Imágenes de página

landed, and set vigorously to work in digging • black ore and gathering pretty stones.' But a part of the frame of the wooden fort having been wrecked, and the stores not being found sufficient for a twelvemonth's provision, it was resolved to abandon the design of leaving a garrison. After various adventures in the country, and some unprincipled attempts to entrap the poor natives, who had now grown more wary, the Holy Sacrament was, on the 30th of August, celebrated on shore with great devotion. Next day a general consultation being held, respecting the expediency of any longer stay, the whole remaining fleet, with the precious cargo of black earth, took its departure for England. They were dispersed, however, by a violent storm; but most of them reached different ports about the beginning of October, with the loss of only forty men.

Frobisher appears, upon this occasion, to have rambled about the cluster o: islands in the mouth of the entrance to Hudson's Bay. But his voyage proved very unfortunate, and grievously disappointed the golden dreams of the adventurers. We hear no more of that rich black earth so eagerly coveted, which had been procured with such difficulty, and collected with so much toil and danger.

Though the hopes of finding a gold mine on the coast of Labrador had completely failed, the prospect of discovering a north-west passage to China was yet sufficiently alluring. Some gentlemen of the West of England, joined to a few London merchants, formed themselves into a society to resume the attempt of exploring that channel. They chose for the commander John Davis, one of the best skilled and most humane of the early English navigators; who sailed from Dartmouth on the 7th of June 1585, with the Sunshine of London, a bark of 50 tons and 23 men, and the Moonshine of Dartmouth, of only 35 tons and 19 men, some of them being musicians. From the 6th to the 18th of July, he saw multitudes of whales; and, on the 19th of that month, he met with numerous islands of floating ice, which, by their continual attrition, created a disagreeable rustling noise. He filled his boat. with the smaller pieces, which yielded excellent fresh water. Next day the fog dispersing, he descried the coast of Greenland, rising like a white sugar-loaf; but he could not land on account of the ice, which formed a broad rampart. On the 29th of July, he reached the latitude of 64° 15'; and the sea being there · utterly void of the pester of ice, and very temperate,' he anchored among a group of islands, one of which he ascended, and observed the natives screeching and howling like wolves. But having desired his musicians to play some simple airs, he soon drew the savages near him; and, while they capered and danced, he won their confidence by gentleness and attention. A brisk trade of barter was now carried on. The canoes crowded about the ships, and the utmost cordiality and ease prevailed. Great quantities of floating wood were seen among those islands, and the rocks appeared full of that shining mica which had tempted the avarice of Frobisher's employers.

Davis advanced, on the 1st of August, to the latitude of 66° 40', and found the coast clear of ice. There his men had various" hard conflicts with white bears. When the fog was dispelled, he landed, and saw sledges and large trained dogs with pricked ears and long bushy tails. Despairing of the existence of any passage, he now resolved to turn back; and arrived, without any remarkable occurrence, at Dartmouth on the 30th of September.

In the following year, Davis was again despatched by the same company a month earlier, with his two barks, and the addition of the Mermaid, a vessel of 120 tons. On the 15th of June, he descried Greenland at the latitude of 60°; but the coast was still inaccessible, being blocked with ice to the distance of ten, and in some places, to that of twenty or thirty leagues. After encountering much tempestuous weather, he saw land again in the latitude of 64°, and, approaching the shore, the natives pushed out to him in their canoes, shouting vehemently. These grateful creatures surrounded the Mermaid, embraced the Captain, and leaped for joy. More than a hundred canoes appeared at one time, loaded with skins of seals and stags, ptarmigans and partridges, salmon, cod, and other dried fish.

On the 3d of July, Davis manned one of his boats, and explored several inlets or sounds, attended by fifty canoes of the natives, who eagerly assisted his people in climbing over the rocks. These savages appeared to be of the Tartar race. They were of good stature, well in body proportioned, with • small slender hands and feet, with broad visages and small eyes, wide mouths, the most part unbearded, great lips, and ' close toothed.' They were idolaters, had store of images, and practisecl sorcery. After making a long oration, one of them proceeded to kindle a sacred fire. This priest took a 6. piece of board wherein was a hole half through; into that • hole he put the end of a round. stick like a bedstaff'; and whet(ting the end thereof in train and in fashion of a turner with a

piece of leather, with this motion did very speedily produce • fire.' This he then collected on dry turf, and added various other things to make a sacrifice, accompanied by many words and strange gestures. But Davis, to show his contempt of such witcheries, caused a sailor to kick the burning matter into the

sea. He observed that those hardy savages lived almost constantly in their canoes, and that they fed on raw fish, drank salt water, and ate grass and ice with delight. Their arms were darts, bows and arrows, and slings. They showed a disposition to petty theft; and his crew, beginning to complain that lenity had only encouraged their insolence, he was obliged to make a show of employing severer measures.

This intelligent captain sailed along the coast, exploring it çarefully as he advanced. On the 17th of July, he encountered an immense body of ice in the latitude of 63° 8'; and he spent nearly a fortnight in passing it, the weather being excessively foggy, and his ropes and sails all frozen. On the 1st of August, he descried the American coast, at the parallel of 66° 33', and found an excellent roadstead. Here he was now much annoyed with heat and with muskitos. The native Esquimaux were very obliging, and bartered their commodities. They resembled the Greenlanders in their general appearance, but spoke with a clearer intonation.

Davis now sailed southwards, following the direction of the coast till he came to the latitude of 56°, where he anchored, and found the country for many miles covered with forests of pine, alder, willow, and birch. He saw likewise large flights of various birds and wildfowl. The numerous islands which he had met with during this run, encouraged the hope of discovering the desired passage; which expectation was farther corroborated by what he perceived at another place where he touched, in the latitude of 54o. After having lost two of his men, who were unfortunately shot by the savages from an ambush, and having suffered severely from a dreadful storm, which lasted several days, he at last set sail with a fair wind on the 11th of September, and arrived on the west of England in the beginning of the following month. ! While Davis thus explored the west side of the Strait which bears his name, he directed the other ships to sail up the Greenland sea, and seek for a passage on the north side of Iceland, Having reached that station, they held a northwesterly course from the 16th of June to the 3d of July, when they found themselves' enclosed between two fields of ice. They now turned back, and saw Greenland rising high, and looking very blue; but they could gain no harbour, since a rampart of firm ice, at least three leagues in breadth, extended along the whole coast. Still keeping sight of land, they doubled Cape Farewell, and ascended as far as their former haven, in the latitude of 64o.

There they traded with the natives, till an accidental quarrel arose, which occasioned some bloodshed. , On the last day of August, they departed for England, and arrived safely in the Thames on the 6th of October.

On the 9th of May 1587, Davis sailed again with the same vessels, for the double purpose of trading in skins, and of discovering the north-west passage. On the 20th of June, he reached, as formerly, the islands opposite to Baal's river, in the latitude of 64°. But the natives had now become so bold and outrageous, as to tear his pinnace in pieces, merely for the sake of the iron. Thence pursuing his voyage, he saw great plenty of whales in the latitude of 67° 40', and had some traffic with the numerous canoes which he met. On the 30th, he ascertained, by observation, that he was in the latitude of 72° 12', and found the sea quite open, as far as his vision could reach, to the north and the west. But a strong northerly wind having sprung up, obliged him reluctantly to put back. He now bore away to the American coast, his progress being much impeded by excessive fogs and numerous shoals of ice. On the 13th of July, the natives crowded with their canoes from the shore, and he landed at the latitude of 68°, the weather having now become oppressively hot. During the rest of the month, he sailed along the coast, touching occasionally, till he descended to the latitude of 62°, where he found a large gulf, and a strong.current running from the west. He pursued the same track about a fortnight longer, though he met with frequent islands of ice; and, on the 15th of August, at the latitude of 52°, his vessel being leaky, and his provisions falling short, he departed for England; and, after much variable weather, he arrived at Dartmouth on the 15th of September.

The discoveries made by Davis in the Arctic Seas, though they failed in attaining the main object, were, on the whole, extremely important. But nothing more was attempted from England for many years. At last the Russia and Turkey Companies resolved to send, at their joint expense, an expedition to explore the northwest passage. Accordingly, on the 2d of May 1602, George Weymouth sailed from Radcliff, with two fly-boats, the Discovery of 70 tons, and the Godspeed of 60 tons, victualled for eighteen months, and carrying 35 men besides boys. On the 22d of June, he got sight of Cape Desolation, in Greenland, at the latitude of 60° 37'; and, steering nearly on the same course, he descried, in six days more, the bold shore of America at the parallel of 62° 30'. He now pushed northwards along the coast, in spite of the thick fog and the numerous banks of ice which he encountered. The cold was often so piercing, that the mist froze as it touched the rigging, and the sails and cordage became encrusted with thick ice. On the 20th of July, Wil.

loughby having reached the latititude of 68° 53', his crew, filled with alarms, secretly mutinied, and put back the helm during the night. Willoughby succeeded in restoring discipline, yet saw himself obliged, by circumstances, to continue a southerly course. Two days after, the sea being quite calm and smooth, he sent a boat tv procure a supply of ice from a floating island: it seemed as hard as a rock, but, after a few strokes, the whole mass, shaken by the internal tremor, was rent with a noise like thunder, and precipitated into the deep. About the latitude of 55°, he perceived, on the 16th of August, low land, girt with pleasant islands; and here he thought a passage might be found. But a violent storm arose, which drove him homewards, and, on the 4th of September, he was forced to put into Dartmouth.

The King of Denmark being now desirous of making similar discoveries, and valuing highly the skill of the British navigators, caused two ships and a pinnace to be got ready, and appointed John Cunningham a Scotchman, the chief captain, and James Hall an Englishman, the principal pilot; the rest of the commanders and the crew being, except John Knight the steersman, either Danes or Norwegians. This little squadron sailed from Copenhagen on the 2d May 1605, and on the 30th of that month descried the high and rugged cliffs of Greenland, in the latitude of 59° 50'; but found the shore inaccessible and full of ice. During three or four days following, the weather being very foggy, the ships were encompassed repeatedly with large islands of ice, drifting to the north-north-west, and making a hideous and grinding noise. Ranging along the coast, they met also with several immense banks of floating ice. But the seamen grew mutinous, and would not consent to proceed farther. On the 12th of June, the ships entered a bight, in latitude 66° 30'; and the captain and the pilot landed, and saw empty tents; the Greenlanders having run away through fear. Some intercourse afterwards took place with the natives, who must have thought themselves ill treated, however; for, in the sequel, they made a furious attack on the boats, with their bows and slings. The squadron was forced to put to sea; and, desisting from any farther prosecution of the voyage, returned to Copenhagen.

Not discouraged by this unpromising attempt, his Danish Majesty, the following year, despatched the same leaders, with four ships and a pinnace. They steered a north-westerly course, and were borne along by a strong current. On the 10th of July, they gained the American shore, at the parallel of 60° 16'. They now ranged northwards along the coast, which appeared high and rugged, covered with snow, and beset with ice. Have . VOL. XXX. NO. 59.

« AnteriorContinuar »