The Memoirs of Sebastian Cabot, with a Review of Maritime
- Discovery, is a specimen of honest inquiry. It is quite frightful to think of the number of the inaccuracies it exposes : we shall cease to have confidence in books. By looking to the sources whence compilers have drawn their materials, it really would al)- . pear that accuracy is the very rarest of qualities. SEBASTIAN CABOT, as the American discoverer chiefly connected with this mari- time country, and perhaps in point of fame meriting a place after COLUMBUS, has been a frequent subject for the pen of the biogra- pher and the historian of discovery. The laborious writer of these Memoirs has compared every detail of their narratives with the best original evidence that is now to be procured ; and it abso- lutely fills the mind of the reader with a sort of despair to find every sentence alluding to him containing almost as many blunders as words.
The exposure of error is not the pleasantest mode of writing biography—it is only the most useful. This work has given us a lesson we shall never forget, and hope to profit by ; and yet we cannot recommend the book as a popular work. There are hundreds of books published every year, of far less value than this, that will acquire much greater reputation, and be much more generally read. The investigation of truth is not the fashion of these times. But every sincere inquirer after historical accuracy ought to purchase the book as a curiosity: more false assertions and inaccurate statements were never exposed in the same compass.