Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, by Richard Hakluyt

Another testunonie of the voyage of Sebastian Cabot to the West and Northwest, taken out of the sixt Chapter of the third Decade of Peter Martyr of Angleria.

Scrutatus est oras glaciales Sebastianus quidam Cabotus genere Venetus, sed à parentibus in Britanniam insulam tendentibus (vti moris est Venetorum, qui commercij causa terrarum omnium sunt hospites) transportatus penè infans. Duo is sibi nauigia, propria pecunia in Britannia ipsa instruxit, et primò tentens cum hominibus tercentum ad Septentrionem donec etiam Iulio mense vastas repererit glaciates moles pelago natantes, et lucem ferè perpetuam, tellure tamen libera, gelu liquefacto: quare coactus fuit, vti ait, vela vertere et occidentem sequi: tetenditque tantum ad meridiem littore sese incuruante, vt Herculei freti latitudinis fere gradus æquarit: ad occidentémque profectus tantum est vt Cubam Insulam à Iæua, longitudine graduum penè parem, habuerit. Is ea littora percurrens, quæ Baccalaos appelauit, eosdem se reperisse aquarum, sed lenes delapsus ad Occidentem ait, quos Castellani, meridionales suas regiones adnauigantes, inuenient. Ergò non modò verisimilius, sed necessario concludendum est, vastos inter vtramque ignotam hactenus tellurem iacere hiatus, qui viam præbeant aquis ab oriente cadentibus in Occidentem. Quas arbitror impulsu coelorum circulariter agi in gyrum circa terræ globum, non autem Demogorgone anhelante vomi, absorberique vt nonnulli senserunt, quod influxu, et refluxu forsan assentire daretur. Baccalaos, Cabotus ipse terras illas appellauit, eò quod in earum pelago tantam reperierit magnorum quorundam piscium, tynnos æmulantium, sic vocatorum ab indigenis, multitudinem, vt etiam illi interdum nauigia detardarent. Earum Regionum homines pellibus tantum coopertos reperiebat, rationis haudquaquam expertes. Vrsorum inesse regionibus copiam ingentem refert, qui et ipsi piscibus vescantur. Inter densa namque piscium illorum agmina sese immergunt vrsi, et singulos singuli complexos, vnguibusque inter squammas immissis in terram raptant et comedunt. Proptereà minimè noxios hominibus visos esse ait Orichalcum in plerisque locis se vidisse apud incolas prædicat. Familiarem habeo domi Cabotum ipsum, et contubernalem interdum. Vocatus namque ex Britannia à Rege nostro Catholico, post Henrici Maioris Britanniæ Regis mortem, concurialis noster est, expectatque indies, vt nauigia sibi parentur, quibus arcanum hoc naturæ latens iam tandem detegatur.

The same in English.

These North Seas haue bene searched by one Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian borne, whom being yet but in maner an infant, his parents carried with them into England, hauing occasion to resort thither for trade of marchandise, as in the maner of the Venetians to leaue no part of the world vnsearched to obtaine riches. Hee therefore furnished two ships in England at his owne charges, and first with 300 men directed his course so farre towards the North pole, that euen in the moneth of Iuly he found monstrous heapes of ice swimming on the sea, and in maner continuall day light, yet saw he the land in that tract free from ice, which had bene molten by the heat of the Sunne. Thus seeing such heapes of yce before him, hee was enforced to turne his sailes and follow the West, so coasting still by the shore, that hee was thereby brought so farre into the South, by reason of the land bending so much Southwards, that it was there almost equal in latitude, with the sea Fretum Hercoleum, hauing the Northpole eleuate in maner in the same degree. He sailed likewise in this tract so farre towards the West, that hee had the Island of Cuba on his left hand, in maner in the same degree of longitude. A current toward the West. As hee traueiled by the coastes of this great land, (which he named Baccalaos) he saith that hee found the like course of the waters toward the West, but the same to runne more softly and gently then the swift waters which the Spaniards found in their Nauigations Southwards. Wherefore it is not onely more like to be true, but ought also of necessitie to be concluded that betweene both the lands hitherto vnknown, there should be certaine great open places whereby the waters should thus continually passe from the East vnto the West: The people of Island say the Sea and yce setteth also West. (Ionas Arngrimus.)16 which waters I suppose to be driuen about the globe of the earth by the uncessant mouing and impulsion of the heauens, and not to bee swallowed vp and cast vp againe by the breathing of Demogorgon, as some haue imagined, because they see the seas by increase and decrease to ebbe and flowe. Sebastian Cabot himselfe named those lands Baccalaos, because that in the Seas thereabout hee found so great multitudes of certaine bigge fishes much like vnto Tunies, (which the inhabitants called Baccalaos) that they sometimes stayed his shippes. He found also the people of those regions couered with beastes skinnes, yet not without the vse of reason. He also saieth there is great plentie of Beares in those regions which vse to eate fish: for plunging themselues into the water, where they perceiue a multitude of these fishes to lie, they fasten their clawes in their scales, and so draw them to land and eate them, so (as he saith) the Beares being thus satisfied with fish, are not noisome to men. Copper found in many places by Cabote. Hee declareth further, that in many places of these Regions he saw great plentie of Copper among the inhabitants. Cabot is my very friend, whom I vse familiarly, and delight to haue sometimes keepe mee company in mine owne house. For being called out of England by the commandement of the Catholique King of Castile, after the death of King Henry the seuenth of that name king of England, he was made one of our council and Assistants, as touching the affaires of the new Indies, looking for ships dayly to be furnished for him to discouer this hid secret of Nature.

16 A celebrated Icelandic astronomer, a disciple of Tycho–Brahe. The opinion here quoted appears in his Specimen Historicorum Islandiæ et magnâ ex parte chorographicum; Amsterdam, 1643. When aged 91, he is said to have married a young girl. Born 1545; died 1640.

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Last updated Monday, March 10, 2014 at 21:52