Voyages in Search of The North-West Passage, by Richard Hakluyt

The Second Voyage of Master Martin Frobisher, Made to the West and North–West Regions in the year 1577, with a Description of the Country and People, written by Dionise Settle.

On Whit Sunday, being the sixth-and-twentieth day of May, in the year of our Lord God 1577, Captain Frobisher departed from Blackwall — with one of the Queen’s Majesty’s ships called the Aid, of nine score ton or thereabout, and two other little barques likewise, the one called the Gabriel, whereof Master Fenton, a gentleman of my Lord of Warwick’s, was captain; and the other the Michael, whereof Master York, a gentleman of my lord admiral’s, was captain, accompanied with seven score gentlemen, soldiers, and sailors, well furnished with victuals and other provisions necessary for one half year — on this, his second year, for the further discovering of the passage to Cathay and other countries thereunto adjacent, by west and north-west navigations, which passage or way is supposed to be on the north and north-west parts of America, and the said America to be an island environed with the sea, where through our merchants might have course and recourse with their merchandise from these our northernmost parts of Europe, to those Oriental coasts of Asia in much shorter time and with greater benefit than any others, to their no little commodity and profit that do or shall traffic the same. Our said captain and general of this present voyage and company, having the year before, with two little pinnaces to his great danger, and no small commendations, given a worthy attempt towards the performance thereof, is also pressed when occasion shall be ministered to the benefit of his prince and native country — to adventure himself further therein. As for this second voyage, it seemeth sufficient that he hath better explored and searched the commodities of those people and countries, with sufficient commodity unto the adventurers, which, in his first voyage the year before, he had found out.

Upon which considerations the day and year before expressed, he departed from Blackwall to Harwich, where making an accomplishment of things necessary, the last of May we hoisted up sails, and with a merry wind the 7th of June we arrived at the islands called Orchades, or vulgarly Orkney, being in number thirty, subject and adjacent to Scotland, where we made provision of fresh water, in the doing whereof our general licensed the gentlemen and soldiers, for their recreation, to go on shore. At our landing the people fled from their poor cottages with shrieks and alarms, to warn their neighbours of enemies, but by gentle persuasions we reclaimed them to their houses. It seemeth they are often frighted with pirates, or some other enemies, that move them to such sudden fear. Their houses are very simply builded with pebble stone, without any chimneys, the fire being made in the midst thereof. The good man, wife, children, and other of their family, eat and sleep on the one side of the house, and their cattle on the other, very beastly and rudely in respect of civilisation. They are destitute of wood, their fire is turf and cow shardes. They have corn, bigge, and oats, with which they pay their king’s rent to the maintenance of his house. They take great quantity of fish, which they dry in the wind and sun; they dress their meat very filthily, and eat it without salt. Their apparel is after the nudest sort of Scotland. Their money is all base. Their Church and religion is reformed according to the Scots. The fishermen of England can better declare the dispositions of those people than I, wherefore I remit other their usages to their reports, as yearly repairers thither in their courses to and from Iceland for fish.

We departed here hence the 8th of June, and followed our course between west and north-west until the 4th of July, all which time we had no night, but that easily, and without any impediment, we had, when we were so disposed, the fruition of our books, and other pleasures to pass away the time, a thing of no small moment to such as wander in unknown seas and long navigations, especially when both the winds and raging surges do pass their common and wonted course. This benefit endureth in those parts not six weeks, whilst the sun is near the tropic of Cancer, but where the pole is raised to 70 or 80 degrees it continueth the longer.

All along these seas, after we were six days sailing from Orkney, we met, floating in the sea, great fir trees, which, as we judged, were, with the fury of great floods, rooted up, and so driven into the sea. Iceland hath almost no other wood nor fuel but such as they take up upon their coasts. It seemeth that these trees are driven from some part of the Newfoundland, with the current that setteth from the west to the east.

The 4th of July we came within the making of Friesland. From this shore, ten or twelve leagues, we met great islands of ice of half a mile, some more, some less in compass, showing above the sea thirty or forty fathoms, and as we supposed fast on ground, where, with our lead, we could scarce sound the bottom for depth.

Here, in place of odoriferous and fragrant smells of sweet gums and pleasant notes of musical birds, which other countries in more temperate zones do yield, we tasted the most boisterous Boreal blasts, mixed with snow and hail, in the months of June and July, nothing inferior to our untemperate winter: a sudden alteration, and especially in a place of parallel, where the pole is not elevated above 61 degrees, at which height other countries more to the north, yea unto 70 degrees, show themselves more temperate than this doth. All along this coast ice lieth as a continual bulwark, and so defendeth the country, that those which would land there incur great danger. Our general, three days together, attempted with the ship boat to have gone on shore, which, for that without great danger he could not accomplish, he deferred it until a more convenient time. All along the coast lie very high mountains, covered with snow, except in such places where, through the steepness of the mountains, of force it must needs fall. Four days coasting along this land we found no sign of habitation. Little birds which we judged to have lost the shore, by reason of thick fogs which that country is much subject unto, came flying to our ships, which causeth us to suppose that the country is both more tolerable and also habitable within than the outward shore maketh show or signification.

From hence we departed the 8th of July, and the 16th of the same we came with the making of land, which land our general the year before had named the Queen’s Forehand, being an island, as we judge, lying near the supposed continent with America, and on the other side, opposite to the same, one other island, called Halles Isle, after the name of the master of the ship, near adjacent to the firm land, supposed continent with Asia. Between the which two islands there is a large entrance or strait, called Frobisher’s Strait, after the name of our general, the first finder thereof. This said strait is supposed to have passage into the sea of Sur, which I leave unknown as yet.

It seemeth that either here, or not far hence, the sea should have more large entrance than in other parts within the frozen or untemperate zone, and that some contrary tide, either from the east or west, with main force casteth out that great quantity of ice which cometh floating from this coast, even unto Friesland, causing that country to seem more untemperate than others much more northerly than the same.

I cannot judge that any temperature under the Pole, being the time of the Sun’s northern declination, half a year together, and one whole day (considering that the sun’s elevation surmounteth not twenty-three degrees and thirty minutes), can have power to dissolve such monstrous and huge ice, comparable to great mountains, except by some other force, as by swift currents and tides, with the help of the said day of half a year.

Before we came within the making of these lands, we tasted cold storms, insomuch that it seemed we had changed with winter, if the length of the days had not removed us from that opinion.

At our first coming, the straits seemed to be shut up with a long mure of ice, which gave no little cause of discomfort unto us all; but our general (to whose diligence, imminent dangers and difficult attempts seemed nothing in respect of his willing mind for the commodity of his prince and country), with two little pinnaces prepared of purpose, passed twice through them to the east shore, and the islands thereunto adjacent; and the ship, with the two barques, lay off and on something farther into the sea from the danger of the ice.

Whilst he was searching the country near the shore, some of the people of the country showed themselves, leaping and dancing, with strange shrieks and cries, which gave no little admiration to our men. Our general, desirous to allure them unto him by fair means, caused knives and other things to be proffered unto them, which they would not take at our hands; but being laid on the ground, and the party going away, they came and took up, leaving something of theirs to countervail the same. At the length, two them, leaving their weapons, came down to our general and master, who did the like to them, commanding the company to stay, and went unto them, who, after certain dumb signs and mute congratulations, began to lay hands upon them, but they deliverly escaped, and ran to their bows and arrows and came fiercely upon them, not respecting the rest of our company, which were ready for their defence, but with their arrows hurt divers of them. We took the one, and the other escaped.

Whilst our general was busied in searching the country, and those islands adjacent on the east shore, the ships and barques, having great care not to put far into the sea from him, for that he had small store of victuals, were forced to abide in a cruel tempest, chancing in the night amongst and in the thickest of the ice, which was so monstrous that even the least of a thousand had been of force sufficient to have shivered our ship and barques into small portions, if God (who in all necessities hath care upon the infirmity of man) had not provided for this our extremity a sufficient remedy, through the light of the night, whereby we might well discern to flee from such imminent dangers, which we avoided within fourteen bourdes in one watch, the space of four hours. If we had not incurred this danger amongst these monstrous islands of ice, we should have lost our general and master, and the most of our best sailors, which were on the shore destitute of victuals; but by the valour of our master gunner, Master Jackman and Andrew Dier, the master’s mates, men expert both in navigation and other good qualities, we were all content to incur the dangers afore rehearsed, before we would, with our own safety, run into the seas, to the destruction of our said general and his company.

The day following, being the 19th of July, our captain returned to the ship with good news of great riches, which showed itself in the bowels of those barren mountains, wherewith we were all satisfied. A sudden mutation. The one part of us being almost swallowed up the night before, with cruel Neptune’s force, and the rest on shore, taking thought for their greedy paunches how to find the way to Newfoundland; at one moment we were racked with joy, forgetting both where we were and what we had suffered. Behold the glory of man: to-night contemning riches, and rather looking for death than otherwise, and tomorrow devising how to satisfy his greedy appetite with gold.

Within four days after we had been at the entrance of the straits, the north-west and west winds dispersed the ice into the sea, and made us a large entrance into the Straits, that without impediment, on the 19th July, we entered them; and the 20th thereof our general and master, with great diligence, sought out and sounded the west shore, and found out a fair harbour for the ship and barques to ride in, and named it after our master’s mate, Jackman’s Sound, and brought the ship, barques, and all their company to safe anchor, except one man which died by God’s visitation.

At our first arrival, after the ship rode at anchor, general, with such company as could well be spared from the ships, in marching order entered the land, having special care by exhortations that at our entrance thereinto we should all with one voice, kneeling upon our knees, chiefly thank God for our safe arrival; secondly, beseech Him that it would please His Divine Majesty long to continue our Queen, for whom he, and all the rest of our company, in this order took possession of the country; and thirdly, that by our Christian study and endeavour, those barbarous people, trained up in paganry and infidelity, might be reduced to the knowledge of true religion, and to the hope of salvation in Christ our Redeemer, with other words very apt to signify his willing mind and affection towards his prince and country, whereby all suspicion of an undutiful subject may credibly be judged to be utterly exempted from his mind. All the rest of the gentlemen, and others, deserve worthily herein their due praise and commendation.

These things in order accomplished, our general commanded all the company to be obedient in things needful for our own safeguard to Master Fenton, Master Yorke, and Master Beast, his lieutenant, while he was occupied in other necessary affairs concerning our coming thither.

After this order we marched through the country, with ensign displayed, so far as was thought needful, and now and then heaped up stones on high mountains and other places, in token of possession, as likewise to signify unto such as hereafter may chance to arrive there that possession is taken in the behalf of some other prince by those which first found out the country.

Whose maketh navigation to these countries hath not only extreme winds and furious seas to encounter withal, but also many monstrous and great islands of ice: a thing both rare, wonderful, and greatly to be regarded.

We were forced sundry times, while the ship did ride here at anchor, to have continual watch, with boats and men ready with hawsers, to knit fast unto such ice which with the ebb and flood were tossed to and fro in the harbour, and with force of oars to hail them away, for endangering the ship.

Our general certain days searched this supposed continent with America, and not finding the commodity to answer his expectations, after he had made trial thereof, he departed thence, with two little barques, and men sufficient, to the east shore, being he supposed continent of Asia, and left the ship, with most of the gentlemen soldiers and sailors, until such time as he either thought good to send or come for them.

The stones on this supposed continent with America be altogether sparkled and glister in the sun like gold; so likewise doth the sand in the bright water, yet they verify the old proverb, “All is not gold that glistereth.”

On this west shore we found a dead fish floating, which had in his nose a horn, straight and torquet, of length two yards lacking two inches, being broken in the top, where we might perceive it hollow, into which some of our sailors putting spiders they presently died. I saw not the trial hereof, but it was reported unto me of a truth, by the virtue whereof we supposed it to be the sea unicorn.

After our general had found out good harbour for the ship and barques to anchor in, and also such store of gold ore as he thought himself satisfied withal, he returned to the Michael, whereof Master Yorke aforesaid was captain, accompanied with our master and his mate, who coasting along the west shore, not far from whence the ship rode, they perceived a fair harbour, and willing to sound the same, at the entrance thereof they espied two tents of seal skins, unto which the captain, our said master, and other company resorted. At the sight of our men the people fled into the mountains; nevertheless, they went to their tents, where, leaving certain trifles of ours as glasses, bells, knives, and such like things, they departed, not taking anything of theirs except one dog. They did in like manner leave behind them a letter, pen, ink, and paper, whereby our men whom the captain lost the year before, and in that people’s custody, might (if any of them were alive) be advertised of our presence and being there.

On the same day, after consultation, all the gentlemen, and others likewise that could be spared from the ship, under the conduct and leading of Master Philpot (unto whom, in our general’s absence, and his lieutenant, Master Beast, all the rest were obedient), went ashore, determining to see if by fair means we could either allure them to familiarity, or otherwise take some of them, and so attain to some knowledge of those men whom our general lost the year before.

At our coming back again to the place where their tents were before, they had removed their tents farther into the said bay or sound, where they might, if they were driven from the land, flee with their boats into the sea. We, parting ourselves into two companies, and compassing a mountain, came suddenly upon them by land, who, espying us, without any tarrying fled to their boats, leaving the most part of their oars behind them for haste, and rowed down the bay, where our two pinnaces met them and drove them to shore. But if they had had all their oars, so swift are they in rowing, it had been lost time to have chased them.

When they were landed they fiercely assaulted our men with their bows and arrows, who wounded three of them with our arrows, and perceiving themselves thus hurt they desperately leaped off the rocks into the sea and drowned themselves; which if they had not done but had submitted themselves, or if by any means we could have taken alive (being their enemies as they judged), we would both have saved them, and also have sought remedy to cure their wounds received at our hands. But they, altogether void of humanity, and ignorant what mercy meaneth, in extremities look for no other than death, and perceiving that they should fall into our hands, thus miserably by drowning rather desired death than otherwise to be saved by us. The rest, perceiving their fellows in this distress, fled into the high mountains. Two women, not being so apt to escape as the men were, the one for her age, and the other being encumbered with a young child, we took. The old wretch, whom divers of our sailors supposed to be either a devil or a witch, had her buskins plucked off to see if she were cloven-footed, and for her ugly hue and deformity we let her go; the young woman and the child we brought away. We named the place where they were slain Bloody Point, and the bay or harbour Yorke’s Sound, after the name of one of the captains of the two barques.

Having this knowledge both of their fierceness and cruelty, and perceiving that fair means as yet is not able to allure them to familiarity, we disposed ourselves, contrary to our inclination, something to be cruel, returned to their tents, and made a spoil of the same, where we found an old shirt, a doublet, a girdle, and also shoes of our men, whom we lost the year before; on nothing else unto them belonging could we set our eyes.

Their riches are not gold, silver, or precious drapery, but their said tents and boats made of the skins of red deer and seal skins, also dogs like unto wolves, but for the most part black, with other trifles, more to be wondered at for their strangeness than for any other commodity needful for our use.

Thus returning to our ship the 3rd of August, we departed from the west shore, supposed firm with America, after we had anchored there thirteen days, and so the 4th thereof we came to our general on the east shore, and anchored in a fair harbour named Anne Warwick’s Sound, and to which is annexed an island, both named after the Countess of Warwick — Anne Warwick’s Sound and Isle.

In this isle our general thought good for this voyage to freight both the ships and barques with such stone or gold mineral as he judged to countervail the charges of his first and this his second navigation to these countries, with sufficient interest to the venturers whereby they might both be satisfied for this time and also in time to come (if it please God and our prince) to expect a much more benefit out of the bowels of those septentrional parallels, which long time hath concealed itself till at this present, through the wonderful diligence and great danger of our general and others, God is contented with the revealing thereof. It riseth so abundantly, that from the beginning of August to the 22nd thereof (every man following the diligence of our general) we raised above ground 200 ton, which we judged a reasonable freight for the ship and two barques in the said Anne Warwick’s Isle.

In the meantime of our abode here some of the country people came to show themselves unto us sundry times from the main shore, near adjacent to the said isle. Our general, desirous to have some news of his men whom he lost the year before, with some company with him repaired with the ship boat to commune or sign with them for familiarity, whereunto he is persuaded to bring them. They at the first show made tokens that three of his five men were alive, and desired pen, ink, and paper, and that within three or four days they would return, and, as we judged, bring those of our men which were living with them.

They also made signs or tokens of their king, whom they called Cacough, and how he was carried on men’s shoulders, and a man far surmounting any of our company in bigness and stature.

With these tokens and signs of writing, pen, ink, and paper were delivered them, which they would not take at our hands, but being laid upon the shore, and the party gone away, they took up; which likewise they do when they desire anything for change of theirs, laying for that which is left so much as they think will countervail the same, and not coming near together. It seemeth they have been used to this trade or traffic with some other people adjoining, or not far distant from their country.

After four days some of them showed themselves upon the firm land, but not where they were before. Our general, very glad thereof, supposing to hear of our men, went from the island with the boat and sufficient company with him. They seemed very glad, and allured him about a certain point of the land, behind which they might perceive a company of the crafty villains to lie lurking, whom our general would not deal withal, for that he knew not what company they were, so with few signs dismissed them and returned to his company.

Another time, as our said general was coasting the country with two little pinnaces, whereby at our return he might make the better relation thereof, three of the crafty villains with a white skin allured us to them. Once again our general, for that he hoped to hear of his men, went towards them; at our coming near the shore whereon they were we might perceive a number of them lie hidden behind great stones, and those three in sight labouring by all means possible that some would come on land; and perceiving we made no haste, by words nor friendly signs, which they used by clapping their hands, and being without weapon, and but three in sight, they sought further means to provoke us thereunto. One alone laid flesh on the shore, which we took up with the boat-hook as necessary victuals for the relieving of the man, woman, and child whom we had taken, for that as yet they could not digest our meat; whereby they perceived themselves deceived of their expectation for all their crafty allurements. Yet once again to make, as it were, a full show of their crafty natures and subtle sleights, to the intent thereby to have entrapped and taken some of our men, one of them counterfeited himself impotent and lame of his legs, who seemed to descend to the water’s side with great difficulty, and to cover his craft the more one of his fellows came down with him, and in such places where he seemed unable to pass, he took him on his shoulders, set him by the water’s side, and departed from him, leaving him, as it should seem, all alone; who, playing his counterfeit pageant very well, thought thereby to provoke some of us to come on shore, not fearing but that one of us might make our party good with a lame man.

Our general, having compassion of his impotency, thought good, if it were possible, to cure him thereof; wherefore he caused a soldier to shoot at him with his calever, which grazed before his face. The counterfeit villain deliverly fled without any impediment at all, and got him to his bow and arrows, and the rest from their lurking holes with their weapons, bows, arrows, slings, and darts. Our general caused some calevers to be shot off at them, whereby, some being hurt, they might hereafter stand in more fear of us.

This was all the answer for this time we could have of our men, or of our general’s letter. Their crafty dealing at these three several times being thus manifest unto us, may plainly show their disposition in other things to be correspondent. We judged that they used these stratagems thereby to have caught some of us for the delivering of the man, woman, and child, whom we had taken.

They are men of a large corporature, and good proportion; their colour is not much unlike the sunburnt countryman, who laboureth daily in sun for his living.

They wear their hair something long, and cut before either with stone or knife, very disorderly. Their women wear their hair long, knit up with two loops, showing forth on either side of their faces, and the rest faltered upon a knot. Also, some of their women tint their faces proportionally, as chin, cheeks, and forehead and the wrists of their hands, whereupon they lay a colour which continueth dark azurine.

They eat their meat all raw, both flesh, fish, and fowl, or something parboiled with blood, and a little water, which they drink. For lack of water, they will eat ice that is hard frozen as pleasantly as we will do sugar-candy, or other sugar.

If they, for necessity’s sake, stand in need of the premises, such grass as the country yieldeth they pluck up and eat, not daintily, or saladwise, to allure their stomachs to appetite, but for necessity’s sake, without either salt, oils, or washing, like brute beasts devouring the same. They neither use table, stool, or table-cloth for comeliness: but when they are imbrued with blood, knuckle deep, and their knives in like sort, they use their tongues as apt instruments to lick them clean; in doing whereof they are assured to lose none of their victuals.

They keep certain dogs, not much unlike wolves, which they yoke together, as we do oxen and horses, to a sled or trail, and so carry their necessaries over the ice and snow, from place to place, as the captain, whom we have, made perfect signs. And when those dogs are not apt for the same use, or when with hunger they are constrained for lack of other victuals, they eat them, so that they are as needful for them, in respect of their bigness, as our oxen are for us.

They apparel themselves in the skins of such beasts as they kill, sewed together with the sinews of them. All the fowl which they kill they skin, and make thereof one kind of garment or other to defend them from the cold.

They make their apparel with hoods and tails, which tails they give, when they think to gratify any friendship shown unto them; a great sign of friendship with them. The men have them not so syde as the women.

The men and women wear their hose close to their legs, from the waist to the knee, without any open before, as well the one kind as the other. Upon their legs they wear hose of leather, with the fur side inward, two or three pair on at once, and especially the women. In those hose they put their knives, needles, and other things needful to bear about. They put a bone within their hose, which reacheth from the foot to the knee, whereupon they draw their said hose, and so in place of garters they are holden from falling down about their feet.

They dress their skins very soft and supple with the hair on. In cold weather or winter they wear the fur side inward, and in summer outward. Other apparel they have none but the said skins.

Those beasts, fishes, and fowls which they kill are their meat, drink, apparel, houses, bedding, hose, shoes, thread, and sails for their boats, with many other necessaries, whereof they stand in need, and almost all their riches.

The houses are tents made of seal skins, pitched up with four fir quarters, four-square, meeting at the top, and the skins sewed together with sinews, and laid thereupon; they are so pitched up, that the entrance into them is always south, or against the sun.

They have other sort of houses, which we found not to be inhabited, which are raised with stones and whalebones, and a skin laid over them to withstand the rain, or other weather; the entrance of them being not much unlike an oven’s mouth, whereunto, I think, they resort for a time to fish, hunt, and fowl, and so leave them until the next time they come thither again.

Their weapons are bows, arrows, darts, and slings. Their bows are of wood, of a yard long, sinewed on the back with firm sinews, not glued to, but fast girded and tied on. Their bow strings are likewise sinews. Their arrows are three pieces, nocked with bone and ended with bone; with those two ends, and the wood in the midst, they pass not in length half a yard, or little more. They are feathered with two feathers, the pen end being cut away, and the feathers laid upon the arrow with the broad side to the wood, insomuch, that they seem, when they are tied on, to have four feathers. They have likewise three sorts of heads to those arrows; one sort of stone or iron, proportioned like to a heart; the second sort of bone much like unto a stopt head, with a hook on the same, the third sort of bone likewise, made sharp at both sides, and sharp pointed. They are not made very fast, but lightly tied to, or else set in a nocke, that, upon small occasion, the arrow leaveth these heads behind them; they are of small force except they be very near when they shoot.

Their darts are made of two sorts: the one with many forks of bones in the fore end, and likewise in the midst; their proportions are not much unlike our toasting-irons, but longer; these they cast out of an instrument of wood very readily. The other sort is greater than the first aforesaid, with a long bone made sharp on both sides, not much unlike a rapier, which I take to be their most hurtful weapon.

They have two sorts of boats made of leather, set out on the inner side with quarters of wood, artificially tied together with thongs of the same; the greater sort are not much unlike our wherries, wherein sixteen or twenty men may sit; they have for a sail dressed the guts of such beasts as they kill, very fine and thin, which they sew together; the other boat is but for one man to sit and row in, with one oar.

Their order of fishing, hunting, and fowling, are with these said weapons; but in what sort or how they use them we have no perfect knowledge as yet.

I can suppose their abode or habitation not to be here, for that neither their houses nor apparel are of such force to withstand the extremity of cold that the country seemeth to be infected withal; neither do I see any sign likely to perform the same.

Those houses, or rather dens, which stand there, have no sign of footway, or anything else trodden, which is one of the chiefest tokens of habitation. And those tents, which they bring with them, when they have sufficiently hunted and fished, they remove to other places; and when they have sufficiently stored them of such victuals as the country yieldeth, or bringeth forth, they return to their winter stations or habitations. This conjecture do I make for the infertility which I perceive to be in that country.

They have some iron, whereof they make arrow-heads, knives, and other little instruments, to work their boats, bows, arrows, and darts withal, which are very unapt to do anything withal, but with great labour.

It seemeth that they have conversation with some other people, of whom for exchange they should receive the same. They are greatly delighted with anything that is bright or giveth a sound.

What knowledge they have of God, or what idol they adore, we have no perfect intelligence. I think them rather anthropophagi, or devourers of man’s flesh, than otherwise; that there is no flesh or fish which they find dead (smell it never so filthily), but they will eat it as they find it without any other dressing. A loathsome thing, either to the beholders or the hearers. There is no manner of creeping beast hurtful, except some spiders (which as many affirm are signs of great store of gold), and also certain stinging gnats, which bite so fiercely that the place where they bite shortly after swelleth, and itcheth very sore.

They make signs of certain people that wear bright plates of gold in their foreheads and other places of their bodies.

The countries on both sides the straits lie very high, with rough stony mountains, and great quantity of snow thereon. There is very little plain ground, and no grass except a little, which is much like unto moss that groweth on soft ground, such as we get turfs in. There is no wood at all. To be brief, there is nothing fit or profitable for the use of man which that country with root yieldeth or bringeth forth; howbeit there is great quantity of deer, whose skins are like unto asses, their heads or horns do far exceed, as well in length as also in breadth, any in these our parts or countries: their feet likewise are as great as our oxen’s, which we measure to be seven or eight inches in breadth. There are also hares, wolves, fishing bears, and sea-fowl of sundry sorts.

As the country is barren and unfertile, so are they rude, and of no capacity to culture the same to any perfection; but are contented by their hunting, fishing, and fowling, with raw flesh and warm blood, to satisfy their greedy paunches, which is their only glory.

There is great likelihood of earthquakes or thunder, for there are huge and monstrous mountains, whose greatest substance are stones, and those stones so shapen with some extraordinary means, that one is separated from another, which is discordant from all other quarries.

There are no rivers or running springs, but such as through the heat of the sun, with such water as descendeth from the mountains and hills, whereon great drifts of snow do lie, are engendered.

It argueth also that there should be none; for that the earth, which with the extremity of the winter is so frozen within, that that water which should have recourse within the same to maintain springs hath not his motion, whereof great waters have their origin, as by experience is seen otherwhere. Such valleys as are capable to receive the water, that in the summer time, by the operation of the sun, descendeth from great abundance of snow, which continually lieth on the mountains, and hath no passage, sinketh into the earth, and so vanisheth away, without any runnel above the earth, by which occasion or continual standing of the said water the earth is opened and the great frost yieldeth to the force thereof, which in other places, four or five fathoms within the ground, for lack of the said moisture, the earth even in the very summer time is frozen, and so combineth the stones together, that scarcely instruments with great force can unknit them.

Also, where the water in those valleys can have no such passage away, by the continuance of time in such order as is before rehearsed, the yearly descent from the mountains filleth them full, that at the lowest bank of the same they fall into the next valley, and so continue as fishing ponds, in summer time full of water, and in the winter hard frozen, as by scars that remain thereof in summer may easily be perceived; so that the heat of summer is nothing comparable or of force to dissolve the extremity of cold that cometh in winter.

Nevertheless, I am assured, that below the force of the frost, within the earth, the waters have recourse, and empty themselves out of sight into the sea, which, through the extremity of the frost, are constrained to do the same; by which occasion, the earth within is kept the warmer, and springs have their recourse, which is the only nutriment of gold and minerals within the same.

There is much to be said of the commodities of these countries, which are couched within the bowels of the earth, which I let pass till more perfect trial be made thereof.

Thus conjecturing, till time, with the earnest industry of our general and others (who, by all diligence, remain pressed to explore the truth of that which is unexplored, as he hath to his everlasting praise found out that which is like to yield an innumerable benefit to his prince and country), offer further trial, I conclude.

The 23rd August, after we had satisfied our minds with freight sufficient for our vessels, though not our covetous desires, with such knowledge of the country, people, and other commodities as are before rehearsed, the 24th thereof we departed there hence: the 17th of September we fell with the Land’s End of England, and so to Milford Haven, from whence our general rowed to the court for order to what port or haven to conduct the ship.

We lost our two barques in the way homeward, the one the 29th of August, the other the 31st of the same month, by occasion of great tempest and fog; howbeit, God restored the one to Bristol, and the other making his course by Scotland to Yarmouth. In this voyage we lost two men, one in the way by God’s visitation, and the other homeward, cast overboard with a surge of the sea.

I could declare unto the readers the latitude and longitude of such places and regions as we have been at, but not altogether so perfectly as our masters and others, with many circumstances of tempests and other accidents incident to seafaring men, which seem not altogether strange, but I let them pass to their reports as men most apt to set forth and declare the same. I have also left the names of the countries on both the shores untouched for lack of understanding the people’s language, as also for sundry respects not needful as yet to be declared.

Countries new explored, where commodity is to be looked for, do better accord with a new name given by the explorers than an uncertain name by a doubtful author.

Our general named sundry islands, mountains, capes, and harbours after the names of divers noblemen, and other gentlemen his friends, as well on the one shore as also on the other.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hakluyt/northwest/chapter4.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38