction they sailed along it for the purpose of finding a harbor wherein their ship might ride in safety; but DISCOVERING NONE in a distance of fifty leagues, they retraced their course, and ran to the north with no better success. They therefore drew in with the land and sent a boat ashore, and had their first communication with the inhabitants, who regarded them with wonder. These people are described as going naked, except around their loins, and as being BLACK. The land, rising somewhat from the shore, was covered with thick forests, which sent forth the sweetest fragrance to a great distance. They supposed it adjoined the Orient, and for that reason was not devoid of medicinal and aromatic drugs and gold; and being IN LATITUDE 34 Degrees N., was possessed of a pure, salubrious and healthy climate. They sailed thence westerly for a short distance and then northerly, when at the end of fifty leagues they arrived before a land of great forests, where they landed and found luxuriant vines entwining the trees and producing SWEET AND LUSCIOUS GRAPES OF WHICH THEY ATE, tasting not unlike their own; and from whence they carried off a boy about eight years old, for the purpose of taking him to France. Coasting thence northeasterly for one hundred leagues, SAILING ONLY IN THE DAY TIME AND NOT MAKING ANY HARBOR in the whole of that distance, they came to a pleasant situation among steep hills, from whence a large river ran into the sea. Leaving, in consequence of a rising storm, this river, into which they had entered for a short distance with their boat, and where they saw many of the natives in their CANOES, they sailed directly EAST for eighty leagues, when they discovered an island of triangular shape, about ten leagues from the main land, EQUAL IN SIZE TO THE ISLAND OF RHODES. This island they named after the mother of the king of France. WITHOUT LANDING UPON IT, they proceeded to a harbor fifteen leagues beyond, at the entrance of a large bay, TWELVE LEAGUES BROAD, where they came to anchor and remained for fifteen days. They encountered here a people with whom they formed a great friendship, different in appearance from the natives whom they first saw,—these having a WHITE COMPLEXION. The men were tall and well formed, and the women graceful and possessed of pleasing manners. There were two kings among them, who were attended in state by their gentlemen, and a queen who had her waiting maids. This country was situated in latitude 41 Degrees 40' N, in the parallel of Rome; and was very fertile and abounded with game. They left it on the 6th of May, and sailed one hundred and fifty leagues, CONSTANTLY IN SIGHT OF THE LAND which stretched to the east. In this long distance THEY MADE NO LANDING, but proceeded fifty leagues further along the land, which inclined more to the north, when they went ashore and found a people exceedingly barbarous and hostile. Leaving them and continuing their course northeasterly for fifty leagues FURTHER, they discovered within that distance thirty-two islands. And finally, after having sailed between east and north one hundred and fifty leagues MORE, they reached the fiftieth degree of north latitude, where the Portuguese had commenced their discoveries towards the Arctic circle; when finding their provisions nearly exhausted, they took in wood and water and returned to France, having coasted, it is stated, along an UNKNOWN COUNTRY FOR SEVEN HUNDRED LEAGUES. In conclusion, it is added, they had found it inhabited by a people without religion, but easily to be persuaded, and imitating with fervor the acts of Christian worship performed by the discoverers.

The description of the voyage is followed by what the writer calls a cosmography, in which is shown the distance they had sailed from the time they left the desert rocks at Madeira, and the probable size of the new world as compared with the old, with the relative area of land and water on the whole globe. There is nothing striking or important in this supplement, except that it emphasizes and enforces the statements of the former part of the letter in regard to the landfall, fixes the exact point of their departure from the coast for home again at 50 Degrees N. latitude, and gives seven hundred leagues as the extent of the discovery. The length of a longitudinal degree along the parallel of thirty-four, in which it is reiterated they first made land, and between which and the parallel of thirty- two they had sailed from the Desertas, is calculated and found to be fifty-two miles, and the whole number of degrees which they had traversed across the ocean between those parallels, being twelve hundred leagues, or forty-eight hundred miles, is by simple division made ninety-two. The object of this calculation is not apparent, and strikes the reader as if it were a feeble imitation of the manner in which Amerigo Vespucci illustrates his letters. A statement is made, that they took the aim's altitude from day to day, and noted the observations, together with the rise and fall of the tide, in a little boat, which was "communicated to his majesty, in the hope of promoting science." It is also mentioned that they had no lunar eclipses, by means of which they could have ascertained the longitude during the voyage. This fact is shown by the tables of Regiomontanus, which had been published long before the alleged voyage, and were open to the world. The statement of it here, therefore, does not, as has been supposed, furnish any evidence in support of the narrative, by redeem of its originality. Such is the account, in brief; which the letter gives of the origin, nature and extent of the alleged discovery; and as it assumes to be the production of the navigator himself, and is the only source of information on the subject, it suggests all the questions which arise in this inquiry. These relate both to the genuineness of the letter, and the truth of its statements; and accordingly bring under consideration the circumstances under which that instrument was made known and has received credit; the alleged promotion of the voyage by the king of France; and the results claimed to have been accomplished thereby. It will be made to appear upon this examination, that the letter, according to the evidence upon which its existence is predicated, could not have been written by Verrazzano; that the instrumentality of the King of France, in any such expedition of discovery as therein described, is unsupported by the history of that country, and is inconsistent with the acknowledged acts of Francis and his successors, and therefore incredible; and that its description of the coast and some of the physical characteristics of the people and of the country are essentially false, and prove that the writer could not have made them, from his own personal knowledge and experience, as pretended. And, in conclusion, it will be shown that its apparent knowledge of the direction and extent of the coast was derived from the exploration of Estevan Gomez, a Portuguese pilot in the service of the king of Spain, and that Verrazzano, at the time of his pretended discovery, was actually engaged in a corsairial expedition, sailing under the French flag, in a different part of the ocean.



No proof that the letter ascribed to Verrazzano, was written by him, has ever been produced. The letter itself has never been exhibited, or referred to in any authentic document, or mentioned by any contemporary or later historian as being in existence, and although it falls within the era, of modern history, not a single fact which it professes to describe relating to the fitting out of the expedition, the voyage, or the discovery, is corroborated by other testimony, whereby its genuineness might even be inferred. The only evidence in regard to it, relates to two copies, as they purport to be, both in the Italian language, one of them coming to us printed and the other in manuscript, but neither of them traceable to the alleged original. They are both of them of uncertain date. The printed copy appears in the work of Ramusio, first published in 1556; when Verrazzano and Francis I, the parties to it, were both dead, and a generation of men had almost passed away since the events which it announced had, according to its authority, taken place, and probably no one connected with the government of France at that time could have survived to gainsay, the story, were it untrue.[Footnote: Verrazzano died in 1527; Louise, the mother of Francis I in September, 1582, and Francis himself in March, 1547.] Ramusio does not state when or how he obtained what he published. In the preface to the volume in which it is printed, dated three years before, he merely speaks of the narrative incidentally, but in a discourse preceding it, he obscurely alludes to the place where he found it, remarking that it was the only letter of Verrazzano that he had "been able to have, because the others had got astray in the troubles of the unfortunate city of Florence." The origin of the manuscript version is equally involved in mystery. It forms part of a codex which contains also a copy of a letter purporting to have been written by Fernando Carli, from Lyons to his father in Florence, on the 4th of August, 1524, giving an account of the arrival of Verrazzano at Dieppe, and inclosing a copy of his letter to the King. The epistles of Carli and Verrazzano are thus connected together in the manuscript in fact, and by reference in that of Carli, making the copy of the Verrazzano letter a part of Carli's, and so to relate to the same date. But as the Carli letter in the manuscript is itself only a copy, there is nothing to show when that was really written; nor is it stated when the manuscript itself was made. All that is positively known in regard to the latter is, that it was mentioned in 1768, as being then in existence in the Strozzi library in Florence. When it came into that collection does not appear, but as that library was not founded until 1627, its history cannot be traced before that year, [Footnote: Der Italicum von D. Friedrich Blume. Band II, 81. Halle, 1827.] Its chirography, however, in the opinion of some competent persons who have examined it, indicates that it was written in the middle of the sixteenth century. There is, therefore, nothing in the history or character of the publication in Ramusio or the manuscript, to show that the letter emanated from Verrazzano. Neither of them is traceable to him; neither of them was printed at a time when its publication, without contradiction, might be regarded as an admission or acknowledgment by the world of a genuine original; and neither of them is found to have existed early enough to authorize an inference in favor of such an original by reason of their giving the earliest account of the coasts and country claimed to have been discovered. On the contrary, these two documents of themselves, when their nature and origin are rightly understood, serve to prove that the Verrazzano letter is not a genuine production. For this purpose it will be necessary to state more fully their history and character.

The existence of the copy which, in consequence of its connection in the same manuscript with that of the Carli letter, may be designated as the Carli version, is first mentioned in an eulogy or life of Verrazzano in the series of portraits of illustrious Tuscans, printed in Florence in 1767-8, as existing in the Strozzi library. [Footnote: Serie di Ritratti d'Uomini Illustri Toscani con gli elogi istorici dei medesimi. Vol. secondo Firenze, 1768.] The author calls attention to the fact, that it contains a part of the letter which is omitted by Ramusio. In another eulogy of the navigator, by a different hand, G. P. (Pelli), put forth by the same printer in the following year, the writer, referring to the publication of the letter of Ramusio, states that an addition to it, describing the distances to the places where Verrazzano had been, was inserted in writing in a copy of the work of Ramusio, in the possession at that time of the Verrazzano family in Florence. These references were intended to show the existence of the cosmography, which Tiraboschi afterwards mentions, giving, however, the first named eulogy as his authority. No portion of the Carli copy appeared in print until 1841, when through the instrumentality of Mr. Greene, the American consul at Rome, it was printed in the collections of the New York Historical Society, accompanied by a translation into English by the late Dr. Cogswell. It was subsequently printed in the Archivio Storico Italiano at Florence, in 1853, with some immaterial corrections, and a preliminary discourse on Verrazzano, by M. Arcangeli. From an inspection of the codex in the library, where it then existed in Florence, M. Arcangeli supposes the manuscript was written in the middle of the sixteenth century. This identical copy was, therefore, probably in existence when Ramusio published his work. Upon comparing the letter as given by Ramusio with the manuscript, the former, besides wanting the cosmography, is found to differ from the latter almost entirely in language, and very materially in substance, though agreeing with it in its elementary character and purpose. The two, therefore, cannot be copies of the same original. Either they are different versions from some other language, or one of them must be a recomposition of the other in the language in which they now are found. In regard to their being both translated from the French, the only other language in which the letter can be supposed to have been written besides the native tongue of Verrazzano, although it is indeed most reasonable to suppose that such a letter, addressed to the king of France, on the results of an expedition of the crown, by an officer in his service, would have been written in that language, it is, nevertheless, highly improbable that any letter could, in this instance, have been so addressed to the King, and two different translations made from it into Italian, one by Carli in Lyons in 1524, and the other by Ramusio in Venice twenty-nine years afterwards, and yet no copy of it in French, or any memorial of its existence in that language be known. This explanation must therefore be abandoned. If on the other hand, one of these copies was so rendered from the French, or from an original in either form in which it appears in Italian, whether by Verrazzano or not, the other must have been rewritten from it. It is evident, however, that the Carli version could not have been derived from that contained in Ramusio, because it contains an entire part consisting of several pages, embracing the cosmographical explanations of the voyage, not found in the latter. As we are restricted to these two copies as the sole authority for the letter, and are, therefore, governed in any conclusion on this subject by what they teach, it must be determined that the letter in Ramusio is a version of that contained in the Carli manuscript. This suggestion is not new. It was made by Mr. Greene in his monograph on Verrazzano, without his following it to the conclusion to which it inevitably leads. If the version in Ramusio be a recomposition of the Carli copy, an important step is gained towards determining the origin of the Verrazzano letter, as in that case the inquiry is brought down to the consideration of the authenticity of the Carli letter, of which it forms a part. But before proceeding to that question, the reasons assigned by Mr. Greene, and some incidental facts stated by him in connection with them, should be given. He says:

"The Strozzi Library is no longer in existence; but the manuscripts of that collection passed into the hands of the Tuscan government, and were divided between the Magliabechian and Laurentian libraries of Florence. The historical documents were deposited in the former. Among them was the cosmographical narration of Verrazzano mentioned by Tiraboschi, and which Mr. Bancroft expresses a desire to see copied for the Historical Society of New York. It is contained in a volume of Miscellanies, marked "Class XIII. Cod. 89. Verraz;" and forms the concluding portion of the letter to Francis the First, which is copied at length in the same volume. It is written in the common running hand of the sixteenth century (carrattere corsivo), tolerably distinct, but badly pointed. The whole volume, which is composed of miscellaneous pieces, chiefly relating to contemporary history, is evidently the WORK OF THE SAME HAND.

"Upon collating this manuscript with that part of the letter which was published by Ramusio, we were struck with the differences in language which run through every paragraph of the two texts. In substance there is no important difference [Footnote: In this statement Mr. Greene was mistaken, as will be manifested in a comparison of the two texts hereafter given, in which the difference of language will also appear.] except in one instance, where by an evident blunder of the transcriber, bianchissimo is put for branzino. There is something so peculiar in the style of this letter, as it reads, in the manuscript of the Magliabechian, that it is impossible to account for its variations from Ramusio, except by supposing that this editor worked the whole piece over anew, correcting the errors of language upon his own authority. [Footnote: Mr. Greene adds in a note to this passage: "He did so also with the translation of Marco Polo. See Apostolo Zeno, Annot. alla Bib. Ital. del Fontanini, tom. II, p. 300; ed. di Parma. 1804." There is another instance mentioned by Amoretti in the preface to his translation of Pigafetta's journal of Magellan's voyage, and that was with Fabre's translation of the copy of the journal given by Pigafetta to the mother of Francis I. Premier voyage autour du monde. xxxii. (Jansen, Paris l'an ix.)] These errors indeed are numerous, and the whole exhibits a strange mixture of Latinisms [Footnote: An instance of these Latinisms is the signature "Janus Verrazzanus," affixed to the letter.] and absolute barbarisms with pure Tuscan words and phrases. The general cast of it, however, is simple and not unpleasing. The obscurity of many of the sentences is, in a great measure, owing to false pointing.

"The cosmographical description forms the last three pages of the letter. It was doubtless intentionally omitted by Ramusio, though it would be difficult to say why. Some of the readings are apparently corrupt; nor, ignorant as we are of nautical science, was it in our power to correct them. There are also some slight mistakes, which must be attributed to the transcriber.

"A letter which follows that of Verrazzano, gives, as it seems to us, a sufficient explanation of the origin of this manuscript. It was written by a young Florentine, named Fernando Carli, and is addressed from Lyons to his father in Florence. It mentions the arrival of Verrazzano at Dieppe, and contains several circumstances about him, which throw a new though still a feeble light upon parts of his history, hitherto wholly unknown. It is by the discovery of this letter, that we have been enabled to form a sketch of him, somewhat more complete than any which has ever yet been given.

"The history of both manuscripts is probably as follows: Carli wrote to his father, thinking, as he himself tells it, that the news of Verrazzano's return would give great satisfaction to many of their friends in Florence. He added at the same time, and this also we learn from his own words, a copy of Verrazzano's letter to the king. Both his letter and his copy of Verrazzano's were intended to be shown to his Florentine acquaintances. Copies, as is usual in such cases, were taken of them; and to us it seems evident that from some one of these the copy in the Magliabechian manuscript was derived. The appearance of this last, which was prepared for some individual fond of collecting miscellaneous documents, if not by him, is a sufficient corroboration of our statement." [Footnote: Historical Studies: by George Washington Greene, New York, 1850; p. 323. Life and Voyages of Verrazzano (by the same), in the North American Review for October, 1837. (Vol. 45, p. 306).]

Adopting the Carli copy as the primitive form of the Verrazzano letter, and the Carli letter as the original means by which it has been communicated to the world, the inquiry is resolved into the authenticity of the Carli letter. There are sufficient reasons to denounce this letter as a pure invention; and in order to present those reasons more clearly, we here give a translation of it in full:

Letter of Fernando Carli to his Father. [Footnote: The letter of Carli was first published in 1844, with the discourse of Mr. Greene on Verrazzano, in the Saggiatore (I, 257), a Roman journal of history, the fine arts and philology. (M. Arcangeli, Discorso sopra 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 cosmography. God guard you from all evil. Your son.


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 which the king was hastening, and had not reached, on his way to the scene of war in the southern portion of his kingdom, could have come into the possession of this document in less than a month after it purports to have been written for the king in a port far in the north, on the coast of Normandy. It obviously could not have been delivered to him personally by Verrazzano, who had not been at Lyons, nor could it have been transmitted to him by the navigator, who had not yet presented himself before the king, and could have had no authority to communicate it to any person. It was an official report, addressed to the king, and intended for his eye alone, until the monarch himself chose to make it public. It related to an enterprise of the crown, and eminently concerned its interests and prerogatives, in the magnitude and importance of the new countries; and could not have been sent by Verrazzano, without permission, to a private person, and especially a foreigner, without subjecting himself to the charge of disloyalty, if not of treason, which there is no other evidence to sustain. On the other hand it could not have been delivered by the king to this Carli. It is not probable, even if such a letter could have come into the hands of Francis, absent from his capital in the midst of warlike preparations, engaged in forming his army and en route for the scene of the invasion, that he could have given it any consideration. But if he had received it and considered its import, there was no official or other relation between him and Carli, or any motive for him to send it forward in advance of his coming to Lyons, to this young and obscure alien. There was no possibility, therefore, of Carli obtaining possession of a private copy of the letter through Verrazzano or the king.

The only way open to him, under the most favorable circumstances, would have been through some publicity, by proclamation or printing, by order of the king; in which case, it would have been given for the benefit of all his subjects. It is impossible that it could have been seen and copied by this young foreigner alone and in the city of Lyons, and that no other copies would have been preserved in all France. The idea of a publication is thus forbidden.

No alternative remains except to pronounce the whole story a fabrication. The Carli letter is untrue. It did not inclose any letter of Verrazzano of the character pretended. And as it is the only authority for the existence of any such letter, that falls with it.



All the circumstances relating to the existence of the Verrazzano letter thus prove that it was not the production of Verrazzano at the time and place it purports to have been written by him. We pass now to the question of its authenticity, embracing the consideration of its own statements and the external evidence which exists upon the subject.

The letter professes to give the origin and results of the voyage; that is, the agency of the king of France in sending forth the expedition, and the discoveries actually accomplished by it. In both respects it is essentially untrue. It commences by declaring that Verrazzano sailed under the orders and on behalf of the king of France, for the purpose of finding new countries, and that the account then presented was a description of the discoveries made in pursuance of such instructions. That no such voyage of discoveries were made for that monarch is clearly deducible from the history of France. Neither the letter, nor any document, chronicle, memoir, or history of any kind, public or private, printed or in manuscript, belonging to that period, or the reign of Francis I, who then bore the crown, mentioning or in any manner referring to it, or to the voyage and discovery, has ever been found in France; and neither Francis himself, nor any of his successors, ever acknowledged or in any manner recognized such discovery, or asserted under it any right to the possession of the country; but, on the contrary, both he and they ignored it, in undertaking colonization in that region by virtue of other discoveries made under their authority, or with their permission, by their subjects.

I. That no evidence of the Verrazzano discovery ever existed in France, is not only necessarily presumed from the circumstance that none has ever been produced, but is inferentially established by the fact that all the French writers and historians, who have had occasion to consider the subject, have derived their information in regard to it from the Italian so-called copies of the letter, and until recently from that in Ramusio alone. No allusion to the discovery, by any of them, occurs until several years after the work of Ramusio was published, when for the first time it is mentioned in the account written by Ribault, in 1563, of his voyage to Florida and attempted colonization at Port Royal in South Carolina, in the previous year. Ribault speaks of it very briefly, in connection with the discoveries of Sebastian Cabot and others, as having no practical results, and states that he had derived his information in regard to it, from what Verrazzano had written, thus clearly referring to the letter. He adds that Verrazzano made another voyage to America afterwards, "where at last he died." As Ramusio is the only authority known for the latter statement, it is evident that Ribault must have had his work before him, and consequently his version of the letter, when he prepared this account. [Footnote: The original narrative of Ribault, in French, has never appeared in print. It was probably suppressed at the time for political reasons, as the colony was intended for the benefit of the protestants of France. It was, however, translated immediately into English and printed in 1563, under the following title: "The whole and true discoverye of Terra Florida &c never found out before the last year, 1562. Written in French by Captain Ribault &c and now newly set forthe in Englishe the XXX of May, 1563. Prynted at London, by Rowland Hall, for Thomas Hacket." This translation was reprinted by Hakluyt in his first work, Divers Voyages, in 1582; but was omitted by him in his larger collections, and the account by Laudoniere, who accompanied Ribault, of that and the two subsequent expeditions, substituted in its stead.] In the relation written by Laudoniere in 1566, but not printed until 1586, of all three of the expeditions sent out from France, for the colonization of the French protestants, mention is again made of the discoveries of Verrazzano. Laudoniere gives no authority, but speaks of them in terms which show that he made his compend from the discourse of the French captain of Dieppe, published by Ramusio in the same volume, in connection with the Verrazzano letter. He says that Verrazzano "was sent by King Francis the First and Madame the Regent, his mother, into these new countries." In thus associating the queen mother with the king in the prosecution of the enterprise Laudoniere commits the same mistake as is made in the discourse in that respect. Louise did not become regent until after the return of Verrazzano is stated to have taken place, and after both his letter and that of Carli are represented to have been written. [Footnote: The edict appointing Louise regent, was dated at Pignerol, the 17th of October, 1524, when Francis was en route for Milan. Isambert, Recueil, &c., tom. XII, part I, p. 230.] In adopting this error it is plain that Laudoniere must have taken it from the work of Ramusio, as the discourse of the French captain is found in no other place, and therefore used that work. He also speaks of the discovered country being called Francesca, as mentioned in the discourse. [Footnote: Basanier, L'Histoire notable de la Floride. (Paris, 1586), fol. 1-3. Hakluyt, III, p. 305. Ramusio, III, fol. 423. (Ed. 1556.)]

The Verrazzano discovery is referred to, for the first time, in any work printed in France, in 1570, in a small folio volume called the Universal History of the World, by Francois de Belleforest, a compiler of no great authority. In describing Canada, he characterizes the natives as cannibals, and in proof of the charge repeats the story, which is found in Ramusio only, of Verrazzano having been killed, roasted and eaten by them, and then proceeds with a short account of the country and its inhabitants, derived, as he states, from what Verrazzano had written to King Francis. [Footnote: L'Histoire Universelle du Monde. Par Francois de Belleforest. (Paris 1570, fol. 253-4.)] He does not mention where he obtained this account, but his reference to the manner in which Verrazzano came to his death, shows that he had consulted the volume of Ramusio. Five years later the same writer gave to the world an enlarged edition of his work, with the title of The Universal Cosmography of the World, in three ponderous folios, in which he recites, more at length, the contents of the Verrazzano letter, also without mentioning where he had found it, but disclosing nevertheless that it was in Ramusio, by his following the variations of that version, particularly in regard to the complexion of the natives represented to have been first seen, as they will be hereafter explained. [Footnote: La Cosmographie Universelle de tout le Monde, tom. II, part II, 2175-9. (Paris, 1575.)] This publication of Belleforest is the more important, because it is from the abstract of the Verrazzano letter contained in it, that Lescarbot, thirty-four years afterwards, took his account of the voyage and discovery, word for word, without acknowledgment. [Footnote: Hist. de la Nouvelle France, p. 27, et seq. (ed. 1609). In a subsequent portion of his history (p. 244) Lescarbot again refers incidentally to Verrazzano in connection with Jacques Cartier, to whom he attributes a preposterous statement, acknowledging the Verrazzano discovery. He states that in 1533 Cartier made known to Chabot, then admiral of France, his willingness "to discover countries, as the Spanish had done, in the West Indies, and as, nine years before, Jean Verrazzano (had done) under the authority of King Francis I, which Verrazzano, being prevented by death, had not conducted any colony into the lands he had discovered, and had only remarked the coast from about the THIRTIETH degree of the Terre-neuve, which at the present day they call Florida, as far as the FORTIETH. For the purpose of continuing his design, he offered his services, if it were the pleasure of the king, to furnish him with the necessary means. The lord admiral having approved these words, represented then to his majesty, &c." Lescarbot gives no authority for this statement, made by him seventy-five years after the voyage of Cartier. It is absurd on its face and is contradicted by existing records of that voyage. No authority has ever confined the Verrazzano discovery within the limits here mentioned. Cartier is represented as saying to the admiral that in order to complete Verrazzano's design of carrying colonials to the country discovered by him, that is, within those limits, he would go himself, if the king would accept his services. The documents recently published from the archives of St. Malo, show that the voyage of Cartier proposed by Cartier, was for the purpose of passing through the straits of Belle Isle, in latitude 52 Degrees, far north of the northern limit of the Verrazzano discovery, according to either version of the letter, and not with a design of planting a colony, or going to any part of the Verrazzano explorations, much less to a point south of the fortieth degree. (Rame, Documents inedits sur Jacques Cartier et le Canada, p. 3, Tross, Paris, 1865.) Besides, neither in the commissions to Cartier, nor in any of the accounts of his voyages, is there the slightest allusion to Verrazzano.] The latter writer has accordingly been cited by subsequent authors as an original authority on the subject, among others by Bergeron, [Footnote: Traiete des Navigations, p. 103, par. 15.] and the commissioners of the king of France, in the controversy with his Britannic majesty in relation to the limits of Acadia; [Footnote: Memoires des Commissaires du Roi, &c., I, 29.] but, as this plagiarism proves, without reason. Charlevoix, with a proper discrimination, refers directly to Ramusio as the sole source from whence the account of the discovery is derived, as do the French writers who have mentioned it since his time, except M. Margry, who, in his recent work on the subject of French voyages, quotes from the Carli version. It is thus seen that no other authority is given by the French historians than one or other of the Italian versions. [Footnote: Andre Thevet, who published a work with the title of Cosmographie Universelle, in two volumes, large folio, in rivalry apparently with Belleforest, and in the same year, 1575, is referred to sometimes as an authority on this subject. Speaking of the cruel disposition of the people of Canada, he mentions in illustration of it, the fate at their hands of some colonists whom Verrazzano took to that country. The fact is thus related by him in connection with this voyage, for which he gives no authority or indication of any. "Jean Verazze, a Florentine, left Dieppe, the SEVENTEENTH OF MARCH, one thousand five hundred and twenty-four, by command of King Francis, and coasted the whole of Florida, as far as the thirty- fourth degree of latitude, and the three hundredth of longitude, and explored all this coast, and PLACED HERE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE TO CULTIVATE IT, who in the end were all killed and massacred by this barbarous people" (fol. 1002 B.). This statement seems to justify what the President De Thou, the contemporary of Thevet, says of him, that he composed his books by putting "the uncertain for the certain, and the false for the true, with an astonishing assurance." (Hist. Univ., tom. II, 651, Loud., 1734.) Thevet had published before this, in 1557, another book, called Les Singularites de la France Antarctique, autrement nommee Amerique, in which he describes all the countries of America as far north as Labrador, and says that he ran up the coast to that region on his way home from Brazil, where he went in 1555, with Villegagnon. In this earlier work he makes no mention of Verrazzano; but does say that Jacques Cartier told him that he (Cartier) had made the voyage to America twice (fol. 148-9). It is thus evident that Thevet had not heard of Verrazzano in 1557, or he would necessarily have mentioned him, as he had the subject distinctly before him; and if he is to be believed in regard to his intimacy with Cartier, with whom he says he spent five months at his house in St. Malo (Cos. Univ., fol. 1014, B.), and from whom he received much information, it is quite as clear that Cartier knew nothing of the Verrazzano discovery, or he would have mentioned it to Thevet.] It must, therefore, as regarded as confessed by them, that no original authority for the discovery has never existed in France.

If any voyage had taken place, such as this is alleged to have been, it is morally impossible, in the state of learning and art at that time in France, and with the interest which must necessarily have attached to the discovery, that no notice should have been taken of it in any of the chronicles or histories of the country, and that the memory of it should not have been preserved in some of the productions of its press. According to the letter itself, it was one of the grandest achievements in the annals of discovery, and promised the most important results to France. It was an enterprise of her king, which had been successfully accomplished. There had been discovered a heathen land, nearly three thousand miles in extent, before unknown to the civilized world, and, therefore, open to subjugation and settlement; healthy, populous, fertile and apparently rich in gold and aromatics, and, therefore, an acquisition as great and valuable as any discovery made by the Spaniards or Portuguese, except that of Columbus. Silence and indifference in regard to such an event were impossible. Printing introduced long previously into the principal cities in France, had early in this reign reached its highest state of perfection, as the works issued from the presses of Henri Estienne and others attest. In 1521 twenty-four persons practiced the art in Paris alone. [Footnote: Didot in Harrisse Bib. Am. Vet., 189.] The discoveries in the new world by other nations excited as much attention in France as they did in the other countries of Europe. The letters of Columbus and Vespucci, describing their voyages and the countries they had found, were no sooner published abroad than they were translated into French and printed in Paris. From 1515 to 1529 several editions of the Italian collection of voyages, known as the Paesi novamente ritrovati, containing accounts of the discoveries of Columbus, Cortereal, Cabral and Vespucci in America, and in 1532 the Decades of Peter Martyr, were translated and published in Paris, in the French language. Cartier's account of his voyage in 1535-6, undertaken by order of Francis, in which he discovered Canada, was printed in the same city in 1545, during the reign of that monarch. These publications abundantly prove the interest which was taken in France in the discoveries in the new world, and the disposition and efforts of the printers in the country at that time to supply the people with information on the subject; and also, that the policy of the crown allowed publicity to be given to its own maritime enterprises. Of the enlightened interest on the part of the crown in the new discoveries, a memorable instance is recorded, having a direct and important bearing upon this question. A few months only after the alleged return of Verrazzano, and at the darkest hour in the reign of Francis, when he was a captive of the emperor in Spain, Pigafetta, who had accompanied the expedition of Magellan and kept a journal of the voyage, presented himself at the court of France. Louise was then exercising the powers and prerogatives of her son, and guarding his interests and honor with maternal zeal. Pigafetta came to offer her a copy of the manuscript which he had prepared, and which told of the discovery of the newly discovered route to the Moluccas and Cathay. It was written in Italian; and the queen mother caused it to be translated into French by Antoine Fabre, and printed by Simon de Colines, the successor of Estienne. The book bears no date, but bibliographers assign it that of 1525, the year of the regency. Certain it is, it was printed in Paris during the life of Francis, as Colines, whose imprint it bears, died before the king. Thus by the instrumentality of the crown of France was the account of the discovery of Magellan, written by one who belonged to the expedition, first given to the world. It is not probable that the queen mother, exercising the regal power immediately after the alleged return of Verrazzano, would have left entirely unnoticed and unpublished an account of his discovery, so interesting to the subjects of the king and so glorious to France, and yet have caused to be put forth within his realm in its stead, the history of a like enterprise, redounding to the glory of the great rival and enemy of her son. [Footnote: The little book of Pigafetta, a copy of which, by the kindness of Mrs. John Carter Brown, of Providence, is now in our hands, bears the title of Le voyage et navigation faict par les Espaignols es Isles de Molucques, &c. It is fully described by M. Harrisse in his Bib. Vet. Am. The concluding paragraph contains the statement that this manuscript was presented to the queen regent. Ramusio (vol. I, 346), mentions the fact that it was given by her to Fabre to be translated. The particulars are detailed by Amoretti Primo Viaggio, Introd. XXXVII. Premier Voyage, XLIV.]

II. Conclusive as the silence of the history of France is against the assertion that the Verrazzano voyage and discovery were made by direction of her king, the life of Francis is a complete denial of it. He was released from his captivity early in 1526, and lived and reigned over France for more than twenty years afterwards, active in promoting the greatness of his kingdom; encouraging science and art among his people, and winning the title of father of letters; awake to whatever concerned his royal rights and prerogatives, and maintaining them with might and vigor abroad as well as at home; and willing and able to obtain and occupy new countries inhabited by the heathen. That he was not insensible to the advantages to his crown and realm of colonies in America, and not without the ability and disposition to prosecute discoveries there for the purpose of settlement, is proven by his actually sending out the expeditions of Jacques Cartier in 1534 and 1535 and Cartier and Roberval in 1541-2, for the purpose of exploring and developing the region beyond the gulf of St. Lawrence, through the icy way of the straits of Belle Isle, in latitude 52 Degrees N.

Yet he never recognized by word or deed the voyage or discovery of Verrazzano. If any one in France could have known of them, surely it would have been he who had sent forth the expedition. If Verrazzano were dead, when Francis returned to his kingdom, and the letter had miscarried and never come to his hands, the knowledge of the discovery still would have existed in the bosom of fifty living witnesses, who composed the crew, according to the story; and through them the results of the voyage would have been communicated to the king. But Verrazzano was not dead, at that time, but was alive, as will appear hereafter, in 1527. There is good reason to believe that he was well known then to the royal advisers. One of the first acts of the king after his return from Spain was to create Phillipe Chabot, Sieur de Brion, the admiral of France, whereby that nobleman became invested on the 23d of March, 1526, with the charge of the royal marine. [Footnote: Pere Anselme, IV, 57l.] A document has recently been brought to light from among the manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, purporting to be an agreement made by Chabot in his official capacity, with Jean Ango, of Dieppe, and other persons, including Jehan de Varesam, for a voyage to the Indies with two vessels belonging to the king, and one to Ango, to be conducted by Varesam, as master pilot, for the purpose ostensibly of bringing bask a cargo of spices. [Footnote: M. Margry. Navigations Francaises, p. 194. See Appendix.] This instrument has no date, but on its face belongs to Chabot's administration of the admiralty, and must, therefore, have been drawn up in the year 1526 or that of Verrazzano's death, in 1527. If it be genuine, it proves not only that Verrazzano was alive in that period, but was known to the admiral, and, consequently, that any services which he had previously rendered must have been in the possession of the crown. In either case, however, whether Verrazzano were dead or alive when Francis resumed his royal functions, there is no reason why the discovery, if it had ever taken place, should not have been known by him.

In sending forth the expeditions of Jacques Cartier and the joint expeditions of Cartier and Roberval, Francis not only showed his interest in the discovery of new countries, but he acted in perfect ignorance of the Verrazzano discovery. If it were known to him, upon what rational theory would he have attempted new voyages of discovery in a cold and inhospitable region, on an uncertain search, instead of developing what had been found for him? What could he have expected to have accomplished by the new expeditions that had not been already fully effected by Verrazzano? And, especially after the way to Canada was found out by Cartier, what was there more inviting in that unproductive quarter than was promised in the temperate climate, fertile soil, and mineral lands, which the Florentine had already discovered in his name, that he should have sent Cartier and Roberval to settle and conquer the newer land? [Footnote: The letters issued to Roberval have been recently published, for the first time, by M. Harrisse, from the archives of France, in his Notes pour servir a l'histoire de la Nouvelle France, p. 244, et seq. (Paris, 1872.) They are dated the 16th of February 1540. Cartier's commission for the same service is dated in October, 1540. Charlevoix, misled probably by the letters granted by Henry IV to the Marquis de la Roche in 1598, in which the letters to Roberval are partially recited, asserts that Roberval is styled in them lord of Norumbega. The letters now published show that he was in error; and that France limited the authority of Roberval to the countries west of the gulf of St. Lawrence (Canada and Ochelaga), so far as any are named or described, and made no reference to Norumbega as a title of Roberval or otherwise. As the year commenced at Easter the date of Roberval's commission was in fact after that of Cartier.]

With the failure of the expedition of Roberval, Francis abandoned the attempt to discover new countries, or plant colonies in America; but his successors, though much later, entered upon the colonization of New France. They inherited his rights, and while they acknowledged the discoveries of Cartier they discredited those ascribed to Verrazzano. Of the latter claim all of them must have known. The publication of Ramusio took place during the reign of Henry II, who died in 1559; but he made no endeavor to plant colonies abroad. In 1577 and 1578, the first commissions looking to possessions in America north of Florida, were issued by Henry III, to the Marquis de la Roche, authorizing settlement in the terres neufves and the adjacent countries NEWLY discovered, in the occupancy of barbarians, but nothing was done under them. In 1598, another grant was made to the same person by Henry IV, for the conquest of Canada, Hochelaga, Newfoundland, Labrador, the country of the river St. Lawrence, Norumbega, and other countries adjacent. This is the first document emanating from the crown, containing any mention of any part of the continent north of latitude 33 degrees and south of Cape Breton.

Norumbega is the only country of those here enumerated which is included within those limits, and that did not become known through Verrazzano. [Footnote: Norumbega embraced the region of country extending from the land of the Bretons to the Penobscot, of which it was regarded as the Indian name. It was almost identical with what was subsequently called Acadia. It had become known at an early period through the French fishermen and traders in peltries, who obtained the name from the Indians and carried it home to France. It is described by Jean Alfonse, the chief pilot of Roberval, from an exploration which he made along the coast on the occasion of Roberval's expedition to Canada, in 1542. (Hakluyt, III, 239-240. MS. cosmography of Alfonse, in Bib. Nat. of Paris, fol. 185.) Alfonse states that he ran down the coast as far as a bay which he did not penetrate, in latitude 42, between Norumbega and Florida, showing that Norumbega was considered as north of that parallel of latitude. He particularly describes it in the manuscript just cited, which Hakluyt had before him, as the ruttier of Alfonse which he publishes is found in that manuscript. It appears to have been written by Alfonse in 1544-5, which was shortly after his return from Canada with Roberval. the name of Norumbega is found in the discourse of the captain of Dieppe, written in 1539, and printed in third volume of Ramusio. This writer distinctly states that the name was derived from the natives. The description of the country and its inhabitants given by Alfonse, is important, as showing its extent, and alluding to the trade there in peltries thus early. It is found in the cosmography in connection with the ruttier before mentioned (fol. 187-8), and is as follows: "I say that the cape of St. Jehan, called Cape Breton and the cape of the Franciscaine, are northeast and southwest, and take a quarter of east and west and there is in the route one hundred and forty leagues. And here makes a cape called the cape of Noroveregue. This said cape is at forty-five degrees of the height of the arctic pole. The said coast is all sandy land, low without any mountain. And along this coast there are several islands of sand and coast very dangerous, with banks and rocks. The people of this coast and of Cape Breton are bad people, powerful, great archers and live on fish and flesh. They speak, as it were, the same language as those of Canada, and are a great nation. And those of Cape Breton go and make war upon those of Newfoundland (Terre neufve), where they fish. On no account would they save the life of a person when they capture him, if it he not a child or young girl, and are so cruel that if they find a man wearing a beard, they cut his limbs off and carry them to their wives and children, in order to be revenged in that matter. And there is among them much peltry of all animals. Beyond the cape of Noroveregue [Cape Sable] descends the river of the said Noroveregue which is about twenty-five leagues from the cape. The said river is more than forty leagues broad at its mouth, and extends this width inward well thirty or forty leagues, and is all full of islands which enter ten or twelve leagues into the sea, and it is very dangerous with rocks and reefs. The said river is at forty-two degrees of the height of the arctic pole. Fifteen leagues within this river is a city which is called Norombergue, and there are in it good people and THERE IS MUCH PELTRY OF ALL ANIMALS. The people of the city are clothed with peltry, wearing mantles of martin. I suspect the said river enters into the river of Ochelaga, for it is salt more than forty league inward, according to what is said by the people of the city. The people use many words, which resemble Latin, and adore the sun; and are handsome and large men. The land of Norobregue is tolerably high. On the side on the west of the said city there are many rocks which run into the sea well fifteen leagues; and on the side towards the north there is a bay in which there is a little island which is very subject to tempest and cannot be inhabited."

Two sketches of the coast by Alfonse accompany this description, which are here reproduced united in one. The map in Ramusio (III, fol. 424-5), prepared by Gastaldi, shows the Terra de Nurumbega, of the same extent as here described, that is, from Cape Breton westerly to a river running north from the Atlantic and connecting with the St. Lawrence or river of Hochelaga. Gastaldi, or Gastaldo, published previously an edition of Ptolemy's Geography (12mo., Venice, 1543), in which (map 56), Norumbega is similarly laid down, without the river running to the St. Lawrence. Norumbega was therefore a well defined district of country at that time.

The word was undoubtedly derived from the Indians, and is still in use by those of the Penobscot, to denote certain portions of that river. The missionary Vetromile, in his History of the Abnakis (New York, 1866), observes (pp. 48-9): "Nolumbega means A STILL-WATER BETWEEN FALLS, of which there are several in that river. At different times, travelling in a canoe along the Penobscot, I have heard the Indians calling those localities NOLUMBEGA."

That the country did not become known through Verrazzano is evident from the letter, in which it is stated that he ran along the entire coast, from the harbor to which they remained fifteen days, one hundred and fifty leagues easterly, that is from Cape Cod to the Island of Cape Breton, without landing, and consequently without having any correspondence with the natives, so as to have acquired the name.

When in particular Alfonse ran along the Atlantic coast is not mentioned, though it is to be inferred that it was on the occasion of Roberval's expedition. There is nothing stated, it is true, to preclude the possibility of its having taken place on some other voyage previously. It could not have been afterwards, as the cosmography describing it was written in 1544-5. Some authors assert that Roberval dispatched him towards Labrador with a view of finding a passage to the East Indies, without mentioning his exploration along Nova Scotia and New England. But Le Clerc, who seems to have been the author of this statement (Premier Etablissement de la Foy dans la Nouvelle France, I, 12-13. Paris, 1691), and who is followed by Charlevoix, also alleges that on the occasion of his exploration towards Labrador, he discovered the straits between it and Newfoundland, in latitude 52, now known as the straits of Belle Isle, which is not correct. Jacques Cartier sailed through that passage in his first voyage to Canada, in 1534. Le Clerc either drew false inferences or relied upon false information. He probably derived his impression of the voyage to Labrador and the discovery of the straits by Alfonse, from a cursory reading of the cosmography of Alfonse, who describes these straits, but not as a discovery of his own.

In the printed work, called Les voyages avantureux du Capitaine Jean Alphonse, Saintongeois, which was first published in 1559, after the death of Alfonse, it is expressly stated that the river of Norumbega, was discovered by the Portuguese and Spaniards. Describing the great bank, he says that it runs from Labrador, "au nordest et suroest, une partie a oest-suroest, plus de huit cens lieues, et passe bien quatre vingts lieues de la terre neufue, et de la terre des Bretons trente ou quarante lieues. Et d'icy va tout au long de la coste jusques a la riviere du Norembergue, QUI EST NOUVELLEMENT DESCOUVERTE PAR LES PORTUGALOIS ET ESPAGNOLS," p. 53. We quote from an edition of the work not mentioned by the bibliographers (Brunet-Harrisse), printed at Rouen in 1602. This is almost a contemporary denial by a French author, whether Alfonse himself or a compiler, as it would rather appear, from his cosmography, of the Verrazzano discovery of this country.]

No allusion is made, in these letters of de la Roche, to any previous exploration, although an enormous recital, already alluded to, is made to a purpose of Francis I, in his commission to Roberval, to conquer the countries here indicated. [Footnote: Lescarbot (ed. 1609), 434. Harrisse, Notes de la Nouvelle France, p. 243.] De la Roche made a miserable attempt to settle the island of Sable, a sand bank in the ocean, two degrees south of Cape Breton, with convicts taken from jails of France, but being repelled by storm and tempest, after leaving that island, from landing on the main coast, returned to France without any further attempt to colonize the country, and abandoning the poor malefactors on the island to a terrible fate. [Footnote: The story is told by Lescarbot (p. 38, ed. 1609), which he subsequently embellished with some fabulous additions in relation to a visit to the island of Sable by Baron de Leri, in 1519 (Ed. 1611, p. 22), even before the date of the Verrazzano letter.] There is therefore no acknowledgment, in the history of this enterprise, of the pretended discovery. The next act of the regal prerogative was a grant to the Sieur de Monts, by the same monarch in 1603, authorizing him to take possession of the country, coasts and confines of La Cadie, extending from latitude 40 Degrees N. to 46 Degrees N., that is, Nova Scotia and New England, the situation of which, it is alleged, De Monts understood from his previous voyages to the country. [Footnote: Lescarbot (ed. 1609), 452-3. La Cadie, or Acadie, as it was for a long time afterwards known, appears for the first time on any chart on the map of Terra Nova, No. 56, in Gastaldi's Ptolemy, and is there called Lacadia.] This document also is utterly silent as to any particular discovery of the country; but it distinctly affirms that the foundation of the claim to this territory was the report of the captains of vessels, pilots, merchants and others, who had for a long time frequented the country and trafficked with its inhabitants. Accompanying these letters patent was a license to De Monts to trade with the natives of the St. Lawrence, and make settlements on that river. It was under these authorisations to De Monts exclusively, that all the permanent settlements of the French in Nova Scotia and Canada were effected, beyond which countries none were ever attempted by them, within the limits of the Verrazzano discovery, or any rights asserted on behalf of the French crown.

It is thus evident that the history of France and of her kings is utterly void on the subject of this discovery, without any legitimate cause, if it had ever taken place; and that the policy of the crown in regard to colonization in America has ever been entirely in repugnance to it. It is incredible, therefore, that any such could ever have taken place for Francis, or for France.

An important piece of testimony of an affirmative character, however, still exists, showing that the crown of France had no knowledge or appreciation of this claim. It comes from France, and, as it were, from Francis himself. It is to be found in the work of a French cartographer, a large and elaborately executed map of the world, which has been reproduced by M. Jomard, in his Monuments of Geography, under the title of Mappemonde peinte sur parchemin par ordre de Henry II, roi de France. [Footnote: Les Monuments de la Geographie ou Receuil d'anciennes cartes, &c., en facsimile de la grandeur des originaux. Par M. Jomard. No. XIX.] M. D'Avezac assigns it the date of 1542, which is five years before the death of Francis and accession of Henry to the throne. [Footnote: Inventaire et classement raisonne des "Monuments de la Geographie" publies par M. Jomard de 1842 a 1863. (Communication de M. D'Avezac.) Extrait du Bulletin de L'Academie des inscriptions et belles lettres. Seance du 30 Aout 1867, p. 7. L'Annee Geographique. Sixieme annee (1867), pp. 548, 554.] But neither of these dates appears to be exactly correct; as upon that portion of the map representing Saguenay, the person of Roberval is depicted and his name inscribed, evidently denoting his visit to that country, which did not take place until June, 1543. [Footnote: Hakluyt, III, 242.] No information, could possibly have arrived in France, to have enabled the maker of the map, to have indicated this circumstance upon it before the latter part of that year. On the other hand the arms of both the king and dauphin are repeatedly drawn in the decorated border of the map, showing that it was made, if not under the actual direction of Henry, at least while he was in fact discharging the functions of admiral of France, which he assumed after the disgrace of Chabot, in 1540, and continued to exercise until the death of Francis, in 1547. It therefore belongs to the period of 1543-7; and thus comes to us apparently impressed with an official character. It is the work of an accomplished French geographer, DURING THE REIGN OF FRANCIS, and it, no doubt, represents not only the state of geographical knowledge in France at that time, but also all the knowledge possessed by Francis of this coast. Mr. Kohl expresses the opinion that it "is not only one of the most brilliant, but also one of the most exact and trustworthy pictures of the world which we have in the first part of the sixteenth century. It gives accurately all that was known of the world in 1543, especially of the ocean, and the outlines of the coasts of different countries." He adds, "the author of the map must have been a well instructed, intelligent and conscientious man. Where the coasts of a country are not known to him, he so designates them. For his representations of countries recently discovered and already known, he had before him the best models and originals." [Footnote: Discovery of Maine, 351-4.] Yet notwithstanding the thorough knowledge of the subject displayed by this cartographer, his French nationality, and the contemporariness of his labors with the reign of Francis, "no evidence," as Mr. K. further observes," appears that the report or chart of the French commander, Verrazzano, had been used in constructing this chart." On the contrary, the line of coast from Cape St. Roman in South Carolina to Cape Breton is copied from the Spanish map of Ribero, with the Spanish names translated into French. [Footnote: Thus R. del principe, R. del espiritu santo, B. de Santa Maria (the Chesapeake) Playa, C. de S. Juan, R. de St. Iago, C. de Arenas (Cape Henlopen), B. de S. Christoval (the Delaware), B. de S. Antonio (the Hudson), R. de buena Madre, S. Juan Baptista, Arcipelago de Estevan Gomez, Montanas, and R. de la buelta, on the map of Ribero, become on the French map, R. du Prince, R. du St. Esprit, B. de Sa. Marie, Les playnes, C. St. Jean, St. Jacques, C. des Sablons, G. de St. Christofle, R. de St. Anthoine, R. de bonne Mere, Baye de St. Jean Baptiste, Arcipel de Estienne Gomez, Les Montaignes and R. de Volte.] Many other names occur within the same distance, which are found on other Spanish charts since that time, and some which were probably taken from Spanish charts not now known. [Footnote: Of this class are the R. de Canoes, R. Seche, Playne, Coste de Dieu, R. d'Arbres, which, on the map XII, of the Munich Atlas, said to have been taken from the map of the Spanish cosmographer, Alonzo de Santa Cruz, are given, R. de Canoas, R. Seco, Terra Ilana, Costa de Diego, R. d'Arvoredos.] Thus within the limits mentioned, embracing the exploration of Gomez no designation occurs connecting the coast with Verrazzano. [Footnote: The name of Avorobagra, on the west side of the great bay, is found in place of C. de Muchas illas of the Ribero map. This is supposed to have been intended for Norumbega.] From Cape Breton easterly and northerly along the coast of Newfoundland the discoveries of the Normand and Bretons and the Portuguese, and in the river and gulf of St. Lawrence, those of Jacques Cartier, are shown by the names. The whole coast claimed by the letter is thus assigned to other parties than Verrazzano. The logical maxim, expressio unius est exclusio alterius, must here apply. The expression of the Spanish discoveries, at least exclude those of Verrazzano; demonstrating almost to a moral certainty that the latter could never have been performed for the king of France. The author of this map, whether executing it under official responsibility or upon his own account, would not have ascribed, or dared to ascribe, to a foreign nation, much less to a rival, the glory which belonged to his own sovereign, then living, whose protection he enjoyed.



In pursuing its main object of making known the discovery, the letter ventures upon certain statements which are utterly inconsistent with an actual exploration of the country. The general position and direction of the coast are given with sufficient correctness to indicate the presence there of a navigator; but its geographical features are so meagrely and untruthfully represented, as to prove that he could not have been the writer. The same apparent inconsistency exists as to the natural history of the country. Some details are given in regard to the natives, which correspond with their known characteristics, but others are flagrantly false. The account is evidently the work of a person who, with an imperfect outline of the coast, by another hand, before him, undertook to describe its hydrographical character at a venture, so far as he deemed it prudent to say anything on the subject; and to give the natural history of the country, in the same way, founded on other accounts of parts of the new world. The actual falsity of the statements alluded to is, at all events, sufficient to justify the rejection of the whole story. So far as they relate to the littoral, they are now to be considered.

In general, the geography of the coast is very indefinitely described. Of its latitudes, with the exception of the landfall and termination of the exploration, which are fixed also by other means, and are necessary to the ground work of the story, only a single one is mentioned. The particular features of the coast are for the most part unnoticed. Long distances, embracing from two hundred to six hundred miles each, are passed over with little or no remark. Islands, rivers, capes, bays, and other land or seamarks, by which navigators usually describe their progress along an unknown coast, are almost entirely unmentioned. For a distance of over two thousand miles, adopting the narrowest limits possible assigned to the discovery, only one island, one river, and one bay are attempted to be described, and not a single cape or headland is referred to. No name is given to any of them, or to any part of the coast, except the one island which is named after the king's mother. It was the uniform practice of the Catholic navigators of that early period, among whom, according to the import of the letter, Verrazzano was one, to designate the places discovered by them, by the names of the saints whose feasts were observed on the days they were discovered, or of the festivals of the church celebrated on those days; so that, says Oviedo, it is possible to trace the course of any such explorer along a new coast by means of the church calendar. This custom was not peculiar to the countrymen of that historian. It was observed by the Portuguese and also by the French, as the accounts of the voyages of Jacques Cartier attest. But nothing of the kind appears here. These omissions of the ordinary and accustomed practices of voyagers are suspicious, and of themselves sufficient to destroy all confidence in the narrative. But to proceed to what is actually stated in regard to the coast.

Taking the landfall to have occurred, as is distinctly claimed, at latitude 34 Degrees, which is a few leagues north of Cape Fear in North Carolina, and which is fixed with certainty, for the purposes of the letter, at that point by the estimate of the distance they ran northerly along the coast before it took an easterly direction, the discovery must be regarded as having commenced somewhat south of Cape Roman in South Carolina, being the point where the fifty leagues terminated which they ran along the coast, in the first instance, south of the landfall. It is declared that from thence, for two hundred leagues, to the Hudson river, as it will appear, there was not a single harbor in which the Dauphine could ride in safety. [Footnote: A league, according to the Verrazzano letter, consisted of four miles; and a degree, of 15,625 leagues or 62 1/3 miles.] The size of this craft is not mentioned, but it is said she carried only fifty men, though manned as a corsair. Judging from the size of the vessels used at that time on similar expeditions, she was small. The two which composed the first expedition of Jacques Cartier carried sixty men and were each of about sixty tons burden. The Carli letter, which must be assumed to express the idea of the writer on the subject, describes her as a caravel; which was a vessel of light draught adapted to enter shallow rivers and harbors and to double unknown capes where shoals might have formed, and was therefore much used by the early navigators of the new world. [Footnote: Le Moyen Age et la Renaissance. Tome Second. Marine, par M. A. Jal. fol. V. (Paris 1849.)] Columbus chose two caravels, out of the three vessels with which he made his first voyage; and the third one, which was larger than either of the caravels, was less than one hundred tons. The Dauphine is therefore to be considered, from all the representations in regard to her, of less than the latter capacity, and as specially adapted to the kind of service in which she is alleged to have been engaged. In running north from their extreme southerly limit, they must have passed the harbor of Georgetown in South Carolina, and Beaufort in North Carolina, in either of which the vessel could have entered; and in the latter, carrying seventeen feet at low water and obtaining perfect shelter from all winds. [Footnote: Blunt's American Coast Pilot, p. 359 (19th edition.)] But if they really had been unable to find either of them, it is impossible that they should not have discovered the Chesapeake, and entered it, under the alleged circumstances of their search. That it may be seen what exactly is the statement of the letter in regard to this portion of the coast, it is here given in its own terms. Having represented the explorers as having reached a point fifty leagues north of the landfall, which would have carried them north of Hatteras, but still on the coast of North Carolina, their movements over the next four hundred miles north are disposed of in the following summary manner: "After having remained here," (that is, at or near Albemarle,) "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, keeping sail on the vessel ONLY BY DAY, and coming to anchor by night. 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 TO THE SEA." There can be no mistake in regard to the portion of the coast here intended. Upon leaving this river they found that the coast stretched, it is stated, as will presently appear, in an EASTERLY direction. A stream coming from the hills, its situation at the bend of the coast, its latitude as fixed by that of the port which, after leaving it, they found in nearly the same parallel and which is placed in 41 Degrees 40', all point distinctly to the embouchure of the Hudson at the highlands of Navesink as the termination of the hundred leagues. Within this distance the Chesapeake empties into the sea.

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