Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

pleted, they set sail homewards; and though the ships were dispersed by violent storms, they all arrived safely in different ports of England. The queen and the persons engaged in this adventure were delighted to find “ that the matter of the gold ore had appearance and made show of great riches and profit, and that the hope of the passage to Cathaia by this last voyage greatly increased.” The queen gave the name of Meta Incognita to the newly discovered country, on which it was resolved to establish a colony. For this purpose a fleet of fifteen ships was got ready, and 100 persons appointed to form the settlement, and remain there the whole year, keeping with them three of the ships: the other twelve were to bring back cargoes of gold ore. Frobisher was appointed admiral in general of the expedition, and on taking leave received from the queen a gold chain as a mark of her approbation of his past conduct. The fleet sailed on the 31st of May, 1578, and in three weeks discovered Friezeland, of which possession was formally taken, and then held its course direct to Frobisher's Straits. The voyage hitherto had been prosperous, but distresses and vexations of every kind thwarted the attempt to fix a colony. Violent storms dispersed the fleet; drift-ice choked up the

strait; one small bark, on board of which was the wooden

house intended for the settlers, was crushed by the icebergs and instantly went down; thick fogs, heavy snow, with tides and currents of extraordinary violence, bewildered the mariners, and involved them in endless distresses. At length, after enduring extreme hardships, it was resolved to return, and postpone to the ensuing year the attempt to make a settlement in the country. The storms which had frustrated the object of the expedition pursued the fleet in its passage homeward: the ships were scattered, but arrived at the various ports of England before the commencement of October.” The Busse of Bridgewater, in her homeward passage, fell in with a large island to the south-east of Frieze* Hakluyt, vol. iii.

land, in latitude 5739, which had never before been discovered; and sailed three days along the coast, the land appearing to be fertile, full of wood, and a fine champagne country. On this authority the island was laid down in our charts, but was never afterwards seen, and certainly does not exist; though a bank has recently been sounded upon, which has revived the opinion that the Friezeland of Zeno and the land seen by the Busse of Bridgewater were one and the same island, which has been since swallowed up by an earthquake.*

Success seems to have deserted Frobisher after his first voyage, which alone indeed had discovery for its object. When the sanguine expectations to which he had given birth were disappointed, his voyages were looked upon as a total failure; and he appears himself, for a time, to have fallen into neglect. But in 1585 he served with sir Francis Drake in the West Indies; three years later he commanded one of the largest ships of the fleet which defeated the Spanish armada; and his gallant conduct on that trying occasion procured him the honour of knighthood.

Frobisher’s zeal in the pursuit of north-western discoveries is supposed to have been fostered by the writings of sir Humphrey Gilbert, a gentleman of brilliant talents and romantic temper. When we contemplate the early discoveries of the Spaniards and Portuguese, we see needy adventurers, and men of desperate character and fortune, pursuing gain or licentiousness with violence and bloodshed. But the English navigators, who, in the reign of Elizabeth, sought to extend our knowledge of the globe, were men of a different stamp, and driven forward by motives of a more honourable nature. They undertook the most difficult navigations through seas perpetually agitated by storms and encumbered with ice, in vessels of the most frail construction and of small burden; they encountered all the difficulties and distresses of a rigorous climate, and, in most cases, with a very distant or with no prospect of ultimate pecuniary advantage. Sir Humphrey Gilbert was one

* Barrow's Chron. Hist. p. 94.

of those gallant spirits who engaged in the career of discovery chiefly from the love of fame and thirst of achievement. In 1578 he obtained a patent, authorising him to undertake western discoveries, and to possess lands unsettled by Christian princes or their subjects. The grant in the patent was made perpetual, but was at the same time declared void unless acted upon within six years. In compliance with this condition sir Humphrey prepared, in 1583, to take possession of the northern parts of America and Newfoundland. In the same year queen Elizabeth conferred on his younger brother, Adrian Gilbert, the privilege of making discoveries of a passage to China and the Moluccas, by the north-westward, north-eastward, or northward; directing the company, of which he was the head, to be incorporated by the name of “The colleagues of the fellowship for the discovery of the north-west passage.” The fleet of sir Humphrey consisted of five ships, of different burthens, from 10 to 200 tons, in which were embarked about 260 men, including shipwrights, masons, Smiths, and carpenters, besides “mineral men and refiners;” and for the amusement of the crew, “ and allurement of the savages, they were provided of

music in good variety, not omitting the least toyes, as .

morrice dancers, hobby horses, and Maylike conceits, to delight the savage people, whom they intended to win by all fair means possible.” This little fleet reached Newfoundland on the 30th of July. It is noticed, that at this early period, “the Portugals and French chiefly have a notable trade of fishing on the Newfoundland bank, where there are sometimes more than a hundred sail of ships.” On entering St. John's, possession was taken in the queen's name of the harbour and 200 leagues every way; parcels of land were granted out; but the attention of the general was chiefly directed to the discovery of the precious metals. The colony being thus apparently established, sir

Humphrey Gilbert embarked in his small frigate, the Squirrel, which was, in fact, a miserable bark of ten tons; and, taking with him two other ships, proceeded on a voyage of discovery to the southward. One of these vessels, the Delight, was soon after wrecked among the shoals near Sable Island; and of above 100 men on board, only twelve escaped. Among those who perished were the historian and the mineralogist of the expedition; a circumstance which preyed upon the mind of sir Humphrey, whose ardent temper fondly cherished the hope of fame and of inestimable riches. He now determined to return to England; but as his little frigate, as she is called, appeared wholly unfit to proceed on such a voyage, he was entreated not to venture in her, but to take his passage in the Golden Hinde. To these solicitations the gallant knight replied, “I will not forsake my little company going homeward, with whom I have passed so many storms and perils.” When the two vessels had passed the Azores, sir Humphrey's frigate was observed to be nearly overwhelmed by a great sea; she recovered, however, the stroke of the waves; and immediately afterwards the general was observed, by those in the Hinde, sitting abaft with a book in his hand, and calling out, “Courage, my lads! we are as near heaven by sea as by land.” The same night this little bark, and all within her, were swallowed up in the sea, and never more heard of. Such was the unfortunate end of the brave sir Humphrey Gilbert, who may be regarded as the father of the western colonisation, and who was one of the chief ornaments of the most chivalrous age of English history.”

* Hakluyt, vol. iii.

CHAP. XI.
voy AGES To THE NORTH,

voy AGES of John DAVIS. – RESULT OF HIS RESEARCHES. HE BELIEVES IN THE ExistENCE OF A NORTH-WEST PASSAGE. - NorthERN ExPEDITIONS OF THE DUTCH. - VOYAGEs of WILLIAM BARENTz. – cortNELISON PASSES THE STRAIT of WAIGATz. - BARENTZ REACHES THE NORTHERN EXTREMPTY of Nov.A. Z.E.M.B.L.A. - DESCRIPTION OF THE WALRU.S. — SEconID Voy A.G.E OF BARENTZ. - infortMation Received froxi THE SAMoy EDs. – THIRD Vox AGE.- SPITZ BERGEN AND CHERRY ISLAND DISCOVERED. — BARENTZ AND HIS CREW WINTER, in Nov.A. Zevi Bla. - THEIR surfert INGs. - Extraortoin ARY REFRACTION. —DEATH OF BARENTZ, AND voy AGE OF THE crew IN open BoATs. - ATTEMPTs or THE DANEs. To ExPLORE GREENLAND. - Vox AG es or JAMEs HALL. — FATE or HALL AND or KNIGHT. - HENRY Hu Dson. - HE MAKEs obSERVATIONS ON THE DIP OF THE NEEDLE. - HIS VOYAGE Tow ARDS THE POLE. – SECOND voyag E. – PLACE of THE MAGNETIC POLE.-A MERMAID DESCRIBED.- Thir D Voyag E. – Discovers HUDson's River. — FourTH voyage. — sails To THE west. — ENTERs HUDson's BAY. — NARRATIve of HIS PROCEEDING. - MUTINY OF THE CREW. – H UDson AND THE SICK MEN TURNED ADRIFT. —- RETURN of The MUTINEERS.

THE zeal and ability exerted by Frobisher in the cause of north-western discovery was foiled, as we have seen, by the vain pursuit of the precious metals. The ill success of the recent voyages restored speculation to its legitimate pursuit; and it was now resolved to despatch an expedition of which discovery should be the sole object. The merchants of London, being satisfied “ of the likelihood of the discovery of the north-west passage,” fitted out two small barks, the one of fifty, the other of thirty-five tons, which they entrusted to the command of John Davis, an expert and courageous seaman. He sailed from Dartmouth on the 7th of June, 1585, and by the middle of July was on the western side of Greenland, where the coast presented such a bleak and

« ForrigeFortsett »